Welcome to First Lines Friday, where I share the first lines from one of the books on my shelves to try and tempt you to add it to yours.
“Malibu catches fire. It is simply what Malibu does from time to time. Tornadoes take the flatlands of the Midwest. Floods rise in the American South. Hurricanes rage against the Gulf of Mexico. And California burns.”
Today’s first lines are taken from Malibu Rising, which is one of my highly anticipated summer reads.
A lifetime holding it together. One party will bring it crashing down.
Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over-especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames.
But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.
Published: May 27th, 2021 Publisher: Harper Voyager Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy, Horror Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Fantasy Series Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this enchanting tale. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Voyager UK for the gorgeous proof.
Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.
‘Magic and love. Love and magic. They destroy everything in the end …’
Anna’s Aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences.
Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever.
Until she meets Effie and Attis.
They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose themselves in a haze of spells.
But as she is swept deeper into this world, Anna begins to wonder if her Aunt was right all along.
Is her magic a gift … or a curse?
“Goddess of Silence and Secrets: Seal our mouths, so we can’t speak. Pierce our eyes, so we can’t seek. Knot our hearts, so we can’t feel. Bind our spells; to you we kneel. What is forgotten, can’t be known. What isn’t planted, can’t be sown. Lock the door and turn the key. We bear our magic silently. – The Binders’ Blessing”
This first installment in the new Language of Magic series tells the story of Anna, an orphaned fifteen-year-old who lives with her Aunt, Vivienne. They are witches, but Aunt believes magic to be dangerous and deadly, and has brought Anna up to fear her powers. When she turns sixteen Anna will undergo the Knotting ceremony and become a Binder like her Aunt, no longer able to use her magic. But when her late mother’s best friend Selene moves back to London with her teenage daughter Effie and Attis, a family friend, Anna’s eyes are opened to a world she’s never known.
Meanwhile, a group of six women are found hanged at Big Ben, sending her Aunt and the Binders into a frenzy. As Anna begins to question the things she has been told about both magic and her past, she starts to wonder if there could be a future out there for her that doesn’t include having her magic bound.
“Whispers divide, in secrets we thrive.”
Before we talk about the book we need to talk about the cover. Both the proof and the finished version are so beautiful that it is impossible to resist their allure. But what about what’s inside?
Threadneedle is a story of secrets, lies and self-discovery interwoven with a hidden magical world. It opens with an eerie and macabre scene that gives the book an air of ominous foreboding and mystery. After that, things slow down a little as the author sets the scene for the reader. But when I got to about a fifth of the way through, the pace picked up and the story was soon sizzling with tension, twists and mischief.
Magic had beckoned its hand and she had followed. It was a beginning — the door was ever so slightly ajar.”
Anna is a very sheltered character. She has been controlled and mistreated by her Aunt all her life, even believing it is wrong to have friends. The author immerses the reader in the indoctrination Anna has been subjected to by starting each chapter with a quote from The Book of the Binders and the teachings are woven into every thread of the story, omnipresent and impossible to escape, enabling you to understand Anna’s feelings of fear and powerlessness. When the outgoing and spirited Effie and Attis come into her life, they are initially unwelcome and a danger to her protected bubble. But once Effie has identified Rowan and Miranda as witches and the four of them come together, things slowly change. For the first time in her life Anna has friends, feels happy, and is making some of her own choices; though she is still terrified of the consequences should her Aunt find out. I enjoyed watching Anna’s journey as she grappled with the lies she’s been told, began to break free of her Aunt’s control and finally blossomed into her own person.
Aunt Vivienne is a truly vile character. She is so well-written that I despised her and wished for her downfall. In fact she was so evil that I felt like if you unzipped her a demon would emerge. The women of the Binders have an equally malevolent and sinister vibe and together they would send shivers down my spine as they subjected poor Anna to yet more trauma.
“This was magic without bounds, without rules, magic fed by something else entirely.”
The magical world that the author has created is so believable that I accepted it without hesitation. I could imagine all of these secret, mystical places hidden in London and the witches moving amongst ordinary humans without detection. There is so much potential in this world and the characters for her future books and I’m excited to see where she takes it.
A magical, mysterious and bewitching story full of serpentine twists, Threadneedle is an enthralling story that I would highly recommend. I can’t wait to read more of this exciting new series.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Cari Thomas grew up in the Wye Valley area of Wales and, after studying English Literature & Creative Writing at Warwick University and Magazine Journalism at the Cardiff School of Journalism, moved to London. She worked as a journalist and at a creative agency, before finally doing what she’d always wanted to do: quit her job and write a book about magic.
