May has been a fantastic reading month for me. I’ve read 16 books, which is by best monthly total so far this year! But most importantly, I’ve enjoyed reading them and some have been real stand-outs that will likely be on my list of favourite books of 2021 at the end of the year.
Here’s a quick summary of what I read with links to the reviews (unless they are yet to be published):
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
I had been excited about Ariadne for months and was so happy to finally read the book. An absolute masterpiece, Ariadne brings to life many of the familiar Greek myths through a new lens. This time it’s the women telling the story. And boy do they have a story to tell. Lush, evocative and unforgettable, this book lingers long after reading and has sparked a new obsession for me with Greek mythology. Jennifer Saint has just announced her second book, Elektra, and I’m already counting down to its release. Read my review here.
The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
Beth O’Leary is one of my auto-buy authors and her books always lift my spirits. The Road Trip is another entertaining and readable story about love friendship, betrayal and forgiveness. Review coming soon.
The Other Emily by Dean Koontz
A gripping page-turner that had me guessing from start to finish, The Other Emily was an eerie thriller filled with twists and turns. It was my first time reading Dean Koontz and I can see why everyone raves about his books. Read my review here
The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley
The Cat and the City was a delightful and refreshing read that wasn’t what I expected, but in a good way. This collection of experiences about life in Tokyo was a moving, original, captivating and evocative read that I devoured quickly. One I’d highly recommend if you’re looking for something a bit different. Read my review here
Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon
Why has it taken me so long to read Jane Fallon’s books? An entertaining, twisty and sharply observed look at female friendships, jealousy, vengeance and betrayal, this made me an instant fan. Read my review here
Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks
Until Next Weekend is a story about love, loss and moving on. Wonderfully written, this warm, tender and funny story was a joy to read. While it has a very lighthearted feel, the author skillfully weaves in some deep and difficult subjects in a way that is both honest and sensitively written. This author is two for two on fantastic books that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend and is now an auto-buy author for me. Read my review here
The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter
I have a new crime series to catch up on! The Whole Truth lives up to its advertised ‘impossible to predict’ tagline and had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Cara Hunter twists a familiar story on its head, exploring what happens when a male student accuses a female teacher of abuse in this gripping thriller. This is a must-read for any fans of crime fiction and I can’t wait to read more. Read my review here
You Had It Coming by BM Carroll
You Had It Coming is another tense, twisty and compelling thriller that expertly tackles a difficult subject. As a mother of teenage boys, I’m glad to see more books tackling the issue of consent and the dangers for both sexes that those blurred lines can bring. Thought-provoking and emotionally charged, I would highly recommend this fantastic thriller. Read my review here
Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan~
Madame Burova is the story of two women, a lifetime of secrets and identity. Full of vibrant, quirky and memorable characters that leap from the screen, and evocative imagery that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into the 1970s, I enjoyed this funny, mysterious and uplifting story. Review coming soon.
Legal Crime by Samiksha Bhattacharjee
This book is quite the accomplishment, having been written by a thirteen-year-old author. While it suffers a little for the the author’s lack of maturity, it is a good book and I’m sure that with maturity the author will become an even better writer. Read my review here
The Hollows by Mark Edwards
My love for Mark Edwards is an open secret at this point, and every book he releases is eagerly anticipated. I was particularly excited for The Hollows as it merges two of my favourite genres: true crime and psychological thriller. Sinister, suspenseful and utterly spectacular, this might be my favourite yet. Keep an eye out for my review nearer to it’s release on July 8th.
The Baby is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Darkly funny, claustrophobic and readable, this quick read is the first book I’ve read set during the pandemic. It is perfect for anyone looking for a quick and entertaining read. Read my review here
The Pact by Sharon Bolton
Wow! Just, wow! The Pact was my standout thriller in a month filled with amazing thrillers. So that tells you something. This was an absolute tour-de-force, a breathtaking rollercoaster ride that I devoured quickly. If you are a fan of thrillers than you need to read this book! Read my review here
The Couple by Helly Acton
This was a fun twist on the usual romance story. Set in a world where being single is the norm, and those who are in a relationship are looked down upon, I couldn’t get enough of this warm, funny, uplifting and emotional story. A perfect book to lose yourself in. Read my review here
Shadows Over the Spanish Sun by Caroline Montague
A truly beautiful saga of family, love, loss, secrets and betrayal, Shadows Over the Spanish Sun, this book transported me to the stunning vistas of Spain. The perfect book to read in my garden on a sunny day, this is historical fiction at it’s finest; filled with wonderful characters, lush imagery and educating me about a subject I knew nothing about. Read my review here
Strange Tricks: An Essex Witch Museum Mystery by Syd Moore
I loved this witty cozy mystery so much that I’m planning to read the rest of the series. Great writing, brilliant characters and fabulous narration have made this one of my best audiobook experiences yet. I absolutely love Rosie, the protagonist, and can’t wait to listen to more of her adventures. Review to follow on June 1st.
