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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – February 2021

We’re already almost into the second month of the year which seems unreal. There are some great books out this month, with February 4th being a particularly big publication day. Half of the books on this list are published that day!

An Eye For An Eye (Detective Kate Young 1) by Carol Wyer

Published: February 1st
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
A killer running rings around the police. A detective spiralling out of control.

DI Kate Young is on leave. She’s the force’s best detective, but her bosses know she’s under pressure, on medication and overcoming trauma. So after her bad judgement call leads to a narrowly averted public disaster, they’re sure all she needs is a rest.

But when Staffordshire Police summon her back to work on a murder case, it’s a harder, more suspicious Kate Young who returns. With a new ruthlessness, she sets about tracking down a clinical, calculating serial killer who is torturing victims and leaving clues to taunt the police. Spurred on by her reporter husband, Young begins to suspect that the murderer might be closer than she ever imagined.

As she works to uncover the truth, Young unravels a network of secrets and lies, with even those closest to her having something to hide. But with her own competence—and her grip on reality—called into question, can she unmask the killer before they strike again?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Carol is one of my favourite crime writers so I was excited to learn she was releasing a new series. I’m lucky enough to have already read this book and let me tell you it is one not to be missed.
Keep an eye out for my review on February 1st as part of the blog tour and an interview with Carol and giveaway of the book the week of publication.
Buy the book*

The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
Yesterday, I kissed my husband for the last time . . .

It’s the summer of 1959, and the well-trimmed lawns of Sunnylakes, California, wilt under the sun. At some point during the long, long afternoon, Joyce Haney, wife, mother, vanishes from her home, leaving behind two terrified children and a bloodstain on the kitchen floor.

While the Haney’s neighbours get busy organising search parties, it is Ruby Wright, the family’s ‘help’, who may hold the key to this unsettling mystery. Ruby knows more about the secrets behind Sunnylakes’ starched curtains than anyone, and it isn’t long before the detective in charge of the case wants her help. But what might it cost her to get involved? In these long hot summer afternoons, simmering with lies, mistrust and prejudice, it could only take one spark for this whole ‘perfect’ world to set alight . . .

A beguiling, deeply atmospheric debut novel from the cracked heart of the American Dream, The Long, Long Afternoon is at once a page-turning mystery and an intoxicating vision of the ways in which women everywhere are diminished, silenced and ultimately under-estimated.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Historical Fiction merged with mystery? My ideal book! This is one of the debuts of 2021 I’m most excited about and it featured in my 21 Books In 21 -The Debuts list.
Keep an eye out for my review on February 2nd as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

The Shadow Man by Helen Fields

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.
 
Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.
 
Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.
 
And he’s watching.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Helen has been a crime fiction favourite since I discovered her Perfect series in 2018. This standalone is one of the most exhilarating and spine-tingling thrillers I’ve read in a long time. It’s one not to be missed.
Buy the book*

The Art of Death by David Fennell

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Zaffre
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

SYNOPSIS:
Death is an art, and he is the master . . .

Three glass cabinets appear in London’s Trafalgar Square containing a gruesome art installation: the floating corpses of three homeless men. Shock turns to horror when it becomes clear that the bodies are real.

The cabinets are traced to @nonymous – an underground artist shrouded in mystery who makes a chilling promise: MORE WILL FOLLOW.

Eighteen years ago, Detective Inspector Grace Archer escaped a notorious serial killer. Now, she and her caustic DS, Harry Quinn, must hunt down another.

As more bodies appear at London landmarks and murders are livestreamed on social media, their search for @nonymous becomes a desperate race against time. But what Archer doesn’t know is that the killer is watching their every move – and he has his sights firmly set on her . . .

He is creating a masterpiece. And she will be the star of his show.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
My love of crime fiction and crime series is no secret on this blog so I couldn’t miss including what sounds like one of the most thrilling new series in the genre.
Buy the book*

Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Humour, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Comedy

SYNOPSIS:
THE END OF EVERYTHING WAS HER BEGINNING

It’s December 2023 and the world as we know it has ended.

The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself).

But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own.

Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.

