Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this utterly heartwarming novel. Thank you Niamh at Hodder and Stoughton for the invitation to take part and my gifted ARC.
Margot doesn’t have time for love.
Will is afraid to love.
And neither of them are expecting to fall in love with Blossom: a gentle Staffy with a tragic past, a belly made for rubbing and a head the size of a football.
After their first meeting at the rescue centre, both Margot and Will want to adopt Blossom so reluctantly agree to share custody. But Will’s obsession for micro-managing and clear-cut boundaries and Margot’s need to smother Blossom with affection, means that soon they have a very confused and badly behaved dog on their hands.
Can they put their differences aside to become successful “co-pawrents” and maybe even friends? And meanwhile, does Blossom have plans of her own?
Heartwarming, uplifting, witty and absorbing, this book wraps its arms around you like a warm hug. It was just what I needed to read when I picked it up. Though I don’t know if my partner would agree as I’ve been banging on about getting a dog ever since.
Margot is thirty-six and ready for commitment and babies. Unable to find a man who’s as ready as she is and recently abandoned by her jerk of a cat, Percy, she decides to look for unconditional love at the dog rescue centre. She intends to adopt a cute, handbag-sized dog that will look good on the Gram but doesn’t bank on Blossom, the naughty staffy with bald patches, stealing her heart. The problem is Blossom has also stolen the heart of Will, who is at the rescue centre after being told by his therapist that he needs to open his heart up to others. Faced with the doggy version of the judgment of Solomon, they decide the only sensible solution is to share Blossom. But of course, things don’t run smoothly in this story about healing and finding love in unexpected places.
If you need a book that will lift your spirits when you’re down then this is the book for you. I adored this book. Yes, it’s a little cliched and predictable in places, but it is also a well-written, hilarious and tender story that gives you all the feelings. Many times I found myself sat smiling to myself like an idiot while reading and I kept laughing out loud and reading lines to my partner as it was just too funny to keep to myself.
There is no way I would consider sharing a dog with a stranger as I know I’d find it too painful, but it does make for a great story that is ripe for conflict and hilarity, which the author mines to perfection. Margot and Will are fantastic characters who are both equal parts likeable and frustrating. They are both trying to deal with their own heartaches and see Blossom as a way to do this, even if it is kind of reluctantly in Will’s case.
But the star of this show is undeniably Blossom. Like Margot and Will, Blossom stole my heart. The author’s love of dogs leaps from the pages and even if you weren’t a dog lover at the start of this book, I guarantee you will be by the end. Not only that, but if you’re anything like me you will be wanting to adopt one for yourself. We lost our old German Shepherd almost three years ago and this really didn’t help my yearning for another dog. I’ve been longingly looking at dog pictures and ads since reading this book and feel the hole left by our old girl more than ever. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
I do like a good ‘enemies to lovers’ trope and this one was done so well that I couldn’t help but root for them and eat it up like the sappy woman I am. I couldn’t wait for them to finally get together and was going crazy with how long the author kept us waiting for it to happen. Like the secrets and twists in this story, the romance slowly unveils, raising the anticipation for the reader.
All jokes aside, this is a truly wonderful novel that I highly recommend. It was my first time reading this author and I definitely plan to read more. And don’t miss the author’s notes when you’ve finished. I promise you want to read them.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Sarra Manning has been a voracious reader for over forty years and a prolific author and journalist for twenty five.
Her novels, which have been translated into fifteen different languages include Unsticky, You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, After The Last Dance, The Rise And Fall Of Becky Sharp and her latest, Rescue Me, which publishes in 2021. Sarra has also written over fifteen YA novels, and four light-hearted romantic comedies under a pseudonym.
She started her writing career on Melody Maker and Just Seventeen, has been editor of ElleGirl and What To Wear and has also contributed to The Guardian, ELLE, Grazia, Stylist, Fabulous, Stella, You Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar and is currently the Literary Editor of Red magazine. Sarra has also been a Costa Book Awards judge and has been nominated for various writing awards herself.
She lives in London surrounded by piles and piles of books.
We’re already almost into the second month of the year which seems unreal. There are some great books out this month, with February 4th being a particularly big publication day. Half of the books on this list are published that day!
An Eye For An Eye (Detective Kate Young 1) by Carol Wyer
Published: February 1st Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Genre: Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: A killer running rings around the police. A detective spiralling out of control.
DI Kate Young is on leave. She’s the force’s best detective, but her bosses know she’s under pressure, on medication and overcoming trauma. So after her bad judgement call leads to a narrowly averted public disaster, they’re sure all she needs is a rest.
But when Staffordshire Police summon her back to work on a murder case, it’s a harder, more suspicious Kate Young who returns. With a new ruthlessness, she sets about tracking down a clinical, calculating serial killer who is torturing victims and leaving clues to taunt the police. Spurred on by her reporter husband, Young begins to suspect that the murderer might be closer than she ever imagined.
