Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this beautifully told story. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Manilla Press for the gifted ARC.
She walks unseen through our world. Cares for our children, cleans our homes. She has a story to tell. Will you listen?
Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. By day she cares for Petra’s daughter; at night she mothers her own little girl by the light of a phone.
Nisha’s lover, Yiannis, is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their way to Africa each winter. His dreams of a new life, and of marrying Nisha, are shattered when she vanishes.
No one cares about the disappearance of a domestic worker, except Petra and Yiannis. As they set out to search for her, they realise how little they know about Nisha. What they uncover will change them all.
‘Isn’t it funny,’ Aliki said, in her most adult voice, ‘that you saw everything but yourself ?’
Songbirds is a beautifully written story that gives a voice to the voiceless. Using her exquisite storytelling, Christy Leferti explores the world of migrant and transient workers, showing why they leave their families, including children, behind and travel thousands of miles to work only to be mistreated and abused. They are also encumbered by huge debts owed to those who facilitate their new jobs. They are unseen and unheard, their own lives and stories of no consequence to anyone but themselves and others like them.
Nisha is a character we only get to know through others, which reinforces the sense of invisibility that surrounds her and women like her. Petra and Yannis are the ones to narrate and reveal her story, and Petra in particular realises that she knows nothing about Nisha, despite the fact this woman has lived in her home for nine years and cares for her daughter. She also shines a light on the institutionalised racism towards these workers that runs so deep that authorities won’t search for them if they go missing, instead simply assuming they have moved on.
‘What they uncover will change them all.’
There are themes of bondage and captivity woven throughout this story in a variety of ways. As we learn more about the exploitative situations Nisha and other domestic workers often end up in, we see that what they believe to be their escape, is actually a bigger prison than they left behind. Yannis is caught in the web of his black market dealings and unable to escape them, and finally Petra is an emotional captive, frozen stagnant after her husband’s death to the detriment of her relationship with her daughter.
Harrowing, heartbreaking and powerful, this is a story that needed to be told and demands to be read. A story that reminds us you can find beauty and joy in the darkest of places. It will move you, anger you, and hopefully spark a greater understanding and empathy for the people whose stories it tells.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Brought up in London, Christy Lefteri is the child of Cypriot refugees. She is a lecturer in creative writing at Brunel University. The Beekeeper of Aleppo was born out of her time working as a volunteer at a Unicef supported refugee centre in Athens.
I can’t quite believe that I’m doing my June wrap up and that we’re half way through the year already. One of the hardest things I had to do this month was to decide my list of favourite reads so far, so look out for that post coming soon. It was another great reading month for me and I read a total of 15 books. I enjoyed them all and most of them were four stars or above.
Threadneedle by Cari Thomas
Threadneedle was one of my most anticipated books this year. The first book in the exciting new Language of Magic Series, it is a story of secrets, lies and self-discovery interwoven with a hidden magical world. It is a magical and bewitching story that slowly hooks the reader in as the author introduces us to the characters and the hidden magical world around us. I loved the world building and following Anna on her journey and can’t wait to see what the author has in store for book two. Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5 Read my review here Buy the book*
One Last Time by Helga Flatland
Beautiful, moving and heartfelt, One Last Time is a portrait of an ordinary family dealing with the realities of terminal illness. This was my first foray into Helga Flatland’s books, and I was struck by the beauty, warmth and compassion with which she writes. She skillfully created a book centred around terminal illness that manages to be elegant, poignant and funny that I would highly recommend. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ Read my review here Buy the book
The Forever Home by Sue Watson
Taut tense and twisty, this gripping thriller that had me hooked. It was my first time reading this author and I enjoyed her compelling characters and how she kept me guessing. I will definitely be reading more of her books. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ Read my review here Buy the book*
The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
