Shiver was one of my favourite books of 2020 so I was thrilled to be asked to take part in the blog tour for its paperback publication.
This exhilarating debut sold in a ten-way auction to Headline UK in partnership with Hachette Australia. It has now sold in 23 territories and Firebird Pictures have optioned it for a TV series.
They don’t know what I did. And I intend to keep it that way.
How far would you go to win? Hyper-competitive people, mind games and a dangerous natural environment combine to make the must-read thriller of the year. Fans of Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell will be gripped by spectacular debut novel Shiver.
When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.
The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.
In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.
“It’s that time of year again. The time the glacier gives up bodies.”
Wow! What a book! A deliciously dark, chilling, tense and twisty tour-de-force, this was hard to put down.
Shiver was one of my most highly anticipated books of 2021, and had received a lot of praise and hype even prior to publication. I’m happy to tell you that every bit of it is deserved.
Milla, a former semi-pro snowboarder, returns to Le Rocher for a reunion with five of her friends. It’s the first time they’ve all been together in ten years. Since Saskia disappeared.
They start the weekend with an icebreaker game that quickly turns sinister and forces them to question who brought them together and why. Trapped together on a deserted glacier they don’t know who to trust or how far some will go to uncover the truth about what really happened on the mountain a decade ago…
“He doesn’t know what I did. None of them do. And I intend to keep it that way.”
An electrifying, high-octane thrill ride, this addictive and atmospheric read had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.
Told in the present day and flashbacks to ten years ago, we see the story through the eyes of Milla, who I instantly felt a connection to as she hails from my hometown of Sheffield. Milla is haunted by events from the last time she was at Le Rocher, by a body yet to be given up by the glacier and a dark secret she desperately hopes to keep unveiled. I liked Milla and found her to be a compelling and relatable protagonist. In fact, all of the characters are compelling and richly drawn with backstories that keep you glued to the page. The claustrophobic dynamics of living and competing together on the mountain is ripe for conflict and the author mines this to perfection both in the flashbacks and in the present day.
Though she’s an awful person, I loved Saskia’s character and thought she was fantastically written. As we only ever see her through Milla’s eyes it’s obviously a skewed opinion we have of her, but to be fair, I don’t think there’s much that could redeem her character. Despite the extremes she goes to, it all feels realistic and I could imagine someone who is both competitive and of questionable morals behaving that way to keep ahead. She gave the story a sense of foreboding and tension that made me keep reading as I needed to know what she’d do next and what had really happened to her.
“I soar above the ice, mind pure and empty, seeing nothing, hearing nothing. Only feeling. These precious moments of weightlessness at the top of the arc, suspended by gravity.”
Allie Reynolds is a former freestyle snowboarder and you can feel the authenticity of her expertise in the writing. The imagery, emotions and little details are all so transportive and on point that it is clear she has lived this. I felt like I was flying through the air with Milla and could almost feel the icy air of the French Alps. There were times that the book had a cinematic quality to it and I could definitely see this on the big screen one day.
So if you’re looking for a book that’s dripping with suspense, an atmosphere thick with malevolence and will have your heart pounding, this is the book for you.
An outstanding debut by a talent that is one to watch, don’t miss this book.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮. 5
MEET THE AUTHOR:
From the author’s website:
I was once a freestyle snowboarder in the UK top ten at halfpipe. I spent five winters in the mountains of France, Switzerland, Austria and Canada.
I taught English for fifteen years. I’ve also been a London primary school teacher, bookshop assistant, barmaid, nanny and French teacher/translator. My short fiction has appeared in women’s magazines in the UK, Australia, Sweden and South Africa. I’ve been a full-time writer since 2018.
Born and raised in England, I moved to Gold Coast Australia in 2003. I have two young children and a cat who thinks he’s a dog.
Happy Publication Day to this fantastic and funny novel. Thank you so much to Hannah Tovey and Piatkus for my gifted copy.
-Employed (you have frequent nightmares about your job) –Single and fabulous (swiping Tinder in your pyjamas while your best friend shops for engagement rings) –Thriving (surviving)
Ivy and Mia have been best friends since the fun, messy, hungover years of their twenties.
Ten years later, Mia has it all – the man, the house, the career. Ivy is skint, single, and scared that she isn’t a ‘hot mess’ any more – she’s a walking disaster.
But one night, Ivy switches her phone off, peels last night’s drunken pizza off the sofa, and makes a list. A list that changes everything . . .
The new Ivy has a proper job. She goes on fancy dates in wine bars. She’s starting to think: maybe ‘faking it till you make it’ is easy?
But then she meets Scott.
Curly-haired, sarcastic Scott.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Hannah Tovey is from South Wales and grew up in Hong Kong. She graduated from the Faber Academy in 2018, where she finished her debut novel, The Education of Ivy Edwards. Hannah lives in East London where she misses Llanelli beach, her mother and cockles. Her second novel, Is This It?, comes out July 2021.
Published: June 24th, 2021 Publisher: Bloomsbury UK Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Today is the paperback publication day of Tsarina, the first in an exciting new trilogy that was also one of my favourite books of 2020. To celebrate, I’m resharing my review.
Thank you Midas PR and Bloomsbury UK for my gifted copies of the book.
The second book in the series, The Tsarina’s Daughter, is out July 8th.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE AUTHOR’S CLUB BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD
‘It makes Game of Thrones look like a nursery rhyme’ – Daisy Goodwin
Lover, mother, murderer, Tsarina
1699: Illegitimate, destitute and strikingly beautiful, Marta is sold into labour at the age of fifteen – where in desperation she commits a crime that will force her to go on the run. Cheating death at every turn, she is swept into the current of the Great Northern War. Working as a washer woman at a battle camp, she catches the eye of none other than Peter the Great. Passionate and iron-willed, Peter has a vision for transforming the traditionalist Tsardom of Russia into a modern, Western empire.
With nothing but wits, courage and formidable ambition, Marta will rise from nothing to become Catherine I of Russia. But it comes at a steep price and is tied to the destiny of Russia itself.
“He is dead. My beloved husband, the mighty Tsar of all the Russias, has died – and just in time.”
Tsarina is a story of power, lust, sex, murder and betrayal. Of rags-to-riches. Of Catherine, the first Tsarina of all the Russias.
It begins in February 1725, on the night that Peter the Great, Tsar of All the Russias, dies. Catherine, her children and his advisors try to conceal his death for as long as possible to delay their fate. It is a matter of life and death. The story then moves between that night and flashbacks to Catherine’s life, beginning when she was just thirteen-years-old, still known as Marta and living with her serf family. We then follow her journey from poor peasant girl to Tsarina; a story that would be deemed too far fetched if you tried to sell it to a publisher. But every word of this novel is based in fact, with just a few liberties taken as the details of Catherine’s early life is shrouded in mystery.
