Publsihed: March 19th, 2020 Publisher: Bantam Press Genre: Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, New Adult Ficiton, Women’s Fiction, Pensioners on the Pages Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
Today I’m resharing my review for this heartwarming story. I’m taking part in the Squadpod Advent Calendar Challenge this month and today’s prompt is a ‘Book with a character you’d like to meet’. I couldn’t think of anyone who I would like to meet more than the delightful Veronica McCreedy. I read this back in March 2020 and it has stayed with me ever since. It really is the perfect book to read to lift your spirits. And I dare anyone not to fall in love with Veronica.
A Richard & Judy Book Club and BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick. A truly feel-good book club read – a #1 bestseller in ebook and audio!
Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .
Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.
Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.
She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).
Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.
But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.
Oh how I loved this absolute gem of a book. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, it had me transfixed. I got lost in the pages and totally immersed in Veronica’s story.
Veronica McCreedy is an eccentric, feisty, cantankerous, witty and unstoppable old lady. I just couldn’t help but love her and she quickly found a place in my heart. Her bad-tempered idiosyncrasies became endearing and I was sure she had a heart of gold hidden behind it all. When a locked wooden box containing her teenage diaries is found, Veronica’s poignant story is slowly unveiled and we finally learn what lies underneath those brusque layers she uses to protect herself.
Running parallel to Veronica’s story is her daring adventure to Antarctica to see the Adélie penguins. She became obsessed with them after watching a nature programme and decided she wanted to leave her vast wealth to the research programme. But she needs to make sure they are worthy of it, so she books a trip to see the penguins for herself; refusing to heed to frantic warnings of her assistant Eileen and the trio of scientists that it is too dangerous. I adored this part of the story – the different sides we see to Veronica’s personality, her blossoming friendship with young scientist Terry, and the adorable rescued chick, Pip. I found myself in awe of Eileen’s spriteliness and determination, overcoming her age and the bracing conditions to have the adventure of a lifetime.
But behind the cuteness of this storyline is a serious commentary on climate change and our responsibility to save the environment and a number of earth’s most beloved species that are facing extinction in the near future. It is peppered with blog posts by Terry which are informative as well as entertaining. The author has clearly done her research and I know a lot more about climate change and penguins after reading this book.
The story is narrated by two very distinct voices and is filled with a rich, colourful and fascinating cast of characters. The cutest of these is without a doubt little Pip, and I now blame the author for the fact I really want a pet penguin! The investment, hard work and love that the author has put into this book is evident in the exquisite writing and attention to detail. I savoured every word, devouring this book while also trying to make it last as I dreaded parting with Veronica and the penguins.
Away with the Penguins is without a doubt the most delightful, joyous and uplifting book I’ve read so far this year, if not in a long time, and I have no doubt it will have a place in my top reads of the year. A lush blend of characters and storylines that is immersive and reaches into your soul and serves as a great reminder that it is never too late to have an adventure, try new things or make changes in your life. Whatever your reading preferences, I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to have lots of tissues and be prepared to fall in love.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
From Hazel’s website: Hazel is an enthusiastic and experienced harp-player based in Somerset and Exmoor. Her repertoire spans many styles of music and includes singing with harp accompaniment.
Hazel is also an author. Her three bestselling novels, published by Penguin Random House, are described as ‘quirky’, ‘lyrical’ and ‘life-affirming’. AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS (USA title = HOW THE PENGUINS SAVED VERONICA) is a Richard and Judy and a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty locked-room mystery. Thank you to Jenny at Hodder and Stoughton for the invitation to take part and gifted copy of the book.
Zoey enjoys her life. She fills it with travel, casual work and partying with friends, and tries not to think about what’s gone wrong in the past.
But after a night out clubbing in New York to celebrate her best friend’s birthday, Zoey wakes in a stifling white room she’s never seen before, with no memory of how she got there. Filled with panic, she searches the luxurious house for someone who can tell her where she is, only to find herself entirely alone in what appears to be vast, unending desert.
Until, in the distance, she hears a woman screaming…
“In that moment I know I can’t just leave the Sanctuary – not until I’ve got to the bottom of whatever is going on.”
I love a good locked-room mystery, and The Sanctuary certainly fits that bill. Fast-paced, tense and addictive, I was putty in the palm of Emma Haughton’s hand as she wove her clever, twisty and intricate tale. There are many layers of mystery in the story: who is Zoey’s mysterious benefactor? Why are residents leaving in the middle of the night? And what is the secret Zoey can’t face?
Haughton transports you into the story, making you feel Zoey’s disorientation and fear as she wakes in this strange place. These feelings only deepen, and are joined by anger and frustration, as she adjusts to her situation. And as she begins to get to know the other patients and staff, it seems things only get more cryptic and strange. Something is clearly not right about this place, and Zoey can’t resist delving deeper into the mystery, the tension escalating alongside the danger they are facing. I was reading with my heart pounding in my chest as I tried to predict the answers to my many questions.
Atmospheric, claustrophobic and utterly compelling, this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a well written thriller.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
From Emma’s Website: Emma Haughton grew up in Sussex; after a stint au pairing in Paris and a couple of half-hearted attempts to backpack across Europe, she studied English at Oxford University then trained in journalism. During her career as a journalist, she wrote many articles for national newspapers, including regular pieces for the Times Travel section.
Following publication of her picture book, Rainy Day, Emma wrote three YA novels. Her first, Now You See Me, was an Amazon bestseller and nominated for the Carnegie and Amazing Book Awards. Better Left Buried, her second, was one of the best YA reads for 2015 in the Sunday Express. Her third YA novel, Cruel Heart Broken, was picked by The Bookseller as a top YA read for July 2016.
