The Old Church, Amsterdam: Tuesday, 14th January 1687.
The funeral is supposed to be a quiet affair, for the deceased had no friends.But words are water in a Amsterdam, they flood your ears and set the rot, and the church’s east corner is crowded. She watches the scene unfold from the safety of the choir stall, as guildsmen and their wives approach the gaping grave like ants toward the honey. Soon, they are joined by WOC clerks and ship’s captains regentesses, pastry-makers — and him, still wearing that broad-brimmed hat. She tries to pity him. Pity unlike hate, can be boxed and put away.
Today’s first lines are taken from one of my favourite books of all time, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.
I wasn’t going to post a first lines today, but when a photo came up on timehop reminding me that it was six years ago today that a friend sent me this copy after she’d read and loved it herself. I read it immediately and became an instant fan of the author. It is a truly outstanding debut that began my love affair with historical fiction.
The phenomenal number one bestseller and a major BBC TV series. Winner of the Specsavers National Book Award and Waterstones Book of the Year. A Richard and Judy Book Club selection.
There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .
On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .
Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?
Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, Jessie Burton’s magnificent debut novel The Miniaturist is a story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.
I was fortunate enough to meet Ms Burton, and the talented Laura Purcell, at an event in October 2019. Her signature in my book made an already treasured novel become truly special.
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Published: February 1st, 2022 Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio Genre: Thriller, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
Happy Publication Day Carol!
I am thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this first book in a new crime series by the wonderful Ms. Wyer. Thank you to Emma at Damppebbles for the invitation to take part.
A killer running rings around the police. A detective spiralling out of control.
DI Kate Young is on leave. She’s the force’s best detective, but her bosses know she’s under pressure, on medication and overcoming trauma. So after her bad judgement call leads to a narrowly averted public disaster, they’re sure all she needs is a rest.
But when Staffordshire Police summon her back to work on a murder case, it’s a harder, more suspicious Kate Young who returns. With a new ruthlessness, she sets about tracking down a clinical, calculating serial killer who is torturing victims and leaving clues to taunt the police. Spurred on by her reporter husband, Young begins to suspect that the murderer might be closer than she ever imagined.
As she works to uncover the truth, Young unravels a network of secrets and lies, with even those closest to her having something to hide. But with her own competence—and her grip on reality—called into question, can she unmask the killer before they strike again?
She’s done it again! When one of my favourite crime writers announced a new series I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was thrilled to be one of the lucky people who first received a copy and to then learn I’d be one of the bloggers opening the tour in publication day. Expectations were high and, as always, Ms. Wyer did not disappoint. An Eye for an Eye is a gripping, twisty, pacy and gritty thriller that had me hooked from the start. I couldn’t put it down and was up until 5am the first night as I didn’t want to stop reading!
Detective Kate Young is off work after a traumatic incident earlier in the year that led to PTSD. She is still struggling to get through each day when one of her bosses asks her to come back to work on a sensitive case. She isn’t sure she’s ready to go back, but her boss convinces her that he needs his best detective, so she returns.
Supported by her husband, Chris, and her handpicked team, Kate finds returning even more difficult than she imagined. But she’s determined to crack the case, particularly after finding clues that seem to point to the killer being uncomfortably close to home.
This book has everything you expect when you pick up a Carol Wyer book: great writing that is gritty and compelling, grizzly murders, a layered plot full of shocking twists, and interesting characters.
Once again Carol has created a protagonist who is a feisty, flawed and strong-willed woman with an interesting backstory. When we meet Kate she’s on leave from work and struggling with PTSD after a traumatic incident earlier in the year. She is suffering from flashbacks, nightmares and disassociation and using pills to try and cope with her feelings. When she returns to work she must battle against not only her symptoms but the doubts and insecurities of herself and those around her. Everyone is watching and some are counting on her to fail, but Kate is determined to overcome her challenges to bring a killer to justice. As someone with PTSD following trauma I appreciate Carol portraying the condition in such a raw and accurate way. Despite these things I will admit it took me a little while to warm to Kate, though I found her compelling and was rooting for her from start to finish.
As much as I love her Natalie Ward books I am glad that Carol decided to write a new series as I loved this thrilling page-turner. And, after that ending, I can’t wait for book two!
