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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?

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Spirited by Julie Cohen

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

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.

SYNOPSIS:

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!

MY REVIEW:

“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.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Julie Cohen Author pic

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

All Fall Down (DI Helen Grace 9) by M. J. Arlidge

78c4a0fcPublished: June 11th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
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.

SYNOPSIS:

“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.

But why?

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…

MY REVIEW:

D.I. Helen Grace and her team are back in another gripping installment 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. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

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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.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Categories
Blog Tours Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – June 2020

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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. 

So here is what I read this month:

  1.  A Theatre For Dreamers ✮✮✮✮✰
  2.  The Split ✮✮✮✮. 5
  3.  The Lies I Tell ✮✮✮. 5
  4.  The Phone Box at the Edge of the World ✮✮✮✮. 5
  5.  I Know Your Secret ✮✮✮✮✰
  6. A Court of Thorns and Roses ✮✮✮✮✮
  7. Unbroken ✮✮✮✮✰
  8.  The Colours ✮✮✮✮✰
  9.  The Waiting Rooms ✮✮✮✮✮
  10.  The Miseducation of Evie Epworth ✮✮✮✮✰
  11. Monstrous Souls ✮✮✮✮✰
  12. The July Girls ✮✮✮✮✰
  13. The Silent Wife ✮✮✮✮✮
  14. Sadie ✮✮✮✮✰ (Audiobook)

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.

 

Categories
Blog Tours

Blog Blitz: The First Lie by A.J. Park

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Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Domestic Fiction

Happy Publication Day to this gripping debut thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part. 

SYNOPSIS:

“A. J. Park is a master of suspense who knows how to keep readers hovering tensely over the edges of their seats.” 
Sophie Hannah
“This is a real page-turner. I finished it in one go!”
Martina Cole

A husband and wife cover up a murder. But the lie eats away at the fabric of their relationship and things unravel till they can’t trust anyone – even each other.

“A great thriller that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.”
Luca Veste

A freak accident. An impossible choice. But what was the first lie?

When Paul Reeve comes home to find his wife in the bathroom, bloodied and shaking, his survival instinct kicks in.

Alice never meant to kill the intruder. She was at home, alone, and terrified. She doesn’t deserve to be blamed for it. Covering up the murder is their only option.

But the crime eats away at the couple and soon they can’t trust anyone – even one another…

But there is much more at stake than anyone realises – and many more people on their trail than they can possibly evade…

“Fast-moving, gripping, the ground shifting perpetually beneath your feet as you read… I read it in one sitting.”
Alex Marwood

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

A.J. Park is the author of The First Lie, published by Orion Fiction. The paperback will be released on June 25th 2020. A second psychological thriller will arrive in July 2021. The translation rights to The First Lie have been sold to publishers in Germany, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

A.J. Park’s real name is Karl Vadaszffy. Karl Vadaszffy is the author of three novels: The Missing, which was twice a Kindle top ten bestseller in the UK, peaking at number 6, as well as a number one bestseller in Australia, Sins of the Father and Full of Sin. He is also a freelance journalist and the Head of English at a secondary school in Hertfordshire.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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THE FIRST LIE all quotes

Categories
Blog Tours

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – July 2020

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Another month, another round of anticipated books.

July is a month filled with great books and July 9th is rivaling February 6th for it’s bumper publication day spot; I could have easily added another four or five books out that day.

So here are the books out in July that I’m most excited about:

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Spirited by Julie Cohen
Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Historical Fiction, and as soon as I saw the cover and read the synopsis of this book I was dying to read it. I’ve been lucky enough to get a spot on the blog tour for this so look out for my review on July 16th.

SYNOPSIS:
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!

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The Shadow Friend by Alex North

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Police Procedural

The Whisper Man was one of my favourite books of last year so when I heard the author had a second book coming out it became a must-read. This one sounds just as chilling as his last book and I can’t wait to read it.

SYNOPSIS:
The victim was his friend. So was the murderer.

Twenty-five years ago, troubled teenager Charlie Crabtree committed a shocking and unprovoked murder.

For Paul Adams, it’s a day he’ll never forget. He’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened to his friend and classmate. He’s never gone back home.

