Categories
Uncategorised

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures, Most Anticipated 2023 – Historic & Gothic Delights

Historical and gothic fiction is, for me, a joint favourite genre with thrillers. So I’m very excited about the books on today’s list. What do you think of my choices?

********

A Marriage of Fortune by Anne O’Brien

SYNOPSIS:
England. 1469.

A fortunate marriage will change history.
A scandal could destroy everything…

Margaret Paston, matriarch of the Paston family, knows that a favourable match for one of her unruly daughters is the only way to survive the loss of their recently acquired Caister Castle. But as the War of the Roses rages on, dangerous enemies will threaten even her best laid plans.

Margery Paston, her eldest daughter, has always strived to uphold the Paston name and do her mother proud. But when she loses her heart to a man below her station, she must make a terrible choice: will she betray her family and risk everything for a chance at true love?

Anne Haute, first cousin to the Queen, is embroiled in a longstanding betrothal to Sir John Paston, the eldest son and heir to the Paston seat. But despite his promises, Anne can’t help but doubt that he will ever keep his word and make her his wife…

In the midst of civil war, each of these women must decide: Head or heart? Love or duty? Reputation- or scandal?

Published January 19th by Orion
Pre-order here*

The Whispering Muse by Larua Purcell

SYNOPSIS:
Be careful what you wish for… it may just come true.

At The Mercury Theatre in London’s West End, rumours are circulating of a curse.

It is said that the lead actress Lilith has made a pact with Melpomene, the tragic muse of Greek mythology, to become the greatest actress to ever grace the stage. Suspicious of Lilith, the jealous wife of the theatre owner sends dresser Jenny to spy on her, and desperate for the money to help her family, Jenny agrees.

What Jenny finds is a woman as astonishing in her performance as she is provocative in nature. On stage, it’s as though Lilith is possessed by the characters she plays, yet off stage she is as tragic as the Muse who inspires her, and Jenny, sorry for her, befriends the troubled actress. But when strange events begin to take place around the theatre, Jenny wonders if the rumours are true, and fears that when the Muse comes calling for payment, the cost will be too high.

Published February 2nd by Raven
Pre-order here*

The Snow Hare by Paula Lichtarowicz

SYNOPSIS:
Lena has her life mapped out. While her sister obsesses about fortune-telling gypsies and marriage, Lena studies the way the heart works. She isn’t going to let being a girl stop her from becoming one of Poland’s first female doctors. But the world has other plans for Lena. Instead of university she finds herself a reluctant army wife, lonely and unmoored by the emotions of motherhood. And as she tries to accept a different future from the one she wanted, the threat of global war becomes reality. Lena must face just how unpredictable life can be.

Deemed Enemies of State by the invading Soviets, she and her family are exiled from their Polish village to a work camp in the freezing hell of Siberia. It’s here, despite the hunger and back-breaking work, Lena learns something remarkable; it is possible to fall in love even at the edge of life. And for that love, Lena must make a decision, the consequences of which will haunt her for ever.

Tender, brutal and passionate, The Snow Hare is about living with impossible choices and our incredible ability to cultivate hope in the darkest places.

Published February 2nd by John Murray Press
Pre-order here*

A Gift of Poison by Bella Ellis (The Bronte Mysteries 4)

SYNOPSIS:
Haworth 1847 – Anne and Emily Brontë have had their books accepted for publication, while Charlotte’s has been rejected everywhere, creating a strained atmosphere at the parsonage.

At the same time, a shocking court case has recently concluded, acquitting a workhouse master of murdering his wife by poison. Everyone thinks this famously odious and abusive man is guilty. However, he insists he is many bad things but not a murderer. When an attempt is made on his life, he believes it to be the same person who killed his wife and applies to the detecting sisters for their help.

Despite reservations, they decide that perhaps, as before, it is only they who can get to the truth and prove him innocent – or guilty – without a shadow of doubt.

Published February 9th by Hodder & Stoughton
Pre-order here*

The Shadow of Perseus by Claire Heywood

SYNOPSIS:
The myth of Perseus, told through the story of the three women who knew him best – his mother Danae, his wife Andromeda, and his victim, Medusa.

History remembers him as a hero. But the women who knew him best remember a different man…

Perseus grows up wanting to be a hero, but he cannot become one if his mother Danae still sees him as a boy. When his stepfather Polydektes casts him away on a voyage across the sea, Perseus is determined to fulfil the great destiny of the son of a god and the grandson of a king. But the line between heroism and monstrosity is thin, and when Perseus attempts to seduce first gentle Medusa and then beautiful Andromeda, before finally reuniting with Danae, they each learn of the dangers of resisting a boy prepared to risk it all for greatness . . .

Published February 21st by Hodder & Stoughton
Pre-order here

The Book of Eve by Meg Clothier

SYNOPSIS:
In the name of the Father, not a word of this. Her letters are forbidden.

Beatrice is the convent’s librarian. For years, she has shunned the company of her sisters, finding solace only with her manuscripts.

Then, one carnival night, two women, bleeding and stricken, are abandoned outside the convent’s walls. Moments from death, one of them presses something into Beatrice’s hands: a bewitching book whose pages have a dangerous life of their own.

But men of the faith want the book destroyed, and a zealous preacher has tracked it to her door. Her sisters’ lives – or her obsession. Beatrice must decide.

The book’s voice is growing stronger.
An ancient power uncoils.
Will she dare to listen?

Published March 2nd by Wildfire
Pre-order here*

The Londonn Seance Society by Sarah Penner

SYNOPSIS:
From the author of the intoxicating bestseller The Lost Apothecary comes an entrancing exploration of the blurred lines between truth and illusion and the grave risks women take to avenge the ones they love.

May mercy be upon the man who finds himself the enemy of a vengeful medium…

1873. At an abandoned château on the outskirts of Paris, a dark séance is about to take place, led by acclaimed spiritualist Vaudeline D’Allaire. Known worldwide for her talent in conjuring the spirits of murder victims to ascertain the identities of the people who killed them, she is highly sought after by widows and investigators alike.

Lenna Wickes has come to Paris to find answers about her sister’s death, but to do so, she must embrace the unknown and overcome her own logic-driven bias against the occult. When Vaudeline is beckoned to England to solve a high-profile murder, Lenna accompanies her as an understudy. But as the women team up with the powerful men of London’s exclusive Séance Society to solve the mystery, they begin to suspect that they are not merely out to solve a crime, but perhaps entangled in one themselves…

Published March 21st by Legend Press
Pre-order here*

The Lodger by Helen Scarlett

SYNOPSIS:
This second novel from the author of The Deception of Harriet Fleet takes us back to the aftermath of the Great War in another haunting, atmospheric Gothic tale.

London in 1919 was a city of ghosts and absences, haunted by the men who marched away but never came back from ‘the war to end all wars.’

Grace Armstrong believes that she has come to terms with her own loss, the death of her fiancé, the brilliant and dazzling best friend of her brother. He was declared Missing in Action during the Battle of the Somme, but he starts to reappear both in her waking life and dreams.

Grace is appalled when a body, dragged from the Thames, is identified as Elizabeth Smith, who has lodged with Grace and her family for the last eight years before suddenly disappearing.

Elizabeth had been more than a lodger; she had become a close friend to Grace, who feels compelled to find out what happened. In doing so she is drawn reluctantly into the sordid and dangerous underbelly of London and a scandal that rocked Edwardian society. Soon Grace finds herself under threat, and the only person prepared to listen is the brooding Tom Monaghan. But Tom has dark shadows of his own to navigate before being able to put his past behind him to help Grace in her quest for the truth.

Published March 23rd by Quercus
Pre-order here*

The Valkyrie by Kate Heartfield

SYNOPSIS:
From SUNDAY TIMES bestselling author Kate Heartfield comes a glorious, lyrical retelling of one of Norse mythology’s greatest epics

Brynhild is a Valkyrie: shieldmaiden of the Allfather, chooser of the slain. But now she too has fallen, flightless in her exile.

Gudrun is a princess of Burgundy, a daughter of the Rhine, a prize for an invading king – a king whose brother Attila has other plans, and a dragon to call upon.

And in the songs to be sung, there is another hero: Sigurd, a warrior with a sword sharper than the new moon.

As the legends tell, these names are destined to be lovers, fated as enemies. But here on Midgard, legends can be lies…

For not all heroes are heroic, nor all monsters monstrous. And a shieldmaiden may yet find that love is the greatest weapon of all.

Kate Heartfield’s book ‘The Embroidered Book’ was a Sunday Times bestseller w/c 14-02-2022.

Published March 30th by HarperVoyager
Pre-order here*

The House of Whispers by Anna Mazzola

SYNOPSIS:
A creepy, chilling story – another Anna Mazzola triumph!’ JENNIFER SAINT

Sometimes the secrets of the past are more dangerous than the present…

Rome, 1938.

As the world teeters on the brink of war, talented pianist Eva Valenti enters the house of widower Dante Cavallera to become his new wife.

On the outside, the forces of Fascism are accelerating, but in her new home, Eva fears that something else is at work, whispering in the walls and leaving mysterious marks on Dante’s young daughter.

Soon she starts to wonder whether the house itself is trying to give up the secrets of its mysterious past – secrets that Dante seems so determined to keep hidden.

However, Eva must also conceal the truth of her own identity, for if she is discovered, she will be in greater danger than she could ever have imagined…

Published April 6th by Orion
Pre-order here*

Atalanta by Jennifer Saint

SYNOPSIS:
The mesmerising story of the only female Argonaut, told by Jennifer Saint, the bestselling author of ELEKTRA and ARIADNE .

When a daughter is born to the King of Arcadia, she brings only disappointment.

Left exposed on a mountainside, the defenceless infant Atalanta is left to the mercy of a passing mother bear and raised alongside the cubs under the protective eye of the goddess Artemis.

Swearing that she will prove her worth alongside the famed heroes of Greece, Atalanta leaves her forest to join Jason’s band of Argonauts. But can she carve out her own place in the legends in a world made for men?

Published April 13th by Widlfire
Pre-order here*

Homecoming by Kate Morton

SYNOPSIS:
From the bestselling author of The Clockmaker’s Daughter, Kate Morton, comes a breathtaking mystery of love, lies and a cold case come back to life, told with her trademark intricacy and beauty.