The result is Threadneedle, her debut novel and the first in her Language of Magic series. Be introduced to a world of wild, ancient witchcraft hidden within today’s London; where libraries made of books breathe dusty pages beneath the city, where witch clubs serve up magical cocktails and vintage shops sell memories. A world where magic gleams light and very, very dark.
Cari now lives in Bristol with her husband and son.
Published: June 3rd, 2021 Publisher: Isis Audio Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Contemporary Fantasy Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Strange Tricks. Thank you to Danielle for the offer to take part, and to Isis Audio for the audiobook ARC.
Rosie Strange is back in the latest of the fabulously creepy Essex Witch Museum Mysteries
Secretly Rosie Strange has always thought herself a little bit more interesting than most people – the legacy her family has bequeathed her is definitely so, she’s long believed. But then life takes a peculiar turn when the Strange legacy turns out not just to be the Essex Witch Museum, but perhaps some otherworldly gifts that Rosie finds difficult to fathom. Meanwhile Sam Stone, Rosie’s curator, is oddly distracted as breadcrumb clues into what happened to his missing younger brother and other abducted boys from the past are poised to lead him and Rosie deep into a dark wood where there lurks something far scarier than Hansel and Gretel’s witch…
Witty, entertaining, mysterious and slightly sinister, Strange Tricks is my favourite audiobook experience yet. From it’s eerie opening chapter until the final sentence, this had me hooked. The combination of the vivid imagery, brilliant writing and fabulous narration was spectacular, bringing the characters and story to life so powerfully that it felt like they were in the room with me.
While this was a mostly comedic and lighthearted story, there were some darker, more sinister elements too. The author writes these as skillfully as the rest of the story, literally giving me chills as she describes the shocking, macabre and depraved sights that Rosie is confronted with. Let me say that I’m glad I was listening in daylight.
Rosie is one of the most fun, fabulous, bubbly, charismatic and feisty characters I’ve read. I loved her immediately and she is the sort of woman I’d love to be friends with. She had me in stitches with her overactive imagination and hilarious and saucy quips and is a fantastic protagonist who gripps and entertains the reader, making it impossible to stop reading or listening. The background characters were just as richly drawn, creating a great cast I enjoyed following. I liked the romantic tension between Rosie and Sam, and the added mystery surrounding the death of her mother, Celeste, when she was a baby. I liked that the author included flashbacks in the form of extracts from Celeste’s diary, allowing us to build an image of who she was and learn more about her at the same time Rosie did and I’m looking forward to seeing where this element of the story goes in future installments.
If you’re looking for a first-rate mystery that is full of humour, heart and will also give you the heebie-jeebies, Strange Tricks is the book for you. Charming, tense and addictive, I couldn’t get enough of Rosie and will be buying and listening to the other books as soon as possible.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Before embarking on a career in education, Syd worked extensively in the publishing industry, fronting Channel 4’s book programme, Pulp. She was the founding editor of Level 4, an arts and culture magazine, and is co-creator of Super Strumps, the game that reclaims female stereotypes. Syd has also been a go go dancer, backing singer, subbuteo maker, children’s entertainer and performance poet, She now works for Metal Culture, an arts organisation, promoting arts and cultural events and developing literature programmes. Syd is an out and proud Essex Girl and is lucky enough to live in that county where she spends her free time excavating old myths and listening out for things that go bump in the night.
MEET THE NARRATOR:
After graduating from Bristol University and joining The Bristol Old Vic Julia Barrie has worked extensively in Theatre; in rep, touring both nationally and internationally, as a member of the RSC, at the Old Vic and Royal Court and in the West End at The Duke of York’s and the Theatre Royal Haymarket. For BBC Radio she recorded Anthony Shaffer’s Widow’s Weeds and her TV and film credits include Prisoners’ Wives, The Commander, Doctors, Close Relations, Our Friends in the North, Out of Bounds, Ghost in the Machine and Five Greedy Bankers.
May has been a fantastic reading month for me. I’ve read 16 books, which is by best monthly total so far this year! But most importantly, I’ve enjoyed reading them and some have been real stand-outs that will likely be on my list of favourite books of 2021 at the end of the year.
Here’s a quick summary of what I read with links to the reviews (unless they are yet to be published):
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
I had been excited about Ariadne for months and was so happy to finally read the book. An absolute masterpiece, Ariadne brings to life many of the familiar Greek myths through a new lens. This time it’s the women telling the story. And boy do they have a story to tell. Lush, evocative and unforgettable, this book lingers long after reading and has sparked a new obsession for me with Greek mythology. Jennifer Saint has just announced her second book, Elektra, and I’m already counting down to its release. Read my review here.