I have always had a love for history and ever since studying the fall of the Tsars for my History A Level I have been fascinated with their story. So when I saw this book advertised I knew from just the title that I HAD to read it. After reading the synopsis it became one of my most anticipated books of the year. Thankfully, this magnificent debut surpassed every one of my high expectations. It was an all-encompassing read. A book that I took my time with, taking time to soak in every word, but also one that I couldn’t put down or stop thinking about when I had to do so.
Ellen Alpsten is a new talent to watch. Exquisitely written and wonderfully crafted, her meticulous research shines through on every page, bringing back to life those who lived and died three hundred years ago and making you feel like they are right there beside you with her powerful storytelling. I was hooked from the start and became totally lost in Catherine’s story, living every word of this book while reading it. Every moment of love and joy, every piercing pain of heartbreak and every gut-wrenching horror she witnessed and experienced, I felt along with her.
“Together, we have lived and loved, and together, we ruled.”
After reading this novel it seems unimaginable that Catherine’s story has been forgotten. That such a strong, brave and remarkable woman had been consigned to a footnote in history. At that time life for most of Russia’s people was hard, harsh and bleak. Even those in the upper classes lived in fear of falling out the Tsar’s favour and losing not only their wealth but their lives. Peter had a new vision for Russia and was a ruthless leader who was willing to sacrifice anyone and everything to achieve it. Even as his wife Catherine walked a tightrope knowing she could be stripped of everything and either sent to a convent or killed should the fancy take him. The brutality of life at that time and the lack of rights that were held by even the highest-ranking women is starkly illuminated in Catherine’s story in sobering detail.
Tsarina is a masterpiece of historical fiction. Atmospheric, intoxicating, unsettling, and compelling, this outstanding novel is one that will linger long after you close it’s pages. This gloriously decadent debut is one you don’t want to miss.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Ellen Alpsten was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands, where she dressed up her many pets and forced them to listen to her stories.
Upon graduating from the ‘Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris’, she worked as a news-anchor for Bloomberg TV London. While working gruesome night shifts on breakfast TV, she started to write in earnest, every day, after work, a nap and a run. So much for burning midnight oil!
Today, Ellen works as an author and as a journalist for international publications such as Vogue, Standpoint, and CN Traveller. She lives in London with her husband, three sons, and a moody fox red Labrador.
‘Tsarina’ is her debut novel in the ‘Tsarina’ series, followed by ‘The Tsarina’s Daughter’.
Hello Bibliophiles! Today is a busy day in the book world with a vast array of amazing books out in Kindle, Hardback, Paperback and Audio Today. This is a last minute post so it is in no way comprehensive, but I’ve put together a list of many of the amazing books out today. Thank you to Publishers for my gifted copies of some of the books pictured above.
SYNOPSIS: The sunniest places hold the darkest secrets . . .
A stunning 1950s set debut mystery brimming with atmosphere and perfect for fans of Tangerine,Small Pleasures and Mad Men. ________
Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .
It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.
While the Haney’s neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family’s ‘help’, who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes’ starched curtains than anyone, and it isn’t long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole ‘perfect’ world to set alight . . .
A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.
It’s December 2023 and the world as we know it has ended.
The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself).
But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own.
Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.
And with no one else to live for, who will she become now that she’s completely alone?
SYNOPSIS: In a converted Georgian townhouse in south west London, three families live under one roof.
The large flat that takes up the top two floors is home to the Harlow family: happily married Paul and Steph, and their bubbly teenage daughter Freya. The smaller first floor flat is rented by Emma, who spends most of her time alone, listening to people coming in and out of the building. And the basement flat belongs to Chris, a local driving instructor, who prefers to keep his personal life private from the neighbours.
But their lives are all upended when Freya vanishes. As the police become involved and a frantic Paul and Steph desperately search for answers, they begin to realise that the truth behind their daughter’s disappearance may lie closer to home than they were expecting.
When everyone has something to hide, can you ever really know those closest to you? Or will some secrets be taken to the grave?
SYNOPSIS: AN INTENSELY CREEPY SERIAL KILLER THRILLER DEBUT, FOR FANS OF CHRIS CARTER, M. W. CRAVEN AND THE WHISPER MAN.
Death is an art, and he is the master . . .
Three glass cabinets appear in London’s Trafalgar Square containing a gruesome art installation: the floating corpses of three homeless men. Shock turns to horror when it becomes clear that the bodies are real.
The cabinets are traced to @nonymous – an underground artist shrouded in mystery who makes a chilling promise: MORE WILL FOLLOW.
Eighteen years ago, Detective Inspector Grace Archer escaped a notorious serial killer. Now, she and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must hunt down another.
As more bodies appear at London landmarks and murders are livestreamed on social media, their search for @nonymous becomes a desperate race against time. But what Archer doesn’t know is that the killer is watching their every move – and he has his sights firmly set on her . . .
He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.
Genre: New Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Medical Romance Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Publisher: Bantam Press
SYNOPSIS: CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN?
Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.
Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon.
Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. She keeps the curtain around her bed firmly closed, but it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?
SYNOPSIS: Winner of the 2019 UEA Crime Writing Prize, Lightseekers is the start of a major new crime series introducing investigative psychologist Dr Philip Taiwo.
When three young students are brutally murdered in a Nigerian university town, their killings – and their killers – are caught on social media. The world knows who murdered them; what no one knows is why.
As the legal trial begins, investigative psychologist Philip Taiwo is contacted by the father of one of the boys, desperate for some answers to his son’s murder. But Philip is an expert in crowd behaviour and violence, not a detective, and after travelling to the sleepy university town that bore witness to the killings, he soon feels dramatically out of his depth.
Will he finally be able to uncover the truth of what happened to the Okiri Three?
SYNOPSIS: Two young people meet at a pub in South East London. Both are Black British, both won scholarships to private schools where they struggled to belong, both are now artists – he a photographer, she a dancer – trying to make their mark in a city that by turns celebrates and rejects them. Tentatively, tenderly, they fall in love. But two people who seem destined to be together can still be torn apart by fear and violence.
At once an achingly beautiful love story and a potent insight into race and masculinity, Open Water asks what it means to be a person in a world that sees you only as a Black body, to be vulnerable when you are only respected for strength, to find safety in love, only to lose it. With gorgeous, soulful intensity, Caleb Azumah Nelson has written the most essential British debut of recent years.
The Crow Folk: The Witches of Woodville 1) by Mark Stay
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Adventure Fiction, War Fiction Format: Paperback, Kindle Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
SYNOPSIS: As Spitfires roar overhead and a dark figure stalks the village of Woodville, a young woman will discover her destiny . . .
Faye Bright always felt a little bit different. And today she’s found out why. She’s just stumbled across her late mother’s diary which includes not only a spiffing recipe for jam roly-poly, but spells, incantations, runes and recitations . . . a witch’s notebook.
And Faye has inherited her mother’s abilities.
