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Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – July 2020

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Welcome to another wrap up. I read nineteen books this month, which is my best month yet. I read some great books and took part in two great readalongs with Tandem Collective UK and other bookstagrammers. The first was for All My Lies Are True, the sequel to The Ice Cream Girls. This took a different format and I particularly enjoyed having it start with the author reading the beginning of the book. The second was for A Court of Mist and Fury, the second book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series. I am now totally hooked on this series and am counting down to August’s readalong of book three. 

So here is what I read in July:

  1. Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza
  2. All Fall Down (DI Helen Grace 9) by M. J. Arlidge
  3. The Bad Mother’s Virus by Suzy K. Quinn
  4. The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English
  5. The Unwinding: and other dreamings by Jackie Morris
  6. Somebody’s Daughter by Carol Wyer (Natalie Ward Book 7)
  7. All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson (Ice Cream Girls 2)
  8. Lost by Leona Deakin (Dr Bloom 2)
  9. Fleishman Is In Trouble
  10. If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin
  11. Spirited by Julie Cohen
  12. The Resident by David Jackson
  13. Playdate by Alex Dahl
  14. Precious You by Helen Monks Takar
  15. The Storm by Amanda Jennings
  16. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Mass
  17. Eleven Lines To Somewhere by Alyson Rudd
  18. Shed No Tears by Caz Frear (DC Cat Kinsella Book 3)
  19. The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon by Sarah Steele

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I had been trying to decide if my favourite book this month was All My Lies Are True or The Resident when The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon swooped in at the final hour and claimed the title. I highly recommend all three books, particularly Nancy Moon.

Thank you to the tagged publishers for my gifted copies of the books.

What did you read in July? Did we read any of the same books?

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book reviews

Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza

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Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Sphere
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Police Procedural, Crime Series.

I read this as part of a readalong with Tandem Collective UK. Thank you to Tandem Collective for the invitation to take part and Sphere for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

From the breakthrough international bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice, a breathtaking, page-turning novel about a disgraced female detective’s fight for redemption. And survival.

Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly became a nightmare.

Fifteen years after those catastrophic, career-ending events, a copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.

Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. But there’s much more than her reputation on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim . . . and his successor means to finish the job.

MY REVIEW:

Kate Marshall was at the start of a promising career when she unmasked the identity of the Nine Elms serial killer. But solving the case costs the young detective her career and fifteen years later she is still haunted professionally and personally by the case. Now working as a Criminology lecturer, the case comes back to plague her when a copycat takes up the Nine Elms Cannibal’s mantle and continues his idol’s gruesome killings. With the help of her research assistant Tristan Harper, Kate finds herself once again hunting a monster. But will she catch him before he finishes what the Nine Elms Cannibal didn’t?

Wow! What a ride! Dark, sinister, tense and atmospheric, this is exactly the kind of gripping thriller I love. I had heard great things about Robert Bryndza, and as a fan of crime fiction and investigative thrillers, I always planned to read his books. So, when the opportunity to read the first book in his new crime series with Tandem Collective came along, a book that was on my first ever list of Emma’s Anticipated Treasures when the hardback was released in January, I jumped at the chance and am now an instant fan. Bryndza is a seasoned thriller writer, and it shines through. Filled with well developed, memorable and compelling characters and with foreboding and suspense dripping from every page, I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

Kate is a great protagonist and I really like her as the focus for a crime series. I liked that she is an ex-police officer in a break from the norm and her personal connection to the Nine Elms killer gave her, and the story, a bit of an edge.  The dynamic between her and her assistant was interesting and I liked how they worked together as they investigated the case. I’m looking forward to seeing where the author takes them in book two and hopefully learning a bit more about Tristan’s background. 

The Nine Elms Cannibal and the Fan are both predatory, merciless and ruthless killers. I found their relationship interesting. I am a self-confessed true crime fan, but can not imagine idolising a killer or wanting to copy or continue his or her ‘work’. Getting an insight into someone who does was both fascinating and disturbing. But strangely enough, it wasn’t the killers I loathed most of all. It was Enid, the mother of the Nine Elms cannibal. I don’t want to go into why as it will ruin the book, but I will say she is a vile, sickening woman who was very well written. 

Sharp, succinct, twisty and addictive, Nine Elms is one of my top thrillers this year. Gritty, gruesome and not for the faint hearted, it is a strong start to a new series that I will certainly be following and I am counting down impatiently to book two in November. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Robert Bryndza began his career training at the Guildford School of Acting. He spent six years as an actor, doing all kinds of strange jobs in between, which was the perfect training for being an author. He began to write during a long period of unemployment, first comedy sketches, a show which he took to the Edinburgh Festival, and then four romantic comedy novels which he self-published, and they became Amazon charts bestsellers selling over 250,000 copies.

