Rewind, Recap: Weekly update W/E 01/01/23

You have no idea how hard it was to get the right title for this weekly post … How in the heck have we reached 2023 already? Seems like only yesterday I was typing the welcome 2022 post, but apparently not. A lot of roads travelled, books read and ducklings born and flown the nest since then. Speaking of which – here’s a few snaps taken by PhotoSloth after Mandie and I forced him to go walkies over the Christmas break.

Swans and ducks on the canal. Pictures by PhotoSloth_9

So how have we been for the past couple of weeks? I had a nice break away from the laptop for a while (heaven) and caught up on some great reads while I had some (a lot of) quiet time. Might have bought one or two books as well as receiving some in the post. We don’t really do gifts at Christmas, but I did get a jólabókaflód gift from Mandie – The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy, which I’m looking forward to reading soon.

LuLu models The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy

So, this is my first recap post of the year, and I’ve a few reads and a few books to catch you all up on but, in truth, aside from reading, and going out for a spot of cake and a cup of coffee with Mandie and the newly indoctrinated Blog(Photo)Sloth, I have done pretty much bugger all. I needed it. I’m not sure how many of these posts I will do over the year. Aiming for once a week again, not that I’m expecting to have anything exciting to say, but Mandie and I are determined to try and slow down a bit this year. Few weekend posts (if any), cutting back on blog tours and just reading for our sake, no-one else’s. That said, the blog planer is full pretty well up until the end of May so we’ll see how that all goes, right? I have so many books I want to read, but without the pressure of feeling I have to, and where I can review when I am ready, not when I have promised. That’s how it should be. As grateful as I am for the advance copies I receive of books, I buy twice as many more and rarely get to them. And this is a hobby, not a job. I have one of those that takes up more than its fair share of my time already!

Then again, we said we were having a quiet one this year and that didn’t exactly go to plan. Whilst we mostly managed to avoid weekends, we still created 365 posts in 2022 – enough for one a day if we’d wanted – and wrote in excess of 350k words – which shows jus how much we both waffle! Okay – some of that was book blurbs, but it’s still a lot of banners, copying links, pasting reviews (assuming either of us has the energy to write them) and me boring you every Monday with this inane waffle. Oddly my most viewed review in 2022 was the review of We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker, closely followed by Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister. The latter I can understand – it was published this. year and has been a very successful book, but WBATE is a much older title so either some Mr Whitaker fans have tracked me down, or the Bots really like that post? Who knows.

Anyway – enough waffle. What about the books, I hear you ask. Here goes.

In terms of book post, I received a lovely bundle just before Christmas from the folks at Vintage. In it I had copies of Murder Most Festive and Murder at the Theatre Royale by Ada Moncrieff, and Death Comes at Christmas by Gladys Mitchell and The Dublin Railway Murders by Thomas Morris. I also received my monthly Orenda books subscription from Berts Books featuring Dashboard Elvis is Dead by David F. Ross and A Deadly Covenant by Michael Stanley.

Image shows – Murder Most Festive, Murder at the Theatre Royale, Death Comes At Christmas and The Dublin Railway Murders
My Orenda Books subscription – A Deadly Covenant and Dashboard Elvis is Dead.

Placed a few orders over the festive period. A Truth for a Truth by Carol Wyer, the next Kate Young book (04 April); The Lazarus Solution by Kjell Ola Dahl (25 May); The Acapulco by Simone Buchholz (25 May); The Ghost Woods by CJ Cooke; The Girls On The Shore by Ann Cleeves; Thicker Than Water, Blood and Treachery, The Killing Code, A Whisper of Sorrows, The Last Bloody Straw and A Snowballs Chance in Hell by JD Kirk; Don’t Look Away by Rachel Abbott (03 August) plus one other book I don’t think has been announced yet. Plus I borrowed Treasure by Oyinkan Braithwaite, Snowflakes by Ruth Ware and Slow Burner by Laura Lippman from Prime Reading. No new Netgalley titles at this time. Not a bad thing! I did buy the audiobook of My Darkest Prayer by S.A. Cosby though. Love Adam Lazarre White’s narration.

Not bad for two weeks really, huh?

