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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

Published: October 29th, 2020
Publisher: Viking
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this breathtaking novel. Thank you Ellie at Viking for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

THREE HOURS TO SAVE THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege.

Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news.

In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.

MY REVIEW:

Ms. Lupton, you’ve broken me. This has got to be one of, if not the most, emotionally fraught books I’ve ever read. It has seeped into my soul.

From the first page we jump into the action as headteacher Matthew Marr is shot by a masked gunman stalking the halls of his school. The story then follows the stories of staff, students, parents and police, that play out simultaneously over the 108 minutes that the school is at their mercy. The writing is evocative, alluring, and almost lyrical; barely a word is wasted as you’re drawn into the living nightmare so vividly that I found myself actually holding my breath.

As a mother, this story is one of my worst nightmares; I can not begin to imagine the terror of having one of my children held hostage by gunmen, and pray I never have to. The author pulled me in, immersing me in the story and making me feel the characters’ terror. I saw myself in the frightened mother and the police woman, saw those who’ve taught my children in the teachers, and, most gut-wrenching of all, I saw my children in the students.

While at first glance this is a book about a school shooting, it is actually so much more. It is a multilayered novel that is also a statement on our political landscape and the hate culture being fostered by racists and extremists on both sides. The author also explores what drives them to commit such atrocities, asking how are they driven to violence, destruction and revenge? And how do they mask that hatred so the people around them never see it? She shows the harsh truths of these incidents, such as some people immediately pointing the finger of suspicion at the two refugee Muslim students and how, when the identities of the gunmen are revealed, they are seen as less than human and blame is put upon their parents for not doing their job right. She helps break down these stigmas and shows the beating heart behind those who some can be so quick to dehumanise. She also reminds us it is not only “bad” parents whose children commit evil acts and they are usually as shocked and distraught by what their child has done as everybody else.But this isn’t a maudlin book, it is also incredibly uplifting at times as we are shown examples of astounding bravery, selflessness and sacrifice despite their fear. The very best of humanity versus the very worst. A reminder that there is more good in the world than bad, and what extraordinary things we can do when pushed to our limits and those we love are in danger.

I included Three Hours in #EmmasAnticipatedTreasures back in January and it more than deserves not only it’s place there, but every bit of the hype it’s generating right now. I was left with a major book hangover after finishing this powerful masterpiece and cannot recommend it highly enough. Breathtaking, intense, harrowing, moving and exceptional, this is one not to be missed. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rosamund Lupton is the author of four novels.

Rosamund Lupton graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. After reviewing books for the Literary Review and being invited to join the Royal Court Theatre, she won a television play competition and subsequently worked as a screen writer. Her debut novel Sister, was a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, has been translated into over thirty languages and has international sales of over 1.5 million copies. It was the fastest-selling debut of 2010 by a British author, and was winner of the Richard and Judy Best Debut Novel of 2011 Award and the Strand Magazine Critics First Novel Award. Film rights of Sister are currently under option.

Lupton’s critically acclaimed second novel Afterwards also went straight into the Sunday Times bestseller lists and was the No. 2 Sunday Times fiction bestseller of 2011. The Quality of Silence her third novel was a Sunday Times best seller and a Richard & Judy bookclub pick

Her new novel Three Hours is a Sunday Times top ten best seller and a best book of 2020 in the Sunday Times, the Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Stylist, Red & Good Housekeeping. It’s a Times and Sunday Times thriller of the month.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Dangerous To Know by Chloe Esposito

Published: October 15th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Dark Comedy, Satire, Suspense, Psychological Fiction Noir Fiction, Humorous Fiction, Adventure Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Romance

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this darky humorous and addictive thriller. Thank you to Sryia at Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

The sharp, smart and outrageously funny finale in the Alvie Knightly trilogy

MY REVIEW:

“I’m flawed. Aren’t we all? What’s your fatal flaw? Mine? I love too much. I do crazy shit for love, mad and bad and dangerous…”

Alvie Knightly is a serial killer. After a killing spree in Italy last year she’s been laying low and evading arrest. But vengeance in the name of her now deceased lover Nino is calling, so she sets about changing her identity and luring her next victim…

What. A. Book. Darkly humorous, thrilling and addictive, Dangerous To Know is an uproarious and strangely uplifting read that I absolutely loved. 

Alvie is quite the character. Hilarious, memorable and compelling, I couldn’t help but love her. Yes, she’s a killer, but she’s not a sociopath like Ted Bundy. She knows because she feels bad for some of her murders; like her  hot boyfriend Nino. The author writes her with a killer combination – see what I did there? – of twisted evil, humour and emotion, and her magnetism is impossible to resist.

“I think killing her will cheer me up. I’ve been stuck in a rut this past year. I miss murder.”

Alvie takes quite the emotional journey in this book and begins to question some of her choices. Through her narrative and in flashbacks we learn more about her childhood and discover what shaped her into the person she is today. It was a deeper aspect to the story that I wasn’t anticipating, but I liked how it showed her in a more sympathetic light and gave us a more complete picture that was the opposite of her murderous deeds. 

When I took on the blog tour I didn’t realise it is the final installment in a trilogy, and unfortunately I didn’t have time to read the first two books. But despite this I never felt confused as the author succinctly catches you up on past events, making it easy to read this as a standalone. That said, I will be buying and reading the other books in the series as I enjoyed this one so much. 

I also liked that the author utilises one of my favourite writing techniques in this book by having Alvie addressing the reader. This technique makes it feel like you’re listening to a friend, though none of my friends are killers. That I’m aware of anyway. 

Fast-paced, salacious and wickedly funny, this is an utterly brilliant book. If you enjoyed Sweetpea, then you’ll enjoy this. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮. 5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Chloé Esposito is from Cheltenham and now lives in London. She has a BA and MA in English from Oxford University, where her dissertation focused on 19th-century feminist writers. She has been a senior management consultant, an English teacher at two of the UK’s top private schools and a fashion stylist at Condé Nast. She is a graduate of the Faber Academy and is now writing full-time.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – October 2020

October is almost upon us, so it’s time for the books I’m most excited about being released. Thanks to October 1st having even more releases than Fiction the Third, this was another month that was difficult to decide, which is why I’m so late posting this month.

So, without further ado, here are my most anticipated books for October:

The Devil and the Dark Water by Sturart Turton

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Raven Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Occult Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A murder on the high seas. A detective duo. A demon who may or may not exist.

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported to Amsterdam to be executed for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent. But no sooner are they out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage.

