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.
“Edward Fosca was a murderer. This was a fact. This wasn’t something Mariana knew just on an intellectual level, as an idea. Her body knew it. She felt it in her bones, along with her blood, and deep within every cell. Edward Fosca was guilty.”
Today’s gripping first lines are taken from The Maidens, the new novel by Alex Michaelades that was published yesterday. I don’t know about you, but those lines make me want to abandon my TBR and pick up this book. In fact, if I didn’t have blog tour commitments that is exactly what I’d be doing.
We all keep secrets. Even from ourselves.
St Christopher’s College, Cambridge, is a closed world to most.
For Mariana Andros – a group therapist struggling through her private grief – it’s where she met her late husband. For her niece, Zoe, it’s the tragic scene of her best friend’s murder.
As memory and mystery entangle Mariana, she finds a society full of secrets, which has been shocked to its core by the murder of one of its own.
Because behind its idyllic beauty is a web of jealousy and rage which emanates from an exclusive set of students known only as The Maidens. A group under the sinister influence of the enigmatic professor Edward Fosca.
A man who seems to know more than anyone about the murders – and the victims. And the man who will become the prime suspect in Mariana’s investigation – an obsession which will unravel everything…
The Maidensis a story of love, and of grief – of what makes us who we are, and what makes us kill.
This is one of my most anticipated books of 2021, so I am really excited to pick this up, hopefully later this month. Is The Maidens on your TBR? Let me know in the comments?
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 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.
How are we almost half way through the year already? Crazy! June is almost upon us and it’s a great month for books. A few of these are ones that are part of my most anticipated books of the year, and I’m really excited to finally own and read them soon.
Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the micro-aggressions, she’s thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling.
Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.
It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career.
A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.
Published: June 3rd, 2021 Publisher: Allen & Unwin Genre: Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS: When Gill and Gabe’s elder son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth.
A novel about family, food, grief, and hope, this gripping, lyrical story moves between Tasmania and London, exploring the many ways that a family can break down – and the unexpected ways that it can be put back together.
Published: June 8th, 2021 Publisher: Del Rey Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Jewish Fiction
SYNOPSIS: In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.
But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman – he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.
As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.
Published: June 10th, 2021 Publisher: Manilla Press Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: From the bestselling author of The Familiars and The Foundling comes Stacey Halls’s most compelling and ambitious novel to date.
‘Something’s not right here.’ I was aware of Mr Booth’s eyes on me, and he seemed to hold his breath. ‘What do you mean?’ ‘In the house. With the family.’
West Yorkshire, 1904. When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England.
Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband, and is far from the ‘angel of the house’ Ruby was expecting. As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.
Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric West Yorkshire landscape, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.
SYNOPSIS: From the author of the global #1 bestselling debut The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding literary thriller which weaves together Greek mythology, psychology, and murder…
St Christopher’s College, Cambridge, is a closed world to most.
For Mariana Andros – a group therapist struggling through her private grief – it’s where she met her late husband. For her niece, Zoe, it’s the tragic scene of her best friend’s murder.As memory and mystery entangle Mariana, she finds a society full of secrets, which has been shocked to its core by the murder of one of its own.
Because behind its idyllic beauty is a web of jealousy and rage which emanates from an exclusive set of students known only as The Maidens. A group under the sinister influence of the enigmatic professor Edward Fosca.A man who seems to know more than anyone about the murders – and the victims. And the man who will become the prime suspect in Mariana’s investigation – an obsession which will unravel everything…
The Maidens is a story of love, and of grief – of what makes us who we are, and what makes us kill.
Published: June 10th, 2021 Publisher: Riverrun Genre: Fairy Tale
SYNOPSIS: Cath is a photographer hoping to go freelance, working in a record shop to pay the rent and eking out her time with her manager Steve. He thinks her photography is detective work, drawing attention to things that would otherwise pass unseen and maybe he’s right . . .
Starting work on her new project – photographing murder houses – she returns to the island where she grew up for the first time since she left for Glasgow when she was just eighteen. The Isle of Bute is embedded in her identity, the draughty house that overlooked the bay, the feeling of being nowhere, the memory of her childhood friend Shirley Craigie and the devastating familicide of her family by the father, John Craigie.
