Look, I’d like to tell you that January was super exciting, but it wasn’t. There isn’t a great deal to do in a lockdown in the middle of winter beyond work, read and do a bit of cross stitch.
It has been a great reading month though with a mix of classics, new books and proofs read and I have been lucky enough to receive some wonderful ARCs. As ever thankyou to the publishers and publicists who keep my book addiction going and allow me to peak into the future and see what we will all be reading in a few months.
Books I Read
Here Is The Beehive by Sarah Crossan
I absolutely loved this book which is written in verse and examines an extra-marital affair. Beautiful, searing and compelling it was my first book of the year and is on my Books of the Year list.
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
I think I am possibly one of the only people who didn’t fall head over heals in love with this book. I think that my main issue is that I was very aware I was reading a book written by Matt Haig and the lines between him and the characters were blurred.
The Survivors by Jane Harper
As a huge fan of Jane Harper I was really looking forward to this. Although not quite as good as The Lost Man, it is still a great thriller set in a small coastal town about a missing woman and the long term effects of a huge storm a decade earlier.
Girl A by Abigail Dean
This is an astonishing book which I can’t quite believe is a debut novel. It’s about Lex, or Girl A, the woman who as a child escaped the house of horrors she and her siblings were held in. It is a difficult read at times but is very rewarding and I couldn’t put it down.
Brideshead Revisted by Evelyn Waugh
I first read Brideshead Revisted at University and after one of the Book Clubs I am a part of decided to read a classic for our first book of the year I chose to re-visit it. I adored re-reading it. It did take me a while to get into the writing style but once I was there I fell in love.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
One of my favourite books. I read this last year and have re-read for the other Book Club I am in and re-reading so close together has really made me appreciate how incredible the writing is.
Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton
A tender and sweet book about two people both in hospital after recovering from accidents. There’s humour and heart and is a lovely read. I’ll have a full review on the 1st February as part of the Blog Tour.
Slough House by Mick Herron
Hello, Mick Herron superfan reporting for duty. Slough House is the latest in the Jackson Lamb series of books and is another cracker. Out on the 4th February I will have a full review near publication day.
Shiver by Allie Reynolds
At the time of writing I haven’t quite finished this but it will be finished this month so I am including it. This is one of those books which grabs you from the off and doesn’t let go. Full review soon.
Books I Bought
Blacklands by Belinda Bauer
Steven Lamb is 12 when he writes his first letter . . . to a serial killer
Every day after school, whilst his classmates swap football stickers, twelve-year-old Steven digs holes on Exmoor, hoping to find a body. His uncle disappeared aged eleven and is assumed to have fallen victim to the notorious serial killer Arnold Avery – but his body has never been found.
Steven’s Nan does not believe her son is dead. She still waits for him to come home, standing bitter guard at the front window while her family fragments around her. Steven is determined to heal the widening cracks between them before it’s too late – even if that means presenting his grandmother with the bones of her murdered son.
So Steven takes the next logical step, carefully crafting a letter to Arnold Avery in prison. And there begins a dangerous cat-and-mouse game between a desperate child and a bored psychopath . . .
The Siege by Helen Dunmore
Leningrad, September 1941. Hitler orders the German forces to surround the city at the start of the most dangerous, desperate winter in its history. For two pairs of lovers – Anna and Andrei, Anna’s novelist father and banned actress Marina – the siege becomes a battle for survival. They will soon discover what it is like to be so hungry you boil shoe leather to make soup, so cold you burn furniture and books. But this is not just a struggle to exist, it is also a fight to keep the spark of hope alive…
Books I Received
Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane
Published by HarperCollins, 1st April
Two best friends.
One missed chance.
And a night that changes everything.
Eve, Justin, Susie and Ed have been friends since they were eighteen. Now in their 30s, the four are still as close as ever, Thursday pub quiz night is still sacred, and Eve is still secretly in love with Ed.
Maybe Eve should have moved on by now, but she can’t stop thinking about what could have been. And she knows Ed sometimes thinks about it too.
