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The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Published: August 13th, 2020
Publisher: Canongate
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this truly exceptional novel. Thank you to Canongate for the invitation to take part and the gifted book.

SYNOPSIS:

Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

MY REVIEW:

‘Between life and death there is a library,’ she said. ‘And within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?’

Despite reading the synopsis, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I had heard nothing but praise which made me apprehensive: what if I was the one who didn’t love this book as much as everybody else did? I needn’t have worried. 

The Midnight Library is an exceptional book. Who hasn’t wondered how their life might have turned out if they’d made different choices? I know I have. I loved the idea of getting to live the different lives you might have had. I don’t want to say too much about the plot or the lives Nora lives as I think it would ruin the joy of the journey that it takes you on as you discover this intelligent and thought-provoking story for yourself. 

“The only way to learn is to live.”

I loved Nora. She is a great character who has been fantastically written. Haig has made no secret of his own mental health struggles and has written two non-fiction books about it, so it isn’t a surprise to me that he wrote Nora with such emotion, depth, sensitivity and raw truth. A lot of the time, reading her was like looking in a mirror. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my adult life and have had periods of being suicidal, so I felt like I ‘got’ Nora completely. One major difference between us though is I try not to look at life with regret, so it was interesting to read her regrets and the way they shaped her and how they changed as she moved through her various lives.

“It is so easy, while trapped in just the one life, to imagine that times of sadness or tragedy or failure are a result of that particular existence. That it is a by-product of living a certain way, rather than simply living. I mean, it would have made things a lot easier if we understood there was no way of living that can immunise you against sadness. And that sadness is intrinsically a part of happiness. You can’t have one without the other.”

I loved the prevailing message and deeper themes that are at the heart of this beautifully written story.  I am in awe of how themes of anxiety, depression and suicide were delicately woven into this atmospheric, poignant and enchating story. It somehow avoids feeling dark and is instead a real balm for the soul. It made me look at my own life and how I handle my darkest times. It is a book that will stay with me forever.

Emotionally resonant, powerful, hopeful and utterly immersive, The Midnight Library is a glorious novel that I never wanted to end. Everyone needs to read this book. It is something truly special and one that you will never forget. It may even change your life. I only wish I could experience it for the first time all over again.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Matt Haig is an author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 40 languages. It is being made into a film by Studio Canal and The Guardian called it an ‘instant classic’. His novels for adults include the award-winning How To Stop Time, The Radleys and The Humans.

He won the TV Book Club ‘book of the series’, and has been shortlisted for a Specsavers National Book Award. The Humans was chosen as a World Book Night title. His children’s novels have won the Smarties Gold Medal, the Blue Peter Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times.

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Book Feature: The Minders by John Marrs

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Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Ebury Press
Format: Kindle, Audio
Genre: Science Fiction, Suspense

Happy eBook Publication Day to the new book by John Marrs! John is one of my favourite authors and his books are always highly anticipated. I can’t wait to read this latest one after reading some fantastic reviews. Head over to my Instagram for exclusive video content where John talks about the book. Thank you to John for my gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

The new high concept thriller from the author of the word-of-mouth sensation THE ONE – soon to be a Netflix original series.
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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…

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

John Marrs is the author of #1 Best Sellers The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, Welcome to Wherever You Are, Her Last Move, The Passengers and What Lies Between Us. The One has been translated into 30 different languages and is to be turned into an eight-part Netflix series in autumn 2020.
After working as a journalist for 25-years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time  writer.

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

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio
Genre: Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural, Mystery, Thriller

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sensational thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

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?

An unputdownable crime thriller from an Amazon bestselling author that will have you sleeping with the light on. This gripping rollercoaster ride is perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Rachel Abbott and Rachel Caine. Prepare to be totally hooked!