The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
Beth O’Leary is one of my auto-buy authors and her books always lift my spirits. The Road Trip is another entertaining and readable story about love friendship, betrayal and forgiveness. Review coming soon.
The Other Emily by Dean Koontz
A gripping page-turner that had me guessing from start to finish, The Other Emily was an eerie thriller filled with twists and turns. It was my first time reading Dean Koontz and I can see why everyone raves about his books. Read my review here
The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley
The Cat and the City was a delightful and refreshing read that wasn’t what I expected, but in a good way. This collection of experiences about life in Tokyo was a moving, original, captivating and evocative read that I devoured quickly. One I’d highly recommend if you’re looking for something a bit different. Read my review here
Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon
Why has it taken me so long to read Jane Fallon’s books? An entertaining, twisty and sharply observed look at female friendships, jealousy, vengeance and betrayal, this made me an instant fan. Read my review here
Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks
Until Next Weekend is a story about love, loss and moving on. Wonderfully written, this warm, tender and funny story was a joy to read. While it has a very lighthearted feel, the author skillfully weaves in some deep and difficult subjects in a way that is both honest and sensitively written. This author is two for two on fantastic books that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend and is now an auto-buy author for me. Read my review here
The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter
I have a new crime series to catch up on! The Whole Truth lives up to its advertised ‘impossible to predict’ tagline and had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Cara Hunter twists a familiar story on its head, exploring what happens when a male student accuses a female teacher of abuse in this gripping thriller. This is a must-read for any fans of crime fiction and I can’t wait to read more. Read my review here
You Had It Coming by BM Carroll
You Had It Coming is another tense, twisty and compelling thriller that expertly tackles a difficult subject. As a mother of teenage boys, I’m glad to see more books tackling the issue of consent and the dangers for both sexes that those blurred lines can bring. Thought-provoking and emotionally charged, I would highly recommend this fantastic thriller. Read my review here
Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan~
Madame Burova is the story of two women, a lifetime of secrets and identity. Full of vibrant, quirky and memorable characters that leap from the screen, and evocative imagery that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into the 1970s, I enjoyed this funny, mysterious and uplifting story. Review coming soon.
Legal Crime by Samiksha Bhattacharjee
This book is quite the accomplishment, having been written by a thirteen-year-old author. While it suffers a little for the the author’s lack of maturity, it is a good book and I’m sure that with maturity the author will become an even better writer. Read my review here
The Hollows by Mark Edwards
My love for Mark Edwards is an open secret at this point, and every book he releases is eagerly anticipated. I was particularly excited for The Hollows as it merges two of my favourite genres: true crime and psychological thriller. Sinister, suspenseful and utterly spectacular, this might be my favourite yet. Keep an eye out for my review nearer to it’s release on July 8th.
The Baby is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Darkly funny, claustrophobic and readable, this quick read is the first book I’ve read set during the pandemic. It is perfect for anyone looking for a quick and entertaining read. Read my review here
The Pact by Sharon Bolton
Wow! Just, wow! The Pact was my standout thriller in a month filled with amazing thrillers. So that tells you something. This was an absolute tour-de-force, a breathtaking rollercoaster ride that I devoured quickly. If you are a fan of thrillers than you need to read this book! Read my review here
The Couple by Helly Acton
This was a fun twist on the usual romance story. Set in a world where being single is the norm, and those who are in a relationship are looked down upon, I couldn’t get enough of this warm, funny, uplifting and emotional story. A perfect book to lose yourself in. Read my review here
Shadows Over the Spanish Sun by Caroline Montague
A truly beautiful saga of family, love, loss, secrets and betrayal, Shadows Over the Spanish Sun, this book transported me to the stunning vistas of Spain. The perfect book to read in my garden on a sunny day, this is historical fiction at it’s finest; filled with wonderful characters, lush imagery and educating me about a subject I knew nothing about. Read my review here
Strange Tricks: An Essex Witch Museum Mystery by Syd Moore
I loved this witty cozy mystery so much that I’m planning to read the rest of the series. Great writing, brilliant characters and fabulous narration have made this one of my best audiobook experiences yet. I absolutely love Rosie, the protagonist, and can’t wait to listen to more of her adventures. Review to follow on June 1st.
Despite having read so many great books this month, deciding my book of the month was easy. There is one book that stood out even more than any other and deserves a standing ovation for it’s sheer luminous beauty both inside and out: Ariadne. It is so phenomenal that it isn’t only my BOTM, but my favourite book so far this year, and I have no doubt that whatever I read in the next seven months, this will be on my list of favourite books of 2021. I can’t recommend this highly enough.
