Published: May 12th 2022 Publisher: Michael Joseph Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Holiday Fiction Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
Welcome to my stop on the tour for this sizzling summer thriller. Thank you to Jen at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
Two couples. One sweltering Italian villa . . .
Nick and Laura are the hosts: pretending their marriage isn’t on the rocks.
Madison and Bastian are the guests: neither is remotely who they claim to be.
Under the scorching Mediterranean sun no secret is safe. No betrayal goes unnoticed.
Two couples. But will either survive the summer . . .
After the heartbreak of infertility takes them to breaking point, Laura and Nick decide to start again in Italy. Luna Rossa promises to be that fresh start and when their first guests arrive it looks like things are finally looking up. But Madison and Bastian aren’t who they claim to be, and all four of them are hiding secrets that threaten to turn this dream into a nightmare.
Sexy, sultry and suspenseful, Summer Fever is an edge-of-your seat thriller full of lust, secrets and betrayal. Kate Riordan is a skilled storyteller who had me transfixed from the first page as she opened with an ominous and foreboding prologue that sets the scene for the rest of the book.
Told in two parts with sporadic flashbacks to the mysterious past love who broke Laura’s heart, I loved how the atmosphere crackled with a deliciously dark tension and overwhelming sense of dread that kept me on tenterhooks. The flashbacks had that sense of haziness that only looking back on our past with rose-tinted glasses can bring and left me apprehensive about what was in store for Laura, who seemed to be hurtling back towards the fire that had already burned her. I wanted to yell at her to stop but knew she would never have listened. There was an air of inevitability that left you feeling powerless to do anything but wait and see just how bad the fallout would be when it came.
The dynamics between each of the four main characters are compelling and I liked how having Laura as our only narrator makes the others a bit of an enigma and you aren’t always sure what to make of them. But one of my favourite things is how she transported me to the sweltering shores of Italy with such realism that I could almost feel the sun beating down on me and see the gorgeous view from Luna Rossa. Italy has always been at the top of my bucket list and I felt like I got a virtual holiday there thanks to this book, albeit one with a lot of turmoil.
Alluring, addictive and sizzling with tension, this is the perfect thriller to read in the sun with a glass of wine in hand.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist. She is an avid reader of Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie, both of whom have influenced her writing. She lives in the Cotswolds, where she writes full-time. Her previous novels include The Girl In The Photograph, The Shadow Hour, The Stranger and The Heatwave, which was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Summer Fever is her fifth novel.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this crazy thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the gifted ARC.
When a middle-aged couple downsizes to the countryside for an easier life, their two daughters become isolated, argumentative and violent … A chilling, vicious and darkly funny psychological thriller from bestselling author Helen FitzGerald. ________________________________________
Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Penny and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille.
Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Penny and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent.
When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move.
But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that.
This is a murder, just waiting to happen…
Chilling, vicious and darkly funny, Keep Her Sweet is not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but also a startling look at sister relationships and the bonds they share … or shatter.
“Unhappy families always cheered her up.”
This intriguing first line sets the tone for thisaddictiveportrayal of dark domesticity featuring one of the most messed-up families I’ve ever read.
Penny and Andeep Maloney-Singh should have been enjoying their empty nest but their baby birds have come back to roost. Tensions rise, tempers flare, violence escalates and the Maloney-Singhs become a family on fire and hire therapist Joy to help them douse the flames. But even she underestimates just how broken they are, finding herself caught up in a tableau of misery that seems to be speeding towards a catastrophic outcome.
What a ride! When I started this book I thought I knew what to expect but instead found myself reading something even more sinister, savage and shocking that I anticipated. The author explores topics such as sibling rivalry, unhappy marriage, bad parenting, mental health and religious fervour with nuance and humour. The multiple points of view give us very different perspectives that not only add to the suspense but would make me question if what I was reading was as reliable as I first thought. Would I get to the end and discover I’d been fooled from the start?
The Maloney-Singhs are a dysfunctional, toxic and damaged family. Their home and hearts are a cesspit of bitterness, rage, trauma and fear that rapidly escalates with fatal results. They vacillate between being characters we can understand and ones we will never fathom, but they are utterly compelling and great to read. My heart broke for Camille. She seemed the most sane and normal of them all but seemed forgotten by her parents and was always on the receiving end of Asha’s vicious outbursts. I wanted to scream at her parents to step in and help! While very unlikeable, Asha made a great villain and I loved to hate her. She added so much tension and suspense to the story and was that great combination of unbelievably crazy and totally believable.
