November Wrap Up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hold Your Tongue by Deborah Masson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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I’m thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this gripping debut novel. Thank you to Katie at Penguin Random House for the invitation to take part and my gifted copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

A brutal murder.

A young woman’s body is discovered with horrifying injuries, a recent newspaper cutting pinned to her clothing.

A detective with everything to prove.

This is her only chance to redeem herself.

A serial killer with nothing to lose.

He’s waited years, and his reign of terror has only just begun…

Introducing DI Eve Hunter, Hold Your Tongue is your new obsession.

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MY REVIEW:

“He likes stories. And he has an important one to tell. After today, people will listen.” 

“He has a story to tell. And it has begun.”

This riveting debut started with a bang; the brutal prologue giving me literal chills. For the rest of the book I was on the edge of my seat, utterly immersed in this deliciously twisted, turbulent and electrifying thriller. 

A young woman found dead with sickening injuries is not a good first day back at work, but it’s what DI Eve Hunter is thrust into on hers. When a second woman is found a week later there is even greater pressure to find whoever is behind these gruesome murders. But the victims seem random and the only connection they can find between the victims is that they were in the newspaper, the clippings left pinned to their clothing. There is no clear motive and though Eve is sure the killer is telling them something, she can’t figure out what it is. As Eve and the team race against the clock to prevent anyone else becoming a victim, the killer is enjoying his long-planned reign of terror. He is certain he will finish what he started, that the police are clueless and powerless to stop him. But who is right? Will Eve and her team prevail or will the killer accomplish …

Wow! What a fantastic start to a new crime series! This was a rollercoaster ride of a book that I could not put down. This book was an example of what I love in crime fiction: well written and fantastically plotted, fast paced, great characters, complex and multi-layered, and a story that was hard to predict. The author knows how to hold her audience captive, making it impossible to turn away from the horror unfolding. The story is cleverly pieced together through subtle hints and startling revelations, until the final, shocking picture emerges. I could feel my heart pounding in anticipation as I raced towards the finale. 

DI Eve Hunter was a great protagonist. She’s fascinating and flawed but likeable and easy to get behind. It’s clear she’s a strong woman and leader, but she also shows weakness, which made her all the more interesting and relatable. We’re quickly given glimpses of her backstory: the dark secret only she and her counsellor know, and her guilt over the vicious attack that left her with painful injuries and her partner, Sanders, paralysed from the chest down. Eve’s team are all well written. I liked that their interpersonal dynamics weren’t smooth or simple and that there are some who make it clear they didn’t want her back and still blame her for what happened. We are given a comprehensive introduction to Eve and her team, giving us a real sense of who they are and I like that she also included the complicated relationship between Eve and Sanders. 

I love crime thrillers and one of my favourite things is when they include chapters from the perpetrator. I was glad to see that trope used in this book and loved the flashes of his past and peeking into his warped mind. From the savagery of his sickening attacks on his victims it is immediately clear that this is a brutal, cold-blooded, calculating and meticulous killer who is enjoying finally living out his carefully plotted crimes. 

Hold Your Tongue is a brilliant whodunit from an exciting new voice in the genre. Deborah, thanks to you I will never be able to see or hear that song in the same way again… I can’t wait for book two and would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction.

Published November 20th on Kindle and December 26th in Paperback.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Deborah Masson was born and bred in Aberdeen, Scotland. Always restless and fighting against being a responsible adult, she worked in several jobs including secretarial, marketing, reporting for the city’s freebie newspaper and a stint as a postie – to name but a few. Through it all, she always read crime fiction and, when motherhood finally settled her into being an adult (maybe even a responsible one) she turned her hand to writing what she loved. Deborah started with short stories and flash fiction whilst her daughter napped and, when she later welcomed her son into the world, she decided to challenge her writing further through online courses with Professional Writing Academy and Faber Academy. Her debut novel, Hold Your Tongue, is the result of those courses.

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September Wrap Up 

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It’s the end of another month. Autumn is well and truly settling in here in England and it feels like the time for hot chocolate, cosy blankets and spooky reads. I admit I’m missing the sun already though. 

September has been a really busy for me. I’ve read 11 books, taken part in 12 blog tours, and have been to two book events.

