Hello all and Happy December! How the heck are we here already??!!! I’ve lost all track of time and it juts feels like only yesterday that I was back making new year resolutions – of which I think I stuck to zero!! Not been a good week for me health wise, but book wise it’s been ok! Another 4 books finished and I stayed away from Netgalley! Go me!! And 1 lovely book in the post for review! Here’s my look back!
Just one lovely addition to my bookshelves this week courtesy of the fabulous Gallic Press for review.
B: A Year in Plagues and Pencils by Edward Carey
‘I blame the pencil. I hadn’t meant to do it. I wasn’t thinking. It just happened that way.’
In March 2020, as lockdowns were imposed around the world, author and illustrator Edward Carey published a sketch on social media with a plan to keep posting a drawing a day from his family home in Austin, Texas, until life returned to normal. One hundred and fifty pencil stubs later, he was still drawing.
Carey’s hand moved with world events, chronicling pandemic and politics. It reached into the past, taking inspiration from history, and escaped grim reality through flights of vivid imagination and studies of the natural world. The drawings became a way of charting time, of moving forward, and maintaining connection at a time of isolation.
This remarkable collection of words and drawings from the acclaimed author of Little and The Swallowed Man charts a tumultuous year in pencil, finding beauty amid the horror of extraordinary times.
THE LOST PROMISE OF IRELAND by SUSANNE O’LEARY
A completely gorgeous story about lost loves and small-town secrets that will sweep you away to the Irish coast.Maggie remembers her summers in the village of Sandy Cove in Ireland like they were yesterday. She and her family would swim in the crystal-clear waters, collect beautiful seashells and relax on the sand. So when she sees that her family’s old coastguard cottage is available, she wonders if renting it for the summer will finally help her move on from the man who just broke her heart.As soon as Maggie arrives she is delighted to find her childhood best-friend Sorcha and Sorcha’s cousin Brian still living in town. They enjoy cosy nights in the local harbour pub, with its stunning views across the ocean, as if no time has passed. And when Brian reveals he had a fierce teenage crush on Maggie, she can’t help but notice just how handsome he has become.But then Maggie finds a worn metal box hidden in the attic of the house, full of love letters she exchanged with a sweet American boy she met one summer. During their last night together, star-gazing on the beach, they promised to find each other again. Soon it becomes clear that Maggie is not the only one returning to Sandy Cove.Torn between her growing feelings for Brian and the romance she’s held in her heart for many years, Maggie realises that her summer may be more complicated than she’d expected. Will Maggie finally find a true love who can sweep her off her feet or will this holiday in Sandy Cove be her last?
Hello and Happy Saturday! The days are flying by way too quickly and the fact it’s only 6 weeks to the C word is bringing me out in a sweat!! I’d best get my list of bookish wants off to Santa pronto… because I NEED more books obviously!! Speaking of books, it’s been a rather wonderful reading week for me! The multiple book reading has resulted in me finishing 8 books (including 2 audiobooks) this week!! Nope, I’m not sure how I managed it either but I want it to be like that every week haha!! I stayed away from Netgalley too and just got 2 lovely books in the post – 1 I bought, 1 for review! Here’s my look back..
Stephen Leacock is an unjustly neglected master of the short-story genre, once considered the best-known humorist in the world. Although he was a prolific writer, producing about fifty novels, biographies and histories, he was best known for his humorous articles and short stories in magazines.
One of his later collections, Frenzied Fiction shows a master of a genre at the height of his game, and contains all the hallmarks of his earlier work and the trademark wit which he had refined over the previous decades. By turns laugh-aloud hilarious and poignant, and containing such gems as ‘My Recollections as a Spy’ and ‘Simple Stories of Success, or How to Succeed in Life’, this collection builds a strong case against prohibition, paints a moving picture of a war-torn world, caricatures and lampoons novelists, actors and princes, and demonstrates why he met with such success and stacked a fan base with figures as varied John Lane, A.P. Herbert and Groucho Marx.
And for review I received this from Emma at The Book Publicist.
THE FAIRY TELLERS by NICHOLAS JUBBER
published by John Murray Press
publication date – January 2022
Fairy-Tales are not just fairy-tales: they are records of historical phenomena, telling us something about how Western civilisation was formed. In The Fairy-Tellers’ Trail, award-winning travel-writer Nick Jubber explores their secret history of fairy-tales: the people who told them, the landscapes that forged them, and the cultures that formed them.
While there are certain names inextricably entwined with the concept of a fairy-tale, such as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen, the most significant tellers are long buried under the more celebrated figures who have taken the credit for their stories – people like the Syrian storyteller Youhenna Diab and the Wild Sisters of Cassel. Without them we would never have heard of Aladdin, his Magic Lamp or the adventures of Hansel and Gretel.
Tracking these stories to their sources carries us through the steaming cities of Southern Italy and across the Mediterranean to the dust-clogged alleys of the Maghreb, under the fretting leaves of the Black Forest, deep into the tundra of Siberia and across the snowy hills of Lapland.
From North Africa and Siberia, this book illuminates the complicated relationship between Western civilization and the ‘Eastern’ cultures it borrowed from, and the strange lives of our long lost fairy-tellers.
Hello and Happy Saturday! Yay for weekends!! I find I’m doing most of my reading now at the weekend! Any excuse to avoid the housework and reality!! So it’s been another productive reading week with 5 books finished, including an audiobook! And I restricted myself to one new NG addition! Also had some lovely bookpost too so that always brings a smile to my face! Here’s my look back!
If everything in your life was based on a lie Would you risk it all to tell the truth?
At Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, the best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu: an arcane and mysterious contest. Léo Martin was once a student there, but lost his passion for the grand jeu following a violent tragedy. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning with his political career in tatters.
Montverre has changed since he studied there, even allowing a woman, Claire Dryden, to serve in the grand jeu’s highest office of Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire he senses an odd connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before.
Both Léo and Claire have built their lives on lies. And as the legendary Midsummer Game, the climax of the year, draws closer, secrets are whispering in the walls…
And in the post for review…..
CARROTS DON’T GROW ON TREES by ROB KEELEY
Lily loves eating fruit and vegetables – but is tricked by Jordan, who tells her that carrots grow on trees.
With the help of her Mum, some healthy eating and a box of elastic bands, Lily sets out to teach Jordan a lesson…
Carrots Don’t Grow On Trees! is a bright, colourful and funny story, told entirely in dialogue and pictures, and takes a fun and compassionate approach to dealing with teasing at school, as well as promoting healthy eating.
Rob Keeley’s second picture book sees him reunited with illustrator Simon Goodway, following their previous successes with My Favourite People and The Treasure in the Tower
THE GIFT: Book One by RA WILLIAMS
A lush historical adventure that’s equal parts Gothic horror as it is tale of lost love, this first book in THE GIFT trilogy follows an optimistic yet cautious American ethnologist on her journey from St Dunstan’s Prep in Michigan, to the warm tropical shallows off the coast of Honduras, and the tors of Germany’s Externsteine, uncovering clues to the identity of the man who saved her from the Crimen one fateful night. All clues lead to Folkestone, England where she is reunited with the man she has sought for nearly three decades. But, is their reunion the end, or merely the end of the beginning?
The North Atlantic, 14 April 1912. A night most hope to forget. But the grisly things a young Elle Annenberg witnesses, she will always remember. Among the chaos as Titanic’s bow sinks deeper and deeper underwater, Elle zeroes in on a raffish individual, among the panicked passengers, shotgun muzzle protruding from under his long duffel coat. In the bottomless twilight of his eyes she discovers an intriguing ruthlessness. As he moves away, Elle follows, ever curious. Descending into the bowel of the ship she happens upon a slaughterhouse of gored bodies. But by whom or what she cannot say. From somewhere in the endless companionways comes a Banshee howl, followed by the distant call of a name: Balthasar. In No. 2 Hold – awash with mutilated bodies – she finds Balthasar leaning over an open sarcophagus. Elle scarcely has a moment to glimpse what lays within before Titanic’s starboard hull buckles, and she is sucked into a maelstrom of freezing brine and half-devoured corpses. Saved from certain drowning, she unintentionally receives a gift from Balthasar. A gift so captivating, it changes her path in life irrevocably. Her new course will not only lead her to learn the true identity of the man who saved her life but of the savage Crimen she glimpsed that fateful night. From her teaching position at a prep school in 1929 Michigan, to a British shipwreck in the tropical shallows off the Honduran coast, Dr Eleanor Annenberg finds traces of Balthasar’s identity. A man who purposefully exists on the fringe of humanity. From the fighting at Cape Helles in 1915 to the last station on the River Ituri in the Belgian Congo and a lost Lichtmetal mine beneath the towering Tor Externsteine in 1939 Germany, Elle follows the clues, undeterred by the years getting behind her. All clues lead to just one location. An Edwardian seaside town on the English Channel – Folkestone. Their paths rejoined, Elle gets closer to the truth she has sought for twenty-eight years. But at what cost? What she learns – much to her own horror – is gifts are seldom free, and she herself has become guilty of the same ferocious rage as the Crimen.
Hello! Happy Saturday! October is flying by in a blink of an eye … again! I think I say that with every month now! Where’s the pause button?! On to books – where there is never enough time for all the books we want to read! Another decent week here of bookish action! Managed to finish 4 books, bought myself 2 books (very fast delivery from www.hive.co.uk and free delivery!), 1 book in the post to review and just 1 new NG addition! Here’s my look back..
Tonight nineteen-year-old William Lavery is dressed for success, his first black-tie do. It’s the Midlands Chapter of the Institute of Embalmers Ladies’ Night Dinner Dance, and William is taking Gloria in her sequined evening gown. He can barely believe his luck. But as the guests sip their drinks and smoke their post-dinner cigarettes a telegram delivers news of a tragedy. An event so terrible it will shake the nation.
It is October 1966 and a landslide at a coal mine has buried a school: Aberfan. William decides he must act, so he stands and volunteers to attend. It will be his first job, and will be – although he’s yet to know it – a choice that threatens to sacrifice his own happiness. His work that night will force him to think about the little boy he was, and the losses he has worked so hard to bury. But compassion can have surprising consequences, because – as William discovers – giving so much to others can sometimes help us heal ourselves.
And I treated myself to these two…..
PIRANESI by SUSANNA CLARKE
Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house—a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known
THE HAUNTING SEASON by Various
Winter, with its unsettling blend of the cosy and the sinister, has long been a popular time for gathering by the bright flame of a candle, or the warm crackling of a fire, and swapping stories of ghosts and strange happenings.
Now eight bestselling, award-winning authors – master storytellers of the sinister and the macabre – bring this time-honoured tradition to vivid life in a spellbinding collection of new and original haunted tales.
From a bustling Covent Garden Christmas market to the frosty moors of Yorkshire, from a country estate with a dreadful secret, to a London mansion where a beautiful girl lies frozen in death, these are stories to make your hair stand on end, send shivers down your spine and to serve as your indispensable companion to the long nights of winter.
So curl up, light a candle, and fall under the spell of The Haunting Season . . .