What books have you read this month? Did we read any of the same books? Let me know in the comments.
As always, thank you to the publishers for my gifted copies of the books.
Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. See you next month😊 Emma xxx
Welcome to my stop on the tour for this beautiful novel. Thank you to Ellen at Orion for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and the gifted copy of the book.
Escape to the Spanish hills with this spellbinding story of passionate love, family secrets and betrayal
A country in the shadow of war. A love that burns through the decades…
Mia Ferris’s heart has always belonged in Spain. Every childhood summer was spent at her grandfather’s hacienda, riding together amongst the olive trees or listening to his stories of the past. So when she learns that he has fallen from his horse, she knows that she belongs by his bedside – even if it means leaving behind her life in London, and her new fiancé.
But as Leonardo fights for his life, and Mia to save the family home from financial ruin, secrets begin to emerge that tell a different story of the past – a terrible history that begins with a boy running for his life over the Andalusian hills, and ends with a forbidden love that only war can destroy…
As Mia untangles the passions and betrayals of the past, everything she thought she knew is turned upside down. Can she heal the wounds of the past, and face the truth of her own heart?
A sweeping novel of passionate love, betrayal and redemption, set against the turmoil and tragedy of the Spanish Civil War.
“Throughout my erratic childhood it had been a haven of tranquility, a golden sanctuary. Papa Leonardo had wrapped me up in his world of horses, orange groves and fireflies.”
One of the things I miss during this pandemic is travelling to new places. Thankfully, we can still travel through books and this beautiful novel transported me to the sunny skies and stunning vistas of Spain. The lush and evocative descriptions made me feel like I was in Andalusia. It was the perfect book to enjoy in the garden on the day the sun had finally decided to arrive in England.
A sweeping saga laced with secrets, mystery and betrayal, this is a story of family, love, loss and forgiveness. The author immerses you in the world of the Palamera de Santos family. She moves seamlessly between timelines and narrators, taking the reader on a journey alongside Mia as she slowly unfurls the enigmas of her family.
This book is filled with wonderful characters that are so vibrant and well written that they leap from the page and compel you to keep reading. I adored the relationship between Mia and Leonardo. It is so special and there were parts that felt reminiscent of my own relationship with my grandmother. I love reading about multigenerational relationships, whether they are family or friends, and combining that with my love of historical fiction and mysteries made this story irresistible to me. With that being said, it is probably no surprise to learn that Leonardo’s backstory was one of my favourite parts of this book. My heart went out to him as a scared, heartbroken little boy and I enjoyed seeing what he went through over the years that shaped him into the man that Mia knows.
One of the reasons I love historical fiction is because I like broadening my knowledge of history. And as I didn’t know anything about the Spanish civil war, this story offered the perfect chance to educate myself more about it. I found it fascinating and also liked reading about the time leading up to WW2 from a different perspective than I’ve read previously.
Shadows over the Spanish Sun is a tender, moving and sumptuous story that will take your breath away. Perfect for fans of historical fiction.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
From early childhood a poem, executed by my own hand was a compulsory requirement for my father’s birthday. To the reluctant five year old this was considered a trial, but by the age of seven writing poetry had become my passion. At ten I won my first national poetry competition and from that moment I dreamt of being a writer.
This particular dream took rather longer than I had hoped because reading law, marriage at nineteen, children, a career as an interior designer – something always got in the way. When I moved with my second husband, three children and four step children to Burnt Norton twenty years ago, and I happened upon the empty pools made famous by TS Eliot in the first of his Four Quartets, I knew that one day the dream would become a reality.
In 2018 after first writing a historical novel set at Burnt Norton I changed agents to William Morris Endeavour and it was here that I felt truly at home. Within a fairly short time, Matilda Forbes Watson had procured a two book deal with Orion for ‘An Italian Affair’ and ‘A Paris Secret’. She recently procured a further two book deal for a novel set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and a novel set in Greece.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful and refreshing love story. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and to Zaffre for the gifted ebook ARC.
Millie is a perfectionist. She’s happy, she’s successful and, with a great support network of friends and family (and a very grumpy cat), she’s never lonely. She loves working at a big tech firm and is on track be promoted to her dream role. The last thing she needs is romance messing up her perfectly organised world.
Besides, normal people just don’t have romantic relationships. Everyone knows that being in a couple is a bit . . . well, odd. You know, like having a pet snake or referring to yourself in the third person. Why rely on another person for your own happiness? Why risk the humiliation of unrequited love or the agony of a break-up? No, Millie is more than happy with her conventional single life.
