Another bumper month of purchases with the added bonus of freebies from the Headline New Voices event this month. Grab your cuppa now, this might take a while!
The Librarian by Salley Vickers
In 1958, Sylvia Blackwell, fresh from one of the new post-war Library Schools, takes up a job as children’s librarian in a run down library in the market town of East Mole.
Her mission is to fire the enthusiasm of the children of East Mole for reading. But her love affair with the local married GP, and her befriending of his precious daughter, her neighbour’s son and her landlady’s neglected grandchild, ignite the prejudices of the town, threatening her job and the very existence of the library with dramatic consequences for them all.
The Drowned Village by Kathleen McGurl
Beneath the surface lie forgotten secrets…
A village destroyed
It’s the summer of 1935 and eleven-year-old Stella Walker is preparing to leave her home forever. Forced to evacuate to make way for a new reservoir, the village of Brackendale Green will soon be lost. But before the water has even reached them, a dreadful event threatens to tear Stella’s family apart.
An uncovered secret
Present day, and a fierce summer has dried up the lake and revealed the remnants of the deserted village. Now an old woman, Stella begs her granddaughter Laura to make the journey she can’t. She’s sure the village still holds answers for her but, with only days until the floodwaters start to rise again, Laura is in a race against time to solve the mysteries of Stella’s almost forgotten past.
The Snow Gypsy by Lindsay Jayne Ashford
At the close of World War II, London is in ruins and Rose Daniel isn’t at peace. Eight years ago, her brother disappeared while fighting alongside Gypsy partisans in Spain. From his letters, Rose has just two clues to his whereabouts—his descriptions of the spectacular south slopes of the Sierra Nevada and his love for a woman who was carrying his child.
In Spain, it has been eight years since Lola Aragon’s family was massacred. Eight years since she rescued a newborn girl from the arms of her dying mother and ran for her life. She has always believed that nothing could make her return…until a plea for help comes from a desperate stranger.
Now, Rose, Lola, and the child set out on a journey from the wild marshes of the Camargue to the dazzling peaks of Spain’s ancient mountain communities. As they come face-to-face with war’s darkest truths, their lives will be changed forever by memories, secrets, and friendships.
Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly
Detective Renée Ballard works the graveyard shift and returns to Hollywood Station in the early hours to find a stranger rifling through old files.
The intruder is none other than legendary LAPD detective Harry Bosch, hunting for leads in an unsolved case that has got under his skin.
Ballard escorts him out but – curious to know what he was searching for – soon becomes obsessed by the murder of Daisy Clayton. Was she the first victim of a serial killer who still stalks the streets?
For Bosch, the case is more than personal: it may be all he has left.
But in a city where crime never sleeps, even detectives have a dark side…
Bothy Tales by John D Burns
I can move only with the aid of barrels of anti-inflammatory gel, sticking plasters and real ale anaesthetic. Martin and I descend from hours of walking to the small town of Middleton-in-Teesdale. I walk, stiff legged, into the campsite office and a plump, middle-aged woman looks up from her desk and can see the old timer is in trouble.
“Oh, what a shame you weren’t here last week,” she says, pity radiating from behind her horn-rimmed specs. “You’ve missed him.”
I look at her, puzzled.
“Elvis!” she explains. “You missed Elvis.”
Oh God, now I’m hallucinating.
From remote glens deep in the Scottish Highlands, John D Burns brings a new volume of tales – some dramatic, some moving, some hilarious – from the isolated shelters mountain people call bothies.
Travel with Burns to secret places hidden amongst the British mountains and share his passion for the wonderful wildness of our uplands. Meet the vivid cast of characters who play their games there, from climbers with more balls than sense to a young man who doesn’t have the slightest idea what he’s letting himself in for…
The Paris Secret by Lily Graham
The last time Valerie was in Paris, she was three years old, running from the Nazis, away from the only home she had ever known.
Now as a young woman all alone in the world, Valerie must return to Paris, to the bookshop and her sole surviving relative, her grandfather Vincent, the only person who knows the truth about what happened to her parents. As she gets to know grumpy, taciturn Vincent again, she hears a tragic story of Nazi-occupied Paris, a doomed love affair and a mother willing to sacrifice everything for her beloved daughter.
