The City by Stella Gemmell
The blurb: The City is ancient, layers upon layers. Once a thriving metropolis, it has sprawled beyond its bounds, inciting endless wars with neighboring tribes and creating a barren wasteland of what was once green and productive.
In the center of the City lives the emperor. Few have ever seen him, but those who have recall a man in his prime, though he should be very old. Some grimly speculate that he is no longer human, if he ever was. A small number have come to the desperate conclusion that the only way to stop the war is to end the emperor’s unnaturally long life.
From the mazelike sewers below the City, where the poor struggle to stay alive in the dark, to the blood-soaked fields of battle, where few heroes manage to endure the never-ending siege, the rebels pin their hopes on one man—Shuskara. The emperor’s former general, he was betrayed long ago and is believed to be dead. But, under different aliases, he has survived, forsaking his City and hiding from his immortal foe. Now the time has come for him to engage in one final battle to free the City from the creature who dwells at its heart, pulling the strings that keep the land drenched in gore.
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
The blurb: “It’s not my fault. It’s yours. You shouldn’t shine. You shouldn’t make me do this.”
Chicago 1931. Harper Curtis, a violent drifter, stumbles on a house with a secret as shocking as his own twisted nature – it opens onto other times. He uses it to stalk his carefully chosen ‘shining girls’ through the decades – and cut the spark out of them.
He’s the perfect killer. Unstoppable. Untraceable. He thinks…
Chicago, 1992. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Tell that to Kirby Mazrachi, whose life was shattered after a brutal attempt to murder her. Still struggling to find her attacker, her only ally is Dan, an ex-homicide reporter who covered her case and now might be falling in love with her.
The Cheesemaker’s House by Jane Cable
The blurb: “Just think, Alice, right now Owen could be putting a hex on you!” When Alice Hart’s husband runs off with his secretary, she runs off with his dog to lick her wounds in a North Yorkshire village. Battling with loneliness but trying to make the best of her new start, she soon meets her neighbours, including the drop-dead gorgeous builder Richard Wainwright and the kindly yet reticent cafe owner, Owen Maltby.
As Alice employs Richard to start renovating the barn next to her house, all is not what it seems. Why does she start seeing Owen when he clearly isn’t there? Where – or when – does the strange crying come from? And if Owen is the village charmer, what exactly does that mean? The Cheesemaker’s House is a gripping read, inspired by a framed will found in the dining room of the author’s dream Yorkshire house.
My review: Strangely this was the third book I’d read in a row where the main characters name was Alice or Alicia! A new trend?
I Am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes
The blurb: Can you commit the perfect crime?
Pilgrim is the codename for a man who doesn’t exist. The adopted son of a wealthy American family, he once headed up a secret espionage unit for US intelligence. Before he disappeared into anonymous retirement, he wrote the definitive book on forensic criminal investigation.
But that book will come back to haunt him. It will help NYPD detective Ben Bradley track him down. And it will take him to a rundown New York hotel room where the body of a woman is found facedown in a bath of acid, her features erased, her teeth missing, her fingerprints gone. It is a textbook murder – and Pilgrim wrote the book.
The Round House by Louise Erdrich
The blurb: One Sunday in 1988, thirteen-year-old Joe Coutts learns that his mother has been the victim of a brutal attack by a man on their North Dakota reservation. Joe’s mother is traumatized and afraid. She takes to her bed, and refuses to talk to anyone – including the police; meanwhile his father, a tribal judge, endeavours to wrest justice from a situation that defies his keenest efforts; and young Joe’s moral and emotional landscape shifts on its child’s axis.
Frustrated, confused and nursing a complicated fury, Joe sets out with his best friends Cappy, Zack and Angus in search of answers that might put his mother’s attacker behind bars – and set his family’s world straight again. Or so he hopes. The Round House is a powerful and deeply humane story of a young boy pitched prematurely into an unjust adult world.
This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith
The blurb: If fate sent you an email, would you answer?
It’s June – seventeen-year-old Ellie O’Neill’s least favourite time of year. Her tiny hometown is annually invaded by tourists, and this year there’s the added inconvenience of a film crew. Even the arrival of Hollywood heartthrob Graham Larkin can’t lift her mood.
But there is something making Ellie very happy. Ever since an email was accidentally sent to her a few months ago, she’s been corresponding with a mysterious stranger, the two of them sharing their hopes and fears. Their developing relationship is not without its secrets though – there’s the truth about Ellie’s past… and her pen pal’s real identity. When they finally meet in person, things are destined to get much more complicated. Can two people, worlds apart but brought together by chance, make it against all the odds?
Spanning one fateful summer, Jennifer E. Smith’s new novel proves that life – and love – are full of unexpected connections and happy mistakes.
The Never List by Koethi Zan
The blurb: There were four of us down there for the first thirty-two months and eleven days of our captivity. And then, very suddenly and without warning, there were three. Even though the fourth person hadn’t made any noise at all in several months, the room got very quiet when she was gone. For a long time after that, we sat in silence, in the dark, each of us wondering what this meant for her and for us, and which of us would be the next in the box.
NEVER GET IN THE CAR
For years, best friends Sarah and Jennifer kept what they called the ‘Never List’: a list of actions to be avoided, for safety’s sake, at all costs. But one night, they failed to follow their own rules.
NEVER GO OUT ALONE AFTER DARK
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
The blurb: ’I write this sitting in the kitchen sink’ is the first line of this timeless, witty and enchanting novel about growing up.
Cassandra Mortmain lives with her bohemian and impoverished family in a crumbling castle in the middle of nowhere. Her journal records her life with her beautiful, bored sister, Rose, her fadingly glamorous stepmother, Topaz, her little brother Thomas and her eccentric novelist father who suffers from a financially crippling writer’s block.
However, all their lives are turned upside down when the American heirs to the castle arrive and Cassandra finds herself falling in love for the first time.
The White Cottage Mystery by Margery Allingham
The blurb: Eric Crowther knew everybody’s secrets, so there was no shortage of suspects when he was found shot at the White Cottage. Chief Inspector Challenor and his son Jerry had to look deep into everyone’s past – including the dead man’s – before they could be sure who had pulled the trigger.
With a country house, blackmail and murder, The White Cottage Mystery has all the making for a classic cosy mystery.
My review: It was undoubtedly time to broaden my classic crime horizons. After a five year love affair with Christie it was time to take a look at her contemporaries and see who else was a shining light in the world of detective fiction.
Switched by Amanda Hocking
The blurb: Wendy Everly knew she was different the day her mother tried to kill her and accused her of having been switched at birth. Although certain she’s not the monster her mother claimed she is – she does feel that she doesn’t quite fit in . . .
The new girl in High School, she’s bored and frustrated by her small town life – and then there’s the secret that she can’t tell anyone. Her mysterious ability – she can influence people’s decisions, without knowing how, or why . . .