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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley

Published: May 6th, 2021
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Genre: Urban Fiction, Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

SYNOPSIS:

In Tokyo – one of the world’s largest megacities – a stray cat is wending her way through the back alleys. And, with each detour, she brushes up against the seemingly disparate lives of the city-dwellers, connecting them in unexpected ways.

But the city is changing. As it does, it pushes her to the margins where she chances upon a series of apparent strangers – from a homeless man squatting in an abandoned hotel, to a shut-in hermit afraid to leave his house, to a convenience store worker searching for love. The cat orbits Tokyo’s denizens, drawing them ever closer.

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MY REVIEW:

This delightful book was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a book from the cat’s perspective about it’s life and experiences in Tokyo, but instead found myself reading a collection of short stories featuring different narrators set throughout the city that each feature appearances from the same stray calico cat.

While they appear at first to be connected only by the cat, the author skillfully interweaves the stories and characters, intricately connecting them to craft a rich and vivid tapestry of Tokyo and it’s residents. The book is filled with a cast of fantastic and captivating characters. The most memorable ones for me were Flo, an American woman working as a translator, and Kensuke, a young boy being bullied at school for being half Korean. My only complaint is that we don’t see enough of the cat. While I liked reading about the residents of Tokyo, I would have liked a chapter from his perspective or more of him in their stories.

You are taken through a rainbow of emotions as the author fills the stories with heartbreak, hope, humour and tenderness. He takes you on an adventure of the best and worst that this city has to offer, touching on subjects such as the moral standards in Japanese culture, sexuality, homelessness and loneliness, expertly blending them in amongst the lighthearted aspects of the stories such as cute cat cafes, Street Fighter and manga comics. 

Moving, original, immersive and evocative, this striking debut brings Tokyo to life. Wonderfully written and surprising, I devoured it in just a few hours. I would highly recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for something a little different. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Nick Bradley was born in Germany in 1982 and grew up in Bath. After graduating with a master’s degree in English literature, he went to Japan for “just one year” and returned to England ten years later to attend the Creative Writing MA at UEA, graduating in 2016.

He has worked in a variety of jobs, including: Japanese teacher, English teacher, video game translator, travel writer, and photographer. He speaks Japanese fluently, and recently completed a PhD funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation in Creative & Critical Writing at UEA, focussing on the figure of the cat in Japanese literature.

The Cat and The City is his first novel

His favourite Street Fighter II character is Ken.

He lives in Norwich. (Aha).

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Thank you to Lisa at TLC Tours for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and to Atlantic Books for my gifted copy of the book.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

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First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

Welcome to First Lines Friday where I share the first lines from one of the books on my shelves to try and tempt you to add it to yours. And this week is a little different. If you like the sound of the book then head over to my Instagram or Twitter to enter my giveaways.

“Try to imagine two more different couples than these. You can’t. They are as opposite as it gets. Oil and water. Salt and sugar. Always and never. Lost and found.”

Today’s first lines are taken from Because of You by Dawn French. Released in paperback yesterday, this moving book was part of the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist.

SYNOPSIS:

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock . . . midnight.

The old millennium turns into the new.

In the same hospital, two very different women give birth to two very similar daughters.

Hope leaves with a beautiful baby girl.

Anna leaves with empty arms.

Seventeen years later, the gods who keep watch over broken-hearted mothers wreak mighty revenge, and the truth starts rolling, terrible and deep, toward them all.

The power of mother-love will be tested to its limits.

Perhaps beyond . . .

Because of You
 is the remarkably poignant story perfect for every Dawn French fan, told with her signature humour, warmth and so much love.

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I’ve seen some great reviews for this one and has been selected as one of Richard and Judy’s Book Club picks for Spring.

You can buy the book here*
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Thank you to Kealey at FMCM Associates for opportunity to host this giveaway.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Deity by Matt Wesolowski

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction

I’m a little late posting this due to ill health, but here is my review for the fifth installment in Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories series. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted ebook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rake over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Are reports of a haunting really true? Why was he never officially charged?

Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…

MY REVIEW:

“This journey feels like it’s just begun — pulling apart a myth bit by bit to see what lies within.”

The fifth installment in Matt Wesolwski’s Six Stories series offers what we’ve come to expect: an eerie, mysterious and exhilarating novel exploring a fictional cold case over six episodes of the fictional podcast. This time presenter Scott King is trying to get answers about the life of music superstar Zach Crystal, a controversial, enigmatic and eccentric figure who perished in a fire in 2019.

As always, we jump straight into the action, with a chilling and sinister opening that will leave you both desperate for more and terrified to turn the page. I don’t want to talk too much about the details of the plot as the beauty of these stories is the journey of discovery, the mystery and surprises that unfold. What I will say is that once again Wesolwski has knocked it out of the park.

Wesolowski’s books are always highly anticipated in the blogging and book community; and for good reason. You will never read anything else like it. He has a style that is instantly recognisable as his and has crafted a series that is compelling, memorable and unique. Wesolowski isn’t a man afraid of taking risks or writing about the dark side. And his books aren’t for the faint hearted. They will send shivers down your spine, make you question the world around you and see monsters where there were none before. He is a genius. And I am yet to meet anyone who has read his books that doesn’t agree. I was late to discover this series and I’m still playing catch-up with the earlier books. But what is so good about them is while you will want to, and should, read every one, you can dip in at any point as each one is about a completely new case with all new characters bar the presenter.

Hypnotic, thrilling, innovative and simply brilliant, Deity is an unmissable book by one of the greatest voices in fiction.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Trigger Warnings: sexual abuse

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care.

‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017, ‘Changeling’ in 2018, ‘Beast’ in 2019 and ‘Deity’ in 2020.

‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio and the third book in the series, ‘Changeling’ was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Award for Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.
‘Beast’ won the Amazon publishing award for Best Independent voice in 2020.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Bookshop.org* | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo
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Please check out the reviews by the other bloggers on the tour.

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Urban Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this wonderful debut. Thank you to Allen & Unwin for the gifted ARC and Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part.

SYNOPSIS:

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

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

MY REVIEW:

Victoria Park is a difficult book to review as it is just so different to anything I’ve read. It takes place over the course of a year, focusing on a different character each month and is more like a collection of short stories than a novel. Though it took me a little while to get into the flow of the book as I rarely read short stories, I really liked this fresh and unique approach and thought that the author executed it well. 

We are only given a small glimpse into each character’s life as the author tells their stories via individual chapters. But we also see them a little through the eyes of other characters as she has chosen to focus these stories on a group of people whose lives are interwoven. She created a richly drawn community full of a compelling cast of varied characters. I had a soft spot for Wolfie and Mona in particular as they are such wonderful characters. I adored their love story and Wolfie’s devotion to Mona despite the challenges and was thrilled every time they were on the page. 

The author also uses the book to subtly examine many themes such as family, friendship, love, isolation, alienation and adjusting to change. There are some powerful and emotional moments that mostly occur during times the characters are quietly reflecting on their lives. 

Absorbing, funny and delightful, the book has an air of calm that made it a refreshing and relaxing read. I would highly recommend this remarkable debut.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London. She graduated with distinction from the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and holds an MA in Twentieth Century Literature from Goldsmiths.

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone (The Skelfs 2)

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Published: August 20th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction, Lesbian Literature

Welcome to my slightly late stop on the blog tour. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Orenda for the ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Running private investigator and funeral home businesses means trouble is never far away, and the Skelf women take on their most perplexing, chilling cases yet in book two of this darkly funny, devastatingly tense and addictive new series!

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral that matriarch Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves sucked into an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Following three women as they deal with the dead, help the living and find out who they are in the process, The Big Chill follows A Dark Matter, book one in the Skelfs series, which reboots the classic PI novel while asking the big existential questions, all with a big dose of pitch-black humour.