Arriving at the Craigie house, Cath finds that it’s occupied by Financial Analyst Alice Rahman. Her bid to escape the city lifestyle, the anxiety she felt in that world, led her to leave London and settle on the island. The strangeness of the situation brings them closer, leading them to reinvestigate the Craigie murder. Now, within the walls of the Craigie house, Cath can uncover the nefarious truths and curious nature of John Craigie: his hidden obsession with the work of Richard Dadd and the local myths of the fairy folk.
The Good Neighbours is an enquiry into the unknowability of the past and our attempts to make events fit our need to interpret them; the fallibility of recollection; the power of myths in shaping human narratives. Nina Allan skilfully weaves the imagined and the real to create a magically haunting story of memory, obsession and the liminal spaces that our minds frequent to escape trauma.
SYNOPSIS: When Rachel’s baby is stillborn, she becomes obsessed with the idea that saving a stranger s life months earlier is to blame. An unforgettable, heart-wrenching, warm and funny debut.
Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.
When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.
Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…
Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.
SYNOPSIS: When the mother of an autistic young man hires a call girl to make him happy, three lives collide in unexpected and moving ways … changing everything. A devastatingly beautiful, rich and thought-provoking novel that will warm and break your heart…
Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely.
Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy … she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants.
Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.
When these three lives collide – intertwine in unexpected ways – everything changes. For everyone.
A topical and moving drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family … to survive … This Is How We Are Human is a searching, rich and thought-provoking novel with an emotional core that will warm and break your heart.
Published: June 10th, 2021 Publisher: Pan Macmillan Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Everything she touches breaks . . .
Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.
So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.
But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.
But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .
Fragile is a dark, contemporary psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist from an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer who has been compared to Ruth Rendell, P. D. James and Val McDermid. Rebecca meets The Handmaid’s Tale in Sarah Hilary’s standalone breakout novel.
Published: June 10th, 2021 Publisher: W&N Genre: History, Society and Culture, Gender Studies
SYNOPSIS: ‘We are taught that medicine is the art of solving our body’s mysteries. And as a science, we expect medicine to uphold the principles of evidence and impartiality. We want our doctors to listen to us and care for us as people, but we also need their assessments of our pain and fevers, aches and exhaustion to be free of any prejudice about who we are, our gender, or the colour of our skin. But medicine carries the burden of its own troubling history. The history of medicine, of illness, is a history of people, of their bodies and their lives, not just physicians, surgeons, clinicians and researchers. And medical progress has always reflected the realities of a changing world, and the meanings of being human.’
In Unwell Women Elinor Cleghorn unpacks the roots of the perpetual misunderstanding, mystification and misdiagnosis of women’s bodies, and traces the journey from the ‘wandering womb’ of ancient Greece, the rise of witch trials in Medieval Europe, through the dawn of Hysteria, to modern day understandings of autoimmune diseases, the menopause and conditions like endometriosis. Packed with character studies of women who have suffered, challenged and rewritten medical orthodoxy – and drawing on her own experience of un-diagnosed Lupus disease – this is a ground-breaking and timely exposé of the medical world and woman’s place within it.
Published: June 17th, 2021 Publisher: Doubleday Genre: Historical Fiction
SYNOPSIS: The Salpêtrière asylum, 1885. All of Paris is in thrall to Doctor Charcot and his displays of hypnotism on women who have been deemed mad or hysterical, outcasts from society. But the truth is much more complicated – for these women are often simply inconvenient, unwanted wives or strong-willed daughters. Once a year a grand ball is held at the hospital. For the Parisian elite, the Mad Women’s Ball is the highlight of the social season; for the women themselves, it is a rare moment of hope.
Geneviève is a senior nurse. After the childhood death of her sister, she has shunned religion and placed her faith in Doctor Charcot and his new science. But everything begins to change when she meets Eugénie, the 19-year-old daughter of a bourgeois family. Because Eugénie has a secret, and she needs Geneviève’s help. Their fates will collide on the night of the Mad Women’s Ball…
Published: June 24th, 2021 Publisher: Harper Collins UK Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
SYNOPSIS: They thought they’d got away with it … they were wrong.
