Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Random Books from My Shelves

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog. The topic this week is The First 10 Books I Randomly Grabbed from My Shelf (And tell us what you thought if you’ve read them!) It was difficult to be random as my bookshelves are mostly double stacked and in different rooms in the house but these are the ones I sort of picked randomly from my bookshelves. I’ve read some of them – see those marked with an * for my thoughts about them:

 * The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, one of my favourite of her books. Set in the village of King’s Abbot, the story begins with the death of Mrs Ferrars, a wealthy widow. The local doctor, Dr Sheppard suspects it is suicide. The following evening Roger Ackroyd, a wealthy widower who it was rumoured would marry Mrs Ferrars, is found murdered in his study. Poirot is asked to investigate the murder and he enlists Dr Sheppard, who lives next door with his sister Caroline, to help him.

Completely Unexpected Tales by Roald Dahl, described on the back cover as a collection of macabre tales of vengeance, surprise and dark delights. I used to enjoy these tales in the TV series, Tales of the Unexpected, years ago. I’ve read some of these.

*The Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin, one of his best Rebus books– a realistic and completely baffling mystery, a complex, multi-layered case, linking back to one of Rebus’s early cases on the force as a young Detective Constable. There are suspicions that Rebus and his colleagues, who called themselves ‘The Saints of the Shadow Bible’ were involved in covering up a crime, allowing a murderer to go free.

*The Way Through the Woods by Colin Dexter. Morse and Sergeant Lewis investigate the case of a beautiful young Swedish tourist who had disappeared on a hot summer’s day somewhere near Oxford twelve months earlier. After unsuccessfully searching the woods of the nearby Blenheim Estate the case was unsolved, and Karin Eriksson had been recorded as a missing person. A year later more evidence comes to light and Morse re-opens the case.

*On Giants’ Shoulders: Great Scientists and Their Discoveries From Archimedes to DNA: by Melvyn Bragg. An excellent book for a non scientist like me. I read it years ago long before I had a blog, so no review. It focuses on 12 scientists and is compiled from a series of interviews with leading scientists and historians in each field, on BBC Radio 4 in 1998.

*Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill, an interesting little book which takes a look at some of the books in Susan’s three storey country house in Gloucestershire. She had decided to take a year off  from buying new books and to read or re-read books from her own collection. It’s full of lots of references to books and authors, some known to me and others not and Susan’s personal anecdotes.

Never Mind the Quantocks:How Country Walking Can Change Your Life by Stuart Maconie, a collection of essays from his monthly column in Country Walking, full of the beautiful places, magical moments and wonderful characters he has encountered on his travels. I haven’t read this yet. It covers a variety of topics – The Walking Bug, The Right to Roam, Oases of Calm and Sea Fever, to name but a few.

The Wood Beyond by Reginald Hill, another book I haven’t read yet. When animal-rights activists uncover a long-dead uniformed body in the grounds of Wanwood House, a research facility, Dalziel is presented with a seemingly insoluble mystery. And he is further perplexed when he’s attracted to one of the campaigners – now implicated in a murderous assault. Meanwhile, the death of his grandmother has led Peter Pascoe to the battlefields of World War 1 and the enigma of who his grandfather was – and why he had to die.

*Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I wasn’t at all sure that I would like this book as I began reading it soon after I bought it (in 2013) and didn’t get very far before I decided to put it to one side for a while. A ‘while’ became years – and then at the end of 2016 I read A God in Ruins about Ursula’s brother Teddy, and loved it and decided to try Life After Life again and this time I loved it. During the book Ursula dies many deaths and there are several different versions that her life takes over the course of the twentieth century.

*Freedom in Exile the Autobiography by The Dalai Lama. He tells his story in English. He fled Tibet in 1959 and since then has lived in exile. This is another book I read years ago, long before I had a blog, so no review. He writes about his childhood, describing what it was like to grow up revered as a deity, and about his escape into India across the Himalayas along with the sense of loss in leaving his country behind.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Animals in the Titles/on the Covers

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog. The topic this week is Books with Animals in the Titles/on the Covers

These are all books I’ve read.

 Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

The Crow Trap by Ann Cleeves

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

How to Catch a Mole by Marc Hamer

Cat Among the Pigeons by Agatha Christie

The Case of the Lame Canary by Erle Stanley Gardner

Catching the Eagle by Karen Charlton

The Raven’s Head by Karen Maitland

Black Dogs by Ian McEwan

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for People Who Like Historical Crime Fiction

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

This week’s topic is Books for People Who Liked Author X but I’m changing it a bit to Books for People Who Like Historical Crime Fiction/thrillers. I haven’t included any of the authors I listed in an earlier TTT post on historical fiction.

  1. Death Comes as the End by Agatha Christie, set in 2000 BC Egypt, a novel of anger, jealousy, betrayal and murder in 2000 BC. A young woman, Nofret, is found dead, apparently having fallen from a cliff. More deaths follow.
  2. Night of the Lightbringer by Peter Tremayne – one of the Sister Fidelma mystery series, a medieval murder mystery, set in Ireland in AD 671 on the eve of the pagan feast of Samhain. featuring a Celtic nun who is also an advocate of the ancient Irish law system. (TBR)
  3. The Story Keeper, set on the Isle of Skye in 1857 where Audrey Hart has been employed to collect the folklore and fairy tales of the local community. One by one young girls go missing from their homes and the locals believe they have been taken by the spirits of the unforgiven dead.
  4. An Expert in Murder by Nicola Upson, set in the theatrical world of  the 1930s, one of her novels featuring novelist Josephine Tey (Elizabeth Mackintosh 1896-1952).
  5. The Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey, set in a post Second World War England but based on a real case from the 18th century of a girl who went missing and later claimed she had been kidnapped.
  6. Murder on the Eiffel Tower by Claude Izner, the Eiffel Tower opened in 1889. Eugénie Patinot and her nephew and niece sign the visitors’ book, and then Eugénie collapses and dies, apparently from a bee-sting. Victor Legris, a bookseller is determined to find out what had really happened. 
  7. The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz, set in the late 19th century, capturing the spirit and tone of Conan Doyle’s original stories while devising a new mystery for modern readers. Horowitz’s plot is cunning, full of twists and turns, with allusions to Conan Doyle’s stories.
  8. Prophecy by S J Parris – one of the Giordano Bruno series of historical thrillers, set in Elizabethan England. Giordano Bruno was a 16th century heretic philosopher and spy. This book begins in the autumn of 1583, when Elizabeth’s throne is in peril, threatened by Mary Stuart’s supporters scheme to usurp the rightful monarch.
  9. The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton – set in a 1920s English country house, where Evelyn Hardcastle, the young and beautiful daughter of the house, is killed. But Evelyn will not die just once as the day will repeat itself, over and over again. Every time ending with the fateful pistol shot. (a TBR)
  10. The Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin, a murder/mystery book set in Cambridge in 1170 during the reign of Henry II. A child has been murdered and others have disappeared (also found murdered). The Jews are suspected and have been held in the castle for their own safety. 

Top Ten Tuesday: TTT Rewind: Books On My Spring 2019 TBR Updated


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

This week’s topic is TTT Rewind (Pick a previous topic that you missed or would like to re-do/update) So, I’m updating my post Books On My Spring 2019 TBR, first posted on 19th March 2019.

I read three of them!

Broken Ground by Val McDermid, On the Beach by Nevil Shute, which I read only this year and have yet to write a review, and The Island by Ragnar Jónasson.

This leaves me with seven left to read:

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – Capote reconstructs the crime and the investigation into the murders of the four members of the Clutter family on November 15, 1959, in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas.

How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn – a story of life in a mining community in rural South Wales as Huw Morgan is preparing to leave the valley where he had grown up. He tells of life before the First World War.

Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas – the story of a teenage girl, Ruby, who runs away from home to live with her grandmother, Iris in Cairo.

Here Be Dragons by Sharon Penman – set in 13th century Wales this is the story of Llewelyn, the Prince of North Wales, and his rise to power and fame and his love for Joanna, the illegitimate daughter of King John. 

A Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty – crime reporter Harper McClain unravels a tangled story of obsession and jealousy after a beautiful law student is shot in Savannah, Georgia.

A Snapshot of Murder by Frances Brody – set in Yorkshire in 1928, when  amateur detective, Kate Shackleton investigates a crime in Brontë country.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – on the day of Nick and Amy’s fifth wedding anniversary, Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Spring 2023 To-Read List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is The topic this week is Books on My Spring 2023 To-Read List. These are all from my TBR lists. But this does not mean that I will actually read all these books or even some of them this Spring, as I’ve said before, I am a mood read and when the time comes to choose the next book to read it could be a newly published book that takes my fancy or another book from my TBRs.

I would like to read at least one of them though!

  1. The Hunt for Mount Everest by Craig Storti – the story of how Everest was identified, and named, leading up to June 1921, when two English climbers, George Mallory and Guy Bullock, became the first westerners to set foot on Mount Everest.
  2. Loch Down Abbey by Beth Cowan-Erskine – who killed Lord Inverkillen? Lockdown meets Downton Abbey in this playful, humorous mystery set in 1930s Scotland. 
  3. This Nowhere Place by Natasha Bell – a murder mystery set in Dover in 2016, when best friends Cali and Jude meet Mo, a young girl who has recently come to Britain from Syria. 
  4. The Agincourt Bride by Joanna Hickson – historical fiction about the queen, Catherine de Valois who married Henry V in 1420, as told through the eyes of her loyal nursemaid. 
  5. The Locked Room by Elly Griffiths, the 14th Dr Ruth Galloway mystery – forensic archaeologist Dr Ruth Galloway and DCI Harry Nelson are on the hunt for a murderer when Covid rears its ugly head. But can they find the killer despite lockdown?
  6. Grimm Up North: A Yorkshire Murder Mystery by David J. Gatward – the first book in the DCI Harry Grimm crime thriller series, set in the Yorkshire Dales. A young woman vanishes without a trace. Can an ex-soldier-turned-copper keep a mystery from becoming a tragedy?
  7. Asking for the Moon by Reginald Hill, a collection of Dalziel and Pascoe short stories. Four stories about their partnership from curtain-up to last act; from the mean streets of Mid-Yorkshire to the mountains of the moon.
  8. The Rising Tide by Ann Cleeves, the 10th book in the Vera Stanhope series. Fifty years ago, a group of teenagers spent a weekend on Holy Island, forging a bond that has lasted a lifetime. Now, they still return every five years to celebrate their friendship, and remember the friend they lost to the rising waters of the causeway at the first reunion.
  9. Give Unto Others a Commissario Brunetti Mystery Book 31) by Donna Leon – Brunetti is forced to confront the price of loyalty, to his past and in his work, as a seemingly innocent request leads him into troubling waters.
  10. The Crooked Shore by Martin Edwards – Lake District Cold-Case Mysteries Book 8. Hannah Scarlett is investigating the disappearance of a young woman from Bowness more than twenty years ago.

I haven’t listed them in any order of preference. Would you recommend any of them and which one would you read first?

Top Ten Tuesday: Fantasy Novels

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is a Genre Freebie and I’ve chosen the following ten fantasy novels, all of which I’ve read. There are many more I could have included – these are just the ones that came to my mind at the moment, not necessarily the top ten, but ten that I have enjoyed.

