Five on Friday with Barbara Copperthwaite @BCopperthwait

Today I’m delighted to welcome author Barbara Copperthwaite to Five on Friday. Barbara writes dark, psychological thrillers and her latest The Perfect Friend was published this month.

Me

Author Bio:

Barbara is a USA TODAY, Kobo, and Amazon bestselling author of dark psychological thrillers HER LAST SECRET, THE DARKEST LIES, INVISIBLE and FLOWERS FOR THE DEAD. Thanks to over twenty years’ experience as a national newspaper and magazine journalist, she’s interviewed the real victims of crime – and also those who have carried those crimes out. She knows the emotional impact of violence and wrong-doing. That’s why her novels are gritty, realistic and tackle not just the crime but its repercussions.

So over to Barbara:-

 

Which five pieces of music/songs which are included in the soundtrack to your life and why?

 

Gwen Stephani – What You Waiting For? – The lyrics are all about that confusion of wanting something but fearing failure, and it’s something that really resonates with me (and probably with most authors). The song actually came out back when I was a journalist, and listening to it made me decide to take a huge chance on a change of job. Ever since then, whenever I’ve wanted to take a leap of faith but felt fearful, I’ve ended up with that song in my head, reminding me that worries are natural but I shouldn’t let them control me.

Five years ago, this song was in my head, when I quit my job in order to become full-time author –  a decision I can honestly say I have never regretted.

I’m also quite an impatient person, so the lines about ‘what you waiting for’ suit my personality, as I hate waiting!

Vaughn Williams – The Lark Ascending – This classical music epitomises hot summer days in English countryside. One of my favourite things to do to relax is to go for a walk and lose myself in nature. Every time I hear The Lark Ascending it evokes wonderful memories of walking through long grass, the sun on my skin, and larks climbing into the blue sky above me as they sing. It brings tears to my eyes every time it is played, and I have to stop what I’m doing so I can soak up every note.

Make Someone Happy – Jimmy Durante – I’ve always loved this song. Its message is so simple but so right: ‘Make someone happy, make just one someone happy, and you will be happy, too.’

When I wrote Flowers For The Dead, a psychological crime thriller, the tune took on more meaning, though, as it seemed to sum up a main thread of the story. The main character, Adam, truly does just want to make somebody happy and be happy, too –  yet he is so messed up but he can never achieve that, and instead kills those that he loves.

Abba – Move On – One of my earliest memories is of singing along to this. Even then, the words seemed to speak to me, to paint a picture. My mum adored Abba and had all their albums, so I know them all by heart still, but this is one that always struck me as particularly beautiful.

Don’t Stop Moving – Livin’ Joy – A real 90s dance anthem that’s 100 per cent guaranteed to get me moving and feeling happy. Such positive lyrics! ‘You can do anything that you want to do, put your mind, body and soul to it; prove it to yourself and say “I want”, “I will”, “I can do anything”.’

If you’re feeling down, put it on, dance around, sing along at the top of your voice, and by the end of it all negativity will be banished, and you’ll be raring to beat any challenge. That’s how I feel anyway!

Highlight five things (apart from family and friends) you would find it hard to live without

 

My dogs. Buddy and Scamp make me laugh, even when I’m feeling down. I’ve had Scamp, my cockapoo, from a pup, while Buddy is a rescue dog of indiscriminate breed and age. Together, they complete my family. People could learn a lot from dogs about the joy in simple pleasures; living in the moment rather than worrying about the future or the past; and the giving and receiving of pure, uncomplicated, unconditional love. My dogs give me so much more than I could ever give them, and every single day I am grateful for having them in my life – even if they do demand I throw tennis balls for them when I’m supposed to be writing.

My teapot. I’m a fruit tea addict, and my pot is pretty much permanently by my side. Having a pot rather than a mug makes me feel terribly old-fashioned and civilised. There is something so calming about the act of stopping what I’m doing, pouring a cup, then taking a sip, before plunging on with my writing.

Walks in nature. I get most of my ideas while waking. They pop into my head from nowhere. Even in deepest, darkest mid-winter, I have to get out for a walk or I’ll go stir crazy. Even when I worked in an office full-time, at lunch I had to walk. It’s as though my brain is powered by my moving feet.

Music. I love all forms of music, and always have something on whether I’m cooking, doing, housework, reading, or writing. Each book seems to have a different musical theme as I type: I mainly listened to birdsong and soundtracks of nature for The Darkest Lies; dance music for Her Last Secret; and classical for The Perfect Friend. It’s strange how the two creative forms seem to link up in my head, and I would truly struggle without music.

Books. Come on, I wouldn’t be much of a writer if I could live without books!

Can you offer the five pieces of advice you’d give to your younger self?

Don’t listen to the advice and opinions of others so much that they drown out your own views.

Don’t look back – and don’t over-reach for the future.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Don’t spend all your savings on that cute red Mini Metro – it’s falling apart and its brakes don’t work. Wait a while and a better first car will come along…one that actually stops.

Believe – because everything does work out in the end.

 

Tell us five things that most people don’t know about you

I’ve held a fair few random jobs. As well as being a journalist, I’ve also worked as a waitress, glass collector, cabin crew, and in a men’s prison.

I love sewing, though don’t get to do it very often. My mum made all of our clothes when I was growing up, so it’s second nature to me to make things. It’s incredibly relaxing.

Nature is a real passion of mine. I used to have a nature blog, with my photographs and features about wildlife on, but I’ve had to let it slide for the last few years as I’m so busy with my psychological thrillers. One day it will be resurrected, though. Information from the blog was used by The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and The Black Country, in order to catalogue nature at my local park and create a plan to safeguard the park’s future. I’m very proud of that.

Painting and drawing is a hobby of mine. Many of the nature photographs I take are then turned into sketches.

I can wiggle my little toes independently of all my other toes.

What are the first five things you’d have on your bucket list?

Funnily enough, I pondered this while writing The Perfect Friend, as one of the characters, Alex, is trying to make Carrie’s bucket list dreams come true – and that’s what triggers mysterious, threatening messages being delivered to the dying woman. Hopefully, that isn’t what will happen to me once I reveal my list.

My bucket list is all about animals.

Firstly, I’d love to see mountain gorillas. As a child of eight, while most people had posters of pop stars on their bedroom walls, I had a photograph of Dian Fossey in Rwanda with the mountain gorillas. She was a heroine of mine, and I wanted desperately to be like her. It would be the fulfilment of a lifelong dream to see them.

Second on my list is another childhood dream: to visit the Galapagos Islands. The species there are unique, and helped Darwin confirm his theories on evolution – just thinking about seeing it gets my heart pumping.

Blue whales breaching the sea, flipping onto their backs, then flopping down with an almighty splash has to be one of the most amazing sights in the world. They are the largest creatures known to have lived on earth. What a huge honour it would be to see them – and that’s why they are third on my bucket list.

Fourth is to travel to Borneo to see orangutan, and all the other incredible flora and fauna.

Finally, I need to travel to Africa for a safari, ideally the Ngorongoro Crater, in Tanzania. It’s world renowned for being the most incredible sanctuary for wildlife, enjoying the highest density of mammals in Africa across its crater floor. I’d spent a wonderful time there, seeing buffalo, wildebeest, rhinos, gazelles, elephants, lions, giraffes… I wish I could be there right now, but for now it’s enough to know that one day I will visit.

 

Thanks so much for sharing with us Barbara. I love the eclectic music choices and as another Abba fan, I’m glad to see one in there. Glad to see you enjoy sewing, I have aspirations to sew, but managed to fail my ‘O’ level needlework twice! Lovely fact about your toes, I’m sure on reading that we’re all trying to do the same. Hope you get to achieve some, if not all on your bucket list. I can recommend Borneo, I’ve been lucky enough to visit and the trip to the Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre was magical. 