Leigh and her sister Callie are not bad people – but one night, more than two decades ago, they did something terrible. And the result was a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, devastated by violence.
Years later, Leigh has pushed that night from her mind and become a successful lawyer – but when she is forced to take on a new client against her will, her world begins to spiral out of control.
Because the client knows the truth about what happened twenty-three years ago. He knows what Leigh and Callie did. And unless they stop him, he’s going to tear their lives apart …
Just because you didn’t see the witness … doesn’t mean he wasn’t there.
SYNOPSIS: You can save hundreds of lives. Or the one that matters most . . .
The atmosphere on board the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney is electric. Celebrities are rumoured to be among the passengers in business class, and the world is watching the landmark journey.
Flight attendant Mina is trying to focus on the passengers, instead of her troubled five-year-old daughter back at home – or the cataclysmic problems in her marriage.
But soon after the plane takes off, Mina receives a chilling anonymous note. Someone wants to make sure the plane never reaches its destination. They’re demanding her cooperation . . . and they know exactly how to get it.
It’s twenty hours to landing. A lot can happen in twenty hours . . .
Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.
When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand.
But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before.
When all has been razed to the ground, what does it mean to build a life?
The Stranding is a story about the hope that can remain even when the world is changed beyond recognition.
She loves her daughter, and the two of them is all that matters. But after nearly twenty years, she and Ella are suddenly leaving London for the Isle of Kip, the tiny remote Scottish island where Lorna grew up.
Alice’s world is tiny but full.
She loves the community on Kip, her yoga classes drawing women across the tiny island together. Now Lorna’s arrival might help their family finally mend itself – even if forgiveness means returning to the past…
So with two decades, hundreds of miles and a lifetime’s worth of secrets between Lorna and the island, can coming home mean starting again?
Published: June 24th, 2021 Publisher: Picador Genre: Historical Fiction, Humorous Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: From the author of Sunday Times Bestseller, Dear Mrs Bird, comes a much hoped-for follow up, Yours Cheerfully. Charming, heart-warming and hilarious, Yours Cheerfully is just the tonic we’ve all been waiting for.
London, September, 1941.
Following the departure of the formidable Editor, Henrietta Bird, from Woman’s Friend magazine, things are looking up for Emmeline Lake as she takes on the challenge of becoming a young wartime advice columnist. Her relationship with boyfriend Charles is blossoming, while Emmy’s best friend Bunty, is still reeling from the very worst of the Blitz, but bravely looking to the future. Together, the friends are determined to Make a Go of It.
When the Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit desperately needed female workers to the war effort, Emmy is thrilled to be asked to step up and help. But when she and Bunty meet a young woman who shows them the very real challenges that women war workers face, Emmy must tackle a life-changing dilemma between doing her duty, and standing by her friends.
Every bit as funny, heartwarming, and touching as AJ Pearce’s debut, Dear Mrs Bird, Yours Cheerfully is a celebration of friendship, a testament to the strength of women and the importance of lifting each other up, even in the most challenging times.
SYNOPSIS: ‘So that was all it took,’ I thought. ‘That was all it took for me to feel like I had all the power in the world. One morning, one moment, one yellow-haired boy. It wasn’t so much after all.’
Chrissie knows how to steal sweets from the shop without getting caught, the best hiding place for hide-and-seek, the perfect wall for handstands.
Now she has a new secret. It gives her a fizzing, sherbet feeling in her belly. She doesn’t get to feel power like this at home, where food is scarce and attention scarcer.
Fifteen years later, Julia is trying to mother her five-year-old daughter, Molly. She is always worried – about affording food and school shoes, about what the other mothers think of her. Most of all she worries that the social services are about to take Molly away.
That’s when the phone calls begin, which Julia is too afraid to answer, because it’s clear the caller knows the truth about what happened all those years ago.
And it’s time to face the truth: is forgiveness and redemption ever possible for someone who has killed?
