Weekly Wrap-Up (April 21)

Happy Easter!

It feels like Summer and I’m loving every single second of it! Gorgeous blue skies, glorious sunshine, weeds popping up all over the place and hay fever kicking my arse. Okay, wait, those last two aren’t fun but we’ll take the good with the bad and enjoy it while it lasts.

Of the bad, all that sunshine made me realise how dirty my windows were, mostly due to an inconsiderate other half. So of course I had to clean them. Again! I swear my house would be so much cleaner if I were single 😂

Reading-wise. Hoo boy! What a week it’s been! Let’s have a look at what I read.

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Best week EVER! There are four 5 star reads on that list! The books I’ll be reading next week have a lot to live up to!

I’m not even worried about “only” reading 6 books because the books in that C.J. Sansom series are just getting bigger and bigger. 650 pages, devoured in less than two days. If you love crime fiction and historical fiction and the Tudor era, this series NEEDS to be on your shelf! SO GOOD!

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

Nada! Zip! My other half is pleased. Little does he know I fully intend to catch up at some point 😉

| BOOK POST THAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP THIS WEEK |

Just the one but what a corker it is. Enormously pleased.

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Took the day off

Tuesday : Joined the blog tour for The Passengers by John Marrs and shared a guest on the blog tour for White Leaves of Peace by Tracey Iceton

Wednesday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe and shared My Week in Books

Thursday : Joined the blog tour for The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans

Friday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin

Saturday : Joined the blog tour for Perfect Crime by Helen Fields

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

And breathe! What a fun week that was! Thank you for all the shares on Twitter. I lost track of my notifications at some point and may have missed some people. Apologies! The glorious sunshine made me do it 🤣

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Blog tour | Review | Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

Tuesday : Blog tour | Review | Fallen Angel by Chris Brookmyre

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Blog tour | Extract | Envy by Amanda Robson

Friday : Blog tour | Review | Picture of Innocence by T.J. Stimson

Saturday : Blog tour | Review | Sleep by C.L. Taylor

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

So much for slowing down, huh? Have to say though, I do so love being this busy. And I’m even ahead of schedule. I have one review left to write for this upcoming week but as far as reading the books is concerned, I’m reading for May. I feel quite accomplished. 😊

Question of the week. Which I totally stole from the lovely Kate at Portable Magic. If you have blog tours scheduled, do you ever read out of order?

Take me for instance and the books I read this past week. First I read one for a blog tour on May 27th, then I read one due May 2nd, to be followed by one due May 13th. One isn’t even for a blog tour at all (hello, Sovereign!). All the while I seem to be skipping over the one that’s due May 1st. 😂

Is that something you do as well? Or do you stick to your schedule and just basically try not to panic?

Friendly reminder that voting is still open for the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards

Feel free to ignore the other 64 names on the list and vote for me (Novel Deelights, in case you wondered) 😂

That’s it for another week. I have a few reviews to tackle before my mother-in-law arrives for a fun afternoon of board games, sunshine and stuffing our faces full of chocolate. Or ice cream. Or hell, both! Diet? What diet?

Hope everyone has a fabulous week! Until next time! Happy reading! xx

Perfect Crime by Helen Fields | @Helen_Fields @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K | #blogtour #bookreview #PerfectCrime

Delighted to join the blog tour for Perfect Crime by Helen Fields today! My thanks to Sabah at Avon for the opportunity to join and for the review copy!

Author : Helen Fields
Title : Perfect Crime
Series : DI Luc Callanach #5
Pages : 400
Publisher : Avon UK
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Stephen Berry is about to jump off a bridge until a suicide prevention counsellor stops him. A week later, Stephen is dead. Found at the bottom of a cliff, DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are drafted in to investigate whether he jumped or whether he was pushed…

As they dig deeper, more would-be suicides roll in: a woman found dead in a bath; a man violently electrocuted. But these are carefully curated deaths – nothing like the impulsive suicide attempts they’ve been made out to be.

Little do Callanach and Turner know how close their perpetrator is as, across Edinburgh, a violent and psychopathic killer gains more confidence with every life he takes…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Let me just start my review by saying that if you’re not reading this series, I am judging you like a big, bad judging thing! This is one of the best crime fiction series out there and you are sorely missing out!

Perfect Crime is the fifth instalment in the DI Luc Callanach series and by now, these characters feel like family and I am always excited about spending more time with them. Before you ask, no, you really shouldn’t treat these as stand-alones. Start from the beginning. I promise you won’t regret it!

