My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 28th September 2021



Hello! Happy Saturday!!  And a Bank Holiday weekend here in the UK so that will hopefully mean more reading time! Never a bad thing!!My bookish week hasn’t been too bad this week, although I feel like it could have been better! Managed to finish 4 books, including completing my 20 Books of Summer 2021 challenge!, and only one new book added to my Netgalley shelf! That’s a result in itself! And just 2 new appearances on my physical bookshelf! Go me!!Here’s my look back!


BOOKS FINISHED

THE END OF THE WORLD IS FLAT by SIMON EDGE – 5 STARS

THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO LONELINESS by LAURA BAMBREY – 3 STARS

MADAM by PHOEBE WYNNE – 2 STARS

THE GHOST IN THE GARDEN by JUDE PIESSE – 5 STARS

BOOKHAUL


A 2022 release from Netgalley…


THE MIRROR MAN by LARS KEPLER

published January 2022

In the latest internationally best-selling installment of the Killer Instinct series, Detective Joona Linna is on the trail of a kidnapper who targets teenage girls and makes their worst nightmares a reality.

Seventeen-year-old Jenny is abducted in broad daylight and taken to a dilapidated, isolated house where she is chained and caged along with several other girls. Their captor is unpredictable, and as wily as he is cruel: he foils every one of their desperate attempts to escape . . . and once caught they rarely survive their punishment.

Five years later, Jenny is found dead in a public park, and the police are scrambling to find a lead among the scant evidence. But Detective Joona Linna realizes that this murder has an eerie connection to a death that was declared a suicide years before. And now when Mia, a seventeen-year-old orphan, goes missing, it becomes clear to Joona that they are dealing with a serial killer—and the murderous rampage has just begun.

As the police close in on the killer, Mia and her fellow captives are plunged into ever greater danger, and Joona finds himself in a seemingly impossible race against time to save their young lives.


And in the post…


ENGAGED by W.S GILBERT

published by RENARD PRESS

Engaged, W.S. Gilbert’s most popular stage work after the comic operas he produced in collaboration with Arthur Sullivan, is a farcical comedy that has long lived in the literary shadows – although wildly neglected today, the play influenced literary names as great as George Bernard Shaw, and directly inspired Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.Centring on a rich young man’s search for a wife and his uncle and best friend’s attempts to hinder him, the play toys with conventional notions of love and sincerity. In this edition, which also contains notes and an essay by the undisputed authority on W.S. Gilbert, Andrew Crowther, Engaged deserves to step out into the spotlight once more.

YUANYUAN’S BUBBLES by CIXIN LIU

published by HEAD OF ZEUS

The fourth in a new series of graphic novels from Hugo Award-winning author Liu Cixin and Talos Press

Ever since she was a child, Yuanyuan always dreamed of blowing big bubbles. But her father worries about her fascination—he wants Yuanyuan to be as responsible and devoted to a calling as her mother was. As an adult, Yuanyuan creates a multimillion-dollar business out of the technology she developed for her doctoral thesis. But she still dreams of blowing the biggest bubble she can. When his daughter uses her high-tech methods to blow a bubble big enough to envelop a city, Yuanyuan’s father thinks back to the dreams he and Yuanyuan’s mother chased when they were young. In the end, Yuanyuan’s bubbles bring her father’s dreams to life.

The fourth of sixteen new graphic novels from Liu Cixin and Talos Press, Sea of Dreams is an epic tale of the future that all science fiction fans will enjoy.



CURRENTLY READING

MRS MARCH by VIRGINIA FEITO


HAPPY READING!!

#BlogTour FIREBORN by AISLING FOWLER #BookReview #Fireborn #UltimateBlogTour @The_WriteReads @HarperCollinsCh @fowler_aisling



Delighted to be with you today as part of the wonderful Blog Tour for the fabulous FIREBORN by AISLING FOWLER.  My thanks to the author, publisher and The Write Reads for putting the tour together and letting me be part of it all!!


ABOUT THE BOOK

Lyra. Lucy. Percy. Once in a generation, a hero emerges whose story enthralls readers worldwide.

Fireborn is an epic quest, perfect for fans of the His Dark Materials and The School for Good and Evil series, that will spin readers into a magical world like no other–and introduce them to an unforgettable new heroine named Twelve.

Ember is full of monsters.

Twelve gave up her name and identity to train in the art of hunting them–so she says. The truth is much more deadly: she trains to take revenge on those who took her family from her.