As she works to uncover the truth, Young unravels a network of secrets and lies, with even those closest to her having something to hide. But with her own competence—and her grip on reality—called into question, can she unmask the killer before they strike again?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Carol is one of my favourite crime writers so I was excited to learn she was releasing a new series. I’m lucky enough to have already read this book and let me tell you it is one not to be missed. Keep an eye out for my review on February 1st as part of the blog tour and an interview with Carol and giveaway of the book the week of publication. Buy the book*
SYNOPSIS: Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .
It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.
While the Haney’s neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family’s ‘help’, who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes’ starched curtains than anyone, and it isn’t long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole ‘perfect’ world to set alight . . .
A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Historical Fiction merged with mystery? My ideal book! This is one of the debuts of 2021 I’m most excited about and it featured in my 21 Books In 21 -The Debuts list. Keep an eye out for my review on February 2nd as part of the blog tour. Buy the book*
SYNOPSIS: He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.
Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.
Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.
Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.
And he’s watching.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Helen has been a crime fiction favourite since I discovered her Perfect series in 2018. This standalone is one of the most exhilarating and spine-tingling thrillers I’ve read in a long time. It’s one not to be missed. Buy the book*
SYNOPSIS: Death is an art, and he is the master . . .
Three glass cabinets appear in London’s Trafalgar Square containing a gruesome art installation: the floating corpses of three homeless men. Shock turns to horror when it becomes clear that the bodies are real.
The cabinets are traced to @nonymous – an underground artist shrouded in mystery who makes a chilling promise: MORE WILL FOLLOW.
Eighteen years ago, Detective Inspector Grace Archer escaped a notorious serial killer. Now, she and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must hunt down another.
As more bodies appear at London landmarks and murders are livestreamed on social media, their search for @nonymous becomes a desperate race against time. But what Archer doesn’t know is that the killer is watching their every move – and he has his sights firmly set on her . . .
He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: My love of crime fiction and crime series is no secret on this blog so I couldn’t miss including what sounds like one of the most thrilling new series in the genre. Buy the book*
It’s December 2023 and the world as we know it has ended.
The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself).
But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own.
Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.
And with no one else to live for, who will she become now that she’s completely alone?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: The premise for this debut is just so fresh and original that it lured me in. Plus, who could resist that stunning cover. Keep an eye out for my review on February 2nd as part of the blog tour. Buy the book*
SYNOPSIS: One will change your life. One will end it. Who will … FIND YOU FIRST?
It’s a deadly race against time… Tech billionaire Miles has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of – except time. Now facing a terminal illness, Miles knows he must seize every minute to put his life in order. And that means taking a long hard look at his past.
Somewhere out there, Miles has children. And they might be about to inherit both the good and bad from him – possibly his fortune, or possibly something more sinister.
So Miles decides to track down his missing children. But a vicious killer is one step ahead of him. One by one, people are vanishing. Not just disappearing, every trace of them is wiped.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’ve been a huge fan on Linwood Barclay ever since reading No Time For Goodbye many years ago so his books are always an auto-buy for me. Buy the book*
SYNOPSIS: In a converted Georgian townhouse in south west London, three families live under one roof.
The large flat that takes up the top two floors is home to the Harlow family: happily married Paul and Steph, and their bubbly teenage daughter Freya. The smaller first floor flat is rented by Emma, who spends most of her time alone, listening to people coming in and out of the building. And the basement flat belongs to Chris, a local driving instructor, who prefers to keep his personal life private from the neighbours.
But their lives are all upended when Freya vanishes. As the police become involved and a frantic Paul and Steph desperately search for answers, they begin to realise that the truth behind their daughter’s disappearance may lie closer to home than they were expecting.
When everyone has something to hide, can you ever really know those closest to you? Or will some secrets be taken to the grave?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’ll be honest, it was the stunning proof cover that first caught my eye with this book. But when I read the synopsis I knew it was one I needed to read. Buy the book*
Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton
Published: February 4th Publisher: Bantam Press Genre: New-Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Medical Romance
SYNOPSIS: CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN?
Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.
Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon.
Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. She keeps the curtain around her bed firmly closed, but it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’ve definitely found myself become a fan of uplit more and more the past year and the synopsis for this one sounds so fun and original that I can’t wait to read it. This is another book that I’m taking part in the blog tour for. My review will be posted on January 30th. Buy the book*
Pippo and Clara by Diana Rosie
Published: February 4th Publisher: Mantle Genre: Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A country torn apart by war. Two siblings divided by fate.
Italy, 1938. Mussolini is in power and war is not far away . . .
Clara and Pippo are just children: quiet, thoughtful Clara is the older sister; Pippo, the younger brother, is forever chatting. The family has only recently arrived in the city carrying their few possessions.
