Posted in 2021, ARC, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Grainne Murphy, literary fiction, Novel

#TheGhostlights by @GraMurphy

Can we ever truly escape our past?

The Ghostlights is the poignant story of a family of Irish women who are each looking for the real meaning of home. This is a novel about family, obligation, identity and small-town life, written with deftness and sensitivity by the author of Where the Edge Is.

When a stranger checks into a family B&B – in a small village in rural Ireland – no one takes too much notice… at least until his body is found in the lake four days later.

The identity of the unknown guest raises questions for polar opposite twin sisters Liv and Marianne and their mother Ethel, all of whom feel trapped by the choices they made earlier in life. They each find themselves forced to confront their past, their present and what they really want from their future.

The new novel from Gráinne Murphy, whose short fiction has been longlisted for 2021 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award.

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It was too early for breakfast.

GOOD FRIDAY

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(@Legend_Times_, 1 September 2021, 233 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 12 September)

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I’ve enjoyed other books from the author and was looking forward to The Ghostlights. I expected the book to focus on the dead guest in the B&B but this is not the main focal point of the story. The death instead serves as the catalyst for Liv, Marianne and Ethel to reassess their lives and choices. I really enjoyed the way the stories gradually come together and the way the author brings the small village where they live and the foibles of such places to life. I got a real sense of place from this book and fell in love with the vivid characters. This is a sad, beautiful book.

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, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Doug Johnstone, Novel, thriller, Top Books

#TheGreatSilence by @doug_johnstone

The discovery of a human foot in an Edinburgh park, the inexplicable circumstances of a dying woman, and the missing daughter of Jenny’s violent ex-husband present the Skelf women with their most challenging – and deadly – cases yet…

Keeping on top of the family funeral directors’ and private-investigation businesses is no easy task for the Skelf women, and when matriarch Dorothy discovers a human foot while walking the dog, a perplexing case presents itself … with potentially deadly results.

Daughter Jenny and grand-daughter Hannah have their hands full too: The mysterious circumstances of a dying woman lead them into an unexpected family drama, Hannah’s new astrophysicist colleague claims he’s receiving messages from outer space, and the Skelf’s teenaged lodger has yet another devastating experience.

Nothing is clear as the women are immersed ever deeper in their most challenging cases yet. But when the daughter of Jenny’s violent and fugitive ex-husband goes missing without trace and a wild animal is spotted roaming Edinburgh’s parks, real danger presents itself, and all three Skelfs are in peril.

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She would never get used to picking up Einstein’s shit.

DOROTHY

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(@OrendaBooks, 19 June 2021, 300 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 16 August 2021)

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I really enjoyed the last Skelf book, The Big Chill and was looking forward to reading this. The Great Silence is a corker. I really need to read the first book and can’t wait for the next. I love the fact the book is set in Edinburgh, I always finds books set my country, Scotland a bit special like a proud mother. Like the last book, The Great Silence is full of twists and turns as the Skelf’s find themselves embroiled in a kidnapping, a strange mystery involving two dismembered but badly embalmed legs and strange messages from aliens. I loved the way the author manages to make this crazy nonsense seem perfectly logical and sensible. I couldn’t read The Great Silence fast enough. I loved it.

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, Awais Khan, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Novel

#NoHonour by @AwaisKhanAuthor

In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves. 

When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore and then disappears.

Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.

Moving from the depths of rural Pakistan, riddled with poverty and religious fervour, to the dangerous streets of over-populated Lahore, No Honour is a story of family, of the indomitable spirit of love in its many forms … a story of courage and resilience, when all seems lost, and the inextinguishable fire that lights one young woman’s battle for change.

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It was when they snatched the baby from her that she realised how serious the situation had become.

KHAN VILLAGE, PAKISTAN, 6.30AM

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(@OrendaBooks, 19 June 2021, 276 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 5 August 2021)

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This is a new author for me. I was a bit worried about reading No Honour as I’ve read books that deal with honour killings before and they disturbed me very deeply. But the blurb made me want to read the book and I’m glad I did. It took a few chapters for me to settle into the story and the honour killing moments that run through the start of the book really disturbed me. Abida really brings the book to life and I was soon on her side. I liked the way the chapters alternate between Abida and her faither’s point of view until their stories eventually collide. This is a fantastic read.

Posted in 2021, Anna Stuart, ARC, Blog Tour, historical fiction, NetGalley, Novel

#TheSecretDiary by @annastuartbooks

Two women. One house. And a secret that spans decades…

The past merges with the present in an unforgettable, poignant story of love, loss and courage in this beautifully written story set between World War Two and the present day.

She steps into the room and it’s like going back in time.

Catapulting her right into the heart of the 1940s.

The spindle of the record player frozen and ready to play. The flowery wallpaper faded but intact. A soldier’s uniform pressed and hung on a door, coal still in the fireplace.

A floorboard creaks beneath her and she notices a small desk in the corner of the room. She opens the top drawer and runs her hands along the edges, something catching at her fingertips. A hidden compartment. And behind it, the soft edges of a book.

As she dusts it off, she can see it has a red leather covering, the pages yellowing with age. She realises it’s a diary. Some of the pages have been torn out. The first entry has 16th June 1945 printed in neat little letters at the top. Below it, in hurried, untidy script are the words:

‘My name is Nancy Jones. And I have a secret…’Fans of The Tattooist of AuschwitzThe Alice Network, and Lilac Girls will love this incredible tale of the amazing bravery and inspiring friendships of everyday women during World War Two that had the power to change history.

