Here are my favourite eight books of the fourth quarter of 2021. So far this has been a good year for books if for nothing else, so it was a really difficult decision. Please note that there may be books amongst the list that are not published until 2022, but these are books I have read this year and may be ARCs.

The Flight of the Shearwater by Alan Jones

Flight of the Shearwater continues the journey of the Kästners – the relationship between Erich and youngest daughter Antje and their mother Maria and sister Eva declining all the time. This disagreement revolves around the relationship with their lifelong friends and housekeepers – the Nussbaums who happen to be Jewish. While I do understand that Maria and Eva are afraid of repercussions – who can say if any of us would have been brave enough in the face of the SS or the Gestapo – I can’t help feeling that in their case it was more about their standing in society and Maria’s relationship with the Countess and finding Eva a well-connected husband.

For full review click here

A Woman Made of Snow by Elisabeth Gifford

This is one of the most beautifully written books I have read this year. Once again we have two timelines – Caroline, Alasdair and baby Felicity in 1949, being forced to live in Kelly Castle with Alasdair’s opinionated mum Martha, after their cottage in the grounds is flooded, and the mystery of who was Alasdair’s great-grandmother, for whom there is no grave, no pictures and whose name has been removed from the family tree.

For full review click here

The Unravelling by Polly Crosby

‘The sea is made up of unspeakable sadness.’ This is a sentence you will read many times in this extraordinary book.

Tartelin, a young woman who has recently lost her mother, travels to the tiny, remote island of Dohhalund in the middle of the North Sea, to work for Miss Stourbridge. Her job will be to catch butterflies and kill them, so they can be pinned and studied. It’s a strange request and one that Tartelin doesn’t realise will have such a profound effect on her.

For full review click here

The Every by Dave Eggers

Is this the future? One where people are happy to give up their freedoms in exchange for a life without crime, false friendships and anxiety. But there’s a catch. Constant monitoring and surveillance. Scared to say anything in case it tips your algorithms into the negative, and never get cross with your kids, it’s all being recorded. There’s no hiding place because the Every has the technology.

For full review click here

The Soul Catcher by Monica Bhide

This is an author who is not afraid of tragedy. The worst can happen and sometimes it does. But there is also love and joy.

The narrative goes round in a circle of short stories. We begin with Yamini – the Soul Catcher in the title. She uses her supernatural power to heal people – it is her destiny and one from which there is no escape.

For full review click here

Three Little Girls by Jane Badrock

What a crazy roller coaster of a ride. I just loved this book. Fantastic cast of characters – DI Karen Thorpe, tough, clever, untidy, her on-off boyfriend John Steele, head of forensics, Karen’s opposite, tidy and organised. But I especially loved ‘wee’ book shop owner and map-keeper Mr Binks. Who is he and what does he really do? Can we trust him?

For full review click here

The Visitors by Caroline Scott

This is such a beautiful book. Exquisitely written using sensitive, evocative language, we really feel we are there in Cornwall and in the trenches in France during the Great War.

It’s 1923 and Esme has been widowed for seven years. Her husband of only a few months went to war in France but after two years of regular letters, they suddenly stopped. Then one fateful day the letter she dreads arrives and she is informed that he has died.

For full review click here

The Last Checkmate by Gabriella Saab

I often cry at the end of a book, especially if the ending is sad, but I have to admit I cried throughout most of The Last Checkmate. After so many years have past since the holocaust I still struggle with the notion that there are people out there who can do these things to one another. And those who not only believed the killing and torture was OK but that it was actually justified – the destruction of an entire race was justified. But this story is not about the Jews, it’s about one 14-year-old girl who joined the Polish resistance in Warsaw with her ‘friend’ Irena and got caught, and how she survived the horrors of Auschwitz.

For full review click here

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