My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 18th February 2023

Hello! Happy Saturday!! Spring is springing up all over the place and I’m beginning to feel daunted by the jobs I need to do in the garden, now it’s a little warmer!!  

So it’s a good time to distract myself with books and that’s what I’ve been doing again this week, so have managed to finish 5 books this week! I’ve also avoided Netgalley and just had 1 new addition to my bookshelves thanks to Goldsboro and their monthly book selection!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

FRANKENSTEIN by MARY SHELLEY – 4 STARS

THE FELL by SARAH MOSS (audiobook) – 3 STARS

VENETIAN GARDENS by MONTY DON – 5 STARS

EXILES by JANE HARPER – 4 STARS

WINTERING by KATHERINE MAY – 3 STARS

BOOKPOST

The latest pick from the Goldsboro Book monthly subscription…

THE HEROINES by LAURA SHEPPERSON

In Athens, crowds flock to witness the most shocking trial of the ancient world, which is about to shake the city to its very foundations . . .

A scandalous accusation has ruptured the royal family in Athens.

On the one side: Theseus – king, hero, liberator of the people and slayer of the Minotaur – and his stepson, the pious Hippolytus.

On the other, Phaedra – queen of Athens, princess of Crete, daughter of an adulteress and sister of a monster.

The men of Athens are gathering to determine the truth. But the women know truth is a slippery thing. There are two sides to every story, and theirs has gone unheard.

CURRENTLY READING

HOW TO FIND LOVE IN THE LITTLE THINGS by VIRGINIE GRIMALDI

HAPPY READING!!

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My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 11th February 2023

Hello! Happy Saturday!! Almost at the mid point of the month, and it seems to be flying by again!!  Nice bit of frost and fog about this week too, but the return of some sunshine as well and the Spring flowers are beginning to bloom in my garden! Happy times!!

On to books, and it’s been a pretty good week with 4 books finished, some nice bookpost and 2 new additions to the netgalley shelves!!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

THE GARNETT GIRLS by GEORGINA MOORE – 5 STARS

TOMORROW, AND TOMORROW AND TOMORROW by GABRIELLE ZEVIN – 3 STARS

THE ONLY SUSPECT by LOUISE CANDLISH – 4 STARS

A MARRIAGE OF FORTUNE by ANNE O’BRIEN – 4 STARS

BOOKHAUL

Kicking off over at Netgalley……


THE BIRDCAGE LIBRARY by FREYA BERRY

publication – June 2023

The answers to a puzzle lie hidden within an old book. Open The Birdcage Library and let the treasure hunt begin…

The year is 1882, and the most important thing, unknown reader, is this: The man I love is trying to kill me.

It’s 1932 and adventuress and plant-hunter Emily Blackwood accepts a commission from Heinrich Vogel, a former dealer of exotic animals in Manhattan, living now with his macabre collection in a remote Scottish castle.

Emily is tasked to find a long-lost treasure which Heinrich believes has been hidden within the castle walls. But instead she discovers the pages of a diary, written by Hester Vogel, who died after falling from the Brooklyn Bridge.

Hester’s diary leads Emily to an old book The Birdcage Library and into a treasure hunt of another kind, one that will take her down a dangerous path for clues, and force her to confront her own darkest secret…

With fiendish clues and clever twists, The Birdcage Library will delight and dazzle you to the final page.


CATFISH ROLLING by CLARA KUMAGAI

publication date – March 2023

Magic-realism blends with Japanese myth and legend in an original story about grief, memory, time and an earthquake that shook a nation.

There’s a catfish under the islands of Japan and when it rolls the land rises and falls.

Sora hates the catfish whose rolling caused an earthquake so powerful it cracked time itself. It destroyed her home and took her mother. Now Sora and her scientist father live close to the zones – the wild and abandoned places where time runs faster or slower than normal. Sora is sensitive to the shifts, and her father recruits her help in exploring these liminal spaces.

But it’s dangerous there – and as she strays further inside in search of her mother, she finds that time distorts, memories fracture and shadows, a glimmer of things not entirely human, linger. After Sora’s father goes missing, she has no choice but to venture into uncharted spaces within the time zones to find him, her mother and perhaps even the catfish itself…

And in the post…..

CROSSING OVER by ANN MORGAN

publication date  – April 2023

Edie finds the world around her increasingly difficult to comprehend. Words are no longer at her beck and call, old friends won’t mind their own business and workmen have appeared in the neighbouring fields, preparing to obliterate the landscape she has known all her life. Rattling around in an old farmhouse on the cliffs, she’s beginning to run out of excuses to stop do-gooders interfering when one day she finds an uninvited guest in the barn and is thrown back into the past.

Jonah has finally made it to England – where everything, he’s been told, will be better. But the journey was fraught with danger, and many of his fellow travellers didn’t make it. Sights firmly set on London, but unsure which way to turn, he is unprepared for what happens when he breaks into Edie’s barn.

Haunted by the prospect of being locked away and unable to trust anyone else, the elderly woman stubbornly battling dementia and the traumatised illegal immigrant find solace in an unlikely companionship that helps them make sense of their worlds even as they struggle to understand each other. Crossing Over is a delicately spun tale that celebrates compassion and considers the transcendent language of humanity.

A SECRET GARDEN AFFAIR by ERICA JAMES

publication – March 2023

Another heartbreaking but glorious tale of secrets and love from the Sunday Times bestselling author Erica James…July 1981. As the country prepares to celebrate Prince Charles’ wedding to Lady Diana, Libby wants to be as far away from royal wedding fever as possible.

Having caught her own fianc� in bed with her best friend just weeks before they were due to marry, she’s fled London for the comfort of the Suffolk countryside.

At Larkspur House, with its magical garden created by renowned garden designer and one-time socialite Elfrida Ambrose, and its comfortingly familiar kitchen presided over by Libby’s great-aunt Bess, she hopes to find a way to put her life back together.

But for lifelong friends Bess and Elfrida, Libby’s arrival has stirred up the ghosts of the past. And before they can help her rebuild her shattered future, they must confront their own unspoken secrets, lost loves, and tragedies..