Adelaide Hills, Christmas Eve, 1959.

At the end of a scorching hot day, beside a creek in the grounds of a grand and mysterious mansion, a local delivery man makes a terrible discovery. A police investigation is called and the small town of Tumbilla becomes embroiled in one of the most shocking and perplexing murder cases in the history of South Australia.

Sixty years later, Jess is a journalist in search of a story. Having lived and worked in London for almost twenty years, she now finds herself laid off from her full-time job and struggling to make ends meet. A phone call out of nowhere summons her back to Sydney, where her beloved grandmother, Nora, who raised Jess when her mother could not, has suffered a fall and been raced to the hospital.

At a loose end in Nora’s house, Jess does some digging into her past. In Nora’s bedroom, she discovers a true crime book, chronicling the police investigation into a long-buried tragedy: the Turner Family Tragedy of Christmas Eve, 1959. It is only when Jess skims through the book that she finds a shocking connection between her own family and this once-infamous crime – a crime that has never been truly solved. And for a journalist without a story, a cold case might be the best distraction she can find . . .

An epic novel that spans generations, Homecoming asks what we would do for those we love, and how we protect the lies we tell. It explores the power of motherhood, the corrosive effects of tightly held secrets, and the healing nature of truth.

Published April 13th by Mantle
Pre-order here*

Prize Women by Caroline Lea

SYNOPSIS:
The gripping and unforgettable new novel from Caroline Lea, based on one of history’s most shocking but largely untold scandals

‘Gorgeous. Prize Women . . . took my breath away. I haven’t stopped thinking about it’ 
JENNIFER SAINT, bestselling author of ARIADNE

Masterful. Caroline Lea is a superb storyteller, and Prize Women deserves a huge readership. So good, I had to pull myself away’ ELIZABETH MACNEAL, bestselling author of THE DOLL FACTORY
___________

Toronto, Canada, 1926

Best friends Lily di Marco and Mae Thebault were once inseparable. They lived under the same roof and cared for each other’s children. But with mouths to feeds and demanding husbands to keep happy, both women are forced into terrible decisions as the Great Depression tightens its grip.

When lawyer Charles Vance Miller’s will promises a handsome sum of money to the woman who can produce the most babies in the next ten years, it is initially dismissed as a vanity project. But as the Great Depression worsens, and times get increasingly tough across the world, for the most desperate in society this contest known as The Great Stork Derby suddenly seems like a way out.

Ten years later, Lily and Mae couldn’t be further apart. And as The Great Stork Derby continues to make headlines, for all the wrong reasons, both these women must face up to their part in it, and the consequences…

Published April 27th by Michael Joseph
Pre-order here*

The Woman on the Bridge by Sheila O’Flanagan

SYNOPSIS:
A stunning historical novel from multi-million-copy bestselling author Sheila O’Flanagan

Dublin. The 1920s. As war tears Ireland apart, two young people are caught up in events that will bring love, tragedy – and the hardest of choices.


In a country fighting for freedom, it’s hard to live a normal life. Winnie O’Leary supports the cause, but she doesn’t go looking for trouble. Then rebel Joseph Burke steps into her workplace. Winnie is furious with him about a broken window. She’s not interested in romance. But love comes when you least expect it.

Joseph’s family shelter fugitives and transport weapons. Joseph would never ask Winnie to join the fight; but his mother and sisters demand commitment. Will Winnie choose Joseph, and put her own loved ones in deadly danger? Or wait for a time of peace that may never come?

Ireland’s tumultuous independence struggle is the backdrop for an unforgettable story of courage and heartbreak, in which heroes are made of ordinary people. Inspired by the story of Sheila O’Flanagan’s grandmother, The Woman on the Bridge is the unmissable, compulsive new novel from a bestselling author.

Published April 27th by Headline Review
Pre-order here*

A Lady’s Guide to Scandal by Sophie Irwin

SYNOPSIS:
The captivating new historical novel from the author of the Sunday Times bestseller A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting

Pre-order the most delightful, escapist historical of the year from the Sunday Times bestselling author!

Recently widowed from her marriage of convenience, Eliza, now Dowager Countess of Somerset, is bequeathed a fortune, hers to keep as long as she can steer clear of scandal.

It should be simple – Eliza has spent a lifetime following the rules – but now that she is rich, titled and independent, misbehaviour is much more tempting…

Published May 11th by Harper Collins
Pre-order here*

The Ghost Theatre by Mat Osman

SYNOPSIS:
TO LOVE IS TO FALL . . .

On a rooftop in Elizabethan London two worlds collide. Shay is a messenger-girl and trainer of hawks who sees the future in the patterns of birds. Nonesuch is the dark star of the city’s fabled child theatre scene, as famous as royalty yet lowly as a beggar.

Together they create The Ghost Theatre: a troupe staging magical plays in London’s hidden corners. As their hallucinatory performances incite rebellion among the city’s outcasts, the pair’s relationship sparks and burns against a backdrop of the plague and a London in flames. Their growing fame sweeps them up into the black web of the Elizabethan court, where Shay and Nonesuch discover that if they fly too high, a fall is sure to come.

Fantastical and captivating, The Ghost Theatre charts the rise and dramatic destruction of a dream born from love and torn apart by betrayal.

Published May 11th by Bloomsbury
Pre-order here*

Stealing by Margaret Verble

SYNOPSIS:
A gripping, gut-punch of a novel about a Cherokee child removed from her family and sent to a Christian boarding school in the 1950s—an ambitious, eye-opening reckoning of history and small-town prejudices from Pulitzer Prize finalist Margaret Verble. 

Since her mother’s death, Kit Crockett has lived with her grief-stricken father, spending lonely days far out in the country tending the garden, fishing in a local stream, and reading Nancy Drew mysteries from the library bookmobile.  One day when Kit discovers a mysterious and beautiful woman has moved in just down the road, she is intrigued.

Kit and her new neighbor Bella become fast friends. Both outsiders, they take comfort in each other’s company. But malice lurks near their quiet bayou and Kit suddenly finds herself at the center of tragic, fatal crime.  Soon, Kit is ripped from her home and Cherokee family and sent to Ashley Lordard, a religious boarding school. Along with the other Native students, Kit is stripped of her heritage, force-fed Christian indoctrination, and is sexually abused by the director. But Kit, as strong-willed and shrewd as ever, secretly keeps a journal recounting what she remembers—and revealing just what she has forgotten. Over the course of Stealing, she slowly unravels the truth of how she ended up at the school—and plots a way out. 

In swift, sharp, and stunning prose, Margaret Verble spins a powerful coming-of age tale and reaffirms her place as an indelible storyteller and chronicler of history.

Published May 11th by Harper Collins
Pre-order here*

Vita and the Birds by Polly Crosby

SYNOPSIS:
A haunting mystery for fans of Eve Chase, Kate Morton and Kate Mosse.

1938: Lady Vita Goldsborough lives in the shadow of her controlling older brother, Aubrey. Trapped and isolated on the East Anglian coast, Vita takes solace in watching the birds that fly over the marshes. But then she meets local artist Dodie Blakeney. The two women form a close bond, and Vita finally glimpses a chance to escape Aubrey’s grasp and be as free as the birds she loves.

1997: Decades later and in the wake of her mother’s death, Eve Blakeney returns to the coast where she spent childhood summers with her beloved grandmother, Dodie. Eve hopes the visit will help make sense of her grief. The last thing she expects to find is a bundle of letters that hint at the heart-breaking story of Dodie’s relationship with a woman named Vita.

Eve and Vita’s stories are linked by a shattering secret that echoes through the decades, and when Eve discovers the truth, it will overturn everything she thought she knew about her family – and change her life forever.

Published May 25th by HQ
Pre-order here*

Mrs Porter Calling by AJ Pearce (The Emmy Lake Chronicles)

SYNOPSIS:
The heartwarming, moving and uplifting new story of friendship, love and finding courage when all seems lost from AJ Pearce, TheSunday Times bestselling author of Dear Mrs Bird and Yours Cheerfully.

London, April 1943.


Emmy Lake is an agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine, doing all she can to help readers as they face the challenges of wartime life. With her column thriving and a team of women behind her, Emmy finally feels she is Doing Her Bit.

But when the glamourous new owner arrives, everything changes. Charming her way around editor Guy Collins, Emmy quickly realises the Honourable Mrs Cressida Porter plans to destroy everything readers love about the magazine.

With her best friends by her side, Emmy must work out how she can bring everyone together and save Woman’s Friend before it’s too late.

Published May 25th by Picador
Pre-order here*

Hokey Pokey by Kate Mascarenhas

SYNOPSIS:
A grand hotel, a famous opera star and a psychoanalyst with a hidden agenda. Kate Mascarenhas’s third novel offers her readers a glamorous, thrilling ride through murder, madness and the darkest recesses of the mind.

February, 1929. The Regent Hotel in Birmingham is a place of deception and glamour. Behind its six-storeyed façade, guests sip absinthe cocktails on velvet banquettes, while the hotel’s red-jacketed staff scurry through its lavish corridors to ensure the finest service is always at hand.

In the early evening, a psychoanalyst checks in under a pseudonym: Nora Dickinson. Nora is young, diligent and ambitious. Though she doesn’t see herself as a liar, she is travelling with an agenda. Having followed the famous opera singer, Berenice Oxbow, from Zurich to Birmingham, she’s determined not to let her out of her sight.

But when a terrible snow storm isolates the hotel – and its guests – from the outside world, the lines between nightmare and reality begin to blur…

Published June 8th by Apollo
Pre-order here*

The Good Liars by Anita Frank

SYNOPSIS:
From the author of stunning historical fiction books comes a new story of crime, deceit, and murder, set in the early 1920s…

In the hot summer of 1914 a boy vanishes, never to be seen again.

Now, in 1920, the once esteemed Stilwell family of Darkacre Hall find their already troubled lives thrown into disarray when new evidence leads to the boy’s case being reopened – and this time they themselves are under police scrutiny.

As the dead return to haunt the living, old resentments resurface and loyalties are tested, while secrets risk being unearthed that could destroy them all.