MY REVIEW:

The Big Chill is the second book in the Skelfs Series, which follows the Skelf women – Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah – as they work together running the family funeral home and private investigation company. I haven’t read the first book but the author quickly catches you up on the traumatic and life-changing events that occurred.

The story jumps straight into the action with a car chase interrupting a funeral that leaves the unidentified driver dead. The family matriarch, Dorothy, can’t let it go and is determined to find out who he was and lay him to rest. But this isn’t their only investigation, with others running simultaneously, as well as the funeral business always keeping them busy.

This was a complex and layered novel, with lots of drama, tension and things bubbling beneath the surface. I loved the fascinating mix of three generations working together in dual roles that is an unusual pairing. It’s a brilliant basis for a series, so different from anything else I’ve read.

The characters are well-written, compelling and full of depth. They are each trying to come to terms with the distressing and painful events of book one, and are still haunted and trying to make sense of it all. In the three women, the author shows how trauma and PTSD can affect people in different ways in a very real and relatable way that hit home with me a number of times. The background characters were also fully drawn with interesting storylines and back stories of their own. I’m very eager to read more about Archie and his unusual condition.

If you’re looking for something different that will hold your attention and make you come back for more, this is the book for you. I’ll definitely be reading book one and look forward to seeing what’s next for the Skelf women.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

Doug Johnstone Author Pic

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which was longlisted for the McIlcanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irivine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions, and has been an arts and journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

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Blog Tours book reviews

Eleven Lines To Somewhere by Alyson Rudd

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Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Urban Fiction

Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

In a world of what-ifs, a connection has been made …

When Ryan spots a young woman on the tube on his commute, he can’t take his eyes off her. Instantly attracted and intrigued, he’s keen to find out more about his mysterious fellow passenger.

The woman he thinks of as Millie spends all day travelling the Underground, unable to leave for reasons unbeknownst to Ryan. For some inexplicable reason, he just can’t shake the feeling he wants to help her escape her endless commute.

This is a story of love and loss from the author of The First Time Lauren Pailing Died, perfect for fans of Anna Hope’s Expectation, David Nicholls’s Sweet Sorrow and Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life.

MY REVIEW:

“And so the conversation ended as it had begun, with tales of the Underground and the girl who never got off it.”

Ryan has struggled to move on since the death of his girlfriend fifteen years ago. Then one day he notices a young woman on the tube and is instantly smitten. He tries to learn more about her and travels on the same train each day hoping to find the courage to speak to her. He soon discovers that the young woman appears to be trapped on an endless commute, spending her days travelling the underground but going nowhere. 

Sylvie has travelled the underground each day since being fired from work eight months earlier. She’s caught in a meandering and never ending loop, waiting to find that elusive something that will enable her to feel able to stop her endless journey.

Can Ryan and Sylvie help each other break free of the ties that bind them to actions that prevent them from moving on with their lives?

Affecting, heartwarming and tender, Eleven Lines To Somewhere is a story of love, loss and moving on. Beautifully written, this was a slow burner for me, but by about a third of the way into the book I felt like I could really get into the story. 

I liked Ryan and Sylvie. They were quirky characters who we meet at a difficult time in both their lives, but I found them easy to like and relate to. I was soon fully invested in their lives and rooting for a happy ending after all the grief and trauma they suffered. 

In addition to the central characters, the author crafted a supporting cast who enhance and add depth to Ryan and Sylvie’s story that included friends, family and some strangers, who we don’t see how they connect with until late in the book. The London Underground that provides the backdrop for most of the book also feels like a character in itself, one that has entrenched the lives of the characters and become a part of them. It also felt symbolic of the lives of the characters; how they were confusing and chaotic, intersecting with one another in different patterns that change the course of their journey. 