The Dark, Emma’s chilling new thriller for adults, was published by Hodder in August 2021.
Published: November 10th, 2022 Publisher: Orenda Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Medical Thriller, Police Procedural Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Pain Tourist. I’m so excited to finally share my review for this jaw-dropping thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Book for the gifted proof.
A young man wakes from a coma to find himself targeted by the men who killed his parents, while someone is impersonating a notorious New Zealand serial killer … the latest chilling, nerve-shredding, twisty thriller from the author of The Quiet People…
‘Paul Cleave is an automatic must-read for me’ Lee Child
‘You can’t be a true fan of crime fiction if you’re not reading Cleave’s books’ Tom Wood
‘Uses words as lethal weapons’ New York Times
James Garrett was critically injured when he was shot following his parents’ execution, and no one expected him to waken from a deep, traumatic coma. When he does, nine years later, Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent is tasked with closing the case that her now retired colleague, Theodore Tate, failed to solve all those years ago.
But between that, and hunting for Copy Joe – a murderer on a spree, who’s imitating Christchurch’s most notorious serial killer – she’s going to need Tate’s help … especially when they learn that James has lived out another life in his nine-year coma, and there are things he couldn’t possibly know, including the fact that Copy Joe isn’t the only serial killer in town…
“Pain tourists are who we get when the podcasts and true-crime novels and the documentaries aren’t enough. They wonder what it’s like being either killer or victim. They slake that curiosity by visiting places where the terrible things happened, and the next you know they’re going from ‘how did this happen?’ to ‘how can I make this happen?’ ”
It’s been a few months since I read this book and I still can’t stop thinking about it. A heart-pounding, jaw-dropping thrill ride that will blow your mind, this book is like nothing I’ve ever read before. It is one of those books where you think you know where it’s going but you really have no clue, the many twists and turns giving me book whiplash. Complex and layered, author Paul Cleave slowly weaves the many threads together so that the full picture begins to take shape. And it looks nothing like you imagined. And that finale… I was holding my breath in anticipation and did NOT expect the turns it took.
I was a big fan of Cleave’s last book, The Quiet People, and I feel like he gets better every time. Exquisitely written with gorgeous and evocative imagery, this book really showcases just how damn good he is. An ensemble cast thriller with multiple threads, it manages to avoid getting confusing. Each character is brilliantly written, compelling and memorable, and it felt like there were no real background characters. But it was James and the mysterious killer whose points of view I found most enthralling. The concept of James living an entire life in ‘coma world’ was genius, and the anguish and confusion he felt upon waking was heartbreaking. I loved how the author brought James’ coma world to life for the reader, making it feel as real to us as it did him. As for the killer, well, what can I say except that I’m a sucker for an insight into a dark and twisted mind.
Imaginative, tense and moving, The Pain Tourist is an absolute triumph. It is one of those books you never want to end but you are also desperate for answers. One of my favourite books this year, if you haven’t read this author yet then do it now!
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Paul is an award winning author who often divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe. He’s won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia. HIs books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his Frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many. The critically acclaimed The Quiet People was published in 2021, with The Pain Tourist to follow in 2022.
Published: January 20th, 2022 Publisher: Harper Voyager UK Genre: Fantasty Fiction, Fairy Tale, High Fantasy, Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy Series Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook
Thank you Harper Voyager UK for my gifted proof copy of this mesmerising debut.
The bestselling debut fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess.
A young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm, setting her on a dangerous path where those she loves are not the only ones at risk…
*THE INSTANT TOP 5 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER*
Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when her magic flares and her existence is discovered, Xingyin is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.
Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to train in the Crown Prince’s service, learning to master archery and magic, despite the passion which flames between her and the emperor’s son.
Lush, evocative and heartfelt, this sweeping debut is a mythological love story and coming-of-age story inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess. And I can’t start this review without talking about that gorgeous cover. It is a work of art that screams ‘read me’, and the Fairyloot version just takes things to another level. As soon as I saw it I knew this was a book I had to read, and my only regret is that I waited so long to do so.
Xingyin has been raised on the moon. It is an isolated life, and as she grows, so does her desire to explore and experience new things—a wish that is about to come true in the worst possible way. When her magic flares, Xingyin discovers that her mother, Chang’e, is imprisoned in the moon as punishment for stealing the elixir of immortality from the Celestial Emperor and that her own existence is a secret. Faced with the danger of discovery, her mother’s attendant, Ping’er, helps Xingyin flee her home, and she is forced to hide in the Celestial Kingdom, concealing her identity while she works as a servant. But a chance meeting changes her destiny, and she is chosen to train alongside Crown Prince Liwei, learning battle skills and mastering her magic, eventually becoming an elite warrior who is revered throughout the Celestial Kingdom. A skill she hopes will win the Emperor’s favour and a chance to finally free her mother.
This mesmerising debut is a fantasy lovers’ dream. Enchanting and dreamlike, it is filled with mythical creatures, epic battles, humour, passion and gripping tension. It is both ambitious in scope and intimate in detail, author Sue Lynn Tan’s vivid imagery bringing her richly imagined world to life as clearly as if it was on a movie screen in front of me. Tan also paints pictures with prose that is almost poetic, each word carefully chosen to propel me into her magical world.
