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Monthly Wrap Up – April 2020

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I can’t believe we’re a third of the way through the year already. April has been a strange month for the world with us being in lockdown. For me, that’s meant mostly getting used to not having a quiet house during the day Monday to Friday, which is when I do a lot of my reading and blogging. I’ve also had to hand over my laptop to our eldest as his is broken so I’m restricted in my times I can write.

In terms of reading, April has been another strong month for me. I’ve read thirteen books, taken part in fifteen blog tours, two cover reveals, one readalong and one buddy read. So here is what I’ve read this month:

  1. Mine by Clare Empson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Strangers by C.L. Taylor ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Philosopher’s Daughters by Alison Booth ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. All In Her Head by Nikki Smith ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. The Fallout by Rebecca Thornton ⭐⭐⭐.5
  7. The Switch by Beth O’Leary ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. I Am Dust by Louise Beech ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. What’s Left of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
  11. The Thunder Girls by Melanie Blake ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The House Guest by Mark Edwards ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  14. So Many Lies by Paul J. Teague ⭐⭐⭐⭐

You can read the synopsis and reviews for what I’ve read this month by clicking on the links above except for The House Guest, which will be reviewed next month.

So many great books means it’s hard to choose a favourite. And this month it was almost impossible. I loved Hamnet and was sure nothing would top that; until I read the breathtaking debut novel, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours. I still think about that book many times each day and am constantly recommending everyone read it. So if you haven’t yet bought a copy you can use the links in my review to do it now! Other books I feel deserve a shout out are the fantastic thrillers Strangers and All In Her Head, the heartwarming and uplifting The Switch, and the brilliantly sinister I Am Dust. Each of these were also contenders for my book of the month.

Thank you to the publishers for my gifted copies of the books and the blog tour organisers for all their hard work.

What have you read this month and what was your favourite? Comment below.

Categories
book reviews

Strangers by C.L. Taylor ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Avon Books
Format: Hardback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Urban Fiction

Thank you to Tandem Collective UK for the invitation to take part in the readalong and to Avon Books for the gifted copy.

SYNOPSIS:

Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.

Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.
Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.
And Alice is being stalked.

None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.

Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.

The million-copy bestseller returns with a gripping new novel that will keep you guessing until the end.

MY REVIEW:

I read Strangers as part of a readalong via Tandem Collective UK and was so hooked that I read it in one sitting instead of over six days. This book is the definition of unputdownable.  

The story packs a punch from the first chapter, opening with a dead body and our three narrators – Alice, Ursula and Gareth – all wondering what to do. With a sense of foreboding, we then go back to a week earlier, a time when they had never met and had no idea their lives were about to become entwined in such a dark way. 

Each of the narrators is facing their own challenges: Alice is trying to get back into the dating scene two years after the end of her marriage, Ursula finds herself homeless and then living with a weird man because of the cheap room, and Gareth is trying to keep his mother at home despite her dementia worsening, while also working full-time. All the characters leap from the page, even secondary ones we barely saw. To begin with I wasn’t a fan of Ursula but by the end she was my favourite character; a complex person full of compassion and strength. The secondary characters were sometimes even more interesting than the narrators. Ursula’s landlord, Edward, was an odd duck and had me intrigued from the start. There was something suspicious about him, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. I loved the cat and mouse game that developed between them and was full of questions about what it meant and where it would end.

C.L Taylor is one of my auto-buy authors but this is only the second time I’ve actually read one of her books. In Strangers she combines magnificent storytelling, edge-of-your-seat tension, mystery and compelling drama to create the perfect thriller. She expertly weaves the seemingly unconnected threads together using clever twists and turns.

Strangers is a tightly plotted, jaw-dropping and utterly brilliant thriller that should be on everyone’s bookshelf. You need to read it now!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cally Taylor was born in Worcester and spent her early years living in various army camps in the UK and Germany. She studied Psychology at the University of Northumbria and went on forge a career in instructional design and e-Learning before leaving to write full time in 2014.

She started writing short stories in 2005 and was published widely in literary and women’s magazines. She also won several short story competitions. In 2009 and 2011 her romantic comedy novels (as Cally Taylor) were published by Orion and translated into fourteen languages. HEAVEN CAN WAIT was a bestseller in Hungary and China and HOME FOR CHRISTMAS was made into a feature film by JumpStart Productions. Whilst on maternity leave with her son Cally had an idea for a psychological thriller and turned to crime.

C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

Website
Instagram
Twitter
Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon
Waterstones
Book Depository
Google Books
Kobo

Categories
Uncategorised

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – April 2020

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I am finally posting my most anticipated books being released in April. Sorry it is so late. As a lot of you know I haven’t been well and am only just getting back into reading and posting online.

2020 seems to be one great month after another, and April just proves this point. Let me know what you think of my choices and which ones you’re most looking forward to in the comments.

