Published: August 12th, 2021 Publisher: Viking Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Political Fiction Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the tour for this powerful debut. Thank you to Viking for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
‘Rebellion?’ The word is a spark. They can start a fire with it, or smother it in their fingertips. She chooses to start a fire.
You are born high, but marry a traitor’s son. You bear him twelve children, carry his cause and bury his past.
You play the game, against enemies who wish you ashes. Slowly, you rise.
You are Cecily.
But when the king who governs you proves unfit, what then?
Loyalty or treason – death may follow both. The board is set. Time to make your first move.
Told through the eyes of its greatest unknown protagonist, this astonishing debut plunges you into the closed bedchambers and bloody battlefields of the first days of the Wars of the Roses, a war as women fight it.
‘Rebellion?’ The word is a spark. They could light a fire with it, or smother it now in their fingertips. She chooses to start a fire.
Cecily was my 100th read of the year and one of my most anticipated books. I was drawn to it not only by the synopsis, but by its striking cover. But lying beneath that bright, luring jacket, is a dark, grim and savagestory. The author pulls you in immediately, opening the book with the burning at the stake of Joan of Arc, a shocking and atmospheric scene that feels like it’s setting the tone for what is to come.
This is the story of the Wars of the Roses through the eyes of the women who fought from the shadows. It was a brutal time. A time where power is won by blood and playing the game well is the difference between life and death. A cutthroat and ruthless time when your best friend today could be your enemy tomorrow. It is meticulously researched and beautifully written, transporting you back to a time when women were often forgotten and discounted, when they had to use the voices of men to be heard. And without taking away from those things, I feel I must mention that it took me a while to really get into this book. There were times my concentration wandered and the story felt too heavy, disjointed or hard to follow. I found it a little too bogged down in politics and would have liked more emotion and insight into what makes the characters tick. I had to put it down for a few days and come back to it, and when I did I finally got to a place where it felt like Cecily finally came alive, and it was then that I really started to enjoy the book.
“Women have no swords, brother. We do our work by talking.”
Cecily is a forgotten heroine that I am glad is finally having her story told. Feisty, strong, determined and intelligent, she is a force to be reckoned with. Born at a time when women are denied a voice orany real power, she is able to become a woman of influence in politics from the sidelines. A lot of this is down to the relationship she has with her husband, Richard. Their marriage is strong, loving and respectful, and it is clear he values her opinion. Other women gain power through marrying a weak man, which is what her enemy, Marguerite, does. The two women were undoubtedly similar in many ways, but while Marguerite comes off as unlikeable and venomous, Cecily appears resolute and caring. I enjoyed their bitter feud and how both women got stronger as time went on while the men appeared to wither.
I love how many books there have been recently that have taken a familiar story from history and told it from the woman’s perspective, illuminating voices that were silenced and finally revealing to the world the true strength these women possessed and how instrumental the moments that shaped our world today. I can’t help but wonder how many more of these forgotten heroines are out there, still waiting for their chance to shine.
A familiar story with a feminist edge, Ceicily is a powerful debut and brilliant historical read. You will never look at the Wars of the Roses the same again.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Annie Garthwaite grew up in a working class community in the north-east of England.
A schoolgirl interest in medieval history became a lifelong obsession with Cecily Neville, so, at age fifty-five, she enrolled on the Warwick Writing MA programme. Her extraordinary debut novel Cecily is the result. During a thirty-year international business career she frequently found herself the only woman at the table, where she gained valuable insights into how a woman like Cecily might have operated.
Today she lives with her partner – and far too many animals – on the side of a green Shropshire hill close to the Yorkist stronghold of Ludlow.
Published: July 8th, 2021 Publisher: Penguin UK Genre: General Fiction, Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sizzling summer romance. Thank you to Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gorgeous ARC.
THE SCORCHING HOT RICHARD & JUDY LOVE AFFAIR THAT WILL LEAVE YOU OBSESSED!
EVERYONE IN THE WORLD KNOWS HIS NAME . . .BUT IT’S YOU HE WANTS.
To the media, Hayes Campbell is the enigmatic front-man of a record-breaking boyband.
To his fans, he’s the boy of their dreams.
To his label, he’s gold-dust.
And to Solène Marchand, he’s the pretty face that’s plastered over her teenage daughter’s bedroom wall.
Until a chance meeting throws Hayes and Solène together . . .
The attraction is instant. The chemistry is electric. The affair is Solène’s secret.
But can it really stay that way forever?
“I was just making sure it was you, and not the idea of you.”
Sexy and seductive, The Idea of You is the perfect book to binge-read this summer. I devoured it in just a few hours, unable to turn away from this compelling bonkbuster.
I think all teenage and tween girls daydream about dating their favourite celebrity. But in this sizzling summer romance, it is the tween’s mother who is caught up in a steamy May/December romance with the lead singer of her daughter’s favourite group. Solene was reluctant to even go to the concert, let alone date Hayes Campbell, frontman of boyband August Moon. She is almost twice his age and, determined not to be a cliché, tries to resist their instant chemistry. But it is futile and she is soon caught up in a secret romance.
“Love, she said, was not always perfect, and not exactly how you expected it to be. But when it descended upon you, there was no controlling it.”
On the surface, Hayes and Solene have nothing in common and it seems like this could and will be nothing but a passing physical relationship. Combined with the world of celebrity and social media this felt like a very modern love story while also being pure escapism for both the reader and the characters themselves. But as time went on, their love story felt authentic. It felt real. I believed it, adored it and was rooting for it. I wanted them to overcome all the obstacles in their way and find happiness with each other.
Robinne Lee is no stranger to the world of showbiz. And it shows. The story screams of someone who knows that world intimately, offering us a glimpse into the glitz and glamour. But she is also not afraid to show us the darker side of celebrity. The things that are overwhelming and terrifying. It is a fascinating and thought-provoking look at a world that we usually only get to see the shiny, perfect and alluring side of. I enjoyed how she explores the price of fame through the characters and asks when is it too much to pay? The scariest parts for me were the crazy fans. I have never understood how some people can do such extreme and aggressive things in the name of ‘love’ for a celebrity, and while none of it surprised me, the idea that people can be treated in such a way simply because they fell in love with a famous person is appalling. I think the internet and social media has made it harder for celebrities and those associated with them. There’s less privacy these days and people are much braver hiding behind a keyboard than they would be in real life. It made me glad I’m not a part of that world.