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CURRENTLY READING

EXILES by JANE HARPER

HAPPY READING!!

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 4th February 2023

Hello and Happy Saturday!! And hello to February!! I wonder what this month has in store for us!!  I’m just ecstatic that I finally got to get a photograph of a Kingfisher this week!! I just hope I now get more opportunities as they are an amazing bird!!

The book front has not been so amazing!! In my defence we have a decorator in painting our hallway so it’s absolute chaos and definitely not putting me in a reading frame of mind!! I just hope I can get back to it properly next week!! But I have managed to finish 2 books in the chaos, there has been some lovely bookpost and no visits to Netgalley! So that is a big positive!!

Here’s my look back!!

BOOKS FINISHED

1989 by VAL McDERMID – 4 STARS


WAITING FOR OUR RAINBOW by VICTORIA CORNWALL – 5 STARS

BOOKPOST


 I have been extremely lucky to receive a copy of this in the post for review!!

THE GARNETT GIRLS by GEORGINA MOORE

published by HQ

In this brilliant debut novel full of heart and warmth, three very different sisters–and their free-spirited mother–must grapple with life, responsibilities, and family secrets.

Forbidden, passionate and all-encompassing, Margo and Richard’s love affair was the stuff of legend–but, ultimately, doomed. When Richard walked out, Margo locked herself away, leaving her three daughters, Rachel, Imogen, and Sasha, to run wild.

Years later, charismatic Margo entertains lovers and friends in her cottage on the Isle of Wight, refusing to ever speak of Richard and her painful past. But her silence is keeping each of the Garnett girls from finding true happiness.

Rachel is desperate to return to London but is held hostage by responsibility for Sandcove, their beloved but crumbling family home. Dreamy Imogen feels the pressure to marry her kind, considerate fiancé, even when life is taking an unexpected turn. Wild, passionate Sasha, trapped between her fractured family and controlling husband, is weighed down by a secret that could shake the family to its core.

The Garnett Girls, the captivating debut novel from Georgina Moore, asks whether children can ever be free of the mistakes of their parents.

CURRENTLY READING

THE SILENT HOUSE by NELL PATTISON ( audiobook)

HAPPY READING!!

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 28th January 2023

Hello!! Happy Saturday!! We’ve almost made it to the end of January… will it ever end?!  I’m hoping the cold weather will come to an end but I have a fear February might keep us chilly for a while longer!

But that could be good for reading time!! And it’s been a good past week with 4 books finished! But then I may have been naughty and added 2 books to the Netgalley shelf and treated myself to 2 more books from the Waterstones sale….. it’s their fault!!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

EMILY WILDE’S ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF FAERIES by HEATHER FAWCETT – 3.5 STARS

ASHES AND STONES by ALLYSON SHAW – 5 STARS

SLOW by BROOKE McALARY (audiobook) – 4 STARS

KATE AND CLARA’S CURIOUS CORNISH CRAFT SHOP by ALI McNAMARA – 3.5 STARS

BOOKHAUL

We shall start at Netgalley…

VITA AND THE BIRDS by POLLY CROSBY 

publication date – July 2023

A haunting mystery for fans of Eve Chase, Kate Morton and Kate Mosse.
1938: Lady Vita Goldsborough lives in the shadow of her controlling older brother, Aubrey. Trapped and isolated on the East Anglian coast, Vita takes solace in watching the birds that fly over the marshes. But then she meets local artist Dodie Blakeney. The two women form a close bond, and Vita finally glimpses a chance to escape Aubrey’s grasp and be as free as the birds she loves.

1997: Decades later and in the wake of her mother’s death, Eve Blakeney returns to the coast where she spent childhood summers with her beloved grandmother, Dodie. Eve hopes the visit will help make sense of her grief. The last thing she expects to find is a bundle of letters that hint at the heart-breaking story of Dodie’s relationship with a woman named Vita.

Eve and Vita’s stories are linked by a shattering secret that echoes through the decades, and when Eve discovers the truth, it will overturn everything she thought she knew about her family – and change her life forever.

THE FURY OF KINGS by  R.S.MOULE

publication date May 2023

No Cover Available… yet!!

In the shadow of Eryispek—a mountain said to have no summit—a dark power is stirring. Storms rage in the frozen heights. Unexplained disappearances shake the kingdom below. And old enemies are sharpening their swords…

Andrick the Barrelbreaker first led an army at sixteen.

His victories secured the throne of Erland for his brother and shattered the rebellious noble houses in the West. Decades later, a fragile peace still holds.

But when the king’s only son is murdered, Erland is plunged into crisis. The new heir will stop at nothing to secure his claim. The king, maddened by grief, stalks the halls and hidden passages of his keep, growing more unpredictable by the day.

As war and magical disaster loom, Andrick must decide between protecting his family and marching out to serve a brother he barely recognizes.

His children must also choose their destinies.

Training in the practice yard every day, Orsian dreams of fighting beside his father. Now, for the first time, he faces the brutal reality of battle.

And Pherri is haunted by very different dreams—of figures struggling up the mountain, of a voice more chilling than the wind, of blood on the snow. Only she can resist the darkness that waits on the slopes above…

Race through the pages of an epic new series and enter a world of intrigue, battles and destiny that will leave you breathless. The Erland Saga is a classic fantasy adventure, perfect for fans of George R.R. Martin, John Gwynne and Raymond E. Feist.

And then Waterstones led me astray… again!!

ANTHEM by NOAH HAWLEY (signed copy)

From the visionary bestselling author of Before the Fall and The Good Father, an epic literary thriller set where America is right now . . . and the world will be tomorrow.

America spins into chaos as the last remnants of political consensus break apart. Against a background of environmental disaster and opioid addiction, debate descends into violence and militias roam the streets – while teenagers across the world seem driven to self-destruction, communicating by memes only they can understand.

Yet the markets still tick up and the super-rich, like Ty Oliver, fly above the flames in private jets.

