May 2020 Books

Hello!

I hope everybody is OK and looking after themselves. It’s been a funny old month, I was supposed to be at one of my favourite bookish events, Newcastle Noir (I wrote about it here), but sadly it was cancelled. I was also un-furloughed from work and have spent the past few weeks ensconsed in my spare room doing my day job whilst surrounded by my books (the temptation to read is real but I have been strong!).

This has meant that I haven’t had as much time to read and if I’m honest it was a bit of a mixed month bookwise (more on that later). This happens sometimes so I’m not sweating it! I’ve really missed my bookish activities though and so have been spending my Wednesday evenings taking part in Virtual Noir At The Bar listening to lots of amazing authors read from their books. I also set up a virtual book club with a few of my friends who are spread across the country and it has been a lot of fun. Hopefully this is something I can continue when things start to get back to normal.

Read on to see which books I read, bought and received in May.

Desert Island Books

Desert Island Books with Daemon Book Lover

Desert Island Books

This month’s castaway was Daemon Book Lover.

You can read all about her choices, here.

Books I Read

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

I absolutely adored this wonderful book about family, motherhood and inheritance. It is as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside.

You can read my full review here.

When We Fall by Carolyn Kirby

When We Fall by Carolyn Kirby

I love a book set around World War 2 and When We Fall did not disappoint. Set in both the UK and Poland it is an emotional and eye opening read.

You can read my full review here.

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

This is such a wonderfully constructed and clever book. Set in Oxford amongst the looming spires of the University it takes us to the backstreets and to a Master’s House where there lives a little girl who goes missing. Part domestic thriller, part literary fiction this is an absorbing read.

You can read my full review here.

The Heatwave by Kate Riordan

The Heatwave by Kate Riordan

A time slip novel set in the searing heat of South of France summer, sounds perfect doesn’t it? Well it is. Secrets abound in this absolute cracker of a novel.

You can read my full review here.

In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk

In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk

This is a pretty solid rom-com book but it wasn’t really for me. It’s a perfect lazing in the garden on a sunny weekend but it was a tad too predictable for me.

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi

I really wanted to love this book which is a crime novel about crime novels but I couldn’t really connect with it. It’s perfect for fans of Golden Age crime (which isn’t really my thing) and I know it’s going to be huge – this is definitely a case of it’s not the book, it’s me.

When I Was You by Minka Kent

A pretty solid thriller about mistaken identity. It required a little too much suspension of belief for me but is an entertaining read nonetheless.

Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth

Heatstroke by Hazel Barkworth

On the surface this is a book about a missing schoolgirl but it’s also about getting older and secrets. It’s a great read and I’ll have a full review soon.

Books I Bought

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Synopsis

New York, 1940. Young, glamorous and inseparable, Vivian and Celia are chasing trouble from one end of the city to the other. But there is risk in all this play – that’s what makes it so fun, and so dangerous. Sometimes, the world may feel like it’s ending, but for Vivian and Celia, life is just beginning.

City of Girls is about daring to break conventions and follow your desires: a celebration of glamour, resilience, growing up, and the joys of female friendship – and about the freedom that comes from finding a place you truly belong.

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan

Synopsis

When you leave Ireland aged 22 to spend your parents’ money, it’s called a gap year. When Ava leaves Ireland aged 22 to make her own money, she’s not sure what to call it, but it involves:

a badly-paid job in Hong Kong, teaching English grammar to rich children;
– Julian, who likes to spend money on Ava and lets her move into his guest room;
– Edith, who Ava meets while Julian is out of town and actually listens to her when she talks;
– money, love, cynicism, unspoken feelings and unlikely connections.

Exciting times ensue.

Keeper by Jessica Moor

Keeper by Jessica Moor

Synopsis

He’s been looking in the windows again. Messing with cameras. Leaving notes.
Supposed to be a refuge. But death got inside.

When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide.

But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.

Will you listen to them?

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins

Synopsis

When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.

As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why is Felicity silent?

This Lovely City by Louise Hare

This Lovely City by Louise Hare

Synopsis

The drinks are flowing.
The music is playing.
But the party can’t last.

With the Blitz over and London reeling from war, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for help. Fresh off the Empire Windrush, he’s taken a tiny room in south London lodgings, and has fallen in love with the girl next door.

Touring Soho’s music halls by night, pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home – and it’s alive with possibility. Until, one morning, he makes a terrible discovery.

As the local community rallies, fingers of blame are pointed at those who had recently been welcomed with open arms. And, before long, the newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy which threatens to tear the city apart.

Atmospheric, poignant and compelling, Louise Hare’s debut shows that new arrivals have always been the prime suspects. But, also, that there is always hope.

Books I Received

Islands of Mercy by rose Tremain

Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain

Published on 10th September by Chatto & Windus

Synopsis

She was ‘The Angel of the Baths’, the one woman whose touch everybody yearned for. Yet she would do more. She was certain of that.

In the city of Bath, in the year 1865, an extraordinary young woman renowned for her nursing skills is convinced that some other destiny will one day show itself to her. But when she finds herself torn between a dangerous affair with a female lover and the promise of a conventional marriage to an apparently respectable doctor, her desires begin to lead her towards a future she had never imagined.

Meanwhile, on the wild island of Borneo, an eccentric British ‘rajah’, Sir Ralph Savage, overflowing with philanthropy but compromised by his passions, sees his schemes relentlessly undermined by his own fragility, by man’s innate greed and by the invasive power of the forest itself.