A twice-dead leper stalks the decks. Strange symbols appear on the sails. Livestock is slaughtered. And then three passengers are marked for death, including Samuel. Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent can solve a mystery that connects every passenger onboard. A mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
As a big fan of historical fiction and mysteries, this synopsis sings to be. I’ve also heard great things about this author. I’m lucky to have a proof so will be diving in ASAP.
Pre-order here

People of Abandoned Character by Clare Whitfield

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Historical Mystery, Medical Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
He is my husband.
To honour and obey.
Until murder do us part.

London, 1888: Susannah rushes into marriage to a young and wealthy surgeon. After a passionate honeymoon, she returns home with her new husband wrapped around her little finger. But then everything changes. His behaviour becomes increasingly volatile and violent. He stays out all night, returning home bloodied and full of secrets.

Lonely and frustrated, Susannah starts following the gruesome reports of a spate of murders in Whitechapel. But as the killings continue, her mind takes her down the darkest path imaginable. Every time her husband stays out late, another victim is found dead.

Is it coincidence? Or is he the man they call Jack the Ripper?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Murder, one of my favourite historical eras, medical fiction and based on a true crime that’s one of the most enduring unsolved murder mysteries in history. This ticks all my boxes.
Pre-order here

The First Woman by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Oneworld
Genre: Fairy Tale, Coming-of-Age Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
For one young girl, discovering what it means to become a woman in a family, a community and a country determined to silence her will take all the courage she has.

Growing up in a small Ugandan village, Kirabo is surrounded by powerful women. Her grandmother, her aunts, her friends and cousins are all desperate for her to conform, but Kirabo is inquisitive, headstrong and determined. Up until now, she has been perfectly content with her life at the heart of this prosperous extended family, but as she enters her teenage years, she begins to feel the absence of the mother she has never known. The First Woman follows Kirabo on her journey to becoming a young woman and finding her place in the world, as her country is transformed by the bloody dictatorship of Idi Amin.

Jennifer Makumbi has written a sweeping tale of longing and rebellion, at once epic and deeply personal, steeped in an intoxicating mix of ancient Ugandan folklore and modern feminism, that will linger in the memory long after the final page.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The striking cover and fascinating synopsis made this an immediate addition to this list. I’ve been seeing great reviews for it too, so I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.
Pre-order here

Mother Mother by Jessica O’Dwyer

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Apprentice House Press
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A married couple in California grapples with race, betrayal, love, and loss when their son comes home from a Guatemalan orphanage. 

Contemporary art museum curator Julie Cowan achieves her dream of motherhood through adoption, but her life is far from perfect. Her pathologist husband, Mark, is distracted by his gorgeous, young intern, while her hotshot new museum director boss doubts Julie’s curatorial chops. And Julie’s six-year-old son, Jack (born Juan), may never recover from trauma inflicted by early life spent in a Guatemalan orphanage. 

Then Jack suffers a major health crisis, and everything pales next to saving his life. As much as Julie clings to being Jack’s “only” mother, she needs to find his Guatemalan mother to unlock his medical history. Julie hires a professional searcher, and what she learns turns her world upside down. At the same time, Jack’s birth mother, an indigenous Ixil Maya, navigates her own tumultuous path, beginning with surviving a horrific massacre. 

In this gripping tale told from alternating perspectives, both mothers must draw on fierce inner strength to reckon with their life choices.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This sounds like an emotional read and I was excited to see it was available to ‘read now’ on Netgalley. So of course I broke my self-imposed request ban to download it.
Pre-order here

The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Sumnerscale

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Biography, True Crime

SYNOPSIS:
London, 1938. In the suburbs of the city, an ordinary young housewife has become the eye in a storm of chaos.

In Alma Fielding’s modest home, china flies off the shelves, eggs fly through the air; stolen jewellery appears on her fingers, white mice crawl out of her handbag, beetles appear from under her gloves; in the middle of a car journey, a terrapin materialises on her lap.

Nandor Fodor – a Jewish-Hungarian refugee and chief ghost hunter for the International Institute for Psychical Research – reads of the case, and hastens to the scene of the haunting. But when Fodor starts his scrupulous investigation, he discovers that the case is even stranger than it seems.

By unravelling Alma’s peculiar history, he finds a different and darker type of haunting: trauma, alienation, loss – and the foreshadowing of a nation’s worst fears. As the spectre of Fascism lengthens over Europe, and as Fodor’s obsession with the case deepens, Alma becomes ever more disturbed.

With rigour, daring and insight, the award-winning pioneer of non-fiction writing Kate Summerscale shadows Fodor’s enquiry, delving into long-hidden archives to find the human story behind a very modern haunting.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
As I’ve already said, I love history and true stories, so this so this immediately jumped out at me.
Pre-order here

What Are You Going Through by Sigrid Nunez

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Virago
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A woman visits a friend who is dying of cancer. Brilliant and stubborn, her friend makes a momentous request. She wishes to end her life on her own terms – and she wants the narrator’s help. Stricken, she agrees. ‘I promise,’ says the friend, ‘to make it as much fun as possible.’

What follows is an extraordinary tale of a friendship put to the greatest test: to witness, unflinching, its end. It is also a portrait of the way we live now, in a world endlessly troubled by crises, and the dramatically changing nature of human relationships in our time.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
As someone living with chronic pain, the question of assisted dying is one that fascinates me. And the idea of examining that issue through not only the eyes of someone who wants to die, but the person they ask to help them, is one I knew I had to read.
Pre-order here.

The Silk House by Kayte Nunn

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Horror

SYNOPSIS:
Weaving. Witchcraft. Wonder.

Present day: Thea Rust arrives at an exclusive boarding school in the British countryside, only to find that she is not only having to look after the first intake of girls in its 150-year history, but that she is to stay with them in Silk House. A converted silk factory from the 18th century, where the shadows hide more mysteries than she could ever imagine…

1700s, Oxleigh: Leaving her village to work in the home of an English silk merchant Rowan Caswell finds herself thrust into a new and dangerous world, where she must hide her secret even more than ever before.

1700s, London: Mary-Louise Stephenson lives amid the clatter of the weaving trade and dreams of becoming a silk designer. Arriving in Oxleigh she brings with her a length of fabric woven with a pattern of deadly plants, that will have far-reaching consequences for all who dwell in the silk house.

Intoxicating, haunting and inspired by the author’s background, The Silk House is the exceptional new gothic mystery by Kayte Nunn.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This is another book that ticks so many of my favourite boxes. It also helps that I’ve been meaning to read a book by this author for a long time.
Pre-order here.

The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?

Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago.Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.
 
Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I loved Louise Jensen’s last novel so as soon as she announced this one I knew it would be on this list.
Pre-order here.

