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First Lines Friday

Festive First Lines Friday – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

“It’s so dreadful to be poor!” sighed Meg, looking at her old dress.

“I don’t think it’s fair for some girls to have pretty things, and other girls nothing at all,” added little Amy, with an injured sniff.

“We’ve got Father and Mother and each other,” said Beth contentedly from her corner.

Today’s first lines are taken from a book that needs little introduction; Little Women. This is one of my favourite classics and always makes me think of two things: Christmas, and the 90s film adaptation. I’ve not read it for a number of years now but really should do a reread soon.

Have you read Little Women? What does the book mean to you?

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Book Features First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday – The Snow Child

“Mabel has known there would be silence. That was the point, after all. No infants cooing or wailing. No neighbor children playfully hollering down the lane. No pad of small feet on wooden stairs worn smooth by generations, or clackety-clack of toys along the kitchen floor. All those sounds of her failure and regret would be left behind, and in there place there would be silence.”

Today’s first lines are taken from The Snow Child, one of my favourite Wintery reads.

I decided that this month I would dedicate each First Lines Friday to Christmassy or Wintery books that I think are perfect to pick up this time of year. I started with The Snow Child as it’s a book I fell in love with when I read it a few years ago.

SYNOPSIS:

A bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope set in 1920s Alaska, Eowyn Ivey’s THE SNOW CHILD was a top ten bestseller in hardback and paperback, and went on to be a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?

Written with the clarity and vividness of the Russian fairy tale from which it takes its inspiration, The Snow Child is an instant classic.

You can read my review here. The book is available to purchase here.

Categories
book reviews Tandem Readalong

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Published: May 2nd, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fantasy Fiction

I read this book as part of a readlong with Tandem Collective UK. Thank you to them for the invitation and Bloomsbury UK for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring her land to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords and hunt for allies in unexpected places. And her heart will face the ultimate test as she and her mate are forced to question whether they can truly trust each other.

Sarah J. Maas is a global #1 bestselling author. Her books have sold more than nine million copies and been translated into 37 languages. Discover the sweeping romantic fantasy for yourself.

Contains mature content. Not suitable for younger readers.

MY REVIEW:

“To the stars who listen—and the dreams that are answered.” 

Fayre is now back in Spring Court. She has returned under the guise of going back to Tamlin but is in fact still Lady of the Night Court and biding her time before taking revenge for how he and others betrayed Prythian in the war with King Hybern. As war looms once more, her relationship with Rhysand is tested and they must decide who among the High Lords they can trust to be on their side. 

I loved how fierce, determined and strong Fayre was in this book. She stands up to Tamlin, refusing to let him twist and rewrite their narrative, even when he shreds her dignity with lewd words and savage lies. Back when I read book one, I could never understand why people loved Rhysand and hated Tamlin; now I’m totally the same. Tamlin is a vile, abusive, controlling snake and I got almost as much pleasure out of Fayre’s revenge as she did. 

I enjoyed seeing more of the other courts and how Fayre’s sisters handled their unexpected and unwanted transition to immortality. I found myself worrying about the fate of the characters and wondered if the author would take a leaf out of George R. R. Martin’s book and kill off a much-loved main character. It is quite a dark book in many ways, addressing abuse, coercive control, trauma, PTSD and consent.

This was my favourite yet in the series. Action-packed, emotional and gripping, it kept me on the edge of my seat and broke my heart. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.

Website|Instagram|Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – September 2020

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

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

A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Harpy by Megan Hunter

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Heatwave by Kate Riordan

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

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

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

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

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

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

Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

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

SYNOPSIS:
ARE YOU READY TO START THIS CONVERSATION?