Things kick off when Stephen Berry is getting ready to jump off a bridge. Luckily, a suicide prevention counsellor manages to talk him down but a week later, Stephen is found dead at the bottom of a cliff. DI Luc Callanach and DCI Ava Turner are called in to investigate whether Stephen killed himself or was murdered. But the deaths do not stop there …

Meanwhile, Callanach is finding himself in hot water when he visits someone in a care home who is later found dead. I won’t say anything else about that so I don’t spoil things for those who haven’t read the previous books (shame on you! 😂) but I will say I really enjoyed this second thread of the story. Switching back and forth between the two investigations really held my attention.

I mentioned these characters feel like family by now so when they hurt, I hurt. And there is a lot of “hurt” going on in this one. Relationships shift, some characters managed to surprise me, others infuriated me and through it all are original, frightening and gruesome deaths as I’ve come to expect from this series.

I very early on figured out what was going on but that didn’t ruin things for me at all. I became so absorbed in the investigation that I almost forgot about my suspect. Helen Fields always delivers gripping, compelling, thrilling and tense stories full of intriguing (and sometimes totally crazy) characters. This is one of those series that just keeps getting better and better and I can’t wait to see what Helen Fields comes up with next but I know it will be awesome once again. Highly recommended!

Perfect Crime is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

While you’re there, why not grab yourself copies of the previous books in the series 😉

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Helen Fields studied law at the University of East Anglia, then went on to the Inns of Court School of Law in London. After completing her pupillage, she joined chambers in Middle Temple where she practised criminal and family law for thirteen years. After her second child was born, Helen left the Bar.

Together with her husband David, she runs a film production company, acting as script writer and producer. Helen and her husband now live in Los Angeles with their three children and two dogs.

The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans | @HarrietEvans @headlinepg @annecater | #blogtour #bookreview #publicationday

Delighted to host a stop on publication day for The Garden of Lost and Found by Harriet Evans. My thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for the invitation to join and to the publisher for my beautiful review copy.

Author : Harriet Evans
Title : The Garden of Lost and Found
Pages : 480
Publisher : Headline
Publication date : April 18, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Nightingale House, 1919. Liddy Horner discovers her husband, the world-famous artist Sir Edward Horner, burning his best-known painting The Garden of Lost and Found days before his sudden death.

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted ‘The Garden of Lost and Found’, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

| MY THOUGHTS |

It’s been a while since I read a family saga but I was quickly reminded of why they make such engrossing stories. Especially when they are as brilliantly written as this one. It took just a few pages for me to be swept along and become absolutely captivated.

The Garden of Lost and Found is centred around the Horner family and a painting. Ned Horner used to be quite the well-known artist and “The Garden of Lost and Found” was his masterpiece. It captured his children on a beautiful day, playing in the garden of their beloved home, Nightingale House. But in 1919, a few days before his death, Ned destroys the painting.

Now, Ned’s great-granddaughter Juliet returns to Nightingale House for the first time since her grandmother died. True to form, there are a lot of family secrets to discover but most importantly, there is a mystery to be solved. Because what could possibly have driven Ned to destroy his most famous painting?

The Garden of Lost and Found is full of complex characters, some a bit more flawed and unlikeable than others, yet all incredibly realistic and believable. For most of the novel, I was mostly drawn to the chapters set in the past. I suspect that’s the crime fiction lover in me, who was desperately trying to figure out the answers before Juliet did in the modern day setting. And to be quite fair, her children drove me up the wall. Yet it also brought home how different things were generations back when the kind of behaviour they display wouldn’t have been tolerated for a second.

Despite having had The Wildflowers on my shelf for the longest time, this was my first introduction to Harriet Evans. I really enjoyed her writing style as it’s beautifully descriptive. At times it felt as if I was right there at Nightingale House, hearing the rain patter on the windows, smelling the glorious scents from the garden, maybe even hear a mouse skitter across the floorboards.

At almost 500 pages, this isn’t exactly a quick read but at no point did it drag or become boring. It never felt like a long book as I became completely immersed and invested in these characters’ lives, losing myself within the pages. The Garden of Lost and Found is an engrossing, enchanting and sometimes emotional story about family, love and secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these characters and I will definitely be reading more by Harriet Evans.

The Garden of Lost and Found is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Harriet Evans is the author, Going Home, A Hopeless Romantic, The Love of Her Life, I Remember You, Love Always, Happily Ever After and Not Without You. Before becoming a full time writer Harriet was a successful editor for a London publishing house. She lives in London with her family.

Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts | @ellakroftpatel @QuercusBooks | #FindingDorothy #recommended

Today is publication day for the wonderful Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts! Huge thanks to Quercus and Ella Patel for my stunning review copy!

Author : Elizabeth Letts
Title : Finding Dorothy
Pages : 368
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : April 4, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Maud Gage Baum, widow of the author of the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, met Judy Garland, the young actress playing the role of Dorothy on the set of The Wizard of Oz in 1939. At the time, Maud was seventy-eight and Judy was sixteen. In spite of their age difference, Maud immediately connected to Judy–especially when Maud heard her sing “Over the Rainbow,” a song whose yearning brought to mind the tough years in South Dakota when Maud and her husband struggled to make a living–until Frank Baum’s book became a national sensation.

This wonderfully evocative two-stranded story recreates Maud’s youth as the rebellious daughter of a leading suffragette, and the prairie years of Maud and Frank’s early days when they lived among the people–especially young Dorothy–who would inspire Frank’s masterpiece. Woven into this past story is one set in 1939, describing the high-pressured days on The Wizard of Oz film set where Judy is being badgered by the director, producer, and her ambitious stage mother to lose weight, bind her breasts, and laugh, cry, and act terrified on command. As Maud had promised to protect the original Dorothy back in Aberdeen, she now takes on the job of protecting young Judy.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Sometimes you pick up a book and like magic, everything seems to fall into place. For me, Finding Dorothy is one of those books. It’s extremely hard for me to put into words exactly why that is but I completely fell in love with everything about it. The era, the characters, the writing itself … it all came together and created such a wonderful reading experience.

1939, Hollywood. Filming has started on The Wizard of Oz, based on the book by L. Frank Baum. His seventy-eight year old widow, Maud, feels fiercely protective of her husband’s story. After all, she knows all its secrets and she’s determined to make the sure the film will do her husband’s story justice. But she soon realises she may need to protect the film’s star Judy Garland as well.

Maud’s story is a fascinating one. Growing up as the daughter of Matilda Joslyn Gage, it seemed her life had been entirely planned out. Matilda was a fierce and determined woman who battled for women’s right to vote and for girls to be allowed a higher education. Maud ends up being one of the first female coeds at Cornell University. But her mother’s shadow follows her everywhere and Maud never really quite finds her place there. Then she meets Frank. An actor, a weaver of stories and words, a dreamer and he completely sweeps her off her feet. And me right alongside with it.

Both Maud and Frank captured my heart from the moment I met them. From traveling throughout the country with theatre shows, to living in the harsh prairies of the Dakota Territory where they struggled to make a living, to that moment where the stars align and Frank creates his masterpiece, I became utterly invested and engrossed.

Even though Frank, who’s incredibly fickle and apparently unable to settle down, got on my nerves sometimes; even though I sometimes felt Maud needed a bit more of a backbone; and even though at times I much more enjoyed the chapters about their lives than the ones set in 1939, I found this novel immensely immersive. At some points it even brought a lump to my throat and throughout it all there’s Maud, this energetic and passionate woman whom I absolutely adored.

“Magic isn’t things materializing out of nowhere. Magic is when a lot of people all believe in the same thing at the same time, and somehow we all escape ourselves a little bit and we meet up somewhere, and just for a moment, we taste the sublime.”

This quote sums up my reading experience entirely. I have tasted the sublime. This review doesn’t do this novel justice at all but I hope it does bring across how much I love it and that you decide to give it a go and hopefully have the same enchanting and magical experience I had.

Finding Dorothy publishes today!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

This Week in Books (April 3)

Hosted by Lipsy Lost and Found, my Wednesday post gives you a taste of what I’m reading this week. A similar meme is run by Taking on a World of Words.

| LAST BOOK I FINISHED READING |

Nightingale House was the Horner family’s beloved home – a gem of design created to inspire happiness – and it was here Ned painted TheGarden of Lost and Found, capturing his children on a perfect day, playing in the rambling Eden he and Liddy made for them.

One magical moment. Before it all came tumbling down…

When Ned and Liddy’s great-granddaughter Juliet is sent the key to Nightingale House, she opens the door onto a forgotten world. The house holds its mysteries close but she is in search of answers. For who would choose to destroy what they love most? Whether Ned’s masterpiece – or, in Juliet’s case, her own children’s happiness.

Something shattered this corner of paradise. But what?

| THE BOOK I’M CURRENTLY READING |

A serial killer is burning people alive in the Lake District’s prehistoric stone circles. He leaves no clues and the police are helpless.