And with no one else to live for, who will she become now that she’s completely alone?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The premise for this debut is just so fresh and original that it lured me in. Plus, who could resist that stunning cover.
Keep an eye out for my review on February 2nd as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

Find You First by Linwood Barclay

Published: February 4th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Urban Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
One will change your life.
One will end it.
Who will … FIND YOU FIRST?

It’s a deadly race against time…
Tech billionaire Miles has more money than he can ever spend, and everything he could dream of – except time. Now facing a terminal illness, Miles knows he must seize every minute to put his life in order. And that means taking a long hard look at his past.

Somewhere out there, Miles has children. And they might be about to inherit both the good and bad from him – possibly his fortune, or possibly something more sinister.

So Miles decides to track down his missing children. But a vicious killer is one step ahead of him. One by one, people are vanishing. Not just disappearing, every trace of them is wiped.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ve been a huge fan on Linwood Barclay ever since reading No Time For Goodbye many years ago so his books are always an auto-buy for me.
Buy the book*

The Downstairs Neighbour by Helen Cooper

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In a converted Georgian townhouse in south west London, three families live under one roof.

The large flat that takes up the top two floors is home to the Harlow family: happily married Paul and Steph, and their bubbly teenage daughter Freya. The smaller first floor flat is rented by Emma, who spends most of her time alone, listening to people coming in and out of the building. And the basement flat belongs to Chris, a local driving instructor, who prefers to keep his personal life private from the neighbours.

But their lives are all upended when Freya vanishes. As the police become involved and a frantic Paul and Steph desperately search for answers, they begin to realise that the truth behind their daughter’s disappearance may lie closer to home than they were expecting.

When everyone has something to hide, can you ever really know those closest to you? Or will some secrets be taken to the grave?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ll be honest, it was the stunning proof cover that first caught my eye with this book. But when I read the synopsis I knew it was one I needed to read.
Buy the book*

Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: New-Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Medical Romance

SYNOPSIS:
CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN?

Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.

Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon.

Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. She keeps the curtain around her bed firmly closed, but it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ve definitely found myself become a fan of uplit more and more the past year and the synopsis for this one sounds so fun and original that I can’t wait to read it.
This is another book that I’m taking part in the blog tour for. My review will be posted on January 30th.
Buy the book*

Pippo and Clara by Diana Rosie

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A country torn apart by war. Two siblings divided by fate.

Italy, 1938. Mussolini is in power and war is not far away . . .

Clara and Pippo are just children: quiet, thoughtful Clara is the older sister; Pippo, the younger brother, is forever chatting. The family has only recently arrived in the city carrying their few possessions.

When Mamma goes missing early one morning, both Clara and Pippo go in search of her. Clara turns right; Pippo left.

As a result of the choices they make that morning, their lives will be changed forever.

Diana Rosie’s Pippo and Clara tells the story of a family and a country divided. But will Clara and Pippo – and their mother – find each other again?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’m going to cry reading this. I know I am. But I love historical fiction and this one just spoke to me.
Buy the book*

Waiting For Superman: One Family’s Struggle to Survive – and Cure – Chronic Fatigue Syndrome by Tracie White

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genre: Biography

SYNOPSIS:
For the past six years, Whitney Dafoe has been confined to a bedroom in the back of his parents’ home, unable to walk, eat or speak. His diagnosis? The mysterious disease myalgic encephalomyelitis or chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) which affects 20 million people around the world who largely suffer in silence because the condition is little known and much misunderstood.

Waiting for Superman follows Whitney’s father, groundbreaking geneticist Ron Davis, as he uncovers new possibilities for treatments and potentially a cure. At its heart, this book is about more than just cutting-edge research or a race to find an answer – it’s about the lengths to which a parent will go to save their child’s life.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
As someone with M.E/CFS this book is a must read for me. I’m interesting in their experiences, the research they found and hearing the experience from another perspective. I often think how it must feel for my parents, partner and children to see me so sick. This is another book where I have no doubt I’ll need the tissues.
Buy the book*

The Secret Life of Dorothy Soames by Justine Cowan

Published: February 4th
Publisher: Virago
Genre: Biography, Autobiography

SYNOPSIS:
A gripping memoir and revelatory investigation into the history of the Foundling Hospital and one girl who grew up in its care – the author’s own mother.

