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Blog Tours book reviews

Bright Lies by A. A. Abbott

Published: November 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Perfect City Press
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Trigger Warning: Sexual and physical abuse

Today is my stop on the tour for Bright Lies. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to A. A. Abbott for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

She’s learned too much, too young. Can she break free?

Emily’s dreams come true when her mother marries wealthy painter, David. Thanks to him, Emily’s artistic talents shine. Then he starts teaching her things a 14-year-old shouldn’t know. When Emily escapes from David’s luxury mansion, she’s penniless and forced to sleep in a rat-infested alley.

Bad boy Jack has turned his life around. Working as a DJ with ambitions to open a club, he rescues Emily from the streets when he sees a woman in trouble. He doesn’t know she’s still only 15 – and trapped in a dark web of secrets and lies.

David must find Emily and silence her. As he closes in, Jack faces the hardest choice of all. If he saves Emily, he’ll kiss goodbye to his future…

What would you sacrifice for love?

MY REVIEW:

“I’m technically an adult now, but I had to grow up a long time ago.”

Bright Lies is a story of heartache, abuse, survival and hope. It’s a difficult book to read at times – particularly the grooming and abuse Emily suffers at the hands of her stepfather – but beneath the darkness is a sliver of light. We see that there is still kindness to be found even in the bleakest of times and to keep hope of better things to come.

“Who knows if you can stick a girl like Emily together again, after a man like that has broken her?”

At the heart of this book is fantastic characterisation. Emily and Jack were both very real characters that are likable characters and easy to get behind. It broke my heart the things they knew and had suffered that no one should, particularly at such a young age. I liked how protective Jack was of Emily as despite his flaws he’s one of the good ones. Without him her life after running away could have been even bleaker. That being said, I found reading about their life on the streets difficult as I have children of a similar age, and the idea of them being alone in the world, trying to survive, is unimaginable. My heart broke for them, and for Emily’s mum, who is an innocent victim in all of this too. I wanted to tell Emily to just talk to her mum and reassure her it would be ok. 

There are some vile characters in this book that are so well written they made my skin crawl. But none so much as David. The way he grooms and abuses Emily is practiced and all too familiar. I hated him and wanted to hurt him in every way possible for what he was doing. I just hope that books like this are able to serve as a warning and can help potential victims identify such behaviour from predators before it’s too late.  

Bright Lies is a compelling, thought-provoking and moving read.  I wasn’t sure what to make of the ending at first, but after a few days of pondering on it, I like the direction the author took and thought it was the right way to end Emily and Jack’s stories. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

From the author’s website: Who doesn’t love a cracking crime story, full of twists?

I’m British crime thriller writer A.A. Abbott – known to friends as Helen – and I believe a good read is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

I write fast-paced suspense thrillers set in the British cities of London, Bristol and Birmingham. As a city girl, I’ve lived and worked in all of them. I also know the beautiful countryside of North Somerset well, and that’s where my latest story begins. By far my darkest book yet, psychological thriller ‘Bright Lies’ follows runaway teenager Emily from a country mansion to a city squat, as she flees the stepfather who’s gotten too close.

In contrast, the 5 book Trail series focuses on a vodka business – and what happens when the two families running it fall out with each other and with a London gangster. The Bride’s Trail leads from London to the secret tunnels below Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter. The trail continues with a kidnap in the former Soviet Union in The Vodka Trail, an ill-starred venture with a marijuana farmer in The Grass Trail and a killer on the loose in The Revenge Trail. At the very end, The Final Trail serves up a heady cocktail of betrayal, revenge and reconciliation.

Like 10% of us, many of my family are dyslexic. While I’m not, I want my books to be enjoyed by readers with dyslexia and visual impairment too. That’s why I publish my thrillers in a LARGE PRINT dyslexia-friendly edition as well as the standard paperback and Kindle versions. Don’t forget, you can also adjust the font on your Kindle to suit your needs.