But when Twelve’s new home is attacked, she’ll find herself on an unexpected journey, where her hidden past is inescapably intertwined with her destiny–and the very fate of her world.


published by HarperCollins

PURCHASE LINK


Amazon


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aisling was born in 1985 and wishes that she had grown up in a magical, mountainous kingdom, but was actually raised in Surrey on a diet of books and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her early ‘adventure’ stories involved surprisingly little action and her first novel (3 pages long) was politely declined by publishers at age 11.

After earning a BSc in Biology and working as a support worker and then a nurse, the idea for her debut novel, Fireborn, came to her as she moved back and forth between London and the US. Now based in Hackney, when she is not reading or writing, Aisling loves cooking and plotting adventures (for herself as well as her fictional characters). Fireborn will be published by HarperCollins in 2021.

MY REVIEW


If a book is inspired by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then I want to read it!! And it’s been a total blast of a reading experience and I’m eagerly awaiting more of the series if they’re all going to be like this!


At the heart of the story is Twelve, an inspiring female character who is full of rage and anger, but uses that to fight monsters and to right the wrongs of the world she finds herself living in.  She’s a bit of an outsider, seen as a weirdo by some of her classmates, but she just doesn’t care! With her pet squirrel, Widge, by her side, she soon finds herself setting off to save a friend.  I really got the Lyra (His Dark Materials) vibes about her as a character – she’s determined, loyal and very stubborn!


This story has a good mix of the dark and light, it does sometimes get a bit bleak but that really gets you on side with Twelve and understands why she is doing what she’s doing. Her journey is mixed with flashbacks to happier times with her family, and you wonder what messages she is meant to take from these dreams she keeps getting.


It’s a story of magic and monsters, adventure and adversity, battles and betrayals and I loved it!  Bring on the next installment!! 


★★★★

#BookReview THE GHOST IN THE GARDEN by JUDE PIESSE #20BooksOfSummer2021



This is book 20 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021

ABOUT THE BOOK


The forgotten garden which inspired Charles Darwin becomes the modern-day setting for an exploration of memory, family, and the legacy of genius.

Darwin never stopped thinking about the garden at his childhood home, The Mount. It was here, under the tutelage of his green-fingered mother and sisters, that he first examined the reproductive life of flowers, collected birds’ eggs, and began the experiments that would lead to his theory of evolution.

A century and a half later, with one small child in tow and another on the way, Jude Piesse finds herself living next door to this secret garden. Two acres of the original site remain, now resplendent with overgrown ashes, sycamores, and hollies. The carefully tended beds and circular flower garden are buried under suburban housing; the hothouses where the Darwins and their skilful gardeners grew pineapples are long gone. Walking the pathways with her new baby, Piesse starts to discover what impact the garden and the people who tended it had on Darwin’s work.

Blending biography, nature writing, and memoir, The Ghost in the Garden traces the origins of the theory of evolution and uncovers the lost histories that inspired it, ultimately evoking the interconnectedness of all things.


PUBLISHED BY SCRIBE UK

MY REVIEW


I found this to be a refreshing and illuminating memoir, combining the fascinating life of Charles Darwin and his family alongside that of the author who finds herself living nearby to his childhood garden at The Mount in Shrewsbury. She’d often walk past the property and the land that is now run partly by The Shropshire Wildlife Trust and she becomes intrigued by the impact that the garden may have had on his outlook and interest into the natural world that he took on to bigger things as he grew up!

It really brings to life the upbringing that Charles had – the dynamics of his family and the areas they lived in – and used letters and diaries from the family so well to bring them to life, so to speak! We get a real insight into the goings on at the time, and the role that those around him had on his interest being piqued on all matters to do with animals and the environment they were living in, and what could be learned.

Alongside his story, we see into the life of the author as she brings up her children to be just as interested in wildlife, encouraging them to explore with her on walks in the local area. She becomes obsessed with learning all she can about him and the use of letters from his sisters was a great way of seeing how they kept him in touch with matters from home while he was off travelling. Having lost his mother at a young age, it seemed his siblings became even closer, especially with his father being so busy.

It also touches on the ongoing work to preserve his legacy and keep sharing his work with people in the area, and how a humble garden can continue to teach us about the past and how we can imagine the area being used by those who lived there and what impact they have on shaping a young mind, such as Darwins’, and how they continue to do so.