Growing up in a wealthy enclave outside San Francisco, Justine Cowan’s life seems idyllic. But her mother’s unpredictable temper drives Justine from home the moment she is old enough to escape. It is only after her mother dies that she finds herself pulling at the threads of a story half-told – her mother’s upbringing in London’s Foundling Hospital. Haunted by this secret history, Justine travels across the sea and deep into the past to discover the girl her mother once was.

Here, with the vividness of a true storyteller, she pieces together her mother’s childhood alongside the history of the Foundling Hospital: from its idealistic beginnings in the eighteenth century, how it influenced some of England’s greatest creative minds – from Handel to Dickens, its shocking approach to childcare and how it survived the Blitz only to close after the Second World War.

This was the environment that shaped a young girl then known as Dorothy Soames, who was left behind by a mother forced by stigma and shame to give up her child; who withstood years of physical and emotional abuse, dreaming of escape as German bombers circled the skies, unaware all along that her own mother was fighting to get her back.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I am fascinated by foundling stories, particularly since reading The Foundling by Stacey Halls last year. I’ve read a lot online about the subject and love the sound of Dorothy’s story.
Buy the book*

A Net For Small Fishes by Lucy Jago

Published: February 11th
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Based on the true scandal that rocked the court of James I, A Net for Small Fishes is the most gripping novel you’ll read this year: an exhilarating dive into the pitch-dark waters of the Jacobean court

Frances Howard has beauty and a powerful family – and is the most unhappy creature in the world.

Anne Turner has wit and talent – but no stage on which to display them. Little stands between her and the abyss of destitution.

When these two very different women meet in the strangest of circumstances, a powerful friendship is sparked. Frankie sweeps Anne into a world of splendour that exceeds all she imagined: a Court whose foreign king is a stranger to his own subjects; where ancient families fight for power, and where the sovereign’s favourite may rise and rise – so long as he remains in favour.

With the marriage of their talents, Anne and Frankie enter this extravagant, savage hunting ground, seeking a little happiness for themselves. But as they gain notice, they also gain enemies; what began as a search for love and safety leads to desperate acts that could cost them everything.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ve heard this book referred to as a ‘Historical Thelma and Louise’. What’s not to love?
Buy the book*

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Mass

Published: February 16th
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Fantasy, 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.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Last year I finally took the plunge and read the first four books in this series thanks to readalongs with Tandem Collective. I have been eagerly awaiting this conclusion ever since and am giddy with excitement at being offered the chance to take part in an exclusive readalong of this book.
Keep an eye out on my channels from February 23rd for updates from the readalong.
Buy the book*

Dead Head by C. J. Skuse

Published: February 18th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Dark Comedy, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction

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 Sweetpeaand In Bloomfeaturing everyone’s favourite truly original girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The Sweatpea series is one of my favourite series ever. They are just so original and darkly funny. I finished this latest installment tonight and it certainly holds up to the reputation of the previous books. I can’t wait to share my review with you soon. Dead Head is one of my most anticipated books of 2021.

The Santorium by Sarah Pearse

Published: February 18th
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Gothic Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Guidebook

SYNOPSIS:
EVERYONE’S IN DANGER. ANYONE COULD BE NEXT.

An imposing, isolated hotel, high up in the Swiss Alps, is the last place Elin Warner wants to be. But she’s taken time off from her job as a detective, so when she receives an invitation out of the blue to celebrate her estranged brother’s recent engagement, she has no choice but to accept.

Arriving in the midst of a threatening storm, Elin immediately feels on edge. Though it’s beautiful, something about the hotel, recently converted from an abandoned sanatorium, makes her nervous – as does her brother, Isaac.

And when they wake the following morning to discover his fiancée Laure has vanished without a trace, Elin’s unease grows. With the storm cutting off access to and from the hotel, the longer Laure stays missing, the more the remaining guests start to panic.

But no-one has realized yet that another woman has gone missing. And she’s the only one who could have warned them just how much danger they’re all in . . .

