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A sweeping saga set between 1884 and 1889 packed-full of the trials, endeavours, and love interests of five families. This is the start of a new series, and Barbara Taylor Bradford has introduced the different characters quite beautifully. The story glides from London, to Kent, Hull and Paris creating a fascinating full background in which it sits. From the up and coming Falconers to the Trevalians who head a private bank, fine threads connect the characters together, slowly creating a rich tapestry. This isn’t a book to rush through, it’s one to savour, to sink into and become at one with the story. Take time to introduce yourself to each individual, to understand them and where they sit in the story. Allow the highs and lows to fill your thoughts, to lift your heart, and be ready to console your feelings. Master of his Fate is a rather lovely and enjoyable opening to what promises to be a compelling new series.
In a Nutshell: Fighting for Justice | Black Lives Matter | Stunning, vital wake-up call of a novel about racism, social inequality and not giving up told through the eyes of an incredible, unforgettable sixteen-year-old. Starr straddles two very different worlds. She has one foot in Garden Heights, a rough neighbourhood ruled by gangs, guns and dealers, and the other in an exclusive school with an overwhelmingly wealthy white student population. One night she’s at a party when gunshots are fired and Khalil, her friend since childhood, takes her to his car for safety. Khalil is unarmed and poses no threat, but he’s shot dead by an officer right in front of her. It will take a lot of courage to speak to the police, and to face the media who choose to highlight that Khalil was a “suspected drug dealer”, while omitting to mention that he was unarmed. But, with their neighbourhood under curfew and a tank on the streets, Starr risks going public. Danger escalates as the hearing approaches (and beyond), but Starr isn’t about to give up fighting for Khalil, and for what’s right. Alongside the intense struggles and conflicts faced by Starr’s family and community, there are some truly heart-melting moments between Starr and her white boyfriend Chris (their shared love of the Fresh Prince of Bel Air is super cute), and also between Starr and her parents. Complex, gripping, stirring and so, so important – I can’t recommend this remarkable debut enough.
Oh my word! How to describe this wonderfully clever, deeply dark and immensely satisfying read… every now and then a book comes along that surprises you, in the best possible way, and this is one of them. Five people, connected, somehow, with three murders, how on earth does everything link together? The first paragraphs slipped straight from the page and into my consciousness before awareness hit and I sat bolt upright. Will Carver creates an almost conversational tone which sits at odds with the content, creating a greater intimacy with the words and they land with hammer hard precision. The short intense chapters highlight one of the characters at a time, there is no explanation as to who is the focus, none is needed. A slight jolt of awareness as understanding settled after the first few sentences of each chapter kept me on constant alert. I can genuinely say that I had absolutely no idea where this was going, I stayed in each moment, sucked in the words, and feel as the story has tattooed itself on my mind. Good Samaritans is a provocative, heady, unique, challenging read and it is absolutely blimmin wonderful! Do I recommend it? With my heart and soul, yes I most certainly do!
A thrilling, chilling, shocking tale, perfect if you take delight in an icy shiver scuttling down your spine. A couple leaves their life behind them to join a commune in a former psychiatric hospital, events soon start to spin terrifyingly out of control. The prologue pounced on my imagination, I was immediately hooked and remained so until the very last page was turned. Several different characters take their turn in the spotlight in the present day, while a journal from the past casts a further shadow over proceedings. S.J.I Holliday weaves the different strands of the story together beautifully, each settling over the other while twisting thoughts and feelings. As I read my reasoning teetered one way and then the other. A supernatural presence heightens the tension further and my mind and heart fairly skittered in anticipation at what was to come. The Lingering is an exquisitely eerie tale, and I loved every single word of it.