Darkly funny, chaotic, claustrophobic and unflinching, Keep Her Sweet is an intense psychological thriller that will make you grateful for the family you have.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and adapted for a major BBC drama. Her 2019 dark-comedy thriller Worst Case Scenario was a Book of the Year in the Literary Review, Herald Scotland, Guardian and Daily Telegraph, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and won the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia, and now lives in Glasgow with her husband.
Published: March 3rd 2022 Publisher: Head of Zeus Genre: Suspense, Fantasy Fiction, Travel Literature, Adventure Fiction, Book Series, Fantasy Series Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook
This is a few days late but I’m finally sharing my review for the suspenseful second book in the Pantheon trilogy. Thank you to Jade at Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
The second in an action-packed adventure thriller series, where modern-day recruits compete in an ancient fight to the death in the streets of Edinburgh.
New Season. New Rules. Same deadly game…
The Pantheon Games are the biggest underground event in the world, followed by millions online. New recruits must leave behind their twenty-first century lives and vie for dominance in a gruelling battle to the death armed only with ancient weapons – and their wits.
Last season’s new recruits Tyler and Lana have lived to fight another day, but now they face a series of even more lethal clashes before the Grand Battle that will end the Season.
It’s survival of the fittest, in the most brutal fashion imaginable. Lana must face the demons of her past, and Tyler has the mother of all targets on his back.
This action-packed adventure thriller is perfect for fans of Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, Battle Royale and The Running Man.
“Battle is terror. The wait is worse.”
The Pantheon Games are the world’s biggest underground events. Bankrolled by the elite, they are watched by millions online as the chosen competitors embark on life or death battles armed with only ancient weapons. Tyler and Lana – now known as Punnr and Calder – are new recruits to Edinburgh’s Valhalla Horde and are gearing up for their first blood season. It begins with the blood nights and culminates in the Grand Battle, a brutal war between Scotland’s two warring factions that is the most dangerous of Pantheon’s year. Can the pair survive to fight another year? Or will they fall.
In the second of C.F. Barrington’s Pantheon trilogy he again merges fantasy and reality to create a world that is believable and addictive. The book opens with the stats of both Hordes and then succinctly catches you up on the events of book one with a section titled ‘What has come before’. This was a brilliant idea to include as this is a complex and layered world filled with an array of characters. I still found myself getting a little confused at times due to the huge amount of detail that is needed to explain Pantheon’s rules but it didn’t last long and I was soon back on tenterhooks as the riveting action occurred. In the background of the games is the ongoing search for Morgan, Tyler’s sister, who was part of Valahlla’s rival Horde. This parallel storyline provides added tension and mystery to the story as well as increased risk to Tyler and the others who are trying to track Morgan down. Some of those high up in Pantheon risk losing their position should she be found and reveal what she knows meaning Tyler and the others are fighting against not only their sworn enemies but those in their own ranks who will do anything to silence those who pose a threat to their position.
There are a multitude of great characters from heroes you can root for to villains you love to hate. I enjoyed being back with them, particularly the ones familiar from book one, and enjoyed seeing how they and their relationships developed in this instalment. Tyler/Punnr is a great protagonist and I loved his friendship with Brante, his blossoming relationship with Lana/Calder, and the brotherly bond he shares with Oliver. I was completely invested and worrying about Tyler would be affected should he lose any of these people just added to the tension. I thought there was a good balance of character study and action, allowing the reader to feel a real connection with the many characters while also being full of suspense.
The Blood Isles is an addictive and entertaining read that you will enjoy even if, like me, this isn’t your usual genre. And that ending! I thought my heart would beat out of my chest and am going to be counting down to book three after that climatic cliffhanger!
MEET THE AUTHOR:
C F Barrington spent twenty years intending to write a novel, but found life kept getting in the way. Instead, his career took him into major gift fundraising, leading teams in organisations as varied as Oxford University, the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
Today is my stop on the blog tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.
Five-year-old Cally waits in her pretty pink bedroom for the sound of the front door opening and her mother’s sweet voice in the hall. But when the doorbell finally rings, and Cally creeps out of bed to peer through the banister, a large man in uniform is all she sees. Her mother is missing…
Teacher Annabel Braddock was last seen drinking at the local pub with her best friend, Jennifer. Witnesses saw tears running down her cheeks, and friends say she was having problems with a colleague at work, and that her marriage had broken down.
