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Jun 06

Summer Books Special 2014 | Hot Summer Reads

We have sourced some excellent holiday books to pack in your suitcase. Read on and let us know what you think.

hotsummerreads

The White Russian By Vanora Bennett

From the author of Midnight in St Petersburg, a novel of love, art, music and family secrets set amongst the Russian émigré community of Paris in 1937.

Evie, a rebellious young American leaves New York in search of art and adventure in jazz-age Paris, where her grandmother lives. But on arrival, her grandmother’s sudden death leaves Evie compelled to carry out her dying wish: to find a man from her past called Zhenya.

The quest leads Evie deep into the heart of the Russian émigré community of Paris. With the world on the brink of war, she becomes embroiled in murder plots, conspiracies and illicit love affairs as White faces Red Russian and nothing is as it seems.

With Jean, a liberal Russian writer by her side, Evie finally seems to have found the passion and excitement she’s yearned for. But is she any nearer to discovering the identity of the mysterious Zhenya, or the heartbreak of her grandmother’s past?

This is a great, intriguing book that really grabs you. Perfect if you love historical novels.

The White Russian is available here.

 

Wilkie Collins A Life of Sensation By Andrew Lycett

1868, and bestselling author Wilkie Collins is hard at work on a new detective novel, The Moonstone. But he is weighed down by a mountain of problems – his own sickness, the death of his mother, and, most pressing, the announcement by his live-in mistress that she has tired of his relationship with another woman and intends to marry someone else. His solution is to increase his industrial intake of opium and knuckle down to writing the book T. S. Eliot called the ‘greatest’ English detective novel.

Of Wilkie’s domestic difficulties, not a word to the outside world: indeed, like his great friend Charles Dickens, he took pains to keep secret any detail of his ménage. There’s no doubt that the arrangement was unusual and, for Wilkie, precarious, particularly since his own books focused on uncovering such deeply held family secrets. Indeed, he was the master of the Victorian sensation novel, fiction that left readers on the edge of their seats as mysteries and revelations abounded.

In this colourful investigative portrait, Andrew Lycett draws Wilkie Collins out from the shadow of Charles Dickens. Wilkie is revealed as a brilliant, witty, friendly, contrary and sensual man, deeply committed to his work. Here he is given his rightful place at the centre of the literary, artistic and historical movements of his age.

Part biography, part history, part intimate family saga, Wilkie Collins brings to life one of England’s greatest writers against the backdrop of Victorian London and all its complexities. It is a truly sensational story.

This is a great informative book about the mid-Victorian age. Well researched.

Wilkie Collins: A Life of Sensation is available here.

 

The Quickening By Julie Myerson

Rachel and Dan want to go somewhere hot in January.

Recently married and expecting their first baby, they decide on an island in the Caribbean. Why not turn it into a honeymoon, Dan says?

A holiday in paradise. It ought to be perfect. Except that, for Rachel, it’s not.

Things take a sinister turn as soon as they arrive.

As furniture shifts and objects fly around, as a waitress begs her to leave and a fellow guest makes her increasingly uneasy, Rachel realises everything she holds most dear is at stake and nothing is quite as it seems…

A good, suspenseful and scary novel. Perfect holiday reading that can be read in one sitting.

The Quickening is available here.

 

Time To Say Goodbye By Katie Flynn

It’s 1939, and three ten-year-old girls meet on a station platform.

Imogen, Rita and Debby all missed the original evacuation and now the authorities are finding it difficult to place them. When Auntie and her niece, Jill, who run the Canary and Linnet Public House, offer to take them in, the billeting officer is greatly relieved.

The countryside is heaven to the three little townies, especially after they meet Woody and Josh, also evacuees. They find that by climbing to the top of the biggest tree in the beech wood they have a perfect bird’s-eye view of the nearest RAF station and are able to watch the comings and goings of the young fighter pilots as the Battle of Britain rages. Then they find an injured flier and the war becomes a stark reality.

As they grow up, love and rivalry enter their lives and, twenty years on, when the girls decide on a reunion, many surprises come to light…

This is a well written and engaging book about friendship and war. Very enjoyable.

Time to Say Goodbye is available here.

 

Midnight In St Petersburg By Vanora Bennett


From the author of The White Russian. Vanora has two books on this list. Her books are brilliant and engaging historical fiction.

St Petersburg,1911: Inna Feldman has fled the pogroms of the south to take refuge with distant relatives in Russia’s capital city.