  • Rivers of London – urban fantasy set in the real world of London. It’s a mix of reality and the supernatural, a magical reading experience, and a fast-paced police procedural of a very different kind. 
  • A Game of Thrones (A Song of Ice and Fire,1) by George R R Martin, an epic fantasy novel  set in a grim and violent world full of tragedy, betrayals and battles; a tale of good versus evil in which family, duty, and honour are in conflict.
  • The Ladies of Grace and Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke as fantastical as Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, a collection full of fantasy stories of deep dark woods, paths leading to houses that seemingly move locations, ladies who are never what they appear to be, princesses, owls, and above all fairies, including the Raven King.
  • Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, the first book in his trilogy His Dark Materials, set in a universe similar to ours, but different. It’s all so beautifully described that you are convinced of the reality of this universe. 
  • The Library of the Dead by T L Huchu set in a future or alternative Edinburgh, with a wealth of dark secrets in its underground. 
  • Movalwar by Benjamin Cornelius who is my friend’s great-nephew (aged 11 when he wrote his book). It’s about two eleven year-old boys, Alfie and Ben and their exciting and dangerous journey to save the fate of two worlds.
  • The Toymakers by Robert Dinsdale, an extraordinary, magical and wonderful book that captivated me, a book set mainly in 1917 whilst the First World War was taking its toll of humanity, leaving despair and tragedy in its wake. It’s a blend of historical fiction and magic realism.
  • Yesterday by Felicity Yap about a world where memory for everyone over the age of eighteen is limited for 70% of people to just one day (the Monos) whilst the rest (the Duos) have two days of memory. Each day everyone has to write down their actions, thoughts and feelings in their iDiaries and then memorise the ‘facts’. But are these ‘facts’ reliable?
  • The Watchmaker of Filigree Street by Natasha Pulley, that blends historical events with flights of fancy to plunge readers into a strange and magical past, where time, destiny, genius ‘and a clockwork octopus’ collide.
  • The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. There are ogres, deadly pixies,  evil monks who keep a dreadful beast underground, Saxons – Wistan, a warrior and a young boy, and Sir Gawain entrusted by King Arthur to slay Querig, a she-dragon roaming the land, who by her breath has spread the mist of forgetfulness.

Top Ten Tuesday: Love Stories

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is The topic this week is Love/Valentine’s Day Freebie. I thought this would be hard for me as I don’t read many love stories or romantic fiction, but here are 10 love stories I have enjoyed. Some of them are books I read in my teens and others are ones I’ve read more recently. I’ve listed them in no particular order of preference and linked the titles either to Amazon or Goodreads.

Top Ten Tuesday: Debut Books I’ve Enjoyed the Most

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is 2023 Debut Books I’m Excited About but, although I did try to find which of the new books coming out soon would be debuts I decided that it was too time consuming, so instead I’ve looked back in my blog to find debut novels I’ve read that I enjoyed the most.

Here are ten – in no particular order.

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal, historical fiction set in the 1850s when the Great Exhibition was being constructed and then opened to the public. It tells the story of Iris, the young woman who worked painting dolls in Mrs Salter’s Dolls Emporium, but who dreamed of being an artist. It also tells of her involvement with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, a group of artists first formed in the summer of 1848. They were challenging the art world with their vivid paintings, at once both stylised and naturalistic. The descriptions took me straight into London of the early 1850s with all its sights and smells, its squalor and bustling crowds as people go about their daily lives.

The Second Sight of Zachary Cloudsley by Sean Lusk, a mixture of historical fact and fantasy set in the 18th century, in London and in Constantinople. In 1754, renowned maker of clocks and automata Abel Cloudesley must raise his new-born son Zachary when his wife dies in childbirth. Zachary is intensely curious, ferociously intelligent, unwittingly funny and always honest—perhaps too honest. But when a fateful accident leaves six-year-old Zachary nearly blinded, he is plagued by visions that reveal the hearts and minds of those around him.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. I like complicated plots with believable characters and with twists and turns to keep me glued to the book. This book has all this and more. I was puzzled, stunned and amazed at the cleverness of the plot structure and how I’d had the wool pulled over my eyes. It’s narrated by Amber Reynolds as she lies in hospital in a coma. She can’t move or speak, but she can hear and gradually she begins to remember who she is and what happened to her.