Published June 8th by HQ
Pre-order here*

The Fascination by Essie Fox

SYNOPSIS:
Exploring universal themes of love and loss, the power of redemption and what it means to be unique,The Fascination is an evocative,glittering and bewitching gothic novel that brings alive Victorian London and darkness and deception that lies beneath…

Victorian England. A world of rural fairgrounds and glamorous London theatres. A world of dark secrets and deadly obsessions…
 
Twin sisters Keziah and Tilly Lovell are identical in every way, except that Tilly hasn’t grown a single inch since she was five. Coerced into promoting their father’s quack elixir as they tour the country fairgrounds, at the age of fifteen the girls are sold to a mysterious Italian known as ‘Captain’.
 
Theo is an orphan, raised by his grandfather, Lord Seabrook, a man who has a dark interest in anatomical freaks and other curiosities … particularly the human kind.  Resenting his grandson for his mother’s death in childbirth, when Seabrook remarries and a new heir is produced, Theo is forced to leave home without a penny to his name.
 
Unable to train to be a doctor as he’d hoped, Theo finds employment in Dr Summerwell’s Museum of Anatomy in London, and here he meets Captain and his theatrical ‘family’ of performers, freaks and outcasts.
 
But it is Theo’s fascination with Tilly and Keziah that will lead all of them into a web of dark deceits, exposing the darkest secrets and threatening everything they know…
 
Exploring universal themes of love and loss, the power of redemption and what it means to be unique, The Fascination is an evocative, glittering and bewitching gothic novel that brings alive Victorian London and darkness and deception that lies beneath…

Published June 22nd by Orenda Books
Pre-order here*

The Square of Sevens by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

SYNOPSIS:
‘The queen of the historical crime novel’ – CJ Tudor

My father had spelt it out to me. Choice was a luxury I couldn’t afford. This is your story, Red. You must tell it well . . .

A girl known only as Red, the daughter of a Cornish fortune-teller, travels with her father making a living predicting fortunes using the ancient method: the Square of Sevens. When her father suddenly dies, Red becomes the ward of a gentleman scholar.

Now raised as a lady amidst the Georgian splendour of Bath, her fortune-telling is a delight to high society, but she cannot ignore the questions that gnaw at her soul: who was her mother? How did she die? And who are the mysterious enemies her father was always terrified would find him?

The pursuit of these mysteries takes her from Cornwall and Bath to London and Devon, from the rough ribaldry of the Bartholemew Fair to the grand houses of two of the most powerful families in England. And while Red’s quest brings her the possibility of great reward, it also leads into her grave danger . . .

Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s The Square of Sevens is an epic and sweeping novel set in Georgian high society, a dazzling story offering up mystery, intrigue, heartbreak, and audacious twists.

Published June 22nd by Mantle
Pre-order here*

The Birdcage Library by Freya Berry

SYNOPSIS:
A mystery lies hidden within an old book… Unlock the secrets of The Birdcage Library.

‘Gothic, gorgeous and vividly atmospheric; an immersive literary page-turner to be swept up in’ Ellery Lloyd, New York Times bestselling author
_________

A rich, beguiling story of long-buried secrets and dark obsession, The Birdcage Library is the dazzling new novel from Freya Berry, author of The Dictator’s Wife, as seen on BBC2 Between the Covers.

Dear Reader, the man I love is trying to kill me…

Emily Blackwood, adventuress and plant hunter, travels north for a curious new commission. A gentleman has written to request she catalogue his vast collection of taxidermied creatures before sale.

On arrival, Emily finds a ruined castle, its owner haunted by a woman who vanished years before. And when she discovers the ripped pages of a diary, crammed into the walls, she realises dark secrets lie here, waiting to entrap her too….

Discover a mystery within a mystery in The Birdcage Library, a novel that will hold you in its spell until the final page.

Published June 22nd by Headline
Pre-order here*

The Illusions by Liz Hyder

SYNOPSIS:
At a time of extraordinary change, two women must harness their talents to take control of their own destiny . . .

Bristol, 1896. Used to scraping a living as the young assistant to an ageing con artist, Cecily Marsden’s life is turned upside down when her master suddenly dies. Believing herself to blame, could young Cec somehow have powers she little understands?

Meanwhile Eadie Carleton, a pioneering early film-maker, struggles for her talent to be taken seriously in a male-dominated world, and a brilliant young magician, George Perris, begins to see the potential in moving pictures. George believes that if he can harness this new technology, it will revolutionise the world of magic forever – but in order to achieve his dreams, he must first win over Miss Carleton . . .

As a group of illusionists prepare for a grand spectacle, Cec, Eadie and George’s worlds collide. But as Cec falls in love with the bustling realm of theatre and magic, she faces the fight of her life to save the performance from sabotage and harness the element of real magic held deep within her.

THE ILLUSIONS is the captivating new novel from the much-lauded author of THE GIFTS. Inspired by real-life illusionists and early film pioneers, this astonishing story of women and talent, magic and power, sweeps you into a world where anything is possible and nothing is quite as it seems . . .

Published June 22nd by Manilla Press
Pre-order here*

73 Dove Street by Julie Owen Moylan

SYNOPSIS:
When Edie Budd arrives at a shabby West London boarding house in October 1958, carrying nothing except a broken suitcase and an envelope full of cash, it’s clear she’s hiding a terrible secret. And she’s not the only one; the other women of 73 Dove Street have secrets of their own . . .

Tommie, who lives on the second floor, waits on the eccentric Mrs Vee by day. After dark, she harbours an addiction to seedy Soho nightlife – and a man she can’t quit.

Phyllis, 73 Dove Street’s formidable landlady, has set fire to her husband’s belongings after discovering a heart-breaking betrayal – yet her fierce bravado hides a past she doesn’t want to talk about.

At first, the three women keep to themselves. But as Edie’s past catches up with her, Tommie becomes caught in her web of lies – forcing her to make a decision that will change everything . . .

Published July 20th by Michael Joseph
Pre-order here*

The Only One Left by Riley Sager

SYNOPSIS:
Bestselling author Riley Sager returns with a Gothic chiller about a young caregiver assigned to work for a woman accused of a Lizzie Borden-like massacre decades earlier.

At seventeen, Lenora Hope
Hung her sister with a rope

Now reduced to a schoolyard chant, the Hope family murders shocked the Maine coast one bloody night in 1929. While most people assume seventeen-year-old Lenora was responsible, the police were never able to prove it. Other than her denial after the killings, she has never spoken publicly about that night, nor has she set foot outside Hope’s End, the cliffside mansion where the massacre occurred.

Stabbed her father with a knife
Took her mother’s happy life

It’s now 1983, and home-health aide Kit McDeere arrives at a decaying Hope’s End to care for Lenora after her previous nurse fled in the middle of the night. In her seventies and confined to a wheelchair, Lenora was rendered mute by a series of strokes and can only communicate with Kit by tapping out sentences on an old typewriter. One night, Lenora uses it to make a tantalizing offer–I want to tell you everything.

Published July 20th by Dutton
Pre-order here*

Fair Rosaline by Natasha Solomons

SYNOPSIS:
BEFORE ROMEO LOVED JULIET, HE LOVED FAIR ROSALINE . . .

Was the greatest ever love story
really a lie?

Romeo Montague is handsome and charming and the first time he sees young Rosaline Capulet, who has secretly snuck into his family’s masquerade summer ball, he falls instantly in love.

At first Rosaline is unsure of Romeo’s attentions but with her father determined that she join the nunnery, Romeo offers her the chance of a different life. Gradually he convinces her that only true love could make him feel this way, that he is enraptured by her beauty. Indeed, he cannot live without her!

And so begins the story of Romeo and Rosaline. These star-crossed lovers must keep everything hidden from Rosaline’s family, at least until they are wed. But when a destitute young girl appears, claiming to be carrying Romeo’s child, Rosaline starts to doubt all that she has been told. And as whispers of more girls reach her ears, what once felt like a courtship begins to feel more like a pursuit.

As Rosaline recognises Romeo for the villain he truly is, his gaze turns suddenly towards Rosaline’s adored and beautiful cousin, thirteen-year old Juliet.

Can Rosaline save Juliet from her Romeo? Or can this story only ever end one way . . ?

Hamnet meets My Dark Vanessa in this fierce, feminist, intensely gripping, unmissable novel; captivating and chillingly relevant, FAIR ROSALINE takes everything you thought you knew about Romeo and Juliet and turns it on its head . . .

Published August 3rd by Manilla Press
Pre-order here*

House of Odysseus by Claire North

SYNOPSIS:
‘CLAIRE NORTH BRINGS A POWERFUL, FRESH AND UNFLINCHING VOICE TO ANCIENT MYTH’ Jennifer Saint, author of Sunday Times bestseller Ariadne

Following the critically acclaimed Ithaca comes House of Odysseus, the second novel in Claire North’s Songs of Penelope trilogy – an exquisite, gripping tale that breathes life into ancient myth. This is the story of Penelope of Ithaca, famed wife of Odysseus, as it has never been told before.

On the island of Ithaca, queen Penelope maintains a delicate balance of power. Many years ago, her husband Odysseus sailed to war with Troy and never returned. In his absence, Penelope uses all her cunning to keep the peace – but this is shattered with the arrival of Orestes, King of Mycenae.

Orestes, son of Agamemnon, is mad. Wracked with guilt for putting his own mother to death, he grows ever more unhinged. But a king cannot be seen to be weak. To keep him safe from the ambitious men of Mycenae, his sister Elektra brings him to Ithaca to recover under the protection of Penelope. But no sooner has Orestes arrived then his uncle Menelaus, the blood-soaked king of Sparta, comes looking for him. Menelaus hungers for Orestes’ throne – and if he can seize it, no one will be safe from his violent whims.

Caught between Sparta and Mycenae, Penelope must protect Ithaca from two mad kings on the edge of war. Her only allies are Elektra, desperate to protect her brother, and Helen of Troy, Menelaus’ wife. Each woman has a secret, and their secrets will shape the world . . .