When Mamma goes missing early one morning, both Clara and Pippo go in search of her. Clara turns right; Pippo left.
As a result of the choices they make that morning, their lives will be changed forever.
Diana Rosie’s Pippo and Clara tells the story of a family and a country divided. But will Clara and Pippo – and their mother – find each other again?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’m going to cry reading this. I know I am. But I love historical fiction and this one just spoke to me. Buy the book*
Waiting For Superman: One Family’s Struggle to Survive – and Cure – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by Tracie White
Published: February 4th Publisher: Allen & Unwin Genre: Biography
SYNOPSIS: For the past six years, Whitney Dafoe has been confined to a bedroom in the back of his parents’ home, unable to walk, eat or speak. His diagnosis? The mysterious disease myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) which affects 20 million people around the world who largely suffer in silence because the condition is little known and much misunderstood.
Waiting for Superman follows Whitney’s father, groundbreaking geneticist Ron Davis, as he uncovers new possibilities for treatments and potentially a cure. At its heart, this book is about more than just cutting-edge research or a race to find an answer – it’s about the lengths to which a parent will go to save their child’s life.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: As someone with M.E/CFS this book is a must read for me. I’m interesting in their experiences, the research they found and hearing the experience from another perspective. I often think how it must feel for my parents, partner and children to see me so sick. This is another book where I have no doubt I’ll need the tissues. Buy the book*
The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames by Justine Cowan
Published: February 4th Publisher: Virago Genre: Biography, Autobiography
SYNOPSIS: A gripping memoir and revelatory investigation into the history of the Foundling Hospital and one girl who grew up in its care – the author’s own mother.
Growing up in a wealthy enclave outside San Francisco, Justine Cowan’s life seems idyllic. But her mother’s unpredictable temper drives Justine from home the moment she is old enough to escape. It is only after her mother dies that she finds herself pulling at the threads of a story half-told – her mother’s upbringing in London’s Foundling Hospital. Haunted by this secret history, Justine travels across the sea and deep into the past to discover the girl her mother once was.
Here, with the vividness of a true storyteller, she pieces together her mother’s childhood alongside the history of the Foundling Hospital: from its idealistic beginnings in the eighteenth century, how it influenced some of England’s greatest creative minds – from Handel to Dickens, its shocking approach to childcare and how it survived the Blitz only to close after the Second World War.
This was the environment that shaped a young girl then known as Dorothy Soames, who was left behind by a mother forced by stigma and shame to give up her child; who withstood years of physical and emotional abuse, dreaming of escape as German bombers circled the skies, unaware all along that her own mother was fighting to get her back.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I am fascinated by foundling stories, particularly since reading The Foundling by Stacey Halls last year. I’ve read a lot online about the subject and love the sound of Dorothy’s story. Buy the book*
A Net For Small Fishes by Lucy Jago
Published: February 11th Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Based on the true scandal that rocked the court of James I, A Net for Small Fishes is the most gripping novel you’ll read this year: an exhilarating dive into the pitch-dark waters of the Jacobean court
Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family – and is the most unhappy creature in the world.
Anne Turner has wit and talent – but no stage on which to display them. Little stands between her and the abyss of destitution.
When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. Frankie sweeps Anne into a world of splendour that exceeds all she imagined: a Court whose foreign king is a stranger to his own subjects; where ancient families fight for power, and where the sovereign’s favourite may rise and rise – so long as he remains in favour.
With the marriage of their talents, Anne and Frankie enter this extravagant, savage hunting ground, seeking a little happiness for themselves. But as they gain notice, they also gain enemies; what began as a search for love and safety leads to desperate acts that could cost them everything.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’ve heard this book referred to as a ‘Historical Thelma and Louise’. What’s not to love? Buy the book*
A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Mass
Published: February 16th Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, richly imagined A Court of Thorns and Roses series continues with the journey of Feyre’s fiery sister, Nesta
Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger and slow to forgive. And since the war – since being made High Fae against her will – she’s struggled to forget the horrors she endured and find a place for herself within the strange and deadly Night Court. The person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred, winged warrior who is there at Nesta’s every turn. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. And when they are forced to train in battle together, sparks become flame. As the threat of war casts its shadow over them once again, Nesta and Cassian must fight monsters from within and without if they are to stand a chance of halting the enemies of their court. But the ultimate risk will be searching for acceptance – and healing – in each other’s arms.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Last year I finally took the plunge and read the first four books in this series thanks to readalongs with Tandem Collective. I have been eagerly awaiting this conclusion ever since and am giddy with excitement at being offered the chance to take part in an exclusive readalong of this book. Keep an eye out on my channels from February 23rd for updates from the readalong. Buy the book*
Dead Head by C. J. Skuse
Published: February 18th Publisher: HQ Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Dark Comedy, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Victim. Murderer. Serial Killer. What next? The third darkly comic thriller in the highly addictive Sweetpea series featuring serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.
