17 Degrees Winter Reads


Winter Reads @17DegreesMag 

It’s been so hard to choose this edition, as there have been some amazing new books being released over these last few months. January and February are full of fabulous choices and I’m sure you’ll find something to keep you reading through these dreich winter months.





Thank You For The Music


Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now. If you love music, you’ll love this fantastic almost-memoir of a brilliant fictional band that imploded at the height of their career. This is written in such a convincing way that I was searching for their albums on Spotify and felt like I was right there on tour with them. If you loved ‘A Star is Born’ you’ll be pulled right into this heady mix of sex drugs and rock’n’roll with Daisy and her band, experiencing the highs and lows of fame with them on Sunset Strip and Whiskey a Go Go. If you missed this when it was first released, treat yourself now the paperback is out. I guarantee a wild ride through the 70’s band scene with this stylish depiction of the Fleetwood Mac era that you will not be able to put down.






The Road To Nowhere


She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window. She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’ It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy. He never sees her again. Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead. Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice. This is a blisteringly good read that will hook you from the very first page. I adore CJ Tudor and her latest offering is her best one yet. A five star winter read.







If You Go Down To The Woods Today…

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave. Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood. As her abductor’s behaviour spirals out of control, Elissa realises that outwitting lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and decide whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood. A totally gripping novel that locks you into their cat-and-mouse game of survival. If you’re bored of thriller-by-numbers, you’ll love this original and twisty page turner. Not one for reading if you are in the house alone as it’ll definitely give you the jitters. 






Countdown To Tragedy

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds. It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible. In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens. This breathtaking novel is told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time. From the parents gathering desperate for news at the gates, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother and the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen. All of these individuals experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption. This is a read you won’t be able to forget, buy it and experience it for yourself. 




Save The Planet And Your Waistline 

Minimum fuss, maximum flavour, completely vegetarian and all for £1 per person. If that sounds too good to be true then this is definitely the book for you. Bestselling author Miguel Barclay shot to fame as ‘The One Pound Chef’, delivering easy recipes that really work, at prices everyone can afford. His goal is simple: to encourage you to cook simple and tasty meals at home and all for £1 per person. With his ingenious recipes and budget-friendly cookbooks, he’s here to show you how to cook nutritious vegetarian food without the expense, using everyday cupboard staples and familiar ingredients Meat-Free One Pound Meals includes over 85 vegetarian recipes, to not only help save you money and get healthy but also help you do your bit for the planet. What’s better than getting healthy and clearing your conscience too? A great way to kick start 2020


Mix Tape by [Sanderson, Jane]





The Tracks Of Your Years

You never forget the one that got away. But what if ‘what could have been’ is yet to come?Daniel was the first boy to make Alison a mix tape. But that was years ago and Ali hasn’t thought about him in a very long time.  Then Dan’s name pops up on her phone, with a link to a song from their past. For two blissful minutes, Alison is sixteen again – back in Sheffield, dancing in her skin-tight jeans. And so begins a new mixtape. Ali and Dan exchange songs – some new, some old – across a lifetime of different experiences, until one of them breaks the rules and sends a message that will change everything… Everyone who’s ever made a lovesick mixtape – or longed to be sent one  – will fall for this book and it’ll definitely send you down memory lane. I’d love to see this as a movie; it’s just irresistible. Buy it to inject a little romance into a  January day. 





The Turning Tide

When a man is found on a Norfolk beach, drifting in and out of consciousness, with no identification and unable to speak, interest in him is sparked immediately. The national press call him Mr Nobody.  Who is this man? And what happened to him? Dr Emma Lewis is asked to assess the patient. This is the chance she’s been waiting for and this case could make her name. But therein lies the danger. Emma left this same small town in Norfolk fourteen years ago and has taken great pains to cover all traces of her past since then. But now something – or someone – is calling her back. You will not be able to put this book down as you get drawn into its tense and intriguing plot. It’s a gripping page turner that asks us to think about identity and belonging as we attempt to solve the unanswered questions that are cleverly woven into its narrative.


