Posted in 2021, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, NetGalley, Novel, samantha downing, thriller, Top Books

#ForYourOwnGood by @smariedowning

Double Sunday Times bestseller Samantha Downing, author of My Lovely Wife and He Started It, is back with a deliciously twisted new novel…

Teddy Crutcher has won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy. Everyone thinks he’s brilliant. Only you know the truth.

They all smile when he tells us his wife couldn’t be more proud – though if they stopped to think, they would realise no-one has seen her in a while.

They’re impressed when he doesn’t let anything distract him – even the tragic death of a school parent. Even when the whispers start, saying it was murder.

You’re sure Teddy is hiding something about what happened that day. You’re sure you can prove it.

You just didn’t stop to think that when it comes to catching a killer, there’s no place more dangerous than just one step behind…

***

Entitlement has a particular stench.

1

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(@MichaelJBooks, 19 August 2021, ebook, 400 pages, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I’ve enjoyed other books by the author so was looking forward to For Your Own Good. This is different from her other books, in a good way. I had a fantastic time reading it. This is the kind of intense, fast paced twisty thriller I love. I thought I knew what was going on and who the killer actually was but then something seemingly random would happen and my theory was blown out of the water. I loved the way there were so many suspects in the tragedies even though it’s clear fairly early on who the guilty party is, this knowledge didn’t retract from my enjoyment, in fact watching the killer discombobulate while trying to ‘fix’ the mess they made and only making it worse was a pleasure. I loved this book.

Posted in 2021, finbar hawkins, First Read, historical fiction, literary fiction, Novel, Top Books

Witch by @finbar_hawkins

Set in the 17th century, a breath-taking debut, and a potential prize-winner, about the power of women, witchcraft, fury, revenge and the ties that bind us.

After witnessing the brutal murder of her mother by witch-hunters, Evey vows to avenge her and track down the killers. Fury burns in her bright and strong. But she has promised her mother that she will keep Dill, her little sister, safe.

As the lust for blood and retribution rises to fever pitch, will Evey keep true to the bonds of sisterhood and to the magick that is her destiny?

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I never did no magick.

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(@_ZephyrBooks, 1 October 2020, ebook, 277 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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This is a debut. I thought Witch was a terrific read and look forward to reading what the author comes up with next. I’ve red books that cover similar themes and ideas but not as well written, rich and compelling as Witch. There’s something really special about this book. The book is quite dark at times given it’s set during a notorious era of witch trials, paranoia and hatred but the love between the female characters specially Evey and her sister and Evey and Anne, the woman who helps her really brings the book to life. I got yanked into the story from the first lines and couldn’t stop reading. This is an impressive debut.

Posted in 2021, Contemporary Fiction, Elizabeth Day, Novel, Top Books

Paradise City by @elizabday

An audacious, compassionate state-of-the-nation novel about four strangers whose lives collide with far-reaching consequences.

Beatrice Kizza, a woman in flight from a homeland that condemned her for daring to love, flees to London. There, she shields her sorrow from the indifference of her adopted city and navigates a night-time world of shift-work and bedsits.

Howard Pink is a self-made millionaire who has risen from Petticoat Lane to the mansions of Kensington on a tide of determination and bluster. Yet self-doubt still snaps at his heels and his life is shadowed by the terrible loss that has shaken him to his foundations.

Carol Hetherington, recently widowed, is living the quiet life in Wandsworth with her cat and The Jeremy Kyle Show for company. As she tries to come to terms with the absence her husband has left on the other side of the bed, she frets over her daughter’s prospects and wonders if she’ll ever be happy again.

Esme Reade is a young journalist learning to muck-rake and doorstep in pursuit of the elusive scoop, even as she longs to find some greater meaning and leave her imprint on the world.

Four strangers, each inhabitants of the same city, where the gulf between those who have too much and those who will never have enough is impossibly vast. But when the glass that separates Howard’s and Beatrice’s worlds is shattered by an inexcusable act, they discover that the capital has connected them in ways they could never have imagined.

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He loved hotels.

HOWARD

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(@4thEstateBooks, 13 July 2017, ebook, 369 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I’m a fan of the author and was really looking forward to reading Paradise City. The title is a misnomer because London is anything but paradise for the four people whose stories crash into each other between the pages of this remarkable book. I loved the fact the book is narrated by all four characters and how the story bounces back and forth between them as we gradually find out what tragic events with bring them into a collision course. Paradise City is quite dark at times especially as the characters become more entangled by tragedy. I thought this was a terrific book.

