Hello! I don’t know about you but January felt like a long, hard slog of a month and I’m sure it lasted about 100 days. Never mind though, February is here and it’ll be Spring before we know it!
I started my year off well with a visit to Forum Books in Corbridge, Northumberland for the launch of Changeling by Matt Weslowski which is published by Orenda Books. I love the Six Stories series of books and it was great to see Matt again and get some of his books signed.
I also visited one of my favourite places in January; Harrogate. I was last there in July for the Theakstons Crime Writing Festival and heard about a book called The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan which I haven’t been able to stop thinking about so a trip to Imagined Things, a gorgeous independent bookshop was in order to spend some of my Christmas money.
Reading wise January has been great and I have read some incredible books. I think that 2019 is going to be a great year for us bookworms with an embarrassment of riches coming our way.
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
The Sparsholt Affair by Alan Hollinghurst
Technically I read this in December and finished it on New Year’s Eve, but I didn’t have time to put it on my December Round Up post. This is a book about two men who meet at Oxford University in 1940. Their lives go in very different directions but the events of 1940 cast a long shadow for them both.
Changeling by Matt Wesolowski
I was one of the stops on the Blog Tour for Changeling by Matt Wesolowski in January. I am a huge fan of Matt’s books and his Six Stories series is exceptional.
Scrublands by Chris Hammer
This is an absolutely brilliant book. Set in a town in Australia suffering from drought and still reeling from a mass shooting a year earlier this novel brims with tension.
Deep Dirty Truth by Steph Broadribb
This is the third book in the Lori Anderson series and I think it may be my favourite. Smart writing combines with a brilliant plot and a strong protagonist to make another great read.
Golden State by Ben H. Winters
Imagine a world where lies are outlawed. This is the reality in the Golden State, a future imagined California where speculators can sense a mistruth. So what happens when a man dies in an accident but everything points to murder?
Louis & Louise by Julie Cohen
Louis and Louise are the same person, both are born on the same day to the same parents in the same town but Louis is a boy and Louise is a girl. This really clever book explores gender, society, class and family relationships and it made me cry.
The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl
This wonderful spy thriller is set in Norway during WW2, the 1960s and the present day. When a man who died during the war turns up alive he sets in motion a chain of events which unravel long held secrets.
You, Me & Mr Blue Sky by Elisa Lorello & Craig Lancaster
When Jo-Jo and Linus meet at a New Year’s Eve party they are at very different times in their lives. He is ready to date after a year of self imposed exile following his divorce whilst she has has just called off her engagement. Is it meant to be? Only their guardian angel Mr. Blue Sky has the answer.
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
This was my book club read for January and what a book to start the year with. Diane Setterfield writes beautiful, lyrical prose and this novel is a love letter to books and storytelling. Exquisite.
The Suspect by Fiona Barton
Two teenage girls go missing whilst travelling in Thailand leaving their parents frantic with worry. The UK press scramble to cover the story but for one journalist this story may be closer to home than she thinks.
The Last by Hanna Jameson
This book is dystopian fiction at its best. Jon Keller is at a conference in Switzerland when a nuclear attack wipes out Washington, London, Berlin, Scotland and more. He and a ragtag bunch of guests try to get on with things, but when a body is found they discover that a murderer may live amongst them.
Inborn by Thomas Enger
This is a clever Young Adult/Crime crossover which examines the aftermath of the murder of two students at a high school in a small town in Norway. Local gossip, a pressure cooker of emotions and social media accusations combine to create a thrilling and emotional read.
Books I Bought
One Day in December by Josie Silver
Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist. After all, life isn’t a scene from the movies, is it? But then, through a misted-up bus window one freezing day, she sees a man she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.
Laurie thinks she’ll never see the boy from the bus again. But at a party later that year, her best friend Sarah introduces her to the new love of her life. Who is, of course, the boy from the bus.
Determined to let him go, Laurie gets on with her life. But what if fate has other plans?
The Ruin by Dervla McTiernan
On his first week on the job, Garda Cormac Reilly responds to a call at a decrepit country house to find two silent, neglected children waiting for him – fifteen-year-old Maude and five-year-old Jack. Their mother lies dead upstairs.
