Broken Summer by @joeyverse

A death, a lie, a secret. For twenty-six summers he didn’t have the courage to face the past.

Lee Hanjo is an artist at the peak of his fame, envied and celebrated. Then, on his forty-third birthday, he awakens to find that his devoted wife has disappeared, leaving behind a soon-to-be-published novel she’d secretly written about the sordid past and questionable morality of an artist with a trajectory similar to Hanjo’s. It’s clear to him that his life is about to shatter and the demons from his past will come out. But why did his wife do it? Why now?

The book forces Hanjo to reflect on a summer from his youth when a deadly lie irreversibly and tragically determined the fates of two families.

From master storyteller J. M. Lee, one of Korea’s most renowned authors, comes an unforgettable novel of hidden truths, denials, and their inevitable repercussions. Everyone still left standing from that terrible summer so long ago must finally reckon with the deceptions that started it all and, twist after shocking twist, reap both the suffering and the vindication that comes with revenge.

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The people of the city knew him well.

HANJO

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(Amazon Crossing, I September 2022, ebook, 251 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle, #AmazonFirstReads)

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This is a new author for me. Broken Summer appealed to me the most from this month’s titles. I thought this was a terrific book. I loved the way the events move between the past and present gradually revealing Hanjo’s dark secrets and what they have to do with his wife and her book. There are a lot of twists and turns and misdirection in the book and I was never sure the direction things would take. This is well worth a read.

The Wine of Angels by @PhilRickman

The Merrily Watkins series will have you hooked. Join Merrily in her chilling tales of murder, mystery and intrigue.

The new vicar had never wanted a picture-postcard parish – or a huge and haunted vicarage. Nor had she wanted to walk into a dispute over a controversial play about a seventeenth-century clergyman accused of witchcraft… a story that certain long-established families would rather remained obscure.

But this is Ledwardine, steeped in cider and secrets… A paradise of cobbled streets and timber-framed houses. And also – as Merrily Watkins and her teenage daughter, Jane, discover – a village where horrific murder is a tradition that spans centuries.

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TWISTY OLD DEVIL.

PROLOGUE, TWELFTH NIGHT

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(@CorvusBooks, 1 April 2011, e-book, 527 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading)

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I’ve read a few books in this series but still have a lot of get through. I recently read All of a Winter’s Night which reignited my interest in the series. I really enjoyed The Wine of Angels which is the first book in the series. I have a vague memory of reading it many years ago. I think Merrily is a great character. I love her name and the fact she’s not what you expect a vicar to be – in a good way. This is well-written and engaging. I really enjoyed it.

And Then It Happened by @LindaGreenisms

The only man you’ve ever loved is slipping away…

Mel and Adam were childhood sweethearts and remain blissfully happy twenty years on.

And then it happens…

When tragedy strikes, Mel is faced with losing the only man she has ever loved. But what if he hasn’t really been taken from her at all – he just can’t find a way to let her know…

From the bestselling author of While My Eyes Were Closed comes a heart-breaking story of love against all odds.

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I was eleven years old the first time I saw him, but I still knew straight away.

PROLOGUE

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(@QuercusBooks, 18 July 2017, e-book, 402 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I bought And Then It Happened on impulse as it was on sale and the blurb made it sound like a real tear-jerker which is what I was after at the time. This is an incredibly sad book. I related to Mel and Adam as I have a similar relationship with my partner so could relate to their closeness and their love for each other. This book punches you in the heart when Mel’s worst nightmares come true. I cried a lot reading this but that’s a good thing.

To the Sky Kingdom by Tang Qi

When the immortal Bai Qian finally meets her intended husband, the heir to the Sky Throne, she considers herself in luck—until an old enemy returns to threaten everything she holds dear…

When a mortal woman enters the immortal world to be with her true love, she sparks a jealousy that ends in tragedy…

And when a war god depletes his spiritual energy, his devoted student sustains his body with her own heart’s blood until the god’s scattered soul reassembles…

Spanning a thousand years of tangled lives, To the Sky Kingdom is a story of epic battles, passion, evil, and magic. In its journey across worlds and time, it delves into the powerful forces that drive mortals and gods alike toward revenge, loyalty—and love.

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She had been feeling completely drained of energy.

