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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Girls from Alexandria by Carol Cooper

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Agora Books
Format: Kindle (Paperback published April 29th)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Historical Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this evocative novel. Thank you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘A compelling, multi-layered read – equal parts funny, frank and sinister’ – Fiona Valpy, author of The Dressmaker’s Gift

Memories are fragile when you are seventy years old. I can’t afford to lose any more of them, not when remembering the past might help with the here and now.

Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her.

Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years.

Despite being told she’s ‘confused’ and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.

Set against the lush and glamorous backdrop of 20th century Alexandria, Carol Cooper’s third novel is equal parts contemporary mystery and historical fiction: a re-coming of age story about family, identity, and homeland.

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MY REVIEW:

Seventy-year-old Nadia is in a London hospital and not quite sure what’s going on. Her memory isn’t what it used to be, and she keeps getting confused and misremembering. But one thing she’s sure of is that she needs to find her sister Simone, who she hasn’t seen in fifty years. The problem is, no one else believes Simone exists. Well, no one except the lovely nurse Deidre, who tries to help her find her sister before it’s too late.

The author opens the book talking about how her inspiration for the story came from her own memories of growing up in Alexandria and you can really feel that authenticity radiating from the pages. The author offers the reader not only an insight into the cultural and political landscape of Egypt, but also an authentic perspective on how it feels to grow up in Alexandria, its multiculturalism and verve oozing from the pages. It is a fascinating, educational and thought-provoking read, the author touching on a variety of subjects such as family, identity, loss, loneliness and female empowerment. 

Nadia is a character I won’t soon forget. It is impossible not to feel for her lying in hospital distressed, confused and alone. But there is so much more to her.  She is a nuanced, funny, compelling and feisty character who is determined to find her sister by solving the brief, cryptic messages she wrote on decades-old postcards; even learning how to use the internet to search for answers. I enjoyed following her through timelines, countries and cultures as she revisited old memories and searched them for any small clue that might lead her to her beloved sister. 

I will admit that it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of this story. The huge shift between the bleak British hospital where Nadia languishes alone and confused and the striking, sunny backdrop of Alexandria was difficult to follow at first, particularly as the flashbacks don’t follow a chronological order. But once I did I was engrossed, lost in Nadia’s story and fully invested in her search for Simone. 

This novel is unlike anything else I’ve read. Merging historical fiction, mystery and coming-of-age fiction,, the author has crafted a multilayered, evocative and affecting story that will linger long after reading. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carol graduated in medicine from Cambridge University. She then spent time in different hospital specialities, including orthopaedic surgery and rheumatology, before entering general practice when her first son was born.

Carol’s journalism and broadcasting developed in tandem with GP work, and she is now well-known as a media medic. She writes for The Sun newspaper and other titles, and broadcasts on TV and radio on topical health issues.

Many of Carol’s non-fiction books are on child health and parenting, such as the much-loved guide Twins & Multiple Births, and the titles combine her professional expertise and her personal experience as a mother. As co-author of the book General Practice at a Glance, Carol won a British Medical Association book award in 2013. A companion volume, General Practice Cases at a Glance, appeared later.

Carol’s frivolous side has never been far from the surface. She became a columnist for Punch magazine and her articles can still be read in dentists’ waiting rooms. Her contemporary novels One Night at the Jacaranda and Hampstead Fever are also infused with a sharp wit. Her next novel, The Girls from Alexandriais due to be published in April 2021.

At Imperial College, London, Carol teaches medical students consultation skills, clinical reasoning, and medicine in the media. 

Carol is a Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, a trustee of Action on Pre-Eclampsia, an ambassador for Lucy Air Ambulance for Children, and honorary consultant in family medicine for the Twins Trust (formerly Tamba). She was elected President of the Guild of Health Writers in 2014.

Website | Instagram | Twitter

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon*| Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*

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Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

All Your Little Lies by Marianne Holmes

Published: October 22nd, 2020
Publisher: Agora Books
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

I’m thrilled to be one of the bloggers opening the tour for this wonderful novel. Thank you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

When everything you say is a lie, can you even remember the truth?

Annie lives a quiet, contained, content life. She goes to work. She meets her friend. She’s kind of in a relationship. She’s happy. Not lonely at all.

