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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Coronet
Genre: Saga, Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent debut novel. Thank you to Niamh at Hodder for the invitation to take part and the gifted proof copy.

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SYNOPSIS:

HER WORLD FELL TO PIECES.

FROM THE BONES SHE BUILT A NEW LIFE.

Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.

When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand.

But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before.

When all has been razed to the ground, what does it mean to build a life?

The Stranding is a story about the hope that can remain even when the world is changed beyond recognition.

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MY REVIEW:

“A rush of air, a groan so forlorn it hurts her heart.
A noise that connot be unheard.
A white frame above her, a spine, the ribs splayed wide, the jaws like pincers, brackets.
The bones of the whale glow slightly in the dark.
She closes her eyes. My old friend, she thinks, my home, my sanctuary.”

This is a story about the end of the world. About humanity, love, survival and hope. Utterly magnificent, captivating, imaginative and original, it is like nothing I’ve ever read before. I don’t know what I was expecting, but what I read exceeded anything I could have imagined or wanted.

“They sit in silence, watching the sky grow pinker and pinker. She gestures to the reddening sky. ‘It’d be beautiful, if it wasn’t, you know, The End.'”

With spectacular storytelling the author crafts a richly imagined story filled with evocative imagery, transporting me to the shores of New Zealand as the apocalypse dawns and taking me back to the bustling streets of London as Ruth talks about her life before. It is all so vivid that I felt like I was watching it in technicolour on a movie screen. The scenes describing the apocalypse: Nik and Ruth’s terror as they seek safety in the stomach of the whale, the devastation of the world when they re-emerge, and their burned and blistered skin, are seared into my mind as clearly as if I had experienced them myself. I could hear the deafening silence of a world where only the two of them appear to have survived and feel their bewilderment and grief. Ruth and Nik were fascinating characters that I enjoyed reading. Their love story felt authentic and inevitable and I thought they made a great team.

“How ironic, she thinks. Now she is marooned in silence, and despite her best efforts to avoid it, the conflict of mankind caught up with her in the end.”

I was swept away by this glorious tale; in awe of the author’s imagination and talent. Exquisitely written, beautifully observed, atmospheric, and with an almost dreamlike quality, it is a masterclass in storytelling. I was transfixed. It manages to be strong, powerful and thought-provoking, but also mellow, peaceful and soothing, a riveting contrast that pulls you into this wonderful story. I never wanted the story to end and felt bereft and hungry for more when it did. I still can’t believe this is a debut and will be buying any future books she writes without hesitation.

An absolute triumph, The Stranding is a magnificent debut that you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate was born in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, where she grew up in the countryside as the eldest of four siblings. She lived in South London for the best part of the last two decade (living briefly in Australia and USA) but recently returned to East Anglia.

​Kate trained in acting at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and has worked as an actor since. She is a founding ensemble member of award-winning theatre company The Faction and established her own theatre company The Curious Room. 

​Previous writing includes adapting Lorca, writing short films and plays and recipes. The Stranding is her first novel.

​She is the mother of 1 year old daughter as a solo mother by choice. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Feature: Can you hear the hum?

𝘾𝙖𝙣 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙝𝙪𝙢? 

Last week some curious photos began popping up on twitter of posters asking if we can hear the hum. There was a number to call and I took the plunge, my heart thumping in my chest as I listened to the eerie message.

Today, I received a copy of The Listeners, the book that the posters and messages were talking about. I think that this exciting debut is one that many of you will want to add to your tbr…

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SYNOPSIS:

A masterful speculative novel exploring the fine lines between faith, conspiracy, and mania in contemporary America.

While lying in bed next to her husband one night, Claire Devon hears a low hum that he cannot. And, it seems, no one else can either. This innocuous noise begins causing Claire headaches, nosebleeds, insomnia, gradually upsetting the balance of her life, though no obvious source or medical cause can be found. When she discovers that a student of hers can also hear the hum, the two strike up an unlikely and intimate friendship. Finding themselves increasingly isolated from their families and colleagues, they fall in with a disparate group of neighbours who also perceive the sound. What starts as a neighbourhood self-help group gradually transforms into something far more extreme and with far-reaching, devastating consequences.

The Listeners is an exhilarating and erotic novel exploring the seduction of the wild and unknowable, the human search for the transcendent, the rise of conspiracy culture in the West, and the desire for community and connection in our increasingly polarised times.

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The Listeners is published July 8th. You can pre-order your copy here*
Thank you to 4th Estate Books for my gifted ARC.

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Will you be adding The Listeners to your tbr? Let me know in the comments.

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Thanks for reading. Until next time, Bibliophiles xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Blog Tour: Last One At The Party by Bethany Clift

Published: February 4th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Humour, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Comedy, Dystopian Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Steven at Hodder Books for the invitation to take part and for my limited edition proof.

SYNOPSIS:

THE END OF EVERYTHING WAS HER BEGINNING

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

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

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

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

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

MY REVIEW:

“Everything had stopped.
And it would never start again.
Ever.”

Last One at the Party is a sensational debut that everyone needs to read. I was strangely apprehensive when I started this book. The moment I first saw that striking cover and read the synopsis I knew I had to read it and I wanted to love it. But the fact that it was billed as Science Fiction worried me as it’s a genre that isn’t usually my thing. Well, it turns out I was wrong. When it’s this book I love Science Fiction. 

December 2023. The world as we know it has ended. People have been wiped out by a virus known as 6DM (6 Days Maximum); an illness with a 100% mortality rate that kills its victims in a cruel and gruesome way. 

Against the odds one woman has survived. And now she must find a way to not only survive, but live in the post-apocalyptic world she now inhabits. 

WHAT. A. BOOK. If, when you close a book, you’re left reeling, wanting to scream at the author that they can’t end things like that and are desperate for more, then you know it is one you won’t soon forget. Even after reading a number of other books since, this one lingers. I can’t get it out of my head (and now I won’t be able to get that Kylie song out of my head either). 

“This is a story about life, not death.”

Razor-sharp, witty, riveting and achingly real, the author examines what it means to live and be human. She says in her note to the reader that opens the book that this is a story about life, not death. And it is. Death will inevitably feature in abundance in a post-apocalyptic story about a deadly virus, but despite this she has crafted a tale with a message of living your best life and staying true to who you are at its heart. 

You can’t get much more timely than a book about a virus killing off the human race being released during a global pandemic. The novel was written before Covid-19 but the author has gone back and woven current events into the story. The effect is an authenticity that would be missing without the pandemic. If this had been released before 2020 it would still have been a fantastic book, but it wouldn’t have hit so hard. It would have seemed a little far-fetched rather than something that could happen. 

The name of our protagonist is never revealed, adding to the mysterious and dream like quality of the book. She is a fantastic character; flawed, fallible and messy, she is recognisable as any one of us. I liked that the author made her so relatable. That she didn’t immediately go into survivor mode and act like a hero. I loved that her immediate response to being possibly the last person alive is to make her Hollywood movie dreams come true and live it up in lavish hotels, shops til she drops and create a bucket list of the sites she wants to see in London. She was so much fun to read and I liked her. 

“I don’t want to be alone anymore.”

But she wasn’t the only compelling and memorable character. There were others who left their mark. Her best friend was fabulous and I still laugh thinking about his hilarious coming out story. And Simon the rooster was comedy gold. My favourite character of all has to be Lucky, the Golden Retriever who accompanies our protagonist on her journey. Thank you Bethany Clift for giving her such an adorable and heartwarming sidekick. 

Last One at the Party is a sensational debut that you don’t want to miss. Funny, heartwarming, unsettling and yet hopeful, when I turned the last page I was left emotionally drained and desperately wishing I could hug everyone I love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Trigger Warning: Mental Health, Talk of suicide.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Bethany Clift is a graduate of the Northern Film School and has had projects in development with Eon and Film 4, as well as being a director of her own production company. Last One At The Party is her debut novel.

Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Bookshop.org * |Waterstones* |Amazon* |Google Books |Kobo
*Links to Bookshop.org, Waterstones and Amazon are affiliate links

Please read the reviews from the other bloggers on the tour.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Unimpressedtil next time Bibliophiles, Emma xx

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Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: Hodder Fiction Showcase 2021

Today you’re getting two for the price of one as I couldn’t resist sharing the first lines from both of the gorgeous proofs I was kindly sent by Hodder and Stoughton this week. The Hodder Fiction Showcase 2021 was held last night and was a wonderful evening full of exciting upcoming releases. I might have requested almost all of the books that were discussed. But I was also fortunate to receive a package from them before the event with two of the books highlighted, which also happen to be two of the books I’m most excited for this summer.

“White. Endless, featureless, mind-numbing white. A white so bright it hurts your eyes, at once beautiful and dreadful. I’ve arrived, finally, at the end of the earth – or rather its southernmost tip.”

These arresting first lines are taken from The Dark by Emma Haughton, an electrifying thriller which is out August 19th. Check out the synopsis below to see why I’m so excited about this book.

SYNOPSIS:

ONE DEAD BODY
TWELVE SUSPECTS
TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR DARKNESS

In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose.

A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the chance to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.

The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all. And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes for them all . . .

You can pre-order the book here*


“Among the masses of driftwood on the shore, the creature lies sprawled on black-flecked sand.
From far away, it had looked like a giant slug, bloated on the shore, but now, nearing it, Ruth can see it is a mammal. A warm-blooded, air-breathing mammal with a belly button, just like her.”

The Stranding by Kate Sawyer is a hopeful debut which is out June 24th. And just look at that gorgeous proof cover.

SYNOPSIS:

HER WORLD FELL TO PIECES.
FROM THE BONES SHE BUILT A NEW LIFE.

Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.

When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand.

But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before.

When all has been razed to the ground, what does it mean to build a life?

The Stranding is a story about the hope that can remain even when the world is changed beyond recognition.

Pre-order the book here*


Thank you Hodder Fiction for my gifted copies of the books.
*Links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews

Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver

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Published: August 13th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Political Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Religious Fiction

Trigger Warnings: Suicide, Animal Cruelty

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this outstanding novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Orenda for the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Five days in the history of a small rural town, visited and infected by darkness, are recounted by Evil itself. A stunning high-concept thriller from the bestselling author of Good Samaritansand Nothing Important Happened Today.

‘Cements Carver as one of the most exciting authors in Britain. After this, he’ll have his own cult following’ Daily Express

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It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened.

Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120.

Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow.

Because something was coming.

Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.

Making them cheat.
Making them steal.
Making them kill.

Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone. Evil had a plan.

MY REVIEW:

“I am Evil. 

And I have come to destroy your town.”

Deliciously dark, malevolent and addictive, this is a small story about the small town of Hinton Hollow, and the five days when Evil came to stay. 

Written with Carver’s distinct quirky, unique and affecting prose, this is a darkly atmospheric story that pulls you in from the first pages. Carver’s novels aren’t easy reading. They are uncomfortable and deep, but also thought-provoking, timely and brilliant. In this story he examines a range of topics such as the concept of good and evil, what drives us to do bad things, a mother’s love for her children, social media and having an online persona, the parts of ourselves that we hide from others, bystander behaviour, adultery, anger, bullying, animal cruelty and gluttony.  He also poses questions to the reader, making them think about their own lives and behaviour, challenging them to be better and kinder people. 

“Don’t read this.

You can leave now, if you want. Don’t even bother finishing the page. Forget you were ever here. There must be something else you could be doing. Get away. Go on.

This is the last time I try to save you.”

This strange and sinister story is narrated by Evil itself, who warns the reader of the nightmare to come at the start. Evil isn’t able to force people to commit terrible acts, just nudge and encourage. They also surprisingly have morals, leaving children alone and appearing shocked at some of the actions of the residents of Hinton Hollow. Evil’s voice was sly, cunning and alluring; whispering in the ears of those it touched as they move through the town infecting it with it’s poison. Evil’s sights are set on Detective Sargeant Pace, the main character in the series. 

Pace is a troubled and lonely figure who is trying to come to terms with the awful events of book two and has fled London to find solace in his small hometown. Only it didn’t work. Evil followed him. I find Pace a peculiar character who I am ambivalent about. But he is well written, as are the array of other characters in the book. The author created a relatable community full of flawed characters who you could imagine knowing. There were some I really liked, others I couldn’t stand, but they were all compelling and pulled me deep into their story, needing to know their fate. 

A THOUGHT ABOUT BEING BETTER

Forget your job, forget your relationship, forget about being the best parent in the world, 

forget about perfection. 

Put in the most work, each day, on yourself. 

Be better. Get fitter. Learn more. 

Do this every single day. 

Work the hardest on YOU. 

The rest will fall into place.

If more people thought about how they could be better, do better, you may find yourself in a position to form this tide of social-media lies and self-loathing and talent shows for people who only want to be famous and don’t care what it’s for.

There  could be more good. Therefore, less need for me. And that would be perfect.” 

Both times I’ve read this author’s work I’ve had two thoughts: 

  1. This man is a genius
  2. What on earth must it be like in his head?! 

Carver is one of the most original fiction voices I’ve come across. I promise you that you won’t have read anything like this before. Though it is the third in a series and continues on immediately after the events of book two, it is able to be read as a standalone novel, so don’t let that put you off.

Lingering, immersive, poignant and disturbing, Hinton Hollow Death Trip is one of the best books I’ve read this year. An absolute tour-de-force that I can’t recommend highly enough. Carver is now on my auto-buy list and I can’t wait to see what utterly fantastic and twisted story he writes next. So, what are you waiting for? READ. THIS. BOOK. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Will Carver Author pIc

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in The Guardian, The Telegraph and the Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

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

FINAL Hinton Hollow BT Poster

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Adventure Fiction, Science Fiction, Urban Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this outstanding and timely thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Orenda for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

MY REVIEW:

“No one touches each other’s hands anymore. Not unless they’re intimate.” 

When I first heard about this book at the beginning of the year it sounded like a Sci-Fi movie; something that felt both imaginable and unimaginable. Wearing masks and gloves and being unable to touch. Illness that is untreatable and deadly. That sounded like something from the Victorian era or a third world country where they can’t afford the medicine we have.  Fast forward a few months and reading it during the current pandemic felt like getting a glimpse into our future. This book was suddenly a lot scarier and incredibly timely. 

“Do you have any idea what it’s like growing up in this ‘safe world’ of yours? How fucking suffocating it is? Nothing left to chance, endless checks and scans?

… I’ve seen the films: people rolled into bed with complete strangers! No body scans. No STD checks. No profile searches. I can’t even hug a friend without asking!”

Multilayered, exquisitely told and tightly plotted, the novel weaves through different timelines to tell the story of the Crisis and our three narrators. As long-buried secrets are slowly unearthed, the full picture emerges to a shocking conclusion. The characters are richly drawn and I have to say that I had a soft spot for Lily. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to approach an age knowing that something treatable will likely kill you as you are deemed disposable and unworthy of treatment. My own grandmother has recently beat Covid-19 at the age of 93 thanks in part to antibiotics and all I kept thinking how awful it would have been knowing she simply wasn’t getting that help because of her age. 

It is clear that the author has done a lot of research on antibiotic resistance from how intelligently written this novel is.  Even without the current pandemic this would read as something that could actually happen and it certainly made me think about things such as how we farm out animals. At the end of the book she writes about how she got her inspiration for the novel after reading frightening data about antibiotic resistance and has posted more information for readers on her website. 

The Waiting Rooms is a captivating and thrilling debut that is both topical and timely. I highly recommend this thriller and can’t wait to read more from this author.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Eve Smith Author pic

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Eve Smith’s debut novel The Waiting Rooms was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award. Eve writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. She attributes her love of all things dark and dystopian to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills.

Eve’s flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues.
Eve’s previous job as COO of an environmental charity took her to research projects across Asia, Africa and the Americas, and she has an ongoing passion for wild creatures, wild science and far-flung places. A Modern Languages graduate from Oxford, she returned to Oxfordshire fifteen years ago to set up home with her husband.
When she’s not writing, she’s chasing across fields after her dog, attempting to organise herself and her family or off exploring somewhere new.