After the death of his daughter, Ty dispatches his son Simon to an Anxiety Abatement Center. There he encounters another boy called the Prophet. And the Prophet wants him to join a quest.

Before long, Simon is on the road with a crew of new comrades on a rescue mission as urgent as it is enigmatic. Suddenly heroes of their own story, they are crossing the country in search of a young woman held in a billionaire’s retreat – and, just possibly, the only hope of escape from the apocalypse bequeathed to them by their parents’ generation.

Noah Hawley’s epic literary thriller, full of unforgettably vivid characters, finds unquenchable lights in the darkest corners. Uncannily topical and yet as timeless as a Grimm’s fairy tale, this is a novel of excoriating power, raw emotion and narrative verve, confirming Hawley as one of the most essential writers of our time.

AMY & LAN by SADIE JONES

This is the story of how we came to Frith. And we’re never, ever, ever leaving.’

Amy Connell and Lan Honey are having the best childhood, growing up on a West Country farm – three families, a couple of lodgers, goats, dogs and an orphaned calf called Gabriella Christmas.

The parents are best friends too. Originally from the city, they’re learning about farming: growing their own vegetables, milking the goats, slaughtering chickens and scything the hay–

‘Mind your eyes! Don’t break your neck! Careful!’

The adults are far too busy to keep an eye on Amy and Lan, and Amy and Lan would never tell them about climbing on the high barn roof, or what happened with the axe that time, any more than their parents would tell them the things they get up to – adult things, like betrayal – that threaten to bring the whole fragile idyll tumbling down…

And then there is this months’ book from Goldsboro Books.. and it looks beautiful!


THE THINGS WE DO TO OUR FRIENDS by HEATHER DARWENT

She’s an outsider desperate to belong, but the cost of entry might be her darkest secret in this intoxicating debut of literary suspense following a clique of dangerously ambitious students at the University of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh, Scotland: a moody city of labyrinthine alleyways, oppressive fog, and buried history; the ultimate destination for someone with something to hide. Perfect for Clare, then, who arrives utterly alone and yearning to reinvent herself. And what better place to conceal the dark secrets in her past than at the university in the heart of the fabled, cobblestoned Old Town?

When Clare meets Tabitha, a charismatic, beautiful, and intimidatingly rich girl from her art history class, she knows she’s destined to be friends with her and her exclusive circle: raffish Samuel; shrewd Ava; and pragmatic Imogen. Clare is immediately drawn into their libertine world of sophisticated dinner parties and summers in France. The new life she always envisioned for herself has seemingly begun.

And then Tabitha reveals a little project she’s been working on, one that she needs Clare’s help with. Even though it goes against everything Clare has tried to repent for. Even though their intimacy begins to darken into codependence. But as Clare starts to realize just what her friends are capable of, it’s already too late. Because they’ve taken the plunge. They’re so close to attaining the things they want. And there’s no going back.

What is the cost of an extraordinary life if others have to pay? Reimagining the classic themes of obsession and striving with an original and sinister edge, The Things We Do to Our Friends is a seductive thriller about the toxic battle between those who have, and those who covet–between the desire to truly belong, and the danger of being truly known.

CURRENTLY READING

A MARRIAGE OF FORTUNE by ANNE O’BRIEN


HAPPY READING!!

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 20th January 2023

Hello! Happy Saturday!!  Been a rather chilly week here, lots of frosty days but beautiful sunshine! And no snow for us! We missed out on the fun again! AT least it beats the grey, rainy weather!

And on the book front it’s been a very good week!! Managed to finish 6 books this week which pleased me greatly!!  Just 1 new addition to the Netgalley shelves too, along with 1 physical book for review!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

ONCE UPON A TOME by OLIVER DARKSHIRE – 4 STARS

HORTUS CURIOUS by MICHAEL PERRY – 4 STARS

RECIPE FOR MR PERFECT by ANNI ROSE -5 STARS

THE TOLL HOUSE by CARLY REAGON – 4 STARS

THE DARLINGS OF THE ASYLUM by NOEL O’REILLY – 4 STARS


NEW BEGINNING FOR THE SURPLUS GIRLS by POLLY HERON – 5 STARS



BOOKHAUL

One temptation at Netgalley this week….

HOMECOMING by KATE MORTON

publication date – April 2023

Adelaide Hills, Christmas Eve, 1959. At the end of a scorching hot day, beside a creek in the grounds of a grand and mysterious mansion, a local delivery man makes a terrible discovery. A police investigation is called and the small town of Tumbeela becomes embroiled in one of the most shocking and perplexing murder cases in the history of South Australia.

Sixty years later, Jess is a journalist in search of a story. Having lived and worked in London for almost twenty years, she now finds herself laid off from her full-time job and struggling to make ends meet. A phone call out of nowhere summons her back to Sydney, where her beloved grandmother, Stella, who raised Jess when her mother could not, has suffered a fall and been raced to the hospital.

Stella has always been a vibrant and strong presence: decisive, encouraging, young beyond her years. When Jess visits her in the hospital she is alarmed to find her grandmother frail and confused; it’s even more alarming to hear from Stella’s housekeeper that Stella had been distracted in the weeks before her accident, and that she fell on the steps to the attic – the one place Jess was forbidden from playing when she was small.

At a loose end in Stella’s house, Jess does some digging of her own. In Stella’s bedroom, she discovers a true crime book, chronicling the police investigation into a long-buried tragedy: the Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve, 1959. It is only when Jess skims through the book that she finds a shocking connection between her own family and this once-infamous crime – a crime that has never been resolved satisfactorily. And for a journalist without a story, a cold case might be the best distraction she can find . . .

An epic novel that spans generations, Homecoming asks what we would do for those we love, and how we protect the lies we tell. It explores the power of motherhood, the corrosive effects of tightly held secrets, and the healing nature of truth. Above all, it is a beguiling and immensely satisfying novel from one of the finest writers working today.