Can Valerie and Vincent help each other to mend the wounds of the past? Valerie isn’t after a fairytale ending, she only wants the truth. But what is the one devastating secret that Vincent is determined to keep from his granddaughter?
Offstage in Nuala by Harriet Steel
Inspector de Silva is caught up in the excitement when a professional theatre company comes to Nuala, but matters take a dark turn when the company’s actor manager is murdered. Our inspector has a new case to solve and he has to consider some very unpalatable motives for the crime. He will need all his persistence, coupled with his wife, Jane’s, invaluable help to unmask the villain of the piece.
Set on the exotic island of Ceylon in the 1930s, The Inspector de Silva Mysteries provide a colourful and relaxing read spiced with humour and an engaging cast of characters.
Baxter’s Requiem by Matthew Crow
Let me tell you a story, about a man I knew, and a man I know…
Mr Baxter is ninety-four years old when he falls down his staircase and grudgingly finds himself resident at Melrose Gardens Retirement Home.
Baxter is many things – raconteur, retired music teacher, rabble-rouser, bon viveur – but ‘good patient’ he is not. He had every intention of living his twilight years with wine, music and revelry; not tea, telly and Tramadol. Indeed, Melrose Gardens is his worst nightmare – until he meets Gregory.
At only nineteen years of age, Greg has suffered a loss so heavy that he is in danger of giving up on life before he even gets going.
Determined to save the boy, Baxter decides to enlist his help on a mission to pay tribute to his long-lost love, Thomas: the man with whom he found true happiness; the man he waved off to fight in a senseless war; the man who never returned. The best man he ever knew.
With Gregory in tow Baxter sets out on a spirited escape from Melrose, bound for the war graves of Northern France. As Baxter shares his memories, the boy starts to see that life need not be a matter of mere endurance; that the world is huge and beautiful; that kindness is strength; and that the only way to honour the dead, is to live.
Baxter’s Requiem is a glorious celebration of life, love and seizing every last second we have while we’re here.
Home Going by Yaa Gyasi
Effia and Esi: two sisters with two very different destinies. One sold into slavery; one a slave trader’s wife. The consequences of their fate reverberate through the generations that follow. Taking us from the Gold Coast of Africa to the cotton-picking plantations of Mississippi; from the missionary schools of Ghana to the dive bars of Harlem, spanning three continents and seven generations, Yaa Gyasi has written a miraculous novel – the intimate, gripping story of a brilliantly vivid cast of characters and through their lives the very story of America itself.
Epic in its canvas and intimate in its portraits, Homegoing is a searing and profound debut from a masterly new writer.
A Paris Symphony by Shlomo Hed
The nearly forgotten names of nineteenth-century Europe’s greatest cultural icons come to life in this historical novel: George Sand, Pauline Viardot, Alphonse Daudet, Prosper Mérimée, Eugène Delacroix, and Giacomo Meyerbeer leap from the pages in a three-dimensional tale, in which fantasy and historical facts are intricately interwoven by the eloquent pen of a retired stockbroker and would-be composer, Jacob Hippolyte Rodrigues. Born in 1812 to one of the most respected Jewish families in Bordeaux, he witnessed two emperors abdicate and three kings leave their thrones in just the first sixty years of his long life, but even the volatile politics of the times could not distract him from his passion for music and art. Rodrigues takes the reader on a magical tour of the salons of nineteenth-century Paris, the undisputed cultural capital of Europe. Through his eyes we witness the birth, growth, and decline of a typical French art form, the Grand Opera, and delve into the creative processes behind Bizet’s Carmen and Berlioz’s Les Troyens. Rodrigues, the composer of the most famous opera never performed, reveals intimate details of this era that you’ll savor for years!
Joseph Barnaby by Susan Roebuck
Stand by your beliefs – even if it means going to the end of the Earth.
By standing up for his principles, horse farrier Joseph Barnaby lost everything. Now, when a personal vendetta goes too deep to fight, he escapes to the Portuguese island of Madeira where he finds work on a small farm only accessible by boat.
The balmy climate and never-ending supply of exotic fruit, vegetables, and honey make it sound like paradise. But, for Joseph, it’s the ideal place to hide from the world.
Not everyone is prepared to give up on life’s misfortunes. The local fishing village has its own surprises and the inhabitants of Quinta da Esperança have more grit in them than the pebbled beach that borders the property.