So, when Millie lands a new project at work, launching a pill that prevents you falling in love, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. That is, until she starts working with Ben. He’s charming and funny, and Millie feels an instant connection to him.
Will Millie sacrifice everything she believes in for love?
Imagine a world where being single was the norm and those in relationships were viewed as not only unusual, but less-than. Or a world where there’s a drug designed to prevent you falling in love. That is the world of The Couple, the delightful new book by Helly Acton. This book was a joy to read from beginning to end. A glorious mix of humorous, warm and compelling writing, the author also examines and challenges our perceptions of society, life and love.
I adored Millie and Ben. Millie is a Type-A personality, a demure perfectionist with a love of schedules, order and control. She knows what she wants to achieve and won’t let anything get in her way. Yet there is also a vulnerability to her in her eagerness to please, concern about what others think and the panic attacks she suffers from. And then there’s Ben. Ben is ebullient, spontaneous, chaotic, adventurous and doesn’t care what others think. But he is also funny, kind, thoughtful and charming. I could see why Millie fell for him. The author expertly conveys Millie’s torment over her feelings for Ben and how the idea of even a crush, let alone being in love or having a relationship filled her with dread and a sense that there was something wrong with her. Their chemistry leapt from the pages and while it might seem cheesy and predictable, I found it well written, hopeful and authentic. It was impossible not to root for them and hope they would have the happy ending they deserve.
At the beginning of the book the author explains that she wanted to write a book for the happy single people who are tired of being made to feel ‘less than’ because they’re not in a relationship. There is a lot of societal pressure to be part of a couple, meaning some settle for unhappy, bad or toxic relationships just to be part of one. It was fascinating to see how the world could look if the roles were reversed. I enjoyed the discussions between those on different sides of the debate and thought that the addition of a new drug that is the antidote for love was a brilliant and thought-provoking concept. For all the heartache and struggles that love can sometimes bring, do we really want to live in a world without romantic love?
All the stars for this funny, entertaining and uplifting book that gave me all the feels. A refreshing twist on the usual love story, I devoured it quickly. Perfect to lose yourself in, I highly recommend you read this book.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
I was born in Zimbabwe, finished school in the UK, spent time in Saudi Arabia and partied away my twenties in Australia.
After six years and one life-affirming divorce in Sydney, I returned home to London. Here, I made up for lost time with my family, embraced midulthood and enjoyed the single life in a city where the dating apps don’t run dry.
I am an open book and use my experiences as an inspiration for my stories. Like the time I married the wrong person because everyone else was doing it. Or the time I only dated men my Mum swiped right on, to see if She could choose any better. Or the time a date told me I wasn’t a real writer because I hadn’t published a book. I did eventually find Mr Right At The Right Time, and married Chris in 2019.
In the words of my completely unbiased publisher, I am a ‘huge talent’ and THE SHELF is a fabulously feminist novel and a breath of fresh air, full of real, relatable characters and an important message. The book is clever and empowering but, most importantly, incredibly fun. In my spare hours, I am writing, rewriting, and rewriting again, my second book, which is due for release in 2021.
THE SHELF has been optioned for Television by Monumental Pictures and the rights sold in five territories.
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Sharon Bolton’s latest breathtaking thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part, and Orion for the gifted eBook ARC.
A golden summer, and six talented friends are looking forward to the brightest of futures – until a daredevil game goes horribly wrong, and a woman and two children are killed.
18-year-old Megan takes the blame, leaving the others free to get on with their lives. In return, they each agree to a ‘favour’, payable on her release from prison.
Twenty years later Megan is free. Let the games begin . . .
Richard & Judy bestseller Sharon Bolton is back, with her twistiest thriller yet.
“That summer was a time of neither hope nor promise but of certainty: they were the chosen ones, to whom the world belonged, and their lives, only just beginning, would be long and golden. How very wrong they were.”
Wow. Just, wow. What a ride! Breathtaking and compulsive, this book literally had my heart racing. It could even be her best book yet. Totally unputdownable, I even missed the Friend’s reunion I’ve been excited about for years as I couldn’t stop reading.
A story of friendship, secrets, sacrifice, betrayal and vengeance, The Pact focuses on a group of six teenage friends whose lives are changed forever when a dare goes tragically wrong. One of the group, Megan, offers to take the blame for what happened, but only on the condition that at any point she can ask any favour of each of the five others. Twenty years later she is released from prison and back to call in the favours. And that is when things start to go terribly wrong.
