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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – February 2021

We’re already almost into the second month of the year which seems unreal. There are some great books out this month, with February 4th being a particularly big publication day. Half of the books on this list are published that day!

An Eye For An Eye (Detective Kate Young 1) by Carol Wyer

Published: February 1st
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
A killer running rings around the police. A detective spiralling out of control.

DI Kate Young is on leave. She’s the force’s best detective, but her bosses know she’s under pressure, on medication and overcoming trauma. So after her bad judgement call leads to a narrowly averted public disaster, they’re sure all she needs is a rest.

But when Staffordshire Police summon her back to work on a murder case, it’s a harder, more suspicious Kate Young who returns. With a new ruthlessness, she sets about tracking down a clinical, calculating serial killer who is torturing victims and leaving clues to taunt the police. Spurred on by her reporter husband, Young begins to suspect that the murderer might be closer than she ever imagined.

As she works to uncover the truth, Young unravels a network of secrets and lies, with even those closest to her having something to hide. But with her own competence—and her grip on reality—called into question, can she unmask the killer before they strike again?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Carol is one of my favourite crime writers so I was excited to learn she was releasing a new series. I’m lucky enough to have already read this book and let me tell you it is one not to be missed.
Keep an eye out for my review on February 1st as part of the blog tour and an interview with Carol and giveaway of the book the week of publication.
Buy the book*

The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .

It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.

While the Haney’s neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family’s ‘help’, who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes’ starched curtains than anyone, and it isn’t long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole ‘perfect’ world to set alight . . .

A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Historical Fiction merged with mystery? My ideal book! This is one of the debuts of 2021 I’m most excited about and it featured in my 21 Books In 21 -The Debuts list.
Keep an eye out for my review on February 2nd as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

The Shadow Man by Helen Fields

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.
 
Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.
 
Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.
 
And he’s watching.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Helen has been a crime fiction favourite since I discovered her Perfect series in 2018. This standalone is one of the most exhilarating and spine-tingling thrillers I’ve read in a long time. It’s one not to be missed.
Buy the book*

The Art of Death by David Fennell

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Zaffre
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

SYNOPSIS:
Death is an art, and he is the master . . .

Three glass cabinets appear in London’s Trafalgar Square containing a gruesome art installation: the floating corpses of three homeless men. Shock turns to horror when it becomes clear that the bodies are real.

The cabinets are traced to @nonymous – an underground artist shrouded in mystery who makes a chilling promise: MORE WILL FOLLOW.

Eighteen years ago, Detective Inspector Grace Archer escaped a notorious serial killer. Now, she and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must hunt down another.

As more bodies appear at London landmarks and murders are livestreamed on social media, their search for @nonymous becomes a desperate race against time. But what Archer doesn’t know is that the killer is watching their every move – and he has his sights firmly set on her . . .

He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
My love of crime fiction and crime series is no secret on this blog so I couldn’t miss including what sounds like one of the most thrilling new series in the genre.
Buy the book*

Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Humour, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Comedy

SYNOPSIS:
THE END OF EVERYTHING WAS HER BEGINNING

It’s December 2023 and the world as we know it has ended.

The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself).

But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own.

Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.

And with no one else to live for, who will she become now that she’s completely alone?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The premise for this debut is just so fresh and original that it lured me in. Plus, who could resist that stunning cover.
Keep an eye out for my review on February 2nd as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

Find You First by Linwood Barclay

Published: February 4th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Urban Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
One will change your life.
One will end it.
Who will … FIND YOU FIRST?

It’s a deadly race against time…
Tech billionaire Miles has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of – except time. Now facing a terminal illness, Miles knows he must seize every minute to put his life in order. And that means taking a long hard look at his past.

Somewhere out there, Miles has children. And they might be about to inherit both the good and bad from him – possibly his fortune, or possibly something more sinister.

So Miles decides to track down his missing children. But a vicious killer is one step ahead of him. One by one, people are vanishing. Not just disappearing, every trace of them is wiped.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ve been a huge fan on Linwood Barclay ever since reading No Time For Goodbye many years ago so his books are always an auto-buy for me.
Buy the book*

The Downstairs Neighbour by Helen Cooper

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In a converted Georgian townhouse in south west London, three families live under one roof.

The large flat that takes up the top two floors is home to the Harlow family: happily married Paul and Steph, and their bubbly teenage daughter Freya. The smaller first floor flat is rented by Emma, who spends most of her time alone, listening to people coming in and out of the building. And the basement flat belongs to Chris, a local driving instructor, who prefers to keep his personal life private from the neighbours.

But their lives are all upended when Freya vanishes. As the police become involved and a frantic Paul and Steph desperately search for answers, they begin to realise that the truth behind their daughter’s disappearance may lie closer to home than they were expecting.

When everyone has something to hide, can you ever really know those closest to you? Or will some secrets be taken to the grave?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ll be honest, it was the stunning proof cover that first caught my eye with this book. But when I read the synopsis I knew it was one I needed to read.
Buy the book*

Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: New-Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Medical Romance

SYNOPSIS:
CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN?

Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.

Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon.

Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. She keeps the curtain around her bed firmly closed, but it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ve definitely found myself become a fan of uplit more and more the past year and the synopsis for this one sounds so fun and original that I can’t wait to read it.
This is another book that I’m taking part in the blog tour for. My review will be posted on January 30th.
Buy the book*

Pippo and Clara by Diana Rosie

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A country torn apart by war. Two siblings divided by fate.

Italy, 1938. Mussolini is in power and war is not far away . . .

Clara and Pippo are just children: quiet, thoughtful Clara is the older sister; Pippo, the younger brother, is forever chatting. The family has only recently arrived in the city carrying their few possessions.

When Mamma goes missing early one morning, both Clara and Pippo go in search of her. Clara turns right; Pippo left.

As a result of the choices they make that morning, their lives will be changed forever.

Diana Rosie’s Pippo and Clara tells the story of a family and a country divided. But will Clara and Pippo – and their mother – find each other again?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’m going to cry reading this. I know I am. But I love historical fiction and this one just spoke to me.
Buy the book*

Waiting For Superman: One Family’s Struggle to Survive – and Cure – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by Tracie White

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genre: Biography

SYNOPSIS:
For the past six years, Whitney Dafoe has been confined to a bedroom in the back of his parents’ home, unable to walk, eat or speak. His diagnosis? The mysterious disease myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) which affects 20 million people around the world who largely suffer in silence because the condition is little known and much misunderstood.

Waiting for Superman follows Whitney’s father, groundbreaking geneticist Ron Davis, as he uncovers new possibilities for treatments and potentially a cure. At its heart, this book is about more than just cutting-edge research or a race to find an answer – it’s about the lengths to which a parent will go to save their child’s life.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
As someone with M.E/CFS this book is a must read for me. I’m interesting in their experiences, the research they found and hearing the experience from another perspective. I often think how it must feel for my parents, partner and children to see me so sick. This is another book where I have no doubt I’ll need the tissues.
Buy the book*

The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames by Justine Cowan

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Virago
Genre: Biography, Autobiography

SYNOPSIS:
A gripping memoir and revelatory investigation into the history of the Foundling Hospital and one girl who grew up in its care – the author’s own mother.