Published: June 24th, 2021 Publisher: Post Hill Press Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Named one of the most riveting books of Spring 2021 by Veranda Magazine!
Like the chilling psychological thriller The Silent Patient, Deborah Goodrich Royce’s Ruby Falls is a nail-biting tale of a fragile young actress, the new husband she barely knows, and her growing suspicion that the secrets he harbors may eclipse her own.
On a brilliantly sunny July day, six-year-old Ruby is abandoned by her father in the suffocating dark of a Tennessee cave. Twenty years later, transformed into soap opera star Eleanor Russell, she is fired under dubious circumstances. Fleeing to Europe, she marries a glamorous stranger named Orlando Montague and keeps her past closely hidden.
Together, Eleanor and Orlando start afresh in LA. Setting up house in a storybook cottage in the Hollywood Hills, Eleanor is cast in a dream role—the lead in a remake of Rebecca. As she immerses herself in that eerie gothic tale, Orlando’s personality changes, ghosts of her past re-emerge, and Eleanor fears she is not the only person in her marriage with a secret.
In this thrilling and twisty homage to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, the story ricochets through the streets of Los Angeles, a dangerous marriage to an exotic stranger, and the mind of a young woman whose past may not release her.
A Cut For A Cut (Detective Kate Young 2) by Carol Wyer
Published: June 29th, 2021 Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural
SYNOPSIS: DI Kate Young can’t trust anybody. Not even herself.
In the bleak countryside around Blithfield Reservoir, a serial murderer and rapist is leaving a trail of bloodshed. His savage calling card: the word ‘MINE’ carved into each of his victims.
DI Kate Young struggles to get the case moving―even when one of the team’s own investigators is found dead in a dumpster. But Kate is battling her own demons. Obsessed with exposing Superintendent John Dickson and convinced there’s a conspiracy running deep in the force, she no longer knows who to trust. Kate’s crusade has already cost her dearly. What will she lose next?
When her stepsister spills a long-buried secret, Kate realises she’s found the missing link―now she must prove it before the killer strikes again. With enemies closing in on all sides, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to bring them down. But time is running out, and Kate’s past has pushed her to the very edge. Can she stop herself from falling?
It’s the end of another month so it’s also time to share what I’ve been reading. April was a busy month for me; I finished thirteen books and was part-way through another when the month ended. Four of these were five star reads and I may have even found my book of the year. So here is what I read in April:
Look What You Made Me Do by Nikki Smith
As well as making me have the Taylor Swift song buzzing round my head, this book is an addictive and twisty page-turner that will knock your socks off. I was already a fan of Ms. Smith’s writing after reading her debut, but this has confirmed her place on my list of auto-read authors. Read the review here
The Lost Hours by Susan Lewis
The Lost Hours is a compelling mystery that follows a family through their worst nightmare. It was the author’s ability to convey the emotion of the story that made this one so enjoyable for me, though I did also like how she keeps the reader guessing right until the very end. Read the review here
The Source by Sarah Sultoon
A story of survival, strength, power, abuse and justice, this is a book that elicits strong emotions. Unflinchingly and sensitively written, it isn’t an easy read, but it’s one I’m glad I picked up. Read the review here
The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter
One of the best thriller’s I’ve read in a while, this had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Skillfully written, atmospheric and intoxicating, this might have been my first time reading this author, but it won’t be my last. Read the review here
I enjoyed listening to this anthology of thirteen short stories with a bookish theme which was my first audiobook review for NetGalley. A great listen for anyone who enjoys a mystery with stories from some famous names in crime.
The Plague Letters by V. L. Valentine
I’ve long had a fascination with anything related to the plague of the 17th Century so this book was one of my most anticipated books this year. And it didn’t disappoint. The Plague Letters is a gripping whodunnit with a sinister and supernatural twist that is made me feel like I had gone back in time. A sensational debut, I’m looking forward to seeing what this author writes next. Read the review here
Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth MacNeal
As a huge fan of the author’s debut novel, The Doll Factory, I was so excited to read this book. I was worth the wait. Once again Ms. Macneal has written a magnificent and truly wonderful story. I got lost in the world and characters she created and didn’t want it to end. This was very nearly my book of the month and is one fans of historical fiction don’t want to miss.