The River’s Song by Suchen Christine Lim
Ping, an American citizen, returns to Singapore after many years and sees a country transformed by prosperity. Gone are the boatmen and hawkers who once lived along the crowded riverside and in their place rise the gleaming towers of the financial district.
Her childhood growing up among the river people had been very different, and leaving her first love Weng, a musician, for America, had been devastating.
Now that she is back in Singapore, can she face her former lover and reveal the secret that has separated them for many years?
Family Trust by Kathy Wang
Meet Stanley Huang: Father, husband, ex-husband, man of unpredictable temper, aficionado of bargain luxury goods. He’s just been diagnosed with cancer, and his family are dealing with the fall-out.
Meet Stanley’s family: Son Fred, a banker who never has enough money; daughter Kate, juggling a difficult boss and her two small children; ex-wife Linda, suspicious of Stanley’s grand gestures; and second wife Mary, giver of foot rubs and ego massages.
Meet Stanley’s fortune: As the Huangs come to terms with Stanley’s approaching death, they are starting to fear that there’s a lot less in the pot than they thought. And that’s a problem when you’re living in one of the wealthiest parts of California…
Spanning themes of culture, ambition, love and – most of all – family, this sparkling debut is a sharp, funny and loving portrait of modern Asian-American life.
The Other Side of Paradise by Margaret Mayhew
She lived only for pleasure…until war forced her to find courage she did not know she had, and love where she least expected it.
It is 1941, and while Britain is in the grip of war, life in the Far East is one of wealth and privilege. In Singapore Susan Roper, secure in the supremacy of the British Empire, enjoys dancing,clothes and fast cars, tennis and light flirtations with visiting naval officers- her life is devoted solely to pleasure. When she meets an Australian doctor who warns her of the danger that they all face she dismisses him as an ignorant colonial.
Singapore goes on partying, oblivious to the threat of invasion. The British flag will, they believe, protect them from all enemies. But when Japan invades, Susan finds herself in grave danger. She become an ambulance driver and is taken prisoner by the Japanese. Gradually and reluctantly she realises that she has fallen in love with the tough, arrogant and totally unsuitable doctor, but she has to face many hardships and witness terrible events before she can acknowledge the truth.
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler
When beautiful, reckless Southern belle Zelda Sayre meets F. Scott Fitzgerald at a country club dance in 1918, she is seventeen and he is a young army lieutenant. Before long, Zelda has fallen for him, even though Scott isn’t wealthy or prominent or even a Southerner and keeps insisting, absurdly, that his writing will bring him both fortune and fame. When he sells his first novel, she optimistically boards a train to New York, to marry him and take the rest as it comes.
What comes, here at the dawn of the Jazz Age, is unimagined success and celebrity that will make Scott and Zelda legends in their own time. Each place they go becomes a playground:New York City, Long Island, Hollywood, Paris, and the French Riviera – where they join the endless party of the glamorous, sometimes doomed Lost Generation that includes Ernest Hemingway, Sara and Gerald Murphy, and Gertrude Stein.
Everything seems new and possible, but not even Jay Gatsby’s parties go on forever. Who is Zelda, other than the wife of a famous – sometimes infamous – husband? With brilliant insight and imagination, Therese Anne Fowler brings us Zelda’s irresistible story as she herself might have told it.
No Time to Cry by James Oswald
Undercover ops are always dangerous, but DC Constance Fairchild never expected things to go this wrong.
Returning to their base of operations, an anonymous office in a shabby neighbourhood, she finds the bloodied body of her boss, and friend, DI Pete Copperthwaite. He’s been executed – a single shot to the head.
In the aftermath, it seems someone in the Met is determined to make sure that blame for the wrecked operation falls squarely on Con’s shoulders. She is cut loose and cast out, angry and alone with her grief… right until the moment someone also tries to put a bullet through her head.
There’s no place to hide, and no time to cry.
Love & Ruin by Paula McLain
In 1937, courageous and independent Martha Gellhorn travels to Madrid to report on the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War, and finds herself drawn to the stories of ordinary people caught in devastating conflict. She also finds herself unexpectedly – and uncontrollably – falling in love with Ernest Hemingway, a man already on his way to being a legend. In the shadow of the impending Second World War, and set against the tumultuous backdrops of Madrid, Finland, China, and especially Cuba, where Martha and Hemingway made their home, their relationship and professional careers ignite.