 

Barbara’s Books

 

The Perfect FriendThe Perfect Friend

She’ll do anything for you…

My name is Alex, and my world has been shattered.
My husband has left me.
My children won’t speak to me.
My friend Carrie is the only person I have.
She’s the only one I can trust to keep all my secrets.
She’d never do anything to let me down.
Would she?

This dark, gripping psychological thriller will have you holding your breath until the very last page.

 

Her Last SecretHer Last Secret

Some secrets you can never tell.

Everyone thinks the Thomases are the perfect family: grand London house, gorgeous kids.

They don’t know wife Dominique is a paranoid wreck.
They don’t know husband Ben is trapped in a web of deceit.
They don’t know daughter Ruby lives in fear of the next abusive text.
But someone knows all their secrets.

Can the lies that bind them tear them apart?

 

The Darkest LiesThe Darkest Lies

A mother desperate for the truth. A daughter hiding a terrible secret.

Melanie Oak appeared to have the perfect life. Married to her childhood sweetheart, Jacob, the couple live with their beautiful, loving, teenage daughter, Beth, in a pretty village.

Nothing can shake her happiness – until the day that Beth goes missing and is discovered beaten almost to the point of death, her broken body lying in a freezing creek on the marshes near their home.

Consumed with grief, Melanie is determined to find her daughter’s attacker. Someone in the village must have seen something. Why won’t they talk?

As Melanie tries to piece together what happened to Beth, she discovers that her innocent teenager has been harbouring some dark secrets of her own. The truth may lie closer to home and put Melanie’s life in terrible danger…

 

Flowers for the DeadFlowers for the Dead

ADAM WILL DO ANYTHING TO MAKE LAURA HAPPY. EVEN IF IT KILLS HER.

After a devastating car crash wipes out her family, Laura struggles to get her life together. Grieving, she becomes forgetful. She doesn’t remember how money got into her purse, or buying that pint of milk…

Adam is the perfect boyfriend. He cooks meals. He does the housework. He looks after Laura’s every need. He knows everything about her.

But Laura has never met Adam. And she knows nothing about him.

What turned him into a monster who stalks his victims? How did he become warped from a sensitive boy who adored the fairy tales his gran read to him? And what is he trying to say with the bouquets he sends?

 

InvisibleInvisible

THERE’S ONE VICTIM OF CRIME NO ONE NOTICES…
Something is wrong. With her marriage, with her husband, with her. But as she pours her heart out to her diary, it’s clear she doesn’t know what.
Until one explosive night she finds a possible answer.
Suddenly hated and vilified by everyone, she clings to her relationship – even while wondering if she really knows her husband at all…
INVISIBLE is a stunningly powerful, gripping and original psychological thriller of subtle insight that takes you on a twisted journey through one woman’s marriage.

 

You can keep up to date with what Barbara is doing via

Her website

Twitter

Facebook

 

 

 

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Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan 3.5*s #review

Paris by the Book

Amazon Blurb

Some stories are still waiting to be found.

In a city of millions, it’s easy to lose someone…

Twelve weeks before Leah Eady arrived in France, her husband disappeared. Early one morning, he walked out the door and never came back. All he left behind was a scrumpled note in a cereal box, leading her to the bustling streets of Paris.

Once she arrives, she discovers a mysterious unfinished manuscript written by her husband, and set in the very same city. Hoping to uncover more clues, Leah takes over a crumbling bookshop with her two young daughters, only to realise that he might just be closer than any of them ever imagined…

…but what if he doesn’t want to be found?

 

My Review

Leah and Robert had an unconventional start to their relationship and it has be said, an equally unconventional marriage, given they had children. From their initial meeting they were drawn together by a shared love of Paris, he through his love of the Madeline novels by Ludwig Bemelmans and her through her love of the film The Red Balloon  by Albert Lamorrise.  Unfortunately they live in Wisconscin, and once married with 2 daughters, Leah’s dream of bookshops and Paris has become a pipedream. Until the day that Roberts disappears. However as Robert has a tendency to vacate himself from the marital home, with little more than a note left behind, its a while before its apparent he’s not coming back. The scribbled note finally found in a cereal packet, referring to 4 tickets to Paris being the only indication that whether temporary or permanent, it was intentional. So Leah ups sticks with her daughters Daphne and Ellie to go to Paris in search of the elusive Robert, where she is convinced he’s residing.

It’s an interesting and enticing premise for a book with a cracking opening line, ‘Once a week, I chase men who are not my husband’. It throws up several mysteries. Why has Robert disappeared, and has he really fled to Paris? Does Leah really see the links between the ‘clues’ she finds or are they all imagined? In searching for Robert, Leah introduces us to the delights of Paris. In fact the book is almost a love letter to Paris. Though I feel it’s a Paris that many of us have in our imagination rather than one founded on contemporary fact. It’s an Art House Paris of smoky bars, accordian players, bohemian stores and bookshops. Think Edith Piaf meets Henri Cartier-Bresson, it’s certainly easy to get sucked in to the atmospheric if not nostalgic portrayal.

I really wanted to love this book, and while I enjoyed it, at times I found myself more in love with Paris that the story itself. There were several reasons for this, not least of which being the premise that I failed to engage with Leah and Robert’s relationship. More because it all seemed at times like game playing, rather than real life. As the book progresses I can see that for Robert, I believe it was because he had unacknowledged mental health issues. For Leah, I can’t find extenuating reasons, for the way she drew her daughters into a chase across the other side of the world, while being less than truthful with them. It was hard at times, to see them trying to come to terms what had happened, veering as it did between grief for a lost father and anger at having been abandoned.  The other main reason was the constant references to Bemelmans and Lamorrise, for me it was overdone almost to the point of obsession. I felt the constant references slowed the progress down and didn’t add to the enjoyment. Perhaps if I had a working knowledge or interest in either it might feel less intrusive.

Despite the negatives, I was certainly engaged enough to want to find out exactly what happened. Was Robert dead as the Police had decreed, or was he really shadowing the family in Paris. That aspect of the mystery was what kept me going and thankfully there was a resolution and not one I necessarily envisaged.

If you love Paris, bookshops, complicated relationships and mysteries then this is certainly one that might appeal, but just be prepared to flip a few pages at times.

Thanks to Harper Collins for a proof copy.

On Being Yourself

I sat down this afternoon intending to prepare and schedule some Five on Friday posts, and if I was lucky, also aimed to catch up with some reviews. However one of the tweets I read this morning, and my response to it, got me thinking about what we post. It also picked up on a question that was posed on a Facebook page a while ago about making ‘personal’ posts on your Twitter page.

The tweet that made me think was from my friend and author Gina Kirkham who shared one of her blog posts yesterday to coincide with London Pride. It was a post about being supportive and inclusive of her own family members that are gay. However as a result she lost a lot of Twitter followers and had some offensive replies. Thankfully her response was to share it again and I was happy to Retweet in support. Whether that loses me any followers I don’t know and should I care?

The question that was posed on Facebook (which I can’t now find) related to the best of  my remembering about making non book related Twitter posts on your Twitter feed. My personal view is, it’s your Twitter feed, so it’s up to you what you post and share. For those whose blogs are entirely book related I can see that restricting your Twitter feed to bookish posts is entirely consistent, especially when it operates under a blog/author banner.

For others, like myself, who don’t restrict their blog to bookish topics, I will post whatever takes my fancy. Obviously because of my recent ‘dance’ with  cancer I have other followers with cancer and I will like, share and RT their posts. But I will also like, share and RT any other posts that take my fancy, irregardless of topic. When I first jumped into the wacky world of Twitter it was as Jill’s Book Cafe and I did for the most part restrict it to bookish posts. But a while ago I changed it to Jill @JillsBookCafe a subtle change, but I felt it was more me and allowed me to dive in to share whatever I wanted.