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

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

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

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

House of Correction by Nicci French

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

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

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

After The Silence by Louise O’Neill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Orange by Natasha Randall

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orfeia by Joanne M. Harris

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

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

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

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

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

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

Charlotte by Helen Moffett

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

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

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

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

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

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

For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley

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

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

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

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

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

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

Islands of Mercy by Rose Tremain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

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

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

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

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

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

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

Where The Edge Is by Grainne Murphy

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

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

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

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

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

The Minders by John Marrs

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Song of Isolation by Michael. J. Malone

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

D (A Tale of Two Worlds) by Michael Faber

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons

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

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

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

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

The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey

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

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

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

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

Love,
Mariah

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

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

Published: August 13th, 2020
Publisher: Canongate
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Science Fiction, Time Travel Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this truly exceptional novel. Thank you to Canongate for the invitation to take part and the gifted book.

SYNOPSIS:

Between life and death there is a library.

When Nora Seed finds herself in the Midnight Library, she has a chance to make things right. Up until now, her life has been full of misery and regret. She feels she has let everyone down, including herself. But things are about to change.

The books in the Midnight Library enable Nora to live as if she had done things differently. With the help of an old friend, she can now undo every one of her regrets as she tries to work out her perfect life. But things aren’t always what she imagined they’d be, and soon her choices place the library and herself in extreme danger.

Before time runs out, she must answer the ultimate question: what is the best way to live?

MY REVIEW:

‘Between life and death there is a library,’ she said. ‘And within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices… Would you have done anything different, if you had the chance to undo your regrets?’

Despite reading the synopsis, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I picked up this book. I had heard nothing but praise which made me apprehensive: what if I was the one who didn’t love this book as much as everybody else did? I needn’t have worried. 

The Midnight Library is an exceptional book. Who hasn’t wondered how their life might have turned out if they’d made different choices? I know I have. I loved the idea of getting to live the different lives you might have had. I don’t want to say too much about the plot or the lives Nora lives as I think it would ruin the joy of the journey that it takes you on as you discover this intelligent and thought-provoking story for yourself. 

“The only way to learn is to live.”

I loved Nora. She is a great character who has been fantastically written. Haig has made no secret of his own mental health struggles and has written two non-fiction books about it, so it isn’t a surprise to me that he wrote Nora with such emotion, depth, sensitivity and raw truth. A lot of the time, reading her was like looking in a mirror. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my adult life and have had periods of being suicidal, so I felt like I ‘got’ Nora completely. One major difference between us though is I try not to look at life with regret, so it was interesting to read her regrets and the way they shaped her and how they changed as she moved through her various lives.

“It is so easy, while trapped in just the one life, to imagine that times of sadness or tragedy or failure are a result of that particular existence. That it is a by-product of living a certain way, rather than simply living. I mean, it would have made things a lot easier if we understood there was no way of living that can immunise you against sadness. And that sadness is intrinsically a part of happiness. You can’t have one without the other.”

I loved the prevailing message and deeper themes that are at the heart of this beautifully written story.  I am in awe of how themes of anxiety, depression and suicide were delicately woven into this atmospheric, poignant and enchating story. It somehow avoids feeling dark and is instead a real balm for the soul. It made me look at my own life and how I handle my darkest times. It is a book that will stay with me forever.

Emotionally resonant, powerful, hopeful and utterly immersive, The Midnight Library is a glorious novel that I never wanted to end. Everyone needs to read this book. It is something truly special and one that you will never forget. It may even change your life. I only wish I could experience it for the first time all over again.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Matt Haig is an author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 40 languages. It is being made into a film by Studio Canal and The Guardian called it an ‘instant classic’. His novels for adults include the award-winning How To Stop Time, The Radleys and The Humans.

He won the TV Book Club ‘book of the series’, and has been shortlisted for a Specsavers National Book Award. The Humans was chosen as a World Book Night title. His children’s novels have won the Smarties Gold Medal, the Blue Peter Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times.

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon by Sarah Steele

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Published: August 6th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this spectacular sunner debut. Thank you to Rosie at Headline for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS: 

To unravel the story of that long-lost summer, she had to follow the thread…

Florence Connelly is broken-hearted; her beloved grandmother has just died and her marriage has collapsed.