Saving Missy by Beth Morrey. Missy (Millicent) Carmichael is seventy nine, living on her own in a large house, left with sad memories of what her life used to be, a wife, mother and grandmother, but now she is alone. Her husband, Leo is no longer with her, her son and his family are in Australia and she and her daughter are estranged after a big row. And there is something else too, for Missy has a guilty secret that is gnawing away at her. This really is a special book, full of wonderful characters, ordinary people drawn from life, about everyday events, pleasures and difficulties.

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. In 1942 in Seattle Henry Lee, a 12 year old Chinese American boy meets Keiko Okabe, a Japanese American girl and they become great friends, even though Henry’s father is against the Japanese because of the enmity between China and Japan. As the war progressed the persecution of Japanese Americans intensified and they were removed from their homes and interned. Keiko and her family are moved to Camp Harmony, a temporary relocation centre at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, and not allowed to take their belongings with them. Many Japanese families, including Keiko’s, manage to store some in the basement of the Panama Hotel. Henry is devastated, certain he won’t see her again, especially when the families are moved to a permanent relocation centre, Minidoka in Idaho. 

The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle by Kirsty Wark, a story centred on the lives of two women – Elizabeth Pringle and Martha Morrison. Elizabeth has lived all her life on the Isle of Arran and knowing that she is dying and has no living relatives, leaves her house, Holmlea in Lamlash, to Anna Morrison, a woman, who is all but a stranger, someone she had seen years before, pushing her daughter’s pram down the road outside. It’s about family, relationships, especially mother/daughter/sister relationships, about happiness, love and heartbreak, old age, memories and the contrast between life in the early part of the twentieth century and the present.

The Unquiet Dead by Ausma Zehanat Khan, the harrowing account of the atrocities of Srebrenica in 1995 and the search for justice forms the basis of this intriguing novel. Extracts from statements and reports from survivors of the massacre head each chapter, giving voice to the ‘unquiet dead‘. Alongside that is the investigation by detectives Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty into the death of Christopher Drayton who fell from the heights of the Scarborough Bluffs. Was it suicide, or an accident? Or was he pushed -and if so, who pushed him and why?

Everything But the Truth by Gillian McAllister set in both Newcastle and Oban, with clearly defined and believable characters, a complex plot with plenty of twists and turns, and a dark secret. It is up to date about social media and information about the internet and how to find hidden information (which as I’m not that computer savvy I had to Google to see if it was genuine – it is). The atmosphere in this book is tense and increasingly dark and claustrophobic.

Eyes Like Mine by Sheena Kamal.

The main focus of the book is Nora, her traumatic background and her search for her daughter, Bonnie, now a teenager, who she gave away as a new-born baby. Nora is shocked by her reaction when she sees a photo of Bonnie – there is no doubt that she is her daughter, with her dark hair and golden skin. But it is her eyes that clinch it for Nora; Bonnie has the same eyes, dark and fathomless. And Nora feels as though she is in a nightmare.

In Bitter Chill by Sarah Ward

In January 1978 two eight-year old girls, Rachel Jones and Sophie Jenkins were walking to school together when a strange woman offered them a lift in her car. Rachel is later found in Truscott Woods but Sophie was never found.  Move forward 30 years when Sophie’s mother commits suicide. Troubled by Yvonne Jenkin’s suicide, the police reopen the case – Superintendent Llewellyn who was on the original team asks DI Francis Sadler and his team, DC Connie Childs and DS Damian Palmer to see if there was anything that had been missed in 1978.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books with Living Things in the Titles

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is a Freebie and I’m featuring Books with Living Things in the Titles.

These are all books I’ve read, so the links take you to my posts on them.

The Behaviour of Moths by Poppy Adams – the story of two sisters, Ginny and Vivi. Vivi, the younger sister left the family mansion 47 years earlier and returns unexpectedly one weekend. Ginny, a reclusive moth expert has rarely left the house in all that time.