Despite having read so many great books this month, deciding my book of the month was easy. There is one book that stood out even more than any other and deserves a standing ovation for it’s sheer luminous beauty both inside and out: Ariadne. It is so phenomenal that it isn’t only my BOTM, but my favourite book so far this year, and I have no doubt that whatever I read in the next seven months, this will be on my list of favourite books of 2021. I can’t recommend this highly enough.
What books have you read this month? Did we read any of the same books? Let me know in the comments.
As always, thank you to the publishers for my gifted copies of the books.
Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. See you next month😊 Emma xxx
Choosing the books I’m most excited about being released this year has taken forever. 2021 already has a vast array of books scheduled for release that I can not wait to read. I decided to cheat a little and have created two lists: this one with books by already published authors, and another I’ll post in the coming days with the debuts I’m most looking forward to.
While all of these authors have already been published, some of them are new to me, such as Catriona Ward and Yaa Gyasi. Then there are the authors I discovered last year or with their debut, such as Elizabeth Macneal, C. J. Tudor and Sarah J. Maas. Finally, we have some of my auto-read authors such as Stacey Halls, C. J. Skuse, C. L. Taylor, Mark Edwards and Beth O’ Leary.
Here are the 21 books I’m most excited for this year:
The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
Published: January 21st, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Horror Fiction
SYNOPSIS: 500 years ago: eight martyrs were burnt to death 30 years ago: two teenagers vanished without trace Two months ago: the vicar committed suicide
Welcome to Chapel Croft.
For Rev Jack Brooks and teenage daughter Flo it’s supposed to be a fresh start. New job, new home. But, as Jack knows, the past isn’t easily forgotten.
And in a close-knit community where the residents seem as proud as they are haunted by Chapel Croft’s history, Jack must tread carefully. Ancient superstitions as well as a mistrust of outsiders will be hard to overcome.
Yet right away Jack has more frightening concerns.
Why is Flo plagued by visions of burning girls? Who’s sending them sinister, threatening messages? And why did no one mention that the last vicar killed himself?
Chapel Croft’s secrets lie deep and dark as the tomb. Jack wouldn’t touch them if not for Flo – anything to protect Flo.
But the past is catching up with Chapel Croft – and with Jack. For old ghosts with scores to settle will never rest . . . Pre-order here.
A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Mass
Published: February 16th, 2021 Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy
SYNOPSIS: Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, richly imagined A Court of Thorns and Roses series continues with the journey of Feyre’s fiery sister, Nesta
Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger and slow to forgive. And since the war – since being made High Fae against her will – she’s struggled to forget the horrors she endured and find a place for herself within the strange and deadly Night Court. The person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred, winged warrior who is there at Nesta’s every turn. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. And when they are forced to train in battle together, sparks become flame. As the threat of war casts its shadow over them once again, Nesta and Cassian must fight monsters from within and without if they are to stand a chance of halting the enemies of their court. But the ultimate risk will be searching for acceptance – and healing – in each other’s arms. Pre-order here.
Dead Head (Sweetpea 3) by C. J. Skuse
Published: February 18th, 2021 Publisher: HQ Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Dark Comedy, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Book Series
SYNOPSIS: Victim. Murderer. Serial Killer. What next? The third darkly comic thriller in the highly addictive Sweetpea series featuring serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.
Can a serial killer ever lose their taste for murder?
Since confessing to her bloody murder spree Rhiannon Lewis, the now-notorious Sweetpea killer, has been feeling out-of-sorts.
Having fled the UK on a cruise ship to start her new life, Rhiannon should be feeling happy. But it’s hard to turn over a new leaf when she’s stuck in an oversized floating tin can with the Gammonati and screaming kids. Especially when they remind her of Ivy – the baby she gave up for a life carrying on killing.
Rhiannon is all at sea. She’s lost her taste for blood but is it really gone for good? Maybe Rhiannon is realising that there’s more to life than death…
The third book in the critically-acclaimed series following Sweetpea and In Bloom featuring everyone’s favourite truly original girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon Lewis. Pre-order here.
Nighthawking by Russ Thomas
Published: February 18th, 2021 Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Hardboiled, Police Procedural, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: Sheffield’s beautiful Botanical Gardens – an oasis of peace in a world filled with sorrow, confusion and pain. And then, one morning, a body is found in the Gardens. A young woman, dead from a stab wound, buried in a quiet corner. Police quickly determine that the body’s been there for months. It would have gone undiscovered for years – but someone just sneaked into the Gardens and dug it up.
Who is the victim? Who killed her and hid her body? Who dug her up? And who left a macabre marker on the body?
In his quest to find her murderer, DS Adam Tyler will find himself drawn into the secretive world of nighthawkers: treasure-hunters who operate under cover of darkness, seeking the lost and valuable… and willing to kill to keep what they find.
That which was lost… will always be found again Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: As a child Gifty would ask her parents to tell the story of their journey from Ghana to Alabama, seeking escape in myths of heroism and romance. When her father and brother succumb to the hard reality of immigrant life in the American South, their family of four becomes two – and the life Gifty dreamed of slips away.