PROLOGUE

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(Amazon Crossing, 23 August 2016, e-book, 459 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle, translated by @poppyteapot)

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I’d never heard of this book or author before. I got To the Sky Kingdom as a freebie, so I had no idea what to expect. I liked this book a lot. I loved the world building and the way the author brings the Sky Kingdom, the immortals and mortal world and myths and legends to life. This is well-written and engaging. I liked it a lot.

Mother Swamp by @jesmimi

A fever dream of the past that ripples outward to the modern world, this powerful short story by two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward draws inspiration from the hidden communities built by people escaping slavery.

Afice is the last of nine generations of women who have survived enslavement, sickness, and hunger. Alone at age seventeen, she sets out through the Louisiana swamps to follow the trail of her ancestors and hear their songs anew. On this journey, Afice must decide how to honour her ancestors while embracing her own future.

Jesmyn Ward’s Mother Swamp is part of A Point in Time, a transporting collection of stories about the pivotal moments, past and present, that change lives. Read or listen to each immersive story in a single sitting.

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I watch the sky, night after night.

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(Amazon Original Stories, 28 July 2022, e-book, 24 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading, A Point in Time #7)

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I really enjoyed Mother Swamp. It reminds me a lot of the author’s novels which I’ve enjoyed immensely. I enjoyed the afterward by the author which reveals the sources that inspired the story. I’m the kind of reader who likes that. I felt like I was reading a part of something much larger. I found this a gripping read.

Alison’s Conviction by @ThomasKeneally

A young autistic woman finds her voice and a path toward justice in this uplifting short story about the power of family history by Thomas Keneally, award-winning author of Schindler’s List.

When Alison Strange receives a debt claim she can’t afford to pay from the Australian government’s unemployment office, she’s caught completely off-balance. As she wrestles with a slippery bureaucracy, her history-loving grandfather bolsters her resolve with the story of their ancestor John Strange, an English cobbler who was banished to Australia for his part in a political movement. Drawing inspiration from John’s life, Alison finds her own unique way to demand a future that’s fair for all.

Thomas Keneally’s Alison’s Conviction is part of A Point in Time, a transporting collection of stories about the pivotal moments, past and present, that change lives. Read or listen to each immersive story in a single sitting.

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Alison Strange was a clever girl of whom it was known by her mother, her grandfather, and her teachers that she could not face tests of knowledge.

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(Amazon Original Stories, 28 July 2022, e-book, 37 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading, A Point in Time #6)

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I really enjoyed Alison’s Convictions. It’s my favourite story in the series. There are some funny almost satirical moments as Alison and her family determine to prove she does not owe any money and find themselves effectively talking to a brick wall as the office insist the money is owed as their algorithms said so and Alison would be better paying to stop everyone bothering her. I found this very realistic given the issues people have had when out benefits changed not long ago and people suddenly not qualifying when nothing had changed.  

The Furies by @jconnollybooks

The Furies: mythological snake-haired goddesses of vengeance, pursuers of those who have committed unavenged crimes. Now, private investigator Charlie Parker is drawn into a world of modern furies in two linked stories.

In The Sisters Strange, the return of the criminal Raum Buker to Portland, Maine brings with it chaos and murder, as an act of theft threatens not only to tear apart his own existence but also that of Raum’s former lovers, the enigmatic sisters Dolors and Ambar Strange.

And in The Furies Parker finds himself fighting to protect two more women as the city of Portland shuts down in the face of a global pandemic, but it may be that his clients are more capable of taking care of themselves than anyone could have imagined . . .

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Like Noah and his ark, the town of Athens, in Bradford County, Pennsylvania, seemed destined forever to be associated with floods.

THE SISTERS STRANGE, 1

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(@HodderBooks, 4 August 2022, e-book, 469 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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THE SISTERS STRANGE: I enjoyed this novella a lot. It contains all the elements I’ve come to expect from a Charlie Parker case; dodgy dealings with a whiff of the supernatural (in this case a creepy dude called Kepler, weeping pus and cutting down anyone who gets in his way searching for his precious stolen coins) and of course, a little cameo from Angel and Louis. There are references to the rest of the series to keep uber-fans like me happy. This is a solid thriller.

THE FURIES: I enjoyed this a bit more than The Sisters Strange though loved the book overall. The supernatural undertones take more of a centre strange in this novella. Thankfully, my favourite duo Angel and Louis have a larger role this time around. Parker is dealing with two cases, both involving women who have been used and wronged by bad men. This story has everything I’ve come to expect from the series.