Can a serial killer ever lose their taste for murder?
Since confessing to her bloody murder spree Rhiannon Lewis, the now-notorious Sweetpea killer, has been feeling out-of-sorts.
Having fled the UK on a cruise ship to start her new life, Rhiannon should be feeling happy. But it’s hard to turn over a new leaf when she’s stuck in an oversized floating tin can with the Gammonati and screaming kids. Especially when they remind her of Ivy – the baby she gave up for a life carrying on killing.
Rhiannon is all at sea. She’s lost her taste for blood but is it really gone for good? Maybe Rhiannon is realising that there’s more to life than death…
The third book in the critically-acclaimed series following Sweetpeaand In Bloomfeaturing everyone’s favourite truly original girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: The Sweatpea series is one of my favourite series ever. They are just so original and darkly funny. I finished this latest installment tonight and it certainly holds up to the reputation of the previous books. I can’t wait to share my review with you soon. Dead Head is one of my most anticipated books of 2021.
SYNOPSIS: EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.
An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.
Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.
And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.
But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: The haunting cover. The remote setting. A missing woman. Three perfect ingredients in any book. This debut is one I’ve been impatiently awaiting for months and I can’t wait to finally devour it. Buy the book*
One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
Published: February 18th Publisher: Doubleday Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories. Their last one begins here.
Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it’s not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.
Dodging doctor’s orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.
To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.
As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.
Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This book just sounds extraordinarily beautiful. I’m expecting to feel all the feelings when I read this. I’m taking part in the blog tour for this book and my review will be published on February 21st. Buy the book*
SYNOPSIS: There’s a serial killer on the loose. When bodies start washing up along the banks of the River Thames, DI Henley fears it is the work of Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer. But it can’t be him; Olivier is already behind bars, and Henley was the one who put him there.
The race is on before more bodies are found. She’d hoped she’d never have to see his face again, but Henley knows Olivier might be the best chance they have at stopping the copycat killer. But when Olivier learns of the new murders, helping Henley is the last thing on his mind . . .
Will it take a killer to catch the killer? Now all bets are off, and the race is on to catch the killer before the body count rises. But who will get there first – Henley, or the Jigsaw Killer?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This debut thriller sounds like just the kind of dark, twisted crime fiction that makes my heart sing. Buy the book*
SYNOPSIS: From the pleasure palaces and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Daughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget . . .
Lucia’s fingers found her own. She gazed at Caro as if from a distance. Her lips parted, her words a whisper: ‘He knows.’
London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.
But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous, than she can know . . .
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Once again, this is a case of Historical Fiction and Mystery equaling book heaven for me. I was gutted when it was delayed from June last year and can’t wait to finally read it. Buy the book*
The Upstairs House by Julia Fine
Published: February 23rd* Publisher: Harper Genre: Literary Fiction *This is a US release. There is currently no UK publication details.
SYNOPSIS: A Buzzfeed Most Anticipated Book of the Year – A The Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Year
In this provocative meditation on new motherhood–Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening–a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown.
There’s a madwoman upstairs, and only Megan Weiler can see her.
Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation–a thesis on mid-century children’s literature.
Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown–author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon–whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle–and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger.
Using Megan’s postpartum haunting as a powerful metaphor for a woman’s fraught relationship with her body and mind, Julia Fine once again delivers an imaginative and “barely restrained, careful musing on female desire, loneliness, and hereditary inheritances” (Washington Post).
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This sounds like a truly amazing novel. Though this book doesn’t yet have a publisher or release date in the UK, it is available to purchase through Amazon and other retailers and I have no doubt I’ll end up paying the high price of the hardback as I’m so impatient to have this book in my hands. Buy the book*
SYNOPSIS: THIS MOTHER’S DAY YOU WILL CALL HER MUMMY
Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.
As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.
Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…
CALL ME MUMMY. IT’LL BE BETTER IF YOU DO.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Though it was the synopsis that caught my interest and this sounds like the kind of book that is right up my street, part of my excitement for this debut is the author herself. Tina Baker is one of the most hilarious women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting online and regularly makes my day with her videos and pictures. My review will be published February 18th as part of the blog tour. Buy the book*
Are any of these books on your wishlist? Which one will you read first? Let me know in the comments below.
Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx
Today you’re getting two for the price of one as I couldn’t resist sharing the first lines from both of the gorgeous proofs I was kindly sent by Hodder and Stoughton this week. The Hodder Fiction Showcase 2021 was held last night and was a wonderful evening full of exciting upcoming releases. I might have requested almost all of the books that were discussed. But I was also fortunate to receive a package from them before the event with two of the books highlighted, which also happen to be two of the books I’m most excited for this summer.
“White. Endless, featureless, mind-numbing white. A white so bright it hurts your eyes, at once beautiful and dreadful. I’ve arrived, finally, at the end of the earth – or rather its southernmost tip.”
