Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – May 2021

May has been a fantastic reading month for me. I’ve read 16 books, which is by best monthly total so far this year! But most importantly, I’ve enjoyed reading them and some have been real stand-outs that will likely be on my list of favourite books of 2021 at the end of the year.

Here’s a quick summary of what I read with links to the reviews (unless they are yet to be published):

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

I had been excited about Ariadne for months and was so happy to finally read the book. An absolute masterpiece, Ariadne brings to life many of the familiar Greek myths through a new lens. This time it’s the women telling the story. And boy do they have a story to tell. Lush, evocative and unforgettable, this book lingers long after reading and has sparked a new obsession for me with Greek mythology. Jennifer Saint has just announced her second book, Elektra, and I’m already counting down to its release.
Read my review here.

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

Beth O’Leary is one of my auto-buy authors and her books always lift my spirits. The Road Trip is another entertaining and readable story about love friendship, betrayal and forgiveness.
Review coming soon.

The Other Emily by Dean Koontz

A gripping page-turner that had me guessing from start to finish, The Other Emily was an eerie thriller filled with twists and turns. It was my first time reading Dean Koontz and I can see why everyone raves about his books.
Read my review here

The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley

The Cat and the City was a delightful and refreshing read that wasn’t what I expected, but in a good way. This collection of experiences about life in Tokyo was a moving, original, captivating and evocative read that I devoured quickly. One I’d highly recommend if you’re looking for something a bit different.
Read my review here

Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon

Why has it taken me so long to read Jane Fallon’s books? An entertaining, twisty and sharply observed look at female friendships, jealousy, vengeance and betrayal, this made me an instant fan.
Read my review here

Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks

Until Next Weekend is a story about love, loss and moving on. Wonderfully written, this warm, tender and funny story was a joy to read. While it has a very lighthearted feel, the author skillfully weaves in some deep and difficult subjects in a way that is both honest and sensitively written. This author is two for two on fantastic books that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend and is now an auto-buy author for me.
Read my review here

The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

I have a new crime series to catch up on! The Whole Truth lives up to its advertised ‘impossible to predict’ tagline and had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Cara Hunter twists a familiar story on its head, exploring what happens when a male student accuses a female teacher of abuse in this gripping thriller. This is a must-read for any fans of crime fiction and I can’t wait to read more.
Read my review here

You Had It Coming by BM Carroll

You Had It Coming is another tense, twisty and compelling thriller that expertly tackles a difficult subject. As a mother of teenage boys, I’m glad to see more books tackling the issue of consent and the dangers for both sexes that those blurred lines can bring. Thought-provoking and emotionally charged, I would highly recommend this fantastic thriller.
Read my review here

Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan~

Madame Burova is the story of two women, a lifetime of secrets and identity. Full of vibrant, quirky and memorable characters that leap from the screen, and evocative imagery that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into the 1970s, I enjoyed this funny, mysterious and uplifting story.
Review coming soon.

Legal Crime by Samiksha Bhattacharjee

This book is quite the accomplishment, having been written by a thirteen-year-old author. While it suffers a little for the the author’s lack of maturity, it is a good book and I’m sure that with maturity the author will become an even better writer.
Read my review here

The Hollows by Mark Edwards

My love for Mark Edwards is an open secret at this point, and every book he releases is eagerly anticipated. I was particularly excited for The Hollows as it merges two of my favourite genres: true crime and psychological thriller. Sinister, suspenseful and utterly spectacular, this might be my favourite yet. Keep an eye out for my review nearer to it’s release on July 8th.