The Wolf Den was another of my most anticipated books this year and I was also excited as it was the first read with the SquadPod Book Club. It did not disappoint. I am yet to post my review as I am struggling to do the book justice. It is an absolute masterpiece. Lush, evocative and enthralling, I couldn’t get enough of Amara and the women who worked at the Wolf Den. It felt like I had been transported back in time and was walking on Pompeii’s dusty streets alongside them. And that ending. Omg! I am so relieved that this is a trilogy as I have to know what is next for Amara and the others. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Keep an eye out for my review soon Buy the book*
Fragile by Sarah Hilary
Nothing was what it seemed in this mysterious and sinister thriller that had a chilling gothic twist. The suspense crackled on every page and the author had me in the palm of her hand. It was a perplexing tale full of red herrings that kept me guessing right until the end. Fans of the genre will love this book. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ Read my review here Buy the book*
Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen
I am still shook that this extraordinary novel is a debut. It seeped into my heart and soul and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The author bravely draws on her own experiences of grief and losing a child to tell Rachel’s story, injecting an authenticity into the book that is searing. It took me through a kaleidoscope of emotions, including tears, but this book is far from depressing. Sharp, witty, sarcastic and full of dark humour, you will laugh as often as you cry. Maybe more. Everything Happens For A Reason is a powerful, moving and unforgettable story that everyone should read. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Read my review here Buy the book
The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
This glorious debut was nothing like I was expecting. It was better. Captivating, imaginative and original, The Stranding is a richly imagined and evocative tale about the end of the world. It follows two survivors, Ruth and Nik, as they attempt to navigate this new existence alongside a complete stranger. An absolute triumph, this swept me away. This is a debut you don’t want to miss. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Read my review here Buy the book*
Murder at the Fair by Verity Bright
This was another witty, fun and compelling cozy mystery in the Lady Eleanor Swift series. I love the combination of historical fiction and mystery and even after just two books, this feels like putting on a cosy cardigan and sitting by the fire. Great as a standalone or part of the series. Rating: ✮✮✮.5 Read my review here Buy the book*
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling
I’ve been listening to the fifth book in the Harry Potter series on audio for a few months now. I often listen at night as I fall asleep, which is why it’s taken so long to get through it. I love the Harry Potter films and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios was one of my favourite parts of our 2016 visit to Florida, but I’d never finished reading the books. I decided to start where I left off reading in audio as I knew that sitting down with one of the books is something I’m not as likely to do. I loved Stephen Fry’s narration and thought it was a fantastic adaptation that was entertaining and compelling. I’ve downloaded the next book in the series and am looking forward to listening to that next. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Buy the book*
Suspects by Lesley Pearse
Suspects is an ensemble piece told in the third person, all of the residents of the idyllic Willow Close narrate the story, slowly unveiling the secrets they are hiding behind their picture-perfect facades as the police try to solve the murder of thirteen-year-old Chloe Church, who lived on the close. This was an entertaining and steadily paced whodunnit I’d recommend for those who like their mysteries without gore. Rating: ✮✮✮.5 Read my review here Buy the book*
Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza
I read Shadow Sands as part of a buddy read organised by the Tandem Collective and devoured this fast-paced and addictive thriller. I really enjoyed the first installment in this series, so I had high hopes for book two. Thankfully, the author delivered once again and I couldn’t put it down. My review will be posted soon, but I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys tense and twisty thrillers. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Buy the book*
The Beresford by Will Carver
Wow. Just wow. Will Carver is a twisted genius, and The Beresford is another outstanding and original novel from one of the most unique voices in Fiction and his best book yet. I’ve never read anything like this and it’s taking me some time to put into words what I thought of this book, so the full review will probably be up closer to publication day, which is July 22nd. What I can tell you, is that you need to read this book! Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Buy the book
One Child Alive by Ellery Kane
