Rewind, Recap: Weekly Update W/E 12/02/23

We are nearly half way through February! Can you believe that? Despite this incredible and unbelievable news, I am still in a good mood as I have just had a fabulous week off work. Met up with Abbie Osborne on Monday for lunch and a good natter, then had a couple of days in Edinburgh where Mandie and I met up with the lovely Kelly Lacey, this time for brunch and a good natter. We decided fairly last minute to make the trip but so glad that we did.

Plenty of walking helped stimulate the weight loss, in spite of the food consumption (twelve miles each day, even with two three hour train journeys each way, and a mere 60,000 steps), and a last minute trip to Edinburgh Zoo on the Thursday to say our goodbyes to the Pandas (going back to China later this year) was a very nice distraction, and just what we both needed. Things are changing on the work front which means we won’t have as much free time as we’ve had in the past, but we’re making the most of what we have left and have positive plans for the future too, so it’s not going to stop us having fun.

The Ross Fountain in Princes Street Gardens, with Edinburgh Castle in the background.
Various animals at Edinburgh Zoo including: Penguins, Pelicans, Koala, Lion, Robin (not an exhibit), Giraffe, Banteng, Zebra, Meerkats, Panda, Pygmy Hippo, Red Panda, Tiger

It wasn’t all lunch and animals this week (although there were plenty of both). We actually went to Birmingham on Monday for an evening with Janice Hallett and Tom Hindle, so took the opportunity to buy one or two books while we were there. Obviously I purchased a copy of The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett and The Murder Game by Tom Hindle (would have been rude not to), but I also picked up Exiles by Jane Harper, In The Blink of an Eye by Jo Callaghan (both signed copies) and My Darkest Prayer by S.A. Cosby. I ordered a couple more books to be delivered too – Verity by Colleen Hoover based on Abbie’s recommendation, and A Fatal Crossing by Tom Hindle.

As if all of that wasn’t fabulous enough, I have won a book in a giveaway – The McMaster’s Guide to Homicide – Vol. 1: Murder Your Employer (Feb 21st) by Rupert Holmes (one to be read at work that one …) so am looking forward to receiving that. And I came home to a signed proof of The Fall from the lovely Louise Jensen (27 April). Then on Friday, because my week hadn’t been perfect enough already, I received a lovely parcel from Karen at Orenda Books with proof copies of The Acapulco by Simone Buchholz (April 13th); The Fascination by Essie Fox (June 22nd); and Thirty Days of Darkness by Jenny Lund Madsen (May 11th). How amazing is that?

L-R: The Mysterious Case Of The Alperton Angels; The Murder Game: My Darkest Prayer
L=-R: Exiles; In The Blink Of an Eye; Murder Your Employer
L-R: The Fall; Verity; A Fatal Crossing
L-R: The Acapulco; Thirty Days of Darkness; The Fascination

Of course, that wasn’t my lot this week, not by a long chalk. Three Netgalley approvals – Conviction by Jack Jordan (June 22nd); Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward (April 20th) and A Summer Surprise at the Little Blue Boathouse by Christie Barlow (April 30th). I also ordered a couple of books – Girl Forgotten by Karin Slaughter in e-book (already have the hardback) and a preorder of Halfway House by Helen Fitzgerald. And I picked up some Audible titles too – why not right? The Crossing Places and The Janus Stone by Elly Griffiths and The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell

L-R: Conviction; Looking Glass Sound; A Summer Surprise at the Little Blue Boathouse
L-R: Girl Forgotten; The Crossing Places; The Janus Stone; The Whispering Muse

Because I’m awkward, and to be honest find e-reading easier most days, I’ve added some last minute e-book buys to my shelf just after I prepped the first draft of this post. I already have the book books of A Lesson In Violence and The Last King of California by Jordan Harper, but bought the ebook copies too. Partly so I can read in bed after lights out. Mostly because I can’t be arsed to go through my piles of piles for find the books … I’m so lazy. 😝

L-R: The Last King of California; A Lesson In Violence

And that, finally, was my lot. Maybe I shouldn’t have so much time off work in future (for the sake of my bank balance …)

Books I have read

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

The dark, atmospheric, feminist offspring of Squid Game, The Hunting Party and Misery

A book deal to die for.

Five attendees are selected for a month-long writing retreat at the remote estate of Roza Vallo, the controversial high priestess of feminist horror. Alex, a struggling writer, is thrilled.

Upon arrival, they discover they must complete an entire novel from scratch, and the best one will receive a seven-figure publishing deal. Alex’s long-extinguished dream now seems within reach.

But then the women begin to die.

