The Weekly Brief

Hello!

Apologies this is a day late but the deadline to my dissertation is fast approaching so I have been busy focusing on the final touches.

Here is what I got up to on the blog last week.

Posts last Week

Currently Reading

Books Acquired

Happy Reading

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The Weekly Brief

Hello!

I hope everyone is having a good weekend so far. I played for a wedding yesterday and have two services this morning to do, the rest of the day will be working on my dissertation whilst the husband watches the Grand Prix but hoping to get some reading in as well today.

Posts this Week

Currently Reading

I read all the Lestat books when I was a teenager but I haven’t read this one so I thought it was high time I did.

Acquired Books

I went on a little book buying spree. I can’t wait to get reading all these exciting books.

Happy Reading

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Acquired Books of July 2021

Hello!

This month has involved a few book purchases as I did go rather wild in bookshop.

Books Acquired in July

With its winding high street lined with a greengrocers, post office, pub and church, Melstead St Mary is the perfect English village. Neighbours look out for neighbours, and few things trouble the serene surface of the community. 

But when residents start to receive anonymous letters containing secret information about their pasts – secrets that no one else is meant to know – life in Melstead St Mary is about to change, possibly forever…

Newly-orphaned Anne Beddingfeld is a nice English girl looking for a bit of adventure in London. But she stumbles upon more than she bargained for! Anne is on the platform at Hyde Park Corner tube station when a man falls onto the live track, dying instantly. A doctor examines the man, pronounces him dead, and leaves, dropping a note on his way. Anne picks up the note, which reads “17.1 22 Kilmorden Castle”. The next day the newspapers report that a beautiful ballet dancer has been found dead there– brutally strangled. A fabulous fortune in diamonds has vanished. And now, aboard the luxury liner Kilmorden Castle, mysterious strangers pillage her cabin and try to strangle her. What are they looking for? Why should they want her dead? Lovely Anne is the last person on earth suited to solve this mystery… and the only one who can! Anne’s journey to unravel the mystery takes her as far afield as Africa and the tension mounts with every step… and Anne finds herself struggling to unmask a faceless killer known only as ‘The Colonel’…. 

Little did Anthony Cade suspect that an errand for a friend would place him at the center of a deadly conspiracy. Drawn into a web of intrigue, he begins to realize that the simple favor has placed him in serious danger.

As events unfold, the combined forces of Scotland Yard and the French Sûreté gradually converge on Chimneys, the great country estate that hides an amazing secret…

What was the woman doing here?
In a stable, wearing pearl earrings, her stylish bracelet and white buckskin shoes!
She must have been alive when she got there because the crime had been committed after ten in the evening.
But how? And why? And no one had heard a thing! She had not screamed. The two carters had not woken up.
If the whip had not been mislaid, it was likely the body might not have been discovered for a couple of weeks or a month, by chance when someone turned over the straw.
And other carters passing through would have snored the night away next to a woman’s corpse!

These questions lead Maigret into an unfamiliar world of canals, with its run down cafes, shadowy towpaths, and eccentric inhabitants.

Collect this and other novels in the Inspector Maigret series, now available in thrilling new English translations. 

Alison has it all. A doting husband, adorable daughter, and a career on the rise – she’s just been given her first murder case to defend. But all is never as it seems…

Just one more night. Then I’ll end it. 

Alison drinks too much. She’s neglecting her family. And she’s having an affair with a colleague whose taste for pushing boundaries may be more than she can handle.

I did it. I killed him. I should be locked up. 

Alison’s client doesn’t deny that she stabbed her husband – she wants to plead guilty. And yet something about her story is deeply amiss. Saving this woman may be the first step to Alison saving herself.

I’m watching you. I know what you’re doing. 

But someone knows Alison’s secrets. Someone who wants to make her pay for what she’s done, and who won’t stop until she’s lost everything….

Ed is delighted to meet his twenty-three year old daughter’s fiancé for the first time. Ryan appears to be the perfect future son-in-law. There’s just one problem. There’s something off about Ryan. Something hidden in the shadows behind his eyes. And it seems that only Ed can see it.