Xingyin is a likeable heroine who is easy to root for. She begins the story full of wide-eyed innocence and daydreams, and we follow her journey of self-discovery as she grows into a fierce, courageous warrior with a fire that cannot be extinguished. I was rooting for her from the start. I loved the beautiful mother/daughter bond she and Chang’e shared and trying to guess if her friends-to-lovers romance with Prince Liwei would have a happy ending.
A dazzling and gloriously escapist fantasy that pulls on the heartstrings, Daughters of the Moon Goddess is a debut not to be missed.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Sue Lynn Tan writes stories inspired by the myths and legends she fell in love with as a child. After devouring every fable she could find in the library, she discovered fantasy books, spending much of her childhood lost in magical worlds.
Daughter of the Moon Goddess is her debut, the first in the Celestial Kingdom duology – a fantasy of immortals, magic and love, inspired by the beloved legend of the Chinese moon goddess, Chang’e.
When not writing or reading, she enjoys exploring the hills, lakes, and temples around her home. She is also grateful to be within reach of bubble tea and spicy food, which she unfortunately cannot cook.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Suicide Thursday. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted proof.
A disenchanted man struggles to get beyond the first chapter of the books he’s writing, and to separate fact from fiction in his own life. His friend’s suicide changes everything … The mind-blowing, heart-rending new thriller from cult bestselling author Will Carver.
‘One of the most exciting authors in Britain’ Daily Express
Eli Hagin can’t finish anything.
He hates his job, but can’t seem to quit. He doesn’t want to be with his girlfriend, but doesn’t know how end things with her, either. Eli wants to write a novel, but he’s never taken a story beyond the first chapter.
Eli also has trouble separating reality from fiction.
When his best friend kills himself, Eli is motivated, for the first time in his life, to finally end something himself, just as Mike did…
Except sessions with his therapist suggest that Eli’s most recent ‘first chapters’ are not as fictitious as he had intended … and a series of text messages that Mike received before his death point to something much, much darker…
“Suicide is a beginning for those left behind.”
Bold, uncompromising and unique, Suicide Thursday is another thought-proovoking novel from the incomparable Will Carver.
Aspiring writer Eli Hagin can’t finish things. He can’t get past the opening chapter of his book, can’t end his relationship, and can’t leave the job he hates. But when his best friend takes his own life Eli finds himself feeling motivated to finally finish something. But not everything is as it seems and fact begins to merge with fiction as the truth behind Mike’s suicide is revealed…
This is one of those books that haunts your subconscious long after reading and I have not stopped thinking about it. Will Carver is a master of his craft, holding us in the palm of his hand from beginning to end as he explores a multitude of social and moral topics in this genre-blending tale. I am a proud member of the #CarverCult and I will pick up his books without even looking at the synopsis. They are like nothing else you will ever read, but you know you are getting a story that is meticulously written, twisty, sinister and atmospheric.
The story is told by multiple narrators using mixed media as it moves between the days leading up to Sucide Thursday and the heartrending aftermath. This is a story filled with flawed, unreliable and unlikable characters. Eli is particularly abhorrent; selfish, acerbic and unfeeling. I couldn’t decide if he was simply a terrible person or if there were elements of neurodiversity that affected his perception of the world. There was nothing that could excuse him deciding Mike had killed himself as a message to him rather than an expression of his own desperation though and I really hated him at times. But he was great to read.
As someone who has lost friends to suicide and struggled with mental health, I was a little apprehensive about how I’d feel reading this book. But while this is undoubtedly hard to read, Carver skillfully and realistically conveys the psychological and emotional torment of depression and suicidal thoughts, and the complex layers of the particular kind of grief that comes with losing a loved one in this way. Carver is also an author with a knifelikeawareness of the human condition who gets to the heart of why people behave like they do.
Disturbing, moving and darkly funny, Suicide Thursday is a compelling and audacious novel that stays with you. Highly recommended.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for both the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2020 and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his children.
Welcome to my final list of anticipated books released in 2022. December is a quiet month, but there’s still 15 books on my list.
The Widow by Kaira Rouda
Published: December 1st Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A husband with secrets. A wife with no limits. A riveting novel of marriage, privilege, and lies by Kaira Rouda, the USA Today bestselling author of The Next Wife.
Jody Asher had a plan. Her charismatic husband, Martin, would be a political icon. She, the charming wife, would fuel his success. For fifteen congressional terms, they were the golden couple on the Hill. Life was good. Until he wasn’t.
Martin’s secret affair with a young staffer doesn’t bother Jody personally. But professionally? It’s a legacy killer. Soon a reporter gets word of this scandal in the making, and Martin’s indiscretions threaten to ruin everything Jody has accomplished.
When Martin suddenly dies, it’s a chance to change the narrative―but the reporter won’t let go of his lead. As the balance of power shifts in the Asher house and on the Hill, it’s time for Jody to take control. And there’s nothing the ruthless widow won’t do to secure the future she’s entitled to. Even if she has a secret of her own.
Her Deadly Promise by Carla Kovach (Detective Gina Harte Book 12)
Published: December 2nd Publisher: Bookouture Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Noir Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: Four-year-old Kayden has been sitting alone on the little patch of tired grass outside his house for hours. His cheeks are wet with tears as he waits for his mother’s warm embrace. But she’ll never arrive to pick up her darling boy. She’ll never be seen again…
Church Road is a quiet corner of suburbia where happy families play in the local park and neighbours smile as they pass in the street. But behind the bright red door of number 8 lies the body of Billie Reeves, a young mum who just took her last breath.