This charming, poignant and uplifting story is like nothing I’ve ever read before and has made me eager to read the author’s previous novel. A beautiful, character-driven story that I would recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Alyson Rudd is a British journalist with The Times who writes about sport, mainly football, and literature in the book club section. She was born in Liverpool in 1963 and grew up in rural Lancashire. She is a graduate of the London School of Economics but began her career in fashion before becoming a financial journalist. She was an enthusiastic footballer with Leyton Orient Ladies. She is married, has two sons and lives in West London.

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Blog Tours book reviews

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Mantle
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance

I’m thrilled to be closing the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Megan ed PR for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

What if the problem with your love life is you?

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.

You.

Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

MY REVIEW:

“If you love someone, never let them go.” 

If I Can’t Have You is a story of love, lies and obsession. This book wasn’t what I expected, but in a good way, with the biggest surprise being how much deeper and darker of an emotional journey it takes you on as the author examines the warped, murky side of love. Laced with dark humour the author has created a story that is riveting and compelling. 

Constance was a character I both loved and loathed. She was someone I could relate to in some ways and I found her likeable at times. But she would also do the most appalling things and act in ways that can only be called crazy, which made me want to reach into the book, shake her, and tell her he wasn’t worth it. But we slowly come to understand a little more about Constance’s fragile psyche and why she behaves the way she does thanks to her sessions with Dr Franco. My heart broke for her and this time I wanted to reach into the book not to shake her, but to hug her instead. As for Samuel, I hate that man with a passion! As his true colours are revealed it was clear he was not just a bit of a cad, but a cruel manipulator who views women as objects to use and discard, calling them crazy when they are hurt by his actions. But it wasn’t all crazy and dark characters and I loved the sweet friendship between Constance and Edward. It was a great dynamic and showed another side to Constance that I think helps the reader see her as a three dimensional person rather than just a crazy stalker. 

If I Can’t Have You was as addictive for me as Samuel was for Constance. Taut, twisty, layered and simply brilliant, this is an outstanding debut. I’m excited to see what Levin writes next. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Charlotte Levin author photo

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Charlotte Levin has been shortlisted for the Andrea Badenoch Award, part of the New Writers North Awards, and for the Mslexia Short Story Competition. Charlotte lives in Manchester and If I Can’t Have You is her first novel.

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Adventure Fiction, Science Fiction, Urban Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this outstanding and timely thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Orenda for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

MY REVIEW:

“No one touches each other’s hands anymore. Not unless they’re intimate.” 

When I first heard about this book at the beginning of the year it sounded like a Sci-Fi movie; something that felt both imaginable and unimaginable. Wearing masks and gloves and being unable to touch. Illness that is untreatable and deadly. That sounded like something from the Victorian era or a third world country where they can’t afford the medicine we have.  Fast forward a few months and reading it during the current pandemic felt like getting a glimpse into our future. This book was suddenly a lot scarier and incredibly timely. 

“Do you have any idea what it’s like growing up in this ‘safe world’ of yours? How fucking suffocating it is? Nothing left to chance, endless checks and scans?

… I’ve seen the films: people rolled into bed with complete strangers! No body scans. No STD checks. No profile searches. I can’t even hug a friend without asking!”

Multilayered, exquisitely told and tightly plotted, the novel weaves through different timelines to tell the story of the Crisis and our three narrators. As long-buried secrets are slowly unearthed, the full picture emerges to a shocking conclusion. The characters are richly drawn and I have to say that I had a soft spot for Lily. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to approach an age knowing that something treatable will likely kill you as you are deemed disposable and unworthy of treatment. My own grandmother has recently beat Covid-19 at the age of 93 thanks in part to antibiotics and all I kept thinking how awful it would have been knowing she simply wasn’t getting that help because of her age. 

It is clear that the author has done a lot of research on antibiotic resistance from how intelligently written this novel is.  Even without the current pandemic this would read as something that could actually happen and it certainly made me think about things such as how we farm out animals. At the end of the book she writes about how she got her inspiration for the novel after reading frightening data about antibiotic resistance and has posted more information for readers on her website. 