And in the post I was very thankful to receive this book for review…

1989 by VAL McDERMAID

publication date – February 2nd 2023

It’s 1989 and Allie Burns is back.Older and maybe wiser, she’s running the northern news operation of the Sunday Globe, chafing at losing her role in investigative journalism and at the descent into the gutter of the UK tabloid media.But there’s plenty to keep her occupied. The year begins with the memorial service to the victims of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, but Allie has barely filed her copy when she stumbles over a story about HIV/AIDS that will shock her into a major change of direction.The world of newspapers is undergoing a revolution, there’s skulduggery in the medical research labs and there are seismic rumblings behind the Iron Curtain. When kidnap and murder are added to this potent mix, Allie is forced to question all her old certainties.



CURRENTLY READING

EMILY WILDE’S ENCYCLOPAEDIA OF FAERIES by HEATHER FAWCETT



HAPPY READING!!

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 14th January 2023

 Hello! Happy Saturday!!  Another mostly wet and blustery week here…. I really hope some better weather is on the way! I have a very soggy garden!!

But the crappy weather has meant it’s been another steady week on the book front! 4 books finished, 1 newbie to read on Netgalley, and 1 from a publisher!  Let’s hope this keeps up!!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

THE IT GIRL by RUTH WARE (audiobook) – 4 STARS

WINTER FLOWERS by ANGELIQUE VILLENEUVE – 5 STARS



THE ENGLISH FUHRER by RORY CLEMENTS – 5 STARS

DAISY’S VINTAGE CORNISH CAMPER VAN by ALI MCNAMARA – 4 STARS



BOOKHAUL

I was invited to read this one via Netgalley… so it’s not my fault! 😉

THE LADY OF THE LOCH  by ELENA COLLINS

publication date – February 2023


‘Although I believe I will die here in this castle, my spirit will never be silent.’

Ravenscraig Castle, Scotland. 1307

When the castle she works in is sacked by the army of Prince Edward of England, kitchen maid Agnes Fitzgerald manages to escape north of Inverness to throw herself at the mercy of the Lord and Lady at Ravenscraig Castle. Although safe for now, the people of Scotland are fighting hard for their independence, and the threat of the English hangs heavy over the land.  But when Agnes spies Cam Buchanan swimming in the loch, her mind turns away from war and towards love.  Agnes even dares to dream of a happy future, until she learns that Cam must go and fight alongside Robert de Brus.

Present day

Twins Leah and Zoe need a change, so caretaking at Ravenscraig Castle is the perfect opportunity to get away from it all. Surrounded by rugged Highland countryside, and bordered by a loch, the picturesque setting is everything they dreamed of. But the locals are reluctant to visit Ravenscraig, and there are whispers of ghosts and lost souls. The sisters quickly dismiss such superstition, but soon the overwhelming sadness they feel coming from the tower grows too hard to ignore.

Can the sisters finally right the wrongs of seven hundred years of heartbreak, seven hundred years of betrayal…

And I received this from Gallic Press for review…

BIRTHRIGHT by CHARLES LAMBERT
publication date – March 2023

A sublime psychological thriller from Polari Prize-shortlisted Charles Lambert.

Sixteen-year-old Fiona inhabits a privileged world of English affluence, though her relationship with her widowed mother is strained. When she discovers an old newspaper clipping of a woman and her daughter – the little girl a mirror image of her own younger self – she becomes convinced she has a true family elsewhere. Four years later, with the help of charming fraudster Patrick, Fiona drops everything to seek out her doppelgänger in Italy.

Fiona arrives in Rome to find Maddy living hand to mouth with her alcoholic mother. Spooked by the appearance of this strange girl wearing her face and stalking her every move, Maddy wants nothing to do with her. Caught in a surreal push-and-pull, the two are both fascinated and repulsed by the oddly familiar other, each coveting a different life. But they aren’t the only ones trying to control their fate, and the two women will soon learn that people aren’t always what they seem – though blood may still prove thicker than water.

Birthright is a dark, gripping literary thriller for fans of Ian McEwan, Rupert Thomson and Edward St Aubyn

CURRENTLY READING

LAPVONA by OTTESSA MOSHFEGH (audiobook)

HAPPY READING!!

BookReview WINTER FLOWERS by ANGELIQUE VILLENEUVE

ABOUT THE BOOK

It’s October 1918 and the war is drawing to a close.

Toussaint Caillet returns home to his wife, Jeanne, and the young daughter he hasn’t seen growing up. He is not coming back from the front line but from the department for facial injuries at Val-de-Grâce military hospital, where he has spent the last two years.

For Jeanne, who has struggled to endure his absence and the hardships of wartime, her husband’s return marks the beginning of a new battle. With the promise of peace now in sight, the family must try to stitch together a new life from the tatters of what they had before.

PUBLISHED BY PEIRENE PRESS

PURCHASE LINK

PUBLISHER WEBSITE

MY REVIEW

 Early contender for one of my books of 2023!! That’s the effect this book has had on me! It’s quiet but extremely powerful in the subject matter, and the exploration of how the impact of war continues long after the war has ended.
It looks at a family where the husband has been away fighting, and the wife has been left back home to raise their child not knowing what is happening on the front line, and trying her best to deal with the consequences. When her husband returns home, she’s ecstatic to have him back but instantly sees he’s not the same man that left and coping with that change in personality is tough for them all.

You sense the husband, Touissant, has been through the extremes and finds it very difficult to go back to ‘normal’ life. But he won’t share with his wife what he’s been through – whether to protect them or himself – and it is just brilliantly written and explored through their interactions and the reactions of others the full impact.

The wife, Jeanne, has done all she can over the time he’s been away to protect her child, to keep normality in their life and she longed for, and dreaded, his return. Must be so harrowing to watch someone you love almost shutting themselves off from you and your life in a form of self preservation. The emotional toll on the whole family is harrowing and as you discover more about his life and experiences during the war, your heart just breaks – for them all.

A stunning book which is short in length but will stay long in the mind.

★★★★★

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – 7th January 2023

Hello and Happy New Year!!  A whole new year of reading adventures ahead of us all, with all the fun that entails!! Bring it on!!  

