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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up Support Debuts

Monthly Wrap-Up: January 2021

It feels like the first month of the year both lasted forever and flew by so fast. Or is that just me?

I didn’t think I was going to do monthly wrap-ups this year as I don’t want to focus on how many books I’m reading. It’s about enjoying reading rather than the quantity. But this month has been jam packed with AMAZING books that I just had to share with you all, so I decided a wrap up post was needed.

I’ve had a fantastic start to my reading year and I think it is in part due to the quality of the books I’ve read, but also because I managed a lot of free reading. It’s been a long time since I was able to choose about half my books I read in a month simply by what I fancied reading, and I loved it. I do have quite a few tours in the next few months – damn so many incredible sounding books being released – but am renewed in my determination to do less of them this year and read more of what I feel like at my own pace.

So here is what I read in January:

BOOK OF THE MONTH:

All but one of my reads this month were four stars or more, with most of them being 4.5 or 5 star reads. The quality of books being released at the moment is phenomenal, particularly in terms of debuts, but it makes choosing a book of the month impossible. For that reason, I have chosen five favourites this month: The Shadow Man, The Lamplighters, The Summer Job, Dead Head and Everything Is Beautiful. Three of these –The Lamplighters, The Summer Job and Everything Is Beautiful – are debuts by authors I am excited to read more from.

There were three others I could have easily added to the list, but eight books of the month seemed a little too much.

Did we read any of the same books this month? Are any of these books in your tbr? Let me know in the comments.

You can see my reviews and more information on each book by clicking on the link in the title*. Thank you to the tagged publishers for my gifted review copies.
*Some reviews are yet to be posted and will be up in the coming week.

Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

BLOG TOUR: Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

Published: February 4th, 2021*
Publisher: Piatkus
Format: Kindle, Audio
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Contemporary Romance
*Hardcover out March 25th

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this heartwarming debut. Thank you to Frankie at Little Brown Book Group for the invitation to take part and the ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

When Amy Ashton’s world fell apart eleven years ago, she started a collection.

Just a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been.

Now her house is overflowing with the objects she loves – soon there’ll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery, and Amy’s carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she’d lost still be hers for the taking?

Perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant and The Keeper of Lost Things, this exquisitely told, uplifting novel shows us that however hopeless things might feel, beauty can be found in the most unexpected of places

MY REVIEW:

“We all have baggage. No one travels lightly anymore.”

Amy Ashton is not your typical literary heroine. Standoffish and strange, Amy lives alone in a house that resembles an episode of hoarders. But to Amy her house is perfect; full of the treasures she collects and protects. But I soon discovered that beyond that spiky outer shell is a nuanced, vulnerable and caring woman whom I adored. The story itself was also full of surprises. I was immediately enamoured by the author’s prose and quirky tale and soon found there were unexpected layers to the book waiting to be discovered, including a mystery that grew like the ivy in Amy’s wild back garden. I was hooked. 

I’ve found that a lot of the debuts I’ve read over the last year have been outstanding, and Everything Is Beautiful certainly fits that current mode. Full of pathos, heart, charm and wit, I devoured this book and got lost in Amy’s world. The story is told in dual timelines with flashbacks that are linked to specific items in Amy’s collection. Through these chapters the author tells the story of each item’s meaning to Amy, the memories it evokes, and slowly unveils how she became this way, piece by piece; each one waiting to be discovered by the reader like one of Amy’s treasures. These flashbacks also give an insight into who Amy used to be; when she was vibrant and happy and just like any other young woman you might meet.

“Her house was fairly full, of course, but that was because it was filled to the brim with treasures.”

But Amy isn’t the only compelling character in this story. The author has created a cast of characters that are all equally important to understanding Amy and her story. I was particularly taken with young Charles and Daniel, the two little boys who have moved in next door to Amy and decided she is their friend. One of the great things about kids is they don’t see the world as adults do and they can see the beauty in a person when adults only see someone weird. I loved seeing Amy through their eyes and how they slowly brought out a different side to her we might not have seen if they hadn’t moved next door. 

This is an absolute must read. Uplifting, warm and wistful, this is a beautiful story that will linger long after reading and has gone straight onto my forever shelf. It reminded me of a combination of Eleanor Oliphant and The Illustrated Child, which are two other debuts I adore. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Eleanor Ray has an MA in English Literature from Edinburgh University and works in marketing. She lives in London with her husband and two young children.

Eleanor was inspired to write EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL by the objects her toddler collects and treasures – twigs, empty water bottles and wilting daisies. She is currently working on her next novel.

Website | Instagram | Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:
Little Brown Book Group

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

*This book is known as The Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton in the US and is published June 8th.

Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – November 2020

It’s time for another month of anticipated books. I can’t believe we’re up to November and I’ve been doing this for almost a year!

November has some of my most anticipated books of the year: The Swallowed Man, The Diabolical Bones and The Betrayals. It is set to be another great month full of exciting releases and increasing my never-ending TBR.

The Midnight Bargain by C. L. Polk

Published: November 1st, 2020
Publisher: Erwehon
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Romance Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries–even for love–she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ve become a big fan of fantasy this year and this sounds like the perfect book in that genre to get lost in.
Pre-order here.

Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

Published: November 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
When Kate Marshall finds the bloated body of a young man floating in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the authorities label it a tragic accident.

But the details don’t add up: why was he there, in the middle of the night? If he was such a strong swimmer, how did he drown? As Kate and her assistant Tristan Harper follow the evidence, they make a far darker discovery . . .

This is only the latest victim in a series of bloody murders dating back decades. A mythic serial killer is said to hide in the rolling fog, abducting his victims like a phantom. And when another woman is taken, Kate and Tristan have a matter of days to save her from meeting the same fate.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I loved the first book in this new series when I read it earlier this year so I’m excited for the next installment.
Pre-order here.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

Published: November 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Titan Books
Genre: Suspense, Horror, Occult Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Carrot has moved into the Wonder Museum –  an eclectic collection of taxidermy, shrunken heads, and Mystery Junk owned by her Uncle Earl. For Carrot, it’s not creepy at all: she grew up with it. What’s creepy is the corridor behind one of the museum walls. There’s just no space for a corridor there – or the concrete bunker, or the strange islands beyond the bunker’s doors, or the unseen things  in the willow trees.