This book was everything I wanted and more. A nail-biting psychological thriller that was cleverly written, razor-sharp, pacy and twisty. A sinister sense of dread pervades the whole story, particularly after Megan’s return in part two. She is brilliantly written; an enigma whose memories and motivations are unclear, adding to the sense of foreboding that looms. This is an author who knows how to hook her reader, and she held me hostage, unable to turn away or stop reading as the cat and mouse games began and the horrors unfold.
The characters are compelling, flawed and often unlikeable. They make some terrible decisions that have devastating repercussions, but at the start they are young and entitled, so you give them some allowances for that. When we meet them again as adults we find that in their desperation and fear they make yet more terrible decisions and treat Megan atrociously. Especially after all she sacrificed for them to continue their lives untarnished. But despite all of this the author managed to make them enjoyable to read and I even liked them or felt sorry for them at times.
This book is an absolute tour-de-force. A rollercoaster ride full of so many twists and turns you’ll get book whiplash, it left me reeling with my jaw on the floor.
READ THIS BOOK.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Sharon (formerly SJ) Bolton grew up in a cotton-mill town in Lancashire and had an eclectic early career which she is now rather embarrassed about. She gave it all up to become a mother and a writer.
Her first novel, Sacrifice, was voted Best New Read by Amazon.uk, whilst her second, Awakening, won the 2010 Mary Higgins Clark award. In 2014, Lost, (UK title, Like This, For Ever) was named RT Magazine’s Best Contemporary Thriller in the US, and in France, Now You See Me won the Plume de Bronze. That same year, Sharon was awarded the CWA Dagger in the Library, for her entire body of work.
Published: May 27th, 2021 Publisher: Atlantic Books Format: Paperback, Kindle
Happy Publication Day to this year’s Quick Reads. Thank you to Midas PR, the Reading Agency and Atlantic Books for gifting me this Quick Read.
When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout, and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib.
At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby’s cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby’s cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?
The Baby is Mine is the first book I’ve read that is actually set during the pandemic. Darkly funny, claustrophobic and readable, it takes place in Nigeria during the first lockdown
Bambi has been kicked out by his girlfriend after being caught cheating and is forced to seek refuge with his recently widowed aunt and newborn cousin. When he arrives he is shocked to find another woman living there: his late uncle’s mistress. What’s more, both women are claiming the baby is their child. Who is telling the truth?
This novella lived up to its Quick Read title. Short and not-so-sweet, this was an entertaining read with fascinating but unreliable characters. I liked that the story was told from Bambi’s point of view. A Casanova who believes it’s unnatural for men to be tied to just one woman, he isn’t a particularly likeable or sympathetic character at the start. But once he arrives at his Aunt Bidemi’s house things begin to change. Bidemi and Eshoe are caught up in their psychological games and battle over baby Remi and Bambi steps up, puting the child first and getting between the women to protect him. This makes him much more likeable, though he is still a flawed, misogynistic character.
Bidemi and Eshoe are both crazy, unreliable and compelling characters. They are so well written that I was never sure who was telling the truth or what one of them would do next. Every time I thought I knew, something would happen and I’d be rethinking my conclusion. Their story reminded me a little of the judgement of Soloman in the bible, but thankfully Bambi didn’t offer to split little Remi in two to find out who his mother really was.
If you’re looking for a quick, fun, suspenseful read, then this is the book for you.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at a Nigerian Publishing House and has been freelancing as a writer and graphic designer since. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self-published work.
In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam. In 2016, she was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.
She is the author of My Sister, the Serial Killer, which won the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller, the 2019 Morning News Tournament of Books, the 2019 Amazon Publishing Reader’s Award for Best Debut Novel, the 2019 Anthony Award for Best First Novel.
It was also shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019, shortlisted for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2019 in the Mystery & Thriller and Debut Novel categories, shortlisted for the British Book Awards 2020 in two categories, shortlisted for the Cameo Awards 2020 in the Book to Audio category, shortlisted for Book Bloggers’ Choice Awards 2020.
It was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019, and longlisted for the 2020 Dublin Literary Award.
My Sister, the Serial Killer is being translated into 30 languages and has also been optioned for film.
Click here to learn more about the other Quick Reads out today.
One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – have difficulty reading, and one in three people do not read regularly for pleasure. Quick Reads was created by The Reading Agency to help address those statistics. They are a collection of books released each year by well known authors designed to be a short and entertaining read. The hope is that they will help those who find they’ve little time to read, struggle with a longer book or have just simply fallen out of the habit of reading, to get back into a love of books by indulging in a Quick Read.