Serena is Billie’s sister. When she found out her boyfriend had been obsessively calling Billie, she’d all but cut her from her life. But not before vowing she would make Billie pay for ruining her relationship…
Shaun is Billie’s ex-boyfriend. He left her the moment she fell pregnant. When he turned up at Billie’s door, demanding to see Kayden, she refused to take the risk of him hurting her precious son. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his little boy back…
Nadia is Billie’s best friend. Their kids attended the same school and Billie often opened up to Nadia about her struggles as a single mother. She knows Billie’s deepest, darkest secret. She promised never to tell, but that was before the argument…
When police investigate the quiet little street, they discover everyone was whispering about Billie’s late-night callers. What was going on behind the closed door of Billie’s small home? And if someone was prepared to kill her, what do they know, and who will be next?
Fans of Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, will love Her Deadly Promise – a completely gripping crime thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page!
Published: December 6th Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller
SYNOPSIS: Two kidnappings, thirty years apart. Can Stacey face her own dark past in order to save her stepdaughter?
When Stacey’s ex-husband turns up on her doorstep begging her to help save his kidnapped thirteen-year-old daughter, Lyra, the terror is all too familiar. Stacey’s own violent kidnapping thirty years ago was never solved, and while a severe case of amnesia spares her from recalling the specific horrors, she remembers enough…
Stacey knows her father never paid the ransom―she has the missing pinkie finger to prove it. She knows she was only saved because of an anonymous tip-off to the police. And she knows her captor was never apprehended.
Lyra’s kidnappers have made it clear the police must not get involved. But Stacey can’t shake the eerie similarities between the two cases, and she’ll use whatever she can, from her journalistic powers to her shady contacts, to save Lyra from the same nightmare. Desperate to find any link between Lyra’s abduction and her own, Stacey forces herself to revisit her forgotten, traumatic past for clues.
But can she make sense of the terrible secrets she unearths in time to save Lyra? And if she does, is she ready to face her own tormentor?
Published: December 6th Publisher: St Martins Press Genre: Suspense, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: My Dark Vanessa meets The Queen’s Gambit in this new novel of suspense about the bonds of family, the limits of talent, the risks of ambition, and the rewards of revenge.
When former piano prodigy Saskia Kreis returns home to Milwaukee after her mother’s unexpected death, she expects to inherit the family estate, the Elf House. But with the discovery that her mother’s will bequeathed the Elf House to a man that Saskia shares a complicated history with, she is forced to reexamine her own past––and the romantic relationship that changed the course of her life––for answers. Can she find a way to claim her heritage while keeping her secrets buried, or will the fallout from digging too deep destroy her?
Set against a post #MeToo landscape, Rachel Kapelke-Dale’s The Ingenue delves into mother-daughter relationships, the expectations of talent, the stories we tell ourselves, and what happens when the things that once made you special are taken from you. Moving between Saskia’s childhood and the present day, this dark, contemporary fairy tale pulses with desire, longing, and uncertainty, as it builds to its spectacular, shocking climax.
Published: December 6th Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire Genre: Suspense, Young Adult Fiction
SYNOPSIS: No matter how you try to hide it, the truth will always come out . . .
When a small plane crash ends with a group of seven teens washed up on a deserted island, their first thought is survival. With supplies dwindling and the fear of being stranded forever becoming more of a reality, they quickly discover that being the most popular kid in high school doesn’t help when you’re fighting to stay alive.
And when strange and terrifying accidents start to occur all around them, the group realizes that they are being targeted by someone who was on the plane, and that the island isn’t their only danger. A terrible secret from a party the night before the flight has followed them ashore–and it’s clear that someone is looking for justice. Now survival depends on facing the truth about that party: who was hurt that night, and who let it happen?
SYNOPSIS: To marry is madness. To escape is impossible.
I must pull myself together. I had to find Dr Rastrick and demand my immediate release. My stomach knotted at the prospect, but I knew I was perfectly sane and that he must see reason.
In 1886, a respectable young woman must acquire a husband. But Violet Pring does not want to marry. She longs to be a professional artist and live on her own terms.
When her scheming mother secures a desirable marriage proposal from an eligible Brighton gentleman for her, Violet protests. Her family believes she is deranged and deluded, so she is locked away in Hillwood Grange Lunatic Asylum against her will.
In her new cage, Violet faces an even greater challenge: she must escape the clutches of a sinister and formidable doctor and set herself free.
This tantalizing Gothic novel from Noel O’Reilly tells a thrilling story of duty and desire, madness and sanity, truth and delusion from within a Victorian asylum.
The Witch and the Tsar by Oleysa Salinkova Gilmore
Published: December 8th Publisher: Harper Voyager UK Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: ‘A delicate weaving of myth and history, The Witch and the Tsar breathes new life into stories you think you know’ Hannah Whitten, New York Times bestselling author of For the Wolf
Yaga lives deep in the Russian forest, tending to any that call upon her for her healing potions and vast wisdom.
She has been alone for centuries, with only her beloved animals for company. But, when Tsaritsa Anastasia, wife of Tsar Ivan Vasilyevich, shows up at Yaga’s cottage on the brink of death, Yaga is compelled to travel with her to Moscow to keep her safe.
However, the Russia Yaga sees as she makes her journey to the heart of the country is one on the brink of chaos. Tsar Ivan – soon to become Ivan the Terrible – grows more volatile and tyrannical by the day, and Yaga believes the tsaritsa is being poisoned by an unknown enemy. But what Yaga cannot know is that Ivan is being manipulated by powers far older and more fearsome than anyone can imagine.