Books I have read

Expectant by Vanda Symon

The shocking murder of a heavily pregnant woman throws the New Zealand city of Dunedin into a tailspin, and the devastating crime feels uncomfortably close to home for Detective Sam Shephard as she counts down the days to her own maternity leave.

Confined to a desk job in the department, Sam must find the missing link between this brutal crime and a string of cases involving mothers and children in the past. As the pieces start to come together and the realisation dawns that the killer’s actions are escalating, drastic measures must be taken to prevent more tragedy.

For Sam, the case becomes personal, when it becomes increasingly clear that no one is safe and the clock is ticking…

The Drift by CJ Tudor

Survival can be murder . . .

During a deadly snowstorm, Hannah awakens to carnage, all mangled metal and shattered glass. Evacuated from a secluded boarding school, her coach careered off the road, trapping her with a handful of survivors.

Meg awakens to a gentle rocking. She’s in a cable car stranded high above snowy mountains, with five strangers and no memory of how they got on board.

Carter is gazing out of the window of an isolated ski chalet that he and his companions call home. As their generator begins to waver in the storm, the threat of something lurking in the chalet’s depths looms larger.

Outside, the storm rages. Inside one group, a killer lurks.

But which one?

And who will make it out alive?

The Other Half by Charlotte Vassell

The night before
Rupert’s 30th is a black tie dinner at the Kentish Town McDonald’s – catered with cocaine and Veuve Clicquot.
The morning after
His girlfriend Clemmie is found murdered on Hampstead Heath. All the party-goers have alibis. Naturally.

This investigation is going to be about Classics degrees and aristocrats, Instagram influencers and who knows who. Or is it whom? Detective Caius Beauchamp isn’t sure. He’s sharply dressed, smart, and as into self-improvement as Clemmie – but as he searches for the dark truth beneath the luxury, a wall of staggering wealth threatens to shut down his investigation before it’s begun.

Can he see through the tangled set of relationships in which the other half live, and die, before the case is taken out of his hands?

Bitingly funny, full of twists, and all too close to reality, this is a stunning debut from your next favourite crime writer.

The Killer in the Snow by Alex Pine

The first fall of snow can be fatal…

A year has passed since DI James Walker cracked his biggest case yet, and he’s hoping for peace and quiet this festive season.

But across the fells, a local farmer returns home on Christmas Eve to find footsteps in the fresh snow that lead down to his unused basement – and no footsteps leading away. Days later, his body is found, alongside those of his wife and daughter.

Without a neighbour for miles, there are no witnesses and little evidence. And the crime scene has strange echoes of another terrible murder committed at the farmhouse, twenty years earlier…
James knows that to catch this killer, he needs to solve a case that has long since gone cold…

Perfect for fans of smash-hit TV series Whitehouse Farm, Simon McCleave’s The Snowdonia Killings and Catherine Cooper’s The Chalet.

A Womb With A View by Mark Tilbury

Private investigator, Bob Blundell, is asked to undertake a seemingly routine surveillance operation at Featherstone Manor. Claudia Pennington believes her husband, Eugene, is having an affair, and she wants Bob to catch him in the act while she’s away in Africa.

But Eugene is not the only one up to no good. With his psychopathic nephew, Reuben, running amok in his own warped fantasy world, Chef’s heavily pregnant wife, Wassana, displaying episodes of feral behaviour and the baby appearing to talk inside her womb, and Eugene’s sister, Nancy, resentful of her brother because he inherited the manor, Bob finds much more than infidelity lying behind the drab stone walls of Featherstone Manor.

A Womb with a View is a chaotic, comic tale, underpinned by revenge, greed, and betrayal.

The Blood Line by Will Shindler

An ordinary day. An ordinary street. A gruesome delivery waiting on the doorstep that’s going to set off an spine-chilling chain of events…

Claire Beacham returns from a busy day at work to a parcel on her doorstep – no note, no label. As a politician, she’s used to being suspicious of anonymous hate mail but today she’s too tired to worry. She opens it, finding a gruesome surprise inside. A severed head falls to her kitchen floor; the rich, red drip of blood on her hands.