MY REVIEW:

“Look around you. Do you really know what dark secrets your neighbour or your husband or your daughter are hiding? You judge people by how they look or how they seemingly live their lives, but if you could spend an hour in my shoes and really see what goes on, you would be horrified. Truly horrified. “

The discovery of the body of a teenage girl is the start of a new investigation for DCI Natalie Ward and her team. Amelia Saunders is a teenage runaway who worked the streets and was found strangled to death in a car park. Just a day later, the body of another vulnerable teenage girl is found on a park bench. Katie Bray was also a runaway who worked the streets and had connections to the same man thought to be Amelia’s pimp. But when the body of a wealthy woman is found with the word ‘guilty’ written on her forehead, the team is forced to reassess everything they thought they knew. As they search for a connection between her and the other victims, Natalie and her team are in a race against the clock to find their killer before they strike again.

Carol Wyer has done it again. This fast-paced, layered thriller was impossible to put down. In the seventh installment in the Natalie Ward Series we see a happier, more settled Natalie in her private life. But professionally, things are as intense and crazy as ever.  Natalie has recently been promoted to DCI, with Lucy Carmichael taking over her old role, and she and the team are still getting used to the new dynamics. There’s some tension in the ranks, Lucy feels unsure of her abilities, and someone is leaking information to the press; all while they are hunting a clever, confident and methodical killer and a case that keeps throwing up surprising developments at every turn. The pressure is as the body count increases and they race to stop the killer. 

As with all Wyer’s books, this is skillfully written and had me hooked from the first page. I found this one impossible to predict, keeping me on my toes and then knocking me for six with the big reveal. I feel like with each book she just gets better and better, proving why she is one of my favourite authors and her books are ones not to be missed.

Seven books in, I know Natalie and her team well, and I really enjoyed seeing a happier and more settled Natalie this time. I liked her and Mike together and she deserves a bit of a break. I liked that we also finally got some answers about why she is estranged from her sister, Frances, and am looking forward to seeing where the author takes that in the next book. Compelling, tense, intricate and twisty, Somebody’s Daughter is a spectacular thriller from a series every crime lover should read. And, please, someone pick this up for a TV series already!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer is a best-selling author and stand up comedian who writes feel-good comedies and gripping crime fiction.

A move to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in LITTLE GIRL LOST, the #2 best-selling book on Amazon, #9 best-selling audiobook on Audible and Top 150 USA Today best-seller.

A second series featuring DI Natalie Ward quickly followed and to date her novels have sold over 750,000 copies and been translated for various overseas markets, including into Norwegian, Italian, Turkish, Hungarian Slovak, Czech and Polish.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr Grumpy… who is very, very grumpy.

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All Fall Down (DI Helen Grace 9) by M. J. Arlidge

78c4a0fcPublished: June 11th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Series

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the latest installment in my favourite crime series and one of my most anticipated books this year. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and Orion for the gifted copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

“You have one hour to live.”

Those are the only words on the phone call. Then they hang up. Surely, a prank? A mistake? A wrong number? Anything but the chilling truth… That someone is watching, waiting, working to take your life in one hour.

But why?

The job of finding out falls to DI Helen Grace: a woman with a track record in hunting killers. However, this is A case where the killer seems to always be one step ahead of the police and the victims.

With no motive, no leads, no clues – nothing but pure fear – an hour can last a lifetime…

MY REVIEW:

D.I. Helen Grace and her team are back in another gripping installment of my favourite crime series. I had been eagerly anticipating this one for months and it was worth the wait. 

There is a killer lurking in the shadows, stalking their prey. Their targets are the survivors of a group of schoolchildren who were abducted by Daniel King eight years ago. All but one of them got away but the killer was never caught and has been an illusive phantom ever since with no definitive sightings despite rumours over the years. Could he be back and looking to finish what he started all those years ago? And are the survivors telling the full story about what happened in that farmhouse? Are there secrets still waiting to be revealed?

M. J. Arlidge has done it again. I was hooked from the first page and immersed in the world he’s created, one that feels so familiar after eight previous books with Helen Grace and her team. The narrative uses multiple points of view and extracts from a book written by one of the survivors to slowly reveal the shocking truth about the killer they are hunting and the events eight years ago. 