Set in sixteenth-century Russia, The Witch and the Tsar upends the stories we know of Baba Yaga as the bony-legged witch of Slavic fairy tales and the stuff of nightmares. For beyond the rumours of her iron nose, fangs for teeth, and house on chicken legs, is the story of a woman so wise and strong that she has to be cloaked in lies to hide her true power.
Published: December 8th Publisher: Penguin UK Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Historical Mystery
SYNOPSIS: A LOST CHILD. A LONG-KEPT SECRET. THE HOUSE THAT HOLDS THE KEY
Spring 1937: Teresa is evacuated to London in the wake of the Guernica bombing. She thinks she’s found safety in the soothing arms of Mary Davidson and the lofty halls of Rochester Place, but trouble pursues her wherever she goes.
Autumn 2020: Corrine, an emergency dispatcher, receives a call from a distressed woman named Mary. But when the ambulance arrives at the address, Mary is nowhere to be found. Intrigued, Corinne investigates and, in doing so, disturbs secrets that have long-dwelt in Rochester Place’s crumbling walls. Secrets that, once revealed, will change her life for ever . . .
Who is Mary Davidson? And what happened at Rochester Place all those years ago?
Published: December 8th Publsiher: Sourcebooks Landmark Genre: Historical Fiction, War Story
SYNOPSIS: Three women, a nation seduced by a madman, and the Nazi breeding program to create a so-called master race
At Heim Hochland, a Nazi breeding home in Bavaria, three women’s fates are irrevocably intertwined. Gundi is a pregnant university student from Berlin. An Aryan beauty, she’s secretly a member of a resistance group. Hilde, only eighteen, is a true believer in the cause and is thrilled to carry a Nazi official’s child. And Irma, a 44-year-old nurse, is desperate to build a new life for herself after personal devastation. All three have everything to lose.
Based on untold historical events, this novel brings us intimately inside the Lebensborn Society maternity homes that actually existed in several countries during World War II, where thousands of “racially fit” babies were bred and taken from their mothers to be raised as part of the new Germany. But it proves that in a dark period of history, the connections women forge can carry us through, even driving us to heroism we didn’t know we had within us.
Published: December 8th Publisher: Orenda Books Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Police Procedurals, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: When a human skeleton is discovered at the site of a controversial new dam in remote northern Botswana, rookie Detective Kubu is drawn into a terrifying local feud, and discovers a deadly covenant that could change everything…
While building a pipeline near the Okavango Delta, a contractor unearths the remains of a long-dead Bushman. Rookie Detective David ‘Kubu’ Bengu of Botswana CID and Scottish pathologist, Ian MacGregor, are sent to investigate, and MacGregor discovers the skeletons of eight more men.
Shortly after the gruesome discoveries, the elder of a nearby village is murdered in his home. The local police are convinced it was a robbery, but Kubu isn’t so sure … and neither is the strange woman who claims that an angry river spirit caused the elder’s death.
As accusations of corruption are levelled and international outrage builds over the massacre of the Bushman families, Kubu and his colleagues uncover a deadly covenant, and begin to fear that their own lives may be in mortal danger…
Published: December 8th Publisher: Orenda Books Genre: Mystery, Psychological Fiction, Humorous Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: A failed writer connects the murder of an American journalist, a drowned 80s musician and a Scottish politician’s resignation, in a heart-wrenching novel about ordinary people living in extraordinary times.
Renowned photo-journalist Jude Montgomery arrives in Glasgow in 2014, in the wake of the failed Scottish independence referendum, and it’s clear that she’s searching for someone.
Is it Anna Mason, who will go on to lead the country as First Minister? Jamie Hewitt, guitarist from eighties one-hit wonders The Hyptones? Or is it Rabbit – Jude’s estranged foster sister, now a world-famous artist?
Three apparently unconnected people, who share a devastating secret, whose lives were forever changed by one traumatic night in Phoenix, forty years earlier…
Taking us back to a school shooting in her Texas hometown, and a 1980s road trip across the American West – to San Francisco and on to New York – Jude’s search ends in Glasgow, and a final, shocking event that only one person can fully explain…
Published: December 8th Publisher: Crooked Lane Books Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller
SYNOPSIS: In 1997, Eve Foster’s daughter, Kelsey, runs away to New Mexico and vanishes without a trace. Eve is convinced that she’s the victim of a serial killer who’s been hunting women in the region – but Kelsey’s body is never found. Years later, Eve dies, leaving everything to her adopted twin daughters. The majority of the wealthy estate in Vermont goes to Lisa, the ‘good daughter,’ while Connie inherits only a small stipend and a property in New Mexico. Connie, often the target of Eve’s cruelty, suspects this was another of her mother’s vindictive games. Connie arrives in New Mexico to find a small, dilapidated red house in the desert, and the home’s mysterious caretaker, Jet Montgomery, living in a shack on the property. She learns there’s been a string of women murdered in the area – murders that no one will talk about. Before Connie can get to the truth, her mother’s sadistic mind games come creeping back from the grave – and now the danger becomes all too real. With a serial killer on the loose and a trove of deadly secrets coming to the surface, Connie is in a desperate race to save herself and what little is left of her shattered family.
Published: December 13th Publisher: Mira Books Genre: Mystery, Thriller
SYNOPSIS: A mother questions everything she knows about her son when a local woman is found dead.
Valerie has been forgetting things. Her daughter worries about her being on her own in her big Victorian house–one rumored to be haunted after a tragedy decades earlier–and truth be told, she is a little lonely. With few options, she asks her adult son to move home, but it’s not quite the reunion she hoped for. Hudson is taciturn, moody and frequently gone.