Featuring new and original tales from:
Bridget Collins Sunday Times bestselling author of The Binding
Imogen Hermes Gowar Sunday Times bestselling author of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock
Kiran Millwood Hargrave Sunday Times bestselling author of The Mercies
Andrew Michael Hurley Sunday Times bestselling author of The Loney
Jess Kidd International award-winning author of Things in Jars
Elizabeth Macneal Sunday Times bestselling author of The Doll Factory
Natasha Pulley Sunday Times bestselling author of The Watchmaker of Filigree Street
Laura Purcell Award-winning author of The Silent Companions
And received this to review….
BLACK CAKE by CHARMAINE WILKERSON
publication date – February 2022
‘We can’t go to the island, Bryon. We don’t really know what we’re getting into . . .’
Eleanor Bennett won’t let her own death get in the way of the truth. So when her estranged children – Byron and Benny – reunite for her funeral in California, they discover a puzzling inheritance.
First, a voice recording in which everything Byron and Benny ever knew about their family is upended. Their mother narrates a tumultuous story about a headstrong young woman who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder, a story which cuts right to the heart of the rift that’s separated Byron and Benny.
Second, a traditional Caribbean black cake made from a family recipe with a long history that Eleanor hopes will heal the wounds of the past. Can Byron and Benny fulfil their mother’s final request to ‘share the black cake when the time is right’?
Will Eleanor’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever? ________ **Soon to be a major drama series for Hulu by Orpah Winfrey, Aaron Kaplan and Marissa Jo Cerar**
Hello and Happy Saturday! We’ve made it through another week! Yay us!! I’ve had a dodgy week health wise and my tank is empty so hoping a weekend of reading and resting will help perk me back up again! If that fails I’ll just have to buy some more books…. 😜 And on the book front, I’ve managed to finish another 3 this week but the big news is that zero additions to my shelves over at Netgalley! Although there has been 5 new additions to the physical book shelves due to a win from a Mills & Boon comp, and 2 books to review! Here’s my look back!
I was very lucky to win a little giveaway from Mills & Boon recently…
HIS ACCIDENTAL COUNTESS by ANNIE BURROWS
To stop an unsuitable elopement, Tobias Spenlow bundles his ward’s intended bride into his carriage—only to discover he’s made a terrible mistake. The woman is actually innocent governess Miss Dorothy Phillips—whose reputation he’s unintentionally ruined! The only way to right this wrong is for the earl to wed her. She might have accidentally become his countess, but their consuming attraction has him courting her in earnest!
WOULD I LIE TO THE DUKE by EVA LEIGH
Jessica McGale’s family business desperately needs investors and she’s determined to succeed at any cost. But she knows London’s elite will never look twice at a humble farm girl like herself. Posing as “Lady Whitfield,” however, places her in the orbit of wealthy, powerful people—most notably the Duke of Rotherby. His influence and support could save her company, but Jess never expected the effect he’d have on her.
Society thinks Noel is a notorious, carefree duke who dabbles in investments, but there’s a side to him that only his closest friends see. When he crosses paths with Lady Whitfield at a business bazaar, his world tilts on its axis. She’s brilliant and compelling, and brings him to his knees like no woman has before. Trust is difficult for Noel, but Jess makes him believe anything is possible. . .
As time ticks down on her Cinderella scheme, the thought of achieving her goal at Noel’s expense breaks Jess’s heart. He doesn’t just want her now, he wants her forever. But will her secret end their future before it begins?
CINDERELLA’S NEW YORK FLING by CARA COLTER
She’s a breath of fresh country air…
…in his big-city life!
When Jessica Winton’s dream job falls into her lap, she’s thrust from a small-town into bustling Manhattan – and faced with new hard to please boss, tycoon Jamie Gilbert-Cooper. But when Jamie takes her under his wing Jessica must wonder how much of the big city appeal is because of Jamie?
IN SEARCH OF THE LONG-LOST MAVERICK by CHRISTINE RIMMER
‘You know you’re tempted.’
Men are trouble. And Melanie Driscoll has already had more than her share of trouble. She has come to Bronco seeking only a fresh start; what she finds instead is Gabe Abernathy. The blonde, blue-eyed cowboy is temptation enough. The secrets he could be guarding are a whole other level of irresistible. Peeling the covers back on both might be too much for sweet Mel to handle…
And 2 books arrived for me to review…..
DANCING FOR STALIN by CHRISTINA EZRAHI
The true story of one couple’s fight for survival in Stalin’s Russia: a famous ballerina, sent to the Gulag, and her husband, who found a way to save her against all odds.
LUCKY by ED JACKSON
From tragedy to triumph, one step at a time – an inspirational story of triumph over adversity against the odds
At just 28 years old, Ed Jackson was told he would never walk again. After a miscalculated dive into a pool, he suffered multiple cardiac arrests, a broken neck and a partially severed spinal cord. Lying paralysed in intensive care, the former rugby player knew his life would never be the same. But he wasn’t ready to give up hope.
Driven by relentless determination, Ed embarked on an incredible journey to independence. Millimetre by millimetre, he began to regain movement in his fingers and toes. Defying the expectations of even the most optimistic doctors, step by step, Ed began to walk again.
Fuelled by a renewed appreciation for life and a determination to help others suffering similar injuries to his own, Ed set his sights on a new challenge: mountaineering. Embarking on a gruelling climb to raise funds for a spinal unit in Kathmandu, Ed realises that, once again, the odds are stacked against him. Will he be able to overcome his own life-changing injury and transform others’ lives for the better?
Lucky is the story of how Ed faced the impossible when it seemed all hope was lost, and shows how you, too, can overcome the biggest challenges that life sends your way.