So back to the question, should I just because I can? For me the answer is yes. The thing is I’ve never been good at keeping shtum. If you ask friends who know me, they would probably describe me as opinionated and gobby – and I can’t argue with that, I am. So passing by on Twitter isn’t easy for me. I will pass comment, I will share posts that I agree with and others might not, and that’s the issue that causes problems. As ever, its other people.

Should I consider ‘other people’ before I Tweet or Retweet. Clearly yes, in the sense that I would never intentionally post anything that was offensive. Of course, what is offensive is a minefield, but it seems to me that too many people take offence at anything that they don’t agree with. Before I start down the road of hypocrisy, in that I can say what I like, but no-one else can, let me try to clarify. For anyone who doesn’t know me, I am not particularly religious (more agnostic than atheist, with Buddhist leanings) and I have no issues whatsoever with other people’s religious leanings. I am heterosexual, but I have no problems with anyone who is isn’t. I’m white but I don’t have issues with anyone who isn’t. I’m British/English, but don’t have issues with anyone who isn’t. I think you get the message, just because I’m one thing, doesn’t mean that’s the ‘only’ thing. Essentially I try and live a “do as you would be done by” sort of life. So essentially, I try and treat people in the same way as I would like them to treat me. So the things I take offence at are the things that I, and I hope most right-minded people would take offence at, namely racism, homophobia, animal cruelty, poverty, greed and abuse of any description, I could go on (and frequently do as my OH will tell you). So those are the things that I might rail against on Twitter and yes at times it means it gets political. But that is how I feel, and I don’t feel I should censor myself on my page. Similarly I wouldn’t expect other people to either.

If people take offence at my views, then that is their choice and should they choose to unfollow, I’m happy for them to do so. When I started this blog it was to have a place to bring my reviews together. That people actually followed me, was a happy bonus. Over time, it has also became a place for me to share my views on other bookish things, and also more personal issues. So this blog is me, and by extension so is my Twitter page. For me, there is also an arrogance in assuming that what I say matters, if that makes sense. I’m not some boy band member that has to pretend to be single to avoid alienating fans. I’m not selling anything, I’m not looking to gain a following or readership, I’m simply sharing my opinions. If you don’t agree or don’t want to read them, then just pass on by, or if you feel the need, unfollow. But life is too short to spend it worrying about what other people think. There is a lovely quote that sums up my view and this is it,

 

Those who mind don't matter.png

The Temptation of Gracie by Santa Montefiore – 4*s #review @SantaMontefiore ‏@BookMinxSJV

tEMPTATION OF gRACIE

Amazon Link (published 12 July)

Amazon Blurb

Never give up on your dreams, no matter how long you hold on to them . . .

When Gracie Burton stumbles upon an advertisement for a week-long cookery course in the heart of the Tuscan countryside,she cannot resist, and ploughs her life savings into the trip.

Her only family – daughter Carina and granddaughter Anastasia – are hesitant about what has prompted this seemingly random venture. But they have no sense of Gracie’s past; of what could possibly be calling her to Italy. They have no idea that Gracie is harbouring the secret of an extraordinary life that preceded them . . .

 

My Review

Yet another enticing cover, and one that paves the way for a story that I certainly wouldn’t have guessed at.

Gracie Burton is a 68-year-old widow, she’s cautious, unadventurous and likes to stay out of the limelight. Which is what makes her decision to book a holiday to Tuscany, to learn to cook Italian food all the more extra-ordinary. While it gives her neighbours in the village something to gossip about, it gives her daughter Carina something to worry about.  The reality is, Carina hasn’t visited in a while, citing work and life commitments, so she’s not sure if her mother is seriously ill or losing her mind. Whatever the reason, she decides that shy, timid Gracie can’t possibly go on her own, so she and her teenage daughter Anastacia (Gracie’s granddaughter) will go as well.

I anticipated  a story of a family rediscovering themselves and this was certainly part of the plot, but what I couldn’t envisage was the unfolding story of Gracie’s past. One that she had withheld from both her family and her husband. By returning to Italy, Gracie also re-discovered something of the vibrant and energetic woman she had been in her youth. As well as revealing a tale that shocked her family when all was revealed.

I loved Gracie from the start, and I enjoyed the village characters she had made her life among. From the pomposity of Flappy Scott-Booth who was everything her name suggests, to the gossipiness of Harry Pratt (who it transpired had a pretty big secret of his own). Her life in the little seaside village she’d been part of for 40 years was far removed from the life she’d led before she married Ted.

I took longer to warm to Carina, whose initial obsession with work, worldly trappings and not her mother, and to some degree her daughter irked me. Gracie was treated more like a maiden aunt, you keep meaning to visit, rather than a mother. Similarly, Gracie had no real relationship with Anastacia, as they never had the opportunity to bond. This trip, could either make or break the fragile threads, but you’ll need to discover that for yourself.

Gracie’s secret as it unfolds, is certainly a dramatic one. Initially I thought it too dramatic and implausible, but then that’s because I was probably guilty of pigeon-holing Gracie based on her current persona. Mea culpa, as all readers know, we should never judge a book by its cover (which I do – just look how I started this review!). So all I will say, is sit back and enjoy because it’s a compelling tale.

If you like your stories to have drama, romance, secrets (oh what secrets!), humour and of course food then this is the book for you. A perfect summer read, in fact a perfect anytime read.

Thanks to Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read this is advance of publication.

 

Fatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys 4*s #Review @MsTamarCohen @alisonbarrow @TransworldBooks

Fatal Inheritance

Amazon Link (publication date 26 July)

Book blurb

She didn’t have an enemy in the world … 
until she inherited a fortune

London 1948: Eve Forrester is trapped in a loveless marriage.

Out of the blue, she receives a solicitor’s letter. A wealthy stranger has left her a mystery inheritance, and in order to find out more, she must travel to the glittering French Riviera.

But while she rubs shoulders with film-stars and writers, under the heat of the sun, rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge. Rivals who want her out of the way.

Alone in paradise, Eve must unlock the story behind her surprise bequest – before events turn deadly…

 

 My Review

Smitten by both the cover and the blurb I couldn’t wait to dive into this one. Once started it didn’t take long to find myself drawn into a beautifully atmospheric tale with a mystery at its heart.

Eve Forrester is a biddable wife, trapped in a sterile marriage that she only entered into to escape an equally soulless existence with her widowed mother. Sadly having lost her fiance in the war, she knows what love can be like and it isn’t what she now has with Clifford. Little wonder then, that when she receives news of an unexpected inheritance she is keen to discover more. The fact that to do so means travelling to the French Riviera only adds to the  excitement.

Arriving in Cannes, it’s easy to see how Eve is totally enchanted by the lifestyle she finds there. A direct contrast to the gloomy, make do and mend mentality of post war Britain. This is a land of parties, cocktails and glamour (though best not to delve too deeply as to where the money is coming from). Her inheritance is a share in the Lester family villa, Villa La Perle, though she has no idea as to who her benefactor Guy Lester is, or why he would leave it to her. Disconcertingly, his widow and sons are of the same opinion about Eve and the assumptions made are not pleasant ones. Drawn between cutting her losses and returning to a stifling life with Clifford; or enjoying just a few days of freedom and yearning to discover the mystery surrounding her inheritance, Eve decides to stay.