Posted in 2021, ARC, edelweiss+, First Read, Joan Margarit, Poetry, Top Books

Wild Creature by Joan Margarit

Joan Margarit (1938-2021) was one of Spain’s major modern writers. Born in Sanaüja, La Segarra region, in Catalonia, he worked as an architect and first published his work in Spanish, but over the past four decades became known for his mastery of the Catalan language and gained international recognition as Spain’s most widely acclaimed contemporary poet. The melancholy and candour of his poetry show his affinity with Thomas Hardy, whose work he has translated. He was awarded the 2019 Cervantes Prize, the Spanish-speaking world’s highest literary honour, and the Reina Sofía Prize for Ibero-American Poetry 2019, the most important poetry award for Spain, Portugal and Latin America.

In the much praised Tugs in the Fog: Selected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2006), Joan Margarit evoked the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath, the harshness of life in Barcelona under Franco, and grief at the death of a beloved handicapped daughter, reminding us that it is not death we have to understand but life. Five of his later collections were translated by Anna Crowe and published by Bloodaxe in two compilations, Strangely Happy (2011) and Love Is a Place (2016). Wild Creature brings together the poems of his final two collections, Un hivern fascinant (An amazing winter, 2017) and Animal de bosc (Wild creature, 2020).

The two books that make up this new collection in English show us a poet writing at the end of his life, and facing up to his approaching death with courage, humility and even humour. Confronting loss is one of Margarit’s enduring themes, and many of these poems do just that – but continuing the theme of his previous collection, Love Is a Place – there are even more that celebrate love and everyday domesticity, and he reminds us that love needs to be worked at. These are poems that arise naturally out of an examined life, and although he does not spare himself or the folly of our times, there is great tenderness in the way he reaches out to embrace life, love, and the pain of the past. A solitary, Margarit pays tribute to other writers and artists of that ilk, to the rural poverty of his childhood, and to the wild creature deep in each one of us whom we ignore at our peril.

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The poppies are disappearing

wiped out like the weeds.

AN AMAZING WINTER

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(@BloodaxeBooks, 11 November 2021, ebook, 128 pages, #ARC from @edelweiss_squad and voluntarily reviewed, translated by Anna Crowe)

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This is a new author for me. I thought Wild Creature was a terrific collection of poetry and I’d definitely read more of this poet’s work. I enjoyed every poem on offer. The collection is varied and touches on a wide array of themes particularly love, childhood and nature. What makes these stand out from other similarly themed collections is the beautiful language and imagery. Each poem was a pleasure to read and indulge in.

Posted in 2021, C.G. Drews, Contemporary Fiction, Novel, Top Books, YA Fiction

The Boy Who Steals Houses by @PaperFury

Can two broken boys find their perfect home? By turns heart-breaking and heart-warming, this is a gorgeously told, powerful story.

Sam is only fifteen but he and his autistic older brother, Avery, have been abandoned by every relative he’s ever known. Now Sam’s trying to build a new life for them. He survives by breaking into empty houses when their owners are away, until one day he’s caught out when a family returns home. To his amazement this large, chaotic family takes him under their wing – each teenager assuming Sam is a friend of another sibling. Sam finds himself inextricably caught up in their life and falling for the beautiful Moxie.

But Sam has a secret, and his past is about to catch up with him.

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If it hadn’t been so dark and if his fingers hadn’t been so stiff with dried blood, he could’ve picked the lock in thirty seconds.

CHAPTER 1

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(@Books2DoorUK, 4 April 2019, ebook, 225 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I love the author’s blog, Paper Fury and read the ARC of her first novel; A Thousand Perfect Notes so couldn’t wait to read this. I loved this book so much. It made me cry like a big baby. It’s the kind of book that rips a hole in your chest, grabs your heart, squeezes it and doesn’t let go until you pass out. I loved Sam and Avery, both lost boys, broken by parental neglect and a system that failed them. I was on their side within a few words of the first chapter and my heart was in my throat as I flipped the pages, hoping they’d get a break. I loved Moxie’s family, they were too nice to be completely real at times but so endearing I couldn’t help fall for them. This is an incredible book. I can’t wait to read the author’s next one.