First I’ll start with what I read this month:

  • The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Woman Upstairs by Ruth Heald ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Ask Again Yes by Mary Beth Keane ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Bad Place by MK Hill ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Testaments by Margaret Atwood ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Postscript by Cecelia Ahern ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Flower Arranger by JJ Ellis ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • My Judy Garland Life by Susie Boyt ⭐⭐⭐💫
  • The Liar’s Sister by Sarah A. Denzil ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  • I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Shape of Night by Tess Gerritsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐

My favourite book this month was The Testaments, but I Wanted You To Know and Postscript were the two others I loved most of all. 

I’ve loved taking part in so many blog tours this month but realise that I took on too many for one month. I’m being stricter about how many I do each month now and in October I have blog tours for 6 books and one novella. So keep an eye out for those reviews. 

I went to two fantastic book events this month. The first was to hear Sara Collins speak about her book The Confessions of Frannie Langton at the Festival of Women’s Writing in Hawarth on September 21st. This was my second time hearing Sara speak and again she blew me away with how intelligent, interesting and friendly she was. I took my Mum along and it was her first book event. She loved every minute and went straight home with my copy of the book to read for herself. I’m hoping it’s the start of more events together. 

The second event was one I still can’t believe I’ve been too. On September 26th I went to the VIP Launch Party for The Foundling, the new novel by Stacey Halls, which is out early next year. The Familiars was my favourite book this year so to be able to not only meet the author, but go to the launch of her next book was incredible. The event took place at Brunswik House which is a beautiful Georgean setting that couldn’t have been more perfect for the book. Stacey was so lovely and spent time talking to every single person there. Hearing her talk about her inspiration for the new novel and read from it has me so excited to dive in, but I’m making myself wait until nearer publication. I attended this event with my blogger friend, Beth, and we met some other bloggers we talk to online and an author that we didn’t realise would be there. The staff from Zaffre were all so friendly and I had some great conversations with some of them. This was my first book launch and they gave whatever launch I attend next a lot to live up to. The Foundling is out February 6th 2020.

So as you can see, September has been a great month. I’ve got some great books I’m planning to read next month and am attending an event in Nottingham where I’ll see Jessie Burton and Laura Purcell – two of my favourite authors. 

Have you read any of the books I read this month or did you attend any book events? Let me know in the comments below.

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for my gifted books, and Tracey at Compulsive Readers, Anne at Random Things Blog Tours, Peyton at Agora books and Blogger HQ for the invitations to take part in the blog tours. A big thank you to Ellen at Zaffre for my invitation to The Foundling launch party.

Review: ‘The Family Upstairs’ by Lisa Jewell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

In a large house in London’s fashionable Chelsea, the baby is awake in her cot. Well-fed and cared for, she is happily waiting for someone to pick her up.

In the kitchen lies three decomposing corpses. Close to them is a hastily scrawled note.

They’ve been dead for several days.

Who has been looking after the baby?

And where did they go?

Two entangled families.

A house with the darkest of secrets.

A compulsive new read from Lisa Jewell.

MY REVIEW:

Dark, twisted, chilling, mysterious, fast-paced and addictive I devoured this book. A story about family, cults, secrets and death all woven together into a jaw-dropping thriller.

A month after her twenty-fifth birthday Libby Jones receives a letter telling her that she’s inherited her late parents’ eight bedroomed house on an expensive Chelsea street. She’s overwhelmed, having no idea before this that her birth parents are rich. At the same time, she finally learns the truth about her birth family. They didn’t die in a car accident like she believed, they were found dead along with another, unidentified man, having committed suicide. and Libby was found alone in the house with their bodies. Not only that, but she had a teenage brother and sister who vanished without a trace. Needing to know more she starts to research her past – a decision that takes her on a greater journey of self-discovery than she ever imagined. 

I always find books that explore different family’s dynamics interesting. who doesn’t want to be a fly on the wall in someone else’s house to see how things work in comparison to their own? Or is that just me? Told in two timelines by three narrators, we follow the story of this strange and fascinating family as LIbby tries to discover the truth about not only herself, but the tragic events of twenty-five years ago. 

Though the narrators seem totally random at first, we know that they must be connected somehow. The author slowly and skillfully brought it all together, delivering many surprises along the way. I thought the choice of these narrators with their very different perspectives and characteristics were well chosen and helped the reader get a fuller picture of what happened. I loved how the chapters are sequenced so that each person narrates one chapter in turn. This ramped up the tension, especially when the storyline in one chapter ended on a cliffhanger and you were left on the edge of your seat reading two more chapters before you could find out more. 