I didn’t need anther crime series when I read the first installment of the Rockwell and Decker series, but I’m so glad I started it. This is a compelling series with great characters, back stories and plots that are readable, tense and twisty. One Child Alive is an exciting, fast-paced thriller that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the genre. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ Read my review here Buy the book*
Truth or Dare by M. J. Arlidge
The DI Helen Grace series has been a favourite of mine ever since I read the first book and anything the author writes is a must read for me. Truth or Dare is the tenth book in the series and sees Helen under pressure like never before. Not only is there an unprecedented crime wave sweeping the city, but she’s facing mounting tension in her personal life and fighting for her career and reputation. Once again, M. J. Arlidge has written a dark and cunningly crafted novel that weaves multiple plot lines together in unexpected ways. An unmissable read for anyone who loves crime fiction. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Read my review here Buy the book*
This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech
This Is How We Are Human is a truly astonishing novel that explores the nuances and complexities of being human. Full of heart, warmth and wisdom, this beautiful story is one you will never forget. I really can’t say much in a short paragraph about this book, it needs so much more, so please go and read my full review. But I can tell you that this is a story that needed to be told and one that needs to be read. It is one I believe will help create more awareness and compassion for those who are neuro-diverse and I am so grateful to Ms Beech for writing it. It is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. Go and read it. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ Read my review here Buy the book
With so many five-star reads that made it onto my favourite books that were also some of my favourites this year, choosing a book of the month was no easy task. I had five contenders: The Wolf Den, The Beresford, The Stranding, Everything Happens For A Reason and This Is How We Are Human. After a lot of consideration, I narrowed it down to two and chose The Wolf Den and This Is How We Are Human as my books of the month.
What did you read in June? Did we read any of the same books? Let me know in the comments below.
Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. Seeyou next month😊 Emma xxx
Thank you to the publishers for my gifted proof copies and eBook ARCS.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the latest brilliant thriller in the DI Helen Grace Series. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and to Orion for the gifted ARC.
DO YOU WANT TO PLAY THE GAME?
THE BRAND NEW THRILLER FROM THE MIND OF MILLION-COPY BESTSELLER M. J. ARLIDGE
A crimewave sweeps through the city and no-one is safe. An arson at the docks. A carjacking gone wrong. A murder in a country park. What connects all these crimes without causes, which leave no clues?
Detective Inspector Helen Grace faces the rising tide of cases which threatens to drown the city. But each crime is just a piece of a puzzle which is falling into place.
And when it becomes clear just how twisted and ingenious this web of crime is, D.I. Grace will realise that it may be impossible to stop it . . .
THE BEST BOOK YET FROM THE MASTER OF THE KILLER THRILLER.
“So much bloodshed, so much heartache of late, yet so little to go on. Recently, Helen had felt like she was swimming with one hand tied behind her back, drowning in a rising tide of violence and brutality.”
Helen and her team are under pressure. They are facing an unprecedented crime wave following the Covid-19 Pandemic; seemingly unrelated crimes without motive and leave few clues. Things feel out of control and they are yielding few results, which the press aren’t letting them forget. But then evidence emerges that suggests these crimes could be linked. Could one mastermind really be behind it all? Pulling the strings like a twisted puppeteer? And, more importantly, can Helen find and stop them?
Gripping, atmospheric and addictive, this 10th installment in the fantastic DI Helen Grace series was every bit as compelling as the previous books. I devoured it quickly, unable to put it down once I’d started reading. I always enjoy coming back to a series I love and being immersed in the familiar world and characters that the author has created. Helen and her team have been part of my reading world for a decade now and I’ve enjoyed following their journey and watching them solve crimes over the years.
In Truth or Dare Helen is facing some of her greatest challenges yet. Not only is she facing the rise in crimes that are difficult to solve, but there is also mounting tension between herself and her team, particularly her and former lover Joseph Hudson, who is determined to undermine her at every turn. She finds herself not only fighting crime, but fighting for her career and reputation. I loved the extra tension this created and how you are constantly wondering if this could be the end for our beloved but beleaguered detective. I won’t spoil the surprise about whether or not it is. You’ll have to read it for yourself and find out. And while this could be read as a standalone, I do highly recommend the whole series. It’s one you won’t regret adding to your TBR.
