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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

They say we’ll never know what happened to those men.
They say the sea keeps its secrets . . .
‘A mystery, a love story and a ghost story, all at once. I didn’t want it to end’ S J Watson

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.

MY REVIEW:

“This riddle has everything a fiction writer looks for – drama, mystery, peril on the sea. Only it’s real.”

The Lamplighters is the story of the disappearance of three men, their warring widows, ghostly goings-on, and the power and mystery of the sea. Told in dual timelines we follow the men in the days leading up to their disappearance, and their widows twenty years later as they are interviewed by a writer who is hoping to finally find the truth of what happened on that frigid winter day. 

First of all, how is this a debut?! This book is an example of storytelling at its finest. The author shifts seamlessly between the two timelines; holding the reader in the palm of her hand as she weaves her mysterious tale. The imagery is so vivid that I can see, feel and hear the waves, smell the salty sea air, and hear the siren song of the sea as she whispers her secrets.

Based on a true story, the author has changed the time, place and people to craft her own world full of secrets, mystery and intrigue. The characters and community she created are captivating, relatable and richly drawn.  We are given a first person narrative from multiple characters; in 1992 the widows tell their story, and in 1972 the doomed keepers give details of life in the lighthouse and events leading up their disappearance. 

One of my favourite aspects of this book is that it is absolutely drenched in mystery. It seeps from its every pore. There isn’t just the mystery of what happened that day on the Tower, there are other puzzles that we have to piece together so we can get the final, truthful picture of what transpired. But though there were many layers and interwoven storylines, it never felt confusing. It just sent the tension through the roof and made this book impossible to put down. I had to know what happened! In my notes there are many other plot points and aspects of the book that stood out and I would love to talk about, but I won’t because I don’t want to take away from the joy of discovering these engimas for yourself. 

The Lamplighters is a truly accomplished debut. It is one of those books that deserves to be huge and I have no  doubt everyone will be talking about this year. It is also perfect for the big screen and I am hoping I get to see it there one day. 

Atmospheric, haunting, claustrophobic and mesmerising, I found it impossible to put this one down and would have read it in one sitting if not for the pesky need to sleep. If you love an exquisitely written and layered mystery then don’t miss this book.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Thank you to Camilla at Pan Macmillan for my gifted copy of the book.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Emma Stonex is a novelist and The Lamplighters is her debut under her own name; she is the author of several books written under a pseudonym. Before becoming a writer, she worked as an editor at a major publishing house. She lives in Bristol with her husband and two young daughters

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

Published: September 29th, 2020
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Autobiography, Memoir

*I’ve included some personal photos of Mariah, her backup singers and dancers, and of my friends who are part of the Lambily. Some were taken by me, others by lamb friends. These can’t be viewed in the WordPress app so please go to the Web page to see them.

SYNOPSIS:

The global icon, award-winning singer, songwriter, producer, actress, mother, daughter, sister, storyteller, and artist finally tells the unfiltered story of her life in The Meaning of Mariah Carey.

It took me a lifetime to have the courage and the clarity to write my memoir. I want to tell the story of the moments – the ups and downs, the triumphs and traumas, the debacles and the dreams, that contributed to the person I am today. Though there have been countless stories about me throughout my career and very public personal life, it’s been impossible to communicate the complexities and depths of my experience in any single magazine article or a ten-minute television interview. And even then, my words were filtered through someone else’s lens, largely satisfying someone else’s assignment to define me.

This book is composed of my memories, my mishaps, my struggles, my survival and my songs. Unfiltered. I went deep into my childhood and gave the scared little girl inside of me a big voice. I let the abandoned and ambitious adolescent have her say, and the betrayed and triumphant woman I became tell her side.

Writing this memoir was incredibly hard, humbling and healing. My sincere hope is that you are moved to a new understanding, not only about me, but also about the resilience of the human spirit.

Love,
Mariah

MY REVIEW:

“This memoir is a collection of the moments that matter. The moments that most accurately tell the story of who I am according to me.”

As a lamb for over twenty years, I had been eagerly awaiting this memoir for many years. I couldn’t wait to learn more about the woman I adore, whose music has been the soundtrack to my life since I was 14-years-old, and through whom I’ve made some of my dearest friends. 

I decided to listen to the audio as well as buying the book, knowing that Mariah would no doubt put her signature flare on the narration. She did not disappoint. She vividly brought her story to life, had me in hysterics, pulled on the heartstrings, made me cry and had my ears rejoicing as she treated us to sections of some of her songs.

“If this kid makes it, it will be a miracle.”

This is more than a simple rags to riches tale. It’s a story of pain, neglect, abuse, racism, fear and heartache. But alongside it is a message of hope, resilience, bravery, strength and a woman who didn’t just survive but overcame. A woman who went from being a little girl the police didn’t think would make it to one of the best-selling artists in history and living legend. 

As a fan, many of Mimi’s familiar characteristics and phrases will have their origins revealed while reading this book, though sadly they are often rooted in deep trauma. But, on the positive side, I loved having the stories behind many of her songs finally confirmed. It made me see some in a whole new light and added even more layers to her music for me.

“A complicated love tethers my heart to my mother’s.”

The most shocking part of this book for me was the details of her childhood and the neglect  endured. I knew her childhood wasn’t easy and they were poor, but the depth of their poverty and negligence of her mother surprised me. I could hear the fear of 4-year-old Mariah living in the warzone of the violent relationship between her father and older brother Morgan. A situation sometimes so bad the police had to be called to separate them – bringing with it the extra fear of being black and calling the police. 

I was also surprised by the truth of Mariah’s complicated relationship with her mother, Patricia. I was reduced to tears at how she’s treated her daughter and some of the cruel words she’s spoken to her over the years. I loved how Mariah is using this example to speak good things into her own children and as a lesson in what kind of mother she doesn’t want to be. It’s a powerful reminder of both the long-term impact our words and actions can have, and how we can learn from the past in a positive way.

“I was disappearing in installments.”

Some of the most difficult parts for me were when Mariah discusses her marriage to Tommy Mottola. The chapter ‘Side Effects’ often felt like she was telling my story as well as her own. I know only too well what it’s like to realise you’re in a relationship that isn’t healthy, of feeling yourself disappearing piece by piece, but feeling powerless to change it. 

Listening as she slowly built up her strength and made the plans to leave had me on the edge of my seat. It is hard to leave any abusive relationship and I can only imagine the extra fear it holds when your whole career is also wrapped up in that person.

“It’s been a whole rainbow of emotions.”

This book really will take you through a whole rainbow of emotions. I knew Mariah had been through a lot in her life and that this would be emotional, but I was unprepared for just how harrowing, haunting and shocking her story is and the many tears that fell when reading this book. But it isn’t all bleak, this powerful memoir is also filled with hopeful, happy and triumphant moments that will make you smile. I am left in awe of just how much she has overcome and managed to accomplish in spite of the odds stacked against her. Fan or not, this is a memoir you don’t want to miss. 