Mr. Cadmus by Peter Ackroyd

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Canongate
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
Two apparently harmless women reside in cottages one building apart in the idyllic English village of Little Camborne. Miss Finch and Miss Swallow, cousins, have put their pasts behind them and settled into conventional country life. But when a mysterious foreigner, Theodore Cadmus – from Caldera, a Mediterranean island nobody has heard of – moves into the middle cottage, the safe monotony of their lives is shattered.

The fates of the two cousins and Mr Cadmus, and those of Little Camborne and Caldera, become inextricably enmeshed. Long-hidden secrets and long-held grudges threaten to surface, drawing all into a vortex of subterfuge, theft, violence, mayhem . . . and murder.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ll admit, it was the gorgeous, purple cover that first caught my attention. But it is the synopsis that had made it one of my most anticipated reads. I’m a sucker for a mystery.
Pre-order here

Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Fairy Tale, Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart?

Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.
 
Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ve been seeing rave reviews for this online. And the combination of fairy tale and an exploration of how they are affected by trauma is intoxicating to me.
Pre-order here

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E Schwab

Published: October 6th, 2020
Publisher: Titan
Genre: Historical Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
For someone damned to be forgettable, Addie LaRue is a most delightfully unforgettable character, and her story is the most joyous evocation of unlikely immortality. Neil Gaiman
In the vein of The Time Traveler s Wife and Life After LifeThe Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is New York Times bestselling author V. E. Schwab s genre-defying tour de force.

When Addie La Rue makes a pact with the devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But there’s always a price – the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.

Addie flees her tiny home town in 18th-Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day.

Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him.

Until one day, in a second hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can’t escape her fate forever.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The synopsis of this book immediately piqued my interest; but it was when I saw the comparison to The Time Traveller’s Wife – one of my favourite books of all time – I knew I had to read it.
Pre-order here

The Perfect World of Miwako Sumida by Clarissa Goenawan

Published: October 8th, 2020
Publisher: Scribe
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A bewitching novel set in contemporary Japan about the mysterious suicide of a young woman.

Miwako Sumida is dead.

Now those closest to her try to piece together the fragments of her life. Ryusei, who has always loved her, follows Miwako’s trail to a remote Japanese village. Chie, Miwako’s best friend, was the only person to know her true identity ― but is now the time to reveal it? Meanwhile, Fumi, Ryusei’s sister, is harbouring her own haunting secret.

Together, they realise that the young woman they thought they knew had more going on behind her seemingly perfect façade than they could ever have dreamed.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’m guilty of another cover-love addition here. But, in my defence, it sounds like a fantastic story. I first saw this recommended on a friend’s Instagram stories and knew that if she loved it, so would I.
Pre-order here

A Time For Mercy by John Grisham

Published: October 13th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Legal Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
CAN A KILLER EVER BE ABOVE THE LAW?

Deputy Stuart Kofer is a protected man. Though he’s turned his drunken rages on his girlfriend, Josie, and her children many times before, the police code of silence has always shielded him.

But one night he goes too far, leaving Josie for dead on the floor before passing out. Her son, sixteen-year-old Drew, knows he only has this one chance to save them. He picks up a gun and takes the law into his own hands.

In Clanton, Mississippi, there is no one more hated than a cop killer – but a cop killer’s defence lawyer comes close. Jake Brigance doesn’t want this impossible case but he’s the only one with enough experience to defend the boy.

As the trial begins, it seems there is only one outcome: the gas chamber for Drew. But, as the town of Clanton discovers once again, when Jake Brigance takes on an impossible case, anything is possible.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
John Grisham is one of my favourite authors. I’ve loved his book ever since I read A Time To Kill, my favourite of the many he’s written, over two decades ago. So as soon as the author announced a follow up it became one of my most anticipated books this year.
Pre-order here.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

Published: October 13th, 2020
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Alternative Fiction, Occult Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the three Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters must delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Gorgeous cover ✔️ Historical Fiction ✔️ Creepy ✔️ This sounds like just the kind of book I will love and a perfect Autumn read.
Pre-order here.

The Nesting by CJ Cooke

Published: October 15th, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollinsUK
Genre: Fairy Tale, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Horror Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
It was like something out of a fairytale…
The grieving widower.
The motherless daughters.
A beautiful house in the woods.

Deep in a remote Norwegian forest, Lexi has found a new home with architect Tom and his two young daughters. With snow underfoot and the sound of the nearby fjord in her ears, it’s as if Lexi has stepped into a fairy tale

But this family has a history – and this place has a past. Something was destroyed to build their beautiful new house. And those ancient, whispering woods have a long memory.

Lexi begins to hear things, see things that don’t make sense. She used to think this place heavenly, but in the dark, dark woods, a menacing presence lurks.

With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care.

But protect them from what?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Again, this has so many elements I love. I’m lucky to be on the blog tour for this one. My review will be posted on October 26th.
Pre-order here.

Ghosts by Dolly Alderton

Published: October 15th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Nina Dean has arrived at her early thirties as a successful food writer with loving friends and family, plus a new home and neighbourhood. When she meets Max, a beguiling romantic hero who tells her on date one that he’s going to marry her, it feels like all is going to plan.

A new relationship couldn’t have come at a better time – her thirties have not been the liberating, uncomplicated experience she was sold. Everywhere she turns, she is reminded of time passing and opportunities dwindling. Friendships are fading, ex-boyfriends are moving on and, worse, everyone’s moving to the suburbs. There’s no solace to be found in her family, with a mum who’s caught in a baffling mid-life makeover and a beloved dad who is vanishing in slow-motion into dementia.

Dolly Alderton’s debut novel is funny and tender, filled with whip-smart observations about relationships, family, memory, and how we live now.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Dolly Alderson is an author I’ve seen all over bookstagram, and her first fiction novel sounds like a great, lighthearted read.
Pre-order here.

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

Published: October 20th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are now?

Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully.

But when the plane she’s on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago – when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved.

Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to – but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain.

As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she’s never truly asked: What does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us?

Two possible futures. One impossible choice.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’m a total Jodi fan-girl and anything she publishes is one of my most anticipated books of that year. I’m taking part in a Tandem Collective readalong for this one, which begins on October 6th.
Pre-order here.

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

Published: October 29th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past – but she knows that she is loved.

When her father finds fame with a series of children’s books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.

But as time passes, Romilly’s father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.

In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages…

The truth.