The Waiting Rooms is a captivating and thrilling debut that is both topical and timely. I highly recommend this thriller and can’t wait to read more from this author.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Eve Smith Author pic

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Eve Smith’s debut novel The Waiting Rooms was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award. Eve writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. She attributes her love of all things dark and dystopian to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills.

Eve’s flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues.
Eve’s previous job as COO of an environmental charity took her to research projects across Asia, Africa and the Americas, and she has an ongoing passion for wild creatures, wild science and far-flung places. A Modern Languages graduate from Oxford, she returned to Oxfordshire fifteen years ago to set up home with her husband.
When she’s not writing, she’s chasing across fields after her dog, attempting to organise herself and her family or off exploring somewhere new.

WebsiteInstagram |Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

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Blog Tours

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – July 2020

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Another month, another round of anticipated books.

July is a month filled with great books and July 9th is rivaling February 6th for it’s bumper publication day spot; I could have easily added another four or five books out that day.

So here are the books out in July that I’m most excited about:

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Spirited by Julie Cohen
Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Historical Fiction, and as soon as I saw the cover and read the synopsis of this book I was dying to read it. I’ve been lucky enough to get a spot on the blog tour for this so look out for my review on July 16th.

SYNOPSIS:
Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her – and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . .

Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them – but Victorian society is no place for reckless women.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight.

Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom?

Driven by passionate, courageous female characters, SPIRITED is your next unforgettable read!

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The Shadow Friend by Alex North

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Police Procedural

The Whisper Man was one of my favourite books of last year so when I heard the author had a second book coming out it became a must-read. This one sounds just as chilling as his last book and I can’t wait to read it.

SYNOPSIS:
The victim was his friend. So was the murderer.

Twenty-five years ago, troubled teenager Charlie Crabtree committed a shocking and unprovoked murder.

For Paul Adams, it’s a day he’ll never forget. He’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened to his friend and classmate. He’s never gone back home.

But when his elderly mother has a fall, it’s finally time to stop running.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. A copycat killer has struck, bringing back painful memories. Paul’s mother insists there’s something in the house.

And someone is following him.

Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterwards, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again . . .

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The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Science Fiction, Urban Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Orenda are one of my favourite publishers. I’ve loved everything I’ve read that they publish. When I heard about this earlier this year I instantly pre-ordered it and started the count down. Who would have thought it would become so timely by the time it was released. I’m on the blog tour for this one and my review will be published on June 18th.

SYNOPSIS:
Decades of spiraling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

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If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance

I am so excited to be taking part in the blog tour for this debut thriller. Look out for my review on July 16th.

SYNOPSIS:
What if the problem with your love life is you?

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.

You.

Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

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How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Published: July 9th, 2020
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller,  Legal Thriller

Over the last few years Gillian McAllister has become a must-read author for me and her latest book sounds like it could be her best yet.

SYNOPSIS:
You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good?

Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back.

The only choice is to disappear.

To keep Zara safe, Lauren will give up everything and everyone she loves, even her husband.

There will be no goodbyes. Their pasts will be rewritten. New names, new home, new lives.

The rules are strict for a reason. They are being hunted. One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new.

They can never assume someone isn’t watching, waiting.

As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is harder . . .

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Somebody’s Daughter by Carol Wyer (Detective Natalie Ward 7)

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

The Detective Natalie Ward Series is one of my favourites and any new installment makes my most anticipated list that month. Keep an eye out for my review as part of the blog tour on July 11th.

SYNOPSIS:
One by one the girls disappeared…

When the frail body of a teenage girl is discovered strangled in a parking lot, shards of ice form in Detective Natalie Ward’s veins. As Natalie looks at the freckles scattered on her cheeks and the pale pink lips tinged with blue, she remembers that this innocent girl is somebody’s daughter…

The girl is identified as missing teenager Amelia Saunders, who has run away from home and her controlling father. Natalie’s heart sinks further when it becomes clear that Amelia has been working on the streets, manipulated by her violent new boyfriend Tommy.