I learnt so much from this book and loved the use of diagrams, photos and drawings to illustrate and get a real feel of the area, especially for those who haven’t been to visit!


★★★★★


🥳🥳🥳


I’ve done it!! Completed another wonderful 20 Books of Summer challenge!! It took me a while to get going this year for some reason, and I didn’t think I’d make it at one point as I was reading lots of things that weren’t on my list!! Very helpful!! BUT I stuck to my game plan of attacking the Netgalley shelf and the 20 books I named at the start were the ones I managed to read!  Now if only I hadn’t added to the Netgalley shelf with yet more books over this Summer….. will I ever learn?!!


My thanks as always to Cathy at 746 Books who started all this 20 Books of Summer business off! I always love to take part and is it wrong of me to already begin counting down the days to the 2022 version??!!!!


HAPPY READING!!

#BookReview MADAM by PHOEBE WYNNE #20BooksOfSummer2021



This is book 19 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021.

ABOUT THE BOOK


Light a fire they can’t put out…
For 150 years, above the Scottish cliffs, Caldonbrae Hall has sat as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises a future where its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.
Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher, is the first new hire for the school in over a decade. At first, Rose feels overwhelmed in the face of this elite establishment, but soon after her arrival she begins to understand that she may have more to fear than her own ineptitude.
When Rose stumbles across the secret circumstances surrounding the abrupt departure of her predecessor – a woman whose ghost lingers over everything and who no one will discuss – she realises that there is much more to this institution than she has been led to believe.
As she uncovers the darkness that beats at the heart of Caldonbrae, Rose becomes embroiled in a battle that will threaten her sanity as well as her safety…

A brooding, mesmeric novel with a feminist kick, perfect for fans of Naomi Alderman, Madeleine Miller and Margaret Atwood.

PUBLISHED BY QUERCUS

MY REVIEW

I wanted to really love this! The blurb sounded like my perfect kind of book!! And it started so promisingly that I was instantly taken with the setting and the mystery goings on in this illustrious school! I wanted to know more!! And quickly!!

BUT, then I started to fall out of love with some of the characters and found myself shouting at the book and situations that were playing out! I wanted the main character to get a grip, but she kept playing along despite what was going on! And as for the bratty girls she was teaching…… entitled and indulged little madams!!

The link with the classics were a really interesting twist and I would have liked maybe more of those playing out. I found myself wondering why they hired her in the first place as she was the first ‘outsider’ brought in for a number of years. And her outlook on life differed extremely from the rules and regulations of Caldonbrae Hall, an all girls boarding school where the young girls are brought up to do their duty!  There are strange goings on, and asking questions about the past isn’t encouraged whatsoever…. what exactly are they trying to hide?!

I wanted more of the darkness, more of the feisty attitude of a feminist teacher wanting to shake things up but unfortunately it fell short for me.


★★★

#BookReview THE STRANDING by KATE SAWYER #20BooksOfSummer21

This is book 18 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021 

ABOUT THE BOOK


Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life there is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.

As a new relationship becomes increasingly claustrophobic, and the discussions of impending political crisis are harder to avoid, she starts to dream of water; of escaping entwining tentacles through deep blue seas. She sets out to the other side of the globe to find that vision of freedom, and to decide who she wants to be when she returns.

But when she arrives at her destination, she finds instead that the world, and life, she left behind no longer exists.

Starting at the end and eventually returning there, with alternate chapters set Before and After, THE STRANDING is a story of how to make a life, what it is to be a woman, and what remains when everything we know is stripped away.


PUBLISHED BY CORONET


MY REVIEW

This is book 18 of my books of Summer 2021.

wow!! What a reading experience that was!! I’d heard so many good things about this book so I was a little nervous getting started, but once I was a few pages in I didn’t want to put it down!! You are just absorbed by the ‘before’ and ‘after’ storytelling style that talks of a catastrophic global event but never actually mentions what it is/was, and for me that really added to the magic of the story and how it involves you heart and soul!

At the centre of the story is Ruth! In the ‘before’ story, she’s involved with Alex and utterly besotted. Putting up with sly digs at her weight, being at his beck and call – she’s in deep and ignores the warning signs despite her friends and family being less enamoured of his behaviour. But as the time goes by, the reality of ‘his love’ for her shows itself in clearer terms and she finds herself going travelling to New Zealand. That’s one way to put distance between them!