Thirty very different pieces about extraordinary women, keenly observed and astute. They cover the spectrum from triumphant to pathetic, sad to humerous, surprising to surreal. There is the woman who unravels, another who grows wings, one who secretly paints her grass green, one talks to ducks, one slips through a timeless crack and another is put on a shelf. Some will irritate, others make you laugh or cry. Do not read too many together else you will lose the flavour. I would believe it to be a good bedside book, read two or three a night and take the next day pondering and digesting them before the next batch. I also believe it would make an excellent Christmas present for any woman any age.
Sharpen your thoughts, and pay close attention as this is a fascinating, intricate and complex case. Top Dog follows on from Stockholm Delete, and can I suggest that you do start at the beginning of these two books, otherwise you will be playing major catchup as you are introduced to the many layers of characters. Set in Stockholm, an unlikely pairing continue to investigate a set of horrific crimes exploiting young girls. Author Jens Lapidus is a criminal defence lawyer, the authenticity of his world fully connects with the page. I slowly sank into the story, which as well as flinging heart in mouth moments in my path, was also capable of great subtlety. The translation is beautifully done by Alice Menzies, I felt entirely at home and yet fully aware of the fact that I was in a different country. I was wired and vigilant to changes as I read Top Dog, it really is a hard hitting, absolute wow of a read, I simply loved it.
Bitingly fierce and wonderfully different, Into The Night is a provocative powerful read. Senior Detective Gemma Woodstock investigates a hugely complex case, the murder of a movie star on a film set surrounded by hundreds of people. Although you could easily read this as a standalone, I really do feel that The Dark Lake is a fabulous introduction to Gemma, so if you haven’t read it yet, do buy yourself a copy of both books. Gemma Woodstock is prickly and feisty, her job means everything to her, however she isn’t quite sure where she sits in the world. Sarah Bailey creates a raw, plausible background for Gemma to reside in, and I found myself slowly becoming a part of it. Real human emotions are not only visible, they can be felt, including the unbearably grim and darkly amusing. Unexpected jolts and shocks lie in wait, while everything still feels incredibly authentic, and the rolling ending suited me down to the ground. Into The Night crept up on me, I didn’t realise how actively involved I was in the storyline until I came up for air at the end, highly recommended.
When Levi and Charlotte McAllister’s mother dies, she suffers the post-death fate experienced by many a McAllister woman. After cremation, she re-appears and bursts into flame on the lawn. Fearing his sister is headed for the same end, Levi swears to “bury her whole and still and cold”, which prompts Charlotte to flee southward “towards the bottom of the earth”. What follows is a cleverly twisting story that crackles with intrigue and invention as the lives of an assortment of compelling characters collide. There’s the wildly eccentric coffin maker Levi commissions to make Charlotte’s casket, and the hard-drinking female detective he employs to track her down. There’s the wombat-farmer slipping into insanity, and the young woman who works for him and changes Charlotte’s life. Raw and real, yet also suffused in otherworldly magic, the author has conjured an elemental mythological landscape alongside the true-world Tasmanian setting. I raced through these blistering pages, but this is a book I shall undoubtedly return to.
An absolute wow of a relationship tale, gloriously beautiful yet it may well have broken my heart. Ben travels to Africa and volunteers at a lion reserve, as we remain with him in the present, we also look back to his past, where he meets Andrew, who keeps a Wish Box. When Louise writes it feels touchable, even if I have not experienced the emotions she describes I can feel them deep inside me. I remained in every moment, moving with the words, the feelings, knowing I was heading into unchartered territory, yet unable to pause, to stop reading. Another story heads each chapter, linking Ben and Andrew, yet creating a separate connection. As I neared the ending, I will admit to sobbing, the story hit me low in my stomach, unexpected, yet as true and real and felt as could be. Louise Beech has done it again, this will most definitely be on my list of favourite reads of the year. The Lion Tamer Who Lost is a relationship tale with a difference, it is tender, gripping, eloquent, and I want to shout about it from the rooftops.
