The Night She Died by Jenny Blackhurst @JennyBlackhurst @headlinepg #TheNightSheDied #NetGalley

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Author : Jenny Blackhurst
Title : The Night She Died
Pages : 304
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : September 6, 2018 (ebook)

aboutthebook

On her own wedding night, beautiful and complicated Evie White leaps off a cliff to her death.

What drove her to commit this terrible act? It’s left to her best friend and her husband to unravel the sinister mystery.

Following a twisted trail of clues leading to Evie’s darkest secrets, they begin to realize they never knew the real Evie at all…

mythoughts

This is one of those stories where I thought I had it all figured out, only to change my mind about a dozen times throughout the book as Jenny Blackhurst deftly creates a sinister tale of love, obsession and deceit.

On the night of her wedding day, Evie White jumps off a cliff to her death. Her new husband, Richard, and best friend, Rebecca, are devastated. But what would prompt Evie to do something so drastic on what is supposed to be the best day of her life?

Through chapters set in the past, we get a glimpse into Evie’s life. A life of the rich and privileged but also one with an absent mother and an overprotective father. Evie has secrets and is adept at portraying the kind of person she’s supposed to be depending on the circumstances she finds herself in. So how well did Richard and Rebecca really know her?

As Rebecca and Richard try to deal with the aftermath of Evie’s death, it becomes quite clear Rebecca isn’t all she seems either. It looks like she may be harbouring secrets of her own, things she might know but isn’t saying. Meanwhile, as more details about that night surface, police officers are wondering if maybe Evie wasn’t pushed. Is Richard a suspect?

I don’t want to say anything else as I’m way too worried I’ll give something away. Suffice to say The Night She Died is an incredibly compelling and addictive psychological thriller that I devoured in one sitting. I found myself sympathising with some characters and eying others suspiciously. With a devilish, twist-y and brilliantly executed plot, this is one heck of a page turner and it comes with a most delicious sting in its tail.

I’d go as far as to say I think this is Jenny Blackhurst’s best one yet and I absolutely can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

My thanks to the publisher for my review copy, which I received via Netgalley.

The Night She Died is out in ebook format tomorrow!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

The Spy’s Gamble by Howard Kaplan @kaplanhow #blogtour #TheSpysGamble #extract #excerpt #LoveBooksGroupTours

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Spy’s Gamble by Howard Kaplan! My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group Tours for the invitation to join and for providing me with the extract I’ll be sharing with you, right after I tell you what the book is all about.

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Author : Howard Kaplan
Title : The Spy’s Gamble
Series : The Jerusalem Spy Series
Pages : 262
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : June 8, 2018

aboutthebook

When the Israeli Prime Minister boards a new stealth submarine in Norfolk, Virginia intending a celebratory ride and the sub vanishes, it sets in motion a suspenseful story that intertwines the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a story of what could be.

Shai Shaham—an Israeli intelligence officer—contacts old friend and adversary Ramzy Awwad—a former PLO intelligence officer and one of the great writers of his people—for help in locating the missing prime minister. But can they trust each other? Can their friendship withstand the turbulent political landscape?

Eli Bardin—an agent who is feeling the strain of being away from his wife and children for so long in the field—is also tasked to contact Ramzy for the help in finding the missing sub. It seems the Russian have great interest in the technology, and he must locate the prime minister…because losing him is a national calamity that threatens to upset a delicate political balance in the most terrifying ways.

extract

Eli kept the increasing toll of being away so much from his family deeply buried, even from himself. Often of late, the anxiety he had not known since high school and his twenties ran through him like a quiet unease so familiar that at first he hardly noticed it. He was not sure if the current free-floating nervousness was worry about his country’s future, a weariness from fighting a battle that these days seemed to carry his country further from peace, or a desire to do something different with his life.