Carrot has stumbled into a horrifying world, and They are watching her. Strewn among the islands are the remains of Their meals – and Their experiments. And even if she manages to make it home, she can’t stop calling Them after her…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I love creepy books and this one sounds right up my street.
Pre-order here.

The Swallowed Man by Edward Carey

Published: November 5th, 2020
Publisher: Gallic Books
Genre: Fairy Tale, Dark Comedy, Fantasy Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
I am writing this account, in another man’s book, by candlelight, inside the belly of a fish. I have been eaten. I have been eaten, yet I am living still.

From the acclaimed author of Little comes this beautiful and haunting imagining of the years Geppetto spends within the belly of a sea beast.

Drawing upon the Pinocchio story while creating something entirely his own, Carey tells an unforgettable tale of fatherly love and loss, pride and regret, and of the sustaining power of art and imagination.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
When I read Little last year I instantly became a fan of this author. This book is written in a similar vein and I can’t wait to read it.
Pre-order here.

The Diabolical Bones by Bella Ellis

Published: November 5th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Biographical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
It’s Christmas 1845 and Haworth is in the grip of a freezing winter.

Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë are rather losing interest in detecting until they hear of a shocking discovery: the bones of a child have been found interred within the walls of a local house, Top Withens Hall, home to the scandalous and brutish Bradshaw family.

When the sisters set off to find out more, they are confronted with an increasingly complex and sinister case, which leads them into the dark world of orphanages, and onto the trail of other lost, and likely murdered children. After another local boy goes missing, Charlotte, Emily and Anne vow to find him before it’s too late.

But in order to do so, they must face their most despicable and wicked adversary yet – one that would not hesitate to cause them the gravest of harm. . .

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’m a huge fan of this author and historical fiction and mysteries are my two favourite genres. So when she released The Vanished Bride last year I was so excited, and thrilled to find it was everything I’d hoped for and more. Ever since, I’ve been impatiently waiting for the next book in the series. I’m taking part in the blog tour for this one and my review will be posted on November 11th.
Pre-order here.

Loved and Wanted by Christa Pavarani

Published: November 10th, 2020
Publisher: Manila Press
Genre: Biography, Autobiography

SYNOPSIS:
A harrowing account of one woman’s reckoning with life, death and choice in Trump’s America. For readers of Educated and Hillbilly Elegy.

In 2017, Christa Parravani had recently moved her family from California to West Virginia. Surviving on a teacher’s salary, she was already raising two young children with her husband, screenwriter Anthony Swofford.

Another pregnancy, a year after giving birth to her second child, came as a shock. Christa had a history of ectopic pregnancies and was worried that she wouldn’t be able to find adequate medical care. She immediately requested a termination – but her doctor refused to help. The only doctor who would perform an abortion made it clear that this would be illicit, not condoned by her colleagues or their community.

In exploring her own choice, or rather in discovering her lack of it, Christa reveals the desperate state of female healthcare in contemporary America.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This is a timely book that sounds like it needs to be read. The war against a woman’s right to choose is one we should all be fighting for.
Pre-order here.

The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: The Borough Press
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
If everything in your life was based on a lie
Would you risk it all to tell the truth?

At Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, the best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu: an arcane and mysterious contest. Léo Martin was once a student there, but lost his passion for the grand jeu following a violent tragedy. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning with his political career in tatters.
 
Montverre has changed since he studied there, even allowing a woman, Claire Dryden, to serve in the grand jeu’s highest office of Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire he senses an odd connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before.
 
Both Léo and Claire have built their lives on lies.  And as the legendary Midsummer Game, the climax of the year, draws closer, secrets are whispering in the walls…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Why? Just look at the cover! All jokes aside, I loved Bridget Collins’ debut novel and am really excited to read what she’s written next.
Pre-order here.

The Thief on the Winged Horse by Kate Mascarenhas

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Fairy Tale, Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
A dazzling mixture of crime, romance, magic and myth from the author of the bestselling The Psychology of Time Travel.

The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls for over 200 years. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftsmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop.

Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn her ancestors’ craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and blood ties to the family, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires.

But then, one night, the firm’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. Only a Kendrick could have committed this crime…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Not only does the synopsis sound like this is a perfect book for me, but I loved this author’s last book and am interested to read more of her work.
Pre-order here.

One by One by Ruth Ware

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.

The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask – would someone resort to murder, to get what they want?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Ruth Ware is an author that has been on my tbr for a long time and her latest release sounds like an ideal winter thriller.
Pre-order here.

Little Threats by Emily Schultz

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In the summer of 1993, twin sisters Kennedy and Carter Wynn are embracing the grunge era and testing every limit in their privileged Richmond suburb. But Kennedy’s teenage rebellion goes too far when, after a night of partying in the woods, her best friend, Haley, is murdered, and suspicion quickly falls upon Kennedy. She can’t remember anything about the night in question, and this, along with the damning testimony from a college boy who both Kennedy and Haley loved, is enough to force Kennedy to enter a guilty plea.

In 2008, Kennedy is released into a world that has moved on without her. Carter has grown distant as she questions Kennedy’s innocence, and begins a relationship with someone who could drive the sisters apart forever. The twins’ father, Gerry, is eager to protect the family’s secrets and fragile bonds. But Kennedy’s return brings the tragedy back to the surface, along with a whole new wave of media. When a crime show host comes to town asking questions, believing the murder wasn’t as simple as it seemed, murky memories of Haley’s death come to light. As new suspects emerge and the suburban woods finally give up their secrets, two families may be destroyed again.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
As soon as I read the description I added this to my most anticipated list. This sounds like exactly the kind of twisted thriller I love.
Pre-order here.

Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spootswood

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
The first in the brilliant new Pentecost and Parker series, FORTUNE FAVOURS THE DEAD is a hugely entertaining murder mystery set in 1940s New York City.