Tremendously entertaining, and truly captivating. Nate is in for a shock, after 16 years of marriage his wife has left him and their son, with just a note listing all of his faults. Nate is determined to right his wrongs, and win Sinead back. I always smile when I pick up a Fiona Gibson book as I know I’m in for a real treat, she has the ability to connect, to enter thoughts and feelings while delivering a wonderfully humorous and enticing read. This is a beautifully balanced novel with a decidedly knowing edge. It may well provoke thoughts, and create moments of awareness, as there are occasional provocative stings along the way. I found my feelings unravelling and then tangling again, there are some unexpected moments and I have to say that I absolutely adored that ending! ‘The Mum Who’d Had Enough’ is a joyful corker of a read, thoroughly recommended.
A steaming hot and beautifully tender love story, with an added element to appreciate and connect to. Stella Lane is a successful business woman in San Francisco, she has Asperger syndrome and has never had a relationship. Determined to learn how to be a good girlfriend with all that entails, Stella hires Michael a male escort, and the more time they spend together the closer they become. In 2016 the author was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (Asperger syndrome), and felt inspired to write ‘The Kiss Quotient’. Helen Hoang releases short sharp bursts of words and feelings, then allows them to settle, encouraging the storyline to build. Asperger syndrome is very much a part of this book, however it isn’t the sum of it, the connection between two people takes centre stage, with all that they have to discover about each other. ‘The Kiss Quotient’ is an intoxicating tale, it wraps itself around thoughts and releases stings of awareness, creating a feast of a read.
This smart, compact guide combines snappy text with full-colour photography to highlight the very best of Edinburgh, with an excellent Walks and Tours section suggesting several inspired routes that makes discovering the city’s delights, well, a delight! Whether you’re exploring the historic scenery and bustling Old Town and castle, or taking in the spectacular Palace of Holyroodhouse and views from Arthur's Seat, each walk suggests a selection of places to eat and drink as you go, while the maps plot all the major sights to look out for. The Travel Tips section was truly handy for finding out about active pursuits and themed holidays, alongside providing indispensable practical information.
Hippie is a spiritual journey of self-discovery. This autobiographical account of Paulo Coelho’s nomadic past is written in the third person as if it’s fiction, with the author drawing upon his own experiences on the hippie trail in the 1970s. The book focuses on a young Brazilian, Paulo, and his Dutch companion, Karla, who are travelling on a Magic Bus heading to Kathmandu, trying to define their place in the world. The author also gives voices to other characters, reflecting the diversity of those looking for adventure, spiritual enlightenment or an alternative lifestyle with few restrictions. At times, Hippie reads like a literary travelogue through Europe towards Nepal, with its vivid descriptions of people, places and cultures, evoking a great sense of place. And at other times, it reads like a guidebook of self-exploration. This is a book about liberation and freedom, set at a time where there was no political correctness to stifle people’s thoughts, actions and choices. Hippie is a nostalgic look at the drug-fuelled hippie culture, but also a snapshot of past memories that have shaped the author’s writing and outlook on life. Certainly an intriguing read.
A quirky, smirky, entertaining slice of fabulous. Covert ops detective Jan Nyman finds himself investigating a death in a holiday village in Finland and a rather striking lady just happens to be the suspect. I will admit to being rather excited about this novel, Antti Tuomainen’s last offering was the wonderful The Man Who Died which was shortlisted for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. The first paragraph of Palm Beach, Finland is beautifully written, it quite literally slapped my attention and I settled in with something approaching ghoulish glee! A wonderful wave of dark humour rolls through this novel gathering raised eyebrows and snorts. The cast increases, the action builds, and oh how my tummy and mind tied themselves in knots as the story spun in ever decreasing eccentric circles. I just want to applaud David Hackston as I completely forgot I was reading a translation. I thoroughly, completely and totally recommend Palm Beach, Finland, do grab yourself a copy and pop a do not disturb sign on your door!