His debut crime thriller The Girl in the Ice was the first book in his Detective Erika Foster series. It has sold over 1 million copies in the English language, and won the Dead Good Reader Award for best kick-ass female character at the 2016 Harrogate Crime Festival. Erika Foster has gone on to kick-ass in five further books; The Night Stalker, Dark Water, Last Breath, Cold Blood and Deadly Secrets. The series was twice nominated in Goodreads Choice Awards (Mystery and Thriller category) in 2016 for The Girl in the Ice, and in 2017 for Last Breath. Robert’s books have sold over 3 million copies in the English language, and have been translated into 29 languages.

Nine Elms, the first book| in his new Kate Marshall private detective series was published late in 2019 and was an instant Amazon USA no.1 bestseller, an Amazon UK top 10 bestseller and topped bestselling charts around the world. The second book in the series, Shadow Sands, will be published in November 2020. Robert is British and lives in Slovakia.

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Uncategorised

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures: January 2020

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There are far too many books I’m excited about this year to create a top ten most anticipated, so I’ve decided instead to start writing a post of my most anticipated books each month and start the hashtag #EmmasAnticipatedTreasures

This month I’m doing this a little late and there is a book that would have been on this list, except I read it last month. The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page is a delightful novel that I devoured quickly. It is released on January 23rd, along with most of the books on this list. It’s going to be an expensive, but amazing, year for books.

THE DILEMMA by B. A Paris

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Published: January 9th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the part is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

 

THREE HOURS by Rosamund Lupton

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Published: January 9th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.
It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

 

MR. NOBODY  by Catherine Steadman

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Published: January 9th, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Psychological thriller, mystery, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
When a man is found on a Norfolk beach, drifting in and out of consciousness, with no identification and unable to speak, interest in him is sparked immediately. From the hospital staff who find themselves inexplicably drawn to him; to international medical experts who are baffled by him; to the national press who call him Mr Nobody; everyone wants answers. Who is this man? And what happened to him?

Neuropsychiatrist Dr Emma Lewis is asked to assess the patient. This is her field of expertise, this is the chance she’s been waiting for and this case could make her name known across the world. But therein lies the danger. Emma left this same small town in Norfolk fourteen years ago and has taken great pains to cover all traces of her past since then.

But now something – or someone – is calling her back. And the more time she spends with her patient, the more alarmed she becomes.

Has she walked into danger?

 

NINE ELMS by Robert Bryndza

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Published: January 9th, 2020

Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Psychological thriller, crime fiction, suspense, police procedural.

SYNOPSIS:
From the breakthrough international bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice, a breathtaking, page-turning novel about a disgraced female detective’s fight for redemption. And survival.

Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly became a nightmare.
Fifteen years after those catastrophic, career-ending events, a copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.

Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. But there’s much more than her reputation on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim . . . and his successor means to finish the job.

 

AMERICAN DIRT by Jeannie Cummins

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Published: January 21st, 2020
Publisher: Tinder Press
Genre: Suspense

SYNOPSIS:
FEAR KEEPS THEM RUNNING. HOPE KEEPS THEM ALIVE.
Vivid, visceral, utterly compelling, AMERICAN DIRT is the first novel to explore the experience of attempting to illegally cross the US-Mexico border. Described as ‘a life-affirming triumph’ (Independent) and ‘essential reading’ (Tracy Chevalier), it is a story that will leave you utterly changed.

Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved most in the world.
Today, her eight-year-old son Luca is all she has left.
For him, she will carry a machete strapped to her leg.
For him, she will leap onto the roof of a high speed train.
For him, she will find the strength to keep running.

 

HAVEN’T THEY GROWN by Sophie Hannah

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense, crime fiction, police procedural.

SYNOPSIS:
All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.

Just because she knows that her former best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora Braid for twelve years.

But she can’t resist. She parks outside Flora’s house and watches from across the road as Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, step out of the car. Except…

There’s something terribly wrong.

Flora looks the same, only older – just as Beth would have expected. It’s the children that are the problem. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily Braid were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then. They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Beth hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.

They are no taller, no older.

Why haven’t they grown?

 

THE OTHER PEOPLE by C. J. Tudor

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room…
Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .

 

PINE by Francine Toon

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Ghost story, horror

SYNOPSIS:
They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.