When his name is found carved into the charred remains of the third victim, disgraced detective Washington Poe is brought back from suspension and into an investigation he wants no part of.

Reluctantly partnered with the brilliant but socially awkward civilian analyst, Tilly Bradshaw, the mismatched pair uncover a trail that only he is meant to see. The elusive killer has a plan and for some reason Poe is part of it.

As the body count rises, Poe discovers he has far more invested in the case than he could have possibly imagined. And in a shocking finale that will shatter everything he’s ever believed about himself, Poe will learn that there are things far worse than being burned alive…

| WHAT I’M (PROBABLY) READING NEXT |

Every marriage has secrets. Everyone has flaws. Your wife isn’t perfect – you know that – but then again nor are you.

But now a serial killer is on the loose in your small town, preying on young women. Fear is driving your well-behaved young daughter off the rails, and you find yourself in bed late at night, looking at the woman who lies asleep beside you.

Because you thought you knew the worst about her. The truth is you know nothing at all.

Don’t be surprised if my next read changes. I’m a tad indecisive this week 😂

What are you reading this week? Do let me know! You wouldn’t want to be responsible for my TBR running out, now do you? 😉

Happy reading! xx

The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay | @Tatianaderosnay @WorldEdBooks | #blogtour #extract

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Rainwatcher by Tatiana de Rosnay. My thanks to Julia Forster at World Editions for the invitation to join. I have an extract to share with you all today but first, let’s find out a bit more about the novel.

Author : Tatiana de Rosnay
Title : The Rain Watcher
Pages : 288
Publisher : World Editions
Publication date : March 5, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

It is raining non-stop over Paris. The Malegarde family – split between France, London, and the US – is reunited for the first time in years.

When Paul, a famous yet withdrawn arborist, suffers a stroke in the middle of his 70th birthday celebrations, his son Linden is stuck in a city that is undergoing a stunning natural disaster.

As the Seine bursts its banks and floods the streets, the family will have to fight to keep their unity as hidden fears and secrets also begin to rise.

In this profound and intense novel of love and redemption, De Rosnay demonstrates her wealth of skills both as an incredible storyteller and also as a connoisseur of the human soul.

| EXTRACT |

Opening to The Rain Watcher by Tatiana de Rosnay

“It’s been like this for the past two weeks,” says the listless taxi driver. The rain pours down, a silver curtain, hissing, obstructing all daylight. It is only ten o’clock in the morning, but to Linden, it feels like dusk glimmering with wetness. The taxi driver says he wants to move away for good, flee Paris, find the sun, go back to balmy Martinique, where he is from. As the car leaves Charles de Gaulle Airport and edges along the jammed highway and ring road that circles the city, Linden cannot help agreeing with him. The sodden suburbs are dismal, clustered contours of cubic volumes bedecked with garish neon billboards flickering in the drizzle. He asks the driver to turn on the radio, and the man comments upon his perfect French, “for an American.” Linden grins. This happens every time he returns to Paris. He replies he’s Franco-American, born in France, French father, American mother, he speaks both languages fluently, with no accent at all. How about that, eh? The driver chortles, fumbles with the radio, well, monsieur certainly looks like an American, doesn’t he, tall, athletic, jeans, sneakers, not like those Parisians with their fancy ties and suits.

The news is all about the Seine. Linden listens while squeaky windshield wipers thrust away rivulets in a never-ending battle. The river has been rising for five days now, since January 15, lapping around the Zouave’s ankles. The huge stone statue of a colonial soldier situated just below the pont de l’Alma is, Linden knows, the popular indicator of the river’s level. In 1910, during the major overflows that inundated the city, the water had crept all the way up to the Zouave’s shoulders. The driver exhales, there’s nothing to be done to prevent a river from flooding, no use fighting nature. Men need to stop tampering with nature; all this is her way of lashing back. As the car inches along sluggish circulation, unrelenting rain pounding on the car roof, Linden is reminded of the email the hotel sent him on Tuesday.

Dear Mr. Malegarde,

We are looking forward to your arrival and stay with us as from Friday, January 19th, at noon, until Sunday, January 21, in the evening (with a late checkout, as requested). However, the traffic situation in Paris might be problematic due to the level of the river Seine. Fortunately, the Chatterton Hotel, situated in the fourteenth arrondissement, is not located in an area liable to inundations, and therefore will not be concerned by the inconvenience. For the moment, the prefecture informs us there is nothing to worry about, but our policy is to update our guests. Please let us know if you need any assistance. Kind regards.

