books · Reading for Fun · summer reading

For my reading pleasure

It’s fair to say I read a lot of books, many as part of blog tours, but as a reader I also have a selection of books that I choose for my own reading pleasure.

Here’s a shortened version of my summer line up (in no particular order):

After Melanie

Can they start again, or will they lose one another forever? David and Judith’s fragile marriage is threatened by the sudden death of their beloved thirteen-year-old daughter, Melanie. As they struggle to cope with their loss, they confront bewildering challenges. But instead of turning to each other, they find comfort with others. David is drawn to Nancy, a colleague and single mother, and a survivor of her own personal tragedy, while Judith grows close to Jeffrey, a recently widowed physician whom she meets through her volunteer work at a thrift shop, itself the scene of multiple daily dramas. As their grief drives them further apart, does their future lie together ‘after Melanie’, or are they destined to lose one another for ever?

What She Saw

How far would you go to keep your daughter safe?

Everyone knows Leona would do anything for her daughter, Beth: she moved to Church Langdon to send Beth to the best school, built a business to support them and found the perfect little cottage to call home. They hike together, shop together, share their hopes and fears. It’s the relationship every mother dreams of.

But Leona never talks about why they moved to the Lake District.

She’s never told Beth anything about her father.

She says Beth should never speak to strangers. She says Beth doesn’t need friends.

She’s only trying to protect her daughter.

When Leona answers the phone one morning, her heart stops as she hears a voice from her past.

She’s given her daughter everything, but now she must tell her the truth. And once it’s out, can she keep her little girl safe?

What She Saw is a gripping psychological thriller with an incredible twist that will make your jaw drop. If you love The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl or Behind Closed Doors you’ll be consumed by this.

One Summer in Santorini

There was something in the air that night. . .

Sarah has had enough of men. It’s time to rekindle her first true love – travel – so she books a sailing trip around the Greek islands with a group of strangers.

The very last thing Sarah wants is to meet someone new… But then a gorgeous American man boards her yacht and she knows she’s in trouble. And when she also encounters a handsome silver fox who promises her the world, she realises that trouble really does come in twos.

Will Sarah dive into a holiday fling, embark on a relationship, or stick to her plan – steer clear of men, continue her love affair with feta, and find her own way after all?

The Doctor

How much do you know about the couple next door?

When Emily and Ben move in next door to Dr Burman and his wife Anita, they are keen to get to know their new neighbours. Outgoing and sociable, Emily tries to befriend the doctor’s wife, but Anita is strangely subdued, barely leaving the house, and terrified of answering the phone.

When Emily goes missing a few weeks later, Ben is plunged into a panic. His wife has left him a note, but can she really have abandoned him for another man? Or has Emily’s curiosity about the couple next door led her straight into danger?

Two Little Girls

An innocent girl is taken. The killer confesses.
But that’s not the whole story. That’s not even the beginning…

It’s 1985 and the disappearance of ten-year-old Lisa Cook shocks the nation. Her best friend, Kirsty, traumatised and fearful, gives evidence that helps to put the Cook family’s lodger behind bars.

…But what if Kirsty made a mistake?

Now, decades later, Kirsty leaves a life she loves to move back to the hometown she hates – tortured by her memories, she’s determined to finally uncover the truth about what happened to Lisa that day. But someone is waiting for her there, someone close to her family. Someone who is hoping to finish off a job that was started years ago…

Mom’s Perfect Boyfriend

A smart romantic comedy about mothers and daughters, and the hilarious consequences of a white lie.

Crystal has trouble saying no to her lonely, single mother. For 25 years, it wasn’t a problem. But when one small mistake leaves Crystal jilted, homeless and unemployed, she has to move back in with the one person who caused it all: her mother.

Soon Crystal is sucked into her mother’s vortex, partying with boomers and hawking misshapen marshmallows. Desperate for some independence, she hatches a foolproof plan: get an experimental android to play her mom’s “perfect” boyfriend. It’s only a matter of time before her mom finds out, and Crystal will never live down the hilarious and disastrous consequences.

It’s going to be one helluva summer.

What’s on your reading pleasure list?

As always,

a dog's life · book review · cosy · mystery · Reading for Fun · series · there's a dog

Reading for Fun – Cruel Candy

Cruel Candy

The Cozy Corgi Mysteries #1

by Mildred Abbott

I’m taking a break from doing blog tours and book reviews, and am indulging in a few cosy mysteries to lighten the load. and, this one has a corgi in it. It’s a win-win before I even start to read it. If that wasn’t enough, there’s a whole series of these to come too.