But things change when she opens a box of vintage 1960s dress patterns, discovered inside her grandmother’s wardrobe. Inside each pattern packet is a fabric swatch, a postcard from Europe and a faded photograph of a young woman wearing the hand-made dress. Why did Flo’s grandmother never speak of this mysterious woman – Nancy Moon?

Her life in tatters, Flo decides to remake Nancy’s dresses, and to head across to the Continent to re-create Nancy’s Grand Tour of 1962. As she follows the thread, Flo begins to unravel an untold story of love and loss in her family’s past. And perhaps to stitch the pieces of her own life back together…

MY REVIEW:

“Most journeys begin with a goodbye: to a friend or a loved one, often to a lover, and sometimes a place… Some goodbyes last merely a few hours, but some will have to last a lifetime.”

This riveting and uplifting debut encapsulates the essence of summer. It transported me from Brighton and Hove to Paris, Antibes, Capri, Venice and Tuscany, so vividly that I could feel the summer sun beating down on me and the breeze in my hair.

Florence is mourning the loss of her grandmother and her marriage when she comes across vintage dress patterns from the 1960s, each containing mementos from a European adventure taken by her Great Aunt – Nancy Moon. But Flo has never heard of Nancy before. Why did her family keep her a secret? And why has she never been seen or heard from again since that trip?

Florence decides to solve the mystery of what happened to Nancy, embarking on a pilgrimage retracing Nancy Moon’s Grand Tour; remaking the dresses and following in her footsteps, slowly unravelling the untold story of her family’s past.

There’s been a bit of a buzz about this book and I had heard some great things, but I still wasn’t expecting to fall so completely in love with Nancy, Florence and this beautifully told story of family, love, loss and long-held secrets. The author’s lyrical prose and rich imagery brought the story to life as clearly as if I was watching it play in technicolour on a movie screen.

The author effortlessly moves between the dual timeliness, immersing you in their world and the mystery of what happened to Nancy. The characters are compelling, likeable and memorable, and the narrators – Florence and Nancy – are relatable and easy to connect with. But there is something about Nancy that made her leap from the page; an air of glamour and mystery that radiates from her and reminded me of the aura surrounding Marilyn Monroe or Grace Kelly; that movie-star lustre, beauty and mystery that makes them feel out of reach.

Heartwarming, uplifting, emotional and immersive, The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon is a must-read, encapsulating the essence of summer like the sun is shining from the pages

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR :

Sarah Steele (c) Eoin Schmidt-Martin

Sarah Steele trained as a classical pianist and violinist in London, before joining the world of publishing as assistant at Hodder and Stoughton. She was then for many years a freelance editor. She now lives in Stroud and in 2018 was the director of Wordfest at Gloucester Cathedral, which culminated in a suffragette march led by Helen Pankhurst. The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon is her debut novel.

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Blog Tours book reviews

Precious You by Helen Monks Takar

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

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

SYNOPSIS:

She’s got your job. She wants your life

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

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

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

MY REVIEW:

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

Obsession. Secrets. Revenge.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Resident by David Jackson

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Published: July 16th, 2020
Publisher: Viper
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Happy Publication Day to The Resident. I’m thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this creepy thriller. Thank you to Viper for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book .

SYNOPSIS:

THERE’S A SERIAL KILLER ON THE RUN
AND HE’S HIDING IN YOUR HOUSE

Thomas Brogan is a serial killer. Having left a trail of bodies in his wake, and with the police hot on his heels, it seems like Thomas has nowhere left to hide. That is until he breaks into an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he climbs up into the loft, he realises that the can drop down into all the other houses on the street through the shared attic space.

That’s when the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Thomas enjoys even more than killing, is playing games with his victims. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…

Do you fear The Resident? Soon you’ll be dying to meet him.

MY REVIEW:

Deliciously dark, sinister and addictive, The Resident is the kind of twisted story you won’t forget. Get ready to read your new favourite thriller…

Serial killer Thomas Brogan is on the run, but residents are hopeful that he’s long gone from the area after the police found his latest hiding place and victims. But for five people he’s much closer than they think. They are unaware that the ruthless killer is hiding above them, sneaking into their homes when they sleep and waiting for the perfect time to strike…

WHAT. A. BOOK! This chilling thriller is the thing nightmares are made of. I devoured it in one breathless sitting over the course of just a few hours. It jumps straight into the action and the author doesn’t take his foot off the brake, keeping me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

The story is told from Brogan’s point of view and I enjoyed reading from his sick, twisted perspective (though I don’t want to think what that might say about me lol). The Brogan we meet is a cunning, vicious, merciless predator who delights in toying with people before slowly torturing and killing them, but through flashbacks we are given glimpses of his past that offer small clues as to how he became a killer. I found myself feeling really sorry for Brogan at times and came to have a real affection for him. This is a testament to the spectacular talent of the author who manages to evoke feelings of revulsion and affection simultaneously, The potential victims are also brought vividly to life and I had a particular soft spot for Elsie. I spent the whole book really hoping that she wouldn’t end up Brogan’s victim and loved the arc of her story.

The Resident is like no other psychological thriller I’ve read – and I’ve read a lot of them. Sharp, searing and filled with dark humour, this was an easy five-stars from me. Read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

David Jackson is the author of eight crime novels, including the bestseller Cry Baby. When not murdering fictional people, David spends his days as a university academic in his home city of Liverpool.

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book reviews

All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson (Ice Cream Girls 2)

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

Trigger Warning: Domestic Abuse

Thank you to the Tandem Collective for the invitation to take part in this readalong and Headline for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

From the bestselling author of Tell Me Your Secret and The Brighton Mermaid comes the breath-taking sequel to the iconic Sunday Times bestseller The Ice Cream Girls.

Verity is telling lies…
And that’s why she’s about to be arrested for attempted murder.

Serena has been lying for years. . .
And that may have driven her daughter, Verity, to do something unthinkable…

Poppy’s lies have come back to haunt her . . .
So will her quest for the truth hurt everyone she loves?

Everyone lies.
But whose lies are going to end in tragedy?

MY REVIEW:

After reading The Ice Cream Girls in May, I was excited to read the highly anticipated follow up, which takes place ten years after the first. This time the story focuses mostly on Verity, the daughter of one of the Ice Cream Girls, and examines the legacy of the Ice Cream Girls and how it has affected those around them. It also tells the story of someone who has been in an abusive relationship and discovers that someone close to them is in one but isn’t sure if they are the victim or abuser. 

I LOVED this book! It was utterly addictive and I couldn’t put it down. At almost 600 pages it isn’t a short book, but I devoured it quickly and wasn’t ready for it to end, wishing I could stay with the characters even longer. I loved getting to know Verity and seeing how different life was for Poppy and Serena ten years later. This was my second time reading a Dorothy Koomson book and she is now an auto-buy author for me. My only regret is waiting so long to read her work. Her writing is exquisite and she manages to cover emotional and thought-provoking topics with sensitivity while having you on the edge of your seat as tension radiates from the pages and I tried in vain to predict what would happen next. 

The Tandem Collective ran this readalong a little differently and it started with a IGTV Live with the author where she read from the beginning of the book and then talked with fans and answered questions. In that chat she said that she had returned to the Ice Cream Girls because she thought it would be easier than creating new characters to tell. The premise of not knowing if your loved one is the victim or abuser in a relationship is one nobody wants to think about. As someone who has been in an abusive relationship I know it would kill me if someone I loved became an abuser. In fact, trying to stop that happening is the very reason I took my four-year-old son and left his father. It was a fascinating journey to follow the characters on and I related to both sides as the heartbreaking truth was revealed. 