“I realised in that moment that my life as I knew it was over.”
The psychology of Hayes and Solene’s relationship was fascinating. Solene is torn between her desires and her responsibilities and her heart and her head. She feels terrible guilt over their age difference and the pain it will cause her daughter when she finds out. But she can’t stay away from him. Hayes longs to be seen for who he really is, rather than as Hayes Campbell, rock star, and how he sometimes struggles to know who he can trust because of his fame. Then there is Isabelle, twelve-years-old and convinced she is in love with the band members, this relationship will break her heart. Each perspective is written with such sensitivity and realism that it leaps from the page. You can’t help but feel for them all.
The author also explores themes of ageism and sexism throughout the story. She looks at how society and the world of show business view women as they age. How they can find themselves feeling invisible and unimportant. She also addresses the sexism that occurs in May/December romances and how an older man with a younger woman barely causes people to blink an eye, yet there is so much criticism of an older woman with a younger man.
Sharp, sassy and salacious, this is as addictive as any tabloid magazine. This dazzling and funny debut is the perfect summer bonkbuster to get lost in.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5 Steam Rating: 🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆
MEET THE AUTHOR:
The Idea of You is actor, writer, and producer ROBINNE LEE’s debut novel. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, Robinne was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. Robinne has numerous acting credits in both television and film, most notably opposite Will Smith in both Hitch and Seven Pounds and as Ros Bailey in Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.
Published: July 8th, 2021 Publisher: Penguin UK Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sensational thriller. Thank you Penguin UK for the invitation to take part in the tour and the gifted ARC.
What would you do to protect your family?
During a family holiday in Italy, you get an urgent call from your sister.
There’s been an accident: she hit a man with her car and he’s dead.
She’s overcome with terror – fearing years in a foreign jail away from her child.
She asks for your help. It wasn’t her fault, not really. She’d cover for you, so will you do the same for her?
But when the police come calling, the lies start. And you each begin to doubt your trust in one another.
What really happened that night?
Who is lying to who?
And who will be the first to crack? . . .
“In the glare of the headlights, Frannie lifts up her hands. Red drips run down her wrists. Her stomach is streaked with blood. It’s dried, burgundy, the colour of red wine. She is a terrible tableau.”
What would you do to protect your family? That is the question at the heart of this sensational thriller.
Cathy and Joe wake in the early hours to an urgent call from their sister, Frannie. There’s been an accident and a man is dead. She begs them to help her. To cover up the crime. Can they keep their secrets without falling apart? And is Frannie telling the truth about what happened that night?
“It was written in the invisible stars, he thinks, looking upwards. From that night in Verona. It was always going to end here.”
Wow! Just, wow! Claustrophobic, intense and twisty, this had me hooked from the first pages. Combining family drama with a seductive psychological thriller, it jumps straight into the action and I couldn’t put it down, turning the pages until I could no longer keep my eyes open. And there is so much more to this story than meets the eye. Complex, intricate and multilayered, the author slowly peels away the layers to unveil the surprising picture lurking beneath.
“It’s as though a trapdoor to hell has been opened up in me. It’s hard to describe unless you’ve been through it. Trauma.”
This was a fascinating exploration of family and trauma. Cathy, Joe and Frannie are extremely close. The siblings work together, live in three adjoining cottages and co-own a holiday home in Italy. And it is while in Verona that the tragedy strikes. They have always been there for each other, so Cathy and Joe don’t feel able to say no when Frannie begs them to help her. But the lies soon pile up and things begin to spin out of control, testing the siblings’ relationships and threatening to tear them apart. The author uses the three siblings to show the very different ways people can respond to trauma and the strain it puts on even the closest relationships.
“I feel like I’m in a nightmare.”
I have been a fan of Gillian McAllister ever since first reading one of her books three years ago, and love how skillfully plotted, paced and written her books are. All her books are character driven with a suspenseful edge, but this was her best yet and felt like it packed an even stronger punch. If you’re a thriller fan, then don’t miss this book.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Gillian McAllister is the Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling author of Everything But The Truth, Anything You Do Say, No Further Questions, The Evidence Against You and How To Disappear.
Her latest release is That Night, available now and selected for the Richard & Judy summer book club 2021.
All of her novels are standalone and can be read in any order. She is published in ten countries around the world. The Good Sister is her US debut, released by Penguin USA, and is the American title for No Further Questions. The Choice is her second American release which is the US title for Anything You Do Say.
Another month has flown by and it’s time for another wrap up.
July was a great reading month. I read 16 books, took part in one book club readalong and 18 blog tours. Below is a quick summary of what I read this month:
False Witness by Karin Slaughter
Karin Slaughter is one of my favourite crime writers and book she releases is on my must-read list. I was particularly excited about reading False Witness as it was a standalone, and it’s been a while since I read one of those from her. It did not disappoint. Once again she delivered a first-class thriller that was dark, twisted and sinister. Thrillers don’t get better than this. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Carol is another of my go-to crime authors. Her newest series is her darkest yet, and I’m loving it. A Cut For A Cut sees Kate Young once again embroiled in an investigation when she and her son find the body of a young man while diving. It had my totally hooked from the start and didn’t let go. If you are looking for an exhilarating and propulsive thriller, then this is for you. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
The Rule is a readable thriller about family, love, and the lengths a parent will go to to protect their child. I really liked Daniel, the young man at the centre of the story, and the themes of duality the author used throughout. Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰
One of my most anticipated books of the year, I luxuriated in every word of this absolute masterpiece. The second book in her Romanov series follows Tsarevna Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. She is a fascinating historical figure and I loved expanding my knowledge of an era that has long fascinated me. Dazzling, captivating and truly magnificent, this is a joy for history and literature lovers alike. I’m now counting down to book three! Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Just as the tagline says, this is not another novel about a dead girl. In her startling debut, Jacqueline Bublitz has taken the familiar narratives we see in psychological thrillers and given them an original twist. Instead of asking whodunnit, she asks who was the victim? What was her story? And what can we learn from her? She also asks who was the person who discovered the victims broken body? And how did that discovery after them?