New York, 1946. Lillian Pentecost is the most successful private detective in the city, but her health is failing. She hires an assistant to help with the investigative legwork. Willowjean Parker is a circus runaway. Quick-witted and street-smart, she’s a jack-of-all-trades with a unique skill-set. She can pick locks blindfolded, wrestle men twice her size, and throw knives with deadly precision – all of which come in handy working for Ms P.

When wealthy young widow Abigail Collins is murdered and the police are making no progress, Pentecost and Parker are hired by the family to track down the culprit. On Halloween night, there was a costume party at the Collins’ mansion, where a fortune teller performed a séance which greatly disturbed Abigail. Several hours later her body was discovered bludgeoned to death in her late husband’s office. Problem is, the door to the office was locked from the inside. There was no-one else in the room, and the murder weapon was beside the victim; the fortune teller’s crystal ball.

It looks like an impossible crime, but Pentecost and Parker know there is no such thing…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Not only does the cover draw me in, but a book with a mix of history and mystery is guaranteed to get my attention.
Pre-order here.

The Package by Sebastian Fitzek

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
All you’ve done is taken in a parcel for a neighbour. You have no idea what you’ve let into your home.

Emma’s the one that got away.

The only survivor of a killer known in the tabloids as ‘the barber’ – because of the trophies he takes from his victims.

Or she thinks she was.

The police aren’t convinced. Nor is her husband. She never even saw her tormentor properly, but now she recognises him in every man.

Questioning her sanity, she gives up her job as a doctor in the local hospital and retreats from the world. It is better to stay at home. Quiet. Anonymous. Safe. He won’t find her here.

And all she did was take a parcel for a neighbour.

She has no idea what she’s let into her home.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Any thriller endorsed by Harlan Coben is one I want to read. I’m on the blog tour for this book and my review will be posted on November 15th.
Pre-order here.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Published: November 17th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Gay Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang-a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love . . . and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns-and grudges-aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The gorgeous cover. The setting. A retelling of Romeo and Juliet. This one sounds like a winner to me.
Pre-order here.

The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside by Jessica Ryn

Published: November 26th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Coming-of-Age Story, Domestic Fiction, Nautical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Dawn Elisabeth Brightside has been running from her past for twenty-two years and two months, precisely.

So when she is offered a bed in St Jude’s Hostel for the Homeless, it means so much more than just a roof over her head.

But with St Jude’s threatened with closure, Dawn worries that everything is about to crumble around her all over again.

Perhaps, with a little help from her new friends, she can find a way to save this light in the darkness?

And maybe, just maybe, Dawn will finally have a place to call home….

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This sounds like a fun, immersive and uplifting read. I’m taking part in the blog tour and will post my review on November 27th.
Pre-order here.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – October 2020

October is almost upon us, so it’s time for the books I’m most excited about being released. Thanks to October 1st having even more releases than Fiction the Third, this was another month that was difficult to decide, which is why I’m so late posting this month.

So, without further ado, here are my most anticipated books for October:

The Devil and the Dark Water by Sturart Turton

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

SYNOPSIS:
A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent. But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage.

A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered. And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel. Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
As a big fan of historical fiction and mysteries, this synopsis sings to be. I’ve also heard great things about this author. I’m lucky to have a proof so will be diving in ASAP.
Pre-order here

People of Abandoned Character by Clare Whitfield

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Historical Mystery, Medical Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
He is my husband.
To honour and obey.
Until murder do us part.

London, 1888: Susannah rushes into marriage to a young and wealthy surgeon. After a passionate honeymoon, she returns home with her new husband wrapped around her little finger. But then everything changes. His behaviour becomes increasingly volatile and violent. He stays out all night, returning home bloodied and full of secrets.

Lonely and frustrated, Susannah starts following the gruesome reports of a spate of murders in Whitechapel. But as the killings continue, her mind takes her down the darkest path imaginable. Every time her husband stays out late, another victim is found dead.

Is it coincidence? Or is he the man they call Jack the Ripper?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Murder, one of my favourite historical eras, medical fiction and based on a true crime that’s one of the most enduring unsolved murder mysteries in history. This ticks all my boxes.
Pre-order here

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

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

SYNOPSIS:
For one young girl, discovering what it means to become a woman in a family, a community and a country determined to silence her will take all the courage she has.

Growing up in a small Ugandan village, Kirabo is surrounded by powerful women. Her grandmother, her aunts, her friends and cousins are all desperate for her to conform, but Kirabo is inquisitive, headstrong and determined. Up until now, she has been perfectly content with her life at the heart of this prosperous extended family, but as she enters her teenage years, she begins to feel the absence of the mother she has never known. The First Woman follows Kirabo on her journey to becoming a young woman and finding her place in the world, as her country is transformed by the bloody dictatorship of Idi Amin.

Jennifer Makumbi has written a sweeping tale of longing and rebellion, at once epic and deeply personal, steeped in an intoxicating mix of ancient Ugandan folklore and modern feminism, that will linger in the memory long after the final page.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The striking cover and fascinating synopsis made this an immediate addition to this list. I’ve been seeing great reviews for it too, so I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.
Pre-order here

Mother Mother by Jessica O’Dwyer

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Apprentice House Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A married couple in California grapples with race, betrayal, love, and loss when their son comes home from a Guatemalan orphanage. 

Contemporary art museum curator Julie Cowan achieves her dream of motherhood through adoption, but her life is far from perfect. Her pathologist husband, Mark, is distracted by his gorgeous, young intern, while her hotshot new museum director boss doubts Julie’s curatorial chops. And Julie’s six-year-old son, Jack (born Juan), may never recover from trauma inflicted by early life spent in a Guatemalan orphanage. 

Then Jack suffers a major health crisis, and everything pales next to saving his life. As much as Julie clings to being Jack’s “only” mother, she needs to find his Guatemalan mother to unlock his medical history. Julie hires a professional searcher, and what she learns turns her world upside down. At the same time, Jack’s birth mother, an indigenous Ixil Maya, navigates her own tumultuous path, beginning with surviving a horrific massacre. 

