Posted in 2021, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, NetGalley, Novel, Richard Osman, thriller

#TheManWhoDiedTwice by @richardosman

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

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‘I was talking to a woman in Ruskin Court and she said she’s on a diet’ says Joyce, finishing her glass of wine.

PART 1, 1

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(@VikingBooksUK, 16 September 2021, ebook, 432 pages, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I really enjoyed the first book, The Thursday Murder Club and took part in the blog tour when it was launched last year. I couldn’t wait to read the club’s next adventure. I wasn’t disappointed. This was everything I expected and I look forward to the next adventure. The Man Who Died Twice like the previous book is a blend of cosy mystery and thriller with a group of elderly amateur sleuths finding themselves in the middle of a real crime involving spies, stolen diamonds and grisly murders. I love the characters, especially Joyce. Due to their age they are assumed to be feeble and doddery and I love it when they kick ass and show they are more intelligent than the criminals and police combined. This is a delight.

Posted in 2021, ARC, Blog Tour, First Read, historical fiction, literary fiction, Matt Stanley, Novel

#IamtheSea by #MattStanley

1870. Apprentice lighthouseman James Meakes joins two others at the remote offshore rock of Ripsaw Reef – replacement for a keeper whose death there remains unexplained.

Meakes’ suspicions grow as he accustoms himself to his new vertical world. He finds clues, obscure messages and signs that a fourth occupant may be sharing the space, slipping unseen between staircases.

With winter approaching, the keepers become isolated utterly from shore. Sea and wind rage against the tower. Danger is part of the life. Death is not uncommon. And yet as the storm builds, the elements pale against a threat more wild and terrifying than any of them could have imagined.

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The corpse has been tied to the balcony railing for five days, enshrouded in a bed-sheet cerement.

ONE

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(@Legend_Times_, 17 August 2021, 400 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 5 September)

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This is a new author for me. I have a fondness for books set in lighthouses. They hold a strange fascination for me. It’s been my dream since childhood to live in a lighthouse. I’ve read a few novels now and I Am the Sea sounded like something I’d really enjoy. I had a great time reading this book. I look forward to reading other books by the author. The book is narrated by Meakes and you really get inside his head as he tries to adjust to his new life and the strange experiences he has. The book gets pretty dark as some facts about Meakes are gradually revealed. I loved the setting of the book and the sense of atmosphere that runs across the pages. This is well written and engrossing.

Posted in 2021, ARC, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Novel, Nuala Ellwood, thriller

#ThePerfectLife by @NualaWrites

HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO BE SOMEONE ELSE?

Vanessa has always found it easy to pretend to be somebody different, somebody better. When things get tough in her real life, all she has to do is throw on some nicer clothes, adopt a new accent and she can escape.

That’s how it started: looking round houses she couldn’t possibly afford. Harmless fun really. Until it wasn’t.

Because a man who lived in one of those houses is dead.

And everyone thinks Vanessa killed him…

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‘What a view’ says the estate agent.

PROLOGUE

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(@PenguinUKBooks, 5 August 2021, 336 pages, paperback, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 15 August 2021)

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This is a new author for me. I really enjoyed The Perfect Life and would definitely read more of her work. To be honest, I wasn’t enjoying the book at first as I really didn’t like Vanessa. Her behaviour seemed disturbing at times verging on unhinged. I understand the attraction of visiting fancy houses but the lengths she goes to by creating so many aliases disturbed me. It took a few chapters and some flashbacks of her life with her ex Connor for me to get on her side. This is a complex thriller and nothing is as it seems. The author does a brilliant job of creating such a complex plot and using unreliable narration and twists and turns. It’s not until the final pages you learn what really happened to the murdered man and what really happened the night with Connor that Vanessa can’t remember.

Posted in 2021, alice hoffman, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, edelweiss+, literary fiction, Novel, Top Books

The Book of Magic by @ahoffmanwriter

THE STUNNING, UNFORGETTABLE CONCLUSION TO THE BELOVED PRACTICAL MAGIC SERIES

For centuries, the Owens family has been cursed in matters of love. When beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the sound of the death-watch beetle, she knows that it is a signal. She has finally discovered the secret to breaking the curse, but time is running out. She has only seven days to live.

Unaware of the family’s witchcraft lineage and all it entails, one of the young sisters of the new Owens generation has fallen in love. As the curse strikes once again, her love’s fate hangs in the balance, spurring three generations of Owens to venture back to where it all began and use their gifts to break the spell that has marked all their lives.

But doing so threatens to destroy everything the family has fought so hard to protect. How much will they give up for the greatest gift of all?

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Some stories begin at the beginning and others begin at the end, but all the best stories begin in a library.

1

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(@ScribnerUK, 6 January 2022, ebook, 400 pages, #ARC from the publisher via @edelweiss_squad and voluntarily reviewed)

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I’m a huge fan of the author and have read and loved the other books in the Practical Magic series so was looking forward to reading this conclusion. The Book of Magic returns to where Practical Magic ended with the lives of Sally and Gillian several years later. They are much changed. Gillian has settled down. Sally has turned her back on magic due to grief and her daughters know nothing of their gifts or the family curse. Then something happens and Sally’s daughter Kylie learns the truth about her family at a great cost. This sets in motion a chain of events that brings the Owens story full circle and sets in motion many changes. I loved this book. It has some dark moments but the love the family have for each other really shines through.