So if you’re a crime fiction fan, don’t miss the first in what I believe will be another unmissable series from the incomparable Ms. Wyer. READ THIS NOW.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
A former teacher and linguist, Carol began writing full-time in 2009 and enjoyed much success with several comedies and humorous non-fiction books, one of which, Grumpy Old Menopause won her the People’s Book Prize Award in 2015.
January 2017, saw her move into police procedurals withLittle Girl Lost, the first in the DI Robyn Carter series, that featured in USA Today Top 150 best selling books and became the #2 best-selling book on Amazon. The books, set in Staffordshire where Carol has lived for over 30 years, earned her acclaim as a crime writer and in 2018, a new team lead by DI Natalie Ward was introduced to her readers.
Carol’s crime novels have since sold over half a million copies and been translated worldwide.
As well as writing crime, Kindle top 5 best-seller Carol also still writes comedies because as the ex-stand-up comedian claims, “Laughter is the best medicine”.
Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.
Published: February 4th, 2021* Publisher: Piatkus Format: Kindle, Audio Genre: Humorous Fiction, Contemporary Romance *Hardcover out March 25th
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this heartwarming debut. Thank you to Frankie at Little Brown Book Group for the invitation to take part and the ARC.
When Amy Ashton’s world fell apart eleven years ago, she started a collection.
Just a few keepsakes of happier times: some honeysuckle to remind herself of the boy she loved, a chipped china bird, an old terracotta pot . . . Things that others might throw away, but to Amy, represent a life that could have been.
Now her house is overflowing with the objects she loves – soon there’ll be no room for Amy at all. But when a family move in next door, a chance discovery unearths a mystery, and Amy’s carefully curated life begins to unravel. If she can find the courage to face her past, might the future she thought she’d lost still be hers for the taking?
Perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant and The Keeper of Lost Things, this exquisitely told, uplifting novel shows us that however hopeless things might feel, beauty can be found in the most unexpected of places
“We all have baggage. No one travels lightly anymore.”
Amy Ashton is not your typical literary heroine. Standoffish and strange, Amy lives alone in a house that resembles an episode of hoarders. But to Amy her house is perfect; full of the treasures she collects and protects. But I soon discovered that beyond that spiky outer shell is a nuanced, vulnerable and caring woman whom I adored. The story itself was also full of surprises. I was immediately enamoured by the author’s prose and quirky tale and soon found there were unexpected layers to the book waiting to be discovered, including a mystery that grew like the ivy in Amy’s wild back garden. I was hooked.
I’ve found that a lot of the debuts I’ve read over the last year have been outstanding, and Everything Is Beautiful certainly fits that current mode. Full of pathos, heart, charm and wit, I devoured this book and got lost in Amy’s world. The story is told in dual timelines with flashbacks that are linked to specific items in Amy’s collection. Through these chapters the author tells the story of each item’s meaning to Amy, the memories it evokes, and slowly unveils how she became this way, piece by piece; each one waiting to be discovered by the reader like one of Amy’s treasures. These flashbacks also give an insight into who Amy used to be; when she was vibrant and happy and just like any other young woman you might meet.
“Her house was fairly full, of course, but that was because it was filled to the brim with treasures.”
But Amy isn’t the only compelling character in this story. The author has created a cast of characters that are all equally important to understanding Amy and her story. I was particularly taken with young Charles and Daniel, the two little boys who have moved in next door to Amy and decided she is their friend. One of the great things about kids is they don’t see the world as adults do and they can see the beauty in a person when adults only see someone weird. I loved seeing Amy through their eyes and how they slowly brought out a different side to her we might not have seen if they hadn’t moved next door.
This is an absolute must read. Uplifting, warm and wistful, this is a beautiful story that will linger long after reading and has gone straight onto my forever shelf. It reminded me of a combination of Eleanor Oliphant and The Illustrated Child, which are two other debuts I adore.
MEET THE AUTHOR:
Eleanor Ray has an MA in English Literature from Edinburgh University and works in marketing. She lives in London with her husband and two young children.
Eleanor was inspired to write EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL by the objects her toddler collects and treasures – twigs, empty water bottles and wilting daisies. She is currently working on her next novel.
“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?
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
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:
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
‘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.
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.
Published: August 6th, 2020
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.
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…
“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
MEET THE AUTHOR :
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.