In this gripping tale told from alternating perspectives, both mothers must draw on fierce inner strength to reckon with their life choices.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This sounds like an emotional read and I was excited to see it was available to ‘read now’ on Netgalley. So of course I broke my self-imposed request ban to download it.
Pre-order here

The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Sumnerscale

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Biography, True Crime

SYNOPSIS:
London, 1938. In the suburbs of the city, an ordinary young housewife has become the eye in a storm of chaos.

In Alma Fielding’s modest home, china flies off the shelves, eggs fly through the air; stolen jewellery appears on her fingers, white mice crawl out of her handbag, beetles appear from under her gloves; in the middle of a car journey, a terrapin materialises on her lap.

Nandor Fodor – a Jewish-Hungarian refugee and chief ghost hunter for the International Institute for Psychical Research – reads of the case, and hastens to the scene of the haunting. But when Fodor starts his scrupulous investigation, he discovers that the case is even stranger than it seems.

By unravelling Alma’s peculiar history, he finds a different and darker type of haunting: trauma, alienation, loss – and the foreshadowing of a nation’s worst fears. As the spectre of Fascism lengthens over Europe, and as Fodor’s obsession with the case deepens, Alma becomes ever more disturbed.

With rigour, daring and insight, the award-winning pioneer of non-fiction writing Kate Summerscale shadows Fodor’s enquiry, delving into long-hidden archives to find the human story behind a very modern haunting.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
As I’ve already said, I love history and true stories, so this so this immediately jumped out at me.
Pre-order here

What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Virago
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A woman visits a friend who is dying of cancer. Brilliant and stubborn, her friend makes a momentous request. She wishes to end her life on her own terms – and she wants the narrator’s help. Stricken, she agrees. ‘I promise,’ says the friend, ‘to make it as much fun as possible.’

What follows is an extraordinary tale of a friendship put to the greatest test: to witness, unflinching, its end. It is also a portrait of the way we live now, in a world endlessly troubled by crises, and the dramatically changing nature of human relationships in our time.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
As someone living with chronic pain, the question of assisted dying is one that fascinates me. And the idea of examining that issue through not only the eyes of someone who wants to die, but the person they ask to help them, is one I knew I had to read.
Pre-order here.

The Silk House by Kayte Nunn

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

SYNOPSIS:
Weaving. Witchcraft. Wonder.

Present day: Thea Rust arrives at an exclusive boarding school in the British countryside, only to find that she is not only having to look after the first intake of girls in its 150-year history, but that she is to stay with them in Silk House. A converted silk factory from the 18th century, where the shadows hide more mysteries than she could ever imagine…

1700s, Oxleigh: Leaving her village to work in the home of an English silk merchant Rowan Caswell finds herself thrust into a new and dangerous world, where she must hide her secret even more than ever before.

1700s, London: Mary-Louise Stephenson lives amid the clatter of the weaving trade and dreams of becoming a silk designer. Arriving in Oxleigh she brings with her a length of fabric woven with a pattern of deadly plants, that will have far-reaching consequences for all who dwell in the silk house.

Intoxicating, haunting and inspired by the author’s background, The Silk House is the exceptional new gothic mystery by Kayte Nunn.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This is another book that ticks so many of my favourite boxes. It also helps that I’ve been meaning to read a book by this author for a long time.
Pre-order here.

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

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

SYNOPSIS:
Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?

Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago.Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.
 
Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I loved Louise Jensen’s last novel so as soon as she announced this one I knew it would be on this list.
Pre-order here.

Mr. Cadmus by Peter Ackroyd

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Canongate
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
Two apparently harmless women reside in cottages one building apart in the idyllic English village of Little Camborne. Miss Finch and Miss Swallow, cousins, have put their pasts behind them and settled into conventional country life. But when a mysterious foreigner, Theodore Cadmus – from Caldera, a Mediterranean island nobody has heard of – moves into the middle cottage, the safe monotony of their lives is shattered.

The fates of the two cousins and Mr Cadmus, and those of Little Camborne and Caldera, become inextricably enmeshed. Long-hidden secrets and long-held grudges threaten to surface, drawing all into a vortex of subterfuge, theft, violence, mayhem . . . and murder.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ll admit, it was the gorgeous, purple cover that first caught my attention. But it is the synopsis that had made it one of my most anticipated reads. I’m a sucker for a mystery.
Pre-order here

Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Fairy Tale, Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?

Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.
 
Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ve been seeing rave reviews for this online. And the combination of fairy tale and an exploration of how they are affected by trauma is intoxicating to me.
Pre-order here

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E Schwab

Published: October 6th, 2020
Publisher: Titan
Genre: Historical Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
For someone damned to be forgettable, Addie LaRue is a most delightfully unforgettable character, and her story is the most joyous evocation of unlikely immortality. Neil Gaiman
In the vein of The Time Traveler s Wife and Life After LifeThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab s genre-defying tour de force.

When Addie La Rue makes a pact with the devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But there’s always a price – the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.

Addie flees her tiny home town in 18th-Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day.

Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him.

Until one day, in a second hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can’t escape her fate forever.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The synopsis of this book immediately piqued my interest; but it was when I saw the comparison to The Time Traveller’s Wife – one of my favourite books of all time – I knew I had to read it.
Pre-order here

The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan

Published: October 8th, 2020
Publisher: Scribe
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A bewitching novel set in contemporary Japan about the mysterious suicide of a young woman.

Miwako Sumida is dead.

Now those closest to her try to piece together the fragments of her life. Ryusei, who has always loved her, follows Miwako’s trail to a remote Japanese village. Chie, Miwako’s best friend, was the only person to know her true identity ― but is now the time to reveal it? Meanwhile, Fumi, Ryusei’s sister, is harbouring her own haunting secret.

Together, they realise that the young woman they thought they knew had more going on behind her seemingly perfect façade than they could ever have dreamed.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’m guilty of another cover-love addition here. But, in my defence, it sounds like a fantastic story. I first saw this recommended on a friend’s Instagram stories and knew that if she loved it, so would I.
Pre-order here

A Time For Mercy by John Grisham

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

SYNOPSIS:
CAN A KILLER EVER BE ABOVE THE LAW?