I like speaking to book groups, business networks and social circles, and reading my thrillers and short stories at live fiction events and on Zoom. If you’re a book blogger, litfest organiser, reviewer or simply adore books, I’d love to hear from you.

I’m a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Bristol Fiction Writers’ Group, and Birmingham’s New Street Authors.

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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

Under Your Skin by Rose McClelland

Published: April 27th, 2020
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Trigger Warnings: Domestic Abuse

Today is my stop on the tour for this dark thriller. Thank you to Emma at Damnpebbles Blog Tours for the invitation to take part and Rose McClelland for my gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

When Kyle’s wife Hannah goes missing, the whole town is out in force to try to find her. One person knows where she is. One person is keeping a secret.

Detective Inspector Simon Peters and Detective Kerry Lawlor have been brought in to investigate the case, but Hannah has left no traces and Kyle has no clues.

Local Belfast resident, Julia Matthews, joins the #FindHannah campaign and becomes friendly with Kyle, sympathising with his tragedy. As Julia becomes more involved in the case than she bargained for, she begins to uncover more secrets than the Police ever could.

Julia was only trying to help but has she become drawn into a web of mystery that she can’t escape?

MY REVIEW:

To o the outside world, Hannah and Kyle Greer are happily married. But when Kyle reports his wife missing, the disturbing truth beneath that shiny veneer is slowly revealed. A dark, twisted and affecting novel, Under Your Skin is an exploration of an abusive marriage and the secrets that hide behind closed doors.

At 272 pages this is a short book, but it’s the author’s gripping and atmospheric prose that made it one I devoured in just a few hours. It took me a little while to get used to the multiple narrators and how they each fit into the story, but once I did I was able to appreciate the varying perspectives that they brought to the story. All of those voices are female and the story ultimately is one of finding your inner strength and confidence. Each woman is written with authenticity. They are strong in their own way, yet filled with self-doubt and some are fractured and fragile. But they are all women you can imagine knowing and being friends with.

I loved Hannah’s chapters. Though at first I felt like the terror I was expecting from her was missing, I quickly understood and came to have a lot of empathy for her. For the first half of the book, her chapters focus on the past and tell the story of her relationship with Kyle. As the truth about what she’d endured unfolded I began to understand why she felt a kind of relief at her situation. The other character I felt drawn to was Julia. Julia is a bit of a mess. She’s isolating herself because of depression and gets involved in the search for Hannah to try and get out more like her therapist suggested, only to find herself caught up in Kyle’s twisted web.

I loathed Kyle. He was spectacularly written and I especially liked that the author didn’t give him a voice after the first chapter, instead making him someone we see only through the eyes of the other narrators. I think this was an inspired choice. It took some of his power and control away, something an abuser despises. And, though it’s fiction, I did get a kick out of the fact he never got to gaslight the reader and have the influence a man like him would want.

Complex, dark, disturbing and told with raw honesty, Under Your Skin is an absorbing thriller that examines the truth of domestic abuse with authenticity and sensitivity.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Her debut novel ‘The Break-Up Test’ received lovely reviews on Amazon including: “Rose McClelland’s voice reads like the younger sister of Marian Keyes with a more streetwise but vulnerable edge.”

She is delighted to see her second novel ‘How to Look Like You’ also published by Crooked Cat.

Rose wrote a short play which was directed by Rawlife Theatre Company and performed in The Black Box Theatre, Belfast. She writes book reviews for ‘Judging Covers’ and writes a mixture of theatre reviews and author interviews for her blog.

Rose has been writing creatively since her twenties. She started writing her first novel six years ago. Under Your Skin is her fourth book.

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book reviews Tandem Readalong

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

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

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

SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

Shay thinks she wants their life.

But what they really want is hers.

MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHORS:

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

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

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

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

Sarah is also the author of eight solo novels.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Heatwave by Kate Riordan

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Holiday Fiction

I’m delighted to be sharing my review for this outstanding thriller as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Ella at Michael Joseph for the invitation and copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was troubled. 