The Baby is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Darkly funny, claustrophobic and readable, this quick read is the first book I’ve read set during the pandemic. It is perfect for anyone looking for a quick and entertaining read.
Read my review here

The Pact by Sharon Bolton

Wow! Just, wow! The Pact was my standout thriller in a month filled with amazing thrillers. So that tells you something. This was an absolute tour-de-force, a breathtaking rollercoaster ride that I devoured quickly. If you are a fan of thrillers than you need to read this book!
Read my review here

The Couple by Helly Acton

This was a fun twist on the usual romance story. Set in a world where being single is the norm, and those who are in a relationship are looked down upon, I couldn’t get enough of this warm, funny, uplifting and emotional story. A perfect book to lose yourself in.
Read my review here

Shadows Over the Spanish Sun by Caroline Montague

A truly beautiful saga of family, love, loss, secrets and betrayal, Shadows Over the Spanish Sun, this book transported me to the stunning vistas of Spain. The perfect book to read in my garden on a sunny day, this is historical fiction at it’s finest; filled with wonderful characters, lush imagery and educating me about a subject I knew nothing about.
Read my review here

Strange Tricks: An Essex Witch Museum Mystery by Syd Moore

I loved this witty cozy mystery so much that I’m planning to read the rest of the series. Great writing, brilliant characters and fabulous narration have made this one of my best audiobook experiences yet. I absolutely love Rosie, the protagonist, and can’t wait to listen to more of her adventures.
Review to follow on June 1st.

******

Despite having read so many great books this month, deciding my book of the month was easy. There is one book that stood out even more than any other and deserves a standing ovation for it’s sheer luminous beauty both inside and out: Ariadne. It is so phenomenal that it isn’t only my BOTM, but my favourite book so far this year, and I have no doubt that whatever I read in the next seven months, this will be on my list of favourite books of 2021. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

********

What books have you read this month? Did we read any of the same books? Let me know in the comments.

As always, thank you to the publishers for my gifted copies of the books.

Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. See you next month😊 Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews

Quick Reads: The Baby Is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Happy Publication Day to this year’s Quick Reads. Thank you to Midas PR, the Reading Agency and Atlantic Books for gifting me this Quick Read.

********

SYNOPSIS:

When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout, and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib.

At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby’s cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby’s cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?

********

MY REVIEW:

The Baby is Mine is the first book I’ve read that is actually set during the pandemic. Darkly funny, claustrophobic and readable, it takes place in Nigeria during the first lockdown

Bambi has been kicked out by his girlfriend after being caught cheating and is forced to seek refuge with his recently widowed aunt and newborn cousin. When he arrives he is shocked to find another woman living there: his late uncle’s mistress. What’s more, both women are claiming the baby is their child. Who is telling the truth? 

This novella lived up to its Quick Read title. Short and not-so-sweet, this was an entertaining read with fascinating but unreliable characters. I liked that the story was told from Bambi’s point of view. A Casanova who believes it’s unnatural for men to be tied to just one woman, he isn’t a particularly likeable or sympathetic character at the start. But once he arrives at his Aunt Bidemi’s house things begin to change. Bidemi and Eshoe are caught up in their psychological games and battle over baby Remi and Bambi steps up, puting the child first and getting between the women to protect him. This makes him much more likeable, though he is still a flawed, misogynistic character. 

Bidemi and Eshoe are both crazy, unreliable and compelling characters. They are so well written that I was never sure who was telling the truth or what one of them would do next. Every time I thought I knew, something would happen and I’d be rethinking my conclusion. Their story reminded me a little of the judgement of Soloman in the bible, but thankfully Bambi didn’t offer to split little Remi in two to find out who his mother really was. 

If  you’re looking for a quick, fun, suspenseful read, then this is the book for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at a Nigerian Publishing House and has been freelancing as a writer and graphic designer since. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self-published work.

In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam. In 2016, she was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

She is the author of My Sister, the Serial Killer, which won the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller, the 2019 Morning News Tournament of Books, the 2019 Amazon Publishing Reader’s Award for Best Debut Novel, the 2019 Anthony Award for Best First Novel.

It was also shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019, shortlisted for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2019 in the Mystery & Thriller and Debut Novel categories, shortlisted for the British Book Awards 2020 in two categories, shortlisted for the Cameo Awards 2020 in the Book to Audio category, shortlisted for Book Bloggers’ Choice Awards 2020.

