Book Review

The Silent Wife – Karin Slaughter

Today marks a massive highlight in my blogging career for me as I join the blog tour for The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter, my absolute favourite thriller writer. Many thanks to Karin, to Liz at Harper Collins, and to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours, for inviting me to be a part of the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book.

BLURB:

Atlanta, Georgia. Present day. A young woman is brutally attacked and left for dead. The police investigate but the trail goes cold. Until a chance assignment takes GBI investigator Will Trent to the state penitentiary, and to a prisoner who says he recognises the MO. The attack looks identical to the one he was accused of eight years earlier. The prisoner’s always insisted that he was innocent, and now he’s sure he has proof. The killer is still out there.

As Will digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the original case in order to reach the truth. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear. And now he needs medical examiner Sara Linton to help him hunt down a ruthless murderer. But when the past and present collide, everything Will values is at stake.

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

The Silent Wife Cover

REVIEW:

Well, what can you say about a book that is so great that it leaves you totally lost for words? I finished this book a good few days ago and it has taken this long for me to gather my thoughts enough to write my review. Karin Slaughter is just pure class, and her writing style puts her firmly at the top of my thriller writer list. Her books are instantly addictive and The Silent Wife is no exception.

The Silent Wife sees the return of many familiar faces as Sara and Will’s life together in Atlanta merges with Sara’s old life in Grant County. The dual timeline allows us to see Sara at two very different times in her life – one where we see the tough, resilient Sara we are used to, following her separation from Jeffrey, and another softer side as she shows her vulnerability in her relationship with Will and struggles to come to terms with the ghosts of her past. I loved seeing this side to Sara, as much as I hated to see her hurting so badly. I found it very interesting to explore her relationships with both men and the emotions they stir up in her.

Faith has long been one of my favourite characters from Karin’s books, and I particularly enjoyed her interaction with Lena in this book, and her blatant hatred of a character that, let’s face it, is totally unlikeable, and who we all love to hate. The years have not mellowed Lena and, much like Faith, I found myself really wanting to slap her! She really is a brilliant character to inspire such strong emotions in the reader.

As always, Karin doesn’t pull any punches with the brutality of the crimes featured in her books, or in the detail of the medical exams of the victims. There are some particularly graphic descriptions in The Silent Wife that may not be for the faint-hearted, but they are in no way gratuitous or out of keeping with the story.

As if being part of the blog tour for this brilliant book wasn’t excited enough, Karin was kind enough to take part in a Zoom Q&A session with the bloggers taking part on the tour, which was just amazing. Thank you so much Karin for being so generous with your time, and thanks to Liz at Harper Collins too for making all the arrangements and hosting the chat. It was most definitely the highlight of lockdown for me and a massive boost to my mental health.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Karin-Slaughter-Alison-RosaKarin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her 19 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant Sunday Times bestselling novels Pretty Girls, The Good Daughter, and Pieces of Her.

The Good Daughter and Cop Town are in development for film and television and Pieces of Her is soon to be an eight-part Netflix adaptation, directed by Lesli Linka Glatter (Mad Men), and produced by Charlotte Stoudt (Homeland) and Bruna Papandrea (Big Little Lies).

Karin is the founder of the Save the Libraries project- a non-profit organisation established to support libraries and library programming.

She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

‘One of the boldest thriller writers working today’ TESS GERRITSEN

‘Fiction doesn’t get any better than this’ JEFFERY DEAVER

‘Passion, intensity, and humanity’ LEE CHILD

Her characters, plot, and pacing are unrivalled’ MICHAEL CONNELLY

‘A great writer at the peak of her powers’ PETER JAMES

‘Karin Slaughter has – by far – the best name of all of us mystery novelists’ JAMES PATTERSON

For information, review copy or interview request

please contact Liz Dawson:

elizabeth.dawson@harpercollins.co.uk / 020 8307 4412

Don’t forget to visit the other blogs taking part in the tour for this fantastic book.

