Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this beautiful novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the gifted eBook ARC.
Anne’s diagnosis of terminal cancer shines a spotlight onto fractured relationships with her daughter and granddaughter, with surprising, heartwarming results. A moving, warmly funny novel by the Norwegian Anne Tyler.
Anne’s life is rushing to an unexpected and untimely end. But her diagnosis of terminal cancer isn’t just a shock for her and for her daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia it shines a spotlight onto their fractured and uncomfortable relationships.
On a spur-of-the moment trip to France the three generations of women reveal harboured secrets, long-held frustrations and suppressed desires, and learn humbling and heart-warming lessons about how life should be lived when death is so close.
With all of Helga Flatland’s trademark humour, razor-sharp wit and deep empathy, One Last Time examines the great dramas that can be found in ordinary lives, asks the questions that matter to us all and ultimately celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, in an exquisite, enchantingly beautiful novel that urges us to treasure and rethink … everything.
Beautiful, moving and heartfelt, One Last Time is a portrait of an ordinary family, their fractured relationships and terminal illness.
This was my first foray into Helga Flatland’s books and, as when I pick up any Orenda publication, I had high hopes. I was rewarded with a stylish and atmospheric novel full of heart, warmth and humour.
The characters are achingly real and draw you in, making you care about them and their splintered relationships. They could be any family. Your family even. That familiarity makes it all the more potent when you read as their lives are turned upside down after Anne’s diagnosis. You can feel Anne’s struggle as she grapples with being sick for the first time in her life, her frustration as her health declines, and her pain as she comes face to face with her own mortality. We see the complexities that can exist in familial relationships, both sides of the story being shown as both Anne and Sigrid tell their story and recollect their difficult past. The author never takes sides, giving voice to both women’s pain, frustration and regret.
It takes skill to make a book centered around terminal illness something beautiful, elegant and funny, but Flatland pulls it off with aplomb. She avoids it feeling morose, instead making the story poignant and emotionally resonant. One Last Time is a truly absorbing and thought-provoking novel that I highly recommend.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Helga Flatland is one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize. She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies. A Modern Family marked Helga’s first English publication when it was released in 2019, achieving exceptional critical acclaim and sales, and leading to Helga being dubbed the ‘Norwegian Anne Tyler’. One Last Time is her second book to be translated into English (by Rosie Hedger), and published in 2021.
Published: April 1st, 2021 Publisher: Agora Books Format: Kindle (Paperback published April 29th) Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Welcome to my stop on the tour for this evocative novel. Thank you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
‘A compelling, multi-layered read – equal parts funny, frank and sinister’ – Fiona Valpy, author of The Dressmaker’s Gift
Memories are fragile when you are seventy years old. I can’t afford to lose any more of them, not when remembering the past might help with the here and now.
Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her.
Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years.
Despite being told she’s ‘confused’ and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.
Set against the lush and glamorous backdrop of 20th century Alexandria, Carol Cooper’s third novel is equal parts contemporary mystery and historical fiction: a re-coming of age story about family, identity, and homeland.
Seventy-year-old Nadia is in a London hospital and not quite sure what’s going on. Her memory isn’t what it used to be, and she keeps getting confused and misremembering. But one thing she’s sure of is that she needs to find her sister Simone, who she hasn’t seen in fifty years. The problem is, no one else believes Simone exists. Well, no one except the lovely nurse Deidre, who tries to help her find her sister before it’s too late.
The author opens the book talking about how her inspiration for the story came from her own memories of growing up in Alexandria and you can really feel that authenticity radiating from the pages. The author offers the reader not only an insight into the cultural and political landscape of Egypt, but also an authentic perspective on how it feels to grow up in Alexandria, its multiculturalism and verve oozing from the pages. It is a fascinating, educational and thought-provoking read, the author touching on a variety of subjects such as family, identity, loss, loneliness and female empowerment.
Nadia is a character I won’t soon forget. It is impossible not to feel for her lying in hospital distressed, confused and alone. But there is so much more to her. She is a nuanced, funny, compelling and feisty character who is determined to find her sister by solving the brief, cryptic messages she wrote on decades-old postcards; even learning how to use the internet to search for answers. I enjoyed following her through timelines, countries and cultures as she revisited old memories and searched them for any small clue that might lead her to her beloved sister.
I will admit that it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of this story. The huge shift between the bleak British hospital where Nadia languishes alone and confused and the striking, sunny backdrop of Alexandria was difficult to follow at first, particularly as the flashbacks don’t follow a chronological order. But once I did I was engrossed, lost in Nadia’s story and fully invested in her search for Simone.
This novel is unlike anything else I’ve read. Merging historical fiction, mystery and coming-of-age fiction,, the author has crafted a multilayered, evocative and affecting story that will linger long after reading.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Carol graduated in medicine from Cambridge University. She then spent time in different hospital specialities, including orthopaedic surgery and rheumatology, before entering general practice when her first son was born.
Carol’s journalism and broadcasting developed in tandem with GP work, and she is now well-known as a media medic. She writes for The Sun newspaper and other titles, and broadcasts on TV and radio on topical health issues.
Many of Carol’s non-fiction books are on child health and parenting, such as the much-loved guide Twins & Multiple Births, and the titles combine her professional expertise and her personal experience as a mother. As co-author of the book General Practice at a Glance, Carol won a British Medical Association book award in 2013. A companion volume, General Practice Cases at a Glance, appeared later.
Carol’s frivolous side has never been far from the surface. She became a columnist for Punch magazine and her articles can still be read in dentists’ waiting rooms. Her contemporary novels One Night at the Jacaranda and Hampstead Fever are also infused with a sharp wit. Her next novel, The Girls from Alexandria, is due to be published in April 2021.
At Imperial College, London, Carol teaches medical students consultation skills, clinical reasoning, and medicine in the media.
Carol is a Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, a trustee of Action on Pre-Eclampsia, an ambassador for Lucy Air Ambulance for Children, and honorary consultant in family medicine for the Twins Trust (formerly Tamba). She was elected President of the Guild of Health Writers in 2014.
Thank you to Tandem Collective UK for the invitation to take part in the readalong and to Merky Books for the gifted copy of the book.
‘You can’t stop birds from flying, can you, Sameer? They go where they will…’
1960s UGANDA. Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.
Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past he never knew. ___________________ Moving between two continents over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is an immensely resonant novel that explores racial tensions, generational divides and what it means to belong.
It is the first work of fiction by Hafsa Zayyan, co-winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, and one of the most exciting young novelists of today.
“In a way, I suppose, we are all birds of Uganda.”
We Are All Birds of Uganda is a beautifully told story that follows Sameer, a twenty-something British lawyer whose family were amongst those expelled from Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin. The story moves between Sameer’s story in the present day and that of his grandfather, Hasan, who tells his story through a series of letters written to his late wife.
There is no denying the beauty of this book; from the stunning cover to the exquisite prose and vivid imagery that bring the story to life. But this book is one that also covers issues darker than the dazzling colours on the cover would suggest. The author explores topics such as race, gender, privilege and oppression. Even addressing the rise of open and accepted racism in society today. But what is at the heart of this story is the search for one’s identity; to learn who you are in your heart and soul. I particularly enjoyed following Sameer’s journey of discovery as a young man torn between two cultures. The author has drawn on her own background as British woman with Nigerian and Pakistani roots to explore these subjects which lends it a sense of authenticity and sensitivity.