The Guest List: The new crime thriller from the bestselling author of The Hunting Party by [Foley, Lucy]






Nice Day For A White Wedding 

The brand new thriller from the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party.On a remote island, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped. Old grudges and veiled hostilities begin to come to light as the happy event turns into a gripping whodunnit with everyone a suspect and with motives coming to light thick and fast. If you loved The Hunting Party then you will adore The Guest List and enjoy its atmosphere of tension and claustrophobia as you try and work out who is to blame. Lucy Foley has a real talent for keeping her readers guessing. A perfect read for a winter afternoon in front of the fire!







One Wrong Move

A body is found bricked into the walls of a house. From the state of the hands, it’s clear they were buried alive and had tried to claw their way out before they died. Soon, the victim is linked to a missing person’s case and DS Adam Tyler is called. As the sole representative of South Yorkshire’s Cold Case Review Unit, Tyler recognises his role for what it is – a means of keeping him out of the way, following an ‘incident’ When he discovers he has a connection to the case that hopelessly compromises him, he makes the snap decision not to tell his superiors- and that’s when things really start to unravel. This is an intriguing premise that really lived up to my expectations and Adam Tyler is one of my favourite new detectives. If you love Tana French then you’ll definitely be a fan of ‘Firewatching’ – a great new voice in crime fiction. 





Time Stands Still

Just because she knows that her former best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She parks outside Flora’s house and watches from across the road as Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, step out of the car. Except – There’s something terribly wrong. Flora looks the same, only older – It’s the children that are the problem. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily Braid were five and three years old. Today, they are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – but  they haven’t changed at all. They are no taller, no older. Why haven’t they grown? Sophie Hannah is a master of keeping her readers guessing and her new book is no exception- whatever the genre she delivers. Absolutely loved this compellingly creepy read.







Happy New You

This is the perfect read to kick start a new year. Divorced and struggling with mental health problems, Bella Mackie could barely find the strength to get off the sofa, let alone piece her life back together. Until one day she did something she had never done of her own free will – she pulled on a pair of trainers and went for a run. Before she knew it, her mood was lifting for the first time in years. In Jog On, Bella explains with hilarious and unfiltered honesty how she used running to battle crippling anxiety and depression. This funny, moving and motivational book will encourage you to say ‘jog on’ to your problems and get your life back on track – no matter how small those first steps may be. I loved this honest and refreshing look at turning your life around. A fantastic read for a whole new you in 2020





Home Isn’t Always Where The Heart Is 

 A gritty, dark and devastating psychological thriller centring around three troubled girls, by the bestselling author of Exquisite. When the body of pregnant, fifteen-year-old Hope Lacey is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence for young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away. As a police investigation gets underway, the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge. A dark and compelling read, The Home is also asks us to take a long hard look at the care system and the impact it can have on young lives. Sarah Stovell’s books draw you into the story and hold you tight until you finish. Grab a copy of The Home and discover her for yourself. 


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I absolutely love the job of choosing these 12 books and hope that you enjoy some new and interesting reads in 2020  I’ve tried to choose books that will appeal to a wide range of readers – whether you enjoy fiction or prefer something motivational to get your year off to a good start. Let me know what you think…


Alice Teale Is Missing

Howard Linskey blog tour


Alice Teale walked out of school at the end of a bright spring day.

She’s not been seen since.

Alice was popular and well-liked, and her boyfriend, friends and family are desperate to find her.

But soon it’s clear that everyone in her life has something to hide.

Then the police receive a disturbing package.

Pages from Alice’s precious diary.

Who could have sent them? And what have they done with Alice?empty building hallway


As a real fan of an intriguing mystery,  I was definitely seduced by the premise of this book featuring the disappearance of teenage Alice – when I discovered that it was set in a school too, that really sealed the deal for me and it quickly zoomed to the top of my TBR pile. I was delighted to be invited on the tour by the lovely Srija and couldn’t wait to see if it was as twisty as I expected