It is clear to Claire and those around her that this terrifying package is a message. But who sent it, and why?

It’s Claire’s first delivery – and won’t be her last.

DI Finn cannot enjoy the gentle return to his role in the Murder Investigation Team of the Metropolitan Police that he planned. Someone is targeting Claire and with every message comes another casualty. With the clock ticking, DI Finn and DC Mattie Paulsen must wade through the depths of the murky political sphere before the bodies start piling up.

The Girls On The Shore by Ann Cleeves

It was winter. Cold and clear, a different sort of day for this coast where the westerly winds usually blew rain and cloud.

Detective Inspector Matthew Venn is standing by his kitchen window when he first spots them. Two young girls, facing away from him, seemingly staring towards something in the distance. They are holding hands, and they are alone.

Though not a natural with children, Matthew knows he must find out why the girls are here, on a school day, unsupervised. And so he meets Olivia and Imogen, a pair of sisters whose secrets Matthew must uncover if he hopes to get them home.

Treasure by Oyinkan Braithwaite

A darkly comic short story of class divide, the lives we invent, and the very real risks of preserving an Insta-fame facade by the award-winning author of My Sister, the Serial Killer.

Treasure is a wannabe Instagram influencer in Lagos, Nigeria. She shows off a luxurious life in a gated community that her almost five thousand followers can only dream of. @Sho4Sure is determined to be part of it. The macho mechanic is Treasure’s number one fan, and double taps and blushing emojis are no longer enough. He needs to meet her in the flesh. If only Treasure were more prepared for destiny.

Oyinkan Braithwaite’s Treasure is part of Hush, a collection of six stories, ranging from political mysteries to psychological thrillers, in which deception can be a matter of life and death. Each piece can be read or listened to in one truly chilling sitting.

Snowflakes by Ruth Ware

When a barrier between truth and illusion grows stronger, a family’s trust crumbles in this arresting short story by the number one New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in Cabin 10.

Leah has spent her formative years isolated on a remote island with her family. But their quiet existence, far from the devastated mainland, is cracking. Father, sensing a coming threat, demands that a wall be built. As the stone blockade rises, Father’s paranoia escalates. So does Leah’s dread that the violence the family left behind has found its way to their sanctuary.

Ruth Ware’s Snowflakes is part of Hush, a collection of six stories, ranging from political mysteries to psychological thrillers, in which deception can be a matter of life and death. Each piece can be read or listened to in one truly chilling sitting.

The Mysterious Case Of The Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

Open the safe deposit box.
Inside you will find research material for a true crime book.
You must read the documents, then make a decision.
Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the sad story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. Believing they had a divine mission to kill the infant, they were only stopped when the girl came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than stand trial, while mother and baby disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed; if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. And the story of the Alperton Angels is far from over.

From the bestselling author of The Appeal and The Twyford Code comes a stunning new mystery for fans of Richard Osman and S.J. Bennett. The devil is in the detail…

The Space Between Us by Doug Johnstone

When three people suffer strokes after seeing dazzling lights over Edinburgh, then awake completely recovered, they’re convinced their ordeal is connected to the alien creature discovered on a nearby beach… an adrenaline-soaked, deeply humane, life-affirming first-contact novel from one of Scotland’s most revered authors…

Lennox is a troubled teenager with no family. Ava is eight months pregnant and fleeing her abusive husband. Heather is a grieving mother and cancer sufferer. They don’t know each other, but when a meteor streaks over Edinburgh, all three suffer instant, catastrophic strokes… 

…only to wake up the following day in hospital, miraculously recovered. 

When news reaches them of an octopus-like creature washed up on the shore near where the meteor came to earth, Lennox senses that some extra-terrestrial force is at play. With the help of Ava, Heather and a journalist, Ewan, he rescues the creature they call ‘Sandy’ and goes on the run. 

But they aren’t the only ones with an interest in the alien … close behind are Ava’s husband, the police and a government unit who wants to capture the creature, at all costs. And Sandy’s arrival may have implications beyond anything anyone could imagine…

The Dying Season by Rachel Amphlett

When a man is shot at point blank range outside an isolated country pub, Kay Hunter is thrust into one of the most dangerous cases of her career.