Arlidge has a knack for writing characters that feel real and jump from the pages. The ones in this book felt so real that I had to go back and check his previous books as it felt like I’d read the story of the kids in the farmhouse before. I hadn’t, he’s just that good at immersing you in their world. Helen is the kind of flawed, complex and compelling character I love and I’ve enjoyed following her journey over the course of this series. This time Arlidge explores the politics of policing through the lens of interpersonal relationships, with Helen and her colleague Joseph Hudson in a fledgling relationship when the story opens. Their dynamic shifts as the story progresses and I am excited to see where he takes things next for them after how the book ended. 

Skillfully and cunningly crafted, Arlidge has once again written a dark, twisty, layered and tantalising thriller. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for this series in book ten. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last twenty years, specializing in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Silent Witness, Torn, The Little House and, most recently, the hit ITV show Innocent. In 2015 his audiobook exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a number-one bestseller. His debut thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek and Love Me Not. Down to the Woods is the eighth DI Helen Grace thriller. In 2019 he published a standalone thriller, A Gift for Dying.

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The Silent Wife (Will Trent Book 10) by Karin Slaughter

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Published: June 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this electrifying thriller. This was one of Emma’s Anticipated Treasures for June and exceeded expectations. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and HarperCollins UK for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

He watches.

A woman runs alone in the woods. She convinces herself she has no reason to be afraid, but she’s wrong. A predator is stalking the women of Grant County. He lingers in the shadows, until the time is just right to snatch his victim.

He waits.

A decade later, the case has been closed. The killer is behind bars. But then another young woman is brutally attacked and left for dead, and the MO is identical.

He takes.

Although the original trail has gone cold – memories have faded, witnesses have disappeared – agent Will Trent and forensic pathologist Sara Linton must re-open the cold case. But the clock is ticking, and the killer is determined to find his perfect silent wife….

MY REVIEW:

“Witnessing an unnatural death came with the job, but something about this particular victim, this particular case, sent dread into every fiber of his being.

He has hunted his share of murderers and rapists.

He had never before hunted a predator.”

A sly and sadistic killer is brutally raping and murdering women and then managing to make it look like an accident while another man sits behind bars for his earlier crimes. But was it a set up like he claims or a mistake? In this sizzling new installment of the Will Trent series, agent Will Trent and pathologist Sara Linton are not only hunting a predator but trying to determine if there is evidence of police corruption in the first investigation. But it’s been a decade since the murders started, memories have faded and not all those involved are still alive to tell their side of the story. Can they find the truth and their killer before he strikes again?

Dark, sinister, gritty and compelling, The Silent Wife is the twentieth book in twenty years from the thriller queen. When you read a Karin Slaughter novel you know you’re getting a first-class thriller. The writing is sharp, intelligent, bold and filled with dark humour. The Silent Wife is all this and more as creeping menace, dread and tension drip from every page, creating a heart-pounding, atmospheric read.

“She had seen first-hand evidence of his madness. He hadn’t been content to rape the women. He had destroyed them.”

Ms. Slaughter’s novels aren’t for the faint hearted, and this one was certainly no exception, with some gruesome, stomach-churning descriptions that made even this seasoned thriller reader have to pause to collect myself at times. But it never feels gratuitous. The villain in this book is also without a doubt one of the most cruel, cunning and sadistic predators I’ve read. A number of times there are comparisons between the man they are hunting and Ted Bundy and reading this certainly gave me the same chills that I got from reading about Bundy and his crimes. This is a villain who will stay with me for a long time. The author uses this character’s crimes to highlight the sickening ways women are sometimes brutalised and the long term physical and psychological effects that it can have on the victim. She discusses her decision to do cults in a letter to the reader at the end of the book.