Published August 24th by Orbit
Pre-order here*

Learned by Heart by Emma Donoghue

SYNOPSIS:
Inspired by the real-life diaries of Eliza Raine and Anne Lister – ‘the first modern lesbian,’ also known as Gentleman Jack – Donoghue’s mesmerising historical novel is a tour de force of rich characterisation and period detail.

Published August 24th by Pan Macmillan
Pre-order here*

The Black Feathers by Rebecca Netley

SYNOPSIS:
PRE ORDER THE NEXT CHILLING AND TWISTY GHOST STORY FROM THE AUTHOR OF THE WHISTLING

Where ghosts tread, black feathers fall . . .

When Annie marries widower Edward Stonehouse and arrives at Guardbridge, his estate on the Yorkshire moors, she thinks she has finally put darkness behind her.

She is mistaken.

Edward’s sister, Iris, still lives in the family home. A taxidermist and medium, she urges Annie to watch out for black feathers – claiming that they mark the spot where a spirt has visited.

At first, Annie dismisses her warnings. But, before long, she begins to feel haunted.

What exactly happened to Edward’s first wife? Why is Iris so disturbed?

And should Annie really be watching for signs from the dead – or is she the one being watched?

SET ON THE YORKSHIRE MOORS IN THE 1800S, THE BLACK FEATHERS IS A GHOSTLY TALE OF MAGIC AND WICKEDNESS.

Published October 12th by Michael Joseph
Pre-order here*

The Temple of Fortuna by Elodie Harper (The Wolf Den Triolgy 3)

SYNOPSIS:
The final instalment in Elodie Harper’s Sunday Times bestselling Wolf Den Trilogy

‘Beautiful, moving, captivating.’ Jennifer Saint
‘Vivid, unsentimental and compelling.’ The Times

Amara’s journey has taken her far; from a slave in Pompeii’s wolf den to a high-powered courtesan in Rome… though her story is not over yet.

While Amara plays for power in Rome’s imperial palace, those dearest to her remain in Pompeii. But it is AD 79, and mighty Mount Vesuvius is about to make itself known…

Published November 23rd by Apollo
Pre-order here*

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Year In Review

21 Favourites of 21

It’s that time of year where we look back on the books we’ve loved most this year.

In 2021 I’ve read a total of 170 books (well, I will have by the end of tomorrow lol) so you can imagine that narrowing it down to just 21 was no easy task. I went back and forth over this list for weeks, struggling to get it down from 30 and then 25.

Thirteen of these book are by new-to-me authors, eleven are debuts and two are part of a series. Three of the author, Stacey Halls, Ellen Alpsten and Jessica Ryn, have had all of their books in my list of favourites in the year each was released and were all in my list of 20 favourites of 2020.

I plan to do a stack of the books that almost made it in the coming days so keep an eye on my social media for that. But for now, here are the 21 books I loved most in 2021:

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

The Lamplighters is a truly accomplished debut. Haunting, mesmerising and atmospheric, it tells the story of the disappearance of three men and their warring widows. Drenched in mystery and with a hint of the paranormal, it is a vividly told and addictive read that I devoured quickly. I loved that it was based on a true story, adding even more intrigue to this already fascinating tale.

Published March 4th 2021 by Picador. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker

This crazy psychological thriller still vividly lives rent free in my mind almost a year after reading. Like the author herself, this is a vivacious, darkly funny and compelling debut that I loved. It tells the story of every parents’ worst nightmare come true, of how longing can become twisted into evil, and the ripple effects of trauma and pain. Mummy remains one of the most terrifying creations I’ve read, mostly because I understand her and why she became who she is. If you love a well-written thriller then read this book.

Published February 25th 2021 by Viper Books. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot

I’m a sucker for a multi-generational friendship so I was immediately on board for a story about a seventeen-year-old girl and eight-three-year-old woman. Lenni and Margot are residents of the hospital’s terminal ward and build a friendship in the art room, telling their stories through paintings that illustrate the many highs and lows of their shared one hundred years. Hypnotic, mesmerising and heart-rending, this is a book that reaches into your soul and changes you forever. A story of life, death, all the magical moments in between.

Published February 18th 2021 by Doubleday. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

The Asylum by Karen Coles

Claustrophobic, haunting and addictive, The Asylum is a spectacular debut that doesn’t get enough love in my opinion. Exquisitely written, it transports you to the bleak, shadowy rooms of the asylum and the anguished recesses of Maud’s mind. Fans of historical and Gothic fiction will not want to miss this book.

Published April 1st 2021 by Welbeck. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal

Once again Elizabeth Macneal has created a masterpiece. Captivating, illuminating and consuming, I was under the spell of this story from start to finish. This is a story about the outcasts, about finding your place in the world and what it is to be human. Circus of Wonders is dazzling piece of historical fiction that is not to be missed.

Published May 13th 2021 by Picador. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea

Oh, my heart. When I think of this book that is my first thought. A story about love, sacrifice, fear and survival set against the backdrop of a remote Scottish island during World War II, The Metal Heart is a breathtakingly beautiful story that I will never forget.

Published April 29th by Michael Joseph. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Atmospheric, lush and evocative, Ariadne is a rich tapestry that swept me away. In this glorious debut, Jennifer Saint brings to life many of the familiar Greek myths through a new lens, tells them from the perspective of the women who were previously relegated to the sidelines. And it is utterly spectacular, sparking my obsession with Greek mythology. I loved it so much that I not only bought the beautiful hardback, but also the Waterstones special edition. This is a book that I recommend to everyone, whether you’ve previously been interested in Greek myths or not.

Published April 29th by Wildfire. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

If Ariadne ignited my obsession with Greek mythology, The Wolf Den solidified it. The first in an exciting new trilogy, it tells the story of Amara, a former Doctor’s daughter sold into slavery and now one of the she-wolves at Pompeii’s infamous brothel. Lush, evocative and atmospheric I was transported to the doomed city’s dusty streets and immersed in Amara’s fight for survival and freedom. I am counting down to book two in May so I can find out what happens next.

Published May 13th by Head of Zeus. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

The Stranding is a story about the end of the world. About humanity, love, hope and survival. Imaginative, original and utterly magnificent, it surpassed all my expectations. I still find it hard to believe this is a debut. Exquisitely written and beautifully observed, this was a masterclass in storytelling. I will certainly be buying anything Ms. Sawyer writes in the future.

Published June 24th 2021 by Coronet. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

This is the book that I always recommend when anyone asks for a 2021 book they might not have read. A truly astonishing novel from an extraordinary talent, I think this book deserves to be on everyone’s reading list. It is a story about the nuances and complexities of being human that is full of heart, warmth and wisdom. A story that is unflinchingly honest and achingly real. I have a son with autism and am so thankful to Louise for writing a book that doesn’t show us a cliché, but a real person who is as individual as anyone else. Please read this book.

Published June 24th by Orenda Books. Buy here.
Read my full review here.

The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten

Another masterpiece in the Tsarina series by Ellen Alpsten. Her debut novel, Tsarina, was one of my favourite books of 2020 and I am not surprised that the follow up was every bit as good. This time she tells the story of Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great, following her highs and lows after Russia is torn apart and her fortunes drastically change. The Tsarina’s Daughter is dazzling piece of historical fiction that I couldn’t put down and left me eagerly awaiting book three.

Published July 8th 2021 by Bloomsbury. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bulbitz

A murder mystery with a twist, this startling debut tells the story from the perspective of the victim rather than those investigating the case. And this creative author goes even further, also highlighting what it is like to be the person who discovers the body, a person we rarely hear more than a passing sentence or two about in most thrillers. Timely, brave and thought-provoking, it stands out from the crowd of other thrillers. A must read for fans of the genre.

Published July 15th 2021 by Sphere. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

Mrs England by Stacey Halls

Stacey Halls once again shows why she is a Queen of historical fiction and one of my favourite authors with this slow-burning novel. Atmospheric, eerie and full of menace, it follows Ruby, a Norlander Nurse, on her latest job caring for the four England children is West Yorkshire. But all is not quite what it seems with Mr. and Mrs. England, and secrets are slowly revealed in this haunting and twisty novel.

Published June10th by Manilla Press. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

The Beresford by Will Carver

Will Carver is an author with a quirky, twisted and original style that is all his own. And The Beresford is another outstanding example of his creative genius. It opens with a murder then follows the residents of The Beresford, a halfway house for the disillusioned and vulnerable that has a life of its own, living and breathing as much as the physical characters of the story. Seductive and unsettling, The Beresford is my favourite Will Carver book to date.

Published July 22nd 2021 by Orenda Books. Buy here.
Read my full review here.

The Last Library by Freya Sampson

The Last Library is my favourite uplit of 2021. A bibliophile’s dream, this is a hug in book form and is now one of my favourite books of all time. It follows a varied cast of characters as they fight to save their beloved local library from closure. It is a celebration of books and the power of stories, but also of community, friendship, kindness and courage. A charming, funny and uplifting story that I can’t recommend highly enough.

Published September 2nd by Zaffre. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

The Hidden Child by Louise Fein

A perfect family is fractured and torn apart when illness invades their lives and not only tests their strength, but makes them question their core beliefs and values in this extraordinary piece of historical fiction.  Powerful, moving and thought-provoking, this beautifully written story is one you won’t forget.

Published September 2nd by Head of Zeus. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

The Maid by Nita Prose

I was lucky to be selected as a VIP for the Tandem Collective readalong of this highly anticipated debut. A murder mystery that was also a balm for my soul, this book exceeded all expectations and was like nothing I’ve read before. I adored Molly, the heroine of this wonderful story. Quirky and endearing, the world would be a better place if we were all a little more like her. Nita Prose is an author with a bright future ahead and I have no doubt that this book will be a sensation when it’s released next year and I can’t wait to see the movie adaptation that is already in the works.

Published January 20th 2022 by Harper Collins UK. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

A book about the pandemic doesn’t sound like something that would be on my list of top books, but Jodi Picoult has added her magical touch to make that so. A story about resilience, hope and survival that explores the fear and trauma of the pandemic and the limitless potential of the human mind. Beautiful, heartwarming and absorbing, I got lost in this book. I thought I knew what I was getting when I started reading, but I had no idea. When that twist comes it blows your mind and shakes you to the core. This is one of Ms. Picoult’s best books to date.

