Book haul – summer 2021

I went on a bit of a spending spree recently and bought a load of books – mostly on Kindle, but some paperbacks too (where the limited bookshelf space allowed it!).

There’s SO many books here that I can’t wait to read, and some are new and some have been out for years – it’s a real mix!

Here goes…

Any Human Heart – William Boyd

Every life is both ordinary and extraordinary, but Logan Mountstuart’s – lived from the beginning to the end of the twentieth century – contains more than its fair share of both. As a writer who finds inspiration with Hemingway in Paris and Virginia Woolf in London, as a spy recruited by Ian Fleming and betrayed in the war and as an art-dealer in ’60s New York, Logan mixes with the movers and shakers of his times. But as a son, friend, lover and husband, he makes the same mistakes we all do in our search for happiness. Here, then, is the story of a life lived to the full – and a journey deep into a very human heart.

Seating Arrangements – Maggie Shipstead

The Van Meters have gathered at their family retreat on the New England island of Waskeke to celebrate the marriage of daughter Daphne to an impeccably appropriate young man. The weekend is full of lobster and champagne, salt air and practiced bonhomie, but long-buried discontent and simmering lust seep through the cracks in the revelry.

Winn Van Meter, father-of-the-bride, has spent his life following the rules of the east coast upper crust, but now, just shy of his sixtieth birthday, he must finally confront his failings, his desires, and his own humanity.

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth – Matson Taylor

It is the summer of 1962 and sixteen-year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she be?
Up until now, Evie’s life has been nothing special: a patchwork of school, Guides, cows, lost mothers, lacrosse and village fetes. But, inspired by her idols (Charlotte Brontë, Shirley MacLaine, the Queen), she dreams of a world far away from rural East Yorkshire, a world of glamour lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). Standing in the way of these dreams, though, is Christine, Evie’s soon-to-be stepmother, a manipulative and money-grubbing schemer who is lining Evie up for a life of shampoo-and-set drudgery at the stinky local salon.
 
Luckily Evie is not alone. With the help of a few friends, and the wise counsel of the two Adam Faith posters on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’), Evie comes up with a plan to rescue her future from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches. She will need a little luck, a dash of charm and a big dollop of Yorkshire magic if she is to succeed, but in the process she may just discover who exactly it is she is meant to be.

Victoria Park – Gemma Reeves

Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.

Leave the World Behind – Rumaan Alam

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older black couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one another? 

Songs in Ursa Major – Emma Brodie

The year is 1969, and the Bayleen Island Folk Fest is abuzz with one name: Jesse Reid. Tall and soft-spoken, with eyes blue as stone-washed denim, Jesse Reid’s intricate guitar riffs and supple baritone are poised to tip from fame to legend with this one headlining performance. That is, until his motorcycle crashes on the way to the show.

Jane Quinn is a Bayleen Island local whose music flows as naturally as her long blond hair. When she and her bandmates are asked to play in Jesse Reid’s place at the festival, it almost doesn’t seem real. But Jane plants her bare feet on the Main Stage and delivers the performance of a lifetime, stopping Jesse’s disappointed fans in their tracks: A star is born.

Jesse stays on the island to recover from his near-fatal accident and he strikes up a friendship with Jane, coaching her through the production of her first record. As Jane contends with the music industry’s sexism, Jesse becomes her advocate, and what starts as a shared calling soon becomes a passionate love affair. On tour with Jesse, Jane is so captivated by the giant stadiums, the late nights, the wild parties, and the media attention, that she is blind-sided when she stumbles on the dark secret beneath Jesse’s music. With nowhere to turn, Jane must reckon with the shadows of her own past; what follows is the birth of one of most iconic albums of all time.

Left You Dead – Peter James

NO BODY. NO TRACE.
NO CRIME?

Niall and Eden Paternoster start their Sunday the same way they always do – with a long drive, a visit to a country house and a quick stop at the local supermarket on the way home.

But this Sunday ends differently – because while Niall waits and waits in the car park for Eden to pick up supplies, Eden never returns. She’s not waiting for him at home, and none of their family or friends have heard from her.

Gone without a trace, Niall is arrested on suspicion of her murder. When DS Roy Grace is called in to investigate, it doesn’t take long to realize that nothing is quite as it seems – and this might be his most mysterious case yet…

Norwegian Wood – Haruki Murakami

The haunting, enigmatic love story that turned Murakami into a literary superstar in Japan, and is his bestselling title throughout the world

When he hears her favourite Beatles song, Toru Watanabe recalls his first love Naoko, the girlfriend of his best friend Kizuki. Immediately he is transported back almost twenty years to his student days in Tokyo, adrift in a world of uneasy friendships, casual sex, passion, loss and desire – to a time when an impetuous young woman called Midori marches into his life and he has to choose between the future and the past.

The Lamplighters – Emma Stonex

They say we’ll never know what happened to those men.

They say the sea keeps its secrets…

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface…


Have you bought any exciting new (or old) books recently?

2 comments

  1. Any Human Heart is fabulous, one of the best William Boyd has written in recent years. There’s also a wonderful adaptation of it.

    Norwegian Wood was my first Murakami novel and I was nervous about it because Id heard he uses magical realism a lot. But I need not have worried, this was an enigmatic novel but engrossing

    • Ohh sounds like I am i for several treats then! So glad you enjoyed both of them – I’ve had Any Human Heart recommended to me so many times so I thought it was about time I bought it! ☺️ thanks!

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