I loved the unfolding story, as it wasn’t just Eve’s mystery that was engaging, but also the blossoming friendships she was making with an assortment of characters. From the down to earth Colletts, to Hollywood actress Gloria, and Stanley, the hard-drinking American writer in residence at Villa La Perle. This was her introduction into a world reminiscent of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway – who wouldn’t be  captivated. The fact that Eve is a sympathetic character means you’re very quickly on her side. Though the same can cannot be said for her indifferent mother, her controlling husband or the disdainful and privileged Lester family. But while Eve is busy finding her feet, as well as answers, and starting to grow in confidence, someone appears to be making damned sure she stops. The questions are, who and why?

I loved the contrast between the grey post-war austerity and the colourful lavish parties of the Cote d’Azur. The descriptions were perfect in summing up the scenes and setting the historical context. They really drew you into the atmospheric maelstrom that Eve found herself at the centre of. As secrets begin to emerge, it’s clear that the stories that have been buried, are not ones that anyone could have anticipated.

This is a great, escapist read that combines glitz and glamour, compelling characters, atmospheric settings and a dark, dramatic secret at its heart that really keeps you hooked.

Thanks to Transworld for providing an ARC.

 

Bookchoice selection for July @BookchoiceEN

It’s the beginning of the month and time to look at this month’s offerings from Bookchoice. Described as “the digital book service in your pocket” Bookchoice select eight e-books and audiobooks  for £3.99 a month. Yes, you read that correctly £3.99 a month (payable annually in advance). Every month the Bookchoice team selects a range of titles  – from bestsellers and award-winners to the latest literary hits and sends them direct to your email inbox.  Where books are offered in e-book and audiobook format, the offer isn’t for one or the other – it’s for both!! I subscribed in January and here are the titles for this month.

E-book and Audio Titles

All the Beautiful Lies All the Beautiful lies by Peter Swanson

In a sleepy village in Maine, a man falls from a cliff top to his death. His son, Harry Ackerson, has just graduated from college and has nobody left but his enigmatic stepmother, Alice. When the police inform Harry that they are treating the murder as suspicious, he decides to take matters into his own hands to find his father’s killer.

But when Alice claims she knows who was behind it, Harry begins searching for clues closer to home – and discovers far more than he bargained for…

An addictive, paranoia-inducing page-turner, All the Beautiful Lies is an endlessly suspenseful new novel by the bestselling author of The Kind Worth Killing.

 

The Marble CollectorThe Marble Collector by Cecelia Ahern

Sabrina Boggs’s life, like most, is drab and ordered by routine. She longs for something to happen and break the cycle of monotony within which she has become trapped. But when, one day, something does happen and she chances upon a collection of her father’s old possessions, she begins to learn things she never knew about him.

With only 24 hours on the clock, she now finds herself with more questions – about her childhood and who her father was – than answers…

Witty, poignant and elegantly spun, The Marble Collector is a thought-provoking look at how well we truly know those we love.

 

Hidden FiguresHidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly 

In the 1940s, many women in the United States were offered jobs for the first time due to labour shortages in the war effort. Whilst many accepted employment in hospitals and munitions factories, a select few were hired to work at the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory – a key part of NASA’s research programme.

This is the true story of four black women who, during a time of racial segregation in the United States, were employed by NASA as ‘human computers’. Their battle to overcome stereotypes for women and non-whites – and to propel the US to the forefront of the space race – is a story for the ages.

A remarkable and singular look into the decades-old struggle against race and gender inequality, Hidden Figures is an iconoclastic tribute to four unique women – and an iconic moment in American history.

 

Conversations with FriendsConversations with Friends by Sally Rooney

When Frances and Bobbi meet Melissa and her handsome husband Nick, the world suddenly seems a more interesting place. Conversations about identity, politics, literature and sex begin to colour their emotional lives, and each grows addicted to the other in an all-consuming ménage-a-quatre.

Frances wants it all, at least in theory. But when she begins an affair with the married Nick, she quickly discovers the perils of living for the moment and is forced to confront the tangled mess that her reality has become. Capturing the energy, confusion and unpredictability of modern romance, Conversations with Friends is a hilarious and deeply felt love story for our times.

 

The Iron ChariotThe Iron Chariot by Stein Riverton

In an unseasonably hot Scandinavian summer on a popular island resort, a man is found dead. When Asbjorn Krag, a famed detective from Kristiania turns up to investigate the murder, he seems – to the bemusement of the locals – to be more interested in lounging in the sun than finding the killer.

But when another man is murdered, Krag suddenly finds himself caught in a game of cat-and-mouse – and a mysterious iron chariot, heard but never seen, seems to be at the centre of it all…

A dark and brooding whodunnit with echoes of Agatha Christie, The Iron Chariot is a cornerstone of Scandinavian crime fiction that will keep you guessing until the last page.

 

In SecureIn Secure by Andrew Pack

Real-life lawyer Andrew Pack spins an twisting tale of ten incarcerated teens in Saffron Park. This is where they send the worst of the worst. The last stop before the judicial system throws in the towel. A host of characters – violent, cunning, and angry – are all struggling to cope with imprisonment and each other.

However, they are about to learn that something even more dangerous is lurking. One boy, with his book of spells, is busy unlocking something sinister within the prison, something that has been locked up far longer than they have… and is even more desperate to get out.

 

E-book only titles

 

Born on the Fourth of JulyBorn on the Fourth of July by Ron Kovic

Ron is the hero of the Veteran’s Day parade; fresh returned from Vietnam, and paralysed from the chest down. A symbol for old commanders to point to, using Ron’s twisted body as reason to keep fighting.

But none of them have seen the battlefields, the veterans’ hospitals, the men with half their brains blown out awarded purple hearts like it mattered. Those are Ron’s memories, and he has to live with them.

Born on the Fourth of July is an unflinching account of trauma; the dark places it can drag you to, and the good you might claw back out.

 

I remember Nelson MandelI Remember Nelson Mandela (Anthology) by Vimla Naidoo and Sahm Venter 

Madiba was stoic, but his grin could be infectious.

Madiba was tough, but at the sight of a baby his face would light up, and he’d sing nursery rhymes.

Madiba was brave, but when his plane hit turbulence he would look down at his feet and say a quiet prayer.

I Remember Nelson Mandela is not a book about a distant titan of history. Told from the perspective of those who knew and loved him, it is the story of a complex, generous and incomparable human being.

Now more than one hundred people, from household staff to bodyguards to presidential advisors, have offered their poignant and often humorous insights into life behind the scenes with one of the most beloved political figures in history.

 

Audio Book only titles

 

Mother LandMother Land by Paul Theroux

This semi-autobiographical novel depicts life in a family of eight children – seven living and one dead – under a tyrannical matriarch called Mother. As the children age into adulthood, they constantly vye with each other for her favour which she bestows selectively and sparingly on all except Angela, who died in childbirth.

This heartbreaking yet hilarious account of growing up in a modern dysfunctional family explores what it is to be tied to your family, no matter how messed up they might be.

 

The AttachmentThe Attachment by Ailsa Piper and Tony Doherty

With certain friends, you can talk about anything. You can tackle the big questions in life: about grief, faith, and which are the best liquorice allsorts.
For Ailsa Piper, an author, theatre director and confessed atheist, this turned out to be an 80-year-old priest living on the other side of the country. It was, to put it mildly, a surprising friendship.

But through their letters, the two built a treasured bond based on curiosity, humour and a gentle empathy for another person’s experience.

The Attachment pulses with life, and tackles the big questions of how we should be living it.

 

A pretty impressive selection for £3.99 I think. If you want to take a look at Bookchoice you can find them here.  I would like to make it clear that I have no affiliation with Bookchoice, I’m choosing to share this with you, purely because I think it’s a great subscription package.

 

 

 

 

 

June Book Haul

Another month full of good intentions, but yet again the temptation was too great. On the plus side my hauling only cost me £22.96 which is pretty impressive for the 40 books I actually purchased.   Maybe in July …

Kindle Purchases

 

Beneath these StarsBeneath these Stars by Hannah Ellis

One senseless tragedy; one family torn apart…

Perfect couple Lucy and Adam have it all: a home in the picturesque village of Havendon, budding careers and a sparkling future. Life is exactly as it should be.