In the ‘after’ storyline she’s in New Zealand and it’s a very bleak, isolated world. She’s on a beach with a dead whale and a stranger watching her. It brilliantly portrays the abject fear she must feel, alongside that ‘must not give up’ attitude that needs to find within to seek some hope in this new world. With the stranger making himself known to her, we then follow their struggles to survive in the situation they find themselves in.

I just can’t stop thinking about this book! It has a storyline that is a little different from the norm with intriguing characters and situations! I found it to be beautifully written, full of hope alongside the despair of the circumstances that this book portrays and it’s definitely one of my books of 2021!


★★★★★

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 21st August 2021



Hello and Happy Saturday!!  Wonder what the weather will throw at us today?! Been a bit cloudier this week which has been nice, but it’s always good to see the sun return!!
On to books!! It’s been a fairly calm bookish week!! No mad shopping sprees this week! I’ve actually started another book clearout, although clearing 50 books from a bookcase resulted in ZERO extra space being created so back to the drawing board for me on that front! I’m obviously doing something wrong!!
I have managed to finish 4 books this week, and 2 newbies joined my Netgalley shelf!  Here’s my look back..


BOOKS FNISHED


A SECRET SCOTTISH ESCAPE by JULIE SHACKMAN – 4 STARS

UNSETTLED GROUND by CLAIRE FULLER – 4 STARS

THE STRANDING by KATE SAWYER – 5 STARS

BOOKHAUL


What did Netgalley tempt me with this week?….


THE WOMAN IN THE MIDDLE by MILLY JOHNSON

publication date – October 2021

Shay Bastable is the woman in the middle. She is part of the sandwich generation – caring for her parents and her children, supporting her husband Bruce, holding them all together and caring for them as best she can.

Then the arrival of a large orange skip on her mother’s estate sets in motion a cataclysmic series of events which leads to the collapse of Shay’s world. She is forced to put herself first for a change.

But in order to move forward with her present, Shay needs to make sense of her past. And so she returns to the little village she grew up in, to uncover the truth about what happened to her when she was younger. And in doing so, she discovers that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom to find the only way is up.


THE BOOK OF FORM AND EMPTINESS by RUTH OZEKI

publication – September 2021

After the tragic death of his beloved musician father, fourteen-year-old Benny Oh begins to hear voices. The voices belong to the things in his house – a sneaker, a broken Christmas ornament, a piece of wilted lettuce. Although Benny doesn’t understand what these things are saying, he can sense their emotional tone; some are pleasant, a gentle hum or coo, but others are snide, angry and full of pain. When his mother develops a hoarding problem, the voices grow more clamorous.

At first Benny tries to ignore them, but soon the voices follow him outside the house, onto the street and at school, driving him at last to seek refuge in the silence of a large public library, where objects are well-behaved and know to speak in whispers. There, Benny discovers a strange new world, where ‘things happen’. He falls in love with a mesmerising street artist with a smug pet ferret, who uses the library as her performance space. He meets a homeless philosopher-poet, who encourages him to ask important questions and find his own voice amongst the many.

And he meets his very own Book – a talking thing – who narrates Benny’s life and teaches him to listen to the things that truly matter.

With its blend of sympathetic characters, riveting plot and vibrant engagement with everything from jazz to climate change to our attachment to material possessions, The Book of Form and Emptiness is classic Ruth Ozeki – bold, wise, poignant, playful, humane and heartbreaking.


CURRENTLY READING


MADAM by PHOEBE WYNNE




HAPPY READING

#20BooksOfSummer2021 A SECRET SCOTTISH ESCAPE by JULIE SHACKMAN #BookReview

This is book 17 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021 

ABOUT THE BOOK


When Scotland’s sleepiest hamlet becomes the centre of hot gossip, Layla Devlin finds herself caught in a mystery…

When Layla’s fiancée has an unexpected heart attack and dies – in another woman’s arms, no less – Layla is determined to pack up and leave Loch Harris, the village she’s always called home. But an unexpected inheritance and love for her quiet corner of Scotland send her down a new path.

