Scared to Death by Rachel Amphlett
When the body of a snatched schoolgirl is found in an abandoned biosciences building, the case is first treated as a kidnapping gone wrong.
But Detective Kay Hunter isn’t convinced, especially when a man is found dead with the ransom money still in his possession.
When a second schoolgirl is taken, Kay’s worst fears are realised.
With her career in jeopardy and desperate to conceal a disturbing secret, Kay’s hunt for the killer becomes a race against time before he claims another life.
For the killer, the game has only just begun…
Exposby Paul Ilett
Gossip columnist Valerie Pierce loves red wine, cigarettes and exposing celebrity secrets. Influential, successful and connected, Valerie can make or break careers with just a few choice words.
But actor Adam Jaymes has a lifetime of grudges against Valerie and her colleagues at The Daily Ear newspaper, and decides it’s time they had a taste of their own medicine.
After all, reporters have secrets too.
Valerie is about to find her own scandalous private life splashed across the front pages as she is forced into a very public reunion with faces from her past.
Touching on dozens of real-life scandals, EXPOSÉ is a hilarious page-turner that will keep you guessing who at The Daily Ear is on Adam Jaymes’ hit list and what deep, dark secrets is he going to expose.
Covent Garden in the Snow by Jules Wake
Tilly Hunter has fabulous friends, her dream job as a make-up artist with a prestigious opera company and Felix, her kind and caring husband to be. It looks set to be the most perfect Christmas yet!
But when a monumental blunder forces her to work closely with new IT director Marcus Walker, it’s not only the roast chestnut stalls on the cobbles of her beloved Covent Garden that cause sparks to fly…
Super serious and brooding, Marcus hasn’t got a creative bone in his sharp-suited body. For technophobe Tilly, it’s a match made in hell.
And yet, when Tilly discovers her fiancé isn’t at all what he seems, it’s Marcus who’s there for her with a hot chocolate and a surprisingly strong shoulder to cry on … He might just be the best Christmas present she’s ever had.
In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
In 1994, Dedé Mirabal lives in the house where her three sisters used to live. The dead sisters are known as the “butterflies,” and they are martyrs and national heroes. In 1994 Dedé talks to an interviewer about her sisters, and her narrative is interrupted with memories.Story goes between the four sisters from 1943 to their deaths in 1960:Dedé’s memories, Minerva’s point of view, Patria’s point of view, and entries from María Teresa’s diaries.Dedé Mirabal, the last surviving Mirabal sister, tells the story of how her sisters grew up to be martyrs and national heroes in the Dominican Republic. She recounts how her sisters first came to political awareness during the reign of dictator Rafael Trujillo.
Going Underground by Michael Leese
Jonathan Roper is a new type of detective; young, gifted and autistic.
He’s a wonderful analyst but not so good with people. Many of his Scotland Yard colleagues were delighted after he was suspended for misconduct. Now those people are going to be disappointed because he’s being brought back by the bosses of his elite unit. Not that Roper is concerned with office politics. He’s got a case to solve and that’s all that matters. In this compelling thriller Roper uncovers a dark conspiracy leading to murder and human trafficking. As good as he is, the stakes are so high he needs the support of veteran Met detective Brian Hooley: soon the pair discover they are in the firing line.
The Alphabet Sisters by Monica McInerney
Once as close-knit as sisters can be, Anna, Bett and Carrie haven’t spoken in three years. They are still feeling the effects of the fight which tore them apart – but a summons to their grandmother’s birthday party forces them out of their silence.
Lola, the big-hearted, strong-willed grandmother who first nicknamed them the Alphabet Sisters, has a plan to reunite them. And while none of the women is eager to confront the past, each has a new reason to long for their sisters’ support.
But just as they find their way back to one another, the sisters are rocked by a greater challenge than ever before – one that will teach them the true value of family. . .
Staying Put by J J Birtwell
Jack Birtwell, a sprightly sixty-year-old from Accrington, Lancashire, is due to retire in 2019 and hopes that his poor pension prospects won’t force him to sell his beloved house in Spain and return to England to live out his days.
