After the excesses of recent weeks, I’m pleased to say that this week I’ve reined myself in. For possibly the first time this year I’ve managed single figures!
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, courtesy of NetGalley due out 1st Jan 2017
On 21 June 1922 Count Alexander Rostov – recipient of the Order of Saint Andrew, member of the Jockey Club, Master of the Hunt – is escorted out of the Kremlin, across Red Square and through the elegant revolving doors of the Hotel Metropol.
But instead of being taken to his usual suite, he is led to an attic room with a window the size of a chessboard. Deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the Count has been sentenced to house arrest indefinitely.
While Russia undergoes decades of tumultuous upheaval, the Count, stripped of the trappings that defined his life, is forced to question what makes us who we are. And with the assistance of a glamorous actress, a cantankerous chef and a very serious child, Rostov unexpectedly discovers a new understanding of both pleasure and purpose.
The Liar by Jennifer Wells (Kindle 99p)
What would you do if you saw a girl in a crowd whose face had the same, identical birthmark as your only child?
A child who, nearly ten years ago, you were told died?
It’s 1935 and housewife Emma glimpses a face in a crowd – a little girl with a very unique birthmark.
Transfixed by the sight of a stranger; Emma becomes convinced that the girl is her long-lost daughter taken from her at birth. There is only one problem: Emma’s daughter is dead. So who is the stranger?
THE LIAR follows Emma’s journey as she tries to find out what really happened to her daughter – a journey that unearths secrets from the past and ends in obsession…
The Jewel by Catherine Czerkawska (Kindle 99p)
A luscious historical novel, The Jewel brings to glorious life the dramatic years of Jean Armour and Robert Burns’s courtship, and their tempestuous, passionate married life, against a background simmering with political intrigue and turmoil. Jean, a beautiful young woman with the voice of a nightingale, set young Rab’s heart aflame from the first. Jean’s father tried to protect her from the advances of the mercurial ploughman-poet, whose roving eye was notorious. But she would not be kept from him. Their marriage endured against all odds, its rocky course revealing Jean’s indomitable strength and character. How Jean lived with – and frequently without – her famous husband is surely Scotland’s greatest love story.
City of Good Death by Chris Lloyd (Kindle 98p)
A killer is targeting hate figures in the Catalan city of Girona – a loan shark, a corrupt priest, four thugs who have blighted the streets of the old quarter. Each corpse is posed in a way whose meaning no one can fathom.
Elisenda Domènech, the head of the city’s newly-formed Serious Crime Unit, is determined to do all she can to stop the attacks. She believes the attacker is drawing on the city’s legends to choose his targets, but her colleagues aren’t convinced and her investigation is blocked at every turn.
Battling against the press, the public and even some of the police, she finds herself forced to question her own values. But when the attacks start to include less deserving victims, the pressure is suddenly on Elisenda to stop him.
The question is: how?
In the 60s London of gangsters, prejudice and terrifying gang wars, Barrister Charles Holborne spends his life dealing with the worst examples of violent criminality. After successfully winning a number of high profile cases, he is building a reputation among Soho’s criminal classes as a man who gets the job done, a reputation that doesn’t endear him to his establishment colleagues.
Yet Charles is not all he seems, and is battling both personal demons and his own past. When his philandering wife Henrietta is found with her throat slashed, Charles finds himself on the wrong side of the law and in serious trouble of the murderous kind. Arrested for her murder, can Charles discover the truth of her brutal slaying and escape the hangman’s noose?
The Long Shadow by Loretta Proctor
Fourteen-year-old Andrew discovers his mother’s hidden diary at his grandmother’s home during a Christmas gathering. His eyes are opened to a family secret when he reads about her time as a nurse in Salonika during the First World War, and the tragic love affair she had with his father, a Greek Officer who died in battle. Four years later, Andrew is impelled to visit his father’s land and trace his roots. What – and who – he finds there will change his life forever.
The Long Shadow is filled with descriptions of Greece and its people. Dramatic images of battle and the terrible conditions endured by the Allied Armies entrenched around Salonika in the “Birdcage” are authentic and vivid. Greek music and dance play a vital role, reconciling in Andrew the dichotomy of belonging to two very different cultures and helping him to unite them in his heart and soul.
Christmas at the Dog & Duck by Jill Steeples
Ellie Browne has left behind her high-flying job in London to return to the charming Buckinghamshire village of Little Leyton. Working shifts at The Dog and Duck and running her own doggy-day-care business, Ellie’s looking for a much simpler way of life and a good old fashioned Christmas.
But Little Leyton’s landscape is changing; Johnny Tay, Ellie’s ex, wants to pick up where they left off; sultry property developer Max Golding, has moved into the village and is ruffling feathers; and rumour has it that the pub, which holds a special place in Ellie’s heart, might be sold. Suddenly, life’s looking a whole lot more complicated…
Can Ellie juggle her emotions and commitments in time to celebrate Christmas?
Least Said by Pamela Fudge
Jon and Wendy are happily married. Parents to adorable six-year-old Will, life is as sweet as the cakes Wendy bakes for a living. But it wasn’t always that way.
Jon and Wendy met after both their parents were killed in a coach crash in Scotland.
After they married, all they wanted was a child of their own. But after experiencing problems conceiving, Jon learns he has a low sperm count and that while not impossible, having a baby might not be on the cards. Embarrassed and ashamed, Jon convinces Wendy that her weight is the real reason why they can’t conceive. Soon, their happy marriage is in jeopardy, and when Wendy finds a text on Jon’s phone from a female co-worker promising him a weekend to remember, she is convinced Jon’s having an affair.
Angry and hurt, Wendy ends up in bed with a rugby player, Adonis, at her friend’s wedding. So when Wendy discovers she is pregnant, she doesn’t know who the father is. Unsure what to do, when her best friend Tina suggests she keep the issue of paternity secret, Wendy agrees.
Time passes and Wendy’s worries are all but forgotten until one day she runs into Adonis. When he shows up at Will’s school soon after, Wendy is convinced that he’s stalking her.
But it’s an overheard conversation that finally shatters her world, and Wendy has no idea if her happy family can ever recover…
No Time to Kill by John Bonett
It is the end of the season at Cala Felix on the Spanish coast, but the peace is about to be shattered…