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The haunting cover. The remote setting. A missing woman. Three perfect ingredients in any book. This debut is one I’ve been impatiently awaiting for months and I can’t wait to finally devour it.
Buy the book*

One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Published: February 18th
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories.
Their last one begins here.


Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it’s not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.

Dodging doctor’s orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.

To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.

As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This book just sounds extraordinarily beautiful. I’m expecting to feel all the feelings when I read this.
I’m taking part in the blog tour for this book and my review will be published on February 21st.
Buy the book*

The Jigsaw Man by Nadine Matheson

Published: February 18th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Horror Fiction, Police Procedural

SYNOPSIS:
There’s a serial killer on the loose.
When bodies start washing up along the banks of the River Thames, DI Henley fears it is the work of Peter Olivier, the notorious Jigsaw Killer. But it can’t be him; Olivier is already behind bars, and Henley was the one who put him there.

The race is on before more bodies are found.
She’d hoped she’d never have to see his face again, but Henley knows Olivier might be the best chance they have at stopping the copycat killer. But when Olivier learns of the new murders, helping Henley is the last thing on his mind . . .

Will it take a killer to catch the killer?
Now all bets are off, and the race is on to catch the killer before the body count rises. But who will get there first – Henley, or the Jigsaw Killer?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This debut thriller sounds like just the kind of dark, twisted crime fiction that makes my heart sing.
Buy the book*

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson

Published: February 18th
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
From the pleasure palaces and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s Daughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget . . .

Lucia’s fingers found her own. She gazed at Caro as if from a distance. Her lips parted, her words a whisper: ‘He knows.’

London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.

But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous, than she can know . . .

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Once again, this is a case of Historical Fiction and Mystery equaling book heaven for me. I was gutted when it was delayed from June last year and can’t wait to finally read it.
Buy the book*

The Upstairs House by Julia Fine

Published: February 23rd*
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Literary Fiction
*This is a US release. There is currently no UK publication details.

SYNOPSIS:
Buzzfeed Most Anticipated Book of the Year – A The Millions Most Anticipated Book of the Year

In this provocative meditation on new motherhood–Shirley Jackson meets The Awakening–a postpartum woman’s psychological unraveling becomes intertwined with the ghostly appearance of children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown.

There’s a madwoman upstairs, and only Megan Weiler can see her.

Ravaged and sore from giving birth to her first child, Megan is mostly raising her newborn alone while her husband travels for work. Physically exhausted and mentally drained, she’s also wracked with guilt over her unfinished dissertation–a thesis on mid-century children’s literature.

Enter a new upstairs neighbor: the ghost of quixotic children’s book writer Margaret Wise Brown–author of the beloved classic Goodnight Moon–whose existence no one else will acknowledge. It seems Margaret has unfinished business with her former lover, the once-famous socialite and actress Michael Strange, and is determined to draw Megan into the fray. As Michael joins the haunting, Megan finds herself caught in the wake of a supernatural power struggle–and until she can find a way to quiet these spirits, she and her newborn daughter are in terrible danger.

Using Megan’s postpartum haunting as a powerful metaphor for a woman’s fraught relationship with her body and mind, Julia Fine once again delivers an imaginative and “barely restrained, careful musing on female desire, loneliness, and hereditary inheritances” (Washington Post).

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This sounds like a truly amazing novel. Though this book doesn’t yet have a publisher or release date in the UK, it is available to purchase through Amazon and other retailers and I have no doubt I’ll end up paying the high price of the hardback as I’m so impatient to have this book in my hands.
Buy the book*

Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker

Published: February 25th
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
THIS MOTHER’S DAY YOU WILL CALL HER MUMMY

Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.

As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.

Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…

CALL ME MUMMY. IT’LL BE BETTER IF YOU DO.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Though it was the synopsis that caught my interest and this sounds like the kind of book that is right up my street, part of my excitement for this debut is the author herself. Tina Baker is one of the most hilarious women I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting online and regularly makes my day with her videos and pictures.
My review will be published February 18th as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

Are any of these books on your wishlist? Which one will you read first? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx

*All links in this post are affiliate links.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

A Ruined Girl by Kate Simants

Published: August 27th, 2020
Publisher: Viper
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Miranda at Viper Books for the invitation to take part and my gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

TWO BOYS LOVED HER.
BUT WHICH ONE KILLED HER?