But when tragedy strikes and Adam becomes the guardian to his two young nieces, their idyllic life is turned upside down.

Adam and Lucy’s relationship is about to be pushed to the limit. And this devastated family must find a way to pull together in the most testing of times…

 

Finding VerityFinding Verity by Jenny Loudon

Verity Westwood, successful businesswoman, living in London, mother of two grown daughters, dreams of a more exciting life. Her husband is handsome but selfish, her career leaves her cold, and her Fulham home is comfortable but has no heart, now that her daughters have left.

Edward Farrell, a nomadic American journalist from her past, returns unexpectedly, and she is swept by the irresistible desire to fulfil her dreams of working as an artist, like her famous father before her. After being caught in a storm on the Cote d’Azur, she vows to change her life.

What she does not foresee is the struggle involved, the ultimate price she will pay, and the powerful force of enduring love that changes everything.

 

The Girl on the BusThe Girl on the Bus by NM Brown

A retired detective and a young woman are about to face their worst fears.

Vicki Reiner is emotionally isolated and craves the fleeting happiness she experienced in the years prior to her college graduation. In an attempt to recapture this, she invites her  old friend, Laurie,  for a break at her deserted beachside home. However, despite booking an online bus ticket, her friend never shows up.

Unable to accept the bizarre circumstances of the disappearance, Vicki approaches the police who dismiss her concerns before enlisting the reluctant help of Leighton Jones – a newly retired detective who is haunted by the death of his teenage daughter.

Despite trying to remain detached from the case, Leighton is drawn to Vicki and her search for justice.

The unlikely pair face numerous obstacles but using a combination of methods they track down the answers across the dusty freeways of North America.  Soon Vicki and Leighton will find themselves in grave danger.

Will they ever discover what happened to Laurie?

And can they both escape with their lives?

 

DisposalDisposal by David Evans

August 1976 and it seems as though the long hot summer will never end. Early morning at Clacton on the north Essex coast, a light aircraft takes off from the airstrip but struggles for height and crashes into the sea. First on the scene, Sgt Cyril Claydon pulls the pilot’s body from the wreckage. But something else catches his eye. A bulky package wrapped in black plastic is on the passenger seat. Returning to investigate, he makes a grim discovery – another body. And so begins a series of events that puts him and others in danger as he is drawn into the investigation, having to work alongside DI ‘Dick’ Barton, a man with totally alien attitudes.
Can they work together?

 

The Continuity GirThe Continuity Girl by Patrick Kincaid

1969. Hollywood descends on a tiny Scottish village for the making of Billy Wilder’s most ambitious picture yet: a sprawling epic detailing The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes. But the formidable director and his crew soon come into conflict with Jim Outhwaite, a young scientist seeking evidence for monsters.

2014. Stuck just a short walk from the East London street where she grew up, ambitious Film Studies lecturer Gemma MacDonald is restless and hungry for change. A job offer in the Highlands seems to offer escape – but only at a cost to her relationships with family and an equally ambitious American boyfriend.

Then a lost print of Gemma’s favourite film turns up, and with it, an idea…
Two stories, separated by 45 years, are set on collision course – on the surface of Loch Ness, under the shadow of a castle – by the reappearance of the continuity girl herself: April Bloom.

 

Now You See HerNow You See Her by Heidi Parks

Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.

Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable: tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.

Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again.
Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.

Someone is hiding the truth about what really happened to Alice.

 

The Map of UsThe Map of Us by Jules Preston

A story of love and lost directions

Violet North is wonderfully inconvenient. Abandoned by her family and lost in an imagined world of moors and adventure, her life changes in the space of just 37 words exchanged with a stranger at her front door.

Decades later, Daniel Bearing has inherited his father’s multi-million pound business, and is utterly lost. He has no idea who he is or where his life is headed.

When Violet’s granddaughter’s marriage falls apart, Tilly, always adept with numbers, compiles a detailed statistical report to pinpoint why. But the Compatibility Index Tilly creates has unforeseen consequences for everyone in her world.

Tilly and Daniel share a secret too. 10.37am, April 22nd.
Soon, a complex web of secrets and lies is exposed and an adventure begins with a blue typewriter…

 

Some Particular EvilSome Particular Evil by Vera Morris

Who killed Susan Nicholson?

Laurel Bowman has started a new life as a teacher on the isolated Suffolk coast while she tries to get over the murder of her sister. But it seems she cannot escape from death. Laurel is shocked to find that the headmaster’s wife has been killed, and all the school staff are suspects. The detective in charge, idiosyncratic DI Frank Diamond, was involved in her sister’s case. Together they start to unravel the truth. Soon the murderer strikes again and Laurel must fight, not just for justice, but for her life.

 

The Lost LettersThe Lost Letters by Sarah Mitchell (published 2 August 2018)

What if keeping your loved ones safe meant never seeing them again?

Canada, present day

When Martha’s beloved father dies, he leaves her two things: a mysterious stash of letters to an English woman called ‘Catkins’ and directions to a beach hut in the English seaside town of Wells-Next-The-Sea. Martha is at a painful crossroads in her own life, and seizes this chance for a trip to England – to discover more about her family’s past, and the identity of her father’s secret correspondent.

Norfolk, 1940

Sylvia’s husband Howard has gone off to war, and she is struggling to raise her two children alone. Her only solace is her beach hut in Wells, and her friendship with Connie, a woman she meets on the beach. The two women form a bond that will last a lifetime, and Sylvia tells Connie something that no-one else knows: about a secret lover… and a child.

But the tragedy of war brings heartbreaking choices. And a promise made between the two women will echo down the years, and could change everything for Martha…

 

Secrets and Tea at Rosie Lee'Secrets and Tea at Rosie Lee’s by Jane Lacey-Crane

Welcome to Rosie Lee’s cafe in the heart of the East End – where there’s not an avocado, slice of sourdough or double-shot no-foam soy milk caramel latte on the menu!

Rosie-Lee’s owner Abby is a woman without a plan… and her beloved little cafe is a business with a serious lack of customers. The Rosie Lee’s fry-up is legendary, but cooked breakfasts alone – however perfectly sizzled the bacon – aren’t going to pay the bills.

Fast approaching forty and fighting a serious case of empty nest syndrome, Abby realises it’s not just her menu that needs a makeover. And when Jack Chance, her The One That Got Away, saunters through the cafe doors and back into her life things definitely look set to change…

Abby has always believed a cup of strong builders tea makes everything better, but Jack’s reappearance is a complication even the trusty sausage sarnie can’t resolve…

 

Small Town DreamsSmall Town Dreams by J F Cumming

A humorous tale following a football fanatic and his long-suffering girlfriend as they travel around the world, spending an unexpected redundancy payment in Thailand, Hong Kong, China, Australia, Easter Island, Chile and America.

Growing up in the small English town of High Wycombe wasn’t overly glamorous. James spent his youth dreaming of two things – travelling the world and, more ambitiously, seeing his lowly local football team, Wycombe Wanderers, experience a glorious FA Cup run.

As the reality of adulthood took hold, neither dream looked any closer to reality… then came a redundancy for James and a First Round draw at home against Harrow Borough for the Wanderers.

SMALL TOWN DREAMS follows the events of the next six months. Six extraordinary months in a very ordinary life.

 

The WishThe Wish by Alex Brown

The touching and emotional new novel from the No.1 bestselling author of The Great Christmas Knit-Off and The Secret of Orchard Cottage

Sam Morgan knows he messed up with his wife Chrissie and daughter Holly – he wasn’t there when they needed him most, but now he’ll do anything to put his family back together again. Until then, he’s back living in the picture-postcard village of Tindledale.