Terrified that his daughter is being drawn in by a psychopath, Ed sets out to uncover her fiancé’s dark past – while keeping his own concealed. But no-one believes him. And the more he digs, the more he alienates her and the rest of the family who are convinced that Ryan is ‘the one’.

Ed knows different. For reasons of his own, he knows a monster when he sees one…

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career.

Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ‘80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

535 AD. In the ancient kingdom of Dumnonia, King Cador’s children inherit a fragmented land abandoned by the Romans.

Riva, scarred in a terrible fire, fears she will never heal.
Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, when born a daughter.
And Sinne, the spoiled youngest girl, yearns for romance.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold – a last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. But change comes on the day ash falls from the sky, bringing Myrddhin, meddler and magician, and Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear the siblings apart. Riva, Keyne and Sinne must take fate into their own hands, or risk being tangled in a story they could never have imagined; one of treachery, love and ultimately, murder. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.

2017: 19 year old Tallulah is going out on a date, leaving her baby with her mother, Kim.

Kim watches her daughter leave and, as late evening turns into night, which turns into early morning, she waits for her return. And waits.

The next morning, Kim phones Tallulah’s friends who tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a party at a house in the nearby woods called Dark Place.

She never returns.

2019: Sophie is walking in the woods near the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started work as a head-teacher when she sees a note fixed to a tree.

‘DIG HERE’ . . .

A cold case, an abandoned mansion, family trauma and dark secrets lie at the heart of Lisa Jewell’s remarkable new novel.

West Yorkshire, 1904.

When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.

Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric landscape of West Yorkshire, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.

In the thousand-sun network of humanity’s expansion, new colony worlds are struggling to find their way. Every new planet lives on a knife edge between collapse and wonder, and the crew of the aging gunship Rocinante have their hands more than full keeping the fragile peace.

In the vast space between Earth and Jupiter, the inner planets and belt have formed a tentative and uncertain alliance still haunted by a history of wars and prejudices. On the lost colony world of Laconia, a hidden enemy has a new vision for all of humanity and the power to enforce it.

New technologies clash with old as the history of human conflict returns to its ancient patterns of war and subjugation. But human nature is not the only enemy, and the forces being unleashed have their own price. A price that will change the shape of humanity — and of the Rocinante — unexpectedly and forever…

Thirteen hundred gates have opened to solar systems around the galaxy. But as humanity builds its interstellar empire in the alien ruins, the mysteries and threats grow deeper.

In the dead systems where gates lead to stranger things than alien planets, Elvi Okoye begins a desperate search to discover the nature of a genocide that happened before the first human beings existed, and to find weapons to fight a war against forces at the edge of the imaginable. But the price of that knowledge may be higher than she can pay.

At the heart of the empire, Teresa Duarte prepares to take on the burden of her father’s godlike ambition. The sociopathic scientist Paolo Cortázar and the Mephistophelian prisoner James Holden are only two of the dangers in a palace thick with intrigue, but Teresa has a mind of her own and secrets even her father the emperor doesn’t guess.

And throughout the wide human empire, the scattered crew of the Rocinante fights a brave rear-guard action against Duarte’s authoritarian regime. Memory of the old order falls away, and a future under Laconia’s eternal rule — and with it, a battle that humanity can only lose – seems more and more certain. Because against the terrors that lie between worlds, courage and ambition will not be enough…

Twelve books acquired in June! I have a lot of reading to do to make my TBR list a bit smaller.

Please drop me comment if you want to chat about any of the books.

Happy Reading

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

The Weekly Brief

Happy Sunday!

I hope everyone is having a good weekend so far.

Here is what I have been up to on the blog.

Posts this Week

Currently Reading

Acquired Books

I treated myself to these two books because they were only £2 each. I do love a bargain!

Happy Reading

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Acquired Books of June 2021

Hello!

So I almost forgot my round up of the month of all the lovely books that I acquired in June!