And it’s been a promising start to the year book wise!!  Managed to finish off 5 books and avoided Netgalley completely!  Some new books have arrived from the Waterstones sale as well – those vouchers needed spending haha! – and I’ve also received a book to review from the author!

Here’s my look back!

BOOKS FINISHED

THE JOURNEY by JAMES NORBURY – 5 STARS

A GOOD CATCH by FERN BRITTON – 3 STARS

THE THIRD MAN & FALLEN IDOL by GRAHAM GREENE (audiobook) – 4 STARS

SHIVER by JUNJI ITO – 4 STARS

BIRDS by JIM MOIR – 4 STARS


BOOKHAUL

I had vouchers to spend…. there was still a sale on…..

I, MONA LISA by NATASHA SOLOMONS

Listen to my history. My adventures are worth hearing. I have lived many lifetimes and been loved by emperors, kings and thieves. I have survived kidnap and assault. Revolution and two world wars. But this is also a love story. And the story of what we will do for those we love.

In Leonardo da Vinci’s studio, bursting with genius imagination, towering commissions and needling patrons, as well as discontented muses, friends and rivals, sits the painting of the Mona Lisa. For five hundred tumultuous years, amid a whirlwind of power, money, intrigue, the portrait of Lisa del Giocondo is sought after and stolen. Over the centuries, few could hear her voice, but now she is ready to tell her own story, in her own words – a tale of rivalry, murder and heartbreak. Weaving through the years, she takes us from the dazzling world of Florentine studios to the French courts at Fontainebleau and Versailles, and into the Twentieth Century.

I, Mona Lisa is a deliciously vivid, compulsive and illuminating story about the lost and forgotten women throughout history.

THE WEATHER WOMAN by SALLY GARDNER

Neva Friezland is born into a world of trickery and illusion, where fortunes can be won and lost on the turn of a card.

She is also born with an extraordinary gift. She can predict the weather. In Regency England, where the proper goal for a gentlewoman is marriage and only God knows the weather, this is dangerous. It is also potentially very lucrative.

In order to debate with the men of science and move about freely, Neva adopts a sophisticated male disguise. She foretells the weather from inside an automaton created by her brilliant clockmaker father.

But what will happen when the disguised Neva falls in love with a charismatic young man?

It can be very dangerous to be ahead of your time. Especially as a woman.


THE SEVEN MOONS OF MAALI ALMEIDA by SHEHAN KARUNATILAKA

Colombo, 1990. Maali Almeida—war photographer, gambler, and closet queen—has woken up dead in what seems like a celestial visa office. His dismembered body is sinking in the serene Beira Lake and he has no idea who killed him. In a country where scores are settled by death squads, suicide bombers, and hired goons, the list of suspects is depressingly long, as the ghouls and ghosts with grudges who cluster round can attest. But even in the afterlife, time is running out for Maali. He has seven moons to contact the man and woman he loves most and lead them to the photos that will rock Sri Lanka.Ten years after his prize-winning novel Chinaman established him as one of Sri Lanka’s foremost authors, Shehan Karunatilaka is back with a “thrilling satire” (Economist) and rip-roaring state-of-the-nation epic that offers equal parts mordant wit and disturbing, profound truths.

SMALL ANGELS by LAUREN OWEN

A wedding in a small English village attracts a malicious spirit, forcing deep secrets to surface–a hypnotic tale of sisterhood, first love, and hauntings.

As a teenager, Kate found a safe harbor from her parents’ constant fighting in the company of the four Gonne sisters, who lived with their strict grandparents next to Small Angels, a church on the edge of dense green woods. The first outsider to ever get close to the sisters, Kate eventually learned the family’s secret: The woods are home to a capricious, menacing ghost whom generations of Gonnes had been charged with stopping from venturing into the village itself. But as the sisters grew older, braver, and more independent, bucking against the family’s burden, the bulwark began to crack, culminating in a horrifying act of violence that drove a terrible wedge between the sisters and Kate.

Chloe has been planning her dream wedding for months. She has the dress, the flowers, and the perfect venue: Small Angels, a charming old church in the village where her fiancé, Sam, and his sister, Kate, grew up. But days before the ceremony, Chloe starts to hear unsettling stories about Small Angels–and worse, she begins to see, smell, and hear things that couldn’t possibly be real.

Now Kate is returning home for the first time in years, for Sam and Chloe’s wedding. But the woods are coming alive again, and Kate must reconnect with Lucia, the most troubled of the sisters and her first love, to protect Chloe, the village, and herself. An unforgettable novel about the memories that hold us back and those that show us the way forward–this is storytelling at its most magical. Enter Small Angels, if you dare.


And then I was very lucky to receive this copy from the author in return for a fair and honest review…

NEW BEGINNINGS FOR THE SURPLUS GIRLS by POLLY HERON

Manchester, 1923: Jess Mason is determined to make her own way in the world. When she’s appointed manager for Holly Lodge, a new home for old soldiers, she must convince the owner that she can run things just as well as any man – if not better.

To everyone around him, Tom Watson seems a cheerful and sociable man, but he has secretly vowed to go through life alone. However, when he takes on the renovation of Holly Lodge and meets Jess, the walls he has built around himself start to crumble.

As the opening of the new soldiers’ home proves to be less than straightforward, Jess must fight tooth and nail to hold on to her precious new role. And with her affections for Tom growing stronger by each day, she can’t help but wonder if there is room in her life for both love and the career she’s always dreamt of.

CURRENTLY READING

THE IT GIRL by RUTH WARE (audiobook)


HAPPY READING!!

My Christmas Book Haul 2022!

It’s that time of year!! Add more books to the overcrowded bookshelves and feel completely guilt free about it!!  Because Santa – and the book tokens I got as gifts – made me do it! So it’s their fault!!

This little pile was from Santa on Xmas Morning!

THE JOURNEY by JAMES NORBURY

The journey of Big Panda and Tiny Dragon continues with an inspiring story of friendship and discovery for readers of all ages.

In the eagerly anticipated follow up to the international bestseller, The Journey: Big Panda and Tiny Dragon continues the adventures of two unlikely traveling companions as they embark on a path that brings them farther from home, and closer to each other and themselves.  

“Change,” said Big Panda. “even if you don’t know where it will lead, is better than stagnation.”

When Tiny Dragon feels unhappy, he confides in Big Panda, who leads his friend on a journey to heal his heart. They explore new lands, encounter extraordinary experiences, face demanding challenges, and, ultimately, find contentment. As Big Panda and Tiny Dragon trek further on their trail of acceptance, they learn that changes and challenges are a natural part of life and essential for growth.


SHIVER by JUNJO ITO

A best-of story selection by the master of horror manga.

This volume includes nine of Junji Ito’s best short stories, as selected by the author himself and presented with accompanying notes and commentary. An arm peppered with tiny holes dangles from a sick girl’s window… After an idol hangs herself, balloons bearing faces appear in the sky, some even featuring your own face… An amateur film crew hires an extremely individualistic fashion model and faces a real bloody ending… An offering of nine fresh nightmares for the delight of horror fans.

THE NIGHT SHIP by JESS KIDD (already read but wanted a copy on my shelves!)

Based on a true story, an epic historical novel from the award-winning author of Things in Jars that illuminates the lives of two characters: a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.

1629: A newly orphaned young girl named Mayken is bound for the Dutch East Indies on the Batavia, one of the greatest ships of the Dutch Golden Age. Curious and mischievous, Mayken spends the long journey going on misadventures above and below the deck, searching for a mythical monster. But the true monsters might be closer than she thinks.

1989: A lonely boy named Gil is sent to live off the coast of Western Australia among the seasonal fishing community where his late mother once resided. There, on the tiny reef-shrouded island, he discovers the story of an infamous shipwreck…

CAT LADY by DAWN O’PORTER

We’ve all known a cat lady – and we’ve probably all judged her too. But behind the label – the one that only sticks to women – what if there’s a story worth nine lives?

Told with Dawn’s trademark warmth, wit and irreverence, CAT LADY is a story about defying labels and forging friendships. It’s for the cat lady in all of us – because a woman always lands on her feet . . .

THE SATSUMA COMPLEX by BOB MORTIMER

‘My name is Gary. I’m a thirty-year-old legal assistant with a firm of solicitors in London. To describe me as anonymous would be unfair but to notice me other than in passing would be a rarity. I did make a good connection with a girl, but that blew up in my face and smacked my arse with a fish slice.’

Gary Thorn goes for a pint with a work acquaintance called Brendan. When Brendan leaves early, Gary meets a girl in the pub. He doesn’t catch her name, but falls for her anyway. When she suddenly disappears without saying goodbye, all Gary has to remember her by is the book she was reading: The Satsuma Complex. But when Brendan goes missing, Gary needs to track down the girl he now calls Satsuma to get some answers.

And so begins Gary’s quest, through the estates and pie shops of South London, to finally bring some love and excitement into his unremarkable life…

And then there was the Waterstones half price sale! And book vouchers made me have a little spend up – all for free! Yay!!

ANXIOUS PEOPLE by FREDRIK BACKMAN

Viewing an apartment normally doesn’t turn into a life-or-death situation, but this particular open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes everyone in the apartment hostage. As the pressure mounts, the eight strangers begin slowly opening up to one another and reveal long-hidden truths.

First is Zara, a wealthy bank director who has been too busy to care about anyone else until tragedy changed her life. Now, she’s obsessed with visiting open houses to see how ordinary people live—and, perhaps, to set an old wrong to right. Then there’s Roger and Anna-Lena, an Ikea-addicted retired couple who are on a never-ending hunt for fixer-uppers to hide the fact that they don’t know how to fix their own failing marriage. Julia and Ro are a young lesbian couple and soon-to-be parents who are nervous about their chances for a successful life together since they can’t agree on anything. And there’s Estelle, an eighty-year-old woman who has lived long enough to be unimpressed by a masked bank robber waving a gun in her face. And despite the story she tells them all, Estelle hasn’t really come to the apartment to view it for her daughter, and her husband really isn’t outside parking the car.

As police surround the premises and television channels broadcast the hostage situation live, the tension mounts and even deeper secrets are slowly revealed. Before long, the robber must decide which is the more terrifying prospect: going out to face the police, or staying in the apartment with this group of impossible people.

THE BEAUTIFUL ONES by SILVIA MORENO-GARCIA

They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun, and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis—neighbors call her the Witch of Oldhouse—and the haphazard manifestations of her powers make her the subject of malicious gossip.

When entertainer Hector Auvray arrives to town, Nina is dazzled. A telekinetic like her, he has traveled the world performing his talents for admiring audiences. He sees Nina not as a witch, but ripe with potential to master her power under his tutelage. With Hector’s help, Nina’s talent blossoms, as does her love for him.

But great romances are for fairytales, and Hector is hiding a truth from Nina—and himself—that threatens to end their courtship before it truly begins. The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal, and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.

AND EVER MORNING THE WAY HOME GETS LONGER AND LONGER by FREDRIK BACKMAN

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Man Called Ove, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, and Britt-Marie Was Here comes an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go.

With all the same charm of his bestselling full-length novels, here Fredrik Backman once again reveals his unrivaled understanding of human nature and deep compassion for people in difficult circumstances. This is a tiny gem with a message you’ll treasure for a lifetime.

I WHO HAVE NEVER KNOWN MEN by JACQUELINE HARPMAN

‘For a very long time, the days went by, each just like the day before, then I began to think, and everything changed’

Deep underground, thirty-nine women live imprisoned in a cage. Watched over by guards, the women have no memory of how they got there, no notion of time, and only vague recollection of their lives before.

As the burn of electric light merges day into night and numberless years pass, a young girl – the fortieth prisoner – sits alone and outcast in the corner. Soon she will show herself to be the key to the others’ escape and survival in the strange world that awaits them above ground.