When Brian, his friend and employer, is forced to lay him off from his part-time building job his dilemma becomes even more acute.
After racking his brains and those of his closest friends for money-making ideas, he thinks he has come up with a solution. It will put paid to his increasingly solitary lifestyle and force him back into the social milieu of the village, but the thought of having to leave his house and land spur him into action.
Certain people, however, have other plans for his home and a conspiracy is soon afoot to buy him out and send him packing, making the life of this quiet man yet more complicated…
The Last Hillwalker by John D Burns
SHORTLISTED FOR THE GREAT OUTDOORS MAGAZINE BOOK OF THE YEAR
This book takes you on a journey of discovery from early beginnings, as a school boy in the Lake District, John travelled on to make an early walk along the Pennine Way only a handful of years after this long-distance path was opened. From there he began exploring the hills in winter and journeyed north to the Scottish Highlands where he discovered a new world to explore.
There are encounters with ferocious ice climbs on the north face of Ben Nevis. There is an ascent of the highest mountain in Europe and accounts of his time in the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue team. There are also hilarious accounts of New Year’s Eve riotous celebrations in Highland villages where time ceased to have any meaning.
Now John travels the remotest parts of the Highlands where he enjoys the tranquillity of bothies in the wildest areas of Britain. This book will appeal to anyone with an interest in the outdoors. It is the history of a whole generation’s exploration of the hills.
Beyond Imagination by Craig Briggs
Craig Briggs’s bestselling Journey to a Dream told the true-life story of his dream move to Spain with wife Melanie and their dog Jazz. Not for them the tourist-packed Costas of the Mediterranean or the hills of Andalucia; they chose Galicia, an unspoilt paradise in the northwest corner of Spain.
In Beyond Imagination Craig and Melanie begin to realise their dream as they finally move in to their new home – El Sueño. Transforming their barren plot into a garden oasis tests both his resolve and physique, and an eye for a bargain sends them on a quest to secure a national treasure. As the adventures unfold new challenges appear.
Village neighbours are quick to introduce themselves and eager to assist when a communications oversight jeopardises their future, but even they are powerless to help when planning officialdom threatens to shatter their dream.
Stroll hand in hand with Craig and Melanie as they settle in to their new surroundings, and journey with them as they embark on a life Beyond Imagination.
The Last Gasp by Robert F Barker
The last time DCI Jamie Carver involved a would-be victim in his hunt for a serial killer, it ended badly Now they want him to do it again, only this time the ‘victim’ is a Dominatrix.
As if he hasn’t enough on his plate.
- a brutal killer poised to strike again
- shadows of the past that still haunt his dreams
- an investigation under mounting pressure to succeed
- a beautiful woman whose bizzare lifestyle may be the key to finding the killer
And that’s not counting the young girl whose life he’s trying to save from ruin, OR the ambitious colleague scheming to bring him down. As the kill-count mounts signs point to a link with Carver’s first serial killer case – the notorious Escort Killer, Edmund Hart. But Hart is now dead, having hung himself in prison, so how can that be? This is just one of the mysteries Carver must solve in this gripping first outing for the detective who knows his reputation as, “The UK’s Foremost Serial Sex Crime Investigator” is built on sand. And when the killer strikes at the heart of the investigation, he knows that to protect those closest, he must confront what he most fears – his own failings.
The House of Five Fortunes by Amanda Hughes
While Xiu peddled pipe dreams, a nightmare was waiting.
Sensual and exotic, San Francisco’s Chinatown in the 1870’s was filled with temptation and greed. Raised in this quagmire of vice, Xiu Jung caters to wealthy thrill-seekers with her elegant opium den, The House of Five Fortunes. With the help of Madison Hayes, the illustrious actor, she makes it the most fashionable salon on the West Coast. But a string of murders is sweeping the city, coming closer and closer to Xiu. Madison said he would protect her, but could this mysterious outsider be trusted?
From Chinatown to Deadwood, Amanda Hughes once again takes you on a page-turning adventure of a lifetime.