Twenty years later, Cormac has left his high-flying career as a detective in Dublin and returned to Galway. As he struggles to navigate the politics of a new police station, Maude and Jack return to haunt him.
What ties a recent suicide to the woman’s death so long ago? And who among his new colleagues can Cormac really trust?
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Angelfield House stands abandoned and forgotten. It was once home to the March family – fascinating, manipulative Isabelle, brutal, dangerous Charlie, and the wild, untamed twins, Emmeline and Adeline. But Angelfield House hides a chilling secret which strikes at the very heart of each of them, tearing their lives apart…
Now Margaret Lea is investigating Angelfield’s past – and the mystery of the March family starts to unravel. What has Angelfield been hiding? What is its connection with the enigmatic writer Vida Winter? And what is the secret that strikes at the heart of Margaret’s own, troubled life?
As Margaret digs deeper, two parallel stories unfold, and the tale she uncovers sheds a disturbing light on her own life…
Educated by Tara Westover
Tara Westover and her family grew up preparing for the End of Days but, according to the government, she didn’t exist. She hadn’t been registered for a birth certificate. She had no school records because she’d never set foot in a classroom, and no medical records because her father didn’t believe in hospitals.
As she grew older, her father became more radical and her brother more violent. At sixteen, Tara knew she had to leave home. In doing so she discovered both the transformative power of education, and the price she had to pay for it.
The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock by Imogen Hermes Gowar
One September evening in 1785, the merchant Jonah Hancock finds one of his captains waiting eagerly on his doorstep. He has sold Jonah’s ship for what appears to be a mermaid.
As gossip spreads through the docks, coffee shops, parlours and brothels, everyone wants to see Mr Hancock’s marvel. Its arrival spins him out of his ordinary existence and through the doors of high society, where he meets Angelica Neal, the most desirable woman he has ever laid eyes on… and a courtesan of great accomplishment. This meeting will steer both their lives onto a dangerous new course.
What will be the cost of their ambitions? And will they be able to escape the legendary destructive power a mermaid is said to possess?
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Thirteen-year-old Leni is coming of age in a tumultuous time. Caught in the riptide of her parents’ passionate, stormy relationship, she dares to hope that Alaska will lead to a better future for her family, and a place to belong. Her mother, Cora, will do anything and go anywhere for the man she loves, even if means following him into the unknown.
As Leni grows up in the shadow of her parents’ increasingly volatile marriage, she meets Matthew. And Matthew – thoughtful, kind, brave – makes her believe in the possibility of a better life . . .
With her trademark combination of elegant prose and deeply drawn characters, Kristin Hannah celebrates the remarkable and enduring strength of women.
Advanced Copies I Received
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Publishing on the 7th March 2019 by One World Publications
Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of the American Dream. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. Until one day they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit.
Devastated and unmoored, Celestial finds herself struggling to hold on to the love that has been her centre, taking comfort in Andre, their closest friend. When Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, he returns home ready to resume their life together.
A masterpiece of storytelling, An American Marriage offers a profoundly insightful look into the heats and minds of three unforgettable characters who are at once bound together and separated by forces beyond their control.
The Furies by Katie Lowe
Publishing on the 2nd May 2019 by Harper Collins
1998. A sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property, dressed in white and posed on a swing. No known cause of death.
Four girls know what happened.
And until now they’ve kept their silence.
Violet is returning home, back to the sleepy coastal town which holds so many memories.
In 1998, after a tragic accident claimed the lives of her father and sister, she joins Elm Hollow Academy, a private girls’ school with an unpleasant history of 17th century witch trials.
There she is drawn to Robin, Grace, Alex and their charismatic teacher, Annabel; she is invited to join them in their advanced study group.
There they learn about art, literature and the grisly history of the school. Though Annabel claims her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals, she warns them off the topic, describing it as little more than mythology. However, the more the girls learn, the more they start to believe that magic is real, and that together they can harness it.
But when the body of a former member of the society is found on campus nine months after the she disappeared, fingers are pointed at those closest to her. Leading Violet to wonder whether she can trust her friends, teachers, or even herself.