Smart, taut and fabulous, Trap really does deliver a first-class read. Following quite beautifully on from Snare (and yes you do need to have read Snare first) can I just mention the covers, they are stunning in their simplicity and how they link to the novels. Set in Reykjavik just after the volcanic eruption in 2011, Sonja discovers that running away doesn’t solve anything, but declaring war can be just as deadly. Lilja Sigurdardottir ensures sharp shocks of chapters hit with increasing energy. The translation by Quentin Bates is again so fully complete, I existed in this Icelandic world without question. My feelings hovered with regards to the characters, swooping one way and then the other, which felt entirely right, as innocence and guilt are so often two sides of the same coin. A short book Trap may be, it’s also a towering powerhouse of read and I gobbled it up in one intense sitting. Please Orenda, may we have some more?!
Uplifting and delightful, The Year That Changed Everything is another gorgeous read from Cathy Kelly. Three women have three milestone birthdays on the same day, they don’t know each other, yet a featherlight connection binds them together. In one day, the day of their birthdays, a bombshell shatters the life Callie knew, Sam’s waters break but she might not be ready for motherhood, while Ginger is forced to reconsider who she wants to be. These women aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, yet they are just so likeable and relatable I would be more than happy to be their friend... to hug, to console, to cheer them on. I just adore Cathy Kelly’s books, she writes with a lovely warmth and kindness, beautifully engages with women across the years, and doesn’t shy away from reality. I found myself sinking into a delicious story that wrapped itself around me, and even with heart-ache along the way, The Year That Changed Everything is ultimately a captivating, enjoyable, feel-good read.
It's 1969, and while the summer of love lingers in London, Gilda is consumed by the mistakes of her past. She walked out on her beloved son Reuben when he was just a boy and fears he will never forgive her. When Reuben marries Alice, he seems transformed by love - a love Gilda has craved his entire adult life. What does his new wife have that she doesn't? And how far will she go to find out? It's an obsession that will bring shocking truths about the past to light . . .
Gosh, just stunning! For me, this is the very definition of a must-read… eloquent, absorbing, absolutely fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable. I thought The Last Hours (which you really do need to read first) was exquisitely engaging and satisfying, and I enjoyed The Turn of Midnight just as much, perhaps even more as the characters were known to me, beloved by me. Lady Anne and educated serf Thaddeus have joined forces to prevent the Black Death from decimating their community. As they attempt to secure the independence of Develish however, trouble continues to haunt them, to hunt them down. Maps and a summary of the people, places and events from The Last Hours ensured I was able to step straight into the story. Minette Walters has the most beautiful voice, my soul became at one with the words. I sank so fully into the story that I was surprised at the end of each chapter when I suddenly came to and became aware of my surroundings. The time, the place are vibrantly alive, I could touch kindness, smell bitterness, taste fear. Please, please, please let there be more! The Turn of Midnight is a powerful, gripping read, and yes I am gushing most effusively over it, that’s because it really is rather wonderful and I highly recommend buying yourself a copy.
Simply superb, Come and Find Me is one hell of a clever, twisting, powerful story. This series is one of my favourites and DI Marnie Rome returns here in splendid style. Taking place a short time after Quieter Than Killing, Marnie and Noah find themselves hunting an escaped prisoner, for both, work overspills into their private lives. A strikingly distinctive voice greets you as you start reading, setting the scene so completely and clearly I could feel the presence, feel the confines of the prison. Sarah Hilary has the ability to take you into the words, to actually feel, to experience, and she sent my thoughts worming and writhing. At one point I found myself so exasperated and frustrated with one of the characters, it came as a shock when I came up for air and realised where I was. The ending buffeted me, surprised me, emotionally affected me, and a certain someone is still creeping around inside my mind. I already know that Come and Find Me will be one of my favourite reads of the year, and I think this is Sarah Hilary’s best yet, I simply can’t recommend this series highly enough.