Breathtakingly beautiful, hypnotic, mesmerising and unflinching, this book went right to my soul. I’m still thinking about it almost a month after reading. It stands out not only amongst the mystery and thriller books I’ve read this year, but all the ones I’ve ever read. This is a must-read for thriller lovers and the author is a talent to watch. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Songbirds is a beautiful story that gives a voice to the voiceless. In this harrowing and heartbreaking tale, the author explores the world of transient and migrant workers, shining a light on their experiences and the institutionalised racism they face. She also highlights how this racism runs so deep that the authorities won’t search for them if they go missing, claiming they must have just moved on instead. A richly drawn novel full of memorable characters, beautiful imagery and exquisite storytelling, this is a story that needs to be read. Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
The Painting is a simple yet enlightening story. A portrait of totalitarianism, immigration, family and self-discovery, it tells the story of Anika, a Hungarian immigrant living in Australia after being forced to flee her oppressively homeland. One of the few possessions she brought with her was a valuable painting. After it is stolen in what appears to be a targeted robbery, Anika is forced to confront uncomfortable questions about her family’s past. This book surprised me as it took a different, but fascinating, turn to what I was expecting. A captivating and moving story that I would recommend. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
An ordinary man on an ordinary street is hiding grim secrets in this dark and sinister thriller. I listened to this book as part of the audiobook blog tour and it chilled me to the bone. I had struggled to get into it at first, but am so glad I stuck with it as this was a gripping and unnerving psychological thriller that I couldn’t stop listening to. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
The Art of Loving You is an exploration of love, grief and the afterlife. It looks at how we find meaning in life when it seems to have become meaningless and what we do with the love we have for someone when they die. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, it follows Libby, who is left devastated after the sudden death of her soulmate Jack. Full of wonderful characters and some truly tender and beautiful moments, I couldn’t put this down. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Mrs England with the Tasting Notes Book Club for July. I am a huge fan of Stacey Halls so I was excited for this book and the online book club meeting. Wonderfully written, atmospheric and compelling, this is one of those books that is even better after you’ve thought about it for a few days and realised that things weren’t what they first appeared. For me, one of the best things about reading a book with others is the way you can read the same book yet see things so differently. This was the best Tasting Notes Book Club yet and I enjoyed the book even more after hearing about it from the author and exploring it with others in greater detail. This is an ideal read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
This warm, witty, slow-burning romance was the perfect summer read to get lost in. Poppy and Alex were fun to read and had a great dynamic. But my favourite thing about the book is the escapism it offered. I loved being able to live vicariously through the characters and travel to different countries from my back garden during a pandemic. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Girls Who Lie (Forbidden Iceland Book 2) by Eva Björg Aegisdottir
Girls Who Lie is the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series, but was the first one I’ve read. The author quickly catches you up and it was easy to keep up with the characters making it easy to read even without the first book. A harrowing, complex and multilayered thriller, this was another amazing read from Orenda Books. I will definitely be reading the first book in the series and any further installments. Perfect for crime fiction fans. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
The Woman in the Water is a story about a fractured family, tragic death and search for answers. Though it was predictable in places, the author leaves you with enough doubt and unanswered questions that you keep turning the pages, needing to know more. A dark, tense and twisty read that fans of the genre will enjoy. Rating: ✮✮✮.5
Books, murder and mystery. What more could I want? Utterly mesmerising and addictive, I devoured this book. Perfectly plotted, intricately woven and full of tension, this is a masterclass in storytelling. The Secret Life of Writers is a stylish, sharp and suspenseful thriller that is so twisty it will make your head spin. After reading it I understand why Guillaume Musso is known as the French suspense king. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
This is one of those books that’s a bit like an iceberg: what you see at first is only a part of what is actually going on. The author slowly unveils the truth, weaving together the layers to create a complex and intricate thriller. Themes of domestic violence and coercive control are explored in various ways through out the book and it is clear it is well researched. Unnerving and affecting, I would recommend this to fans of the genre. Rating: ✮✮✮.5
Wow! Just, wow! I have been a fan of Gillian McAllister since the first time I read one of her books, but this is her best one yet. Taut, tense and twisty, this riveting thriller had me hooked. A multilayered and complex story, there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Jaw-dropping and unexpected revelations pulled the rug from under me repeatedly and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. That Night is a must read for anyone who enjoys an intelligent, sharp and sensational thriller. Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
I swear that it’s getting harder and harder to choose a favourite each month, as there are just so many high-quality books being written. It was really difficult to choose this month and after getting it down to two, I just couldn’t pick between them. Therefore, my books of the month for July are The Tsarina’s Daughter and Before You Knew My Name.
What did you read this month? Did we read any of the same books?
Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. Seeyou next month Emma xxx
Thank you to the publishers for my gifted proof copies and eBook ARCS.
Published: July 22nd, 2021 Publisher: Penguin UK Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Novel, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, New Adult Fiction, Holiday Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this fun summer romance that is published tomorrow. Thank you to Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.
TWO FRIENDS TEN SUMMER TRIPS THEIR LAST CHANCE TO FALL IN LOVE
12 SUMMERS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they’ll never speak again.
11 SUMMERS AGO: They’re forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together.
10 SUMMERS AGO: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver. Poppy holds his hand the whole way.
7 SUMMERS AGO: They get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans.
2 SUMMERS AGO: It all goes wrong.
THIS SUMMER: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.
You and Me on Vacation is a New York Times bestselling love story for fans of When Harry Met Sally and One Day. Get ready to travel the world, snort with laughter and – most of all – lose your heart to Poppy and Alex.
“It’s fascinating. How much of love is who you are with someone.”
You and Me on Vacation is a warm, witty, slow-burning romance that is perfect to read on a hot summer’s day.
The story follows the familiar best friends to lovers trope, exploring the trepidation, fear and complications that can arise when you fall in love with your closest friend. While it was often predictable, this wasn’t a bad thing, and the author injected some additional mystery and tension with the inclusion of an unknown event two years earlier that had led to them not speaking since. I liked this as it made the book more than a simple ‘will they or won’t they’ story and I felt like their tentative steps to rebuilding their friendship made me root for them from the start. There were times it felt like it was a little too drawn out, but the author soon picked up the pace and it was an entertaining read overall.
I liked Poppy and Alex both individually and as a pair. They had a great dynamic and the sparkwas clear even before Poppy admitted her feelings.There were some great background characters too and I enjoyed how the author wrote little descriptions when introducing a new character that gives the reader an instant picture of what they are like.