One of the things I love about M. J. Arlidge is that he knows how to set the scene so vividly that it is like you’re watching it on a TV screen. You feel like you are there with the characters, feeling every moment of tension, frustration, despair and disappointment. He also smoothly juggles multiple plot lines, effortless weaving them together in surprising ways. I always fall for his red herrings as he expertly sends the reader looking in the wrong direction before blindsiding you with the jaw-dropping truth.
Tense, twisty, dark and cunningly crafted, Truth or Dare is another unmissable thriller from the brilliant M. J. Arlidge.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last twenty years, specializing in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Silent Witness, Torn, The Little House and, most recently, the hit ITV show Innocent. In 2015 his audiobook exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a number-one bestseller. His debut thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek and Love Me Not. Down to the Woods is the eighth DI Helen Grace thriller. In 2019 he published a standalone thriller, A Gift for Dying.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful and refreshing love story. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and to Zaffre for the gifted ebook ARC.
Millie is a perfectionist. She’s happy, she’s successful and, with a great support network of friends and family (and a very grumpy cat), she’s never lonely. She loves working at a big tech firm and is on track be promoted to her dream role. The last thing she needs is romance messing up her perfectly organised world.
Besides, normal people just don’t have romantic relationships. Everyone knows that being in a couple is a bit . . . well, odd. You know, like having a pet snake or referring to yourself in the third person. Why rely on another person for your own happiness? Why risk the humiliation of unrequited love or the agony of a break-up? No, Millie is more than happy with her conventional single life.
So, when Millie lands a new project at work, launching a pill that prevents you falling in love, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. That is, until she starts working with Ben. He’s charming and funny, and Millie feels an instant connection to him.
Will Millie sacrifice everything she believes in for love?
Imagine a world where being single was the norm and those in relationships were viewed as not only unusual, but less-than. Or a world where there’s a drug designed to prevent you falling in love. That is the world of The Couple, the delightful new book by Helly Acton. This book was a joy to read from beginning to end. A glorious mix of humorous, warm and compelling writing, the author also examines and challenges our perceptions of society, life and love.
I adored Millie and Ben. Millie is a Type-A personality, a demure perfectionist with a love of schedules, order and control. She knows what she wants to achieve and won’t let anything get in her way. Yet there is also a vulnerability to her in her eagerness to please, concern about what others think and the panic attacks she suffers from. And then there’s Ben. Ben is ebullient, spontaneous, chaotic, adventurous and doesn’t care what others think. But he is also funny, kind, thoughtful and charming. I could see why Millie fell for him. The author expertly conveys Millie’s torment over her feelings for Ben and how the idea of even a crush, let alone being in love or having a relationship filled her with dread and a sense that there was something wrong with her. Their chemistry leapt from the pages and while it might seem cheesy and predictable, I found it well written, hopeful and authentic. It was impossible not to root for them and hope they would have the happy ending they deserve.
At the beginning of the book the author explains that she wanted to write a book for the happy single people who are tired of being made to feel ‘less than’ because they’re not in a relationship. There is a lot of societal pressure to be part of a couple, meaning some settle for unhappy, bad or toxic relationships just to be part of one. It was fascinating to see how the world could look if the roles were reversed. I enjoyed the discussions between those on different sides of the debate and thought that the addition of a new drug that is the antidote for love was a brilliant and thought-provoking concept. For all the heartache and struggles that love can sometimes bring, do we really want to live in a world without romantic love?
All the stars for this funny, entertaining and uplifting book that gave me all the feels. A refreshing twist on the usual love story, I devoured it quickly. Perfect to lose yourself in, I highly recommend you read this book.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
I was born in Zimbabwe, finished school in the UK, spent time in Saudi Arabia and partied away my twenties in Australia.
After six years and one life-affirming divorce in Sydney, I returned home to London. Here, I made up for lost time with my family, embraced midulthood and enjoyed the single life in a city where the dating apps don’t run dry.
I am an open book and use my experiences as an inspiration for my stories. Like the time I married the wrong person because everyone else was doing it. Or the time I only dated men my Mum swiped right on, to see if She could choose any better. Or the time a date told me I wasn’t a real writer because I hadn’t published a book. I did eventually find Mr Right At The Right Time, and married Chris in 2019.