It was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019, and longlisted for the 2020 Dublin Literary Award.

My Sister, the Serial Killer is being translated into 30 languages and has also been optioned for film.

********

Click here to learn more about the other Quick Reads out today.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Book Features Uncategorised

Quick Reads 15th Anniversary

One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – have difficulty reading, and one in three people do not read regularly for pleasure. Quick Reads was created by The Reading Agency to help address those statistics. They are a collection of books released each year by well known authors designed to be a short and entertaining read. The hope is that they will help those who find they’ve little time to read, struggle with a longer book or have just simply fallen out of the habit of reading, to get back into a love of books by indulging in a Quick Read.

This year Quick Reads is celebrating their 15th Anniversary. Over five million copies of their titles have been distributed since the programme began in 2006. To celebrate, for every book bought until July 31st 2021, another copy will be gifted to someone to help them discover the joy of reading.

********

I was contacted by Midas PR offering me a choice of one of this years Quick Reads to read and review. This years titles are:

The Baby Is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite
When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They are fighting because both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib. At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby’s cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby’s cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?

Oyinkan Braithwaite gained a degree in Creative Writing and Law at Kingston University. Her first book, My Sister, the Serial Killer, was a number one bestseller. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize and was on the long list for the 2019 Booker Prize.

Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of The Baby is Mine (Atlantic) said: “When I am writing, I don’t know what my readers will look like or what challenges they may be facing. So it was an interesting experience creating work with the understanding that the reader might need a story that was easy to digest, and who might not have more than a few hours in a week to commit to reading. It was daunting – simpler does not necessarily mean easier – I may have pulled out a couple of my hairs; but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Quick Reads tapped into my desire to create fiction that would be an avenue for relief and escape for all who came across it.”

The Skylight by Louise Candlish
They can’t see her, but she can see them… Simone has a secret. She likes to stand at her bathroom window and spy on the couple downstairs through their kitchen skylight. She knows what they eat for breakfast and who they’ve got over for dinner. She knows what mood they’re in before they even step out the door. There’s nothing wrong with looking, is there? Until one day Simone sees something through the skylight she is not expecting. Something that upsets her so much she begins to plot a terrible crime…

Louise Candlish is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Other Passenger and thirteen other novels. Our House won the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. It is now in development for a major TV series. Louise lives in London with her husband and daughter.

Louise Candlish, author of The Skylight (Simon & Schuster) said: It’s an honour to be involved in this [next] year’s Quick Reads. Reading set me on the right path when I was young and adrift and it means such a lot to me to be a part of literacy campaign that really does change lives.”

Saving the Day by Katie Ffjord
Allie is bored with her job and starting to wonder whether she even likes her boyfriend, Ryan. The high point in her day is passing a café on her walk home from work. It is the sort of place where she’d really like to work. Then one day she sees as advert on the door: assistant wanted. But before she can land her dream job, Allie knows she must achieve two things: 1. Learn to cook; 2. End her relationship with Ryan, especially as through the window of the café, she spies a waiter who looks much more like her type of man. And when she learns that the café is in danger of closing, Allie knows she must do her very best to save the day …

Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family and is a true country girl at heart. Each of her books explores a differentjoband her research has helped her bring these to life. To find out more about Katie Fforde step into her world at www.katiefforde.com, visit her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KatieFforde.

Katie Fforde, author of Saving the Day (Arrow, Penguin Random House) said: “As a dyslexic person who even now can remember the struggle to read, I was delighted to be asked to take part in the scheme. Anything that might help someone who doesn’t find reading easy is such a worthwhile thing to do.”

Wish You Were Dead by Peter James
Roy Grace and his family have left Sussex behind for a week’s holiday in France. The website promised a grand house, but when they arrive the place is very different from the pictures. And it soon becomes clear that their holiday nightmare is only just beginning. An old enemy of Roy, a lowlife criminal he had put behind bars, is now out of jail – and out for revenge. He knows where Roy and his family have gone on holiday. Of course he does. He’s been hacking their emails – and they are in the perfect spot for him to pay Roy back…

Peter James is a UK number one bestselling author, best known for his crime and thriller novels. He is the creator of the much-loved detective Roy Grace. His books have been translated into thirty-seven languages. He has won over forty awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award. Many of his books have been adapted for film, TV and stage.