Being centred around a travel writer and the vacations she takes with her best friend gave this book a vibe of pure escapism and I loved being able to travel to the various destinations from my back garden during a pandemic. But the current situation also made the book feel wistful and it felt like I was reading about another life. It really made me miss the days where we could just hop on a plane and go somewhere new without a second thought. *Sigh*
If you’re looking for a book to escape with and a good way to wile away a few hours in the sun, then this entertaining romance is the book for you.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Emily Henry is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation and Beach Read, as well as several young adult novels. She lives and writes in the Cincinnati and the part of Kentucky just beneath it.
Her books have been featured in Buzzfeed, Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, The Skimm, Shondaland, Betches, Bustle, and more.
I can’t quite believe that we’re so far into the year that I’m writing July’s anticipated treasures. And it was a tough one to do. July is so packed with fantastic releases that I had about 15 more books I could have added to this list. There were six more on it but I made myself cut it down to ‘just’ twenty-one titles.
So here is what made my list of most anticipated books in July:
The Rule by David Jackson
Published: July 1st, 2021 Publisher: Viper
SYNOPSIS: MY DAD SAYS BAD THINGS HAPPEN WHEN I BREAK IT…
Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants fish and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen. But Daniel has no idea that he’s about to kill a stranger.
Daniel’s parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn’t know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die…
Because they’ll do anything to protect Daniel. Even murder.
SYNOPSIS: For Rich, life is golden. He fizzes with happiness and love. But Rich has an incurable brain tumour.
When Rich dies, he leaves behind a family without a father, a husband, a son and a best friend. His wife, Ruth, can’t imagine living without him and finds herself faced with a grief she’s not sure she can find her way through. At the same time, their young son Ollie becomes intent on working out the meaning of life. Because everything happens for a reason. Doesn’t it?
But when they discover a mismatched collection of presents left by Rich for his loved ones, it provides a puzzle for them to solve, one that will help Ruth navigate her sorrow and help Ollie come to terms with what’s happened. Together, they will learn to lay the ghosts of the past to rest, and treasure the true gift that Rich has left them: the ability to embrace life and love every moment.
Harriet Kline weaves together the voices of a grieving family and paints an achingly beautiful picture of love in all its forms: absent, lost and, ultimately, regained.
SYNOPSIS: When they took everything from her, they didn’t count on her fighting to get it back… Born into the House of Romanov to the all-powerful Peter the Great and Catherine I, beautiful Tsarevna Elizabeth is the world’s loveliest Princess and the envy of the Russian empire. Insulated by luxury and as a woman free from the burden of statecraft, Elizabeth is seemingly born to pursue her passions. However, a dark prophecy predicts her fate as inexorably twined with Russia. When her mother dies, Russia is torn, masks fall, and friends become foes. Elizabeth’s idyllic world is upended. By her twenties she is penniless and powerless, living under constant threat. As times change like quicksand, an all-consuming passion emboldens Elizabeth: she must decide whether to take up her role as Russia’s ruler, and what she’s willing to do for her country – and for love.
Published: July 8th, 2021 Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
SYNOPSIS: From the bestselling author of The House Guest comes a chilling story set deep in the woods…
With his marriage over and his career in freefall, journalist Tom decides to reconnect with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Frankie. Desperate to spend precious time together now that they live an ocean apart, he brings her to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort deep in the woods of Maine.
From the outset there’s something a little eerie about the place―strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest―but when Tom meets true-crime podcasters David and Connie, he receives a chilling warning. Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.
It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can.
Published: July 8th, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph
SYNOPSIS: Sometimes, the true story is the hardest to believe.
TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.
JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of? NICK went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.
Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. When the police get involved with this family in crisis, all the cracks will start to show . . . Set to ignite debate and as gripping as your favourite box-set, Damage is a compulsive drama from an extraordinary new writer.
Published: July 8th, 2021 Publisher: Manilla Press
SYNOPSIS: She walks unseen through our world. Cares for our children, cleans our homes. She has a story to tell. Will you listen?
Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. By day she cares for Petra’s daughter; at night she mothers her own little girl by the light of a phone.
Nisha’s lover, Yiannis, is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their way to Africa each winter. His dreams of a new life, and of marrying Nisha, are shattered when she vanishes.
No one cares about the disappearance of a domestic worker, except Petra and Yiannis. As they set out to search for her, they realise how little they know about Nisha. What they uncover will change them all.
Published: July 8th, 2021 Publisher: Harper Voyager
SYNOPSIS: Joyful, devastating, and profound, Meet Me in Another Life is a story of love and connection in every possible form that will captivate fans of Stuart Turton, Claire North, and Audrey Niffenegger.
Thora and Santi have met before…
Under the clocktower in central Cologne, with nothing but the stars above and their futures ahead.
They will meet again…
They don’t know it yet, but they’ll meet again: in numerous lives they will become friends, colleagues, lovers, enemies – meeting over and over for the first time, every time; each coming to know every version of the other.
Only they can make sure it’s not for the last time.
But as they’re endlessly drawn together and the lines between their different lives begin to blur, they are faced with one question: why?
They must discover the truth of their strange attachment before this, and all their lives, are lost forever.
SYNOPSIS: When March Briscoe returns to East Texas two years after he was caught having an affair with his brother’s wife, the Briscoe family becomes once again the talk of the small town of Olympus. His mother, June, hardly welcomes him back with open arms. Her husband’s own past affairs have made her tired of being the long-suffering spouse. Is it, perhaps, time for a change? But within days of March’s arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of alliances are shattered. In the end, the ties that hold them together might be exactly what drag them all down.
An expansive tour de force, Olympus, Texas combines the archetypes of Greek and Roman mythology with the psychological complexity of a messy family. After all, at some point, we all wonder: what good is this destructive force we call love?
SYNOPSIS: A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.
In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?
Lynnette Tarkington survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized―someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.
But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.
SYNOPSIS: This is not just another novel about a dead girl.
When she arrived in New York on her 18th birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city’s latest Jane Doe, an unidentified murder victim.
Ruby Jones is also trying to start over; she travelled halfway around the world only to find herself lonelier than ever. Until she finds Alice Lee’s body by the Hudson River.
From this first, devastating encounter, the two women form an unbreakable bond. Alice is sure that Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her life – and death. And Ruby – struggling to forget what she saw that morning – finds herself unable to let Alice go. Not until she is given the ending she deserves.
Before You Knew My Name doesn’t ask whodunnit. Instead, this powerful, hopeful novel asks: Who was she? And what did she leave behind? The answers might surprise you.