The neighbors already hold a grudge against Hudson, and they aren’t happy about his return. When a young woman is found murdered a block away, suspicion falls on him immediately, without a shred of evidence. While Valerie fights to defend her son, she begins to wonder who she really invited into her home.
It’s a horrible thing for a mother to even think…but is it possible she’s enabled a monster? A monster she is living with, alone?
SYNOPSIS: One mother on the run. A safe place to hide. But you can’t escape the past forever . . .
Faye is 39 and single. She’s terrified she may never have the one thing she always wanted: a child of her own.
Then she discovers a co-parenting app: Acorns. For men and women who want to have a baby, but don’t want to do it alone. When she meets Louis through it, it feels as though the fates have aligned.
But just one year later, Faye is on the run from Louis, with baby Jake in tow. In desperate need of a new place to live, she contacts Rachel, who’s renting out a room in her remote Norfolk cottage. It’s all Faye can afford – and surely she’ll be safe from Louis there?
But is Rachel the benevolent landlady she pretends to be? Or does she have a secret of her own?
Published: December 27th Publisher: Paitkus Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
SYNOPSIS: Brandi Maxwell is living the fashion intern dream.
Except, the dream looks more like living on the breadline, scrubbing sick from couture dresses, and dealing with daily microaggressions about her braids – all things she’s sure she can ignore in the name of success.
The one thing she can’t ignore is Taylor Van Doren.
Model, icon, heiress to the fashion house throne. Taylor only wants two things: her father’s money and Brandi’s boyfriend. Nothing will stand in her way. Certainly not a poor Black girl from New Jersey.
But when Brandi overhears something she shouldn’t, their fates become dangerously intertwined. And she must find a way to navigate the cutthroat world of deceptively beautiful people before she becomes fashion’s latest victim.
Welcome to my review of The Deception of Harriet Fleet, a book that’s languished on my shelves for too long and I finally read as my first book of November. Thank you to Quercus Books for my copy of the book.
Dark and brimming with suspense, an atmospheric Victorian chiller set in brooding County Durham for fans of Stacey Halls and Laura Purcell
1871. An age of discovery and progress. But for the Wainwright family, residents of the gloomy Teesbank Hall in County Durham the secrets of the past continue to overshadow their lives.
Harriet would not have taken the job of governess in such a remote place unless she wanted to hide from something or someone. Her charge is Eleanor, the daughter of the house, a fiercely bright eighteen-year-old, tortured by demons and feared by relations and staff alike. But it soon becomes apparent that Harriet is not there to teach Eleanor, but rather to monitor her erratic and dangerous behaviour – to spy on her.
Worn down by Eleanor’s unpredictable hostility, Harriet soon finds herself embroiled in Eleanor’s obsession – the Wainwright’s dark, tragic history. As family secrets are unearthed, Harriet’s own begin to haunt her and she becomes convinced that ghosts from the past are determined to reveal her shameful story.
For Harriet, like Eleanor, is plagued by deception and untruths.
Teesbank Hall is an isolated place that hides a dark history and terrible secrets. Secrets that the Wainwright family have forbidden all who work and live there to speak of. But they can’t disguise the malevolent and unsettling atmosphere that permeates its walls or the ghosts that wander them.
Harriet arrives at the house to begin her new job as governess, the remote location the perfect place for her to avoid being found by the secrets and people she’s running from. But her new charge, the Wainwright’s daughter Eleanor, is not what she imagined. The young girl is feared by all those in Teesbank Hall and openly hostile of her new governess, something Harriet understands a little more when she learns she is actually there to report on Eleanor’s bizarre behaviour. Yet over time the two develop an unusual relationship that centres on their mutual fascination with the family’s sinister history and work together to try to unveil the truth of a brutal murder decades earlier.
Deliciously dark, haunting and mysterious, The Deception of Harriet Fleet is a gorgeously gothic read. The story is part historical fiction, part mystery, and part ghost story, but there also are much deeper themes explored in its pages. Helen Scarlett explores the harsh treatment of women in the Victorian era, particularly those who are feisty, strong and intelligent. Women had no autonomy, were owned by men and sexual assault was prevelent. We see this in how Eleanor, who refuses to be silenced by her family, is imprisoned by them, has her every move watched and lives with their threats of the asylum looming over her. It is even shown in those who seem to have what others strive for, such as her mother, Susan, who is trapped in a miserable marriage with a philanderer.
The story is told to the reader by Harriet, who is finally telling the truth about what happened at Teesbank Hall all those years ago. Chillingly written, and evocative, there is a strong sense of place that makes the house feel like a character in its own right. Harriet often feels there is someone watching when she’s alone and finds herself checking for ghosts in the shadows. Many who live there feel imprisoned, the claustrophobic air permeating every page.
Atmospheric, eerie and forbidding, this was the perfect book to read during the dark and cold autumn nights.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Taken from Amazon: Thank you for visiting my Amazon author’s page. ‘The Deception of Harriet Fleet’ is my first novel and is set in the north east of England. I’ve always loved the big, classic novels from the nineteenth century, with lots of governesses and intrigue, and I sometimes wonder whether I was born in the wrong era! Although the Victorian period was a time of huge changes, the inhabitants of Teesbank Hall are trapped in the past by the destructive secrets they hold.
Teesbank Hall itself is fictional but most of the other settings in the novel are real and close to where I live with my husband and two daughters. I teach A Level English and write whenever I can grab a spare moment.