But as the two women hugged goodbye, neither noticed the car speeding towards them. As the dust settled, Jennifer lay unconscious on the ground and Annabel was nowhere to be seen. She’d never abandon her little girl, so did someone snatch her?
As family crowd around Jennifer’s hospital bed, hoping she’ll wake up, police visit Annabel’s home and her inconsolable daughter, Cally, tells them she had seen a man outside staring into her room as she climbed into bed that evening. Was it her childish imagination, or had someone been watching Annabel’s home?
When Jennifer finally opens her eyes and tells the police what happened that night, it’s clear there are plenty of people with a reason to harm Annabel. With an unpredictable husband, a colleague who denies harassing her and a neighbour who seems to know her every move, could she be in imminent danger? As the hours turn to days, will little Cally ever see her precious mother again? Or will she be next?
If you love fast-paced, gripping crime thrillers that keep you up all night, you’ll be completely addicted to One Girl Missing. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh.
Best friends Annabel and Jennifer are hugging each other goodbye at the end of a girls night out when a car speeds towards them. Jennifer is left unconscious on the ground and Annabel is nowhere to be seen, only her bag and spots of her blood left behind. Detective Gina Harte and her team are called in and as they investigate it soon becomes clear that there are multiple people who might want to harm Annabel. But can they figure it out and find Annabel before it’s too late?
The eleventh instalment in Carla Kovach’s Gina Harte series is another compelling thriller. There are numerous suspects in this case, each with a valid motive, and they are all on the run: a cheating husband, his young girlfriend who was also the family childminder, an angry father, a teenage pupil with a crush, a colleague she was rumoured to be seeing and a friendly neighbour. But who took Annabel? I was sure it was each of them at one point or another and even wondered if some of them were working together. It is a tangled web of suspicion that is full of so many twists and turns I thought I’d get book whiplash! But was my final choice the real culprit? Or had Ms. Kovach duped me again with her red herrings?
One of the things I love most about reading a series is coming back to the familiar, much-loved characters and I was glad to be back with Gina and her team. Gina is dealing with emotional turmoil after seeing Briggs out with another woman. Is this the end of her relationship? And the whole team face heartache as they wait to learn if one of their own will survive, Jacob being particularly tortured as he hopes the love of his life pulls through. The new characters were well written as always. I felt a real bond with Annabel and could feel her terror as she’s held captive and wonders if she will ever see her young daughter, Cally, again. And it was Cally, along with teenage student Omar, who went right to my heart in this book. They were such great characters who it was impossible not to feel for. I was rooting for them, especially as young Omar takes it upon himself to save Annabel himself in order to keep her secrets.
Dark, suspenseful, gripping and action-packed, One Girl Missing is another riveting thriller from Ms. Kovach. Fans of this genre will love not only this book, but the whole series and I recommend them both highly.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Carla started writing more seriously ten years ago after having flirted with musical theatre and occasional writing in her youth.
Since then she has written & produced several stage plays, has four self-published books, has acted in several independent films and is currently in the final stages of production of her feature horror film, Penny for the Guy.
She now writes full time as well as co-owning a film, photography & video production company located in the heart of Redditch town centre.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent and haunting gothic mystery. Thank you to Alex at Orion for the invitation to take part and ARC.
In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city’s celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.
Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker’s experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.
For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker’s intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.
And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles…
A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.
“She knew then that the clockmaker might not be simply strange. He might well be something much worse.”
Paris, 1750. Madeleine Casteel arrives at the home of Doctor Maximillian Reinhart, a clockmaker who is the talk of the city thanks to his strange and unique creations. She has been tasked with spying on Reinhart’s every move in exchange for her own freedom. But Madeleine soon finds that she may have stumbled upon a secret much darker than she imagined. A secret that may go to the heart of Versailles and put her life in danger.
“She was tired of being told she was worth less than nothing by men who did nothing themselves.”
Macabre, haunting and suspenseful, this twisted gothic tale was everything I could have hoped for and more. A story cloaked in the syrupy blackness of a sinister mystery, this is a much darker tale than I expected. A story of a maid, a clockmaker, a King, a Courtesan and missing children. It has something for everyone: true crime mixed with historical fiction, a dash of mystery and a sprinkle of feminism. The addition of French language amongst the prose was a coupe de genie that perfected this magnificent and original tale.