Jude Darling is coming home for good this time. She’s taking over the antique shop in Tindledale, the place where she grew up and she’s going to make sure she’s there for her friend, Chrissie, and Goddaughter, Holly. They certainly need her right now.

As for Holly, there’s only one thing she wants and it’s not the sort of thing you can buy in a shop. She might be thirteen years old, but Holly still believes in wishes, and perhaps if she wishes hard enough, this one might come true…

 

Single to EdinburghSingle to Edinburgh by Diane M Dickson

After losing her baby, Katherine has struggled with life, and her increasingly estranged husband. She decides to take off to Edinburgh, where she meets a man who showers her with kindness. Despite his tenderness, however, Katherine resolves to rescue her marriage. But when this is met by her partner Bill’s indifference…

An intelligent and sensitive woman breaks out of her grief by taking a journey into the unknown 

Stephanie, Katherine’s sister-in-law is forthright and bossy. Will she be a help or a hindrance to Katherine, when news about Bill’s extra martial affairs becomes too obvious to hide? Will the bond between women prove stronger than family ties?

 

Dance of the JacarandaDance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani

1963. Kenya is on the verge of independence from British colonial rule. In the Great Rift Valley, Kenyans of all backgrounds come together in the previously white-only establishment of the Jakaranda Hotel. The resident musician is Rajan Salim, who charms visitors with songs inspired by his grandfather’s noble stories of the railway construction that spawned the Kenya they now know.

One evening, Rajan is kissed by a mysterious woman in a shadowy corridor. Unable to forget the taste of her lavender-flavoured lips, Rajan sets out to find her. On his journey he stumbles upon the murky, shared history of three men – his grandfather, the owner of the Jakaranda and a British preacher – who were implicated in the controversial birth of a child. What Rajan unearths will open his eyes about the birth not just of a child, but of an entire nation.

 

Chosen ChildChosen Child by Linda Huber

A disappearance. A sudden death. A betrayal of the worst kind.

Ella longs for a child of her own, but a gruesome find during an adoption process deepens the cracks in her marriage. Her husband Rick has a secret, but Ella doesn’t want to know…

Across town, Amanda is expecting her second child when her husband vanishes. The search begins, but nothing prepares Amanda for the shocking conclusion to the police investigation.

And in the middle of it all, a little girl is looking for a home of her own with a ‘forever’ mummy and daddy…

How well do you know your own family? And who can you trust?

 

Shape of WaterThe Shape of Water by Andrea Camilleri

The goats of Vigàta once grazed on the trash-strewn site still known as the Pasture. Now local enterprise of a different sort flourishes: drug dealers and prostitutes of every flavour. But their discreet trade is upset when two employees of the Splendour Refuse Collection Company discover the body of engineer Silvio Luparello, one of the local movers and shakers, apparently deceased in flagrante at the Pasture. The coroner’s verdict is death from natural causes – refreshingly unusual for Sicily.

But Inspector Salvo Montalbano, as honest as he is streetwise and as scathing to fools and villains as he is compassionate to their victims, is not ready to close the case – even though he’s being pressured by Vigàta’s police chief, judge, and bishop.

Picking his way through a labyrinth of high-comedy corruption, delicious meals, vendetta firepower, and carefully planted false clues, Montalbano can be relied on, whatever the cost, to get to the heart of the matter.

 

The Things We Learn When We're DeadThe Things We Learn When We’re dead by Charlie Laidlaw

On the way home from a dinner party, Lorna Love steps into the path of an oncoming car. When she wakes up she is in what appears to be a hospital – but a hospital in which her nurse looks like a young Sean Connery, she is served wine for supper, and everyone avoids her questions.
It soon transpires that she is in Heaven, or on HVN, because HVN is a lost, dysfunctional spaceship, and God the aging hippy captain. She seems to be there by accident… or does God have a higher purpose after all?
Despite that, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is neither sci-fi nor fantasy. It is a book about memory and how, if we could remember things slightly differently, would we also be changed?

In HVN, Lorna can at first remember nothing. But as her memories return – some good, some bad – she realises that she has decisions to make and that, maybe, she can find a way back home.

 

The Madonna of BoltonMadonna of Bolton by Matt Cain (published July 12th)

Charlie Matthews’ love story begins in a pebble-dashed house in suburban Bolton, at a time when most little boys want to grow up to be Michael Jackson, and girls want to be Princess Di. Remembering the Green Cross Code and getting out of football are the most important things in his life, until Auntie Jan gives him a gift that will last a lifetime: a seven-inch single called ‘Lucky Star’…

On his ninth birthday, Charlie discovers Madonna, and falls in love. His obsession sees him through some tough times in life: being persecuted at school, fitting in at a posh university, a glamorous career in London, finding boyfriends, getting rid of boyfriends, and family heartbreak. Madonna’s music and videos inspire him, and her fierce determination to succeed gives him the confidence to do the same. Ultimately, though, he must learn to let go of his idol and find his own voice.

Charlie’s story is Billy Elliot meets Beautiful Thing wearing a conical bra – a story for anyone who ever sang their heart out, looked for love and dreamed of more… The Madonna of Bolton will make you laugh, cry and Get Into the Groove. It’s a book to Cherish and a Ray of Light, and it even has a little Hanky Panky.

 

The Story CollectorThe Story Collector by Evie Gaughan

Thornwood Village, 1910. Anna, a young farm girl, volunteers to help an intriguing American visitor, Harold Griffin-Krauss, translate ‘fairy stories’ from Irish to English.
But all is not as it seems and Anna soon finds herself at the heart of a mystery that threatens the future of her community and her very way of life…
Captivated by the land of myth, folklore and superstition, Sarah Harper finds herself walking in the footsteps of Harold and Anna one hundred years later, unearthing dark secrets that both enchant and unnerve.

 

A Posy of PromisesA Posey of Promises by Sharon Dempsey

What happens when the relationship you have taken for granted suddenly ends?

Ava Connors is comfortable with her life just as it is, still living in the tiny terrace house where she was brought up by her grandmother, Maggie, seeing her long-term boyfriend, Finlay, and working in a florist.

But Maggie’s health is declining and Finlay is fed up waiting for Ava to make a commitment.

Ava has never really known her mother, Scarlett, and when she inherits an old and dilapidated house it ignites an interest in the mother who had abandoned her as a child.

Why did Scarlett leave her to be brought up by her grandmother?

Soon Ava begins to ask this question and in turn sets off a series of events that will change her life forever.

A Posy of Promises looks at the relationships we have and the questions we ask of those we love

 

In the Blink of an EyeIn the Blink of an Eye by Ali Bacon

In1843, Edinburgh artist, David Octavius Hill, is commissioned to paint the portraits of 400 ministers who have broken away from the Church of Scotland. Only when he meets Robert Adamson, an early master of the new and fickle art of photography, does this daunting task begin to look feasible.

Hill is soon bewitched by the art of light and shade. He and Adamson become the darlings of Edinburgh society, immortalising people and places with their subtle and artistic images. In the Blink of an Eye is a re-imagining of Hill’s life in the words of those who were beguiled by his artistry and charismatic charm. Tender, tragic and sometimes humorous, these voices come together in a story of art and science, love and loss, friendship and photography.

 

Grace After HenryGrace after Henry by Eithne Shortall

Grace sees her boyfriend Henry everywhere. In the supermarket, on the street, at the graveyard. 

Only Henry is dead. He died two months earlier, leaving a huge hole in Grace’s life and in her heart. But then Henry turns up to fix the boiler one evening, and Grace can’t decide if she’s hallucinating or has suddenly developed psychic powers. Grace isn’t going mad – the man in front of her is not Henry at all, but someone else who looks uncannily like him. The hole in Grace’s heart grows ever larger.