The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs
I haven’t read this series in years but it was still like meeting up with old friends. I had forgotten just how amazing this series, and Reich’s writing, are and am so glad I decided to jump back into it. A twisty, taut and tense thriller that I highly recommend. Read the review here
The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea
This book is truly something special. I was unprepared for how much I’d fall in love with this book and it’s characters as they reached into my soul and took up residence there. The writing is exquisite, the imagery so vivid you feel like you are there, and the characters utterly compelling. Dorothy and Cesare will make you believe in true love as they find something beautiful in the darkest and most unexpected of places. Read the review here
The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
I’m not going to deny the beautiful cover is partly what enticed me to add this book to my tbr. And it lived up to the expectation of beauty for sure, with its luxurious prose and evocative imagery. I also really liked how the author addressed the topic of female agency and power. The only thing that let this down was that it is sold as Fantasy but there was no real magical element to it. It is a great book for those who enjoy historical romance. Read the review here
The Liar’s Daughter by Rona Halsall
This was another amazing thriller from one of my favourite voices in psychological fiction. Halsall had me fooled for a while, lulling me into a false sense of security where I thought I had it all figured out, before pulling the rug from under me and turning everything on it’s head. Read the review here
Don’t Come Looking by A. J. Campbell
The second installment in the Eva Barnes is even better than the first! An intriguing, suspenseful and gripping thriller that I couldn’t put down, keep an eye out for my review soon.
Dead Secret by Noelle Holten
This has become a must-read series for me thanks to the author’s dark and twisty plots and razor-sharp writing. This wasn’t as dark as the previous books in the series and I enjoyed exploring more of the character’s personal lives. Unexpected and addictive, I flew through this in just a few hours. Read the review here
While there were a few books that stood out this month, as soon as I began reading The Metal Heart I knew this was my Book of the Month. It is something truly beautiful and special that reached into my soul.
Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite read in April? Let me know in the comments.
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.
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?
Today is my stop on the blog tour for this captivating novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Orion for tbr gifted copy.
A moving and gripping story about three women who keep unspeakable truths, from the Richard & Judy recommended bestselling author Julie Cohen.
‘Haunting, tender and true – this story cast a spell on me’ Kirsty Logan
Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her – and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . .
Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them – but Victorian society is no place for reckless women.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight.
Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom?
Driven by passionate, courageous female characters, SPIRITED is your next unforgettable read!
“All stories are true or none. I find more beauty if they are all true.”
Viola and her new husband Jonah have moved to the south coast to begin their married life together. But instead of the closeness they once shared growing up, they seem to be growing further apart with each day. Henriette, a celebrated medium, arrives in town and is immediately drawn to Viola. With her encouragement, Viola starts to take photographs again and discovers an astonishing talent that sends shockwaves through society. Meanwhile, Jonah is grappling with a secret trauma from his time in India that he feels unable to share with his new wife.
The author explores themes of love, gender, sexuality, faith, prejudice and freedom in the victorian era in this wonderfully written story. Captivating, evocative, haunting and tender, I savoured every word. The extracts from books, newspapers and webpages gave the story an authentic feel and I found myself googling the characters to be sure I was reading fiction. This was my first time reading this author and I now understand why people rave about her books and can’t wait to read more of her work.
The characters are compelling, memorable and richly drawn and the author has created strong, fascinating female characters that go against the cultural norms of their societies to live the life they want for themselves, rather than the one they are told they should have. I liked Viola but it was Henriette, the fiesty, wiley and charming medium, who I loved most of all. Despite her duplicity, there is a sincerity to her that we slowly saw more of as the story went on, particularly around Viola, and it was this, along with her backstory, that endeared her to me.