If only more people could see how friendly she is — how eager to help and please. Then she could tick “Full Happy Life” off her list. But no one sees that side of Annie, and she can’t understand why.

That all changes the night Chloe Hills disappears. And Annie is the last person to see her.

This is her chance to prove to everybody that she’s worth something. That is, until she becomes a suspect.

Drenched in atmosphere and taut with tension, All Your Little Lies takes a hard look at why good people do bad things.

MY REVIEW:

When everything you say is a lie, can you even remember the truth?

Atmospheric, tense, unsettling and compulsive, this had me intrigued from the start, my mind blazing with questions I needed answered.

Our protagonist, Annie, is a strange character who I simultaneously liked and disliked. She’s awkward, judgemental, obsessive and reclusive. But she’s fantastic to read. We soon learn she has a big secret and that she lies about who she is to everyone, making her an unreliable narrator. I loved this as it added to the tension I felt as I tried to figure out what her secret was, and if she had anything to do with Chloe’s disappearance.

I was a big fan of the author’s debut novel, so I had high hopes before starting this one. Within a few pages I remembered why I had loved her first book so much; the prose is beautifully written, the plot intriguing, and she weaves a layered mystery for the reader to unravel. It is a character-driven story and relies on that, rather than tension or twists, to drive the story onwards.

Mysterious, dark, poignant and absorbing, this was hard to put down. I would highly recommend both this, and her debut, A Little Bird Told Me. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Marianne Holmes is the author of A Little Bird Told Me, published by Agora Books in 2018. She was born in Cyprus and bounced around the UK, Germany, Kuwait and Belgium with her RAF parents as a child but is now firmly based in London with her own family. She has degrees in Classics (RHUL) and Linguistics (UCL), neither of which got much use while she worked in marketing.

Website |Instagram |Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive

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Blog Tours

Book Feature: Idle Hands by Cassondra Windwalker

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Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Agora Books
Format: Kindle, Audio
Genre: Romance

TW: Domestic Abuse

Today I’m featuring the beautifully written Idle Hands, as part of the blog tour. Thank you for Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

You can call me Ella. You generally assign me a whole host of other preposterous monikers. I think the least imaginative name I’ve heard is “the devil”, but I’ll answer to it if I must.

After making the courageous decision to leave her abusive husband, Perdie and her three young children start over and finally find the safety and love they deserve. But years later, when tragedy strikes, Perdie is left wondering if the choice she made to leave has led them to this moment.

If she were given the opportunity to take it all back and stay, would she?

In a frantic bid to protect her family, Perdie makes a deal with the devil to do just that. But in a world where the devil pulls the strings, can Perdie really change the past?

Brimming with enlightened observations and brilliant voice, Idle Hands is a haunting examination of grief, resilience, and what we’d give to spend another moment with the ones we love.

Cassondra Windwalker Author Photo (B&W)

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Cassondra Windwalker earned a BA of Letters at the University of Oklahoma. She parlayed that highly marketable degree into degrees in bookselling and law enforcement before pursuing her writing career full time. She criss-crossed the country and then settled into happy seclusion on the coast of Alaska with a zombie cat, a useless dog, and a devoted husband. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have been published in numerous literary journals.

Twitter |Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive

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Blog Tours Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – June 2020

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Another month has passed and we’re now half way through the year. It has flown so quickly. I just hope that the rest of the year isn’t as crazy as 2020 has been so far.

June has been a fantastic reading month for me. I read fourteen books, including my first ever audio book. It was almost fifteen books read but I didn’t quite finish Nine Elms. It was a big month for reading with others for me. I took part in a buddy read with my lovely friend Beth and three readalongs with the Tandem Collective, two of which are still going on. 

So here is what I read this month:

  1.  A Theatre For Dreamers ✮✮✮✮✰
  2.  The Split ✮✮✮✮. 5
  3.  The Lies I Tell ✮✮✮. 5
  4.  The Phone Box at the Edge of the World ✮✮✮✮. 5
  5.  I Know Your Secret ✮✮✮✮✰
  6. A Court of Thorns and Roses ✮✮✮✮✮
  7. Unbroken ✮✮✮✮✰
  8.  The Colours ✮✮✮✮✰
  9.  The Waiting Rooms ✮✮✮✮✮
  10.  The Miseducation of Evie Epworth ✮✮✮✮✰
  11. Monstrous Souls ✮✮✮✮✰
  12. The July Girls ✮✮✮✮✰
  13. The Silent Wife ✮✮✮✮✮
  14. Sadie ✮✮✮✮✰ (Audiobook)

You can read the reviews for all of the books except for Sadie by clicking on the title. My review for Sadie will be posted in the coming week.

