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The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

Published: October 29th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age

Today is my stop on the tour for this spectacular debut. Thank you HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

A picture paints a thousand lies…

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 truth.

The Illustrated Child is the unforgettable, beguiling debut from Polly Crosby.

MY REVIEW:

This book is one of my most anticipated books of 2020. I’ve been green with envy at others receiving the gorgeous proofs and am so glad I’ve finally had the chance to read it. 

From the title and cover I had imagined a lighthearted and uplifting read, but thankfully I’d read a few reviews and been warned that it is a darker book than you expect. That being said, it’s one that’s best read blind so I’m not going to reveal much about the plot. 

I absolutely adored this book. I was immediately captivated by the beautiful prose and lost in Romilly’s strange world. The author has crafted an intricate, layered novel that has so much hidden beneath its surface. She holds the reader captive as she slowly unveils the truths waiting to be discovered, like the rumoured clues to the hidden treasure in Tobias’ stories. 

I loved Romilly. She is a fantastic and fascinating heroine who is a paradox in the way many children are: independent but vulnerable, strong but weak, daring but afraid. She hasn’t had the easiest life and I couldn’t help but feel for her, especially as the story went on. From the start I felt an affinity with her as I also had a part-siamese cat with a kink in its tail when I was younger, though he didn’t have a name nearly as important. 

This story consumed me. I didn’t want to put it down, not even to go to sleep, I was so immersed in its pages. Emotionally resonant, there wasn’t a feeling it didn’t make me feel as I lived every moment with Romilly. I needed to know what her future held, where she ended up, if my predictions were right. 

Evocative, dark, haunting and mesmerising, this is one of my favourite books this year. A sensational debut from an extraordinary new talent that you don’t want to miss. 

READ. THIS. BOOK. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

After a whirlwind of a year which saw Polly receive writing scholarships from both Curtis Brown Creative and The University of East Anglia’s MA in Creative Writing, she went on to be runner up in the Bridport Prize’s Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel.

Polly’s novel was snapped up by HarperCollins HQ in the UK and Commonwealth in a 48 hour pre-empt, and a few days later by HarperCollins Park Row Books in North America.

Polly grew up on the Suffolk coast, and now lives in the heart of Norfolk with her husband and son, and her very loud and much loved rescue Oriental cat, Dali.

The Illustrated Child is her first novel.

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Book Features book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

In Five Years by Rebecca Searle

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Hardback
Genre: Romance, Domestic Fiction

Happy paperback publication day to one of my favourite books of 2020. I’m thrilled to have been asked to share my review again to celebrate the paperback release. Thank you Quercus for my gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Kohan has been in possession of her meticulously crafted answer since she understood the question. On the day that she nails the most important job interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfect man, she’s well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.

That night Dannie falls asleep only to wake up in a different apartment with a different ring on her finger, and in the company of a very different man. The TV is on in the background, and she can just make out the date. It’s the same night – December 15th – but 2025, five years in the future.

It was just a dream, she tells herself when she wakes, but it felt so real… Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four and a half years later, when Dannie turns down a street and there, standing on the corner, is the man from her dream…

In Five Years is a love story, brimming with joy and heartbreak. But it is definitely not the love story you’re expecting

MY REVIEW:

True love doesn’t always look the way we expect. And that is certainly true in this unexpected and mesmerising love story. 

I am a wreck after finishing this book. I couldn’t put this book down and was utterly, obliviously lost in this beautiful, heartbreaking and lingering novel. I stayed up until the early hours, reading it in pretty much one sitting, as there was no chance of sleep until I knew what happened. 

In Five Years begins like a typical love story but through a number of clever twists it morphs into something I never saw coming; a story that is both devastating and uplifting. The author’s strong sense of place brings New York to life, transporting me into Dannie’s world and making the one around me disappear. With her wonderful characters and powerful and compassionate storytelling she reaches into your heart and soul. I went through a rainbow of emotions and cried many tears while reading. 

Dannie was a great character. She is a type-A personality who believes in living by numbers and has no doubts that her five-year plan will come to fruition. Even though she’s someone who’d drive me crazy in real life I quickly fell for her and my heart went out to her as her meticulously organised life began to spiral out of her control. But the character who really took my heart was Bella, Dannie’s best friend, who is illuminating, wild and kind-hearted . I adored their friendship and how their stark differences complemented each other. 

This is one of those books that if you give too much away then you ruin it. So I’m not going to say any more about the plot. What I will say is that the hype is real. This affecting and profound book is one of the best you’ll read. Ever. It is a stunning celebration of love, friendship and life. A story that reminds us we can’t plan and control everything. 

Now I really need someone to turn this into a movie. Reese, are you listening?

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives in New York and Los Angeles. She is the author of six novels and codeveloped the hit TV adaptation of her YA series Famous in Love. She received her MFA from the New School in NYC. She loves Nancy Meyers films, bathrobes, and giving unsolicited relationship advice

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: One More Chapter
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Domestic Fiction

I read this book as part of a readalong with One More Chapter. Thank you to Claire for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

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?

A heartfelt story of life, death, friendship and family perfect for fans of Gail Honeyman

MY REVIEW:

“This is her decision. The ending to her story.”

Gloriously uplifting, this was a balm for my soul. It wrapped itself around me like a warm hug and was exactly the read I needed. 

The characters in this book are truly special. I instantly loved Eudora. Fiercely slightly cantankerous, she has a strength that is evident from the start. She prefers her own company and keeps interaction with others to the bare minimum, despairing of the selfishness of modern society. But behind her spiky facade, there’s a warmth to her that she can’t conceal. She was a fabulous character that I fell completely in love with and will stay in my heart forever.

“She isn’t used to having such a force of nature in her life. This little girl is like a grenade full of joie de vive and Eudora has no idea why she has been chosen as a friend.”

The trio of Eudora, Stanley and Rose was sheer perfection. I loved how Stanley and Rose brought out Eudora’s softer side and how they complemented each other, creating a truly special friendship. And I think everyone could use a Rose in their life.

“The older she gets, the more redundant she feels. It’s as if her life is a long corridor lined with different doors leading to activities past and present. In her youth, she could enter through any number of these doors… Now, most of the doors are marked with strict ‘no entry’ signs… It’s not the end of the world but it’s a shrunken world, which makes her feel a lot less useful.”

But this is more than a cosy read. There’s a depth to this book that the author expertly weaves in amongst the tenderness, joy, humour and heartache. She touches on the harsh truths of aging and how our society treats the older generation, highlighting in particular their isolation and pain. But it is her exploration of the subject of death, and in particular if a person should have the right to choose how and when they die, that is the most powerful part of this story.

“If I can have the choice of how I live my own life, why can’t I choose how to die my own death?”

The author tackles this emotive and controversial subject with honesty, sensitivity and humour, helping the reader to see why someone might want to choose to die without being terminally ill or depressed. She also touches on our fear of death as a society, and questions if thinking any life is better than none at all, showing us how it really feels to be isolated, infirm, living with pain or dementia and asks if those people should be part of the conversation rather than just legislators. 

This is one of those books that will take you through every emotion, but I dare you to try and read it without a smile on your face. Joyous, heartwarming, poignant and thought-provoking, this spectacular novel is a contender for my book of the year. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Just have tissue at the ready and be prepared to fall in love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

After a career in bookselling and publishing, Annie Lyons published five books including the best-selling, Not Quite Perfect. When not working on her novels, she teaches creative writing. She lives in south-east London with her husband and two children.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – October 2020

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:

The Devil and the Dark Water by Sturart Turton

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Raven Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Occult Fiction

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

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Oneworld
Genre: Fairy Tale, Coming-of-Age Fiction

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.

The Silk House by Kayte Nunn

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Horror

SYNOPSIS:
Weaving. Witchcraft. Wonder.

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.

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Domestic 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 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 LifeThe 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

A Time For Mercy by John Grisham

Published: October 13th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Legal Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
CAN A KILLER EVER BE ABOVE THE LAW?

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.

The Nesting by CJ Cooke

Published: October 15th, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollinsUK
Genre: Fairy Tale, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Horror Fiction

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.

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

Published: October 20th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

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.

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

Published: October 29th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Fiction

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 truth.

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?

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Crime Fiction, Legal Thriller, Political Thriller, Domestic Fiction, LGBTQ Literature

Happy Publication Kia Abdullah! I’m thrilled to be one of the bloggers sharing their review for this outstanding thriller on publication day as part of the blog tour. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and my copy of this novel.

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.

MY REVIEW: 

I’m still reeling from this phenomenal thriller. It’s one I devoured, foregoing sleep to read it in one sitting as I found it impossible to put down. 

Zara Kaleel is back and finds herself embroiled in another high profile case when Kamran Hadid comes to her for help. Kamram claims he was raped in his room at a prestigious boarding school after passing out drunk after a party. But his alleged attacker claims it was consensual. Why wouldn’t he say no if he didn’t want it? Why just let him carry on? 

When Kamran decides to persue the case, the question of consent is examined in great detail and leaves both boys attempting to grapple with the truth of what their actions, and inactions, that night meant. Full of shocking twists and turns, when the truth is finally revealed it will leave your jaw on the floor. 

He tried to give shape to the weight of his trauma. He thought of it as a thick bar of florescent light that hummed from throat to groin. Real healing with dim that light, snuff out sections until it grew dark – but how could he heal if he couldn’t remember? Instead, he would push down the pain until it was a sun-bright penny lodged in his gut. That’s where he’d let it burn.”

Truth Be Told examines a topic rarely discussed with truth and sensitivity, highlighting the complex layers of emotion and perception that accompany male rape. The author also addresses the intricacies and blurred lines of consent, and the prejudice faced by gay men in the Muslim community. Like her fantastic debut, it is an intelligent, well-written, powerful and thought-provoking novel that will stay with the reader long after reading the final page. 

Zara is a brilliant character to base a series on because she stands out from the saturated crowd of other protagonists. She is a modern, liberal Asian woman, trying to balance her family’s cultural expectations and traditions with her Western life and personal desires. This pressure has led to a misuse of narcotics that she’s seeking treatment for in this novel, adding another layer to her flawed character. 

The other characters are all equally as compelling and richly drawn. Kamran Hadid was the one who took my heart. Maybe it’s because I have two boys of a similar age that I couldn’t help putting in his shoes, but this kid broke me. The rainbow of emotions he’s feeling lept from the page and went straight to my soul. It was heart-rending to read his journey; the effect the trauma had on every facet of his life, changing him forever. It takes immeasurable strength for any victim to stand up against their attacker, and I had such admiration for Kamram in his refusal to be a silent victim. 

But the author doesn’t make it that easy. She also tells the story from the alleged attacker’s perspective. And while at the start he’s clearly sure it was consensual, there soon becomes hints that he’s hiding something. Though we don’t know what. We also witness his devastation as he faces the fact that Kamran views what happened as rape. That what Finn views as a mistake is a traumatic attack in Kamran’s eyes tears him apart, but he also feels sure that without a clear no it was consensual. I found myself feeling sympathy for what Finn was going through, then felt mad at myself for doing so. After all, whether he meant to or not, he raped someone. Didn’t he?

Fast-paced, hard-hitting and intense, this is not your typical legal thriller. Kia Abdullah has just cemented her place on my list of auto-buy authors. Outstanding and addictive, this is one I can’t recommend highly enough. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:
*From Kia’s Website

Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. Her novel Take It Back was named one of the best thrillers of th year by The Guardian and Telegraph and was selected for an industry-first audio serialisation by HarperCollins and The Pigeonhole. Her follow-up novel, Truth Be Told, is out in September 2020 (HQ/HarperCollins).

Kia has written for The New York TimesThe GuardianThe Telegraph and The Times, and is the founder of Asian Booklist, a non-profit organisation that advocates for diversity in publishing. 

Born in Tower Hamlets in East London, Kia was raised in a family of eight children. As the most stubborn of six daughters, she constantly found herself in trouble for making choices that clashed with her parents’, a habit they came to accept when she became their first and only child to graduate from university – with a degree in Computer Science.

In 2007, Kia left her job in tech to pursue the one thing she had always wanted: a career as a writer, taking a 50% pay cut in the process. She worked as sub-editor and later features editor at Asian Woman Magazine where she interviewed British-Asian luminaries like Riz Ahmed, Meera Syal, Anoushka Shankar and Nitin Sawnhey. 

Kia went on to join global publisher Penguin Random House where she helped grow digital readership at Rough Guides to over a million users per month. In 2014, she quit her day job to found Atlas & Boots, an outdoor travel blog now read by 250,000 people a month. 

Today, she splits her time between London and the Yorkshire Dales town of Richmond, and spends her time writing, hiking, mentoring pupils from Tower Hamlets and visiting far-flung destinations for Atlas & Boots.

Kia loves to travel, hates to cook and periodically highlights that, in actual fact, she is one of nine children (one passed away), making her Seven of Nine… which is cool but only if you’re a Star Trek fan… which she is. But please don’t hold it against her.

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The Heatwave by Kate Riordan

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Holiday Fiction

I’m delighted to be sharing my review for this outstanding thriller as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Ella at Michael Joseph for the invitation and copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was troubled. 

Elodie is dead.

Sylvie hasn’t been back to her crumbling French family home in years. Not since the death of her eldest daughter Elodie.

Every corner of the old house feels haunted by memories of her – memories she has tried to forget.

But as temperatures rise, and forest fires rage through the French countryside, a long-buried family secret is about to come to light.

Because there’s something Sylvie’s been hiding about what really happened to Elodie that summer.

And it could change everything.

MY REVIEW:

Sultry, evocative and alluring, The Heatwave is an outstanding summer sizzler. Set in 1993, the story moves between timelines to tell the story of the Winters family and the dark secrets they have kept for a decade. Sylvie and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Emma, return to La Reverie, Sylvie’s family home in the south of France, after a fire. They haven’t been back since Sylvie fled a decade ago following tragic events and the loss of her oldest daughter, Elodie. What happened has always been shrouded in mystery, with Sylvie only obliquely referring to her eldest daughter and never explaining the full story to her youngest child. But the house feels haunted, echoes of the truth living in its walls like a ghost, Elodie’s presence becoming stronger. As Emma begins to ask questions, Sylvie is scared she’s starting to remember. That the truth is coming back to haunt her, and her family will be shattered once again.

I devoured this book quickly, the author’s exquisite prose transfixing me from the first pages. A smouldering thriller that shimmers like the summer sun, it transported me to the south of France from the comfort of my own home so vividly that I could almost feel the heat. I loved that the author wrote it in two parts, each having their own distinct vibe while also continuing the steady temp loopo of malevolence and foreboding and the eerie and suspenseful atmosphere that had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

The characters are richly drawn and compelling, with Elodie casting a particularly sinister and mysterious presence throughout the novel. I liked Sylvie and found her easy to relate to, though I did wonder what secrets she was harbouring, why she was so convinced Emma would hate her if she knew the truth. I had my suspicions, but with each new twist I was left questioning what I thought I knew.

An intoxicating and tantalising read, The Heatwave gave me vibes of We Need To Talk About Kevin, one of my all-time favourite books, and has earned a place on my forever shelf and I can’t wait to read more by this author. A beautifully written, layered and immersive thriller that you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮. 5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist. She is an avid reader of Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie, both of whom have influenced her writing. She lives in the Cotswolds, where she writes full-time. The Heatwave is her fourth novel.
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The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao

Published: August 6th, 2020
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Domestic Fiction
Trigger Warning: Mental Health Problems

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this exquisite debut. Thank you to Poppy at Pushkin Press for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS: 

Gwendolyn and Estella are as close as sisters can be. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor after Estella poisons their entire family.

As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this brutal act.

Journeying from the luxurious world of the rich and powerful in Indonesia to the spectacular shows of Paris Fashion Week, from the sunny coasts of California to the melting pot of Melbourne’s university scene, The Majesties is a haunting and deeply suspenseful novel about the dark secrets that can build a family empire – and also bring it crashing down.

MY REVIEW:

“When your sister murders three hundred people, you can’t help but wonder why – especially if you were one of the intended victims – though I do forgive her if you can believe it.”

I have a penchant for anything with butterflies, so I was immediately drawn to the stunning cover of this book. When I read the synopsis it became a book I had to read and I was thrilled to receive an early copy from the publisher. Then, in May I read the first line above to share for #firstlinefriday and I was hooked. I knew I had to shelve my current reading plans and read this immediately. 

“How ironic. We had embarked on this mission to save the family from darkness, only to discover that we ourselves were darkness through and through.” 

The Majesties opens with Gwendolyn looking back on the day that her sister Estella murdered three hundred people and left her, the sole survivor, lying in a coma. It then follows as Gwendolyn looks back at their family’s history and events leading up to the murders, as she tries to figure out what drove her beloved sister to commit such a crime and how she missed the warning signs.

At its heart, this is a story about family. The murders happen at a family event, the novel is narrated by the sister or the killer, and their family dynamics are a big part of the storyline. The author examines the impact of the unspoken secrets and shame lying behind their respectable family’s polite facade. How it can trickle through the generations causing greater damage than anyone ever imagined. She also explores the topic of mental health: asking how we can miss the signs of someone close to us struggling or push our concerns aside while wrapped up in our own lives, and how those around us are affected by our mental health struggles. 

“It was like watching someone drown without struggling, sinking serenely to the bottom of the deep blue sea.”

Tiffany Tsao is an exquisite writer. Her beautiful prose and vivid imagery brought the world she created to life and transported me to a place and culture I knew little about. The time and effort she has put in to get every line just right jumps from the page and I savoured every delicious word. I found the parts about the bagatelles – the Majesties – fascinating and once again her research and knowledge was evident. It is hard to believe this is a debut novel and I will definitely read what she writes next.

There is so much more to this layered and cleverly written novel than meets the eye. It addresses some deep, difficult and sinister topics and will surprise you just when you think you have it all figured out. I am still reeling from that ending! 

The Majesties is a mesmerising debut from a wonderful new talent that you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Tiffany Tsao is a writer and literary translator. She is the author of the novel The Majesties (originally published in Australia as Under Your Wings) and the Oddfits fantasy series.

Her translations from Indonesian to English include Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s poetry collection Sergius Seeks Bacchus, Dee Lestari’s novel Paper Boats, and Laksmi Pamuntjak’s The Birdwoman’s Palate. Her translations of Norman’s poetry have won the English PEN Presents and English PEN Translates awards.

Born in the United States and of Chinese-Indonesian descent, her family returned to Southeast Asia when she was 3 years old. She spent her formative years in Singapore (8 years) and Indonesia (6 years) before moving to the US for university. She has a B.A. in English literature from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in English literature from UC-Berkeley. She now lives in Sydney, Australia with her spouse and two children.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – September 2020

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:

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Fairy Tale, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

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

The Harpy by Megan Hunter

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Absurdist Fiction

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

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Humorous Fiction

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

Love Orange by Natasha Randall

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Riverrun
Genre: Humour, Psychological Fiction, Humorous Fiction

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

Charlotte by Helen Moffett

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Regency Romance

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

For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction

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

Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain

Published: September 10th, 2020
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Genre: Saga, Historical Fiction

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

A Song of Isolation by Michael. J. Malone

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction

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.

Love,
Mariah

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.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Storm by Amanda Jennings

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Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story

Trigger Warning: Domestic and Psychological Abuse

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this absorbing novel. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC. Picture courtesy of Twitter.

SYNOPSIS:

Doesn’t every marriage have a dark side?

‘Beautifully written, chilling and absorbing’ Adele Parks, Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author of Lies Lies Lies

‘Her best novel yet… Twisty, malevolent and gripping’ Lisa Jewell, No. 1 bestselling author of The Family Upstairs

To the outside world Hannah married the perfect man. Behind the closed doors of their imposing home it’s a very different story. Nathan controls everything Hannah does. He chooses her clothes, checks her receipts, and keeps her passport locked away. But why does she let him? Years before, in the midst of a relentless storm, the tragic events of one night changed everything. And Hannah has been living with the consequences ever since. Keeping Nathan happy. Doing as she’s told.

But the past is about to catch up with them.

Set against the unforgiving backdrop of a Cornish fishing port in the ‘90s, this is a devastating exploration of the power of coercive control in a marriage where nothing is quite as it seems…

MY REVIEW:

“It’s a storm glass… Seems there’s always been a storm coming, right from when he gave it to me.”

This beautifully written family drama was instantly intriguing and immersive. Questions swam in my head as I was transfixed by the mystery of what happened on ‘that night’ fifteen years ago. Just what is the secret still haunting Hannah and keeping her chained to a man she can’t stand?

Told in dual timelines from multiple points of view, The Storm is a story of secrets, lies and love set in Cornwall, one of my favourite parts of the world. But this isn’t a sunny summer tale, and the air is charged with something dark and foreboding, a powerful storm unleashing its fury, destroying lives in its wake. What will Hannah’s life look like once the storm has finally passed?  

“Nathan drains me. The way he twists everything and the mental gymnastics I have to perform in order to keep my head straight is exhausting. It doesn’t matter how strong I feel when we begin a conversation, by the end I’m shattered.”

The characters are real and relatable, with Hannah someone I connected with on a very deep and personal level. To the outside world, Hannah and Nathan have a picture-perfect marriage. But behind the facade is a marriage of abuse and fear. While the author avoids being graphic, the abuse is written in an authentic way; Nathan ruling the house through fear, threats, isolation and financial control. I hated him. He sent shivers down my spine and anger coursing through my veins. He was a typical bully who cycles between demands, playing the hero and then the victim. A man terrified of being unmasked. Just thinking about him is making my blood boil! 

Spectacularly written, absorbing and emotive, the malevolence and dread drip from the pages. I couldn’t put this down, compelled to keep reading late into the night as the truth is slowly revealed through clever twists and turns. The Storm is an outstanding mystery that I highly recommend.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hello and welcome to my Author Page! So what do I write? Well, I love anything with a dark vein and secrets which affect families, and my books tend to fall into the psychological suspense category. My most recent books – In Her Wake and The Cliff House – are set in Cornwall. Cornwall is where my heart lies! My mother’s side of the family is from Penzance and I have many blissful memories of long summers spent here. I am never happier than when I’m beside the sea. Though I’m fond of a mountain too, especially when it’s got snow on it. I’ve skied since I was a child and it’s a huge passion. When I’m not beside the sea or up a mountain or sitting at my desk, you can usually find me chatting on the radio as a regular guest on BBC Berkshire’s weekly Book Club, or loitering on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I love meeting and engaging with readers, whether that’s on social media, or at libraries, book clubs and literary festivals. If you see me out and about at an event do say hello! What am I doing now? Well, I live just outside Henley-on-Thames with my husband, three daughters and an unruly menagerie of pets, and am currently writing my fifth book which will be published in 2020.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Blog Tours book reviews

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Mantle
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance

I’m thrilled to be closing the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Megan ed PR for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

What if the problem with your love life is you?

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.

You.

Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

MY REVIEW:

“If you love someone, never let them go.” 

If I Can’t Have You is a story of love, lies and obsession. This book wasn’t what I expected, but in a good way, with the biggest surprise being how much deeper and darker of an emotional journey it takes you on as the author examines the warped, murky side of love. Laced with dark humour the author has created a story that is riveting and compelling. 

Constance was a character I both loved and loathed. She was someone I could relate to in some ways and I found her likeable at times. But she would also do the most appalling things and act in ways that can only be called crazy, which made me want to reach into the book, shake her, and tell her he wasn’t worth it. But we slowly come to understand a little more about Constance’s fragile psyche and why she behaves the way she does thanks to her sessions with Dr Franco. My heart broke for her and this time I wanted to reach into the book not to shake her, but to hug her instead. As for Samuel, I hate that man with a passion! As his true colours are revealed it was clear he was not just a bit of a cad, but a cruel manipulator who views women as objects to use and discard, calling them crazy when they are hurt by his actions. But it wasn’t all crazy and dark characters and I loved the sweet friendship between Constance and Edward. It was a great dynamic and showed another side to Constance that I think helps the reader see her as a three dimensional person rather than just a crazy stalker. 

If I Can’t Have You was as addictive for me as Samuel was for Constance. Taut, twisty, layered and simply brilliant, this is an outstanding debut. I’m excited to see what Levin writes next. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Charlotte Levin author photo

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Charlotte Levin has been shortlisted for the Andrea Badenoch Award, part of the New Writers North Awards, and for the Mslexia Short Story Competition. Charlotte lives in Manchester and If I Can’t Have You is her first novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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