In the words of my completely unbiased publisher, I am a ‘huge talent’ and THE SHELF is a fabulously feminist novel and a breath of fresh air, full of real, relatable characters and an important message. The book is clever and empowering but, most importantly, incredibly fun. In my spare hours, I am writing, rewriting, and rewriting again, my second book, which is due for release in 2021.
THE SHELF has been optioned for Television by Monumental Pictures and the rights sold in five territories.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Sharon Bolton’s latest breathtaking thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part, and Orion for the gifted eBook ARC.
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 . . .
Richard & Judy bestseller Sharon Bolton is back, with her twistiest thriller yet.
“That summer was a time of neither hope nor promise but of certainty: they were the chosen ones, to whom the world belonged, and their lives, only just beginning, would be long and golden. How very wrong they were.”
Wow. Just, wow. What a ride! Breathtaking and compulsive, this book literally had my heart racing. It could even be her best book yet. Totally unputdownable, I even missed the Friend’s reunion I’ve been excited about for years as I couldn’t stop reading.
A story of friendship, secrets, sacrifice, betrayal and vengeance, The Pact focuses on a group of six teenage friends whose lives are changed forever when a dare goes tragically wrong. One of the group, Megan, offers to take the blame for what happened, but only on the condition that at any point she can ask any favour of each of the five others. Twenty years later she is released from prison and back to call in the favours. And that is when things start to go terribly wrong.
This book was everything I wanted and more. A nail-biting psychological thriller that was cleverly written, razor-sharp, pacy and twisty. A sinister sense of dread pervades the whole story, particularly after Megan’s return in part two. She is brilliantly written; an enigma whose memories and motivations are unclear, adding to the sense of foreboding that looms. This is an author who knows how to hook her reader, and she held me hostage, unable to turn away or stop reading as the cat and mouse games began and the horrors unfold.
The characters are compelling, flawed and often unlikeable. They make some terrible decisions that have devastating repercussions, but at the start they are young and entitled, so you give them some allowances for that. When we meet them again as adults we find that in their desperation and fear they make yet more terrible decisions and treat Megan atrociously. Especially after all she sacrificed for them to continue their lives untarnished. But despite all of this the author managed to make them enjoyable to read and I even liked them or felt sorry for them at times.
This book is an absolute tour-de-force. A rollercoaster ride full of so many twists and turns you’ll get book whiplash, it left me reeling with my jaw on the floor.
READ THIS BOOK.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Sharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.
Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising debut novel. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and to Manilla Press for the ARC.
The sunniest places hold the darkest secrets . . .
A stunning 1950s set debut mystery brimming with atmosphere and perfect for fans of Tangerine, Small Pleasures and Mad Men. ________
Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .
It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.
While the Haney’s neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family’s ‘help’, who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes’ starched curtains than anyone, and it isn’t long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole ‘perfect’ world to set alight . . .
A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.
“Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time.”
Sunnylakes, Santa Monica – a town whose radiant name and shimmering skies belies the truth. Look a little closer and you will see what the residents try to hide; a place crawling with deep, dark secrets. Secrets that are slowly unveiled after Joyce Haney disappears from her home in the town one sunny August afternoon, leaving behind a bloodstained kitchen and two frightened little girls.
Wow. Just, wow! I can’t believe this mesmerising book is a debut. Inga Vesper is a talented wordsmith who has woven this layered, intricate plot into a work of art. The prose is witty and poetic, transporting me to 50s suburbia and its sexism, misogyny, and racism. The author also delves deeply into the historical side of the era, examining topics such as the aforementioned sexism and racism, as well as society’s view of women’s roles, civil rights, domestic abuse and mental health. It is a book that would make a perfect film or TV series and the imagery is so vivid that I felt like I could see the bright blue California skies, feel the sun beating down and the sweat forming at every pore. It was so vivid I felt like I was watching it on the screen in front of me; a mash-up of Mad Men and Perry Mason.
