Friday, 29 January 2016

January Books

Here's what I've been reading in January:

We are All made of Stars - Rowan Coleman* - Stella works nights in a hospice and writes letters for her patients of their final wishes, thoughts, feelings and advice to those loved ones left behind.

Her husband Vincent has returned home from Afghanistan a broken man with PTSD and guilt that his best friend and comrade died because of him. They are unable to communicate any longer.

A letter Stella writes for a mother to her son and she decides she's going to deliver it to him allowing Hugh to make peace with his mother before she dies.

Stella decides Vincent is worth fighting for and they learn to live and love again. A brilliant read. Would recommend.

Those we Left Behind - Stuart Neville* - Twelve year old Ciaran Devine confesses to killing his foster father. His brother tried to stop him. Seven years later he's back on the streets which set an unstopable chain of events in motion.

DCI Flanagan was involved in solving the case all these years ago as an ambitious DS.  Probation Officer Paula Cunningham thinks there is more to the case than was uncovered at the time.

Flanagan is a great character who goes beyond her superiors' orders if she thinks she can solve a crime. Fast paced and un-put-downable with a nice little twist at the end.

The Sea Between Us - Emylia Hall* -  Robyn Swinton has recently moved with her parents to Cornwall and is out surfing when she nearly drowns. She's saved by local boy Jago Winters and from that moment on they share an unbreakable bond.

Their lives take different paths but they are forever in each other's thoughts. We find out if their bond is strong enough to bring them back together. I thought this was a beautiful read with believable characters with the story being set in Cornwall, London and America.

The Theseus Paradox - David Videcette** - This is David Videcette's first novel and is set around things that happened in real life. Sometimes you are not sure what is fact and what is fiction! David is a former Scotland Yard Investigator with the Metropolitan Police.

A fast paced read with short punchy chapters. Each chapter has a time frame which I liked. 

It's a story about the 7/7 terrorists attacks and Operation Theseus. DI Jake Fletcher doesn't always abide by the rules and likes to go on his gut feeling. We meet him in Yorkshire trying to foil what he thinks is a terrorist plot which lands him in hospital unconscious. He wakes up to learn that terrorists have blown themselves up on the London underground and on a bus.

His girlfriend Claire, who works for the security service passes him some information which he decides he'll investigate without letting his bosses know a decision which ends up in suspension.  But he can't let it go..

One of my favourite reads this year so far.

Standing in the Shadows with the Ghost of Emmett Till: A JT Ellington Mystery - M P Wright** - A short story featuring JT Ellington, West Indian ex-Policeman who we first met in Heartman.

Set in Bristol in 1967. A clergyman asks via Rank Barrett if JT can help return a member of the parish to the flock. Solomon is having an inter-racial relationship and it is frowned up from all sides. As ever the story is highly descriptive and easy reading.

Look out for All through the Night the next book in the trilogy out in April.

Blood Ran Cold - Sten Ostberg - Marte Vollan is pregnant and her husband Karl is taking her to the hospital. They are stopped at their isolated farmhouse in Norway by a man with a bloody hatchet. It's really creepy and fast paced and a great short read.

Circle - The Diary of Stella Moore - Peter Dudgeon - this is the sequel to Chance which I read August and is not intended to be a stand alone read.

Seven years on and Cassie Janus has grown up away from London after her mum died and has been brought up by her Social Worker, Laura. DS Frank Simmons needs Cassie's help and vision in solving a crime.

A missing persons case has developed into something a lot more sinister involving S&M and an abuse 'circle'. The story has chapters which are entries in Stella's diary although we aren't aware who Stella is at the beginning.

Fast paced with many twists and turns and it kept me on the edge of my seat although I didn't like it quite as much as Chance. Unsure if this is only a sequel or if there will be a series.

Crooked Heart - Lissa Evans*** - Noel Bostock lives with Mattie, his eccentric suffragrette godmother in a rambing house in Hampstead.

He finds himself evacuated to St Albans to escape the Blitz while mouring Mattie. He ends up being billeted with Vee Sedge, a single woman in her 30s who goes from one mad money making scheme to another.

She looks after her dependent mother who writes letters to the Government about the war effort and her lazy son, Donald.

Noel and Vee cook up money making schemes which see them criss-cross London meeting a variety of unsavoury characters.  Absolutely loved this book. Great story and characters.