The racial tensions of Uganda and expulsion of Asian minorities in the seventies is something I was vaguely aware of but actually knew very little about. I was shocked and appalled as Hasan writes what is happening in his adopted home; my heart breaking for him as he is forced to leave all he loved and in fear for his life. I took no pleasure in his journey from wealthy, privileged Asian who looks down on the black Ugandans to an impoverished immigrant in the UK who is treated with the disdain he himself reserved for others. I felt only shame in how some in my country treated those seeking a place of refuge in their time of need – I shame I still feel in some of those in my country today – and his fall from grace is a stark reminder that our fortune can change in a moment.
Richly drawn, evocative, powerful and affecting, this is a wonderful debut from an author who is one to watch.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Hafsa Zayyan is a writer and dispute resolution lawyer based in London. She won the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize in 2019. We Are All Birds of Uganda is her debut novel, inspired by the mixed background from which she hails. She studied Law at the University of Cambridge and holds a masters’ degree from the University of Oxford.
Published: January 7th, 2021 Publisher: Allen & Unwin Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Urban Fiction
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this wonderful debut. Thank you to Allen & Unwin for the gifted ARC and Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part.
Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.
With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.
Victoria Park is a difficult book to review as it is just so different to anything I’ve read. It takes place over the course of a year, focusing on a different character each month and is more like a collection of short stories than a novel. Though it took me a little while to get into the flow of the book as I rarely read short stories, I really liked this fresh and unique approach and thought that the author executed it well.
We are only given a small glimpse into each character’s life as the author tells their stories via individual chapters. But we also see them a little through the eyes of other characters as she has chosen to focus these stories on a group of people whose lives are interwoven. She created a richly drawn community full of a compelling cast of varied characters. I had a soft spot for Wolfie and Mona in particular as they are such wonderful characters. I adored their love story and Wolfie’s devotion to Mona despite the challenges and was thrilled every time they were on the page.
The author also uses the book to subtly examine many themes such as family, friendship, love, isolation, alienation and adjusting to change. There are some powerful and emotional moments that mostly occur during times the characters are quietly reflecting on their lives.
Absorbing, funny and delightful, the book has an air of calm that made it a refreshing and relaxing read. I would highly recommend this remarkable debut.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London. She graduated with distinction from the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and holds an MA in Twentieth Century Literature from Goldsmiths.
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 four this fantastic debut. Thank you to Legend Press for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.
As a sleepy town in rural Ireland starts to wake, a road subsides, trapping an early-morning bus and five passengers inside. Rescue teams struggle and as two are eventually saved, the bus falls deeper into the hole.
Under the watchful eyes of the media, the lives of three people are teetering on the edge. And for those on the outside, from Nina, the reporter covering the story, to rescue liaison, Tim, and Richie, the driver pulled from the wreckage, each are made to look at themselves under the glare of the spotlight.
When their world crumbles beneath their feet, they are forced to choose between what they cling to and what they must let go of.
Poignant and powerful, this immersive character study follows a group of strangers in the aftermath of a bus crash in a rural Irish town. It starts as an ordinary morning, but then the road collapses and a bus falls into it, trapping six passengers. As firefighters try to find the safest way to free them we follow three of the passengers, the driver and passenger who managed to escape, a journalist and her firefighter ex-husband. The author gives us a window into their lives and innermost thoughts, examining topics such as grief, mental health, identity, race, religion, homelessness and how our society judges, even if in the midst of a tragedy.
While I enjoyed this book, it was a very different book than I imagined, in part because I feel the synopsis is misleading. It reads like this will be a tense book that has you on the edge of your seat but is instead a steadily paced story that uses the bus crash as the catalyst that brings the characters together and focuses on deeper issues. Moving between multiple points of view, we are offered some contrasting and varying views on life and the world, with each person dealing with their part in the story in very different ways.
There is a former couple still dealing with the loss of their baby daughter and the end of their marriage, an immigrant struggling to fit in and find her place in the cultures of either her birth or adopted home, the bus driver who doesn’t feel worthy of his hero title, a disabled young woman dreaming of her future but also scared, wondering when rescue will come, a young woman trying to find her place in the world and battling against a toxic parent, and a teenage boy dealing with all the trauma that time brings. They are an eclectic and wonderfully written group of characters who make for fascinating reading. The background cast enhance the main characters and are just as well written, adding drama and tension to the story.
This is a fantastic debut novel. The author’s talent is evident in her intelligent and moving prose, the way she offers just the right amount of humour, offering much-needed splashes of light amongst the overall darker tone of the story, and her keen observations. I’m excited to see what she writes next.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Gráinne’s debut novel Where the Edge Is will be published by Legend Press in September 2020, with The Ghostlights to follow in 2021.
Gráinne’s stories are about family and identity, about staring life down and choosing the kind of person you want to be. Earlier novels were shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award 2019, the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair 2019, the Luke Bitmead Bursary 2016 and the Virginia Prize for Fiction 2014.
In short fiction, her story Further West placed third in the Zoetrope All-Story Contest 2018, with other stories appearing in Nivalis 2015 (Full of Grace), Irish Literary Review Issue 5 (Frank & Alfie) and RiPPLE 2016 (The Agatha Christie Bookclub).
Gráinne’s several lives to date include stints in forensic research, human resources, training, volunteering and editing. No matter what she did, it always came back to words. After spending several years struggling to eavesdrop in Belgian cafes, she now lives and writes in a gloriously rainy corner of West Cork.
October is almost upon us, so it’s time for the books I’m most excited about being released. Thanks to October 1st having even more releases than Fiction the Third, this was another month that was difficult to decide, which is why I’m so late posting this month.
So, without further ado, here are my most anticipated books for October:
SYNOPSIS: A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.
It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent. But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage.
A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered. And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel. Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?
With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board…
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: As a big fan of historical fiction and mysteries, this synopsis sings to be. I’ve also heard great things about this author. I’m lucky to have a proof so will be diving in ASAP. Pre-order here
People of Abandoned Character by Clare Whitfield
Published: October 1st, 2020 Publisher: Head of Zeus Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Historical Mystery, Medical Thriller
SYNOPSIS: He is my husband. To honour and obey. Until murder do us part.
London, 1888: Susannah rushes into marriage to a young and wealthy surgeon. After a passionate honeymoon, she returns home with her new husband wrapped around her little finger. But then everything changes. His behaviour becomes increasingly volatile and violent. He stays out all night, returning home bloodied and full of secrets.
Lonely and frustrated, Susannah starts following the gruesome reports of a spate of murders in Whitechapel. But as the killings continue, her mind takes her down the darkest path imaginable. Every time her husband stays out late, another victim is found dead.
Is it coincidence? Or is he the man they call Jack the Ripper?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Murder, one of my favourite historical eras, medical fiction and based on a true crime that’s one of the most enduring unsolved murder mysteries in history. This ticks all my boxes. Pre-order here
SYNOPSIS: For one young girl, discovering what it means to become a woman in a family, a community and a country determined to silence her will take all the courage she has.
Growing up in a small Ugandan village, Kirabo is surrounded by powerful women. Her grandmother, her aunts, her friends and cousins are all desperate for her to conform, but Kirabo is inquisitive, headstrong and determined. Up until now, she has been perfectly content with her life at the heart of this prosperous extended family, but as she enters her teenage years, she begins to feel the absence of the mother she has never known. The First Woman follows Kirabo on her journey to becoming a young woman and finding her place in the world, as her country is transformed by the bloody dictatorship of Idi Amin.
Jennifer Makumbi has written a sweeping tale of longing and rebellion, at once epic and deeply personal, steeped in an intoxicating mix of ancient Ugandan folklore and modern feminism, that will linger in the memory long after the final page.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: The striking cover and fascinating synopsis made this an immediate addition to this list. I’ve been seeing great reviews for it too, so I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy. Pre-order here
Mother Mother by Jessica O’Dwyer
Published: October 1st, 2020 Publisher: Apprentice House Press Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A married couple in California grapples with race, betrayal, love, and loss when their son comes home from a Guatemalan orphanage.
Contemporary art museum curator Julie Cowan achieves her dream of motherhood through adoption, but her life is far from perfect. Her pathologist husband, Mark, is distracted by his gorgeous, young intern, while her hotshot new museum director boss doubts Julie’s curatorial chops. And Julie’s six-year-old son, Jack (born Juan), may never recover from trauma inflicted by early life spent in a Guatemalan orphanage.
Then Jack suffers a major health crisis, and everything pales next to saving his life. As much as Julie clings to being Jack’s “only” mother, she needs to find his Guatemalan mother to unlock his medical history. Julie hires a professional searcher, and what she learns turns her world upside down. At the same time, Jack’s birth mother, an indigenous Ixil Maya, navigates her own tumultuous path, beginning with surviving a horrific massacre.
In this gripping tale told from alternating perspectives, both mothers must draw on fierce inner strength to reckon with their life choices.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This sounds like an emotional read and I was excited to see it was available to ‘read now’ on Netgalley. So of course I broke my self-imposed request ban to download it. Pre-order here
The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Sumnerscale
Published: October 1st, 2020 Publisher: Bloomsbury Genre: Biography, True Crime
SYNOPSIS: London, 1938. In the suburbs of the city, an ordinary young housewife has become the eye in a storm of chaos.
In Alma Fielding’s modest home, china flies off the shelves, eggs fly through the air; stolen jewellery appears on her fingers, white mice crawl out of her handbag, beetles appear from under her gloves; in the middle of a car journey, a terrapin materialises on her lap.
Nandor Fodor – a Jewish-Hungarian refugee and chief ghost hunter for the International Institute for Psychical Research – reads of the case, and hastens to the scene of the haunting. But when Fodor starts his scrupulous investigation, he discovers that the case is even stranger than it seems.
By unravelling Alma’s peculiar history, he finds a different and darker type of haunting: trauma, alienation, loss – and the foreshadowing of a nation’s worst fears. As the spectre of Fascism lengthens over Europe, and as Fodor’s obsession with the case deepens, Alma becomes ever more disturbed.
With rigour, daring and insight, the award-winning pioneer of non-fiction writing Kate Summerscale shadows Fodor’s enquiry, delving into long-hidden archives to find the human story behind a very modern haunting.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: As I’ve already said, I love history and true stories, so this so this immediately jumped out at me. Pre-order here
What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez
Published: October 1st, 2020 Publisher: Virago Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A woman visits a friend who is dying of cancer. Brilliant and stubborn, her friend makes a momentous request. She wishes to end her life on her own terms – and she wants the narrator’s help. Stricken, she agrees. ‘I promise,’ says the friend, ‘to make it as much fun as possible.’
What follows is an extraordinary tale of a friendship put to the greatest test: to witness, unflinching, its end. It is also a portrait of the way we live now, in a world endlessly troubled by crises, and the dramatically changing nature of human relationships in our time.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: As someone living with chronic pain, the question of assisted dying is one that fascinates me. And the idea of examining that issue through not only the eyes of someone who wants to die, but the person they ask to help them, is one I knew I had to read. Pre-order here.
Present day: Thea Rust arrives at an exclusive boarding school in the British countryside, only to find that she is not only having to look after the first intake of girls in its 150-year history, but that she is to stay with them in Silk House. A converted silk factory from the 18th century, where the shadows hide more mysteries than she could ever imagine…
1700s, Oxleigh: Leaving her village to work in the home of an English silk merchant Rowan Caswell finds herself thrust into a new and dangerous world, where she must hide her secret even more than ever before.
1700s, London: Mary-Louise Stephenson lives amid the clatter of the weaving trade and dreams of becoming a silk designer. Arriving in Oxleigh she brings with her a length of fabric woven with a pattern of deadly plants, that will have far-reaching consequences for all who dwell in the silk house.
Intoxicating, haunting and inspired by the author’s background, The Silk House is the exceptional new gothic mystery by Kayte Nunn.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This is another book that ticks so many of my favourite boxes. It also helps that I’ve been meaning to read a book by this author for a long time. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?
Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago.Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.
Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I loved Louise Jensen’s last novel so as soon as she announced this one I knew it would be on this list. Pre-order here.
Mr. Cadmus by Peter Ackroyd
Published: October 1st, 2020 Publisher: Canongate Genre: Thriller, Mystery
SYNOPSIS: Two apparently harmless women reside in cottages one building apart in the idyllic English village of Little Camborne. Miss Finch and Miss Swallow, cousins, have put their pasts behind them and settled into conventional country life. But when a mysterious foreigner, Theodore Cadmus – from Caldera, a Mediterranean island nobody has heard of – moves into the middle cottage, the safe monotony of their lives is shattered.
The fates of the two cousins and Mr Cadmus, and those of Little Camborne and Caldera, become inextricably enmeshed. Long-hidden secrets and long-held grudges threaten to surface, drawing all into a vortex of subterfuge, theft, violence, mayhem . . . and murder.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’ll admit, it was the gorgeous, purple cover that first caught my attention. But it is the synopsis that had made it one of my most anticipated reads. I’m a sucker for a mystery. Pre-order here
Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes
Published: October 1st, 2020 Publisher: Picador Genre: Fairy Tale, Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?
Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.
Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’ve been seeing rave reviews for this online. And the combination of fairy tale and an exploration of how they are affected by trauma is intoxicating to me. Pre-order here
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E Schwab
Published: October 6th, 2020 Publisher: Titan Genre: Historical Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: For someone damned to be forgettable, Addie LaRue is a most delightfully unforgettable character, and her story is the most joyous evocation of unlikely immortality. Neil Gaiman In the vein of The Time Traveler s Wife and Life After Life, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab s genre-defying tour de force.
When Addie La Rue makes a pact with the devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But there’s always a price – the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.
Addie flees her tiny home town in 18th-Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day.
Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him.
Until one day, in a second hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can’t escape her fate forever.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: The synopsis of this book immediately piqued my interest; but it was when I saw the comparison to The Time Traveller’s Wife – one of my favourite books of all time – I knew I had to read it. Pre-order here
The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan
Published: October 8th, 2020 Publisher: Scribe Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: A bewitching novel set in contemporary Japan about the mysterious suicide of a young woman.
Miwako Sumida is dead.
Now those closest to her try to piece together the fragments of her life. Ryusei, who has always loved her, follows Miwako’s trail to a remote Japanese village. Chie, Miwako’s best friend, was the only person to know her true identity ― but is now the time to reveal it? Meanwhile, Fumi, Ryusei’s sister, is harbouring her own haunting secret.
Together, they realise that the young woman they thought they knew had more going on behind her seemingly perfect façade than they could ever have dreamed.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’m guilty of another cover-love addition here. But, in my defence, it sounds like a fantastic story. I first saw this recommended on a friend’s Instagram stories and knew that if she loved it, so would I. Pre-order here
Deputy Stuart Kofer is a protected man. Though he’s turned his drunken rages on his girlfriend, Josie, and her children many times before, the police code of silence has always shielded him.
But one night he goes too far, leaving Josie for dead on the floor before passing out. Her son, sixteen-year-old Drew, knows he only has this one chance to save them. He picks up a gun and takes the law into his own hands.
In Clanton, Mississippi, there is no one more hated than a cop killer – but a cop killer’s defence lawyer comes close. Jake Brigance doesn’t want this impossible case but he’s the only one with enough experience to defend the boy.
As the trial begins, it seems there is only one outcome: the gas chamber for Drew. But, as the town of Clanton discovers once again, when Jake Brigance takes on an impossible case, anything is possible.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: John Grisham is one of my favourite authors. I’ve loved his book ever since I read A Time To Kill, my favourite of the many he’s written, over two decades ago. So as soon as the author announced a follow up it became one of my most anticipated books this year. Pre-order here.
The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
Published: October 13th, 2020 Publisher: Little Brown Book Group Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Alternative Fiction, Occult Fiction
SYNOPSIS: In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.
But when the three Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters must delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.
There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Gorgeous cover ✔️ Historical Fiction ✔️ Creepy ✔️ This sounds like just the kind of book I will love and a perfect Autumn read. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: It was like something out of a fairytale… The grieving widower. The motherless daughters. A beautiful house in the woods.
Deep in a remote Norwegian forest, Lexi has found a new home with architect Tom and his two young daughters. With snow underfoot and the sound of the nearby fjord in her ears, it’s as if Lexi has stepped into a fairy tale
But this family has a history – and this place has a past. Something was destroyed to build their beautiful new house. And those ancient, whispering woods have a long memory.
Lexi begins to hear things, see things that don’t make sense. She used to think this place heavenly, but in the dark, dark woods, a menacing presence lurks.
With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care.
But protect them from what?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Again, this has so many elements I love. I’m lucky to be on the blog tour for this one. My review will be posted on October 26th. Pre-order here.
Ghosts by Dolly Alderton
Published: October 15th, 2020 Publisher: Penguin UK Genre: Contemporary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.
A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.
Dolly Alderton’s debut novel is funny and tender, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships, family, memory, and how we live now.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Dolly Alderson is an author I’ve seen all over bookstagram, and her first fiction novel sounds like a great, lighthearted read. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: Who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are now?
Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully.
But when the plane she’s on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago – when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved.
Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to – but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain.
As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she’s never truly asked: What does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us?
Two possible futures. One impossible choice.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’m a total Jodi fan-girl and anything she publishes is one of my most anticipated books of that year. I’m taking part in a Tandem Collective readalong for this one, which begins on October 6th. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past – but she knows that she is loved.
When her father finds fame with a series of children’s books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.
But as time passes, Romilly’s father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.
In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages…
The Illustrated Child is the unforgettable, beguiling debut from Polly Crosby.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I first heard about this book early this year and it instantly became one I was desperate to read. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to get my hands on a proof but was accepted on the blog tour, so I’ll finally be reading it soon. My review will be published on October 27th. Pre-order here.
One August Night by Victioria Hislop
Published: October 29th, 2020 Publisher: Headline Genre: Contemporary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: 25th August 1957. The island of Spinalonga closes its leper colony. And a moment of violence has devastating consequences.
When time stops dead for Maria Petrakis and her sister, Anna, two families splinter apart and, for the people of Plaka, the closure of Spinalonga is forever coloured with tragedy.
In the aftermath, the question of how to resume life looms large. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted and somehow, for those impacted, a future built from the ruins of the past.
Number one bestselling author Victoria Hislop returns to the world and characters she created in The Island – the award-winning novel that remains one of the biggest selling reading group novels of the century. It is finally time to be reunited with Anna, Maria, Manolis and Andreas in the weeks leading up to the evacuation of the island… and beyond.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I only heard about this book a few weeks ago (I know, I must have been living under a rock) and I immediately added it to this list. The Island is a book I fell in love with when I read it many years ago and I can’t wait to see where the author takes the story next. Pre-order here.
Starve Acre by Andrew Muchael Hurley
Published: October 29th, 2020 Publisher: John Murray Press Genre: FaHorror, Ghost Story
SYNOPSIS: The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place.
Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.
Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This sounds like a fantastic and haunting read. I’ve also heard great things about this author and I’m excited to read his work for myself. Pre-order here
Are any of these on your tbr or wishlist? What book out next month are you most looking forward to?
I can’t quite believe we’re so far into the year that I’m doing September’s Anticipated Treasures. September is packed full of wonderful sounding books and picking these wasn’t easy. It was made harder than ever this month thanks to September 3rd, also known as Fiction the third – the day when 590 Hardbacks and an unknown number of Paperbacks are released. I’ll be posting two blogs about the books out that day nearer to the time so keep an eye out for those.
So, here are the twenty books I’m most excited about in September:
SYNOPSIS: A lyrical and atmospheric homage to the strange and extraordinary, perfect for fans of Angela Carter and Erin Morgenstern.
This is the story of The Greatest Funambulist Who Ever Lived…
Born into a post-war circus family, our nameless star was unwanted and forgotten, abandoned in the shadows of the big top. Until the bright light of Serendipity Wilson threw her into focus.
Now an adult, haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore, all in the hope of finding the child… But will her story be enough to bring the pair together again?
Beautiful and intoxicating, A Girl Made of Air brings the circus to life in all of its grime and glory; Marina, Manu, Serendipity Wilson, Fausto, Big Gen and Mouse will live long in the hearts of readers. As will this story of loss and reconciliation, of storytelling and truth.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: As soon as I took part in the cover reveal for this beautiful book I was in love. It helps that the book sounds as beautiful inside as it looks on the outside. Pre-order here
SYNOPSIS: Lucy and Jake live in a house by a field where the sun burns like a ball of fire. Lucy works from home but devotes her life to the children, to their finely tuned routine, and to the house itself, which comforts her like an old, sly friend. But then a man calls one afternoon with a shattering message: his wife has been having an affair with Lucy’s husband, he wants her to know.
The revelation marks a turning point: Lucy and Jake decide to stay together, but in a special arrangement designed to even the score and save their marriage, she will hurt him three times. Jake will not know when the hurt is coming, nor what form it will take.
As the couple submit to a delicate game of crime and punishment, Lucy herself begins to change, surrendering to a transformation of both mind and body from which there is no return.
Told in dazzling, musical prose, The Harpy by Megan Hunter is a dark, staggering fairy tale, at once mythical and otherworldly and fiercely contemporary. It is a novel of love, marriage and its failures, of power and revenge, of metamorphosis and renewal.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This book first came on my radar when I heard Amanda talking about it at the beginning of the year. It immediately piqued my interest and I’ve been counting down to it’s release ever since. Pre-order here
SYNOPSIS: In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.
But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.
Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.
Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: It’s no secret how much a love a good thriller book, and this one sounds like a doozy, I am part of the blog tour for this one and my review will be posted on September 20th. Pre-order here
The Heatwave by Kate Riordan
Published: Septermber 3rd, 2020 Publisher: Michael Joseph Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Holiday Fiction
SYNOPSIS: The Heatwave is coming . . . This summer’s perfect poolside reading – a captivating story of a long-buried family secret.
In Provence, under a sweltering sun, Sylvie returns to the crumbling family home of La Reverie. In her hand is the letter that summoned her, and by her side is Emma, her youngest daughter.
Yet every corner of the house is haunted by the spectre of Elodie, her first child. Beautiful, manipulative Elodie, whose long-ago death the villagers still whisper about.
Sylvie has tried to put the past behind her. But like the spreading forest fires, memories of Elodie seem to be creeping ever closer.Because there’s a secret Sylvie has concealed about what happened to Elodie all those summers ago . . .
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This book just sounds amazing; like it has everything I want in a great thriller. This is another book I’m on the blog tour for so check out my review on September 1st Pre-Order here
Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah
Published: September 3rd, 2020 Publihser: HQ Genre: Crime Fiction, Legal Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Political Fiction, LGBT Literature
SYNOPSIS: ARE YOU READY TO START THIS CONVERSATION?
Kamran Hadid feels invincible. He attends Hampton school, an elite all-boys boarding school in London, he comes from a wealthy family, and he has a place at Oxford next year. The world is at his feet. And then a night of revelry leads to a drunken encounter and he must ask himself a horrific question.
With the help of assault counsellor, Zara Kaleel, Kamran reports the incident in the hopes that will be the end of it. But it’s only the beginning…
Powerful, explosive and important, Truth Be Told is a contemporary courtroom drama that vividly captures today’s society. You will not stop thinking about it for a long time to come.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I loved Kia Abdullah’s debut novel and have been eagerly anticipating this follow up. I’m excited that it again features Zara Kaleel as I love a good series and she was a great character. My review will be posted as part of the blog tour on September 3rd. Pre-order here
House of Correction by Nicci French
Published: September 3rd, 2020 Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Police Procedural
SYNOPOSIS: THE NEW THRILLER FROM THE MASTER OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE
She’s a murderer.
Everyone knows she killed Stuart Rees – why else would his dead body be found in her shed? So now Tabitha is in prison, awaiting trial.
Coming back to the remote coastal village where she grew up was a mistake. She didn’t fit in then, and she doesn’t fit in now.
That day is such a blur, she can’t remember clearly what happened. There is something she is missing, something important… She only knows one thing. She is not capable of murder.
And the only one she can trust to help her out of this situation is herself. So she must fight. Against the odds.
For her life.
Beautifully written about prejudice, loneliness and fighting spirit, this new book by Nicci French is shocking, twisty and utterly compelling.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I’ve been a big fan of Nicci French for many years and anything they write is an auto-buy for me. Pre-order here
After The Silence by Louise O’Neill
Published: September 3rd, 2020 Publisher: Riverrun Genre: Suspense, Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Nessa Crowley’s murderer has been protected by silence for ten years. Until a team of documentary makers decide to find out the truth.
On the day of Henry and Keelin Kinsella’s wild party at their big house a violent storm engulfed the island of Inisrun, cutting it off from the mainland. When morning broke Nessa Crowley’s lifeless body lay in the garden, her last breath silenced by the music and the thunder.
The killer couldn’t have escaped Inisrun, but no-one was charged with the murder. The mystery that surrounded the death of Nessa remained hidden. But the islanders knew who to blame for the crime that changed them forever.
Ten years later a documentary crew arrives, there to lift the lid off the Kinsella’s carefully constructed lives, determined to find evidence that will prove Henry’s guilt and Keelin’s complicity in the murder of beautiful Nessa.
In this bold, brilliant, disturbing new novel Louise O’Neill shows that deadly secrets are devastating to those who hold them close.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: September seems to be filled with fantastic thrillers and this is one of the thrillers I’m most excited about. I’m taking part in a readalong of this one with Tandem Collective UK starting next week. Pre-order here
SYNOPSIS: An extraordinary debut novel by Natasha Randall, exposing the seam of secrets within an American family, from beneath the plastic surfaces of their new ‘smart’ home. Love Orange charts the gentle absurdities of their lives, and the devastating consequences of casual choices.
While Hank struggles with his lack of professional success, his wife Jenny, feeling stuck and beset by an urge to do good, becomes ensnared in a dangerous correspondence with a prison inmate called John. Letter by letter, John pinches Jenny awake from the “marshmallow numbness” of her life. The children, meanwhile, unwittingly disturb the foundations of their home life with forays into the dark net and strange geological experiments.
Jenny’s bid for freedom takes a sour turn when she becomes the go-between for John and his wife, and develops an unnatural obsession for the orange glue that seals his letters…
Love Orange throws open the blinds of American life, showing a family facing up to the modern age, from the ascendancy of technology, the predicaments of masculinity, the pathologising of children, the epidemic of opioid addiction and the tyranny of the WhatsApp Gods. The first novel by the acclaimed translator is a comic cocktail, an exuberant skewering of contemporary anxieties and prejudices.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This one has only come on my radar the past week and now I can’t wait to read it! It sounds like a timely and utterly compelling debut. Pre-order here
Orfeia by Joanne M. Harris
Published: September 3rd, 2020 Publisher: Gollancz Genre: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: When you can find me an acre of land, Every sage grows merry in time, Between the ocean and the sand Then will you be united again. (Inspired by The Child Ballads 2 & 19)
So begins a beautiful and tragic quest as a heartbroken mother sets out to save her lost daughter, through the realms of the real, of dream, and even into the underworld itself.
But determination alone is not enough. For to save something precious, she must give up something precious, be it a song, a memory, or herfreedom itself . . .
Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: While I’ve never read anything by this author, I have heard great things and love the movie Chocolat. This book i s the third Fantasy/Fairy Tale book on this list which I think shows how much my tastes have expanded towards that genre since reading A Court of Thorns and Roses Pre-order here
SYNOPSIS: For fans of Longbourn and The Other Bennet Sister, this beautifully told story of marriage, duty and friendship follows Charlotte’s story from where Pride and Prejudice ends.
Everybody believes that Charlotte Lucas has no prospects. She is unmarried, plain, poor and reaching a dangerous age.
But when she stuns the neighbourhood by accepting the proposal of buffoonish clergyman Mr Collins, her fortunes change. Her best friend Lizzy Bennet is appalled by her decision, yet Charlotte knows this is the only way to provide for her future.
What she doesn’t know is that her married life will propel her into a new world: not only of duty and longed-for children, but secrets, grief, unexpected love and friendship, and a kind of freedom.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I love a good classic and I love books that are either retellings or pertain to a much loved classic, so this is right up my street. Pre-order here
SYNOPSIS: Because there’s never enough time to say goodbye…
Sylvia knows that she’s running out of time. Very soon, she will exist only in the memories of those who loved her most and the pieces of her life she’s left behind.
So she begins to write her husband a handbook for when she’s gone, somewhere to capture the small moments of ordinary, precious happiness in their married lives. From raising their wild, loving son, to what to give their gentle daughter on her eighteenth birthday – it’s everything she should have told him before it was too late.
But Sylvia also has a secret, one that she’s saved until the very last pages. And it’s a moment in her past that could change everything…
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This one sounds like a beautiful, but emotional, read. Pre-order here
SYNOPSIS: She was ‘The Angel of the Baths’, the one woman whose touch everybody yearned for. Yet she would do more. She was certain of that.
In the city of Bath, in the year 1865, an extraordinary young woman renowned for her nursing skills is convinced that some other destiny will one day show itself to her. But when she finds herself torn between a dangerous affair with a female lover and the promise of a conventional marriage to an apparently respectable doctor, her desires begin to lead her towards a future she had never imagined.
Meanwhile, on the wild island of Borneo, an eccentric British ‘rajah’, Sir Ralph Savage, overflowing with philanthropy but compromised by his passions, sees his schemes relentlessly undermined by his own fragility, by man’s innate greed and by the invasive power of the forest itself.
Jane’s quest for an altered life and Sir Ralph’s endeavours become locked together as the story journeys across the globe – from the confines of an English tearoom to the rainforests of a tropical island via the slums of Dublin and the transgressive fancy-dress boutiques of Paris.
Islands of Mercy is a novel that ignites the senses, and is a bold exploration of the human urge to seek places of sanctuary in a pitiless world.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I love historical fiction. It’s one of my favourite genres and this one has ‘must-read’ written all over it. It sounds atmospheric, absorbing and intriguing. Like one I won’t be able to put down. Pre-order here
Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
Published: September 15th, 2020 Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Genre: Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has?
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell transported over four million readers into its mysterious world. It became an instant classic and has been hailed as one of the finest works of fiction of the twenty-first century.
Fifteen years later, it is finally time to enter the House and meet Piranesi.
May your Paths be safe, your Floors unbroken and may the House fill your eyes with Beauty.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This book instantly screamed BUY ME and READ ME when I saw it on Twitter recently. There isn’t a lot in the description, but I am intrigued enough for this to be one of the books at the top of my wishlist. Pre-order here
Where The Edge Is by Grainne Murphy
Published: September 15th, 2020 Publisher; Legend Press Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS: As a sleepy town in rural Ireland starts to wake, a road subsides, trapping an early-morning bus and five passengers inside. Rescue teams struggle and as two are eventually saved, the bus falls deeper into the hole.
Under the watchful eyes of the media, the lives of three people are teetering on the edge. And for those on the outside, from Nina, the reporter covering the story, to rescue liaison, Tim, and Richie, the driver pulled from the wreckage, each are made to look at themselves under the glare of the spotlight.
When their world crumbles beneath their feet, they are forced to choose between what they cling to and what they must let go of.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I only heard about this book two days ago, but it instantly became a must-read book when I read the compelling synopsis. It sounds like a book that will have me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Pre-order here
The Minders by John Marrs
Published: September 17th, 2020 Publisher: Del Rey Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Science Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Five strangers guard our secrets. Only four can be trusted…
In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads.
Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew.
But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect…
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: It’s no secret that John Marrs is one of my favourite authors and his books are all must-reads for me. I love the sound of his latest novel as it sounds so unique and riveting. I’ve heard great things so I’m looking forward to picking it up myself. Pre-order here
SYNOPSIS: Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?
Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press witch hunt quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.
While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is isolated a child trying to make sense of an adult world.
Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives in an instant.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: Orenda is one of my favourite publishers and I have heard nothing but praise for Michael J. Malone. I am looking forward to finally reading one of his books and will be posting my review on September 11th as par of the blog tour. Pre-order here
Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier
Published: September 17th, 2020 Publisher: HQ Genre: Bildungsroman, Coming-of-Age Fiction, LGBT Literature
SYNOPSIS: Named a most anticipated book of 2020 by Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Time, People, BuzzFeed, Bustle, and more. Perfect for fans of Normal People and Fleabag
Great inventiveness, unfailing intelligence and empathy, and best of all a rare and shimmering wit’ Richard Ford
Eighteen years old, pregnant, and working as a pizza delivery girl, our dysfunctional heroine is deeply lost and in complete denial about it all. She’s grieving the death of her father, avoiding her loving boyfriend, and flagrantly ignoring her future.
Her world is further upended when she becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home mother new to the neighbourhood, who comes to depend on weekly deliveries of pickle-covered pizzas for her son’s happiness.
As one woman looks toward motherhood and the other toward middle age, the relationship between the two begins to blur in strange, complicated, and ultimately heartbreaking ways.
Bold, tender, and unexpected, Pizza Girl is a moving and funny portrait of a flawed, unforgettable young woman as she tries to find her place in the world.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This just sounds like a book that is right up my street in every way. I love a flawed dysfunctional heroine and stories with heart and humour, which it sounds like this one has. My review will be posted on September 18th as part of the blog tour. Pre-order here
D (A Tale of Two Worlds) by Michael Faber
Published: September 17th, 2020 Publisher: Doubleday Genre: Modern Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: ‘If ever a book like this was needed, it is now. Dhikilo is a splendid heroine for our time: She stands for kindness, honesty and humanity. Her triumph will have readers rejoicing’ DIANE SETTERFIELD __________________________
A modern-day Dickensian fable and a celebration of friendship and humanity, by the acclaimed author of The Crimson Petal and the White.
It all starts on the morning the letter D disappears from the language. First, it vanishes from her parents’ conversation at breakfast, then from the road signs outside. Soon the local dentist and the neighbour’s Dalmatian are missing, and even the Donkey Derby has been called off.
Though she doesn’t know why, Dhikilo is summoned to the home of her old history teacher Professor Dodderfield and his faithful Labrador, Nelly Robinson. And this is where our story begins.
Set between England and the wintry land of Liminus, a world enslaved by the monstrous Gamp and populated by fearsome, enchanting creatures, D (Tale of Two Worlds) is a mesmerising tale of friendship and bravery in an uncertain world. Told with simple beauty and warmth, its celebration of moral courage and freethinking is a powerful reminder of our human capacity for strength, hope and justice.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: A book described as ‘a modern-day Dickensien fable’? Sold! This book sounds absolutely mesemerising, delightful and uplifting; like it has the potential to be a modern-day clasic Pre-order here
Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons
Published: September 17th, 2020 Publisher: One More Chapter Genre: Historical Fiction, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Eudora Honeysett is done – with all of it. Having seen first-hand what a prolonged illness can create, the eighty-five-year-old has no intention of leaving things to chance. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland she takes her life into her own hands.
But then ten-year-old Rose arrives in a riot of colour on her doorstep. Now, as precocious Rose takes Eudora on adventures she’d never imagined she reflects on the trying times of her past and soon finds herself wondering – is she ready for death when she’s only just experienced what it’s like to truly live?
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: This sounds like a charming and heartwarming read; one of those books that just makes you smile while reading. And anything that is compared to Eleanor Oliphant is a must-read for me. Pre-order here
The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey
Published: September 29th, 2020 Publisher: Pan Macmillan Genre: Autobiography, Biography
SYNOPSIS: It took me a lifetime to have the courage and the clarity to write my memoir. I want to tell the story of the moments – the ups and downs, the triumphs and traumas, the debacles and the dreams, that contributed to the person I am today. Though there have been countless stories about me throughout my career and very public personal life, it’s been impossible to communicate the complexities and depths of my experience in any single magazine article or a ten-minute television interview. And even then, my words were filtered through someone else’s lens, largely satisfying someone else’s assignment to define me.
This book is composed of my memories, my mishaps, my struggles, my survival and my songs. Unfiltered. I went deep into my childhood and gave the scared little girl inside of me a big voice. I let the abandoned and ambitious adolescent have her say, and the betrayed and triumphant woman I became tell her side.
Writing this memoir was incredibly hard, humbling and healing. My sincere hope is that you are moved to a new understanding, not only about me, but also about the resilience of the human spirit.
WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK: I have been a huge fan of Mariah Carey for 27 years so there was no question that her memoir would be on my most anticipated list. I can’t wait to read the truth about her life from the woman herself. Pre-order here
Are any of these on your wishlist? Which ones are you planning to read? Let me know in the comments.
Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this lovely debut. Thank you to Michael Joseph Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.
Emily just wants to keep the world away.
After getting into trouble yet again, she’s agreed to attend anger management classes. But she refuses to share her deepest secrets with a room full of strangers.
Jake just wants to keep his family together.
He’ll do anything to save his marriage and bond with his six-year-old son, Alfie. But when he’s paired with spiky Emily, he wonders whether opening up will do more harm than good.
The two of them couldn’t be more different. Yet when Alfie, who never likes strangers, meets Emily, something extraordinary happens.
Could one small boy change everything?
In this wonderful debut, the author draws on personal experiences with her own son to shine a light on one of the lesser-known conditions on the autistic spectrum. It is a story about love in its many forms, about self-discovery, and how sometimes it takes an outsider to make you see what’s right in front of you.
Emily and Jake clash from the moment they meet at anger management. Jake is a stay-at-home dad who’s overwhelmed by his son’s behavioural problems and is attending the course to try and save his rocky marriage. Emily is a spiky young girl who says only that she doesn’t belong there. Unlike his father, Emily finds herself drawn to six-year-old Alfie; there’s something about him that cries out to her. And to Jake’s dismay, Alfie feels the same way. When his wife leaves Jake gives in to Alfie’s demands that Emily be his nanny, the pair forming a reluctant acquaintance to keep him happy and find that they start to see the world, and each other, differently; slowly peeling away the layers to reveal their true selves and accepting parts of themselves they’ve been ashamed of for so long.
This warm, tender and nuanced story started slowly but soon took up residence in my heart, just as Alfie does with Emily. I was fully immersed and invested in their world thanks to the author’s deft, witty and truthful prose. And while the story did follow a somewhat prescribed and predictable track in places, it also felt organic and real, coming second to the more gritty storylines that dominate the book and make it stand out from your stereotypical love story.
While Emily and Jake are great characters that are richly developed, Alfie is undeniably the star of the show. He’s not an easy kid to take care of, and my heart went out to Jake as he battled with his son every single day over the smallest thing. As outsiders it can be so easy to judge, but living in a situation is very different and wears a person down, no matter how much you love your child. The author ensures that the reader never doubts Jake’s fierce love for his son, even in the darkest moments, and expertly portrays the anguish and pain that they both feel. No parent is perfect but it can be hard to see the wood for the trees and accept what they think is right isn’t always best for their child (goodness knows I’m terrible at this), but it takes Emily’s fresh observations and ideas for Jake to really see his son for the first time. It’s like she breaks away the clouds that were hiding him from view. Alfie’s chapters were heartbreaking to read but they finally give him the voice he feels unable to use. Reading the torment and confusion he’s going through made me want to wrap my arms around him and tell him it will all be ok. For me these were the most poignant parts of the book.
I’m a sucker for a happy ending so I really wanted Jake, Emily and Alfie to overcome their obstacles and live happily ever after. Did they? I’m not telling. You’ll have to read the book to find out. And I highly recommend that you do. Saturdays at Noon is a beautiful and thought-provoking story, and you’ll find Alfie and the lessons we learn from him stay with you even after you close the book.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Rachel Marks studied English at Exeter University before becoming a primary school teacher. After having her first son, she decided to focus mainly on being a mum, teaching one day a week and nurturing her creative side by starting a small photography business.
Despite always loving to write, it wasn’t until she gained a place on the 2016 Curtis Brown Creative online novel writing course that she started to believe it could be anything more than just a much-loved hobby. Her inspiration for her first novel came from the challenges she faced with her eldest son, testing and fascinating in equal measure. When she discovered Pathological Demand Avoidance, a poorly understood Autism Spectrum Disorder, she could finally make sense of her son’s behavior, and the idea for the first novel fell into place.
When not writing, she loves dragging her husband and two boys around Europe to off-the-beaten track and sometimes sub zero destinations, snowboarding and sightseeing, the kind of trips that would undeniably be easier without children but only half the adventure…
You never forget the one that got away. But what if ‘what could have been’ is yet to come?
Daniel was the first boy to make Alison a mix tape.
But that was years ago and Ali hasn’t thought about him in a very long time. Even if she had, she might not have called him ‘the one that got away’; after all, she’d been the one to run.
Then Dan’s name pops up on her phone, with a link to a song from their shared past.
For two blissful minutes, Alison is no longer an adult in Adelaide with temperamental daughters; she is sixteen in Sheffield, dancing in her skin-tight jeans. She cannot help but respond in kind.
And so begins a new mix tape.
Ali and Dan exchange songs – some new, some old – across oceans and time zones, across a lifetime of different experiences, until one of them breaks the rules and sends a message that will change everything…
23 December 1978
There they go, at the beginning of it all, their younger selves, walking through the dark, winter streets of Sheffield: Daniel Lawrence and Alison Connor. He’s eighteen, she’s sixteen, it’s Saturday night and they’re heading together to Kev Carter’s Christmas party, and nothing much has been said since he met her from the bus, but each is achingly conscious of the other. Her hand in his feels too good to be only a hand, and his presence, by her side, makes her mouth feel dry, and her heart beat too quickly, too close to the skin. They walk in step with each other along the pavement, and there isn’t far to go from the bus stop to Kev’s house, so it’s not long before a throb of music fills the silence between them, and he glances down, just as she looks up, and they smile, and he feels that pulse of pure longing he gets when Alison’s eyes alight upon him, and she . . . well, she can’t think when she’s ever felt this happy.
Kev’s front door was wide open to the night, and light and music spilled out on to the weeds and cracked flags of the garden path. Kev was Daniel’s friend, not Alison’s – they were at different schools – and she hung back a little as he walked in, so that Daniel seemed to be pulling her into the room after him. She enjoyed that feeling, of being led into the room by this boy, so that everyone could see she was his, he was hers. There was Blondie on the tape deck, ‘Picture This’, playing too loud so that the bass distorted, vibrated. Alison liked this one, wanted to shed her coat, get a drink, have a dance. But then almost at once Daniel let go of her hand to hail Kev across the room, shouting over the music, laughing at something that Kev shouted back. He nodded and said, ‘All right?’ to Rob Marsden, and nodded and smiled at Tracey Clarke, who grinned back knowingly. She was leaning on the wall, on her own, by the kitchen door, as if she was waiting for a bus. Fag in one hand, a can of Strongbow in the other, dirty blonde hair with Farrah Fawcett flicks, plum lipstick, and kohl-lined eyes that cut a cool, considering gaze at Alison. Tracey took a long drag on her cigarette and sent the smoke out sideways.
‘You going out wi’ him?’ she said, tossing her head in Daniel’s direction. Tracey, older and wiser, no longer a virgin schoolgirl, money in her purse and a boyfriend with a car. Alison didn’t know this girl and she blushed – couldn’t help herself – and said yes, she was. Daniel was just out of reach now, so Alison just stared hard at the back of his dark head and willed him to turn around. Tracey raised one eyebrow and smirked. Smoke hung in the air between them. Alison’s shoes were killing her.
‘You want to watch him,’ Tracey said. ‘He’s in demand.’ There was a beat of silence when Alison didn’t reply, then Tracey shrugged and said, ‘Drinks in there.’
She meant the kitchen behind her, and through the open door ahead Alison saw a great crush of people around a green Formica table, and a mess of bottles and crisps and plastic cups. She slid away from the vaguely malevolent attentions of Tracey and pushed her way in, thinking Daniel could’ve got her a drink. Should’ve got her a drink. But, look, he’d been commandeered by all these people that he knew, and she didn’t. Now Jilted John was on the mix tape, so suddenly people were singing but nobody was dancing, and behind Alison there were even more people pressing into the tiny room. She didn’t recognise a soul, although there must be somebody she knew here, because the place was packed out. She edged through to the table of booze, aware of a strong smell of cigarettes and cider, and, suddenly, Old Spice. ‘All right, Alison?’ She looked round and saw Stu Watson, all cockiness and swagger in his denim jacket with an upturned collar and Joe Strummer’s scowling face on his T-shirt. Pound to a penny he couldn’t name a single song by The Clash, but anyway she was glad to see a familiar face. Stu’s quick, narrow eyes swept over her with bold appreciation. ‘You look all right, anyway,’ he said. ‘Right, well, you look pissed, Stu.’ ‘Just got here?’ ‘Obviously,’ she said, pointing at her coat. ‘But you’ve been here a while by the look of you.’ ‘Early bird, me,’ Stu said. ‘What you drinking?’ ‘Nothing yet. Martini, I suppose.’ Stu grimaced. ‘How can you drink that shit? It tastes like fucking medicine.’
Alison ignored him. She was too hot but she didn’t know what to do with her coat in this unfamiliar house, so she let it drop a little way down her back and Stu’s eyes wandered down to the newly exposed skin of her neck and throat. Alison looked behind her for Daniel and she could see him, still in the living room, not looking for her, but talking to another girl. Mandy Phillips. Alison knew her from the school bus. Tiny like a child, henna curls, pixie nose, tipping her face up towards Daniel’s and all bathed in light by his attention. His arms were folded and there was a space between him and Mandy, but from what Alison could see, his eyes were all over her. As Alison watched them, Mandy reached up and pulled Daniel by the shoulder towards her, cupped her sweet hand, said something into his ear. Daniel gave her his trademark smile: hesitant, a half-smile really. His hair was dark and longish, falling into his eyes, and Alison wanted to touch it.
Stu was looking in the same direction. ‘I’m Mandy, fly me,’ he said. ‘Fuck me, more like.’ ‘Oh, piss off, Stu,’ Alison said. She spun away from him and lifted a bottle of Martini Rosso from the table, sloshed a generous measure into a cup and took a deep drink. He was right, it was kind of disgusting, bitter, but also very familiar, so she took another swig, then wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, ditched the cup on the table and took her coat off, slinging it on to a chair. She was wearing Wranglers that she’d worn in a hot bath to shrink them down to a second skin, and a new shirt that looked good, looked bloody great; she should know, she’d spent long enough staring at herself in the bedroom mirror. It was white, looked and felt like slippery satin, and she’d opened one more button since leaving home. Stu couldn’t take his eyes off her but she didn’t even glance at him as she took back the Martini, had another swig and edged her way through the bodies, out of the kitchen.
Alison was talking to Stu Watson, a fucking wily ferret, a creep with hungry eyes, arms like wandering tentacles. Daniel could see them both in the kitchen, and he was stuck here with Mandy Phillips, whose own manipulative eyes were filling with tears as she told him Kev Carter had finished with her, tonight, at his own party, the bastard. This was what happened to Daniel. Girls cleaved to him and spilled their souls. He didn’t have to encourage them; they just sensed something about him, even he didn’t know what it was, and they talked and talked. Only . . . Alison Connor didn’t. He’d asked her to go out with him and she’d said yes, but in the day or two since then she’d hardly spoken to him in the brief times they’d been together, and yet he wanted her by his side, knew it was right, knew there was something about her. But she’d already said more in the kitchen to Stu sodding Watson than she ever had to him. Meanwhile Mandy was on the second telling of the same sad story and he knew it was all leading to a come-on, a why-not, a kiss and a promise. Kev was busy clowning around, catching his eye, giving him the thumbs up, as if Daniel might need his cast-offs. Life was just a big game to Kev Carter; of course he’d dumped Mandy tonight – he liked a bit of drama, and where was the fun in knowing whose knickers you’d be getting into later?
Now ‘Night Fever’ was blasting out through the speakers and Mandy was starting to move her shoulders in time to the music. There was a line of girls in the middle of the room working their Travolta moves, a line of boys watching them and arsing around, trying to copy. Mandy tugged on Daniel’s shoulder and he leaned into her so she could cup a small hand round his ear.
‘Do you wanna dance?’ she whispered, her breath warm. He didn’t hear, pulled back and smiled at her. ‘What?’ he said. ‘Do you wanna . . . ?’ She paused and smiled. ‘Y’know . . . dance?’ She cocked her head and said ‘dance’ in a way that suggested much, much more. No tears now. Kev was ancient history. ‘No,’ Daniel said, and stepped back. He looked towards the kitchen for Alison, but he couldn’t see her now, or Stu. He should’ve stayed with her, taken her coat, fetched her a drink, and he cursed himself for being drawn into Mandy’s crisis. ‘What?’ Mandy said, loud enough now to be heard over the music without breathing in his ear. Daniel was distracted by Alison’s absence and he cast his eyes round the room, but at the same time he said, ‘No, Mandy, course I don’t want to bloody dance with you.’ He was panicking, wondering if Alison was even still here, at the party. She might have bolted. He wished he knew her better, knew how her mind worked.
‘You’re a bastard, Daniel Lawrence,’ Mandy shouted, and she slapped him across the cheek, ineffectually because she was drunk, but still, her nails grazed his skin. ‘Fuck’s sake, Mandy,’ he said, looking down at her in disbelief. She burst into easy, meaningless tears and turned away, looking for another shoulder, and Daniel touched his cheek where it stung. Christ Almighty. And he hadn’t even had a beer yet. Some fucking party. He moved towards the kitchen and, as he did, the Bee Gees came to a brutal halt because Kev ripped the tape out of the deck and put another one in, so suddenly the room filled with the insistent drum and bass opening of ‘Pump It Up’, and Daniel was rooted to the floor, waiting reverentially for Elvis Costello’s voice to weave its way into his head.
And oh God, Alison, there she was. She was dancing, alone, in the crowd. She’d kicked off her shoes so she was barefoot, and she was dancing with her eyes closed, and she didn’t move her feet at all, although the rest of her body was caught up in the music, and her arms made wild, wonderful shapes above her head. She danced like nobody else. She danced in a way that the others tried to copy, but each time they almost got it she changed, shifted, did something different, but her feet didn’t leave the floor. Daniel watched her, completely transfixed. He’d never seen anything so beautiful, so uninhibited, so fucking sexy, in all his life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jane Sanderson is a writer and journalist. She has worked as a producer for BBC Radio 4, first on the World at One, and then on Woman’s Hour. She lives with her husband and children in rural Herefordshire.
Jane has poured much of her own story into this book; from the boyfriend who gifted her a mix tape introducing her to the likes of Van Morrison, to the carefully curated playlist (featured in the book) which includes songs that have helped to shape her life and pay homage to her own youth.