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.
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.
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
Welcome to my second post of my most anticipated books of 2021. Today I’m sharing the twenty-one debut novels being released this year that I’m most excited about. Once again, this was a very difficult list to narrow down as there were many more I’m looking forward to and have on my tbr.
SYNOPSIS: In this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose of Zora Neale Hurston to characterise the forceful, enduring bond of love, and what happens when brutality threatens the purest form of serenity.
The Halifax plantation is known as Empty by the slaves who work it under the pitiless gaze of its overseers and its owner, Massa Paul. Two young enslaved men, Samuel and Isaiah dwell among the animals they keep in the barn, helping out in the fields when their day is done. But the barn is their haven, a space of radiance and love – away from the blistering sun and the cruelty of the toubabs – where they can be alone together.
But, Amos – a fellow slave – has begun to direct suspicion towards the two men and their refusal to bend. Their flickering glances, unspoken words and wilful intention, revealing a truth that threatens to rock the stability of the plantation. And preaching the words of Massa Paul’s gospel, he betrays them.
The culminating pages of The Prophets summon a choral voice of those who have suffered in silence, with blistering humanity, as the day of reckoning arrives at the Halifax plantation. Love, in all its permutations, is the discovery at the heart of Robert Jones Jr’s breathtaking debut, The Prophets. Pre-order here.
The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn
Published: January 7th, 2021 Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: ‘I want you to remember something, Nat. You’re small on the outside. But inside you’re as big as everyone else. You show people that and you won’t go far wrong in life.’
My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story.
The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new queen of England.
They called me the queen’s dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their king, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.
Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is a heartwarming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together. Pre-order here.
The Push by Ashley Audrain
Published: January 7th, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS: ‘I will never forget her eyes in that moment – I couldn’t look away from them. But I knew what happened as soon as I heard it.
‘I think she pushed him,’ I said to you quietly. ‘I think she pushed him…’ ___
The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life. But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right.
I had 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 an unsettling, breathtaking and powerful read about obsession and our deepest fears that will stay with you long after you turn the final page. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: They don’t know what I did. And I intend to keep it that way.
How far would you go to win? Hyper-competitive people, mind games and a dangerous natural environment combine to make the must-read thriller of the year. Fans of Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell will be gripped by spectacular debut novel Shiver.
When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.
The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.
In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light. Pre-order here.
Girl A by Abigail Dean
Published: January 21st, 2021 Publisher: Harper Collins UK Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre:
SYNOPSIS: THE BOOK THAT WILL DEFINE A DECADE
SOON TO BE A TV SHOW DIRECTED BY JOHAN RENCK (Chernobyl)
‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’
Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.
Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: The sunniest places hold the darkest secrets . . . ________
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.
SYNOPSIS: ‘Rebecca meets The Secret History. Gloriously dark, gloriously gothic’ SARA COLLINS, Costa First Novel Award-winning author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton
For 150 years, Caldonbrae Hall has loomed high above the Scottish cliffs as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises that its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’. Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher and new head of department. Rose is overwhelmed by the institution: its arcane traditions, unrivalled prestige, and terrifyingly cool, vindictive students. Her classroom becomes her haven, where the stories of fearless women from ancient Greek and Roman history ignite the curiosity of the girls she teaches and, unknowingly, the suspicions of the powers that be. But as Rose uncovers the darkness that beats at the very heart of Caldonbrae, the lines between myth and reality grow ever more blurred. It will be up to Rose – and the fierce young women she has come to love – to find a way to escape the fate the school has in store for them, before it is too late. Perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood and Madeline Miller, Madam is a darkly feminist tale with an electrifying cast of heroines you won’t soon forget. Pre-order here.
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 . . . Pre-order here.
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…
’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home, stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can. But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house. Eventually, every hidden thing is found.’
Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.
Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?
And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in? Pre-order here.
London, 1665. Hidden within a growing pile of corpses, one victim of the pestilence stands out: a young woman with a shorn head and pieces of twine delicately tied around each ankle.