SYNOPSIS: Everything stays the same for the tenants of The Beresford, a grand old apartment building just outside the city … until the doorbell rings… Will Carver returns with an eerie, deliciously and uncomfortably dark standalone thriller.
Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.
There’s a routine at The Beresford.
For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.
Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him.
In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.
And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.
Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…
Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.
Published: July 22nd, 2021 Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
SYNOPSIS: Two sisters parted. Two women blamed. Two stories reclaimed.
For millennia, two women have been blamed for the fall of a mighty civilisation – but now it’s time to hear their side of the story . . .
As princesses of Sparta, Helen and Klytemnestra have known nothing but luxury and plenty. With their high birth and unrivalled beauty, they are the envy of all of Greece.
Such privilege comes at a high price, though, and their destinies are not theirs to command. While still only girls they are separated and married off to legendary foreign kings Agamemnon and Menelaos, never to meet again. Their duty is now to give birth to the heirs society demands and be the meek, submissive queens their men expect.
But when the weight of their husbands’ neglect, cruelty and ambition becomes too heavy to bear, they must push against the constraints of their sex to carve new lives for themselves – and in doing so make waves that will ripple throughout the next three thousand years.
Perfect for readers of Circe and Ariadne, Daughters of Sparta is a vivid and illuminating retelling of the Siege of Troy that tells the story of mythology’s most vilified women from their own mouths at long last.
Published: July 22nd, 2021 Publisher: The Borough Press
SYNOPSIS: · Kill my family · Make a claim on their fortune · Get away with the above · Adopt a dog
Meet Grace Bernard. Daughter, sister, colleague, friend, serial killer… Grace has lost everything. And now she wants revenge. How to Kill Your Family is a fierce and addictive novel about class, family, love… and murder.
SYNOPSIS: A mother’s secret past collides with her daughter’s present in this intoxicating novel from Jane Healey, the author of The Animals at Lockwood Manor.
In the summer of 1973, teenage Ruth and her four friends are obsessed with pre-Raphaelite paintings, and a little bit obsessed with each other. They spend the scorching summer days in the river by Ruth’s grand family home, pretending to be the drowning Ophelia and recreating tableaus of other tragic mythical heroines. But by the end of the summer, real tragedy has found them.
Twenty-four years later, Ruth is a wife and mother of three children, and moves her family into her still-grand, but now somewhat dilapidated, childhood home following the death of her father. Her seventeen-year-old daughter, Maeve, is officially in remission and having been discharged from hospital can finally start acting like a ‘normal’ teenager with the whole summer ahead of her. It’s just the five of them until Stuart, a handsome photographer and old friend of her parents, comes to stay. And there’s something about Stuart that makes Maeve feel more alive than all of her life-saving treatments put together . . .
As the heat of the summer burns, how long can the family go before long-held secrets threaten to burst their banks and drown them all?
Set between two fateful summers, The Ophelia Girls is a visceral, heady exploration of illicit desire, infatuation and the perils and power of being a young woman.
SYNOPSIS: I don’t have any friends, only dog ones, because they don’t make you do bad things. I don’t want any human friends, actually. It’s for the best.’
Hope Nicely hasn’t had an easy life.
But she’s happy enough living at 23 Station Close with her mum, Jenny Nicely, and she loves her job, walking other people’s dogs. She’s a bit different, but as Jenny always tells her, she’s a rainbow person, a special drop of light.
It’s just . . . there’s something she needs to know. Why did her birth mother abandon her in a cardboard box on a church step twenty-five years ago? And did she know that drinking while pregnant could lead to Hope being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?
In a bid to find her birth mother and the answers to these questions, Hope decides to write her autobiography. Despite having been bullied throughout school, Hope bravely joins an evening class where Hope will not only learn the lessons of writing, but will also begin to discover more about the world around her, about herself and even make some (human) friends.
But when Jenny suddenly falls ill, Hope realises there are many more lessons to come . . .
Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life is a heartwarming, coming-of-age novel about loneliness, friendship, acceptance and, above all, hope.
Published: July 22nd, 2021 Publisher: Harper Collins UK
SYNOPSIS: A new chapter is just beginning…
When Aleisha discovers a crumpled reading list tucked into a tattered library book, it sparks an extraordinary journey.
From timeless stories of love and friendship to an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean with a boy and a tiger in a boat, the list opens a gateway to new and wonderful worlds – just when Aleisha needs an escape from her troubles at home.
And when widower Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to connect with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha introduces him to the magic of the reading list. An anxious teenager and a lonely grandfather forming an unlikely book club of two.
Inspiring and heartwarming, The Reading List is a love letter to storytelling – its power to transport us, connect us, and remind us that a new beginning is only a page away…
SYNOPSIS: ‘Rebellion?’ The word is a spark. They can start a fire with it, or smother it in their fingertips. She chooses to start a fire.
You are born high, but marry a traitor’s son. You bear him twelve children, carry his cause and bury his past.
You play the game, against enemies who wish you ashes. Slowly, you rise.
You are Cecily.
But when the king who governs you proves unfit, what then?
Loyalty or treason – death may follow both. The board is set. Time to make your first move.
Told through the eyes of its greatest unknown protagonist, this astonishing debut plunges you into the closed bedchambers and bloody battlefields of the first days of the Wars of the Roses, a war as women fight it.
Published: July 29th, 2021 Publisher: Hodder Books
SYNOPSIS: What was it like? Living in that house.
Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into a rambling Victorian estate called Baneberry Hall. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a memoir called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon.
Now, Maggie has inherited Baneberry Hall after her father’s death. She was too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist.
But when she returns to Baneberry Hall to prepare it for sale, her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the pages of her father’s book lurk in the shadows, and locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself – a place that hints of dark deeds and unexplained happenings.
As the days pass, Maggie begins to believe that what her father wrote was more fact than fiction. That, either way, someone – or something – doesn’t want her here. And that she might be in danger all over again . . .
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting thriller. Thank you to Ellie at Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.
An attractive student. An older professor.
Think you know the story? Think again.
THE NEW UP-ALL-NIGHT THRILLER FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER CARA HUNTER, PERFECT FOR FANS OF LINE OF DUTY
She has everything at stake; he has everything to lose. But one of them is lying, all the same.
When an Oxford student accuses one of the university’s professors of sexual assault, DI Adam Fawley’s team think they’ve heard it all before. But they couldn’t be more wrong.
Because this time, the predator is a woman and the shining star of the department, and the student a six-foot male rugby player.