Happy Publication Day Mad Honey! Thank you to Eleni at Hodder & Stoughton for my gifted proof copy of the book.
Olivia fled her abusive marriage to return to her hometown and take over the family beekeeping business when her son Asher was six. Now, impossibly, her baby is six feet tall and in his last year of high school, a kind, good-looking, popular ice hockey star with a tiny sprite of a new girlfriend.
Lily also knows what it feels like to start over – when she and her mother relocated to New Hampshire it was all about a fresh start. She and Asher couldn’t help falling for each other, and Lily feels happy for the first time. But can she trust him completely?
Then Olivia gets a phone call – Lily is dead, and Asher is arrested on a charge of murder. As the case against him unfolds, she realises he has hidden more than he’s shared with her. And Olivia knows firsthand that the secrets we keep reflect the past we want to leave behind - and that we rarely know the people we love well as we think we do.
“If you want to understand something, you first need to accept the fact of your own ignorance. And then, you need to talk to people who know more than you do, people who have not just thought about the facts, but lived them.”
First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous cover of this book. Even if I wasn’t a fan of the author, this would be one I’d pick up for the cover alone. Thankfully, what’s between the pages is as mesmerising as what’s on the outside. Mad Honey is a contemporary masterpiece. Complex, layered, and thought-provoking, this is a book that will consume you from the first page until the last and then linger long after reading. There are shocking revelations and, as we’ve come to expect from Ms. Picoult, the story examines some controversial and difficult subjects that are told with sensitivity and compassion, while never shying away from harrowing or painful truths.
Jodi Picoult has been my favourite author ever since I read My Sister’s Keeper almost twenty years ago. Her books are auto-buys for me without even reading the synopsis, but I have to say that this one had me very intrigued because it is co-written with an author I’ve never read. And it’s perfect. Not only does Ms. Picoult once again showcase her ability to illuminate ordinary lives and reveal the secrets that are hidden behind people’s unassuming exteriors, but this is complimented by Ms. Finney Boylan. The duo have crafted a narrative so seamless that it is impossible to know where one ends and the other begins. The prose is at times poetic, others stark or heartrending, and at other times joyous or funny, taking us through every emotion alongside their pitch-perfect characters. And in an added bonus for long-term Picoult fans, this book also features an appearance from a much-loved character, lawyer Jordan McAffee, who has appeared in a number of Jodi’s previous novels.
“You tell yourself this wouldn’t happen in your hometown. You tell yourself this isn’t anyone you know. Until it does, and it is.”
Not only is this a story told by dual authors, but it is one of dual timelines and dual narrators: Olivia tells us the story in the present, while Lily narrates past events. The two stories are expertly interwoven to take you through the events following Lily’s death while also slowly revealing what really happened in the months leading up to that fateful day in a masterfully choreographed narrative. The authors transport us into their psyche, making us feel everything they do. There is a real sense of isolation that radiates from both narrators, their personal anguish and trauma making them feel there is no one who understands what they are living. It is tortured and heartbreaking, but oh-so real, with an overwhelming grief that feels cavernous. But it isn’t all doom and gloom. We also feel their joy, which is particularly well portrayed in Lily as we are reminded of how it feels to experience the heady, all-consuming feeling of falling in love, the excitement of discovering each other and the apprehension of opening up your whole self to them.
But what I loved most about Olivia and Lily is how authentic and recognisable they both are. These women could be your family, friend or neighbour; making the story really hit home as you realise these things could happen to anyone. Even you. In fact, one of the things that made this story so hard to read for me was how much I saw myself in Olivia and my eldest child in Asher. Like Olivia I fled an abusive marriage and then raised my son alone for many years, giving us a strong and unbreakable bond. My son is also the same age as Asher is in the current timeline, making it impossible not to bring his face into my mind as I read every word.
“These people, who do not really see me, have no idea what they are missing.”
Powerful, moving and astutely observed, Mad Honey is, quite simply, phenomenal. Not only is this one of my favourite books this year, but it is also one of my favourite Jodi Picoult books ever. It has also helped me discover a new author whose back catalogue I now plan to explore.
READ IT NOW!
DM for Trigger Warnings
MEET THE AUTHORS:
Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, including Wish You Were Here, The Book of Two Ways, A Spark of Light, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, and My Sister’s Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. Picoult lives in New Hampshire.
Her next novel, Mad Honey, is co-written with Jennifer Finney Boylan.
Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of sixteen books, including GOOD BOY: My Life in Seven Dogs. Since 2008 she has been a contributing opinion writer for op/ed page of the New York Times; her column appears on alternate Wednesdays. A member of the board of trustees of PEN America, Jenny was also the chair of the board of GLAAD for many years. She is currently the Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence and Professor of English at Barnard College of Columbia University.
Jenny is a well known advocate for human rights. She has appeared five times on the Oprah Winfrey Show and has also been a guest or a commentator on Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and The Today Show. She is also a member of the faculty of the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference of Middlebury College as well as Sirenland, in Positano, Italy.
She lives in Maine with her wife Deirdre. They have two children.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this heart-pounding dysopian thriller. Thank you to Sofia at Midas PR for the invitation to take part and to Midas PR and Moonflower Publishing for the gifted copy of the book.
A thrilling debut that has been likened to John Le Carré and Raymond Chandler . . .
Paris, 2037. Alexandre Lamarque of the French external security service is hunting for eco-terrorists. Experience has taught him there is no one he can trust – not his secretive lover Mariam, not even his old mentor, Professor Fayard, the man at the centre of the web. He is ready to give up. But he can’t.