The Illustrated Child is the unforgettable, beguiling debut from Polly Crosby.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I first heard about this book early this year and it instantly became one I was desperate to read. I’ve unsuccessfully tried to get my hands on a proof but was accepted on the blog tour, so I’ll finally be reading it soon. My review will be published on October 27th.
Pre-order here.

One August Night by Victioria Hislop

Published: October 29th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
25th August 1957. The island of Spinalonga closes its leper colony. And a moment of violence has devastating consequences.

When time stops dead for Maria Petrakis and her sister, Anna, two families splinter apart and, for the people of Plaka, the closure of Spinalonga is forever coloured with tragedy.

In the aftermath, the question of how to resume life looms large. Stigma and scandal need to be confronted and somehow, for those impacted, a future built from the ruins of the past.

Number one bestselling author Victoria Hislop returns to the world and characters she created in The Island – the award-winning novel that remains one of the biggest selling reading group novels of the century. It is finally time to be reunited with Anna, Maria, Manolis and Andreas in the weeks leading up to the evacuation of the island… and beyond.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I only heard about this book a few weeks ago (I know, I must have been living under a rock) and I immediately added it to this list. The Island is a book I fell in love with when I read it many years ago and I can’t wait to see where the author takes the story next.
Pre-order here.

Starve Acre by Andrew Muchael Hurley

Published: October 29th, 2020
Publisher: John Murray Press
Genre: FaHorror, Ghost Story

SYNOPSIS:
The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place.

Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.

Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This sounds like a fantastic and haunting read. I’ve also heard great things about this author and I’m excited to read his work for myself.
Pre-order here

Are any of these on your tbr or wishlist? What book out next month are you most looking forward to?

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

He Started It by Samantha Downing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Thank you to Sryia at Michael Joseph Books for the invitation to take part and the & gifted copy of the novel .

SYNOPSIS:

This is a story about three siblings. Like any family, sometimes they don’t get along.

It’s a story about a secret that they’ve all kept since they were children.

It’s a story about lying. A story about murder.

It’s a story where only one can win.

MY REVIEW:

Dark, twisty and smouldering with tension, nothing is as it seems in this spectacular thriller.

Lured by the promise of inheriting life-changing wealth, siblings Beth, Eddie and Portia are reluctantly recreating the road trip they took with their Grandpa twenty years ago. Things happened on that first trip that they have never discussed again, not even amongst themselves, the memories tormenting them as they retrace their journey. And when they realise they are being followed, the siblings begin to wonder if this trip will end just like the first, or if this time they will manage to emerge unscathed…

Wow! Samantha Downing has done it again. Her debut, My Lovely Wife, was one of my favourite books of 2019 so I was eagerly anticipating this follow up and hoping that lightning would strike the same place twice. Thankfully it did. The story is cleverly crafted, deftly plotted and expertly written and I was utterly transfixed from start to finish. With her singular style, Downing has created another masterpiece and secured her place as one of the most talented thriller writers out there. The story is cleverly crafted, deftly plotted and expertly written and I was utterly transfixed from the first pages. With her singular style, Downing has created another masterpiece and secured her place as one of the most talented thriller writers out there. 

The Morgan family are a family held together by gossamer threads and haunted by the ghosts of twenty years ago. They are fractured, troubled, well-written characters who are each full of secrets and their own hidden agendas for agreeing to this road trip, besides the money of course. The narrator, Beth, tells the reader from the start she’s no heroine, giving us a small hint of the turbulence to come as the layers of her character are slowly peeled away. 

He Started It left me reeling, I did not see that ending coming at all and was left with my jaw on the floor. An absolute tour de force, this is a thriller you don’t want to miss. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Downing is the author of the Edgar Award-nominated novel My Lovely Wife. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel.

Her next book is called He Started It and will be released in 2020. She currently lives in New Orleans, where she is furiously typing away on her next novel.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon
Waterstones
Book Depository
Google Play
Apple Books
Kobo

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Uncategorised

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – April 2020

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I am finally posting my most anticipated books being released in April. Sorry it is so late. As a lot of you know I haven’t been well and am only just getting back into reading and posting online.

2020 seems to be one great month after another, and April just proves this point. Let me know what you think of my choices and which ones you’re most looking forward to in the comments.

Strangers by C.L.Taylor
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Noir Fiction, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.

Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.
Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.
And Alice is being stalked.

None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.

Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.

 

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Century
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
A lifetime of love. Six months of silence. One last chance.

Frank hasn’t spoken to his wife Maggie for six months.

For weeks they have lived under the same roof, slept in the same bed and eaten at the same table – all without words.

Maggie has plenty of ideas as to why her husband has gone quiet, but it will take another heartbreaking turn of events before Frank finally starts to unravel the secrets that have silenced him.

Is this where their story ends?
Or is it where it begins?

With characters that will capture your heart, THE SILENT TREATMENT celebrates the phenomenal power of love and the importance of leaving nothing unsaid.

 

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Six strangers with one universal thing in common: their lives aren’t always what they make them out to be.

What would happen if they told the truth instead?

Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.

Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story.

Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely.

A story about connection, community, and the kindness of strangers.

 

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Zaffre
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
‘You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved . . .’

Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.

Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.

Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.

Murder, revenge, retribution.

How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?

 

The Secret Admirer by Carol Wyer (Detective Natalie Ward 6)
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Thriller
SYNOPSIS:
‘I tried to talk to you today but you snubbed me and walked away. It wasn’t wise to give me the brush-off, Gemma. I can be a truly good friend but I also make the perfect enemy.’

Sasha’s eighteen-year-old daughter Gemma was all she had in the world. Sasha fell pregnant with Gemma when she was still at school, and the two are as close as sisters. So when Gemma’s burned and broken body is found, Sasha’s world ends. What kind of person would want her beautiful daughter dead?

Leading the case is Detective Natalie Ward, scarred by her own recent tragedy. When she finds a note in Gemma’s diary from ‘a secret admirer’, she moves quickly, determined to un-mask them. But interviews with Gemma’s devastated ex-boyfriend, and her charismatic teacher, who has been seen embracing his student far away from the classroom, don’t give Natalie the answers she’d hoped for…

And then the case takes a devastating, personal twist. CCTV footage reveals Natalie’s estranged husband David followed Gemma home every evening the week before she died.

Natalie is forced to put personal feelings aside and follow procedure, even though she can’t believe David could be guilty. But when Gemma’s housemate is found murdered, Natalie thinks the killer could still be at large. Is she right to trust her instincts about David and can she discover the truth before another precious life is taken?

 

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.

As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why is Felicity silent?

Roaming Oxford’s secret passages and hidden graveyards, Magpie Lane explores the true meaning of family – and what it is to be denied one.

