July Reading List.

I’ve seen a lot of posts lately about reading lists and books people want to read this month so I thought I would join in.

I’m doing a lot of writing right now so my list is short but I did just finish ‘Black & Blue’, by Ian Rankin even thought I started that in June.books1

Starting from the bottom.

1. ‘Watching Over You’, by Mel Sherratt.

Following the death of her husband and unborn child, Charley Belington sells the family home and bravely starts life over again. On moving into a new flat, she is befriended by her landlady, Ella, who seems like the perfect friend and confidante.

But, unbeknown to Charley, Ella is fighting her own dark and dirty demons as the fallout from a horrific childhood sends her spiralling down into madness – and unspeakable obsessions.

As Ella’s mind splinters, her increasingly bizarre attentions make Charley uneasy. But with every step Charley tries to take to distance herself, Ella move in a tightening lockstep with her, closer and closer and closer…

From the bestselling author of Taunting the Dead comes a raw, intense, relentless, and darkly claustrophobic psychological thriller that grabs you by the back of the neck and never lets go.

I started this book when it arrived but I was distracted by my own work when I was nearly halfway in. So much so I resigned myself to the fact that to fully appreciate the rest I would need to start over again, so that is what I finally plan to do. Mel Sherratt is a wonderful woman that I have had the pleasure of conversing with on twitter. Her writing is intense and gripping, The half of the book that I did read I did so in one go, I never put it down, just sitting on the arm of my couch one evening and looked up to see that I’d been reading for quite some time. I hope the rest is as enticing as the first half.

2. ‘Secrets of the Sea House,’ by Elisabeth Gifford.

Scotland, 1860.

Reverend Alexander Ferguson takes up his new parish on the Hebridean island of Harris. His time on the island will change the course of his life, but the white house on the edge of the dunes keeps its silence long after Alexander departs.

More than a century later, Ruth and Michael buy the dilapidated building. But their dreams of turning it into a family home are marred by a shocking discovery – the bones of a baby are buried beneath the house, its fragile legs fused together. A mermaid child. Who buried the bones? And why?

Ruth needs to solve the mystery of her new home – but the answer to her questions may lie in her own past.

To be honest with you I only bought this book for two reasons.

One – I’m a sucker for anything to do with Scotland. That’s where I was born and raised and where I live now. I always say, “Oh, it’s a shite hole, but it’s our shite hole.” My friend recently came over from The Netherlands and she commented on how even though we say we hate it here we are still very proud of Scotland and being Scottish. I think there is something in Scottish writing that Scots identify with. I think there is a train of thought or just a general way of thinking that may be specific and unique to any country. Maybe that’s why I feel that I can feel a connection with a book by a Scottish author or even just one about Scotland.

In short, if you mention Scotland you have my attention, now you just have to keep it. Which is odd because the plot of the book doesn’t interest me at all. It didn’t when I was buying it either but, reason number two, I do often try to buy out of my usual and I thought, “It might be one of those great books I never thought I’d enjoy,” so I couldn’t help but buy it.

Inside there is a map of the islands of Skye and Lewis, which reminds me of ‘Angels and Demons’, the book, which has a map of Rome at the beginning, so I wonder if the book travels far around these islands and Harris. I’m not sure if I hope it does, I can see continuous description of where the characters are going becoming a distraction from the plot.

I think it’s safe to say I don’t hold out much hope for this one however I hope it proves me wrong.

3. ‘The Book of Air and Shadows’, by Michael Gruber.

Tap-tapping the keys and out come the words on this screen, and who will read them I hardly know. I could be dead by the time anyone actually gets to read them, as dead as, say, Tolstoy. Or Shakespeare…

These are the words of Jake Mishkin, whose job as an intellectual property lawyer has put him at the centre of a deadly chase to find the world’s greatest treasure, Shakespeare’s last, lost play.