Published November 25th 2021 by Hodder & Stoughton. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn

Sometimes you pick up a book and it is exactly what you need.  That was the case when I decided to read this book on a whim. Uplifting, heartwarming and hopeful, this is a beautiful story of friendship, community and forgiveness. Just as she did with her debut novel, Jessica Ryn has given us another everyday heroine to root for and I was behind Violet every step of the way. Ms. Ryn has solidified her place on my list of auto-buy authors and I can’t recommend her books highly enough.

Published November 25th by HQ. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington

One of those books that is just as beautiful on the inside as it is on the outside, A Girl Made of Air is a mesmerising and magical tale. It tells the story of an nameless and unwanted protagonist, following her from the days as a neglected child living in a circus in England then all the way to New York, where she found fame as the greatest Funambulist of all time. For this dazzling debut, Nydia Hetherington merged Manx folklore, fairy tales, circus freaks and fiction to create a story about the strange and the extraordinary. My only regret is that I left it to languish on my shelf for so long. Pick it up now.

Published September 3rd 2020 by Quercus. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

Midnight in Everwood by M. A. Kuzniar

I am so glad that I saved this spellbinding story to read over Christmas as it is on Christmas Eve that most of the magic happens in Everwood. Marietta dreams of being a ballerina but her high society family have another path for her life that she must follow. As she prepares for final performance, Marietta discovers a hidden magical world full of wonder hidden in the scenery.  But this enchanting place holds magic darker than she ever imagined and Marietta soon finds herself fighting to find a way to break free of Everwood’s hold and return home.  A mesmerising debut sprinkled with magic, this is the perfect winter read.

Published October 28th 2021 by HQ. Buy here*
Read my full review here.

********

BOOK OF THE YEAR

I have agonised for weeks over what book should be given the title of Book of the Year. I had two main contenders: Ariadne and This Is How We Are Human. It was only now, while writing this post and putting together my thoughts about the books, that it became clear which book would get the title. It is a book that lives in my heart and soul, one that I am passion about having other people read and that I truly believe has the power to educate and change minds. That book is This Is How We Are Human by the incomparable Louise Beech. If you’ve not read it, please do. And let me know your thoughts.

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Happy New Year and I will see you in 2022. Emma xxx

Categories
Year In Review

Top Ten of the Year So Far

2021 has been a fantastic reading year so far; I’ve discovered some great new authors, found a passion for Greek mythology, and started some exciting new series’. As of June 30th I had read 78 books, most of which were four star and above, so it wasn’t easy to put together my 10 favourites. But, after a lot of consideration, I’m ready to share my top ten reads of 2021 so far, with links to my reviews where relevant.

********

Have you read any of these books? What are some of your favourite reads so far this year? Let me know in the comments.

*******

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up -April 2021

It’s the end of another month so it’s also time to share what I’ve been reading. April was a busy month for me; I finished thirteen books and was part-way through another when the month ended. Four of these were five star reads and I may have even found my book of the year. So here is what I read in April:

Look What You Made Me Do by Nikki Smith

As well as making me have the Taylor Swift song buzzing round my head, this book is an addictive and twisty page-turner that will knock your socks off. I was already a fan of Ms. Smith’s writing after reading her debut, but this has confirmed her place on my list of auto-read authors.
Read the review here

The Lost Hours by Susan Lewis

The Lost Hours is a compelling mystery that follows a family through their worst nightmare. It was the author’s ability to convey the emotion of the story that made this one so enjoyable for me, though I did also like how she keeps the reader guessing right until the very end.
Read the review here

The Source by Sarah Sultoon

A story of survival, strength, power, abuse and justice, this is a book that elicits strong emotions. Unflinchingly and sensitively written, it isn’t an easy read, but it’s one I’m glad I picked up.
Read the review here

The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter

One of the best thriller’s I’ve read in a while, this had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Skillfully written, atmospheric and intoxicating, this might have been my first time reading this author, but it won’t be my last.
Read the review here

Bibliomysteries Vol.1

I enjoyed listening to this anthology of thirteen short stories with a bookish theme which was my first audiobook review for NetGalley. A great listen for anyone who enjoys a mystery with stories from some famous names in crime.

The Plague Letters by V. L. Valentine

I’ve long had a fascination with anything related to the plague of the 17th Century so this book was one of my most anticipated books this year. And it didn’t disappoint. The Plague Letters is a gripping whodunnit with a sinister and supernatural twist that is made me feel like I had gone back in time. A sensational debut, I’m looking forward to seeing what this author writes next.
Read the review here

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth MacNeal

As a huge fan of the author’s debut novel, The Doll Factory, I was so excited to read this book. I was worth the wait. Once again Ms. Macneal has written a magnificent and truly wonderful story. I got lost in the world and characters she created and didn’t want it to end. This was very nearly my book of the month and is one fans of historical fiction don’t want to miss.

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs

I haven’t read this series in years but it was still like meeting up with old friends. I had forgotten just how amazing this series, and Reich’s writing, are and am so glad I decided to jump back into it. A twisty, taut and tense thriller that I highly recommend.
Read the review here

The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea

This book is truly something special. I was unprepared for how much I’d fall in love with this book and it’s characters as they reached into my soul and took up residence there. The writing is exquisite, the imagery so vivid you feel like you are there, and the characters utterly compelling. Dorothy and Cesare will make you believe in true love as they find something beautiful in the darkest and most unexpected of places.
Read the review here

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I’m not going to deny the beautiful cover is partly what enticed me to add this book to my tbr. And it lived up to the expectation of beauty for sure, with its luxurious prose and evocative imagery. I also really liked how the author addressed the topic of female agency and power. The only thing that let this down was that it is sold as Fantasy but there was no real magical element to it. It is a great book for those who enjoy historical romance.
Read the review here

The Liar’s Daughter by Rona Halsall

This was another amazing thriller from one of my favourite voices in psychological fiction. Halsall had me fooled for a while, lulling me into a false sense of security where I thought I had it all figured out, before pulling the rug from under me and turning everything on it’s head.
Read the review here

Don’t Come Looking by A. J. Campbell

The second installment in the Eva Barnes is even better than the first! An intriguing, suspenseful and gripping thriller that I couldn’t put down, keep an eye out for my review soon.

Dead Secret by Noelle Holten

This has become a must-read series for me thanks to the author’s dark and twisty plots and razor-sharp writing. This wasn’t as dark as the previous books in the series and I enjoyed exploring more of the character’s personal lives. Unexpected and addictive, I flew through this in just a few hours.
Read the review here

********

While there were a few books that stood out this month, as soon as I began reading The Metal Heart I knew this was my Book of the Month. It is something truly beautiful and special that reached into my soul.

********

Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite read in April? Let me know in the comments.

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

SYNOPSIS:

The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.

No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year.

___________

Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.

Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artists swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea debris, and something beautiful begins to blossom.But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.

Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…

In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times.

********

MY REVIEW:

Oh, my heart. This book is something truly beautiful. From the moment I read the chilling, tense and gripping prologue, I knew this was going to be something special, that this was going to be one of the best books I’ve read this year. But I was unprepared for just how magnificent it would be. I was mesmerised, lost in the pages, breathing the author’s words in like I needed them for my own survival. This book has reached into my soul and taken up residence there.

This is a story of love, sacrifice, fear and survival set against the backdrop of war. It explores how joy and hope can be found in the most unexpected and darkest of places, and how those who should be our enemies might turn out to be a friend. It is a story of star-crossed lovers, perfectly capturing the heady feeling of falling in love, the power of passion, and the hopefulness new romance brings. She has taken the true story of the building of the Orkney Cathedral and crafted a spellbinding story and compelling, richly drawn cast of characters that feel completely real. It is exquisitely written, with a cinematic quality that made me feel like I was watching everything happen in vivid technicolour. It was like I was right there, living every moment alongisde the characters.

Another theme that ran through this book was prisons. Selkie Holm is a prison twice over; an enforced one for the POWs and a chosen one for the sisters. There are also emotional and mental prisons, such as the ones Con’s trauma has put her in, and the prison that Dot has made for herself in order to help protect her sister. We also see how Dot, Con and Cesare all have a desire to escape their prisons; to live, be free, and find happiness. But they are all bound by their shackles, be they metal or mental, and don’t know how to break themselves free.

I loved the trio of narrators and the different perspectives they brought to the story. I was totally invested in Dorothy and Cesare’s love story and was rooting for them to have their happy-ever-after, even against seemingly insurmountable odds. I liked how different they were yet how they fit together so perfectly, overcoming language barriers and hailing from countries that are sworn enemies. While their feelings for each other are immediate, I liked that the author wrote their story slowly as it made it believable.

I admit, at first I did wonder why Constance had been given as much of a voice as Dorothy and Cesare, seeing as this was their story. But it soon became clear that she had a vital perspective and role to play in what transpired. I liked how her perspective, experience and relationship with her sister tempered the joy and excitement of the lovebirds, adding a layer of tension and unease that seems partly an overreaction, but is also understandable given the trauma she’s experienced. I also liked how it showed us a real selflessness to Dot’s character as she weighed up her loyalty to her sister against her own desires.

But it isn’t just the narrators who make this story what it is. The background cast are as important to propelling the story forward, and the backdrop is a character in itself; the vivid imagery of this bleak, unwelcoming place, creating a claustrophobic atmosphere where there is no escape, only helplessness and despair.

Hauntingly atmospheric, addictive and breathtaking, this novel reminds of the best and worst of humankind, shattering your heart and then giving you hope again. I can’t recommend this enough and even after days of agonising over this review, I worry I haven’t done justice to this phenomenal novel.

YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

Some of the photos from the author’s research trip to Orkney as shared on her Twitter account.

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Caroline Lea grew up in Jersey and gained a First in English Literature and Creative Writing from Warwick University, where she now teaches writing. Her fiction and poetry have been shortlisted for the Bridport Prize, and The Glass Woman was shortlisted for the HWA Debut Crown.

Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part in this tour and the gifted ARC. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

Welcome to First Lines Friday where I share the first lines from one of the books on my shelves to try and tempt you to add it to yours.