#excitedmuch #corgiaddict #cosymysteryheaven

Estes Park, Colorado: picturesque mountains, charming shops, delightful bakeries, a cozy bookstore… and murder.

Winifred Page and her corgi, Watson, move to Estes Park to hit the reset button on life. Fred is about to open her dream bookshop, and the only challenges she anticipates are adjusting to small town life, tourists, and living close to her loveable mother, Phyllis, and hippy stepfather, Barry.

When Fred steps into her soon-to-be-bookshop for the first time, she expects dust bunnies and spiders… not the dead body in the upstairs kitchen. The local police have an easy suspect—Barry.

Determined to prove quirky Barry innocent of murder, Fred puts on her detective hat, and with Watson by her side, she explores her new town and gets acquainted with her fellow shopkeepers. Could one of her friendly neighbors be the real culprit? And what would be the motive for killing the owner of the Sinful Bites candy store? The secrets Fred discover put her at odds with the local police sergeant and threaten her cozy future in Estes.

With snow falling outside, all Fred wants to do is curl up by the fire with a good book and Watson snuggled at her feet. But before she can begin her new life and put her plans for her bookshop into action, Fred and Watson have a mystery to solve…

My Review:

Not that I’m obsessed by everything corgi-related, but … (Okay, so I might be!) Anyway, this was a gem of a story. Great characters with real individuality (not just Watson, who is wonderful), and a super mystery within (plus a recipe that sounds easy enough even for me). A modern-day cosy mystery with lots of humour, fun family hijinks and a corgi with personality and a penchant for treats.
I totally felt a part of Estes Park, and I look forward to reading the rest of this series. How will Fred’s bookstore fare? Who will take over the bakery? And who will be the victor in the romance stakes – Branson or Leo? Book 2 is already on my TBR, awaiting a rainy day of indulgence.

Thanks for reading 😉

book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · Reading for Fun · Spain

Reading for Fun: Until the Curtain Falls

Until the Curtain Falls

by David Ebsworth

#UntiltheCurtainFalls #NetGalley

October 1938, and foreign correspondent Jack Telford is on the run in northern Spain, territory now controlled by Franco’s fascists.

And he’s killed somebody close to the Generalísimo’s heart.

Telford’s a hunted man, and hunted by three different and deadly enemies.

In a climactic chase from Madrid to the Republic’s last outpost, in Alicante, during the closing days of the Spanish Civil War, Jack will learn hard lessons about the conflict between morality and survival.

My Review:

This was more than a story about the Spanish Civil War to me. Having  lived in Alicante many years, this book delivered much more than an account of the Civil War. Seen through Jack Telford’s eyes, the events – often bloody, frequently horrific, and sadly too real – were brought to life as a result of familiar towns, sayings, and places that I now know so well.

Jack’s story is a turbulent one. Frequently falling down the proverbial rabbit hole, he is an unfortunate victim of circumstances, the first being when he learns of the true allegiances of a woman decorated by Franco, a woman who intends to frame him for a most treacherous act. Jack is forced to deal with her … and flee. He makes plans to head home to England but nothing is ever as simple as it seems. As a hunted man he seeks help from diplomats and priests alike, but not everyone is who they appear to be.

Capture, torture, imprisonment and many a dramatic chase across Spain follow. Jack’s journalistic prowess attracts the powerful from all sides of the battle. His freedom depends on who he helps, and whose secrets  – if any – he is willing to expose.

The author combines the horrors of war with real relationships. We see suffering, corruption, an evil abuse of power, yet also good people, kindness, loyalty and a hint of romance.

The backdrop is delicious in its detail, both beautiful and gruesome. In a country divided by war, there is fury and resentment from some while others just seem to carry on in their own merry way. The contrast couldn’t be more glaring, yet this is fiction with a whole lot of factual evidence to support it.

I was enthralled, disturbed, amazed and saddened in equal measures. I will revisit the localities mentioned in this book with renewed interest and complete respect.

Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book, which I reviewed voluntarily.

Thank you for reading 🙂

book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · Reading for Fun · spies · WWII

Reading for Fun: Oslo Spies

Oslo Spies

by SJ Slagle

Summary:

Norway is a destroyed country at the end of World War II. After a relentless German occupation, Norwegians have lost more than imports and exports, everyday goods and services, communications and social events. Norway lost more than 10,000 men and women in the resistance as well as in slave labor and concentration camps scattered throughout Europe. Norway lost hundreds of teachers and religious leaders who died resisting Vidkun Quisling, the head of the Norwegian Nazi Party. Quisling’s demands for Nazi indoctrination to be taught in schools and churches forced teachers and pastors to quit their posts and work underground. Perhaps worst of all, Norwegian children were deprived of their childhoods, a most precious commodity.

