#5Books: Book recs, a holiday and reading time

#5Books book recs for the week ending 4 november 2018

So, I was absent from blogging and commenting for about half of last week, because I was off on a little break.

Byron Bay is a little coastal town where time has stood still (it feels like), cell service is not all that good and online services worse still. Chris Hemsworth is building a massive house somewhere there and pissing his neighbours off, but I didn’t meet him (alas).

Given that list, I think a friend of mine was right in pointing out I don’t know how to relax, but relaxing isn’t always sitting out on the beach and contemplating the waves for me — I mean I did that too, and I finished two books, but at some point, I want to turn my brain off and watch a movie, or just see what’s happening in the news and your blogs.

Can you guys completely switch off when you’re on holiday and just go with the flow? Or are you planner and need to be doing something? I went on an unplanned hike, and a walk to an art’s estate that is *this* close to going out of business, but those were the only two planned things. So to speak.

And in among doing all that, there are recs. OH! And also beachy photos right over here.

The Witch of Willow Hall

Two centuries after the Salem witch trials, there’s still one witch left in Massachusetts. But she doesn’t even know it.

Take this as a warning: if you are not able or willing to control yourself, it will not only be you who suffers the consequences but those around you, as well.

New Oldbury, 1821

In the wake of a scandal, the Montrose family and their three daughters—Catherine, Lydia, and Emeline—flee Boston for their new country home, Willow Hall. The estate seems sleepy and idyllic. But a subtle menace creeps into the atmosphere, remnants of a dark history that call to Lydia, and to the youngest, Emeline.

All three daughters will be irrevocably changed by what follows, but none more than Lydia, who must draw on a power she never knew she possessed if she wants to protect those she loves. For Willow Hall’s secrets will rise, in the end…

In what much be the best marketing for a book, I got an email calling this: Pride and Prejudice meets Practical Magic and was hooked after that. I will admit the blurb doesn’t seem to suggest very much of either, but I live in hope!

A Ladder to the sky

The new novel from the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and The Heart’s Invisible Furies , a seductive Highsmithian psychodrama following one brilliant, ruthless man who will stop at nothing in his pursuit of fame 

Maurice Swift is handsome, charming, and hungry for success. The one thing he doesn’t have is talent – but he’s not about to let a detail like that stand in his way. After all, a would-be writer can find stories anywhere. They don’t need to be his own. Working as a waiter in a West Berlin hotel in 1988, Maurice engineers the perfect opportunity: a chance encounter with celebrated novelist Erich Ackermann. He quickly ingratiates himself with the powerful – but desperately lonely – older man, teasing out of Erich a terrible, long-held secret about his activities during the war. Perfect material for Maurice’s first novel. Once Maurice has had a taste of literary fame, he knows he can stop at nothing in pursuit of that high. Moving from the Amalfi Coast, where he matches wits with Gore Vidal, to Manhattan and London, Maurice hones his talent for deceit and manipulation, preying on the talented and vulnerable in his cold-blooded climb to the top. But the higher he climbs, the further he has to fall…

Interesting bc it’s entirely the opposite to Girl on a Page and Malcolm and Helen who believe in literary greatness and not fame. Here Maurice wants fame above all else. I am hoping it’s much better than Girl on a Page was, at least. 

She Lies in Wait

Who killed Aurora Jackson? Jonah Sheens untangles a web of long-buried secrets in this outstanding debut thriller by the most exciting new voice in upmarket crime fiction.

On a hot July night in 1983, six school friends go camping in the forest. Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and young Aurora Jackson is dazzled to be allowed to tag along.

Thirty years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens is called to the scene, but he already knows what’s waiting for him: Aurora Jackson, found at long last. And that’s not all. The friends have all maintained their innocence, but the body is found in a hideaway only the six of them knew about.

It seems the killer has always lurked very close to home…

First, what on earth is upmarket fiction? Whoever invented that phrase needs to be banned bc what is it saying about those of us who might not find “upmarket” crime fiction all that interesting. And yes, this is still on this list, despite such snobbery.

Perfect Bones

Is the killer on the loose…or standing right beside you?

When art student, Aiden Blake, witnesses a gruesome attack on a London towpath, the police need him to identify the assailant without delay. But there’s a problem: refusing to leave his canal boat and traumatised by the shock, Aiden is rendered mute by the horror of the event and can’t speak to anyone.

In a desperate bid to gain vital information before Aiden’s memories fade, The Met call in Clinical Psychologist and trauma expert, Dr Samantha Willerby, giving her only seven days to get a result. When Aiden finally starts to communicate through his art, however, the images he produces are not what anyone expects and before Sam can make sense of them, another murder takes place.

With her professional skills stretched to the limit and the clock ticking, Sam strives to track down a killer who is as clever as she is – someone who always manages to stay one step ahead.

A Samantha Willerby Mystery, Perfect Bones is a tense and creepy psychological thriller that will send your pulse racing. It can easily be read as a stand-alone novel and will appeal to fans of authors like Nicci French, Mark Edwards and Lisa Gardner.

AJ Waines was a psychotherapist before she became a writer, and worked in safe houses with women who were violent offenders. And who grew up with violence. I have to admit, this article is what makes me want to read this as she talks about how her work there influenced her writing — and the culprits (women) in her books.

That’s all she wrote this week! How are you doing?