Thank you Mimi for trusting us with your truth. LYMA. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Mariah Carey was born on March 27, 1970 in Huntington, Long Island, New York to Patricia Carey (née Hickey), an opera singer and vocal coach & Alfred Roy Carey, an aeronautical engineer. Her mother is of Irish descent & her father was of African & Venezuelan descent. Mariah attended Greenlawn’s Harborfields High School. In June 1990, Mariah made her debut with “Mariah Carey” which entered at #73, but on August 4, 1990, it reached #1. Her 1990 self-titled debut album went multi-platinum and spawned an extraordinary four consecutive #1 singles: “Vision of Love,” “Love Takes Time,” “Someday” and “I Don’t Wanna Cry,” and led to Grammy Awards for Best New Artist and Best Female Vocalist. Her 1993 album titled Music Box went ten-times platinum. On September 30, 1995, she made music history. Her single “Fantasy” from her 1995 Daydream album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, making her the first female artist to accomplish a number one debut in the U.S. Her other Daydream’s single “One Sweet Day” remained for 16 weeks at the top of the charts. She is the only artist since The Beatles to have so many #1 singles and albums. With “Heartbreaker”, the first single from her 1999 album Rainbow and also her 14 #1 single, she became the only artist to top the charts in each year of the 1990s, and with “Heartbreaker” at its 60th week atop the Billboard’s charts, she pushed ahead of The Beatles’s 59-week record as the only artist with the most cumulative weeks spent atop Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles chart.

Following “Heartbreaker,” her second single “Thank God I Found You” also from her Rainbow album became her 15th #1. “We Belong Together” from her 2005 album The Emancipation of Mimi became her 16th #1 single and was also her first #1 without any guest artists since her song “My All” (also a #1 single) captured the top spot in May 1998. The single “Don’t Forget About Us” also from her 2005 album Emancipation of Mimi became her 17th #1 single, tying her with Elvis Presley’s 17 #1 singles. Three more Grammy Awards were gained from The Emancipation of Mimi album. She is the most successful selling female artist in music history and is the only female artist to have the most #1 singles and albums and also holds the record for straight #1 singles and albums each year. Along with numerous awards and incredible vocal range, she also composes all of her own material, with the exception of song covers.

In April 2008, the single “Touch My Body” became her 18th #1 single, pushing her ahead of Elvis Presley’s 17 #1 singles. Now she is the only artist since The Beatles to have as many number one singles and the only singer alive likely to succeed them.

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book reviews Tandem Readalong

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Published: August 20th, 2020
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

I read this book, which was one of Emma’s Anticipated Treasures for March, as part of a readalong with Tandem Collective UK. Thank you to Pan Macmillan for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

From Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, the authors of the top ten bestseller The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl, comes You Are Not Alone – a gripping novel about a group of women who appear to have the perfect lives, but all is not what it seems . . .

You probably know someone like Shay Miller. She wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is becoming increasingly isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters. They have an unbreakable circle of friends. They live a life of glamour and perfection. They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.

But what they really want is hers.

MY REVIEW:

This high-octane, page-turning thriller had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Filled with so many twists and turns I got book whiplash, I was not prepared for the ride I was about to embark on when I first opened this book. 

I thought I had this one figured out. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Bravo to the authors for those mind blowing revelations. Exquisitely crafted and tightly plotted, the writing is cohesive and flows well, never feeling disjointed like some books that are co-authored. And after the Zoom Q&A that Tandem arranged with the authors where they talked about their writing process, I understand why. I admit, that meeting left me with a bit of a girl crush. They’re both funny, intelligent women who write fantastic books and have a relationship that is the ultimate in best friend goals. What’s not to crush on? 

The authors have a talent for writing strong, complex female characters, and this book is packed with them. I liked Shay. Things aren’t going that well for her when we first met her and I really felt for her, especially having witnessed such a traumatic event. I could understand her loneliness and the need to connect that resulted in her gravitating towards Amanda’s friends, especially Cassandra and Jane Moore, the glamorous, mysterious and luminous sisters who befriend Shay and help her make-over her life. They are everything she wants to be: gorgeous, confident, happy and successful, and being around them makes her feel like she’s doing something right, like her life is finally going in the right direction since meeting them. 

As we get further into the book, it becomes clear that the Moore sisters are playing a sinister and twisted game with Shay as their pawn. But she fails to see behind their carefully crafted masks, and I wanted to leap into the book to scream a warning at her so many times. Eventually, she begins to see cracks in their facade and realise things aren’t adding up. But the question is, who will win? Will they continue to be a step or two ahead and keep her tangled in their web? Or will Shay surprise them by outsmarting them and coming out on top? I was rooting for Shay but had a pit in my stomach thinking that the sisters just might prevail.

You Are Not Alone is a riveting, intelligent, tense and twisty thriller that is utterly addictive and completely unputdownable. A perfect read for anyone who enjoys this genre. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHORS:

GREER HENDRICKS is the #1 New York Times bestselling co-author of An Anonymous Girl and The Wife Between UsThe Wife Between Us has been optioned for film by Amblin Entertainment, with Greer and her co-author, Sarah Pekkanen, hired to write the screenplay. An Anonymous Girl has been optioned for television, with Greer and Sarah tapped to executive produce. Prior to becoming a novelist, Greer served as Vice President and Senior Editor at Simon & Schuster. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Allure, and Publishers Weekly. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.

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Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally-bestselling author of THE WIFE BETWEEN US and AN ANONYMOUS GIRL, cowritten with Greer Hendricks.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US – an instant New York Times bestseller – is a twisty psychological tale that has been optioned for film by Amblin Entertainment. Sarah and Greer are penning the screenplay for Amblin.

AN ANONMYOUS GIRL is currently in production as a television series by eOne,with Sarah and Greer serving as executive producers.

Sarah is also the author of eight solo novels.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up: August 2020

So, the summer is over. September is upon us and, in the UK at least, life is finding a new normal that merges with the life we knew pre-pandemic and the kids are going back to school! In our household this also heralds a change: our eldest got his G.C.S.E results this past month and is going to college and our youngest is our only child in school. It’s also his final year so it feels very strange knowing we’re only a year away from having no children is school! It also means that by the end of the month I’ll be having to get used to an empty house most days a week after six months of everyone, or at least the kids, being here with me. Is anyone else feeling really emotional about this? OK, that’s enough of me talking about my personal life. Lets get to books!

August was a month filled with some fantastic books and the discovery of an author that I am regretting taking so damn long to read! I took part in fourteen blog tours, three readalongs (one of which I’m currently reading), two zoom Q&A’s with authors and one murder mystery evening. I also read fourteen books:

  1.     Inge’s War by Svenja O’Donnell
  2.     The Wish List by Sophia Money-Coutts
  3.     We Are All The Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin
  4.     The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone
  5.     My Life For Yours by Vanessa Carnevale
  6.     Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver
  7.     The Twins of Auschwitz by Eva Mozes Kor
  8.     The Silence by Susan Allott*
  9.     The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  10.     The Lies You Told by Harriet Tyce  
  11.     All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle  
  12.     Leave Well Alone by A J Campbell 
  13.     You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
  14.     The Heatwave by Kate Riordan 

You can read my review for the books listed by clicking on the title with the exception of All The Lonely People, You Are Not Alone and The Heatwave, which are coming soon. Thank you to the tagged publishers and authors for my gifted copies.