Strangers by C.L.Taylor
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Noir Fiction, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Ursula, Gareth and Alice have never met before.

Ursula thinks she killed the love of her life.
Gareth’s been receiving strange postcards.
And Alice is being stalked.

None of them are used to relying on others – but when the three strangers’ lives unexpectedly collide, there’s only one thing for it: they have to stick together. Otherwise, one of them will die.

Three strangers, two secrets, one terrifying evening.

 

The Silent Treatment by Abbie Greaves
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Century
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
A lifetime of love. Six months of silence. One last chance.

Frank hasn’t spoken to his wife Maggie for six months.

For weeks they have lived under the same roof, slept in the same bed and eaten at the same table – all without words.

Maggie has plenty of ideas as to why her husband has gone quiet, but it will take another heartbreaking turn of events before Frank finally starts to unravel the secrets that have silenced him.

Is this where their story ends?
Or is it where it begins?

With characters that will capture your heart, THE SILENT TREATMENT celebrates the phenomenal power of love and the importance of leaving nothing unsaid.

 

The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Literary Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Six strangers with one universal thing in common: their lives aren’t always what they make them out to be.

What would happen if they told the truth instead?

Julian Jessop is tired of hiding the deep loneliness he feels. So he begins The Authenticity Project – a small green notebook containing the truth about his life.

Leaving the notebook on a table in his friendly neighbourhood café, Julian never expects Monica, the owner, to track him down after finding it. Or that she’ll be inspired to write down her own story.

Little do they realize that such small acts of honesty hold the power to impact all those who discover the notebook and change their lives completely.

A story about connection, community, and the kindness of strangers.

 

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Zaffre
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
‘You can’t save someone that doesn’t want to be saved . . .’

Thirty years ago, Vincent King became a killer.

Now, he’s been released from prison and is back in his hometown of Cape Haven, California. Not everyone is pleased to see him. Like Star Radley, his ex-girlfriend, and sister of the girl he killed.

Duchess Radley, Star’s thirteen-year-old daughter, is part-carer, part-protector to her younger brother, Robin – and to her deeply troubled mother. But in trying to protect Star, Duchess inadvertently sets off a chain of events that will have tragic consequences not only for her family, but also the whole town.

Murder, revenge, retribution.

How far can we run from the past when the past seems doomed to repeat itself?

 

The Secret Admirer by Carol Wyer (Detective Natalie Ward 6)
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Thriller
SYNOPSIS:
‘I tried to talk to you today but you snubbed me and walked away. It wasn’t wise to give me the brush-off, Gemma. I can be a truly good friend but I also make the perfect enemy.’

Sasha’s eighteen-year-old daughter Gemma was all she had in the world. Sasha fell pregnant with Gemma when she was still at school, and the two are as close as sisters. So when Gemma’s burned and broken body is found, Sasha’s world ends. What kind of person would want her beautiful daughter dead?

Leading the case is Detective Natalie Ward, scarred by her own recent tragedy. When she finds a note in Gemma’s diary from ‘a secret admirer’, she moves quickly, determined to un-mask them. But interviews with Gemma’s devastated ex-boyfriend, and her charismatic teacher, who has been seen embracing his student far away from the classroom, don’t give Natalie the answers she’d hoped for…

And then the case takes a devastating, personal twist. CCTV footage reveals Natalie’s estranged husband David followed Gemma home every evening the week before she died.

Natalie is forced to put personal feelings aside and follow procedure, even though she can’t believe David could be guilty. But when Gemma’s housemate is found murdered, Natalie thinks the killer could still be at large. Is she right to trust her instincts about David and can she discover the truth before another precious life is taken?

 

Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins
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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Suspense, Mystery, Domestic Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
When the eight-year-old daughter of an Oxford College Master vanishes in the middle of the night, police turn to the Scottish nanny, Dee, for answers.

As Dee looks back over her time in the Master’s Lodging – an eerie and ancient house – a picture of a high achieving but dysfunctional family emerges: Nick, the fiercely intelligent and powerful father; his beautiful Danish wife Mariah, pregnant with their child; and the lost little girl, Felicity, almost mute, seeing ghosts, grieving her dead mother.

But is Dee telling the whole story? Is her growing friendship with the eccentric house historian, Linklater, any cause for concern? And most of all, why is Felicity silent?

Roaming Oxford’s secret passages and hidden graveyards, Magpie Lane explores the true meaning of family – and what it is to be denied one.

 

The Switch by Beth O’Leary
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Published: April 16th, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Fiction, Romance
SYNOPSIS:
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.

Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?