Posted in 2021, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Horror Fiction, Jakub Żulczyk, Novel, thriller, Top Books

#TheInstitute by @Jakubzulczyk

A MASTERPIECE IN SUSPENSE FROM POLISH DISSIDENT JAKUB ZULCZYK

From the bestselling author of the book behind the HBO Europe show Blinded by the Lights comes a brand-new claustrophobic mystery thriller that’s taking Europe by storm.

Agnieszka and her flatmates are trapped in her apartment block in the Central Krakow. All windows and doors are sealed, phone lines are down and the Internet is off. Cut off from the world, they find themselves in a strange game played by the mysterious ‘THEY’. Paranoia thickens and tension builds as the chilling and gruesome endgame moves closer.

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Whoever you are.

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(@Legend_Times_, 28 June 2021, 165 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 14 July 2021)

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I really enjoyed Blinded by the Lights but haven’t seen the show. I really wanted to take part in the blog tour when I read the blurb. The Institute sounded like a crazy book and right up my street. I loved the book. I’ve read books with a similar premise but none pull it off quite as well as the author does here. The Institute is the kind of book you read having no idea what’s going on and even when you reach the end you still feel clueless but loved it anyway. I had so many questions as I read. Who are THEY? Why have they trapped everyone in the apartment? Will they get out? Things get darker and darker and I read the book on a knife edge, biting my knuckles. I loved the fact the book isn’t tied in a neat little bow at the end. This is a terrific read.

Posted in 2021, ARC, edelweiss+, George Szirtes, Poetry, Top Books

Fresh Out of the Sky by @george_szirtes

Fresh Out of the Sky is a book of songs, dreams, laments, narratives and comedies intertwined with passages about major life changes involving country, identity and belonging. It is about perpetually standing at the edge of change, anticipating it, reflecting on it and dreaming about it.

The title sequence of the book returns to the terza rima theme of memory, following sequences in his earlier books, such as those about early Budapest childhood explored in Reel, and about growing to adulthood in England in An English Apocalypse. Here the theme is arrival in England as a child in 1956.

These are wound around poems set in the aftermath of war, upheaval, and life in contemporary England as tracked by a series of dreamlike reports from the Covid bunkers we have been inhabiting. Covid poems run through the collection like a thread holding the book – and indeed the condition of England – together.

The thread embraces the second part of The Yellow Room, a continuing poem of impossible questions about residual Jewishness experienced as a dialogue with the poet’s late father, as well as a bestiary of transformations woven through Guillaume Apollinaire and Graham Sutherland. The book ends on occasions of consolation, delight and joy in the midst of darkness and uncertainty.

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Where to begin?

Emerging from the plane into

the winter evening in an age

of winters, of strong winds and a sharp pain

FRESH OUT OF THE SKY

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(@BloodaxeBooks, 21 October 2021, ebook, 160 pages, #ARC from @edelweiss_squad and voluntarily reviewed)

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I’m a huge fan of the poet after reading some of his other works and was looking forward to this new collection. I loved Fresh Out of the Sky and enjoyed every poem in this collection. I can’t put my finger on exactly why I loved these poems so much. They spoke to me. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. The poems are beautifully written, touch on all of these senses and are haunting. They’ll be with me for a long time. This is an incredible book.

Posted in 2021, ARC, Blog Tour, Ella Carey, historical fiction, NetGalley, Novel, Top Books

#TheLostGirlofBerlin by @Ella_Carey

The truck stopped for a moment in the freezing, bombed-out street and Kate caught sight of a little girl in a ragged dress on the steps of a once-beautiful mansion. The child’s eyes were startling blue, a pair of endless pools, drawing Kate towards her…

1946, Berlin. War correspondent Kate Mancini is in Germany, reporting on the aftermath of the devastating war. For her readers back home in New York, she tells the stories of innocent families, trying to rebuild the wreckage of their lives now the soldiers have left at last. But in the Russian-held sector of Berlin on an icy winter’s day, Kate breaks all the rules, rescuing Mia Stein, a silent orphan who she fears will otherwise perish.

Together with her fellow journalist, handsome Rick Shearer, Kate manages to find a safe house for Mia before she returns to America and vows to keep in touch. Back home, the reality of post-war life for women is stark. Whilst Rick walks into his dream job, no newspaper will hire a woman. The editors laugh her out of their offices, telling her to get married and raise a family. Rick does all he can to support her, as she takes her first steps towards the new medium of television news, and their friendship deepens into something more.