Just in time, too. The Crow Folk are coming. Led by the charismatic Pumpkinhead, their strange magic threatens Faye and the villagers. Armed with little more than her mum’s words, her trusty bicycle, the grudging help of two bickering old ladies, and some aggressive church bellringing, Faye will find herself on the front lines of a war nobody expected.
For fans of Lev Grossman and Terry Pratchett comes this delightful novel of war, mystery and a little bit of magic . . .
SYNOPSIS: This is a story about taking a leap of faith And believing the unbelievable
They say those we love never truly leave us, and I’ve found that to be true. But not in the way you might expect. In fact, none of this is what you’d expect.
I’ve been visiting my mother who died when I was eight. And I’m talking about flesh and blood, tea-and-biscuits-on-the-table visiting here.
Right now, you probably think I’m going mad. Let me explain…
Although Faye is happy with her life, the loss of her mother as a child weighs on her mind even more now that she is a mother herself. So she is amazed when, in an extraordinary turn of events, she finds herself back in her childhood home in the 1970s. Faced with the chance to finally seek answers to her questions – but away from her own family – how much is she willing to give up for another moment with her mother?
Space Hopper is an original and poignant story about mothers, memories and moments that shape life.
SYNOPSIS: What happens when the man she married can’t remember her?
Ellie has the perfect life: a happy marriage, a gorgeous daughter and a baby on the way. But when her husband Max develops amnesia, he forgets everything about the last five years . . . including their relationship.
Now the man she said ‘I do’ to has become a stranger, and she has no idea why. Yet Ellie is determined to reconnect and find her Max again – he has to be in there somewhere, right?
As they get to know one another afresh, Ellie finds herself seeing Max clearly for the first time. But then she discovers that before his memory loss, Max was keeping a huge secret from her. Will their new beginning prove to be a false start, just as it seemed they might fall in love all over again?
SYNOPSIS: A gripping memoir and revelatory investigation into the history of the Foundling Hospital and one girl who grew up in its care – the author’s own mother.
Growing up in a wealthy enclave outside San Francisco, Justine Cowan’s life seems idyllic. But her mother’s unpredictable temper drives Justine from home the moment she is old enough to escape. It is only after her mother dies that she finds herself pulling at the threads of a story half-told – her mother’s upbringing in London’s Foundling Hospital. Haunted by this secret history, Justine travels across the sea and deep into the past to discover the girl her mother once was.
Here, with the vividness of a true storyteller, she pieces together her mother’s childhood alongside the history of the Foundling Hospital: from its idealistic beginnings in the eighteenth century, how it influenced some of England’s greatest creative minds – from Handel to Dickens, its shocking approach to childcare and how it survived the Blitz only to close after the Second World War.
This was the environment that shaped a young girl then known as Dorothy Soames, who was left behind by a mother forced by stigma and shame to give up her child; who withstood years of physical and emotional abuse, dreaming of escape as German bombers circled the skies, unaware all along that her own mother was fighting to get her back.
Waiting For Superman: One Family’s Struggle To Survive – and cure – Chronic Illnessby Tracie White
Genre: Biography Format: Papernack, Kindle Publisher: Allen & Unwin
SYNOPSIS: For the past six years, Whitney Dafoe has been confined to a bedroom in the back of his parents’ home, unable to walk, eat or speak. His diagnosis? The mysterious disease myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) which affects 20 million people around the world who largely suffer in silence because the condition is little known and much misunderstood.
Waiting for Superman follows Whitney’s father, groundbreaking geneticist Ron Davis, as he uncovers new possibilities for treatments and potentially a cure. At its heart, this book is about more than just cutting-edge research or a race to find an answer – it’s about the lengths to which a parent will go to save their child’s life.
SYNOPSIS: ‘An eerie, atmospheric novel that had me completely on the edge of my seat.’ Reese Witherspoon
EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.
An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.
Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.
And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.
But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .
SYNOPSIS: When Amy Ashton’s world fell apart eleven years ago, she started a collection.
Just a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been.
Now her house is overflowing with the objects she loves – soon there’ll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery, and Amy’s carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she’d lost still be hers for the taking?
Perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant and The Keeper of Lost Things, this exquisitely told, uplifting novel shows us that however hopeless things might feel, beauty can be found in the most unexpected of places
Genre: Coming-of-Age Fiction, Holiday Fiction Format: Kindle (Hardcover published March 4th) Publisher: Corvus
Fortune favours the fraud…
When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy.
In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set.
But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined…
SYNOPSIS: If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.
My name is Constance Little. This is my love story. But this isn’t the way it was supposed to end.
After fleeing Manchester for London, Constance attempts to put past tragedies behind her and make a fresh start. When she embarks on a relationship with the new doctor at the medical practice where she works, she’s convinced she’s finally found the love and security she craves.
Then he ends it.
But if life has taught her anything, it’s that if you love someone, you should never let them go.
That’s why for Constance Little, her obsession is only just beginning . . .
SYNOPSIS: One will change your life. One will end it. Who will … FIND YOU FIRST?
It’s a deadly race against time…
Tech billionaire Miles has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of – except time. Now facing a terminal illness, Miles knows he must seize every minute to put his life in order. And that means taking a long hard look at his past.
Somewhere out there, Miles has children. And they might be about to inherit both the good and bad from him – possibly his fortune, or possibly something more sinister.
So Miles decides to track down his missing children. But a vicious killer is one step ahead of him. One by one, people are vanishing. Not just disappearing, every trace of them is wiped.
Number One Sunday Times bestseller Linwood Barclay returns with his electrifying new thriller, Find You First.
SYNOPSIS: Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family – and is the most unhappy creature in the world.
Anne Turner has wit and talent – but no stage on which to display them. Little stands between her and the abyss of destitution.
When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. Frankie sweeps Anne into a world of splendour that exceeds all she imagined: a Court whose foreign king is a stranger to his own subjects; where ancient families fight for power, and where the sovereign’s favourite may rise and rise – so long as he remains in favour.
With the marriage of their talents, Anne and Frankie enter this extravagant, savage hunting ground, seeking a little happiness for themselves. But as they gain notice, they also gain enemies; what began as a search for love and safety leads to desperate acts that could cost them everything.
Based on the true scandal that rocked the court of James I, A Net for Small Fishes is the most gripping novel you’ll read this year: an exhilarating dive into the pitch-dark waters of the Jacobean court.
SYNOPSIS: Italy, 1938. Mussolini is in power and war is not far away . . .
Clara and Pippo are just children: quiet, thoughtful Clara is the older sister; Pippo, the younger brother, is forever chatting. The family has only recently arrived in the city carrying their few possessions.
When Mamma goes missing early one morning, both Clara and Pippo go in search of her. Clara turns right; Pippo left.
As a result of the choices they make that morning, their lives will be changed forever.
Diana Rosie’s Pippo and Clara tells the story of a family and a country divided. But will Clara and Pippo – and their mother – find each other again?