Thankfully I have remembered because I do like being able to see all the books I have got and what I have got left to read.

Books I Acquired in June

Once upon a time, inhabitants of another world tore a hole through the universe and came to Earth. They called themselves Suriias, and rivalled humans in knowledge and skill with one great exception: they had magic.

War followed. Humanity lost. And three hundred years later, humans are on the brink of extinction.

Orphans Thorn and Thistle live in hiding. They are the last of their families, the last of their friends. They scrape by, stealing to survive and living on the streets or hiding in sheds. But even under the brutal regime of the Suriias, there are places where humans can mingle in secret with magical sympathisers, and one night Thistle gets an unexpected offer of marriage from a Suriia with high standing and friends in all the right places. For Thistle, it’s a chance at safety and comfort; for Thorn, it’s a chance to find the ones who killed her parents.

And so the pair move into the capital city of Courtenz. An urban monstrosity of magic and might, false friends and flying cars, drones and death tolls, the new city promises a fresh start – and new love – for both. 

But if there’s one thing Thorn knows for certain, it’s that dreams can swiftly turn into nightmares.

Review

A nest of vipers, they called us. But that is not how it was.

Mercia, 775 AD. In the grand Saxon halls of Mercia, King Offa rules with ruthless ambition. Aggressive and relentlessly acquisitive, his three daughters are destined to marry advantageously in service of their country. Eadburh, the youngest, is neither the cleverest nor the most beautiful of the three. But, with her father’s ruthless spirit and the secret gifts passed down from her mother, she is determined to carve her own path in the world.

2021. Simon Armstrong has escaped to a secluded cottage on the English-Welsh borders, desperate to finish his book about Anglo-Saxon King Offa. But he soon finds himself disturbed by unsettling noises and visions. Calling in local expert Bea to identify the issue, Simon hopes to get back some peace – but soon Bea is as embroiled as he is, feeling increasingly connected to a ghostly presence that is growing ever-stronger in its desire for revenge.

And when Simon’s daughter disappears, centuries of secrets and resentment begin to tumble out…

All Andrew wants is to be normal. That’s why his coworkers believe he has the perfect wife and two children waiting at home for him after a long day. But the truth is, his life isn’t exactly as people think . . . and his little white lie is about to catch up with him. Because in all of Andrew’s efforts to fit in, he’s forgotten one important thing: how to really live. And maybe, it’s finally time for him to start.

Only three books acquired in June! To be honest I am in shock as I expected it to be a lot worse. One of these was a lovely gift from the author and the other was my Willoughby Book Club monthly subscription. This means last month I only bought one book!

Happy Reading

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you

Acquired Books of May 2021

Hello my fellow Book Dragons!

I have decided at the end of each month I am going to put all the books I have acquired during that month into one post. This way it might help me to not buy the same books again, which I have been known to do. People who know me might try and use these posts to prove a point they have been trying to make for some years, in response I fiercely deny having a book buying problem!

So here are all the wonderful books I have acquired in May.

A seriously entertaining collection of feel good stories guaranteed to put the smile back on your face written especially by ten bestselling novelists:

Jenny Éclair

Mark Watson

Veronica Henry

Eva Verde

Richard Madeley

Katie Fforde

Dorothy Koomson

Vaseem Khan

Helen Lederer

Rachel Hore

From a hilarious race against time to a moment of unexpected eavesdropping, from righting wrongs in rural India to finding joy in unlikely places, these stories are all rich in wit and humour, guaranteed to lift your spirits and warm your heart.

Stories to Make you Smile is a co-commission between The Reading Agency and Specsavers as part of World Book Night 2021.

Review

Two husbands dead; a life marred by sadness. And now Katharine is in love for the first time in her life.

The eye of an ageing and dangerous king falls upon her. She cannot refuse him. She must stifle her feelings and never betray that she wanted another.

And now she is the sixth wife. Her queenship is a holy mission yet, fearfully, she dreams of the tragic parade of women who went before her. She cherishes the secret beliefs that could send her to the fire. And still the King loves and trusts her. 