 

The Switch by Beth O’Leary
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Published: April 16th, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Fiction, Romance
SYNOPSIS:
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

 

I Am Dust by Louise Beech
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Published: April 16th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror, Psychological Fiction, Fairytale
SYNOPSIS:
When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast, in a bewitching, beguiling, moving and terrifyingly dark psychological thriller…

 

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
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Published: April 21st, 2020
Publisher: Tinder Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
An extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from the celebrated number one New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings

‘I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.’

In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman called Ana.

Ana is a rebellious young woman, a gifted writer with a curious, brilliant mind, who writes secret narratives about the neglected and silenced women around her. Raised in a wealthy family in Galilee, she is sheltered from the brutality of Rome’s occupation of Israel. Ana is expected to marry an elderly widower to further her father’s ambitions, a prospect that horrifies her. A chance encounter with the eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything: his ideas and his passion are intoxicating.

Taking Ana on a journey she could never have imagined, The Book of Longings is a glorious evocation of a time and a place where astounding events unfolded, and of one woman’s fate when she fights to make her voice heard.

 

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Vincent is the beautiful bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: ‘Why don’t you swallow broken glass.’ Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.

Weaving together the lives of these characters, Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the towers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of remote British Columbia, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

 

The Split by Sharon Bolton
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
 SHE’S GOT NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE.

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

It was her only way to escape.

AND NOW HE’S COMING FOR HER.

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

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

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

 

He Started It by Samantha Downing
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense
SYNOPSIS:
This is a story about three siblings. Like any family, sometimes they don’t get along.

It’s a story about a secret that they’ve all kept since they were children.

It’s a story about lying. A story about murder.

It’s a story where only one can win.

 

Q by Christina Dalcher
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Thriller, Fantasy, Fairytale
SYNOPSIS:
Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s new elite schools. Her daughters are exactly like her: beautiful, ambitious, and perfect. A good thing, since the recent mandate that’s swept the country is all about perfection.

Now everyone must undergo routine tests for their quotient, Q, and any children who don’t measure up are placed into new government schools. Instead, teachers can focus on the gifted.

Elena tells herself it’s not about eugenics, not really, but when one of her daughters scores lower than expected and is taken away, she intentionally fails her own test to go with her.

But what Elena discovers is far more terrifying than she ever imagined…

 

The Silence by Susan Allott
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: The Borough Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, phoning from Sydney.

30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. At the time, it was thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.

Reluctantly, Isla goes back to Australia for the first time in a decade. The return to Sydney will plunge her deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side. Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England ― a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life. Next door, Steve and Mandy are equally troubled. Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve ― a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job ― is desperate to become a father.

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns: about both young couples and the secrets each marriage bore. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

Deftly exploring the deterioration of relationships and the devastating truths we keep from those we love, The Silence is a stunning debut from a rising literary star.

 

Would Like To Meet by Rachel Winters
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Trapeze
Genre: Romance, Humourous Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Long-suffering assistant Evie Summers will lose her job unless she can convince her film agency’s biggest and most difficult client, Ezra Chester, to finish the script for a Hollywood romcom. The catch? He hasn’t started writing it.

Suffering from ‘writer’s block,’ he will only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. Forget internet dating, Evie can only meet a man the way that Sally met Harry, or Hugh Grant meets anyone. Cue her entering into one ridiculous romcom scenario after another. But can life ever be like the movies?

Of course, real life is never that straightforward . . .

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Little Friends by Jane Shemilt ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Domestic Fiction, Suspense, Crime Fiction

Thank you to Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

Their children are friends first. They hit it off immediately, as kids do. And so the parents are forced to get to know each other. Three wildly different couples. Three marriages, floundering.

There are barbecues, dinner parties, a holiday in Greece. An affair begins, resentments flare, and despite it all the three women become closer.

Unnoticed, their children run wild. The couples are so busy watching each other that they forget to watch their children.

Until tragedy strikes.

Because while they have been looking the other way, evil has crept into their safe little world and every parent’s biggest nightmare is about to come true…

MY REVIEW:

“I used to think truth was a simple thing. That there could only be one truth, single and essential – like light, say, or water. Now I know it comes in layers, some more transparent than others. If you look carefully – and we didn’t – you can see through the top layer to the darkness beneath…”

The lives of three families entwine with devastating consequences in this readable novel.

When Eve begins private tuition for children with dyslexia, Melissa and Grace sign their children up. Over the course of the summer, the families become friends: having barbecues and even going on holiday together. But the smiles and laughter are hiding three marriages in trouble and the adults are so busy with their own problems that they fail to notice the fear in their children and the evil lurking in their midst. Secrets are slowly revealed amid tragedy and heartbreak, leaving the three families shattered and their lives irrevocably changed.

Jane Shemilt is an author who’s been on my radar for a while but I’ve never got around to reading so I jumped at the chance to take part in this blog tour. The writing is subdued, affecting and compelling, starting slow before reaching a steady pace and then ramping up the tension as we approach the finale. The characters are deftly drawn and distinct, so that the reader never gets lost despite the multiple points of view. Eve, Melissa and Grace are each hiding marital problems and insecurities, putting on a mask in front of the others. There husbands feature prominently but it is only the women who narrate the story. We are only given small glimpses of the children’s perspectives, but they have a big impact. I did predict most of the twists but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book or the tension as I anticipated them being discovered. 

The two characters that I was drawn to most of all were mother and daughter Melissa and Izzy. It was obvious to me immediately that Melissa was in an abusive marriage, with red flags flashing loudly about her husband Paul and their relationship. Maybe it is my own history of such a relationship that made me feel so drawn to her, but I spent the book hoping she’d find the strength to finally leave and find safety away from the private hell of her marriage. Izzy is the rebel; the one who leads the other children and embroils them in games they don’t want to play. She also notices everything and seems keen to stir up trouble. I didn’t like Izzy but I felt sorry for her as I believed some of her issues could be down to living in a house with an abusive father. The dynamic between her and Melissa was sad and it seemed she needed some tough love rather than being indulged like she was by both parents. 

Little Friends is an intricate, raw and tragic story about families and dark secrets. It is a reminder of how evil can lurk in the most unexpected places and wearing surprising disguises, just waiting to tear lives apart. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

While working as a GP, Jane Shemilt completed a postgraduate diploma in Creative Writing at Bristol University and went on to study for the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa, gaining both with distinction. Her first novel, Daughter, was selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club, shortlisted for the Edgar Award and the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, and went on to become the bestselling debut novel of 2014. She and her husband, a professor of neurosurgery, have five children and live in Bristol.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Little Friends Blog Tour

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Saturdays at Noon by Rachel Marks ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this lovely debut. Thank you to Michael Joseph Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Emily just wants to keep the world away.