THE BEAUTY OF THE DEATH CAP by CATHERINE DOUSTEYSSIER-KHOZE

Nikonor is an eccentric and scholarly snob, a mycomaniac who has just made it to the Château de la Charlanne where he spent his childhood in the company of his twin sister, Anastasie. After all these years, it is not quite clear what brings him back to la Charlanne–an isolated and somewhat derelict castle located in the heart of the French countryside–but he is keen to share various memories with the reader in order to ‘set the record straight’, while he delivers his opinions on literature, cheeses, and, especially, mushrooms.

Winner of both a Prix André Dubreuil and a Prix Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco upon its original publication in France, The Beauty of the Death Cap is a darkly comic and sinister novel, a work that, page by page, becomes ever more disturbing, as we try to discover who Nikonor really is.

NIGHT TRAIN TO THE STARS by KENJI MIYAZAWA

Japanese fairy tales – enchanting, enigmatic stories of animals, human beings and the great natural world.

Dark and innocent, sublime and whimsical, Miyazawa’s stories have the ageless feel of the best fairy tales. There are animal allegories such as ‘The Ungrateful Rat’ where a rude rodent insults all the objects he meets – until he meets the Rat Trap/ There are morality tales such as ‘The Restaurant of Many Orders’, where two hunters become the hunted. There are also transcendent stories of childhood and mortality like Miyazawa’s best-known ‘Night Train to the Stars’, where a magical steam train carries children through the night and up to the heavens.

These stories reveal the unique brilliance of one of Japan’s most beloved early twentieth-century writers.

THE PERFECT GOLDEN CIRCLE by BENJAMIN MYERS

Summer 1989, rural England, the tail end of long decade of mass unemployment, class war and rebellion, and the continued destruction of the English countryside.
Over the course of a burning hot summer, two very different men – traumatized ex-soldier Calvert, and affable and chaotic Redbone – set out nightly in a decrepit camper van to undertake an extraordinary project. Under cover of darkness, the two men traverse the fields of rural England in secret, forming crop circles in elaborate and mysterious patterns, designs so intricate that they inspire the kind of awe that the ancient Gothic cathedral in nearby Salisbury once inspired.

As the summer wears on, and their designs grow ever more ambitious, the two men find that their work has become a cult international sensation – and that an unlikely and beautiful friendship has taken root as the wheat ripens from green to gold.

But as harvest-time beckons — and as media and the authorities begin to take too much interest in their work– Calvert and Redbone have to race against time to finish the most stunning and original crop circle ever conceived: the Honeycomb Double Helix.

ONCE UPON A TOME by OLIVER DARKSHIRE

Welcome to Sotheran’s, one of the oldest bookshops in the world, with its weird and wonderful clientele, suspicious cupboards, unlabelled keys, poisoned books and some things that aren’t even books, presided over by one deeply eccentric apprentice.

Some years ago, Oliver Darkshire stepped into the hushed interior of Henry Sotheran Ltd on Sackville Street (est. 1761) to interview for their bookselling apprenticeship, a decision which has bedevilled him ever since.

He’d intended to stay for a year before launching into some less dusty, better remunerated career. Unfortunately for him, the alluring smell of old books and the temptation of a management-approved afternoon nap proved irresistible. Soon he was balancing teetering stacks of first editions, fending off nonagenarian widows with a ten-foot pole and trying not to upset the store’s resident ghost (the late Mr Sotheran had unfinished business when he was hit by that tram).

For while Sotheran’s might be a treasure trove of literary delights, it sings a siren song to eccentrics. There are not only colleagues whose tastes in rare items range from the inspired to the mildly dangerous, but also zealous collectors seeking knowledge, curios, or simply someone with whom to hold a four hour conversation about books bound in human skin.

By turns unhinged and earnestly dog-eared, Once Upon a Tome is the rather colourful story of life in one of the world’s oldest bookshops and a love letter to the benign, unruly world of antiquarian bookselling, where to be uncommon or strange is the best possible compliment.

LEGENDS AND LATTES by TRAVIS BALDREE

Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv the orc barbarian cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.

However, her dreams of a fresh start pulling shots instead of swinging swords are hardly a sure bet. Old frenemies and Thune’s shady underbelly may just upset her plans. To finally build something that will last, Viv will need some new partners and a different kind of resolve.

A hot cup of fantasy slice-of-life with a dollop of romantic froth.

THE WINNERS by FREDRIK BACKMAN (already read but wanted a copy on my shelves!)

Two years have passed since the events that no one wants to think about. Everyone has tried to move on, but there’s something about this place that prevents it. The residents continue to grapple with life’s big questions: What is a family? What is a community? And what, if anything, are we willing to sacrifice in order to protect them?

As the locals of Beartown struggle to overcome the past, great change is on the horizon. Someone is coming home after a long time away. Someone will be laid to rest. Someone will fall in love, someone will try to fix their marriage, and someone will do anything to save their children. Someone will submit to hate, someone will fight, and someone will grab a gun and walk towards the ice rink.

So what are the residents of Beartown willing to sacrifice for their home?

WILD by AMY JEFFS

Sheer cliffs, salt spray, explosive sea spume, thunderous clouds, icy waves, whales with mountains on their backs, sleet, bitter winds, bleak, impenetrable marshes, howling wolves, forests, the unceasing cries of birds and the death grip of subterranean vaults that have never seen the sun: these are wild landscapes of a world almost familiar.

In Wild, Amy Jeffs journeys – on foot and through medieval texts – from landscapes of desolation to hope, offering the reader an insight into a world at once distant and profoundly close to home. The seven chapters, entitled Earth, Fen, Forest, Beast, Ocean, Catastrophe, Paradise, open with fiction and close with reflection. They blend reflections of travels through fen, forest and cave, with retelling of medieval texts that offer rich depictions of the natural world, from the Old English elegies, the Welsh Englynion, the Norse poetic Edda – stories that largely represent figures whose voices are not generally heard in the corpus of medieval literature: women, outcasts, animals.