Hello all and Happy September! How the flip did that happen?! Soon the shops will all be full of festive goodies…. Sainsbury’s were even trying to make me add mince pies to my food order today! NO!! Now if they’d tried to make me add books, the answer would be different!! And it’s been a fairly productive bookish week although I still feel like I’m chasing my tail and getting nowhere in getting on top of things! Managed to finish 3 books, added 2 newbies from Netgalley and treated myself to 2 new books as well! So here’s my look back..
PRACTICALLY PAGAN – AN ALTERNATIVE GUIDE TO GARDENING by ELEN SENTIER
publication date – 29th October 2021
Practically Pagan – An Alternative Guide to Gardening takes the spooky out of alternative and keeps the magic. Elen Sentier brings together, and expands on, recent scientific discoveries, and shows how close they are to the old ways that were labelled as superstition in the 20th century. Sentier’s writing is accessible and opens up the down-to-earth practicalism of pagans as people of the land to all, for that’s what the word pagan means, ‘of the land’. Sentier doesn’t preach or proselytise folk to become pagan, but brings to light how you’ve been thinking this way for years. Elen Sentier is a best-selling author of British native shamanism. She also writes paranormal mystery-suspense novels. She’s a wilderness woman, born on Dartmoor and grew up on Exmoor in a family who had practiced the old British magic for hundreds of years. Her books include Pagan Portals – Merlin: Once and Future Wizard (Moon Books, 2016), and Gardening with the Moon & Stars (Moon Books, 2015).
THE LIGHTHOUSE WITCHES by C.J.COOKE
publication date – 30th September 2021
Two sisters go missing on a remote Scottish island. Twenty years later, one is found–but she’s still the same age as when she disappeared. The secrets of witches have reached across the centuries in this chilling Gothic thriller from the author of the acclaimed The Nesting.
When single mother Liv is commissioned to paint a mural in a 100-year-old lighthouse on a remote Scottish island, it’s an opportunity to start over with her three daughters–Luna, Sapphire, and Clover. When two of her daughters go missing, she’s frantic. She learns that the cave beneath the lighthouse was once a prison for women accused of witchcraft. The locals warn her about wildlings, supernatural beings who mimic human children, created by witches for revenge. Liv is told wildlings are dangerous and must be killed.
Twenty-two years later, Luna has been searching for her missing sisters and mother. When she receives a call about her youngest sister, Clover, she’s initially ecstatic. Clover is the sister she remembers–except she’s still seven years old, the age she was when she vanished. Luna is worried Clover is a wildling. Luna has few memories of her time on the island, but she’ll have to return to find the truth of what happened to her family. But she doesn’t realize just how much the truth will change her.
And I treated myself to these two……
QUIET by SUSAN CAIN
For far too long, those who are naturally quiet, serious or sensitive have been overlooked. The loudest have taken over – even if they have nothing to say.
It’s time for everyone to listen. It’s time to harness the power of introverts.
It’s time for Quiet.
BRAVING THE WILDERNESS by BRENE BROWN
“True belonging doesn’t require us to change who we are. It requires us to be who we are.” Social scientist Bren� Brown, PhD, LMSW, has sparked a global conversation about the experiences that bring meaning to our lives–experiences of courage, vulnerability, love, belonging, shame, and empathy. In Braving the Wilderness, Brown redefines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization. With her trademark mix of research, storytelling, and honesty, Brown will again change the cultural conversation while mapping a clear path to true belonging.
Brown argues that we’re experiencing a spiritual crisis of disconnection, and introduces four practices of true belonging that challenge everything we believe about ourselves and each other. She writes, “True belonging requires us to believe in and belong to ourselves so fully that we can find sacredness both in being a part of something and in standing alone when necessary. But in a culture that’s rife with perfectionism and pleasing, and with the erosion of civility, it’s easy to stay quiet, hide in our ideological bunkers, or fit in rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. But true belonging is not something we negotiate or accomplish with others; it’s a daily practice that demands integrity and authenticity. It’s a personal commitment that we carry in our hearts.” Brown offers us the clarity and courage we need to find our way back to ourselves and to each other. And that path cuts right through the wilderness. Brown writes, “The wilderness is an untamed, unpredictable place of solitude and searching. It is a place as dangerous as it is breathtaking, a place as sought after as it is feared. But it turns out to be the place of true belonging, and it’s the bravest and most sacred place you will ever stand.”
THE SEAMSTRESS OF WARSAW by REBECCA MASCULL
A man learns a shocking truth about his past.
A mother writes a diary as the ghetto walls go up. From the bombed streets of London, to occupied Warsaw, to the Polish forests bristling with partisans, will their paths cross? Will their pasts be reconciled? And will they survive the deadly assaults on their freedom and their lives? THE SEAMSTRESS OF WARSAW is a tale of endurance and loss, family and blood, stories and histories, that questions the nature of who we are and where we are going, when the road ahead is burning.
Hello and Happy Saturday! Happy to report that my 2nd jab went well so haven’t been able to use that as an excuse for extra reading time this week! It does seem to have made me buy more books this week though so can’t complain about that!!! That’s the kind of side effect I can cope with!! I managed to finish 4 books this week, including 2 audiobooks, so still happy with that! And I steered well clear of Netgalley, but not of online bookshops where I bought 5 books, and got another 3 books for review/blog tours! Oops! Here’s my look back.
From the best-selling author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog comes a story about a woman’s journey to discover the father she never knew and a love she never thought possible.