My BOTM was a close call again but I have to give it to A Court of Thorns and Roses. I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did and it’s opened up a whole new genre for me. That’s one of the things I love about Bookstagram though, it brings books to your attention you’d never have considered reading otherwise and it’s helped me discover a wealth of books and authors I doubt I’d have ever read without it. The other books that deserve a special mention this month are The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, The Waiting Rooms, and The Miseducation of Evie Epworth. These three outstanding novels were all contenders for my book of the month and are candidates for being in my favourite books of the year so far.

In July I have a busy month full of blog tours that I’m so excited about . I’m also looking forward to seeing what books the rest of the year brings and will be posting some of the ones I’m looking forward to most in the next few weeks.

Thank you to all the tagged publishers for the gifted copies of the books.

 

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly

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Photo Credit: Agora Books

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Agora Books
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse

Welcome to my spot on the blog tour for this compelling debut. Thank  you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

Over a decade ago, Heidi was the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her younger sister missing, and her best friend dead. But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her friends and family and no recollection of the crime.

Now, it’s all starting to come back.

As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in.

When the truth is worse than fiction, is the past worth reliving?

An addictive thriller about a case gone cold and the dangers lurking on our doorsteps, Monstrous Souls will have you gripped to the very end.

MY REVIEW:

“It had been a policewoman who had eventually discovered them – not on an illicit camp-out as they had assumed, but a devastating scene of death.” 

At thirteen-years-old Heidi was the lone survivor of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her little sister missing and her best friend dead. She has no memories of that day or her life leading up to it. Now, just over a decade later, small fragments of memories are beginning to reappear. As Heidi tries to put the pieces of her past together she finds herself in danger from those who want to keep the truth about that night hidden. But she is determined to find out what happened. Whatever the cost.

“I don’t like the way the memories come, like a letter bomb on the doormat. I don’t like the way they are tagged to feelings of grief and rage and self-recrimination. I am never prepared.”

Monstrous Souls is a pacy, gripping and layered thriller that was hard to put down. The story moves between the dual timelines and multiple narrators as we are given glimpses of events leading up to the night Heidi was attacked and follow her fifteen years later as she begins to regain her memories. As terrible truths are slowly unveiled it is soon clear that there is much more to the events of that night than anyone first imagined.

In this novel the author doesn’t shy away from the exploration of deep and difficult subject matters. She examines our psychology, the things we hide from the world, our deepest secrets and fears, and the effects they have on our actions and relationships with others. She also tackles the difficult subject of abuse with sensitivity, avoiding graphic descriptions while still managing to convey the full horror and depravity. She also shines a light on the reasons victims stay quiet, the guilt they feel and the long-lasting effects of abuse exploring if there are fates that can be worse than death.

“I don’t want to think about these places, about this other life she has to endure… what I have seen in the photograph seeps through me like a toxin.” 

For me the characters are a vital part of any book and the characters this author created were authentic and compelling. I found Heidi to be a very sympathetic and likeable character with an interesting character arc as her memories returned. We witness a seemingly fragile woman emerge into someone with great strength. In the flashbacks we witness the usual teenage angst and squabbles with her best friend become something much more serious when Nina confides in her. Heidi is filled with turmoil as she’s torn between the solace and security of her home and wanting to help her friend escape her private hell. We watch her anguish over how to help and if she should betray her friend’s confidence to do so. Nina is definitely the character I had a soft spot for. Between her awful homelife, the horrors she endures and the knowledge that she is brutally murdered so young, I desperately wished I could save her. Her sorrow, anguish and desolation lept from the page and left me heartbroken.

While I enjoyed all the different perspectives, the mysterious and sinister person stalking Heidi provides some of the best narration of the whole book and his story arc was probably the most nuanced of them all. When his identity was revealed I learned that all my predictions were wrong and my jaw hit the floor.