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Blog

The First Lie – A.J. Park

Out Tomorrow

“A. J. Park is a master of suspense who knows how to keep readers hovering tensely over the edges of their seats.” 
Sophie Hannah

THE FIRST LIE COVER

THE FIRST LIE BY A.J. PARK

“This is a real page-turner. I finished it in one go!”
Martina Cole

A husband and wife cover up a murder. But the lie eats away at the fabric of their relationship and things unravel till they can’t trust anyone – even each other.

“A great thriller that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.”
Luca Veste

A freak accident. An impossible choice. But what was the first lie?

When Paul Reeve comes home to find his wife in the bathroom, bloodied and shaking, his survival instinct kicks in.

Alice never meant to kill the intruder. She was at home, alone, and terrified. She doesn’t deserve to be blamed for it. Covering up the murder is their only option.

But the crime eats away at the couple and soon they can’t trust anyone – even one another…

But there is much more at stake than anyone realises – and many more people on their trail than they can possibly evade…

“Fast-moving, gripping, the ground shifting perpetually beneath your feet as you read… I read it in one sitting.”
Alex Marwood

Available as a paperback, ebook and audio book.

Links:

Waterstones Paperback: http://tidd.ly/553cdf07

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2KNl4rt

THE FIRST LIE all quotes

Book Review

Esme’s Gift – Elizabeth Foster

I am returning to Aeolia as I join the blog tour for Esme’s Gift, book two in Elizabeth Foster’s Middle Grade Fantasy series. Many thanks to Elizabeth, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources, for inviting me to take part in the tour, and for providing me with a copy of the book. If you haven’t read book one, Esme’s Wish, yet, I recommend reading that before you read any further down this post, as there are unavoidable spoilers for it coming up.

BLURB:

Terror was within. Terror was without.
Like her mother, she was at the water’s mercy.

In the enchanted world of Aeolia, fifteen-year-old Esme Silver faces her hardest task yet. She must master her unruly Gift—the power to observe the past—and uncover the secrets she needs to save her mother, Ariane.

In between attending school in the beguiling canal city of Esperance, Esme and her friends—old and new—travel far and wide across Aeolia, gathering the ingredients for a potent magical elixir.

Their journey takes them to volcanic isles, sunken ruins and snowy eyries, spectacular places fraught with danger, where they must face their deepest fears and find hope in the darkest of places.

Esme’s Gift, the second instalment in the Esme trilogy, is a gripping fantasy adventure for readers 12 years and over.

Fans of Harry Potter will love this book for its similar themes. The genuine friendship of the characters make this book a satisfying read, and hints at a healthy romance in the next book. The conclusion of the trilogy will be greatly anticipated! Sorcha, Goodreads

From dragons diving into volcanoes, Esme and her friends portalling out of art class and deep underwater adventures, Esme’s Gift is quite simply a thrilling and exciting read. Jean, Goodreads

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PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

REVIEW:

Having enjoyed Esme’s Wish earlier this year, I was looking forward to reading the sequel and getting to know the wonderful world of Aeolia better. The city of Esperance always makes makes me think of Venice and the magical feeling I remember from my visit there – just with fewer tourists, and in Esperance the magic is real.

In Esme’s Gift, we see Esme settling into life in Esperance and starting lessons at Pierpont College. As much as I love Daniel and Lillian, it was great to see Esme making more friends, and interesting to read about her less friendly interactions with some of her fellow students. Watching the students come into their sometimes tricky to control Gifts was very entertaining too. Not least of these unpredictable Gifts is Esme’s, as she races against time to get hold of it before it is too late to save Ariane.

Esme’s Gift is full of drama and action as Esme uncovers more secrets and betrayals on both sides of the portal to Aeolia. Elizabeth Foster has expanded her world beautifully and created so much intrigue that I am left impatiently awaiting the next book!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A-Elizabeth Foster Hi Res 06 (1)I read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago when reading to my own kids reminded me how much I missed getting lost in other worlds. It’s never too late to find and follow your passion! I now have two books published and am about to start writing the third and final story in the Esme series.  My home base is Sydney, where I can often be found running (just kidding – walking) by the water, or scribbling in cafés.