Welcomed into the flamboyant Leman family, she is apprenticed into their violin-making workshop.

With her looks and talents, she feels instantly at home in their bohemian circle of friends. But revolution is in the air and, as society begins to fracture, she is forced to choose between her heart and her head.

She loves her brooding cousin, Yasha, but he is wild, destructive and bent on revolution; Horace Wallich, the Englishman who works for Fabergé, is older and promises security and respectability.

As the revolution descends into anarchy and blood-letting, a commission to repair a priceless Stradivarius violin offers Inna a means of escape. But which man will she choose to take with her? And is it already too late?

Midnight in St Petersburg is available here.

 

Nightingales On Call By Donna Douglas

Dora and her old enemy Lucy are paired up on the children’s ward for the final three months of their training. The two nurses couldn’t seem more different, but they may have more in common than they think, as each hides a secret heartache and new faces at the Nightingale

Jess is the feisty eldest daughter of a notorious East End family and determined to prove herself as a ward maid.

And new trainee nurse Effie can’t wait to escape her small Irish village, and make her way as a nurse in London. But Effie’s sister Katie soon begins to worry that Effie’s behaviour is out of control.

Nightingales on call and in crisis: have they got what it takes?

This is part of a series of books but the books can also be read alone. It is easy to read and entertaining. It is also interesting to find out how nursing has changed. Great book.

Nightingales on Call is available here.

 

After The Honeymoon By Janey Fraser

Two couples, one honeymoon destination, and enough secrets to end both marriages. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell

How can one honeymoon cause so much trouble?

Much as Emma loves Tom, she would never have got married if he hadn’t insisted. But with Tom sick for the whole week, shouldn’t she at least take advantage of the entertainment?

Winston married Melissa after a three-month whirlwind romance. As a breakfast TV fitness star, he’s anxious to keep things private. But the arrival of Melissa’s two children soon puts paid to that.

Rosie arrived at the Villa Rosa homeless and pregnant when she was just seventeen. Now, sixteen years later, she runs the place. However, the appearance of Winston throws her into confusion. He might not remember her, but she has never forgotten him.

By the end of the week, none of their lives will be the same. But how will they cope after the honeymoon is over?

This book is perfect holiday reading. It is fun but not fluff. It is easy to read but says a lot about relationships. Brilliant.

After the Honeymoon is available here.

 

The Wedding Gift By Marlen Suyapa Bodden

What if, on your sister’s wedding day, you were given to her – as her slave?

When wealthy plantation owner Cornelius Allen marries off his daughter Clarissa, he presents her with a wedding gift: a young slave woman called Sarah.

The two girls have grown up together but their lives could not have been more different. Clarissa is white and is used to a life of privilege and ease. Sarah is black and is used to a life of slavery and hard work.

Forbidden by law to leave the plantation, Sarah longs to be free – in mind and in body.

But when she decides her future lies away from Clarissa, she sets in motion a series of events that will have devastating consequences for them both.

This book is hard to put down. This is a great book which is well researched and has an unexpected ending. A great book with lots of substance.

The Wedding Gift is available here.

 

Closed Doors By Lisa O’Donnell

A powerful tale of love, the loss of innocence and the importance of family in difficult times by the acclaimed author of The Death of Bees, winner of the Commonwealth Book Prize 2013

‘There are no strangers in Rothesay, Michael. Everyone knows who you are and always will. It’s a blessing but it’s also a curse.’

Eleven-year-old Michael Murray is the best at two things: keepy-uppies and keeping secrets. His family think he’s too young to hear grown-up stuff, but he listens at doors; it’s the only way to find out anything. And Michael’s heard a secret, one that might explain the bruises on his mother’s face.

When the whispers at home and on the street become too loud to ignore, Michael begins to wonder if there is an even bigger secret he doesn’t know about. Scared of what might happen if anyone finds out, and desperate for life to return to normal, Michael sets out to piece together the truth. But he also has to prepare for the upcoming talent show, keep an eye out for Dirty Alice, his arch-nemesis from down the street, and avoid eating Granny’s watery stew.

Closed Doors is the startling new novel from the acclaimed author of The Death of Bees. It is a vivid evocation of the fears and freedoms of childhood in the 1980s and a powerful tale of love, the loss of innocence and the importance of family in difficult times.

This is an incredibly good story. It also captures the 1980s perfectly. A heartbreaking and touching novel. Very good read.

Closed Doors is available here.

 

What will you read?