Linden read it at the airport on his way from LA to New York, where he was booked to photograph a British actress for Vanity Fair. He forwarded the message to his sister, Tilia, in London, and to his mother, Lauren, in the Drôme valley, who were to join him in Paris that Friday. Linden had not included Paul in the email because his father only appreciated letters and postcards, not emails. His sister’s answer, which he received when he landed hours later at JFK, made him chuckle.

Floodings?! What?! Again? Don’t you remember there was already a scary flood in Paris last November? And what about the one in June 2016? It took us years to organize this bloody weekend, and now this?! She signed off with a series of scowling emoticons.

Later, his mother replied to both of them: Will come by boat if we have to, dragging your father away from his trees! To at last be together! No way will we cancel this family gathering! See you on Friday, my loves!

The Malegarde family was meeting in Paris to celebrate Paul’s seventieth birthday, as well as Lauren and Paul’s fortieth wedding anniversary.

Linden had not given the hotel’s warning another thought. When he left New York for Paris on Thursday evening, he felt weary. It had been two full days, and before that, weeks of hard work around the globe. He would have preferred to fly back home to San Francisco, to Elizabeth Street, to Sacha and the cats. He had not seen much of Sacha, nor the cats, in the past month. Rachel Yellan, his dynamic agent, had landed him one job after the other, a dizzying swirl from city to city that left him depleted and longing for a break. The narrow blue house in Noe Valley and its cherished inhabitants would have to wait until this special family event was over.

“Just the four of us,” his mother had said, all those months ago, when she had booked hotel and restaurant. Was he looking forward to this? he wondered as the plane took off. They had not often been together, just the four of them, since his teenage years at Sévral, where he grew up, and more so, since he had left Vénozan, his father’s familial domain, in 1997, at nearly sixteen. He saw his parents once or twice a year, and his sister whenever he went to London, which was frequently. Why did “just the four of us” sound both so cozy and ominous? 

On the flight to Paris, Linden read Le Figaro and realized with a jab of apprehension that the situation described by the hotel was, in fact, disquieting. The Seine had already flooded in late November, as Tilia pointed out, after a wet summer and autumn, and previously, in June 2016. Parisians had kept a wary eye on the Zouave, and the little waves lapping up his shins. Fortunately, the flow had stopped increasing. Le Figaro explained that thanks to modern technology, one could predict the river’s engorgement three days ahead, which left ample time for evacuating. But the actual problem was the torrential rain, which had not lessened. The river was on the rise again, and threateningly fast…

If this extract and Tatiana de Rosnay’s beautiful writing has left you wanting more, then why not buy yourself a copy of The Rain Watcher!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Tatiana de Rosnay, of English, French, and Russian descent, was born in 1961, in Neuilly-sur-Seine, and raised in Boston and Paris.

After studying literature in England at the University of East Anglia, Tatiana worked in Paris as a reporter for Vanity FairPsychologies Magazine, and ELLE.

She has published twelve novels in French and three in English including New York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, which sold over eleven million copies worldwide, and was made into a film starring Kristin Scott Thomas in 2010.

Her books have been published in 42 countries and in 2011 she was listed by Le Figaro as the fifth most-read French author worldwide.

Looker by Laura Sims | @ljsims50 @Bookish_Becky @TinderPress | #Looker

Author : Laura Sims
Title : Looker
Pages : 180
Publisher : Tinder Press
Publication date : January 8, 2019 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Have you ever wanted to steal someone else’s life?

The Professor lives in Brooklyn; her partner Nathan has left her; she can’t have a baby. All she’s left with is Nathan’s old moggy, Cat. Who she doesn’t even like.

Then a celebrity actress moves into the area. She’s beautiful, with long auburn hair, perfect skin, a lovely smile. She’s got children – a baby, even. And a husband who seems to adore her. She leaves discarded household items and toys outside for thrift collection. She leaves her windows open, even at night.

There’s no harm, the Professor thinks, in recycling those items. Or looking in through the illuminated glass at that shiny, happy family. Is there?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Wow! For a mere 180 pages, this packs quite the punch!

Looker is the story of an unnamed professor whose life and mind slowly start to unravel after a series of unsuccessful IVF attempts and the departure of her husband. All she’s left with is the cat, and she doesn’t even like it. The unnamed professor becomes fixated and obsessed with the unnamed actress who lives on her street. The actress has everything : good looks, a handsome husband, three children, a nice house and a career. Everything the professor doesn’t have.