A religious soul, Eli had stopped believing in God for reasons he refused to discuss. It had opened a small but painful rift with his religious father that Eli wanted to close but did not know how because his abandoning faith was a deeply personal and firm decision. When home, he followed tradition and studied Talmud, the vast compendium of ancient Jewish law, though he was an atheist. His attachment to the Jewish people ran through his every fibre, something gleaned from his father’s life and work, which were uniquely inseparable. Eli disliked alcohol and cigarettes, though it didn’t bother him to partake in either if his cover required it. What he loved was challenging himself, particularly parking in impossibly tight spaces and remembering long passages of a target’s words verbatim. He sensed that he made little impression at parties until he started talking with his quiet erudition and natural warmth. He felt calm and comfortable when busy or with people, where he was often funny, absorbed too from his father. He was bothered that recently the anxiousness had begun creeping in when he was alone with his thoughts. Before heading from New York to Washington, he had their file on CIA agent James Collins emailed to him.

Ten years out from Oberlin College, Collins had imagined himself working in legal aid in public housing keeping with Oberlin’s bona fides. A private liberal arts college, students regularly left Oberlin’s small yet sprawling campus in the Ohio countryside for the Peace Corps and other service. CIA recruiters never made the trek to Oberlin, as they did to Yale, but Collins, who had Ivy SAT scores and state college grades but interviewed better than about everyone, was introduced to Langley by his banker father, a Yale alumnus, after Collins, who was inherently restless, tired of working as a legal aid assistant in New Orleans for $35,000 a year. Collins had a great time, however, playing the guitar at small, dingy French Quarter clubs, where he made sure to enjoy the music and the women equally. Any Oberlin student could take classes in the renown Conservatory at the edge of the entrance grass quad. Students too could rent original Picasso, Chagall, Matisse and other such works for five dollars a semester from their art museum to grace dorm walls, a program begun in 1940, that had yet to have a work irrevocably beer-soaked.

Collins smashed through life creating havoc he was eager to apologize profusely for, and then repeat, and had sidestepped the art rental program, afraid he’d be the one to destroy a painting in one of his fits of rage. Instead, he found it wiser, when a freshman, to avail himself of jazz guitar lessons from a Conservatory female junior, for which they both received elective credit. Collins impatiently waited until three-quarters of the semester were over to sleep with her lest the lessons be impacted by his propensity to bolt post seduction. She was a greater virtuoso in the practice room than the bedroom, so he had been in a hurry to return to scouring the campus performance cafes.

“You got to Washington fast,” Collins said, shifting into playing Elliot Smith’s “Miss Misery.”

“Very, because I was already here. Advance team for our prime minister’s christening ride aboard his new nuclear sub.” Eli knew Israel had five German-built submarines, but this purchase was of a new class of American stealth submersibles.

“Bad timing that two of your crewmen were plowed through.”

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If this wee teaser has left you wanting more, then The Spy’s Gamble is available to buy!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

HOWARD KAPLAN, a native of Los Angeles, has lived in Israel and traveled extensively through Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.

At the age of 21, he was sent on a mission into the Soviet Union to smuggle a dissident’s manuscript on microfilm to London. His first trip was a success. On his second trip, he transferred a manuscript to the Dutch Ambassador inside his Moscow embassy. A week later, he was arrested in Khartiv in the Ukraine and interrogated for two days there and then two days in Moscow, before being expelled from the USSR. The KGB had picked him up for meeting dissidents and did not know about the manuscript transfers.

He holds a BA in Middle East History from UC Berkeley and an MA in Philosophy of Education from UCLA. He is the author of five novels.

DAMASCUS COVER is now a major motion picture starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Sir John Hurt and Olivia Thirlby.

Author links : Twitter

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Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid @RebeccaCNReid @TransworldBooks @BeckyShort1

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Author : Rebecca Reid
Title : Perfect Liars
Pages : 352
Publisher : Transworld
Publication date : September 1, 2018 (ebook)

aboutthebook

Sixteen years ago, best friends Nancy, Georgia and Lila did something unspeakable. Their crime forged an unbreakable bond between them, a bond of silence. But now, one of them wants to talk.