 

I Am Dust by Louise Beech
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Published: April 16th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror, Psychological Fiction, Fairytale
SYNOPSIS:
When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast, in a bewitching, beguiling, moving and terrifyingly dark psychological thriller…

 

The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
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Published: April 21st, 2020
Publisher: Tinder Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
An extraordinary story set in the first century about a woman who finds her voice and her destiny, from the celebrated number one New York Times bestselling author of The Secret Life of Bees and The Invention of Wings

‘I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus.’

In her mesmerizing fourth work of fiction, Sue Monk Kidd brings her acclaimed narrative gifts to imagine the story of a young woman called Ana.

Ana is a rebellious young woman, a gifted writer with a curious, brilliant mind, who writes secret narratives about the neglected and silenced women around her. Raised in a wealthy family in Galilee, she is sheltered from the brutality of Rome’s occupation of Israel. Ana is expected to marry an elderly widower to further her father’s ambitions, a prospect that horrifies her. A chance encounter with the eighteen-year-old Jesus changes everything: his ideas and his passion are intoxicating.

Taking Ana on a journey she could never have imagined, The Book of Longings is a glorious evocation of a time and a place where astounding events unfolded, and of one woman’s fate when she fights to make her voice heard.

 

The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Vincent is the beautiful bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass-and-cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, a hooded figure scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: ‘Why don’t you swallow broken glass.’ Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.

Weaving together the lives of these characters, Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the towers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of remote British Columbia, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.

 

The Split by Sharon Bolton
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
 SHE’S GOT NOWHERE LEFT TO HIDE.

A year ago, in desperation, Felicity Lloyd signed up for a lengthy research trip to the remote island of South Georgia.

It was her only way to escape.

AND NOW HE’S COMING FOR HER.

Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder. Out at last, he’s on her trail.

And this time, he won’t stop until he finds her.

BECAUSE NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU RUN, SOME SECRETS WILL ALWAYS CATCH UP WITH YOU…

 

He Started It by Samantha Downing
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense
SYNOPSIS:
This is a story about three siblings. Like any family, sometimes they don’t get along.

It’s a story about a secret that they’ve all kept since they were children.

It’s a story about lying. A story about murder.

It’s a story where only one can win.

 

Q by Christina Dalcher
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Thriller, Fantasy, Fairytale
SYNOPSIS:
Elena Fairchild is a teacher at one of the state’s new elite schools. Her daughters are exactly like her: beautiful, ambitious, and perfect. A good thing, since the recent mandate that’s swept the country is all about perfection.

Now everyone must undergo routine tests for their quotient, Q, and any children who don’t measure up are placed into new government schools. Instead, teachers can focus on the gifted.

Elena tells herself it’s not about eugenics, not really, but when one of her daughters scores lower than expected and is taken away, she intentionally fails her own test to go with her.

But what Elena discovers is far more terrifying than she ever imagined…

 

The Silence by Susan Allott
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: The Borough Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
It is 1997, and in a basement flat in Hackney Isla Green is awakened by a call in the middle of the night: her father, phoning from Sydney.

30 years ago, in the suffocating heat of summer 1967, the Greens’ next-door neighbour Mandy disappeared. At the time, it was thought she had gone to start a new life; but now Mandy’s family is trying to reconnect, and there is no trace of her. Isla’s father Joe was allegedly the last person to see her alive, and now he’s under suspicion of murder.

Reluctantly, Isla goes back to Australia for the first time in a decade. The return to Sydney will plunge her deep into the past, to a quiet street by the sea where two couples live side by side. Isla’s parents, Louisa and Joe, have recently emigrated from England ― a move that has left Louisa miserably homesick while Joe embraces this new life. Next door, Steve and Mandy are equally troubled. Mandy doesn’t want a baby, even though Steve ― a cop trying to hold it together under the pressures of the job ― is desperate to become a father.

The more Isla asks about the past, the more she learns: about both young couples and the secrets each marriage bore. Could her father be capable of doing something terrible? How much does her mother know? And is there another secret in this community, one which goes deeper into Australia’s colonial past, which has held them in a conspiracy of silence?

Deftly exploring the deterioration of relationships and the devastating truths we keep from those we love, The Silence is a stunning debut from a rising literary star.

 

Would Like To Meet by Rachel Winters
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Published: April 30th, 2020
Publisher: Trapeze
Genre: Romance, Humourous Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
SYNOPSIS:
Long-suffering assistant Evie Summers will lose her job unless she can convince her film agency’s biggest and most difficult client, Ezra Chester, to finish the script for a Hollywood romcom. The catch? He hasn’t started writing it.

Suffering from ‘writer’s block,’ he will only put pen to paper if singleton Evie can prove to him that you can fall in love like they do in the movies. Forget internet dating, Evie can only meet a man the way that Sally met Harry, or Hugh Grant meets anyone. Cue her entering into one ridiculous romcom scenario after another. But can life ever be like the movies?

Of course, real life is never that straightforward . . .