After getting into trouble yet again, she’s agreed to attend anger management classes. But she refuses to share her deepest secrets with a room full of strangers.

Jake just wants to keep his family together.

He’ll do anything to save his marriage and bond with his six-year-old son, Alfie. But when he’s paired with spiky Emily, he wonders whether opening up will do more harm than good.

The two of them couldn’t be more different. Yet when Alfie, who never likes strangers, meets Emily, something extraordinary happens.

Could one small boy change everything?

MY REVIEW:

In this wonderful debut, the author draws on personal experiences with her own son to shine a light on one of the lesser-known conditions on the autistic spectrum. It is a story about love in its many forms, about self-discovery, and how sometimes it takes an outsider to make you see what’s right in front of you. 

Emily and Jake clash from the moment they meet at anger management. Jake is a stay-at-home dad who’s overwhelmed by his son’s behavioural problems and is attending the course to try and save his rocky marriage. Emily is a spiky young girl who says only that she doesn’t belong there. Unlike his father, Emily finds herself drawn to six-year-old Alfie; there’s something about him that cries out to her. And to Jake’s dismay, Alfie feels the same way. When his wife leaves Jake gives in to Alfie’s demands that Emily be his nanny, the pair forming a reluctant acquaintance to keep him happy and find that they start to see the world, and each other, differently; slowly peeling away the layers to reveal their true selves and accepting parts of themselves they’ve been ashamed of for so long.

This warm, tender and nuanced story started slowly but soon took up residence in my heart, just as Alfie does with Emily. I was fully immersed and invested in their world thanks to the author’s deft, witty and truthful prose. And while the story did follow a somewhat prescribed and predictable track in places, it also felt organic and real, coming second to the more gritty storylines that dominate the book and make it stand out from your stereotypical love story. 

While Emily and Jake are great characters that are richly developed, Alfie is undeniably the star of the show. He’s not an easy kid to take care of, and my heart went out to Jake as he battled with his son every single day over the smallest thing. As outsiders it can be so easy to judge, but living in a situation is very different and wears a person down, no matter how much you love your child. The author ensures that the reader never doubts Jake’s fierce love for his son, even in the darkest moments, and expertly portrays the anguish and pain that they both feel. No parent is perfect but it can be hard to see the wood for the trees and accept what they think is right isn’t always best for their child (goodness knows I’m terrible at this), but it takes Emily’s fresh observations and ideas for Jake to really see his son for the first time. It’s like she breaks away the clouds that were hiding him from view. Alfie’s chapters were heartbreaking to read but they finally give him the voice he feels unable to use. Reading the torment and confusion he’s going through made me want to wrap my arms around him and tell him it will all be ok. For me these were the most poignant parts of the book.

I’m a sucker for a happy ending so I really wanted Jake, Emily and Alfie to overcome their obstacles and live happily ever after. Did they? I’m not telling. You’ll have to read the book to find out. And I highly recommend that you do. Saturdays at Noon is a beautiful and thought-provoking story, and you’ll find Alfie and the lessons we learn from him stay with you even after you close the book. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Marks studied English at Exeter University before becoming a primary school teacher. After having her first son, she decided to focus mainly on being a mum, teaching one day a week and nurturing her creative side by starting a small photography business.

Despite always loving to write, it wasn’t until she gained a place on the 2016 Curtis Brown Creative online novel writing course that she started to believe it could be anything more than just a much-loved hobby. Her inspiration for her first novel came from the challenges she faced with her eldest son, testing and fascinating in equal measure. When she discovered Pathological Demand Avoidance, a poorly understood Autism Spectrum Disorder, she could finally make sense of her son’s behavior, and the idea for the first novel fell into place.

When not writing, she loves dragging her husband and two boys around Europe to off-the-beaten track and sometimes sub zero destinations, snowboarding and sightseeing, the kind of trips that would undeniably be easier without children but only half the adventure…

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Saturdays at Noon Blog Tour (1)

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book reviews

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Publisher: Penguin UK
Published: January 9th, 2020
Format: Hardcover, Kindle.
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:

Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.

It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.

It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.

It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption

MY REVIEW:

Ms. Lupton, you’ve broken me. This has got to be one of, if not the most, emotionally fraught books I’ve ever read. It has seeped into my soul. 

From the first page we jump into the action as headteacher Matthew Marr is shot by a masked gunman stalking the halls of his school. The story then follows the stories of staff, students, parents and police, that play out simultaneously over the 108 minutes that the school is at their mercy. The writing is evocative, alluring, and almost lyrical; barely a word is wasted as you’re drawn into the living nightmare so vividly that I found myself actually holding my breath.  

As a mother, this story is one of my worst nightmares; I can not begin to imagine the terror of having one of my children held hostage by gunmen, and pray I never have to. The author pulled me in, immersing me in the story and making me feel the characters’ terror. I saw myself in the frightened mother and the police woman, saw those who’ve taught my children in the teachers, and, most gut-wrenching of all, I saw my children in the students.

While at first glance this is a book about a school shooting, it is actually so much more. It is a multilayered novel that is also a statement on our political landscape and the hate culture being fostered by racists and extremists on both sides. The author also explores what drives the to commit such atrocities. How are they driven to violence, destruction and revenge?  And how do they mask that hatred so the people around them never see it? She shows the harsh truths of these incidents, such as some people immediately pointing the finger of suspicion at the two refugee Muslim students and how, when the identities of the gunmen are revealed, they are seen as less than human and blame is put upon their parents for not doing their job right. She helps break down these stigmas and shows the beating heart behind those who some can be so quick to dehumanise. She also reminds us it is not only “bad” parents whose children commit evil acts and they are usually as shocked and distraught by what their child has done as everybody else.

But this isn’t a maudlin book, it is also incredibly uplifting at times as we are shown examples of astounding bravery, selflessness and sacrifice despite their fear. The very best of humanity versus the very worst. A reminder that there is more good in the world than bad, and what extraordinary things we can do when pushed to our limits and those we love are in danger. 

I was left with a major book hangover after finishing this powerful masterpiece and cannot recommend it highly enough. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. It is a breathtaking, intense, harrowing, moving and exceptional novel. I included Three Hours in #EmmasAnticipatedTreasure for January and it more than deserves not only it’s place there, but every bit of the hype it’s generating right now. Don’t miss what I think will be one of the best books of the year.