My love for historical fiction is no secret and one of my favourite things about it is how much I learn while being entertained. I know relatively little about the time and place this story is set in but the author’s meticulous research and evocative imagery transported me back to the bleak streets of 18th Century Paris so vividly that I could see the buildings leaning into one another, and the beggars in the shadows, hear the horses as they pulled their carriages full of passengers and smell the filth. It was a time of corruption when humanity was forsaken in favour of wealth and power. Men would use their position to control women, a theme that runs throughout the story as we see our three female narrators at the mercy of men with power no matter their position in society and feel powerless to change it.
“Those things he makes, whatever it is he calls them – look at them closely. They’re impossible things, made with dark magic.”
I love when a talented author takes an outlandish idea and runs with it successfully, which is what Anna Mazzola has done with this book. Automata is a fascinating topic and through King Louis IV’s obsession with death, automata and reanimation and the fictitious Doctor Reinhart, the author explores how these astounding yet bizarre creations were both revered and feared, their ability to seemingly defy the laws of nature leading to whispers of witchcraft and black magic. Combined with the mention of how children are quietly vanishing from the streets of Paris that is slowly dripped into the story this creates a chilling air of suspicion, menace and fear that hovers over every page.
Richly drawn, exquisitely told and intricately woven, The Clockwork Girl kept me guessing until the final pages, giving up its twisted secrets slowly, my heart racing in breathless anticipation as I read. A spellbinding and unique story that I would highly recommend.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Anna is a writer of historical thrillers and Gothic fiction. Her novels explore the impact of crime and injustice.
Her debut novel, The Unseeing, is based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1837. It won an Edgar Allan Poe Award in the US and was nominated for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown in the UK.
Her second novel, The Story Keeper, is out now. It follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857. The Story Keeper was nominated for the Highland Book Prize.
Her third novel, The Clockwork Girl, set in Paris in 1750 and based partly on the story of the vanishing children of Paris, will be published by Orion in March 2022. She is currently working on her fourth novel, a ghost story set in Fascist Italy.
As well as novels, Anna writes short stories. She is an accomplished public speaker and regularly speaks at and chairs literary events.
Anna is also a human rights and criminal justice solicitor, working with victims of crime. She lives in Camberwell, South London, with her family, a snake, a lizard and a cat.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this lively and entertaining romp. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.
At the royal boat race there are beautiful barges, plenty of bunting, a handsome prince and… is that a body in the water? Lady Swift is on the case!
Spring, 1923. One-time adventurer and now amateur sleuth Lady Eleanor Swift is attending the annual royal regatta with her new pal Tipsy Fitzroy. Tipsy has Eleanor trussed up like a debutante in a new dress, determined to turn her into a proper society lady. Even Eleanor’s favourite companion, Gladstone the bulldog, has a new outfit for the occasion.
But the sparkling prize-giving ceremony is interrupted when the devilishly handsome host gulps his glass of champagne on stage and collapses to the floor. The victim is none other than the king’s cousin, Lord Xander Taylor-Howard. He was rumoured to be entangled in a rather dubious gambling ring, but did someone kill him instead of collecting his debt? Or was this simply an ill-timed tragic accident? Either way, a right royal scandal is afoot…
Sir Percival, the head of the royal police, asks Eleanor for her help investigating. He’d do anything to keep the story under wraps. She knows it will get her into hot water with a certain dapper Detective Seldon, but she’s determined to see justice done. However, as she digs deeper, she learns Lord Taylor-Howard was hiding more than one murky secret. It isn’t until she takes a closer look at the unfortunate royal’s shattered champagne flute that she stumbles upon just the clue she needs. But can she reel in the killer before her ship is sunk too?
A warm and witty 1920s mystery that cozy fans will just adore. Addictive reading for fans of T E Kinsey, Lee Strauss and Agatha Christie.
We’re back for another fun romp with my favourite aristocratic amateur sleuth. For the ninth instalment in their Lady Eleanor Swift series, Verity Bright transport us back to Spring 1923 and the annual royal regatta, which Eleanor is attending with her new friend, Tipsy Fitzroy. Tipsy is determined to turn Eleanor into a ‘proper’ Lady and find her a suitable man at the event. But all thoughts of love and propriety are swiftly forgotten when Lord Xander Taylor-Howard, a minor member of the royal family, collapses at the prize-giving ceremony. Though initially reluctant, Eleanor soon finds herself drawn into the investigation into Xander’s death, trying to identify the suspect and avoid a royal scandal. But someone doesn’t appreciate Eleanor’s investigations and once again she finds herself in danger…
I have come to view this series as a real comfort read and it was the beginning of my journey into reading cosy mysteries, which I’d always previously thought would be too tame for my dark crime-loving soul. The characters are a delight and I love the relationship between Lady Eleanor and her butler Clifford. This witty crime-solving duo never fails to entertain me while keeping me glued to their latest mystery. I am also deeply invested in her burgeoning romance with Chief Inspector Hugh Sleddon, which I’m hoping will head towards the happily-ever-after they deserve.