Atmospheric, immersive and moving, Spirited is an imaginative piece of historical fiction that I highly recommend.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine and studied English at Brown University and Cambridge University before pursuing a research degree in nineteenth century fairies. After a career as a secondary school English teacher, she became a novelist. Her award-winning novels have sold over a million copies worldwide. Dear Thing and Together were both selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club. Julie runs an oversubscribed literary consultancy which has helped many writers go on to be published. She is Vice President of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, founder of the RNA Rainbow Chapter for LGBTQ+ authors, and a Patron of literary charity ABC To Read
Published: June 11th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Series
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the latest installment in my favourite crime series and one of my most anticipated books this year. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and Orion for the gifted copy of the novel.
“You have one hour to live.”
Those are the only words on the phone call. Then they hang up. Surely, a prank? A mistake? A wrong number? Anything but the chilling truth… That someone is watching, waiting, working to take your life in one hour.
The job of finding out falls to DI Helen Grace: a woman with a track record in hunting killers. However, this is A case where the killer seems to always be one step ahead of the police and the victims.
With no motive, no leads, no clues – nothing but pure fear – an hour can last a lifetime…
D.I. Helen Grace and her team are back in another grippinginstallment of my favourite crime series. I had been eagerly anticipating this one for months and it was worth the wait.
There is a killer lurking in the shadows, stalking their prey. Their targets are the survivors of a group of schoolchildren who were abducted by Daniel King eight years ago. All but one of them got away but the killer was never caught and has been an illusive phantom ever since with no definitive sightings despite rumours over the years. Could he be back and looking to finish what he started all those years ago? And are the survivors telling the full story about what happened in that farmhouse? Are there secrets still waiting to be revealed?
M. J. Arlidge has done it again. I was hooked from the first page and immersed in the world he’s created, one that feels so familiar after eight previous books with Helen Grace and her team. The narrative uses multiple points of view and extracts from a book written by one of the survivors to slowly reveal the shocking truth about the killer they are hunting and the events eight years ago.
Arlidge has a knack for writing characters that feel real and jump from the pages. The ones in this book felt so real that I had to go back and check his previous books as it felt like I’d read the story of the kids in the farmhouse before. I hadn’t, he’s just that good at immersing you in their world. Helen is the kind of flawed, complex and compelling character I love and I’ve enjoyed following her journey over the course of this series. This time Arlidge explores the politics of policing through the lens of interpersonal relationships, with Helen and her colleague Joseph Hudson in a fledgling relationship when the story opens. Their dynamic shifts as the story progresses and I am excited to see where he takes things next for them after how the book ended.
Skillfully and cunningly crafted, Arlidge has once again written a dark, twisty, layered and tantalising thriller. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for this series in book ten.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last twenty years, specializing in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Silent Witness, Torn, The Little House and, most recently, the hit ITV show Innocent. In 2015 his audiobook exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a number-one bestseller. His debut thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek and Love Me Not. Down to the Woods is the eighth DI Helen Grace thriller. In 2019 he published a standalone thriller, A Gift for Dying.
Another month has passed and we’re now half way through the year. It has flown so quickly. I just hope that the rest of the year isn’t as crazy as 2020 has been so far.
June has been a fantastic reading month for me. I read fourteen books, including my first ever audio book. It was almost fifteen books read but I didn’t quite finish Nine Elms. It was a big month for reading with others for me. I took part in a buddy read with my lovely friend Beth and three readalongs with the Tandem Collective, two of which are still going on.
You can read the reviews for all of the books except for Sadie by clicking on the title. My review for Sadie will be posted in the coming week.
My BOTM was a close call again but I have to give it to A Court of Thorns and Roses. I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did and it’s opened up a whole new genre for me. That’s one of the things I love about Bookstagram though, it brings books to your attention you’d never have considered reading otherwise and it’s helped me discover a wealth of books and authors I doubt I’d have ever read without it. The other books that deserve a special mention this month are The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, The Waiting Rooms, and The Miseducation of Evie Epworth. These three outstanding novels were all contenders for my book of the month and are candidates for being in my favourite books of the year so far.
In July I have a busy month full of blog tours that I’m so excited about . I’m also looking forward to seeing what books the rest of the year brings and will be posting some of the ones I’m looking forward to most in the next few weeks.
Thank you to all the tagged publishers for the gifted copies of the books.