Happy New Year!
I imagine we’re all hoping for great things this year – or at least that 2022 isn’t quite as turbulent as last year! I had a very quiet December due to catching a mild case of Covid – I tend to be a glass half full sort of person and I was happy to catch up on some reading and box sets! Accordingly, I have quite a few favourite reads from the last three months. Check them out here:
Requiem in La Rossa – Tom Benjamin
I love the Daniel Leicester series of books. Leicester is a British detective living in Bologna. After living in Italy for years, he’s firmly immersed in the culture, offering a new perspective on life in a city that I now long to visit. In this case, a music professor dies of apparent natural causes after an altercation in the street with a homeless man. When Leicester is brought in to investigate and try to save the homeless man from a manslaughter charge, he finds that not everything is as it seems…
The Marsh House – Zoë Somerville
This book isn’t quite available yet – it publishes on 1st March but it’s worth pre-ordering now as it’s a great read. I describe it as part ghost story and part thriller. Set in both the 1930s and 1960s, the Marsh House is the backdrop for the troubled lives of two women. In 1931, Rosemary lives with her reserved father. Her rather dull life is brightened by the arrival of a new and glamorous family, especially the handsome son. Three decades on, Malorie has rented the same house for a Christmas break with her daughter. Digging around for decorations, she finds Rosemary’s diaries and begins to uncover the tragedy that was visited on the house all those years before. SUCH an atmospheric read.
Harlem Shuffle – Colson Whitehead
One of my favourite writers, I was desperate to get my hands on a copy as soon as this came out. Set in Harlem in the 1960s, this is the tale of family man Ray, owner of a furniture store, who finds himself getting more and more involved in a life of crime. Poor Ray has parents-in-law who look down on him, a wife and child to provide for and a dodgy cousin who seems determined to get Ray into trouble. I found this novel as funny as it was immersive in its Harlem setting.
Standard Deviation – Katherine Heiny
If you love Nora Ephron, you’ll love this. I’m a huge fan of New York set novels, especially those with humour. Standard Deviation is about Graham, his second wife Audra, and their ten year old son Matthew who is on the autistic spectrum. As if Graham hasn’t got enough going on with the eccentric members of an origami club that Matthew has recently joined, his first wife has reappeared in his life and Audra seems determined that they’re all going to be friends. This almost reads like a sequence of short stories. For people who love spending time with original characters rather than those who want a strong plot, but if that’s you then I think you will adore this book.
I got a copy of this after going to see Alan at an event he did with Graham Norton. This is a second autobiography, tracking Alan’s life from the end of his first marriage to the beginning of the relationship that resulted in his second. There is lots of candid discussion about the decisions he made over those years, and plenty of stories about the many celebrities that Alan has met and is friends with. I do love some good gossip and if you do too then this book is worth checking out!
My Monticello – Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
Set in the near future, this is quite an unsettling, dystopic read. If you remember the Charlottesville car attack from 2017, when a white supremacist drove his car into a peaceful rally, killing a woman, this is the background to the novel. A few years after this tragedy, terrible storms are battering America, blackouts are a common occurrence, and in Charlottesville, violent white supremacists are leading attacks against the residents of Da’Naisha’s street. Desperate, they gather up their belongings and flee in an abandoned bus, ending up at Monticello, the historic home of Thomas Jefferson, the third US president. Told from Da’Naisha’s point of view, this is the story of the nineteen days that they spend in Monticello. Fascinating and chilling.
Edgware Road – Yasmin Cordery Khan
This is a great debut set mostly in London. In 1981 Khalid has moved from Karachi to London and is loving life as a croupier in a fancy West End casino. He has a beautiful wife and daughter, Alia, so why can’t he stay away from the fruit machines and the bookies? In 2003 Alia can barely remember her dad. He died years earlier in what seemed like a terrible accident, but something doesn’t add up. A novel about family with a mystery at its heart. Out on 3rd March.
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