On a dark night two years ago, teenagers Rob and Paige broke into a house. They beat and traumatised the occupants, then left, taking only a bracelet. No one knows why, not even Luke, Rob’s younger brother and Paige’s confidant. Paige disappeared after that night. And having spent her life in children’s homes and the foster system, no one cared enough to look for her.

Now Rob is out of prison, and probation officer Wren Reynolds has been tasked with his rehabilitation. But Wren has her own reasons for taking on Rob as a client. Convinced that Rob knows what happened to Paige, and hiding a lifetime of secrets from her heavily pregnant wife, Wren’s obsession with finding a missing girl may tear her family apart…

MY REVIEW:

A Ruined Girl is a raw, dark, tense and riveting thriller. Told in dual timelines by dual narrators, we move between past and present as the story of what really happened the night two years ago the teenagers Rob and Paige broke into a house is told.

In a seemingly motivationless crime, the pair beat and terrified the occupants before taking a bracelet and leaving. Rob was captured and imprisoned for his role in the crime, but Paige hasn’t been seen since that night. Now, Rob is being released, and probation officer Wren Reynolds is tasked with his rehabilitation. But she has an ulterior motive for taking on his case.
She’s sure he’s hiding something, and is determined to find out what it is. And, as time goes on, she becomes increasingly obsessed with finding out what happened to Paige. Whatever the cost…

Complex, layered and dripping with suspense, this was a real page-turner. On a normal day, I would have flown through this in one sitting, but even in a pain-filled haze this book held my attention and had me thinking about it when I wasn’t reading. Flawlessly plotted, the author had me in her thrall from the chilling prologue to the final page.

I loved the many subplots that made up the narrative of this story. In a thriller, every little thing, however benign, becomes potentially significant, and I enjoy trying to figure out what is important or a potential clue. I was sure I had this one figured out. And that feeling was only confirmed when some of the revelations were as I predicted. I sat back, planning to just enjoy the book, safe in the knowledge that I knew what was coming, only to be completely blindsided by a jaw-dropping revelation that turned everything I thought I knew on it’s head. I’m still in shock!

All of the characters in this book are richly drawn, intriguing, flawed and real. I liked Wren, for all her faults, and thought she made a great protagonist. But the character I found myself particularly drawn to was Paige. We only see Paige through the eyes of others; the rose-tinted glasses or betrayal of Luke’s crush, or Wren’s investigation. I understood their fascination with her, the author creating an aura of mystery and sadness surrounding her that made me want to rescue her. It seemed inevitable that there was to be no happy ending, but, like Wren, I hoped for justice.

Atmospheric, taut, twisty and utterly addictive, I highly recommend this novel. This was my first read by this author, but it won’t be my last.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate Simants is a writer of psychological thrillers and crime fiction.

After a decade working in the UK television industry, specialising in investigative documentaries, police shows and undercover work, Kate relocated from London to Bristol to concentrate on writing. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from Brunel Univeristy (2007) and another in Crime Fiction from the University of East Anglia (2018), where she was the recipient of the UEA Literary Festival Scholarship. Her novel LOCK ME IN was shortlisted for the 2015 Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger, and is published by HarperCollins.

Kate won the 2019 Bath Novel Award with her second novel A RUINED GIRL, which is published by Viper/Serpent’s Tail in August 2020.

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Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – July 2020

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Welcome to another wrap up. I read nineteen books this month, which is my best month yet. I read some great books and took part in two great readalongs with Tandem Collective UK and other bookstagrammers. The first was for All My Lies Are True, the sequel to The Ice Cream Girls. This took a different format and I particularly enjoyed having it start with the author reading the beginning of the book. The second was for A Court of Mist and Fury, the second book in the Court of Thorns and Roses series. I am now totally hooked on this series and am counting down to August’s readalong of book three. 