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GIVEAWAY:

Win 3 x pairs of e-books Esme’s Wish & Esme’s Gift (Open Internationally)

Esme's Wish cover[2]

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter link below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for dispatch or delivery of the prize.

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Book Review, Uncategorized

The Summer of Taking Chances – Lynne Shelby

 

BLURB:

Would you take the second chance you’ve always dreamed of?

 It’s been ten years since Emma Stevens last laid eyes on Jake Murray. When he left the small seaside village of South Quay to chase the limelight, Emma’s dreams left with him.

Now Emma is content living a quiet and uneventful life in South Quay. It’s far from the life she imagined, but at least her job at the local hotel has helped heal her broken heart.

But when Jake returns home for the summer to escape the spotlight, Emma’s feelings quickly come flooding back. There’s clearly a connection between them, but Jake has damaged her heart once already – will she ever be able to give him a second chance?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

The SUMMER OF TAKING CHANCES_EBOOKB2 (1) (1)

REVIEW:

The Summer of Taking Chances is the kind of book that I would normally say is great for reading poolside, or on a tropical beach, with an ice cold cocktail in your hand. As that looks unlikely this year, you might just have to settle for a chair in your back garden and a glass or two of something fizzy – either way, this is definitely a book to be enjoyed al fresco. It is a lovely light read to relax with and escape the stresses of the real world for a little while.

Whilst Emma is warm and relatable, and Jake is as irresistible as every leading man should be, it was the supporting cast of characters that really grabbed my attention in this book. They took me right back to my own amateur dramatics days in my teens, with all the politics and back-biting going on, not to mention the speed at which any snippet of gossip could travel around the entire company. I think anyone who has ever been involved in a village club or society will spot elements of people they know within the ranks of the South Quay Players. The catalogue of disasters that befalls the Players did leave me wondering whether someone had perhaps invoked the name of the Scottish play!

All in all, The Summer of Taking Chances is an enjoyable, fun summer read.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

The Summer - Lynne Shelby Author PhotoLynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, French Kissing, was published when it won a national writing competition. She has worked at a variety of jobs from stable girl to child actors’ chaperone to legal administrator, but now writes full time. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre watching a musical, or exploring a foreign city – Paris, New York, Rome, Copenhagen, Seattle, Athens – writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.

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Book Review

The Book of Us – Andrea Michael

Today I am joining the blog tour for the women’s fiction novel, The Book of Us by Andrea Michael. Many thanks to Andrea for providing me with a copy of the book, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

The Book of Us is a story of the complexity of forgiveness and the friendships that change our lives forever. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Jojo Moyes and Diane Chamberlain.

We’ve got some important things to talk about. It’s time.

Cass and Loll used to be inseparable. They met at university and they made sense, like two halves of a whole. They had planned their lives around each other, writing down their dreams in The Big Book of Our Life – the things they wanted to achieve, the places they’d go after they finished university. But then one night changed everything.

Seven years later, Loll receives a letter from her old friend. The coming year will be the year they both turn 30, but Loll might be making it to 30 alone. Cass has cancer. Loll had believed she would have her whole life to come to terms with Cass’ betrayal, but time is running out. Cass’ final wish is to complete The Big Book of Our Life, but has enough time passed to heal old wounds?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon

Waterstones

The Book of Us cover

REVIEW:

As soon as I started reading The Book of Us, I was put in mind of the Bette Midler film, Beaches, with Cass so wild, so full of life, and sweet, gentle Lauren, content to remain on the edges of Cass’s spotlight. That comparison really should have prepared me for what was to come, but I carried on reading, never giving a thought to just how bumpy this particular ride was going to be.

After a truly terrible betrayal, and a six year separation, The Book of Us sees Cass and Lauren slowly finding their way back to each other following major upheavals in both their lives. For two very different women, this was never going to be easy, and the book swings from laughter to tears more than once as they rebuild their friendship from the ruins.

Reading about their adventures through Finland, Spain and Australia reignited my own wanderlust which I thought was long gone, and made me yearn for my own favourite spot in Spain, and all the people I will miss seeing this year. There is just so much life and passion in their travels, and the way Andrea Michaels captures everything, you can almost imagine you are right there with them.