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Nancy sets down her hairbrush and looks at herself curiously in the elegant triple mirror.

PROLOGUE

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(@Bookouture, 3 August 2021, 337 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 5 August 2021)

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I’ve read and loved other historical fiction by the author so was really looking forward to The Secret Diary. Thankfully, this is just as good as I hope it would be. I’ve become a real fan of historical fiction recently especially set in or around WWII. I loved the way the book moves through time and gradually reveals the links between past, present, both women and the house. I love books that use this kind of non-linear narrative and the author does a fantastic job of weaving both stories and gradually pulling them together. This is the kind of book where I couldn’t stop turning the pages because I was so engrossed. I had a great time with this.

Posted in 2021, Blog Tour, Crime Fiction, Crime Noir, Novel, Paul Buchanan

#ValleyOfShadows by @ProfBuch

The second novel in the PI Jim Keegan series.

A reclusive millionaire hires PI Jim Keegan to look after her interests, she is currently hidden away at the legendary Chateau Marmont hotel. All Keegan has to do is humour her, keep her important papers in his office safe, and make weekly checks of her LA properties, but within a week she goes missing. Keegan suspects her ne’er-do-well young nephew of murder—but all the evidence he can find is circumstantial, and there’s a good chance the kid will get away scot free.

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KEEGAN PULLED OFF Wiltshire into the north parking garage of the Ambassador Hotel.

CHAPTER ONE

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(@Legend_Times_, 15 July 2021, 200 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 20 July 2021, #Legend100)

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I really enjoyed the first book, City of Fallen Angels and have been eagerly waiting for the second book. I thought Valley of Shadows was terrific and can’t wait for book three. This is a set some time after the events of the first book, with Keegan still struggling to move on from the guilt he feels after the events of the first book. His business is struggling and he wonders how long things can continue. Then an old friend is retiring and offers him what seems like easy money; house watching for a paranoid rich old Hollywood recluse for much more money than a simple job would be worth. Keegan is suspicious but he needs the money and it’s not long before he discovers he’s right and he’s embroiled in what seems like murder for money but with some digging things turn out to be more complicated than he expected. What’s he wandered into this time? I thought this was a fantastic read.  

Posted in 2021, ARC, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, First Read, Kerry Fisher, NetGalley, Novel

#OtherPeoplesMarriages by @KerryFSwayne

As I stood at my own birthday party, listening to my husband’s speech about me, I could no longer silence the thought that had started as a low-level hum five years ago and built until I could no longer ignore it… I had to leave him.

After decades of putting her family first, Steph has realised that the only way to complete her own happiness is to break her family apart. As she stands amongst friends, celebrating her birthday, she knows that she cannot stay with her husband Mal. But she is painfully aware that the one friend missing from the party is the most important one: Evie. The one who could give Steph the support she needs to embark on a new chapter of her life. The one she hasn’t spoken to for over twenty years since a sunny weekend on a holiday beach, when Steph and Evie said things to each other that could never be unsaid.

As Steph considers whether or not she can leave Mal, she receives a letter from Evie, seeking a reunion and a way to repair the friendship. But this reunion threatens to reveal a secret that could destroy two families.

From the bestselling author of The Silent Wife and The Woman I Was BeforeOther People’s Marriages is a heart-breaking and redemptive read about the lies we tell to keep our loved ones close. Perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult, Liane Moriarty and Diane Chamberlain.

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There’s a special art of melancholy that comes with big milestone birthdays.

STEPH, 5 MAY 2018

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(@Bookouture, 16 July 2021, 294 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 16 July 2021, #booksontour)

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This is a new author for me. This is a bit different from the books I usually read and I felt like a change of pace. This is a family drama about three women who meet at a baby group in 1984 and the paths their lives take across the following years. The book opens with Steph who starts to question her life, her marriage and the choices she’s made as her 60th birthday approaches. I enjoyed the way the book moves between past and present across different timelines. These shifts are signposted well so I never got lost. I was impressed by the characters in the novel and how they are developed. They were complex and well written so really came to life for me. I found this a well-written and compelling read. It’s well worth a look.

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, Blog Tour, Contemporary Fiction, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir, Novel, Review Copy, thriller

#GirlsWhoLie by @evaaegisdottir

When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, everyone assumes that she’s taken her own life … until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?

Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to a shocking tragedy.

Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the number of suspects grows and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…

Breathtakingly chilling and tantalisingly twisty, Girls Who Lie is at once a startling, tense psychological thriller and a sophisticated police procedural, marking Eva Björg Ægisdottir as one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

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The white sheets remind me of paper.

THE BIRTH

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(@OrendaBooks, 22 May 2021, 324 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 13 July 2021)

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I enjoyed the first book in the series so was really looking forward to Girls Who Lie. This is a terrific thriller. The chapters set in present times investigating Maríanna’s murder are alternated by chapters, undated but clearly set in the past focusing on an unnamed mother and her struggles to bond with her daughter. I assumed these were one thing and gradually learned I was completely wrong and the truth turned everything I thought I knew about the book on it’s head. I loved the way the author slowly reveals the links between the past and present. Like all thrillers the book is fast paced, has great characters and plenty of twists and turns. I thought this was a terrific thriller.