Deputy Stuart Kofer is a protected man. Though he’s turned his drunken rages on his girlfriend, Josie, and her children many times before, the police code of silence has always shielded him.

But one night he goes too far, leaving Josie for dead on the floor before passing out. Her son, sixteen-year-old Drew, knows he only has this one chance to save them. He picks up a gun and takes the law into his own hands.

In Clanton, Mississippi, there is no one more hated than a cop killer – but a cop killer’s defence lawyer comes close. Jake Brigance doesn’t want this impossible case but he’s the only one with enough experience to defend the boy.

As the trial begins, it seems there is only one outcome: the gas chamber for Drew. But, as the town of Clanton discovers once again, when Jake Brigance takes on an impossible case, anything is possible.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
John Grisham is one of my favourite authors. I’ve loved his book ever since I read A Time To Kill, my favourite of the many he’s written, over two decades ago. So as soon as the author announced a follow up it became one of my most anticipated books this year.
Pre-order here.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Published: October 13th, 2020
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Alternative Fiction, Occult Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the three Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters must delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Gorgeous cover ✔️ Historical Fiction ✔️ Creepy ✔️ This sounds like just the kind of book I will love and a perfect Autumn read.
Pre-order here.

The Nesting by CJ Cooke

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

SYNOPSIS:
It was like something out of a fairytale…
The grieving widower.
The motherless daughters.
A beautiful house in the woods.

Deep in a remote Norwegian forest, Lexi has found a new home with architect Tom and his two young daughters. With snow underfoot and the sound of the nearby fjord in her ears, it’s as if Lexi has stepped into a fairy tale

But this family has a history – and this place has a past. Something was destroyed to build their beautiful new house. And those ancient, whispering woods have a long memory.

Lexi begins to hear things, see things that don’t make sense. She used to think this place heavenly, but in the dark, dark woods, a menacing presence lurks.

With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care.

But protect them from what?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Again, this has so many elements I love. I’m lucky to be on the blog tour for this one. My review will be posted on October 26th.
Pre-order here.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

Published: October 15th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.

A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.

Dolly Alderton’s debut novel is funny and tender, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships, family, memory, and how we live now.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Dolly Alderson is an author I’ve seen all over bookstagram, and her first fiction novel sounds like a great, lighthearted read.
Pre-order here.

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

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

SYNOPSIS:
Who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are now?

Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully.

But when the plane she’s on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago – when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved.

Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to – but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain.

As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she’s never truly asked: What does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us?

Two possible futures. One impossible choice.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’m a total Jodi fan-girl and anything she publishes is one of my most anticipated books of that year. I’m taking part in a Tandem Collective readalong for this one, which begins on October 6th.
Pre-order here.

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

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

SYNOPSIS:
Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past – but she knows that she is loved.

When her father finds fame with a series of children’s books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.

But as time passes, Romilly’s father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.

In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages…

The truth.

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

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I first heard about this book early this year and it instantly became one I was desperate to read. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to get my hands on a proof but was accepted on the blog tour, so I’ll finally be reading it soon. My review will be published on October 27th.
Pre-order here.

One August Night by Victioria Hislop

Published: October 29th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
25th August 1957. The island of Spinalonga closes its leper colony. And a moment of violence has devastating consequences.

When time stops dead for Maria Petrakis and her sister, Anna, two families splinter apart and, for the people of Plaka, the closure of Spinalonga is forever coloured with tragedy.

In the aftermath, the question of how to resume life looms large. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted and somehow, for those impacted, a future built from the ruins of the past.

Number one bestselling author Victoria Hislop returns to the world and characters she created in The Island – the award-winning novel that remains one of the biggest selling reading group novels of the century. It is finally time to be reunited with Anna, Maria, Manolis and Andreas in the weeks leading up to the evacuation of the island… and beyond.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I only heard about this book a few weeks ago (I know, I must have been living under a rock) and I immediately added it to this list. The Island is a book I fell in love with when I read it many years ago and I can’t wait to see where the author takes the story next.
Pre-order here.

Starve Acre by Andrew Muchael Hurley

Published: October 29th, 2020
Publisher: John Murray Press
Genre: FaHorror, Ghost Story

SYNOPSIS:
The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place.

Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.

Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This sounds like a fantastic and haunting read. I’ve also heard great things about this author and I’m excited to read his work for myself.
Pre-order here

Are any of these on your tbr or wishlist? What book out next month are you most looking forward to?

Categories
book reviews

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Happy Paperback Publication Day to this phenomenal book. I was lucky s enough to read an early proof via NetgGalley at the end of last year and it immediately became now only my favourite book of 2018, but one of my favourites of all time. It has sold over 4 million copies worldwide and is soon to be developed into a film. Thank you to Little Brown Book Group for my #gifted limited edition proof.

SYNOPSIS:

#1 New York Times Best Seller

A Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick.

For years, rumours of the ‘Marsh Girl’ have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself up to a new life – until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingslover and Celeste Ng , Where The Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.

MY REVIEW:

Breathtaking, beautiful, haunting, heartbreaking, mesmerising and unforgettable; these are the words that first come to mind when I think of this sensational book.

The story begins in 1969 when two young boys discover the body of local football hero Chase Andrews lying in the Marsh. There is immediate suspicion that the death is not accidental and talk of who could have killed him. We then go back to 1952 where six-year-old Kya is sat on the front porch watching in disbelief as her “Ma” walks away in her best shoes carrying a suitcase. The book then continues in dual timelines: we follow the hunt to find who killed Chase as the police try to ascertain what is rumour and gossip and what is fact, and also watch as Kya grows up on the Marsh and learns to not only survive, but flourish.