Years later, desperate to understand the opioid addiction that destroyed her brother’s life, she turns to science for answers. But when her mother comes to stay, Gifty soon learns that the roots of their tangled traumas reach farther than she ever thought. Tracing her family’s story through continents and generations will take her deep into the dark heart of modern America.
Transcendent Kingdom is a searing story story of love, loss and redemption, and the myriad ways we try to rebuild our lives from the rubble of our collective pasts. Pre-order here.
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
SYNOPSIS: This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.
All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies.
You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it’s not what you think… Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: Addie and her sister are about to embark on an epic road trip to a friend’s wedding in rural Scotland. The playlist is all planned and the snacks are packed.
But, not long after setting off, a car slams into the back of theirs. The driver is none other than Addie’s ex, Dylan, who she’s avoided since their traumatic break-up two years earlier.
Dylan and his best mate are heading to the wedding too, and they’ve totalled their car, so Addie has no choice but to offer them a ride. The car is soon jam-packed full of luggage and secrets, and with four hundred miles ahead of them, Dylan and Addie can’t avoid confronting the very messy history of their relationship…
Will they make it to the wedding on time? And, more importantly… is this really the end of the road for Addie and Dylan? Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: You come to Soul Shrink to be healed. You don’t expect to die.
Two years ago, Fran’s sister Jenna disappeared on a wellness retreat in Gozo that went terribly wrong.
Tom Wade, the now infamous man behind Soul Shrink Retreats, has just been released from prison after serving his sentence for the deaths of two people. But he has never let on what happened to the third victim: Jenna.
Determined to find out the truth, Fran books herself onto his upcoming retreat – the first since his release – and finds herself face to face with the man who might hold the key to her sister’s disappearance. The only question is, will she escape the retreat alive? Or does someone out there want Jenna’s secrets to stay hidden?
The master of suspense is back. Prepare yourself for the latest heart-in-mouth rollercoaster ride from the Sunday Times bestseller. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.
No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year. ___________
Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.
Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artists swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea derbis, and something beautiful begins to blossom.
But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.
Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…
In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: 1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.
But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell’s life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.
In London, newspapers describe Nell as the eighth wonder of the world. Figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air. But who gets to tell Nell’s story? What happens when her fame threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her? And as she falls in love with Toby, can he detach himself from his past and the terrible secret that binds him to his brother?
Moving from the pleasure gardens of Victorian London to the battle-scarred plains of the Crimea, Circus of Wonders is an astonishing story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: A lifetime holding it together. One party will bring it crashing down.
Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over-especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.
The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud-because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.
Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there.
And Kit has a couple secrets of her own-including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.
By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.
Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.
SYNOPSIS: A golden summer, and six talented friends are looking forward to the brightest of futures – until a daredevil game goes horribly wrong, and a woman and two children are killed.
18-year-old Megan takes the blame, leaving the others free to get on with their lives. In return, they each agree to a ‘favour’, payable on her release from prison.
Twenty years later Megan is free. Let the games begin . . . Pre-order here.
The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley
Published: May 27th, 2021 Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Format: Hardcover, Kindle Genre: Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Alternate History
SYNOPSIS: Come home, if you remember.
The postcard has been held at the sorting office for ninety-one years, waiting to be delivered to Joe Tournier. On the front is a lighthouse – Eilean Mor, in the Outer Hebrides.
Joe has never left England, never even left London. He is a British slave, one of thousands throughout the French Empire. He has a job, a wife, a baby daughter.
But he also has flashes of a life he cannot remember and of a world that never existed – a world where English is spoken in England, and not French.
And now he has a postcard of a lighthouse built just six months ago, that was first written nearly one hundred years ago, by a stranger who seems to know him very well.
Joe’s journey to unravel the truth will take him from French-occupied London to a remote Scottish island, and back through time itself as he battles for his life – and for a very different future. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: West Yorkshire, 1904. When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England.
Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby is forced to confront her own demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.
Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric landscape of West Yorkshire, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times. Pre-order here.
Truth or Dare (Helen Grace 10) by M. J. Arlidge
Published: June 24th, 2021 Publisher: Michael Joseph Format: Hardcover, Kindle Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Hardboiled, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
SYNOPSIS: The unmissable brand new Helen Grace thriller from million-copy bestseller M. J. Arlidge. Pre-order here.
SYNOPSIS: MY DAD SAYS BAD THINGS HAPPEN WHEN I BREAK IT…
Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants fish and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen.
Daniel will be twenty-three next week. And he has no idea that he’s about to kill a stranger.
Daniel’s parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn’t know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die…
Because they’ll do anything to protect him. Even murder. Pre-order here.
The Hollows by Mark Edwards
Published: July 8th, 2021 Publisher: Thomas & Mercer Format: Paperback, Kindle Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction
SYNOPSIS: From the bestselling author of The House Guest comes a chilling story set deep in the woods…
With his marriage over and his career in freefall, journalist Tom decides to reconnect with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Frankie. Desperate to spend precious time together now that they live an ocean apart, he brings her to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort deep in the woods of Maine.
From the outset there’s something a little eerie about the place―strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest―but when Tom meets true-crime podcasters David and Connie, he receives a chilling warning. Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.
It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can. Pre-order here.