The Book of Us is a heart-breaking, emotional rollercoaster of a book (complete with actual rollercoasters), and one that I recommend reading with a ready supply of tissues, wine and chocolate.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Andi-1202-2Andrea Michael writes books to explore complicated relationships. Having trained in using writing for therapy, she really believes in the magic of stories to change your life. Failing that, sparkling wine and obnoxious sing-a-longs also do the trick.

Andrea works in content marketing, and runs Writing for Wellbeing workshops. She lives in Hertfordshire with her fiancé and their crazy cat, and can be found reading in a comfy corner or digging something at the allotment.

You may also know her from her romantic comedies written as A L Michael.

Andrea is represented by Hayley Steed at Madeleine Milburn. The Book of Us is her thirteenth book. She’s hoping it’s lucky.

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Extracts

Seven and a Half Minutes – Roxana Valea

As part of the blog tour for Seven and a Half Minutes by Roxana Valea, today I have the privilege of sharing an extract of the book with you. Many thanks to Roxana for allowing me to share this, and to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to be a part of the tour.

BLURB:

Before Roxy found herself “Single in Buenos Aires,” she was a single girl in London in search of true love. The third installment of The Polo Diaries series takes us back to that time, and we follow Roxy as she hires a love coach to help her navigate the dating scene. But the love coach comes up with an unexpected assignment: reconnect to a long-forgotten passion. For Roxy this means horses. Within weeks, she finds herself playing polo, thanks to a series of unforeseen events.

Torn between her desire to become the best polo player she can be and the dream of falling in love, Roxy steps fully into the exciting and demanding world of polo, where injury and recovery mix with hard training, and where celebrating the victory of a tournament comes at a high price. Will Roxy eventually become the polo player she dreams to be? And with polo being such a demanding sport, can there be any space left for love?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Seven and a Half Minutes - 9780993130991

EXTRACT:

Context: Polo player Roxy arrives in Argentina and makes her first contact with a different type of polo…

Dale, Dale, vamos!” I tell him I’m Roxy, but Monica seems to please him more, so I settle on being Monica for now. He rides behind me, and I get my horse into a canter again. The ball is in front of me: head over the ball, lean out, swing, hit. Again… again… again…

My back is arched, my body is crying out, every little bone in my back is sore, but he rides behind me and passes over every single ball I miss, and I have to carry on. Strangely enough, I don’t miss that many balls these days; it’s as if my polo has got better overnight simply because I’ve landed in the country of polo—Argentina.

I ride in the morning until I’m close to exhaustion and my horse simply refuses to go for another run. I ride until I feel he’s about to buck me off, and then, grateful that it’s over, I turn and walk him slowly to the stables, wondering if my knees will give in once I jump off. I ride in the afternoons with them, the Argentine polo players, who ride like they were born on horses. They ride with no hard hats, no knee or elbow pads. They ride in jeans and T-shirts with their hair flowing freely in the wind, and I smile and realize how ridiculous we look with all our protective equipment and hard hats. I ride alongside them, wishing my hair were free in the wind…

“Dale, Monica! Put your boobs out and your bum out as well, like this.” He arches his back in the perfect pose of a polo player in full swing—or a pole dancer, same thing really. “You see, like this, boobs out!” I smile at his directness. This would have been a bit too explicit for an English coach, but here it seems perfectly acceptable. I try to imagine myself pole dancing. I swing and hit, a plain, clean hit, and the ball goes halfway across the field. “You see?” He smiles. “Boobs out and the ball goes far!” I now think of pole dancing every time I hit, but it’s a really difficult thing: my arched back makes my muscles hurt even more. “I know, I know.” His smile is kind. “I know, more difficult, but better hit.” And I get it suddenly: the pain is there, but the trick is to allow it to be there, and arch your back despite the pain, and hit, again… again… again…

I play with them again in the afternoon. I play as number one (weakest position), and I’m told to mark the number four (strongest position) from the opposite team, and I can’t even get close to him. The only time I try to hook him, I miss, and I’m grateful that I missed, since his swing is so powerful I would most probably have been thrown out of the saddle. I ride close to him, and then I feel he’s about to ride me off, and this would be the end of me and my horse as well, but he knows better. He comes close and shouts “Taco, taco!” just to frighten me, and then, in full gallop, he grabs the ears of my horse and laughs, galloping away. He doesn’t need to ride me off; I get the message totally and fully. It’s his ball, and I graciously move out of his way.