When you reach the tenth book in a series you get to know the characters pretty well so reading them feels a little like meeting up with old friends. I will confess that I haven’t read all the books in this series; but I was an avid reader of the author’s earlier Grant County series and read the last book in this series. So while part of me felt like I was among friends, it was also like being with a new crowd where you don’t know all the in-jokes. But Ms. Slaughter has a way of catching you up in a concise manner so you can read it with or without having read the rest of the series. 

The Silent Wife is a wonderfully dark and twisted thriller that will leave you breathless.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Published in 37 languages, with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her nineteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novels Pretty Girls and The Good Daughter. Her most recent novel, The Last Widow, features Sara Linton and Will Trent. A native of Georgia, Karin currently lives in Atlanta. Her novels Cop Town, The Good Daughterand Pieces of Her are all in development for film and television.

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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.

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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.

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The Split by Sharon Bolton

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Published: May 28th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Suspense

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting thriller. Thank you to Alex at Orion for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBooks ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

SHE’S GOT NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE.

A year ago, in desperation, Felicity Lloyd signed up for a lengthy research trip to the remote island of South Georgia.

It was her only way to escape.

AND NOW HE’S COMING FOR HER.

Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder. Out at last, he’s on her trail.

And this time, he won’t stop until he finds her.

BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU RUN, SOME SECRETS WILL ALWAYS CATCH UP WITH YOU…

Tense, gripping and with a twist you won’t see coming, Sharon Bolton is back in an explosive new thriller about a woman on the run…

MY REVIEW:

“The ends of the Earth. That’s how far she ran this time.

Not far enough.”

Felicity Lloyd is a Glaciologist taking part in the research trip of a lifetime in South Georgia. But her career isn’t the only reason she signed up for the two-year expedition. She is also a woman on the run. But even running to the ends of the Earth wasn’t enough to stop the man she lives in fear of from finding her. He is on the island and won’t stop until he finds her.

Wow! I am still trying to catch my breath after reading this exciting and twisty thriller. A rip-roaring and wild ride that had me holding on for dear life, this was as impossible to predict as it was to put down. Packed with heart-stopping tension and gripping cliffhangers, there is much more to this layered thriller, and its characters, than first meets the eye.

“The last ship of the season. One more and she’s safe. She thinks of the fear inside her like cancer, eating away at muscles, organs, bone, growing all the time, until there is nothing left of her but a rotten, stinking mass in skin stretched like an overfilled balloon. How will the terror burst out, she wonders, when it inevitably does. A scream? A petrified wimper?“

Sharon Bolton is the Queen of the complex and chilling thriller. I’ve been a fan ever since reading Blood Harvest two years ago but was unprepared for the twisted web she would weave on these pages. The story is cleverly written and plotted, taking me in unexpected directions every time I thought I had it figured out. And even though one wild theory of mine was ultimately proven true, her clever red herrings had me convinced I was wrong right until the reveal.

One of the things I loved most about this book is its setting in the beautiful, bleak and icy Antarctic. The author breathes life into the surroundings with evocative imagery that is so transportive that I almost forgot I was sitting in the summer sun whilst reading. The author had clearly done her research and I found myself getting an education about glaciers and the Antarctic whilst reading.

Atmospheric, unexpected and riveting, The Split has ticks every box needed for a sensational thriller. Sharon Bolton is definitely on my list of auto-buy authors after this novel and I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone who enjoys a well-written thriller that keeps you on your toes.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEETTHE AUTHOR:

Sharon J Bolton was born and brought up in Lancashire, the eldest of three daughters. As a child, she dreamed of becoming an actress and a dancer, studying ballet, tap and jazz from a young age and reading drama at Loughborough University.

She spent her early career in marketing and PR before returning to full-time education to study for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Warwick University, where she met her husband, Andrew. They moved to London and Sharon held a number of PR posts in the City. She left the City to work freelance, to start a family and to write.

She and Andrew now live in a village in the Chiltern Hills, not far from Oxford, with their son and the latest addition to the family: Lupe, the lop-eared lurcher. Her daily life revolves around the school run, walking the dog and those ever-looming publishing deadlines.