But when his elderly mother has a fall, it’s finally time to stop running.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. A copycat killer has struck, bringing back painful memories. Paul’s mother insists there’s something in the house.

And someone is following him.

Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterwards, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again . . .

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The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Science Fiction, Urban Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Orenda are one of my favourite publishers. I’ve loved everything I’ve read that they publish. When I heard about this earlier this year I instantly pre-ordered it and started the count down. Who would have thought it would become so timely by the time it was released. I’m on the blog tour for this one and my review will be published on June 18th.

SYNOPSIS:
Decades of spiraling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

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If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance

I am so excited to be taking part in the blog tour for this debut thriller. Look out for my review on July 16th.

SYNOPSIS:
What if the problem with your love life is you?

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.

You.

Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

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How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Published: July 9th, 2020
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller,  Legal Thriller

Over the last few years Gillian McAllister has become a must-read author for me and her latest book sounds like it could be her best yet.

SYNOPSIS:
You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good?

Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back.

The only choice is to disappear.

To keep Zara safe, Lauren will give up everything and everyone she loves, even her husband.

There will be no goodbyes. Their pasts will be rewritten. New names, new home, new lives.

The rules are strict for a reason. They are being hunted. One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new.

They can never assume someone isn’t watching, waiting.

As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is harder . . .

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Somebody’s Daughter by Carol Wyer (Detective Natalie Ward 7)

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

The Detective Natalie Ward Series is one of my favourites and any new installment makes my most anticipated list that month. Keep an eye out for my review as part of the blog tour on July 11th.

SYNOPSIS:
One by one the girls disappeared…

When the frail body of a teenage girl is discovered strangled in a parking lot, shards of ice form in Detective Natalie Ward’s veins. As Natalie looks at the freckles scattered on her cheeks and the pale pink lips tinged with blue, she remembers that this innocent girl is somebody’s daughter…

The girl is identified as missing teenager Amelia Saunders, who has run away from home and her controlling father. Natalie’s heart sinks further when it becomes clear that Amelia has been working on the streets, manipulated by her violent new boyfriend Tommy.

A day later, another vulnerable girl is found strangled on a park bench. Like Amelia, Katie Bray was a runaway with connections to Tommy, and Natalie is determined to find him and track down the monster attacking these scared and lonely girls.

But when a wealthy young woman is found murdered the next morning, the word ‘guilty’ scrawled on her forehead, Natalie realises that the case is more complex than she first thought. Determined to establish a connection between her three victims, Natalie wastes no time in chasing down the evidence, tracing everyone who crossed their paths. Then, a key suspect’s body turns up in the canal, a mole in Natalie’s department leaks vital information and everything seems to be against her. Can Natalie stop this clever and manipulative killer before they strike again.

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All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson (Ice Cream Girls 2)

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

In May I took part in a readalong of The Ice Cream Girls with Tandem Collective. I loved the book so much that this one instantly went on my anticipated list for this month. You can imagine my excitement when I was offered the chance to take part in a readalong of the sequel. Keep an eye out for my posts on Instagram starting around June 25th.

SYNOPSIS:
Verity is telling lies…

And that’s why she’s about to be arrested for attempted murder.

Serena has been lying for years. . .
And that may have driven her daughter, Verity, to do something unthinkable…

Poppy’s lies have come back to haunt her . . .
So will her quest for the truth hurt everyone she loves?

Everyone lies.
But whose lies are going to end in tragedy?

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The Resident by David Jackson

Published: July 16th, 2020
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

This is another thriller I’m excited to be on the blog tour for. Look out for my review on publication day.

SYNOPSIS:
THERE’S A SERIAL KILLER ON THE RUN
AND HE’S HIDING IN YOUR HOUSE

Thomas Brogan is a serial killer. Having left a trail of bodies in his wake, and with the police hot on his heels, it seems like Thomas has nowhere left to hide. That is until he breaks into an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he climbs up into the loft, he realises that the can drop down into all the other houses on the street through the shared attic space.

That’s when the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Thomas enjoys even more than killing, is playing games with his victims. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…

Do you fear The Resident? Soon you’ll be dying to meet him.

