Hello! November seemed to start wet, windy and miserable and didn’t let up did it?! I was in the Lake District for the first weekend and I got stuck in a rainstorm the likes of which I have never seen before and was drenched through. Fortunately we found a nice pub to hole up in but it was decidely grim for a while there!
This sort of weather is great for reading though. I love nothing more than curling up on the sofa under a blanket with a hot chocolate and good book and I managed to get through a fair few books this month and my TBR isn’t looking quite as treacherous!
Read on to see the books I read, the books I bought and the books I was lucky enough to receive advanced copies of.
Books I Read
Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
I had been wanting to read Call Me By Your Name for a while and it had been burning a hole in my Kindle so I decided to give it a go. I am still unsure what I thought of it, it is beautifully written but I found it a little too pleased with itself for my liking.
The Lingering by SJI Holliday
I read this book in one sitting. It was bonfire night and whilst everybody else was oohing and aaahing at fireworks I was eeking and squealing at the suspenseful writing in The Lingering by SJI Holliday. In this book a commune of people have decided to live in a former psychiatric hospital in a remote part of the world, what could possibly go wrong?
The Survivors by Kate Furnivall
I adore Kate Furnivall’s books and have been reading her novels for years. She writes beautiful historical fiction featuring strong female protagonists and The Survivors features one of the strongest female protagonists I have read in a while. Set in a displaced persons camp in the aftermath of WW2, this book takes an unflinching look at re-building a life, revenge and examines what we will do to survive.
Paradise City by Elizabeth Day
I became a fan of Elizabeth Day’s writing when I read The Party earlier this year and promptly hunted out her back catalogue. I was not disappointed with Paradise City, an ambitious and clever novel which examines loneliness, fear and the things that we hide from others and ourselves.
Before Girl by Kate Canterbary
I love, love, love, Kate Canterbary’s books and am a huge fan of her Walsh series of books featuring a group of architect siblings in Boston. Before Girl is from the same universe as the Walsh books and features Cal, who has popped up in one or two of the books. He is a grumbly cardiothoracic surgeon who falls for Stella, a sports PR wonder woman. It is funny and sexy and heartfelt and like all of Kate’s books left me with a big old smile on my face.
Good Samaritans by Will Carver
This was a mind-bender of a book and is one that I won’t forget in a hurry. It is a character driven novel of epic proportions which, without sounding like an X Factor contestant cliche, took me on a journey. Good Samaritans is about a lonely insomniac who connects with a lonely woman when he calls her number randomly one night and things spiral from there.
The Flower Girls by Alice Clark-Platts
I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy of this at Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival back in July and it has been sitting on my bookshelf taunting me ever since. In 1997, 10 year old Laurel is arrested and charged for the murder of toddler Kirstie and she is sent to a Young Offenders Institute and then on to prison at aged 18. Her sister, Primrose and their parents are given new identities and start their lives again, but in the present day a child goes missing at a hotel, and Hazel, formerly Primrose is a guest in that hotel. Publishing on 24th January 2019 I will have a full review nearer the time. I know, I am such a tease!
The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley
A group of friends meet up at a remote hunting lodge in Scotland to see in the New Year. Now in their early thirties they have been friends since they met as Freshers at Oxford University and their annual trip is a chance for them to kick back and relax and allow long held resentments to come to the surface. But then one of them is killed, but who? Why? And by whom? Publishing on the 24th January 2019 I will have a full review nearer the time.
Once Upon A River by Diane Setterfield
I was a huge fan of Diane Setterfield’s debut novel The Thirteenth Tale and was thrilled to receive an advanced copy of Once Upon A River which is a tale of folklore and storytelling. It opens with a man arriving at an inn set on the banks of the Thames holding what appears to be a doll. He collapses and it is only then that they realise it is the body of a young girl, but then, a few hours later she takes a breath. Who is the girl, what has happened to her and is magic or science the cause of her returning from the dead. I will have a review of Once Upon A River soon as part of the Blog Tour.
The Drop by Mick Herron
I don’t hide my love for Mick Herron. Not only does he write spy novels that are satirical and seep dry wit from every page but he is also a really lovely man who I have been lucky enough to meet a couple of times. The Drop is a novella from The Slough House series of books. It features spies (of course), Brexit (obviously) and introduces us to the next
victim member of Slough House. I’ll have a review in a couple of weeks.
Books I Bought
Before Girl by Kate Canterbary
She’s the girl next door. He’s the guy who’s loved her from afar.
They’re in for an unexpected tumble into love.
She’ll juggle your balls.