This year Quick Reads is celebrating their 15th Anniversary. Over five million copies of their titles have been distributed since the programme began in 2006. To celebrate, for every book bought until July 31st 2021, another copy will be gifted to someone to help them discover the joy of reading.
I was contacted by Midas PR offering me a choice of one of this years Quick Reads to read and review. This years titles are:
The Baby Is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They are fighting because both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib. At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby’s cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby’s cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?
Oyinkan Braithwaite gained a degree in Creative Writing and Law at Kingston University. Her first book, My Sister, the Serial Killer, was a number one bestseller. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize and was on the long list for the 2019 Booker Prize.
Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of The Baby is Mine (Atlantic) said: “When I am writing, I don’t know what my readers will look like or what challenges they may be facing. So it was an interesting experience creating work with the understanding that the reader might need a story that was easy to digest, and who might not have more than a few hours in a week to commit to reading. It was daunting – simpler does not necessarily mean easier – I may have pulled out a couple of my hairs; but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Quick Reads tapped into my desire to create fiction that would be an avenue for relief and escape for all who came across it.”
The Skylight by Louise Candlish They can’t see her, but she can see them… Simone has a secret. She likes to stand at her bathroom window and spy on the couple downstairs through their kitchen skylight. She knows what they eat for breakfast and who they’ve got over for dinner. She knows what mood they’re in before they even step out the door. There’s nothing wrong with looking, is there? Until one day Simone sees something through the skylight she is not expecting. Something that upsets her so much she begins to plot a terrible crime…
Louise Candlish is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Other Passenger and thirteen other novels. Our House won the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. It is now in development for a major TV series. Louise lives in London with her husband and daughter.
Louise Candlish, author of The Skylight (Simon & Schuster) said: It’s an honour to be involved in this [next] year’s Quick Reads. Reading set me on the right path when I was young and adrift and it means such a lot to me to be a part of literacy campaign that really does change lives.”
Saving the Day by Katie Ffjord Allie is bored with her job and starting to wonder whether she even likes her boyfriend, Ryan. The high point in her day is passing a café on her walk home from work. It is the sort of place where she’d really like to work. Then one day she sees as advert on the door: assistant wanted. But before she can land her dream job, Allie knows she must achieve two things: 1. Learn to cook; 2. End her relationship with Ryan, especially as through the window of the café, she spies a waiter who looks much more like her type of man. And when she learns that the café is in danger of closing, Allie knows she must do her very best to save the day …
Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family and is a true country girl at heart. Each of her books explores a differentjoband her research has helped her bring these to life. To find out more about Katie Fforde step into her world at www.katiefforde.com, visit her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KatieFforde.
Katie Fforde, author of Saving the Day (Arrow, Penguin Random House) said: “As a dyslexic person who even now can remember the struggle to read, I was delighted to be asked to take part in the scheme. Anything that might help someone who doesn’t find reading easy is such a worthwhile thing to do.”
Wish You Were Dead by Peter James Roy Grace and his family have left Sussex behind for a week’s holiday in France. The website promised a grand house, but when they arrive the place is very different from the pictures. And it soon becomes clear that their holiday nightmare is only just beginning. An old enemy of Roy, a lowlife criminal he had put behind bars, is now out of jail – and out for revenge. He knows where Roy and his family have gone on holiday. Of course he does. He’s been hacking their emails – and they are in the perfect spot for him to pay Roy back…
Peter James is a UK number one bestselling author, best known for his crime and thriller novels. He is the creator of the much-loved detective Roy Grace. His books have been translated into thirty-seven languages. He has won over forty awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award. Many of his books have been adapted for film, TV and stage.
Peter James, author of Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan) said: “The most treasured moments of my career have been when someone tells me they hadn’t read anything for years, often since their school days, but are back into reading via my books. What more could an author hope for? Reading helps us tackle big challenges, transports us into new worlds, takes us on adventures, allows us to experience many different lives and open us up to aspects of our world we never knew existed. So I’m delighted to be supporting Quick Reads again – I hope it will help more people get started on their reading journeys and be the beginning of a life-long love of books.”
How To Be A Woman (abridged) by Caitlin Moran It’s a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727. But a few nagging questions remain… Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby? Part memoir, part protest, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.