Soon DI Fawley and his team are up against the clock to figure out the truth. What they don’t realise is that someone is watching.
And they have a plan to put Fawley out of action for good…
The Whole Truth is the fifth book in the DI Adam Fawley series and I’m a little late to the party. While I own all of the books, I have only read the first one. And that was a few years ago. So I appreciated that the author opens the book with a ‘Previously… in the Fawley Files’ that details all the recurring characters along with some important information on their backstory and personality. I think more series should do this as it not only makes it easier to read as a standalone, but is also a refresher for those who’ve read the previous books.
In this book the author explores the timely subject of sexual harassment by a person in authority. Only this story is a twist on the familiar tale of a teacher taking advantage of a student or the stories of abuse of power often heard in the current #MeToo movement. In this story, the victim is male and the perpetrator is female. Parallel to this investigation is a storyline involving Adam and his pregnant wife, Alex. There is a storm cloud approaching their happy horizon. One that involves and old case coming back to haunt them and a brutal murder that will turn their world upside down.
While I had enjoyed the first book in the series, this one really had me on the edge of my seat. The author is fantastic at connecting the reader to her characters and made me care about what happened to them even though I’ve not built up that long-standing relationship you get when reading a series. I loved her use of mixed media to tell the story as it makes it even more fun and interesting to read. She writes about the difficult but important topics in the story with truth and sensitivity, showing both sides without judgement or prejudice. She illustrates the added struggles male rape victims face to be believed, the mystogynistic beliefs some people still hold and the fine line officers have to take between investigating and victim blaming. But this isn’t a clear cut case and we are never quite sure who to believe, giving the author the opportunity to also explore the psychology of those who abuse their power in such a way as well as how false allegations might impact those they are levered against.
Captivating and twisty, this is an excellent thriller that had me on tenterhooks. I’m now looking forward to going back and reading the other books in the series, as well as finding out what comes next for the characters in book six. A must-read for fans of crime thrillers and police procedurals.
Trigger Warnings: Sexual assault, rape.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Cara Hunter is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling crime novels Close to Home, In the Dark, No Way Out and All the Rage, all featuring DI Adam Fawley and his Oxford-based police team. Close to Home was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and was shortlisted for Crime Book of the Year in the British Book Awards 2019. No Way Out was selected by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 best crime novels since 1945. Cara’s novels have sold more than a million copies worldwide, and the TV rights to the series have now been acquired by the Fremantle group. She lives in Oxford, on a street not unlike those featured in her books.
Published: April 8th, 2021 Publisher: Penguin Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Today I’m featuring What Beauty There Is, an unflinching debut that is receiving some fantastic reviews. Coincidentally, today is release day, so Happy Publication Day to Cory Anderson 🥳
When everything you love is in danger, how long can you keep running to survive?
Life can be brutal
Winter in Idaho. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.
Jack knew it
Jack Dahl has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d die for. Their mother is gone, and their funds are quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison.
So did I.
Ava lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father, a merciless man, has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one.
Did I feel the flutter of wings when Jack and I met? Did I sense the coming tornado?
But now Ava wants to break the rules – to let Jack in and open her heart. Then she discovers that Jack and her father are stalking the same money, and suddenly Ava is faced with a terrible choice: remain silent or speak out and help the brothers survive.
Looking back, I think I did . . .
Perfect for fans of Patrick Ness, Meg Rosoff and Daniel Woodrell, What Beauty There Is an unforgettable debut novel that is as compulsive as it is beautiful, and unflinchingly explores the power of determination, survival and love.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Cory Anderson is a winner of the League of Utah Writers Young Adult Novel Award and Grand Prize in the Storymakers Conference First Chapter Contest. She lives in Farmington, Utah with her family. What Beauty There Is is her debut novel.
April is almost upon us, so it’s time for another month of anticipated books.
April is a busy month in the publishing world and a lot of books I’m looking forward to are being released. That made this month’s list extremely difficult to compile and is the reason that my ‘slimmed down’ list still stands at a whopping twenty-five books!
Are any of these on your tbr? Let me know in the comments…
Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse
Published: April 1st, 2021 Publisher: Fourth Estate Genre: Gothic Fiction, Suspense, Bildungsroman, Coming-of-Age Story
SYNOPSIS: She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.
‘A uniquely gothic tale about grief, belonging and hiding in plain sight’ Jess Kidd, author of Things in Jars
’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home, stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can. But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house. Eventually, every hidden thing is found.’
Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.
Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?
And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in?
Published: April 1st, 2021 Publisher: Two Roads Genre: Contemporary Fantasy, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS: Madame Burova – Tarot Reader, Palmist and Clairvoyant is retiring and leaving her booth on the Brighton seafront after fifty years.
Imelda Burova has spent a lifetime keeping other people’s secrets and her silence has come at a price. She has seen the lovers and the liars, the angels and the devils, the dreamers and the fools. Her cards had unmasked them all and her cards never lied. But Madame Burova is weary of other people’s lives, their ghosts from the past and other people’s secrets, she needs rest and a little piece of life for herself. Before that, however, she has to fulfill a promise made a long time ago. She holds two brown envelopes in her hand, and she has to deliver them.
In London, it is time for another woman to make a fresh start. Billie has lost her university job, her marriage, and her place in the world when she discovers something that leaves her very identity in question. Determined to find answers, she must follow a trail which might just lead right to Madame Burova’s door.
In a story spanning over fifty years, Ruth Hogan conjures a magical world of 1970s holiday camps and seaside entertainers, eccentrics, heroes and villains, the lost and the found. Young people, with their lives before them, make choices which echo down the years. And a wall of death rider is part of a love story which will last through time.
SYNOPSIS: When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.
Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.
Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….
London, 1665. Hidden within the growing pile of corpses in his churchyard, Rector Symon Patrick discovers a victim of the pestilence unlike any he has seen before: a young woman with a shorn head, covered in burns, and with pieces of twine delicately tied around each wrist and ankle.
Desperate to discover the culprit, Symon joins a society of eccentric medical men who have gathered to find a cure for the plague. Someone is performing terrible experiments upon the dying, hiding their bodies amongst the hundreds that fill the death carts.
Only Penelope – a new and mysterious addition to Symon’s household – may have the skill to find the killer. Far more than what she appears, she is already on the hunt. But the dark presence that enters the houses of the sick will not stop, and has no mercy…
SYNOPSIS: 1906: Being a woman is dangerous, being different is deadly.