Genre:Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Medical Fiction Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Publisher: Head of Zeus
SYNOPSIS: Forsake the living. Forget the dead. Fear the children… The brand new chilling page-turner from the master of horror
A TERRIFYING BIRTH A young woman is rushed to the hospital with stabbing pains in her stomach. The chief surgeon delivers a living child with the face of an angel and the body of a tentacled monster. The doctors are unanimous that the baby must die.
AN ESCAPE FROM THE DARK Engineer Gemma is plunged into darkness in a tunnel beneath London. Before she escapes, a strange green light illuminates a cluster of ghostly figures. Gemma is certain they were children.
A SUPERNATURAL THREAT DC Jerry Pardoe and DS Jamila Patel, of Tooting Police, have investigated the occult before – but nothing as strange and horrible as what they must confront in the city sewers. Down here in the dark, where the dead come back to life, witchcraft is the only force strong enough to save you…
Genre: Mystery, Thriller Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Publisher: Head of Zeus
SYNOPSIS: A high concept thriller from the author of The Package, international number one bestseller Sebastian Fitzek.
On average 23 people a year disappear from the world’s cruise ships. They are written off as accidents or suicides. But what if they’re not?
Five years ago Martin Schwarz, a police psychologist, lost his wife and son. They were holidaying on a cruise ship when they simply vanished. A lacklustre investigation was unable to shed any light on what happened – murder-suicide being the coroner’s verdict. It is a verdict that has haunted Martin ever since, blighting his life. But then he is contacted by an elderly woman, a writer, who claims to have information regarding their fate and wants him to come on board The Sultan of the Seas immediately.
She explains that his wife and son are not the only mother and child pair to have disappeared. Only a few months ago another mother and daughter also vanished. She believes there may be a serial killer on board.
But when the missing daughter reappears – carrying the teddy bear of Martin’s missing son – it becomes apparent that the truth could be much, much worse…Sebastian Fitzek is Germany’s most successful author. His books have sold 13 million copies, been translated into more than thirty-six languages and are the basis for international cinema and theatre adaptations. Sebastian Fitzek was the first German author to be awarded the European Prize for Criminal Literature. He lives with his family in Berlin.
SYNOPSIS: The must-read epic fantasy of 2021, as featured on Cosmo, Buzzfeed, BookRiot and Refinery 29. In this West African-inspired world, girls are outcasts by blood and warriors by choice, perfect for fans of Children of Blood and Bone and Black Panther.
Sixteen-year-old Deka lives in Otera, a deeply patriarchal ancient kingdom, where a woman’s worth is tied to her purity, and she must bleed to prove it. But when Deka bleeds gold – the colour of impurity, of a demon – she faces a consequence worse than death. She is saved by a mysterious woman who tells Deka of her true nature: she is an Alaki, a near-immortal with exceptional gifts. The stranger offers her a choice: fight for the Emperor, with others just like her, or be destroyed…
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Religious Fiction Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Publisher: Picador
SYNOPSIS: Seventh Seltzer has done everything he can to break from the traditions of the past, but in his overbearing, narcissistic mother’s last moments, she whispers in his ear the two words he always knew she would: ‘Eat me’.
This is not unusual, as the Seltzers are Cannibal-Americans, a once proud and thriving ethnic group, but for Seventh, it raises some serious questions. Of practical concern, she’s six-foot-two and weighs over thirty stone – even divided up between Seventh and his eleven brothers, that’s a lot of red meat. Plus, Second keeps kosher, Ninth is vegan and Sixth is dead. To make matters worse, even if he can wrangle his brothers together for a feast, the Can-Am people have assimilated, and the only living Cannibal who knows how to perform the ancient ritual is their Uncle Ishmael, a far from reliable guide.
Beyond the practical, Seventh struggles with the sense of guilt and responsibility he feels – to his mother, to his people and to his unique cultural heritage. His mother always taught him he was a link in a chain, stretching back centuries. But he’s getting tired of chains.
Shalom Auslander’s Mother for Dinner is an outrageously tasty comedy about identity and inheritance, the things we owe our families and the things we owe ourselves.
SYNOPSIS: The BRAND NEW novel from the internationally bestselling author of THE LITTLE COFFEE SHOP OF KABUL
In Morocco, behind the ancient walls of the medina, secrets will be revealed . . .
Amina Bennis has come back to her childhood home in Morocco to attend her sister’s wedding. The time has come for her to confront her strict, traditionalist father with the secret she has kept for more than a year – her American husband Max.
Amina’s best friend Charlie, and Charlie’s feisty grandmother Bea, have come along for moral support, staying with Amina and her family in their palatial riad in Fès, and enjoying all that the city has to offer. But Charlie is also hiding someone from her past – a mystery man from Casablanca.
And then there’s Samira, the Bennis’s devoted housekeeper for many decades. Hers is the biggest secret of all – and the one that strikes at the very heart of the family . . .
From the twisted alleyways of the ancient medina of Fès to a marriage festival high in the Atlas Mountains, Deborah Rodriguez’s entrancing new bestseller is a modern story of forbidden love set in the sensual landscape of North Africa.
SYNOPSIS: Nessa McCormack’s marriage is coming back together again after her husband’s affair. She is excited to be in charge of a retrospective art exhibit for one of Ireland’s most beloved and enigmatic artists, the late sculptor Robert Locke. But the arrival of two outsiders imperils both her personal and professional worlds: a chance encounter with an old friend threatens to expose a betrayal Nessa thought she had long put behind her, and at work, an odd woman comes forward claiming to be the true creator of Robert Locke’s most famous work, The Chalk Sculpture.
As Nessa finds the past intruding on the present, she must decide whether she can continue to live a lie – or whether she’s ready to face the consequences once everything is out in the open. In this gripping debut, Danielle McLaughlin reveals profound truths about love, power, and the secrets that rule us.
SYNOPSIS: Soon to be a Netflix film starring Stranger Things‘ Millie Bobby Brown – this must-read psychological thriller, perfect for fans of One of Us Is Lying, will leave you guessing until the final page.
As an ex con artist, Nora has always got herself out of tricky situations. But the ultimate test lies in wait when she’s taken hostage in a bank heist. And this time, Nora doesn’t have an escape plan …
Meet Nora. Also known as Rebecca, Samantha, Haley, Katie and Ashley – the girls she’s been.
Nora didn’t choose a life of deception – she was born into it. As the daughter of a con artist who targeted criminal men, Nora always had to play a part. But when her mother fell for one of the men instead of conning him, Nora pulled the ultimate con herself: escape.
For five years Nora’s been playing at normal – but things are far from it when she finds herself held at gunpoint in the middle of a bank heist, along with Wes (her ex-boyfriend) and Iris (her secret new girlfriend and mutual friend of Wes … awkward). Now it will take all of Nora’s con artistry skills to get them out alive.
Because the gunmen have no idea who she really is – that girl has been in hiding for far too long.