Illustrated with original wood engravings, evoking an atmospheric world of whales, wolves, caves, cuckoos and reeds, Wild will leave readers feeling ‘westendream’: delight in the wilderness.

📚📚📚

Very happy with that little lot!! Now to find room for them all!!  

HAPPY READING!

My Bookish Weekly Wrap Up – Xmas Eve 2022

Hello! Merry Christmas Eve!!  Hope you’ve got the treats out ready for Santa when he drops off all your bookish gifts in the morning!! I have!!  Just hope he got my list!!

And talking of books, it’s been a good bookish week as I’ve been trying to catch up on some unfinished books to clear the backlog!  So 6 books got finished this week, 4 new books arrived in the post – so it’s all go on the book front! Isn’t it always?!  But 0 on the Netgalley front so that’s good!

Here’s my look back…

BOOKS FINISHED

THE GREAT CHRISTMAS COOK OFF by HELEN BUCKLEY – 5 STARS

RECIPE FOR MR PERFECT by ANNI ROSE -5 STARS

CAPTURED BY A SCOTTISH LORD by MARIE LAVAL – 5 STARS

RECIPE FOR MR SUPER by ANNI ROSE – 5 STARS

A LITTLE CHRISTMAS PANTO by ANGELA BRITNELL – 5 STARS

HAPPY CHRISTMAS EVE by JACKIE LADBURY – 5 STARS

BOOKHAUL

Had a little spend up at Galley Beggar Press and got a lovely Tote bag as a free extra! Ooh I do love a Tote!

INSIGNIFICANCE by JAMES CLAMMER

JOSEPH is trying to focus on a plumbing job he is doing for his wife’s friend, but is distracted by the terrible things that have been happening within his family.

Joseph believes that his son has tried to kill his wife.

Joseph is afraid his son will try again.

Joseph is also terrified that his wife is going to leave him. And that he himself may not get through the day.

Insignificance, James Clammer’s first novel for adults, unfurls over the course of a single day. Placing the reader right inside the head of its struggling narrator, it works double time, both as an act of empathy – a taste of the uncertainty and awkwardness of one vulnerable man, and his relationship with the world – and also as a tense, emotional and gripping drama.

Exploring the burdens of mental health as well as family life, as well as a particular illness called Capgras Syndrome (a condition in which someone comes to believe that a person close to them has been replaced by an imposter) – Insignificance is a deeply human story, a novel that portrays the thoughts of one working man on his own terms, without artifice or condescension… and a novel that takes us ever closer to the edge.

AFTER SAPPHO by SELBY WYNN SCHWARTZ

“What did we want? To begin with, we wanted what half the population had got by just being born.”

IT’S 1895. Amid laundry and bruises, Rina Pierangeli Faccio gives birth to the child of the man who raped her – and who she has also been forced to marry. Unbroken, she determines to change her name; and her life, alongside it.

1902. Romaine Brooks sails for Capri. She has barely enough money for the ferry, nothing for lunch; her paintbrushes are bald and clotted… But she is sure she can sell a painting – and is fervent in her belief that the island is detached from all fates she has previously suffered.

… In 1923, Virginia Woolf writes: I want to make life fuller – and fuller.

Told in a series of cascading vignettes, featuring a multitude of voices, After Sappho is Selby Wynn Schwartz’s joyous reimagining of the lives of a brilliant group of feminists, sapphists, artists and writers in the late 19th and early 20th century as they battle for control over their lives; for liberation and for justice.

Sarah Bernhard – Colette – Eleanora Duse – Lina Poletti – Josephine Baker – Virginia Woolf… these are just a few of the women (some famous, others hitherto unsung) sharing the pages of a novel as fierce as it is luminous. Lush and poetic; furious and funny; in After Sappho, Selby Wynn Schwartz has created a novel that celebrates the women and trailblazers of the past – and also offers hope for our present, and our futures.

ENGLISH MAGIC by USCHI  GATWARD

English Magic moves through fields and parklands, urban estates and empty beaches, upmarket art galleries, scuffed corner shops. It lands at Heathrow Airport, takes a taxi to the suburbs, finds emptiness and oppression. It strikes out for the countryside on May Day to where there are maypoles and fire blazing haybales, and where blessings sound like threats. It takes a train to the sea. The rain powers down. The beach is damp. Balloons pop. It in a flat, drags itself out of half sleep… and there something tapping behind the gas fire. Scraping and flurrying. What is it? In her debut collection of short stories, the prize winning author Uschi Gatward takes us on a tour of an England simultaneously domestic and wild, familiar and strange, real and imagined. Coupling the past and the present, merging the surreal and the mundane, English Magic is a collection full of humour and warmth, subversion and intoxication a and announcing the arrival of a shining new talent.

THE PERCEPTION OF DOLLS by ANTHONY CROIX

And from Fahrenheit Press Book Subscription is this newbie

“It’s almost as if history is trying to erase the whole affair.” – Anthony Croix

The triple murder and failed suicide that took place at 37 Fantoccini Street in 2001, raised little media interest at the time. In a week heavy with global news, a ‘domestic tragedy’ warranted few column inches. The case was open and shut, the inquest was brief and the ‘Doll Murders’ – little more than a footnote in the ledgers of Britain’s true crime enthusiasts – were largely forgotten.

Nevertheless, investigations were made, police files generated, testimonies recorded, and conclusions reached. The reports are there, a matter of public record, for those with a mind to look.

The details of what took place in Fantoccini Street in the years that followed are less accessible. The people involved in the field trips to number 37 are often unwilling, or unable, to talk about what they witnessed. The hours of audio recordings, video tapes, written accounts, photographs, drawings, and even online postings are elusive, almost furtive.

In fact, were it not for a chance encounter between the late Anthony Croix and an obsessive collector of Gothic dolls, the Fantoccini Street Reports might well have been lost forever.


CURRENTLY READING

WRONG SORT OF GIRL by HELEN BRIDGETT

HAPPY CHRISTMAS READING!!!