I ride with them every day, and every time I get off my horse, my body aches and refuses to think about ever getting back on a horse. I crawl into bed for the noon siesta, and I promise myself that I’ll not get on a horse again that day. But the afternoon comes, and we’re due to play. It’s a four-chukka game, and by chukka two, I almost cry out in pain. I’m out of breath, and I feel like bailing out, but then I remember I’ll miss the handshakes at the end if I do, and this thought keeps me going. And I move on, with him riding behind me shouting “Dale, Monica!”, with the smiley guy I’m supposed to mark far in the distance. I ride in the late afternoon sun with the smell of freshly cut grass in my nostrils. I ride despite the pain in my body and despite the weakness in my knees. I ride, and I don’t think of anything but the ball, the horse, the fact that the game appears to be turning, and I need to change direction. I ride, not knowing sometimes which way we are supposed to go and whether that was a real goal or not, but I ride on. I ride with them, and their joy of riding spreads to me, and for a few moments I feel there’s nothing else to life but riding…

By the third chukka, I’m given a very narrow horse with a shiny leather saddle. My legs are almost giving in by this time, and I cringe when I think I’ll probably end up on the horse’s neck. I’m too tired to keep myself stable on a shiny leather saddle. But he’s there and reads my thoughts: He asks me if I want some water. Water? No. Another horse maybe. But he smiles, takes a bottle of water, pours it all over my saddle, and tells me to rub my trousers against it. Now I look like I’ve been peeing in my trousers, or even worse, because the brown color of the saddle comes out on my white jeans. But it’s okay actually, because now the wet leather grips like never before, and I smile, really grateful for this trick, and I know I’ll be safe for another chukka. “Dale, Monica.” The chukka has started without a whistle, without a lineup, and without notice, flowing on as naturally as everything these people do on their horses. I run out, mad, in full gallop across the field. I run flat out, and smile when I feel the solid grip of my wet leather saddle, and I know I’ll now be able to stay safely on this horse.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Seven and a Half Minutes Author PhotoRoxana Valea was born in Romania and lived in Italy, Switzerland, England and Argentina before settling in Spain. She has a BA in journalism and an MBA degree. She spent more than twenty years in the business world as an entrepreneur, manager and management consultant working for top companies like Apple, eBay, and Sony. She is also a Reiki Master and shamanic energy medicine practitioner.

As an author, Roxana writes books inspired by real events. Her memoir Through Dust and Dreams is a faithful account of a trip she took at the age of twenty-eight across Africa by car in the company of two strangers she met over the internet. Her following book, Personal Power: Mindfulness Techniques for the Corporate Word is a nonfiction book filled with personal anecdotes from her consulting years. The Polo Diaries series is inspired by her experiences as a female polo player–traveling to Argentina, falling in love, and surviving the highs and lows of this dangerous sport.

Roxana lives with her husband between England and Spain, and splits her time between writing, coaching and therapy work, but her first passion remains writing.

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Book Review

Lie With Me – Philippe Besson

Today’s review is of the exquisite Lie With Me by Philippe Besson, translated from French by Molly Ringwald (yes, THAT Molly Ringwald). Many thanks to Penguin Books for my copy of the book which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

The award-winning, bestselling French novel by Philippe Besson about an affair between two teenage boys in 1984 France, translated with subtle beauty and haunting lyricism by the iconic and internationally acclaimed actress/writer Molly Ringwald.

We drive at high speed along back roads, through woods, vineyards, and oat fields. The bike smells like gasoline and makes a lot of noise, and sometimes I’m frightened when the wheels slip on the gravel on the dirt road, but the only thing that matters is that I’m holding on to him, that I’m holding on to him outside.