Monstrous Souls is a sensational, twisty and riveting debut that will have you hooked from start to finish.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Rebecca Kelly Author Photo

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Kelly was brought up with books but denied the pleasure of a television. Although she hated this at the time, she now considers it to have contributed to a life-long passion for reading and writing.

After a misspent education, Rebecca had a variety of jobs. She’s spent the last years raising her children but has lately returned to her first love – writing.

Rebecca lives in the UK with her husband and youngest son and an over-enthusiastic black Labrador, who gives her writing tips.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Uncategorised

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – June 2020

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It seems impossible that we’re almost half way through the year already. Will lockdown continuing, books are providing a much needed escape for so many of us right now. Here are the books out in June that I’m most excited about escaping into.


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The House Guest by Mark Edwards
Published: June 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Psychological Thriller

One of my fave authors. I’m lucky to be one of Mark’s early readers and have already read this gripping thriller.

SYNOPSIS:
A perfect summer. A perfect stranger. A perfect nightmare.

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers—let alone invite them into your home—but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

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The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley
Published: June 4th, 2020
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Genre: Urban Fiction

I’m a big cat lover and this book sounds like a quirky read that’s right up my street.

SYNOPSIS:
In Tokyo – one of the world’s largest megacities – a stray cat is wending her way through the back alleys. And, with each detour, she brushes up against the seemingly disparate lives of the city-dwellers, connecting them in unexpected ways.

But the city is changing. As it does, it pushes her to the margins where she chances upon a series of apparent strangers – from a homeless man squatting in an abandoned hotel, to a shut-in hermit afraid to leave his house, to a convenience store worker searching for love. The cat orbits Tokyo’s denizens, drawing them ever closer.


allfalldown

All Fall Down by M. J. Arlidge (D.I. Helen Grace Series 9)
Published: June 11th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Young Adult Ficiton

M.J Arlidge is one of my favourite authors and the Helen Grace series is my favourite crime series. love it’s set near where I used to live and evokes so many memories too. Excited to be on the blog tour for this on July 3rd.

SYNOPSIS:
“You have one hour to live.”

Those are the only words on the phone call. Then they hang up. Surely, a prank? A mistake? A wrong number? Anything but the chilling truth… That someone is watching, waiting, working to take your life in one hour.

But why?

The job of finding out falls to DI Helen Grace: a woman with a track record in hunting killers. However, this is A case where the killer seems to always be one step ahead of the police and the victims.

With no motive, no leads, no clues – nothing but pure fear – an hour can last a lifetime…


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Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
Published: June 11th, 2020
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Genre: Historical Fiction, Southern Fiction, Youth Novel

I’m really enjoying historical fiction at the moment and this one sounds brilliant.

SYNOPSIS:
With the haunting emotional power of American Dirt and the atmospheric suspense of Where the Crawdads Sing: a compulsive debut novel that explores the aftershock of a brutal crime on the women of a small Texas oil town.

Mercy is hard in a place like this. I wished him dead before I ever saw his face…

Mary Rose Whitehead isn’t looking for trouble – but when it shows up at her front door, she finds she can’t turn away.

Corinne Shepherd, newly widowed, wants nothing more than to mind her own business, and for everyone else to mind theirs. But when the town she has spent years rebelling against closes ranks she realises she is going to have to take a side.

Debra Ann is motherless and lonely and in need of a friend. But in a place like Odessa, Texas, choosing who to trust can be a dangerous game.

Gloria Ramírez, fourteen years old and out of her depth, survives the brutality of one man only to face the indifference and prejudices of many.

When justice is as slippery as oil, and kindness becomes a hazardous act, sometimes courage is all we have to keep us alive.

thevanishinghalf

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Published: June 11th, 2020
Publisher: Dialogue Books
Genre: Mystery, Youth Novel

I’ve read some great reviews for this one and it is now one of my most anticipated reads of the month.

SYNOPSIS:
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

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The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Literary Fiction, Psychological Fiction

I feel very lucky to have an ARC of this debut and am doing a buddy read with my book friend Beth in early June.

SYNOPSIS:
The most moving and powerful novel of our times, inspired by true events.

We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.

Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people will travel to it from miles around.

Soon Yui will make her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking.

For when you’ve lost everything – what can you find . . ?