Elodie is dead.

Sylvie hasn’t been back to her crumbling French family home in years. Not since the death of her eldest daughter Elodie.

Every corner of the old house feels haunted by memories of her – memories she has tried to forget.

But as temperatures rise, and forest fires rage through the French countryside, a long-buried family secret is about to come to light.

Because there’s something Sylvie’s been hiding about what really happened to Elodie that summer.

And it could change everything.

MY REVIEW:

Sultry, evocative and alluring, The Heatwave is an outstanding summer sizzler. Set in 1993, the story moves between timelines to tell the story of the Winters family and the dark secrets they have kept for a decade. Sylvie and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Emma, return to La Reverie, Sylvie’s family home in the south of France, after a fire. They haven’t been back since Sylvie fled a decade ago following tragic events and the loss of her oldest daughter, Elodie. What happened has always been shrouded in mystery, with Sylvie only obliquely referring to her eldest daughter and never explaining the full story to her youngest child. But the house feels haunted, echoes of the truth living in its walls like a ghost, Elodie’s presence becoming stronger. As Emma begins to ask questions, Sylvie is scared she’s starting to remember. That the truth is coming back to haunt her, and her family will be shattered once again.

I devoured this book quickly, the author’s exquisite prose transfixing me from the first pages. A smouldering thriller that shimmers like the summer sun, it transported me to the south of France from the comfort of my own home so vividly that I could almost feel the heat. I loved that the author wrote it in two parts, each having their own distinct vibe while also continuing the steady temp loopo of malevolence and foreboding and the eerie and suspenseful atmosphere that had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

The characters are richly drawn and compelling, with Elodie casting a particularly sinister and mysterious presence throughout the novel. I liked Sylvie and found her easy to relate to, though I did wonder what secrets she was harbouring, why she was so convinced Emma would hate her if she knew the truth. I had my suspicions, but with each new twist I was left questioning what I thought I knew.

An intoxicating and tantalising read, The Heatwave gave me vibes of We Need To Talk About Kevin, one of my all-time favourite books, and has earned a place on my forever shelf and I can’t wait to read more by this author. A beautifully written, layered and immersive thriller that you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮. 5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist. She is an avid reader of Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie, both of whom have influenced her writing. She lives in the Cotswolds, where she writes full-time. The Heatwave is her fourth novel.
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Blog Tours book reviews

The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao

Published: August 6th, 2020
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Domestic Fiction
Trigger Warning: Mental Health Problems

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this exquisite debut. Thank you to Poppy at Pushkin Press for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS: 

Gwendolyn and Estella are as close as sisters can be. But now Gwendolyn is lying in a coma, the sole survivor after Estella poisons their entire family.

As Gwendolyn struggles to regain consciousness, she desperately retraces her memories, trying to uncover the moment that led to this brutal act.

Journeying from the luxurious world of the rich and powerful in Indonesia to the spectacular shows of Paris Fashion Week, from the sunny coasts of California to the melting pot of Melbourne’s university scene, The Majesties is a haunting and deeply suspenseful novel about the dark secrets that can build a family empire – and also bring it crashing down.

MY REVIEW:

“When your sister murders three hundred people, you can’t help but wonder why – especially if you were one of the intended victims – though I do forgive her if you can believe it.”

I have a penchant for anything with butterflies, so I was immediately drawn to the stunning cover of this book. When I read the synopsis it became a book I had to read and I was thrilled to receive an early copy from the publisher. Then, in May I read the first line above to share for #firstlinefriday and I was hooked. I knew I had to shelve my current reading plans and read this immediately. 

“How ironic. We had embarked on this mission to save the family from darkness, only to discover that we ourselves were darkness through and through.” 

The Majesties opens with Gwendolyn looking back on the day that her sister Estella murdered three hundred people and left her, the sole survivor, lying in a coma. It then follows as Gwendolyn looks back at their family’s history and events leading up to the murders, as she tries to figure out what drove her beloved sister to commit such a crime and how she missed the warning signs.