So here is what I read in July:

  1. Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza
  2. All Fall Down (DI Helen Grace 9) by M. J. Arlidge
  3. The Bad Mother’s Virus by Suzy K. Quinn
  4. The Paper Bracelet by Rachael English
  5. The Unwinding: and other dreamings by Jackie Morris
  6. Somebody’s Daughter by Carol Wyer (Natalie Ward Book 7)
  7. All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson (Ice Cream Girls 2)
  8. Lost by Leona Deakin (Dr Bloom 2)
  9. Fleishman Is In Trouble
  10. If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin
  11. Spirited by Julie Cohen
  12. The Resident by David Jackson
  13. Playdate by Alex Dahl
  14. Precious You by Helen Monks Takar
  15. The Storm by Amanda Jennings
  16. A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Mass
  17. Eleven Lines To Somewhere by Alyson Rudd
  18. Shed No Tears by Caz Frear (DC Cat Kinsella Book 3)
  19. The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon by Sarah Steele

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I had been trying to decide if my favourite book this month was All My Lies Are True or The Resident when The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon swooped in at the final hour and claimed the title. I highly recommend all three books, particularly Nancy Moon.

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

What did you read in July? Did we read any of the same books?

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Resident by David Jackson

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

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

SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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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.

Categories
Blog Tours Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – May 2020

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Another month is done and I’m writing another wrap up. These seem to come around quicker each month. Does anyone else think the same?

May has been my best reading month in quite some time. I finished sixteen books and took part in fourteen blog tours. The quality of books has again been high with all books being four stars or above.

Here’s what I read in May:

  1. He Started It by Samantha Downing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Who We Were by B. M. Carroll ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Happy Couple by Samantha Hayes ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. The Secrets of Sunshine by Phaedra Patrick ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. One Mistake by Rona Halsall ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. Dear Child by Romy Hausmann ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. Her Last Mistake (Detective Gina Harte Book 6) by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  11. The Bride by Wendy Clarke ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The Glass House by Eve Chase ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. His & Hers by Alice Feeney ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
  14. The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson⭐⭐⭐⭐
  15. Water’s Edge (Detective Megan Carpenter Book 2) by Gregg Olsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  16. The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 You can read the reviews for all the books by clicking on the title except for The Ice Cream Girls and The Majesties. My reviews for those books will be posted in the coming week.

This month there were two books that stood out as favourites for me. They are very different books and I found it impossible to choose one over the over. Therefore, I have two books of the month: What Lies Between Us and Tsarina. What Lies Between Us is an outstanding thriller that was so twisted I can’t stop thinking about it. John Marrs really outdid himself with this book and I’m hoping it is turned into a series or film soon. Tsarina is the epic story of Catherine, Tsarina of All the Russias. Catherine’s story is one so crazy that you couldn’t make it up. The novel is beautifully written and I was utterly immersed in Catherine’s world while reading. I already had a fascination with the fall of the Tsars but this novel brought about a greater interest in the Tsars reign and Catherine and Peter’s stories in particular. I highly recommend both books.

Are any of these in your tbr? What is your favourite book you’ve read this month?

Next month I have a slightly more relaxed schedule of blog tours which I’m looking forward to as maybe I’ll get to do more free reading soon. I’m very excited about my buddy read of The Phone Box at the Edge of the World with Beth as it’s our first buddy read and the book is one of my most anticipated books of the year.

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

Hope you are all staying safe and well,
Emma x

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Who We Were by B. M. Carroll ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: May 7th, 2020
Publisher: Viper
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Who We Were. Thank you to Viper Books for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.
Photo by Mrs Cooke’s Books.

Viper asked us to share a little bit about what we were like at school at the start of our post so I’ll start with some school memories and then pics for you to have a good giggle at.

I wasn’t the popular girl, the pretty girl, class clown or the sporty girl. I was the awkward  and shy ginger girl who was rubbish at sports. I had quite a few friends and was happy to talk to anybody, but I certainly wasn’t cool or popular.

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Me aged 11. Mum convinced me to have a perm and being ginger I ended up looking like Annie. Believe it or not this is one of the flattering pics.

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My English teacher, Mrs Ball. She helped me through hard times and encouraged my writing.