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The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter (Will Trent Series 17)
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollinsUK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Books Series

Karin is one of my fave crime writers and I will pick up anything she writes. I’m excited to take part in the blog tour for this one on June 29th.

SYNOPSIS:
He watches.
A woman runs alone in the woods. She convinces herself she has no reason to be afraid, but she’s wrong. A predator is stalking the women of Grant County. He lingers in the shadows, until the time is just right to snatch his victim.

He waits.
A decade later, the case has been closed. The killer is behind bars. But then another young woman is brutally attacked and left for dead, and the MO is identical.

He takes.
Although the original trail has gone cold – memories have faded, witnesses have disappeared – agent Will Trent and forensic pathologist Sara Linton must re-open the cold case. But the clock is ticking, and the killer is determined to find his perfect silent wife….

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The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Police Procedural, Adventure Fiction

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this author and this sounds like a perfect summer read.

SYNOPSIS:
One summer. One stranger. One killer…

Two bad things happened that summer:
A stranger arrived. And the first girl disappeared.

In the wake of the crime that rocked her community, Felicity fled, knowing more than she let on.

But sixteen years later, her new life is shattered by the news that a second girl has gone missing in her hometown.

Now Felicity must go back, to face the truth about what happened all those years ago.

Only she holds the answers – and they’re more shocking than anyone could imagine.

The heatwave is back. And so is the killer.

Monstrous Souls

Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Agora Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

I’m taking part in the blog tour for this fascinating thriller and my review will be posted in June 23rd.

SYNOPSIS:
What if you knew the truth but couldn’t remember?

Over a decade ago, Heidi was the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her younger sister missing, and her best friend dead. But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her friends and family and no recollection of the crime.

Now, it’s all starting to come back.

As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in.

When the truth is worse than fiction, is the past worth reliving?

An addictive thriller about a case gone cold and the dangers lurking on our doorsteps, Monstrous Souls will have you gripped to the very end.

The Weekend

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: W&N
Genre: Literary Fiction

I love stories about friendship and have been really enjoying books with senior protagonists lately so I’m excited to check this one out.

SYNOPSIS:
Sylvie, Jude, Wendy and Adele have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three.

These women couldn’t be more different: Jude, a once-famous restaurateur with a spotless life and a long-standing affair with a married man; Wendy, an acclaimed feminist intellectual; Adele, a former star of the stage, now practically homeless.

Struggling to recall exactly why they’ve remained close all these years, the grieving women gather for one last weekend at Sylvie’s old beach house – not for a celebration of her life, but to clean the place out before it is sold.

But fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface – a storm that will either remind them of the bond they share, or sweep away their friendship for good.

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Blog Tours book reviews Monthly Wrap Up

September Wrap Up 

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It’s the end of another month. Autumn is well and truly settling in here in England and it feels like the time for hot chocolate, cosy blankets and spooky reads. I admit I’m missing the sun already though. 

September has been a really busy for me. I’ve read 11 books, taken part in 12 blog tours, and have been to two book events.

First I’ll start with what I read this month:

  • The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Woman Upstairs by Ruth Heald ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Ask Again Yes by Mary Beth Keane ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Bad Place by MK Hill ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Postscript by Cecelia Ahern ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Flower Arranger by JJ Ellis ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt ⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A. Denzil ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐

My favourite book this month was The Testaments, but I Wanted You To Know and Postscript were the two others I loved most of all. 

I’ve loved taking part in so many blog tours this month but realise that I took on too many for one month. I’m being stricter about how many I do each month now and in October I have blog tours for 6 books and one novella. So keep an eye out for those reviews. 

I went to two fantastic book events this month. The first was to hear Sara Collins speak about her book The Confessions of Frannie Langton at the Festival of Women’s Writing in Hawarth on September 21st. This was my second time hearing Sara speak and again she blew me away with how intelligent, interesting and friendly she was. I took my Mum along and it was her first book event. She loved every minute and went straight home with my copy of the book to read for herself. I’m hoping it’s the start of more events together. 