Then tragedy strikes: Rick is falsely named as a communist sympathizer. He is arrested, blacklisted and faces prison.

Kate knows she must do all she can to free the man she loves. But that means returning to Germany, to seek out the little orphan girl who is her only chance at salvation. Kate and Rick saved Mia—will she help them both now? And even if Kate succeeds, freedom might never be hers when she returns home…From Amazon Charts bestseller Ella Carey comes an utterly heart-breaking historical novel, inspired by true events, about the courage, love and friendships that sustain us in the darkest of days. Fans of Fiona Davis, All the Light We Cannot See and My Name is Eva will be totally captivated.

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The jeep’s brakes shrieked through the ashen city.

1, KATE – BERLIN, MARCH 1946

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(@Bookouture, 12 July 2021, 294 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 12 July 2021, #booksontour)

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I’m a huge fan of the author. I’ve loved all of her books so far and loved the first book in this trilogy so couldn’t wait to read this. I thought the Daughters of New York Trilogy would feature the same characters so was a bit thrown to realise this book isn’t really linked to the first book, the only link is that both women are from New York. Still, this didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. Carey does it again, offering a fantastically written historical novel with fantastic characters that really comes to life and connected with me on every level. I loved the relationship between Kate and Rick and how this deepens from friendship into something more especially when Rick faces prison after false accusations of being a communist sympathiser. I couldn’t stop reading because this book got a hold of me and refused to let go. This is a corker.

Posted in 2021, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Horror, Novel, thriller, Top Books, Will Carver

#TheBeresford by @will_carver

Everything stays the same for the tenants of The Beresford, a grand old apartment building just outside the city…until the doorbell rings… Will Carver returns with an eerie, deliciously and uncomfortably dark standalone thriller.

Just outside the city—any city, every city—is a grand, spacious, but affordable apartment building called The Beresford. There’s a routine at The Beresford. For Mrs. May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer, and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.

Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers. And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door. Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings… Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.

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Jordan Irving, famed screenwriter, director, race-relations activist and philanthropist was discovered dead at his home in the early hours of the morning.

OBITUARY

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(@OrendaBooks, 22 May 2021, 324 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 6 July 2021)

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I’ve read and loved other books by the author and had high hopes for The Beresford. I was not disappointed. I really loved this book. It’s perfect blend of thriller and horror as we gradually learn just what is wrong with The Beresford and why the low rent really is too good to be true. I’ve read other books with similar themes but this book outshines them all. It’s dark, twisted delight and even has some moments of humour. This is a terrific book.

Posted in 2021, Becky Chambers, Contemporary Fiction, Novella, Science Fiction, Top Books

To Be Taught, If Fortunate by Becky Chambers

At the turn of the twenty-second century, scientists make a breakthrough in human spaceflight. Through a revolutionary method known as somaforming, astronauts can survive in hostile environments off Earth using synthetic biological supplementations. They can produce antifreeze in sub-zero temperatures, absorb radiation and convert it for food, and conveniently adjust to the pull of different gravitational forces. With the fragility of the body no longer a limiting factor, human beings are at last able to explore neighbouring exoplanets long suspected to harbour life.

Ariadne is one such explorer. On a mission to ecologically survey four habitable worlds fifteen light-years from Earth, she and her fellow crewmates sleep while in transit, and wake each time with different features. But as they shift through both form and time, life back on Earth has also changed. Faced with the possibility of returning to a planet that has forgotten those who have left, Ariadne begins to chronicle the wonders and dangers of her journey, in the hope that someone back home might still be listening.

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If you read nothing else we’ve sent home, please at least read this.

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(@HodderBooks, 8 August 2019, ebook, 136 pages, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I’m a huge fan of the author since reading her Wayfarers series so I was really looking forward to this. I really loved To Be Taught, If Fortunate. I don’t read a lot of science fiction and tend to prefer books set on earth featuring human-like characters rather than distant planets people by creatures very different than humans. I find it hard to connect with the story and characters. The author is skilled at writing science fiction in such a way that I can make a connection to other worlds and creatures. This book is split into different sections narrated by Ariadne who recounts her experiences and the experiences of her crew on four vastly different planets while learning that the earth they left might not be there anymore or might be vasty different. I didn’t want the book to end.