A day later, another vulnerable girl is found strangled on a park bench. Like Amelia, Katie Bray was a runaway with connections to Tommy, and Natalie is determined to find him and track down the monster attacking these scared and lonely girls.

But when a wealthy young woman is found murdered the next morning, the word ‘guilty’ scrawled on her forehead, Natalie realises that the case is more complex than she first thought. Determined to establish a connection between her three victims, Natalie wastes no time in chasing down the evidence, tracing everyone who crossed their paths. Then, a key suspect’s body turns up in the canal, a mole in Natalie’s department leaks vital information and everything seems to be against her. Can Natalie stop this clever and manipulative killer before they strike again.

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

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

In May I took part in a readalong of The Ice Cream Girls with Tandem Collective. I loved the book so much that this one instantly went on my anticipated list for this month. You can imagine my excitement when I was offered the chance to take part in a readalong of the sequel. Keep an eye out for my posts on Instagram starting around June 25th.

SYNOPSIS:
Verity is telling lies…

And that’s why she’s about to be arrested for attempted murder.

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

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

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

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The Resident by David Jackson

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

This is another thriller I’m excited to be on the blog tour for. Look out for my review on publication day.

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

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

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

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

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The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Published: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medical Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Room is one of my favourite books of all time and I’m a huge fan of historical and medical fiction, so I have high hopes for this novel.

SYNOPSIS:
In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with an unfamiliar Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders: Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this classic story of hope and survival against all odds.

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Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Ficiton

Ever since I first heard about this debut thriller last year I’ve been desperate to read it. I’m hoping to be on the blog tour for this one so keep an eye out for my review next month.

SYNOPSIS:

She’s got your job. She wants your life

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

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

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

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The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Published: July 28th, 2020
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

As soon as I read the synopsis of this novel I knew I had to read it. As with The Waiting Rooms and The Pull of the Stars it also feels like a particularly timely read right now.

SYNOPSIS:
Ellen Marie Wiseman, acclaimed author of What She Left Behind and The Life She Was Given, weaves the stories of two very different women into a page-turning novel as suspenseful as it is poignant, set amid one of history’s deadliest pandemics.

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded streets and slums, and from the anti-German sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army, hoping to prove his loyalty. But an even more urgent threat has arrived. Spanish influenza is spreading through the city. Soon, dead and dying are everywhere. With no food at home, Pia must venture out in search of supplies, leaving her infant twin brothers alone . . .

Since her baby died days ago, Bernice Groves has been lost in grief and bitterness. If doctors hadn’t been so busy tending to hordes of immigrants, perhaps they could have saved her son. When Bernice sees Pia leaving her tenement across the way, she is buoyed by a shocking, life-altering decision that leads her on a sinister mission: to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.”

As Pia navigates the city’s somber neighborhoods, she cannot know that her brothers won’t be home when she returns. And it will be a long and arduous journey to learn what happened–even as Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost. Only with persistence, and the courage to face her own shame and fear, will Pia put the pieces together and find the strength to risk everything to see justice at last.

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The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender
Published July 30th, 2020
Publisher: Hutchinson
Genre: Literary Fiction

I’ll admit it was the cover that initially drew me to this book, but it was the synopsis that earned it’s place on this list. This one sounds like a powerful novel that will linger long after reading.

SYNOPSIS:
On the night her mother is taken to a mental hospital after a psychotic episode, eight year-old Francie is staying with her babysitter. Next to the couch on which she’s sleeping, there is a lamp that catches her eye, its shade adorned with butterflies. When she wakes, Francie sees a dead butterfly floating in a glass of water. She drinks it before the babysitter can see.

Twenty years later, Francie is compelled to make sense of that moment, and two other incidents – her discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exact: she is sure these things were real. But despite her certainty, she wrestles with the hold these memories have over her, and with what they say about her place in the world.

Told in lush, lilting prose, The Butterfly Lampshade is a heartfelt and heartbreaking examination of the sometimes overwhelming power of the material world, and of a broken love between mother and child.