At its heart, this is a story about family. The murders happen at a family event, the novel is narrated by the sister or the killer, and their family dynamics are a big part of the storyline. The author examines the impact of the unspoken secrets and shame lying behind their respectable family’s polite facade. How it can trickle through the generations causing greater damage than anyone ever imagined. She also explores the topic of mental health: asking how we can miss the signs of someone close to us struggling or push our concerns aside while wrapped up in our own lives, and how those around us are affected by our mental health struggles. 

“It was like watching someone drown without struggling, sinking serenely to the bottom of the deep blue sea.”

Tiffany Tsao is an exquisite writer. Her beautiful prose and vivid imagery brought the world she created to life and transported me to a place and culture I knew little about. The time and effort she has put in to get every line just right jumps from the page and I savoured every delicious word. I found the parts about the bagatelles – the Majesties – fascinating and once again her research and knowledge was evident. It is hard to believe this is a debut novel and I will definitely read what she writes next.

There is so much more to this layered and cleverly written novel than meets the eye. It addresses some deep, difficult and sinister topics and will surprise you just when you think you have it all figured out. I am still reeling from that ending! 

The Majesties is a mesmerising debut from a wonderful new talent that you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Tiffany Tsao is a writer and literary translator. She is the author of the novel The Majesties (originally published in Australia as Under Your Wings) and the Oddfits fantasy series.

Her translations from Indonesian to English include Norman Erikson Pasaribu’s poetry collection Sergius Seeks Bacchus, Dee Lestari’s novel Paper Boats, and Laksmi Pamuntjak’s The Birdwoman’s Palate. Her translations of Norman’s poetry have won the English PEN Presents and English PEN Translates awards.

Born in the United States and of Chinese-Indonesian descent, her family returned to Southeast Asia when she was 3 years old. She spent her formative years in Singapore (8 years) and Indonesia (6 years) before moving to the US for university. She has a B.A. in English literature from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in English literature from UC-Berkeley. She now lives in Sydney, Australia with her spouse and two children.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – September 2020

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

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

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Harpy by Megan Hunter

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Heatwave by Kate Riordan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

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

SYNOPSIS:
ARE YOU READY TO START THIS CONVERSATION?

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

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

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

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

House of Correction by Nicci French

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

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

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

After The Silence by Louise O’Neill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Orange by Natasha Randall

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orfeia by Joanne M. Harris

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlotte by Helen Moffett

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

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

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

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

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

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

For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where The Edge Is by Grainne Murphy

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

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

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

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

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

The Minders by John Marrs

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Song of Isolation by Michael. J. Malone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D (A Tale of Two Worlds) by Michael Faber

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons

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

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

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

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

The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

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

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

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

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

Love,
Mariah

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

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Storm by Amanda Jennings

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Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story

Trigger Warning: Domestic and Psychological Abuse

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this absorbing novel. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC. Picture courtesy of Twitter.

SYNOPSIS:

Doesn’t every marriage have a dark side?

‘Beautifully written, chilling and absorbing’ Adele Parks, Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author of Lies Lies Lies

‘Her best novel yet… Twisty, malevolent and gripping’ Lisa Jewell, No. 1 bestselling author of The Family Upstairs

To the outside world Hannah married the perfect man. Behind the closed doors of their imposing home it’s a very different story. Nathan controls everything Hannah does. He chooses her clothes, checks her receipts, and keeps her passport locked away. But why does she let him? Years before, in the midst of a relentless storm, the tragic events of one night changed everything. And Hannah has been living with the consequences ever since. Keeping Nathan happy. Doing as she’s told.

But the past is about to catch up with them.

Set against the unforgiving backdrop of a Cornish fishing port in the ‘90s, this is a devastating exploration of the power of coercive control in a marriage where nothing is quite as it seems…

MY REVIEW:

“It’s a storm glass… Seems there’s always been a storm coming, right from when he gave it to me.”