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The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Published: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medical Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Room is one of my favourite books of all time and I’m a huge fan of historical and medical fiction, so I have high hopes for this novel.

SYNOPSIS:
In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with an unfamiliar Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders: Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this classic story of hope and survival against all odds.

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Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Ficiton

Ever since I first heard about this debut thriller last year I’ve been desperate to read it. I’m hoping to be on the blog tour for this one so keep an eye out for my review next month.

SYNOPSIS:

She’s got your job. She wants your life

When Katherine first meets her new intern Lily, she’s captivated. Young, beautiful and confident, Lily reminds Katherine of everything she once was – and it’s not long before she develops a dark fascination with her new colleague.

But is Lily as perfect as she seems, or does she have a sinister hidden agenda? As Katherine is drawn into an obsessive power struggle with the intern, a disturbing picture emerges of two women hiding dark secrets – and who are desperate enough to do anything to come out on top…

Breathlessly addictive and deeply unsettling, Precious You is a thriller like no other. Taut, terrifying and with shocking twists at every turn, it will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Published: July 28th, 2020
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

As soon as I read the synopsis of this novel I knew I had to read it. As with The Waiting Rooms and The Pull of the Stars it also feels like a particularly timely read right now.

SYNOPSIS:
Ellen Marie Wiseman, acclaimed author of What She Left Behind and The Life She Was Given, weaves the stories of two very different women into a page-turning novel as suspenseful as it is poignant, set amid one of history’s deadliest pandemics.

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded streets and slums, and from the anti-German sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army, hoping to prove his loyalty. But an even more urgent threat has arrived. Spanish influenza is spreading through the city. Soon, dead and dying are everywhere. With no food at home, Pia must venture out in search of supplies, leaving her infant twin brothers alone . . .

Since her baby died days ago, Bernice Groves has been lost in grief and bitterness. If doctors hadn’t been so busy tending to hordes of immigrants, perhaps they could have saved her son. When Bernice sees Pia leaving her tenement across the way, she is buoyed by a shocking, life-altering decision that leads her on a sinister mission: to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.”

As Pia navigates the city’s somber neighborhoods, she cannot know that her brothers won’t be home when she returns. And it will be a long and arduous journey to learn what happened–even as Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost. Only with persistence, and the courage to face her own shame and fear, will Pia put the pieces together and find the strength to risk everything to see justice at last.

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The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender
Published July 30th, 2020
Publisher: Hutchinson
Genre: Literary Fiction

I’ll admit it was the cover that initially drew me to this book, but it was the synopsis that earned it’s place on this list. This one sounds like a powerful novel that will linger long after reading.

SYNOPSIS:
On the night her mother is taken to a mental hospital after a psychotic episode, eight year-old Francie is staying with her babysitter. Next to the couch on which she’s sleeping, there is a lamp that catches her eye, its shade adorned with butterflies. When she wakes, Francie sees a dead butterfly floating in a glass of water. She drinks it before the babysitter can see.

Twenty years later, Francie is compelled to make sense of that moment, and two other incidents – her discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exact: she is sure these things were real. But despite her certainty, she wrestles with the hold these memories have over her, and with what they say about her place in the world.

Told in lush, lilting prose, The Butterfly Lampshade is a heartfelt and heartbreaking examination of the sometimes overwhelming power of the material world, and of a broken love between mother and child.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Split by Sharon Bolton

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Published: May 28th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Suspense

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting thriller. Thank you to Alex at Orion for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBooks ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

SHE’S GOT NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE.

A year ago, in desperation, Felicity Lloyd signed up for a lengthy research trip to the remote island of South Georgia.

It was her only way to escape.

AND NOW HE’S COMING FOR HER.

Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder. Out at last, he’s on her trail.

And this time, he won’t stop until he finds her.

BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU RUN, SOME SECRETS WILL ALWAYS CATCH UP WITH YOU…

Tense, gripping and with a twist you won’t see coming, Sharon Bolton is back in an explosive new thriller about a woman on the run…

MY REVIEW:

“The ends of the Earth. That’s how far she ran this time.

Not far enough.”