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Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – June 2020

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It seems impossible that we’re almost half way through the year already. Will lockdown continuing, books are providing a much needed escape for so many of us right now. Here are the books out in June that I’m most excited about escaping into.


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The House Guest by Mark Edwards
Published: June 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Psychological Thriller

One of my fave authors. I’m lucky to be one of Mark’s early readers and have already read this gripping thriller.

SYNOPSIS:
A perfect summer. A perfect stranger. A perfect nightmare.

When British twenty-somethings Ruth and Adam are offered the chance to spend the summer housesitting in New York, they can’t say no. Young, in love and on the cusp of professional success, they feel as if luck is finally on their side.

So the moment that Eden turns up on the doorstep, drenched from a summer storm, it seems only right to share a bit of that good fortune. Beautiful and charismatic, Eden claims to be a friend of the homeowners, who told her she could stay whenever she was in New York.

They know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers—let alone invite them into your home—but after all, Eden’s only a stranger until they get to know her.

As suspicions creep in that Eden may not be who she claims to be, they begin to wonder if they’ve made a terrible mistake…

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The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley
Published: June 4th, 2020
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Genre: Urban Fiction

I’m a big cat lover and this book sounds like a quirky read that’s right up my street.

SYNOPSIS:
In Tokyo – one of the world’s largest megacities – a stray cat is wending her way through the back alleys. And, with each detour, she brushes up against the seemingly disparate lives of the city-dwellers, connecting them in unexpected ways.

But the city is changing. As it does, it pushes her to the margins where she chances upon a series of apparent strangers – from a homeless man squatting in an abandoned hotel, to a shut-in hermit afraid to leave his house, to a convenience store worker searching for love. The cat orbits Tokyo’s denizens, drawing them ever closer.


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All Fall Down by M. J. Arlidge (D.I. Helen Grace Series 9)
Published: June 11th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Young Adult Ficiton

M.J Arlidge is one of my favourite authors and the Helen Grace series is my favourite crime series. love it’s set near where I used to live and evokes so many memories too. Excited to be on the blog tour for this on July 3rd.

SYNOPSIS:
“You have one hour to live.”

Those are the only words on the phone call. Then they hang up. Surely, a prank? A mistake? A wrong number? Anything but the chilling truth… That someone is watching, waiting, working to take your life in one hour.

But why?

The job of finding out falls to DI Helen Grace: a woman with a track record in hunting killers. However, this is A case where the killer seems to always be one step ahead of the police and the victims.

With no motive, no leads, no clues – nothing but pure fear – an hour can last a lifetime…


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Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
Published: June 11th, 2020
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Genre: Historical Fiction, Southern Fiction, Youth Novel

I’m really enjoying historical fiction at the moment and this one sounds brilliant.

SYNOPSIS:
With the haunting emotional power of American Dirt and the atmospheric suspense of Where the Crawdads Sing: a compulsive debut novel that explores the aftershock of a brutal crime on the women of a small Texas oil town.

Mercy is hard in a place like this. I wished him dead before I ever saw his face…

Mary Rose Whitehead isn’t looking for trouble – but when it shows up at her front door, she finds she can’t turn away.

Corinne Shepherd, newly widowed, wants nothing more than to mind her own business, and for everyone else to mind theirs. But when the town she has spent years rebelling against closes ranks she realises she is going to have to take a side.

Debra Ann is motherless and lonely and in need of a friend. But in a place like Odessa, Texas, choosing who to trust can be a dangerous game.

Gloria Ramírez, fourteen years old and out of her depth, survives the brutality of one man only to face the indifference and prejudices of many.

When justice is as slippery as oil, and kindness becomes a hazardous act, sometimes courage is all we have to keep us alive.

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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Published: June 11th, 2020
Publisher: Dialogue Books
Genre: Mystery, Youth Novel

I’ve read some great reviews for this one and it is now one of my most anticipated reads of the month.