“The world stops. Her breath sticks in her throat. A cocoon rises up around her, drowning out all sound. She can do nothing but stare at what is in her hands. So small and delicate and terrible.”
Stepford wives and fake smiles is what springs to mind when I think of the women of Sunnylake. And it is soon clear that Joyce Hanley didn’t quite fit the mould. We get to know Joyce through the eyes of her husband, friends and maid and from the woman herself, in glimpses of her that fateful August day. She is an enigma. A presence that lingers on every page. But it’s a chorus of many voices who tell this story, and the author has created a wonderful melody for us. We have Frank, Joyce’s husband who is your typical fifties man. Nancy Ingram, Joyce’s neighbour and best friend. Mick, the detective searching for Joyce. And Ruby, the Hanley’s maid who first raises the alarm about Joyce’s disappearance. Each character, and all of the supporting cast, are richly drawn and compelling, but it was Ruby and Mick I enjoyed reading most of all.
Atmospheric, beguiling, lush, claustrophobic and evocative, The Long, Long Afternoon is a decadent piece of classic noir. Don’t miss this breathtaking debut from an exciting new author who should be on everyone’s reading list.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
I am a journalist and author of crime fiction. I have an MSc in climate change management and, in my day job, specialise in science journalism with a focus on EU policy, as well as writing about climate change, energy and the Global South. Available for freelance commissions.
I am a member of the National Union of Journalists, the Association of British Science Writers and the Society of Authors. I run the West London Writers, a lively and welcoming fiction writing group in Ealing.
When I am not writing I like to walk, knit and drink copious amounts of tea with sage and honey.
The last month of 2020 is almost upon us and my mind is full of what to include in my favourite books of the year. But before that, there’s this month’s reading wrap up and a month of reading more books to do.
November has been a slower month for me as this time of year always brings with it the worsening of my chronic health conditions. I didn’t manage to read all the ones I’d started either and am in the middle of 3 others (one paperback, one kindle and one audio).
So, what did I manage to do? I read thirteen books, took part in thirteen blog tours, two readalongs and one watchalong. One of those readalongs was a bit different as we made cocktails using the new Peaky Blinders Cocktail Book. It was also fun taking part in the Shirley watchalong. It’s made me want to finally read Shirley Jackson’s books and more about her fascinating life.
I read some great books this month. The Diabolical Bones and The Package were standout reads that were contenders for BOTM for a while. But when I read The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside there was no question that this would be my BOTM. EVERYONE needs to read this book! It is one of my favourites this year for sure. You can read the review for it, and the other books I’ve read this month, by clicking the link in their title in the list above.
In December I’m looking forward to a more relaxed month. I’ve only taken on three blog tours and will be doing more mood reading. I can’t wait!
Thank you to the tagged publishers who sent gifted copies.
Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite book in November? Let me know in the comments.
I’m delighted to be one of the bloggers opening the blog tour to for Body Language, the first book in an exciting new series. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and to Zaffre for the gifted eBook ARC.
Published: November 26th, 2020 Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre Format: Paperback, Kindle Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Noir Fiction, Police Procedural, Medical Fiction, Medical Thriller
For fans of Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs comes a gripping debut thriller introducing Camden’s most exciting new forensic investigator.
Cassie Raven believes the dead can talk. We just need to listen . . .
People think being a mortuary technician is a seriously weird job. They can’t understand why I choose to cut up dead bodies for a living. But they don’t know what I know:
The dead want to tell us what happened to them.
I’ve eviscerated thousands of bodies, but never someone I know before – someone who meant a lot to me; someone I loved.
The pathologist says that her death was an accident.
Her body is telling me differently.
“From her first day in the mortuary five years ago it had felt totally natural to talk to the bodies in her care, to treat them as if they were still alive — still people. Occasionally they would even answer.”
Body Language introduces us to a new and original voice in crime fiction. Cassie Raven is a goth mortuary assistant who secretly believes the dead speak to her, practices taxidermy in her free time and has held a fascination with the dead since childhood. It goes without saying that she’s viewed as strange by some. But I liked this complex, flawed and slightly offbeat protagonist.