One of the things that stood out to me most of all was how authentic the journey of the character who is being abused was. Their initial disbelief, how they rationalised abusive behaviours and their devastation as the truth finally dawns were all reminiscent of my own journey. In fact, some of the things written in this book made me see things that had happened in my past in a new light and realise that the journey is not yet over even many years on. I also appreciated the fact that she shines a light on domestic abuse  towards men as well as women as this is something not talked about enough.

As much as I enjoyed The Ice Cream Girls, I loved this even more. This gripping book is the definition of unputdownable, keeping you guessing until the final page. An intense and jaw-dropping thriller that you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 15 novels and has been making up stories since she was 13 when she used to share her stories with her convent school friends. Her published titles include: Tell Me Your Secret, The Brighton Mermaid, The Friend, When I Was Invisible, That Girl From Nowhere, The Flavours of Love, The Woman He Loved Before, Goodnight, Beautiful and The Chocolate Run.

Dorothy’s first novel, The Cupid Effect, was published in 2003 (when she was quite a bit older than 13). Her third book, My Best Friend’s Girl, was selected for the Richard & Judy Summer Reads of 2006 and went on to sell over 500,000 copies. While her fourth novel, Marshmallows For Breakfast, has sold in excess of 250,000 copies. Dorothy’s books, The Ice Cream Girls and The Rose Petal Beach were both shortlisted for the popular fiction category of the British Book Awards in 2010 and 2013, respectively.

Dorothy’s novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation loosely based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton.

In 2019 Dorothy was awarded the Image Award by The Black British Business Awards to celebrate and honour her achievements.

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Blog Tours Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – June 2020

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Another month has passed and we’re now half way through the year. It has flown so quickly. I just hope that the rest of the year isn’t as crazy as 2020 has been so far.

June has been a fantastic reading month for me. I read fourteen books, including my first ever audio book. It was almost fifteen books read but I didn’t quite finish Nine Elms. It was a big month for reading with others for me. I took part in a buddy read with my lovely friend Beth and three readalongs with the Tandem Collective, two of which are still going on. 

So here is what I read this month:

  1.  A Theatre For Dreamers ✮✮✮✮✰
  2.  The Split ✮✮✮✮. 5
  3.  The Lies I Tell ✮✮✮. 5
  4.  The Phone Box at the Edge of the World ✮✮✮✮. 5
  5.  I Know Your Secret ✮✮✮✮✰
  6. A Court of Thorns and Roses ✮✮✮✮✮
  7. Unbroken ✮✮✮✮✰
  8.  The Colours ✮✮✮✮✰
  9.  The Waiting Rooms ✮✮✮✮✮
  10.  The Miseducation of Evie Epworth ✮✮✮✮✰
  11. Monstrous Souls ✮✮✮✮✰
  12. The July Girls ✮✮✮✮✰
  13. The Silent Wife ✮✮✮✮✮
  14. Sadie ✮✮✮✮✰ (Audiobook)

You can read the reviews for all of the books except for Sadie by clicking on the title. My review for Sadie will be posted in the coming week.

My BOTM was a close call again but I have to give it to A Court of Thorns and Roses. I didn’t expect to love this book as much as I did and it’s opened up a whole new genre for me. That’s one of the things I love about Bookstagram though, it brings books to your attention you’d never have considered reading otherwise and it’s helped me discover a wealth of books and authors I doubt I’d have ever read without it. The other books that deserve a special mention this month are The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, The Waiting Rooms, and The Miseducation of Evie Epworth. These three outstanding novels were all contenders for my book of the month and are candidates for being in my favourite books of the year so far.

In July I have a busy month full of blog tours that I’m so excited about . I’m also looking forward to seeing what books the rest of the year brings and will be posting some of the ones I’m looking forward to most in the next few weeks.

Thank you to all the tagged publishers for the gifted copies of the books.