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun – about Koko, the Siamese cat and Jim Qwilleran who investigate a stabbing in an art gallery.

Corvus: a Life with Birds by Esther Woolfson – a remarkable book about the birds she has had living with her; birds that were found out of the nest that would not have survived if she had not taken them in.

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald – I really wanted to love this but I found it difficult to read and draining, despite some richly descriptive narrative. It’s about wildness, grief and mourning, and obsession, which made it heavy reading for me.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding – about a group of boys stranded on a desert island. Things got completely out of hand ending in chaos. It is absolutely gripping and very dark, showing the savage side of human nature.

James Herriot’s Cat Stories by James Herriot – James writes that cats were one of the main reasons he chose a career as a vet. They have always played a large part in his life and and now he has retired they are still there “lightening” his days.

The Lady of the Ravens by Joanna Hickson – set in the early years of Henry VII’s reign as seen through the eyes of Joan Vaux, a lady in waiting to Elizabeth of York, whose marriage in 1486 to Henry united the Houses of Lancaster and York after the end of the Wars of the Roses.

The Owl Service by Alan Garner – the basis of the story is the Welsh legend from The Mabinogion about Lleu and his wife Blodeuwedd who was made for him out of flowers. It’s a tragedy about three people who destroy each other through no fault of their own but just because they were forced together.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen by Paul Torday – a novel about Sheikh Muhammad, who has an estate in Scotland where he pursues his great love of fly fishing, wants scientific advice on how best to introduce salmon fishing into the Yemen.

The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney – a murder mystery set in Canada in 1867 beginning in a small place called Dove River on the north shore of Georgian Bay. Laurent Jammet, a hunter-trader, has been found in his bed with his throat cut. His neighbour, 17 year old Francis Ross, is missing and his mother fears he may be the killer.

Top Ten Tuesday: New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2022

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog. The topic this week is New-to-Me Authors I Discovered in 2022.

All of them are fiction and some of them are debut novels, whilst others are books that were first published years ago. I enjoyed all of them – I’ve marked my favourites with an asterisk *.

*Miss Austen by Gill Hornby – historical fiction about Cassandra, Jane Austen’s sister. Totally believable.

*The Homecoming by Anna Enquist  – historical fiction about Captain James Cooke told from his wife, Elizabeth’s perspective. A different view of Captain Cook’s life!

The Chalet by Catherine Cooper – a murder mystery, set mainly in La Madière, a fictional ski resort in the French Alps, a story of revenge, stemming from the events in 1998 when two brothers go skiing with their girlfriends and only one of the brothers returns.

Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook – historical fiction set in 19th Australia. When Charles Brightwell disappears from his pearl fishing ship, his daughter refuses to accept he is dead and goes looking for him.

A Tapping at My Door by David Jackson – a crime thriller. The mystery begins as Terri Latham is disturbed late one night by a ‘tapping, scratching, scrabbling noise at her back door’.

*Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens –  a story of loneliness and of the effects of rejection – a story of survival and the power of love combined with a murder mystery, and full of fascinating characters that had me racing through its pages.

*The Second Sight of Zachery Cloudesley by Sean Lusk – a mixture of historical fact and fantasy set in the 18th century, in London and in Constantinople. The characters are fabulous, the settings are beautifully described and the historical background is fascinating.

*A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute – this was not what I thought it would be; it’s not about Alice Springs in Australia. It is the story of Jean Paget and her experiences during the war in Malaya after the Japanese invaded and later when she returned after the end of the war, ending with her life in Australia.

Mrs March by Virginia Feito – beautifully written, but so tragic. I couldn’t like any of the characters, but they got under my skin as I read and I wanted it to end differently – of course, it couldn’t.

Now and Forever by Ray Bradbury – two novellas, the first about the mysterious Summerton, a small town in the middle of Arizona, a town which seems perfect and the second a retelling of Moby Dick set in outer space.