Jane’s quest for an altered life and Sir Ralph’s endeavours become locked together as the story journeys across the globe – from the confines of an English tearoom to the rainforests of a tropical island via the slums of Dublin and the transgressive fancy-dress boutiques of Paris.

Islands of Mercy is a novel that ignites the senses, and is a bold exploration of the human urge to seek places of sanctuary in a pitiless world.

If Looks Could Kill by Olivia Kiernan

If Looks Could Kill by Olivia Kiernan

Published by Quercus on 23rd July

Synopsis

DCS Frankie Sheehan is experiencing a crisis of confidence – having become wary of the instincts that have led her face-to-face with a twisted killer and brought those she loves into direct jeopardy.

She is summoned to the rural Wicklow mountains, where local mother of two, Debbie Nugent, has been reported missing. A bloody crime scene is discovered at Debbie’s home, yet no body. Not only is foul play suspected, but Debbie’s daughter, Margot, has been living with the scene for three days.

Aware her team cannot convict Margot on appearances alone, Sheehan launches a full investigation into Debbie Nugent’s life. And, before long, the discrepancies within Debbie’s disappearance suggest that some families are built on dangerous deceptions, with ultimately murderous consequences.

In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk

In Case You Missed It by Lindsey Kelk

Published by Harper Collins on 23rd July

Synopsis

When Ros steps off a plane after four years away she’s in need of a job, a flat and a phone that actually works. And, possibly, her old life back. Because everyone at home has moved on, her parents have reignited their sex life, she’s sleeping in a converted shed and she’s got a bad case of nostalgia for the way things were.

Then her new phone begins to ping with messages from people she thought were deleted for good. Including one number she knows off by heart: her ex’s.

Sometimes we’d all like the chance to see what we’ve been missing…

Nothing Can Hurt You by Olivia Maye Goldberg

Nothing Can Hurt You by Olivia Maye Goldberg

Published by Raven Books on 9th July

Synopsis

On a cold day in 1997, student Sara Morgan was killed in the woods surrounding her liberal arts college in upstate New York. Her boyfriend, Blake Campbell, confessed, only to be acquitted following a plea of temporary insanity.

In the wake of this senseless act of violence, the case comes to haunt a strange and surprising network of community members, from the young woman who discovers Sara’s body to the junior reporter who senses its connection to convicted local serial killer John Logan.

As the years pass, others search for retribution or explanation, including Sara’s half-sister who, stifled by her family’s silence about Blake, poses as a babysitter and seeks out her own form of justice, and the teenager Sara used to babysit, who begins writing to Logan as part of a class project.

The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff

The Great Godden by Meg Rosoff

Published by Bloomsbury on 9th July

Synopsis

Everyone talks about falling in love like it’s the most miraculous, life-changing thing in the world. Something happens, they say, and you know …

That’s what happened when I met Kit Godden.


I looked into his eyes and I knew.


Only everyone else knew too. Everyone else felt exactly the same way.

This is the story of one family, one dreamy summer – the summer when everything changes. In a holiday house by the sea, in a big, messy family, one teenager sees everything, including many things they shouldn’t, as brothers and sisters, parents and older cousins fill hot days with wine and games and planning a wedding. Enter the Goddens – irresistible, charming, languidly sexy Kit and surly, silent Hugo. Suddenly there’s a serpent in this paradise – and the consequences will be devastating.

From Meg Rosoff, bestselling author of the iconic novel How I Live Now, comes a lyrical and quintessential coming-of-age tale – a summer book that’s as heady, timeless and irresistible as Bonjour Tristesse and I Capture the Castle but as sharp and fresh as Normal People.

The Truants by Kate Weinberg

The Truants by Kate Weinberg

Published on 1st June by Bloomsbury

Synopsis

Jess Walker, middle child of a middle class family, has perfected the art of vanishing in plain sight. But when she arrives at a concrete university campus under flat, grey, East Anglian skies, her world flares with colour.

Drawn into a tightly-knit group of rule breakers – led by their maverick teacher, Lorna Clay – Jess begins to experiment with a new version of herself. But the dynamic between the friends begins to darken as they share secrets, lovers and finally a tragedy. Soon Jess is thrown up against the question she fears most: what is the true cost of an extraordinary life?

A Theatre For Dreamers by Polly Samson

A Theatre For Dreamers by Polly Samson

Published by Bloomsbury on 2nd April

Synopsis

1960. The world is dancing on the edge of revolution, and nowhere more so than on the Greek island of Hydra, where a circle of poets, painters and musicians live tangled lives, ruled by the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled king and queen of bohemia. Forming within this circle is a triangle: its points the magnetic, destructive writer Axel Jensen, his dazzling wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen.

Into their midst arrives teenage Erica, with little more than a bundle of blank notebooks and her grief for her mother. Settling on the periphery of this circle, she watches, entranced and disquieted, as a paradise unravels.

Burning with the heat and light of Greece, A Theatre for Dreamers is a spellbinding novel about utopian dreams and innocence lost – and the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius.

Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly

Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly

Published by Agora Books on 25th June

Synopsis

Over a decade ago, Heidi was the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her younger sister missing, and her best friend dead. But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her friends and family and no recollection of the crime.

Now, it’s all starting to come back.

As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in.

When the truth is worse than fiction, is the past worth reliving?

Thanks 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!

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