Just outside a hotel in Bordeaux, Philippe chances upon a young man who bears a striking resemblance to his first love. What follows is a look back at the relationship he’s never forgotten, a hidden affair with a gorgeous boy named Thomas during their last year of high school. Without ever acknowledging they know each other in the halls, they steal time to meet in secret, carrying on a passionate, world-altering affair.

Dazzlingly rendered in English by Ringwald in her first-ever translation, Besson’s powerfully moving coming-of-age story captures the eroticism and tenderness of first love—and the heartbreaking passage of time.

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REVIEW:

Lie With Me is the touching story of two young men on the cusp of adulthood, knowing that they are headed in very different directions. It isn’t a long book, but the depth of emotion it captures is wonderful.

In Thomas, we are presented with a character who is extremely reticent, and it feels like you never really get to know him, except perhaps through the eyes of his son, and I wonder if this reflects Philippe’s own thoughts on how well he really knew Thomas.

Philippe himself is a romantic soul, and this is echoed in the beautiful language in which the book is written. He is a young man who finds his own sexuality intriguing, and rather than being concerned about being considered different from his peers, he revels in this difference, happy to not be one of the pack – although this being 1980s France, he understands the wisdom in not announcing it to the world.

Lie With Me is presented as a novel, and throughout the book, the narrator, also a writer called Philippe, born in Barbezieux, takes pains to stress that he writes only fiction. However, the book reads as a memoir, and with many of the fictional Philippe’s books mirroring the titles of the author’s, you are left wondering just how much of Lie With Me is fiction and how much is fact.

I have read books translated from French before, but something has always seemed to be lacking, and the emotion of the book hasn’t always carried through. In Lie With Me, Molly Ringwald has created a beautiful, lyrical translation that flows so wonderfully and is overflowing with emotion.

Lie With Me isn’t a book filled with great drama and thrilling moments. Instead it is a beautiful coming of age story, and an exquisite love letter to a long lost love, perfect in its simplicity.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

199634In 1999, Besson, who was a jurist at that time, was inspired to write his first novel, In the Absence of Men, while reading some accounts of ex-servicemen of the First World War. The novel won the Emmanuel-Roblès prize.

L’Arrière-saison, published in 2002, won the Grand Prix RTL-Lire 2003. Un garçon d’Italie was nominated for the Goncourt and the Médicis prizes.

Seeing that his works aroused so much interest, Philippe Besson then decided to dedicate himself exclusively to his writing.

Book Review

Monstrous Heart – Claire McKenna

For today’s review, I am looking at Monstrous Heart by Claire McKenna. Many thanks to HarperCollins UK for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

A sensational debut novel perfect for fans of Outlander and The Binding. This is gothic, epic, romantic fantasy at it’s very best; a tale of magic, intrigue on dangerous waters and a love story for the ages.

When Arden Beacon is sent to the lighthouse, she is simply a woman with a job to do. She neither seeks, nor expects, distraction. After years tainted by disappointment, Arden is finally taking up her family’s profession. She must prove herself worthy of her name, for she has nothing else.

But the coast she has been tasked with lighting is far from the world she knows – the salt-swept, backwater town of Vigil is battered by a sea teeming with colossal, ancient beasts. It is a place of secrets, rumours and tight-lipped expectations of a woman’s place.

More than anyone, the folk of Vigil whisper about Arden’s new neighbour, Jonah Riven, hunter of leviathans. He murdered his wife, they whisper – a perfect, golden girl, full of charm and potential. So very different to Arden Beacon.

They say he is as much a monster as his prey, but Arden cannot get this dark stranger out of her head.

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REVIEW:

Monstrous Heart is a book that is hard to pin down. The language in which it is written feels almost out of time, part classic novel, part modern, with elements of steampunk, all in a time when monsters like the kraken still roam the seas. There is a gothic feel to it, and the desolate landscape where Arden’s lighthouse is located put me somehow in mind of the moors of Wuthering Heights. Because of this, it took me a little time to get into, but before long I was completely swept away by the story. It is a book that is strange and enthralling in equal measure, and one that refuses to be pigeon-holed.