Now Layla finds herself facing a whole new kind of drama. Rumours swirl that a celebrity has moved into Coorie Cottage and Layla is determined to have him headline her opening night at local music venue The Conch Club. But the reclusive star is equally determined to thwart Layla’s efforts. Rafe Buchanan is in hiding for a reason, and soon his past comes to Loch Harris to haunt him…


PUBLISHED BY ONE MORE CHAPTER

MY REVIEW

This was a totally captivating story, following the story of Layla who is dealt a devastating blow when her fiancee dies and discovers a secret about him that crushes her. She had been so settled in the area, but all her thoughts now are about running away and starting again elsewhere as she’s feeling so let down.

The local community are very supportive to her, and she has such a wonderful relationship with her Dad that doubts start to creep into her mind about leaving, and she starts to get excited about creating a new local music venue. Music has always played a big part of her life and she wants to find a way to attract new tourists to the area.

Layla is one of those characters who can’t NOT get involved in things, despite her best efforts! She feels like she wants to help everybody, and there are plenty of people to help in this book as she reaches out to a reclusive musician who lives in the area – his story intrigues her, as does he as a person, and she finds she becomes more involved with wanting to know more. He’s a very jekyll/hyde personality with her so she knows he’s hiding something….her journalistic skills come in very handy trying to get to the bottom of it all!

I loved the setting and the sense of community in this book. There are many secrets that come to light that threaten to darken her light but you can’t do anything but admire her determination to see a project through!


★★★★

#20BooksOfSummer2021 THE FAIR BOTANISTS by SARA SHERIDAN #BookReview



This is Book 16 of my 20 Books of Summer 2021

ABOUT THE BOOK


It’s the summer of 1822 and Edinburgh is abuzz with rumours of King George IV’s impending visit. In botanical circles, however, a different kind of excitement has gripped the city. In the newly-installed Botanic Garden, the Agave Americana plant looks set to flower – an event which only occurs once in several decades. When newly widowed Elizabeth arrives in Edinburgh to live with her late husband’s aunt Clementina, she’s determined to put her unhappy past in London behind her. As she settles into her new home, she becomes fascinated by the beautiful Botanic Garden which border the grand house and offers her services as an artist to record the rare plant’s impending bloom. In this pursuit, she meets Belle Brodie, a vivacious young woman with a passion for botany and the lucrative, dark art of perfume creation. Belle is determined to keep both her real identity and the reason for her interest the Garden secret from her new friend. But as Elizabeth and Belle are about to discover, secrets don’t last long in this Enlightenment city. And when they are revealed, they can carry the greatest of consequences . .

PUBLISHED BY HODDER & STOUGHTON

MY REVIEW


This was a blooming treat of a read! Full of history, strong and interesting female characters and a wonderful gardening backdrop, it had everything you want from a story and it just sweeps you along and transports you back in time with ease!

Set in 1822, amidst the backdrop of the botanic gardens of Edinburgh, you are following the characters involved with the set up and the general buzz of the town with the forthcoming visit of King George IV. But what gets more buzz than a royal visitor, is the flowering of a rare plant and the impact that has on different people for different reasons are followed in the story – some with more devious plans than others!!

Belle and Elizabeth are the main female characters and they are very different but both share a love for botany. As their paths cross you sense the secrets they’re both holding back but understand that they respect one another for being such independent souls.

I loved the frenetic energy of this book! There’s so much going on with the various characters and their scheming and plotting!! You really get a great sense of the time period and the expectation that fills the air with the impending royal arrival, alongside that of the rare flower set to bloom, and you find yourself totally immersed in the drama and conflicting characters! Loved it!


★★★★

#BookReview UNSETTLED GROUND by CLAIRE FULLER #Audiobook

ABOUT THE BOOK


What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant? What would you do to get it back?

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Their rented cottage is simultaneously their armour against the world and their sanctuary. Inside its walls they make music, in its garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.

But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. At risk of losing everything, Jeanie and her brother must fight to survive in an increasingly dangerous world as their mother’s secrets unfold, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.

This is a thrilling novel of resilience and hope, of love and survival, that explores with dazzling emotional power how the truths closest to us are often hardest to see.

PUBLISHED BY FIG TREE

MY REVIEW

I listened to the audio version of this book.
This author has such a wonderful way with the characters she creates! This isn’t a joyful book to lift the spirits, but it’s a story of the impact of family secrets on characters who have been shielded from the world for so long that when their world is shattered they don’t really know how to process what is happening.