One wrong word and everything could be ruined, their lives, their careers, their relationships. It’s up to Georgia to call a crisis dinner. But things do not go as planned.

Three women walk in to the dinner, but only two will leave.

Murder isn’t so difficult the second time around…

mythoughts

Perfect Liars is Rebecca Reid’s debut novel centred around the rather odd and extremely toxic friendship between Nancy, Georgia and Lila. It reminded me a little of Liane Moriarty and that’s never a bad thing in my book.

Nancy, Georgia and Lila met at boarding school when they were eleven years old. The three of them are very different. Nancy comes from a privileged background and seems to have it all, Lila is adjusting to a new stepmother and Georgia is at the school on a scholarship. They have the oddest friendship but it’s one that will survive to adulthood due to a certain event that’ll bond them together, whether they like it or not.

Now though, the cracks are starting to show. Lila, in particular, seems to be having a hard time. Her drinking is getting increasingly out of control and her friends are getting worried. As they come together at a dinner party at Georgia’s house, things begin to unravel. How far will they go to protect all they have?

Two timelines then. The present at the dinner party and the past at the boarding school, a setting I always enjoy. There are a lot of lies and secrets to discover and a heck of a lot of pretending going on. I thought the secret the girls were trying to protect was rather obvious but I couldn’t at all figure out who was responsible. None of them came across as particularly likeable. In fact, they didn’t even seem to like one another all that much. They had that “mean girls” vibe to them and I doubt very much their friendship would have survived if the circumstances hadn’t forced them to.

Perfect Liars is a thoroughly enjoyable psychological thriller. It’s brilliantly plotted, compelling and addictive. Despite the pace being somewhat on the slow side, I devoured it in one sitting. It’s clear from the beginning, something bad has happened and the ride to find out the truth is one heck of a thrill.

A fantastic debut by Rebecca Reid and I very much look forward to whatever she comes up with next.

My thanks to Becky Short at Transworld for my review copy!

Perfect Liars is available in ebook format!

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Goodreads

Weekly Wrap-Up (September 2)

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Well, hello September. I can’t quite believe you are here already. Are you sure you didn’t jump the queue and shove a few other months out of the way? No? Okay then. Now, you know I love and hate you in equal measure. Of the good, there is my holiday to look forward to. Of the bad, I’ll be older. Birthdays too seem to be coming faster and faster. Anyway, if you could provide me with some more sunshine and warm temperatures, that’d be brilliant. Also, a shiny new pair of boots, if you don’t mind. And keep that white wine coming! 😉

In case you hadn’t noticed, I’ve been trying to stay away from social media this week as I wanted to get all of my September reads out of the way before I leave on holiday, in the vain hope it’ll give me the opportunity to read for pleasure as I’ve quite forgotten what that feels like 😂. I’ve been reading up a storm this week and feel rather accomplished.

Books I’ve read this week

I’ll take that! I’m also close to finishing Resin by Ane Riel, which I had hoped to add to this list but there was a music festival here yesterday and we sat in our garden, listening to the music until midnight so I wasn’t able to finish it. Anyway, 7 isn’t bad.


Books I’ve bought this week

One last blow-out before I go on holiday. #notsorry 😊


ARC’s received via Netgalley

Not for blog tours, for once. I know, I scared myself there as well. 😉


Bookpost that landed on my doorstep this past week

Happy and extremely lucky blogger 😊

With thanks to Orion and Quercus!


On the blog this past week

Monday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for Before Her Eyes by Jack Jordan

Tuesday : Shared my review for The Darkness Around Her by Neil White

Wednesday : Joined the blog tour for The Other Couple by Sarah J. Naughton and posted My Week in Books

Thursday : Hosted a stop on the blog blitz for The Third Breath by Malcolm Hollingdrake

Friday : My turn on the blog tour for Truth and Lies by Caroline Mitchell

Saturday : I joined the blog tour for Daisy Belle with a guest post by Caitlin Davies

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up


Next week on Novel Deelights

Bet you thought I’d take it slow during my last week before my holidays, huh? Ha! 😂