Grace becomes captivated by this stranger, Andy – to her, he is Henry, and yet he is not. Reminded of everything she once had, can Grace recreate that lost love with Andy, resurrecting Henry in the process, or does loving Andy mean letting go of Henry?

 

Silent VictimSilent Victim by Caroline Mitchell

Emma’s darkest secrets are buried in the past. But the truth can’t stay hidden for long.

Emma is a loving wife, a devoted mother…and an involuntary killer. For years she’s been hiding the dead body of the teacher who seduced her as a teen.

It’s a secret that might have stayed buried if only her life had been less perfect. A promotion for Emma’s husband, Alex, means they can finally move to a bigger home with their young son. But with a buyer lined up for their old house, Emma can’t leave without destroying every last trace of her final revenge…

Returning to the shallow grave in the garden, she finds it empty. The body is gone.

Panicked, Emma confesses to her husband. But this is only the beginning. Soon, Alex will discover things about her he’ll wish he’d learned sooner. And others he’ll long to forget.

 

I Found YouI Found You by Lisa Jewell

Lily has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night, she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one.

Alice finds a man on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, no idea what he is doing there. Against her better judgement, she invites him into her home.

But who is he, and how can she trust a man who has lost his memory?

 

It's Never Too Late To SayIt’s Never too Late to Say … by Julia Roberts

Holly Wilson seems finally to have it all: a beautiful baby daughter, a son about to embark on an exciting career, a glamorous new job in television, and an adoring boyfriend in bestselling novelist, Philippe. But something isn’t quite right…
In another part of the country, Carol has liver cirrhosis and is suffering from alcohol induced dementia causing her to relive memories – dreadful memories – of sins committed against her and those she has inflicted on others. Her carer, Helen, hopes a meeting with someone from the past might help mend Carol’s broken soul, but time is running out and there is something Helen has been keeping secret.
What links Holly to Carol and Helen? And who is Nick, the handsome stranger who has just walked into her life?

 

Runaway SummerRunaway Summer by Ruth Saberton

Since leaving Polwenna Bay for the bright lights of London, Summer Penhalligan has tried to never look back. Her childhood sweetheart let her down terribly and the beautiful Cornish village holds only painful memories. But when a volatile relationship threatens to destroy her Summer has no choice but to return to the place she once called home.

Jake Tremaine has travelled the world but reluctantly finds himself drawn back to Polwenna Bay. While Jake knows his attention should be on the rescuing the family business, determined Ella, daughter of a wealthy hotelier, is set on working her way into his affections and beneath his sheets. The last thing Ella will tolerate is the reappearance of a rival…

As the holiday season approaches and seaside life gathers pace, Jake suspects Summer is keeping secrets from him. But Summer is not the only person in the village with something to hide. Is their romance history or are there more important matters at stake?

 

Dark of NightDark of Night by CS Duffy

Haunted by the fact that he never got the chance to tell best friend Lorna that he loved her before she was murdered, Ruari sets out to track down the man he saw her with the night before she was murdered – the man police are certain was her killer.

Forensic psychologist Amy Kerr has been watching prominent Glasgow lawyer Alec McAvoy for months, certain that he is the so-called Dancing Girls Killer who evaded capture in London five years previously.

Now Ruari and Amy are closing in on the same man – but every step they take draws them deeper into the killer’s web.

 

Medieval Woman, Village Life in the Middle AgesMedieval Woman : Life in the Middle Ages by Anne Baer

A history of peasants in the Middle Ages, the story takes the reader into the life of Marion, the carpenter’s wife, and her extended family as they struggle to survive through hardship, featuring a year in their lives at the mercy of the weather and the Lord of the Manor. Existing without soap, paper or glass and only with the most basic of tools, we learn how they survive starvation, sickness, fire and natural disaster in their home on the edge of the Weald.

Selected by Philippa Gregory as one of her top ten historical must-reads.

 

Beyond the Shadow of WarBeyond the Shadow of War by Diane Moody

When the war finally ended in May of 1945, Lieutenant Danny McClain made good on his promise to come back for Anya in Holland. He expected her to put up a fight, but instead found her exhausted and utterly broken. Maybe it was unfair, asking her to marry him when she was so vulnerable. But this much he knew: he would spend a lifetime helping to make her whole again.

The war had taken everything from Anya–her family, her friends, her home, her faith. She clung to the walls she’d fortressed around her heart, but what future did she have apart from Danny? At least she wouldn’t be alone anymore.

Or so she thought. When the American troops demobilize, Danny is sent home, forced to leave Anya behind in England. There she must wait with the other 70,000 war brides for passage to America. As England picks up the pieces of war’s debris in the months that follow, Anya shares a flat with three other war brides in London and rediscovers the healing bond of friendships.

Once again, Danny and Anya find themselves oceans apart, their marriage confined to little more than the handwritten pages of their letters while wondering if the shadow of war will ever diminish.

 

The Secret Life of Violet GrantThe Secret Life of Violet Grant by Beatriz Williams

Fresh from college, irrepressible Vivian Schuyler defies her wealthy Fifth Avenue family to work at cut-throat Metropolitan magazine. But this is 1964, and the editor dismisses her…until a parcel lands on Vivian’s Greenwich Village doorstep that starts a journey into the life of an aunt she never knew, who might give her just the story she’s been waiting for.

In 1912, Violet Schuyler Grant moved to Europe to study physics, and made a disastrous marriage to a philandering fellow scientist. As the continent edges closer to the brink of war, a charismatic British army captain enters her life, drawing her into an audacious gamble that could lead to happiness…or disaster.

Fifty years later, Violet’s ultimate fate remains shrouded in mystery. But the more obsessively Vivian investigates her disappearing aunt, the more she realizes all they have in common – and that Violet’s secret life is about to collide with hers.

 

Court of LionsCourt of Lions by Jane Johnson

Kate Fordham fled to Spain to start a new life. Amid the sunlit streets of Granada and the earthly paradise of the Alhambra’s gardens, towers and courtyards, she’s left her past far behind. But fate is about to bring her face-to-face with her greatest fear.

Five centuries ago, a message was hidden in the Alhambra’s walls. There it has lain, undisturbed by the tides of history – the fall of Granada, the expulsion of its last Sultan – until Kate discovers it.

Born of love in a time of desperation and danger, Kate’s discovery will be the catalyst that changes her life.

 

The Corner Shop in Cockleberry BayThe Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May

Rosa Larkin is down on her luck in London, so when she inherits a near-derelict corner shop in a quaint Devon village, her first thought is to sell it for cash and sort out her life. But nothing is straightforward about this legacy. While the identity of her benefactor remains a mystery, he – or she – has left one important legal proviso: that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it.

Rosa makes up her mind to give it a go: to put everything she has into getting the shop up and running again in the small seaside community of Cockleberry Bay. But can she do it all on her own? And if not, who will help her succeed – and who among the following will work secretly to see her fail?

There is a handsome rugby player, a sexy plumber, a charlatan reporter and a selection of meddling locals. Add in a hit and run incident and the disappearance of a valuable engraved necklace – and what you get is a journey of self-discovery and unpredictable events.

With surprising and heartfelt results, Rosa, accompanied at all times by her little sausage dog Hot, will slowly unravel the shadowy secrets of the inheritance, and also bring her own, long-hidden heritage into the light.

 

The Afterlife of Walter AugustusThe Afterlife of Walter Augustus by Hannah Lynn (published 11 July)

Walter Augustus is dead. His current state of existence has become a monotony of sweet tea and lonely strolls and after decades stuck in the Interim — a posthumous waiting room for those still remembered on Earth — he is ready to move on. Only when he is forgotten by every living person will he be able to pass over and join his family in the next stage of the afterlife. At last the end is tantalizingly close, but bad luck and a few rash decisions may see him trapped in the Interim for all eternity.