Growing up in a wealthy enclave outside San Francisco, Justine Cowan’s life seems idyllic. But her mother’s unpredictable temper drives Justine from home the moment she is old enough to escape. It is only after her mother dies that she finds herself pulling at the threads of a story half-told – her mother’s upbringing in London’s Foundling Hospital. Haunted by this secret history, Justine travels across the sea and deep into the past to discover the girl her mother once was.

Here, with the vividness of a true storyteller, she pieces together her mother’s childhood alongside the history of the Foundling Hospital: from its idealistic beginnings in the eighteenth century, how it influenced some of England’s greatest creative minds – from Handel to Dickens, its shocking approach to childcare and how it survived the Blitz only to close after the Second World War.

This was the environment that shaped a young girl then known as Dorothy Soames, who was left behind by a mother forced by stigma and shame to give up her child; who withstood years of physical and emotional abuse, dreaming of escape as German bombers circled the skies, unaware all along that her own mother was fighting to get her back.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I am fascinated by foundling stories, particularly since reading The Foundling by Stacey Halls last year. I’ve read a lot online about the subject and love the sound of Dorothy’s story.
Buy the book*

A Net For Small Fishes by Lucy Jago

Published: February 11th
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Based on the true scandal that rocked the court of James I, A Net for Small Fishes is the most gripping novel you’ll read this year: an exhilarating dive into the pitch-dark waters of the Jacobean court

Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family – and is the most unhappy creature in the world.

Anne Turner has wit and talent – but no stage on which to display them. Little stands between her and the abyss of destitution.

When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. Frankie sweeps Anne into a world of splendour that exceeds all she imagined: a Court whose foreign king is a stranger to his own subjects; where ancient families fight for power, and where the sovereign’s favourite may rise and rise – so long as he remains in favour.

With the marriage of their talents, Anne and Frankie enter this extravagant, savage hunting ground, seeking a little happiness for themselves. But as they gain notice, they also gain enemies; what began as a search for love and safety leads to desperate acts that could cost them everything.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ve heard this book referred to as a ‘Historical Thelma and Louise’. What’s not to love?
Buy the book*

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Mass

Published: February 16th
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, richly imagined A Court of Thorns and Roses series continues with the journey of Feyre’s fiery sister, Nesta

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger and slow to forgive. And since the war – since being made High Fae against her will – she’s struggled to forget the horrors she endured and find a place for herself within the strange and deadly Night Court.
The person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred, winged warrior who is there at Nesta’s every turn. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. And when they are forced to train in battle together, sparks become flame.
As the threat of war casts its shadow over them once again, Nesta and Cassian must fight monsters from within and without if they are to stand a chance of halting the enemies of their court. But the ultimate risk will be searching for acceptance – and healing – in each other’s arms.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Last year I finally took the plunge and read the first four books in this series thanks to readalongs with Tandem Collective. I have been eagerly awaiting this conclusion ever since and am giddy with excitement at being offered the chance to take part in an exclusive readalong of this book.
Keep an eye out on my channels from February 23rd for updates from the readalong.
Buy the book*

Dead Head by C. J. Skuse

Published: February 18th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Dark Comedy, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Victim. Murderer. Serial Killer. What next?
The third darkly comic thriller in the highly addictive Sweetpea series featuring serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.

Can a serial killer ever lose their taste for murder?

Since confessing to her bloody murder spree Rhiannon Lewis, the now-notorious Sweetpea killer, has been feeling out-of-sorts.

Having fled the UK on a cruise ship to start her new life, Rhiannon should be feeling happy. But it’s hard to turn over a new leaf when she’s stuck in an oversized floating tin can with the Gammonati and screaming kids. Especially when they remind her of Ivy – the baby she gave up for a life carrying on killing.

Rhiannon is all at sea. She’s lost her taste for blood but is it really gone for good? Maybe Rhiannon is realising that there’s more to life than death…

The third book in the critically-acclaimed series following Sweetpeaand In Bloomfeaturing everyone’s favourite truly original girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The Sweatpea series is one of my favourite series ever. They are just so original and darkly funny. I finished this latest installment tonight and it certainly holds up to the reputation of the previous books. I can’t wait to share my review with you soon. Dead Head is one of my most anticipated books of 2021.

The Santorium by Sarah Pearse

Published: February 18th
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Gothic Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Guidebook

SYNOPSIS:
EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The haunting cover. The remote setting. A missing woman. Three perfect ingredients in any book. This debut is one I’ve been impatiently awaiting for months and I can’t wait to finally devour it.
Buy the book*

One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Published: February 18th
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories.
Their last one begins here.


Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it’s not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.

Dodging doctor’s orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.

To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.

As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This book just sounds extraordinarily beautiful. I’m expecting to feel all the feelings when I read this.
I’m taking part in the blog tour for this book and my review will be published on February 21st.
Buy the book*

The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson

Published: February 18th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Horror Fiction, Police Procedural

SYNOPSIS:
There’s a serial killer on the loose.
When bodies start washing up along the banks of the River Thames, DI Henley fears it is the work of Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer. But it can’t be him; Olivier is already behind bars, and Henley was the one who put him there.

The race is on before more bodies are found.
She’d hoped she’d never have to see his face again, but Henley knows Olivier might be the best chance they have at stopping the copycat killer. But when Olivier learns of the new murders, helping Henley is the last thing on his mind . . .

Will it take a killer to catch the killer?
Now all bets are off, and the race is on to catch the killer before the body count rises. But who will get there first – Henley, or the Jigsaw Killer?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This debut thriller sounds like just the kind of dark, twisted crime fiction that makes my heart sing.
Buy the book*

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Published: February 18th
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
From the pleasure palaces and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Daughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget . . .

Lucia’s fingers found her own. She gazed at Caro as if from a distance. Her lips parted, her words a whisper: ‘He knows.’

London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.

But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous, than she can know . . .

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Once again, this is a case of Historical Fiction and Mystery equaling book heaven for me. I was gutted when it was delayed from June last year and can’t wait to finally read it.
Buy the book*

The Upstairs House by Julia Fine

Published: February 23rd*
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Literary Fiction
*This is a US release. There is currently no UK publication details.

SYNOPSIS:
Buzzfeed Most Anticipated Book of the Year – A The Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Year

In this provocative meditation on new motherhood–Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening–a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown.

There’s a madwoman upstairs, and only Megan Weiler can see her.

Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation–a thesis on mid-century children’s literature.

Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown–author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon–whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle–and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger.

Using Megan’s postpartum haunting as a powerful metaphor for a woman’s fraught relationship with her body and mind, Julia Fine once again delivers an imaginative and “barely restrained, careful musing on female desire, loneliness, and hereditary inheritances” (Washington Post).

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This sounds like a truly amazing novel. Though this book doesn’t yet have a publisher or release date in the UK, it is available to purchase through Amazon and other retailers and I have no doubt I’ll end up paying the high price of the hardback as I’m so impatient to have this book in my hands.
Buy the book*

Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker

Published: February 25th
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
THIS MOTHER’S DAY YOU WILL CALL HER MUMMY

Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.

As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.

Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…

CALL ME MUMMY. IT’LL BE BETTER IF YOU DO.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Though it was the synopsis that caught my interest and this sounds like the kind of book that is right up my street, part of my excitement for this debut is the author herself. Tina Baker is one of the most hilarious women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting online and regularly makes my day with her videos and pictures.
My review will be published February 18th as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

Are any of these books on your wishlist? Which one will you read first? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx

*All links in this post are affiliate links.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

How To Belong by Sarah Franklin

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Zaffre
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Lesbian Literature

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this delightful novel. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and Zaffre for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Jo grew up in the Forest of Dean, but she was always the one destined to leave for a bigger , brighter future. When her parents retire from their butcher’s shop, she returns to her beloved community to save the family legacy, hoping also to save herself. But things are more complex than the rose-tinted version of life which sustained Jo from afar.

Tessa is a farrier, shoeing horses two miles and half a generation away from Jo, further into the forest. Tessa’s experience of the community couldn’t be more different. Now she too has returned, in flight from a life she could have led, nursing a secret and a past filled with guilt and shame.

Compelled through circumstance to live together, these two women will be forced to confront their sense of identity, and reconsider the meaning of home.

MY REVIEW:

“She’s gradually learning to identify the shape and heft of other people’s feelings, not just her own. The toil it always takes to be in the world, whoever you are.”

How To Belong is a beautifully-written and absorbing story about our need to belong and finding a place to call home. 

The story centres around Jo and Tessa, two very different women who end up living together when circumstances force Tessa to take in a lodger. Both are facing life-changing upheavals: Jo in her choice to leave her career as a barrister in London to return to her hometown of New Forest Dene, and Tessa as she tries to recover from a devastating break-up and attempts to grapple with the frightening symptoms afflicting her that seem to be worsening, leaving her unable to function at times. They are compelling characters and I enjoyed their awkward dynamic, finding it much more fun to read than if they’d been instant buddies. 

While Jo is undeniably the warmer and more outgoing of the two, I found myself drawn towards Tessa and her mysterious story. While Jo is like an open book, Tessa is one you have to read in order to figure out; the pieces revealing themselves slowly until you can complete the picture. I also related to her fear about her deteriorating symptoms and being scared to have hope. This expertly written character found a place in my heart that I know will linger.

This was my first time reading anything by this author and it certainly won’t be my last. Her engaging prose immersed me in the world she’d created and I quickly devoured this delightful novel. I would highly recommend this book and think it is one you can enjoy whatever genres you usually prefer to read. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Franklin grew up in rural Gloucestershire and has lived in Austria, Germany, the USA and Ireland. She lectures in publishing at Oxford Brookes University and has written for the Guardian, Psychologies magazine, The Pool, the Sunday Express and the Seattle Times. Sarah is the founder and host of Short Stories Aloud, and a judge for the Costa Short Story Award. Sarah lives in between London and Oxford with her family.

Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive |Google Books |Apple Books |Kobo

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Zaffre
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour. Thank you Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and Zaffre Books for my gifted copy.

SYNOPSIS:

‘You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved . . .’

For some people, trouble just finds them.

Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.

Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.

Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.

Murder, revenge, retribution.

How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?

MY REVIEW:

“None of us are any one thing. We’re just a collection of the best and worst things we’ve done.” 

We Begin at the End is a dark and stormy tale about how far some will go for those they love. Powerful, affecting and full of twists and turns, this is a story about tragedy, guilt, love, loss, justice and revenge, exploring the concepts of good and evil and how we are all made up of the gray area in between.

When seven-year-old Sissy Radley is killed by fifteen-year-old Vincent King, the small town of Cape Haven, California is rocked to its core. His release thirty years later sparks a devastating chain of events that will shake them all over again. 

Exquisitely written, I immediately fell in love with the elegant, lyrical prose that gives this book a distinct and captivating ambience. The complex and layered plot is hard to predict and had my head swimming with questions and theories from the start, with one particular theory that whispered in my ear throughout.  It is a subdued novel and I admit that I found it slow in places. But in the latter half of the book the tension rises as the author expertly weaves together the many tangled webs in ways I never expected. 

“I am the outlaw Duchess Day Radley.”

The author created a community and characters that were richly drawn, gritty, flawed and fragmented. The shining star of these is Duchess, a thirteen-year-old girl who I fell in love with. Duchess is  spiky, straight-talking, foul-mouthed, feisty, jaded and hard as nails. But she is also a vulnerable child, desperately loved and forced to grow up too soon. She has been taking care of her little brother Robin for years and is furiously protective of him, with everything she does – the good and the bad – is for him. It was impossible not to be affected by the two of them as life cruelly knocked them down again and again and they are characters I won’t soon forget. 

We Begin at the End is a thriller with depth; a poignant, weaving tale laced with tragedy and forlorn hope. It is perfect for those looking for an intelligent thriller or those who don’t enjoy the gore that often features in this genre. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Chris Whitaker was born in London and spent ten years working as a financial trader in the city. He now lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two young sons. His debut novel, Tall Oaks, won the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger. Chris’s second novel, All The Wicked Girls, was published in August 2017.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Chris Whitaker

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Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – April 2020

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I am finally posting my most anticipated books being released in April. Sorry it is so late. As a lot of you know I haven’t been well and am only just getting back into reading and posting online.

2020 seems to be one great month after another, and April just proves this point. Let me know what you think of my choices and which ones you’re most looking forward to in the comments.

Strangers by C.L.Taylor
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Noir Fiction, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.

Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.
Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.
And Alice is being stalked.

None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.

Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.

 

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Century
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
A lifetime of love. Six months of silence. One last chance.

Frank hasn’t spoken to his wife Maggie for six months.

For weeks they have lived under the same roof, slept in the same bed and eaten at the same table – all without words.

Maggie has plenty of ideas as to why her husband has gone quiet, but it will take another heartbreaking turn of events before Frank finally starts to unravel the secrets that have silenced him.

Is this where their story ends?
Or is it where it begins?

With characters that will capture your heart, THE SILENT TREATMENT celebrates the phenomenal power of love and the importance of leaving nothing unsaid.

 

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Six strangers with one universal thing in common: their lives aren’t always what they make them out to be.

What would happen if they told the truth instead?

Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.

Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story.

Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely.

A story about connection, community, and the kindness of strangers.

 

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Zaffre
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
‘You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved . . .’

Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.

Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.

Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.

Murder, revenge, retribution.

How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?

 

The Secret Admirer by Carol Wyer (Detective Natalie Ward 6)
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Thriller
SYNOPSIS:
‘I tried to talk to you today but you snubbed me and walked away. It wasn’t wise to give me the brush-off, Gemma. I can be a truly good friend but I also make the perfect enemy.’

Sasha’s eighteen-year-old daughter Gemma was all she had in the world. Sasha fell pregnant with Gemma when she was still at school, and the two are as close as sisters. So when Gemma’s burned and broken body is found, Sasha’s world ends. What kind of person would want her beautiful daughter dead?

Leading the case is Detective Natalie Ward, scarred by her own recent tragedy. When she finds a note in Gemma’s diary from ‘a secret admirer’, she moves quickly, determined to un-mask them. But interviews with Gemma’s devastated ex-boyfriend, and her charismatic teacher, who has been seen embracing his student far away from the classroom, don’t give Natalie the answers she’d hoped for…

And then the case takes a devastating, personal twist. CCTV footage reveals Natalie’s estranged husband David followed Gemma home every evening the week before she died.

Natalie is forced to put personal feelings aside and follow procedure, even though she can’t believe David could be guilty. But when Gemma’s housemate is found murdered, Natalie thinks the killer could still be at large. Is she right to trust her instincts about David and can she discover the truth before another precious life is taken?

 

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.

As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why is Felicity silent?

Roaming Oxford’s secret passages and hidden graveyards, Magpie Lane explores the true meaning of family – and what it is to be denied one.

 

The Switch by Beth O’Leary
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Published: April 16th, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Fiction, Romance
SYNOPSIS:
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

 

I Am Dust by Louise Beech
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Published: April 16th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror, Psychological Fiction, Fairytale
SYNOPSIS:
When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast, in a bewitching, beguiling, moving and terrifyingly dark psychological thriller…

 

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
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Published: April 21st, 2020
Publisher: Tinder Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
An extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from the celebrated number one New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings

‘I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.’

In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman called Ana.

Ana is a rebellious young woman, a gifted writer with a curious, brilliant mind, who writes secret narratives about the neglected and silenced women around her. Raised in a wealthy family in Galilee, she is sheltered from the brutality of Rome’s occupation of Israel. Ana is expected to marry an elderly widower to further her father’s ambitions, a prospect that horrifies her. A chance encounter with the eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything: his ideas and his passion are intoxicating.

Taking Ana on a journey she could never have imagined, The Book of Longings is a glorious evocation of a time and a place where astounding events unfolded, and of one woman’s fate when she fights to make her voice heard.

 

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Vincent is the beautiful bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: ‘Why don’t you swallow broken glass.’ Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.

Weaving together the lives of these characters, Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the towers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of remote British Columbia, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

 

The Split by Sharon Bolton
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
 SHE’S GOT NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE.

A year ago, in desperation, Felicity Lloyd signed up for a lengthy research trip to the remote island of South Georgia.

It was her only way to escape.

AND NOW HE’S COMING FOR HER.

Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder. Out at last, he’s on her trail.

And this time, he won’t stop until he finds her.

BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU RUN, SOME SECRETS WILL ALWAYS CATCH UP WITH YOU…

 

He Started It by Samantha Downing
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense
SYNOPSIS:
This is a story about three siblings. Like any family, sometimes they don’t get along.

It’s a story about a secret that they’ve all kept since they were children.

It’s a story about lying. A story about murder.

It’s a story where only one can win.

 

Q by Christina Dalcher
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Thriller, Fantasy, Fairytale
SYNOPSIS:
Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s new elite schools. Her daughters are exactly like her: beautiful, ambitious, and perfect. A good thing, since the recent mandate that’s swept the country is all about perfection.

Now everyone must undergo routine tests for their quotient, Q, and any children who don’t measure up are placed into new government schools. Instead, teachers can focus on the gifted.

Elena tells herself it’s not about eugenics, not really, but when one of her daughters scores lower than expected and is taken away, she intentionally fails her own test to go with her.

But what Elena discovers is far more terrifying than she ever imagined…

 

The Silence by Susan Allott
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: The Borough Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, phoning from Sydney.

30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. At the time, it was thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.

Reluctantly, Isla goes back to Australia for the first time in a decade. The return to Sydney will plunge her deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side. Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England ― a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life. Next door, Steve and Mandy are equally troubled. Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve ― a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job ― is desperate to become a father.

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns: about both young couples and the secrets each marriage bore. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

Deftly exploring the deterioration of relationships and the devastating truths we keep from those we love, The Silence is a stunning debut from a rising literary star.

 

Would Like To Meet by Rachel Winters
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Trapeze
Genre: Romance, Humourous Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Long-suffering assistant Evie Summers will lose her job unless she can convince her film agency’s biggest and most difficult client, Ezra Chester, to finish the script for a Hollywood romcom. The catch? He hasn’t started writing it.

Suffering from ‘writer’s block,’ he will only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. Forget internet dating, Evie can only meet a man the way that Sally met Harry, or Hugh Grant meets anyone. Cue her entering into one ridiculous romcom scenario after another. But can life ever be like the movies?

Of course, real life is never that straightforward . . .

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Published: February 20th, 2020
Format: Paperback
Genre: Literary Fiction

I am thrilled to be one of the people opening the blog tour for this breathtaking novel. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers and to Bonnier Zaffre Books.

SYNOPSIS:

In the midst of war, he found love.
In the midst of darkness, he found courage.
In the midst of tragedy, he found hope.
What will you find from his story?

Nuri is a beekeeper, his wife, Afra, an artist. They live happily in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo – until the unthinkable happens and they are forced to flee. But what Afra has seen is so terrible she has gone blind, and they must embark on a perilous journey through Turkey and Greece towards an uncertain future in Britain.

As Nuri and Afra travel through a broken world,  they must confront not only the pain of their own unspeakable loss, but the dangers that would overwhelm the bravest of souls. Above all – and perhaps the hardest thing they face – they must journey to find each other again.

Moving, compassionate and beautifully written, The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a powerful testament to the triumph of the human spirit.

MY REVIEW:

“If I could give her a key that opened a door into another world, then I would wish for her to see again. But it would have to be a world very different from this one.”

I inhaled this mesmerising, poignant and illuminating novel in under a day. It is honestly one of the most beautiful books I’ve read and I was captivated by the exquisite, lyrical prose and stunning imagery that made every word one to savour.

This timely story shines a light on the struggle of those who are forced to flee because of war, from a perspective we rarely hear: the voice of a refugee. At a time where there is so much vitriol against them, where so many people see as the enemy, as someone who shouldn’t be in our country, it is refreshing to read a book that tells their story is such a beautiful and heartbreaking way; helping those of us who’ve never experienced such horror to have a small amount of understanding. 

It is told by Syrian refugee, Nuri, who made the perilous journey from Syria to the UK with his wife Afra, who was blinded by a bomb. In the present day we follow their battle to claim asylum while trying to adjust to the strangeness of the new country they hope to call home. In flashbacks we see their life in Aleppo before the war, how it was torn apart, their heartbreak as they lost their only child, and then follow them as they make the dangerous journey to England. We see the impact of all they’ve gone through on themselves and their marriage, threatening to tear them apart at their core as well as breaking apart the only thing they have left to hold on to – each other.  

“Where was home now? And what was it? I’m my mind it had become like a picture infused with golden light, a paradise never to be reached.”

This was the first time I’ve read a book by this author and I will definitely be reading more. Her writing enveloped me in their world, making me feel like I was right beside Nuri every step of the way both physically and emotionally. The characterisation was spectacular, with the author providing an eclectic mix of people who had very different stories from war-torn places around the world, and different reactions to what they’d gone through. There were wonderful examples of the best of humanity in the darkest of times, but also of the depth of evil that exists in our world and the damage that is done by such people.  The raw devastation and grief that each character exuded was hard, but necessary, to read, and was a humbling reminder of how our problems pale in comparison to being forced from your home and fighting each day to survive and find safety. 

The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a story about the horrors of war, trauma, grief and survival. But most of all for me it is a multifaceted love story.  It is an astonishing book that went straight to my soul. I can’t recommend you read this highly enough. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Brought up in London, Christy Lefteri is the child of Cypriot refugees. She is a lecturer in creative writing at Brunel University. The Beekeeper of Aleppo was born out of her time working as a volunteer at a UNICEF-supported refugee center in Athens. She is the author of the novel A Watermelon, a Fish and a Bible.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Beekeeper

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The Foundling by Stacey Halls ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Published: February 6th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction 

Today I am thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for this phenomenal novel. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and to Bonnier Zaffre for my gifted copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything….

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, she is astonished when she is told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart. 

From the bestselling author of The Familiars comes this captivating story of mothers and daughters, class and power, and love against the greatest of odds…

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MY REVIEW:

Ms. Halls has once again created a masterpiece. The Foundling is a lush, enthralling and lingering read that left me speechless. It is very different from her debut novel, The Familiars, but again Halls has infused this story with her exquisite, pitch-perfect prose, luring me in slowly until the world outside this novel no longer existed.

The story is narrated by Bess and Alexandra, two very different women from two very different walks of life, and begins on a cold night in November 1747 when Bess, an impoverished shrimp hawker, arrives at the London Foundling Hospital with her newborn daughter, Clara. Unable to raise her she has come for the monthly raffle to try and give her child a chance of survival. When Clara is accepted, Bess vows to one day return and claim back her little girl, leaving behind a token of half a heart made out of whalebone and carved with their initials so she can be identified. Six years later she finally has enough money saved to return but is told that Clara was claimed the day after being left.  And that she was the one who claimed her… 

I don’t want to say much more about the plot as part of the beauty of this book is discovering it as you go along. We know that Clara/Charlotte was taken, so the mystery is why. When the story shifts to Alexandra’s dark, gloomy townhouse that is more like a prison full of fear than a home, we slowly begin unravelling the complex motivations that led to her being taken and discovering if Bess will be reunited with her daughter. 

The two narrators are very different women at opposite ends of the social spectrum.  Both were richly drawn and felt sympathetic and relatable. It was fascinating to read their diverse views on life and motherhood and how differently they dealt with the problems life has thrown their way. Though I wanted Bess to be reunited with her daughter properly, I also could never fully get behind either woman in their battle for the child as they both loved her, wanted what they thought was best and there would be no winners, only losers in this battle. With Clara/Charlotte facing heartache and loss whatever the outcome was. Ultimately the story became more of an exploration of what it really means to be a mother, to want what’s best for your child and what matters most when raising them. 

Halls is a true storyteller who makes reading this book an immersive experience. Her imagery made me feel like I was in The Foundling Hospital with Bess and the other women, in Alexandra’s gloomy townhouse, that I walked the dank, dirty and filthy streets of Georgian London and could smell the decay. I could feel Bess’s anguish as she’s forced to hand over her child, her determination to get her back, Alexandra’s anxieties and fear and was waiting with bated breath as the tension mounted.  She illuminates the huge inequalities between the have and have nots and examines mental health problems at a time they aren’t recognised or understood. 

Utterly magnificent, heart-rending, compelling and cleverly executed, The Foundling is a superior work of gothic fiction. She has created a tender, restrained masterpiece that I have no doubt will have a place in my top 10 books of 2020. This is one you don’t want to miss. READ IT NOW!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stacey Halls grew up in Rossendale, Lancashire, as the daughter of market traders. She studied journalism at the University of Central Lancashire and moved to London aged 21. She was media editor at The Bookseller and books editor at Stylist.co.uk, and has also worked as a journalist for Psychologies, the Independent and Fabulous magazine. TV rights of The Familiars shave been sold to The Bureau production company.

Bought in a nine-way auction, The Familiars was received with much praise and is nominated for an HWA award.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Stacey Halls 5.12 (1)

 

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Monthly Wrap Up – January 2020

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I can’t believe we’re into 2020 and the first month is already over. I’ve seen a lot of people post saying they feel like it’s gone on forever, but for me it’s gone pretty quick. I’ve had a great start to the year in terms of books – I’ve read thirteen books this month that have mostly been 4 stars or more, I’ve discovered some fabulous new authors and some exciting new series.

So here’s what I’ve read this month:

The Other You ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Lady of the Ravens ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Unforgetting ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Mothers ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
Three Hours⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Firewatching ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Pine ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
The Foundling
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Wreckage
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Leaving Party 
⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Forgotten Wife ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Nowhere Girl ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Little White Lies ⭐⭐⭐⭐

You can find the synopsis and my reviews by clicking on the links in the titles. My reviews for The Leaving Party, Little White Lies, The Wreckage and The Foundling will all be posted in the coming weeks. 

So with so many great books that I loved it was hard to choose a favourite. Three Hours, Firewatching, The Wreckage and The Forgotten Wife were all ones that could have taken the top spot, but ultimately it was The Foundling that stole my heart more than any other book I read this month. My review will be posted on February 13th as part of the blog tour. 

What did you read this month? Did it include any of these books or are they on your tbr? Let me know in the comments below. 

*Thank you to Bookouture, Orion, HQ, Bonnier Zaffre, Head of Zeus, Harper Collins UK, Simon and Schuster UK and Doubleday for the gifted copies of these books.

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Uncategorised

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – February 2020

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February is even busier than January for books and it was much harder to slim down the ones I’m most excited about. This long list is the smallest I could make it and there were easily at least another six books I could have included. At the time of writing, I have read two of the books on this list – The Foundling and Firewatching – and they more than deserve their places here. 

BEHIND EVERY LIE by Christina McDonald

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Published: February 4th, 2020
Publisher: Gallery Books
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
SYNOPSIS:
If you can’t remember it, how do you prove you didn’t do it?

Eva Hansen wakes in the hospital after being struck by lightning and discovers her mother, Kat, has been murdered. Eva was found unconscious down the street. She can’t remember what happened but the police are highly suspicious of her.

Determined to clear her name, Eva heads from Seattle to London–Kat’s former home–for answers. But as she unravels her mother’s carefully held secrets, Eva soon realizes that someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. And with violent memories beginning to emerge, Eva doesn’t know who to trust. Least of all herself.

Told in alternating perspectives from Eva’s search for answers and Kat’s mysterious past, Christina McDonald has crafted another “complex, emotionally intense” (Publishers Weekly) domestic thriller. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell’s I Found You and Karin Slaughter’s Pieces of Her, Behind Every Lie explores the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships, family trauma, and the danger behind long-held secrets.

THE FOUNDING by Stacey Halls

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Published: February 6th, 2020|
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction.
SYNOPSIS:
Two women, bound by a child, and a secret that will change everything . . .

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst, that Clara has died in care, she is astonished when she is told she has already claimed her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’s lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

From the bestselling author of The Familiars comes this captivating story of mothers and daughters, class and power, and love against the greatest of odds . . .

SAVING MISSY by Beth Morley

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Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Humourous Fiction.
SYNOPSIS:
Prickly. Stubborn. Terribly lonely.

But everyone deserves a second chance…

A dazzling debut for 2020 – are you ready to meet Missy Carmichael?

Missy Carmichael’s life has become small.

Grieving for a family she has lost or lost touch with, she’s haunted by the echoes of her footsteps in her empty home; the sound of the radio in the dark; the tick-tick-tick of the watching clock.

Spiky and defensive, Missy knows that her loneliness is all her own fault. She deserves no more than this; not after what she’s done. But a chance encounter in the park with two very different women opens the door to something new.

Another life beckons for Missy, if only she can be brave enough to grasp the opportunity. But seventy-nine is too late for a second chance. Isn’t it?

THE MERCIES by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

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Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction.
SYNOPSIS:
On Christmas Eve, 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian island of Vardø is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnusdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves – the menfolk of Vardø wiped out in an instant.

Vardø is now a place of women.

Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilized world, Absalom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardø to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place flooded with a terrible evil, one he must root out at all costs.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1621 witch trials, Kiran Millwood Hargrave’s The Mercies is a story about how suspicion can twist its way through a community, and a love that may prove as dangerous as it is powerful.

THE SISTER’S GRIMM by Menna van Praag

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Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Fantasy
SYNOPSIS:
There are hundreds, possibly thousands, of sisters Grimm on Earth.

You may well be one of them, though you might never know it.

This is the story of four sisters Grimm – daughters born to different mothers on the same day, each born out of bright-white wishing and black-edged desire.

They found each other at eight years-old, were separated at thirteen and now, at nearly eighteen, it is imperative that they find each other once again.

In thirty-three days they will meet their father in Everwhere. Only then will they discover who they truly are, and what they can truly do. Then they must fight to save their lives and the lives of the ones they love. Three will live, one will die.

You’ll have to read on to find out who and why . . .

THE ALIBI GIRL by C. J. Skuse

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Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Dark Comedy, Coming-of-Age Fiction.
SYNOPSIS:
JOANNE HAYNES HAS A SECRET.

THAT IS NOT HER REAL NAME.

And there’s more. Her flat isn’t hers. Her cats aren’t hers. Even her hair isn’t really hers.

 Nor is she any of the other women she pretends to be. Not the bestselling romance novelist who gets her morning snack from the doughnut van on the seafront. Nor the pregnant woman in the dental surgery. Nor the chemo patient in the supermarket for whom the cashier feels ever so sorry. They’re all just alibis. 

In fact, the only thing that’s real about Joanne is that nobody can know who she really is.

But someone has got too close. It looks like her alibis have begun to run out….

PERFECT KILL  (DI Callanach Book 6) by Helen Fields

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Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural.
SYNOPSIS:
He had never heard himself scream before. It was terrifying.

Alone, trapped in the darkness and with no way out, Bart Campbell knows that his chances of being found alive are slim.

Drugged and kidnapped, the realisation soon dawns that he’s been locked inside a shipping container far from his Edinburgh home. But what Bart doesn’t yet know is that he’s now heading for France where his unspeakable fate is already sealed…

DCI Ava Turner and DI Luc Callanach are working on separate cases that soon collide as it becomes clear that the men and women being shipped to France are being traded for women trafficked into Scotland.

With so many lives at stake, they face an impossible task – but there’s no option of failure when Bart and so many others will soon be dead…

GROWN UPS by Marian Keyes

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Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Humourous Fiction.
SYNOPSIS:
They’re a glamorous family, the Caseys.

Johnny Casey, his two brothers Ed and Liam, their beautiful, talented wives and all their kids spend a lot of time together – birthday parties, anniversary celebrations, weekends away. And they’re a happy family. Johnny’s wife, Jessie – who has the most money – insists on it.

Under the surface, though, conditions are murkier. While some people clash, other people like each other far too much . . .

Everything stays under control until Ed’s wife Cara, gets concussion and can’t keep her thoughts to herself. One careless remark at Johnny’s birthday party, with the entire family present, starts Cara spilling out all their secrets.

In the subsequent unravelling, every one of the adults finds themselves wondering if it’s time – finally – to grow up?

THE HOUSE OF TRELAWNEY by Hannah Rothschild

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Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Domestic Fiction, Saga, Satire
SYNOPSIS:
The seat of the Trelawney family for over 800 years, Trelawney Castle was once the jewel of the Cornish coast. Each successive Earl spent with abandon, turning the house and grounds into a sprawling, extravagant palimpsest of wings, turrets and follies.

But recent generations have been better at spending than making money. Now living in isolated penury, unable to communicate with each other or the rest of the world, the family are running out of options. Three unexpected events will hasten their demise: the sudden appearance of a new relation, an illegitimate, headstrong, beautiful girl; an unscrupulous American hedge fund manager determined to exact revenge; and the crash of 2008.

A love story and social satire set in the parallel and seemingly unconnected worlds of the British aristocracy and high finance, House of Trelawney is also the story of lost and found friendships between three women. One of them will die; another will discover her vocation; and the third will find love.

BEAST (Six Stories Book 4) – Matt Wesolowski

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Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Horror, Crime Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction.  SYNOPSIS:
Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories… In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old Vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death. Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong.’ However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible. Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses people who knew both the victim and the three killers to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire’… Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…

WRECKAGE by Robin Morgan-Bentley

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Published: February 6th 2020
Publisher: Trapeze
Genre: Mystery, Suspense
SYNOPSIS:
Things will never be the same again…

Ben is driving on the motorway, on his usual commute to the school where he works.

A day like any other, except for Adam, who in a last despairing act jumps in front of Ben’s car, and in killing himself, turns the teacher’s world upside down.

Wracked with guilt and desperate to clear his conscience, Ben develops a friendship with Alice, Adam’s widow, and her 7-year-old son Max.

But as he tries to escape the trauma of the wreckage, could Ben go too far in trying to make amends?

Gripping and sinister, The Wreckage is guaranteed to keep you up all night…

STRANGE HOTEL by Eimear McBride

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Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
At the mid-point of her life a woman enters an Avignon hotel room. She’s been here once before – but while the room hasn’t changed, she is a different person now.

Forever caught between check-in and check-out, she will go on to occupy other hotel rooms, from Prague to Oslo, Auckland to Austin, each as anonymous as the last, but bound by rules of her choosing. There, amid the detritus of her travels, the matchbooks, cigarettes, keys and room-service wine, she will negotiate with memory, with the men she sometimes meets, and with what it might mean to return home.

THE FORGOTTEN LETTERS OF ESTHER DURRANT by Kayte Nunn

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Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
A forgotten woman…

1951. Esther Durrant, a young mother, is committed to an isolated mental asylum by her husband. Run by a pioneering psychiatrist, the hospital is at first Esther’s prison but soon becomes her refuge.

A cache of unsent love letters…

2018. When free-spirited marine scientist Rachel Parker is forced to take shelter on a far-flung island off the Cornish Coast during a research posting, she discovers a collection of hidden love letters. Captivated by their passion and tenderness, Rachel is determined to find the intended recipient.

A dangerous secret…

Meanwhile, in London, Eve is helping her grandmother, a renowned mountaineer, write her memoirs. When she is contacted by Rachel, it sets in motion a chain of events that threatens to reveal secrets kept buried for more than sixty years.

THE ANTIDOTE FOR EVERYTHING – Kimmery Martin

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Berkley US
Genre: Medical Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Urologist Georgia Brown’s sense of self-preservation is kicked into high gear after she’s sexually harassed by a male surgeon at her medical clinic, but her outrage grows when her best doctor friend, Jonah, is dismissed for treating transgender patients. After traveling to Amsterdam to attend a medical conference, Georgia concocts a plan to persuade the board to reverse their decision about Jonah. But when her scheme to teach the hospital administration an important lesson begins to spiral out of control, Georgia worries she’s caused more harm than good. After a medical crisis involving one of her friends, she learns that love and friendship are the antidotes for all the ills in her life.

THE GUEST LIST by Lucy Foley

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
On an island off the windswept Irish coast, guests gather for the wedding of the year – the marriage of Jules Keegan and Will Slater. 

Old friends.
Past grudges.

Happy families.
Hidden jealousies.

Thirteen guests.
One body. 

The wedding cake has barely been cut when one of the guests is found dead. And as a storm unleashes its fury on the island, everyone is trapped.

All have a secret. All have a motive.

One guest won’t leave this wedding alive . . .

THE HOLDOUT by Graham Moore

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Legal Thriller, Mystery
SYNOPSIS:
One juror changed the verdict. What if she was wrong?

‘Ten years ago we made a decision together…’
Fifteen-year-old Jessica Silver, heiress to a billion-dollar fortune, vanishes on her way home from school. Her teacher, Bobby Nock, is the prime suspect. It’s an open and shut case for the prosecution, and a quick conviction seems all but guaranteed.

Until Maya Seale, a young woman on the jury, persuades the rest of the jurors to vote not guilty: a controversial decision that will change all of their lives forever.

Ten years later, one of the jurors is found dead, and Maya is the prime suspect.

The real killer could be any of the other ten jurors. Is Maya being forced to pay the price for her decision all those years ago?

GRACE IS GONE by Emily Elgar

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Meg and her daughter Grace are the most beloved family in Ashford, the lynchpin that holds the community together.

So when Meg is found brutally murdered and her daughter missing, the town is rocked by the crime. Not least because Grace has been sick for years – and may only have days to live.

Who would murder a mother who sacrificed everything, and take a teenager away from the medication that could save her life? Everyone is searching for an answer, but sometimes the truth can kill you . . .

DEAR EDWARD by Ann Napolitano

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Coming-of-Age Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
A luminous, life-affirming novel about a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a deadly plane crash

One summer morning, a flight takes off from New York to Los Angeles. There are 192 passengers aboard: among them a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the airplane toilet; a Wall Street millionaire flirting with the air hostess; an injured soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons, bickering over who gets the window seat. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado, the younger of these boys, 12-year-old Edward Adler, is the sole survivor.

Dear Edward depicts Edward’s life in the crash’s aftermath as he struggles to make sense of the meaning of his survival, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and find his place in the world without his family. In his new home with his aunt and uncle, the only solace comes from his friendship with the girl next door, Shay. Together Edward and Shay make a startling discovery: hidden in his uncle’s garage are sacks of letters from the relatives of the other passengers, addressed to Edward.

As Edward comes of age against the backdrop of sudden tragedy, he must confront some of life’s most profound questions: how do we make the most of the time we are given? And what does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

FIREWATCHING – Russ Thomas

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Police Procedural
SYNOPSIS:
ONE WRONG MOVE

A body is found bricked into the walls of a house. From the state of the hands, it’s clear the dead man was buried alive. Soon, the victim is linked to an old missing person’s case and DS Adam Tyler is called.

WILL IGNITE

As the sole representative of South Yorkshire’s Cold Case Review Unit, Tyler recognises his role for what it is – a means of keeping him out of the way following an ‘incident’. When this case falls in his lap, he grabs the opportunity to fix his stagnating career.

THE CITY

And then Tyler discovers he has a connection to the case that hopelessly compromises him. He makes the snap decision not to tell his superiors, certain that he and only he can solve the crime. But now Tyler must move carefully to find out the truth, without destroying the case or himself.

Meanwhile, someone in the city knows exactly what happened to the body. Someone who is watching Adam closely. Someone with an unhealthy affinity with fire. . .

A taut investigative thriller bursting with character and tension, introducing an enigmatic, fresh lead detective unlike any you have met before – Detective Sergeant Adam Tyler – for fans of Adrian McKinty, Tana French, Steve Cavanagh and Sharon Bolton. 

THE MEMORY WOOD by Sam Lloyd

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
SYNOPSIS:
Elijah has lived in the Memory Wood for as long as he can remember. It’s the only home he’s ever known.

Elissa has only just arrived. And she’ll do everything she can to escape.

When Elijah stumbles across thirteen-year-old Elissa, in the woods where her abductor is hiding her, he refuses to alert the police. Because in his twelve years, Elijah has never had a proper friend. And he doesn’t want Elissa to leave.

Not only that, Elijah knows how this can end. After all, Elissa isn’t the first girl he’s found inside the Memory Wood.

As her abductor’s behaviour grows more erratic, Elissa realises that outwitting strange, lonely Elijah is her only hope of survival. Their cat-and-mouse game of deception and betrayal will determine both their fates, and whether either of them will ever leave the Memory Wood . . .

THE DARK SIDE OF THE MIND by Kerry Daynes

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Cassell
Genre: Autobiography, True Crime
SYNOPSIS:
Welcome to the world of the forensic psychologist, where the people you meet are wildly unpredictable and often frightening.

The job: to delve into the psyche of convicted men and women to try to understand what lies behind their often brutal actions.

Following the footsteps of Kerry Daynes, one of the most sought-after forensic psychologists in the business and consultant on major police investigations.

Kerry’s job has taken her to the cells of maximum-security prisons, police interview rooms, the wards of secure hospitals and the witness box of the court room.

Her work has helped solve a cold case, convict the guilty and prevent a vicious attack.

Spending every moment of your life staring into the darker side of life comes with a price. Kerry’s frank memoir gives an unforgettable insight into the personal and professional dangers in store for a female psychologist working with some of the most disturbing men and women.

THE SUN DOWN MOTEL by Simone St James

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Berkley US
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror
SYNOPSIS:
Upstate NY, 1982. Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney works as the night clerk to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden there. Upstate NY, 2017. Carly Kirk has always been fascinated by her aunt Viv who disappeared from the Sun Down before Carly was born. Using a small inheritance from when her mom dies, Carly leaves college to go to Fell to figure out what happened to her aunt thirty-five years ago. Soon, Carly is mirroring her aunt’s life, working as the night clerk at the motel, which hasn’t changed since 1982. The guest book is still handwritten, the rooms still have actual keys, and a haunting presence still lingers. Carly discovers that Viv had been trying to unravel mysteries of her own – including a possible serial killer working in Fell. If Carly can find the answers Viv was searching for, she might be able to solve the mystery that has haunted her family for years.

THE TEMPLE HOUSE VANISHING by Rachel Donohue

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Corvus
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Coming-of-Age Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Power. Jealousy. Desire.

Twenty-five years ago, a sixteen-year-old schoolgirl and her charismatic teacher disappeared without trace…

When Louisa arrives at Temple House, an elite catholic boarding school, she quickly finds herself drawn to sophisticated fellow pupil Victoria and their young bohemian art teacher, Mr Lavelle. The three of them form a bond that seems to offer an escape from the repressive regime of the nuns who run the cloistered school. Until Louisa and Mr Lavelle suddenly vanish.

Years later, a journalist with a childhood connection to Louisa determines to resolve the mystery. Her search for the truth will uncover a tragic, mercurial tale of suppressed desire and long-buried secrets. It will shatter lives and lay a lost soul to rest.

The Temple House Vanishing is a stunning, intensely atmospheric novel of unrequited longing, dark obsession and unintended consequences.

DEAD RINGER by Nicola Martin

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Published: February 27th, 2020
Publisher: Contraband
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
SYNOPSIS:
A pair of doppelgängers. A pack of lies.

The idea is simple, vain, exciting. Tap the app, upload a picture of yourself, find your lookalike. Set up a meeting to see whether you have anything else in common. When Ella and Jem meet, the physical resemblance is uncanny, but their lives couldn’t be more different. One is from a tiny island in a deprived Northern community – pretty much the back of beyond – where she has no job, no boyfriend, limited prospects. The other is a London socialite, an aspiring actress living in a multimillion-pound mansion. By all appearances, she’s living a charmed life, but she’s got some serious sh*t to run away from. Both of them have. Can either hide in her double’s skin? And at what cost? Will it solve any of the problems, or merely compound them? This is an all-too-believable, twisty, compelling story that will leave you reeling.

 

 

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Pact by Amy Heydenrych ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this absorbing thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for my invitation to take part and to Zaffre and NetGalley for my copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:    

What if a prank leads to murder?

When Freya arrives at her dream job with the city’s hottest start-up, she can’t wait to begin a new and exciting life, including dating her colleague Jay.

However, Nicole, Jay’s ex and fellow employee, seems intent on making her life a misery. After a big deadline, where Nicole continually picks on her, Freya snaps and tells Jay about the bullying and together they concoct a revenge prank. The next morning Nicole is found dead in her apartment.

Is this just a prank gone wrong? Or does Freya know someone whos is capable of murder – and could she be next?

MY REVIEW:

“It was just a joke, a little slice of revenge…”

The story at the heart of this book is one that is all too familiar to most women. We all have stories about the male colleague who makes unwelcome suggestive remarks, gets a bit too handsy, holds onto a hug for that little bit too long or makes us feel uncomfortable in a way we can’t put our finger on. I bet there’s someone in your mind that describes right now. I know there is in mine. And what do we do? We usually brush it aside so we don’t cause a problem and tell ourselves it’s harmless fun. And if we do report it then we face the accusations that we led them on, did something to cause it and watch as things are twisted to paint them as the victim and us as the harasser. The #MeToo movement is beginning to change the tides and has inevitably sparked a wave of books and other media that address these issues. The Pact is the best I’ve read yet.

I didn’t expect this to be such a timely book but I am glad this author chose to write this particular story. As well as sexual harassment the book takes a look at other social issues such as bullying in the work place, the inequality between the sexes in certain professions, women being pitted against each other and how the media looks at female victims of crime. All the topics were handled in an honest and sensitive manner that felt realistic and sadly relatable.

The author filled this book an eclectic mix of strong, intelligent but flawed female characters. The narrators, Isla and Freya, are both ambitious and passionate about their chosen field. Both have things in their past that have left them a little fragile and fractured but also gave them strength that I don’t think they recognised in themselves at first. I liked both characters and thought their bad decisions only made them more human and relatable. Nicole was the mean girl. While she’s alive we only see her through Freya’s eyes and, as she is being bullied by her, that’s quite a biased lens. I could see how some people were manipulating things and wondered if there were things we didn’t know about that were contributing to her behaviour. Another thing that happened because we only see her from Freya’s point of view is that it was hard at times to be sympathetic or mournful of her death. The choice to make her both murder victim and villainess, and the author’s ability to evoke in me such constrasting feelings towards her, were a testament to her talent. The characters who manipulated, lied and harassed people were expertly written (I’m not naming them to avoid spoilers). They were classic examples of abusers and narcissist – masquerading behind a veil of charm, charisma, kindness and kinship. Their victims were like lambs to the slaughter at the hands of their expert scheme.

The story is written in multiple timelines and moves somewhat sporadically between them. It felt choppy and confusing at times as a result and I sometimes had to double check what timeline we were in to make sense of things. But as more of the story was told this got better and things flowed more smoothly. There were times I liked the use of multiple timelines as they were used to weave clues through the story and tease the reader before jumping to another point in the story, leaving us in suspense.

The Pact manages to hit all the requirements for a riveting, explosive and involving thriller while also being an acutely observed commentary on some of the most harrowing, difficult and important issues we face. While I did guess some things early on I was left with my jaw on the floor when the author delivered the coup de grace.

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Amy is a writer and book blogger based in South Africa. She has been shortlisted twice for the acclaimed Miles Morland African Writing Scholarship. Her short stories and poems have been published in multiple anthologies including Brittle Paper, The Kalahari Review and the Short Sharp Stories anthologies. When she is not writing her own fiction, she ghost-writes books and columns for global tech and financial companies.

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Categories
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.