Twins Jeanie and Julius are in their 50’s and still live at home with their mother. She’s protected them from the ‘real world’ so when she passes, the reality hits them hard. Their mother never accepted help from others, so they are determined to do things their own way despite a lack of money and lack of real awareness of how the world operates.
We hear more of the story from the viewpoint of Jeanie, who seems to have a fairly optimistic approach to what life throws her way and hates the fuss of people in the village offering their help. She has her gardening to help her escape and that is her distraction from the unfolding events of being evicted from their home.


You couldn’t help but feel for the twins – they’d always been looked on as odd by the locals, but to them they were living a ‘normal’ family life, helping their mother, pulling together and just getting on with things – never making a fuss. The more they begin to see the world for what it’s really like, and the more the secrets about the past begin to reveal themselves the more shocking the story becomes!


The slow pace really allows you to get under the skin of these characters and adds to the impact of the revelations as they are discovered. The realisations of being lied to, the consequences that those lies have made…. just devastating! A beautifully written book.


★★★★

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 14th August 2021



Hello and Happy Saturday!!  Seriously lacking on the energy front this week but has been very frustrating… but it seems to have made me buy extra books so .. oops!!
It’s been a very good and very busy bookish week! I managed to finish 6 books so yay!  If only I’d kept myself under control on the Netgalley and buying front – 5 new NG additions, 1 book won via a FB group giveaway, and then 7 new book buys!! Anyone got any creative book storage ideas?!!
Here’s my look back.. get comfy!


BOOKS FINISHED


HIDDEN SECRETS AT THE LITTLE VILLAGE CHURCH by TRACY REES – 5 STARS


FOR YOUR OWN GOOD by SAMANTHA DOWNING – 4 STARS


A SINGLE ROSE by MURIEL BARBERY – 5 STARS


THE ISLAND HOME By LIBBY PAGE – 5 STARS

THE FAIR BOTANISTS by SARA SHERIDAN – 4 STARS

SQUARE HAUNTING by FRANCESCA WADE – 5 STARS




BOOKHAUL


Let’s start with Netgalley…


THE BOOKBINDER’S DAUGHTER by JESSICA THORNE

publication date – 20th September 2021


The song surrounded her now, the murmuring of the library insistent, and her foot took the first step on the winding stairs. She knew it wasn’t entirely a dream. It was the library calling her, its magic driving her.

When Sophie is offered a job at the Ayredale Library – the finest collection of rare books in the world, and the last place her bookbinder mother was seen when Sophie was just a teenager – she leaps at the chance. Will she finally discover what happened to the woman she’s always believed abandoned her?

Taking in the endless shelves of antique books, the soaring stained-glass windows, and the grand sweeping staircase, usually shy Sophie feels strangely at home, and is welcomed by her eccentric fellow binders. But why is the Keeper of the Library so reluctant to speak about Sophie’s mother? And why is Sophie the only person who can read the strange spells in the oldest books on display, written in a forgotten language nobody else understands?

The mysteries of the library only deepen when Sophie stumbles upon an elaborately carved door. The pattern exactly matches the pendant her mother left behind years ago, engraved with a delicate leaf. As the door swings open at her touch, Sophie gasps at the incredible sight: an enormous tree, impossibly growing higher than the library itself, its gently falling golden leaves somehow resembling the pages of a book. Amidst their rustling, Sophie hears a familiar whisper…

‘There you are, my Sophie. I knew you’d come back for me.’

An absolutely spellbinding read about long-hidden family secrets and the magic that lurks between the pages of every ancient book. Perfect for fans of The Ten Thousand Doors of January, The Night Circus and The Binding.


THE LINCOLN HIGHWAY by AMOR TOWLES

publication date – October 2021

Emmett returns home to pick-up his little brother Billy, tie-up his late father’s estate and get out of town for good. Since leaving the Kansas youth facility where he’s served time, Emmett has wanted one thing: to give them both a fresh start – and that means heading out to the sparkling west.

Young, precocious Billy has plans of his own – to get to San Francisco, where he believes their long-estranged mother is waiting for them. However, as soon as they’ve loaded Emmett’s bright blue Studebaker with their few belongings, trouble arrives and brings its sidekick in the form of Duchess and Woolly, two runaways from the very facility Emmett just left behind him.

Insatiable Duchess and his devoted, but slow companion Woolly soon wreck Billy’s plan to get onto the open road, one well-intentioned blunder at a time. Each young man sees this journey as his chance to pursue his dreams, settle scores and find riches. And a simple journey quickly becomes a dazzling odyssey filled with obstacles, villains and ruses fit only for heroes to overcome.