Reading about how Kya lives was difficult and heartbreaking. She is seen as “Marsh Trash” by those who live in Barkley Cove, and avoided and vilified by adults and children alike. After her Ma leaves, her siblings soon follow and she is left alone with her Pa, a violent drunk who is often absent. When he eventually abandons her too she has to find a way to make an income and finds a friend in Jumpin,who owns Gas and Bait which sells gas and groceries, and his wife Mabel. Her one day at school was a disaster so she gets her education from the world around her and studies the Marsh, sea and sand. For many years she’s unable to read but then Tate, who was a friend of her older brother, offers to teach her. They inevitably fall in love and he awakens a side to Kya she didn’t have before, one where she needs someone and enjoys another person’s company. When he leaves her heartbroken she feels unable to trust anyone and completely withdraws into herself and her Marsh again, determined never to rely on anyone but herself from now on.

Very quickly after Chase is found, suspicion from the townspeople falls on the Marsh Girl, who was rumoured to have had some kind of relationship with him at one point. Her elusive behaviour each time the police try to talk to her doesn’t help convince people of her innocence. It seems even in the absence of evidence most people have decided they know what happened and convicted her of the crime in their jury of small-town opinion.

By the time I was half way through the book I was consumed and couldn’t stop reading. It was a completely different book to what I expected it to be, although I don’t really know what I expected. I knew I had a book I loved on my hands and that the trepidation that comes with reading a much talked about, hyped book was unnecessary. 

The author has a remarkable ability to make you feel and understand from Kya’s perspective in this book. You feel her crippling loneliness at a life lived truly alone, her overwhelming fear of anything or anyone outside the Marsh, admiration that she surviving such a life and all she accomplished despite the odds, and anger at the way she was treated, judged, used and failed by almost everyone she meets.

Delia Owens is a phenomenal writer, and Where The Crawdads Sing is a spectacular debut.. It is a long book and I admit there were times that reading it felt like a slog, but that was because of the southern dialect and heavy subject matter and not because of boredom. I loved this story and it didn’t take long for me to find it hard to put down. It is an eloquently written, powerful, emotive, and extraordinary novel. It is a masterpiece that you won’t be able to forget and will stay with you long after you read it.

Out now.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour Review: Call Me Evie by J. P. Pomare ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I had seen a lot of buzz on bookstagram about this novel at the start of the year, so in April I was excited to be approved for an arc copy and eager to read the book for myself. Six months later I’m delighted to be taking part in the Instagram blog tour for the paperback release of this riveting thriller.  

Thank you to Millie at Little Brown Book Group for the invitation to take part and my gifted copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS

‘Literary suspense as dark and fresh as midnight in winter, with a merciless twist-of-the-knife finale. One of the most striking debuts I’ve read in years.’ – A. J. Finn

In this compulsive, twist-filled and haunting psychological suspense debut, a seventeen-year-old girl struggles to remember the role she played the night her life changed forever…

Don’t trust him. It wasn’t me. It couldn’t have been me.

Meet Evie, a young woman who has fled with her uncle to the isolated New Zealand beach town of Maketu.  Jim says he’s hiding her to protect her, that she did something terrible back home in Melbourne. Something Evie can’t remember.

But Evie isn’t her real name. And Jim isn’t really her uncle.

In a house that creaks against the wind, Evie pieces together the events that led her here. And as her memories return she starts to wonder if Jim is really her saviour …or her captor.

A riveting debut novel that fearlessly plumbs the darkest recesses of the mind. Call Me Evie explores the fragility of memory and the potential in all of us to hide the truth even from ourselves.

MY REVIEW:

The book is narrated by Evie and is split into “before” and “after” the night that she did something terrible. We have no idea what she did, or in fact if she actually did it, and that made the book very confusing for me at first. I found it hard to follow what was happening and it was hindering my enjoyment, but I never give up on a book before I’m a quarter of the way through and I was intrigued by the plot. Soon the story began to flow more smoothly and I was completely hooked and immersed in Evie’s situation.

“He’s trapped me in the nineties.”

The book starts with Kate, who is now going by Evie to hide her identity, having her head shaved by a man she says she once loved. She’d tried to run from the house in the secluded beach town that he’s brought her to but he found her and reminds her that “they” are looking for her and she isn’t safe. She’s skinny and he gives her juices with a powder he tells her will help her gain weight. He also takes her to the doctor and she’s prescribed antidepressants but the man, who she decides to call Jim, refuses the doctor’s suggestion that she see a psychologist. He tells her he’s helping her heal mentally and she doesn’t need to see anyone else.

When Evie begins to tell us the story of before the incident she begins by taking us back to  her first memory: at five years old her Nanny left her alone in the bath for a few moments and she poured scalding water onto herself, scarring her for life. Not long after her mother died and her father retired from his professional rugby career to work in finance and raise her himself. 

Back in the present Evie is starting to remember little bits about that night: drinking, the mysterious ‘him’ lying face down with blood spreading under his head and  herself in the car. She’s afraid to remember more even though she is sure she didn’t do anything bad, that it had to be Jim and he’s lying to her. She writes letters that Jim sends back to Melbourne which are full of confusion and fear as Evie talks vaguely about what happened and tries to grapple with what the truth is of that inauspicious night.  She is determined to escape as she becomes increasingly sure that Jim is lying to her and holding her captive rather than protecting her. But who can she trust? And when she sees what’s being written about her online she is once again unsure where to turn and what’s real.

As the book goes on we learn more about Evie’s life growing up in Melbourne, her relationship with her dad, friendships and blossoming relationship with a boy named Thom. But we still don’t know much about that night or who Jim really is. I had my suspicions but I found they vacillated as the story went on.

“Sometimes if you bite into a joke you find a stone of truth at the centre.” 

This was a strange book at times but highly addictive and I devoured it in one sitting. I needed to fit the pieces of the puzzle together, to know what Evie supposedly did, if she did it, if I was right about who Jim was, and if people were really after her. I wasn’t prepared for the shocking twists in this story or how the one I had guessed correctly would play out. I was completely blindsided. The complex plot and multifaceted characters are cleverly written and you are kept guessing until the final sentence. 

Call Me Evie is a story about love, anger, fear, truth and lies. It makes you question the truth of your own memories and what reality is. A spectacular debut that I can see making a great movie. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery and thrillers.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

J P Pomare grew up on a horse-racing farm in small town New Zealand with his three older siblings and his father. He left for Melbourne where he developed his craft, entrenching himself in the Australian literary community. For almost two years he produced and hosted a podcast called On Writing, interviewing almost thirty local and international authors including Joyce Carol Oates, John Safran, Dorthe Nors, E Lockheart, Chris Wormersley, and Sofie Laguna.