Once again I was glued to the pages as Eleanor finds herself embroiled in yet another murder investigation. The poor woman can’t seem to go anywhere without a dead body turning up! This time she’s doing it for King and country as she tries to help avoid a royal scandal after the poisoning of a maverick minor royal. Xander was charming but left a trail of potential scandal behind him, leaving a myriad of possible killers and motives. It’s a tangled web to unravel, but if anyone can do it it’s Eleanor and Clifford. I loved how much this story twisted and turned, taking me by surprise and revealing truths I never even considered.
If you’re looking for a murder mystery that is also lively, witty and uplifting then pick up this book.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s.
Published: March 3rd 2022 Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction, Legal Thriller, Political Thriller Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Simon & Schuster UK for the gifted ARC.
From the bestselling author of Anatomy of a Scandal, soon to be a major Netflix series… Reputation: it takes a lifetime to build and just one moment to destroy. ‘Sarah Vaughan has done it again. Superb’ Shari Lapena
Emma Webster is a respectable MP.
Emma Webster is a devoted mother.
Emma Webster is innocent of the murder of a tabloid journalist.
Emma Webster is a liar.
#Reputation: The story you tell about yourself. And the lies others choose to believe…
MP Emma Webster is riding high; her career is flourishing, she’s making changes to laws she’s passionate about, and she’s being interviewed and featured on the front cover of the Guardian Weekend magazine. But then things start to fall apart and Emma soon finds her life is in tatters as she’s put on trial for a murder she says she didn’t commit. But what is the truth? Is Emma Webster a terrified woman who acted in self-defence, or is she a calculating killer erasing the threat to her reputation?
Tense, twisty and powerful,Reputation is a riveting blend of captivating whodunnit, gripping legal thriller and exploration of important social issues we face today. This was my first time reading one of Sarah Vaughan’s books and my expectations were high after hearing high praise of her previous novels. I was not disappointed. From the opening pages there is a foreshadowing of something terrible occurring that turns Emma’s world upside down, adding an ominous atmosphere that looms over every word. It had me on the edge of my seat as I waited for the full story to unfold, my heart pounding as it reached its dramatic crescendo. While I did guess some of the twists, many of them surprised me, taking the plot and characters in directions I never saw coming. Sharply written and intelligent, this is a thriller that keeps you guessing, makes you think and entertains you all in one fell swoop.
The characters are compelling, flawed and relatable, with problems that are both recognisable and believable. Emma was a great protagonist and I found her easy to root for at every step. She is a nuanced character who is strong, fierce and capable but also scared and unsure. I was never sure if she was guilty or not but could see how everything could have come together to create the perfect storm that led to murder. But the character I was most drawn to was Flora, Emma’s fourteen-year-old daughter. The author expertly puts the reader back into the psyche of a teenage girl as her isolation, fear and teenage angst leap from the page. I found her chapters heart-rending as a parent of teenagers; worrying what my children might be going through without me having any clue it’s happening. It also transported me back to my own teenage years and that feeling of having nowhere to turn and being scared to talk to your parents when something is really wrong. Emma and Flora’s experiences mirrored each other in many ways and I did enjoy seeing how it drew them closer together when they could have let it tear them further apart.
Emma’s political career sees her being a voice for the voiceless as she fights against violence and threats towards women, particularly concentrating on the battle for new legislation around revenge porn. It is a fight that makes her many enemies and she is subjected to the most vile threats and abuse every day. Before reading this book I had no idea of the extent of the abuse that is part of the daily lives of women in the public eye, the fear they live with or the many safety measures they are forced to take each day. I was shocked and appalled at what they are subjected to and can’t imagine needing water at public events in case acid is thrown in your face or being told to accept that threats of death and rape are part of the job you’ve chosen. All of this leads into the other many timely and important themes explored in the book such as female empowerment and solidarity, how women are judged more harshly than their male counterparts, online bullying and the misogyny, threats and violence that women endure and have grown to expect in their day to day lives.Even the young aren’t immune, with pre-teens and teenagers using technology as a bullying tool. While technology and social media can be a positive thing, when it’s used in this way it means that those who are targeted have no respite from the onslaught of abuse.