In a world where magic is restricted to the nobility, and feared by the general population, Arden Beacon has to feel her way through a strange society so different from the one she grew up in, as she takes over control of a remote lighthouse whose nearest neighbour is the mysterious and, if rumours are to be believed, deadly Jonah Riven. In Riven I found a character that I was instantly drawn to and who again put me in mind of Wuthering Heights and the rugged Heathcliff, and I desperately wanted the rumours about him to be proved false.

The mystery of Bellis Riven deepens with every page, and the pace of the book suddenly picks up in the latter part as secrets and betrayals are revealed, and Arden finds herself fighting for her life.

Although at the start I was a little unsure of what to make of this book, I ended up absolutely loving in, and I am so happy that there is more to come from this world.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

1108922Urban explorer, typewriter collector, slow-cyclist and low-key adventurer, Claire McKenna is an award-winning speculative fiction writer from Melbourne, Australia.

Weeks after being born in Australia, her parents whisked her off to New Zealand for a Kiwi childhood in Auckland, before returning to Australia and eventually the beachside suburb of Frankston, where she still lives.

After two decades of publishing short stories in Australian and international anthologies, Claire’s debut dark fantasy trilogy comes out in April 2020, beginning with Monstrous Heart, (through HarperVoyager UK).

Book Review

Son of Secrets – N J Simmonds

Today is the day that I can finally tell the world my thoughts about Son of Secrets, book two of The Indigo Chronicles by N J Simmonds. This book has been a long time coming, but it was well worth the wait! If you haven’t already read book one in the series, I would strongly recommend reading that before you read on because of spoilers. You can find my thoughts on The Path Keeper here.

BLURB:

Ella has been waiting for Zac for three years. She’s convinced he’ll return for her, but fate has other plans. When Josh is thrown back into her life, Ella has a choice: step back on to her rightful path, or wait foe the one who dared her to rebel.

But Ella’s not the only one missing Zac. Luci has been searching for her blue-eyed boy over two millenia and will stop at nothing to get him back. Even if that means hunting down the only girl he ever loved.

From Tuscany 5BC to 17th century witch hunts, Ella, Zac, Luci and Sebastian’s lives have been forever intertwined. The time has finally come to complete the circle.

In a fight against destiny – who will win?

PURCHASE LINKS:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

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REVIEW:

As you will know, The Path Keeper is one of my favourite books, and I have been waiting for the sequel to be released for a long time! When I finally heard that it had a release date, and then saw its spectacular cover, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. That said, when it actually came to reading it, I approached it with some trepidation. This is a book that I had built up so much in my mind that I was scared that it would live up to my expectations. The good news is that I had absolutely nothing to worry about, and Son of Secrets is everything that I had dreamt it would be.

Son of Secrets takes us right back to the beginning of Ella and Zac’s story, when they were Arabella and Zadkiel, encountering each other for the first time in a sweet and tender meeting in Tuscany. The truth of their very first lives is beautiful and heartbreaking, and comes with the awful realisation of the role Sebastian has played in Ella’s past lives. As with The Path Keeper, Son of Secrets revisits Zac and Ella through history, this time seen through the eyes of Luci as she desperately tries to reunite with Zac.

On the subject of Luci, she is a truly brilliant character. Turning traditional ideas of Lucifer on their head, you come to realise that while she is not truly evil, she is most definitely fierce and refuses to let anything, or anyone, stop her from achieving what she wants. The thought of her teaming up with Sebastian was terrifying at first, but as her true motives come to light, it is incredibly satisfying to see Sebastian under someone else’s control. Everything about Luci is spectacular – I think we all need to channel our inner Luci a bit more.

Although I desperately wanted Zac to find his way back to Ella, as the book progressed, and we got to know the real Josh, I found there was an increasingly large part of me that was rooting for him and Ella too. I was full of conflicting emotions about this right through to the end of book, and honestly I am still not sure what I really wanted to happen.