This is not an easy read. It’s incredibly unsettling and made me rather uncomfortable at times. But it’s also intensely compelling and slightly voyeuristic in that way where you’re just standing by, watching someone fall apart. It’s like you want to look away but you can’t. While the professor might not be a character to specifically like, she is one to feel some sympathy for because it’s easy to imagine her pain and the jealousy she has to deal with when something that so many other women seemingly effortlessly have in their lives, is completely out of her grasp.

Laura Sims does an incredible job in blurring the lines between reality and fantasy. At times I myself was left to wonder what was real and what wasn’t. I wasn’t entirely sure about how much of the professor’s narration I could trust. Throughout the storyline, a feeling of extreme unease kept growing. This sinking feeling in your bones that lets you know something is coming but you have no idea what. And I didn’t have a clue, as I couldn’t predict the outcome at all.

I’m not entirely sure how to label this book. It isn’t your typical psychological thriller, although it seems to be marketed that way. I really hesitate to call it that. It’s more of a fascinating character study about a woman losing her grip on reality. Looker is slightly disturbing, somewhat sad and also creepy all at once. To be honest, at the end of it I was desperate for something fluffy. Yet, it’s brilliantly written and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Huge thanks to Becky Hunter for the review copy!

Looker is available to buy in ebook format. The paperback will be published in July.

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Wordery

The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor | @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks @JennyPlatt90 | #TheTakingofAnnieThorne #blogtour #recommended

Absolutely thrilled to bits to host a stop on the blog tour for The Taking of Annie Thorne by C.J. Tudor today! Huge thanks to Jenny Platt at Michael Joseph for the invitation to join and for the fabulous review copy!

Author : C.J. Tudor
Title : The Taking of Annie Thorne (The Hiding Place)
Pages : 344
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : February 21, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Joe never wanted to come back to Arnhill. After the way things ended with his old gang–the betrayal, the suicide, the murder–and after what happened when his sister went missing, the last thing he wanted to do was return to his hometown. But Joe doesn’t have a choice. Because judging by what was done to that poor Morton kid, what happened all those years ago to Joe’s sister is happening again. And only Joe knows who is really at fault.

Lying his way into a teaching job at his former high school is the easy part. Facing off with former friends who are none too happy to have him back in town–while avoiding the enemies he’s made in the years since–is tougher. But the hardest part of all will be returning to that abandoned mine where it all went wrong and his life changed forever, and finally confronting the shocking, horrifying truth about Arnhill, his sister, and himself. Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing. It was the day she came back. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

Oh my word, where to even start?! I’ve been a proud C.J. Tudor fan from the second I read The Chalk Man. Quite frankly, if I were a teenager and she was a rockstar, her poster would be on my bedroom wall. I can’t possibly begin to describe the excitement that coursed through me when I was finally able to pick up The Taking of Annie Thorne. Yes, I had high expectations but I was never in any doubt whatsoever that I would just love this book to pieces. And I did!

This is a tough one to review without giving anything away. Other than the exquisite book trailer, I knew absolutely nothing about this book and it’s the best way to experience it. Also, if you’re expecting some incredibly coherent review, this one won’t be it. If I could have gotten away with four paragraphs of exclamation marks, I totally would have done it. I find it extremely hard to explain why I love this book so much and I can only hope it comes across somewhat (possibly in a slightly embarrassing way, I do apologise) and it’ll convince you to give this one a go.

I don’t know what it is about small town settings but I just love them and they don’t come any more intriguing than Arnhill does. It feels particularly gloomy and depressing. Joe never thought he’d go back there. Who would even want to? Especially after what happened.

When my sister was eight years old, she disappeared.

And then she came back.

[Note to self : never move anywhere near a mine pit. Also, always keep the loo lid down.]

As someone who was a teenager herself in the 80’s, any and all references to that era just make me giddy and there are a lot of them in this story that put a huge smile on my face. Throw in Joe’s delightful sense of humour, sarcasm and inner voice and I was hooked. With a dark atmosphere, a high creepiness factor, fascinating characters and lots of questions that need answers, this was one suspenseful and thrilling ride. And then just when I thought I could sit back, relax and breathe again … the rug was pulled from under my feet with the most deliciously chilling epilogue that almost made my eyes pop out of my head.