Letty Ferguson is not dead. Letty Ferguson is a middle-aged shoe saleswoman who leads a pleasant and wholly unextraordinary life, barring the secret fortune she seems unable to tell her husband about. However, when she takes possession of an unassuming poetry anthology, life takes on a rather more extraordinary dimension.

 

The Traveller and the RoseThe Traveller and the Rose by Anita Belli

It is an idyllic summer in Spain, 1936 – but storm clouds of war are brewing.

Unsuspecting young Englishman, Kit Brown, is travelling the country before settling down to a respectable career as a teacher back home. At least that’s what his parents expect him to do. Kit makes friends easily, and Fernando is a kindred spirit. The young Spaniard wants to be a poet, not take over the family business.

Kit is soon seduced by Fernando’s vivacious twin sister Rosa. Being a girl in rural Andalucía, however, she is expected to comply with her parent’s wishes for her future, and it will be much worse for her if her honour is sullied – especially by a foreigner. Political tensions are already mounting in a country in the throes of massive social change, where strangers are not welcome.

Threats from Rosa’s aggressive older brother Juan, and her old-fashioned father do not deter Kit and Rosa, and their passion is to bear fruit. As German and Italian planes begin a merciless assault on civilians fleeing the fascist forces of General Franco, Fernando disappears after joining a militia. Kit is enlisted as a journalist to get the truth to the outside world. and becomes ‘the enemy’ as the fascists gain power.

After he is imprisoned, will he escape the firing squad? And can Rosa, survive her worst nightmare of being separated from all of her loved ones, when the convent in which she is giving birth to their child, is shelled from the sea?

 

Practice Makes PerfectPractice makes Perfect by Penny Parkes

The Practice at Larkford has suddenly been thrust under the spotlight – and its nomination as a ‘NHS Model Surgery’ is causing the team major headaches. Dr Holly Graham should be basking in the glow of her new romance with fellow doctor, Taffy – but she is worried that the team is prioritising plaudits over patients, and her favourite resident, the irreverent and entertaining Elsie, is facing a difficult diagnosis. Add to that the chaos of family life and the strain is starting to show.

Dr Dishy Dan Carter’s obsession with work is masking unhappiness elsewhere – he can’t persuade girlfriend Julia to settle down. It’s only as Julia’s mother comes to stay that he realizes what she has been hiding for so long. Alice Walker joins the team like a breath of fresh air and her assistance dog Coco quickly wins everyone round – which is just as well, because Coco and Alice will soon need some help of their own. Can they pull together and become the Dream Team that the NHS obviously thinks they are?

 

To Capture What We Cannot KeepTo Capture What we Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris – a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family’s business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth.

Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live – one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman’s place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions and the sacrifices love requires of us all.

 

Home FireHome Fire by Kamila Shamsie

Isma is free. After years spent raising her twin siblings in the wake of their mother’s death, she is finally studying in America, resuming a dream long deferred. But she can’t stop worrying about Aneeka, her beautiful, headstrong sister back in London – or their brother, Parvaiz, who’s disappeared in pursuit of his own dream: to prove himself to the dark legacy of the jihadist father he never knew.

Then Eamonn enters the sisters’ lives. Handsome and privileged, he inhabits a London worlds away from theirs. As the son of a powerful British Muslim politician, Eamonn has his own birthright to live up to – or defy. Is he to be a chance at love? The means of Parvaiz’s salvation? Two families’ fates are inextricably, devastatingly entwined in this searing novel that asks: what sacrifices will we make in the name of love?

A contemporary reimagining of Sophocles’ Antigone, Home Fire is an urgent, fiercely compelling story of loyalties torn apart when love and politics collide – confirming Kamila Shamsie as a master storyteller of our times.

 

A Divided InheritanceA Divided Inheritance by Deborah Swift

A family divided by fortune, a country divided by faith
London 1609
Elspet Leviston has always managed her father’s lace business and expects to continue in his footsteps. So when her hot-headed cousin Zachary Deane appears from nowhere, his arrival in her life is like an earthquake.

Zachary is not who he seems, and has no love at all for Leviston’s Lace. When her father dies unexpectedly, Elspet is horrified to find her inheritance is tied to her cousin’s. But by now, her father has sent Zachary on a Grand Tour,and he is in Spain. Determined to regain her rightful inheritance, she goes to Seville in search of him.

Zachary is in training at the sword school of the charismatic Senor Alvarez, and here, in the searing heat and dust of Spain, Elspet’s real journey begins. A journey that throws her into one of the most turbulent moments of Spain’s history, and leads her to question everything she has ever known about her country, her faith and herself.

Epic historical fiction set in 17th Century London and Golden Age Spain.

 

Blame it on the BrontesBlame it on the Brontes by Becky Lower

Sisters Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Bronson, each in their forties, are in Puffin Bay, ME for their mother’s funeral and to lay their claws into the fortune each expects to inherit. But their mother has other plans. Her substantial fortune won’t be divided until the trio return to their childhood home and live together for a year.

It’s a request that pits sister against sister but could unite them in a common goal to find the friendship they shared as children, to create a family jewelry business, and to win over the men of Puffin Bay. They have a year to figure it all out.

 

Kiss My NameKiss my Name by Calvin Wade

On the eve of Simon Strong’s wedding day, a young woman, Flo, armed with a double barrelled shotgun, arrives at his front door. She is there to avenge the mistreatment of her best friend, Zara. Simon begs for mercy, claiming he has no knowledge of anyone called Zara. What has happened to Zara to create such an extreme reaction from her best friend?
Kiss My Name follows the lives of several characters from childhood in the 1980s to adult life in the twenty first century. As several of them gather in Blackpool, for a Stag Do and a Hen Do, mayhem ensues. Has Simon cheated on his wife to be and will he make it to the church at all?

 

Advance Review Copies

 

Fatal InheritanceFatal Inheritance by Rachel Rhys – published 26 July. (Courtesy of @alisonbarrow at Doubleday and Transworld)

1948: an English housewife trapped in a dull marriage escapes to the South of France to claim a mystery inheritance. But rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge, and now they want her out of the way …

She didn’t have an enemy in the world… 
until she inherited a fortune

London 1948: Eve Forrester is trapped in a loveless marriage, in a gloomy house, in a grey suburb.

Out of the blue, she received a solicitor’s letter. A wealthy stranger has left her a mystery inheritance but in order to find out more, she must travel to the glittering French Riviera.

Eve discovers her legacy is an enchanting villa overlooking the Mediterranean sea and suddenly, life could not be more glamorous.

But while she rubs shoulders with film-stars and famous writers, under the heat of the golden sun, rivals to her unexplained fortune begin to emerge. Rivals who want her out of the way.

Alone in paradise, Eve must unlock the story behind her surprise bequest – before events turn deadly…

 

Ladies' Day

Ladies’ Day by Sarah Barton

 

Working in a fading Manchester department store, four women hide their dark secrets: abuse, an illicit affair, huge debts and an overwhelming desire to have a child at any cost. Will their secrets destroy them or can they together find a solution?

 

 

image2The Rumour by Lesley Kara (published 28 Dec)

 

Many thanks again to @alisonbarrow for a pre-proof copy.

 

When single mum Joanna shares a rumour she heard at the school gates – desperate to ingratiate herself with the clique of mothers at her son’s new school – there’s no going back …

 

 

 

 

I also received a pre-proof copy of The Rumour by Lesley Kara (thanks again to @alisonborrow) so I haven’t got a cover to post, so I’ll leave you with the following:- tempting blurb