The breathtaking debut from the winner of the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and the Windham-Campbell Prize for Fiction 2018 In this epic tale of fate, fortune and legacy, Jennifer Makumbi vibrantly brings to life this corner of Africa and this colourful family as she reimagines the history of Uganda through the cursed bloodline of the Kintu clan. The year is 1750. Kintu Kidda sets out for the capital to pledge allegiance to the new leader of the Buganda kingdom. Along the way he unleashes a curse that will plague his family for generations. Blending oral tradition, myth, folktale and history, Makumbi weaves together the stories of Kintu's descendants as they seek to break free from the burden of their past to produce a majestic tale of clan and country - a modern classic.
This book is Melmoth. It's pages reach out, take you by the hand and walks you through each of the character's lives, making you bear witness to moral complexities navigated by each character. The Interweaving narratives introduced with the strange manuscript bound me to this book and didn't release me until the final page. I still feel the tingle on the back of my neck - like the book is nearby, watching and waiting... Sarah Perry's writing is a lesson in the mastery of the English language, with the poetic fluidity of the River Elbe. Although this book is rather demure, it packs a real punch and manages to combine history, folklore and morality to create a thrilling allegory of ignorance and narrow sightedness.
The wry, macabre, unforgettable tale of an ambitious orphan in Revolutionary Paris, befriended by royalty and radicals alike, who transforms herself into the legendary Madame Tussaud. In 1761, a tiny, odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Alsace. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to the seamy streets of Paris, where they meet a domineering widow and her quiet, pale son. Together, they convert an abandoned monkey house into an exhibition hall for wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. As word of her artistic talent spreads, Marie is called to Versailles, where she tutors a princess and saves Marie Antoinette in childbirth. But outside the palace walls, Paris is roiling: The revolutionary mob is demanding heads, and . . . at the wax museum, heads are what they do.
What? You haven’t read a Stella Rimington novel! Don’t worry, nor had I… and even better The Moscow Sleepers can easily be read as a standalone novel. If you are now feeling rather smug as you are already well on board this particular series then I trust you won’t be disappointed. I now plan to start at the beginning and read the first ten in the ‘Liz Carlyle’ novels as I trust they will be just as addictive. Liz Carlyle becomes embroiled in a case that appears to be fractured and confusing, gradually however the pieces begin to slide, one by one into deadly place. As you’d expect, Stella Rimington writes with a commanding pen, I felt in safe and secure hands as I sank below the surface into the dangerous world of international intelligence. An intricate web with a number of characters weaved together in the most utterly believable way. The Moscow Sleepers isn’t sexy, fickle, excitable fantasy, instead I felt as though I was in a completely plausible world, one that particularly at the moment, feels all too heart in mouth real - highly recommended.
Cloaking herself in Christie’s Poirot mantle for the third time, bestselling crime writer Sophie Hannah here presents Hercule Poirot with something of a peculiarly personal puzzle. Our loveable hero is left feeling somewhat perplexed when an agitated middle-aged woman - “a whirlwind most fierce” – demands to know why he sent her a letter accusing her of killing a certain Barnabas Pandy. And then a second person presents themselves, demanding to know the very same thing. Mon dieu! Poirot has no idea who Pandy is, or why someone is sending these letters in his name, and so a thrillingly unpredictable mystery unfolds. The story is elegant, suffused with the spirit of, and reverence for, Poirot’s creator, and this makes for an entertainingly satisfying experience.
Jean lives in an America in which women have been forced to surrender all freedoms and are restricted to speaking 100 words a day, for the new government has decreed that women need to be Pure. They need to learn a lesson, as do gays and lesbians, who’ve been herded into camps. As to how this happened, the plotline is sharp on collective collusion, and also shows the consequences of the coward’s sidestepping “I was only following orders” excuse. Indeed, the excruciating personal repercussions of the new regime are piercingly portrayed. Jean doesn’t have enough words to read bedtime stories to her daughter. One of her sons spouts patriarchal propaganda he’s picked up in class. Quite simply, it’s hard for her not to hate her male kin at times. Then, Jean’s constraints in this censorious new world loosen a little when she’s told that the President’s brother has sustained a brain injury and her seminal aphasia research means she’s called on to cure him. As this powerful debut unfolds, undulating with personal conflicts and the discovery of sinister political programs, it also explores the essentialness of speech. It serves as a potent reminder to speak out when you’re able, for speech deprivation, whether due to force or illness, is a painful state of existence. Shocking, suspenseful and compulsive, this is a formidable cautionary tale for our time.