All of the books I read rated at four stars and above this month and are ones I would recommend. With so many amazing books, some that will be favourites of the year, it was hard to choose my book of the month. But, after a lot of deliberation, I have to give the title to The Midnight Library, a phenomenal and throughout-proving book that is just truly special. Coming close were All The Lonely People and Hinton Hollow Death Trip and I would highly recommend adding all three to your tbr.

Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite book you read in August?

Emma xx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – September 2020

I can’t quite believe we’re so far into the year that I’m doing September’s Anticipated Treasures. September is packed full of wonderful sounding books and picking these wasn’t easy. It was made harder than ever this month thanks to September 3rd, also known as Fiction the third – the day when 590 Hardbacks and an unknown number of Paperbacks are released. I’ll be posting two blogs about the books out that day nearer to the time so keep an eye out for those.

So, here are the twenty books I’m most excited about in September:

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Fairy Tale, Historical Fiction, Magical Realism

SYNOPSIS:
A lyrical and atmospheric homage to the strange and extraordinary, perfect for fans of Angela Carter and Erin Morgenstern.

This is the story of The Greatest Funambulist Who Ever Lived…

Born into a post-war circus family, our nameless star was unwanted and forgotten, abandoned in the shadows of the big top. Until the bright light of Serendipity Wilson threw her into focus.

Now an adult, haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore, all in the hope of finding the child… But will her story be enough to bring the pair together again?

Beautiful and intoxicating, A Girl Made of Air brings the circus to life in all of its grime and glory; Marina, Manu, Serendipity Wilson, Fausto, Big Gen and Mouse will live long in the hearts of readers. As will this story of loss and reconciliation, of storytelling and truth.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
As soon as I took part in the cover reveal for this beautiful book I was in love. It helps that the book sounds as beautiful inside as it looks on the outside.
Pre-order here

The Harpy by Megan Hunter

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Absurdist Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Lucy and Jake live in a house by a field where the sun burns like a ball of fire. Lucy works from home but devotes her life to the children, to their finely tuned routine, and to the house itself, which comforts her like an old, sly friend. But then a man calls one afternoon with a shattering message: his wife has been having an affair with Lucy’s husband, he wants her to know.

The revelation marks a turning point: Lucy and Jake decide to stay together, but in a special arrangement designed to even the score and save their marriage, she will hurt him three times. Jake will not know when the hurt is coming, nor what form it will take.

As the couple submit to a delicate game of crime and punishment, Lucy herself begins to change, surrendering to a transformation of both mind and body from which there is no return.

Told in dazzling, musical prose, The Harpy by Megan Hunter is a dark, staggering fairy tale, at once mythical and otherworldly and fiercely contemporary. It is a novel of love, marriage and its failures, of power and revenge, of metamorphosis and renewal.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This book first came on my radar when I heard Amanda talking about it at the beginning of the year. It immediately piqued my interest and I’ve been counting down to it’s release ever since.
Pre-order here

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In a peaceful retirement village, four unlikely friends meet up once a week to investigate unsolved murders.

But when a brutal killing takes place on their very doorstep, the Thursday Murder Club find themselves in the middle of their first live case.

Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron might be pushing eighty but they still have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Can our unorthodox but brilliant gang catch the killer before it’s too late?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
It’s no secret how much a love a good thriller book, and this one sounds like a doozy, I am part of the blog tour for this one and my review will be posted on September 20th.
Pre-order here

The Heatwave by Kate Riordan

Published: Septermber 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Holiday Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
The Heatwave is coming . . . This summer’s perfect poolside reading – a captivating story of a long-buried family secret.

In Provence, under a sweltering sun, Sylvie returns to the crumbling family home of La Reverie. In her hand is the letter that summoned her, and by her side is Emma, her youngest daughter.

Yet every corner of the house is haunted by the spectre of Elodie, her first child. Beautiful, manipulative Elodie, whose long-ago death the villagers still whisper about.

Sylvie has tried to put the past behind her. But like the spreading forest fires, memories of Elodie seem to be creeping ever closer.Because there’s a secret Sylvie has concealed about what happened to Elodie all those summers ago . . .

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This book just sounds amazing; like it has everything I want in a great thriller. This is another book I’m on the blog tour for so check out my review on September 1st
Pre-Order here

Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publihser: HQ
Genre: Crime Fiction, Legal Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Political Fiction, LGBT Literature

SYNOPSIS:
ARE YOU READY TO START THIS CONVERSATION?

Kamran Hadid feels invincible. He attends Hampton school, an elite all-boys boarding school in London, he comes from a wealthy family, and he has a place at Oxford next year. The world is at his feet. And then a night of revelry leads to a drunken encounter and he must ask himself a horrific question.

With the help of assault counsellor, Zara Kaleel, Kamran reports the incident in the hopes that will be the end of it. But it’s only the beginning…

Powerful, explosive and important, Truth Be Told is a contemporary courtroom drama that vividly captures today’s society. You will not stop thinking about it for a long time to come.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I loved Kia Abdullah’s debut novel and have been eagerly anticipating this follow up. I’m excited that it again features Zara Kaleel as I love a good series and she was a great character. My review will be posted as part of the blog tour on September 3rd.
Pre-order here

House of Correction by Nicci French

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Police Procedural

SYNOPOSIS:
THE NEW THRILLER FROM THE MASTER OF PSYCHOLOGICAL SUSPENSE
 
She’s a murderer.
 
Everyone knows she killed Stuart Rees – why else would his dead body be found in her shed?
So now Tabitha is in prison, awaiting trial.
 
Coming back to the remote coastal village where she grew up was a mistake. She didn’t fit in then, and she doesn’t fit in now.
 
That day is such a blur, she can’t remember clearly what happened. There is something she is missing, something important… She only knows one thing. She is not capable of murder.
 
And the only one she can trust to help her out of this situation is herself.
So she must fight. Against the odds.
 
For her life. 
 
Beautifully written about prejudice, loneliness and fighting spirit, this new book by Nicci French is shocking, twisty and utterly compelling.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ve been a big fan of Nicci French for many years and anything they write is an auto-buy for me.
Pre-order here

After The Silence by Louise O’Neill

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Riverrun
Genre: Suspense, Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Nessa Crowley’s murderer has been protected by silence for ten years.
Until a team of documentary makers decide to find out the truth.

On the day of Henry and Keelin Kinsella’s wild party at their big house a violent storm engulfed the island of Inisrun, cutting it off from the mainland. When morning broke Nessa Crowley’s lifeless body lay in the garden, her last breath silenced by the music and the thunder.

The killer couldn’t have escaped Inisrun, but no-one was charged with the murder. The mystery that surrounded the death of Nessa remained hidden. But the islanders knew who to blame for the crime that changed them forever.

Ten years later a documentary crew arrives, there to lift the lid off the Kinsella’s carefully constructed lives, determined to find evidence that will prove Henry’s guilt and Keelin’s complicity in the murder of beautiful Nessa.