Someone Like Me by Pam Francis
Women’s romantic fiction which tells the story of chef Lottie Gilbert who falls in love with a celebrity…and a married one at that! Lottie, 39, chef at the vintage cafe The Loft, is resigned to singledom in a sleepy Hertfordshire village with just Colin her cat for company. When superstar Daniel French drops into The Loft for lunch, everything changes as Lottie discovers that a life lived in the spotlight of fame is a more dangerous and painful path to happiness and love than she could ever have imagined.
The Hygge Holiday by Rosie Blake
It’s autumn in Yulethorpe and everyone is gloomy. It’s cold, drizzly and the skies are permagrey. The last shop on the high street – an adorable little toy shop – has just shut its doors. Everything is going wrong for Yulethorpe this autumn. Until Clara Kristensen arrives.
Clara is on holiday but she can see the potential in the pretty town, so she rolls up her sleeves and sets to work. Things are looking up until Joe comes to Yulethorpe to find out exactly what is going on with his mother’s shop. Joe is Very Busy and Important in the City and very sure that Clara is up to no good. Surely no one would work this hard just for the fun of it?
Can a man who answers emails at 3 a. m. learn to appreciate the slower, happier, hygge things in life – naps, candles, good friends and maybe even falling in love?
Beverly by Fiona Pearse
Beverly sidesteps the need to interact with co-workers by working from home. When she must venture outside, she wears earphones so no one will bother her. Social niceties are designated to her best friend and flatmate, Ella.
Beverly would be jealous of Ella’s gregarious charm and high-life, if she didn’t have the security of her long-term boyfriend, Roland, who spared Beverly from the dating scene and gave her a future. Beverly won’t speak for herself because she has a stutter. This is how she carefully arranges her life, until Roland and Ella make plans of their own.
Deadly Friendship by Tara Lyons
Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is dragged into a gruesome murder investigation, while on annual leave in Lake Windermere. A handwritten note, with a woman’s name, is found inside the corpse.
When a direct link to London is identified, Hamilton must race against the clock to make the connection before the body count rises.
Meanwhile, four friends with strained relationships, are reunited. What past event do they want to keep buried and is there something linking them to the murders?
Then, when a person from Hamilton’s past returns, he must ask himself: how well do we really know our friends?
Lucy’s Book Club for the Lost and Found by Emma Davies
Sometimes you’ve got to run away to find yourself…
Twenty-four-year-old Lucy needs a fresh start. Forever single and frustrated with her studies she gives up everything to run a little library in the leafy village of Tilley Moreton.
Lucy loves reading almost as much as she loves fixing other people’s problems, so starting a book club seems like the perfect opportunity to do both. As she meets her new members, it’s clear she’s going to have her work cut out for her. Handsome but silent Callum is the biggest puzzle of them all…
But Lucy’s meddling begins to cause more problems than it solves, and no one is more surprised than Lucy when Callum steps in to help. Could there be more to him than people think?
As Callum and Lucy start working together to fix the broken hearts of the library’s most loyal customers, the first sparks of romance begin to fly.
Can they right all the trouble Lucy has created, and might there be a chance for a happy ending of their own?
Cry from the Grave by Carolyn Mahony
After a heartbreaking tragedy six years ago, Hannah Walker is struggling to pick up the pieces of her life – until a chance discovery tips her whole world upside down again.
Now her fragile existence is threatened by the unfolding mystery that seems to have everyone, including the police, clawing to understand it. But this time she won’t give up until the truth surrounding her daughter is revealed.
Natasha Campbell’s unhappy childhood has haunted her throughout her life. Her marriage to Adam was the one good decision she made, but now, even that is crumbling around her – and she will do whatever it takes to keep him.
But secrets can’t stay buried forever … and when they’re exposed, the truth can be devastating.
Three people drawn together by a crime; three lives torn apart by the chilling consequences. What is the mystery that haunts them all?
Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
She was fifteen, her mother’s golden girl.
She had her whole life ahead of her.
And then, in the blink of an eye, Ellie was gone.