Pieces of Her blew me away, it’s sharp, edgy, and compulsive. I foolishly started late in the evening and ended up keeping the early hours company for some time as I simply had to finish it! 31-year-old Andrea finds herself questioning everything she thought she knew about her mum Laura when a birthday trip ends in horrific violence, further danger rushes in and Andy desperately needs to find answers. The prologue encourages intrigue to bubble away nicely then, oh my word… chapter one! Chapter one brilliantly sets the scene before exploding in the most shocking way, I gulped, settled further into my chair and braced myself for the experience. Karin Slaughter has the ability to set a tale on fire, she fans the flames, and I needed my wits about me as the time frame changed and left my understanding floating for a while, searching for answers. Andy and Laura are fascinating characters, they challenged my thoughts and feelings in the best possible way. Incredibly stimulating and enthralling Pieces of Her has left me on a heart-hammering high!
The hilarious second novel, and Sunday Times No 1 Bestseller, from author of the smash hit Why Mummy Drinks. Welcome to Mummy's world... The Boy Child Peter is connected to his iPad by an umbilical cord, The Girl Child Jane is desperate to make her fortune as an Instagram lifestyle influencer, while Daddy is constantly off on exotic business trips... Mummy's marriage is feeling the strain, her kids are running wild and the house is steadily developing a forest of mould. Only Judgy, the Proud and Noble Terrier, remains loyal as always. Mummy has also found herself a new challenge, working for a hot new tech start-up. But not only is she worrying if, at forty-two, she could actually get up off a bean bag with dignity, she's also somehow (accidentally) rebranded herself as a single party girl who works hard, plays hard and doesn't have to run out when the nanny calls in sick. Can Mummy keep up the facade while keeping her family afloat? Can she really get away with wearing `comfy trousers' to work? And, more importantly, can she find the time to pour herself a large G+T? Probably effing not.
The world is messing with our minds. Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index. How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? How do we stay human in a technological world? How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious? After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him. Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the 21st century.
Blending the tactics he learned from America's elite force with lessons from the Spartans, samurai, Apache scouts, and other great warrior traditions, Mark Divine has distilled the fundamentals of success into eight powerful principles that will transform you into the leader you always knew you could be. Learn to think like a SEAL and take charge of your destiny at work, at home, and at life. Want to be tough? Cool under fire? Able to sense danger before it's too late? In The Way of the SEAL, Updated and Expanded Edition, retired Navy SEAL Commander Mark Divine reveals exercises, meditations, and focusing techniques to train your mind for mental toughness, emotional resilience, and uncanny intuition. Along the way, you'll reaffirm your ultimate purpose, define your most important goals, and take concrete steps to make them happen. In this updated and expanded edition, timely new chapters apply the principles to leading in an ever-accelerating world and leading in teams. Plus, new key takeaways distill the principles in the book into easier-to-use chunks.
You can feel it in the woods, in the school and in the playground; you can feel it in the houses and at the fairground. You can feel it in most places in the small town of Anderbury . . . the fear that something or someone is watching you. It began back in 1986, at the fair, on the day of the accident. That was when twelve-year-old Eddie met Mr Halloran - the Chalk Man. He gave Eddie the idea for the drawings: a way to leave secret messages for his friends and it was fun, until the chalk men led them to a body. Thirty years later, Ed believes the past is far behind him, until an envelope slips through the letterbox. It contains a stick of chalk, and a drawing of a figure. Is history going to repeat itself? Was it ever really over? Will this game only end in the same way?
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