J P Pomare has been published in several journals including  Meanjin, Kill Your Darlings, Takahe, and Mascara Literary Review. He has also won, and been short and long listed for a number of prizes include the KYD Unpublished Manuscript Prize. Call Me Evie is his first novel.

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Categories
book reviews

Review: ‘The Poison Garden’ by Alex Marwood ⭐⭐⭐⭐

SYNOPSIS:

Where Romy grew up, if someone died you never spoke of them again.

Now twenty-two, she has recently escaped the toxic confines of the cult she was raised in. But Romy is young, pregnant and completely alone – and if she is to keep herself safe in this new world, she has some important lessons to learn.

Like how there are some people you can trust, and some you must fear. And about who her family really is, and why her mother ran away from them all those years ago. 

And that you can’t walk away from a dark past without expecting it to catch up with you.

REVIEW:

“None of us will be the same, by tomorrow, she thinks.”

Two police officers are called out to investigate an awful smell on a farm by a neighbour: a seemingly innocuous call that gives them no warning of the life-changing and terrible sight they’re about to discover: lifeless bodies piled one on top of each other, frozen in death as they tried to flee. All the adult members of the Ark, the cult that lived on the farm, are dead apart from Romy who was in the infirmary unable to walk, listening helplessly as her family died in agony. 

This book had me hooked from it’s chilling first chapter and kept me guessing until the final page. The story unfolded in a way I didn’t expect, but I loved.The choice to have Romy and her Aunt Sarah narrate offered us very different perspectives on events happening in the book and the world in general. Through the use of flashbacks to their childhoods we learn that these very different women actually have a lot more in common than first meets the eye. 

“How do you explain, to someone who didn’t live it?”

Romy was a baby when her teenage mother, Alison, joined the Ark. She’s known nothing else but their strange, isolated lifestyle that consisted of preparing for the Apocalypse and living off the land while following the teachings of their Father, Lucien. She’s been taught to fear the outside world and those who inhabit it, known to her as the Dead. She sees danger and disaster all around her and is too terrified to leave her flat unless absolutely necessary. We soon learn that Romy is hiding secrets bigger than her fear of life outside the Ark and that there might be more to her story than it first seemed. I really liked how her character was written, especially the fears that she’d been indoctrinated to have. A lot of these fears were of real things that can or have happened, it’s just she’s been taught to see them as a sign of the world’s doom and depravity instead of accidents or evil done by a small few. It highlights how a small change in perception can completely alter our world view and it was fascinating to see the way we live through the eyes of people that had grown up totally removed from our society.   

This wasn’t the first time I’ve read a book by this author, but it is a number of years since I did, and I will certainly be catching up on any others I’ve missed. The writing in this novel is riveting, harrowing and heart-rending. The pace quickened as the story went on and had me on the edge of my seat, the revelations increasingly jarring as we approached the dramatic and chilling finale. The Poison Garden is a multilayered, twisty thriller full of secrets and interesting characters that will delight and surprise lovers of psychological thrillers and mysteries. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and Alex Marwood for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Out now.

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Alex Marwood is a former journalist who worked extensively across the British press. Her first novel, The Wicked Girls, achieved widespread acclaim and international bestsellerdom. It was shortlisted for ITW, Anthony and Macavity awards, was included in Stephen King’s Ten Best Books of the Year list, and won the prestigious Edgar Award. The Killer Next Door, her second novel, won the coveted Macavity Award for Best Mystery Novel, was nominated for the Anthony and Barry. The Darkest Secret, the tale of the disappearance of young Coco, met with critical and reader acclaim. The Poison Garden will be released in 2019. She has also been shortlisted for numerous other crime writing awards and her first two novels have been optioned for the screen. Marwood lives in south London and is working on her next novel.

Categories
book reviews

Review: ‘The Other Mrs Miller’ by Allison Dickson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

Two women are watching each other.

Phoebe isn’t sure when the car started showing up. At first she put it down to the scandal around her late father, but she’s certain now it’s there for her. What’s interesting about an unhappily married housewife, who barely leaves the house?

Only one knows why.

Every morning before your husband leaves for work, I wait for the blinds beside your front door to twitch. You might think I’m sitting out here waiting to break into your house and add a piece of your life to my collection. Things aren’t that simple. It’s not a piece of your life I want. 

When a new family moves across the street it provides Phoebe with a distraction. But with her head turned she’s no longer focused on the woman in the car. And Phoebe really should be, because she’s just waiting for the opportunity to upend Phoebe’s life…

***SOON TO BE A MAJOR TV SERIES***

REVIEW:

This utterly compelling, taut, twisty and explosive debut fizzes with electricity and brings the most shocking twist I think I’ve read in years! I read it within a day and while I know the word unputdownable is overused when it comes to books, this book genuinely was; and when I wasn’t reading it I was thinking about it. 

Told in two parts, the story is narrated by Phoebe Miller and the mysterious woman in the car who’s watching her. Phoebe is unhappily married to Wyatt and lives in self-imposed isolation as she tries to hide from the scandals and media frenzy that her late father left behind. She’s been noticing a car parked near their house and is sure the person inside is watching her. Wyatt thinks she’s overreacting but she’s right, the woman is watching her and just biding her time until she makes her move. We’re given few clues as to the identity of the mysterious woman but a sense of foreboding and trouble radiates from her and I worried for Phoebe’s safety. 

When the Napier family move in across the street Phoebe is surprised to find herself becoming friends with Vicki Napier. For a time her attentions are consumed by the family as she starts playing a dangerous game that, if discovered, could see her life implode and cause further scandal. There’s some mystery surrounding the Napiers too and they seem to have moved to the area in a hurry following a scandal of their own. 

Sophisticated, original, salacious and riveting, this was an electrifying read. It was buzzing with so many possibilities as to where the story could go, who the mystery woman could be and what the outcome of Phoebe’s choices could be, that I had no idea where the author would take it or what would happen next. This added even more tension and atmosphere to a book already sizzling with both.