This beautifully written family drama was instantly intriguing and immersive. Questions swam in my head as I was transfixed by the mystery of what happened on ‘that night’ fifteen years ago. Just what is the secret still haunting Hannah and keeping her chained to a man she can’t stand?

Told in dual timelines from multiple points of view, The Storm is a story of secrets, lies and love set in Cornwall, one of my favourite parts of the world. But this isn’t a sunny summer tale, and the air is charged with something dark and foreboding, a powerful storm unleashing its fury, destroying lives in its wake. What will Hannah’s life look like once the storm has finally passed?  

“Nathan drains me. The way he twists everything and the mental gymnastics I have to perform in order to keep my head straight is exhausting. It doesn’t matter how strong I feel when we begin a conversation, by the end I’m shattered.”

The characters are real and relatable, with Hannah someone I connected with on a very deep and personal level. To the outside world, Hannah and Nathan have a picture-perfect marriage. But behind the facade is a marriage of abuse and fear. While the author avoids being graphic, the abuse is written in an authentic way; Nathan ruling the house through fear, threats, isolation and financial control. I hated him. He sent shivers down my spine and anger coursing through my veins. He was a typical bully who cycles between demands, playing the hero and then the victim. A man terrified of being unmasked. Just thinking about him is making my blood boil! 

Spectacularly written, absorbing and emotive, the malevolence and dread drip from the pages. I couldn’t put this down, compelled to keep reading late into the night as the truth is slowly revealed through clever twists and turns. The Storm is an outstanding mystery that I highly recommend.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hello and welcome to my Author Page! So what do I write? Well, I love anything with a dark vein and secrets which affect families, and my books tend to fall into the psychological suspense category. My most recent books – In Her Wake and The Cliff House – are set in Cornwall. Cornwall is where my heart lies! My mother’s side of the family is from Penzance and I have many blissful memories of long summers spent here. I am never happier than when I’m beside the sea. Though I’m fond of a mountain too, especially when it’s got snow on it. I’ve skied since I was a child and it’s a huge passion. When I’m not beside the sea or up a mountain or sitting at my desk, you can usually find me chatting on the radio as a regular guest on BBC Berkshire’s weekly Book Club, or loitering on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. I love meeting and engaging with readers, whether that’s on social media, or at libraries, book clubs and literary festivals. If you see me out and about at an event do say hello! What am I doing now? Well, I live just outside Henley-on-Thames with my husband, three daughters and an unruly menagerie of pets, and am currently writing my fifth book which will be published in 2020.

Website |Instagram |TwitterFacebook

BUY THE BOOK:

 Amazon |Waterstones |Hive|Kobo

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Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Precious You by Helen Monks Takar

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Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Noir Fiction

Today I’m delighted to share my review for this outstanding debut. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

She’s got your job. She wants your life

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

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

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

MY REVIEW:

“It all began when I met you, Lily. Beautiful, dangerous, precious you.” 

Obsession. Secrets. Revenge.

Precious You puts the psycho in psychological thriller. This was one of my most anticipated reads of the summer and I’ve been eagerly waiting to read it since hearing about it last year; it was worth the wait. Bold, unsettling, tense and fast-paced, this was like a rollercoaster ride I didn’t want to get off and had me holding on for dear life from the first page until the last. 

Katherine has worked for Lifestyle for twenty years and has managed to survive the recent takeover. On her way to meet the new owner of the magazine she meets Lily, a young, ambitious journalist who also happens to be a new intern at Lifestyle. The battlelines are instantly drawn in the duo’s toxic rivalry and what follows is a story of two women who will go to drastic lengths to not only keep their secrets, but get what they want. 

“I never fully realised how much danger a person is in when the individual they trust least is themselves. After you, Lily, I’ll never ignore my first instincts again.” 