Felicity Lloyd is a Glaciologist taking part in the research trip of a lifetime in South Georgia. But her career isn’t the only reason she signed up for the two-year expedition. She is also a woman on the run. But even running to the ends of the Earth wasn’t enough to stop the man she lives in fear of from finding her. He is on the island and won’t stop until he finds her.

Wow! I am still trying to catch my breath after reading this exciting and twisty thriller. A rip-roaring and wild ride that had me holding on for dear life, this was as impossible to predict as it was to put down. Packed with heart-stopping tension and gripping cliffhangers, there is much more to this layered thriller, and its characters, than first meets the eye.

“The last ship of the season. One more and she’s safe. She thinks of the fear inside her like cancer, eating away at muscles, organs, bone, growing all the time, until there is nothing left of her but a rotten, stinking mass in skin stretched like an overfilled balloon. How will the terror burst out, she wonders, when it inevitably does. A scream? A petrified wimper?“

Sharon Bolton is the Queen of the complex and chilling thriller. I’ve been a fan ever since reading Blood Harvest two years ago but was unprepared for the twisted web she would weave on these pages. The story is cleverly written and plotted, taking me in unexpected directions every time I thought I had it figured out. And even though one wild theory of mine was ultimately proven true, her clever red herrings had me convinced I was wrong right until the reveal.

One of the things I loved most about this book is its setting in the beautiful, bleak and icy Antarctic. The author breathes life into the surroundings with evocative imagery that is so transportive that I almost forgot I was sitting in the summer sun whilst reading. The author had clearly done her research and I found myself getting an education about glaciers and the Antarctic whilst reading.

Atmospheric, unexpected and riveting, The Split has ticks every box needed for a sensational thriller. Sharon Bolton is definitely on my list of auto-buy authors after this novel and I can’t recommend it highly enough to anyone who enjoys a well-written thriller that keeps you on your toes.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEETTHE AUTHOR:

Sharon J Bolton was born and brought up in Lancashire, the eldest of three daughters. As a child, she dreamed of becoming an actress and a dancer, studying ballet, tap and jazz from a young age and reading drama at Loughborough University.

She spent her early career in marketing and PR before returning to full-time education to study for a Masters in Business Administration (MBA) at Warwick University, where she met her husband, Andrew. They moved to London and Sharon held a number of PR posts in the City. She left the City to work freelance, to start a family and to write.

She and Andrew now live in a village in the Chiltern Hills, not far from Oxford, with their son and the latest addition to the family: Lupe, the lop-eared lurcher. Her daily life revolves around the school run, walking the dog and those ever-looming publishing deadlines.

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Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – June 2020

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It seems impossible that we’re almost half way through the year already. Will lockdown continuing, books are providing a much needed escape for so many of us right now. Here are the books out in June that I’m most excited about escaping into.


thehouseguest

The House Guest by Mark Edwards
Published: June 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Psychological Thriller

One of my fave authors. I’m lucky to be one of Mark’s early readers and have already read this gripping thriller.

SYNOPSIS:
A perfect summer. A perfect stranger. A perfect nightmare.

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers—let alone invite them into your home—but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

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The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley
Published: June 4th, 2020
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Genre: Urban Fiction

I’m a big cat lover and this book sounds like a quirky read that’s right up my street.

SYNOPSIS:
In Tokyo – one of the world’s largest megacities – a stray cat is wending her way through the back alleys. And, with each detour, she brushes up against the seemingly disparate lives of the city-dwellers, connecting them in unexpected ways.

But the city is changing. As it does, it pushes her to the margins where she chances upon a series of apparent strangers – from a homeless man squatting in an abandoned hotel, to a shut-in hermit afraid to leave his house, to a convenience store worker searching for love. The cat orbits Tokyo’s denizens, drawing them ever closer.


allfalldown

All Fall Down by M. J. Arlidge (D.I. Helen Grace Series 9)
Published: June 11th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Young Adult Ficiton

M.J Arlidge is one of my favourite authors and the Helen Grace series is my favourite crime series. love it’s set near where I used to live and evokes so many memories too. Excited to be on the blog tour for this on July 3rd.

SYNOPSIS:
“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.

But why?

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…


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Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
Published: June 11th, 2020
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Genre: Historical Fiction, Southern Fiction, Youth Novel

I’m really enjoying historical fiction at the moment and this one sounds brilliant.

