November Wrap Up

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Another month gone and we’re in the last month of the year. How did that happen?!

November has been a good reading month. I’ve read fourteen books, one sampler and took part in eight blog tours. Almost all the books I read this month were by new authors to me. Only three of the fifteen were by authors I’ve already read. I love discovering new authors and can honestly say that I would, and will, read books by them again. I love a good book series and this month three of the books I read – Snow Creek, The Vanished Bride and Hold Your Tongue – were the first in an exciting new series. I will definitely be reading the next installments and can’t wait to see where the authors take the characters next.

So here’s what I read this month. You can find the synopsis and reviews for most of the books on this blog. Some of them will be published shortly.

  • The Photographer of the Lost by Caroline Scott ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Snow Creek by Gregg Olsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Child of Auschwitz by Lily Graham ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Her Dark Heart by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Wish List of Albie Young by Ruby Hummingbird ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver ⭐⭐⭐.5
  • Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Assistant by S. K. Tremayne  ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • High Heels and Beetle Crushers by Jackie Skingley ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Violet by S. J. I. Holliday ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Lies We Hide by S. E. Lynes ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Who Did You Tell by Lesley Kara ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Saving Missy (Sampler) by Beth O’Leary ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

The stand out book this month was The Vanished Bride. Although I read a lot of great books, that is the one I’ve not been able to get out of my mind the most. As I said in my review, it is a luminous novel that was a joy to read.

So with December upon us I am putting together my favourite books of 2019 and looking forward to so many books that are coming in 2020. I have six blog tours I’m taking part in and  I can’t wait to share my reviews with you for those.

Have you read any of the books in my list for November? What was your favourite book this month. Comment below.

Thank you to the tagged publishers, authors and to NetGalley for my gifted copies of the novels.

Violet by S.J.I. Holliday ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this twisty psychological thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to S.J.I. Holliday and Orenda books for the gifted ebook copy of this novel.

SYNOPSIS:

When two strangers end up sharing a cabin on the Trans-Siberian Express, and intense friendship develops, one that can only have one ending…a nerve-shattering psychological thriller from bestselling author SJI Holliday.

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world-trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place. 

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

A tense and twisted psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships, Violet also reminds us that there’s a reason why mother told us not to talk to strangers…

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MY REVIEW:

This claustrophobic and disturbing psychological thriller takes the reader on a wild ride as we follow travellers, and new friends, Violet and Carrie on their cross-country journey on the Trans-Siberian Express. Nothing and no-one is what they seem in this mysterious, foreboding and tense thriller that had me guessing throughout. 

The story is narrated by Violet with Carrie’s voice appearing in the form of emails to her friends and family back home. I thought this was a great way to show us Carrie’s perspective and give us an alternative look at events. Both girls were curious characters but not very likeable, and neither were any of the background characters we met along the way. From the start I didn’t trust Violet, and it was soon apparent that there was something very wrong with her. Something that ran deep. Carrie couldn’t have been more different. She is chatty and makes friends easily.  The pair develop a strong and intense bond but Violet goes further, developing an unhealthy obsession with her new friend and will do anything to keep her close. 

This was my first read by this author and I now can’t wait to read more. She transported me to places I’ve never been with her evocative and descriptive prose. I also loved how she teased us, alluding to fragments of the girls’ past and how we are left to guess what Violet means by the sinister sentences she will randomly throw out. It’s soon clear she has some dark secrets and is hiding behind a smokescreen of lies but the author leaves us as clueless as Carrie, heightening the suspense. 

Violet is an exciting story about obsession, jealousy, rage, secrets and devious desires. It is also a cautionary tale about trusting strangers and intense, toxic friendships. I devoured the pages as we approached the crescendo – the shocking revelations coming thick and fast, a million questions in my head –  before finally reaching the deft and satisfying conclusion. 

I would highly recommend this book, particularly if you enjoy Killing Eve or Single White Female. 

Out now. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a scientist, writing coach and bestselling author of five crime novels,  including the Banktoun Trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly), the festive chiller The Deaths of December and her creepy Gothic psychological thriller The Lingering. Her short story Home From Home was published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and shortlisted for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize. Encapsulating her love of travel and claustrophobic settings, her latest novel, Violet, explores toxic friendships and the perils of talking to strangers, as well as drawing on her own journey on the Trans-Siberian Express over 10 years ago. All of her novels have been UK ebook number-one bestsellers. Susi was born and raised in Scotland and now divides her time between Edinburgh, London and as many other exciting places that she can fit in.

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Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver ⭐⭐⭐.5

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Thank you to Anne at Random Things  Tours for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and to Orenda Books for my gifted copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

Nine suicides.

One cult.

No leader.

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become part of the People of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on the train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

A shocking, mesmerisingly original and pitch-black thriller, Nothing Important Happened Today confirms Will Carver as one of the most extraordinary, exciting authors in crime fiction.

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****TRIGGER WARNING****

If there was ever a book that required a trigger warning its this one. This book deals with suicide and mental health and if you struggle with those things I would advise caution in reading this book. Both are subjects I can find triggering but all I knew was that it started with the nine suicides. I didn’t expect it to delve so deeply and darkly into both subject and I really struggled with reading it, having to take lots of breaks. In all honesty, I would have quit reading if I hadn’t been reading it for a blog tour spot that was just days away. But it does move away from being so dark and became a book I enjoyed after some time.

MY REVIEW:

Nine people receive a letter one morning. Each one contains a sheet of paper with just four words: nothing important happened today, the other has instructions for where and when they are to meet and end their lives in unison. They have been accepted as members of the People of Choice, a suicide cult that seems to have no leader and the members don’t know each other. As word spreads and the People of Choice becomes a movement, the police are desperately trying to find links between the members and the identity of the cult’s leader.

This was a powerful, original, dark and brutal novel that I had the dichotomy of disliking the start but ultimately enjoyed. It packs a punch from the start and the unease was instant as I read about the normal days of the nine people who sacrificed their lives on the bridge.

This was my first Will Carver book and I loved his unique writing style. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a book that’s written in both the first and third person before, but it worked and flowed smoothly. The dual timelines and multiple narrators were a great way to introduce us to what the person behind the People of Choice was trying to achieve and showing us the shattered lives of those he chose to be members. His choice to refer to the members by numbers and profession or a personality trait made it feel like I was observing test subjects in some twisted experiment, which I guess is kind of what the cult’s orchestrator wanted. It made me one of the others. I felt quite voyeuristic and removed when reading parts of the book which perfectly illustrates how taking away personal qualifiers such as names and details about people’s lives also takes away some of the empathy.

This read as a how-to manual for running a cult but was also a commentary on today’s society. There were a lot of great points and things I could relate to but unfortunately I found that for over half the book these things were overshadowed by the things that made this book hard to read for me: as I mentioned earlier, I found the depth and detail to which this book discussed and examinned suicide distressing and the way mental health and how it is treated was discussed in the first half of the book rubbed me the wrong way. I was relieved when the book began to feel less gratuitous and like it was starting to come together at last. I found myself really enjoying the storyline and actually caring about what happened and who was behind the carnage.

Out now.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

So while I feel I can’t give this a four star rating because of how I felt for the first part of the book, I would still urge everyone to decide for themselves about this book. It is a well-written book by a talented author that is timely, twisted, disturbing and thought-provoking. I liked how the story played out as we approached the finale and absolutely loved how it ended.

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.