SYNOPSIS:
The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

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The Phone Box at the Edge of the World by Laura Imai Messina
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Literary Fiction, Psychological Fiction

I feel very lucky to have an ARC of this debut and am doing a buddy read with my book friend Beth in early June.

SYNOPSIS:
The most moving and powerful novel of our times, inspired by true events.

We all have something to tell those we have lost . . .

When Yui loses her mother and daughter in the tsunami, she wonders how she will ever carry on. Yet, in the face of this unthinkable loss, life must somehow continue.

Then one day she hears about a man who has an old disused telephone box in his garden. There, those who have lost loved ones find the strength to speak to them and begin to come to terms with their grief. As news of the phone box spreads, people will travel to it from miles around.

Soon Yui will make her own pilgrimage to the phone box, too. But once there she cannot bring herself to speak into the receiver. Then she finds Takeshi, a bereaved husband whose own daughter has stopped talking in the wake of their loss.

What happens next will warm your heart, even when it feels as though it is breaking.

For when you’ve lost everything – what can you find . . ?

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The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter (Will Trent Series 17)
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollinsUK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Books Series

Karin is one of my fave crime writers and I will pick up anything she writes. I’m excited to take part in the blog tour for this one on June 29th.

SYNOPSIS:
He watches.
A woman runs alone in the woods. She convinces herself she has no reason to be afraid, but she’s wrong. A predator is stalking the women of Grant County. He lingers in the shadows, until the time is just right to snatch his victim.

He waits.
A decade later, the case has been closed. The killer is behind bars. But then another young woman is brutally attacked and left for dead, and the MO is identical.

He takes.
Although the original trail has gone cold – memories have faded, witnesses have disappeared – agent Will Trent and forensic pathologist Sara Linton must re-open the cold case. But the clock is ticking, and the killer is determined to find his perfect silent wife….

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The Heatwave by Katerina Diamond
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Police Procedural, Adventure Fiction

I’ve heard a lot of good things about this author and this sounds like a perfect summer read.

SYNOPSIS:
One summer. One stranger. One killer…

Two bad things happened that summer:
A stranger arrived. And the first girl disappeared.

In the wake of the crime that rocked her community, Felicity fled, knowing more than she let on.

But sixteen years later, her new life is shattered by the news that a second girl has gone missing in her hometown.

Now Felicity must go back, to face the truth about what happened all those years ago.

Only she holds the answers – and they’re more shocking than anyone could imagine.

The heatwave is back. And so is the killer.

Monstrous Souls

Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Agora Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

I’m taking part in the blog tour for this fascinating thriller and my review will be posted in June 23rd.

SYNOPSIS:
What if you knew the truth but couldn’t remember?

Over a decade ago, Heidi was the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her younger sister missing, and her best friend dead. But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her friends and family and no recollection of the crime.

Now, it’s all starting to come back.

As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in.

When the truth is worse than fiction, is the past worth reliving?

An addictive thriller about a case gone cold and the dangers lurking on our doorsteps, Monstrous Souls will have you gripped to the very end.

The Weekend

The Weekend by Charlotte Wood
Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: W&N
Genre: Literary Fiction

I love stories about friendship and have been really enjoying books with senior protagonists lately so I’m excited to check this one out.

SYNOPSIS:
Sylvie, Jude, Wendy and Adele have a lifelong friendship of the best kind: loving, practical, frank and steadfast. But when Sylvie dies, the ground shifts dangerously for the remaining three.

These women couldn’t be more different: Jude, a once-famous restaurateur with a spotless life and a long-standing affair with a married man; Wendy, an acclaimed feminist intellectual; Adele, a former star of the stage, now practically homeless.

Struggling to recall exactly why they’ve remained close all these years, the grieving women gather for one last weekend at Sylvie’s old beach house – not for a celebration of her life, but to clean the place out before it is sold.

But fraying tempers, an elderly dog, unwelcome guests and too much wine collide in a storm that brings long-buried hurts to the surface – a storm that will either remind them of the bond they share, or sweep away their friendship for good.