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin UK for the eBook of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

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Emma’s Anticipated Treasures: January 2020

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There are far too many books I’m excited about this year to create a top ten most anticipated, so I’ve decided instead to start writing a post of my most anticipated books each month and start the hashtag #EmmasAnticipatedTreasures

This month I’m doing this a little late and there is a book that would have been on this list, except I read it last month. The 24-Hour Cafe by Libby Page is a delightful novel that I devoured quickly. It is released on January 23rd, along with most of the books on this list. It’s going to be an expensive, but amazing, year for books.

THE DILEMMA by B. A Paris

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Published: January 9th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
It’s Livia’s 40th birthday and she’s having the party of a lifetime to make up for the wedding she never had. Everyone she loves will be there except her daughter Marnie, who’s studying abroad. But although Livia loves Marnie, she’s secretly glad she won’t be at the party. She needs to tell Adam something about their daughter but she’s waiting until the part is over so they can have this last happy time together.

Adam wants everything to be perfect for Livia so he’s secretly arranged for Marnie to come home and surprise her on her birthday. During the day, he hears some terrible news. He needs to tell Livia, because how can the party go on? But she’s so happy, so excited – and the guests are about to arrive.

The Dilemma – how far would you go to give someone you love a last few hours of happiness?

 

THREE HOURS by Rosamund Lupton

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Published: January 9th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
Three hours is 180 minutes or 10,800 seconds.
It is a morning’s lessons, a dress rehearsal of Macbeth, a snowy trek through the woods.
It is an eternity waiting for news. Or a countdown to something terrible.
It is 180 minutes to discover who you will die for and what men will kill for.

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Told from the point of view of the people at the heart of it, from the wounded headmaster in the library, unable to help his trapped pupils and staff, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the parents gathering desperate for news, to the 16 year old Syrian refugee trying to rescue his little brother, to the police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the students taking refuge in the school theatre, all experience the most intense hours of their lives, where evil and terror are met by courage, love and redemption.

 

MR. NOBODY  by Catherine Steadman

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Published: January 9th, 2020
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Psychological thriller, mystery, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
When a man is found on a Norfolk beach, drifting in and out of consciousness, with no identification and unable to speak, interest in him is sparked immediately. From the hospital staff who find themselves inexplicably drawn to him; to international medical experts who are baffled by him; to the national press who call him Mr Nobody; everyone wants answers. Who is this man? And what happened to him?

Neuropsychiatrist Dr Emma Lewis is asked to assess the patient. This is her field of expertise, this is the chance she’s been waiting for and this case could make her name known across the world. But therein lies the danger. Emma left this same small town in Norfolk fourteen years ago and has taken great pains to cover all traces of her past since then.

But now something – or someone – is calling her back. And the more time she spends with her patient, the more alarmed she becomes.

Has she walked into danger?

 

NINE ELMS by Robert Bryndza

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Published: January 9th, 2020

Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Psychological thriller, crime fiction, suspense, police procedural.

SYNOPSIS:
From the breakthrough international bestselling author of The Girl in the Ice, a breathtaking, page-turning novel about a disgraced female detective’s fight for redemption. And survival.

Kate Marshall was a promising young police detective when she caught the notorious Nine Elms serial killer. But her greatest victory suddenly became a nightmare.
Fifteen years after those catastrophic, career-ending events, a copycat killer has taken up the Nine Elms mantle, continuing the ghastly work of his idol.

Enlisting her brilliant research assistant, Tristan Harper, Kate draws on her prodigious and long-neglected skills as an investigator to catch a new monster. But there’s much more than her reputation on the line: Kate was the original killer’s intended fifth victim . . . and his successor means to finish the job.

 

AMERICAN DIRT by Jeannie Cummins

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Published: January 21st, 2020
Publisher: Tinder Press
Genre: Suspense

SYNOPSIS:
FEAR KEEPS THEM RUNNING. HOPE KEEPS THEM ALIVE.
Vivid, visceral, utterly compelling, AMERICAN DIRT is the first novel to explore the experience of attempting to illegally cross the US-Mexico border. Described as ‘a life-affirming triumph’ (Independent) and ‘essential reading’ (Tracy Chevalier), it is a story that will leave you utterly changed.

Yesterday, Lydia had a bookshop.
Yesterday, Lydia was married to a journalist.
Yesterday, she was with everyone she loved most in the world.
Today, her eight-year-old son Luca is all she has left.
For him, she will carry a machete strapped to her leg.
For him, she will leap onto the roof of a high speed train.
For him, she will find the strength to keep running.

 

HAVEN’T THEY GROWN by Sophie Hannah

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense, crime fiction, police procedural.

SYNOPSIS:
All Beth has to do is drive her son to his Under-14s away match, watch him play, and bring him home.

Just because she knows that her former best friend lives near the football ground, that doesn’t mean she has to drive past her house and try to catch a glimpse of her. Why would Beth do that, and risk dredging up painful memories? She hasn’t seen Flora Braid for twelve years.

But she can’t resist. She parks outside Flora’s house and watches from across the road as Flora and her children, Thomas and Emily, step out of the car. Except…

There’s something terribly wrong.

Flora looks the same, only older – just as Beth would have expected. It’s the children that are the problem. Twelve years ago, Thomas and Emily Braid were five and three years old. Today, they look precisely as they did then. They are still five and three. They are Thomas and Emily without a doubt – Beth hears Flora call them by their names – but they haven’t changed at all.

They are no taller, no older.

Why haven’t they grown?

 

THE OTHER PEOPLE by C. J. Tudor

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense.

SYNOPSIS:
She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room…
Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice . . .

 

PINE by Francine Toon

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Ghost story, horror

SYNOPSIS:
They are driving home from the search party when they see her. The trees are coarse and tall in the winter light, standing like men.

Lauren and her father Niall live alone in the Highlands, in a small village surrounded by pine forest. When a woman stumbles out onto the road one Halloween night, Niall drives her back to their house in his pickup. In the morning, she’s gone.

In a community where daughters rebel, men quietly rage, and drinking is a means of forgetting, mysteries like these are not out of the ordinary. The trapper found hanging with the dead animals for two weeks. Locked doors and stone circles. The disappearance of Lauren’s mother a decade ago.

Lauren looks for answers in her tarot cards, hoping she might one day be able to read her father’s turbulent mind. Neighbours know more than they let on, but when local teenager Ann-Marie goes missing it’s no longer clear who she can trust.

In the shadow of the Highland forest, Francine Toon captures the wildness of rural childhood and the intensity of small-town claustrophobia. In a place that can feel like the edge of the word, she unites the chill of the modern gothic with the pulse of a thriller. It is the perfect novel for our haunted times.