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The House Guest by Mark Edwards ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Published: June 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Thank you to Mark Edwards and Thomas & Mercer for the EBook ARC of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

A perfect summer. A perfect stranger. A perfect nightmare.

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers—let alone invite them into your home—but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

The House Guest is the chilling new psychological thriller from the three million copy bestselling author of Here to Stay and Follow You Home.

MY REVIEW:

British couple Adam and Ruth are spending the summer house-sitting for friends in New York while chasing their dreams of success, fame and fortune. One stormy night, there’s a knock at the door and Adam opens it to a woman named Eden, who says she’s a friend of the homeowners and has come to take them up on their offer to stay whenever she’s in the city. Feeling bad that she has nowhere else to go, they invite her to stay and are soon charmed by the charismatic young woman. But is Eden who she claims to be? Or is there something sinister at play and Adam and Ruth just made a terrible mistake?

Any time I pick up a book by Mark Edwards I know that I will be getting a spectacularly written, heart-pounding page-turner. His latest novel is no exception. Tightly plotted, deftly told, twisty and compelling, he had me in the palm of his hand from start to finish. His rich scene setting transported me to the streets of New York, which was a welcome break during lockdown. 

The story started out at a subdued pace as Adam and Ruth get to know Eden and go about their days. But since the night Eden arrived, Adam hasn’t been able to shake the feeling he’s being watched. And, knowing Mark’s other novels, I was sure there would be someone sinister lurking in the shadows, just waiting for the right time to pounce. Then a shocking twist threw me for a look early on and the story then began to sizzle with suspense and shift into something completely unexpected. 

Reading this was like being on a wild and crazy ride that I didn’t want to end. As we approached the conclusion it became increasingly frenzied, my heart racing with apprehension. While I guessed some things right, as always Mark delivered mind-blowing revelations that I never saw coming again and again. And that ending; OMG. I have chills just thinking about it. 

The House Guest is another fantastic and memorable thriller from one of my favourite authors. Mark, you slayed me again.

Mark Edwards

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people. He has sold more than 3 million books and topped the UK bestseller list nine times. His titles include The Magpies, Follow You Home and The Retreat.

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What Lies Between Us by John Marrs ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: May 15th, 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

Nina can never forgive Maggie for what she did. And she can never let her leave.

They say every house has its secrets, and the house that Maggie and Nina have shared for so long is no different. Except that these secrets are not buried in the past.

Every other night, Maggie and Nina have dinner together. When they are finished, Nina helps Maggie back to her room in the attic, and into the heavy chain that keeps her there. Because Maggie has done things to Nina that can’t ever be forgiven, and now she is paying the price.

But there are many things about the past that Nina doesn’t know, and Maggie is going to keep it that way—even if it kills her.

Because in this house, the truth is more dangerous than lies.

MY REVIEW:

“A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on shoes.” Charles Spurgeon

It was clear from the prologue that this was going to be another gorgeously written book by John Marrs and an easy five stars. I was so engrossed in reading this crazy, unpredictable thriller that I didn’t notice the time, read through the night, and the birds were singing as I finished. 

Nina and her mother Maggie live together in the house she grew up in. But no one else knows that. Everybody else believes Maggie moved away after getting ill two years ago, which is when Nina attached a chain to her ankle and imprisoned her in her bedroom to punish her for what she did. But nothing is as it seems and Nina has no clue that there are sinister secrets lurking behind her mother’s actions. Maggie would rather die than allow her to find out the truth; which just might happen as their game of cat and mouse gets out of control…

This book is quite simply a masterpiece. I inhaled and inhabited it; the outside world disappearing away around me. Fast-paced, deftly plotted, intricate and layered, this is storytelling at its best. I’ve been a fan of John Marrs since reading his first book, The One, and, to be honest, I didn’t think he could top that for me. But he knocked me for six with this one. I read a lot of thrillers, many of them dark, warped and twisty. But in all my years of reading I think this has to be one of the most dark, warped and twisty of them all. I’m kind of scared of him after reading this. 