By the way, if you’re a fan of audiobooks, and quite frankly even if you’re not, you should most definitely give this one a listen! I may be starting to sound like some sort of running advertisement for the amazing Richard Armitage but seriously, you guys, his narration brings this story to a whole different level of intensity. It’s a fantastic experience all on its own.

Anyway!

The Taking of Annie Thorne is a brilliantly plotted, exquisitely written, utterly compelling, addictive and “unputdownable” page-turner. Whatever “it” is, C.J. Tudor has it in abundance and then some. There’s something about the way she writes that has me captivated from the very first word. It almost feels like being under a spell and I’ll gladly let her guide me wherever it is she wants to take me. I’m a fan, what more can I say?

I think I’d better leave it here. This whole thing is starting to sound like a teenage girl writing a letter to her favourite boyband member. 😳

In case it wasn’t clear, I absolutely LOVED The Taking of Annie Thorne and you will without a doubt be seeing this book again in my top 5 at the end of the year, just like The Chalk Man was last year. I am so ridiculously excited to see what C.J. Tudor comes up with next that I have already pre-ordered her next book. So should you, right here 😉

To recap : !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! x infinity

The Taking of Annie Thorne is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

C. J. Tudor was born in Salisbury and grew up in Nottingham, where she still lives with her partner and young daughter.

She left school at sixteen and has had a variety of jobs over the years, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, shop assistant, ad agency copywriter and voiceover.

In the early nineties, she fell into a job as a television presenter for a show on Channel 4 called Moviewatch. Although a terrible presenter, she got to interview acting legends such as Sigourney Weaver, Michael Douglas, Emma Thompson and Robin Williams. She also annoyed Tim Robbins by asking a question about Susan Sarandon’s breasts and was extremely flattered when Robert Downey Junior showed her his chest.

While writing the Chalk Man she ran a dog-walking business, walking over twenty dogs a week as well as looking after her little girl.

Please check out these amazing bloggers on the tour who say it all much better than I do.

Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch | @Angela_Petch @rararesources | #blogtour #guestpost

It’s a pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for Mavis and Dot by Angela Petch. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to join. Author Angela Petch joins me on the blog today to talk about what prompted her to write this novella.

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Author : Angela Petch
Title : Mavis and Dot
Pages : 206
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : November 14, 2018

aboutthebook

A warm slice of life, funny, feel-good, yet poignant. Introducing two eccentric ladies who form an unlikely friendship.Meet Mavis and Dot – two colourful, retired ladies who live in Worthington-on-Sea, where there are charity shops galore. Apart from bargain hunting, they manage to tangle themselves in escapades involving illegal immigrants, night clubs, nude modelling, errant toupees and more. And then there’s Mal, the lovable dog who nobody else wants. A gently humorous, often side-splitting, heart-warming snapshot of two memorable characters with past secrets and passions. Escape for a couple of hours into this snapshot of a faded, British seaside town. You’ll laugh and cry but probably laugh more.”This book is quirky and individual, and has great pathos…[it] will resonate with a lot of readers.” Gill Kaye – Editor of Ingenu(e). Written with a light touch in memory of a dear friend who passed away from ovarian cancer, Angela Petch’s seaside tale is a departure from her successful Tuscan novels. 

All profits from the sale of the books will go towards research into the cure for cancer.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Goodreads

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Mavis and Dot is a departure from my usual historical novels and I’m apprehensive about how it will be received. But, it’s a novella I have wanted to write since losing my best friend to ovarian cancer twelve years ago.

Olga and I met at the school gates. Our daughters remain best friends – my Emily was bridesmaid last year to her Beth. A candle for Olga was lit and I am sure she was there… When she was alive we often went on “jaunts”, as we called them, hunting in charity shops for bargains. Sometimes we found monstrosities too and we basically had a good laugh. We called each other Mavis and Dot. When her diagnosis was terminal, I wrote her a silly story about us – but it wasn’t really about us. It was about the caricatures we’d invented for ourselves. She enjoyed it and drew a picture which I have framed on my loo door.

It’s taken me a long time to turn into something longer than one story and I hope it will entertain and raise some pennies and pounds for research into cancer. Because she and loads of other sufferers should still be here today.

There are ridiculous moments in Mavis and Dot, but there are poignant episodes too. Both ladies had difficult pasts. Recently retired to the seaside, they are lonely and, although very different, form a friendship; a kind of prop. Then, Mavis meets Lance, a singer in a night club who likes to wear frocks and in Chapter 22, he drags them out one autumn afternoon.

Two days later, Lance came to the door. ‘Right, ladies, I’ve come to whisk you both away for the afternoon.’