Monday : Review | Perfect Liars by Rebecca Reid

Tuesday : Blog tour | Extract | The Spy’s Gamble by Howard Kaplan

Wednesday : Review | The Night She Died by Jenny Blackhurst

Thursday : Blog tour | Review | The Angel’s Mark by S.W. Perry

Friday : Review | The Rival by Charlotte Duckworth

Saturday : Nothing as I’ll be in a car en route to Italy, desperately wanting the journey to be over because good grief, 1400km is just a bit too much to do in one go and my arse will hurt and I’ll be a bit cranky and in need of a shower, decent food and wine. And possibly a nana nap.

Sunday : Also nada as I’ll hopefully be lounging by the pool, reading in the sunshine and getting a bit of a tan. Although the weather forecast says thunderstorms so maybe not 🙄

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And that’s it. Kind of. Because by now I’m sure you all know me well enough and so it won’t come as too big of a surprise to learn that I signed up for two blog tours that fall smack-bang in the middle of my holiday 🙈. They are for Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia on the 11th and Perfect Silence by Helen Fields on the 13th. Come on, be honest, you wouldn’t have passed these up either, would you?

I may post a random review while I’m away but I don’t have a set schedule or anything and if I don’t post, I’ll be totally okay with that. We shall see. I’ve actually still not decided on the books I’m taking with me. So stressful 😂

The Weekly Wrap-Up will return on September 30th. But you will see me back before that as I’ll be on the blog tours for The Lion Tamer Who Lost by Louise Beech on the 25th and After He Died by Michael J. Malone on the 26th. No rest for the wicked 😉

That’s a wrap! I’m off to do a wee spot of gardening (bloody weeds just keep on coming, don’t they? 🙄) and the afternoon will be spent surrounded by books, trying to figure out what to take with me. Life is good.

Hope you all have the most fantastic week! Until next time! Happy reading! xx

 

Daisy Belle by Caitlin Davies @CaitlinDavies2 @unbounders @annecater #RandomThingsTours #blogtour #DaisyBelle #guestpost

Today, it is my pleasure to host a stop on the blog tour for Daisy Belle by Caitlin Davies! My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join. Author Caitlin Davies visits the blog to talk about the two inspirational women this novel is a tribute to, but first here is what Daisy Belle is all about.

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Author : Caitlin Davies
Title : Daisy Belle
Pages : 241
Publisher : Unbound Digital
Publication date : September 1, 2018

aboutthebook

Summer 1867: four-year-old Daisy Belle is about to make her debut at the Lambeth Baths in London. Her father, swimming professor Jeffery Belle, is introducing his Family of Frogs – and Daisy is the star attraction. By the end of that day, she has only one ambition in life: she will be the greatest female swimmer in the world.

She will race down the Thames, float in a whale tank, and challenge a man to a 70-foot high dive. And then she will set sail for America to swim across New York Harbour.

But Victorian women weren’t supposed to swim, and Daisy Belle will have to fight every stroke of the way if she wants her dreams to come true.

Inspired by the careers of Victorian champions Agnes Beckwith and Annie Luker, Daisy Belle is a story of courage and survival and a tribute to the swimmers of yesteryear.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Goodreads

guestpost

There are two inspirational women behind the story of Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World, and the first is Agnes Beckwith.

I first came across her about eight years ago. I was researching a book on the history of outdoor swimming on Hampstead Heath in north London, when I saw a Victorian poster held by the British Library. 

It was advertising an aquatic performance at the Royal Aquarium in 1885 and it showed Agnes Beckwith resplendent in a white satin costume, stockings and boots, one arm resting casually on a rock. Just behind her in the water a man had both arms raised in the air, his mouth open in alarm, presumably in the process of drowning. 

Then I read a brief reference to a swim Agnes had completed in September 1875, when at the tender age of 14 she had plunged into the Thames at London Bridge and swum all the way to Greenwich. When I then went on to write Downstream, a history of Thames swimming, I had the chance to further explore her career. 