SYNOPSIS: What secrets are hidden within the walls of a desolate farmhouse in a forgotten corner of Lapland?
Early spring has its icy grip on Ödesmark, a small village in northernmost Sweden, abandoned by many of its inhabitants. But Liv Björnlund never left. She lives in a derelict house together with her teenage son, Simon, and her ageing father, Vidar. They make for a peculiar family, and Liv knows that they are cause for gossip among their few remaining neighbours.
Just why has Liv stayed by her domineering father’s side all these years? And is it true that Vidar is sitting on a small fortune? His questionable business decisions have made him many enemies over the years, and in Ödesmark everyone knows everyone, and no one ever forgets.
Now someone wants back what is rightfully theirs. And they will stop at nothing to get it, no matter who stands in their way…
SYNOPSIS: The first time you see them, out for an evening walk on the cliffs, you’ll think they’re the perfect family. You’ll see a wife who looks so happy, strolling peacefully beside her husband in his dark winter coat, holding her daughter’s hand. But you have no idea what’s really happening in their house…
If you come a little closer you might hear the way the man speaks to his wife.
You might notice that the woman doesn’t have any close friends. That sometimes her husband doesn’t want her to leave the house. You might wonder if that’s a scar her beautiful daughter is hiding on her neck.
When you read the local newspaper and hear the news that the wife has fallen from the cliffs, you’ll question whether it was really an accident at all.
And when the husband starts dating someone new – a woman with the same long dark hair and big blue eyes as his wife – will you say something this time?
Because someone has to protect the little girl and stop history from repeating itself. And it may already be too late.
A thrilling and twisty tale, His Hidden Wife will keep you up all night, desperate to race through to its final conclusion. Readers of Gone Girl, The Couple Next Door and Lisa Jewell will be hooked.
SYNOPSIS: Hubert Bird is not alone in being alone. He just needs to realise it.
In weekly phone calls to his daughter in Australia, widower Hubert Bird paints a picture of the perfect retirement, packed with fun, friendship and fulfilment.
But Hubert Bird is lying.
The truth is day after day drags by without him seeing a single soul.
Until, that is, he receives some good news – good news that in one way turns out to be the worst news ever, news that will force him out again, into a world he has long since turned his back on.
Now Hubert faces a seemingly impossible task: to make his real life resemble his fake life before the truth comes out. Along the way Hubert stumbles across a second chance at love, renews a cherished friendship and finds himself roped into an audacious community scheme that seeks to end loneliness once and for all . . .
Life is certainly beginning to happen to Hubert Bird. But with the origin of his earlier isolation always lurking in the shadows will he ever get to live the life he’s pretended to have for so long?
From bestselling author Mike Gayle, All the Lonely People is by turns a funny and moving meditation on love, race, old age and friendship that will not only charm and uplift, but also remind you of the power of ordinary people to make an extraordinary difference.
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Book Series Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
SYNOPISIS: A serial killer who will stop at nothing…
The Killer His most valuable possession has been stolen. Now he must retrieve it, at any cost.
The Girl Angela Wood wanted to teach the man a lesson. It was a bag, just like any other. But when she opens it, the worst nightmare of her life begins.
The Detective A journal ends up on Robert Hunter’s desk. It soon becomes clear that there is a serial killer on the loose. And if Hunter can’t stop him in time, more people will die. Starting with Angela.
SYNOPSIS: Even when you come out of bloodshed and disaster in the end you have got to learn to live.
Winona is a young Lakota orphan adopted by former soldiers Thomas McNulty and John Cole. Living with Thomas and John on the farm they work in 1870s Tennessee, she is educated and loved, forging a life for herself beyond the violence and dispossession of her past. But the fragile harmony of her unlikely family unit, in the aftermath of the Civil War, is soon threatened by a further traumatic event, one which Winona struggles to confront, let alone understand.
Told in Sebastian Barry’s rare and masterly prose, A Thousand Moons is a powerful, moving study of one woman’s journey, of her determination to write her own future, and of the enduring human capacity for love.
SYNOPSIS: Recently out of a devastating love affair and mourning the loss of her beloved mum, Casey is lost. The novel she has been writing for six years isn’t going anywhere, her debt is soaring, and at thirty-one, with all her friends getting married and having kids, she feels too old for things to be this way.
Then she meets Silas. He is kind, handsome, interested. But only a few weeks later, Oscar – older, fascinating, troubled – walks into her life, his two boys in tow. Suddenly Casey finds herself at the point of a love triangle, torn between two very different relationships that promise two very different futures. And she’s still got to write that book…
SYNOPSIS: Meet Patrick Cooper– desperately down on his luck, and head-over-heels in unrequited love with his best friend Bridget. Meet Bridget’s sister, Emma Donovan -eternally single maker-of-cakes for many a happy couple, whilst never making it down the aisle herself.
Emma has four younger sisters, all of whom are married or getting married, and an Italian mother who can’t understand what is ‘wrong’ with her eldest daughter, who seems to be stranded on the shelf. Despairing of her own ability to find a suitable husband, Emma agrees to be part of a compatibility project to get married at first sight.
Meanwhile Cooper is struggling to get over his crush on Bridget and seems destined to stay firmly on the shelf too. Perhaps it’s time his fate was taken out of his hands…
Is happily-ever-after just about daring to take a chance, or do you need some extra magic to make love last?
Join Beth Moran, Cooper and the Donovan sisters on this life-affirming and uplifting tale of love, family, friendship, and risking it all for happiness.
SYNOPSIS: A compelling novel about family secrets and the legacy of trauma, set against the changing fortunes of an English seaside town, from award-winning writer Stella Duffy.
When Lucy discovers the body of her great aunt Kitty, with a puzzling note and empty pill bottles by her bed, she can’t believe that the formidable woman who held her family together is gone – or understand why she has taken her own life.
Lucy is determined to decipher Kitty’s final message. What she finds will overturn everything she thought she knew about her family.
Lullaby Beach takes the reader on a journey through three generations of a complicated, close-knit family whose joys and misfortunes track many of the most pressing conflicts and concerns of post-war Britain, from the promise and hypocrisies of 1950s London to the political divides and risky freedoms of the present day.
Told with the warmth, generosity and fierce passion which has won Stella Duffy so much praise over her career, Lullaby Beach is a brilliant story of loss and love, revenge and redemption.
SYNOPSIS: Tender, moving, heartfelt and warm (and sporadically scandalous and outrageous too), these are the private messages between people in love. Yet they are also correspondence between the rulers of nations.
From Henry VIII’s lovelorn notes to Anne Boleyn and George IV’s impassioned notes to his secret wife, to Queen Victoria’s tender letters to Prince Albert and Edward VIII’s extraordinary correspondence with Wallis Simpson – these letters depict romantic love from its budding passion to the comfort and understanding of a long union (and occasionally beyond to resentment and recrimination), all set against the background of great affairs of state, wars and the strictures of royal duty.