It seems a horrendous assignment for Phyllis Bowden, a young woman in military intelligence assigned to the Office of the Military Attache in the American Embassy in Oslo. Her official tasks include intelligence duties and finding families of lost loved ones. These duties, as tough as they may be, pale when she’s faced with something that occurs outside the office. One night Phyllis finds a runaway child in a café bathroom one night, a little girl labeled a quisling because her Norwegian mother married a German officer. A contentious purge has overtaken the country and quislings are not to be tolerated. But the girl has been tortured and abused by the time Phyllis finds her. She’s faced with the conflict of doing the right thing or doing what the government dictates. Either way could have international complications.

Meanwhile, the love of her life, Joe Schneider, an Mi5 agent, has disappeared in Romania while on assignment and it’s a race to find out what’s happened to him. Between nerve-wracking tasks in her job, trying to decide the fate of the little girl and being heartbroken over Joe’s disappearance, Phyllis is in for the struggle of her young life and intelligence career.

My Review: 5/5 stars.

I’m a huge fan of WWII fiction but hadn’t read anything at all set in Norway. To be honest, this was a real eye-opener and I’m so glad I found this book.
Phyllis Bowden works for the American Embassy in Oslo, helping in a variety of ways to make Norway strong again after the horrors suffered by the German invasion. From finding clothes and food for many starving and homeless citizens to helping people find relatives who’d been sent to labour camps, Phyllis finds herself knee-deep in some very scary situations.
Her organisational skills enable her to quickly get projects off the ground, supporting local people who are still numb from the devastation wreaked upon their country. But it is when she finds a five-year-old girl cowering in fear in the bathroom of a nearby café that she unknowingly puts herself at most risk.
Little does she know that both the British and the Russians are hot on her heels, and even her fiancé (yes, there’s a love story here too) is caught up in the little girl’s life.
These missions run seamlessly alongside each other, both informing and entertaining the reader. I learnt so much from this book, and have been able to chat with Norwegian friends about the events – much to their surprise!
An enjoyable read with engaging characters, real relationships and an entralling plot. I shall definitely look up the first book in the series now, and look forward to more from this author.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, and have reviewed it voluntarily.

The book is released in September this year.

Add it to Goodreads now and be sure to grab your copy.

 

Thanks for reading 😉

book review · historical fiction · NetGalley · Reading for Fun

Reading for Fun: An Interlude in Berlin

An Interlude in Berlin

by Jefferson Flanders

Berlin, January 1959. Dillon Randolph, a young Foreign Service officer, arrives at the U.S. Mission in Berlin hoping for a fresh start after a messy scandal at his last embassy posting.

A Soviet ultimatum designed to force the Allies from the city and stop the flow of East Germans to the West has put Berliners on edge.

When Dillon meets Christa Schiller, an actress from the famed Berliner Ensemble, their romance entangles him in a KGB plot designed to intensify the crisis.

Dillon and Christa are plunged into the shadowy struggle between competing spy agencies where the innocent become bargaining chips in a game with life-and-death consequences.

My Review: 4/5 stars

Beginning in 1959 in Berlin, at a time of high tension and double-crossing, this story mixes just enough realism to the plot to maintain credibility, while weaving a most believable plot of spies, conspiracy and double-agents to keep the reader enthralled and needing to know more.

For Dillon Randolph, Berlin is a chance to escape wagging tongues at home and start afresh as a diplomat for the US Mission. Romance was to be avoided at all costs.
Enter Christa, an actress from East Berlin, with a desperate desire to see her brother freed from the clutches of the Stasi.
An East German plot to damage upcoming talks in Geneva is born: Christa is to seduce the American and ‘deliver’ him to the authorities on the East German side of the city, in return for her brother’s freedom.

When British ‘spy catcher’, Hawes, learns of the plan, he intercepts in a bid to unmask the leak in British security following the recent treacheries involving Philby & Maclean. Determined to root out another potential defector, Hawes concocts a new conspiracy and draws upon the support of his contacts of old to make it happen.
Of course, as in any good spy story, things don’t always go to plan, which is what keeps the reader invested in the story.
A thoroughly good read, with several interesting subplots running alongside the main story.

Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book, which I reviewed voluntarily.

Thank you for reading 🙂