“The girls, Selkie Holm, Orkney, November 1942.
Of all the ways to die, drowning must be the most peaceful. Water above, sounds cushioned, womb-dark. Drowning is a return to something before the knife-blade of living. It is the death we would choose, if the choice was ours to make.”

What eerie and evocative first lines! They are from a book I have been anticipating ever since the author announced it last year. It even featured on my list of the 21 books I was most anticipating in 2021 and, more recently, my most anticipated books out in April. And that book is…

The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea, which is published by Michael Joseph on April 29th.

********

SYNOPSIS:

The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.

No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year.
___________

Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.

Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artists swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea debris, and something beautiful begins to blossom.

But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.

Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…

In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times.

********

How amazing does that sound? I absolutely loved the author’s debut novel, The Glass Woman, when I read it in 2019 and immediately pre-ordered this one when it was announced. If you also want to pre-order, you can do so here*.

I will be sharing my review for this one on April 20th as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the gifted ARC.

********

Thank you for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

*This is an affiliate link

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – April 2021

April is almost upon us, so it’s time for another month of anticipated books.

April is a busy month in the publishing world and a lot of books I’m looking forward to are being released. That made this month’s list extremely difficult to compile and is the reason that my ‘slimmed down’ list still stands at a whopping twenty-five books!

Are any of these on your tbr? Let me know in the comments…

Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Suspense, Bildungsroman, Coming-of-Age Story

SYNOPSIS:
She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.

‘A uniquely gothic tale about grief, belonging and hiding in plain sight’ Jess Kidd, author of Things in Jars

’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home,
stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can.
But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house.
Eventually, every hidden thing is found.’

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.

Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?

And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in?

Buy the book here*

Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Two Roads
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Madame Burova – Tarot Reader, Palmist and Clairvoyant is retiring and leaving her booth on the Brighton seafront after fifty years.

Imelda Burova has spent a lifetime keeping other people’s secrets and her silence has come at a price. She has seen the lovers and the liars, the angels and the devils, the dreamers and the fools. Her cards had unmasked them all and her cards never lied. But Madame Burova is weary of other people’s lives, their ghosts from the past and other people’s secrets, she needs rest and a little piece of life for herself. Before that, however, she has to fulfill a promise made a long time ago. She holds two brown envelopes in her hand, and she has to deliver them.

In London, it is time for another woman to make a fresh start. Billie has lost her university job, her marriage, and her place in the world when she discovers something that leaves her very identity in question. Determined to find answers, she must follow a trail which might just lead right to Madame Burova’s door.

In a story spanning over fifty years, Ruth Hogan conjures a magical world of 1970s holiday camps and seaside entertainers, eccentrics, heroes and villains, the lost and the found. Young people, with their lives before them, make choices which echo down the years. And a wall of death rider is part of a love story which will last through time.

Buy the book here*

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….

Buy the book here*

The Plague Letters by V. L. Valentine

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller, Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
WHO WOULD MURDER THE DYING…

London, 1665. Hidden within the growing pile of corpses in his churchyard, Rector Symon Patrick discovers a victim of the pestilence unlike any he has seen before: a young woman with a shorn head, covered in burns, and with pieces of twine delicately tied around each wrist and ankle.

Desperate to discover the culprit, Symon joins a society of eccentric medical men who have gathered to find a cure for the plague. Someone is performing terrible experiments upon the dying, hiding their bodies amongst the hundreds that fill the death carts.

Only Penelope – a new and mysterious addition to Symon’s household – may have the skill to find the killer. Far more than what she appears, she is already on the hunt. But the dark presence that enters the houses of the sick will not stop, and has no mercy…

Buy the book here*

The Asylum by Karen Coles

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Welbeck Publishing Group
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
1906: Being a woman is dangerous, being different is deadly.

Maud Lovell has been at Angelton Lunatic Asylum for five years. She is not sure how she came to be there and knows nothing beyond its four walls. She is hysterical, distressed, untrustworthy. Badly unstable and prone to violence. Or so she has been told.

When a new doctor arrives, keen to experiment with the revolutionary practice of medical hypnosis, Maud’s lack of history makes her the perfect case study. But as Doctor Dimmond delves deeper into the past, it becomes clear that confinement and high doses are there to keep her silent.

When Maud finally remembers what has been done to her, and by whom, her mind turns to her past and to revenge.

Buy the book here*

Sistersong by Lucy Holland

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Fairy Tale

SYNOPSIS:
Betrayal. Magic. Murder.
A tale of three siblings and three deadly sins.

In a magical ancient Britain, bards sing a story of treachery, love and death. This is that story.

For fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Lucy Holland’s Sistersong retells the folk ballad ‘The Two Sisters.’

King Cador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans, torn by warring tribes. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. And Sinne dreams of love, longing for adventure.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold, their people’s last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. However, change comes on the day ash falls from the sky – bringing Myrdhin, meddler and magician. The siblings discover the power that lies within them and the land. But fate also brings Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear them apart.

Riva, Keyne and Sinne become entangled in a web of treachery and heartbreak, and must fight to forge their own paths. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.

Sistersong is a powerfully moving story, perfect for readers who loved Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale.

Buy the book here*

The Inverts by Crystal Jeans

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: The Borough Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, LGBTQ Literature

SYNOPSIS:
1921: a boy, a girl, a moonlit midnight kiss.

A terrible, repulsive kiss.

Bettina and Bart have grown up as best friends, so surely they will end up together? After all, Bettina is young, rich, headstrong…. and gay. Bart is young, rich, charismatic… and also, definitely, gay. Any doubts are dispelled by, in short order: that ghastly kiss; a torrid encounter for Bettina in the school boiler-rooms; and an eye-opening Parisian visit for Bart.

Society will never stand for it. What else can they do but enter into a ‘lavender marriage’ and carry on indulging their true natures in secret? As the ’20s and ’30s whizz past in a haze of cigarettes, champagne and casual sex, Bart and Bettina have no idea that they are hurtling, via Hollywood and Egypt, Paris and London, towards tragedy and bloodshed…

Buy the book here*

The Drowned City (Daniel Pursglove 1) by K. J. Maitland

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller, Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
Gunpowder and treason changed England forever. But the tides are turning and revenge runs deep in this compelling historical thriller for fans of C.J. Sansom, Andrew Taylor’s Ashes of London, Kate Mosse and Blood & Sugar.

1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.

In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.

For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.

Buy the book here*

Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Swan Lake is divided into the black acts and the white acts. The Prince is on stage for most of the ballet, but it’s the swans audiences flock to see. In early productions, Odette and Odile were performed by two different dancers. These days, it is usual for the same dancer to play both roles. Because of the faultless ballet technique required to master the steps, and the emotional range needed to perform both the virginal Odette and the dark, seductive Odile, this challenging dual role is one of the most coveted in all ballet. Dancers would kill for the part.

Ava Kirilova has reached the very top of her profession. After years and years of hard graft, pain and sacrifice as part of the London Russian Ballet Company, allowing nothing else to distract her, she is finally the poster girl for Swan Lake. Even Mr K – her father, and the intense, terrifying director of the company – can find no fault. Ava has pushed herself ahead of countless other talented, hardworking girls, and they are all watching her now.

But there is someone who really wants to see Ava fall . . .

Buy the book here*

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Published: April 8th, 2021
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In 1901, the word ‘bondmaid’ was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.

Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutter to the floor unclaimed.

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.

Buy the book here*

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Twenty-one years ago, Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were killed in what has become the most infamous double murder of the modern age.

Their ten year-old daughter – nicknamed the Angel of Death – spent eight years in a children’s secure unit and is living quietly under an assumed name with a family of her own.

Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down her older sister, compelling her to break two decades of silence.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and journalist Brinley Booth, a childhood friend of the Carter sisters, is tasked with covering the news story.

For the first time, the three women are forced to confront what really happened that night – with devastating consequences for them all.

Buy the book here*

The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Have you ever imagined running away from your life?

Well Birdy Finch didn’t just imagine it. She did it. Which might’ve been an error. And the life she’s run into? Her best friend, Heather’s.

The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather. Actually there are a few other problems…

Can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be her best friend (who incidentally is a world-class wine expert)?

And can she stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked (but who thinks she’s someone else)

The Summer Jobis a fresh, fun, feel-good romcom for fans of The Flatshare, Bridget Jones and Bridesmaids.

Buy the book here*

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Raven Books
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A book to watch out for from a stunning new voice in thriller writing, as selected by the i, Daily Mail, Grazia, Culture Fly and her.ie.

Helen has it all…

Daniel is the perfect husband.
Rory is the perfect brother.
Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.

And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.

When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.

Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret.

Masterfully plotted and utterly addictive, Greenwich Park is a dark, compelling look at motherhood, friendships, privilege and the secrets we keep to protect ourselves.

Buy the book here*

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Literary Fiction, Saga

SYNOPSIS:
Five generations of women, linked by blood and circumstance, by the secrets they share, and by a single book passed down through a family, with an affirmation scrawled in its margins: We are force. We are more than we think we are.

1866, Cuba: María Isabel is the only woman employed at a cigar factory, where each day the workers find strength in daily readings of Victor Hugo. But these are dangerous political times, and as María begins to see marriage and motherhood as her only options, the sounds of war are approaching.

1959, Cuba: Dolores watches her husband make for the mountains in answer to Fidel Castro’s call to arms. What Dolores knows, though, is that to survive, she must win her own war, and commit an act of violence that threatens to destroy her daughter Carmen’s world.

2016, Miami: Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, is shocked when her daughter Jeanette announces her plans to travel to Cuba to see her grandmother Dolores. In the walls of her crumbling home lies a secret, one that will link Jeanette to her past, and to this fearless line of women.

From nineteenth-century cigar factories to present-day detention centres, from Cuba to the United States to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt follows Latina women of fierce pride, bound by the stories passed between them. It is a haunting meditation on the choices of mothers and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their truth despite those who wish to silence them.

Buy the book here*

Cunning Women by Elizabeth Lee

Published: April 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Windmill Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

SYNOPSIS:
They only want a kindness, but beware, for if you have no coin, they will curse you black and blue.

1620s Lancashire. Away from the village lies a small hamlet, abandoned since the Plague, where only one family dwells amongst its ruins. Young Sarah Haworth, her mother, brother and little sister Annie are a family of outcasts by day and the recipients of visitors by night. They are cunning folk: the villagers will always need them, quick with a healing balm or more, should the need arise. They can keep secrets too, because no one would believe them anyway.