Then one night, in an instant, all their lives change forever. And, as Eve learns she didn’t know her friends as well as she thought, she also discovers she isn’t the only person keeping secrets…
Under The Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton
Published by Amersterdam Publishers, 8th March
Nina Argenta doesn’t want the traditional life of a rural Italian woman. The daughter of a strong-willed midwife, she is determined to define her own destiny. But when her brother emigrates to America, she promises her mother to never leave.
When childhood friend Pietro Pante briefly returns to their mountain town, passion between them ignites while Mussolini forces political tensions to rise. Just as their romance deepens, Pietro must leave again for work in the coal mines of America. Nina is torn between joining him and her commitment to Italy and her mother.
As Mussolini’s fascists throw the country into chaos and Hitler’s Nazis terrorise their town, each day becomes a struggle to survive greater atrocities. A future with Pietro seems impossible when they lose contact and Nina’s dreams of a life together are threatened by Nazi occupation and an enemy she must face alone…
Slough House by Mick Herron
Published on 4th February by John Murray Press
‘Kill us? They’ve never needed to kill us,’ said Lamb. ‘I mean, look at us. What would be the point?’
A year after a calamitous blunder by the Russian secret service left a British citizen dead from novichok poisoning, Diana Taverner is on the warpath. What seems a gutless response from the government has pushed the Service’s First Desk into mounting her own counter-offensive – but she’s had to make a deal with the devil first. And given that the devil in question is arch-manipulator Peter Judd, she could be about to lose control of everything she’s fought for.
Meanwhile, still reeling from recent losses, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold. Slough House has been wiped from Service records, and fatal accidents keep happening. No wonder Jackson Lamb’s crew are feeling paranoid. But have they actually been targeted?
With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s an uncomfortable place for those deemed surplus to requirements. The wise move would be to find a safe place and wait for the troubles to pass.
But the slow horses aren’t famed for making wise decisions.
Hotel Cartagena by Simone Buchholz
Published by Orenda Books on 4th March
Twenty floors above the shimmering lights of the Hamburg docks, Public Prosecutor Chastity Riley is celebrating a birthday with friends in a hotel bar when twelve heavily armed men pull out guns, and take everyone hostage. Among the hostages is Konrad Hoogsmart, the hotel owner, who is being targeted by a young man whose life – and family – have been destroyed by Hoogsmart’s actions.
With the police looking on from outside – their colleagues’ lives at stake – and Chastity on the inside, increasingly ill from an unexpected case of sepsis, the stage is set for a dramatic confrontation … and a devastating outcome for the team … all live streamed in a terrifying bid for revenge.
Crackling with energy and populated by a cast of unforgettable characters, Hotel Cartagena is a searing, relevant thriller that will leave you breathless.
You and Me On Vacation by Emily Henry
Published by Viking on 8th July
TEN SUMMER TRIPS
THEIR LAST CHANCE TO FALL IN LOVE
12 SUMMERS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they’ll never speak again.
11 SUMMERS AGO: They’re forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together.
10 SUMMERS AGO: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver.
Poppy holds his hand the whole way.
7 SUMMERS AGO: They get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans.
2 SUMMERS AGO: It all goes wrong.
THIS SUMMER: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.
Geiger by Gustaf Skördeman
The landline rings as Agneta is waving off her grandchildren. Just one word comes out of the receiver: ‘Geiger’. For decades, Agneta has always known that this moment would come, but she is shaken. She knows what it means.
Retrieving her weapon from its hiding place, she attaches the silencer and creeps up behind her husband before pressing the barrel to his temple.
Then she squeezes the trigger and disappears – leaving behind her wallet and keys.
The extraordinary murder is not Sara Nowak’s case. But she was once close to those affected and, defying regulations, she joins the investigation. What Sara doesn’t know is that the mysterious codeword is just the first piece in the puzzle of an intricate and devastating plot fifty years in the making.
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!