Maud Lovell has been at Angelton Lunatic Asylum for five years. She is not sure how she came to be there and knows nothing beyond its four walls. She is hysterical, distressed, untrustworthy. Badly unstable and prone to violence. Or so she has been told.
When a new doctor arrives, keen to experiment with the revolutionary practice of medical hypnosis, Maud’s lack of history makes her the perfect case study. But as Doctor Dimmond delves deeper into the past, it becomes clear that confinement and high doses are there to keep her silent.
When Maud finally remembers what has been done to her, and by whom, her mind turns to her past and to revenge.
Published: April 1st, 2021 Publisher: Pan Macmillan Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Fairy Tale
SYNOPSIS: Betrayal. Magic. Murder. A tale of three siblings and three deadly sins.
In a magical ancient Britain, bards sing a story of treachery, love and death. This is that story.
For fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Lucy Holland’s Sistersong retells the folk ballad ‘The Two Sisters.’
King Cador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans, torn by warring tribes. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. And Sinne dreams of love, longing for adventure.
All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold, their people’s last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. However, change comes on the day ash falls from the sky – bringing Myrdhin, meddler and magician. The siblings discover the power that lies within them and the land. But fate also brings Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear them apart.
Riva, Keyne and Sinne become entangled in a web of treachery and heartbreak, and must fight to forge their own paths. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.
Sistersong is a powerfully moving story, perfect for readers who loved Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale.
Published: April 1st, 2021 Publisher: The Borough Press Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, LGBTQ Literature
SYNOPSIS: 1921: a boy, a girl, a moonlit midnight kiss.
A terrible, repulsive kiss.
Bettina and Bart have grown up as best friends, so surely they will end up together? After all, Bettina is young, rich, headstrong…. and gay. Bart is young, rich, charismatic… and also, definitely, gay. Any doubts are dispelled by, in short order: that ghastly kiss; a torrid encounter for Bettina in the school boiler-rooms; and an eye-opening Parisian visit for Bart.
Society will never stand for it. What else can they do but enter into a ‘lavender marriage’ and carry on indulging their true natures in secret? As the ’20s and ’30s whizz past in a haze of cigarettes, champagne and casual sex, Bart and Bettina have no idea that they are hurtling, via Hollywood and Egypt, Paris and London, towards tragedy and bloodshed…
SYNOPSIS: Gunpowder and treason changed England forever. But the tides are turning and revenge runs deep in this compelling historical thriller for fans of C.J. Sansom, Andrew Taylor’s Ashes of London, Kate Mosse and Blood & Sugar.
1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.
In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.
For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.
SYNOPSIS: Swan Lake is divided into the black acts and the white acts. The Prince is on stage for most of the ballet, but it’s the swans audiences flock to see. In early productions, Odette and Odile were performed by two different dancers. These days, it is usual for the same dancer to play both roles. Because of the faultless ballet technique required to master the steps, and the emotional range needed to perform both the virginal Odette and the dark, seductive Odile, this challenging dual role is one of the most coveted in all ballet. Dancers would kill for the part.
Ava Kirilova has reached the very top of her profession. After years and years of hard graft, pain and sacrifice as part of the London Russian Ballet Company, allowing nothing else to distract her, she is finally the poster girl for Swan Lake. Even Mr K – her father, and the intense, terrifying director of the company – can find no fault. Ava has pushed herself ahead of countless other talented, hardworking girls, and they are all watching her now.
But there is someone who really wants to see Ava fall . . .
SYNOPSIS: In 1901, the word ‘bondmaid’ was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.
Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.
Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutter to the floor unclaimed.
Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.
SYNOPSIS: A book to watch out for from a stunning new voice in thriller writing, as selected by the i, Daily Mail, Grazia, Culture Fly and her.ie.
Helen has it all…
Daniel is the perfect husband. Rory is the perfect brother. Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.
And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.
When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.
Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret.
Masterfully plotted and utterly addictive, Greenwich Park is a dark, compelling look at motherhood, friendships, privilege and the secrets we keep to protect ourselves.
Published: April 15th, 2021 Publisher: Picador Genre: Literary Fiction, Saga
SYNOPSIS: Five generations of women, linked by blood and circumstance, by the secrets they share, and by a single book passed down through a family, with an affirmation scrawled in its margins: We are force. We are more than we think we are.
1866, Cuba: María Isabel is the only woman employed at a cigar factory, where each day the workers find strength in daily readings of Victor Hugo. But these are dangerous political times, and as María begins to see marriage and motherhood as her only options, the sounds of war are approaching.
1959, Cuba: Dolores watches her husband make for the mountains in answer to Fidel Castro’s call to arms. What Dolores knows, though, is that to survive, she must win her own war, and commit an act of violence that threatens to destroy her daughter Carmen’s world.
2016, Miami: Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, is shocked when her daughter Jeanette announces her plans to travel to Cuba to see her grandmother Dolores. In the walls of her crumbling home lies a secret, one that will link Jeanette to her past, and to this fearless line of women.
From nineteenth-century cigar factories to present-day detention centres, from Cuba to the United States to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt follows Latina women of fierce pride, bound by the stories passed between them. It is a haunting meditation on the choices of mothers and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their truth despite those who wish to silence them.
SYNOPSIS: They only want a kindness, but beware, for if you have no coin, they will curse you black and blue.
1620s Lancashire. Away from the village lies a small hamlet, abandoned since the Plague, where only one family dwells amongst its ruins. Young Sarah Haworth, her mother, brother and little sister Annie are a family of outcasts by day and the recipients of visitors by night. They are cunning folk: the villagers will always need them, quick with a healing balm or more, should the need arise. They can keep secrets too, because no one would believe them anyway.
When Sarah spies a young man taming a wild horse, she risks being caught to watch him calm the animal. And when Daniel sees Sarah he does not just see a strange, dirty thing, he sees her for who she really is: a strong creature about to come into her own. But can something as fragile as love blossom between these two in such a place as this?
When a new magistrate arrives to investigate the strange ends that keep befalling the villagers, he has his eye on one family alone. And a torch in his hand.
Cunning Women is the powerful reckoning of a young woman with her wildness, a heartbreaking tale of young love and a shattering story of the intolerance that reigned during the long shadow of the Pendle Witch Trials, when those who did not conform found persecution at every door.
Published: April 27th, 2021 Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis: the haphazard manifestations of her powers have long made her the subject of gossip – malicious neighbours even call her the Witch of Oldhouse.