Symon Patrick, rector of St. Paul’s Covent Garden, cannot say exactly why this corpse amongst the many in his churchyard should give him pause. Longing to do good, he joins a group of medical men who have gathered to find a cure for the plague, each man more peculiar and splenetic than the next. But there is another, unknown to The Society for the Prevention and Cure of Plague, who is performing his own terrible experiments upon unwilling plague-ridden subjects.
It is Penelope – Symon’s unwanted yet unremovable addition to his household – who may yet shed light on the matter. Far more than what she appears, she is already on the hunt. But the dark presence that enters the houses of the sick will not stop, and has no mercy…
This hugely atmospheric and entertaining historical thriller will transport readers to the palaces and alleyways of seventeenth-century London. Perfect for fans of Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Andrew Taylor and C.J. Sansom.
SYNOPSIS: When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.
Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.
Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones…. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: Daniel is the perfect husband. Rory is the perfect brother. Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.
And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.
When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.
Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret… Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.
Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.
Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutter to the floor unclaimed.
Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: A bewitching debut from a magnetic new voice in historical fiction. CUNNING WOMEN is sure to be loved by fans of The Essex Serpent and The Mercies.
They only want a kindness, but beware, for if you have no coin, they will curse you black and blue.
1620s, Lancashire. Away from the village lies a small hamlet, abandoned since the Plague, where only one family dwell amongst its ruins. Young Sarah Haworth, her mother, brother and little sister Annie are a family of outcasts by day and the recipients of visitors by night. They are cunning folk, the villagers will always need them, quick with a healing balm or more, should your needs require. They can keep secrets too, because no one would believe them anyway.
When Sarah spies a young man taming a wild horse, she risks being caught to watch him calm the animal. And when Daniel sees Sarah he does not just see a strange, dirty thing, he sees her for who she really is, a strong creature about to come into her own. But can something as fragile as love blossom between these two in such a place as this?
And when a new magistrate arrives to rid out those behind the strange ends that keep befalling the villagers, he has his eye on one family alone. And a torch in his hand.
Cunning Women is the powerful reckoning of a young woman with her wildness, a heartbreaking tale of young love and a shattering story of the intolerance that reigned during the long shadow of the Pendle Witch Trials when those who did not conform found persecution at every door.
Published: April 29th, 2021 Publisher: Wildfire Format: Hardcover, Kindle Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale
SYNOPSIS: A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.
As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.
When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.
In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?
Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.
SYNOPSIS: Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of book publishing.
Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the micro-aggressions, she’s thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling.
Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.
It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career.
A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
SYNOPSIS: When Rachel’s baby is stillborn, she becomes obsessed with the idea that saving a stranger s life months earlier is to blame. An unforgettable, heart-wrenching, warm and funny debut.
Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.
When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.
Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…
Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable. Pre-order here.
Midnight in Everwood by M. A . Kuzniar
Published: October 28th, 2021 Publisher: HQ Format: Hardcover, Kindle Genre: Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Historical Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: In the darkness of night, magic awaits…
The Nutcracker for adults, perfect for fans of Robert Dinsdale’s The Toymakers, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Stephanie Garber’s Caraval
’It was a rainy day that the magic came, and once magic has entered your life, you stay in its glittering clutch forever’
Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered. At the wishes of her family, she will be obligated to marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But when a mysterious new neighbour, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in her life. Although Drosselmeier’s magic is darker than Marietta could have imagined…
When he constructs an elaborate set for her final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself walking through a land of snow-topped fir trees leading to a frozen sugar palace silent with secrets.
In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…
Choosing the books I’m most excited about being released this year has taken forever. 2021 already has a vast array of books scheduled for release that I can not wait to read. I decided to cheat a little and have created two lists: this one with books by already published authors, and another I’ll post in the coming days with the debuts I’m most looking forward to.
While all of these authors have already been published, some of them are new to me, such as Catriona Ward and Yaa Gyasi. Then there are the authors I discovered last year or with their debut, such as Elizabeth Macneal, C. J. Tudor and Sarah J. Maas. Finally, we have some of my auto-read authors such as Stacey Halls, C. J. Skuse, C. L. Taylor, Mark Edwards and Beth O’ Leary.
Here are the 21 books I’m most excited for this year:
The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
Published: January 21st, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Horror Fiction
SYNOPSIS: 500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death 30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide
Welcome to Chapel Croft.
For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.
And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.
Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.
Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls? Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages? And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?
Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.
But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . . Pre-order here.
A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Mass
Published: February 16th, 2021 Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Fantasy Fiction, 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. Pre-order here.
Dead Head (Sweetpea 3) by C. J. Skuse
Published: February 18th, 2021 Publisher: HQ Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Dark Comedy, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Book Series
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 Sweetpea and In Bloom featuring everyone’s favourite truly original girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon Lewis. Pre-order here.
Nighthawking by Russ Thomas
Published: February 18th, 2021 Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Hardboiled, Police Procedural, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: Sheffield’s beautiful Botanical Gardens – an oasis of peace in a world filled with sorrow, confusion and pain. And then, one morning, a body is found in the Gardens. A young woman, dead from a stab wound, buried in a quiet corner. Police quickly determine that the body’s been there for months. It would have gone undiscovered for years – but someone just sneaked into the Gardens and dug it up.
Who is the victim? Who killed her and hid her body? Who dug her up? And who left a macabre marker on the body?
In his quest to find her murderer, DS Adam Tyler will find himself drawn into the secretive world of nighthawkers: treasure-hunters who operate under cover of darkness, seeking the lost and valuable… and willing to kill to keep what they find.
That which was lost… will always be found again Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: As a child Gifty would ask her parents to tell the story of their journey from Ghana to Alabama, seeking escape in myths of heroism and romance. When her father and brother succumb to the hard reality of immigrant life in the American South, their family of four becomes two – and the life Gifty dreamed of slips away.
Years later, desperate to understand the opioid addiction that destroyed her brother’s life, she turns to science for answers. But when her mother comes to stay, Gifty soon learns that the roots of their tangled traumas reach farther than she ever thought. Tracing her family’s story through continents and generations will take her deep into the dark heart of modern America.
Transcendent Kingdom is a searing story story of love, loss and redemption, and the myriad ways we try to rebuild our lives from the rubble of our collective pasts. Pre-order here.
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
SYNOPSIS: This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.
All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies.
You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it’s not what you think… Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in rural Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.
But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, Dylan, who she’s avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.
Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they’ve totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with four hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship…
Will they make it to the wedding on time? And, more importantly… is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan? Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: You come to Soul Shrink to be healed. You don’t expect to die.
Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.
Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.
Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?
The master of suspense is back. Prepare yourself for the latest heart-in-mouth rollercoaster ride from the Sunday Times bestseller. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.
No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year. ___________
Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.
Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artists swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea derbis, and something beautiful begins to blossom.
But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.
Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…
In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: 1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.
But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell’s life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.
In London, newspapers describe Nell as the eighth wonder of the world. Figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air. But who gets to tell Nell’s story? What happens when her fame threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her? And as she falls in love with Toby, can he detach himself from his past and the terrible secret that binds him to his brother?
Moving from the pleasure gardens of Victorian London to the battle-scarred plains of the Crimea, Circus of Wonders is an astonishing story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: A lifetime holding it together. One party will bring it crashing down.
Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over-especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud-because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own-including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.
SYNOPSIS: A golden summer, and six talented friends are looking forward to the brightest of futures – until a daredevil game goes horribly wrong, and a woman and two children are killed.
18-year-old Megan takes the blame, leaving the others free to get on with their lives. In return, they each agree to a ‘favour’, payable on her release from prison.
Twenty years later Megan is free. Let the games begin . . . Pre-order here.
The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley
Published: May 27th, 2021 Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Format: Hardcover, Kindle Genre: Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Alternate History
SYNOPSIS: Come home, if you remember.
The postcard has been held at the sorting office for ninety-one years, waiting to be delivered to Joe Tournier. On the front is a lighthouse – Eilean Mor, in the Outer Hebrides.
Joe has never left England, never even left London. He is a British slave, one of thousands throughout the French Empire. He has a job, a wife, a baby daughter.
But he also has flashes of a life he cannot remember and of a world that never existed – a world where English is spoken in England, and not French.
And now he has a postcard of a lighthouse built just six months ago, that was first written nearly one hundred years ago, by a stranger who seems to know him very well.