These arresting first lines are taken from The Dark by Emma Haughton, an electrifying thriller which is out August 19th. Check out the synopsis below to see why I’m so excited about this book.
ONE DEAD BODY TWELVE SUSPECTS TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR DARKNESS
In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose.
A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the chance to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.
The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all. And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes for them all . . .
“Among the masses of driftwood on the shore, the creature lies sprawled on black-flecked sand. From far away, it had looked like a giant slug, bloated on the shore, but now, nearing it, Ruth can see it is a mammal. A warm-blooded, air-breathing mammal with a belly button, just like her.”
The Stranding by Kate Sawyer is a hopeful debut which is out June 24th. And just look at that gorgeous proof cover.
HER WORLD FELL TO PIECES. FROM THE BONES SHE BUILT A NEW LIFE.
Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.
When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand.
But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before.
When all has been razed to the ground, what does it mean to build a life?
The Stranding is a story about the hope that can remain even when the world is changed beyond recognition.
Published: January 21st, 2021 Publisher: Head of Zeus Format: Kindle Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Happy Publication Day David Mark! Thank you Jade at Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.
If you go into the woods, you’re in for a dark surprise. Thirty years ago, three girls followed a stranger into the woods. Only two returned. The surviving pair have never been able to remember what happened or what the fate of the third girl was. Local rumours talk of hippies and drugs and mystic rituals, but no one has learned the truth.
This story is just what Rowan Blake needs. He’s in debt, his journalistic career is in tatters – as well as his damaged body – and he’s retreated to the Lake District to write. Yet even Rowan isn’t prepared for the evil he is about to unearth, for the secrets that have been buried in that wood for far too long…
“You can weave the most extraordinary tapestry out of lies but one loose thread and it all comes apart.”
This is a story of decades-old secrets, missing teenagers, corruption, shamans, and maybe even murder…
Thirty years ago, three girls followed a stranger into the woods. Only two returned. And they can’t remember what happened, only that everyone seems to want them to forget. Now pieces are coming back and one of them decides to search for the truth.
It’s just the story that down on his luck journalist Rowan Blake needs to reverse his fortune. But he is unprepared for the dark secrets he is about to unearth in the woods. Or what others will do to keep them there.
Dark, chilling, sinister and hauntingly atmospheric, this sent shivers down my spine from the start. It has a strangeness that I found fascinating, even if it did get a little too bizarre at times towards the end. The author’s eerie prose and vivid imagery drew me deeper into the story and compelled me to keep reading as I waited on tenterhooks to learn the truth about what happened in the woods thirty years ago.
The story is told in dual timelines: Rowan is our main narrator in the present, while Violet is the main voice we hear in flashbacks that tell the story leading up to the girls’ disappearance. I found both narrators intriguing, but Violet was the one who’s chapters I enjoyed most of all. I thought the author captured the voice of an antagonistic, troubled and angry teenage girl to perfection. We don’t meet Violet in the present day as more than an off-screen character for most of the book which gives her an air of mystery and allows us to really connect with teenage Violet. Rowan is equally unlikable but compelling; a man at his lowest ebb when we meet him. I enjoyed that the author was brave enough to make both main characters quite unlikable. It’s a risk as that can make it hard to enjoy the book, but he did it so well that it made it a more interesting read.
Absorbing, eerie, twisty and suspenseful, this is a gripping thriller that I would recommend.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
David spent more than fifteen years as a journalist, including seven years as a crime reporter with the Yorkshire Post – walking the Hull streets that would later become the setting for the Detective Sergeant Aector McAvoy novels.
His writing is heavily influenced by real life and have been universally praised for their originality, authenticity and heart. Industry bible Kirkus Reviews said that ‘to call David Mark’s novels police procedurals is like calling the Mona Lisa a pretty painting’. He has been championed by such industry luminaries as Val McDermid, Peter James, Mick Herron and Martina Cole.
He has written eight novels in the McAvoy series: Dark Winter, Original Skin, Sorrow Bound, Taking Pity, Dead Pretty, Cruel Mercy, Scorched Earth and Cold Bones as well as two McAvoy novellas, A Bad Death and Fire of Lies, which are available as ebooks. His first historical thriller, The Zealot’s Bones, was a Sunday Times Book of the Year. With publishers Severn House, he has written the critically-acclaimed The Mausoleum, A Rush of Blood, Borrowed Time and Suspicious Minds.
Dark Winter was selected for the Harrogate New Blood panel (where he was Reader in Residence) and was a Richard & Judy pick and a Sunday Times bestseller. Dead Pretty was long-listed for the Crime Writers Association Gold Dagger in 2016, as was Cold Bones in 2019.