The second event was one I still can’t believe I’ve been too. On September 26th I went to the VIP Launch Party for The Foundling, the new novel by Stacey Halls, which is out early next year. The Familiars was my favourite book this year so to be able to not only meet the author, but go to the launch of her next book was incredible. The event took place at Brunswik House which is a beautiful Georgean setting that couldn’t have been more perfect for the book. Stacey was so lovely and spent time talking to every single person there. Hearing her talk about her inspiration for the new novel and read from it has me so excited to dive in, but I’m making myself wait until nearer publication. I attended this event with my blogger friend, Beth, and we met some other bloggers we talk to online and an author that we didn’t realise would be there. The staff from Zaffre were all so friendly and I had some great conversations with some of them. This was my first book launch and they gave whatever launch I attend next a lot to live up to. The Foundling is out February 6th 2020.

So as you can see, September has been a great month. I’ve got some great books I’m planning to read next month and am attending an event in Nottingham where I’ll see Jessie Burton and Laura Purcell – two of my favourite authors. 

Have you read any of the books I read this month or did you attend any book events? Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for my gifted books, and Tracey at Compulsive Readers, Anne at Random Things Blog Tours, Peyton at Agora books and Blogger HQ for the invitations to take part in the blog tours. A big thank you to Ellen at Zaffre for my invitation to The Foundling launch party.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour Review: I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I’m delighted to share my review for this beautiful story today. Thank you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and the photo, and NetGalley and Agora Books for my copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

Dear Edie, I wanted you to know so many things. I wanted to tell you in person, as you grew. But it wasn’t to be.

Jess never imagined she’d be navigating single motherhood, let alone whilst facing breast cancer. A life that should be just beginning is interrupted by worried looks, heavy conversations, and the possibility of leaving her daughter alone to grow up without her.

Propelled by a ticking clock, Jess knows what she has to do: tell her daughter everything. How to love, how to lose, how to forgive, and, most importantly, how to live when you never know how long you have. 

From best-selling author Laura Pearson comes her most devastating book yet. Honest, heart-wrenching, and emotionally raw, I Wanted You To Know is a love letter to life: to all its heartache and beauty, to the people we have and lose, to the memories and moments that define us.

I Wanted You to Know is Laura Pearson’s third novel.

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MY REVIEW:

This book broke me. It reached into my heart and soul and took my breath away, making me cry a river of tears along the way. As soon as I read the raw and powerful opening letter from the author to the reader, I was already needing tissues and knew I was in for an emotional ride. 

What would you want your child to know if you found out you weren’t going to be there as they grew up? That is the heartbreaking question addressed in this mesmerising and poignant novel. 

Twenty-one-year-old Jess is getting to grips with being a single mum to baby Edie when the rug is pulled from under her and she’s told she has breast cancer. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine she’d be facing a fight for her life so young or so soon after becoming a mother. What will happen to Edie? What about all the things she wanted her to know? So, she decides to write to her daughter. Beginning each letter with the words “Dear Edie, I wanted you to know…” she imparts the wisdom she thinks her daughter will need about life and love, while also telling her who her mother was so she will have a chance to know her even after she’s gone. Jess is open and honest in these letters, never shying away from her own flaws and mistakes and sharing her fears about having cancer.

As well as these letters, we follow Jess from the day of her diagnosis, her attempt to come to terms with the awful news, her fight against the disease, and her relationships with those closest to her. I don’t want to say too much about what happens on that journey as part of the beauty of this book was discovering that. 

I loved the author’s decision to blend prose and letters as it made this book all the more moving by helping me connect with Jess’s character on a deeper level. Jess was real to me and I was completely invested in her story.  As a mother, I couldn’t help putting myself in her place and my children in Edie’s, and this was not only devastating, but gave me an admiration for the strength she possesses and dignity with which she carries herself. But I also liked that she had many layers and flaws, which only endeared her to me. I felt quite maternal towards Jess and while writing this I realise I’m probably about the age her mother is in the story, so that makes sense. I wanted to reach through the pages to comfort her and tell her how amazing she is and spent the whole book hoping for a happy ending for this young girl. 

This isn’t a book that shouts from the rooftops and makes your heart race. It is one that has a more soft and subtle allure and draws you in with the feeling that radiates from its pages. I anticipated an emotional novel but I was not expecting to be so moved that I had to read the last part of it with tears streaming down my cheeks or feel so ravaged when the story ended. 

What I want you to know is that I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to have the tissues handy and be prepared for possibly finding a new must read author – just like I have. 