In search of the truth, Alex must follow the trail through an ominous spiral of events, from a string of brutal child murders to a chaotic coup in North Africa. He rapidly finds himself in a heart-thumping race against chaos and destruction. He could be the world’s only hope of preventing THE COMING DARKNESS . . .
Paris, Summer 2037. Alexandre Lamarque of the French external security service is hunting for eco-terrorists. Experience has taught him to trust no-one – not even his mentor, Professor Fayad or his secret lover, Mariam. He follows the trail of a string of brutal child murders, a chaotic coup in North Africa, and the extraction of its leader while under fire, all against the stressful backdrop of his mother fighting a new virus that threatens her life. As events spiral further out of control, Alex is haunted by the coming darkness he sees looming on the horizon. Can he discover who is trying to once again destabilise climate controls and prevent them from wreaking destruction on the world?
Greg Mosse’s compelling debut is set in a dystopia not too far into our future. References to Covid 19, climate change and other current events make the world he has created feel frighteningly familiar. Like we are glimpsing a possible future rather than reading fiction. It jumps straight into the action and is filled with an ominous tension and sense of foreboding from beginning to end. While it is mostly steady or fast-paced, there was a time where I felt it slowed down and the plethora of characters we follow got a little confusing, but this soon changed and I was left on tenterhooks as I read, rooting for Alex as he tries to save the world. He is a great protagonist who is easy to get behind and relate to, even in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Timely, thought-provoking and intelligent, this is not your average thriller and I’d recommend reading it even if you aren’t usually a fan of dystopian fiction.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
From Greg’s Website: Greg Mosse is currently the founder and leader of the Criterion New Writing script development programme at the Criterion Theatre, London, giving free opportunities in script development to a diverse community of writers, actors and directors.
Since 2015, he has written and produced 25 plays and musicals, often in collaboration. Over the same period, with Lou Doye, Doye Mosse Productions has created and financed an incredible range of traditional, VR and augmented reality story-telling experiences.
During the coronavirus lockdowns, he wrote two-and-a-half novels, of which THE COMING DARKNESS will be the first to be published.
Published: November 10th, 2022~ Publisher: Michael Joseph Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psycholgical Thriller Format: Paperback, Hardback, Kindle, Audiobook
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour celebrating the paperback publication of Nobody But Us. Thank you to Sryia at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and gifted paperback copy of the book.
‘READS LIKE A GLOSSY 90s THRILLER. OBSESSED‘ JUNO DAWSON ‘IT GRIPS LIKE A VICE’ WILL DEAN ‘A MUST READ FOR 2022’ 5* READER REVIEW ‘ADDICTIVE AND INTOXICATING’ 5* READER REVIEW ‘NOT ONE TO BE MISSED’EVENING STANDARD ________
He’s a well-respected college professor. She’s a young and eager-to-please student.
He knows she would do anything for him. She knows his certainty is his weakness
He thinks he’ll get what he wants. She thinks he’ll get exactly what he needs.
Two liars. One twisted path. A game of cat and mouse.
BUT WHO IS THE HUNTER? AND WHO IS THE PREY?
“Morning will cast a light on all this, shine on the craziness of the situation; this sham won’t survive sunrise, like all other evil it can only thrive in darkness.”
What a wild ride! This is a book that does exactly what it says on the tin and lives up to its tagline that calls Ellie and Steven ‘2022’s most f*cked up couple’. It took me quite some time to recover from this one after reading. It’s that crazy. I thought I knew what was in store but I had no idea just how messed up this was going to get…
The story opens with Ellie and Steven heading off on a three-day trip to celebrate their six month anniversary. They both seem anxious and feel like everything rests on this weekend but the reader is in the dark as to what that is and why. They quickly arrive at their destination: a remote cabin in the forest, surrounded by snow and with no cell phone reception. Right then you would know this is going to be a getaway-gone-wrong even if you’d gone into this book blind. Ominous and claustrophobic, there is an unbearable tension that wreaked havoc on my blood pressure as I tried to guess what would happen next. But I could never have guessed what was coming if I’d had a hundred guesses. It plays its cards extremely close to the vest so I won’t say anything more about the plot so you can discover the craziness for yourself.
Stylish, sinister, scalpel-sharp and sophisticated, Laure Van Rensburg’s cunningly crafted debut is one you won’t forget. She holds the reader in her vice-like grip, making it impossible to stop reading even when you want to turn away. Ellie and Steven are richly drawn, memorable, unsavoury and unreliable characters, hiding their dysfunction behind a mask of normalcy that once removed will change everything you thought you knew.
Unpredictable, darkly atmospheric and charged with adrenaline, Nobody But Us is the debut everyone is going to be talking about. Laure Van Rensburg is a spectacular new talent that is one to watch and I for one can’t wait to read what she writes next.
READ THIS BOOK!
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 & 2019 Bath Short Story Award.
Her debut novel, Nobody But Us, follows Ellie and Steven who take their first trip away together, but what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbour secrets – and that one of those secrets is deadly.
Nobody But Us (originally titled The Downfall) was shortlisted for the 2019 First Novel Prize, 2019 Novel London Competition and 2019 Flash 500 Novel Opening. It will be published by Michael Joseph in April 2022 and has sold in fourteen territories, including Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States.
Laure’s current work in progress, Eden Lost, was longlisted in 2019 Exeter Novel Prize and more recently shortlisted in the 2020 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.