When I was twelve we moved to the south coast and I went to an all girls school. You can imagine how bitchy it could get with hundreds of hormonal teenage girls all together. I did struggle with bullying for a time but I came out the other side, accepted their apologies, and some of those girls are still my friends today. I do have a lot of fond memories: school trips, sleepovers with friends, being part of the school production of Jesus Christ Superstar and the French exchange trip are just a few that spring to mind.

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France, April 1993

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Trip to France, April 1993

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Jesus Christ Superstar, November 1994

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Mole and badger in drama class

This book certainly brought back memories and I could recognise people I knew back then in some of the characters. Though I went to school in the 80s and 90s in the UK I felt that the author captures the secondary/high school experience perfectly.

Me on leavers day, May 19th 1995

SYNOPSIS:

If you looked the other way, should you be punished?

Twenty years after they went their separate ways, friends and enemies are coming together for their school reunion. Katy, who is desperate to show that she’s no longer the shy wallflower. Annabel, who ruled the school until a spectacular fall from grace. Zach, popular and cruel, but who says he’s a changed man.

And Robbie, always the victim, who never stood a chance. As the reunion nears, a terrible event that binds the group together will resurface. Because someone is still holding a grudge, and will stop at nothing to reveal their darkest secrets…

MY REVIEW:

High school drama at its best; this compelling thriller is Dawson’s Creek with a deadly twist. 

It’s twenty years since Annabel, Grace, Melissa, Katy, Luke, Zach and Robbie left Macquarie High and went their separate ways. Their favourite memories, worst moments, hopes and dreams were recorded in their high school yearbook, a lasting reminder of who they were at that moment in time. With their twenty year reunion approaching, Katy thinks it would be fun to create an updated yearbook, an idea that soon turns sinister when someone begins to send distressing, personal messages to some of the group. How does this person know their deepest secrets? As the day of the reunion draws closer, it becomes clear that someone is holding a grudge and looking for revenge. But who? And why?

I flew through this book in just a day. Impossible to predict or put down, I couldn’t figure out who was behind the messages and had to keep reading until I knew the answer. Under the surface of this readable thriller, is a book that deals with some sensitive and hard-hitting issues, such as bullying, drug use and mental illness. The flashbacks to their school years also address how cruel and callous teenagers can be and the long lasting effects that can have. The author writes about these issues with sensitivity and has created richly drawn, authentic characters that are full of depth. I was completely immersed and invested in their lives, particularly Robbie’s heartbreaking story and Annabel’s struggles with her teenage son. 

Running parallel to the drama of the character’s personal lives is something much darker and more ominous. At first it seems like it is just a cruel prank, but as the story goes on it is clear that they could be in real danger. Everyone is a suspect: wives and husbands, life-long friends, new lovers. How do you protect yourself from a threat when you don’t know who they are or what they want? The tension and fear radiated from the pages and I was on tenterhooks as we approached the dramatic climax.

Emotionally-charged, dramatic, twisty and surprising, this riveting thriller keeps you on your toes from start to finish. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ber Carroll (also known as B.M Carroll) was born in Blarney, a small but famous village in Ireland. The middle child of six, she often retreated from the chaos of family life by immersing herself in books. She has fond memories of the mobile library bus that used to pull up outside their house in Blarney and the dozen or so books she would borrow at a time, some quite inappropriate for her age.

Ber moved to Sydney in 1995 with her boyfriend (now husband) Rob. She got a job as a finance manager in the IT industry and began to climb the corporate ladder. The exciting and dynamic work environment captured her imagination and inspired her first novel. When Executive Affair was published, Ber flatly denied it was in any way auto-biographical. She now admits that the novel did have a lot of her in it, and suspects that half the people who purchased the book were her ex colleagues, to see if they were in it too. Ber gave up her finance career when she realised that she couldn’t hold down a demanding job, be mum to two small children and write books to contractual deadline. She now writes fulltime, but says that she misses getting dressed up for work and being around people who listen to what she has to say, unlike her kids!

Ber is the author of nine novels, including Just Business, High Potential, The Better Woman, Less Than Perfect, Worlds Apart and Once Lost. Her most recent novels The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy and Who We Were (coming May 2020) are published under B.M. Carroll.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Book Depository
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