Bursting with life, charm and unforgettable characters, The Lincoln Highway is an extraordinary journey through 1950s America from a master storyteller.


THE VISITORS by CAROLINE SCOTT

publication date – November 2021

From the highly acclaimed author of The Photographer of the Lost, a BBC Radio 2 Book Club Pick, comes a tale of a young war widow and one life-changing, sun-drenched visit to Cornwall in the summer of 1923…

Esme Nicholls is to spend the summer in Cornwall. Her late husband Alec, who died fighting in the war, grew up in Penzance, and she’s hoping to learn more about the man she loved and lost.

While there, she will stay with Gilbert, in his rambling seaside house, where he lives with his former brothers in arms. Esme is fascinated by this community of eccentric artists and former soldiers, and as she gets to know the men and their stories, she begins to feel this summer might be exactly what she needs.

But everything is not as idyllic as it seems – a mysterious new arrival later in the summer will turn Esme’s world upside down, and make her question everything she thought she knew about her life, and the people in it.

Full of light, laughter and larger-than-life characters, The Visitors is a novel of one woman finally finding her voice and choosing her own path forwards.


THE SPIRIT ENGINEER by A.J WEST

publication date – October 2021

Belfast, 1914. Two years after the sinking of the Titanic, high society has become obsessed with spiritualism in the form of seances that attempt to contact the spirits of loved ones lost at sea.

William is a man of science and a sceptic, but one night with everyone sat around the circle something happens that places doubt in his heart and a seed of obsession in his mind. Could the spirits truly be communicating with him or is this one of Kathleen’s parlour tricks gone too far?

This early 20th century gothic set in Northern Ireland contains all the mystery and intrigue one might expect from a Sarah Waters novel. Deftly plotted with echoes of The Woman in Black, readers will be thrilled to discover West’s chilling prose.

Based on the true story of William Jackson Crawford and famed medium Kathleen Goligher, and with a cast of characters that include Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini, The Spirit Engineer conjures a haunting tale that will keep readers guessing until the very end.


THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE by RICHARD OSMAN

publication date – September 2021

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them? 

I won a copy of this lovely book via a Facebook group…

THE ILLUSTRATED CHILD by POLLY CROSBY

Romilly Kemp has an idyllic childhood, roaming the wilderness that surrounds her father’s ramshackle farmhouse. But when he makes her the star of his beautifully illustrated books, her carefree if somewhat lonely existence is threatened.

The books are thought to hold clues to an elaborate treasure hunt, and strangers turn up at their door, anxious to get a glimpse of the ‘Kemp Treasure Girl’. But when her father falls ill, leaving Romilly more isolated and alone than ever, she begins to delve deeper into the books – and her past.

As she makes sense of the clues he has hidden, she finds a truth that is far darker and more devastating than any treasure hunt has a right to be. For not everything that is hidden is gold.

And then I went on a little spending spree……

THE MANNINGTREE WITCHES by A.K.BLAKEMORE

Wolf Hall meets The Favourite in this beguiling debut novel that brilliantly brings to life the residents of a small English town in the grip of the seventeenth-century witch trials and the young woman tasked with saving them all from themselves.

England, 1643. Puritanical fervor has gripped the nation. And in Manningtree, a town depleted of men since the wars began, the hot terror of damnation burns in the hearts of women left to their own devices.

Rebecca West, fatherless and husbandless, chafes against the drudgery of her days, livened only occasionally by her infatuation with the handsome young clerk John Edes. But then a newcomer, Matthew Hopkins, arrives. A mysterious, pious figure dressed from head to toe in black, he takes over the Thorn Inn and begins to ask questions about what the women on the margins of this diminished community are up to. Dangerous rumors of covens, pacts, and bodily wants have begun to hang over women like Rebecca–and the future is as frightening as it is thrilling.


SORROW AND BLISS by MEG MASON

This novel is about a woman called Martha. She knows there is something wrong with her but she doesn’t know what it is. Her husband Patrick thinks she is fine. He says everyone has something, the thing is just to keep going.

Martha told Patrick before they got married that she didn’t want to have children. He said he didn’t mind either way because he has loved her since he was fourteen and making her happy is all that matters, although he does not seem able to do it.

By the time Martha finds out what is wrong, it doesn’t really matter anymore. It is too late to get the only thing she has ever wanted. Or maybe it will turn out that you can stop loving someone and start again from nothing – if you can find something else to want.