Ten years on, Laurel has never given up hope of finding Ellie. And then she meets a charming and charismatic stranger who sweeps her off her feet.
But what really takes her breath away is when she meets his nine-year-old daughter.
Because his daughter is the image of Ellie.
Now all those unanswered questions that have haunted Laurel come flooding back.
What really happened to Ellie? And who still has secrets to hide?
If You Only Knew by Cynthia Clark
A wife, a mother, a killer.
One wrong decision, one terrifying night, leaves student Elizabeth with a stark choice – kill or be killed. And the consequences of that choice will shape her whole life.
Now a wife, a mother, and a lawyer, she must find a way to out run her past, protect her family and live with her secret. But is it really possible to live a happy life with such a huge shadow cast by the past? And as it becomes clear that someone else knows her secret and is hunting her down, time is running out for Elizabeth to keep her family safe.
In the bestselling tradition of Clare Mackintosh and Jenny Blackhurst, Cynthia Clark has written a heart-stopping story about the choices we make and how far we’d go to protect our families. Even if it means deceiving the people we love most…
The Two Marias by Jonathan Kis-Lev
FROM THE PRIZE-WINNING AUTHOR OF MY QUEST FOR PEACE ● WINNER OF THE BAMAHANE PRIZE ● Inspired by the lives of two World War II heroines, this remarkable debut novel reveals the incredible power of two women who changed history in their quest for love, freedom, and second chances.
In their early teens, two girls were forced to sit next to each other in school. Although they were complete opposites − one a social butterfly and the other a withdrawn bookworm − they soon realized that they shared similar experiences, hopes and dreams. Over time, they became best friends, against all expectations.
Until the war broke out.
Now, each was thrown into opposite sides of the conflict. And mistakes were made − unforgivable mistakes, that would shape both their futures.
How could their friendship possibly endure?
Sea of Clouds by Jeanette Ringel
One day something happened and John vanished. He left me. It was autumn, 1982. “But is that a fact?” asked Zhang. “I don’t know,” I said, opening the palms of my hands. When I met John, he was twenty-six years old and I was twenty. A few months later we got married. I thought we were happily married but one evening, all of a sudden, he said that he had to go. Why or where? He didn’t say. I wanted to go with him but he said, “No.” I asked, “But don’t you love me?” He said, “I do love you, and I was happy with you. That’s why I came to say goodbye” – and he left. Shortly after his thirty-first birthday, he was found dead in Guangzhou, China. I was there. I saw the body but, at that time, I didn’t give it too much thought.
We Were Here by Daisy Prescott
In the 90’s, sex was dangerous, music was life, and love was something no one had ever felt like we did.
We met in college, completely free for the first time in our lives and determined to enjoy every minute of it. For four years, we gossiped and flirted, partied and road-tripped. We were inseparable.
Each of us has our own story of falling in or out of love. Of finding out who we are. Of growing up.
We thought we knew everything. We knew nothing.
We Were Here is where the Modern Love Stories begins, in a standalone that perfectly captures the humor, angst, and sheer chaos of college.
Moments of Joy by Ysa Arcangel
With her family history of Alzheimer’s and at great risk of acquiring the disease, Brandy Curtis always plays safe. She had always avoided commitments like the plague.
However, everything changed when she met Ivo, a gorgeous doctor with irresistible charm. He was just supposed to be another hookup, but he quickly became so much more.
It started as a one night stand which was followed by another, and another. The more nights they spent together, the more Brandy felt that life had given her something to live for.
The timing couldn’t be worse. As her heart gets closer to Ivo, her memories begin to fade.
Will Brandy be able to actually have moments of joy with Ivo against the odds of losing herself into the recesses of her tangled brain?
Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak
It’s Christmas, and the Birch family is gathering for the first time in years.
Emma is elated at having everybody under one roof, but her oldest child, Olivia, is only home because she has nowhere else to go. She’s just returned from treating an epidemic abroad and must stay in quarantine for a week – and so, too should her family.
For the next seven days, no one can leave the house and no one can enter.