Rose has just turned forty when she gets a call from a lawyer asking her to come to Kyoto for the reading of her estranged father’s will. And so for the first time in her life she finds herself in Japan, where Paul, her father’s assistant, is waiting to greet her.
As Paul guides Rose along a mysterious itinerary designed by her deceased father, her bitterness and anger are soothed by the stones and the trees in the Zen gardens they move through. During their walks, Rose encounters acquaintances of her father–including a potter and poet, an old lady friend, his housekeeper and chauffeur–whose interactions help her to slowly begin to accept a part of herself that she has never before acknowledged.
As the reading of the will gets closer, Rose’s father finally, posthumously, opens his heart to his daughter, offering her a poignant understanding of his love and a way to accept all she has lost.
FOR YOUR OWN GOOD by SAMANTHA DOWNING
publication date – 19th August 2021
Teddy Crutcher won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy. Everyone thinks he’s brilliant. Only you know the truth.
They all smile when he tells us his wife couldn’t be more proud. But no-one has seen her in a while.
They’re impressed when he doesn’t let anything distract him – even the tragic death of a school parent. Even when the whispers start, saying it was murder.
You’re sure Teddy is hiding something about what happened that day.
You’re sure you can prove it.
But you didn’t stop to think that when it comes to catching a killer, there’s no place more dangerous than just one step behind . . .
THE END OF THE WORLD IS FLAT by SIMON EDGE
publication date – 16th August 2021
A satirical comedy featuring Christopher Columbus, a tech billionaire, and a global delusion. Mel Winterbourne is the founder of a small, single-issue charity in the obscure field of mapmaking. Its success in achieving modest aims attracts the attention of handsome tech billionaire Joey Talavera, who evicts Mel and hijacks her charity for his own ends: to convince the world that the earth is flat. Although his chances of doing so seem slim, Flat Earthery is an idea whose time has come. With the historical reputation of Christopher Columbus in free-fall, old-style ‘globularism’ becomes heretical for a new generation of angry, anti-Establishment free-thinkers. Teachers, politicians, and celebrities face ruin if they refuse to sign up to the new orthodoxy. For Mel, something must be done. Teaming up with a pariah tabloid journalist and a faded writer of gross-out movie comedies, she sets out to challenge Talavera and his deranged beliefs. Will history and the billionaire’s own family origins be their unexpected ally? Using his trademark mix of history and satire to poke fun at modern foibles, Simon Edge is at his razor-sharp best in a caper that may be much more relevant than you think.
NIGHTMARE ABBEY by THOMAS LOVE PEACOCK
published by Renard Press
This 1818 novel is set in a former abbey whose owner, Christopher Glowry, is host to visitors who enjoy his hospitality and engage in endless debate. Among these guests are figures recognizable to Peacock’s contemporaries, including characters based on Lord Byron and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Mr. Glowry’s son Scythrop (also modeled on a famous Romantic, Peacock’s friend Percy Bysshe Shelley) locks himself up in a tower where he reads German tragedies and transcendental philosophy and develops a “passion for reforming the world.” Disappointed in love, a sorrowful Scythrop decides the only thing to do is to commit suicide, but circumstances persuade him to instead follow his father in a love of misanthropy and Madeira. In addition to satire and comic romance, Nightmare Abbey presents a biting critique of the texts we view as central to British romanticism
And then SANDSTONE PRESS put out a little Twitter plea the other day saying they needed some sales to help them out – and the bookish world responded in the best way we know how! Shopping!! Here’s the little bundle I purchased!!
SWEET FRUIT, SOUR LAND by REBECCA LEY
Winner of the Not the Booker Prize 2018
Shortlisted for the Betty Trask Prize 2019
In the last circle of luxury in a barren London, government ministers hold glamorous parties. Mathilde and Jaminder, evading hunger and the restrictions on women’s bodies, form an unbreakable bond. But there’s a high price for pleasure and escape is far from easy.
THE TYRANNY OF LOST THINGS by RHIANNON LUCY COSSLETT
Two hot summers converge, twenty years apart, as Harmony returns to the North London house where she lived as a child with her bohemian parents. Like theirs, her days are hazed by drugs and sex and cheap wine. Nothing else is the same in Longhope Crescent, but it’s only here she can make sense of the anxiety and loss that plague her.
BLASTED THINGS by LUCY GLAISTER
1920: Britain is trying to forget the Great War. Clementine, who nursed at the front and suffered her own losses, must bury the past and settle for a life of middle class respectability. Then she meets Vincent, an opportunistic veteran whose damage goes much deeper than the painted tin mask he wears to face the world. Powerfully drawn together they enter a deadly relationship that careers towards a dark and haunting resolution.
FINER THINGS by DAVID WHARTON
London: 1963. The lives of a professional shoplifter and a young art student collide. Delia needs to atone for a terrible mistake; Tess is desperate to convince herself she really is an artist. Elsewhere in London, the Krays are on the rise and a gang war is in the offing.
Tess’s relationship with her gay best friend grows unexpectedly complicated, and Delia falls for a man she’s been paid to betray.
Hello! Happy Saturday!! Will it be sunshine or rain today?! Seem to be having both in equal measures at the moment!! Now on to the books! And it’s been a mad old week! And I feel I’m spinning out of control again! I need to restrain myself!! I did manage to read 4 books so that’s a positive! The negative side was the bookhaul side eekk! 4 newbies on the Netgalley shelf, along with 2 books bought, 1 arriving ahead of a blog tour and 2 from amazon vine for reviewing….I need to have no internet for a week to stop me being tempted again! Here’s my look back.