 

LITTLE BANDAGED DAYS by Kyra Wilder

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A mother moves to Geneva with her husband and their two young children. In their beautiful new rented apartment, surrounded by their rented furniture, and several Swiss instructions to maintain quiet, she finds herself totally isolated. Her husband’s job means he is almost never present, and her entire world is caring for her children – making sure they are happy, and fed and comfortable, and that they can be seen as the happy, well-fed, comfortable family they should be. Everything is perfect.
But, of course, it’s not. The isolation, the sleeplessness, the demands of two people under two, are getting to Erika. She has never been so alone, and once the children are asleep, there are just too many hours to fill until morning…

Kyra Wilder’s Little Bandaged Days is a beautifully written, painfully claustrophobic story about a woman’s descent into madness. Unpredictable, frighteningly compelling and brutally honest, it grapples with the harsh conditions of motherhood and this mother’s own identity, and as the novel continues, we begin to wonder just what exactly Erika might be driven to do.

 

OUR FATHERS by Rebecca Wait

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Riverrun
Genre: Literary fiction

SYNOPSIS:
What kind of man kills his own family?
When Tom was eight years old, his father took a shotgun and shot his family: his wife, his son and baby daughter, before turning the gun on himself. Only Tom survived.
He left his tiny, shocked community on the island of Litta and the strained silence of his Uncle Malcolm’s house while still a young boy. For twenty years he’s tried to escape his past. Until now.

Without knowing how to ask, he needs answers – from his uncle, who should have known. From his neighbours, who think his father a decent man who ‘just snapped’. From the memories that haunt the wild landscape of the Hebrides.

And from the silent ones who know more about what happened – and why – than they have ever dared admit.

By turns gripping, beautiful, devastating and tender, Our Fathers is a story about violence and redemption, control and love. With understated compassion and humour, Rebecca Wait gives a voice to the silenced and to the silences between men of few words.

 

MIX TAPE by Jane Sanderson

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Romance, contemporary

SYNOPSIS
You never forget the one that got away. But what if ‘what could have been’ is yet to come?

Daniel was the first boy to make Alison a mix tape.

But that was years ago and Ali hasn’t thought about him in a very long time. Even if she had, she might not have called him ‘the one that got away’; after all, she’d been the one to run.

Then Dan’s name pops up on her phone, with a link to a song from their shared past.

For two blissful minutes, Alison is no longer an adult in Adelaide with temperamental daughters; she is sixteen in Sheffield, dancing in her skin-tight jeans. She cannot help but respond in kind.

And so begins a new mix tape.

Ali and Dan exchange songs – some new, some old – across oceans and time zones, across a lifetime of different experiences, until one of them breaks the rules and sends a message that will change everything…

Because what if ‘what could have been’ is yet to come?

 

THE WOODS by Vanessa Savage

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Published: January 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Psychological thriller, suspense, crime fiction.

SYNOPSIS:
There’s a lot from Tess’s childhood that she would rather forget. The family who moved next door and brought chaos to their quiet lives. The two local girls who were murdered, their killer never found. In fact, the only thing she can’t remember is the one thing she wishes she could.

Ten years ago, Tess’s older sister died. Ruled a tragic accident, the only witness was Tess herself, but she has never been able to remember what happened that night in the woods.

Now living in London, Tess has resolved to put the trauma behind her. But when an emergency call from her father forces her back to the family home, Tess discovers that, sometimes, the past cannot be laid to rest . . .

 

ADULTS by Emma Jane Unsworth

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Published: January 30th, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Genre: General fiction, humour.

SYNOPSIS:
Jenny is unloved, unemployable and emotionally unfiltered. Her long-suffering friends seem sick of her and whilst her social media portrays her life as a bed of roses, it is more of a dying succulent.

Adults is what you want it to be. A misadventure of maturity, a satire on our age of self-promotion, a tender look at the impossibility of womanhood, a love story, a riot. And Emma Jane Unsworth is the only voice to hear it from. Adults is excruciating, a gut punch of hilarity and a book laden with truth that you will read again and again.

Jenny is unloved, unemployable and emotionally unfiltered. Her long-suffering friends seem sick of her and whilst her social media portrays her life as a bed of roses, it is more of a dying succulent.

Adults is what you want it to be. A misadventure of maturity, a satire on our age of self-promotion, a tender look at the impossibility of womanhood, a love story, a riot. And Emma Jane Unsworth is the only voice to hear it from. Adults is excruciating, a gut punch. of hilarity and a book laden with truth that you will read again and again.

 

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book reviews

Review: The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

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SYNOPSIS:

THE DEUBUT NOVEL FROM THE CREATOR AND WRITER OF HIT TV SHOW THE KILLLING.

As the leaves fall, he’s coming for you…

One October morning in a quiet suburb, the police make a terrible discovery.

A young woman is found brutally murdered with one of her hands missing.

Above her hangs a small doll made of chestnuts.

Examining the doll, Forensics are shocked to find a fingerprint belonging to a young girl, kidnapped and murdered a year ago.

Can a new killer be the key to an old crime?

And will his spree be over when winter arrives – or is he just getting started?

MY REVIEW: 

A chilling, grisly, haunting book that’s brimming with tension, The Chestnut Man is the perfect autumn read. From the opening pages there’s a malevolent atmosphere, like evil is lurking in the shadows just waiting to strike. 

A young mother is found in the children’s playground behind her garden. She’s been savagely tortured, mutilated and murdered while her son slept inside unaware of the horror. It’s like nothing the officers investigating have ever seen before. And there, hanging on a beam above the playhouse, is a chestnut doll that contains a clue with links to the kidnapping and murder of a 12-year-old girl last year that was thought to be solved. 

When another young mother is killed in a similar way, the same chestnut doll at the scene, it becomes clear they are in pursuit of a sadistic killer who’s only just getting started. Now, the urgent chase is on to identify and stop him before more lives are taken – and to discover his connection to the year old murder case.

Not for the faint hearted, this was a warped, gruesome, eerie and riveting thriller. Complex and layered, the writing is sharp and atmospheric with nail-biting tension throughout. I found it impossible to predict and loved how the author slowly strung the pieces together to create the startling final picture. Its starts strong, with the grisly back-to-back murders that had my heart pounding, and I breathed a sigh of relief when there was a pause in them for a while. It felt a little slow in the middle and I did begin to wonder if focusing on so many different characters was a mistake, but he soon pulled it back together and had me on the edge of my seat.

The Chestnut Man is an outstanding debut and I can’t wait to see what the author writes next. 

Out now.