In the shadow of the Highland forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia. In a place that can feel like the edge of the word, she unites the chill of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.

 

LITTLE BANDAGED DAYS by Kyra Wilder

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A mother moves to Geneva with her husband and their two young children. In their beautiful new rented apartment, surrounded by their rented furniture, and several Swiss instructions to maintain quiet, she finds herself totally isolated. Her husband’s job means he is almost never present, and her entire world is caring for her children – making sure they are happy, and fed and comfortable, and that they can be seen as the happy, well-fed, comfortable family they should be. Everything is perfect.
But, of course, it’s not. The isolation, the sleeplessness, the demands of two people under two, are getting to Erika. She has never been so alone, and once the children are asleep, there are just too many hours to fill until morning…

Kyra Wilder’s Little Bandaged Days is a beautifully written, painfully claustrophobic story about a woman’s descent into madness. Unpredictable, frighteningly compelling and brutally honest, it grapples with the harsh conditions of motherhood and this mother’s own identity, and as the novel continues, we begin to wonder just what exactly Erika might be driven to do.

 

OUR FATHERS by Rebecca Wait

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Riverrun
Genre: Literary fiction

SYNOPSIS:
What kind of man kills his own family?
When Tom was eight years old, his father took a shotgun and shot his family: his wife, his son and baby daughter, before turning the gun on himself. Only Tom survived.
He left his tiny, shocked community on the island of Litta and the strained silence of his Uncle Malcolm’s house while still a young boy. For twenty years he’s tried to escape his past. Until now.

Without knowing how to ask, he needs answers – from his uncle, who should have known. From his neighbours, who think his father a decent man who ‘just snapped’. From the memories that haunt the wild landscape of the Hebrides.

And from the silent ones who know more about what happened – and why – than they have ever dared admit.

By turns gripping, beautiful, devastating and tender, Our Fathers is a story about violence and redemption, control and love. With understated compassion and humour, Rebecca Wait gives a voice to the silenced and to the silences between men of few words.

 

MIX TAPE by Jane Sanderson

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Romance, contemporary

SYNOPSIS
You never forget the one that got away. But what if ‘what could have been’ is yet to come?

Daniel was the first boy to make Alison a mix tape.

But that was years ago and Ali hasn’t thought about him in a very long time. Even if she had, she might not have called him ‘the one that got away’; after all, she’d been the one to run.

Then Dan’s name pops up on her phone, with a link to a song from their shared past.

For two blissful minutes, Alison is no longer an adult in Adelaide with temperamental daughters; she is sixteen in Sheffield, dancing in her skin-tight jeans. She cannot help but respond in kind.

And so begins a new mix tape.

Ali and Dan exchange songs – some new, some old – across oceans and time zones, across a lifetime of different experiences, until one of them breaks the rules and sends a message that will change everything…

Because what if ‘what could have been’ is yet to come?

 

THE WOODS by Vanessa Savage

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense, crime fiction.

SYNOPSIS:
There’s a lot from Tess’s childhood that she would rather forget. The family who moved next door and brought chaos to their quiet lives. The two local girls who were murdered, their killer never found. In fact, the only thing she can’t remember is the one thing she wishes she could.

Ten years ago, Tess’s older sister died. Ruled a tragic accident, the only witness was Tess herself, but she has never been able to remember what happened that night in the woods.

Now living in London, Tess has resolved to put the trauma behind her. But when an emergency call from her father forces her back to the family home, Tess discovers that, sometimes, the past cannot be laid to rest . . .

 

ADULTS by Emma Jane Unsworth

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Published: January 30th, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Genre: General fiction, humour.

SYNOPSIS:
Jenny is unloved, unemployable and emotionally unfiltered. Her long-suffering friends seem sick of her and whilst her social media portrays her life as a bed of roses, it is more of a dying succulent.

Adults is what you want it to be. A misadventure of maturity, a satire on our age of self-promotion, a tender look at the impossibility of womanhood, a love story, a riot. And Emma Jane Unsworth is the only voice to hear it from. Adults is excruciating, a gut punch of hilarity and a book laden with truth that you will read again and again.

Jenny is unloved, unemployable and emotionally unfiltered. Her long-suffering friends seem sick of her and whilst her social media portrays her life as a bed of roses, it is more of a dying succulent.

Adults is what you want it to be. A misadventure of maturity, a satire on our age of self-promotion, a tender look at the impossibility of womanhood, a love story, a riot. And Emma Jane Unsworth is the only voice to hear it from. Adults is excruciating, a gut punch. of hilarity and a book laden with truth that you will read again and again.