Joe’s journey to unravel the truth will take him from French-occupied London to a remote Scottish island, and back through time itself as he battles for his life – and for a very different future. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: West Yorkshire, 1904. When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England.
Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.
Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric landscape of West Yorkshire, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times. Pre-order here.
Truth or Dare (Helen Grace 10) by M. J. Arlidge
Published: June 24th, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Format: Hardcover, Kindle Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Hardboiled, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: The unmissable brand new Helen Grace thriller from million-copy bestseller M. J. Arlidge. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: MY DAD SAYS BAD THINGS HAPPEN WHEN I BREAK IT…
Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants fish and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen.
Daniel will be twenty-three next week. And he has no idea that he’s about to kill a stranger.
Daniel’s parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn’t know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die…
Because they’ll do anything to protect him. Even murder. Pre-order here.
The Hollows by Mark Edwards
Published: July 8th, 2021 Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Format: Paperback, Kindle Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS: From the bestselling author of The House Guest comes a chilling story set deep in the woods…
With his marriage over and his career in freefall, journalist Tom decides to reconnect with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Frankie. Desperate to spend precious time together now that they live an ocean apart, he brings her to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort deep in the woods of Maine.
From the outset there’s something a little eerie about the place―strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest―but when Tom meets true-crime podcasters David and Connie, he receives a chilling warning. Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.
It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can. Pre-order here.
“At the end of Wolfie’s garden in a shed he built in the summer of 1951, the same year he turned nineteen and opened thekosher deli next to Victoria Park. He scavenged timber from a house shattered by the Blitz, and laid the roof with red clay tiles prised from the rubble.”
What is your first read of 2021? Today’s first lines are taken from mine, which is Victoria Park, a debut novel which is published on January 7th. I’m not far into it, but I’m really enjoying it so far and finding it a refreshing and uplifting read.
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.
Keep an eye out for my review on January 14th as part of the blog tour.This sounds like the perfect way to start my reading year.
The strangest year ever is at an end and it’s been a quiet month for me in terms of reading and blogging. I decided to cut back on blog tours as I was getting overwhelmed with them and only ever reading to a schedule. I was starting to feel burnt out and missed the joy of reading something simply because I felt like it. In addition, my stack of ARCs and other books were piling up and calling out to be read. I’ll not pretend it’s been easy to resist the lure of the amazing blog tours that come my way, especially as 2021 is filled with so many fabulous books, but having a quiet December where I’ve read at a more leisurely pace and to my mood, has confirmed I’m making the right decision.
In December I’ve read the least amount of books in a month all year, but I’ve enjoyed not being up against a clock. I read a total of ten books, including finally finishing Becoming on audio, which I’ve been listening to since September. I’ve loved the slower pace, especially during such a busy month. I am a little disappointed to end the year on 177 books instead of 180, but that’s still 27 more than my target.
There have been a number of standout books this month, including A Christmas Carol, The Smallest Man and Shiver, but I had to give book of the month to the book that mesmerised and astounded me like no other this month. That book is The Last House On Needless Street. It isn’t released until March but, let me tell you, this is one you don’t want to miss. It’s going to be HUGE.
*Thank you to the tagged publishers for my gifted ARCs
Happy Paperback Publication Day to Dear Child! Thank you to Quercus for the gifted ARC.
You escaped. But your nightmare has just begun.
A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.
One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace over thirteen years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle that doesn’t quite seem to fit.
OMG! What a book! Spectacularly written, masterfully plotted, surprising and sizzling with suspense, this complex and layered thriller had me hooked from start to finish. I devoured this story, only reluctantly putting it down when my eyelids became too heavy to keep reading. I was addicted and completely unprepared for the rollercoaster ride this story took me on.
Dear Child begins at the point where most novels would end; when Lena and her daughter Hannah escape after years of imprisonment in a cabin in the woods. The police think that they’ve finally found Lena Beck, a woman missing for thirteen years, but when her father Matthias arrives he is adamant the woman lying in the hospital bed is not his daughter. But when he lays eyes on Hannah he sees a clone of his daughter as a child. With Lena injured by a car in the escape she is unable to answer any question and Hannah is reluctant to talk. As snippets of information are slowly revealed, the police begin to piece together the puzzle. But they soon find that things aren’t quite what they first appear to be.