Trapped, terrified yet still desperately writing, it is clear there is more than a publishing deal at stake at Blackbriar Estate. Alex must confront her own demons – and finish her novel – to save herself.

This unhinged, propulsive, claustrophobic closed-door thriller will pull you in and spit you out…

The Chase by Ava Glass


These are the instructions sent to new operative Emma Makepeace.

She’s been assigned to track down a man wanted by the Russians and bring him into MI5.

It should be easy. But the Russians have eyes everywhere.

Emma knows that if spotted she and her target will be killed.

What follows is a perilous chase through London’s night-time streets.

But in a city full of cameras, where can you hide?

The Half Burnt House by Alex North

atie always looked after her beloved younger brother Chris – until she left him alone for one selfish afternoon, and their picture-perfect family fell apart. Although Chris survived the attack, the scars ran deeper than the ones left across his face. Now they’re adults, and they haven’t spoken in years. Then she gets a call, from Detective Laurence Page.

Page is facing an unusually disturbing crime scene. Alan Hobbes, a distinguished and wealthy philosophy professor, has been brutally murdered. Hobbes was living in a sprawling mansion – but one that remains half-ruined by a decades-old fire, wind and rain howling through the gaping, creaking roof.

Page only has one suspect: Chris, caught on CCTV at the house. But he has plenty of questions. What could cause a man as wealthy as Hobbes not to repair his home? Why did he seem to know his death was coming, yet do nothing to stop it? And why was he obsessed with a legendary local serial killer?

But Katie only has one thing on her mind. She knows this is her last, best chance to finally save her brother, and make up for her negligence all those years ago.

But she can’t possibly imagine just how much danger he’s in…

Eleven Liars by Robert Gold

Journalist Ben Harper is on his way home when he sees the flames in the churchyard. The derelict community centre is on fire. And somebody is trapped inside.

With Ben’s help the person escapes, only to flee the scene before they can be identified. Now the small town of Haddley is abuzz with rumours. Was this an accident, or arson?

Then a skeleton is found in the burnt-out foundations.

And when the identity of the victim is revealed, Ben is confronted with a crime that is terrifyingly close to home. As he uncovers a web of deceit and destruction that goes back decades, Ben quickly learns that in this small town, everybody has something to hide.

Dark Deeds Down Under – Edited by Craig Sisterson

A vibrant southern constellation of crime writers.

Dark Deeds Down Under features the very best of modern Australian and New Zealand crime and mystery writing.

Spend time with some of your favourite Aussie and Kiwi cops, sleuths and accidental heroes, and meet some edgy new investigators.

A crew of beloved series characters – Corinna Chapman, Hirsch, Sam Shephard, Rowly Sinclair, Nick Chester, Murray Whelan – will lead you down dark alleys to meet our newer heroes – the Nancys, Penny Yee and Matiu, Alex Clayton, Kate Miles – and the stars of some cracking standalone tales.

Travel the criminal trails of two countries. From the dusty Outback to South Island glaciers, from ocean-carved coastlines and craggy mountains to sultry rainforests or Middle Earth valleys, and via sleepy towns to the seething underbellies of our cosmopolitan cities.

The 19 dark deeds herein are perpetrated by:

Alan Carter – Nikki Crutchley – Aoife Clifford – Garry Disher – Helen Vivienne Fletcher – Lisa Fuller – Sulari Gentill – Kerry Greenwood – Narrelle M. Harris – Katherine Kovacic – Shane Maloney – R.W.R. McDonald – Dinuka McKenzie – Dan Rabarts & Lee Murray – Renee – Stephen Ross – Fiona Sussman – Vanda Symon – David Whish-Wilson

Not as impressive as it looks as I’ve been reading Dark Deeds Down Under over the past few weeks to supplement by book book reading and keep my kindle reading stats alive, so it’s more 4.5. Still a good total as I’ve not had the quietest of weeks. A full week on the blog too – recap below:

#Review – Dead of Night – Simon Scarrow
#Review – Black Foam – Haji Jabir
#Review – The Last Party – Clare Mackintosh
#Review – Bury Them Deep – James Oswald
#Review – Cast Iron – Peter May

Two blog tours this week. Today I’m taking a look at the latest Kay Hunter book from Rachel Amphlett, The Dying Season. And later in the week I will be sharing my thoughts on the latest Sam Shephard thriller from Vanda Symon, Expectant.

L-R: The Dying Season; Expectant

And that is your (my) lot. Make the most of it. Next week’s post will be very dull by comparison – all work, work, work (boo hiss).

Have a lovely week. Hope it’s full of books, reading and relaxation.

Jen x

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