Nina and Maggie are memorable, richly drawn, complex and flawed characters. The both play victim and villain and it is never clear who is who in their crazy, twisted games. It is a testament to the author’s talent and nuanced writing that I found myself still having empathy and understanding even when they did the most despicable things. Neither of them is particularly likeable, but they are compelling and I vacillated between compassion and loathing towards them throughout the book. 

Reading this takes you on one hell of a ride. Each time I thought I had it figured out everything I thought I knew would be turned on its head and there were so many twists and turns that I got book whiplash. 

What Lies Between Us has shot to the top spot of my favourite thriller this year and is now my favourite book by this author.  I just hope this is picked up for adaptation like my previous favourite, The One, which I’m excited to see on Netflix soon. 

READ. THIS. BOOK. 

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

John Marrs is the author of #1 Best Sellers The One, The Good Samaritan, When You Disappeared, Welcome to Wherever You Are, Her Last Move, The Passengers and What Lies Between Us. The One has been translated into 30 different languages and is to be turned into an eight-part Netflix series in autumn 2020.
After working as a journalist for 25-years interviewing celebrities from the world of television, film and music for national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time writer.

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The Switch by Beth O’Leary ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: April 16th, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre:  Fiction, Romance

I’m delighted to share my review for the The Switch, the spectacular new novel by Beth O’Leary, as part of the social media blast. Thank you to Quercus for the invitation to take part and my ARC of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

MY REVIEW:

Reading this book was like reading Spring; when the world starts to bloom and become brighter after the bleakness of Winter. It makes you feel like there’s hope and light in the world. Something that is desperately needed in these crazy and uncertain times. Witty, uplifting, warm, tender, joyous and utterly consuming, I flew through it in under a day, staying up into the wee hours, unable to stop reading until I got to the end. 

The Switch was one of my most eagerly-anticipated books of 2020, so when I received an ARC from Quercus I was giddy with excitement. It has sat in my pile of ARCs taunting me and calling my name ever since, so I was bursting with excitement when I finally got the chance to pick it up. Thankfully, it more than lived up to the hype. 

It is a story about self-discovery, adventure, family and the search for love. The Cotton family are still trying to heal from a tragedy that has torn them apart and the life swap proves the perfect opportunity to heal old wounds and face their aching loss. The author expertly and sensitively tapped into the intricacies of grief, loss, family and relationships, not shying away from the raw and angry aspects that are part of the process. 

I fell in love with Beth O’Leary’s marvellous storytelling when I read her debut novel, The Flatshare, last year. With The Switch she has solidified her place as one of my favourite authors. Her writing is exquisite, smooth and affecting, the honeyed words making the world around you vanish so all that exists is the world she’s created. 

Leena and Eillen are fantastic characters. I loved them both but I was smitten with Eileen from the moment she appeared in the book.  Feisty, fearless, kind and hilarious, she’s a force to be reckoned with and is now one of my favourite female characters of all time. I loved her sweet and close relationship with Leena, which reminded me of the relationship I have with my Nan, how she made everyone better versions of themselves and is always thinking of others. As well as fantastic narrators, the author created a rich, varied cast of characters that radiated from the page, bringing the communities she created to life and immersing me in their world. 

The Switch is an absolute gem. A delightful, lingering and enthralling read, I can’t recommend it highly enough. When I turned the final page, there was a sadness that it was over and I wished I could go back and experience it for the first time all over again. Eileen is such a loveable and delightful character that I challenge anyone not to adore her and get ‘Eileened’. I know I did. It is the perfect book to brighten your day during these strange times and will be one of my top books this year for sure. BUY IT NOW. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Beth studied English at university before going into children’s publishing. She lives as close to the countryside as she can get while still being in reach of London, and wrote her first novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey from work.

She is now writing novels full time, and if she’s not at her desk, you’ll usually find her curled up somewhere with a book, a cup of tea, and several woolly jumpers (whatever the weather).

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Me and my lovely Nan, Esme.

 

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