The author filled the pages with dark, nuanced and compelling characters and unreliable narrators. Of the three narrators Hannah was the one I felt most drawn to. It was heartbreaking to read how normal she thought her world was, especially how she would berate her mother when she was beaten by her father for doing something to deserve it rather than thinking it was him in the wrong. But while I felt a lot of empathy for her, I also felt there was something not quite right about her. She is a peculiar child and while at first I put that down to her secluded upbringing, after a while I started to wonder if she was all that she seemed.
The abductor, known only as ‘Papa’, is another character who stood out to me. Papa is an enigma, his identity shrouded in mystery. Even Lena doesn’t ever say his name. He is a loathsome, sadistic, controlling and violent man who strikes fear into Lena and the children. Most of the abuse is inferred but enough detail is included to give the reader an understanding of the complete terror they felt and understand why Lena would acquiesce to his will.
Tense, chilling, twisty and unpredictable, Dear Child is a riveting and spectacular debut that you won’t want to put down.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Romy Hausmann was born in the former GDR in 1981. At the age of twenty-four she became chief editor at a film production company in Munich. Since the birth of her son she has been working as a freelancer in TV. Dear Child is her thriller debut. Romy Hausmann lives with her family in a remote house in the woods near Stuttgart.
Published: September 29th, 2020 Publisher: Pan Macmillan Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Autobiography, Memoir
*I’ve included some personal photos of Mariah, her backup singers and dancers, and of my friends who are part of the Lambily. Some were taken by me, others by lamb friends. These can’t be viewed in the WordPress app so please go to the Web page to see them.
The global icon, award-winning singer, songwriter, producer, actress, mother, daughter, sister, storyteller, and artist finally tells the unfiltered story of her life in The Meaning of Mariah Carey.
It took me a lifetime to have the courage and the clarity to write my memoir. I want to tell the story of the moments – the ups and downs, the triumphs and traumas, the debacles and the dreams, that contributed to the person I am today. Though there have been countless stories about me throughout my career and very public personal life, it’s been impossible to communicate the complexities and depths of my experience in any single magazine article or a ten-minute television interview. And even then, my words were filtered through someone else’s lens, largely satisfying someone else’s assignment to define me.
This book is composed of my memories, my mishaps, my struggles, my survival and my songs. Unfiltered. I went deep into my childhood and gave the scared little girl inside of me a big voice. I let the abandoned and ambitious adolescent have her say, and the betrayed and triumphant woman I became tell her side.
Writing this memoir was incredibly hard, humbling and healing. My sincere hope is that you are moved to a new understanding, not only about me, but also about the resilience of the human spirit.
“This memoir is a collection of the moments that matter. The moments that most accurately tell the story of who I am according to me.”
As a lamb for over twenty years, I had been eagerly awaiting this memoir for many years. I couldn’t wait to learn more about the woman I adore, whose music has been the soundtrack to my life since I was 14-years-old, and through whom I’ve made some of my dearest friends.
I decided to listen to the audio as well as buying the book, knowing that Mariah would no doubt put her signature flare on the narration. She did not disappoint. She vividly brought her story to life, had me in hysterics, pulled on the heartstrings, made me cry and had my ears rejoicing as she treated us to sections of some of her songs.
“If this kid makes it, it will be a miracle.”
This is more than a simple rags to riches tale. It’s a story of pain, neglect, abuse, racism, fear and heartache. But alongside it is a message of hope, resilience, bravery, strength and a woman who didn’t just survive but overcame. A woman who went from being a little girl the police didn’t think would make it to one of the best-selling artists in history and living legend.
As a fan, many of Mimi’s familiar characteristics and phrases will have their origins revealed while reading this book, though sadly they are often rooted in deep trauma. But, on the positive side, I loved having the stories behind many of her songs finally confirmed. It made me see some in a whole new light and added even more layers to her music for me.
“A complicated love tethers my heart to my mother’s.”