It doesn’t sound too hard. But a week with your nearest and dearest can feel like an eternity, especially when they’re all harbouring secrets.
One of whom is about to come knocking at their door…
The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan
Charlie Howard doesn’t just write books about a career thief, he also happens to be one.
In Amsterdam working on his latest novel, Charlie is approached by a mysterious American who asks him to steal two apparently worthless monkey figurines from two separate addresses on the same night. At first he says no. Then he changes his mind. Only later, kidnapped and bound to a chair, the American very dead and a spell in police custody behind him, does Charlie begin to realise how costly a mistake he might have made.
The police think he killed the American. Others think he knows the whereabouts of the elusive third monkey. But for Charlie only three things matter: Can he clear his name? Can he get away with the haul of a lifetime? And can he solve the briefcase-shaped plot-hole in his latest novel?
Tuscan Roots by Angela Petch
1943, occupied Italy
Ines Santini lived an idyllic and sheltered existence in the Tuscan hills until WWII reached her quiet town. She meets Norman, an escaped British POW, and their lives become entangled in a struggle against the larger forces of the war.
Years later, Anna, their daughter, sets out to unravel the mystery of her parents’ fate. All she has to go on are a handful of old letters and photographs left to her after her mother’s death. Anna travels to the beautiful Tuscan Apennines, where the story unfolds. In researching her parents’ past, she will discover secrets about them, the war, and herself, which will change her life forever…
The Hanging of Margaret Dickson by Alison J Butler
In an age when women are expected to know their place, be submissive, dutiful and chaste, Maggie Dickson, a Musselburgh fishwife, is often in trouble. She’s outspoken, promiscuous and vituperative. While her husband’s at sea, she sells her fish, sleeps with men for pleasure or money and looks after her two children. In time, her husband abandons her. Maggie quits Musselburgh and heads for Newcastle to stay with relatives.
During the winter of 1723, a fisherman finds the dead, naked body of a baby boy. Fingers are soon pointing in the direction of a stranger working in a local tavern, a woman recently estranged from her mariner husband. It is rumoured that she’s been having a passionate affair with the innkeeper’s young son, William Bell, and that he is the father of the dead child.
Maggie is arrested and taken to Edinburgh tollbooth to await trial, is found guilty and is sentenced to death. The news spreads like wildfire and, as Maggie languishes in jail, the whole city speculates whether or not she killed her child. Will she take her secret to her grave?
The Killing Barn by Jake Howard
When tragic circumstances force him to break the picket line in the 1984 national miner’s strike, murder and police corruption change the course of eighteen year old Baz Hawkes’ life in ways he could never imagine. Thirty years later an unexpected meeting with a solicitor reveals devastating secrets from his past, secrets Baz feels compelled to deal with. When a dismembered body is discovered on the outskirts of Durham City, Baz quickly becomes the prime suspect. DI Storm Buchannan is convinced Baz is the murderer…but can he prove it?
Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey
Step into a winter wonderland and fall in love in the snow this Christmas…
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…
A few weeks before Christmas and a sudden blanketing of snow has closed the roads and brought public transport grinding to a halt, stranding Izzy miles from home and in desperate need of rescuing.
That doesn’t mean she’s looking to bump into Rob and spend a cosy weekend holed up in his swanky flat watching London become a winter wonderland! Because Izzy and Rob have history…
Six months ago, they were standing in the vestry of a beautiful country church, while best man Rob delivered the news that every bride dreads on their big day.
But at the time of year when anything is possible, can Rob and Izzy let go of the past and let Christmas work its magic? Or will this be one holiday wish that Izzy lets walk right out of her life…
Hard copy purchases, book wins and gifts
I was introduced to Persephone Books by a friend and was taken by their ethos. They reprint neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers. All of their 125 books are intelligent, thought-provoking and beautifully written and are chosen to appeal to busy people wanting titles that are neither too literary nor too commercial. They publish novels, short stories, diaries, memoirs and cookery books; each has an elegant grey jacket, a ‘fabric’ endpaper with matching bookmark, and a preface by writers such as Jilly Cooper, David Kynaston and Elaine Showalter. Consequently I was tempted and my first purchase was Greengates by RC Sherriff (one of the male writers in their catalogue).