The Red Letter - Kate Riordan - this is a very short story about a woman who finds out her husband is having another affair after telling her it would never happen again. She finds a red letter 'A' written in his diary. Instead of getting too upset she decides she's going to broaden her horizons and even has a romantic moment of her own.

The hidden legacy - G J Minett* - The story jumps between 1966 where a boy commits a hideous crime in a school playground to 2008 where we meet Ellen, a recently divorced working mother of two.

Ellen is invited to Cheltenham to hear the contents of an old woman's will, a woman called Eudora Nash who she's never heard of before. She finds out Eudora has left her a beautiful cottage in a charming village.

With her friend Kate they seek to find out who Eudora is and why she bequeathed her something worth so much money. Others are also interested in the cottage and Eudora especially an inquisitive and nosy journalist.

The two stories are so cleverly weaved together with an ending I didn't see coming. I simply loved it.

Cut Short (A DI Geraldine Steel Mystery Book 1) - Leigh Russell - DI Geraldine Steel who has recently relocated to sleepy Woolsmarsh after the breakup of a long term relationship. Before she has time to settle in she's thrown into a murder investigation.

A serial killer is on the loose and the race is on to find him before he strikes again. A local woman's group is enraged that the police have been unable to catch the killer and the locals are afraid to go out at night.

A witness comes forward but only has a vague recollection of the strange man she met in the park when she stopped to ask for directions. The killer has been watching her and she's in danger...  Easy reading and I enjoyed the book. Will pick up more from the series to see how Geraldine and her colleagues develop.

Behind Closed Doors - B A Paris* - WOW what an amazing debut novel which I read over two days. It is a terrifying but compelling read and I loved it.

Jack and Grace are the perfect couple who are never apart. They've been married a year, have a beautiful house, lots of money and plenty of holidays. Jack's circle of friends are delighted he's met "the one". He's a hot shot lawyer who represents the victims of domestic violence and he's never lost a case.

When alone behind closed doors life is very different from the idyllic picture they paint when in public. Jack controls every aspect of her life.

The story is told one chapter in the past (before Grace met Jack) and when she was living a fulfilling life with a job she loved and one in the present.  They are due to have Grace's sister come to live with them when she leaves her residential school. Jack's looking forward to controlling Millie too while Grace is looking for ways to make sure this doesn't happen...

Packed with twists and turns and an absolute rollercoaster of a read.

The Courtesan - Alexandra Curry* - the story is inspired by a real woman Sai Jinhua. It is the year 1881 and seven year old Jinhau is an orphan after her father, a Mandarin was executed for speaking the truth.

She is sold to a brothel keeper for a few coins and her life changes forever. Her feet are bound and she is taught how to pleasure a man. She is sold to the highest bidder around about her twelfth birthday. Her only ally is her friend Suyin, a maid at the brothel.

Sub chancellor Kong rescues her and she becomes his concubine eventually travelling with him to Vienna where he undertakes diplomatic duties with the west. She struggles with her husband's authority and when they return to China she's a changed woman.  I really enjoyed the first four parts of the story but found the final two a bit drawn out and not quite as interesting.

The Ballroom - Anna Hope*It's 1911 in an asylum on the edge of the Yorkshire moors. The men and women are kept apart coming together once a week to attend the dance in the splendour of the Ballroom.

Dr Charles Fuller leads the orchestra. He's quite a strange character who I hated! He has odd ideas, can be harmful to the patients and quite mad himself. The story is told from his point of view, Ella's and John's.

Ella and John meet at the dance and find themselves attracted to each other. They try to snatch moments together and when Ella's released before John escapes he deeply misses her. Down the years he keeps searching for her. He just can't stop looking.

The ending ties the story together and is beautiful. A really captivating read and another favourite this year. 

What have you been reading this month?

*Copy from Netgalley
**Copy from Author
***Copy from Love Reading


  1. Soooo many books on this list that I want to read x

    1. I've read so many amazing books this month many of which will be going into my favourite reads of the year blog. Sure you'll love whatever ones you pick x

  2. Ooh, Blood Ran Cold sounds good! Crooked Heart, Behind Closed Doors and The Ballroom all sound like reads I would enjoy, too! Will add these to the reading list. I've been enjoying Stuart Macbride's recent books and can't wait to read the latest one! I love the locations the books are set in, as Aberdeenshire is where I grew up. xxx

    1. I read so many amazing books in January (and now into February too!) I love reading books which are set where you know x