Bombshell: The Night Bobby Kennedy Murdered Marilyn Monroe tells the essential truth of the death of Marilyn Monroe at the hand of Robert Kennedy, Attorney General of the United States. Drawing on unseen police files, Marilyn Monroe’s private diary, and first-hand testimony, this book proves that Robert Kennedy was directly responsible for her death. It details Marilyn Monroe’s tumultuous personal involvement with him and his brother, President John Kennedy. The new evidence and testimony is provided by Mike Rothmiller who, as an agent of the Organized Crime Intelligence Division (OCID) of the LAPD, had direct personal access to hundreds of secret files on exactly what happened at Marilyn Monroe’s Californian home on August 5, 1962. With his training and specialist knowledge, Rothmiller used that unseen information to get to the heart of the matter, to the people who were there the night Marilyn Monroe died—two of whom played major roles in the cover-up—and the wider conspiracy to protect the Kennedys at all costs. There will be those with doubts, but to them, the lawman—who has advised the White House, the Pentagon, and international crime agencies—says the printed, forensic, and oral evidence are totally convincing. He insists: “If I presented my evidence in any court of law, I’d get a conviction.” Includes eight pages of black and white photographs.
ARE WE HAVING FUN YET? by LUCY MANGAN
out October 2021
Meet Liz: all she wants is some peace and quiet so she can read a book with her cat Henry, love of her life, by her side. But trampling all over this dream is a group of wild things also known as Liz’s family. Namely:
Richard – a man, a husband, no serious rival to Henry. Thomas – their sensitive seven year old son, for whom life is a bed of pain already. Evie – five year old acrobat, gangster, anarchist, daughter.
And as if her family’s demands (Where are the door keys? Are we made of plastic? Do ‘ghost poos’ really count?) weren’t enough, Liz must also contend with the madness of parents, friends, bosses, and at least one hovering nemesis. Are We Having Fun Yet? is a year with one woman as she faces all the storms of modern life (babysitters, death, threadworms) on her epic quest for that holy grail: a moment to herself.
UNDER THE WHISPERING DOOR by T.J.KLUNE
out October 2021
Under the Whispering Door is a contemporary fantasy with TJ Klune’s signature “quirk and charm” (PW) about a ghost who refuses to cross over and the ferryman he falls in love with.
When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.
Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.
But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.
When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.
By turns heartwarming and heartbreaking, this absorbing tale of grief and hope is told with TJ Klune’s signature warmth, humor, and extraordinary empathy.
THE MAGICIAN by COLM TOIBIN
out September 2021
Colm Tóibín’s new novel opens in a provincial German city at the turn of the twentieth century, where the boy, Thomas Mann, grows up with a conservative father, bound by propriety, and a Brazilian mother, alluring and unpredictable. Young Mann hides his artistic aspirations from his father and his homosexual desires from everyone. He is infatuated with one of the richest, most cultured Jewish families in Munich, and marries the daughter Katia. They have six children. On a holiday in Italy, he longs for a boy he sees on a beach and writes the story Death in Venice. He is the most successful novelist of his time, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature, a public man whose private life remains secret. He is expected to lead the condemnation of Hitler, whom he underestimates. His oldest daughter and son, leaders of Bohemianism and of the anti-Nazi movement, share lovers. He flees Germany for Switzerland, France and, ultimately, America, living first in Princeton and then in Los Angeles.
The Magician is an intimate, astonishingly complex portrait of Mann, his magnificent and complex wife Katia, and the times in which they lived—the first world war, the rise of Hitler, World War II, the Cold War, and exile.
THIS GOOD BOOK by IAIN HOOD
bought via Renard Press subscription
‘Sometimes I wonder if I had known that it was going to take me fourteen years to paint this painting of the Crucifixion, and what it would take for me to paint it, would I have been as happy as I was then?’
Susan Alison MacLeod, a Glasgow School of Art graduate with a dark sense of humour, first lays eyes on Douglas MacDougall at a party in 1988, and resolves to put him on the cross in the Crucifixion painting she’s been sketching out, but her desire for authenticity in her portrayal of suffering means that the painting doesn’t see the light of day for fourteen years.
Over the same years, Douglas’ ever-more elaborately designed urine-filled plastic bags bring him exponentially increasing fame, prizes and commissions, while his modelling for Susan Alison, who continues to work pain and suffering on to the canvas, takes place mostly in the shadows. This Good Book is a wickedly funny, brilliantly observed novel that spins the moral compass and plays with notions of creating art.
TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM by YAA GYASI
**From the bestselling author of Homegoing comes a searing novel of love and loss, addiction and redemption, straight from the heart of contemporary America**
As a child Gifty would ask her parents to tell the story of their journey from Ghana to Alabama, seeking escape in myths of heroism and romance. When her father and brother succumb to the hard reality of immigrant life in the American South, their family of four becomes two – and the life Gifty dreamed of slips away.
Years later, desperate to understand the opioid addiction that destroyed her brother’s life, she turns to science for answers. But when her mother comes to stay, Gifty soon learns that the roots of their tangled traumas reach farther than she ever thought. Tracing her family’s story through continents and generations will take her deep into the dark heart of modern America.
WELCOME TO FERRY LANE MARKET by NICOLA MAY – copy for Blog Tour review
Although thirty-three year old Kara Moon loves her hometown of Hartmouth in Cornwall, she has always wondered if she should have followed her dream of leaving to study floristry. But she couldn’t bring herself to leave her emotionally delicate single father, and has worked on Ferry Lane Market’s flower stall ever since leaving school.
When her good-for-nothing boyfriend cheats on her and steals her life savings, she finally dumps him and rents out her spare room as an Airbnb. Gossip flies around the town as Kara welcomes a series of foreign guests to her flat overlooking the estuary.