When the body of her former teacher, mentor and friend Geraldine Edwards is brought into the morgue following her sudden death, Cassie is hit by not only a tidal wave of grief, but the feeling that this wasn’t a natural death. When the police and pathologist rule out foul play she decides to listen to what the body is telling her and embarks on her own investigation.
This was an entertaining read. It took me a while to get into, but asked halfway through the pace picked up and oozed tension. From that point on I was unable to stop reading and stayed up until the early hours finishing the whole thing.
The novel is full of interesting and memorable characters and storylines that feel both far-fetched and relatable. The author’s examination of grief and trauma stood out to me in particular for the sensitive, moving and realistic way in which it is portrayed. And Cassie isn’t our only protagonist. We are also told the story from the point of view of DS Phyllida Flyte. She and Cassie are poles apart and yet at their core they are very much like. They are both strong women who are seen as outsiders and believe in fighting to get the answers and justice that victims deserve. I liked how the pair paralleled each other while instantly disliking each other and enjoyed watching the slow shift in their dynamic over the course of the book.
A tense, twists, darkly humorous and sometimes grisly read that keeps you guessing, this is a great start to a new series. I’m especially excited to see where the author takes Cassie next after the jaw-dropping conclusion.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
A.K.’s first foray into crime fiction was a detective thriller trilogy, written under the pen name Anya Lipska, following the adventures of Janusz Kiszka, tough guy and fixer to London’s Polish community. The first of the trilogy led Val McDermid to select her for the prestigious New Blood panel at Harrogate Crime Festival. All three books won critical acclaim and are currently under option as a potential TV crime series.
Set in a Camden morgue, A.K.’s new novels feature crime-solving Goth-girl mortuary attendant Cassie Raven. Cassie has already appeared in Cut and Paste, a crime short for BBC Radio 4, who are interested in commissioning further stories featuring the character.
In her other life as a TV producer and writer, A.K. makes documentaries and drama-docs on subjects as diverse as the Mutiny on the Bounty, the sex lives of Neanderthals, and Monty Don’s Italian Gardens.
Published: November 12th, 2020 Publisher: Zaffre Format: Hardcover, Kindle Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Lesbian Literature
Welcome to my stop on the tour for this delightful novel. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and Zaffre for the gifted copy of the book.
Jo grew up in the Forest of Dean, but she was always the one destined to leave for a bigger , brighter future. When her parents retire from their butcher’s shop, she returns to her beloved community to save the family legacy, hoping also to save herself. But things are more complex than the rose-tinted version of life which sustained Jo from afar.
Tessa is a farrier, shoeing horses two miles and half a generation away from Jo, further into the forest. Tessa’s experience of the community couldn’t be more different. Now she too has returned, in flight from a life she could have led, nursing a secret and a past filled with guilt and shame.
Compelled through circumstance to live together, these two women will be forced to confront their sense of identity, and reconsider the meaning of home.
“She’s gradually learning to identify the shape and heft of other people’s feelings, not just her own. The toil it always takes to be in the world, whoever you are.”
How To Belong is a beautifully-written and absorbing story about our need to belong and finding a place to call home.
The story centres around Jo and Tessa, two very different women who end up living together when circumstances force Tessa to take in a lodger. Both are facing life-changing upheavals: Jo in her choice to leave her career as a barrister in London to return to her hometown of New Forest Dene, and Tessa as she tries to recover from a devastating break-up and attempts to grapple with the frightening symptoms afflicting her that seem to be worsening, leaving her unable to function at times. They are compelling characters and I enjoyed their awkward dynamic, finding it much more fun to read than if they’d been instant buddies.
While Jo is undeniably the warmer and more outgoing of the two, I found myself drawn towards Tessa and her mysterious story. While Jo is like an open book, Tessa is one you have to read in order to figure out; the pieces revealing themselves slowly until you can complete the picture. I also related to her fear about her deteriorating symptoms and being scared to have hope. This expertly written character found a place in my heart that I know will linger.