David’s Radio 4 drama, A Marriage of Inconvenience, aired last year. His first novel was adapted for the stage and was twice a sell-out smash in Hull. He has also written for the stage and has contributed articles and reviews to several national and international publications. He is a regular performer at literary festivals and is a sought-after public speaker. He also teaches creative writing.
Happy Publication Day to one of my favourite authors. I’m thrilled to be taking part in the tour for this novel on release day. Thank you to Raven Books for my gifted ARC and to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the blog tour.
Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness…
A struggling silhouette artist in Victorian Bath seeks out a renowned child spirit medium in order to speak to the dead – and to try and identify their killers – in this beguiling new tale from Laura Purcell.
Silhouette artist Agnes is struggling to keep her business afloat. Still recovering from a serious illness herself, making enough money to support her elderly mother and her orphaned nephew Cedric has never been easy, but then one of her clients is murdered shortly after sitting for Agnes, and then another, and another…
Desperately seeking an answer, Agnes approaches Pearl, a child spirit medium lodging in Bath with her older half-sister and her ailing father, hoping that if Pearl can make contact with those who died, they might reveal who killed them. But Agnes and Pearl quickly discover that instead they may have opened the door to something that they can never put back…
What secrets lie hidden in the darkness?
“Wicked deeds require the cover of darkness.”
A clever mix of whodunnit and ghost story, The Shape of Darkness is told with Purcell’s signature flair of haunting, gothic prose against a chilling and beautiful historic backdrop with richly drawn and memorable characters.
Agnes is a silhouette artist struggling to make ends meet thanks to advancements in the field that have made her craft almost obsolete. When the few customers she does have start to turn up viciously murdered, she becomes the police’s prime suspect and sets out to find a way to prove her innocence; determined to both clear her name and save her business.
Eleven-year-old Pearl is a spirit medium who lives with her sister and gravely ill father. She is the main attraction at the seances she and her sister hold, with people coming far and wide to see her in hope of connecting with a loved one they’ve lost. She is the person that Agnes turns to in hope of finding out who has killed her clients. But they soon learn that when you lift the veil to welcome the other side, you might get more than you bargained for.
“The ghosts are coming. Her arms are glowing, her breath is glowing. She’s being swallowed.”
Laura Purcell is one of my favourite authors so I was giddy with excitement when I received a stunning proof copy of her latest novel. Atmospheric and chilling, the vivid imagery and descriptions transported me back to 1854, making me feel like I was walking the streets of Bath beside Agnes or cowering in the dark beside Pearl. As always, the book is well researched and includes fascinating historical facts that will both thrill and horrify you (phossy jaw, I’m looking at you).
Ms. Purcell has a great recipe for the eerie ambience that lingers throughout this book. First, she sets the book in Victorian Bath and its large, gothic houses. Next, she adds a lonely woman mourning a lost love and an albino child whose mother died in childbirth and father hovers on the edge of death. Then, she includes a generous helping of mesmerism, seances, dark shadows, ghostly happenings and murder. Finally, with a sprinkle she includes the mysterious appearance of notes in the handwriting of someone gone from this world that Anges is trying to forget and a pinch of things from beyond the veil that linger when they should have left, you have a deliciously menacing and gothic read.
Sinister, spooky and mysterious, this book keeps you guessing right until the end. Are Agnes and Pearl really communicating with the dead? Is Agnes really seeing ghosts? Could she be the murderer?
There were times I found this book a bit slow and, for me, it didn’t quite live up to the glory of her first two books (I am yet to read Bone China), but overall this was a gripping gothic read I would recommend to those who love the genre.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Laura Purcell is a former bookseller living in Colchester, Essex with her husband and pet guinea pigs.
She began her career with two historical novels about the Hanoverian monarchs, Queen of Bedlam and Mistress of the Court.
Her first Gothic novel for Raven Books, The Silent Companions, was a Radio 2 Book Club pick, was selected for the Zoe Ball ITV Book Club and was the winner of the Thumping Good Read Award. Her other Gothic titles include The Corset, Bone China and the upcoming The Shape of Darkness.
In the USA Laura is published by Penguin Books, where The Corset is titled The Poison Thread and Bone China is called The House of Whispers.
Additionally, Laura’s short stories have been published in a number of collections. These include Cameo, featured in Phantoms, Vanitas in the Audible Original Homeless Bodies and Other Stories and Creeping Ivy, coming October 2020 in After Sundown.
Today is a historic day; the 46th President, Joe Biden, will be inaugurated, with Kamala Harris also inagaurated as Vice President. Kamala is the first woman and woman of colour Vice President and to celebrate this Vintage Books have kindly sent me a copy of her biography. Not only that, but inspired by her own words from the book, they are encouraging people to think about how they can #bepartofthesolution.
‘My daily challenge to myself is to be part of the solution, to be a joyful warrior in the battle to come. My challenge to you is to join that effort. To stand up for our ideals and our values. Let’s not throw up our hands when it’s time to roll up our sleeves. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not ever.’