This is a story full of twists, but there is one in particular that was punch to the gut shocking and still has me reeling. I actually shouted “What the @*&!” when it happened. So many times I was blindsided in this book and in awe of the authors talents for coming up with such spectacular and ingenious plot twists. All the characters were well written and I found myself particularly liking the two narrators. I don’t want to say more as it could spoil the surprises for those who’ve yet to read it and for me those were part of what made this book so fantastic. I was thrilled to see that it’s already lined up to be a TV show as it’s exactly the kind of thing I love to watch.

The small amount of hype I’ve seen online doesn’t do justice to how bloody brilliant it actually is. Anyone who enjoys thrillers NEEDS to read this book! A sensational debut that’s left me excited to see what Ms Dickson writes next. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and Allison Dickson for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Publication Date: July 16th

 

 

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book reviews

Publication Day Review: ‘The Au Pair’ by Emma Rous ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Happy Publication Day to Emma Rous!

SYNOPSIS:

Seraphine Mayes and her brother Danny are the first set of twins to be born at Summerbourne House. But on the day they were born their mother threw herself to her death, their au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of a stolen baby.

Now twenty-five, and mourning the recent death of her father, Seraphine uncovers a family photograph taken the day the twins were born featuring both parents posing with just one baby. Seraphine soon becomes fixated with the notion that she and Danny might not be twins after all, that she wasn’t the baby born that day and there was more to her mother’s death than she’s ever been told…

Why did their beloved au pair flee that day?

Where is she now?

Does she hold the key to what really happened?

REVIEW:

This family saga echoes the writing style of V. C. Andrews and combines it with the mysteries of Gillian Flynn. There is something lurking behind the facade of the prestigious family. Could the folklore and whispers in the village be true? Who is Seraphine? What really happened the day she and Danny were born and their mother plunged to her death?

Twins Seraphine and Danny Mayes are born on the family estate, Summerbourne, in July 1992. They are the first “summer-born twins of Summerbourne” in decades even though the family has a history of twins. There are no pictures of the twins first six months because the day they were born is also the day their mother died after jumping from a cliff. Seraphine has always been full of questions about that day, questions that are left unanswered when twenty-five years later her father dies in an accident. When she finds a picture of her parents and older brother with just one baby taken the day of her birth, Seraphine’s questions only increase. She has always felt like an outsider in her family, always been bothered by the village whispers of a stolen child and teasings of “the sprite twins” because she and her brothers look nothing alike. With her Grandmother refusing to give her answers and her brother, Edwin, too young at the time to really understand, Seraphine decides to search for Laura, the au pair who worked for the family the year prior to her birth and disappeared the same day she was born. Surely she will have the answers she craves.

One of the things I loved about this book is that for most of it I couldn’t tell where it was going. The narration is split between Seraphine in the present day and Laura who tells the story leading up to the twins birth. These alternating chapters provided details of the many different dynamics in the story between the main and secondary characters. They also increased the tension and mystery as the revelations unfolded.

The characters in this story were well written. Out of the two narrators I found Laura’s story more interesting as it was the one with the history of the family and events up until the twins’ birth. Who we are is the core of our being so I understood Seraphine’s need to know the truth about herself despite the fact it had the potential to tear her family apart. You were never sure who was a villain in this story which is something I liked. The author wrote this aspect of the plot expertly as Seraphine suspects almost everyone and has you second guessing what you know as she’s threatened to stop searching, the mystery deepens and the revelations about the family’s history and what happened that summer keep coming.

I found the book impossible to put down as I raced to the end desperate to know the truth.  But just when I thought I’d got to the big reveal there were more shocking twists still to come. The Au Pair is an absorbing debut novel that kept me guessing throughout. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Little Brown Book Group UK and Emma Rous for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review. 

Out today.

 

 

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book reviews

Publication Day Review: ‘After The End’ by Clare Macintosh ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Happy Publication Day to Clare Macintosh and her incredible new novel. I read this a little while ago now and have been eagerly waiting to share it with you.

SYNOPSIS:

Max and Pip are the strongest couple you know. Only now they’re facing the most important decision of their lives – and they don’t agree. 

As the consequences of an impossible choice threaten to devastate them both, nothing will ever be the same again.

But anything can happen after the end…

REVIEW:

A heartbreaking and impossible dilemma is handled in a beautiful, sensitive and original way in this emotional novel. This isn’t the kind of book you expect from this Ms Macintosh but it could be her best yet.

The story opens with a courtroom where parents are awaiting a judge’s ruling on their young son’s fate and then goes back to when two-year-old Dylan Adam lies unconscious in hospital with complications from chemotherapy to treat his brain tumour. When doctors tell his parents Max and Pip they’ve reached the end of the road they ask them to make an impossible choice: further treatment that will prolong Dylan’s life for a while or palliative care. Initially the couple are in no doubt of their agreement of the right choice. But by the time they come to tell the doctors their decision Pip has changed her mind and the couple now find themselves on opposing sides of a battle where both believe they know what is best for their beloved son.

What would you do? How do you know what the right choice is? What if the one you made wasn’t the right one? What would life have been like if we’d taken the other path? These questions and more are explored in this poignant and thought-provoking story. 

I don’t want to say too much about what happens once they go to court as it would ruin the story, but after the court case is written in a unique manner that gave the book a lot of it’s charm. It was unexpected and at first I wasn’t sure what I thought. But I quickly loved the direction the author took and the message she was conveying to the reader. 

This was one of the most moving, tragic and affecting stories I have ever read. Max and Pip are faced with the choice no parent ever wants to make and you can’t help but have your heart break alongside them. 

One last thing- you need to read the author’s notes at the end of the book. In these notes the author shares her motivation for writing this story and my heart broke all over again. 

Clare, I have such admiration and respect for your bravery in writing this book. You have touched my heart and soul with this unforgettable story.

Thank you to NetGalley, Little, Brown Book Group UK and Clare Macintosh for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Out today.