For Stella Allesandro, chaos is good. She’s a rising star at a leading sports publicity firm. She’s known throughout the industry as the jock whisperer—the one who can tame the baddest of the bad boys in professional sports without losing her signature smile.
But Cal Hartshorn is an entirely different kind of chaos.
He’ll fix your broken heart.
This ex-Army Ranger and now-famous cardiothoracic surgeon fails at nothing…except talking to a woman he’s adored from afar. Whether on the battlefield or operating room, he’s exacting, precise, and efficient, but all of that crumbles when Stella is in sight.
Cal always knows—and gets—what he wants, and now he wants all of her. His forever girl.
But Stella isn’t convinced she’s anyone’s forever.
& Sons by David Gilbert
I bought this in a charity shop in Bowness when I was on my annual weekend away with my University friends at the beginning of the month and I was drawn to it by the cover. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but I did. The thing is, I have been craving reading a sprawling book set in New York. I want to read about a large family and decades of secrets and lies against the glitzy backdrop of the Big Apple and be fully immersed in a different world. And then I spotted this, a book I had never heard of by an author I had never read before and it seemed like serendipity.
The Manhattan funeral of Charles Henry Topping would have been a minor affair but for the identity of the eulogist: reclusive author A.N. Dyer, whose novel Ampersand stands as a classic of teenage angst. Now Andrew Newbold Dyer takes stock of his own life, the people he’s hurt and the novel that will endure as his legacy. He realises he must reunite with his three sons before it’s too late.
Eldest son Richard is a screenwriter in Californian exile. In the middle is Jamie, who has spent his life capturing the sorrow that surrounds him. And last is Andy, now a pupil at the boarding school that inspired Ampersand. It is only when the hidden purpose of the reunion comes to light do the sons realise what’s at stake – for their father, themselves and three generations of Dyers
Advanced Copies I Received
Red Snow by Will Dean
Published by Point Blank Books on the 10th January 2019
One suicide. One cold-blooded murder. Are they connected? And who’s really pulling the strings in the small Swedish town of Gavrik?
Black Grimberg liquorice coins cover the murdered man’s eyes. The hashtag #Ferryman starts to trend as local people stock up on ammunition.
Tuva Moodyson, deaf reporter at the local paper, has a fortnight to investigate the deaths before she starts her new job in the south. A blizzard moves in. Residents, already terrified, feel increasingly cut-off. Tuva must go deep inside the Grimberg factory to stop the killer before she leaves town for good. But who’s to say the Ferryman will let her go?
The Binding by Bridget Collins
Published by The Borough Press on 10th January 2019
Imagine you could erase your grief.
Imagine you could forget your pain.
Imagine you could hide a secret.
Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.
He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.
In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded.
Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.
The Wych Elm by Tana French
Published on the 21st February 2019 by Penguin
One night changes everything for Toby. He’s always led a charmed life – until a brutal attack leaves him damaged and traumatised, unsure even of the person he used to be. He seeks refuge at his family’s ancestral home, the Ivy House, filled with memories of wild-strawberry summers and teenage parties with his cousins.
But not long after Toby’s arrival, a discovery is made: a skull, tucked neatly inside the old wych elm in the garden.
As detectives begin to close in, Toby is forced to examine everything he thought he knew about his family, his past, and himself.
The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
Published by Scribner on 7th February 2019
Imagine a world where sleep could trap you, for days, for weeks, months… A world where you could, even, die of sleep rather than in your sleep.
Karen Thompson Walker’s second novel is stunning, the story of a Californian town’s epidemic of perpetual sleep.
Needlemouse by Jane O’Connor
Published on 27th June 2019 by Ebury Publishing
Sylvia Penton has been hibernating for years, it’s no wonder she’s a little prickly…
Sylvia lives alone, dedicating herself to her job at the local university. On weekends, she helps out at a local hedgehog sanctuary because it gives her something to talk about on Mondays – and it makes people think she’s nicer than she is.
Only Sylvia has a secret: she’s been in love with her boss, Professor Lomax, for over a decade now, and she’s sure he’s just waiting for the right time to leave his wife. Meanwhile she stores every crumb of his affection and covertly makes trouble for anyone she feels gets in his way.
But when a bright new PhD candidate catches the Professor’s eye, Sylvia’s dreams of the fairy tale ending she has craved for so long, are soon in tatters, driving her to increasingly desperate measures and an uncertain future.
Sylvia might have been sleep walking through her life but things are about to change now she’s woken up…
Cape May by Chip Cheek
Published by W&N on 30th April 2019
Cape May, New Jersey. September 1957.