Greengates by RC Sherriff
Houses, architecture, living space, where the domestic happens: this is a strong theme at Persephone Books and RC Sherriff’s Greengates (1936), Persephone Book No. 113, is one of the novels that sums it up. The plot is timeless and simple: a man retires from his job but finds that never were truer words said than ‘for better, for worse but not for lunch’. His boredom, his wife’s (suppressed and confused) dismay at the quiet orderliness of her life being destroyed, their growing tension with each other, is beautifully and kindly described. Then one day they do something they used to do more often – leave St John’s Wood and go out into the countryside for the day. And that walk changes their lives forever: they see a house for sale, decide to move there, and the nub of the book is a description of their leaving London, the move, and the new life they create for themselves.
I was lucky to win several books this weeks and my first delivery was from Jo at My Chestnut Reading Tree and comprised a book win of Beneath the Skin with the added goodie of Sing Unburied Sing.
Beneath the Skin by Caroline England
Three women. Three secrets.
Antonia is beautiful and happily married. Her life is perfect. So why does she hurt herself when nobody’s watching?
Sophie is witty, smart and married to the best-looking man in town. She likes a drink, but who doesn’t?
Olivia is pretending to be a happy wife and mother. But her secret could tear her family apart.
Their lies start small, they always do. But if they don’t watch out, the consequences will be deadly.
Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward
An intimate portrait of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle, Sing, Unburied, Sing examines the ugly truths at the heart of the American story and the power – and limitations – of family bonds.
Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. His mother, Leonie, is in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is black and her children’s father is white. Embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances, she wants to be a better mother, but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use.
When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.
I received a lovely parcel from one of my blogging buddies Caryl at Mrs Bloggs’ Books via My Chronicle Book Box.
It contained lots of goodies which included the following books.
Did You see Melody by Sophie Hannah
Pushed to breaking point, Cara Burrows abandons her home and family and escapes to a five-star spa resort she can’t afford. Late at night, exhausted and desperate, she lets herself into her hotel room and is shocked to find it already occupied – by a man and a teenage girl.
A simple mistake on the part of the hotel receptionist – but Cara’s fear intensifies when she works out that the girl she saw alive and well in the hotel room is someone she can’t possibly have seen: the most famous murder victim in the country, Melody Chapa, whose parents are serving life sentences for her murder.
Cara doesn’t know what to trust: everything she’s read and heard about the case, or the evidence of her own eyes. Did she really see Melody?
And is she prepared to ask herself that question and answer it honestly if it means risking her own life?
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Just after midnight, a snowdrift stops the Orient Express in its tracks. The luxurious train is surprisingly full for the time of the year, but by the morning it is one passenger fewer. An American tycoon lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside.
Isolated and with a killer in their midst, detective Hercule Poirot must identify the murderer – in case he or she decides to strike again.
Last but not least I won a book from my wishlist courtesy of Wordery via a Twitter competition. I was delighted they elected to send me Basque, which I’ve had my eye on for a while.
Basque by José Pizarro
If you visit the Basque Country, you will undoubtedly fall in love. Located on the Spanish-French border in Northern Spain, it is home to some of the world’s finest restaurants, spectacular modern architecture and dramatic scenery.
In Basque, José Pizarro will take readers on a journey around this magical place, taking inspiration from traditional dishes and local ingredients, and adding his own unique twist. From the delicious bite-sized morsels known as pintxos Basque-style tapas to more hearty main meals and sumptuous desserts, José will show you how easy it is to prepare Spanish food at home. The cuisine of this region is wonderful to share with family and friends but it’s also about informality and not being a slave to your stove.
Set to the backdrop of the stunning views of San Sebastián and the rest of the Basque Country, Basque is a culinary jaunt around one of Spain’s most colourful and exciting destinations.
Another bumper book haul, and some very gratefully received hard copies to brighten up the past week.