As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it. Though I own a number of her books, this was actually the first time I’d read anything by this author and I’m now kicking myself for waiting so long. There’s a very good reason I see so many people raving about her – she’s sensational! Expertly written, the author had me in her grasp from the first page and didn’t let go until the last. And that ending! Wow! The only word I can think of is breathtaking. 

This phenomenal thriller is one of the best I’ve read this year. So if you enjoy a well-written thriller full of twists and turns then this is one to add to your tbr. It definitely lived up to the hype for me. 

Thank you to Penguin Random House UK for my gifted ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

Blog Tour Review: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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Welcome to my stop and the final day of the blog tour for this phenomenal novel. Thank you to Michael Joseph Books and Penguin Random House UK for the invitation to take part and for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

SYNOPSIS:

A gripping and compassionate drama about two families linked by chance, love and tragedy.

Gillam, upstate New York: a town of ordinary, big-lawned suburban houses. The Gleesons have recently moved there and soon welcome the Stanhopes as their new neighbours.

Lonely Lena Gleeson wants a friend but Anne Stanhope – cold, elegant, unstable – wants to be left alone.

It’s left to their children – Lena’s youngest, Kate, and Anne’s only child, Peter – to find their way to one another. To form a friendship whose resilience and love will almost be broken by the fault line dividing both families, and by the terrible tragedy that will engulf them all.

A tragedy whose true origins only become clear many years later…

A story of love and redemption, faith and forgiveness, Ask Again,Yes reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood – villains lose their menace, and those who appeared innocent seem less so.A story of how, if we’re lucky, the violence lurking beneath everyday life can be vanquished by the power of love.

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MY REVIEW:

This evocative, poignant and breathtaking novel is one that will linger long after reading. The author explores topics such as mental illness, addiction and parental neglect in this story of two families, the Gleesons and the Stanhopes, that are both different yet similar to each other. It follows them from the mid-seventies until present day as they go through the usual ups and downs, alongside a devastating and unimaginable tragedy that encompasses them all. 

I had been eagerly anticipating this book after seeing a lot of hype for it over the past few months, especially after it was chosen by viewers of The Tonight Show with Jimmy Kimmel as the summer read of 2019. The only problem with all that anticipation is the worry that it won’t live up to the hype, that you’ll be the black sheep who doesn’t love this book. But I needn’t have worried. Though it started slow, within the first 100 pages I had fallen under the spell of this book. The author writes with beautiful nuance, compassion, sensitivity, warmth and candor. Her characters and their experiences feel authentic.  You can put yourself in their shoes or imagine them being the people next door to you. I was drawn into their world, invested in their lives, and needed to know what the outcome would be for them.

This author has a talent for writing honest, complex and damaged characters. They were all multilayered and could be both ugly and loveable, giving them a realism that helps connect them to the reader. You can hate a behaviour but have some empathy when you can understand how someone reaches a point where they make the wrong choices, even if that doesn’t mean you’re okay with that behaviour. That’s what happened again and again with these characters. It felt like real life, like dealing with people you know. 

The story shifts its focus so that we get the perspective of almost all the members of the two families at various times, which enables us to get to the heart of these characters. A lot of the focus is on Kate and Peter so it is unsurprising that they were the characters I felt most invested in and the greatest empathy for, especially as they are so young when the tragedy occurs. Peter in particular was a character my heart ached for. He goes through so many terrible things that I wondered how he can survive it, but I also saw a resilience in him that told me he would. There are so many things I am longing to say about the other characters, especially Anne, but doing so would mean spoilers, and I don’t like to include those in my reviews, so I won’t say more about them.  But if you’ve read this and want to talk, please DM me. 

Ask Again,Yes is an extraordinary, riveting novel written with compassion, humanity and affection. It is a story of anger, bitterness, tragedy, love, hope and forgiveness. It is a melancholy yet heartwarming tale. It reminds us that ignorance doesn’t always mean bliss, that it can sometimes allow things to fester until they boil over and have far-reaching repercussions. But it also shows us that with understanding, empathy and love, fractured lives can be mended.

I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Everyone is talking about it, and for very good reason. You should pick it up as soon as possible. 

Available now from your favourite bookseller.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mary Beth Keane attended Barnard College and the University of Virginia, where she received an MFA. In 2011, she was named one of the National Book Foundation’s ‘5 Under 35,’ and in 2015 she was awarded a John S. Guggenheim fellowship for fiction writing. She currently lives in Pearl River, New York, with her husband and their two sons. She is the author of The Walking People, Fever, and Ask Again, Yes.