Unsurprisingly, the topic of reputation is another theme that recurs throughout the book and the author explores the subject of our reputation versus our character. Our reputations are built from the outside in but can be destroyed by those who don’t even know us in an instant. Emma is someone who is very aware of her reputation and carefully cultivates it, particularly in relation to her job. She has spent years building her reputation as a loving mother, no-nonsense MP and fierce warrior for female rights. It’s who she is from the inside out. So when it all comes crumbling down and her reputation is left in tatters, it shakes her to her core and Emma struggles with being portrayed as a person she doesn’t recognise. It is her reputation, as well as her freedom, that she is fighting for in court.
Bold, brilliant and intriguing, Reputation packs a punch. This is a book you need to read.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist. After training at the Press Association, she spent eleven years at the Guardian as a news reporter and political correspondent before leaving to freelance and write fiction. Anatomy of a Scandal, her 3rd novel and her first courtroom drama/psychological thriller, combined these experiences and became an instant international bestseller, and Sunday Times top five bestseller. Translated into 22 languages, it was also a kindle number 1 bestseller, shortlisted for awards in the UK, France and Sweden, and filmed as a six-part Netflix mini-series, starring Sienna Miller, Michelle Dockery, and Rupert Friend. It will be transmitted in spring 2022.
Little Disasters has also been optioned for the screen, was a Waterstone’s thriller of the month, WH Smith paperback of the month, Kindle bestseller, and has been published in the US and various other countries. She is currently working on her fifth novel
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising and magical tale. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Manilla Press for the gifted ARC.
‘Haunting, thrilling, wonderful. I loved it’ Stacey Halls
The luminous debut adult novel from the Waterstones Prize Winner, perfect for fans of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, The Essex Serpent and The Doll Factory
In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are . . .
October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.
Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grip of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .
THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.
In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are…
October, 1840. A scared young woman is fleeing from an unknown assailant, running for her life in a dark forest when the impossible happens: a huge pair of wings rip from her shoulders and she transforms into something extraordinary and impossible; she becomes an angel. A man finds the corpse of a woman in the Thames. But she is no ordinary woman, wings sprouting from her shoulders like an angel. The man seizes the opportunity and sells her to an ambitious surgeon who swears him to secrecy. But rumours are soon rife about ‘the Angel of the Thames’, spreading through the city like wildfire, though most dismiss it as folly. As tales of more impossible beings spread through the city, the surgeon seeks out these extraordinary women to add to his collection, seeing an opportunity to make his fortune and live in infamy. But he isn’t the only one on their trail, a would-be journalist is also seeking out these women, determined to find out the truth behind these rumours and further her writing career.
“It is an extraordinary story, he thinks, utterly fantastical and yet… could it really be that there is something to it?”
The Gifts is an enthralling gothic fairy tale. A story about girl power, self-belief and finding out who you really are set against a backdrop of the Victorian era with a little bit of magical realism woven into the narrative. Liz Hyder has crafted a novel that combines great storytelling, vivid imagery, compelling characters and authenticsocial history that lured me in from the first page and kept me guessing right until the last. The short, punchy chapters give the story fluidity and the five narrators: Etta, Annie, Mary, Natalya and Edward, add their own unique voices to the story as it explores themes of patriarchy, religion, science, power and social class.
“It is her first day with wings. It is also her first day as a prisoner.”
Told from multiple points of view, the varied cast of characters are richly drawn and entertaining. The four female narrators are each in a dark place and feeling marginalised when we meet them and we follow as they try to find out who they are and what their place is in a patriarchal society that doesn’t want their voices to be heard. It is a journey that will see these four strangers come together in the most unexpected of ways and I loved reading every one of them. Even in their darkest hours they are quietly determined, fierce and strong, showing a resilience that carries them through. Etta and Mary were women who pushed the envelope, going beyond what society tells them is acceptable for a woman to live the life they want, although they do this in very different ways. Natalya has a heartbreaking story but her strength still shines through as she refuses to give up time and time again. Annie is a woman who has given up her dreams for herself to be a wife and then found herself infertile, longing for a child she seems unable to have. My heart broke for her as I know that pain; though I did laugh at the idea that reading causes blood to drain from the uterus and therefore stops a woman getting pregnant. Though there were times I’d wish the author would allow them to push social boundaries and not rely on men even more, I did enjoy how each of these women were written. I particularly enjoyed watching Etta harnessing her rage into a power and using her intelligence to outwit the men who would try to hold her back or keep her captive.