That’s when I realised just what a trailblazer she had been – no one had ever made a public swim of this length in the River Thames before, not even the great Channel champion Captain Matthew Webb. Yet virtually no one has heard of Agnes Beckwith today. So I decided to write a novel, a fictionalized life story inspired by her incredible career.

Agnes Beckwith was born in Lambeth, south London, in 1861. Her father Frederick is believed to have come from Ramsgate in Kent, and he was a leading swimming professor and English professional champion. By the time of Agnes’ birth, he was swimming master at the Lambeth Baths and his ‘Family of Frogs’ started giving public displays in the early 1860s. 

At the age of nine Agnes was performing with her brother Willie, himself a champion swimmer, as ‘Les Enfants Poissons’ in a plate-glass aquarium at the Porcherons Music Hall in Paris. All seven of Frederick’s children were involved in his aquatic galas; his second wife Elizabeth (whom he married in 1876 after Agnes’ mother died) played the piano during shows, while his daughter Lizzie went on to became a renowned swimmer and performer. 

Agnes Beckwith completed several record-breaking swims in the River Thames, including 20 miles in 1878. She then formed her own ‘talented troupe of lady swimmers’ and travelled the country giving exhibitions. In September 1880 she spent 100 hours submerged in a whale tank at the Royal Aquarium, eating her meals in the water and reading daily accounts of her swim in the press. 

Two years later she was being billed as ‘the premier lady swimmer of the world’ before setting off on a tour of the United States. In June 1883 she declared her intention to swim from Sandy Hook in New Jersey to Rockaway Pier in New York. 

Returning to England, Agnes continued to take part in shows with her family and was still holding exhibition swims in the early 1900s, now married to theatrical agent William Taylor. Their son William performed alongside his mother as ‘the youngest swimmer in the world’. 

Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World was also inspired by another forgotten Victorian superstar – Annie Luker. She was born in 1870 in Oxfordshire, and she too was the daughter of a swimming professor. Annie started out as a river swimmer and in 1892 she attempted to swim nearly 19 miles from Kew to Greenwich to establish a claim to ‘the female championship of the world’. 

Two years later she was ‘World Champion High Diver’, performing at the Royal Aquarium where she plunged 70 feet into a tank containing just eight feet of water. Annie Luker successfully challenged a male diver, Professor O’Rourke, and remained at the Royal Aquarium for six years, as well as training female divers. 

According to family lore, Annie Luker was later arrested as a suffragette after a protest dive off a bridge in London and imprisoned in Holloway, under the name Annie Parker. 

I wanted to write this novel as a tribute to women like Agnes Beckwith and Annie Luker because they are yet to be properly recognised. There has been no induction into any swimming Hall of Fame, and yet what they did and the prejudice they overcame made it possible for women to swim and dive today.

[They really are the most amazing inspirational ladies and they deserve this tribute. Thank you so much for visiting and telling us their stories, Caitlin!]

abouttheauthor

Caitlin Davies was born in London in 1964. She spent 12 years in Botswana as a teacher and journalist and many of her books are set in the Okavango Delta, including a memoir Place of Reeds, described by Hilary Mantel as ‘candid and unsentimental’.

Her novels include The Ghost of Lily Painter, a fictional account of the arrest and execution of two Edwardian baby farmers, and Family Likeness about the fate of ‘war babies’ born to African American GI fathers in England during World War Two.
Her non-fiction books include Taking the Waters: A Swim Around Hampstead Heath, a celebration of 200 years of outdoor bathing, an illustrated history of the world famous Camden Lock Market, and Downstream: a history and celebration of swimming the River Thames.

Her latest non-fiction is Bad Girls, and her latest novel is Daisy Belle: Swimming Champion of the World, based on the lives of several Victorian aquatic stars, to be published by Unbound on September 1, 2018.

She is also a teacher and journalist, and was a regular feature writer for The Independent’s education and careers supplement. From 2014-17 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at the University of Westminster, Harrow, in the faculty of Media, Arts & Design. 

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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