In this bold, brilliant, disturbing new novel Louise O’Neill shows that deadly secrets are devastating to those who hold them close.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
September seems to be filled with fantastic thrillers and this is one of the thrillers I’m most excited about. I’m taking part in a readalong of this one with Tandem Collective UK starting next week.
Pre-order here

Love Orange by Natasha Randall

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Riverrun
Genre: Humour, Psychological Fiction, Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
An extraordinary debut novel by Natasha Randall, exposing the seam of secrets within an American family, from beneath the plastic surfaces of their new ‘smart’ home. Love Orange charts the gentle absurdities of their lives, and the devastating consequences of casual choices.

While Hank struggles with his lack of professional success, his wife Jenny, feeling stuck and beset by an urge to do good, becomes ensnared in a dangerous correspondence with a prison inmate called John. Letter by letter, John pinches Jenny awake from the “marshmallow numbness” of her life. The children, meanwhile, unwittingly disturb the foundations of their home life with forays into the dark net and strange geological experiments.

Jenny’s bid for freedom takes a sour turn when she becomes the go-between for John and his wife, and develops an unnatural obsession for the orange glue that seals his letters…

Love Orange throws open the blinds of American life, showing a family facing up to the modern age, from the ascendancy of technology, the predicaments of masculinity, the pathologising of children, the epidemic of opioid addiction and the tyranny of the WhatsApp Gods. The first novel by the acclaimed translator is a comic cocktail, an exuberant skewering of contemporary anxieties and prejudices.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This one has only come on my radar the past week and now I can’t wait to read it! It sounds like a timely and utterly compelling debut.
Pre-order here

Orfeia by Joanne M. Harris

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Gollancz
Genre: Fairy Tale, Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
When you can find me an acre of land,
Every sage grows merry in time,
Between the ocean and the sand
Then will you be united again.
(Inspired by The Child Ballads 2 & 19)

So begins a beautiful and tragic quest as a heartbroken mother sets out to save her lost daughter, through the realms of the real, of dream, and even into the underworld itself.

But determination alone is not enough. For to save something precious, she must give up something precious, be it a song, a memory, or herfreedom itself . . .

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
While I’ve never read anything by this author, I have heard great things and love the movie Chocolat. This book i s the third Fantasy/Fairy Tale book on this list which I think shows how much my tastes have expanded towards that genre since reading A Court of Thorns and Roses
Pre-order here

Charlotte by Helen Moffett

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Regency Romance

SYNOPSIS:
For fans of Longbourn and The Other Bennet Sister, this beautifully told story of marriage, duty and friendship follows Charlotte’s story from where Pride and Prejudice ends.

Everybody believes that Charlotte Lucas has no prospects. She is unmarried, plain, poor and reaching a dangerous age.

But when she stuns the neighbourhood by accepting the proposal of buffoonish clergyman Mr Collins, her fortunes change. Her best friend Lizzy Bennet is appalled by her decision, yet Charlotte knows this is the only way to provide for her future.

What she doesn’t know is that her married life will propel her into a new world: not only of duty and longed-for children, but secrets, grief, unexpected love and friendship, and a kind of freedom.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I love a good classic and I love books that are either retellings or pertain to a much loved classic, so this is right up my street.
Pre-order here

For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Because there’s never enough time to say goodbye…

Sylvia knows that she’s running out of time. Very soon, she will exist only in the memories of those who loved her most and the pieces of her life she’s left behind.

So she begins to write her husband a handbook for when she’s gone, somewhere to capture the small moments of ordinary, precious happiness in their married lives. From raising their wild, loving son, to what to give their gentle daughter on her eighteenth birthday – it’s everything she should have told him before it was too late.

But Sylvia also has a secret, one that she’s saved until the very last pages. And it’s a moment in her past that could change everything…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This one sounds like a beautiful, but emotional, read.
Pre-order here

Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain

Published: September 10th, 2020
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Genre: Saga, Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
She was ‘The Angel of the Baths’, the one woman whose touch everybody yearned for. Yet she would do more. She was certain of that.

In the city of Bath, in the year 1865, an extraordinary young woman renowned for her nursing skills is convinced that some other destiny will one day show itself to her. But when she finds herself torn between a dangerous affair with a female lover and the promise of a conventional marriage to an apparently respectable doctor, her desires begin to lead her towards a future she had never imagined.

Meanwhile, on the wild island of Borneo, an eccentric British ‘rajah’, Sir Ralph Savage, overflowing with philanthropy but compromised by his passions, sees his schemes relentlessly undermined by his own fragility, by man’s innate greed and by the invasive power of the forest itself.

Jane’s quest for an altered life and Sir Ralph’s endeavours become locked together as the story journeys across the globe – from the confines of an English tearoom to the rainforests of a tropical island via the slums of Dublin and the transgressive fancy-dress boutiques of Paris.

Islands of Mercy is a novel that ignites the senses, and is a bold exploration of the human urge to seek places of sanctuary in a pitiless world.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I love historical fiction. It’s one of my favourite genres and this one has ‘must-read’ written all over it. It sounds atmospheric, absorbing and intriguing. Like one I won’t be able to put down.
Pre-order here

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

Published: September 15th, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has?

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell transported over four million readers into its mysterious world. It became an instant classic and has been hailed as one of the finest works of fiction of the twenty-first century.

Fifteen years later, it is finally time to enter the House and meet Piranesi.

May your Paths be safe, your Floors unbroken and may the House fill your eyes with Beauty.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This book instantly screamed BUY ME and READ ME when I saw it on Twitter recently. There isn’t a lot in the description, but I am intrigued enough for this to be one of the books at the top of my wishlist.
Pre-order here

Where The Edge Is by Grainne Murphy

Published: September 15th, 2020
Publisher; Legend Press
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
As a sleepy town in rural Ireland starts to wake, a road subsides, trapping an early-morning bus and five passengers inside. Rescue teams struggle and as two are eventually saved, the bus falls deeper into the hole.

Under the watchful eyes of the media, the lives of three people are teetering on the edge. And for those on the outside, from Nina, the reporter covering the story, to rescue liaison, Tim, and Richie, the driver pulled from the wreckage, each are made to look at themselves under the glare of the spotlight.

When their world crumbles beneath their feet, they are forced to choose between what they cling to and what they must let go of.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I only heard about this book two days ago, but it instantly became a must-read book when I read the compelling synopsis. It sounds like a book that will have me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.
Pre-order here

The Minders by John Marrs

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Science Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Five strangers guard our secrets.
Only four can be trusted…

In the 21st century, information is king. But computers can be hacked and files can be broken into – so a unique government initiative has been born. Five ordinary people have been selected to become Minders – the latest weapon in thwarting cyberterrorism. Transformed by a revolutionary medical procedure, the country’s most classified information has been taken offline and turned into genetic code implanted inside their heads.

Together, the five know every secret – the truth behind every government lie, conspiracy theory and cover up. In return, they’re given the chance to leave their problems behind and a blank slate to start their lives anew.

But not everyone should be trusted, especially when they each have secrets of their own they’ll do anything to protect…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
It’s no secret that John Marrs is one of my favourite authors and his books are all must-reads for me. I love the sound of his latest novel as it sounds so unique and riveting. I’ve heard great things so I’m looking forward to picking it up myself.
Pre-order here

A Song of Isolation by Michael. J. Malone

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?

Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press witch hunt quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.

While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is isolated a child trying to make sense of an adult world.

Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives in an instant.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Orenda is one of my favourite publishers and I have heard nothing but praise for Michael J. Malone. I am looking forward to finally reading one of his books and will be posting my review on September 11th as par of the blog tour.
Pre-order here

Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Bildungsroman, Coming-of-Age Fiction, LGBT Literature

SYNOPSIS:
Named a most anticipated book of 2020 by Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire, Time, People, BuzzFeed, Bustle, and more. Perfect for fans of Normal People and Fleabag

Great inventiveness, unfailing intelligence and empathy, and best of all a rare and shimmering wit’ Richard Ford

Eighteen years old, pregnant, and working as a pizza delivery girl, our dysfunctional heroine is deeply lost and in complete denial about it all. She’s grieving the death of her father, avoiding her loving boyfriend, and flagrantly ignoring her future.

Her world is further upended when she becomes obsessed with Jenny, a stay-at-home mother new to the neighbourhood, who comes to depend on weekly deliveries of pickle-covered pizzas for her son’s happiness.

As one woman looks toward motherhood and the other toward middle age, the relationship between the two begins to blur in strange, complicated, and ultimately heartbreaking ways.

Bold, tender, and unexpected, Pizza Girl is a moving and funny portrait of a flawed, unforgettable young woman as she tries to find her place in the world.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This just sounds like a book that is right up my street in every way. I love a flawed dysfunctional heroine and stories with heart and humour, which it sounds like this one has. My review will be posted on September 18th as part of the blog tour.
Pre-order here

D (A Tale of Two Worlds) by Michael Faber

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Modern Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
‘If ever a book like this was needed, it is now. Dhikilo is a splendid heroine for our time: She stands for kindness, honesty and humanity. Her triumph will have readers rejoicing’ DIANE SETTERFIELD
__________________________

A modern-day Dickensian fable and a celebration of friendship and humanity, by the acclaimed author of The Crimson Petal and the White.

It all starts on the morning the letter D disappears from the language.
First, it vanishes from her parents’ conversation at breakfast, then from the road signs outside. Soon the local dentist and the neighbour’s Dalmatian are missing, and even the Donkey Derby has been called off.

Though she doesn’t know why, Dhikilo is summoned to the home of her old history teacher Professor Dodderfield and his faithful Labrador, Nelly Robinson. And this is where our story begins.

Set between England and the wintry land of Liminus, a world enslaved by the monstrous Gamp and populated by fearsome, enchanting creatures, D (Tale of Two Worlds) is a mesmerising tale of friendship and bravery in an uncertain world. Told with simple beauty and warmth, its celebration of moral courage and freethinking is a powerful reminder of our human capacity for strength, hope and justice.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
A book described as ‘a modern-day Dickensien fable’? Sold! This book sounds absolutely mesemerising, delightful and uplifting; like it has the potential to be a modern-day clasic
Pre-order here

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: One More Chapter
Genre: Historical Fiction, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Eudora Honeysett is done – with all of it. Having seen first-hand what a prolonged illness can create, the eighty-five-year-old has no intention of leaving things to chance. With one call to a clinic in Switzerland she takes her life into her own hands.

But then ten-year-old Rose arrives in a riot of colour on her doorstep. Now, as precocious Rose takes Eudora on adventures she’d never imagined she reflects on the trying times of her past and soon finds herself wondering – is she ready for death when she’s only just experienced what it’s like to truly live?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This sounds like a charming and heartwarming read; one of those books that just makes you smile while reading. And anything that is compared to Eleanor Oliphant is a must-read for me.
Pre-order here

The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

Published: September 29th, 2020
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Autobiography, Biography

SYNOPSIS:
It took me a lifetime to have the courage and the clarity to write my memoir. I want to tell the story of the moments – the ups and downs, the triumphs and traumas, the debacles and the dreams, that contributed to the person I am today. Though there have been countless stories about me throughout my career and very public personal life, it’s been impossible to communicate the complexities and depths of my experience in any single magazine article or a ten-minute television interview. And even then, my words were filtered through someone else’s lens, largely satisfying someone else’s assignment to define me.

This book is composed of my memories, my mishaps, my struggles, my survival and my songs. Unfiltered. I went deep into my childhood and gave the scared little girl inside of me a big voice. I let the abandoned and ambitious adolescent have her say, and the betrayed and triumphant woman I became tell her side.

Writing this memoir was incredibly hard, humbling and healing. My sincere hope is that you are moved to a new understanding, not only about me, but also about the resilience of the human spirit.

Love,
Mariah

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I have been a huge fan of Mariah Carey for 27 years so there was no question that her memoir would be on my most anticipated list. I can’t wait to read the truth about her life from the woman herself.
Pre-order here

Are any of these on your wishlist? Which ones are you planning to read? Let me know in the comments.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

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

I’m thrilled to be closing the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Megan ed PR for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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.

MY REVIEW:

“If you love someone, never let them go.” 

If I Can’t Have You is a story of love, lies and obsession. This book wasn’t what I expected, but in a good way, with the biggest surprise being how much deeper and darker of an emotional journey it takes you on as the author examines the warped, murky side of love. Laced with dark humour the author has created a story that is riveting and compelling. 

Constance was a character I both loved and loathed. She was someone I could relate to in some ways and I found her likeable at times. But she would also do the most appalling things and act in ways that can only be called crazy, which made me want to reach into the book, shake her, and tell her he wasn’t worth it. But we slowly come to understand a little more about Constance’s fragile psyche and why she behaves the way she does thanks to her sessions with Dr Franco. My heart broke for her and this time I wanted to reach into the book not to shake her, but to hug her instead. As for Samuel, I hate that man with a passion! As his true colours are revealed it was clear he was not just a bit of a cad, but a cruel manipulator who views women as objects to use and discard, calling them crazy when they are hurt by his actions. But it wasn’t all crazy and dark characters and I loved the sweet friendship between Constance and Edward. It was a great dynamic and showed another side to Constance that I think helps the reader see her as a three dimensional person rather than just a crazy stalker. 

If I Can’t Have You was as addictive for me as Samuel was for Constance. Taut, twisty, layered and simply brilliant, this is an outstanding debut. I’m excited to see what Levin writes next. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Charlotte Levin author photo

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Charlotte Levin has been shortlisted for the Andrea Badenoch Award, part of the New Writers North Awards, and for the Mslexia Short Story Competition. Charlotte lives in Manchester and If I Can’t Have You is her first novel.

Instagram | Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive |Google Books |Apple Books |Kobo

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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 book reviews

The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: July 11th, 2019
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Format: Special Edition eBook, Paperback
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Contemporary Romance

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Melanie Blake’s bestselling novel The Thunder Girls. Selected as one of Kindle’s eBooks of the month for April 2020, you can buy it at the discounted price of 99p until the end of the month.

Thank you to Martina at Midas PR for the invitation to take part.

SYNOPSIS:

THE

Chrissie, Roxanne, Carly and Anita, an eighties pop sensation outselling and out-classing their competition. Until it all comes to an abrupt end and three of their careers are over, and so is their friendship.

THUNDER

Thirty years later, their old record label wants the band back together for a huge money-making concert. But the wounds are deep and some need this gig more than others.

In those decades apart life was far from the dream they were living as members of The Thunder Girls. Breakdowns, bankruptcy, addiction and divorce have been a constant part of their lives. They’ve been to hell and back, and some are still there.

GIRLS

Can the past be laid to rest for a price, or is there more to this reunion than any of them could possibly know? Whilst they all hunger for a taste of success a second time around, someone is plotting their downfall in the deadliest way possible . . .

MY REVIEW:

A riveting page-turner that had me up until the early hours, this is the compelling story of The Thunder Girls, an all-girl band who rode high in the Eighties, amassing a string of number one singles in just two years. It all came to an abrupt end when they were disbanded by their record company in favour of launching one of their members, Chrissie, as a solo artist, leaving the remaining girls: Carly. Roxanne and Anita feeling betrayed. Thirty years later, the label wants them to reunite to perform at Rock Legends along with other Eighties artists. But can they put three decades of bitterness and resentment aside for a much-needed paycheck? And will they notice their enemy lurking in the shadows and plotting their downfall?

Entertaining, thrilling and absorbing, I devoured this novel in under a day. I was completely engrossed in the drama of the women’s lives and the various personal struggles they were facing. The characters are richly drawn. Chrissie is the stereotypical diva and while I would hate to be around her in real life, she was fun to read and lit up any scene she was in. The other women were more likeable and I felt a particular connection to Carly, probably because I have been in a similar relationship and was rooting for her liberation. I loved the group’s dynamic when they came back together. Carly, Roxanne and Anita are still reeling from Chrissie leaving them behind thirty years ago, which culminates in explosive cat-fights, bitching and histrionics that were entertaining to read and added tension as I couldn’t fathom how they’d ever manage to get along long enough to perform together.

This is Melanie Blake’s debut novel and has already been turned into a nationwide play with an all-star cast. It’s easy to see why. The Thunder Girls is the perfect book to binge read and get totally lost in this summer. And with the eBook just 99p in April it is the perfect time to grab yourself a copy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

As one of the UK’s most successful female entrepreneurs, over the years Melanie has had two careers at the top tier of the entertainment industry. Her first 10 years were as a music manager with a roster of award-winning artists who sold over 100 million records and the second decade as one of the UK’s leading acting agents representing some of the most famous faces on British television. The Thunder Girls is inspired by her time in the music business and her second novel which is out in 2021 will be inspired by her years in the world of soap opera and drama. Her own management company, which has covered both genres, has turned over more than 30 million.

With no formal education herself, Melanie is a true champion for working class women who are so often overlooked in our society. The Thunder Girls is a celebration of women from diverse demographics and all the lead characters in the novel are over 40 and working class. As well as having written the book, Melanie has penned The Thunder Girls the play which embarks on a nationwide tour in 2021. Melanie Blake might just be the world’s biggest Jackie Collins fan. She first read Rock Star aged 9, after smuggling the copy out of the library by telling the librarian it was for her mum! Melanie was dazzled by Jackie Collin’s world where women clawed themselves from poverty into glamorous, moneyed lives. In Jackie Collins’ novels, women were bosses and winners who achieved everything they wanted and it was these novels that inspired Melanie to become her own boss and a lady entrepreneur. In 2017 Melanie’s connection with Jackie Collins came full circle, when after Jackie’s sad death she bought five pieces of Jackie’s jewellery at auction – two rings and three necklaces inlayed with morganite, citrines and diamonds – which she wears every day.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR: 

Website
Instagram
Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon
Waterstones
Book Depository
Google Books
Apple Books
Kobo

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Categories
Uncategorised

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – March 2020

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March is yet another month that is full to the brim with an array of exciting new releases. I’ve whittled this down as much as possible but there could have easily been another five or more books added to this list. At the time of writing I’ve read Keeper and am currently reading Away with the Penguins. Look out for those reviews in March.

The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey
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Published: March 5th, 2020
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Suspense, Historical Romance
SYNOPSIS:
Some secrets are unspoken. Others are unspeakable . . .

August 1939.

Thirty-year-old Hetty Cartwright is tasked with the evacuation and safekeeping of the natural history museum’s collection of mammals. Once she and her exhibits arrive at Lockwood Manor, however, where they are to stay for the duration of the war, Hetty soon realizes that she’s taken on more than she’d bargained for.

Protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants is work enough, but when some of the animals go missing, and worse, Hetty begins to suspect someone – or something – is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house.

As the disasters mount, Hetty finds herself falling under the spell of Lucy, Lord Lockwood’s beautiful but clearly haunted daughter. But why is Lucy so traumatized? Does she know something she’s not telling? And is there any truth to local rumours of ghosts and curses?

Part love story, part mystery, The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is a gripping and atmospheric tale of family madness, long-buried secrets and hidden desires.

The Recovery of Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel
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Published: March 5th, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Rose Gold Watts believed she was sick for eighteen years.

She thought she needed the feeding tube, the surgeries, the wheelchair . . .

Turns out her mother is a really good liar.

After five years in prison, Patty Watts is finally free. All she wants is to put old grievances behind her, reconcile with the daughter who testified against her – and care for her new infant grandson.

When Rose Gold agrees to have Patty move in, it seems their relationship is truly on the mend. And she has waited such a long time for her mother to come home.

But is she still the pliable young girl she once was? And is Patty still as keen on settling an old score?

Because if mothers never forget then daughters never forgive.

A chilling tale of obsession, reconciliation and revenge from an incredible new talent.

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
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Published: March 5th, 2020
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller
SYNOPSIS:
From Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, the authors of the top ten bestseller The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl, comes You Are Not Alone – a gripping novel about a group of women who appear to have the perfect lives, but all is not what it seems . . .

You probably know someone like Shay Miller. She wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is becoming increasingly isolated.

You probably don’t know anyone like the Moore sisters. They have an unbreakable circle of friends. They live a life of glamour and perfection. They always get what they desire.

Shay thinks she wants their life.

But what they really want is hers.

The Deep by Alma Katsu
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Published: March 5th, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Thriller, Horror, Ghost Story, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Adventure
SYNOPSIS:
Someone, or something, is haunting the Titanic.

Deaths and disappearances have plagued the vast liner from the moment she began her maiden voyage on 10 April 1912. Four days later, caught in what feels like an eerie, unsettling twilight zone, some passengers – including millionaire Madeleine Astor and maid Annie Hebbley – are convinced that something sinister is afoot. And then disaster strikes.

Four years later and the world is at war. Having survived that fateful night, Annie is now a nurse on board the Titanic’s sister ship, the Britannic, now refitted as a hospital ship. And she is about to realise that those demons from her past and the terrors of that doomed voyage have not finished with her yet . . .

Bringing together Faustian pacts, the occult, tales of sirens and selkies with themes of guilt and revenge, desire and destiny, The Deep offers a thrilling, tantalizing twist on one of the world’s most famous tragedies.

In Five Years by Rebecca Searle
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Published: March 10th, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Romance, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Perfect for fans of Me Before You and One Day, this heart-breaking story of love, loss and life will have you questioning everything you thought you knew about destiny…
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Kohan has been in possession of her meticulously crafted answer since she understood the question. On the day that she nails the most important job interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfect man, she’s well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.
That night Dannie falls asleep only to wake up in a different apartment with a different ring on her finger, and in the company of a very different man. The TV is on in the background, and she can just make out the date. It’s the same night – December 15th – but 2025, five years in the future.
It was just a dream, she tells herself when she wakes, but it felt so real… Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.
That is, until four and a half years later, when Dannie turns down a street and there, standing on the corner, is the man from her dream…
In Five Years is a love story, brimming with joy and heartbreak. But it is definitely not the love story you’re expecting.

The Operator by Gretchen Berg
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Published: March 10th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
It’s 1952. The switchboard operators in Wooster, Ohio, love nothing more than to eavesdrop on their neighbours’ conversations, and gossip about what they learn. Vivian Dalton is no different (despite her teenage daughter’s disapproval), and always longs to hear something scandalous. But on the night of December 15th, she wishes she hadn’t. The secret that’s shared by a stranger on the line threatens to rip the rug of Vivian’s life from under her.

Vivian may be mortified, but she’s not going to take this lying down. She wants the truth, no matter how painful it may be. But one secret tends to lead to another . . .

This moving, heart-felt and ultimately uplifting novel brilliantly weaves together an irresistible portrayal of a town buzzing with scandal, and an unforgettable story of marriage, motherhood and the unbreakable ties of family.

This Lovely City by Louise Hare
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Published: March 12th, 2020
Published: HQ
Genre: Historical Fiction, Urban Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
The drinks are flowing.
The music is playing.
But the party can’t last.

With the Blitz over and London reeling from war, jazz musician Lawrie Matthews has answered England’s call for help. Fresh off the Empire Windrush, he’s taken a tiny room in south London lodgings, and has fallen in love with the girl next door.

Touring Soho’s music halls by night, pacing the streets as a postman by day, Lawrie has poured his heart into his new home – and it’s alive with possibility. Until, one morning, he makes a terrible discovery.

As the local community rallies, fingers of blame are pointed at those who had recently been welcomed with open arms. And, before long, the newest arrivals become the prime suspects in a tragedy which threatens to tear the city apart.

Atmospheric, poignant and compelling, Louise Hare’s debut shows that new arrivals have always been the prime suspects. But, also, that there is always hope.

Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior
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Published: March 19th, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Humourous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Contemporary Romance, New Adult Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .

Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.

Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.

She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting
instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).

Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.

But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.

A Conspiracy of Bones by Kathy Reichs
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Published: March 19th, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
SYNOPSIS:
Number One New York Times bestselling author Kathy Reichs returns with her nineteenth riveting novel featuring forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan, who must use all her tradecraft to discover the identity of a faceless corpse, its connection to a decade-old missing child case, and the reason the dead man had her phone number.

It’s sweltering in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Temperance Brennan, still recovering from neurosurgery following an aneurysm, is battling nightmares, migraines, and what she thinks might be hallucinations when she receives a series of mysterious text messages, each containing a new picture of a corpse that is missing its face and hands. Immediately, she’s anxious to know who the dead man is, and why the images were sent to her.

An identified corpse soon turns up, only partly answering her questions.

To win answers to the others, including the man’s identity, she must go rogue. With help from a number of law enforcement associates including her Montreal beau Andrew Ryan and the always-ready-with-a-smart-quip, ex-homicide investigator Skinny Slidell, and utilizing new cutting-edge forensic methods, Tempe draws closer to the astonishing truth.

But the more she uncovers, the darker and more twisted the picture becomes …

Keeper by Jessica Moor
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Published: March 19th, 2020
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense
SYNOPSIS:
He’s been looking in the windows again. Messing with cameras. Leaving notes.
Supposed to be a refuge. But death got inside.

When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide.

But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.

Will you listen to them?

An addictive literary page-turner about a crime as shocking as it is commonplace, Keeper will leave you reeling long after the final page is turned.

The Boy from the Woods by Harlan Coben
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Published: March 19th, 2020
Publisher: Century
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Thirty years ago, a child was found in the New Jersey backwoods.

He had been living a feral existence, with no memory of how he got there or even who he is. Everyone just calls him Wilde.

Now a former soldier and security expert, he lives off the grid, shunned by the community – until they need him.

A child has gone missing. With her family suspecting she’s just playing a disappearing game, nobody seems concerned except for criminal attorney Hester Crimstein. She contacts Wilde, asking him to use his unique skills to find the girl.

But even he can find no trace of her. One day passes, then a second, then a third.

On the fourth, a human finger shows up in the mail.

And now Wilde knows this is no game. It’s a race against time to save the girl’s life – and expose the town’s dark trove of secrets…

The Ninth Child by Sally Magnusson
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Published: March 19th, 2020
Publisher: Hachette Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairytale
SYNOPSIS:
Loch Katrine waterworks, 1856. A Highland wilderness fast becoming an industrial wasteland. No place for a lady.

Isabel Aird is aghast when her husband is appointed doctor to an extraordinary waterworks being built miles from the city. But Isabel, denied the motherhood role that is expected of her by a succession of miscarriages, finds unexpected consolations in a place where she can feel the presence of her unborn children and begin to work out what her life in Victorian society is for.

The hills echo with the gunpowder blasts of hundreds of navvies tunnelling day and night to bring clean water to diseased Glasgow thirty miles away – digging so deep that there are those who worry they are disturbing the land of faery itself. Here, just inside the Highland line, the membrane between the modern world and the ancient unseen places is very thin.

With new life quickening within her again, Isabel can only wait. But a darker presence has also emerged from the gunpowder smoke. And he is waiting too.

Inspired by the mysterious death of the seventeenth-century minister Robert Kirke and set in a pivotal era two centuries later when engineering innovation flourished but women did not, The Ninth Child blends folklore with historical realism in a spellbinding narrative.

Coming Up For Air by Sarah Leipciger
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Published: March 19th, 2020
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Three extraordinary lives intertwine across oceans and time.

On the banks of the River Seine in 1899, a young woman takes her final breath before plunging into the icy water. Although she does not know it, her decision will set in motion an astonishing chain of events. It will lead to 1950s Norway, where a grieving toy-maker is on the cusp of a transformative invention, all the way to present-day Canada where a journalist, battling a terrible disease, risks everything for one last chance to live.

Taking inspiration from a remarkable true story, Coming Up for Air is a bold, richly imagined novel about the transcendent power of storytelling and the immeasurable impact of every human life.

The Bass Rock by Evie Wyld
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Published: March 26th, 2020
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
Genre: Historical Fiction, Gothic Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
‘A modern gothic triumph. Spectacularly well-observed, profoundly disquieting and utterly riveting. Like all Evie Wyld’s work it is startlingly insightful about psychological and physical abuse. It is a haunting, masterful novel.’ ―Max Porter

Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has for centuries watched over the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries the fates of three women are linked: to this place, to each other.

In the early 1700s, Sarah, accused of being a witch, flees for her life.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Ruth navigates a new house, a new husband and the strange waters of the local community.

Six decades later, the house stands empty. Viv, mourning the death of her father, catalogues Ruth’s belongings and discovers her place in the past – and perhaps a way forward.

Each woman’s choices are circumscribed, in ways big and small, by the men in their lives. But in sisterhood there is the hope of survival and new life. Intricately crafted and compulsively readable, The Bass Rock burns bright with anger and love.

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
hamnet
Published: March 31st, 2020
Publisher: Tinder Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
TWO EXTRAORDINARY PEOPLE. A LOVE THAT DRAWS THEM TOGETHER. A LOSS THAT THREATENS TO TEAR THEM APART.

On a summer’s day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Their mother, Agnes, is over a mile away, in the garden where she grows medicinal herbs. Their father is working in London. Neither parent knows that one of the children will not survive the week.

Hamnet is a novel inspired by the son of a famous playwright. It is a story of the bond between twins, and of a marriage pushed to the brink by grief. It is also the story of a kestrel and its mistress; flea that boards a ship in Alexandria; and a glovemaker’s son who flouts convention in pursuit of the woman he loves. Above all, it is a tender and unforgettable reimagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, but whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays ever written.

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell
my dark vanessa
Published: March 31st, 2020
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Genre: Psychological Thriller
SYNOPSIS:
An era-defining novel about the relationship between a fifteen-year-old girl and her teacher

ALL HE DID WAS FALL IN LOVE WITH ME AND THE WORLD TURNED HIM INTO A MONSTER

Vanessa Wye was fifteen-years-old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues our age.

Are any of these on your tbr? What are you most looking forward to being released in March? Let me know in the comments below.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Mercies by Kiran Millwood Hargrave ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Publisher: Picador
Published: February 6th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm of 1617, The Mercies is a story about how suspicion can twist its way through a community, and a love that may prove as dangerous as it is powerful.

On Christmas Eve 1617, the sea around the remote Norwegian Island of Vardø is thrown into a reckless storm. As Maren Magnussdatter watches, forty fishermen, including her father and brother, are lost to the waves – the menfolk of Vardø wiped out in an instant. 

Vardø is now a place of women.

Eighteen months later, a sinister figure arrives. Summoned from Scotland to take control of a place at the edge of the civilised world, Absolom Cornet knows what he needs to do to bring the women of Vardø to heel. With him travels his young wife, Ursa. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa finds something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absolom sees only a place flooded with a terrible evil,one he must root out at all costs.

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MY REVIEW:

Breathtakingly beautiful, mesmerising, lingering and consuming, I drank in this astonishing novel quickly and fell in love. 

Inspired by real events, the story begins on Christmas Eve 1617 when a terrible storm hits the remote island of Vardø and kills the forty men at sea, leaving the island now one of mostly women. Slowly they learn to survive without them, taking on roles usually for men in a bid to survive. A year later, just as things feel like they’ve settled, the island is disrupted again by the arrival of a new commissioner from Scotland. The women are wary, unsure what this means for them, and soon they find themselves caught up in the witch trials of the era, with neighbour turning against neighbour as they face a new battle for survival. 

It’s taken a while to be able to get my thoughts about this book down in a review I felt would do it justice and in that time I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I first heard about this book last year when author Elizabeth Macneal raved about it on her page and I immediately knew I needed to read it. I read this book as part of a readalong with the Tandem Collective. It was my first readalong with them. It made it a much more immersive and sensory experience and increased my already high excitement for the book. 

It is a story about sisterhood, a matriarchal society that is still beholden to the rule of men. It is a story about love, relationships, bravery, power and betrayal; about witchcraft, folklore and faith. At the centre is the story of a friendship of two women just trying to survive in a harsh and terrifying time.

It is told through the eyes of two women from very different backgrounds: Maren was raised in Vardø and knows nothing but the bleak, harsh landscape and the drudgery of life in the far north. Ursa was raised in the city and the new bride is shocked at the barren, hard circumstances she must now live in and struggles to adjust. The two form a quick and unexpected bond, becoming eachother’s confidant and balm.  I liked both narrators and their different voices. They were both kind, sympathetic characters and had strengths they didn’t recognise in themselves. For Ursa the culture shock of life Vardø, her dismay at finding herself married to a man who shows little affection or attention to her and missing her family, combines into a deep depression she can’t pull herself out of. Maren becomes a beacon of light pulling her from the dark as they bond when Maren teaches her how to keep house. Maren is used to the realities of life in Vardø but finds herself ashamed of how she lives and shocked at Ursa’s innocence and incapability. Ursa is a beautiful being and she feels honoured to have been asked to teach her. She is her escape, just as Maren is hers. I enjoyed their friendship and how Ursa in particular fought for it when others didn’t approve, saying Maren wasn’t good enough.

Every story needs a villain and the biggest villain in this story was Absolom, Ursa’s husband. He was a vile, cruel man who uses his religion to justify his actions. We know early on that he’s there to root out the evil that is believed to reside in Vardø but Ursa knows nothing of this or his past. When she learns the truth she is horrified and afraid. He had no redeeming qualities and got more repugnant as the story went on and I was terrified of what would become of both women as they skated on the edge of what is considered acceptable in their society. 

The writing in this book is simply beautiful. With lyrical and elegant prose that tells the story fluently, this is an example of storytelling at its finest. It is my first time reading a book by this author but I do have one of her others on my shelf and am even more impatient to read it now. 

The Mercies is an exquisite, powerful and enchanting read that seeped right into my soul. It is as stunning inside as it is on the outside and I’ve no doubt it will be one of my favourite books this year. READ THIS BOOK.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Kiran Millwood Hargrave (b. Surrey 1990) is a poet, playwright, and author. Her books for children and young adults include the bestselling The Girl of Ink & Stars, The Way Past Winter, and The Deathless Girls. Her debut novel for adults is The Mercies (February 2020).

Between them, her children’s books have won numerous awards including Children’s Book of the Year at the British Book Awards, the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize, the Historical Association Young Quills Award, and the Blackwell’s Children’s Book of the Year. They have been shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize, the Little Rebels Prize, the Branford Boase Award, the Blue Peter Best Story Award, Costa Children’s Book Prize, and Foyles’ Children’s Book of the Year, amongst others.

The Mercies has been selected for the BBC Radio 2 Book Club, and was called ‘unquestionably the book of the 2018 London Book Fair’ by The Bookseller.

Kiran lives in Oxford with her husband, the artist Tom de Freston, and their rescue cat, Luna.

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