Then an anonymous postcard arrives, along with a plane ticket to New York. And there begins the first of three trips of a lifetime, during which she will learn important lessons about herself, her life and what she wants from it – and perhaps find love along the way.
MADHOUSE AT THE END OF THE EARTH by JULIAN SANCTON
copy via Amazon Vine for review
The harrowing true survival story of an early polar expedition that went terribly awry–with the ship frozen in ice and the crew trapped inside for the entire sunless, Antarctic winter–in the tradition of David Grann, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Hampton Sides
“Deserves a place beside Alfred Lansing’s immortal classic Endurance.”—Nathaniel Philbrick “A riveting tale, splendidly told . . . Madhouse at the End of the Earth has it all.”—Stacy Schiff “Julian Sancton has deftly rescued this forgotten saga from the deep freeze.”—Hampton Sides
In August 1897, thirty-one-year-old commandant Adrien de Gerlache set sail aboard the Belgica, fueled by a profound sense of adventure and dreams of claiming glory for his native Belgium. His destination was the uncharted end of the earth: the icy continent of Antarctica. But the commandant’s plans for a three-year expedition to reach the magnetic South Pole would be thwarted at each turn. Before the ship cleared South America, it had already broken down, run aground, and lost several key crew members, leaving behind a group with dubious experience for such an ambitious voyage.
As the ship progressed into the freezing waters, the captain had to make a choice: turn back and spare his men the potentially devastating consequences of getting stuck, or recklessly sail deeper into the ice pack to chase glory and fame. He sailed on, and the Belgica soon found itself stuck fast in the icy hold of the Antarctic continent. The ship would winter on the ice. Plagued by a mysterious, debilitating illness and besieged by the monotony of their days, the crew deteriorated as their confinement in suffocating close quarters wore on and their hope of escape dwindled daily. As winter approached the days grew shorter, until the sun set on the magnificent polar landscape one last time, condemning the ship’s occupants to months of quarantine in an endless night.
Forged in fire and carved by ice, Antarctica proved a formidable opponent for the motley crew. Among them was Frederick Cook, an American doctor–part scientist, part adventurer, part P.T. Barnum–whose unorthodox methods delivered many of the crew from the gruesome symptoms of scurvy and whose relentless optimism buoyed their spirits through the long, dark polar night. Then there was Roald Amundsen, a young Norwegian who went on to become a storied polar explorer in his own right, exceeding de Gerlache’s wildest dreams by leading the first expeditions to traverse the Northwest Passage and reach the South Pole.
Drawing on firsthand accounts of the Belgica’s voyage and exclusive access to the ship’s logbook, Sancton tells the tale of its long, isolated imprisonment on the ice–a story that NASA studies today in its research on isolation for missions to Mars. In vivid, hair-raising prose, Sancton recounts the myriad forces that drove these men right up to and over the brink of madness.
AN EMOTION OF GREAT DELIGHT by TAHEREH MAFI
copy via Amazon Vine for review
From bestselling and National Book Award-nominated author Tahereh Mafi comes a stunning novel about love and loneliness, navigating the hyphen of dual identity, and reclaiming your right to joy–even when you’re trapped in the amber of sorrow.
It’s 2003, several months since the US officially declared war on Iraq, and the American political world has evolved. Tensions are high, hate crimes are on the rise, FBI agents are infiltrating local mosques, and the Muslim community is harassed and targeted more than ever. Shadi, who wears hijab, keeps her head down.
She’s too busy drowning in her own troubles to find the time to deal with bigots.
Shadi is named for joy, but she’s haunted by sorrow. Her brother is dead, her father is dying, her mother is falling apart, and her best friend has mysteriously dropped out of her life. And then, of course, there’s the small matter of her heart–
Shadi tries to navigate her crumbling world by soldiering through, saying nothing. She devours her own pain, each day retreating farther and farther inside herself until finally, one day, everything changes.
An Emotion of Great Delight is a searing look into the world of a single Muslim family in the wake of 9/11. It’s about a child of immigrants forging a blurry identity, falling in love, and finding hope–in the midst of a modern war.
Hello and Happy July!! How??!!! Madness!!! I’m just hoping the weather this month is a little less wet than last month!! I need me some reading time in the garden!!
As for all things bookish this past week, it’s been a good one! 4 books finished – including 1 audiobook – and then there was 1 new addition from Netgalley, and 3 books for review/blog tours in the post!
On a beautiful spring day, a small village in Western Germany wakes up to an omen: Selma has dreamed of an okapi. Someone is about to die. But who?As the residents of the village begin acting strangely (despite protestations that they are not superstitious), Selma’s granddaughter Luise looks on as the imminent threat brings long carried secrets to the surface.
And when death comes, it comes in a way none of them could have predicted… A story about the absurdity of life and death, a bittersweet portrait of village life and the wider world that beckons beyond, What You Can See from Here is a story about the way loss and love shape not just a person, but a community.
WINDSWEPT by ANNABEL ABBS
copy via Amazon Vine for review
Annabel Abbs’s Windswept: Walking the Paths of Trailblazing Women is a beautifully written meditation and memoir that reflects on that most fundamental way of connecting with the outdoors: the simple act of walking. In absorbing and transporting prose, Abbs follows in the footsteps of groundbreaking women, including Georgia O’Keeffe in the empty plains of Texas and New Mexico, Nan Shepherd in the mountains of Scotland, Gwen John following the French River Garonne, Daphne du Maurier following the River Rhône, and Simone de Beauvoir—who walked as much as twenty-five miles a day in a skirt and espadrilles—in the mountains and forests of France. These trailblazing women were reclaiming what had historically been considered male domains.