  • Melody says:

    I think I’m one of those peeps who can’t really switch off while on vacation. I think it has become a habit accumulated from work. We still think of work at home, so why not on vacation, too? That sort of thing.

    And all the books sound intriguing, in particularly The Witch of Willow Hall. Anyways will keep these titles in mind for my next library visit.

    • Verushka says:

      I can’t completely switch off myself. And I agree, it is a habit accumulated from work and how out lives are go go go because of it.

  • Angela says:

    Glad you enjoyed your break, and the photos were gorgeous! Too bad about not seeing Chris Hemsworth, though, lol! We like to have our vacations pretty well planned out, so I guess it’s not really too relaxing? But I do unplug from the blog and just sparsely follow social media, so that’s good!

    • Verushka says:

      Thank you 🙂 Just before I left for this break, news broke of Chris Hemsworth giving a random hitchiker a ride to Byron and I kept hoping for my chance, but sadly, that didn’t happen 😉 Unplugging is a different kind of relaxing, I think?

  • Glad you enjoyed your break. Yes, I find it hard to turn my mind off. I’m always thinking or worrying about something. That’s why I love reading – it forces my mind to focus on other things. I also like watching movies but find my concentration can drift if I’m really worked up or stressed. I definitely see some books here I want to check out – especially the witch one 🙂 Too bad you couldn’t find Chris – now that would make my mind think of other things 🙂

    • Verushka says:

      Good point re: reading. That is true for me too. I think I can switch off with the right kind of movies, but that doesn’t happen too often I must admit. (YES! Sadly no Chris for me!)

  • I can’t just sit still and do nothing on holiday. When I was in Cape Town years ago I was on the go for up to 10 hours a day visiting various things, sampling local food and culture, shopping…I needed a holiday to recover when I got home! Even my trips over the border to England have me hunting out castles, scenic rivers, places of historical interest, waterfalls etc. I have to be doing something!

    What a pity you didn’t see Chris!

    • Verushka says:

      Every big holiday before that’s exactly what did too — this is the first time I’ve just not planned anything, and tried to take things as I go. Which was hit and miss, I must admit.

  • Jen Mullen says:

    I have The Perfect Bones and will get to it…eventually. I tried The Witch of Willow Hall, but DNF. I loved the blurb, but maybe it just wasn’t what I was looking for at the time, especially if I have something I’m comparing it to that I’ve recently finished. Do you do that? Compare a recent read you really liked to the next few books, regardless of genre? It isn’t quite fair, but there are so many books to get through!

    • Verushka says:

      Oh no! I was really taken by the blurb and the promise of a P&P and Practical Magic mix! Oh, I hear you — I do those sorts of comparisons, and I do them to books that have similar plot points too. I used to feel guilty about it, but you’re right — too many better books out there to spend time on.

  • Lark says:

    I like a mix of do-nothing time and do-something time when I’m on vacation. I don’t like to plan out every hour of every day, but I do like to have some things planned ahead of time. (And too bad you didn’t catch a glimpse of Chris Hemsworth.)

  • Greg says:

    Byron Bay sounds awesome. And lol about Chris Hemsworth. 🙂 Glad you had fun. Yeah I have trouble turning it off sometimes too on vacation- I get the urge to blog or visit blogs sometimes. 🙂 I guess it depends on where I’m at or what I’m doing.

    I love the sound of She Lies In Wait.

  • I hope you had a wonderful break. I loved seeing your vacation photos. I’m kind of a mix between go with the flow and planning. I like to have a few definitive activities planned but then I like to fill in the rest of my time with whatever floats my boat on that particular day.

    “Pride and Prejudice meets Practical Magic” has me completely sold on The Witch of Willow Hall. That sounds amazing!

  • Helena @ The Life of a Booknerd Addict says:

    I’m definitely a go with a flow type but sometimes I wish I was more of a planner. You miss out on a lot if you just go with it. So I try to plan lazy, easy-going days and other days plan to get it done time. So far so good.
    I’ve been seeing The Witch of Willow Hall everywhere on IG. But now you tell me that it was pitched as Pride and Prejudice meets Practical Magic!!! I definitely can’t wait for it now!!!

    Perfect Bones sounds interesting, I saw it around but never read the summary. But now that I did, it’s totally going on my TBR. Great picks this week.

    Hope you have a lovely week ahead. ? xoxo
    Helena @ The Life of a Booknerd Addict recently posted:
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  • Your Byron Bay pics that you posted on Insta were amazing! I have never been to Byron Bay but you’ve made me think that next time I’m in Aus I need to dedicate some time to NSW! Hah, being a QLDer it’s funny saying that! Ha ha.

    I think holidaying needs to be what you need it to be at the time, even if it’s a staycation where you manage to put all the things away in your house that have been irritating you for months but you haven’t had time to get to them! It’s whatever makes you feel better, and sometimes that’s blogging, sometimes that’s switching off, sometimes that’s taking a super planned holiday where you have activities on every day! I generally like a blend of some planned things and some total chill time or spontaneous time.

    Pride and Pejudice meets Pratical Magic? Well that sounds amazing… Although as you say, the blurb doesn’t seem to go that way. Still sounds amazing though!

    Sorry I’ve been a pretty useless blogger this year. I think I am just drawing a line in the sand, starting again now and hoping that I manage to even things out for next year! ?

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