One way they are suggesting we do this is by donating to The Advocacy Academy, a transformational Social Justice Youth Organising Movement for young people from South London for those who are passionate about creating a more just and fair society. You can read more about them and the work they do here. Vintage Books will be holding an internal charity staff sale of books to raise money for the charity and I have personally made a donation. Should you also wish to donate you can do so here.
Published: March 4th, 2021 Publisher: Pan Macmillan Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
They say we’ll never know what happened to those men. They say the sea keeps its secrets . . . ‘A mystery, a love story and a ghost story, all at once. I didn’t want it to end’ S J Watson
Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.
What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?
Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .
Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.
“This riddle has everything a fiction writer looks for – drama, mystery, peril on the sea. Only it’s real.”
The Lamplighters is the story of the disappearance of three men, their warring widows, ghostly goings-on, and the power and mystery of the sea. Told in dual timelines we follow the men in the days leading up to their disappearance, and their widows twenty years later as they are interviewed by a writer who is hoping to finally find the truth of what happened on that frigid winter day.
First of all, how is this a debut?! This book is an example of storytelling at its finest. The author shifts seamlessly between the two timelines; holding the reader in the palm of her hand as she weaves her mysterious tale. The imagery is so vivid that I can see, feel and hear the waves, smell the salty sea air, and hear the siren song of the sea as she whispers her secrets.
Based on a true story, the author has changed the time, place and people to craft her own world full of secrets, mystery and intrigue. The characters and community she created are captivating, relatable and richly drawn. We are given a first person narrative from multiple characters; in 1992 the widows tell their story, and in 1972 the doomed keepers give details of life in the lighthouse and events leading up their disappearance.
One of my favourite aspects of this book is that it is absolutely drenched in mystery. It seeps from its every pore. There isn’t just the mystery of what happened that day on the Tower, there are other puzzles that we have to piece together so we can get the final, truthful picture of what transpired. But though there were many layers and interwoven storylines, it never felt confusing. It just sent the tension through the roof and made this book impossible to put down. I had to know what happened! In my notes there are many other plot points and aspects of the book that stood out and I would love to talk about, but I won’t because I don’t want to take away from the joy of discovering these engimas for yourself.
The Lamplighters is a truly accomplished debut. It is one of those books that deserves to be huge and I have no doubt everyone will be talking about this year. It is also perfect for the big screen and I am hoping I get to see it there one day.
Atmospheric, haunting, claustrophobic and mesmerising, I found it impossible to put this one down and would have read it in one sitting if not for the pesky need to sleep. If you love an exquisitely written and layered mystery then don’t miss this book.
Thank you to Camilla at Pan Macmillan for my gifted copy of the book.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Emma Stonex is a novelist and The Lamplighters is her debut under her own name; she is the author of several books written under a pseudonym. Before becoming a writer, she worked as an editor at a major publishing house. She lives in Bristol with her husband and two young daughters
Published: January 7th, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Thriller, Domestic Thriller
Today is my stop on the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
*** Pre-order The Push now and be one of the first to discover why this novel you can’t put down is also the novel you will never forget . . . ***
What if your experience of motherhood was nothing like what you hoped for – but everything you always feared?
‘The women in this family, we’re different . . .’
The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life.
It was meant to be a fresh start.
But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right. I have always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers.
My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child.
But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong.
Is it her? Or is it me?
Is she the monster? Or am I?
The Push is a heart-pounding exploration of motherhood, obsession and the terrible price of unconditional love.
“One day you’ll understand, Blythe. The women in this family… we’re different.”
What if there was something wrong with your child? Could you still love them? Would others see what you do? Is it you or them?
Compelling, bold, unsettling, and thought-provoking, The Push explores themes of our expectations of motherhood, unconditional love, family, and if monsters are born or made.
From the first pages the author had me in the palm of her hand. There is an immediate air of mystery and an impending sense of doom that made me excited to keep reading. I needed to know why Blythe was watching her daughter through the window and why she would feel the need to write her side of the story to give to her ex-husband. From the beginning there is also a spine-tingling terror attached to Violet, though I wasn’t sure if this was because she is someone to be feared or it was Blythe’s perception being pushed onto the reader. This conundrum is at the heart of the story as Blythe tries to solve the puzzle of if her daughter really is born a monster or if she is the monster for thinking that of her child.
The idea of children being born evil or being deliberately manipulative is one that is controversial; you aren’t supposed to dislike your child let alone voice that feeling. We see in this story how people are aghast and disgusted with Blythe when she voices her concerns about Violet or tells them the things she’s done. Children are supposed to be innocent and born good. We like to believe that as parents we have an element of control over how they turn out and that by raising them the right way, they will be good people. When people do bad things we look for a reason – neglect, abuse, absent parents, poverty – anything that will reassure us this can’t happen to us. Not our children. This book addresses that fear in all of us that it may not be in our hands and that some people might just be born bad.