Certain realisations that occurred during this book felt like a punch to the gut, and others made my heart sing. It’s a bumpy ride, but one that I know I will be revisiting, because both Son of Secrets and The Path Keeper will be demanding to be read again in preparation for the next book in the series.

I really don’t know how I am going to manage waiting until next May for book three in The Indigo Chronicles! I need to know what happens next right now!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Nat_PR_0253N J Simmonds is the author of fantasy series The Indigo Chronicles – she also writes Manga comics and is one half of Caedis Knight. Her stories are magical, historical and full of complex women, page-turning twists and plenty of romance. Originally from London, she now lives with her family in the Netherlands.

SOCIAL MEDIA:

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Make sure you visit the other blogs taking part in the tour for more information about this brilliant book.

SON OF SECRETS blog

Book Review

Love Frankie – Jacqueline Wilson

Today’s review is of Love Frankie, the latest in a long line of books from Jacqueline Wilson. Many thanks to Penguin Random House UK for my copy of the book, which I received via NetGalley.

BLURB:

GROWING UP. FALLING IN LOVE. COMING OUT.

Frankie is nearly fourteen and teenage life certainly comes with its ups and downs. Her mum is seriously ill with MS and Frankie can feel herself growing up quickly, no thanks to Sally and her gang of bullies at school.

When Sally turns out to be not-so-mean after all, they strike up a friendship and are suddenly spending all of their time together.

But Frankie starts to wonder whether these feelings she has for Sally are stronger than her other friendships. Might she really be in love?

Frankie doesn’t want Sally to just be her friend. She wants her to be her girlfriend. But does Sally feel the same?

The must-have new novel about falling in love for the first time from bestselling, much-loved children’s author, Jacqueline Wilson. 

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REVIEW:

Somehow when I was growing up, Jacqueline Wilson’s books passed me by completely, meaning that, although I have obviously heard about them as an adult, Love Frankie is the first of her books that I have read.

Written in a style aimed at the younger end of the YA scale, Love Frankie is a book that I think lots of girls entering their teens will relate to. Alongside the bigger issues of coming out and being a carer for her mum, Frankie suffers the same trials and tribulations of everyday life as any other teenager, making this an enjoyable, relatable read for any teenager. Navigating secondary school is hard enough without having to care for a sick parent, or coming to terms with your sexuality. Jacqueline handles Frankie’s reality sensitively and I think for those who are dealing with similar issues to Frankie, this book serves as reassurance that they are not alone.

Frankie is a character that strikes as both old before her time and painfully young, something which resonates with my memories of being 14.

Having read this, I can quite see just why Jacqueline Wilson’s books have been so popular for so long.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jacqueline Wilson - July 2012 . ©James JordanJacqueline Wilson was born in Bath in 1945, but spent most of her childhood in Kingston-on-Thames. She always wanted to be a writer and wrote her first ‘novel’ when she was nine, filling in countless Woolworths’ exercise books as she grew up. As a teenager she started work for a magazine publishing company and then went on to work as a journalist on Jackie magazine (which she was told was named after her!) before turning to writing novels full-time.

One of Jacqueline’s most successful and enduring creations has been the famous Tracy Beaker, who first appeared in 1991 in The Story of Tracy Beaker. This was also the first of her books to be illustrated by Nick Sharratt. Since then Jacqueline has been on countless awards shortlists and has gone on to win many awards. The Illustrated Mum won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award, the 1999 Children’s Book of the Year at the British Book Awards and was also shortlisted for the 1999 Whitbread Children’s Book Award.

Double Act won the prestigious Smarties Medal and the Children’s Book Award as well as being highly commended for the Carnegie Medal. The Story of Tracy Beaker won the 2002 Blue Peter People’s Choice Award.

Jacqueline is one of the nation’s favourite authors, and her books are loved and cherished by young readers not only in the UK but all over the world. She has sold millions of books and in the UK alone the total now stands at over 35 million!

In 2002 Jacqueline was awarded the OBE for services to literacy in schools and from 2005 to 2007 she was the Children’s Laureate. In 2008 she became Dame Jacqueline Wilson.