What a book! This is an outstanding debut novel. The writing is sharp, suspenseful and dripping with malice. Like Katherine, I was trying to put the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out exactly why Lily wanted to tear her life apart but other than one wild theory that came out of leftfield, I had nothing. I won’t tell you what it was or if I was wrong, but I will say this was cleverly written, full of an array of twists and turns, and kept me on my toes right until the end. 

“I didn’t mean to hurt anyone. I was hurt first. That’s where it started. I’ve been made this way and it isn’t all my fault anyway. I can’t help it if other people are weaker than me. But they don’t see it like that.” 

The story is told from both Katherine and Lily’s points of view, with Katherine telling the story in past tense to Lily and extracts from Lily’s diary offering her perspective. I liked this difference in the narrative as it gave a clear distinction between the two voices. Though I thought I’d relate to Katherine with us being the same age, Despite the fact I didn’t really like either woman, I loved reading both of them. Lily in particular was fascinating to me. She was the anti-heroine and enjoying her felt like enjoying Villanelle’s character in Killing Eve, her dark, chilling psychopathy leaping from the page. It was addictive and I needed to know more. What would she do next? Just how would she take everything from Katherine? And why? The author has created two memorable women who made for enthralling and entertaining reading. The one thing that was a little strange to me, was both characters’ obsession with their ages and generational differences. For me this distracted a little from the rest of the plot as I didn’t understand their hostility based solely on these things.

So if you love deliciously dark and menacing thrillers full of psycho characters that you love to hate, then this is the book for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Helen Monks Takhar worked as a journalist, copywriter and magazine editor having graduated from Cambridge in 1997. She began her career writing for financial trade newspapers in 1999 before contributing to UK national newspapers including The Times and The Observer. Born in Southport, Merseyside in 1976, she lives in North London with her husband and two daughters. Precious You is her first novel.

Website |Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive |Google Books |Kobo

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Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Playdate by Alex Dahl

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Format: Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

It was meant to be your daughter’s first sleepover.
Now it’s an abduction.

Lucia Blix went home from school for a playdate with her new friend Josie. Later that evening, Lucia’s mother Elisa dropped her overnight things round and kissed her little girl goodnight.

That was the last time she saw her daughter.

The next morning, when Lucia’s dad arrived to pick her up, the house was empty. No furniture, no family, no Lucia.

In Playdate, Alex Dahl puts a microscope on a seemingly average, seemingly happy family plunged into a life-altering situation. Who has taken their daughter, and why?

MY REVIEW:

When seven-year-old Lucia begs her mother to be allowed to have a playdate with her new friend Josie, Elisa agrees. When she later asks to have her first sleepover Elisa can’t turn down her excited daughter and drops round her overnight things. But when Lucia’s father goes to collect her the next day the house is empty, there is no furniture and no sign of the family living there. Where is Lucia and why did someone take her?

This story is every parent’s worst nightmare. All I could think of is the many playdates and sleepovers I’ve sent my own children on, getting chills at the idea of them not coming back the next day. This made it easy for me to relate to Elisa and feel everything she did. But  from the start I had a sense that she was hiding something important that could be the key to finding who took Lucia, though I had no idea at all what it might be, increasing the mystery and tension. 

Told in multiple voices, including Lucia herself, we are offered a glimpse into their inner thoughts and fears. The story is very character-driven so this insight into their psyches is what drives the narrative and helps solve the mystery of Lucia’s abduction. Complex, intricate and layered, it is hard to see how all the pieces fit together at first. But through many twists and turns the author slowly unveils the truths being hidden to reveal the answer everyone has been searching for: why. 

Gripping, suspenseful and terrifying, Playmate is a cleverly crafted psychological thriller about ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances. This is a great read for anyone who enjoys character-driven thrillers.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Alex Dahl was born in Oslo, Norway, and is half American, half Norwegian, fully Francophile, and London resident. Alex is the author of The Boy at the Door, published world-wide in 2018.
She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University, as well as an MSc in Business Management. Alex loves to travel and has previously lived in Moscow, Paris, Stuttgart, Sandefjord, Switzerland and Bath.

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