When Sarah spies a young man taming a wild horse, she risks being caught to watch him calm the animal. And when Daniel sees Sarah he does not just see a strange, dirty thing, he sees her for who she really is: a strong creature about to come into her own. But can something as fragile as love blossom between these two in such a place as this?

When a new magistrate arrives to investigate the strange ends that keep befalling the villagers, he has his eye on one family alone. And a torch in his hand.

Cunning Women is the powerful reckoning of a young woman with her wildness, a heartbreaking tale of young love and a shattering story of the intolerance that reigned during the long shadow of the Pendle Witch Trials, when those who did not conform found persecution at every door.

Buy the book here*

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Published: April 27th, 2021
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis: the haphazard manifestations of her powers have long made her the subject of gossip – malicious neighbours even call her the Witch of Oldhouse.

But Nina’s life is about to change, for there is a new arrival in town: Hector Auvray, the renowned entertainer, who has used his own telekinetic talent to perform for admiring audiences around the world. Nina is dazzled by Hector, for he sees her not as a witch, but ripe with magical potential. Under his tutelage, Nina’s talent blossoms – as does her love for the great man.

But great romances are for fairy-tales, and Hector is hiding a secret bitter truth from Nina – and himself – that threatens their courtship.

The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.

Buy the book here*

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance

SYNOPSIS:
Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in rural Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.

But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, Dylan, who she’s avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.

Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they’ve totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with four-hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship…

Will they make it to the wedding on time? And, more importantly, is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?

Buy the book here*

The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Fiction, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.

No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year.
___________

Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.

Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artists swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea debris, and something beautiful begins to blossom.

But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.

Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…

In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times.

Buy the book here*

Nighthawking by Russ Thomas

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Police Procedural, Hardboiled, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
The latest novel by the author of FIREWATCHING, by ‘a bold and brilliant new voice in crime fiction’

Sheffield’s beautiful Botanical Gardens – an oasis of peace in a world filled with sorrow, confusion and pain. And then, one morning, a body is found in the Gardens. A young woman, dead from a stab wound, buried in a quiet corner. Police quickly determine that the body’s been there for months. It would have gone undiscovered for years – but someone just sneaked into the Gardens and dug it up.

Who is the victim? Who killed her and hid her body? Who dug her up? And who left a macabre marker on the body?

In his quest to find her murderer, DS Adam Tyler will find himself drawn into the secretive world of nighthawkers: treasure-hunters who operate under cover of darkness, seeking the lost and valuable… and willing to kill to keep what they find.

That which was lost… will always be found again.

Buy the book here*

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale

SYNOPSIS:
Xxx A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.

‘ARIADNE gives voice to the misused Princess of Crete who betrayed her father to save Theseus from the Minotaur. Relevant and revelatory.’ – Stylist

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

ARIADNE gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.

Buy the book here*

Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
You come to Soul Shrink to be healed. You don’t expect to die.

Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.

Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.

Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?

The master of suspense is back. Prepare yourself for the latest heart-in-mouth rollercoaster ride from the Sunday Times bestseller.

Buy the book here*

Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Sutanto

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Dark Comedy, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance Novel

SYNOPSIS:
Your family would kill to see you happy

‘ARE YOU…DEAD?’
OH MY GOD. I THINK HE IS.
When Meddy Chan accidentally kills her blind date, she turns to her aunties for help. Their meddling set her up on the date so they kind of owe her.

WELL, THAT DIDN’T QUITE GO TO PLAN.
Although hiding this goddamn dead body is going to be harder than they thought especially when her family’s wedding business has THE biggest wedding of the year happening right now.

IT’S PRETTY BAD TIMING REALLY.
It turns out the wedding venue just happens to be managed by Meddy’s ex, aka the one who got away. It’s the worst time to see him again, or…is it? Can Meddy finally find love and make her overbearing family happy?

Buy the book here*

Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance Novel, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Best friends tell each other everything.

Or do they?

Georgia and Lydia are so close, they’re practically sisters.

So when Lydia starts an online business that struggles, Georgia wants to help her – but she also understands Lydia’s not the kind to accept a handout.

Setting up a fake Twitter account, Georgia hopes to give her friend some anonymous moral support by posing as a potential customer.

But then Lydia starts confiding in her new internet buddy and Georgia discovers she doesn’t know her quite as well as she thought.

Georgia knows she should reveal the truth – especially when Lydia starts talking about her – but she just can’t help herself.

Until Lydia reveals a secret that could not only end their friendship, but also blow up Georgia’s marriage.

Georgia’s in too deep.

But what can she save?

Her marriage, her friendship – or just herself?

Buy the book here*

The Others by Sarah Blau

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Genre: Thriller, Suspense

SYNOPSIS:
They would rather die than become mothers.

A serial killer is on the loose in Tel Aviv. Each victim is found tied to a chair with a baby doll glued to their hands, the word ‘mother’ carved into their forehead like a mark of Cain.

Stowed away between the wax figurines of the Bible museum where she works, Sheila Heller knows both victims. She suspects the killings have something to do with a pact their group all made at university – to never have children.

What Sheila doesn’t know is who is committing these gruesome acts of ritualistic violence, and whether she herself might be the next target.

Buy the book here*

Murder: The Biography

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Mudlark
Genre: True Crime

SYNOPSIS:
Totally gripping and brilliantly told, Murder: The Biography is a gruesome and utterly captivating portrait of the legal history of murder.

The stories and the people involved in the history of murder are stranger, darker and more compulsive than any crime fiction.

There’s Richard Parker, the cannibalized cabin boy whose death at the hands of his hungry crewmates led the Victorian courts to decisively outlaw a defence of necessity to murder. Dr Percy Bateman, the incompetent GP whose violent disregard for his patient changed the law on manslaughter. Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in England in the 1950s, played a crucial role in changes to the law around provocation in murder cases. And Archibald Kinloch, the deranged Scottish aristocrat whose fratricidal frenzy paved the way for the defence of diminished responsibility. These, and many more, are the people – victims, killers, lawyers and judges, who unwittingly shaped the history of that most grisly and storied of laws.

Join lawyer and writer Kate Morgan on a dark and macabre journey as she explores the strange stories and mysterious cases that have contributed to UK murder law. The big corporate killers; the vengeful spouses; the sloppy doctors; the abused partners; the shoddy employers; each story a crime and each crime a precedent that has contributed to the law’s dark, murky and, at times, shocking standing.

Buy the book here*

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures: 21 Books In 2021

Choosing the books I’m most excited about being released this year has taken forever. 2021 already has a vast array of books scheduled for release that I can not wait to read. I decided to cheat a little and have created two lists: this one with books by already published authors, and another I’ll post in the coming days with the debuts I’m most looking forward to.

While all of these authors have already been published, some of them are new to me, such as Catriona Ward and Yaa Gyasi. Then there are the authors I discovered last year or with their debut, such as Elizabeth Macneal, C. J. Tudor and Sarah J. Maas. Finally, we have some of my auto-read authors such as Stacey Halls, C. J. Skuse, C. L. Taylor, Mark Edwards and Beth O’ Leary.

Here are the 21 books I’m most excited for this year:

The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Horror Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide

Welcome to Chapel Croft.

For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.

And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.

Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.

Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls?
Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages?
And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?

Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.

But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . .
Pre-order here.

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Mass

Published: February 16th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy

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

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

Dead Head (Sweetpea 3) by C. J. Skuse

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Dark Comedy, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Book Series

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

Can a serial killer ever lose their taste for murder?

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

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

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

The third book in the critically-acclaimed series following Sweetpea and In Bloom featuring everyone’s favourite truly original girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.
Pre-order here.

Nighthawking by Russ Thomas

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Hardboiled, Police Procedural, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
Sheffield’s beautiful Botanical Gardens – an oasis of peace in a world filled with sorrow, confusion and pain. And then, one morning, a body is found in the Gardens. A young woman, dead from a stab wound, buried in a quiet corner. Police quickly determine that the body’s been there for months. It would have gone undiscovered for years – but someone just sneaked into the Gardens and dug it up.

Who is the victim? Who killed her and hid her body? Who dug her up? And who left a macabre marker on the body?

In his quest to find her murderer, DS Adam Tyler will find himself drawn into the secretive world of nighthawkers: treasure-hunters who operate under cover of darkness, seeking the lost and valuable… and willing to kill to keep what they find.

That which was lost… will always be found again
Pre-order here.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: Viking
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
As a child Gifty would ask her parents to tell the story of their journey from Ghana to Alabama, seeking escape in myths of heroism and romance. When her father and brother succumb to the hard reality of immigrant life in the American South, their family of four becomes two – and the life Gifty dreamed of slips away.

Years later, desperate to understand the opioid addiction that destroyed her brother’s life, she turns to science for answers. But when her mother comes to stay, Gifty soon learns that the roots of their tangled traumas reach farther than she ever thought. Tracing her family’s story through continents and generations will take her deep into the dark heart of modern America.

Transcendent Kingdom is a searing story story of love, loss and redemption, and the myriad ways we try to rebuild our lives from the rubble of our collective pasts. Pre-order here.

The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Published: March 18th, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Horror Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies.

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it’s not what you think…
Pre-order here.

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummings

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Twenty-one years ago, Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were murdered in what has become the most infamous double murder of the modern age.

Ten-year-old Sara Carter – nicknamed the Angel of Death – spent eight years in a children’s secure unit and is living quietly under an assumed name with a family of her own.

Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down her older sister Shannon Carter, compelling her to break two decades of silence.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and journalist Brinley Booth, a childhood friend of the Carter sisters, is tasked with covering the news story.

For the first time, the three women are forced to confront what really happened on that blood-soaked night – with devastating consequences for them all.

When I Was Ten is a chilling page-turner by Fiona Cummins.
Pre-order here.

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Romance

SYNOPSIS:
Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in rural Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.

But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, Dylan, who she’s avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.

Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they’ve totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with four hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship…

Will they make it to the wedding on time? And, more importantly… is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?
Pre-order here.

Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Avon
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
You come to Soul Shrink to be healed. You don’t expect to die.

Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.

Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.

Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?

The master of suspense is back. Prepare yourself for the latest heart-in-mouth rollercoaster ride from the Sunday Times bestseller.
Pre-order here.

The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.

No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year.
___________

Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.

Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artists swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea derbis, and something beautiful begins to blossom.

But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.

Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…

In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times.
Pre-order here.

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal

Published: May 13th, 2021
Publisher: Picador
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.

But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell’s life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.

In London, newspapers describe Nell as the eighth wonder of the world. Figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air. But who gets to tell Nell’s story? What happens when her fame threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her? And as she falls in love with Toby, can he detach himself from his past and the terrible secret that binds him to his brother?

Moving from the pleasure gardens of Victorian London to the battle-scarred plains of the Crimea, Circus of Wonders is an astonishing story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility.
Pre-order here.

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: Hutchinson
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Saga, Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A lifetime holding it together.
One party will bring it crashing down.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over-especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud-because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.

And Kit has a couple secrets of her own-including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

Pre-order here.

The Pact by Sharon Bolton

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: Trapeze
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
A golden summer, and six talented friends are looking forward to the brightest of futures – until a daredevil game goes horribly wrong, and a woman and two children are killed.

18-year-old Megan takes the blame, leaving the others free to get on with their lives. In return, they each agree to a ‘favour’, payable on her release from prison.

Twenty years later Megan is free.
Let the games begin . . .
Pre-order here.

The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Alternate History

SYNOPSIS:
Come home, if you remember.

The postcard has been held at the sorting office for ninety-one years, waiting to be delivered to Joe Tournier. On the front is a lighthouse – Eilean Mor, in the Outer Hebrides.

Joe has never left England, never even left London. He is a British slave, one of thousands throughout the French Empire. He has a job, a wife, a baby daughter.

But he also has flashes of a life he cannot remember and of a world that never existed – a world where English is spoken in England, and not French.

And now he has a postcard of a lighthouse built just six months ago, that was first written nearly one hundred years ago, by a stranger who seems to know him very well.

Joe’s journey to unravel the truth will take him from French-occupied London to a remote Scottish island, and back through time itself as he battles for his life – and for a very different future.
Pre-order here.

Mrs. England by Stacey Halls

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Manilla Press
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
West Yorkshire, 1904. When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England.

Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.

Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric landscape of West Yorkshire, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.
Pre-order here.

Truth or Dare (Helen Grace 10) by M. J. Arlidge

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Hardboiled, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
The unmissable brand new Helen Grace thriller from million-copy bestseller M. J. Arlidge.
Pre-order here.

The Rule by David Jackson

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
MY DAD SAYS BAD THINGS
HAPPEN WHEN I BREAK IT…

Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants fish and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen.

Daniel will be twenty-three next week. And he has no idea that he’s about to kill a stranger.

Daniel’s parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn’t know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die…

Because they’ll do anything to protect him. Even murder.
Pre-order here.

The Hollows by Mark Edwards

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
From the bestselling author of The House Guest comes a chilling story set deep in the woods…

With his marriage over and his career in freefall, journalist Tom decides to reconnect with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Frankie. Desperate to spend precious time together now that they live an ocean apart, he brings her to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort deep in the woods of Maine.

From the outset there’s something a little eerie about the place―strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest―but when Tom meets true-crime podcasters David and Connie, he receives a chilling warning. Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.

It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can.
Pre-order here.

I Know What You’ve Done by Dorothy Koomson

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Headline
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
What if all your neighbours’ secrets landed in a diary on your doorstep?

What if the woman who gave it to you was murdered by one of the people in the diary?

What if the police asked if you knew anything?

Would you hand over the book of secrets?

Or … would you try to find out what everyone had done?

I Know What You’ve Done

The blistering new novel from Queen of The Big Reveal.
Pre-order here.

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Century
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

SYNOPSIS:
DON’T GO NEAR THE HOUSE IN THE WOODS…

It’s late at night and Kim is waiting. Her daughter, Tallulah, is out on a date, and hasn’t returned.

Desperate to find out where she might be, Kim contacts her friends, and discovers that Tallulah was last seen heading to a party at a house in the woods.

The locals call it Dark Place.

Two years on, the mystery of Tallulah’s disappearance remains unsolved. But could a note discovered in the woods lead to the truth about what happened that night?

A note reading ‘DIG HERE’ . . .
Pre-order here.

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
SOME LESSONS CAN BE DEADLY…

Teddy Crutcher has just won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy, home exclusively to the brightest and the best.

He says his wife couldn’t be more proud – though no-one has seen her in a while.

He’s deeply committed to improving his students. And well aware which ones need improving.

And all he wants is for his colleagues – and the endlessly interfering parents – to stay out of his way.

Oddly, not everyone agrees that Teddy has their best interests at heart.

But will that change when someone receives a lesson to die for…?
Pre-order here.

Categories
Monthly Wrap Up

November Wrap Up

cf060d31

Another month gone and we’re in the last month of the year. How did that happen?!

November has been a good reading month. I’ve read fourteen books, one sampler and took part in eight blog tours. Almost all the books I read this month were by new authors to me. Only three of the fifteen were by authors I’ve already read. I love discovering new authors and can honestly say that I would, and will, read books by them again. I love a good book series and this month three of the books I read – Snow Creek, The Vanished Bride and Hold Your Tongue – were the first in an exciting new series. I will definitely be reading the next installments and can’t wait to see where the authors take the characters next.

So here’s what I read this month. You can find the synopsis and reviews for most of the books on this blog. Some of them will be published shortly.

  • The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Snow Creek by Gregg Olsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Child of Auschwitz by Lily Graham ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Her Dark Heart by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Wish List of Albie Young by Ruby Hummingbird ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver ⭐⭐⭐.5
  • Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Assistant by S. K. Tremayne  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • High Heels and Beetle Crushers by Jackie Skingley ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Violet by S. J. I. Holliday ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Lies We Hide by S. E. Lynes ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Saving Missy (Sampler) by Beth O’Leary ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The stand out book this month was The Vanished Bride. Although I read a lot of great books, that is the one I’ve not been able to get out of my mind the most. As I said in my review, it is a luminous novel that was a joy to read.

So with December upon us I am putting together my favourite books of 2019 and looking forward to so many books that are coming in 2020. I have six blog tours I’m taking part in and  I can’t wait to share my reviews with you for those.

Have you read any of the books in my list for November? What was your favourite book this month. Comment below.

Thank you to the tagged publishers, authors and to NetGalley for my gifted copies of the novels.

Categories
book reviews

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea ⭐⭐⭐⭐

IMG_20191113_220022

SYNOPSIS:

1686, ICELAND, AN ISOLATED, WINDSWEPT LAND HAUNTED BY WITCH TRIALS AND STEEPED IN THE ANCIENT SAGAS.

Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders. 

But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not talk of it. Instead he gives her a small glass figurine. She does not know what it signifies.

The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the land – or the villagers?

Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. She fears she will be its next victim…

MY REVIEW:

Life in 17th Century Iceland is hard and unforgiving: food is scarce and both the landscape and the sea can be perilous.  Following her father’s death, Rósa and her mother are slowly starving until she marries Jón Eiríksson, the recently widowed chieftain of Stykkishólmur – trading her freedom to save her ailing mother. Jón is a stranger to Rósa and she’s fearful of this large man she must now call husband. She feels the shadow of his first wife, Anna, looming over her. The rumours surrounding her life and death haunt Rósa and she lives in fear that she too will mysteriously vanish overnight at the hands of her husband. Alone in the croft she is haunted by eerie breaths and whispers behind her and the echoes of footsteps. She also hears sounds and scratching coming from the loft that Jón is determined to keep secret. What is he hiding behind that locked door?  

Mesmerising, eerie, claustrophobic, enchanting and remarkable, this was far from the predictable gothic tale I thought it would be. Just as I was certain I knew what was going on the author threw me for a loop with a surprising twist – something she did multiple times over the course of the book. Exquisitely written with beautiful, haunting prose and wonderfully plotted, this novel had me captivated from the first pages. 

It is a story steeped in history, suspicion and tradition, set in a time where Christianity has been ushered in and the traditional gods and runes are frowned upon and only practiced in secret. Rósa is a woman torn between those worlds and with the witch trials a recent memory and the village suspicious of her, she fears she will be the next person to be tried and executed; a fear that emanates from the pages making your heart race with hers.

The characters are engaging and well written. Every one of them brings something important to the story, however small their part. Jón’s first wife Anna may have passed away but she haunts Rósa and there are still whispers about her in the village, making the mysterious woman one of the story’s main characters. I liked Anna and was moved by what she went through. She is a woman who reads and wants independence living in a time women are still expected to be uneducated and have to marry to survive. She is a strong woman but also still a frightened young girl completely alone in her new home. The author uses the bleak and merciless landscape, which feels like a character in its own right, to convey Rósa’s isolation and help us understand her unease and sense of peril. 

Jón was one of the characters I could never quite figure out. Was he a villain or is he misunderstood? As we learned more about his past I did warm to him a little but always had a sense of trepidation about him and felt suspicious of many of his actions. But was this just the difference in our culture and theirs or was it that he was truly someone to be afraid of? I could never decide. HIs apprentice and friend Pétur was another enigma. He would go from seeming like a kind, genuine person to someone who was strange and sinister like the flick of a switch. I did find that I understood these traits more as I learned his backstory but I never knew if he could be trusted. 

In an era where marriage is for convenience and survival rather than happiness,Jón and Rósa face the greater struggle of having a marriage that contains five people – themselves, Anna, Pétur and Páll (Rósa’s cousin). I know it is a time where women are expected to put up and shut up but Rósa seems to not be someone who is able to do that. She’s too curious. Too much of a thinker. It made me worried for her and I spent the whole book convinced that it was her body the men were retrieving from the water in the prologue. Don’t worry, I’m not going to spoil it by telling you if I was right or not.

I absolutely loved this spellbinding novel. I loved being in the dark waiting for all to be revealed so the unpredictability made it all the more exciting. This is a magnificent debut from a wonderful new talent. I can’t wait to read what she does next and can’t recommend this novel highly enough.

Out now