Now her enemies are closing in. She must fight for her very life.

KATHARINE PARR – the last of Henry’s queens. 

Alison Weir recounts the extraordinary story of a woman forced into a perilous situation and rising heroically to the challenge. Katharine is a delightful woman, a warm and kindly heroine – and yet she will be betrayed by those she loves and trusts most. 

Too late, the truth will dawn on her. 

Review

SAVE THE WORLD OR END IT…

A strange darkness is growing in the Ward. Even Corayne an-Amarat can feel it, tucked away in her small town at the edge of the sea.

Fate knocks on her door, in the form of a mythical immortal and a lethal assassin, who tell Corayne that she is the last of an ancient lineage – with the power to save the world from destruction.

Because a man who would burn kingdoms to the ground is raising an army unlike any seen before, bent on uprooting the foundations of the world. With poison in his heart and a stolen sword in his hand, he’ll break the realm itself to claim it. And only Corayne can stop him.

Alongside an unlikely group of reluctant allies, Corayne finds herself on a desperate journey to complete an impossible task, with untold magic singing in her blood and the fate of the world on her shoulders.

A lone astronaut.

An impossible mission.

An ally he never imagined.

Ryland Grace is the sole survivor on a desperate, last-chance mission – and if he fails, humanity and the earth itself will perish.

Except that right now, he doesn’t know that. He can’t even remember his own name, let alone the nature of his assignment or how to complete it.

All he knows is that he’s been asleep for a very, very long time. And he’s just been awakened to find himself millions of miles from home, with nothing but two corpses for company.

His crewmates dead, his memories fuzzily returning, Ryland realizes that an impossible task now confronts him. Hurtling through space on this tiny ship, it’s up to him to puzzle out an impossible scientific mystery-and conquer an extinction-level threat to our species.

And with the clock ticking down and the nearest human being light-years away, he’s got to do it all alone.

Or does he?

An irresistible interstellar adventure as only Andy Weir could imagine it, Project Hail Mary is a tale of discovery, speculation, and survival to rival The Martian — while taking us to places it never dreamed of going.

Autumn, 1541: King Henry VIII has set out on a spectacular Progress to the North to attend an extravagant submission of his rebellious subjects in York.

Already in the city are lawyer Matthew Shardlake and his assistant Jack Barak. As well as assisting with legal work processing petitions to the King, Shardlake has reluctantly undertaken a special mission for the Archbishop Cranmer – to ensure the welfare of an important but dangerous conspirator being returned to London for interrogation.

But the murder of a local glazier involves Shardlake in deeper mysteries, connected not only to the prisoner in York Castle but to the royal family itself. And when Shardlake and Barak stumble upon a cache of secret papers which could threaten the Tudor throne, a chain of events unfolds that will lead to Shardlake facing the most terrifying fate of the age . . .

In Simenon’s iconic first novel featuring Inspector Maigret, the laconic detective is taken from grimy bars to luxury hotels as he traces a fraudster’s true identity

Inspector Jules Maigret, a taciturn detective and commissaire of the Paris Brigade Criminelle, receives notice from Interpol that a notorious conman known only as Peitr the Latvian is en route to France. Armed with a broad description and a scant few clues, Maigret plans to intercept him at the train station outside Paris. But when he arrives, he finds that there are several suspects?some living, and some dead?who meet the description uncannily well.

Who is Pietr the Latvian, truly? A vagrant, a seaman, a businessman, a corpse? Russian, Norwegian, American or Latvian?  In Pietr the Latvian, the iconic first novel of Simenon’s classic series that made Inspector Maigret a legendary figure in the annals of detective fiction, Maigret must use his every instinct to unravel the mystery and track down the truth.

Review

The circumstances of Monsieur Gallet’s death all ring false: the name the deceased was travelling under and his presumed profession, and more worryingly, his family’s grief. Their haughtiness seems to hide ambiguous feelings about the hapless man. In this haunting story, Maigret discovers the appalling truth and the real crime hidden behind the surface of lies.