The characters are all well-written and compelling, particularly Blythe and Violet. Not since We Need To Talk About Kevin has a child given me the chills or been so unlikable. I thought the author wrote her brilliantly as while she evokes these feelings, we’re never quite sure if they’re the truth or if it is all in Blythe’s head. Every time I made my mind up about Violet something would happen to make me doubt my conclusion, the author keeping me on the edge of my seat until the final page.
I liked the confessional style of writing and how it is mixed with flashbacks to the older generations of women in Blythe’s family. The flashbacks give important insight into not only Blythe’s mindset, but the mystery of the women in her family and the raw truth of motherhood. They also help to show how the past can ripple down through the generations with devastating effects.
Riveting, pacy and insightful, The Push certainly packs a punch. It is a story that feels both shocking and sadly familiar and I think it will resonate with many people as every mother’s nightmare come true. I am still in awe that this is the author’s debut novel and can’t wait to read more from her in the future.
Ashley Audrain is a Canadian writer. During a July 2019 interview with the Toronto Star Audrain described her debut novel, The Push, as a “psychological drama told through the lens of motherhood.” Prior to turning her hand to writing, Audrain was publicity director for the publisher Penguin Canada. Instagram|Twitter
A violent gust of wind rocked the passenger train as it rolled down the tracks inside Glacier National Park. The cars yanked and pulled from one side of the track to the other, zigzagging like pinballs travelling though a narrow chute. Without any apparent reason, the breaks on the train squealed, and twenty-three cars and the powerful engine kangerooed into a hard deceleration. Margot Fletcher, who was seated toward the rear of the train inside a viewing car, tightened her seatbelt and grasped the arms of her seat. At eight and a half months pregnant, she couldn’t afford a fall. Her heart rate shot into overdrive, and her baby shifted as if turnaning a complete somersault. Her stomach clenched as if she were experiencing a contraction. Unable to mask the pain and worry, she groaned. She hoped the baby hadn’t turned breech, prayed that she wasn’t going into labor.
Today’s First Lines Friday is taken from Cover Your Tracks by Daco S. Auffenorde, which I was kindly gifted by the author. This one sounds fantastic. And with a snowy cover I couldn’t resist sharing it while we have the perfect weather.
Margo Fletcher, eight months pregnant, is traveling by train from Chicago to Spokane, her childhood home. While passing through an isolated portion of the Rockies in blizzard conditions, the train unexpectedly brakes. Up ahead, deadly snow from a massive avalanche plummets down the mountain. Despite the conductor’s order for the passengers to stay seated, former Army Ranger Nick Eliot insists that survival depends on moving to the back of the train. Only Margo believes him. They take refuge in the last train car, which Nick heroically uncouples in time to avoid the avalanche. The rest of the train is hurled down the mountainside and is soon lost forever in a blanket of snow. Margo and Nick, the sole survivors, are stranded in the snowstorm without food, water, or heat. Rescuers might not arrive for days.
When the weather turns violent again, the pair must flee the shelter of the passenger car and run for their lives into the wilderness. They must fend off the deadly cold as well as predatory wild animals foraging for food. Eventually, Nick leads Margo to shelter in a watchtower atop a mountain. There, we learn that both Margo and Nick have secrets that have brought them together and threaten to destroy them.
Cover Your Tracks is a chilling story of love and hate, the devastating power of nature, and the will to survive.
Published: January 7th, 2021 Publisher: Allen & Unwin Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Urban Fiction
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this wonderful debut. Thank you to Allen & Unwin for the gifted ARC and Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part.
Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.
With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.
Victoria Park is a difficult book to review as it is just so different to anything I’ve read. It takes place over the course of a year, focusing on a different character each month and is more like a collection of short stories than a novel. Though it took me a little while to get into the flow of the book as I rarely read short stories, I really liked this fresh and unique approach and thought that the author executed it well.
We are only given a small glimpse into each character’s life as the author tells their stories via individual chapters. But we also see them a little through the eyes of other characters as she has chosen to focus these stories on a group of people whose lives are interwoven. She created a richly drawn community full of a compelling cast of varied characters. I had a soft spot for Wolfie and Mona in particular as they are such wonderful characters. I adored their love story and Wolfie’s devotion to Mona despite the challenges and was thrilled every time they were on the page.
The author also uses the book to subtly examine many themes such as family, friendship, love, isolation, alienation and adjusting to change. There are some powerful and emotional moments that mostly occur during times the characters are quietly reflecting on their lives.
Absorbing, funny and delightful, the book has an air of calm that made it a refreshing and relaxing read. I would highly recommend this remarkable debut.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London. She graduated with distinction from the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and holds an MA in Twentieth Century Literature from Goldsmiths.