He stepped into the hall and Mal growled, the fur on his back rising, ‘It’s all right, mate, don’t you remember me?’ Lance said, bending to the dog who backed away, tail between his legs.

‘You have to admit,’ said Dot, ‘you do look rather different from the other day.’

Her gaze took in his knee-length black frock, fur jacket and crocodile-leather ankle boots.

‘Can’t your hound smell my scent, Dottie?’

‘She’s Dot, remember!’ Mavis intervened.

‘Oh, I don’t mind Lance calling me Dottie,’ said Dot.

‘Takes one dotty person to recognise another, eh?’ Lance giggled,

‘Yes, well…’ Dot said. ‘Anyway, Mal probably can’t recognise your scent today because of whatever you’ve drenched yourself in.’ She pinched her nose between finger and thumb. ‘What on earth is it?’

‘I stopped in Beale’s on the way to the bus and tried loads of perfume testers,’ Lance said, holding out his wrist to Dot, who wrinkled her nose. ‘I’m not sure I can come with you today,’ she said. ‘What if hospital lets baby Dorothea out early? I should be here for them.’

‘I’m taking no excuses, Dot. It will do you good to get out of the house,’ Lance said. ‘Mave, do you have a belt I could borrow? To nip this in at the waist?’ He pulled at the loose material of his dress.”

I’ll admit Mavis and Dot are caricatures – exaggerations or oversimplifications. But we all have our little ways, we are all products of our past and we are all individuals. One of my editors was annoyed by my ladies “of a certain age”. “I was a young woman in the 60s,” she said, “and I would never have behaved like Mavis.” We are all different, is my counter-argument.

I hope readers enjoy meeting Mavis and Dot.

abouttheauthor

A prize-winning author, Angela Petch lives half the year in West Sussex and the summer months in a remote valley in the Tuscan Apennines. She recently signed a two-book deal with Bookouture for her Tuscan novels and “Mavis and Dot” is a temporary departure from her usual genre. She has travelled all her life: born in Germany, she spent six years as a child living in Rome, worked in Amsterdam after finishing her degree in Italian, moved to Italy for her job, then to Tanzania for three years. Her head is full of stories and she always carries a pen and note-book to capture more ideas.

In May 2017, Angela Petch won PRIMA’S monthly short story competition and recently had a dozen stories published by The People’s Friend magazine.

“Mavis and Dot” was written in memory of a dear friend who lost her battle with ovarian cancer. All profits from sales of the book will go towards research into a cure for cancer. 

Author links : Facebook | Twitter | Website

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Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty @MichaelJBooks #NinePerfectStrangers #NetGalley

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Author : Liane Moriarty
Title : Nine Perfect Strangers
Pages : 432
Publisher : Michael Joseph / Penguin UK
Publication date : October 4, 2018

aboutthebook

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

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This may come as a bit of a surprise considering the genres I usually read but boy, do I love me some Liane Moriarty. I was very excited to hear she had a new book coming out and couldn’t wait to get stuck into it.

Nine Perfect Strangers is rather hard to put a label on. It’s contemporary fiction in the way Liane Moriarty does best, but there’s also a touch of the psychological thriller vibe to it and it had me hooked from the start.

That was mainly due to the fabulous character of Frances, whom I adored from the minute I met her. Frances used to be a bestselling romance author but now she’s lost her way a little bit. Suffering from a bad back, a broken heart, menopausal symptoms and an awful paper cut, she checks herself into Tranquillum House for some pampering and a ten day cleansing. But not even the imaginative Frances could possibly predict the challenges that lay ahead.

There are quite a few characters in this delightful story. On top of the nine guests, we also meet the owner and her staff. Each one of these characters is so brilliantly introduced that it never gets confusing at all, even with chapters switching back and forth between them. Some are likeable from the start, some take a little getting used to but each one comes across as highly realistic and believable.

The guests are there for very different reasons and some parts made me feel quite emotional. It’s not all doom and gloom though. There are some fantastically witty moments and retorts, which made this a highly entertaining and enjoyable read. Even though some of the events involving the owner may have gone slightly over the top, I was so engrossed that it didn’t bother me at all.

I loved Nine Perfect Strangers from the outset. It may not quite have turned out the way I expected it to but I had a fabulous time meeting these characters, sympathising with them, rooting for them and it all leads to a wonderful conclusion. I have no doubt this one will do well and I look forward immensely to whatever Liane Moriarty comes up with next.

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

Nine Perfect Strangers is available to buy!

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