Inspector Maigret finds himself tangled up in a dreadful death, in Georges Simenon’s haunting tale about the lengths to which people will go to escape from guilt

While in Brussels on police business, Inspector Jules Maigret witnesses a strange act: a scruffy-looking man counts out a large amount of currency and mails it to a Paris address. His instincts tell him there is more to this moment than meets the eye, and following an impulse, Maigret boards the man’s train, following him to Germany via Amsterdam. But in the course of his investigation, something goes horribly awry, and the man ends up dead.

Maigret is devastated by the inadvertent role he played, but his own remorse is overshadowed by the discovery of the sordid events that drove the desperate man to the edge. In The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien, Georges Simenon examines the terrible weight guilt can place on a man’s conscience and the tragedies that can result when that weight gets to be too heavy to bear.

Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in rural Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.

But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, Dylan, who she’s avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.

Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they’ve totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with four-hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship…

Will they make it to the wedding on time? And, more importantly, is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?

Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home as victors, loaded with their spoils: their stolen gold, stolen weapons, stolen women. All they need is a good wind to lift their sails.

But the wind does not come. The gods have been offended – the body of Trojan king Priam lies desecrated, unburied – and so the victors remain in limbo, camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, pacing at the edge of an unobliging sea. And, in these empty, restless days, the hierarchies that held them together begin to fray, old feuds resurface and new suspicions fester.

Amidst her squabbling captors, Briseis — now married to Alcimus, but carrying the child of the late Achilles — must forge alliances where she can: with young, dangerously naive Amina, with defiant, aged Hecuba, and with wild-eyed Cassandra, the unheeded seer. And so begins the path to a kind of revenge. Briseis has survived the Trojan War, but peacetime may turn out to be even more dangerous…

Review

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year. 

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything. 

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

Review

A delightful journey through the glamorous story of the English country house party by the bestselling historian.

Croquet. Parlour games. Cocktails. Welcome to a glorious journey through the golden age of the country house party and you are invited.Our host, celebrated historian Adrian Tinniswood, traces the evolution of this quintessentially British pastime from debauched royal tours to the flamboyant excess of the “Bright Young Things”. With cameos by the Jazz Age industrialist, the bibulous earl and the off-duty politician ? whether in moated manor houses or ornate Palladian villas ? Tinniswood gives a vivid insight into weekending etiquette and reveals the hidden lives of celebrity guests, from Nancy Astor to Winston Churchill, in all their drinking, feasting, gambling and fornicating. The result is a deliciously entertaining, star-studded, yet surprisingly moving portrait of a time when social conventions were being radically overhauled through the escapism of a generation haunted by war ? and a uniquely fast-living period of English history.

An abandoned woman…

1951. Esther Durrant, a young mother, is committed to an asylum by her husband. Run by a pioneering psychiatrist, the hospital is at first Esther’s prison – but can captivity lead to freedom?

A forbidden love…

2018. When free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker is forced to take shelter on an isolated island off the Cornish Coast during a research posting, she discovers a collection of hidden love letters. Captivated by their passion and tenderness, Rachel is determined to find the intended recipient. 

A dangerous secret…

Meanwhile, in London, Eve is helping her grandmother write her memoirs. When she is contacted by Rachel, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to reveal secrets kept buried for more than sixty years. 

Three women bound together by a heartbreaking secret. 

A love story that needs to be told.

This beautifully haunting and atmospheric novel, will sweep fans of Kate Morton, Elizabeth Gilbert and Emily Gunnis away this summer.

Thirteen books in total. This includes my book from my monthly Willoughby Book subscription and a NetGalley read. I’m actually quite pleased that I have also read some of these books as well because I do have the habit of buying the books then leaving them for months before I read them.

Please drop me a comment if you have read any of these books.

Happy Reading

If you enjoy reading my blog and would like to make a donation I would be very grateful. Thank you