On the Shelf: February 2022 reads

In February 2022, I read an eclectic mix of books: three psychological thrillers, a classic and a couple of non-fiction titles.

I read:

  • Two Wrongs by Mel McGrath
  • The Weekend Escape by Rakie Bennett
  • The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker
  • The Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma
  • Lessons in Stoicism by John Sellars

The psychological thrillers all had very different settings – Two Wrongs is set in a fictional university and involves a spate of suicides among female students; The Weekend Escape is set on a stormy island off the coast of North-West England; and The Sanatorium is set in a creepy hotel, a former sanatorium, in snowy Switzerland. I enjoyed them all, but The Weekend Escape was my favourite as it was so fast paced!

I bought Dracula on a recent trip to Whitby. I hadn’t read it before, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I particularly liked the character of Mina and the use of setting and atmosphere to add to the tension. I thought Stoker made effective use of multiple narration and I liked how the story unfolds through different perspectives.

I read The Monk who sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma after reading The 5AM Club. There is quite a lot of cross-over between the two books, but both are worth reading, particularly if you are looking for some focus in a very distracting world! At the heart of The Monk who sold his Ferrari is a rather odd allegory involving a garden, a lighthouse and a sumo wrestler (!) which is, at the very least, memorable! I have tried to adopt some of the principles Sharma advocates, but I am finding the early starts very challenging to stick to.

Lessons in Stoicism is quite a short book and very much an introduction to Stoicism. It was an enjoyable read but I would have preferred something more in-depth as I was familiar with most of the concepts in it.

I am now turning my attention to The Dying Day by Vaseem Khan, who is rapidly becoming one of my favourite writers. This is the second in the Malabar House mystery series set in post-partition India and it is really good so far! I love the main character, Inspector Persis Wadia, and all the historical details which feel meticulously researched.  

What are you reading this month?

A COVER AND A NEW TITLE FOR BOOK TWO!

You’re invited to the wedding of the season…but you might not live to tell the tale!

The cover of my second book was revealed on social media this week and I love it!

I love the striking contrast between the red, white and black. Coincidentally these were the colours of my own wedding which makes it extra special.

Some of you will know that I originally called the book The Wedding Guest, but the title was changed after discussions with the publisher, One More Chapter.

The Wedding Murders features Libby Steele, a plus-one at a celebrity wedding. She’s the guest of her boyfriend Matthew who used to be in a Britpop band with the groom. It’s the first time the band have been reunited since their acrimonious split in the 90s and Libby soon realises they all have secrets to hide.

When a bridesmaid goes missing just hours before the ceremony, Libby suspects there’s a killer on the loose…

I was lucky enough to get an endorsement from the amazing Sophie Hannah which blew me away. This is what she said about the book:

‘This gripping murder mystery will keep you riveted from start to end. Fans of Lucy Foley and Agatha Christie will love it.’ 

You can’t get much better than that! But here are some of the other lovely endorsements I’ve received from published authors:

‘An intensely compelling, riveting story with a nail-biting climax!’ Abby Davies, author of Mother Loves Me

‘A fast-paced thriller with plenty of twists and turns’ Sophie Flynn, author of All My Lies 

‘A gripping tale with plenty of twists and turns making for a most enjoyable read!’ Roz Watkins, author of The Devil’s Dice

I really enjoyed writing this book. It will be published as an ebook in February 2022 and a paperback in April 2022 and is available to pre-order now.

If you’re a book blogger, you can request a review copy on Netgalley.

Inspiration behind The Trip: Stainforth Force

Without wishing to post any spoilers in case you haven’t read it yet, water plays an important role in my debut novel, The Trip.

Rivers are an intrinsic part of the Yorkshire Dales scenery, from small becks to magnificent waterfalls.

Stainforth Force, just North of Settle, is a great example of a Yorkshire Dales river which is both beautiful but deadly.

The River Ribble seems to meander quite peacefully under the old stone packhorse bridge until it reaches the waterfall where it swirls and crashes against the limestone rocks.

The ancient pack horse bridge at Stainforth Force, which dates back to 1675.
The beautiful waterfall at Stainforth Force

In October, you can see salmon travelling upriver to spawn. Incredibly they manage to resist the force of the water to leap up the rocks. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any this year.

For more information about visiting Stainforth Force, visit https://www.yorkshiredales.org.uk/places/stainforth_force/

Places that inspired ‘The Trip’

In October 2017, my husband and I embarked on a backpacking trip around South-East Asia. It was a place we had visited a few times before but always on holiday. We sold our house, gave up our jobs and spent seven months exploring Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Singapore.

In my backpack was the first draft of a novel, which was then called The Pact. A psychological thriller about a student who goes backpacking with her friends after leaving university and is involved in a tragic death. Five years later, she receives a photo that proves she lied about what really happened that night…

The story (and the title) had changed quite a bit by the time my novel was finally published in February 2020, but I hope these photographs give you a flavour of how our travels inspired the novel.

If you want to read more about my adventures, please visit my travel blog: www.diaryofamiddleagedbackpacker.com

Cambodia

The characters visit the ancient temple of Angkor Wat
Holly and George go out in Pub Street in Siem Reap. The bar that features in the novel is fictional.

Vietnam

The characters take a boat trip around Halong Bay. We didn’t visit this area on our backpacking trip but we took the same boat trip in 2015.
The Temple of Literature in Hanoi
Hoi An in Vietnam – another significant scene in the book. Holly and George take a trip along the river in one of these canoes.

Thailand

The Beach in the novel is fictional but I imagine it to look a bit like this.

Yorkshire Dales

Holly lives in the Yorkshire Dales. The village in the book is fictional.