This book definitely did not disappoint, it grabbed me and pulled me right into the story. I was really intrigued by the premise of the book: that we will puzzle our way through the many clues and trails about what might have happened to Alice and this really added to the story for me. The many secrets  that begin to emerge once Alice disappears really kept me turning the pages as the novel unfolds. The fact that this felt like one of the true crime disappearances that I adore really added to my enjoyment and I got really caught up in what part all of these characters might have played in Alice’s mysterious vanishing…woman walking on sidewalk under umbrella


I absolutely loved the way that we managed to get a sneak peek into Alice’s diary and met her through her own words – this was a feature of the novel which made the mystery of Alice’s disappearance quite addictive as it felt like she came alive for us through her words. It was intriguing to see which trail of breadcrumbs would prove to be the right one as H.A. Linskey kept me changing my mind from one moment to the next. The fact that each new secret that’s revealed presents us with a different hypothesis was a fantastic device and really made me think as the novel moved forwards as I tried to solve this puzzle along with the detective team..

Even though there have been lots of novels this year where girls go missing, H.A. Linskey ensures that the characters we meet allow this plot to unfold in an original way which makes the story linger at the edges of our consciousness even when we aren’t reading it. The characters all feel very much like real people – rather than mechanisms to provide clues about Alice – which I’ve often found in novels like this with many characters who may or may not know the answer to the mystery. I particularly loved the team of Winter and Black as they joined forces to solve this case– they are definitely a detective pairing to watch, and I’ll say no more.


H.A. Linskey is an intriguing new writer for me – it’s hard to talk about this novel without spoilers, so I’ll just need to tell you that you must read it for yourself. You will be intrigued by the many secrets that are slowly revealed in this community and want to read on and find out exactly what is behind this mysterious disappearance – as it’s far from an open and shut case. It’s not one of these ‘keep looking for the big twist’ stories that people are getting a little bored of now. It is just that things start to appear through the murk and you’ll not be able to believe you never noticed them before – in a satisfyingly well-constructed way.

forest trees marked with question marks

Anyone who loves trying to work out which characters to trust…or not…will love this compelling new voice. I had really high hopes for Alice Teale Is Missing and I’m delighted to say that I was definitely not disappointed. It was definitely a book that  I’ll be recommending to lots of people as I was totally intrigued by the way it really kept me guessing

I can’t wait to see what H.A. Linskey does next. The idea that a simple school day can be a lot darker and more interesting than you might perceive on the surface is a very intriguing one. I think that this would make an excellent Book Group read as it would be sure to provoke lots and lots of discussion…

Buy yourself a copy here and find out what happened to Alice for yourself





Writer On The Shelf

Image result for h a linskey"

H. A. Linskey is originally from Ferryhill in County Durham, but now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and daughter. Under Howard Linskey, he is the author of a series of crime novels set in the North-East, featuring detective Ian Bradshaw and journalists Tom Carney and Helen Norton.

Two Blankets Three Sheets Blog Tour

Amsterdam Airport, 1998. 

Samir Karim steps off a plane from Vietnam, flushes his fake passport down the toilet, and requests asylum. 
Fleeing Iraq to avoid conscription into Saddam Hussein’s army, he has spent seven years anonymously wandering through Asia. 
Now, safely in the heart of Europe, he is sent to an asylum center and assigned a bed in a shared dorm—where he will spend the next nine years. 
As he navigates his way around the absurdities of Dutch bureaucracy, Samir tries his best to get along with his 500 new housemates. 
Told with compassion and a unique sense of humor, this is an inspiring tale of survival, a close-up view of the hidden world of refugees and human smugglers, and a sobering reflection of our times.

This book is utterly gripping and very hard to describe as it’s so unique. The fact that it’s fictional fact – or fact based fiction kept me totally engrossed as I felt wholly drawn into this tale of asylum seekers that does not shy away from some harsh truths about the world that we live in 


two person walking towards rural area

“The narrator of the book is not me. It is someone I’ve called Samir Karim. This way I can still be the writer, and not the main character. People might ask me if this is my story, to which I will say: no. But if I am asked if this is also my story, then I will say wholeheartedly: yes.”