Newlyweds Henry and Effie arrive from Georgia for their honeymoon. It’s the end of the summer season, and as they tentatively discover each other – walking on the deserted beach overlooking the vast, darkening Atlantic, clumsily making love in the dusty rooms of a distant relative’s house – they begin to realize that everyday married life might be disappointingly different from their happy-ever-after fantasy.
Just as they get ready to cut the trip short and leave Cape May, a light goes on in one of the houses on their street. In that one moment their destiny is altered forever.
A glamorous set suddenly disrupt their newly-formed married life and sweep them up into their drama: there’s Clara, a beautiful socialite who feels her youth slipping away; Max, a wealthy playboy and Clara’s lover; and Alma, Max’s aloof and mysterious half-sister, to whom Henry is irresistibly drawn.
The empty town becomes their playground, and as they sneak into abandoned summer homes, go sailing, walk naked under the stars, marvel at the power and beauty of their bodies, experiment with love and sex, and drink massive amounts of gin, Henry and Effie slip from innocence into betrayal, with consequences that reverberate through the rest of their lives.
The Devil Aspect by Craig Russell
Published by Constable on the 7th March 2019
Six confined psychopaths. A killer on the loose
1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets.
At the same time, a terrifying killer known as ‘Leather Apron’ is butchering victims across Prague. Successfully eluding capture, it would seem his depraved crimes are committed by the Devil himself.
Maybe they are… and what links him with the insane inmates of the Castle of the Eagles?
Only the Devil knows. And it is up to Viktor to find out.
The Drop by Mick Herron
Published by John Murray press on 1st November 2018
Old spooks carry the memory of tradecraft in their bones, and when Solomon Dortmund sees an envelope being passed from one pair of hands to another in a Marylebone cafe, he knows he’s witnessed more than an innocent encounter. But in relaying his suspicions to John Bachelor, who babysits retired spies like Solly, he sets in train events which will alter lives. Bachelor himself, a hair’s breadth away from sleeping in his car, is clawing his way back to stability; Hannah Weiss, the double agent whose recruitment was his only success, is starting to enjoy the secrets and lies her role demands; and Lech Wicinski, an Intelligence Service analyst, finds that a simple favour for an old acquaintance might derail his career.
Meanwhile, Lady Di Taverner is trying to keep the Service on an even keel, and if that means throwing the odd crew member overboard, well: collateral damage is her speciality.
A drop, in spook parlance, is the passing on of secret information.
It’s also what happens just before you hit the ground.
The Stranger Inside by Laura Benedict
Published by Mulholland Books on 7th February 2019
There’s a stranger in your house. And he knows your biggest secret.
When Kimber Hannon returns home from a work trip, she’s ready to kick back and relax on the sofa. But on reaching the front door, she is shocked to discover that her key no longer works and there’s a man in the bedroom window.
Kimber calls the police, but the intruder tells them he’s renting the house. Her neighbour corroborates his story and it is Kimber who is forced to leave. But before she does, the stranger whispers ‘I was there. I saw what you did.’
These words reveal a connection to Kimber’s distant past, and dark secrets she’d long ago left buried. Her trespasser isn’t after anything as simple as her money or her home. He wants to move into her carefully orchestrated life – and destroy it.
The Silver Road by Stina Jackson
Published by Atlantic Books on 7th March 2019
Three years ago, Lelle’s daughter went missing in a remote part of Northern Sweden. Lelle has spent the intervening summers driving the Silver Road under the midnight sun, frantically searching for his lost daughter, for himself and for redemption.
Meanwhile, seventeen-year-old Meja arrives in town hoping for a fresh start. She is the same age as Lelle’s daughter was – a girl on the brink of adulthood. But for Meja, there are dangers to be found in this isolated place.
As autumn’s darkness slowly creeps in, Lelle and Meja’s lives are intertwined in ways, both haunting and tragic, that they could never have imagined.
Nick Forrester thought he would spend the rest of his life with his girlfriend, Lauren—until he proposed. Instead of engaged, he ends up humiliated and alone. Then he meets Alli Conwell, a socially awkward nineteen-year-old barista, and Nick has hope again. Alli is trying to make a name for herself as a singer/songwriter and might just be the next Taylor Swift. She’s ambitious, talented, and determined to succeed on her own terms.
But all is not what it seems. Alli has secrets about her life before moving to the city, and her innocence has left her unprepared for the temptations of Boston’s indie music scene. As their relationship blossoms, so do the tensions created by the past she’s trying to hide and the heartbreak he’s trying to forget.
Not Famous is a heartwarming and humorous tale of love, music, and the unexpected. For fans of Nick Hornby & Mike Gayle.