Peter James, author of Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan) said: “The most treasured moments of my career have been when someone tells me they hadn’t read anything for years, often since their school days, but are back into reading via my books. What more could an author hope for? Reading helps us tackle big challenges, transports us into new worlds, takes us on adventures, allows us to experience many different lives and open us up to aspects of our world we never knew existed. So I’m delighted to be supporting Quick Reads again – I hope it will help more people get started on their reading journeys and be the beginning of a life-long love of books.”

How To Be A Woman (abridged) by Caitlin Moran
It’s a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727.  But a few nagging questions remain… Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby? Part memoir, part protest, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.

Caitlin Moran became a columnist at The Times at eighteen and has gone on to be named Columnist of the Year six times. She is the author of many award-winning books and her bestseller How to Be a Woman has been published in 28 countries and won the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year 2011. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, is now a major feature film. Find out more at her website www.caitlinmoran.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @caitlinmoran

Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be a Woman (abridged) (Ebury) said: “I wrote How To Be A Woman because I felt that feminism is such a beautiful, brilliant, urgent and necessary invention that it should not be hidden away in academic debates, or in books which most women and men found dull, and unreadable. Having a Quick Reads edition of it, therefore, makes me happier than I can begin to describe – everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend, on hand to help them through the often bewildering ass-hattery of Being A Woman. There’s no such thing as a book being too quick, too easy, or too fun. A book is a treat – a delicious pudding for your brain. I’m so happy Quick Reads have allowed me to pour extra cream and cherries on How To Be A Woman.”

The Motive by Khurrum Rahman
Business has been slow for Hounslow’s small time dope-dealer, Jay Qasim. A student house party means quick easy cash, but it also means breaking his own rules. But desperate times lead him there – and Jay finds himself in the middle of a crime scene. Idris Zaidi, a police constable and Jay’s best friend, is having a quiet night when he gets a call out following a noise complaint at a house party. Fed up with the lack of excitement in his job, he visits the scene and quickly realises that people are in danger after a stabbing. Someone will stop at nothing to get revenge…

Born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1975, Khurrum moved to England when he was one. He is a west London boy and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons. Khurrum is currently working as a Senior IT Officer but his real love is writing. His first two books in the Jay Qasim series, East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero, have been shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger.

Khurrum Rahman, author of The Motive (HQ) said: “I started reading late in life, as the idea of reading a book always seemed overwhelming. I hesitantly began a book a friend had recommended and quickly became totally immersed in the story. I found joy and comfort and most importantly, an escape. It’s for this very reason that I am so proud to be involved with Quick Reads. This initiative is so important for people, like I once was, to engage in stories that may mirror their own lives or to read experiences far beyond their imagination. Just like a friend once did for me, I hope I am able to play a small part in encouraging somebody to pick up a book.”

********

Released May 27th, each book is just £1, or 88p on Amazon. An absolute bargain for a great read by a contemporary author. As I had already pre-ordered one of the books, I requested a copy of The Baby Is Mine. Keep an eye out for my review on publication day.

********

Are you planning to buy an of this years Quick Reads? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley

Published: May 6th, 2021
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Genre: Urban Fiction, Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

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.

********

MY REVIEW:

This delightful book was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a book from the cat’s perspective about it’s life and experiences in Tokyo, but instead found myself reading a collection of short stories featuring different narrators set throughout the city that each feature appearances from the same stray calico cat.

While they appear at first to be connected only by the cat, the author skillfully interweaves the stories and characters, intricately connecting them to craft a rich and vivid tapestry of Tokyo and it’s residents. The book is filled with a cast of fantastic and captivating characters. The most memorable ones for me were Flo, an American woman working as a translator, and Kensuke, a young boy being bullied at school for being half Korean. My only complaint is that we don’t see enough of the cat. While I liked reading about the residents of Tokyo, I would have liked a chapter from his perspective or more of him in their stories.

You are taken through a rainbow of emotions as the author fills the stories with heartbreak, hope, humour and tenderness. He takes you on an adventure of the best and worst that this city has to offer, touching on subjects such as the moral standards in Japanese culture, sexuality, homelessness and loneliness, expertly blending them in amongst the lighthearted aspects of the stories such as cute cat cafes, Street Fighter and manga comics. 

Moving, original, immersive and evocative, this striking debut brings Tokyo to life. Wonderfully written and surprising, I devoured it in just a few hours. I would highly recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for something a little different. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Nick Bradley was born in Germany in 1982 and grew up in Bath. After graduating with a master’s degree in English literature, he went to Japan for “just one year” and returned to England ten years later to attend the Creative Writing MA at UEA, graduating in 2016.

He has worked in a variety of jobs, including: Japanese teacher, English teacher, video game translator, travel writer, and photographer. He speaks Japanese fluently, and recently completed a PhD funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation in Creative & Critical Writing at UEA, focussing on the figure of the cat in Japanese literature.

The Cat and The City is his first novel

His favourite Street Fighter II character is Ken.

He lives in Norwich. (Aha).

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Bookshop.org* | Amazon* | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo
*These are affiliate links

********

Thank you to Lisa at TLC Tours for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and to Atlantic Books for my gifted copy of the book.

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews Uncategorised

May Wrap Up

That’s another month wrapped! We’re now almost half way through the year and Summer is nearly here.

So how has May been for everyone? I’ve had a great month and managed to read 14books. Also this month I went to my first author event and book signing since joining bookstagram. I still plan to do a blog post about it but as with some of the reviews I’m a little behind so please bear with me.

So let’s take a look at what I read in May:

  1. ‘The Corset’ by Laura Purcell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Is prisoner Ruth Butterham mad or a murderer? Victim or villain? This is what Dorothea Truelove doesn’t know when she begins to visit the alleged murderess in prison. A dark, haunting, atmospheric and chilling gothic novel this book was impossible to put down. While telling a great story the author also highlights important issues and takes an interesting look at mental health and women’s roles in society in Victorian times. With this book Laura Purcell has solidified her place in my top authors list.                                      Out Now
  2. ‘The Au Pair’ by Emma Rous ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – This family saga that echoes the writing style of V. C. Andrews and combines it with the mysteries of Gillian Flynn. Twins Seraphine and Danny Mayes are the first twins born on their family’s estate in years. But the same day they’re born their mother plunges to her death and the au pair disappears. Ever since, whispers of folklore have followed the twins and left Seraphine feeling like she doesn’t belong. Who is she? And what exactly happened the day she and her brother were born? My review for this novel will be published closer to the release date but I will say that this is a book full of surprising twists that kept me guessing throughout.                                                                                  Published July 11th
  3. ‘The Flat Share’ by Beth O’Leary ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 – This was a refreshing, witty novel that wasn’t your average chic lit. Full of soul, heart, courage and spirit, this is a book that not only deals with romance but also the heavier topics of toxic relationships and PTSD. It perfectly balances the whimsical and the darker sides making it relatable and uplifting. This book has been everywhere and actually lives up to all the hype.                                                                                                                                  Out Now
  4. ‘After The End’ by Clare Macintosh ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – A heartbreaking and impossible dilemma is handled in a beautiful, sensitive and original way in this emotional novel. This isn’t the kind of book you expect from this Ms Macintosh but it could be her best yet. My review will be posted on publication day.                              Published June 25th
  5. ‘The Neighbour’ by Fiona Cummins ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – FOR SALE: A lovely family home with a good-sized garden and trees occupying a plot close to woodland. Perfect for kids, fitness enthusiasts, dog-walkers…And, it seems, a perfect hunting ground for a serial killer. This tense, gripping thriller is one I’m behind on the review for.             Out Now
  6. ‘For The Love Of Books’ by Graham Tarrant ⭐⭐⭐.5 – A book about books! This is a light-hearted and quick read that biblophiles will enjoy. While I did find some parts a little tedious, this was overall a fun read.                                                           Published June 4th
  7. ‘Hello My Name Is May’ by Rosalind Stopps ⭐⭐⭐⭐- This book was not what I expected, but in a good way. Told in dual timelines, present-day May is sharp, witty, scathing and frustrated at the loss of her ability to speak and control her body after a stroke. Back in the late ‘70s young May is a woman living in fear who feels trapped in her life and too terrified to change it. This is a book that is enjoyable but also hard to read as it tackles domestic and elder abuse in a raw and honest way. A gripping and touching read with a ending that shook me to the core.Out now
  8. ‘Someone You Know’ by Olivia Isaac-Henry ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – When the body of Tess’s twin sister, Edie is found two decades after she disappeared Tess decides it’s finally time to discover the truth about what happened to her beloved sister. A captivating thriller full of twists and turns.                                                                                            Out Now
  9. ‘The Missing Years’ by Lexie Elliott ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – The eerie and bizarre is woven throughout this tale about family and self-discovery from the outset. Atmospheric, haunting, creepy and macabre with shocking twists and an ending that I wasn’t prepared for. This is a steady-paced and engrossing read that’s perfect for anyone who loves a good thriller.Published June 6th  
  10. ‘Lying Next To You’ by Gregg Olsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5 – I devoured this addictive, fast-paced novel and would have read it in one sitting if not for that pesky thing called sleep…The bombshell finale had my jaw on the floor and it is a testament to the writing how I can instantly recall lines that now have a completely different meaning and were a subtle foreshadowing of the truth. Lying Next To Me is a story about family, love, lust, sex, secrets, betrayal, desperation and revenge. I highly recommend this dramatic, layered, tense and twisty thriller. Just make sure you have plenty of time spare as you won’t want to put it down.                                            Out Now
  11. ‘The Queen of Hearts’ by Kimmery Martin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I loved this book so  much that I could read it every day and it would bring me joy. This debut novel is not just a pretty book, it’s a spectacular novel that had me savouring every word and completely immersed in the pages. The author has created the perfect amalgamation of her two loves: medicine and literature. Intelligent, funny, mesmerising and at times gut-wrenching, I highly recommend this to everyone.   Out Now.
  12. ‘Before She Was Found’ by Heather Gudenkauf ⭐⭐⭐.5 – Three twelve year old girls walked into a train yard and two come out unscathed… Having your child attacked and almost killed is every parents worst nightmare. Or is it? What if your child was suspected of attempting to kill their friend? This was a twisty, readable thriller that opens with a chilling first chapter and keeps it’s secrets right up until the final pages.                                                                                                          Published  June 13th 
  13. ‘The Confessions of Frannie Langton’ by Sara Collins ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – I’ve yet to publish my review for this novel but this could have easily been my book of the month. This is one of those books that reaches into your soul. It tells the story of Frances Langton, a former slave who is awaiting trial for the murder of her Master and Mistress. Frannie says she couldn’t have done it because she loved her Mistress. This book deals with important issues from the era , some of which are still relevant today. A spectacular debut novel that I highly recommend. The review will be up on the blog soon.                                                                                                                          Out Now
  14. ‘The Last Widow’ by Karin Slaughter ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – An exciting, absorbing, and frighteningly real thriller, this novel is an example of why Ms Slaughter is one of the world’s most acclaimed authors. The story begins with an abduction in a shopping centre car park and then jumps forward to a month later. The rest of the story takes place over a tense three days. I’m currently in the process of writing the review for this book and it should be up on the blog in the next few days, but trust me when I say this is a thriller you don’t want to miss.                                      Published June 13th

My favourite book this month was The Queen of Hearts, although The Confessions of Frannie Langton is so good they almost tie as my favourites.

Have you read any of these books or are they in your TBR pile? What was your favourite book in May? Comment below.

Thank you to Kimmery Martin, Atlantic Books, Corvus Books, Quercus Books, Harper Collins UK, Little Brown Book Group UK, Thomas & Mercer, HQ, Avon Books UK, Skyhorse Publishing and NetGalley for my copies of these novels in exchange for an honest review.

Categories
book reviews Uncategorised

Review: ‘The Missing Years’ by Lexie Elliott ⭐⭐⭐⭐

IMG_20190518_173759_151

Review: ‘The Missing Years’ by Lexie Elliott ⭐⭐⭐⭐

An eerie old Scottish manor in the middle of nowhere that’s now hers.

Ailsa Caler has inherited half of a house. The other half belongs to a man who disappeared without a trace twenty-seven years ago. Her father.

Leaving London behind to settle her mother’s estate, Ailsa returns to her childhood home nestled amongst the craggy peaks of the Scottish Highlands, accompanied by the half-sister she’s never taken the time to get to know.

With the past threatening to swallow her whole, she can’t escape the claustrophobic feeling that the house itself is watching her, or ignore how animals take care never to set foot within its garden.

And when Ailsa confronts the first nighttime intruder, she sees that the manor’s careless rugged beauty could cost her everything…

The eerie and bizarre is woven throughout this tale about family and self-discovery from the outset. Chapter one ended in a terrifying and unexpected manner that had me shook. I wasn’t sure if I should read this at night…

“The Manse is listening, holding its breath”

Unused to people knowing about her family, it’s a shock for Ailsa to realise her family is part of local legend and that everyone in the small community has an opinion on her mother, who was a somewhat famous painter, and her father’s disappearance, after a diamond buying trip twenty-seven years ago. Many of the locals are openly hostile to her being back while others are fascinated by the story and The Manse. As Ailsa begins feel watched by the house and strange, menacing things begin to occur, she feels increasing unease. Surely the rumours of the supernatural surrounding The Manse can’t be true. And who would want her gone so badly that they threaten her? I thought Ailsa’s attempt to rationalise what was happening, her fear and suspicion of everyone was well written. As a reader I couldn’t make sense of it all and didn’t know what to believe either.

I liked that before each chapter there would be a short paragraph imagining a different scenario for her father’s life since he disappeared. These were a great insight into Ailsa’s thoughts on the matter as she otherwise holds her cards very close to her chest, preferring not to really speak about him or how she’s been affected by his sudden vanishing when she was just seven years old. In fact, Ailsa is a bit of a lost soul. She was dragged around various homes by her mother who couldn’t afford to care for her daughter for many years and their relationship never recovered. They were estranged at the time of her death, which is also the reason she has never got to know her half-sister. Her forced independance and struggle to open up were all evident as she attempted to reacquaint herself with Carrie and build a real relationship.

This book was filled with an array of colourful characters. Jamie and Fiona McCue, siblings who are also Ailsa’s closest neighbours, were probably the most colourful of all. Fiona is fascinated with The Manse, some might say obsessed, and believes some strange things about it. Even her adorable son, Callum, has some unusual ideas. Ailsa doesn’t trust or like  Fiona and she’s her prime suspect for all the strange goings on at The Manse.

“I can almost see the emotions swirling inside me, a scarlet and black tornado.”

The breathtaking finale had me on the edge of my seat as I raced towards to end. I had no idea how it would end but nothing prepared me for the shocking twists as the author pulled the rug from under me. Atmospheric, haunting, creepy and macabre, the author’s poetic style of writing adds to the tone of this novel. The Scottish dialect from some characters was a little tricky to read at first but soon became nothing more than a way to hear their voice in my head more clearly. A steady-paced, engrossing read for anyone who loves a good thriller.

Thank you to Atlantic Books for providing me with an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Publication Date: 6th June 2019.