Posted in 2021, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, Elizabeth Strout, NetGalley, Novel

#OhWilliam by @LizStrout

The Pulitzer Prize-winning, Booker-longlisted, bestselling author returns to her beloved heroine Lucy Barton in a luminous novel about love, loss, and the family secrets that can erupt and bewilder us at any point in life.

Lucy Barton is a successful writer living in New York, navigating the second half of her life as a recent widow and parent to two adult daughters. A surprise encounter leads her to reconnect with William, her first husband – and longtime, on-again-off-again friend and confidante. Recalling their college years, the birth of their daughters, the painful dissolution of their marriage, and the lives they built with other people, Strout weaves a portrait, stunning in its subtlety, of a tender, complex, decades-long partnership.

Oh William! captures the joy and sorrow of watching children grow up and start families of their own; of discovering family secrets, late in life, that alter everything we think we know about those closest to us; and the way people live and love, against all odds. At the heart of this story is the unforgettable, indomitable voice of Lucy Barton, who once again offers a profound, lasting reflection on the mystery of existence. ‘This is the way of life,’ Lucy says. ‘The many things we do not know until it is too late.’

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I would like to say a few things about my first husband, William.

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(@VikingBooks, 21 October 2021, ebook, 256 pages, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I’m a fan of the author and had read other books. I really enjoyed Lucy Barton so was looking forward to this. I thought it was a great book. The structure took a while to get used to as there are no chapters, just paragraph breaks and the past and present blend into each other in a sort of stream-of-consciousness style. Lucy is the narrator and carries the story of her life with William from the moment they met until now and the memories they share. You could say nothing really happens in the book but everything actually happens. I thought it was great.

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…

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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, 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, 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, Contemporary Fiction, edelweiss+, Joyce Carol Oates, literary fiction, Novel

Breathe by @JoyceCarolOates

A NOVEL OF LOVE AND LOSS FROM BESTSELLING AND PRIZEWINNING AUTHOR JOYCE CAROL OATES

Amid a starkly beautiful but uncanny landscape in New Mexico, a married couple from Cambridge, MA takes residency at a distinguished academic institute. When the husband is stricken with a mysterious illness, misdiagnosed at first, their lives are uprooted and husband and wife each embarks upon a nightmare journey. At thirty-seven, Michaela faces the terrifying prospect of widowhood – and the loss of Gerard, whose identity has greatly shaped her own.

In vividly depicted scenes of escalating suspense, Michaela cares desperately for Gerard in his final days as she comes to realize that her love for her husband, however fierce and selfless, is not enough to save him and that his death is beyond her comprehension. A love that refuses to be surrendered at death–is this the blessing of a unique married love, or a curse that must be exorcized?

Part intimately detailed love story, part horror story rooted in real life, BREATHE is an exploration of hauntedness rooted in the domesticity of marital love, as well as our determination both to be faithful to the beloved and to survive the trauma of loss.

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A hand is gripping yours.

1: A VOICE OUT OF A FEVER DREAM

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(@eccobooks, 3 August 2021, ebook, 384 pages, #ARC from @edelweiss_squad and voluntarily reviewed)

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JCO is my favourite author and I was excited about getting an ARC of her latest novel. I knew I was going to enjoy this book within a few sentences as I got pulled deep into the story. Breathe is a mesmerising book about the enduring power of love and also explores loss and grief. The book has a lot of flashbacks of Michaela and Gerard’s marriage and it’s not always clear if the events are in the past or present as the past and present just blends together. I fell in love with Michaela and her experiences when Gerard dies, the moments of almost madness when she searches for him, seemingly unaware that he’s died especially towards the end of the book. JCO does a brilliant job with this book. I thought it was great.

Posted in 2021, ARC, Contemporary Fiction, Elizabeth Day, NetGalley, Novel, thriller, Top Books

#MagpieBook by @elizabday

The exhilarating new novel from the bestselling author of The Party: a thrilling, stylish and psychologically astute story of jealousy, motherhood and power.

She has almost everything. The rest she’ll take.

Marisa may have only known Jake a few months, but she has never felt this certain about anyone. When he asks her to move in with him and they start trying for a baby, she knows she has finally found the steadfast love and support she has been looking for all her life.

But their relationship is tested when they take in a lodger, Kate, who has little regard for personal boundaries and seems to take an uncomfortable interest in Jake – as well as the baby they are hoping to have.

Why is Kate so obsessed with the couple? And, more worryingly, why doesn’t Jake share Marisa’s concern?

In her determination to find the answers, Marisa risks losing everything she holds dear…

Magpie is a tense, twisting, brilliantly written novel about mothers and children, envy and possession, and the dangers of getting everything you’ve ever dreamed of.

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The house was perfect.

1

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(@4thEstateBooks, 2 September 2021, 256 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I’ve enjoyed other books by the author and was really looking forward to Magpie. I’ve read books that deal with a similar premise so thought I knew what to expect. Boy was I wrong. Magpie threw me for a loop and took me in a completely unexpected direction. I thought I knew what was really going with Marisa, Jake and Kate and then the author pulled the rug from under my feet and left me dazed and confused on the floor, utterly clueless. I loved the direction the author chose to take the story rather than the more obvious routes that have been done before. Magpie blew me away. This is a corker.