SYNOPSIS:
With the haunting emotional power of American Dirt and the atmospheric suspense of Where the Crawdads Sing: a compulsive debut novel that explores the aftershock of a brutal crime on the women of a small Texas oil town.

Mercy is hard in a place like this. I wished him dead before I ever saw his face…

Mary Rose Whitehead isn’t looking for trouble – but when it shows up at her front door, she finds she can’t turn away.

Corinne Shepherd, newly widowed, wants nothing more than to mind her own business, and for everyone else to mind theirs. But when the town she has spent years rebelling against closes ranks she realises she is going to have to take a side.

Debra Ann is motherless and lonely and in need of a friend. But in a place like Odessa, Texas, choosing who to trust can be a dangerous game.

Gloria Ramírez, fourteen years old and out of her depth, survives the brutality of one man only to face the indifference and prejudices of many.

When justice is as slippery as oil, and kindness becomes a hazardous act, sometimes courage is all we have to keep us alive.

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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Published: June 11th, 2020
Publisher: Dialogue Books
Genre: Mystery, Youth Novel

I’ve read some great reviews for this one and it is now one of my most anticipated reads of the month.

SYNOPSIS:
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

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The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Literary Fiction, Psychological Fiction

I feel very lucky to have an ARC of this debut and am doing a buddy read with my book friend Beth in early June.

SYNOPSIS:
The most moving and powerful novel of our times, inspired by true events.

We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.

Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people will travel to it from miles around.

Soon Yui will make her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking.

For when you’ve lost everything – what can you find . . ?

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The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter (Will Trent Series 17)
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollinsUK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Books Series

Karin is one of my fave crime writers and I will pick up anything she writes. I’m excited to take part in the blog tour for this one on June 29th.

SYNOPSIS:
He watches.
A woman runs alone in the woods. She convinces herself she has no reason to be afraid, but she’s wrong. A predator is stalking the women of Grant County. He lingers in the shadows, until the time is just right to snatch his victim.

He waits.
A decade later, the case has been closed. The killer is behind bars. But then another young woman is brutally attacked and left for dead, and the MO is identical.

He takes.
Although the original trail has gone cold – memories have faded, witnesses have disappeared – agent Will Trent and forensic pathologist Sara Linton must re-open the cold case. But the clock is ticking, and the killer is determined to find his perfect silent wife….

theheatwave

The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Police Procedural, Adventure Fiction

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this author and this sounds like a perfect summer read.

SYNOPSIS:
One summer. One stranger. One killer…

Two bad things happened that summer:
A stranger arrived. And the first girl disappeared.

In the wake of the crime that rocked her community, Felicity fled, knowing more than she let on.

But sixteen years later, her new life is shattered by the news that a second girl has gone missing in her hometown.

Now Felicity must go back, to face the truth about what happened all those years ago.

Only she holds the answers – and they’re more shocking than anyone could imagine.

The heatwave is back. And so is the killer.

Monstrous Souls

Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Agora Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

I’m taking part in the blog tour for this fascinating thriller and my review will be posted in June 23rd.

SYNOPSIS:
What if you knew the truth but couldn’t remember?

Over a decade ago, Heidi was the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her younger sister missing, and her best friend dead. But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her friends and family and no recollection of the crime.

Now, it’s all starting to come back.

As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in.

When the truth is worse than fiction, is the past worth reliving?

An addictive thriller about a case gone cold and the dangers lurking on our doorsteps, Monstrous Souls will have you gripped to the very end.

The Weekend

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: W&N
Genre: Literary Fiction

I love stories about friendship and have been really enjoying books with senior protagonists lately so I’m excited to check this one out.

SYNOPSIS:
Sylvie, Jude, Wendy and Adele have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three.

These women couldn’t be more different: Jude, a once-famous restaurateur with a spotless life and a long-standing affair with a married man; Wendy, an acclaimed feminist intellectual; Adele, a former star of the stage, now practically homeless.

Struggling to recall exactly why they’ve remained close all these years, the grieving women gather for one last weekend at Sylvie’s old beach house – not for a celebration of her life, but to clean the place out before it is sold.

But fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface – a storm that will either remind them of the bond they share, or sweep away their friendship for good.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – April 2020

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I can’t believe we’re a third of the way through the year already. April has been a strange month for the world with us being in lockdown. For me, that’s meant mostly getting used to not having a quiet house during the day Monday to Friday, which is when I do a lot of my reading and blogging. I’ve also had to hand over my laptop to our eldest as his is broken so I’m restricted in my times I can write.

In terms of reading, April has been another strong month for me. I’ve read thirteen books, taken part in fifteen blog tours, two cover reveals, one readalong and one buddy read. So here is what I’ve read this month:

  1. Mine by Clare Empson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Strangers by C.L. Taylor ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Philosopher’s Daughters by Alison Booth ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. All In Her Head by Nikki Smith ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton ⭐⭐⭐.5
  7. The Switch by Beth O’Leary ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. I Am Dust by Louise Beech ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. What’s Left of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
  11. The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The House Guest by Mark Edwards ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  14. So Many Lies by Paul J. Teague ⭐⭐⭐⭐

You can read the synopsis and reviews for what I’ve read this month by clicking on the links above except for The House Guest, which will be reviewed next month.

So many great books means it’s hard to choose a favourite. And this month it was almost impossible. I loved Hamnet and was sure nothing would top that; until I read the breathtaking debut novel, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours. I still think about that book many times each day and am constantly recommending everyone read it. So if you haven’t yet bought a copy you can use the links in my review to do it now! Other books I feel deserve a shout out are the fantastic thrillers Strangers and All In Her Head, the heartwarming and uplifting The Switch, and the brilliantly sinister I Am Dust. Each of these were also contenders for my book of the month.

Thank you to the publishers for my gifted copies of the books and the blog tour organisers for all their hard work.

What have you read this month and what was your favourite? Comment below.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

All In Her Head by Nikki Smith ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this debut thriller. Thank you Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Orion and NetGalley for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Her life is a pack of lies. But what if she is the liar?

Alison is more alone than she’s ever been. She is convinced that her ex-husband Jack is following her. She is certain she recognises the strange woman who keeps approaching her at work.

She knows she has a good reason to be afraid. But she can’t remember why.

Then the mention of one name brings a whole lifetime of memories rushing back in.

Alison feels like she’s losing her mind . . . but it could just lead her to the truth.

MY REVIEW:

Nothing is as it seems in this compelling, haunting and emotionally charged debut. I raced through the pages, not wanting to put the book down until all my questions were answered. 

OMG! What a rollercoaster ride! This complex, multi-layered thriller dripped with suspense and had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Told in dual timelines by two narrators, there’s an atmosphere of foreboding from the start. What did Jack do that ended their marriage and fills Alison with fear? What is it that Alison isn’t remembering? Who is Sarah and what does she want? 

The brilliance of this book is in its iceberg quality – so much is hidden beneath its smooth surface. A masterclass in thriller writing., it is spectacularly written, deftly plotted and full of so many twists and turns it made my head spin. My head was full of theories and questions, which shifted as truths were slowly revealed. And while I did guess some of the twists early on, I also fell for many of the red herrings expertly plotted along the way. Alison and Jack are both complex, captivating but flawed characters. I felt for Alison immediately, her fear and anxiety radiating from the pages. It also made her an unreliable narrator, making the story all the more intriguing and unguessable. 

A merging of psychological thriller, suspense and domestic fiction, All In Her Head is a breathtaking debut from an exciting new talent. There are a lot of great thrillers out at the moment, but this is one you shouldn’t miss.

Nikki Smith Author

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nikki studied English Literature at Birmingham University before pursuing a career in finance, working in a variety of different companies including an investment bank and a trampoline park. She always had a passion for writing and in 2017 she had a ‘now or never’ moment and applied for a Curtis Brown Creative 3 month writing course which she absolutely loved. Later that year she had a short story published in the Writer’s Forum Magazine, and submitted the opening chapters of her novel to a competition where she won the opportunity to be mentored by the author Amanda Reynolds. She lives near Guildford with her husband, two daughters and a very friendly Burmese cat called Saffi.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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