PURE by JO PERRY

Caught in a pincer movement between the sudden death of Evelyn (her favourite aunt) and the Corona virus, Ascher Lieb finds herself unexpectedly locked down in her aunt’s retirement community with only Evelyn’s grief-stricken dog Freddie for company.

As the world tumbles down into a pandemic shaped rabbit-hole Ascher is wracked with guilt that her aunt was buried without the Jewish burial rights of purification.

In order to atone for this dereliction of familial duty, Ascher – in her own words ‘a profane, unobservant, atheist Jew, frequent liar and grieving loser’ –volunteers to become the newest member of Valley Haverim Chevra Kadisha, a Jewish burial society on-call twenty-four-seven during lockdown and performing Mitzvot at no cost to the bereaved.

What follows is a journey through the insanity of lockdown in Los Angeles as Ascher attempts to bring peace to a troubled soul, and perhaps in the end redemption for herself.

In the hands of a lesser-writer a novel set in the time of covid could lead to a cliché ridden trope-fest, but instead with the skill and grace we’ve come to expect from Jo Perry she has delivered a book that is wise and beautiful and uplifting.


WE ARE ANIMALS by TIM EWINS

A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.

Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the passport-thief who stole his heart (and his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.

Jan has not. In his long search he has accidentally held a whole town at imaginary gunpoint in Soviet Russia, stalked the proprietors of an international illegal lamp-trafficking scam and done his very best to avoid any kind of work involving the packing of fish. Now he thinks if he just waits, if he just does nothing at all, maybe fate will find it easier to reunite them.

His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…

His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…

Will…

Not…

Leave.

But maybe an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find the missing thief?

Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a quirky, heart-warming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the certainty of fate (or lack thereof).

For the first time in her life the cow noticed the sun setting, and it was glorious.

A WASH OF BLACK by CHRIS MCDONALD

IT’S NOT LIFE THAT IMITATES ART. IT’S DEATH.

Anna Symons. Famous. Talented. Dead.

When the body of a famous actress is found mutilated on an ice rink in Manchester, recreating a scene from a blockbuster film she starred in years ago, DI Erika Piper must find the culprit; the media-dubbed ‘Blood Ice Killer.’

Having recently returned to work after suffering a near-fatal attack herself, she must once again prove her worth. But when another body is found, and the killer issues a personal threat, Erika must put her demons aside and crack the case, or suffer the deadly consequences.

WHISPERS IN THE DARK

Who will heed the call when Death comes whispering?

Small time drug dealer, Marcus Stone and DCI Clive Burston had never met until one night in August. By the end of that night, both had been shot dead in a small bedroom in the heart of gang territory.

DI Erika Piper is called to the scene but is at a loss to explain what’s happened. How did these two even meet, let alone end up dead in what appears to be a strange murder-suicide?

As Erika leads the investigation, another two bodies are found, killed in a similar fashion. One murder, one suicide. But who is controlling this macarbre puppet show?

As Erika delves deeper into the lives of the dead, the pieces begin to fit together and a number of nefarious characters crawl out of the woodwork – one of whom is almost certainly pulling the strings.

A catastrophic event and a personal miracle threaten to derail the investigation. Erika must find the strength to continue, before the whispers catch up with her too…

ROSES FOR THE DEAD


MURDER CAN BE MAYHEM.

2013
Rockstar Johnny Mayhem sits on his bed, holding a bloody baseball bat. On the floor, clutching a lavender rose in her fist, is his wife, Amanda, who he has just beaten to death. Erika Piper knows this because she is one of the first on the scene. Mayhem is arrested and led away, screaming that they’ve got the wrong man. But the evidence is irrefutable and when Mayhem is sentenced to life in prison, no one is surprised.

Now
Thanks to new evidence, Johnny Mayhem is a now free man. During a television interview, he issues a thinly veiled threat to those involved in the original case before seemingly disappearing off the face of the Earth. When the body of Mayhem’s dealer is found, Erika Piper is pulled from the safety of her desk job and thrown into the hunt for the Rockstar. Can she find Mayhem before he can enact his revenge on everyone involved, including Erika? Or, has he been telling the truth all along? Did the police really get the wrong man?

CURRENTLY READING

A SECRET SCOTTISH ESCAPE by JULIE SHACKMAN

HAPPY READING!!!