In a frantic race from New York to England and Switzerland, Jake finds himself matching wits with a shadowy figure who seem to anticipate his every move. What at first seems like a thrilling puzzle waiting to be deciphered soon turns into a dangerous game in which no one – family, friends, lovers – is to be trusted.

The Book of Air and Shadows is a modern thriller that moves deftly between the twenty-first and seventeenth centuries, brilliantly re-creating the time of Shakespeare and combining with a devastating portrait of a contemporary man on the brink of self-discovery… or self destruction.

I had been, once again, trying to avoid buying books. I obliviously have an addiction to them, I will literally buy books with money I need for food. I will buy the cheapest food available and use any left over for books. Anyway, in  the middle of my “I have no money, don’t buy books”, moment I walked into a charity book shop just for a look because I don’t have to buy anything.

I bought this book and the next one together because I loved the blurbs on them both.

I was also trying to buy out of my norm again, all my books tend to be the same – someone died, someone is trying to figure out who did it and why. So I thought okay, look for covers that maybe suggest something different. This cover got me because I love it’s colour and when I read the blurb I thought it sounded a bit like ‘The Da Vinci Code’,  by Dan Brown, but with Shakespeare instead of God. It was still in my realm of what I like and don’t like but enough to justify buying.

Yes, it was. Yes, it was. Shut up, yes it was. *huff*

Anyway, I’m excited to read this but I can’t decided between starting this one or my next TBR number.

4. ‘The Devil’s Workshop’, by Alex Grecian.

April 1890.

London wakes to the shocking news of a mass prison escape.

Walter Day and the Scotland Yard Murder Squad now face a desperate race against time: if the four convicted murderers aren’t recaptured before night settles, they’ll vanish into the dark alleys of London’s criminal underworld for ever.

And in the midst of this mayhem and fear the city’s worst nightmare is realized: Jack the Ripper haunts the streets of London once more…

I’ll level with you: I love Jack the Ripper. I know, I know, it’s probably weird to have a favourite serial killer but he is mine. Just like Fred Koehler plays my favourite killer in ‘The Mentalist’. I don’t think it’s weird at all, the way you have a favourite episode or bad guy. Jack the Ripper has been so commercialised that, even though we know we’re talking about a serial killer, we still seem to regard him as a ghost story.

I don’t know why I love the story, I just do and always have. Maybe it’s the dark and dirty streets of London, maybe they remind me of the similar kinds of stories Edinburgh has; maybe it’s the description we have all come to know so well – the top hat, the coat and his target of prostitutes; or maybe it’s because he got away with it and is still getting away with it to this day. This man is long dead and yet we still talk about him, we still wonder and we still chase the ghost stories.

I love a good murder or murderer anyway, look at anything I watch or read and there is murder all over the place, probably filtered out from my dream of being a homicide detective but who knows.

Either way, three things intrigued me about the book.

One – How are the cases connected besides being in the same area? Are they both being investigated by Walter Day? Do they intertwine? What are the chances the four murderers escape and then Jack the Ripper pops his head out again?

Two – On the cover there is a quote that reads:

‘CSI: Victorian London’ – Daily Express.

So of course I picked it up, I loved CSI back before it got a bit weird, now I prefer the same kind of shows – ‘Criminal Minds’, ‘NCIS’, ‘The Mentalist’, ‘Whitechapel’, ‘Lewis’. I could go on to name a lot more detective shows, maybe even filtering down to ones who aren’t focused on the forensics side of things, such as ‘Miss Marple’, ‘Poirot’ etc…

Three – The title. ‘The Devil’s Workshop’. To what is that referring? There is nothing in the blurb to allude to it, I assume it’s talking about Jack’s base camp but I don’t know. It’s intrigued me. Is there some reference I’m not privy to?

So, there are my four options, I don’t know if I’ll get a lot of time to read. Between trying to write and the fact that all my lightbulbs keep going I am hindered in my tasks. I will let you know when I read them and what I think.

I’m not sure which to start first, what do you think?

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