Here is a chance to glimpse behind the pomp and ceremony, the carefully curated images of royal splendour and decorum, to see the passions, hopes, jealousies and loneliness of kings and queens throughout history. By turns tender, moving, heartfelt and warm (and sporadically scandalous and outrageous too), these are the private messages between people in love. Yet they are also correspondence between the rulers of nations, whose actions (and passions) changed the course of history, for good and bad.
This morning I received your dear, dear letter of the 21st. How happy do you make me with your love! Oh! my Angel Albert, I am quite enchanted with it! I do not deserve such love! Never, never did I think I could be loved so much. Queen Victoria to Prince Albert (28 November 1839)
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Published: February 1st, 2022 Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio Genre: Thriller, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
Happy Publication Day Carol!
I am thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this first book in a new crime series by the wonderful Ms. Wyer. Thank you to Emma at Damppebbles for the invitation to take part.
A killer running rings around the police. A detective spiralling out of control.
DI Kate Young is on leave. She’s the force’s best detective, but her bosses know she’s under pressure, on medication and overcoming trauma. So after her bad judgement call leads to a narrowly averted public disaster, they’re sure all she needs is a rest.
But when Staffordshire Police summon her back to work on a murder case, it’s a harder, more suspicious Kate Young who returns. With a new ruthlessness, she sets about tracking down a clinical, calculating serial killer who is torturing victims and leaving clues to taunt the police. Spurred on by her reporter husband, Young begins to suspect that the murderer might be closer than she ever imagined.
As she works to uncover the truth, Young unravels a network of secrets and lies, with even those closest to her having something to hide. But with her own competence—and her grip on reality—called into question, can she unmask the killer before they strike again?
She’s done it again! When one of my favourite crime writers announced a new series I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was thrilled to be one of the lucky people who first received a copy and to then learn I’d be one of the bloggers opening the tour in publication day. Expectations were high and, as always, Ms. Wyer did not disappoint. An Eye for an Eye is a gripping, twisty, pacy and gritty thriller that had me hooked from the start. I couldn’t put it down and was up until 5am the first night as I didn’t want to stop reading!
Detective Kate Young is off work after a traumatic incident earlier in the year that led to PTSD. She is still struggling to get through each day when one of her bosses asks her to come back to work on a sensitive case. She isn’t sure she’s ready to go back, but her boss convinces her that he needs his best detective, so she returns.
Supported by her husband, Chris, and her handpicked team, Kate finds returning even more difficult than she imagined. But she’s determined to crack the case, particularly after finding clues that seem to point to the killer being uncomfortably close to home.
This book has everything you expect when you pick up a Carol Wyer book: great writing that is gritty and compelling, grizzly murders, a layered plot full of shocking twists, and interesting characters.
Once again Carol has created a protagonist who is a feisty, flawed and strong-willed woman with an interesting backstory. When we meet Kate she’s on leave from work and struggling with PTSD after a traumatic incident earlier in the year. She is suffering from flashbacks, nightmares and disassociation and using pills to try and cope with her feelings. When she returns to work she must battle against not only her symptoms but the doubts and insecurities of herself and those around her. Everyone is watching and some are counting on her to fail, but Kate is determined to overcome her challenges to bring a killer to justice. As someone with PTSD following trauma I appreciate Carol portraying the condition in such a raw and accurate way. Despite these things I will admit it took me a little while to warm to Kate, though I found her compelling and was rooting for her from start to finish.
As much as I love her Natalie Ward books I am glad that Carol decided to write a new series as I loved this thrilling page-turner. And, after that ending, I can’t wait for book two!
So if you’re a crime fiction fan, don’t miss the first in what I believe will be another unmissable series from the incomparable Ms. Wyer. READ THIS NOW.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
A former teacher and linguist, Carol began writing full-time in 2009 and enjoyed much success with several comedies and humorous non-fiction books, one of which, Grumpy Old Menopause won her the People’s Book Prize Award in 2015.
January 2017, saw her move into police procedurals withLittle Girl Lost, the first in the DI Robyn Carter series, that featured in USA Today Top 150 best selling books and became the #2 best-selling book on Amazon. The books, set in Staffordshire where Carol has lived for over 30 years, earned her acclaim as a crime writer and in 2018, a new team lead by DI Natalie Ward was introduced to her readers.
Carol’s crime novels have since sold over half a million copies and been translated worldwide.
As well as writing crime, Kindle top 5 best-seller Carol also still writes comedies because as the ex-stand-up comedian claims, “Laughter is the best medicine”.
Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.
Happy Paperback Publication Day to Dear Child! Thank you to Quercus for the gifted ARC.
You escaped. But your nightmare has just begun.
A windowless shack in the woods. Lena’s life and that of her two children follows the rules set by their captor, the father: meals, bathroom visits, study time are strictly scheduled and meticulously observed. He protects his family from the dangers lurking in the outside world and makes sure that his children will always have a mother to look after them.
One day Lena manages to flee – but the nightmare continues. It seems as if her tormentor wants to get back what belongs to him. And then there is the question whether she really is the woman called ‘Lena’, who disappeared without a trace over thirteen years ago. The police and Lena’s family are all desperately trying to piece together a puzzle that doesn’t quite seem to fit.
OMG! What a book! Spectacularly written, masterfully plotted, surprising and sizzling with suspense, this complex and layered thriller had me hooked from start to finish. I devoured this story, only reluctantly putting it down when my eyelids became too heavy to keep reading. I was addicted and completely unprepared for the rollercoaster ride this story took me on.
Dear Child begins at the point where most novels would end; when Lena and her daughter Hannah escape after years of imprisonment in a cabin in the woods. The police think that they’ve finally found Lena Beck, a woman missing for thirteen years, but when her father Matthias arrives he is adamant the woman lying in the hospital bed is not his daughter. But when he lays eyes on Hannah he sees a clone of his daughter as a child. With Lena injured by a car in the escape she is unable to answer any question and Hannah is reluctant to talk. As snippets of information are slowly revealed, the police begin to piece together the puzzle. But they soon find that things aren’t quite what they first appear to be.
The author filled the pages with dark, nuanced and compelling characters and unreliable narrators. Of the three narrators Hannah was the one I felt most drawn to. It was heartbreaking to read how normal she thought her world was, especially how she would berate her mother when she was beaten by her father for doing something to deserve it rather than thinking it was him in the wrong. But while I felt a lot of empathy for her, I also felt there was something not quite right about her. She is a peculiar child and while at first I put that down to her secluded upbringing, after a while I started to wonder if she was all that she seemed.
The abductor, known only as ‘Papa’, is another character who stood out to me. Papa is an enigma, his identity shrouded in mystery. Even Lena doesn’t ever say his name. He is a loathsome, sadistic, controlling and violent man who strikes fear into Lena and the children. Most of the abuse is inferred but enough detail is included to give the reader an understanding of the complete terror they felt and understand why Lena would acquiesce to his will.