WebsiteInstagram |Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon  |Waterstones |Google Books |Kobo

FINAL The Waiting Rooms BT Poster

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Blog Tours

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – July 2020

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Another month, another round of anticipated books.

July is a month filled with great books and July 9th is rivaling February 6th for it’s bumper publication day spot; I could have easily added another four or five books out that day.

So here are the books out in July that I’m most excited about:

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Spirited by Julie Cohen
Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Historical Fiction, and as soon as I saw the cover and read the synopsis of this book I was dying to read it. I’ve been lucky enough to get a spot on the blog tour for this so look out for my review on July 16th.

SYNOPSIS:
Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her – and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . .

Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them – but Victorian society is no place for reckless women.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight.

Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom?

Driven by passionate, courageous female characters, SPIRITED is your next unforgettable read!

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The Shadow Friend by Alex North

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Police Procedural

The Whisper Man was one of my favourite books of last year so when I heard the author had a second book coming out it became a must-read. This one sounds just as chilling as his last book and I can’t wait to read it.

SYNOPSIS:
The victim was his friend. So was the murderer.

Twenty-five years ago, troubled teenager Charlie Crabtree committed a shocking and unprovoked murder.

For Paul Adams, it’s a day he’ll never forget. He’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened to his friend and classmate. He’s never gone back home.

But when his elderly mother has a fall, it’s finally time to stop running.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. A copycat killer has struck, bringing back painful memories. Paul’s mother insists there’s something in the house.

And someone is following him.

Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterwards, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again . . .

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The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Science Fiction, Urban Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Orenda are one of my favourite publishers. I’ve loved everything I’ve read that they publish. When I heard about this earlier this year I instantly pre-ordered it and started the count down. Who would have thought it would become so timely by the time it was released. I’m on the blog tour for this one and my review will be published on June 18th.

SYNOPSIS:
Decades of spiraling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

cover183435-medium
If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

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

I am so excited to be taking part in the blog tour for this debut thriller. Look out for my review on July 16th.

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.

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How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Published: July 9th, 2020
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller,  Legal Thriller

Over the last few years Gillian McAllister has become a must-read author for me and her latest book sounds like it could be her best yet.

SYNOPSIS:
You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good?

Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back.

The only choice is to disappear.

To keep Zara safe, Lauren will give up everything and everyone she loves, even her husband.

There will be no goodbyes. Their pasts will be rewritten. New names, new home, new lives.

The rules are strict for a reason. They are being hunted. One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new.

They can never assume someone isn’t watching, waiting.

As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is harder . . .

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Somebody’s Daughter by Carol Wyer (Detective Natalie Ward 7)

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

The Detective Natalie Ward Series is one of my favourites and any new installment makes my most anticipated list that month. Keep an eye out for my review as part of the blog tour on July 11th.

SYNOPSIS:
One by one the girls disappeared…

When the frail body of a teenage girl is discovered strangled in a parking lot, shards of ice form in Detective Natalie Ward’s veins. As Natalie looks at the freckles scattered on her cheeks and the pale pink lips tinged with blue, she remembers that this innocent girl is somebody’s daughter…

The girl is identified as missing teenager Amelia Saunders, who has run away from home and her controlling father. Natalie’s heart sinks further when it becomes clear that Amelia has been working on the streets, manipulated by her violent new boyfriend Tommy.

A day later, another vulnerable girl is found strangled on a park bench. Like Amelia, Katie Bray was a runaway with connections to Tommy, and Natalie is determined to find him and track down the monster attacking these scared and lonely girls.

But when a wealthy young woman is found murdered the next morning, the word ‘guilty’ scrawled on her forehead, Natalie realises that the case is more complex than she first thought. Determined to establish a connection between her three victims, Natalie wastes no time in chasing down the evidence, tracing everyone who crossed their paths. Then, a key suspect’s body turns up in the canal, a mole in Natalie’s department leaks vital information and everything seems to be against her. Can Natalie stop this clever and manipulative killer before they strike again.

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All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson (Ice Cream Girls 2)

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

In May I took part in a readalong of The Ice Cream Girls with Tandem Collective. I loved the book so much that this one instantly went on my anticipated list for this month. You can imagine my excitement when I was offered the chance to take part in a readalong of the sequel. Keep an eye out for my posts on Instagram starting around June 25th.

SYNOPSIS:
Verity is telling lies…

And that’s why she’s about to be arrested for attempted murder.

Serena has been lying for years. . .
And that may have driven her daughter, Verity, to do something unthinkable…

Poppy’s lies have come back to haunt her . . .
So will her quest for the truth hurt everyone she loves?

Everyone lies.
But whose lies are going to end in tragedy?

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The Resident by David Jackson

Published: July 16th, 2020
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

This is another thriller I’m excited to be on the blog tour for. Look out for my review on publication day.

SYNOPSIS:
THERE’S A SERIAL KILLER ON THE RUN
AND HE’S HIDING IN YOUR HOUSE

Thomas Brogan is a serial killer. Having left a trail of bodies in his wake, and with the police hot on his heels, it seems like Thomas has nowhere left to hide. That is until he breaks into an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he climbs up into the loft, he realises that the can drop down into all the other houses on the street through the shared attic space.

That’s when the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Thomas enjoys even more than killing, is playing games with his victims. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…

Do you fear The Resident? Soon you’ll be dying to meet him.

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The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Published: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medical Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Room is one of my favourite books of all time and I’m a huge fan of historical and medical fiction, so I have high hopes for this novel.

SYNOPSIS:
In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with an unfamiliar Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders: Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this classic story of hope and survival against all odds.

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Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Ficiton

Ever since I first heard about this debut thriller last year I’ve been desperate to read it. I’m hoping to be on the blog tour for this one so keep an eye out for my review next month.

SYNOPSIS:

She’s got your job. She wants your life

When Katherine first meets her new intern Lily, she’s captivated. Young, beautiful and confident, Lily reminds Katherine of everything she once was – and it’s not long before she develops a dark fascination with her new colleague.

But is Lily as perfect as she seems, or does she have a sinister hidden agenda? As Katherine is drawn into an obsessive power struggle with the intern, a disturbing picture emerges of two women hiding dark secrets – and who are desperate enough to do anything to come out on top…

Breathlessly addictive and deeply unsettling, Precious You is a thriller like no other. Taut, terrifying and with shocking twists at every turn, it will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Published: July 28th, 2020
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

As soon as I read the synopsis of this novel I knew I had to read it. As with The Waiting Rooms and The Pull of the Stars it also feels like a particularly timely read right now.

SYNOPSIS:
Ellen Marie Wiseman, acclaimed author of What She Left Behind and The Life She Was Given, weaves the stories of two very different women into a page-turning novel as suspenseful as it is poignant, set amid one of history’s deadliest pandemics.

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded streets and slums, and from the anti-German sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army, hoping to prove his loyalty. But an even more urgent threat has arrived. Spanish influenza is spreading through the city. Soon, dead and dying are everywhere. With no food at home, Pia must venture out in search of supplies, leaving her infant twin brothers alone . . .

Since her baby died days ago, Bernice Groves has been lost in grief and bitterness. If doctors hadn’t been so busy tending to hordes of immigrants, perhaps they could have saved her son. When Bernice sees Pia leaving her tenement across the way, she is buoyed by a shocking, life-altering decision that leads her on a sinister mission: to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.”

As Pia navigates the city’s somber neighborhoods, she cannot know that her brothers won’t be home when she returns. And it will be a long and arduous journey to learn what happened–even as Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost. Only with persistence, and the courage to face her own shame and fear, will Pia put the pieces together and find the strength to risk everything to see justice at last.

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The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender
Published July 30th, 2020
Publisher: Hutchinson
Genre: Literary Fiction

I’ll admit it was the cover that initially drew me to this book, but it was the synopsis that earned it’s place on this list. This one sounds like a powerful novel that will linger long after reading.

SYNOPSIS:
On the night her mother is taken to a mental hospital after a psychotic episode, eight year-old Francie is staying with her babysitter. Next to the couch on which she’s sleeping, there is a lamp that catches her eye, its shade adorned with butterflies. When she wakes, Francie sees a dead butterfly floating in a glass of water. She drinks it before the babysitter can see.

Twenty years later, Francie is compelled to make sense of that moment, and two other incidents – her discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exact: she is sure these things were real. But despite her certainty, she wrestles with the hold these memories have over her, and with what they say about her place in the world.

Told in lush, lilting prose, The Butterfly Lampshade is a heartfelt and heartbreaking examination of the sometimes overwhelming power of the material world, and of a broken love between mother and child.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Things We Say in the Dark by Kirsty Logan – The Dylan Thomas Prize Longlist Blog Tour

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Published: October 3rd, 2019
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Genre: Fairy tale, Ghost Story, Horror, Dystopian Fiction

I’m excited to share my review for the first of two books I’ll be reading as part of The Dylan Thomas Prize longlist blog tour. Thank you to Midas PR for the invitation to take part and Harvill Secker for the gifted copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

A shocking collection of dark stories, ranging from chilling contemporary fairytales to disturbing supernatural fiction, by a talented writer who has been compared to Angela Carter.

So here we go, into the dark.

Some things can’t be spoken about in the light of day. But we can visit our fears at night, in the dark. We can turn them over and weigh them in our hands and maybe that will protect us from them. But maybe not.

The characters in this collection find their aspirations for happy homes, happy families and happy memories dissected and imbued with shimmering menace. Alone in a remote house in Iceland a woman is unnerved by her isolation; another can only find respite from the clinging ghost that follows her by submerging herself in an overgrown pool. Couples wrestle with a lack of connection to their children; a schoolgirl becomes obsessed with the female anatomical models in a museum; and a cheery account of child’s day out is undercut by chilling footnotes.

These dark tales explore women’s fears with electrifying honesty and invention and speak to one another about female bodies, domestic claustrophobia, desire and violence. From a talented writer who has been compared to Angela Carter, Things We Say in the Dark is a powerful contemporary collection of feminist stories, ranging from vicious fairy tales to disturbing horror and tender ghost stories.

KIRSTY LOGAN WAS SELECTED AS ONE OF BRITAIN’S TEN MOST OUTSTANDING LGBTQ WRITERS by Val McDermid for the International Literature Showcase in 2019

MY REVIEW:

“Some things can’t be spoken about in the light of day. But we can visit our fears at night, in the dark . We can turn them over and weigh them in our hands and maybe that will protect us from them. But maybe not.”

Things We Say in the Dark is a striking, dark, curious and unsettling collection of short stories that explore fear through a creative lens. Each story has a deeper meaning under its surface, the author addressing subjects such as love, loss, longing, relationships, parenthood, sexism, homophobia and abuse.

This was my first time reading anything by this author and I was immediately pulled in by the immersive writing and loved the elements of horror and dark comedy that was infused into the stories. I enjoyed this collection but there were one or two stories that were a little bizarre for my taste. The stories that stood out in my mind were Birds Fell From The Sky and Each One Spoke In Your Voice, My Body Cannot Forget Your Body, Good Good Good, Nice Nice Nice and The Only Thing I Can’t Tell You Is Why. I laughed, I grimaced, my heart was broken and I was full of rage as the author made me feel a variety of emotions over the course of this collection. 

Between each story there is commentary from the author where she talks about her life, her motivations for writing the book and her writing process. These sections seemed to tell another, more personal, story and I enjoyed the glimpse into the author’s mind and feeling like she was almost there with me as I read. 

So if you’re looking for something intelligent, thought-provoking and different, and don’t mind stories that are sinister and creepy, then I would recommend this fascinating collection. I flew through it quickly but it is also ideal for dipping in and out of when you only have a small time to read. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kirsty Logan is a Scottish novelist, poet, performer, literary editor, writing mentor, book reviewer and writer of short fiction. She lives in Glasgow. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on retold fairytales, and her work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website
Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon
Waterstones
Book Depository
Google Books
Apple Books
Kobo

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