“He smiles to himself as his lips run over the words. It will be outstanding, he thinks, and is greatly pleased – even overwhelmed – by his own magnificence.”
Though this is ultimately a story about women, it is Edward who is at the centre of the story. He is a truly fantastic villain, so brilliantly written that he made me incandescent with rage. I despised him. Edward is a man possessed by ambition, religious fanaticism and delusion; a dangerous combination that sets him on a path that merges with the four women with catastrophic consequences. After watching him mercilessly kill an animal early in the book I wasn’t surprised when he later showed no compassion towards ‘his angels’. He sees these women as merely tools to aid his ascension to greatness, possessions given to him to use in any way he desires and gives no thought for them as human beings with autonomy or feelings. He also sees his wife as an extension of himself, only there to further him socially, treating her with increasing disdain. It was disturbing to watch as his mania grew and he became more paranoid, unable to be reasoned with and only caring about his notoriety and God’s so-called plan. I was itching for him to meet his downfall.
“And perhaps the world is not ready for women such as us. Not yet.”
The Gifts is a mesmerising piece of historical and gothic fiction that will delight, enthral and enrage you. The author weaves an illuminating tale that builds to a dramatic climax as the women finally discover their power. I would recommend this book and can’t wait to read more by Ms. Hyder.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Liz Hyder is a writer, creative workshop leader and arts PR Consultant. Bearmouth, her debut for Young Adults, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Readers, the Branford Boase Award and was named Children’s Book of the Year in The Times. The Gifts, her debut book for grown-ups, is out in February 2022.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour and to Doubleday for the gifted ARC.
SEX AND THE CITY with a killer edge for fans of QUEENIE, EXPECTATION and MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER
SOON TO BE A MAJOR BBC TV SERIAL
Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London. They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English. Not all of them choose to see it that way.
Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her urban vibe yet again.
When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them.
Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself.
Explosive, hilarious and wildly entertaining, this razor-sharp tale of love, race and family will have you laughing, crying and gasping in horror. Fearlessly political about class, colourism and clothes, the spellbinding Wahala is for anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.
PICKED AS ONE OF STYLIST MAGAZINE’S ‘FICTION BOOKS YOU CAN’T MISS OF 2022’
Wahala is a Nigerian Pidgin word meaning ‘trouble’, and there is trouble aplenty in this exciting debut.
A story of friendship, family, identity, race and secrets, Wahala is narrated by three friends: Ronke, Simi and Boo. Now living in London, the trio met at university in Bristol and bonded over being of Nigerian and English descent. Their shared dual heritage made them outsiders and created a connection that they thought was unbreakable. But when Isobel, a childhood friend of Simi from Lagos, comes into their lives, cracks in their friendships soon begin to appear and soon all four women are forced to confront their darkest secrets and deepest vulnerabilities. Will their friendships survive?
Wow! What a sensational debut. This book has a great vibe from the start and is full of humour, warmth, chaos and tension, it pulled me in immediately and didn’t let go until the final page. Nikki May brings her characters and their world to life in vivid technicolour, educating the reader on life in Nigeria and exploring how it feels to be mixed race while also making you laugh and feel entertained. And the food. I was so happy to find there are recipes for some of the traditional Nigerian cuisine that is mentioned as it made my mouth water and stomach rumble reading about it.
A book like this is nothing without great characters and Ms. May has created an enthralling group of flawed, fascinating and fabulous women. Ronke is a dentist who just wants to find Mr. Right and have babies. She loves cooking, especially Nigerian food, and seems to be the heart of the group. Simi is the glamorous one, at least until Isobel arrives. She likes the finer things in life and cares about what others think of her, always keen to project a picture perfect image of her life even if it’s falling apart at the seams. Boo is unsatisfied with her life and feels like the grass is always greener. She loves her husband and child but feels stifled by them and wants something more. And then there’s Isobel, newly divorced, vivacious and exuding confidence. I liked her at first but it didn’t take long for me to realise that this woman was a sniper from the side. I could see her calculating to come between these three friends but couldn’t figure out why or what she wanted. And I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure it out. They were all such fun to read and I loved how the author portrays many facets of womanhood and female friendship through these women. There is something that we can all relate to in some way.