Tense, chilling, twisty and unpredictable, Dear Child is a riveting and spectacular debut that you won’t want to put down.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Romy Hausmann was born in the former GDR in 1981. At the age of twenty-four she became chief editor at a film production company in Munich. Since the birth of her son she has been working as a freelancer in TV. Dear Child is her thriller debut. Romy Hausmann lives with her family in a remote house in the woods near Stuttgart.
Happy Publication Day to this entertaining cosy mystery. Thank you to Graeme at Vintage for my gifted copy.
Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.
The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask – would someone resort to murder, to get what they want?
“Of all the ways I was expecting this week to go, I never imagined this unfolding horror.”
After collecting all the author’s previous books only to have them languish on my shelves unread, I was excited to finally read a Ruth Ware book. Set in the exclusive French ski resort of Saint Antoine, the book opens with a BBC article reporting on the deaths of four Britons after an avalanche traps them in a ‘house of horrors’.
The story then goes back to five days earlier when the shareholders and staff of Snoop, the latest hot music app, arrive for a week-long retreat. But there are hidden agendas and it seems someone will do anything to protect their own interests. As the snow falls, all we can is do is watch as the nightmare unfolds and the guests are picked off one by one…
“She sent her in like a lamb to the slaughter. What she didn’t know was that she was no lamb.”
I’d heard some mixed reviews for this one so I went into it with a little trepidation. But I enjoyed this book, which I’d class as more of a cosy mystery than a thriller. Setting a story in a ski resort during an avalanche adds a great layer of tension and claustrophobia as there is no escape, making everything a possible case of life and death, even without the addition of someone murdering the guests.
I had a few ideas about who the culprit might be, but I think the author did a great job of including some convincing red herrings that avoided making their identity obvious. The characters are exactly who you’d expect to find working for a new techy company and I liked the author’s decision to make two of the characters who didn’t really fit in with that world the narrators. I liked Erin and enjoyed her chapters most of all, though Liz is someone who’s supposed to be a bit of an enigma and that you’re supposed to find hard to warm to.
I’d recommend this to anyone looking for an easy to read and enjoyable mystery.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark Wood, The Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, The Death of Mrs Westaway and The Turn of the Key have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times. Her books have been optioned for both film and TV, and she is published in more than 40 languages. Ruth lives near Brighton with her family.
Published: October 22nd, 2020 Publisher: Allison & Busby Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: General Fiction, Historical Fiction
Happy Publication Day to this outstanding novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Allison & Busby for the eBook ARC.
London, 1840. Evangeline, pregnant and falsely accused of stealing, has languished in Newgate prison for months. Ahead now lies the journey to Australia on a prison ship. On board, Evangeline befriends Hazel, sentenced to seven years’ transport for theft. Soon Hazel’s path will cross with an orphaned indigenous girl. Mathinna is ‘adopted’ by the new governor of Tasmania where the family treat her more like a curiosity than a child. Amid hardships and cruelties, new life will take root in stolen soil, friendships will define lives, and some will find their place in a new society in the land beyond the seas.
“Maybe she would always be alone and apart. Always in transition, on her way to someplace else, never quite belonging. She knew both too much and too little of the world. But what she knew, she carried in her bones.”
The Exiles is a beautifully written, layered and nuanced piece of historical fiction. Set in London and Australia in the 1840s, it is a story about women, survival and redemption. It is a story about our need to belong, about love, loss and how we carry those we love inside us wherever we go.
The voices of three very different female characters tell their stories, which entwine as the novel progresses. Mathinna is an orphaned eight-year-old Aboriginal girl who is taken from her home by Lady Jane Franklin, an explorer who likes to collect anything to do with native people and wants to see if the child can be educated and ‘tamed’. Evangeline is a naïve young woman from a small village working as a governess who finds herself pregnant and alone on a transport ship to Australia after allowing her rage to get the better of her when she is falsely accused of theft. And, finally, there is Hazel, a seventeen-year-old girl who is on the transport ship with Evangeline after being forced to steal by her mother.
“Here she was, torn from her family and everyone she knew at the whim of a lady in satin slippers who boiled the skulls of her relatives and displayed them as curiosities.”
Each woman has a character that is rich and compelling, a spark that draws you to them and makes you root for her and care about her story. And while their lives and stories may be different, they also have similarities. Each of them have been exiled from their home and those they love and all face the harsh reality of being female in a time and place where that is hostile and unforgiving towards women. They all navigate these obstacles with strength, resilience and determination.
This is the first time I’ve read anything by this author, and I was struck by her exquisite storytelling and how she seamlessly wove fact and fiction together to create this lush and atmospheric tale. Her imagery makes you feel like you’re there and I could see so clearly the bleak, grim and squalid conditions of the prisons, slave ship and orphanage and could almost feel the heat of the sun bearing down on me in the Australian bush. She writes every character, however big or small, with authenticity, and the research that has gone into the novel leaps from its pages. I will definitely be buying her back catalogue and devouring it as soon as possible.
“She’d learnt that she could withstand contempt and humiliation — and that she could find moments of grace in the midst of bedlam. She’d learnt she was strong.”
A powerful, heartbreaking and thought-provoking book, I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Christina Baker Kline is the author of seven novels, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Orphan Train. Her other novels include Bird in Hand, The Way Life Should Be, Desire Lines, and Sweet Water, as well as Orphan Train Girl, a middle-grade adaptation of Orphan Train. Her essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in the New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, Money, More, and Psychology Today, among other publications. She lives in New York City and on the coast of Maine.
Happy paperback publication day to one of my favourite books of 2020. I’m thrilled to have been asked to share my review again to celebrate the paperback release. Thank you Quercus for my gifted copy of the book.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Kohan has been in possession of her meticulously crafted answer since she understood the question. On the day that she nails the most important job interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfect man, she’s well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.
That night Dannie falls asleep only to wake up in a different apartment with a different ring on her finger, and in the company of a very different man. The TV is on in the background, and she can just make out the date. It’s the same night – December 15th – but 2025, five years in the future.
It was just a dream, she tells herself when she wakes, but it felt so real… Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.
That is, until four and a half years later, when Dannie turns down a street and there, standing on the corner, is the man from her dream…
In Five Years is a love story, brimming with joy and heartbreak. But it is definitely not the love story you’re expecting
True love doesn’t always look the way we expect. And that is certainly true in this unexpected and mesmerising love story.
I am a wreck after finishing this book. I couldn’t put this book down and was utterly, obliviously lost in this beautiful, heartbreaking and lingering novel. I stayed up until the early hours, reading it in pretty much one sitting, as there was no chance of sleep until I knew what happened.
In Five Years begins like a typical love story but through a number of clever twists it morphs into something I never saw coming; a story that is both devastating and uplifting. The author’s strong sense of place brings New York to life, transporting me into Dannie’s world and making the one around me disappear. With her wonderful characters and powerful and compassionate storytelling she reaches into your heart and soul. I went through a rainbow of emotions and cried many tears while reading.
Dannie was a great character. She is a type-A personality who believes in living by numbers and has no doubts that her five-year plan will come to fruition. Even though she’s someone who’d drive me crazy in real life I quickly fell for her and my heart went out to her as her meticulously organised life began to spiral out of her control. But the character who really took my heart was Bella, Dannie’s best friend, who is illuminating, wild and kind-hearted . I adored their friendship and how their stark differences complemented each other.
This is one of those books that if you give too much away then you ruin it. So I’m not going to say any more about the plot. What I will say is that the hype is real. This affecting and profound book is one of the best you’ll read. Ever. It is a stunning celebration of love, friendship and life. A story that reminds us we can’t plan and control everything.
Now I really need someone to turn this into a movie. Reese, are you listening?
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives in New York and Los Angeles. She is the author of six novels and codeveloped the hit TV adaptation of her YA series Famous in Love. She received her MFA from the New School in NYC. She loves Nancy Meyers films, bathrobes, and giving unsolicited relationship advice
Published: October 1st, 2020 Publisher: Harper Collins UK Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Hardback Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction.
Happy paperback publication day to this wonderful novel. Thank you to HarperCollinsUK for my gifted copy of the book and for asking me to share my review in celebration of the paperback publication.
MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR:
In October 2002 I began writing a story that would change my life. As I poured my heart and soul into PS, I Love You, a novel that began as a story simply for myself, I had no idea the impact it would have around the world and on my own life.
So it is with great excitement that I give you its sequel, Postscript, a book intended to honour its predecessor, all its fans and supporters, and with the aim to bring Holly Kennedy forward, to discover the woman she is now seven years after the death of Gerry.
I am so proud of this story and I hope you enjoy being reacquainted with old friends, enjoy meeting new characters. I have loved every moment of writing this very special book and I hope it will hold a special place on your bookshelf as it does in my heart.
The long-awaited sequel to the international bestseller PS, I Love You!
It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.
She’s proud of all the ways in which she’s grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world she worked hard to leave behind.
Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of the people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever.
“In one second, almost two and a half million emails are sent, the universe expands fifteen kilometres and thirty stars explode, a honey bee can flap its wings two hundred times, the fastest snail travels 1.3 centimetres, objects can fall sixteen feet, and ‘Will you marry me?’ can change a life. Four babies are born. Two people die. One second can be the difference between life and death.”
Poignant, emotive and uplifting, Postscript is a story of life, death, love and hope. Exquisitely written, it tackles the difficult topics of death and grief with sensitivity and candour, and also gives hope in its message of the power of love and healing.
The story picks up seven years after the death of Holly’s husband, Gerry, and six years after she read the last of the ten letters he left for her to read after he passed. Holly is trying to move on with her life. She’s working at a vintage clothing shop, Magpie, with her sister Cara and has been dating Gabriel for two years, who she worries she’s using as a stop-gap until she can be reunited with Gerry once more. But that isn’t who she wants to be. So she finally agrees to move in with him and begin to move forward.
“We all have something that unexpectedly derails us when we are motoring smoothly, blissfully, ardently. This encounter with the club is mine. And it hurts.”
Meanwhile Ciara has a podcast series called How To Talk About and has asked Holly to take part in the episode How To Talk About Death. Reluctantly, Holly agrees. The crowd are particularly interested in Gerry’s letters and some people express that they wish their loved ones had left them letters like he did for Holly. One lady in particular is keen for Holly to keep sharing her story and maybe even write a book. She keeps coming into the shop and Holly tries to evade her thinking she’s a bit of a stalker. When she learns the woman is part of something called the PS I Love You Club she’s had enough. But in time she begins to connect with the small group and help them as they try to leave behind a small piece of themselves for their loved ones to cherish, changing not only their lives, but hers too as she begins to re-examine what Gerry’s letters meant and what they could continue to mean.
What a book! I read PS I Love You when it was first released and was both thrilled and apprehensive when I learned that there was to be a sequel. Would it live up to the emotive power of the first book? It didn’t take long to realise that my concerns were unfounded. Postscript exceeded all my expectations and even surpassed the first book for me. I fell in love with the author’s writing style all over again. She knows just how to stir emotion, how to break your heart one moment and then make you laugh the next. The vivid imagery and metaphors were spectacular and I couldn’t put this book down.
“We want to control our deaths, our goodbye to the world, and if we can’t control it, we can at least control how we leave it behind.”
For me, the best parts of this book were Holly’s interactions with the members of the PS, I Love You Club. They are an eclectic group whose commonality is they’ve all been diagnosed with a terminal or life-long, degenerative illness. Joy has MS and is preparing for life in a wheelchair, losing her ability to communicate and needing a feeding tube, Bert has emphysema, Paul is in remission from a brain tumor for the second time but is preparing for it possibly returning, and teenager Ginka has cervical cancer. They all have their own reasons for wanting to leave parts of themselves behind and each teach Holly something different about life, love and grief. Amongst this group Holly slowly finds a safe harbour where she can talk about Gerry without worrying she’s making them uncomfortable or having to edit what she says.
The story and character that touched me the most was Ginka. She’s just sixteen-years-old and is a single mother to baby Jewel. She has no family – they disowned her after she announced her pregnancy and cruelly told her that the cancer is God’s punishment for her sins – and lives with the heartbreak of knowing there’s no one who knows to care for Jewel and tell her about the mother who adored her. She’s practically a child herself yet is facing more pain and hardship than most of us can imagine. As a mother the idea of strangers raising my children would be terrifying. The relationship that develops between Ginka and Holly was my favourite and I loved their scenes together. Her story is just one example of this author’s magnificent talent for writing characters and stories that reach into your soul.
This novel was a truly breathtaking read that reminded me why Cecelia Ahern is such a beloved author. She tackles a difficult subject in a beautiful and powerful way and reminds us to cherish every moment with those we love. I highly recommend this book and don’t think you need to have read the first one to enjoy it.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
After completing a degree in Journalism and Media Communications, Cecelia wrote her first novel at 21 years old. Her debut novel, PS I Love You was published in January 2004, and was followed by Where Rainbows End (aka Love, Rosie) in November 2004. Both novels were adapted to films; PS I Love You starred Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler, and Love, Rosie starred Lily Collins and Sam Claflin.
Cecelia has published a novel every year since then and to date has published 15 novels; If You Could See Me Now, A Place Called Here, Thanks for the Memories, The Gift, The Book of Tomorrow, The Time of My Life, One Hundred Names, How To Fall in Love, The Year I Met You, The Marble Collector, Flawed, Perfect and Lyrebird.
To date, Cecelia’s books have sold 25 million copies internationally, are published in over 40 countries, in 30 languages.
Along with writing novels, Cecelia has co-created the US ABC Comedy Samantha Who? and has created many other original TV projects.