July was a weird one wasn’t it? A heatwave that stopped trains, torrential rain and a new Prime Minister (the least said about that the better). But! July was also Theakstons Crime Writing Festival at Harrogate, where the great and good from the book world descend on the Old Swan Hotel in Harrogate for a weekend of bookish fun.
I went for the first time last year and really enjoyed it so booked another weekend rover pass for this year. I had the best weekend meeting some of my favourite authors (Jo Nesbo! Jane Harper!) and was lucky enough to attend an author breakfast with Transworld Publishers and got to meet some fellow bloggers and chat to authors too.
July also saw another Desert Island Books instalment. This month was the lovely Carly Flood who had some cracking book choices.
I went a bit mad on the old buying books front this month as I visited Barter Books, one of my favourite places in the world. I was also lucky enough to receive some wonderful books from publishers. Read on to see what I read, bought and received in July.
Desert Island Books
Desert Island Books
This month’s castaway was Carly Flood at the Flood Defence who I want to write like when I grow up. She also has excellent tastes in books.
Books I Read
The Chain by Adrian McKinty
When Rachel’s daughter is kidnapped she is told she can only get her back if she pays a ransom and kidnap a child herself. The Chain is one of the biggest releases of 2019 and is going to be huge.
Expectation by Anna Hope
One of my books of the year.
The July Girls by Phoebe Locke
Every year, on the 7th July, a woman is murdered in London. These crimes seem nothing to do with young girl, Addie but when she and her sister find a purse belonging to a missing woman in their father’s bedroom she realises that she may be more deeply involved than she imagined.
Three Women by Lisa Taddeo
This book is everywhere and every single review is glowing. I really didn’t like it. I gave it 3 stars and I would usually review a 3 star book on here, but, this book is about women, sexuality and sexual violence. These issues are very personal to lots of people and many have found this book to be inspirational. It isn’t my job to take that away from anybody and I don’t feel qualified to critique given the subject matter.
The Escape Room by Megan Goldin
When 4 Wall Street workers are asked to attend a meeting at their office one Friday night they go. But this isn’t a meeting, they’re actually in an escape room where the objective is to get out alive.
What You Did by Claire McGowan
A book about friendships and marriage and what happens when there is an accusation of rape amongst a group of 6 friends.
Lady In The Lake by Laura Lippman
I adored this book. Set in the 1960s in Baltimore it explores, gender, class and race against the backdrop of a murder of a black woman which is being overlooked by the white press.
Looker by Laura Sims
A character study about the descent into madness of a woman whose life has been torn asunder. I really liked this compelling and overwhelming book.
Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls
This book was quite simply wonderful. It’s about a boy called Charlie who the summer after he turns 16 falls in love for the first time. It is both beautiful and heartbreaking and took me straight back to the summer of 1997.
I’ll have a full review soon.
Books I Bought
Amsterdam by Ian McEwan
Two old friends – Cline Linley and Vernon Halliday – meet at the funeral of gorgeous, witty Molly Lane. Both men had been Molly’s lovers years before their dazzling success; Clive is Britain’s most eminent modern composer and Vernon is the editor of the respected broadsheet, The Judge. In the weeks that follow, Clive and Vernon’s lives become bound together in ways neither could have imagined. Two dubious moral decisions and a pact made in extremis lead them both to the heart of Amsterdam.
Starter For Ten by David Nicholls
It’s 1985 and Brian Jackson has arrived at university with a burning ambition – to make it onto TV’s foremost general knowledge quiz. But no sooner has he embarked on ‘The Challenge’ than he finds himself falling hopelessly in love with his teammate, the beautiful and charismatic would-be actress, Alice Harbinson.
When Alice fails to fall for his slightly over-eager charms, Brian comes up with a foolproof plan to capture her heart once and for all. He’s going to win the game, at any cost, because – after all – everyone knows that what a woman really wants from a man is a comprehensive grasp of general knowledge . . .
STARTER FOR TEN is a comedy about love, class, growing-up and the all-important difference between knowledge and wisdom. Are you up to the challenge of the funniest novel in years?
The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Forced to flee the scandal brewing in her hometown, Catherine Goggin finds herself pregnant and alone, in search of a new life at just sixteen. She knows she has no choice but to believe that the nun she entrusts her child to will find him a better life.
Cyril Avery is not a real Avery, or so his parents are constantly reminding him. Adopted as a baby, he’s never quite felt at home with the family that treats him more as a curious pet than a son. But it is all he has ever known.