Two Blankets, Three Sheets gets its name from the list of items that gets issued to every asylum seeker – two blankets, three sheets, a towel, a pillow and a pillowcase – and these things were the sum total of everything Samir owned while living in the centre

This is a semi-autobiographical novel  by Rodaan Al Galidi, whose own experiences mirror some of Samir’s exactly , but this moving and affective book also vividly depicts the stories of the other asylum seekers he encountered in his own journey to safety in the Netherlands.

group of people standing on seashore

It explores these stories whether they were pure of motive or not – and this is one of the most fascinating aspects of this book – it does not merely seek to show all asylum seekers bathed in a golden light. It is a warts-and-all story of the many kinds of people who give up everything and set off in search of a new life – and you will find all human life here.

It is a tale of what it is to be a refugee which will make you think and blends humour with pathos extremely skilfully in order to bring all the highs and lows of their experiences – and some of these experiences are very low indeed.

gray concrete wall beside grass

It was incredible to lose myself in such an unusual and thought provoking  tale which definitely gave me a new insight into the truth about asylum in all its manifestations – I think it’s so important to get a change of genre every now and then and this winter,  I’ve been mostly reading contemporary writing and gothic reads.  It’s funny that I get drawn to books in waves, and after reading Two Blankets, Three Sheets  I’m now on a real Non-Fiction mission and have been drawn to more political and controversial reads –  which is pushing me right outside my reading comfort zone…

The hugely contrasting characters and their vividly-depicted journeys allowed me to travel through their experiences right there alongside them through its pages.  I really loved the way that Rodaan Al Galidi draws the reader in and keeps them connected with the characters’  journeys through love, despair and a sense of resignation as we see the way that being stateless affects everyone differently and the uncertainty and despair can wear even the most determined and focussed individuals down.

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I loved the juxtaposition of the individual stories as they interweave and coincide through their differing experiences. This was the perfect January read – and got my year off to a more thought-provoking start.  If you love an unusual and inspiring read with plenty of resonant and compelling characters then you’ll love it as much as I did.


I absolutely loved this book and enjoyed the fact that this freezing bout of weather meant that I could really dedicate some serious hours of reading to it.  I enjoyed the feeling of being immersed in his world where humour and despair rub shoulders and you’re never far from another bleak realisation about the way our world is going, even though it might be portrayed through dark humour and going where other writers might not dare.

Human Rights For Future signage

Treat yourself to Two Blankets, Three Sheets on Amazon right now!


Writer On The Shelf

Two Blankets Rodaan Al Galidi Author Pic

RODAAN AL GALIDI is a poet and writer. Born in Iraq and trained as a civil engineer, he has lived in the Netherlands since 1998. As an undocumented asylum seeker he did not have the right to attend language classes, so he taught himself to read and write Dutch. His novel De autist en de postduif (‘The Autist and the Carrier Pigeon’) won the European Union Prize for Literature in 2011—the same year he failed his Dutch citizenship course. Two Blankets, Three Sheets, already a bestseller in the Netherlands, is his most successful novel to date.

“In all its tragedy of miscommunication, loss of identity and meaning of life, humiliations and incapacity to truly connect, it is also a very light and humorous book.” Literair Nederland

“A challenging portrait of Dutch hospitality. Absolutely recommended.” The Correspondent

“You can write emails about refugees until you’re blue in the face, but you can also, thanks to the unique power of literature, spend a few hours inside the mind and soul of one of them. By reading this tragicomic masterpiece. It will do you good.” De Limburger

“‘The asylum center, ‘ Al Galidi writes, ‘is a grave where the time of a few hundred people is buried.’ For this grave he has erected a memorable monument, that functions as both a complaint and a mirror. And I, for one, was ashamed of what I saw in it.” –Tommy Wieringa, author of Joe Speedboat

“Essential reading” Trouw

“A stunning novel about the experiences of a refugee in a heartless regime: polder-bureaucracy thick as mud. Al Galidi holds up a mirror to us. A mirror that we should all look into.” –Adriaan van Dis

Two Blankets, Three Sheets is a valuable and rich novel about fear, uncertainty, arbitrariness and hopelessness, written by someone who was, thankfully, able to use his new language as a lifebuoy.” Tzum