But when Hemingway publishes the biggest literary success of his career, they are no longer equals, and Martha must make a choice: surrender to the suffocating demands of a domestic lifestyle, or risk losing her husband by forging her way as her own woman and writer. It is a dilemma that will force her to break his heart, and her own.
Caligula by Simon Turney
Everyone knows his name. Everyone thinks they know his story.
Rome 37AD. The emperor is dying. No-one knows how long he has left. The power struggle has begun.
When the ailing Tiberius thrusts Caligula’s family into the imperial succession in a bid to restore order, he will change the fate of the empire and create one of history’s most infamous tyrants, Caligula.
But was he really a monster?
Forget everything you think you know. Let Livilla, Caligula’s youngest sister and confidante, tell you what really happened. How her quiet, caring brother became the most powerful man on earth. And how, with lies, murder and betrayal, Rome was changed for ever . . .
If Fear Wins by Tony J Forder
When a torched body is found in a country lane, DI Bliss and Chandler are called in to investigate.
The detectives are drawn towards recent missing person reports and believe their victim will prove to be one of them. Bliss thinks he knows which, and fears the outcome if he is proven right.
Soon the body is identified, and Bliss and Chandler discover evidence suggesting this murder might be a terrorist attack.
Meanwhile, someone from Bliss’s past needs his help, and soon he is juggling his personal life with the demanding case. To make matters more complicated, MI5 and the Counter-Terrorist Unit are called in to help solve the case. But are they on the right track?
Bliss and Chandler soon find themselves in a race against time, and this might just be their most challenging case yet…
The Reach of Shadows by Tony J Forder
Recovering from injuries sustained in a road collision, DI Bliss is taken directly from hospital to a fresh crime scene and ordered to investigate the vicious stabbing and murder of Jade Coleman.
When Bliss realises the victim had reported being stalked, and that two of his own team had been drafted in to take her statement, he is given the unenviable task of interviewing both of his detectives.
Increasingly it appears that the stalker may be their killer. However, several other people soon become part of the team’s suspect list.
Bliss also finds himself being questioned about his own past and has to battle to defend himself whilst continuing to investigate the murder.
Soon more questions arise.
Why would anybody target Jade Coleman?
Why are the team unable to identify the victim’s close female friend?
And why did Jade recently leave her job without any explanation?
With his work cut out, and his team under pressure, can Bliss solve the case before more victims show up?
Or will the shadows of his own past reach out and drag him under before he can succeed?
Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard
Like A Streecat Named Bob before it, Finding Gobi is a truly heart-warming story for animal lovers worldwide…
In 2016, Dion Leonard, a seasoned ultramarathon runner, unexpectedly stumbled across a little stray dog while competing in a gruelling 155 mile race across the Gobi Desert. The lovable pup, who earned the name ‘Gobi’, proved that what she lacked in size, she more than made up for in heart, as she went step for step with Dion over the treacherous Tian Shan Mountains, managing to keep pace with him for nearly 80 miles.
As Dion witnessed the incredible determination of this small animal, he felt something change within himself. In the past he had always focused on winning and being the best, but his goal now was simply to make sure that his new friend was safe, nourished and hydrated. Although Dion did not finish first, he felt he had won something far greater and promised to bring Gobi back to the UK for good to become a new addition to his family. This was the start of a journey neither of them would ever forget with a roller coaster ride of drama, grief, heartbreak, joy and love that changed their lives forever
The Hangman’s Hold by Michael Wood
Your life is in his hands.
In the gripping new serial killer thriller from Michael Wood, Matilda Darke faces a vicious killer pursuing his own brand of lethal justice. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons and Helen Fields.
There’s a killer in your house.
The Hangman waits in the darkness.
He knows your darkest secrets.
He’ll make you pay for all the crimes you have tried desperately to forget.
And he is closer than you think.
DCI Matilda Darke is running out of time. Fear is spreading throughout the city. As the body count rises, Matilda is targeted and her most trusted colleagues fall under suspicion. But can she keep those closest to her from harm? Or is it already too late?
Eat the Moon by Breda Joy
When Kieran O’Mahony rides away to the hunt on a powerful black horse, his mother is gripped by a sense of foreboding. He is a rising hurling star, with the world at his feet and one spirited local girl in his heart. His grandmother, however, has read a frightening premonition in the tea leaves.