And so begins one man’s desperate search to find his place in the world. Unspooling and unseeing, Cyril is a misguided, heart-breaking, heartbroken fool. Buffeted by the harsh winds of circumstance towards the one thing that might save him from himself, but when opportunity knocks, will he have the courage, finally, take it?
The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
‘Excuse me, sir, but may I be of assistance? Ah, I see I have alarmed you. Do not be frightened by my beard. I am a lover of America . . . ‘
So speaks the mysterious stranger at a Lahore cafe as dusk settles. Invited to join him for tea, you learn his name and what led this speaker of immaculate English to seek you out. For he is more worldy than you might expect; better travelled and better educated. He knows the West better than you do. And as he tells you his story, of how he embraced the Western dream — and a Western woman — and how both betrayed him, so the night darkens. Then the true reason for your meeting becomes abundantly clear . . .
Challenging, mysterious and thrillingly tense, Mohsin Hamid’s masterly The Reluctant Fundamentalistis a vital read teeming with questions and ideas about some of the most pressing issues of today’s globalised, fractured world.
The Past by Tess Hadley
Four siblings meet up in their grandparents’ old house for three long, hot summer weeks. But under the idyllic surface lie shattering tensions.
Roland has come with his new wife, and his sisters don’t like her. Fran has brought her children, who soon uncover an ugly secret in a ruined cottage in the woods. Alice has invited Kasim, an outsider, who makes plans to seduce Roland’s teenage daughter. And Harriet, the eldest, finds her quiet self-possession ripped apart when passion erupts unexpectedly.
Over the course of the holiday, a familiar way of life falls apart forever
Sweet Sorrow by David Nicholls
One life-changing summer
Charlie meets Fran…
In 1997, Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. His exams have not gone well. At home he is looking after his father, when surely it should be the other way round, and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.
Then Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.
But if Charlie wants to be with Fran, he must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling.
The price of hope, it seems, is Shakespeare.
Poignant, funny, enchanting, devastating, Sweet Sorrow is a tragicomedy about the rocky path to adulthood and the confusion of family life, a celebration of the reviving power of friendship and that brief, searing explosion of first love that can only be looked at directly after it has burned out.
She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge
Seven friends went down to the woods, but one of them never came home.
30 years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens already knows what’s waiting for him – Aurora Jackson, found at last.
They all claim to be innocent, but one of them must be lying.
Because she was found somewhere only they knew about.
Now everyone’s a suspect.
Tell No One by Harlan Coben
Eight years ago David Beck was knocked unconscious and left for dead, and his wife Elizabeth was kidnapped and murdered.
Dr Beck re-lived the horror of what happened that day every day of his life. Then one afternoon, he receives an anonymous email telling him to log on to a certain website. The screen opens on to a web cam – and it is Elizabeth’s image he sees.
As Beck tries to find out if Elizabeth is truly alive, and what really happened the night she disappeared, the FBI are trying to pin Elizabeth’s murder on him. And everyone he turns to seems to end up dead…
Those People by Louise Candlish
MEET THE NEIGHBOURS YOU’LL LOVE TO HATE
Until Darren and Jodie move in, Lowland Way is a suburban paradise. Beautiful homes. Friendly neighbours. Kids playing out in the street. But Darren and Jodie don’t follow the rules and soon disputes over loud music and parking rights escalate to threats of violence.
Then, early one Sunday, a horrific crime shocks the street. As the police go house-to-house, the residents close ranks and everyone’s story is the same: They did it.
But there’s a problem. The police don’t agree. And the door they’re knocking on next is yours.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
I believe in the resistance as I believe there can be no light without shadow; or rather, no shadow unless there is also light.’
Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford – her assigned name, Offred, means ‘of Fred’. She has only one function: to breed. If Offred refuses to enter into sexual servitude to repopulate a devastated world, she will be hanged. Yet even a repressive state cannot eradicate hope and desire. As she recalls her pre-revolution life in flashbacks, Offred must navigate through the terrifying landscape of torture and persecution in the present day, and between two men upon which her future hangs.
Masterfully conceived and executed, this haunting vision of the future places Margaret Atwood at the forefront of dystopian fiction.
White Houses by Amy Bloom
In 1933, President Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt took up residence in the White House. With them went the celebrated journalist Lorena Hickok – Hick to friends – a straight-talking reporter from South Dakota, whose passionate relationship with the idealistic, patrician First Lady would shape the rest of their lives. Told by the indomitable Hick, White Houses is the story of Eleanor and Hick’s hidden love, and of Hick’s unlikely journey from her dirt-poor childhood to the centre of privilege and power. Filled with fascinating back-room politics, the secrets and scandals of the era, and exploring the potency of enduring love, it is an imaginative tour-de-force from a writer of extraordinary and exuberant talent.
Books I Received
The Hiding Game by Naomi Wood
Published by Pan Macmillan on 11th July 2019
In 1922, Paul Beckermann arrives at the Bauhaus art school and is immediately seduced by both the charismatic teaching and his fellow students. Eccentric and alluring, the more time Paul spends with his new friends the closer they become, and the deeper he falls in love with the mesmerising Charlotte. But Paul is not the only one vying for her affections, and soon an insidious rivalry takes root.
As political tensions escalate in Germany, the Bauhaus finds itself under threat, and the group begins to disintegrate under the pressure of its own betrayals and love affairs. Decades later, in the wake of an unthinkable tragedy, Paul is haunted by a secret. When an old friend from the Bauhaus resurfaces, he must finally break his silence.
From the author of the award-winning Mrs Hemingway, Naomi Wood’s The Hiding Game is a beautifully written, powerful and suspenseful novel about the dangerously fine line between love and obsession, set against the most turbulent era of our recent past.
Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie
Published by HQ on 25th July 2019
On an ordinary Saturday morning in 1996, the residents of Nightingale Point wake up to their normal lives and worries.
Mary has a secret life that no one knows about, not even Malachi and Tristan, the brothers she vowed to look after.
Malachi had to grow up too quickly. Between looking after Tristan and nursing a broken heart, he feels older than his twenty-one years.
Tristan wishes Malachi would stop pining for Pamela. No wonder he’s falling in with the wrong crowd, without Malachi to keep him straight.
Elvis is trying hard to remember to the instructions his care worker gave him, but sometimes he gets confused and forgets things.
Pamela wants to run back to Malachi but her overprotective father has locked her in and there’s no way out.
It’s a day like any other, until something extraordinary happens. When the sun sets, Nightingale Point is irrevocably changed and somehow, through the darkness, the residents must find a way back to lightness, and back to each other.
In The Cut by Susanna Moore
Published by Orion on 31st October 2019
Living alone in New York, Frannie teaches creative writing to a motley bunch of students, and secretly compiles a dictionary of street slang: virginia, n., vagina; snapper, n., vagina; brasole, n., vagina.
One evening at a bar, she stumbles upon a man, his face in shadow, a tattoon on his wrist, a woman kneeling between his legs. A week later a detective shows up at her door. The woman’s body has been discovered in the park across the street.
Soon Frannie is propelled into a sexual liaison that tests the limits of her safety and desires, as she begins a terrifying descent into the dark places that reside deep within her.
Impossible Causes by Julie Mayhew
Published by Bloomsbury on 17th October
The Crucible meets The Craft in this brilliantly dark thriller about isolated communities, rumours and suspicion.
The arrival of three strangers on Lark, a remote island with a population of 300, is the cause of much speculation. The first, a young teacher – the only male teacher on the island – the other two, a mother and her teenage daughter. What have they come to escape? And what will they find waiting for them in Lark?
In Julie Mayhew’s mesmerising and compelling thriller, an isolated and deeply religious island with a history of paganism is riven when a man is found dead in a stone circle. As rumours spread and tensions rise, three Lark teenage girls and the new arrival from the mainland find themselves accused of witchcraft – and murder.
Gone by Leona Deakin
Published by Transworld Publishers on 31st October 2019
Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:
YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.
DARE TO PLAY?
The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.
And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.
As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.
But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?
The Confession by Jessie Burton
Published by Pan Macmillan 19th September
One winter’s afternoon on Hampstead Heath in 1980, Elise Morceau meets Constance Holden and quickly falls under her spell. Connie is bold and alluring, a successful writer whose novel is being turned into a major Hollywood film. Elise follows Connie to LA, a city of strange dreams and swimming pools and late-night gatherings of glamorous people. But whilst Connie thrives on the heat and electricity of this new world where everyone is reaching for the stars and no one is telling the truth, Elise finds herself floundering. When she overhears a conversation at a party that turns everything on its head, Elise makes an impulsive decision that will change her life forever.
Three decades later, Rose Simmons is seeking answers about her mother, who disappeared when she was a baby. Having learned that the last person to see her was Constance Holden, a reclusive novelist who withdrew from public life at the peak of her fame, Rose is drawn to the door of Connie’s imposing house in search of a confession . . .
From the million-copy bestselling author of The Miniaturist and The Muse, this is a luminous, powerful and deeply moving novel about secrets and storytelling, motherhood and friendship, and how we lose and find ourselves.