“Confrontational, but also humorous, Galidi provides a very complete portrait of what years of waiting in an asylum center can do to you as a human being. This is a book of absolute urgency in a time of humanitarian catastrophe that hopefully raises questions and will bring about change in our current systems. A must-read that you do not want to let go.” –Mirjam Burger, Hebban



Three Hours Blog Tour



Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. From the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

Three Hoursby one of my favourite writers, Rosamund Lupton, is definitely going to feaure on many bloggers’ #BestReadsOf2020 lists and it’s only bloody January! – it’s not only a wonderfully written thriller that keeps you up far too late trying to anticipate what will happen next – it’s also a timely reminder of some extremely pertinent issues and a beautifully written piece of contemporary fiction to boot. I am absolutely not kidding on this one – if you haven’t read it yet, what on earth are you waiting for? I’d like to thank Penguin’s Ellie Hudson for inviting me onto the tour and it’s certainly a privilege to be kicking the tour off on its very first day when it’s a book that you’ve loved as much as this one…

Reading this novel in Dunblane of all places was extremely resonant for me – there were so many parallels that I found it almost disconcerting at times and I think that this is one of the reasons why I feel that the novel has such a huge impact on me. Three Hours takes place in another desirable area, that should be a safe haven for young people: a middle-class school in the gorgeous countryside of Somerset.  The action unfolds across three hours in the life of the school,  allowing us an insight into the experience through the eyes of the parents, teachers and students whilst they are trapped in a blizzard and a catastrophe begins to unfold.

snow covered bare trees

The situation soon begins to escalate. After the headmaster is shot, some senior students attempt to save him and try valiantly to form a blockade of library books to keep themselves safe from danger.  Meanwhile, in the drama studio, a rehearsal of Macbeth continues in the middle of all the trauma and confusion and these Shakespearean themes of bloodshed and betrayal resonate across this entire novel in an intelligent and thought provoking way. The entire school community is thrown into chaos as the individual groups in isolation struggle to come to terms with what is unfolding and try hard to support one another through an entirely terrifying situation. I could not put this book down and  found myself entirely lost in its narrative as I got so involved with the characters and wanted to know what would befall them.

person holding revolver

Because this novel is told from three entirely different narrative viewpoints, we get to see the horror unfold from three completely different perspectives: a police psychologist who has to try and fathom what might drive someone to behave in this way;  the anxiously waiting parents who are desperate to have news about their children and two Syrian refugees who have travelled thousands of miles to escape bloodshed and trauma only for it to recur in the rural English countryside.

I think it’s difficult to live in Dunblane and not feel profoundly moved by this novel. School shootings like Dunblane and Columbine sear themselves onto the collective memories of communities like ours and mean that reading about them can be hard. Books like this make that so much easier as the beauty of the prose eclipses the challenging subject matter.  It is indeed a terrifying world we live in and Lupton does not shy away from that fact,  it is definitely a read that will make you think whether you think you know all there is to now about radicalisation or the way that commmunities recover from atrocities like this – this book will make you see these things afresh and rethink some of your preconceived ideas and opinions.

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Three Hours is definitely one of those novels that stays with you long after closing its final page and one that I will definitely be recommending to my friends – it packs a powerful punch and never lets up in the way it wholly absorbs you –  right up until the final few pages.   I can’t wait to see what Rosamund Lupton does next. I’m a sucker for a fantastically written novel that really makes you think as well as engaging you emotionally and Three Hours satisfies on all of these scores.  I  heartily recommend it for whiling away a long dreich winter afternoon by the fire.  Away and treat yourself – You’ll thank me for it. Buy yourself a copy here and tell everyone else that you’ve already found them their read of the year 2020!

three hours


Writer On The Shelf

Rosamund Lupton

Rosamund Lupton’s debut novel Sister, was a BBC Radio 4 “Book at Bedtime”, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, winner of the Strand Magazine critics award and the Richard and Judy Bookclub Readers’ Choice Award. Her next two books – Afterwards and The Quality of Silence were Sunday Times bestsellers.

Her books have been published in over thirty languages.

You can follow Rosamund on Twitter @Rosamundlupton , find her on Facebook or visit her excellent and infortmative  website.