Already several things out of the ordinary have occurred that summer. First, there is the arrival of Tamara, a young London cousin – minus her voice, which she lost following a traumatic event. Then, in the same week of July 1969, the family are caught up in the magic of the Apollo moon landing.
It’s a giant step for mankind indeed but doesn’t help Tamara to adjust to the already alien world of the Cork farm. Mute, she must cope with the unfamiliar idiom and way of seeing the world, while her cousin Sally resents the attention paid to her.
Then all their lives are shattered by a blind act of fate that threatens to tear the family asunder.
Like the Apollo astronauts, Kieran and his family begin a voyage away from the familiar. Their journey back from the dark side of the moon involves one exceptional moon-silver horse, the bonds of family, the wisdom of age and the passionate loyalty of youth.
The King of Lavender Square by Susan Ryan
Saskia watches the lives of others from her eyrie in Lavender Square with a lonely fascination. While the teacher, the recluse, the advertising whizz-kid and the African woman and her young son run, rush, dart and dash, she knows for sure that she will never have anything worth dashing to.
But sometimes all it takes is a little magic to bring people together. And, in Lavender Square, where the lavender grows in mysterious abundance and colours the air with a musky sense of love, magic is never very far away.
The neighbours, who once passed each other by in detached universes, find themselves thrown together when they are obliged to take care of young Patrick Kimba. His mother is seriously ill and no one knows when or if she is ever coming home. At first they resist the tiresome interruption, until quite by accident Patrick’s dream of becoming a football star and finding his long-lost father becomes theirs, and their lives and heartaches become woven together in a new and unexpected pattern.
Last Letter Home by Rachel Hore
Can a chance encounter unlock one woman’s past?
On holiday in Italy, Briony Wood becomes fascinated by the wartime story of a ruined villa hidden amongst the hills of Naples. Not only is it the very place where her grandfather was stationed as a soldier in 1943, but she also discovers that it harbours the secret of a love long lost.
Handed a bundle of tattered letters found buried at the villa, Briony becomes enraptured by the blossoming love story between Sarah Bailey, an English woman, and Paul Hartmann, a young German. The letters lead her back almost seventy years to pre-war Norfolk.
But as Briony delves into Sarah and Paul’s story, she encounters resentments and secrets still tightly guarded. All too quickly it is clear that what happened long ago under the shadow of Vesuvius, she suspects, still has the power to cause terrible pain . . .
NetGalley Review Copies
The Chemical Detective by Fiona Erskine (due 4th April)
Dr Jaq Silver. Skier, scientist, international jet-setter, explosives expert. She blows things up to keep people safe.
Working on avalanche control in Slovenia, Jaq stumbles across a problem with a consignment of explosives. After raising a complaint with the supplier, a multinational chemical company, her evidence disappears. Jaq is warned, threatened, accused of professional incompetence and suspended. Taking her complaint further, she narrowly escapes death only to be framed for murder. Escaping from police custody, she sets out to find the key to the mystery.
Racing between the snowy slopes of Slovenia and the ghostly ruins of Chernobyl, can she uncover the truth before her time runs out?
Unbound Book Club January Choice
The Black Prince by Anthony Burgess
‘I’m working on a novel intended to express the feel of England in Edward III’s time … The fourteenth century of my novel will be mainly evoked in terms of smell and visceral feelings, and it will carry an undertone of general disgust rather than hey-nonny nostalgia’ – Anthony Burgess, Paris Review, 1973 The Black Prince is a brutal historical tale of chivalry, religious belief, obsession, siege and bloody warfare. From disorientating depictions of medieval battles to court intrigues and betrayals, the campaigns of Edward II, the Black Prince, are brought to vivid life by an author in complete control of the novel as a way of making us look at history with fresh eyes, all while staying true to the linguistic pyrotechnics and narrative verve of Burgess’s best work.
Reading in Heels January Choice
The Outrun by Amy Liptrot
At the age of thirty, Amy Liptrot finds herself washed up back home on Orkney. Standing unstable on the island, she tries to come to terms with the addiction that has swallowed the last decade of her life. As she spends her mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, her days tracking Orkney’s wildlife, and her nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy discovers how the wild can restore life and renew hope.
HeadLine New Voices 2019
See Report of Event here for full details.