A Wild Rose by @FionaDavisBooks

A troubled concert pianist searches for a new inspiration among the hidden back hallways of Carnegie Hall in bestselling author Fiona Davis’s bold short story of artistic ambition in 1950s New York.

World-renowned pianist Gloria Banderas is at the height of her career when a curious ailment forces her to cancel a sold-out performance at Carnegie Hall. The same day, she befriends one of the many free-spirited artists inhabiting the warren of apartments above the theatre. With her career and marriage at a standstill, Gloria moves into an empty studio and convalesces among the poets, photographers, and dancers who eke out a living with total dedication to their art. As a return to her old routine beckons, Gloria must decide which parts of her life are worth fighting for.

Fiona Davis’s A Wild Rose is part of A Point in Time, a transporting collection of stories about the pivotal moments, past and present, that change lives. Read or listen to each immersive story in a single sitting.

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Do you know Camille Saint-Saen’s The Dying Swan?

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(Amazon Original Stories, 28 July 2022, ebook, 36 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading, A Point in Time #5)

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This is a new author for me. I really enjoyed A Wild Rose. Like the other stories in this series this felt much longer than the 36 pages. It felt like I read a complete novel. I liked the afterword of the story where the author discusses the actual events that inspired her. I really liked Gloria as a character. She comes across as a real person easy to sympathise with as she’d forced to question her identity and purpose. This is a powerful piece of writing.

We Are Bone and Earth by Esi Edugyan

In this moving short tale of one girl’s search for her lost brother, award-winning author Esi Edugyan offers a vivid, unique perspective on a lesser-known corner of the West African slave trade.

At a fort in Cabo Vermelho in 1779, Sisi, a West African girl with a gift for languages, works as a translator for her English enslavers. She was separated from her younger brother after they were kidnapped from their village by the ahosi, fierce female warriors who serve a neighbouring king—and her guilt over her failure to protect him has never left her. When unexpected news reaches the fort, Sisi must find her voice, for her brother’s sake and for her own.

Esi Edugyan’s We Are Bone and Earth is part of A Point in Time, a transporting collection of stories about the pivotal moments, past and present, that change lives. Read or listen to each immersive story in a single sitting.

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In the early hours, the rooms still cold from the night wind off the water, a new caravan arrives at the fort.

CABO VERMELLHO, 1779

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(Amazon Original Stories, 28 July 2022, ebook, 36 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading, A Point in Time #4)

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This is a new author for me. I really enjoyed We Are Bone and Earth. I haven’t read much fiction set in Africa or the era the story covers so this was new territory for me. Like the other stories in this series, this is more than the sum of its parts. I found it mesmerising and powerful yet incredibly sad at times. I highly recommend this

Landing by Olivia Hawker

Doubt plagues a new marriage when a young NASA engineer focuses more on the Apollo 11 moon landing than his own future in this poignant short story by bestselling author Olivia Hawker.

Alan is able to imagine every way critical equipment might break during the launch and landing of Apollo 11. But his experience in preventing cosmic disasters does nothing to prepare him for the pressures of a hasty marriage to a woman he barely knows—or the strain of keeping up appearances amid the shifting social attitudes of the late ’60s. When a crisis at home forces Alan back to earth, he’s faced with a choice he doesn’t know how to make: whether to let go or move forward.

Olivia Hawker’s Landing is part of A Point in Time, a transporting collection of stories about the pivotal moments, past and present, that change lives. Read or listen to each immersive story in a single sitting.

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Ian knew he’d gone and done it when he stumbled out of his car in the crowded parking lot of Saint Teresa’s and there was George Doherty, who would be Alan’s father-in-law a few hours from now, waiting for him in the glaring June sunlight.

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(Amazon Original Stories, 28 July 2022, ebook, 34 pages, borrowed from @AmazonKindle, #PrimeReading, A Point in Time #3)

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I really enjoyed Landing. I’ve never read fiction set around this era so this was a nice change for me. Like other stories in this collection, I felt like I was reading something much longer than a scant 34 pages. I liked the fact the story focused on a personal experience of someone who was part of the Apollo 11 team rather than a wider-arching story. It was nice and intimate.

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