As personal and political disputes threaten to undermine her efforts to track down the killer, Kay’s investigation is complicated further when her superiors elect to coordinate the subsequent manhunt themselves.

Uncovering a covert trade in outlawed weapons and faced with witnesses too scared to talk, Kay will have to do everything in her power to stop the killer and prevent another tragedy.

Except this time, one of her team is in the direct line of fire…

The Dying Seasonis the 12th book in the Detective Kay Hunter series by USA Today bestselling author Rachel Amphlett, and perfect for readers who love fast-paced crime thrillers.

Beautiful Shining People by Michael Grothaus

A damaged young man meets an enigmatic waitress in a Tokyo café, and they embark on a journey that will change everything … an emotive speculative literary novel set in a near-future Japan

It’s our world, but decades into the future … an ordinary world, where cars drive themselves, drones glide across the sky, and robots work in burger shops. There are two superpowers and a digital Cold War, but all conflicts are safely oceans away. People get up, work, and have dinner. Everything is as it should be…

Except for seventeen-year-old John, a tech prodigy from a damaged family, who hides a deeply personal secret. But everything starts to change for him when he enters a tiny café on a cold Tokyo night. A café run by a disgraced sumo wrestler, where a peculiar dog with a spherical head lives, alongside its owner, enigmatic waitress Neotnia…

But Neotnia hides a secret of her own – a secret that will turn John’s unhappy life upside down. A secret that will take them from the neon streets of Tokyo to Hiroshima’s tragic past to the snowy mountains of Nagano. 

A secret that reveals that this world is anything ordinary – and it’s about to change forever…

Thirteen titles – unlucky for some. Not for me though as they were fabulous. It’s not as impressive as it sounds as this is over two weeks where I was mostly doing absolutely nothing, and three are only short stories, but I’m happy. A fortnight is a very long time in blogging terms too, and even with a few days off, the recap is looooooong ….

#Bookvent Day Eighteen – The Butcher and the Wren – Alaina Urquhart
#Bookvent – Mandie’s Top Reads of 2022
#Bookvent Day Nineteen – The Moose Paradox – Antti Tuomainen
#Bookvent Day Twenty – The Pain Tourist – Paul Cleave
#Bookvent Day Twenty One – Dashboard Elvis is Dead – David F. Ross
#Bookvent – Highly Recommended – Red Hot Reads published in 2021

#Bookvent Day Twenty Two – Six Graves – Angela Marsons
#Bookvent Day Twenty Three – Whisper of the Seals – Roxanne Bouchard
#Bookvent Book of the Year – The Bleeding – Johana Gustawsson
#Review – The Girls on the Shore – Ann Cleeves, Treasure – Oyinkan Brainthwaite, Snowflakes – Ruth Ware
#Bookvent – The Full and Final Countdown
#Review – Private Beijing – Adam Hamdy & James Patterson
#A Year In Books – Jen’s 2022 Reads – Quarter One
#A Year in Books – Mandie’s 2022 Reads – Quarter One
#Review – The Killer In The Snow – Alex Pine
#A Year In Books – Jen’s 2022 Reads – Quarter Two
#A Year in Books – Mandie’s 2022 Reads – Quarter Two
#Review – The Hidden Secrets of Bumbleebee Cottage – Christie Barlow
#A Year In Books – Jen’s 2022 Reads – Quarter Three
#A Year in Books – Mandie’s 2022 Reads – Quarter Three
#A Year In Books – Jen’s 2022 Reads – Quarter Four
#A Year in Books – Mandie’s 2022 Reads – Quarter Four

So much for a quiet Christmas huh? 😝 No blog tours this week though, just some good old fashioned ‘read because we wanted to’ book reviews. They will be more of a ‘thing’ this year without a doubt. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of trawling the preloaded titles on Zon over Christmas, and I know that there will be far more books I want to buy and read than days I have to read them (nothing new there) so I think that this year will be ending in some regrets, or at least ‘books I still want to read but haven’t’ titles, and it’s barely even started yet!

I hope you all had a fabulous couple of weeks. Looking forward to seeing what bookish joy 2023 will bring.

Happy reading.


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