Finally, I want to address the author herself: Laura, I am in awe of your bravery and strength in writing this novel. You are an exceptional writer and inspirational woman. You not only conveyed Jess’s feelings so acutely that they lept off the page, but you did the same with every single character. The pain, grief, anger and regret was palpable and made me a wreck as I read it. I will never forget this story or the way it made me feel. Thank you for writing it and sharing it with the world. 

Publication date October 3rd. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Pearson has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Chichester. She spent a decade living in London and working as a copywriter and editor for QVC, Expedia, Net a Porter, EE, and The Ministry of Justice. Now, she lives in Leicestershire, where she writes novels, blogs about her experience of breast cancer (www.breastcancerandbaby.com), runs The Motherload Book Club, and tries to work out how to raise her two children.

I Wanted You To Know (Final eBook)

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour Review: The Flower Arranger by JJ Ellis ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this compelling debut novel. Thank you to Agora Books for the invitation to take part and for my copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

An astonishing and evocative debut from a new voice in crime fiction.

And now he knew what was wrong with the arrangement. It was the Ma..the negative space… There was only one thing beautiful enough to fill it and – finally – she was with him. Ready, if not willing, to play her role.

Holly Blain wants to cover real news. The entertainment beat – pop stars and teen trends – was not why she moved to Tokyo. When she meets Inspector Tetsu Tanaka, head of Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police’s Gaikoku-jin unit, it might just be her big break.

Tanaka isn’t so sure. Always one to do things by the book, he’s hesitant about bringing this headstrong reporter into his carefully controlled investigation.

But young women keep disappearing and Tanaka is given no choice. He and Blain must trust each other if they are to stop a tormented killer from bringing his plan to its shocking conclusion.

Filled with twists and turns, this unforgettable thriller is JJ Ellis’ first novel 

The Flower Arranger Cover

MY REVIEW:

The Flower Arranger is an atmospheric novel seeped in layers of Japanese culture. The beautiful imagery transported me into this different world that I knew relatively little about. But amongst the beauty is something dark. Someone is using the pretty flowers to create macabre and unnerving arrangements that they then put on public display. Holly Blain, an ambitious young journalist determined to make a name for herself, and Detective Tetsu Tanaka, are hunting him. But he manages to stay one step ahead and evade capture. As the pressure mounts they know they must get results or heads will roll and the careers they’ve worked so hard for will be damaged.

The two protagonists are an unlikely duo, a yin and yang as it were. Blain will do anything to get her story and to finally realise her ambition of working on the crime team at her newspaper, and while Tanaka finds himself fighting against red tape he’s someone who likes to do things right. As they try to learn to work together these differences often lead to clashes, chaos and battles against each other to get to their man first. They’re also hampered by Japan’s bureaucracy which makes it almost impossible to find out any real information about their suspect. I liked their relationship and thought it made them more interesting to read than if they’d been instant best friends that worked together really well. 

The antagonist was sinister and bizarre – a perfect bad guy. I would get shivers down my spine reading his dreadful, creepy and unhinged thoughts and behaviour. The flashbacks gave an interesting insight into his motivations and how he turned out this way. 

I really enjoyed this book. The descriptive writing drew me in and gave me an education on a culture I knew relatively little about while keeping me guessing about The Flower Arranger. It started off a little slow but was fascinating from the beginning and soon picked up the pace. I felt Tanaka’s frustration as the suspect slipped through his grasp and I felt Blain’s desperation for that top story. I was on the edge of my seat as we approached the end, fervently hoping for them to succeed and am still recovering from that ending and those haunting final sentences…

I would recommend this book if you enjoy mysteries, thrillers and crime fiction. JJ Ellis has written a tense and chilling debut and I can’t wait to see what he does next. 

Out September 26th.

JJ Ellis Author Photo

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

JJ Ellis was born and raised in Yorkshire in northern England although now lives near London. The author’s interest in Japan was sparked when a family member won a trip there by singing in Japanese at an exhibition in the UK. Several visits followed — to Tokyo and further flung places such as Ishigaki and Iriomote — as Ellis developed the idea for The Flower Arranger. Two more crime novels featuring the team of Tanaka and Blain are planned.

The Flower Arranger is JJ Ellis’ first novel.