The stories of these incredible women and artists are laced together by the wilderness walking in Abbs’s own life, beginning with her poet father who raised her in the Welsh countryside as an “experiment,” according to the principles of Rousseau. Windswept is an inventive retrospective and an arresting look forward to the way walking brings about a kind of clarity of thought not found in any other activity, and how it has allowed women throughout history to reimagine their lives and break free from convention. As Abbs traces the paths of these exceptional women, she realizes that she, too, is walking away from, and towards, a very different future. Windswept crosses continents and centuries in an arresting and stirring reflection on the power of walking in nature.
THAT NIGHT by GILLIAN McALLISTER
What would you do to protect your family?
That night everything changed.
The night Frannie commited a murder, but she didn’t mean to…
That night we helped her bury the body, what else could we do?
One hot summers night in Italy, Joe and Cathy Plant receive a phone call that will change their lives forever.
Their sister Frannie has killed a man, and she needs their help.
They were always close, some might say too close, siblings who worked together, lived next door to each other
And now they’ve buried a body together…
But when they return to England, Frannie, Joe and Cathy become tangled in lies in they’ve been telling,
to the police, to their friends, to each other…
But if you can’t trust your family, who can you trust?
DARE TO KNOW by JAMES KENNEDY
out September 2021 Dark Matter meets Annihilation in this mind-bending and emotional speculative thriller set in a world where the exact moment of your death can be predicted–for a price.
Our narrator is the most talented salesman at Dare to Know, a prestigious and enigmatic company in the death-prediction business. While he has mastered the art of death, the rest of his life is an abject failure. Divorced, estranged from his sons, and broke, he’s driven to violate the cardinal rule of his business by forecasting his own death day. The problem: apparently he died 23 minutes ago.
The only person who can confirm his prediction is Julia, the woman he loved and lost during his rise up the ranks of Dare to Know. As he travels across the country to see her, our narrator is forced to confront his past, the choices he’s made, and the terrifying truth about the company he works for–and his role there.
Highly ambitious and totally immersive, this adrenaline-fueled thriller explores the destructive power of knowledge and collapses the boundaries between reality, myth, and conspiracy as it races toward its stunning conclusion.
Hello all! Happy Saturday! And the sun keeps on shining!! I’m trying not to complain about the heat…. BUT a few clouds would be nice haha! My ice lolly supply in the freezer is disappearing fast! On to books, and it’s been a more normal reading week for me with 3 books finished! And i’ve been fairly restrained on the bookhaul front – just 1 from Netgalley, a lovely book for review, and 2 books from Goldsboro that I treated myself to! Here’s my look back..
HOPE AND HAPPINESS IN BLUEBELL WOOD by ALI McNAMARA
out July 2021
Welcome to Bluebell Wood where the sun shines, the locals are kind and there’s something more than a little bit magical about the place.
Ava loves city life but when something happens to make her feel unsafe, she retreats to the calm and quiet of Bluebell Wood. The once high-flying Ava now locks herself away in her fairy-tale cottage, only leaving to explore the trails of the nearby woods or to potter in the garden with her dog, Merlin.
When Ava begins to feed the wild birds that flock to her bird table, they start leaving her trinkets of appreciation in return. The gifts seem innocent at first, but they soon take on a deeper meaning.
It isn’t until Ava meets Callum, the handsome parish priest, that she can’t help but wonder if the birds might have been trying to get her out of the house all along. But will their curious behaviour help to heal Ava, and transform her and Callum into the lovebirds they clearly long to be? And then the lovely folk at LITTLE TOLLER sent me this beauty for review…
WHERE? by SIMON MORETON
In 2017, Simon Moreton’s father fell suddenly ill and died. His death sent the author back to his childhood home in rural Shropshire trying to process his grief by revisiting his family’s time as transplants to the countryside. In a memoir that that combines prose, illustration, photos, archival texts, and more, WHERE? weaves a gentle story that slips and slides in time and geography, creating connections across geographies, histories, families, times, and circumstance all to answer the question – ‘where are you from?’
And then from Goldsboro I got these two…
DEAD GROUND by M.W.CRAVEN
Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is in court, fighting eviction from his beloved and isolated croft, when he is summoned to a backstreet brothel in Carlisle where a man has been beaten to death with a baseball bat. Poe is confused – he hunts serial killers and this appears to be a straightforward murder-by-pimp – but his attendance was requested personally, by the kind of people who prefer to remain in the shadows.
As Poe and the socially awkward programmer Tilly Bradshaw delve deeper into the case, they are faced with seemingly unanswerable questions: despite being heavily vetted for a high-profile job, why does nothing in the victim’s background check out? Why was a small ornament left at the murder scene – and why did someone on the investigation team steal it? And what is the connection to a flawlessly executed bank heist three years earlier, a heist where nothing was taken…
THE GIRL WHO DIED by RAGNAR JONASSON
‘Teacher wanted on the edge of the world…’
Una is struggling to deal with her father’s sudden, tragic suicide. She spends her nights drinking alone in Reykjavik, stricken with thoughts that she might one day follow in his footsteps.
So when she sees an advert seeking a teacher for two girls in the tiny village of Skálar – population of ten – on the storm-battered north coast of the island, she sees it as a chance to escape.
But once she arrives, Una quickly realises nothing in city life has prepared her for this. The villagers are unfriendly. The weather is bleak. And, from the creaky attic bedroom of the old house where she’s living, she’s convinced she hears the ghostly sound of singing.
Una worries that she’s losing her mind. And then, just before Christmas, there’s a murder…