Inborn by Thomas Enger
Publishing on the 22nd January 2019 by Orenda Books
When the high school in the small Norwegian village of Fredheim becomes a murder scene, the finger is soon pointed at seventeen-year-old Even. As the investigation closes in, social media is ablaze with accusations, rumours and even threats, and Even finds himself the subject of an online trial as well as being in the dock … for murder?
Even pores over his memories of the months leading up to the crime, and it becomes clear that more than one villager was acting suspiciously … and secrets are simmering beneath the calm surface of this close-knit community.
As events from the past play tag with the present, he’s forced to question everything he thought he knew. Was the death of his father in a car crash a decade earlier really accidental? Has his relationship stirred up something that someone is prepared to kill to protect?
It seems that there may be no one that Even can trust.
But can we trust him?
A taut, moving and chilling thriller, Inborn examines the very nature of evil, and asks the questions: How well do we really know our families?
How well do we know ourselves?
Half A World Away by Mike Gayle
Publishing on the 13th June 2019 by Hodder & Stoughton
Kerry Hayes knows exactly who she is: a single mum, a cleaner and Mariah Carey’s biggest fan.
Noah Martineau thinks he knows who he is: a successful barrister, with a wife, daughter and big house in Primrose Hill.
Strangers with nothing in common.
Strangers living worlds apart.
But it wasn’t always this way…and Noah and Kerry are about to discover just who they really are.
The Killer In Me by Olivia Kiernan
Publishing on the 4th April by Riverrun
Detective Chief Superintendent Frankie Sheehan does not wish to linger on the grisly scene before her eyes. Two mutilated corpses. In a church. In Clontarf. Her profiling background screams one fact: this is just the beginning of a sickening message.
Meanwhile, a 17-year-old case is playing out on a TV documentary, the convicted professing his innocence and historical police errors being exposed daily in the media. Frankie’s superior, commissioner Donna Hegarty, makes no bones about who she expects to clean things up – both in terms of past mishandlings and the present murders.
But not everyone working the cases wants the truth to come out. And the corridors of power have their own vested interest. Soon Frankie pinpoints just what is making her so nervous: the fact that anyone could be the next victim when justice is the killer.
The Killer In Me is a fast-paced thriller in which lies are safer that the truth, the past is never far from the present, and the ability to kill could well, it seems, live in everyone.
How to Fail by Elizabeth Day
Publishing on 4th April 2019 by 4th Estate
This is a book for anyone who has ever failed. Which means it’s a book for everyone.
If I have learned one thing from this shockingly beautiful venture called life, it is this: failure has taught me lessons I would never otherwise have understood. I have evolved more as a result of things going wrong than when everything seemed to be going right. Out of crisis has come clarity, and sometimes even catharsis.
Part memoir, part manifesto, and including chapters on dating, work, sport, babies, families, anger and friendship, it is based on the simple premise that understanding why we fail ultimately makes us stronger. It’s a book about learning from our mistakes and about not being afraid.
Uplifting, inspiring and rich in stories from Elizabeth’s own life, How to Fail reveals that failure is not what defines us; rather it is how we respond to it that shapes us as individuals.
Because learning how to fail is actually learning how to succeed better. And everyone needs a bit of that.
The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames
Publishing on the 7th May by Hodder & Stoughton
Mariastella Fortuna, known as Stella, was born into rural poverty in a Calabrian village in the early 20th century. After being abandoned by their father, who left to seek his fortune in L’America, Stella grew up with her beloved mother Assunta, her brothers Giuseppe and Luigi and her sister Tina. Tough, vivacious, and fiercely loyal, the sisters were inseparable, going on to support each other through immigration, marriage, children, loss – and the seven (or eight) near-death experiences Stella suffered throughout her life.
Beginning in their childhood with the time she was burned by frying oil, Assunta became convinced that her eldest daughter was cursed, a victim of the Evil Eye or a malevolent ghost. But after Stella woke up from ‘The Accident’, an eighth brush with death, it was Tina who she refused to speak to. Now the sisters have not spoken in thirty years.
Determined to solve the mystery of this falling out, it’s up to the family historian to connect the inexplicable dots in Stella’s dramatic story, and to suggest, redemption of the battle-scarred and misunderstood woman who has lived her life with a fire inside her which could not be put out.
Let me know in the comments beneath if you have read any of these books or if any have caught your eye!