But Nina’s life is about to change, for there is a new arrival in town: Hector Auvray, the renowned entertainer, who has used his own telekinetic talent to perform for admiring audiences around the world. Nina is dazzled by Hector, for he sees her not as a witch, but ripe with magical potential. Under his tutelage, Nina’s talent blossoms – as does her love for the great man.
But great romances are for fairy-tales, and Hector is hiding a secret bitter truth from Nina – and himself – that threatens their courtship.
The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.
SYNOPSIS: Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in rural Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.
But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, Dylan, who she’s avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.
Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they’ve totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with four-hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship…
Will they make it to the wedding on time? And, more importantly, is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?
Published: April 29th, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Genre: Historical Fiction, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS: The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.
No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year. ___________
Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.
Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artists swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea debris, and something beautiful begins to blossom.
But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.
Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…
In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times.
Published: April 29th, 2021 Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Police Procedural, Hardboiled, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: The latest novel by the author of FIREWATCHING, by ‘a bold and brilliant new voice in crime fiction’
Sheffield’s beautiful Botanical Gardens – an oasis of peace in a world filled with sorrow, confusion and pain. And then, one morning, a body is found in the Gardens. A young woman, dead from a stab wound, buried in a quiet corner. Police quickly determine that the body’s been there for months. It would have gone undiscovered for years – but someone just sneaked into the Gardens and dug it up.
Who is the victim? Who killed her and hid her body? Who dug her up? And who left a macabre marker on the body?
In his quest to find her murderer, DS Adam Tyler will find himself drawn into the secretive world of nighthawkers: treasure-hunters who operate under cover of darkness, seeking the lost and valuable… and willing to kill to keep what they find.
Published: April 29th, 2021 Publisher: Wildfire Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale
SYNOPSIS: Xxx A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.
‘ARIADNE gives voice to the misused Princess of Crete who betrayed her father to save Theseus from the Minotaur. Relevant and revelatory.’ – Stylist
As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.
When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.
In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?
ARIADNE gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.
SYNOPSIS: You come to Soul Shrink to be healed. You don’t expect to die.
Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.
Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.
Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?
The master of suspense is back. Prepare yourself for the latest heart-in-mouth rollercoaster ride from the Sunday Times bestseller.
Published: April 29th, 2021 Publisher: HQ Genre: Dark Comedy, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance Novel
SYNOPSIS: Your family would kill to see you happy
‘ARE YOU…DEAD?’ OH MY GOD. I THINK HE IS. When Meddy Chan accidentally kills her blind date, she turns to her aunties for help. Their meddling set her up on the date so they kind of owe her.
WELL, THAT DIDN’T QUITE GO TO PLAN. Although hiding this goddamn dead body is going to be harder than they thought especially when her family’s wedding business has THE biggest wedding of the year happening right now.
IT’S PRETTY BAD TIMING REALLY. It turns out the wedding venue just happens to be managed by Meddy’s ex, aka the one who got away. It’s the worst time to see him again, or…is it? Can Meddy finally find love and make her overbearing family happy?
Published: April 29th, 2021 Publisher: Pushkin Press Genre: Thriller, Suspense
SYNOPSIS: They would rather die than become mothers.
A serial killer is on the loose in Tel Aviv. Each victim is found tied to a chair with a baby doll glued to their hands, the word ‘mother’ carved into their forehead like a mark of Cain.
Stowed away between the wax figurines of the Bible museum where she works, Sheila Heller knows both victims. She suspects the killings have something to do with a pact their group all made at university – to never have children.
What Sheila doesn’t know is who is committing these gruesome acts of ritualistic violence, and whether she herself might be the next target.
Published: April 29th, 2021 Publisher: Mudlark Genre: True Crime
SYNOPSIS: Totally gripping and brilliantly told, Murder: The Biography is a gruesome and utterly captivating portrait of the legal history of murder.
The stories and the people involved in the history of murder are stranger, darker and more compulsive than any crime fiction.
There’s Richard Parker, the cannibalized cabin boy whose death at the hands of his hungry crewmates led the Victorian courts to decisively outlaw a defence of necessity to murder. Dr Percy Bateman, the incompetent GP whose violent disregard for his patient changed the law on manslaughter. Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in England in the 1950s, played a crucial role in changes to the law around provocation in murder cases. And Archibald Kinloch, the deranged Scottish aristocrat whose fratricidal frenzy paved the way for the defence of diminished responsibility. These, and many more, are the people – victims, killers, lawyers and judges, who unwittingly shaped the history of that most grisly and storied of laws.
Join lawyer and writer Kate Morgan on a dark and macabre journey as she explores the strange stories and mysterious cases that have contributed to UK murder law. The big corporate killers; the vengeful spouses; the sloppy doctors; the abused partners; the shoddy employers; each story a crime and each crime a precedent that has contributed to the law’s dark, murky and, at times, shocking standing.
It feels like the first month of the year both lasted forever and flew by so fast. Or is that just me?
I didn’t think I was going to do monthly wrap-ups this year as I don’t want to focus on how many books I’m reading. It’s about enjoying reading rather than the quantity. But this month has been jam packed with AMAZING books that I just had to share with you all, so I decided a wrap up post was needed.
I’ve had a fantastic start to my reading year and I think it is in part due to the quality of the books I’ve read, but also because I managed a lot of free reading. It’s been a long time since I was able to choose about half my books I read in a month simply by what I fancied reading, and I loved it. I do have quite a few tours in the next few months – damn so many incredible sounding books being released – but am renewed in my determination to do less of them this year and read more of what I feel like at my own pace.
All but one of my reads this month were four stars or more, with most of them being 4.5 or 5 star reads. The quality of books being released at the moment is phenomenal, particularly in terms of debuts, but it makes choosing a book of the month impossible. For that reason, I have chosen five favourites this month: The Shadow Man, The Lamplighters, The Summer Job, Dead Head and Everything Is Beautiful. Three of these –The Lamplighters, The Summer Job and Everything Is Beautiful – are debuts by authors I am excited to read more from.
There were three others I could have easily added to the list, but eight books of the month seemed a little too much.
Did we read any of the same books this month? Are any of these books in your tbr? Let me know in the comments.
You can see my reviews and more information on each book by clicking on the link in the title*. Thank you to the tagged publishers for my gifted review copies. *Some reviews are yet to be posted and will be up in the coming week.
Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx