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First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: Flashback

Welcome to First Lines Friday: Flashback, where on the first Friday of the month I share the first lines from one of the older books on my shelves and try to tempt you to add it to yours.

“Wake up, Alice.
The nasal voice finds its way to me in the honeycomb of my daydream.
I don’t remember nodding off, but I was somewhere far lovelier.”

Today’s first lines are taken from Wonderland by Juno Dawson, which won the YA Book Prize 2020. I’ve read some great reviews for this one and it sounds like an intriguing read.

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SYNOPSIS:

What happens when you fall down the rabbit hole? The compulsive must-have follow-up to CLEAN and MEAT MARKET from bestselling, award-winning author Juno Dawson

Alice lives in a world of stifling privilege and luxury – but none of it means anything when your own head plays tricks on your reality. When her troubled friend Bunny goes missing, Alice becomes obsessed with finding her. On the trail of her last movements, Alice discovers a mysterious invitation to ‘Wonderland’: the party to end all parties – three days of hedonistic excess to which only the elite are welcome.

Will she find Bunny there? Or is this really a case of finding herself? Because Alice has secrets of her own, and ruthless socialite queen Paisley Hart is determined to uncover them, whatever it takes.

Alice is all alone, miles from home, and now she has a new enemy who wants her head…

A searing exploration of mental health, gender and privilege, from the most addictive YA novelist in the UK today.

Buy the book here*
*this is an affiliate link.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – April 2021

April is almost upon us, so it’s time for another month of anticipated books.

April is a busy month in the publishing world and a lot of books I’m looking forward to are being released. That made this month’s list extremely difficult to compile and is the reason that my ‘slimmed down’ list still stands at a whopping twenty-five books!

Are any of these on your tbr? Let me know in the comments…

Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Suspense, Bildungsroman, Coming-of-Age Story

SYNOPSIS:
She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.

‘A uniquely gothic tale about grief, belonging and hiding in plain sight’ Jess Kidd, author of Things in Jars

’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home,
stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can.
But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house.
Eventually, every hidden thing is found.’

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.

Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?

And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in?

Buy the book here*

Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Two Roads
Genre: Contemporary Fantasy, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Madame Burova – Tarot Reader, Palmist and Clairvoyant is retiring and leaving her booth on the Brighton seafront after fifty years.

Imelda Burova has spent a lifetime keeping other people’s secrets and her silence has come at a price. She has seen the lovers and the liars, the angels and the devils, the dreamers and the fools. Her cards had unmasked them all and her cards never lied. But Madame Burova is weary of other people’s lives, their ghosts from the past and other people’s secrets, she needs rest and a little piece of life for herself. Before that, however, she has to fulfill a promise made a long time ago. She holds two brown envelopes in her hand, and she has to deliver them.

In London, it is time for another woman to make a fresh start. Billie has lost her university job, her marriage, and her place in the world when she discovers something that leaves her very identity in question. Determined to find answers, she must follow a trail which might just lead right to Madame Burova’s door.

In a story spanning over fifty years, Ruth Hogan conjures a magical world of 1970s holiday camps and seaside entertainers, eccentrics, heroes and villains, the lost and the found. Young people, with their lives before them, make choices which echo down the years. And a wall of death rider is part of a love story which will last through time.

Buy the book here*

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….

Buy the book here*

The Plague Letters by V. L. Valentine

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller, Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
WHO WOULD MURDER THE DYING…

London, 1665. Hidden within the growing pile of corpses in his churchyard, Rector Symon Patrick discovers a victim of the pestilence unlike any he has seen before: a young woman with a shorn head, covered in burns, and with pieces of twine delicately tied around each wrist and ankle.

Desperate to discover the culprit, Symon joins a society of eccentric medical men who have gathered to find a cure for the plague. Someone is performing terrible experiments upon the dying, hiding their bodies amongst the hundreds that fill the death carts.

Only Penelope – a new and mysterious addition to Symon’s household – may have the skill to find the killer. Far more than what she appears, she is already on the hunt. But the dark presence that enters the houses of the sick will not stop, and has no mercy…

Buy the book here*

The Asylum by Karen Coles

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Welbeck Publishing Group
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
1906: Being a woman is dangerous, being different is deadly.

Maud Lovell has been at Angelton Lunatic Asylum for five years. She is not sure how she came to be there and knows nothing beyond its four walls. She is hysterical, distressed, untrustworthy. Badly unstable and prone to violence. Or so she has been told.

When a new doctor arrives, keen to experiment with the revolutionary practice of medical hypnosis, Maud’s lack of history makes her the perfect case study. But as Doctor Dimmond delves deeper into the past, it becomes clear that confinement and high doses are there to keep her silent.

When Maud finally remembers what has been done to her, and by whom, her mind turns to her past and to revenge.

Buy the book here*

Sistersong by Lucy Holland

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Fairy Tale

SYNOPSIS:
Betrayal. Magic. Murder.
A tale of three siblings and three deadly sins.

In a magical ancient Britain, bards sing a story of treachery, love and death. This is that story.

For fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, Lucy Holland’s Sistersong retells the folk ballad ‘The Two Sisters.’

King Cador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans, torn by warring tribes. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. And Sinne dreams of love, longing for adventure.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold, their people’s last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. However, change comes on the day ash falls from the sky – bringing Myrdhin, meddler and magician. The siblings discover the power that lies within them and the land. But fate also brings Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear them apart.

Riva, Keyne and Sinne become entangled in a web of treachery and heartbreak, and must fight to forge their own paths. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.

Sistersong is a powerfully moving story, perfect for readers who loved Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale.

Buy the book here*

The Inverts by Crystal Jeans

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: The Borough Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, LGBTQ Literature

SYNOPSIS:
1921: a boy, a girl, a moonlit midnight kiss.

A terrible, repulsive kiss.

Bettina and Bart have grown up as best friends, so surely they will end up together? After all, Bettina is young, rich, headstrong…. and gay. Bart is young, rich, charismatic… and also, definitely, gay. Any doubts are dispelled by, in short order: that ghastly kiss; a torrid encounter for Bettina in the school boiler-rooms; and an eye-opening Parisian visit for Bart.

Society will never stand for it. What else can they do but enter into a ‘lavender marriage’ and carry on indulging their true natures in secret? As the ’20s and ’30s whizz past in a haze of cigarettes, champagne and casual sex, Bart and Bettina have no idea that they are hurtling, via Hollywood and Egypt, Paris and London, towards tragedy and bloodshed…

Buy the book here*

The Drowned City (Daniel Pursglove 1) by K. J. Maitland

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller, Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
Gunpowder and treason changed England forever. But the tides are turning and revenge runs deep in this compelling historical thriller for fans of C.J. Sansom, Andrew Taylor’s Ashes of London, Kate Mosse and Blood & Sugar.

1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.

In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.

For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.

Buy the book here*

Watch Her Fall by Erin Kelly

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Swan Lake is divided into the black acts and the white acts. The Prince is on stage for most of the ballet, but it’s the swans audiences flock to see. In early productions, Odette and Odile were performed by two different dancers. These days, it is usual for the same dancer to play both roles. Because of the faultless ballet technique required to master the steps, and the emotional range needed to perform both the virginal Odette and the dark, seductive Odile, this challenging dual role is one of the most coveted in all ballet. Dancers would kill for the part.

Ava Kirilova has reached the very top of her profession. After years and years of hard graft, pain and sacrifice as part of the London Russian Ballet Company, allowing nothing else to distract her, she is finally the poster girl for Swan Lake. Even Mr K – her father, and the intense, terrifying director of the company – can find no fault. Ava has pushed herself ahead of countless other talented, hardworking girls, and they are all watching her now.

But there is someone who really wants to see Ava fall . . .

Buy the book here*

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Published: April 8th, 2021
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In 1901, the word ‘bondmaid’ was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.

Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutter to the floor unclaimed.

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.

Buy the book here*

When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Twenty-one years ago, Dr Richard Carter and his wife Pamela were killed in what has become the most infamous double murder of the modern age.

Their ten year-old daughter – nicknamed the Angel of Death – spent eight years in a children’s secure unit and is living quietly under an assumed name with a family of her own.

Now, on the anniversary of the trial, a documentary team has tracked down her older sister, compelling her to break two decades of silence.

Her explosive interview sparks national headlines and journalist Brinley Booth, a childhood friend of the Carter sisters, is tasked with covering the news story.

For the first time, the three women are forced to confront what really happened that night – with devastating consequences for them all.

Buy the book here*

The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Have you ever imagined running away from your life?

Well Birdy Finch didn’t just imagine it. She did it. Which might’ve been an error. And the life she’s run into? Her best friend, Heather’s.

The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather. Actually there are a few other problems…

Can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be her best friend (who incidentally is a world-class wine expert)?

And can she stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked (but who thinks she’s someone else)

The Summer Jobis a fresh, fun, feel-good romcom for fans of The Flatshare, Bridget Jones and Bridesmaids.

Buy the book here*

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Raven Books
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A book to watch out for from a stunning new voice in thriller writing, as selected by the i, Daily Mail, Grazia, Culture Fly and her.ie.

Helen has it all…

Daniel is the perfect husband.
Rory is the perfect brother.
Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.

And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.

When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.

Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret.

Masterfully plotted and utterly addictive, Greenwich Park is a dark, compelling look at motherhood, friendships, privilege and the secrets we keep to protect ourselves.

Buy the book here*

Of Women and Salt by Gabriela Garcia

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Literary Fiction, Saga

SYNOPSIS:
Five generations of women, linked by blood and circumstance, by the secrets they share, and by a single book passed down through a family, with an affirmation scrawled in its margins: We are force. We are more than we think we are.

1866, Cuba: María Isabel is the only woman employed at a cigar factory, where each day the workers find strength in daily readings of Victor Hugo. But these are dangerous political times, and as María begins to see marriage and motherhood as her only options, the sounds of war are approaching.

1959, Cuba: Dolores watches her husband make for the mountains in answer to Fidel Castro’s call to arms. What Dolores knows, though, is that to survive, she must win her own war, and commit an act of violence that threatens to destroy her daughter Carmen’s world.

2016, Miami: Carmen, still wrestling with the trauma of displacement, is shocked when her daughter Jeanette announces her plans to travel to Cuba to see her grandmother Dolores. In the walls of her crumbling home lies a secret, one that will link Jeanette to her past, and to this fearless line of women.

From nineteenth-century cigar factories to present-day detention centres, from Cuba to the United States to Mexico, Gabriela Garcia’s Of Women and Salt follows Latina women of fierce pride, bound by the stories passed between them. It is a haunting meditation on the choices of mothers and the tenacity of women who choose to tell their truth despite those who wish to silence them.

Buy the book here*

Cunning Women by Elizabeth Lee

Published: April 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Windmill Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

SYNOPSIS:
They only want a kindness, but beware, for if you have no coin, they will curse you black and blue.

1620s Lancashire. Away from the village lies a small hamlet, abandoned since the Plague, where only one family dwells amongst its ruins. Young Sarah Haworth, her mother, brother and little sister Annie are a family of outcasts by day and the recipients of visitors by night. They are cunning folk: the villagers will always need them, quick with a healing balm or more, should the need arise. They can keep secrets too, because no one would believe them anyway.

When Sarah spies a young man taming a wild horse, she risks being caught to watch him calm the animal. And when Daniel sees Sarah he does not just see a strange, dirty thing, he sees her for who she really is: a strong creature about to come into her own. But can something as fragile as love blossom between these two in such a place as this?

When a new magistrate arrives to investigate the strange ends that keep befalling the villagers, he has his eye on one family alone. And a torch in his hand.

Cunning Women is the powerful reckoning of a young woman with her wildness, a heartbreaking tale of young love and a shattering story of the intolerance that reigned during the long shadow of the Pendle Witch Trials, when those who did not conform found persecution at every door.

Buy the book here*

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Published: April 27th, 2021
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
They are the Beautiful Ones, Loisail’s most notable socialites, and this spring is Nina’s chance to join their ranks, courtesy of her well-connected cousin and his calculating wife. But the Grand Season has just begun and already Nina’s debut has gone disastrously awry. She has always struggled to control her telekinesis: the haphazard manifestations of her powers have long made her the subject of gossip – malicious neighbours even call her the Witch of Oldhouse.

But Nina’s life is about to change, for there is a new arrival in town: Hector Auvray, the renowned entertainer, who has used his own telekinetic talent to perform for admiring audiences around the world. Nina is dazzled by Hector, for he sees her not as a witch, but ripe with magical potential. Under his tutelage, Nina’s talent blossoms – as does her love for the great man.

But great romances are for fairy-tales, and Hector is hiding a secret bitter truth from Nina – and himself – that threatens their courtship.

The Beautiful Ones is a charming tale of love and betrayal and the struggle between conformity and passion, set in a world where scandal is a razor-sharp weapon.

Buy the book here*

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance

SYNOPSIS:
Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in rural Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.

But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, Dylan, who she’s avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.

Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they’ve totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with four-hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship…

Will they make it to the wedding on time? And, more importantly, is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan?

Buy the book here*

The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Fiction, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.

No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year.
___________

Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.

Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artists swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea debris, and something beautiful begins to blossom.

But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.

Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…

In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times.

Buy the book here*

Nighthawking by Russ Thomas

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Police Procedural, Hardboiled, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
The latest novel by the author of FIREWATCHING, by ‘a bold and brilliant new voice in crime fiction’

Sheffield’s beautiful Botanical Gardens – an oasis of peace in a world filled with sorrow, confusion and pain. And then, one morning, a body is found in the Gardens. A young woman, dead from a stab wound, buried in a quiet corner. Police quickly determine that the body’s been there for months. It would have gone undiscovered for years – but someone just sneaked into the Gardens and dug it up.

Who is the victim? Who killed her and hid her body? Who dug her up? And who left a macabre marker on the body?

In his quest to find her murderer, DS Adam Tyler will find himself drawn into the secretive world of nighthawkers: treasure-hunters who operate under cover of darkness, seeking the lost and valuable… and willing to kill to keep what they find.

That which was lost… will always be found again.

Buy the book here*

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale

SYNOPSIS:
Xxx A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.

‘ARIADNE gives voice to the misused Princess of Crete who betrayed her father to save Theseus from the Minotaur. Relevant and revelatory.’ – Stylist

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

ARIADNE gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.

Buy the book here*

Her Last Holiday by C. L. Taylor

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
You come to Soul Shrink to be healed. You don’t expect to die.

Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.

Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.

Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?

The master of suspense is back. Prepare yourself for the latest heart-in-mouth rollercoaster ride from the Sunday Times bestseller.

Buy the book here*

Dial A For Aunties by Jesse Sutanto

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Dark Comedy, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance Novel

SYNOPSIS:
Your family would kill to see you happy

‘ARE YOU…DEAD?’
OH MY GOD. I THINK HE IS.
When Meddy Chan accidentally kills her blind date, she turns to her aunties for help. Their meddling set her up on the date so they kind of owe her.

WELL, THAT DIDN’T QUITE GO TO PLAN.
Although hiding this goddamn dead body is going to be harder than they thought especially when her family’s wedding business has THE biggest wedding of the year happening right now.

IT’S PRETTY BAD TIMING REALLY.
It turns out the wedding venue just happens to be managed by Meddy’s ex, aka the one who got away. It’s the worst time to see him again, or…is it? Can Meddy finally find love and make her overbearing family happy?

Buy the book here*

Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance Novel, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Best friends tell each other everything.

Or do they?

Georgia and Lydia are so close, they’re practically sisters.

So when Lydia starts an online business that struggles, Georgia wants to help her – but she also understands Lydia’s not the kind to accept a handout.

Setting up a fake Twitter account, Georgia hopes to give her friend some anonymous moral support by posing as a potential customer.

But then Lydia starts confiding in her new internet buddy and Georgia discovers she doesn’t know her quite as well as she thought.

Georgia knows she should reveal the truth – especially when Lydia starts talking about her – but she just can’t help herself.

Until Lydia reveals a secret that could not only end their friendship, but also blow up Georgia’s marriage.

Georgia’s in too deep.

But what can she save?

Her marriage, her friendship – or just herself?

Buy the book here*

The Others by Sarah Blau

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Genre: Thriller, Suspense

SYNOPSIS:
They would rather die than become mothers.

A serial killer is on the loose in Tel Aviv. Each victim is found tied to a chair with a baby doll glued to their hands, the word ‘mother’ carved into their forehead like a mark of Cain.

Stowed away between the wax figurines of the Bible museum where she works, Sheila Heller knows both victims. She suspects the killings have something to do with a pact their group all made at university – to never have children.

What Sheila doesn’t know is who is committing these gruesome acts of ritualistic violence, and whether she herself might be the next target.

Buy the book here*

Murder: The Biography

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Mudlark
Genre: True Crime

SYNOPSIS:
Totally gripping and brilliantly told, Murder: The Biography is a gruesome and utterly captivating portrait of the legal history of murder.

The stories and the people involved in the history of murder are stranger, darker and more compulsive than any crime fiction.

There’s Richard Parker, the cannibalized cabin boy whose death at the hands of his hungry crewmates led the Victorian courts to decisively outlaw a defence of necessity to murder. Dr Percy Bateman, the incompetent GP whose violent disregard for his patient changed the law on manslaughter. Ruth Ellis, the last woman hanged in England in the 1950s, played a crucial role in changes to the law around provocation in murder cases. And Archibald Kinloch, the deranged Scottish aristocrat whose fratricidal frenzy paved the way for the defence of diminished responsibility. These, and many more, are the people – victims, killers, lawyers and judges, who unwittingly shaped the history of that most grisly and storied of laws.

Join lawyer and writer Kate Morgan on a dark and macabre journey as she explores the strange stories and mysterious cases that have contributed to UK murder law. The big corporate killers; the vengeful spouses; the sloppy doctors; the abused partners; the shoddy employers; each story a crime and each crime a precedent that has contributed to the law’s dark, murky and, at times, shocking standing.

Buy the book here*

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – March 2021

Welcome to the March edition of Emma’s Anticipated Treasures. It is another great month full of fabulous being released next month and even after shaving it down I’ve ended up with twenty two books on my list. Authors and publishers really are making it impossible to keep up with all the amazing books that are out there!

Are any of my most anticipated books on your list? Let me know…

The Broken Ones (Detective Gina Harte Book 8) by Carla Kovach

Published: March 1st, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
Amber applies a dash of red lipstick and checks herself out in the mirror before heading out on a date. ‘Don’t wait up!’ she calls to her housemates as she leaves. But Amber never returns home that night. Amber Slater is never seen again.

The last person to see Amber was her housemate. He remembers everything she was wearing that night. He watched her leave. He listened to every word of her phone conversation with her friend before she left. He knows more about Amber’s movements than anyone.

At university, she is well-liked by her fellow students and teachers. Her tutor’s voice shakes when he is questioned by the police. Some say he and Amber were very close. Too close. Some say his wife had just found out about their relationship.

The manager at the restaurant where Amber was supposed to eat that night says she didn’t show up. Yet the chef at the restaurant is overly chatty about her. He wasn’t working that night. He wasn’t answering his phone. Nobody knows where he was when Amber went missing.

Rumours begin to circulate about Amber, it seems that everyone has a story to tell. But when the young girl’s lifeless body is found in a local park, with her blue lips glued shut, the gossip suddenly goes quiet. As the police trace the last few hours of Amber’s life, it seems that the girl simply vanished on her way to catch her bus. And when another woman goes missing in the dead of night, it’s a race against time to find her before she too is silenced forever.

Fans of crime books from Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh will love The Broken Ones.

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The Fear-Fighter Manual: Lessons from a Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones

Published: March 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Self-help book

SYNOPSIS:
‘You could spend a lifetime and fortune finding the perfect therapist, mentor, minister, career coach, and girlfriend – or you could just spend a day reading PROFESSIONAL TROUBLEMAKER.’ Glennon Doyle, author of #1 NYT Bestseller Untamed

From the New York Times bestselling author of I’m Judging You, a hilarious and transformational book about how to tackle fear – that everlasting hater – and audaciously step into lives, careers, and legacies that go beyond even our wildest dreams.

Luvvie Ajayi Jones is known for her trademark wit, warm voice, and exceptional integrity. But even she’s been challenged by the enemy of progress known as fear. She was once afraid to call herself a writer because she was afraid of the title. She nearly skipped out on doing a TED talk that changed her life because of imposter syndrome. And, as she shares in The Fear-Fighter Manual: Lessons from a Professional Troublemaker, she’s not alone.

We’re all afraid. We’re afraid of asking for what we want because we’re afraid of hearing “no.” We’re afraid of being different, of being too much or not enough. We’re afraid of leaving behind the known for the unknown. But in order to do the things that will truly, meaningfully change our lives, we have to become professional troublemakers: people who are committed to not letting fear talk them out of the things they need to do or say to live free.

With humor and honesty, and guided by the influence of her professional troublemaking Nigerian grandmother, Funmilayo Faloyin, Luvvie walks us through what we must get right within ourselves before we can do the things that scare us; how to use our voice for a greater good; and how to put movement to the voice we’ve been silencing-because truth-telling is a muscle.

The point is not to be fearless, but to know we are afraid and charge forward regardless. It is to recognize that the things we must do are more significant than our fears. This book is about how to live boldly in spite of all the reasons we have to cower. Let’s go!

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The Babysitter: My Summers with a Serial Killer by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan

Published: March 2nd, 20021
Publisher: Atria Books
Genre: Biography, True Crime

SYNOPSIS:
Named Most Anticipated Crime Book of the Year by CrimeReads

A chilling true story–part memoir, part crime investigation–reminiscent of Ann Rule’s classic The Stranger Beside Me, about a little girl longing for love and how she found friendship with her charismatic babysitter–who was also a vicious serial killer.

Growing up on Cape Cod in the 1960s, Liza Rodman was a lonely little girl. During the summers, while her mother worked days in a local motel and danced most nights in the Provincetown bars, her babysitter–the kind, handsome handyman at the motel where her mother worked–took her and her sister on adventures in his truck. He bought them popsicles and together, they visited his “secret garden” in the Truro woods. To Liza, he was one of the few kind and understanding adults in her life. Everyone thought he was just a “great guy.”

But there was one thing she didn’t know; their babysitter was a serial killer.

Some of his victims were buried–in pieces–right there, in his garden in the woods. Though Tony Costa’s gruesome case made screaming headlines in 1969 and beyond, Liza never made the connection between her friendly babysitter and the infamous killer of numerous women, including four in Massachusetts, until decades later.

Haunted by nightmares and horrified by what she learned, Liza became obsessed with the case. Now, she and cowriter Jennifer Jordan reveal the chilling and unforgettable true story of a charming but brutal psychopath through the eyes of a young girl who once called him her friend.

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The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

Published: March 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Legend Press
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary…

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate–and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.

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The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex

Published: March 4th , 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
They say we’ll never know what happened to those men.
They say the sea keeps its secrets . . .

‘A mystery, a love story and a ghost story, all at once. I didn’t want it to end’ – S J Watson

Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week.

What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves?

Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface . . .

Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.

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The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Alexa Wú is a brilliant yet darkly self-aware young woman whose life is manipulated and controlled by a series of alternate personalities.

One woman, many personas. But which one is telling the truth?

Only three people know the truth.

HER THERAPIST
HER BEST FRIEND
HER STEPMOTHER

When her best friend is plunged into danger, Alexa is soon drawn into London’s cruel underbelly to save her.

But will the truth lead to self-discovery, or to self-destruction?

AN UNSETTLING AND PROVOCATIVE THRILLER ABOUT MULTIPLE PERSONALITIES, WRITTEN BY A PRACTISING PSYCHOANALYTIC THERAPIST

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Silence is a Sense by Layla AlAmmar

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: The Borough Press
Genre: Literary Fiction, Political Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A young woman spends her days watching the neighbours through their windows. She is a refugee, who has seen the failure of the Arab Spring in her homeland and who has been traumatized into silence by her brutal journey from Syria to Britain. 

As an outsider, a mute voyeur, she sees everything, she hears everything: the love, the fighting, the families, the secrets, the lies, the sex, the shame.  Slowly drawn into the community that surrounds her, she begins to come to terms with all she has lost. After a brutal attack on the local mosque, she realises she is the only witness to the truth behind the violence. But will she finally speak of all she’s seen? 

Rear Window meets Exit West, this beautifully written novel tells the powerful story of one woman’s trauma and her gradual healing.

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Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
As a child Gifty would ask her parents to tell the story of their journey from Ghana to Alabama, seeking escape in myths of heroism and romance. When her father and brother succumb to the hard reality of immigrant life in the American South, their family of four becomes two – and the life Gifty dreamed of slips away.

Years later, desperate to understand the opioid addiction that destroyed her brother’s life, she turns to science for answers. But when her mother comes to stay, Gifty soon learns that the roots of their tangled traumas reach farther than she ever thought. Tracing her family’s story through continents and generations will take her deep into the dark heart of modern America.

Transcendent Kingdom is a searing story story of love, loss and redemption, and the myriad ways we try to rebuild our lives from the rubble of our collective pasts.

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Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: The Borough Press
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Horror Fiction, Humour, LGBTQ Literature

SYNOPSIS:
As a ‘It’s a terrible story and one way to tell it is this: two girls in love and a fog of wasps cursed the place forever after…’

BROOKHANTS SCHOOL FOR GIRLS: Infamous site of a series of tragic deaths over a hundred years ago. Soon to be the subject of a controversial horror movie about the rumoured ‘Brookhants curse’:

In the early 1900’s, Brookhants students Flo and Clara fell madly in love, brought together by their obsession for a scandalous memoir.

A few months later they were found dead in the woods, after a horrific wasp attack, the book lying next to their intertwined bodies.

Three more grisly deaths followed before the school was forced to close.

Now, the school’s doors are open once more. But as the crew of glamorous young actresses assemble to start filming, past and present begin to blur. And soon it’s impossible to tell quite where the curse ends and Hollywood begins…

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Dangerous Women by Hope Adam

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller, Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
London, 1841.

The Rajah sails for Australia.

On board are 180 women convicted of petty crimes, sentenced to start a new life half way across the world.

Daughters, sisters, mothers – they’ll never see home or family again. Despised and damned, all they have now is each other.

Until the murder.

As the fearful hunt for a killer begins, everyone on board is a suspect.

The investigation risks tearing their friendships apart . . .

But if the killer isn’t found, could it cost them their last chance of freedom?

Based on a real-life voyage, Dangerous Women is a sweeping tale of confinement, hope and the terrible things we do to survive.

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Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Being Tommy’s mother is too much for Sonya.

Too much love, too much fear, too much longing for the cool wine she gulps from the bottle each night. Because Sonya is burning the fish fingers, and driving too fast, and swimming too far from the shore, and Tommy’s life is in her hands.

Once there was the thrill of a London stage, a glowing acting career, fast cars, handsome men. But now there are blackouts and bare cupboards, and her estranged father showing up uninvited. There is Mrs O’Malley spying from across the road. There is the risk of losing Tommy – forever.

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The Talk of Pram Town by Joanna Nadin

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Coming-of-Age Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
For fans of Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Queenie Malone’s Paradise Hotel, comes a story about mothers, daughters and second chances . . .

It’s 1981. Eleven-year-old Sadie adores her beautiful and vibrant mother, Connie, whose dreams of making it big as a singer fill their tiny house in Leeds. It’s always been just the two of them. Until the unthinkable happens.

Jean hasn’t seen her good-for-nothing daughter Connie since she ran away from the family home in Harlow – or Pram Town as its inhabitants affectionately call it – aged seventeen and pregnant.

But in the wake of the Royal Wedding, Jean gets a life-changing call: could she please come and collect the granddaughter she’s never met?

We all know how Charles and Diana turned out, and Jean and Sadie are hardly a match made in heaven – but is there hope of a happy ending for them?

Written in Joanna Nadin’s trademark dazzling prose, The Talk of Pram Town tells the story of three generations of Earnshaws and asks whether it always has to be like mother, like daughter . . .

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Dog Days by Ericka Waller

Published: March 11th, 2021
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
George is very angry. His wife has upped and died on him, and all he wants to do is sit in his underpants and shout at the cricket. The last thing he needs is his cake-baking neighbour Betty trying to rescue him. And then there’s the dog, a dachshund puppy called Poppy. George doesn’t want a dog – he wants a fight.

Dan is a counsellor with OCD who is great at helping other people – if only he were better at helping himself. His most meaningful relationship so far is with his labrador Fitz. But then comes a therapy session that will change his life.

Lizzie is living in a women’s refuge with her son Lenny. Her body is covered in scars and she has shut herself off from everyone around her. But when she is forced to walk the refuge’s fat terrier, Maud, a new life beckons – if she can keep her secret just a while longer…

Dog Days is a novel about those small but life-changing moments that only come when we pause to let the light in. It is about three people learning to make connections and find joy in living life off the leash.

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Body of Stars by Laura Maylene Walter

Published: March 16th 2021
Publisher: Hodder Studios
Genre: Dystopian Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
No future, dear reader, can break a woman on its own

A bold and dazzling exploration of fate and female agency in a world where women own the future but not their own bodies.

Like every woman, Celeste Morton holds a map of the future in her skin, every mole and freckle a clue to unlocking what will come to pass. With puberty comes the changeling period – when her final marks will appear and her future is decided.

The possibilities are tantalising enough for Celeste’s excitement to outweigh her fear. Changelings are sought after commodities and abduction is rife as men seek to possess these futures for themselves.

Celeste’s marks have always been closely entwined with her brother, Miles. Her skin holds a future only he, as a gifted interpreter, can read and he has always considered his sister his practice ground. But when Celeste’s marks change she learns a devastating secret about her brother’s future that she must keep to herself – and Miles is keeping a secret of his own. When the lies of brother and sister collide, Celeste determines to create a future that is truly her own.

Body of Stars is an urgent read about what happens when women are objectified and violently stripped of choice – and what happens when they fight back.

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The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Published: March 18th, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Horror Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies.

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it’s not what you think…

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Future Perfect by Felicia Yap

Published: March 18th, 2021
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Science Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
What if today was your last day…

A bomb has exploded during a fashion show, killing a beautiful model on the catwalk. The murderer is still at large… and he may strike again. Yet this is the least of Police Commissioner Christian Verger’s worries. His fiancée Viola has left him. He has to keep his tumultuous past a secret. To make things worse, his voice assistant Alexa is 99.74% sure he will die tomorrow.

Moving from snowy 1980s Montana to chic 1990s Manhattan to a drone-filled 2030s Britain, FUTURE PERFECT is an electrifying race to solve a murder before it’s too late. Yet it is also a love story, a riveting portrait of a couple torn apart by secrets, grief and guilt. A twisted tale of how the past can haunt a person’s future and be used to predict if he will die… or kill.

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The Absolute Book by Elizabeth Knox

Published: March 18th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
Taryn Cornick barely remembers the family library. Since her sister was murdered, she’s forgotten so much.

Now it’s all coming back. The fire. The thief. The scroll box. People are asking questions about the library. Questions that might relate to her sister’s murder.

And something called The Absolute Book.

A book in which secrets are written – and which everyone believes only she can find. They insist Taryn be the hunter. But she knows the truth.

She is the hunted . . .

The Absolute Book is a tale of sisters, ancient blood, a forgotten library, murder, revenge and a book that might just have the answer to everything.

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The Split by Laura Kay

Published: March 18th, 2021
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Literary Fiction, Romance Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A brilliant, heart-warming and intensely funny story of love, heartache, friendship and family. Perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Beth O’Leary.

Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless… but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily’s cat.

After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again.

In an inspired effort to hold each other up, the pair decide to sign up for the local half marathon in a bid to impress their exes with their commitment and athleticism.

Given neither of them can run, they enlist the support of athletic, not to mention beautiful, Jo. But will she have them running for the hills… or will their ridiculous plan pay off…?

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Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy

Published: March 18th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
A HANDSOME PSYCHOTHERAPIST, HIS LONELY WIFE, AND IN HIS HOME OFFICE, A CEILING VENT. . . YOU’D LISTEN TOO, WOULDN’T YOU?

Newlyweds, Sam Statler and Annie Potter are ready to begin their lives together in a small town in upstate New York. Whilst Annie spends most of her time alone, Sam, her therapist husband, works long hours in his home office, tending to the egos of his mostly female clientele.

Little does Sam know that through a vent in the ceiling, every word of his sessions can be heard from the room upstairs. The pharmacist’s wife, contemplating a divorce. The well-known painter whose boyfriend doesn’t satisfy her in bed. Who could resist eavesdropping?

Everything is fine until the French girl in the green Mini Cooper shows up, and Sam disappears into thin air, throwing a wrench into Sam and Annie’s happily ever after.

This is a brilliant story of a whirlwind marriage in which untold secrets and games threaten to destroy them both.

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The Hellion by Harriet Young

Published: March 18th, 2021
Publisher: Unbound
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Saga

SYNOPSIS:
Whalley, 1537: On a day like any other, a devastating fire changes the lives of two young girls. 

What happens next triggers a series of events leading inexplicably to the cells of Lancaster Gaol.

Lancashire, 1612:The most notorious witchcraft trials in England are taking place.

Among the accused, three generations of the same family. A family rooted in Pendle, tied to the infamous Malkin Towers and always followed by a whisper of evil. A family destroyed by the evidence given by a nine year old girl

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The Castaways by Lucy Clarke

Published: March 18th, 2021
Publisher: Harper CollinsUK
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A SECRET BEACH.
A HOLIDAY OF A LIFETIME.
WISH YOU WERE HERE?

THINK AGAIN…

It should be like any other holiday.

Beautiful beaches.
Golden sunsets.
Nothing for miles.

You’ll never want to leave.
Until you can’t…

Gripping, twisty and full of sun-soaked atmosphere, THE CASTAWAYS will whisk you far away to the island – and never let you go.

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Unsettled Ground by Clare Fuller

Published: March 25th, 2021
Publisher: Fig Tree
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
What if the life you have always known is taken from you in an instant?

What would you do to get it back?

Twins Jeanie and Julius have always been different from other people. At 51 years old, they still live with their mother, Dot, in rural isolation and poverty. Inside the walls of their old cottage they make music, and in the garden they grow (and sometimes kill) everything they need for sustenance.

But when Dot dies suddenly, threats to their livelihood start raining down. Jeanie and Julius would do anything to preserve their small sanctuary against the perils of the outside world, even as their mother’s secrets begin to unravel, putting everything they thought they knew about their lives at stake.

Unsettled Ground is a heart-stopping novel of betrayal and resilience, love and survival. It is a portrait of life on the fringes of society that explores with dazzling emotional power how we can build our lives on broken foundations, and spin light from darkness.

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What books being released in March are you most excited about? Are any on this list? Let me know in the comments.

Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures: 21 Books In 2021 – The Debuts

Welcome to my second post of my most anticipated books of 2021. Today I’m sharing the twenty-one debut novels being released this year that I’m most excited about. Once again, this was a very difficult list to narrow down as there were many more I’m looking forward to and have on my tbr.

The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr

Published: January 5th, 2021
Publisher: Riverrun
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose of Zora Neale Hurston to characterise the forceful, enduring bond of love, and what happens when brutality threatens the purest form of serenity.

The Halifax plantation is known as Empty by the slaves who work it under the pitiless gaze of its overseers and its owner, Massa Paul. Two young enslaved men, Samuel and Isaiah dwell among the animals they keep in the barn, helping out in the fields when their day is done. But the barn is their haven, a space of radiance and love – away from the blistering sun and the cruelty of the toubabs – where they can be alone together.

But, Amos – a fellow slave – has begun to direct suspicion towards the two men and their refusal to bend. Their flickering glances, unspoken words and wilful intention, revealing a truth that threatens to rock the stability of the plantation. And preaching the words of Massa Paul’s gospel, he betrays them.

The culminating pages of The Prophets summon a choral voice of those who have suffered in silence, with blistering humanity, as the day of reckoning arrives at the Halifax plantation. Love, in all its permutations, is the discovery at the heart of Robert Jones Jr’s breathtaking debut, The Prophets.
Pre-order here.

The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
‘I want you to remember something, Nat. You’re small on the outside. But inside you’re as big as everyone else. You show people that and you won’t go far wrong in life.’

My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story.

The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new queen of England.

They called me the queen’s dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their king, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.

Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is a heartwarming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.
Pre-order here.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
‘I will never forget her eyes in that moment – I couldn’t look away from them. But I knew what happened as soon as I heard it.

‘I think she pushed him,’ I said to you quietly. ‘I think she pushed him…’
___

The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life. But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right.

I had always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers.

My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child.

But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong.

Is it her? Or is it me? Is she the monster? Or am I?
___

The Push is an unsettling, breathtaking and powerful read about obsession and our deepest fears that will stay with you long after you turn the final page.
Pre-order here.

Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Headline
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
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. Pre-order here.

Girl A by Abigail Dean

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre:

SYNOPSIS:
THE BOOK THAT WILL DEFINE A DECADE

SOON TO BE A TV SHOW DIRECTED BY JOHAN RENCK (Chernobyl)

‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love.
Pre-order here.

The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper

Published: February 4th, 2021
Publisher: Manilla Press
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
The sunniest places hold the darkest secrets . . .
________

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.

Pre-order here.

Madam by Phoebe Wynne

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: Quercus Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Gothic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
‘Rebecca meets The Secret History. Gloriously dark, gloriously gothic’ SARA COLLINS, Costa First Novel Award-winning author of The Confessions of Frannie Langton

For 150 years, Caldonbrae Hall has loomed high above the Scottish cliffs as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises that its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’.
Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher and new head of department. Rose is overwhelmed by the institution: its arcane traditions, unrivalled prestige, and terrifyingly cool, vindictive students. Her classroom becomes her haven, where the stories of fearless women from ancient Greek and Roman history ignite the curiosity of the girls she teaches and, unknowingly, the suspicions of the powers that be.
But as Rose uncovers the darkness that beats at the very heart of Caldonbrae, the lines between myth and reality grow ever more blurred. It will be up to Rose – and the fierce young women she has come to love – to find a way to escape the fate the school has in store for them, before it is too late.
Perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood and Madeline Miller, Madam is a darkly feminist tale with an electrifying cast of heroines you won’t soon forget.
Pre-order here.

The Santorium by Sarah Pearse

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: Bantam Press
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

SYNOPSIS:
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 . . .
Pre-order here.

Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker

Published: February 25th, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
THIS MOTHER’S DAY YOU WILL CALL HER MUMMY

Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.

As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.

Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…

CALL ME MUMMY. IT’LL BE BETTER IF YOU DO.

Pre-order here.

The Eighth Girl by Maxine Mei-Fung Chung

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Alexa Wu is a brilliant yet darkly self-aware young woman whose life is manipulated and controlled by a series of alternate personalities.

One woman, many personas. But which one is telling the truth?

Only three people know the truth.

HER THERAPIST
HER BEST FRIEND
HER STEPMOTHER

When her best friend is plunged into danger, Alexa is soon drawn into London’s cruel underbelly to save her.

But will the truth lead to self-discovery, or to self-destruction?

Pre-order here.

Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse

Published: March 18th, 2021
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Suspense, Gothic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.

’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home,
stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can.
But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house.
Eventually, every hidden thing is found.’

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.

Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?

And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in?
Pre-order here.

The Plague Letters by V. L. Valentine

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
WHO WOULD MURDER THE DYING…

London, 1665. Hidden within a growing pile of corpses, one victim of the pestilence stands out: a young woman with a shorn head and pieces of twine delicately tied around each ankle.

Symon Patrick, rector of St. Paul’s Covent Garden, cannot say exactly why this corpse amongst the many in his churchyard should give him pause. Longing to do good, he joins a group of medical men who have gathered to find a cure for the plague, each man more peculiar and splenetic than the next. But there is another, unknown to The Society for the Prevention and Cure of Plague, who is performing his own terrible experiments upon unwilling plague-ridden subjects.

It is Penelope – Symon’s unwanted yet unremovable addition to his household – who may yet shed light on the matter. Far more than what she appears, she is already on the hunt. But the dark presence that enters the houses of the sick will not stop, and has no mercy…

This hugely atmospheric and entertaining historical thriller will transport readers to the palaces and alleyways of seventeenth-century London. Perfect for fans of Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Andrew Taylor and C.J. Sansom.

Pre-order here.

Tall Bones by Anna Bailey

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Transworld Publishing
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Crime Fiction, Adventure Fiction, Political Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
When seventeen-year-old Emma leaves her best friend Abi at a party in the woods, she believes, like most girls her age, that their lives are just beginning. Many things will happen that night, but Emma will never see her friend again.

Abi’s disappearance cracks open the façade of the small town of Whistling Ridge, its intimate history of long-held grudges and resentment. Even within Abi’s family, there are questions to be asked – of Noah, the older brother whom Abi betrayed, of Jude, the shining younger sibling who hides his battle scars, of Dolly, her mother and Samuel, her father – both in thrall to the fire and brimstone preacher who holds the entire town in his grasp. Then there is Rat, the outsider, whose presence in the town both unsettles and excites those around him.

Anything could happen in Whistling Ridge, this tinder box of small-town rage, and all it will take is just one spark – the truth of what really happened that night out at the Tall Bones….
Pre-order here.

Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Raven Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
Daniel is the perfect husband.
Rory is the perfect brother.
Serena is the perfect sister-in-law.

And Rachel? Rachel is the perfect nightmare.

When Helen, finally pregnant after years of tragedy, attends her first antenatal class, she is expecting her loving architect husband to arrive soon after, along with her confident, charming brother Rory and his pregnant wife, the effortlessly beautiful Serena. What she is not expecting is Rachel.

Extroverted, brash, unsettling single mother-to-be Rachel, who just wants to be Helen’s friend. Who just wants to get know Helen and her friends and her family. Who just wants to know everything about them. Every little secret…
Pre-order here.

The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Chatto & Windus
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In 1901, the word bondmaid was discovered missing from the Oxford English Dictionary. This is the story of the girl who stole it.

Motherless and irrepressibly curious, Esme spends her childhood in the Scriptorium, a garden shed in Oxford where her father and a team of lexicographers are gathering words for the very first Oxford English Dictionary.

Esme’s place is beneath the sorting table, unseen and unheard. One day, she sees a slip containing the word ‘bondmaid’ flutter to the floor unclaimed.

Over time, Esme realises that some words are considered more important than others, and that words and meanings relating to women’s experiences often go unrecorded. She begins to collect words for another dictionary: The Dictionary of Lost Words.
Pre-order here.

Cunning Women by Elizabeth Lee

Published: April 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Windmill Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

SYNOPSIS:
A bewitching debut from a magnetic new voice in historical fiction. CUNNING WOMEN is sure to be loved by fans of The Essex Serpent and The Mercies.

They only want a kindness, but beware, for if you have no coin, they will curse you black and blue.

1620s, Lancashire. Away from the village lies a small hamlet, abandoned since the Plague, where only one family dwell amongst its ruins. Young Sarah Haworth, her mother, brother and little sister Annie are a family of outcasts by day and the recipients of visitors by night. They are cunning folk, the villagers will always need them, quick with a healing balm or more, should your needs require. They can keep secrets too, because no one would believe them anyway.

When Sarah spies a young man taming a wild horse, she risks being caught to watch him calm the animal. And when Daniel sees Sarah he does not just see a strange, dirty thing, he sees her for who she really is, a strong creature about to come into her own. But can something as fragile as love blossom between these two in such a place as this?

And when a new magistrate arrives to rid out those behind the strange ends that keep befalling the villagers, he has his eye on one family alone. And a torch in his hand.

Cunning Women is the powerful reckoning of a young woman with her wildness, a heartbreaking tale of young love and a shattering story of the intolerance that reigned during the long shadow of the Pendle Witch Trials when those who did not conform found persecution at every door.

Pre-order here.

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Wildfire
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale

SYNOPSIS:
A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

Ariadne gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.

Pre-order here.

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: HarperVoyagerUK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Fairy Tale, Fantasy Fiction, Horror Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Urban Fiction, Contemporary Fantasy, Romance Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.
‘Magic and love. Love and magic. They destroy everything in the end …’

Anna’s Aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences.

Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever.

Until she meets Effie and Attis.

They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose themselves in a haze of spells.

But as she is swept deeper into this world, Anna begins to wonder if her Aunt was right all along.

Is her magic a gift … or a curse?
Pre-order here.

The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Published: June 1st, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Suspense, Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada in this electric debut about the tension that unfurls when two young Black women meet against the starkly white backdrop of book publishing.

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the micro-aggressions, she’s thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career.

A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

Pre-order here.

Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
When Rachel’s baby is stillborn, she becomes obsessed with the idea that saving a stranger s life months earlier is to blame. An unforgettable, heart-wrenching, warm and funny debut.

__________

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.

When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.

Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…

Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.
Pre-order here.

Midnight in Everwood by M. A . Kuzniar

Published: October 28th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Historical Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
In the darkness of night, magic awaits…

The Nutcracker for adults, perfect for fans of Robert Dinsdale’s The Toymakers, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus and Stephanie Garber’s Caraval

’It was a rainy day that the magic came, and once magic has entered your life, you stay in its glittering clutch forever’

Nottingham, 1906

Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered. At the wishes of her family, she will be obligated to marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But when a mysterious new neighbour, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in her life. Although Drosselmeier’s magic is darker than Marietta could have imagined…

When he constructs an elaborate set for her final ballet performance, she discovers it carries a magic all of its own. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself walking through a land of snow-topped fir trees leading to a frozen sugar palace silent with secrets.

In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…

Pre-order here.

Categories
Year In Review

My 20 Favourites of 2020

I can’t quite believe that 2020 is over! It’s been a strange year and I think we’re all hoping that 2021 brings better things and that we can soon get back to a new normal.

It was my second full year of blogging and once again I read more than I had even hoped to. I had set my Goodreads challenge at 120 and managed to read 177. That’s 27 more than in 2019.

As you can probably imagine, reading so many books made putting together my favourite twenty books of the year a difficult task. That last spot in particular had four other books that I really wanted to include and it was a real struggle to know which should make the final spot.

Here is my list in the order that I read the books:

  1. Firewatching by Russ Thomas
  2. The Foundling by Stacey Halls
  3. Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior
  4. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  5. The Switch by Beth O’Leary
  6. What’s Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott
  7. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs
  8. Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten
  9. The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith
  10. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  11. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  12. All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle
  13. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  14. Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons
  15. The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey
  16. The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby
  17. The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  18. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside by Jessica Ryn
  19. The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn
  20. The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Out of the final twenty, sixteen are by new to me authors, nine of them debuts. I found that 2020 was a strong year in terms of fantastic debuts, with others such as The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, Pine, The Memory Wood, The Wreckage, The Holdout, If I Can’t Have You, Dear Child, The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon, Shiver, The Push and The Thursday Murder Club standing out in particular.

So what almost made it? Contenders for this list included Three Hours, Pine, The Memory Wood, In Five Years, The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, If I Could Say Goodbye, The Push, Strangers, Dear Child, The Ice Cream Girls, All My Lies Are True and The Thursday Murder Club.

My favourite book of the year was not a difficult choice. Though there were many that were good enough to take the title, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours is the standout book of the year for me. I can honestly say that I’ve thought about this stunning debut every day since I read it in April. Do yourself a favour and read it if you haven’t already. I’m just hoping it’s not too long before I can read another book by the talented Stephanie Scott.

Did we have any of the same favourites? What was your book of the year? Let me know in the comments.

Keep an eye out for a post tomorrow with the top 20 lists of some other bloggers and which 2020 book we recommend most of all.

*Thank you to the tagged publishers for my #gifted ARCs.

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Dear Child by Romy Hausmann

Published: December 31st, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery

Happy Paperback Publication Day to Dear Child! Thank you to Quercus for the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

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.

MY REVIEW:

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. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – January 2021

A new year is about to start. And it’s one filled with fantastic books that I can’t wait to read. January is chock-full of amazing new releases; so much so that getting it down to 18 was incredibly hard.

The Prophets by Robert Jones Jr

Published: January 5th, 2021
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In this blinding debut, Robert Jones Jr. blends the lyricism of Toni Morrison with the vivid prose of Zora Neale Hurston to characterise the forceful, enduring bond of love, and what happens when brutality threatens the purest form of serenity.

The Halifax plantation is known as Empty by the slaves who work it under the pitiless gaze of its overseers and its owner, Massa Paul. Two young enslaved men, Samuel and Isaiah dwell among the animals they keep in the barn, helping out in the fields when their day is done. But the barn is their haven, a space of radiance and love – away from the blistering sun and the cruelty of the toubabs – where they can be alone together.

But, Amos – a fellow slave – has begun to direct suspicion towards the two men and their refusal to bend. Their flickering glances, unspoken words and wilful intention, revealing a truth that threatens to rock the stability of the plantation. And preaching the words of Massa Paul’s gospel, he betrays them.

The culminating pages of The Prophets summon a choral voice of those who have suffered in silence, with blistering humanity, as the day of reckoning arrives at the Halifax plantation. Love, in all its permutations, is the discovery at the heart of Robert Jones Jr’s breathtaking debut, The Prophets.
Pre-order here.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Published: January 5th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Format: Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Gothic Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Romance, Mash-up Novel

SYNOPSIS:
A girl looking
for love…
When Jane, a broke dog-walker newly arrived in town, meets Eddie Rochester, she can’t believe her luck. Eddie is handsome, rich and lives alone in a beautiful mansion since the tragic death of his beloved wife a year ago.

A man who seems perfect…
Eddie can give Jane everything she’s always wanted: stability, acceptance, and a picture-perfect life.

A wife who just won’t stay buried…
But what Jane doesn’t know is that Eddie is keeping a secret – a big secret. And when the truth comes out, the consequences are far more deadly than anyone could ever have imagined…
Pre-order here.

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
‘The women in this family, we’re different . . .’

Blythe Connor doesn’t want history to repeat itself.

Violet is her first child and she will give her daughter all the love she deserves. All the love that her own mother withheld.

But firstborns are never easy. And Violet is demanding and fretful. She never smiles. Soon Blythe believes she can do no right – that something’s very wrong. Either with her daughter, or herself.

Her husband, Fox, says she’s imagining it. But Violet’s different with him. And he can’t understand what Blythe suffered as a child. No one can.

Blythe wants to be a good mother. But what if that’s not enough for Violet? Or her marriage? What if she can’t see the darkness coming?

Mother and daughter. Angel or monster?
We don’t get to choose our inheritance – or who we are . .
.
Pre-order here.

The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
My name is Nat Davy. Perhaps you’ve heard of me? There was a time when people up and down the land knew my name, though they only ever knew half the story.

The year of 1625, it was, when a single shilling changed my life. That shilling got me taken off to London, where they hid me in a pie, of all things, so I could be given as a gift to the new queen of England.

They called me the queen’s dwarf, but I was more than that. I was her friend, when she had no one else, and later on, when the people of England turned against their king, it was me who saved her life. When they turned the world upside down, I was there, right at the heart of it, and this is my story.

Inspired by a true story, and spanning two decades that changed England for ever, The Smallest Man is a heartwarming tale about being different, but not letting it hold you back. About being brave enough to take a chance, even if the odds aren’t good. And about how, when everything else is falling apart, true friendship holds people together.

You can read my review here and pre-order here.

The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
He is her husband. She is his captive.

Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.

She lives in a small farm cottage, surrounded by vast, open fields. Everywhere she looks, there is space. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm; if they do, she is never seen.

Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished.

For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him, and waiting . . .

Pre-order here.

White Ivy by Susie Yang

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Wildfire
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Coming-of-Age Story

SYNOPSIS:
Ivy Lin was a thief. But you’d never know it to look at her…

Ivy Lin, a Chinese immigrant growing up in a low-income apartment complex outside Boston, is desperate to assimilate with her American peers. Her parents disapprove, berating her for her mediocre grades and what they see as her lazy, entitled attitude. But Ivy has a secret weapon, her grandmother Meifeng, from whom she learns to shoplift to get the things she needs to fit in.

Ivy develops a taste for winning and for wealth. As an adult, she reconnects with the blond-haired golden boy of a prominent political family, and thinks it’s fate. But just as Ivy is about to have everything she’s ever wanted, a ghost from her past resurfaces, threatening the almost-perfect life she’s worked so hard to build.

Filled with surprising twists, and offering sharp insights into the immigrant experience, White Ivy is both a love triangle and a coming-of-age story – as well as a dark glimpse at what can happen when we yearn for success at any cost.

Pre-order here.

The Perfect Guests by Emma Rous

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Piakus
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Gothic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
You are cordially invited to play a game at Raven Hall . . .

When Beth was fourteen, she was invited into Raven Hall, a rambling, isolated manor house in the English countryside. The family who lived there were warm and welcoming, and Beth soon became firm friends with their daughter, Nina. At times, Beth even felt like she was truly part of the family . . . But then they asked her to play a very strange game – and nothing was the same again.

Now, after years of abandonment, Raven Hall has been restored to its former glory and is playing host to an evening of murder mystery . . . But why does the tragic past of this imposing house seem to have such a hold on everyone? Is this really just a game, or a murder mystery for real?

The guests are about to find out – with devastating consequences . . .
Pre-order here.

The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home by Joanna Nell

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
At nearly ninety, retired nature writer Hattie Bloom prefers the company of birds to people, but when a fall lands her in a nursing home she struggles to cope with the loss of independence and privacy. From the confines of her ‘room with a view’ – of the car park! – she dreams of escape.

Fellow ‘inmate’, the gregarious, would-be comedian Walter Clements also plans on returning home as soon as he is fit and able to take charge of his mobility scooter.

When Hattie and Walter officially meet at The Night Owls, a clandestine club run by Sister Bronwyn and her dog, Queenie, they seem at odds. But when Sister Bronwyn is dismissed over her unconventional approach to aged care, they must join forces – and very slowly, an unlikely, unexpected friendship begins to grow.

Full of wisdom and warmth, The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home is a gorgeously poignant, hilarious story showing that it is never too late to laugh – or to love.
Pre-order here.

Victoria Park by Gemma Davies

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.

With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.

Pre-order here.

Hidden Lies by Rachel Ryan

Published: January 14th, 2021
Publisher: Piatkus
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
All children have imaginary friends. It’s perfectly normal.

But when Georgina’s young son Cody tells her about his ‘New Granny’, a mysterious friend from the park, the words send shivers down her spine. Georgina’s beloved mother died only months ago.

Her husband Bren is certain the woman is an invention, Cody’s way of grieving for his grandmother, but there’s something in the way Cody talks about his new friend that feels so real.

Is someone out there, watching Georgina’s family from the shadows?

Is Cody’s imaginary friend not so imaginary after all?

Pre-order here.

The Appeal by Janice Hallett

Published: January 14th, 2021
Publisher: Viper
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
In a town full of secrets…
Someone was murdered.
Someone went to prison.
And everyone’s a suspect.
Can you uncover the truth?

Dear Reader – enclosed are all the documents you need to solve a case. It starts with the arrival of two mysterious newcomers to the small town of Lockwood, and ends with a tragic death.

Someone has already been convicted of this brutal murder and is currently in prison, but we suspect they are innocent. What’s more, we believe far darker secrets have yet to be revealed.

Throughout the Fairway Players’ staging of All My Sons and the charity appeal for little Poppy Reswick’s life-saving medical treatment, the murderer hid in plain sight. Yet we believe they gave themselves away. In writing. The evidence is all here, between the lines, waiting to be discovered.

Will you accept the challenge? Can you uncover the truth?

The standout debut thriller of 2021 that delivers multiple brilliant twists, and will change the way you think about the modern crime novel.
Pre-order here.

The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Horror Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death
30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace
Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide

Welcome to Chapel Croft.

For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.

And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.

Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.

Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls?
Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages?
And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?

Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.

But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . .

You can read my review here and pre-order the book here.

Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Headline
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
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.

You can read my review here and pre-order the book here.

Girl A by Abigail Dean

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
‘Girl A,’ she said. ‘The girl who escaped. If anyone was going to make it, it was going to be you.’

Lex Gracie doesn’t want to think about her family. She doesn’t want to think about growing up in her parents’ House of Horrors. And she doesn’t want to think about her identity as Girl A: the girl who escaped. When her mother dies in prison and leaves Lex and her siblings the family home, she can’t run from her past any longer. Together with her sister, Evie, Lex intends to turn the House of Horrors into a force for good. But first she must come to terms with her six siblings – and with the childhood they shared.

Beautifully written and incredibly powerful, Girl A is a story of redemption, of horror, and of love. If you liked Room, My Dark Vanessa and We Need to Talk About Kevin, you will love this book.
Pre-order here.

A Burning by Megha Majumdar

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Scribner
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Political Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A girl walks through the slums of Kolkata holding an armful of books. She returns home smelling of smoke, and checks her most prized possession: a brand-new smartphone, purchased in instalments. On Facebook, there is only one conversation.

#KolabaganTrainAttack

On the small, glowing screen, she types a dangerous thing…

‘ If the police didn’t help ordinary people like you and me, if the police watched them die, doesn’t that mean that the government is also a terrorist?’

Set in contemporary India, A Burning is the story of three unforgettable characters, all dreaming of a better future, whose lives are changed for ever when they become caught up in the devastating aftermath of a terrorist attack.  

Jivan – a poor, young, Muslim girl, who dreams of going to college – faces a possible death sentence after being accused of collaborating with the terrorists.
Lovely – an exuberant hijra who longs to be a Bollywood star – holds the alibi that can set Jivan free, but telling the truth will cost her everything she holds dear.
PT Sir – an opportunistic gym teacher who once taught Jivan – becomes involved with Hindu nationalist politics and his own ascent is soon inextricably linked to Jivan’s fall.

Taut, propulsive and electrifying, from its opening lines to its astonishing finale, A Burning confronts issues of class, fate, prejudice and corruption with a Dickensian sense of injustice, and asks us to consider what it means to nurture big ambitions in a country hurtling towards political extremism.

A Burning is a novel for our times and for all time.
Pre-order here.

If I Disappear by Eliza Jane Brazier

Published: January 26th, 2021
Publisher: Constable
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
A small town. Another missing woman. A mystery that needs solving . . .

Sera loves true crime podcasts. The mysteries become an unlikely comfort for her, and then an obsession.

So when Rachel, her favourite podcast host, goes missing from a small rural town in Northern California, Sera decides to act. She heads to the isolated ranch where Rachel disappeared, determined to discover what’s happened to her.

But the more Sera digs into this unfamiliar world, the more off things start to feel.

Because Rachel is not the first woman to vanish from the ranch, and she won’t be the last . . .

Rachel did try to warn her.
Pre-order here.

Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden

Published: January 28th, 2021
Publisher: Canongate
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Mrs Death has had enough. She is exhausted from spending eternity doing her job and now she seeks someone to unburden her conscience to. Wolf Willeford, a troubled young writer, is well acquainted with death, but until now hadn’t met Death in person – a black, working-class woman who shape-shifts and does her work unseen.

Enthralled by her stories, Wolf becomes Mrs Death’s scribe, and begins to write her memoirs. Using their desk as a vessel and conduit, Wolf travels across time and place with Mrs Death to witness deaths of past and present and discuss what the future holds for humanity. As the two reflect on the losses they have experienced – or, in the case of Mrs Death, facilitated – their friendship grows into a surprising affirmation of hope, resilience and love. All the while, despite her world-weariness, Death must continue to hold humans’ fates in her hands, appearing in our lives when we least expect her . . .
Pre-order here.

The Dressmaker of Paris by Georgia Kaufmann

Published: January 28th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
I need to tell you a story, ma chère. My story.

Rosa Kusstatscher has built a global fashion empire upon her ability to find the perfect outfit for any occasion. But tonight, as she prepares for the most important meeting of her life, her usual certainty eludes her.

What brought her to this moment? As she struggles to select her dress and choose the right shade of lipstick, Rosa begins to tell her incredible story. The story of a poor country girl from a village high in the mountains of Italy. Of Nazi occupation and fleeing in the night. Of hope and heartbreak in Switzerland; glamour and love in Paris. Of ambition and devastation in Rio de Janeiro; success and self-discovery in New York.

A life spent running, she sees now. But she will run no longer.
Pre-order here.

Are any of these books on your tbr? Let me know in the comments.

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – September 2020

The weather has cooled and the nights are drawing in. Summer is officially over and autumn has arrived. Another month is also over, which means it’s time for another wrap up.

It’s been a fantastic month. I’ve read 17 books in total, which includes one audiobook, and I’m part way through two other audiobooks. I’ve read some outstanding books and discovered some new authors I’ll definitely read again.

I also took part in 14 blog tours, 4 readalongs and the Tasting Notes Book Club. I was excited to take part in my first author Q&As. The first was a private Zoom with Cecelia Ahern and other bloggers, and the other was my first over Instagram Live. Courtesy of One More Chapter I took part in a Q&A with Annie Lyons. I’m so grateful to have these opportunities and still can’t believe I’m able to talk with authors I’ve loved for years.

So lets get back to what I’ve read this month:

  1. After The Silence ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Truth Be Told ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. A Ruined Girl ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Heatstroke ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. Under Your Skin ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. To Cook A Bear ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. A Song of Isolation ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. A Court of Wings and Ruin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. If I Could Say Goodbye ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. Pizza Girl ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  11. The Thursday Murder Club ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The Philosopher Queens ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. In Black and White ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  14. Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  15. Mother Loves Me ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  16. Dead Woman Crossing ⭐⭐⭐
  17. Love Orange ⭐⭐⭐⭐

With so many great books, it’s not easy to choose a favourite. But Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You was such a standout read that it ended up making the choice easy. I loved it so much that it is even a contender for book of the year.

If you want to read my reviews for what I read in September, then click on the title and it will take you to my review (unless it’s one of the ones I’ve not written yet lol).

Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite book in September? Let me know in the comments.

*Thank you to the publushers for my gifted copies of the books.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

To Cook A Bear by Mikael Niemi

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: MacLehose Press
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Translated Fiction

I’m delighted to be sharing my review today as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Corinna at MacLehose for the invitation to take part and for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

The legendary Læstadius becomes a kind of Sherlock Holmes in this exceptional historical crime novel.

It is 1852, and in Sweden’s far north, deep in the Arctic Circle, charismatic preacher and Revivalist Lars Levi Læstadius impassions a poverty-stricken congregation with visions of salvation. But local leaders have reason to resist a shift to temperance over alcohol.

Jussi, the young Sami boy Læstadius has rescued from destitution and abuse, becomes the preacher’s faithful disciple on long botanical treks to explore the flora and fauna. Læstadius also teaches him to read and write – and to love and fear God.

When a milkmaid goes missing deep in the forest, the locals suspect a predatory bear is at large. A second girl is attacked, and the sheriff is quick to offer a reward for the bear’s capture. Using early forensics and daguerreotype, Læstadius and Jussi find clues that point to a far worse killer on the loose, even as they are unaware of the evil closing in around them.

To Cook a Bear explores how communities turn inwards, how superstition can turn to violence, and how the power of language can be transformative in a richly fascinating mystery.

MY REVIEW:

“A man of violence walks free. A killer bear in human form.”

This English translation of a Swedish mystery is like no other mystery I’ve read before. Set in Sweden in 1852, it follows Jussi, a runaway Sami boy who has been taken in by the revivalist preacher, Laestadius, and his family.

When a young woman goes missing and is later found dead, it appears that a killer bear is at large and a reward is offered for its capture. But Laestadius sees clues that point to a much more sinister suspect. So, with Jussi assisting him, he begins his own investigation.

But when another young woman is taken and it seems they have identified their killer, the pair find themselves in danger. For this is a killer who will do whatever it takes to remain hidden.

“People are greatly in fear of the devil. Especially when he comes in the guise of a wolf or a snake. But he is far more dangerous in human form. And most dangerous of all in the form of an angel. For when Satan himself transforms into an angel of light, it is hard to escape him.”

A sweeping Swedish historical fiction, based in fact, with elements of mystery and Scandi-noir, this is a beautifully written novel. It is a little strange at times, and took me a little while to get into, but I loved the richly drawn world the author brings to life, transporting you back to 1850s Sweden. It is a time I knew nothing about and I enjoyed learning more about that era. And just because it’s beautifully written, don’t think that means it doesn’t touch on more brutal aspects— it is a historical murder mystery after all. There were some gruesome scenes, including one involving the bear mentioned in the title that I’ll not soon forget. I also enjoyed historical elements such as the beginnings of forensics that Laestadius uses in his investigations. But, for me, it was the characters that I found most fascinating and compelling.

“By itself, each letter was frail. But when the pastor taught the young Sami boy to place them next to one another, something happened. It was like lighting a fire ; one single piece of wood was of little use, but if you added another, it instantly grew hotter. The letters derived life from each other ; in the company of others they began to speak.”

Our narrator, Jussi, is a Sami boy who was found by the preacher after fleeing his abusive home. And it was his journey I was drawn to most of all. Shy, unsure and longing for acceptance, Jussi pulled on my heartstrings. I loved his journey of self-discovery and learning. His descriptions of learning to read and exploring books brought to life the wonder, joy and transformative power of words; how they open up the world to you and change your perception of life. It was a magical thing to witness him as he discovered these things. What was harder to bear were the injustices he suffered at the hands of locals, who judge him as the weird Sami boy. There was one particular point where I shed a tear for how savagely treated and despaired at the cruelty with which some treat their fellow man.

Laestadius is a diversive figure, loved and loathed in his community depending on their views on the Lutheran revival that he is spearheading. I was ambivalent towards him myself, but liked that he saw details others didn’t and persued his quest for the truth even in the face of great opposition.

To Cook A Bear is a captivating and touching story that is unlike anything you will have read before. It kept me guessing from start to finish and the with characters are ones that will stay with me.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Mikael Niemi was born in 1959 and grew up in Pajala in the northernmost part of Sweden, near the Finnish border, where he still lives. Before the publication of To Cook A Bear, his breakthrough novel was Popular Music From Vittula (2000), selling more than one million copies. It won the Swedish August Prize and has been translated into more than thirty languages. To Cook A Bear has now been sold for translation to fifteen territories.

BUY THE BOOK:

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Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Tandem Readalong

After The Silence by Louise O’Neill

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Riverrun
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Literary Fiction

I read this book as part of a readalong with Tandem Collective UK. This post is also part of a social media blast in connection with Quercus. Thank you to Hannah at Quercus for my gifted copy of the book.

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.

MY REVIEW:

“There were three of them in the beginning, and we called them the Crowley Girls. They were born of this island, as we were; sister-children, brethren, kin. Soil and bone. A common blood running through our veins, for our ancestors, had been family, once, if you understand the ways of Insirun before we begin our story – we were all connected here. But those girls were not like us.”

Darkly atmospheric, haunting, tense, claustrophobic and addictive, After The Silence is a richly drawn amalgamation of whodunnit and character study that examines the power of silence, and the lies we tell ourselves in order to survive. 

This was my first Louise O’Neill book but won’t be my last. I have fallen in love with her exquisite writing and her ability to write about such a difficult subject with such truth and sensitivity. Because, while this is a murder mystery, the author has cleverly woven into that an examination of domestic abuse, coercive control and violence against women. It is clear that she highly researched the subject as she writes with a depth of knowledge and truth as well as great sensitivity to a harrowing subject. 

Her characters are fascinating, flawed and real. They’re people you might even recognise yourself in. As someone who lived in an abusive relationship for twelve years, I saw myself in Keelin, my past relationship in hers and my ex in some of the male characters.   I loved how using the Kinsella’s beauty, wealth and faux happiness, she highlights that domestic abuse can happen to ANYONE, even those who are strong and independent, and that coercive control is so much harder to recognise as abuse than physical abuse.  

Setting the story on the small, secluded island of Inisurin added an extra layer to the book; a threatening, eerie and claustrophobic atmosphere that permeates everyone and everything. The island is also like a character in itself, and acts as a metaphor for how Keelin feels about her marriage: the island keeping her prisoner just like her marriage. There is a very real sense of being trapped with help being out of reach. That no one can save you.  

Dark, brooding, tense and twisty, After The Silence will keep you guessing right until the end. I am now such a fan of this author that I’ve already started ordering her back catalogue so I can devour her other books. 

 Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louise O’Neill was born in west Cork in 1985. She studied English at Trinity College Dublin and has worked for the senior style director of American Elle magazine. While in New York, she also worked as an assistant stylist on a number of high-profile campaigns. Louise has written two award-winning books, Only Ever Yours and her most recent, Asking For It, which won Book of the Year at the Irish Book Awards. She is currently working as a freelance journalist for a variety of Irish national newspapers and magazines, covering feminist issues, fashion and pop culture. She lives in Clonakilty, west Cork.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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