Entertaining and explosive, Wahala is the debut that everyone is going to be talking about. I was thrilled to learn that it has already been picked up for TV because it is utterly bingeable. Read it now!
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Born in Bristol, raised in Lagos, I’m proud to be Anglo-Nigerian. I ran a successful ad agency before turning to writing and now live in Dorset with my husband, two standard schnauzers, and way too many books.
My debut novel WAHALA was inspired by a long (and loud) lunch with friends. It will be published around the world in January 2022 and is being adapted into a major BBC TV drama.
Published: December 8th 2021 Publisher: Code Grey Publishing Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Crime Series Format: Paperback, Kindle
I’m closing out the year with a review for a heart-pounding thriller by an author I’ve loved reading this year. Thank you A.J. Campbell for the invitation to take part in the tour and the gifted eBook ARC.
Someone is dying. Everyone is lying.
Glamorous Cara De Rosa has it all: a rapidly expanding chain of family-run Italian restaurants, friends aplenty and an imminent marriage to a much younger man.
When she collapses during a family party, all signs point to a heart attack. But Cara knows better. She confides in her beloved granddaughter, Sienna. Someone wants her dead.
Sienna, a troubled single parent, is exasperated with the police for failing to find the culprit of her husband’s death five years earlier. Her lack of confidence in the justice system leads her to delve into Cara’s chilling allegation.
It’s a race against time to save her grandmother’s life. The more Sienna searches for the truth, the more she discovers her family is riddled with dark secrets, lies and deceit.
But who would want to see the end of the popular Cara De Rosa?
A psychological suspense thriller full of twists and turns
Great for fans of Lisa Jewell, Harlan Coben, Shari Lapena, Adele Parks, Mark Edwards, Miranda Rijks, Daniel Hurst and Lucy Foley.
When De Rosa family Matriarch, Cara, collapses at her great-granddaughter’s birthday party all signs point to a heart attack. But while in hospital Cara confides in her granddaughter Sienna that she has been poisoned, and she knows who wants her dead…
A thrilling mystery skillfully interwoven with compelling family drama, Search No Further is a story of family, secrets, lies and betrayal. It will take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions, breaking your heart as Cara fights for life in her hospital bed and Sienna continues to grapple with the devastating loss of her husband five years earlier, making you smile as young Lola shares the wisdom only children can possess, and making your heart race as you work to untangle the web of mystery surrounding them all to discover if one of them is a potential killer.
I’ve now read all of A.J. Campbell’s novels and she just keeps getting better. This book is a departure from her Eva Barnes series but I found the De Rosa family utterly compelling. Even without their deep cavern of family secrets this family is entertaining enough for multiple books, a colourful cast of characters who leapt from the page. I especially loved Cara and the sweet relationship she and Sienna shared. It reminded me of the close relationship I enjoyed with my own Grandmother, who I lost earlier this year, right down to how Cara dotes on her great-grandchild, just as mine did. This made me feel even more invested in the story and whether or not Cara would pull through. As we approached the finale I couldn’t read fast enough, my heart pounding so hard I thought it might beat out of my chest right up until the shocking truth was revealed.
A pacy and twisty psychological puzzle that will keep you guessing, read this book if you enjoy a well-written thriller.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
AJ Campbell is the debut author of the bestselling novel Leave Well Alone, which readers describe as ‘a gripping story with a killer twist’. An alumna of the Faber Academy, AJ writes in the psychological suspense, thriller and mystery genres. Her latest novel Don’t Come Looking, although a standalone story, is a sequel to her debut and was released in April 2021.
The human mind and how different people react to each other and interact in society fascinates AJ. She draws inspiration for her novels from many facets of everyday life. Asking, ‘How can that have possibly happened?’ AJ loves to immerse herself in developing threads, plotting and letting her creative energy help her characters evolve.
Until the birth of her twins in 2005, which radically changed her life, AJ worked as an accountant in London. One of her twins was born with severe disabilities, as a result of which she had to give up work to care for him. During this incredibly challenging (and rewarding) time, AJ began to draw on her love of the written word, partly for daily inspiration and partly for her own mental health.
Reading or writing, AJ loves nothing more than settling down with a good book. She enjoys reading most genres, especially thought-provoking novels that beg the question – what would I have done in that situation?
AJ lives on the Essex / Hertfordshire border with her husband, two of her three sons, and her cocker spaniel, Max. She is a firm believer in daily exercise for mental health and enjoys walking Max in the local fields. AJ also loves cooking oriental food while sipping a good glass of white wine.