Caitlin Moran became a columnist at The Times at eighteen and has gone on to be named Columnist of the Year six times. She is the author of many award-winning books and her bestseller How to Be a Woman has been published in 28 countries and won the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year 2011. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, is now a major feature film. Find out more at her website www.caitlinmoran.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @caitlinmoran
Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be a Woman (abridged) (Ebury) said: “I wrote How To Be A Woman because I felt that feminism is such a beautiful, brilliant, urgent and necessary invention that it should not be hidden away in academic debates, or in books which most women and men found dull, and unreadable. Having a Quick Reads edition of it, therefore, makes me happier than I can begin to describe – everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend, on hand to help them through the often bewildering ass-hattery of Being A Woman. There’s no such thing as a book being too quick, too easy, or too fun. A book is a treat – a delicious pudding for your brain. I’m so happy Quick Reads have allowed me to pour extra cream and cherries on How To Be A Woman.”
The Motive by Khurrum Rahman Business has been slow for Hounslow’s small time dope-dealer, Jay Qasim. A student house party means quick easy cash, but it also means breaking his own rules. But desperate times lead him there – and Jay finds himself in the middle of a crime scene. Idris Zaidi, a police constable and Jay’s best friend, is having a quiet night when he gets a call out following a noise complaint at a house party. Fed up with the lack of excitement in his job, he visits the scene and quickly realises that people are in danger after a stabbing. Someone will stop at nothing to get revenge…
Born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1975, Khurrum moved to England when he was one. He is a west London boy and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons. Khurrum is currently working as a Senior IT Officer but his real love is writing. His first two books in the Jay Qasim series, East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero, have been shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger.
Khurrum Rahman, author of The Motive (HQ) said: “I started reading late in life, as the idea of reading a book always seemed overwhelming. I hesitantly began a book a friend had recommended and quickly became totally immersed in the story. I found joy and comfort and most importantly, an escape. It’s for this very reason that I am so proud to be involved with Quick Reads. This initiative is so important for people, like I once was, to engage in stories that may mirror their own lives or to read experiences far beyond their imagination. Just like a friend once did for me, I hope I am able to play a small part in encouraging somebody to pick up a book.”
Released May 27th, each book is just £1, or 88p on Amazon. An absolute bargain for a great read by a contemporary author. As I had already pre-ordered one of the books, I requested a copy of The Baby Is Mine. Keep an eye out for my review on publication day.
Are you planning to buy an of this years Quick Reads? Let me know in the comments.
Published: February 15th, 2021 Publisher: The Conrad Press Genre: Young Adult, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Thriller Format: Paperback, Kindle
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Legal Crime. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to The Conrad Press for the eBook ARC.
This exciting and captivating page-turner transports you into the fascinating story of sixteen-year-old aspiring singer Fiona Watson who runs away from her family, oblivious to the dangers outside her shielded comfort zone. As she journeys through her new world, leaving her past behind and determined to find a new identity, she uncovers surprising secrets buried deep within her long ago…
How do her new friends link to her past? What secrets are they hiding behind their misleading smiles? How much of herself has she really left behind? And how will she cope when she realises that she has made a huge mistake… one that could ruin her forever?
In the early hours of her sixteenth birthday, Fiona runs away from home. Why she’s leaving isn’t clear at first, but things are revealed as the story goes on. With the help of a group of new friends, she starts to carve out a new identity for herself and chase her dreams. But being young and naïve, she is unaware and unprepared for the dangers and struggles that await her away from home. And as her new friends’ secrets are unveiled, she begins to wonder if she has made a big mistake…
I think it is important to know before reading this book that it is not just young adult fiction, but the author is just thirteen years old. When viewed through that lens, it is a good book. But I also feel like it makes it a little tricky to review this book objectively as I look at the world very differently as a woman in my forties to how a thirteen-year-old does.
Writing any book is a remarkable achievement for anyone, particularly a young person. This book has the bare bones of a great book but suffers without the nuance and experience of a more mature author. The narration was sometimes a little confusing, the writing a bit clumsy and the pace a bit choppy for my liking, but all of that could be my more mature perspective of a book written by, and for, young adults.
But being young also has its advantages and the author authentically conveys the frustration, pain, angst and naivete of being a teenager. She took me back to that time where every small problem felt like the end of the world and I was so sure I knew so much more than I did. A time where our friends are the most important people in our world and it seems our parents are only out to get in our way. But as the story goes on, she shows how a teenager learns the importance of the right friends, family, and how to forgive yourself for your mistakes.
Legal Crime’s themes of identity, self-discovery and peer pressure will resonate with young readers. Quirky and imaginative, I think the author has the potential to be a great writer with a little more maturity and experience and I am sure we will see more from her in the future.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Samiksha Bhattacharjee is a thirteen-year-old British author living with her parents and younger brother. She started writing ‘Legal Crime’ when she was seven, and hopes to inspire other children to start creative writing too. She also enjoys acting, singing, drawing and talking (a lot).