The most shocking part of this book for me was the details of her childhood and the neglect endured. I knew her childhood wasn’t easy and they were poor, but the depth of their poverty and negligence of her mother surprised me. I could hear the fear of 4-year-old Mariah living in the warzone of the violent relationship between her father and older brother Morgan. A situation sometimes so bad the police had to be called to separate them – bringing with it the extra fear of being black and calling the police.
I was also surprised by the truth of Mariah’s complicated relationship with her mother, Patricia. I was reduced to tears at how she’s treated her daughter and some of the cruel words she’s spoken to her over the years. I loved how Mariah is using this example to speak good things into her own children and as a lesson in what kind of mother she doesn’t want to be. It’s a powerful reminder of both the long-term impact our words and actions can have, and how we can learn from the past in a positive way.
“I was disappearing in installments.”
Some of the most difficult parts for me were when Mariah discusses her marriage to Tommy Mottola. The chapter ‘Side Effects’ often felt like she was telling my story as well as her own. I know only too well what it’s like to realise you’re in a relationship that isn’t healthy, of feeling yourself disappearing piece by piece, but feeling powerless to change it.
Listening as she slowly built up her strength and made the plans to leave had me on the edge of my seat. It is hard to leave any abusive relationship and I can only imagine the extra fear it holds when your whole career is also wrapped up in that person.
“It’s been a whole rainbow of emotions.”
This book really will take you through a whole rainbow of emotions. I knew Mariah had been through a lot in her life and that this would be emotional, but I was unprepared for just how harrowing, haunting and shocking her story is and the many tears that fell when reading this book. But it isn’t all bleak, this powerful memoir is also filled with hopeful, happy and triumphant moments that will make you smile. I am left in awe of just how much she has overcome and managed to accomplish in spite of the odds stacked against her. Fan or not, this is a memoir you don’t want to miss.
Thank you Mimi for trusting us with your truth. LYMA.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Mariah Carey was born on March 27, 1970 in Huntington, Long Island, New York to Patricia Carey (née Hickey), an opera singer and vocal coach & Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer. Her mother is of Irish descent & her father was of African & Venezuelan descent. Mariah attended Greenlawn’s Harborfields High School. In June 1990, Mariah made her debut with “Mariah Carey” which entered at #73, but on August 4, 1990, it reached #1. Her 1990 self-titled debut album went multi-platinum and spawned an extraordinary four consecutive #1 singles: “Vision of Love,” “Love Takes Time,” “Someday” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” and led to Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Vocalist. Her 1993 album titled Music Box went ten-times platinum. On September 30, 1995, she made music history. Her single “Fantasy” from her 1995 Daydream album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making her the first female artist to accomplish a number one debut in the U.S. Her other Daydream’s single “One Sweet Day” remained for 16 weeks at the top of the charts. She is the only artist since The Beatles to have so many #1 singles and albums. With “Heartbreaker”, the first single from her 1999 album Rainbow and also her 14 #1 single, she became the only artist to top the charts in each year of the 1990s, and with “Heartbreaker” at its 60th week atop the Billboard’s charts, she pushed ahead of The Beatles’s 59-week record as the only artist with the most cumulative weeks spent atop Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart.
Following “Heartbreaker,” her second single “Thank God I Found You” also from her Rainbow album became her 15th #1. “We Belong Together” from her 2005 album The Emancipation of Mimi became her 16th #1 single and was also her first #1 without any guest artists since her song “My All” (also a #1 single) captured the top spot in May 1998. The single “Don’t Forget About Us” also from her 2005 album Emancipation of Mimi became her 17th #1 single, tying her with Elvis Presley’s 17 #1 singles. Three more Grammy Awards were gained from The Emancipation of Mimi album. She is the most successful selling female artist in music history and is the only female artist to have the most #1 singles and albums and also holds the record for straight #1 singles and albums each year. Along with numerous awards and incredible vocal range, she also composes all of her own material, with the exception of song covers.
In April 2008, the single “Touch My Body” became her 18th #1 single, pushing her ahead of Elvis Presley’s 17 #1 singles. Now she is the only artist since The Beatles to have as many number one singles and the only singer alive likely to succeed them.