Through The Wall by Caroline Corcoran
Published by Avon on 19th September 2019
Lexie loves her home. She feels safe and secure in it – and loved, thanks to her boyfriend Tom.
But recently, something’s not been quite right. A book out of place. A wardrobe door left open. A set of keys going missing…
Tom thinks Lexie’s going mad – but then, he’s away more often than he’s at home nowadays, so he wouldn’t understand.
Because Lexie isn’t losing it. She knows there’s someone out there watching her. And, deep down, she knows there’s nothing she can do to make them stop…
Silver by Chris Hammer
Published by Headline in ebook on 1st October and 9th Janury in hardback
For half a lifetime, journalist Martin Scarsden has run from his past. But now there is no escaping.
He’d vowed never to return to his hometown, Port Silver, and its traumatic memories. But now his new partner, Mandy Blonde, has inherited an old house in the seaside town and Martin knows their chance of a new life together won’t come again.
Martin arrives to find his best friend from school days brutally murdered, and Mandy the chief suspect. With the police curiously reluctant to pursue other suspects, Martin goes searching for the killer. And finds the past waiting for him.
He’s making little progress when a terrible new crime starts to reveal the truth. The media descend on Port Silver, attracted by a story that has it all: sex, drugs, celebrity and religion. Once again, Martin finds himself in the front line of reporting.
Yet the demands of deadlines and his desire to clear Mandy are not enough: the past is ever present.
An enthralling and propulsive thriller from the acclaimed and bestselling author of Scrublands.
Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara
Published by Bantam in ebook on 1st November 2019 and in paperback on 9th January 2020
It’s been 192 days, seven hours and fifteen minutes since her last drink. Now Astrid is trying to turn her life around.
Having reluctantly moved back in with her mother, in a quiet seaside town away from the temptations and painful memories of her life before, Astrid is focusing on her recovery. She’s going to meetings. Confessing her misdeeds. Making amends to those she’s wronged.
But someone knows exactly what Astrid is running from. And they won’t stop until she learns that some mistakes can’t be corrected.
Some mistakes, you have to pay for…
Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza
Published by Sphere in January 2020
A DETECTIVE WHO WOULD STOP AT NOTHING
Kate Marshall was a rising star in the London Metropolitan police force. Young, ambitious and with a keen sense of justice, she solved several high-profile murder cases.
UNTIL A KILLER STOPPED HER IN HER TRACKS
But when Kate was tasked with tracking down a vicious serial killer, even her sharp instincts couldn’t help her find him – until he found her.
NOW, HE’S BACK FOR MORE
Sixteen years after her narrow escape, Kate lives a quiet life on the English coast, though her years with the police are still with her. And when one day she receives a letter from someone in her past, she is pulled back into the twisted mind of a murderer she knows only too well – and into a case only she can solve.
Dead To Her by Sarah Pinborough
Published by Harper Collins on 6th February 2020
Being the second wife can be murder . . .
“Once a cheat, always a cheat,” they say. Marcie Maddox has worked hard to get where she is after the illicit affair that started her new life a few years ago. But her world of country clubs, yachts and sumptuous houses in Savannah, Georgia, isn’t easy to maintain, no matter how hard she tries. Nor is keeping her husband, Jason, truly interested.
So, when Jason’s boss brings home a hot new wife from his trip to London, the young Mrs William Radford IV isn’t quite the souvenir everyone expected. Sexy, drop-dead gorgeous and black—Keisha quickly usurps Marcie’s place as the beautiful second wife. But when Marcie sees the extra spark in the room when Keisha and Jason are together and their obvious, magnetic attraction, the gloves come off.
Revenge is best served cold, but in the steamy Savannah heat, blood runs so hot that this summer it might just boil over into murder.
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Published by Hutchinson 5th September 2019
Two female spies. A banned masterpiece. A book that changed history.
A BANNED MASTERPIECE
1956. A celebrated Russian author is writing a book, Doctor Zhivago, which could spark dissent in the Soviet Union. The Soviets, afraid of its subversive power, ban it.
But in the rest of the world it’s fast becoming a sensation.
TWO FEMALE SPIES
The CIA plans to use the book to tip the Cold War in its favour.
Their agents are not the usual spies, however. Two typists – the charming, experienced Sally and the talented novice Irina – are charged with the mission of a lifetime: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago back into Russia by any means necessary.
A BOOK THAT CHANGED HISTORY
It will not be easy. There are people willing to die for this book – and agents willing to kill for it. But they cannot fail – as this book has the power to change history.
hanks for reading! Please do let me know in the comments beneath if you’ve read any of these books or if any have caught your eye!