This was my first time reading anything by this author and it certainly won’t be my last. Her engaging prose immersed me in the world she’d created and I quickly devoured this delightful novel. I would highly recommend this book and think it is one you can enjoy whatever genres you usually prefer to read.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Sarah Franklin grew up in rural Gloucestershire and has lived in Austria, Germany, the USA and Ireland. She lectures in publishing at Oxford Brookes University and has written for the Guardian, Psychologies magazine, The Pool, the Sunday Express and the Seattle Times. Sarah is the founder and host of Short Stories Aloud, and a judge for the Costa Short Story Award. Sarah lives in between London and Oxford with her family.
Welcome to my stop on the tour for this sizzling thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and Wildfire for the gifted copy of the book.
Shocking, dark, addictive – THE LIES YOU TOLD is the compulsive new thriller from Harriet Tyce, best selling author of BLOOD ORANGE.
Can you tell the truth from the lies?
Sadie loves her daughter and will do anything to keep her safe.
She can’t tell her why they had to leave home so quickly – or why Robin’s father won’t be coming with them to London.
She can’t tell her why she hates being back in her dead mother’s house, with its ivy-covered walls and its poisonous memories.
And she can’t tell her the truth about the school Robin’s set to start at – a school that doesn’t welcome newcomers. Sadie just wants to get their lives back on track.
But even lies with the best intentions can have deadly consequences…
‘I read The Lies You Told in two days, barely able to turn the pages fast enough. It’s spare and taut, the sense of wrongness building in chilling, skilfully written layers, with a jaw dropping last line twist’ Lisa Jewell, #1 bestselling author
‘I adored Blood Orange and therefore could not wait to get my hands on The Lies You Told. It is a triumphant encore, every bit as intriguing, well-written and addictive as its predecessor’ Sara Collins, award-winning author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton
‘An absolute page turner with a twist you’ll read twice because you can’t believe you missed it’ John Marrs, author of What Lies Between Us
“Can you tell the truth from the lies? “
Chilling, addictive and surprising, The Lies You Told is a sizzling domestic thriller that I had me hooked from beginning to end. The author had me transfixed, unable to put the book down to sleep like I should and spent every minute I wasn’t reading thinking about it.
Sadie was a great protagonist. She was likeable and relatable, trying to stay strong and hold it all together while feeling like she is falling apart on the inside. She has a lot to deal with: her marriage ending, moving back from another country, unwelcoming parents at her daughter’s new school, and the toxic legacy of her late mother that haunts the walls of their home. But she is determined to build a new life for herself and her daughter, and I was rooting for her to succeed.
But that isn’t the whole story. This is an intricate and layered novel with a creeping malice that lingers in the air and seeps from the pages, casting a shadow of foreboding and suspense. In short chapters written in italics, the story flashes forward to a Sunday yet to come. At first Sadie is telling herself not to worry, that Robin is safe, slowly escalating in tension until part two, when we finally arrive at that Sunday and follow the heart-stopping events as they happen.
This was my first time reading anything by Tyce, and she lived up to all the great things I’ve heard. She tackles a wide range of topics such as domestic violence, toxic families, parental pressure, bullying and grooming, crafting a tense, twisty page-turner with a chilling edge. The story is skillfully plotted and filled with compelling characters that enrich the suspense.
Darkly atmospheric and utterly riveting, this kept me guessing right up until the jaw-dropping finale. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys psychological fiction.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Harriet Tyce was born and grew up in Edinburgh. She did a degree in English Literature at Oxford University before a law conversion course at City University, following which she was a criminal barrister for nearly ten years.
Having escaped law and early motherhood, she started writing, and recently completed the MA in Creative Writing – Crime Fiction at the University of East Anglia. Blood Orange is her first novel, and The Lies You Told will be published in August 2020.
She lives in north London with her husband and children, and two rather demanding pets, a cat and a dog.