The Other People by C.J. Tudor | @cjtudor @MichaelJBooks | #recommended

Happy publication day to the fabulous C.J. Tudor for her outstanding third book, The Other People!

Author : C.J. Tudor
Title : The Other People
Pages : 416
Publisher : Michael Joseph
Publication date : January 23, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

She sleeps, a pale girl in a white room . . .

Driving home one night, stuck behind a rusty old car, Gabe sees a little girl’s face appear in the rear window.

She mouths one word: ‘Daddy.’

It’s his five-year-old daughter, Izzy.

He never sees her again.

Three years later, Gabe spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, searching for the car that took his daughter, refusing to give up hope, even though most people believe that Izzy is dead.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also put in a lot of miles on the motorway. Not searching. But running. Trying to keep one step ahead of the people who want to hurt them.

Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows what they will do if they ever catch up with her and Alice.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Warning : possibility of awkward love-fest ahead.

Hell is other people

For the longest time, whenever someone would ask me who my favourite author was, I didn’t even have to think about the answer. (For those who haven’t been keeping up, that’d be Karin Slaughter). But ever since I read The Chalk Man, the answer is coming just that little bit slower and now, on having read C.J. Tudor’s latest book, The Other People, the time may have come to utter the words “move over, Karin!”. So sorry, Karin, it’s not you, it’s me.

The Other People was easily my most anticipated book of the year. I had such high expectations that I was convinced before it even arrived in the post, that I would absolutely love it and no matter how much I tried to temper down that feeling, worrying that I was setting myself up to be disappointed, I couldn’t do it. So obviously I was ecstatic when I realised my expectations were being exceeded. As far as I’m concerned, C.J. Tudor can write me a shopping list and I’ll read it and love it and tell you all to read it too until I’m blue in the face.

First of all, there’s the writing. I can’t even begin to explain why it draws me in as it does. It’s almost magical and completely mesmerising. Some of it is so immensely deep and insightful (come talk to me again when you’ve read about “hope”) and I often find myself nodding as I’m reading along because yes, hitting the nail on the head right there in a way I’m clearly incapable of myself. But the writing is also natural and not conceited in any way. It feels comfortable. It feels as if C.J. Tudor is right here on my sofa, telling me a story and I’m hanging onto every single word. Sometimes I even chuckle, although I’m not entirely sure I’m supposed to (I have an odd sense of humour) but I’d like to think that it’s the author’s way of releasing some of the tension by adding a slightly witty remark or observation.

I’m not going to mention anything about the plot. All you need is in the book description and I won’t add another word to it because I don’t want to give anything away. From the minute I picked up this book though, I knew I wasn’t going to put it down again until I had flipped that final page. The Other People takes “addictive” and “being glued to the pages” to a completely different level. I just HAD to keep reading. Various points-of-view kept me utterly enthralled and while I had a tiny inkling about something, the whole picture completely evaded me. I couldn’t at all even begin to try and figure out how the various storylines were supposed to fit together until C.J. Tudor revealed it to me.

What to say about the characters? Gabe. Gah. My heart broke for him numerous times and his pain, his sense of loss is so intensely palpable. Fran was somewhat more difficult to get my head around but I think that was the point. However, she’s clearly on the run from something or someone and every time panic struck, I was right there with her, heart pounding, hands getting clammy, ready to run.

Atmospheric? Check! Bit of a supernatural vibe? Also, check! Although maybe not as prevalent as in the previous books but it’s there, in the background, in a creepy, chilling kind of way. A mystery to solve? You bet your shiny arse there is. And then let’s add all those other words people are getting tired of hearing : gripping, compelling, engrossing, a page-turner, addictive, impossible to put down (IT REALLY IS!) …. all that and so, so much more! Sometimes quite sad, mostly full of suspense and questions. So many questions. Did I mention impossible to put down? (Just checking)

Dare I say it? You know what? Yes. I’m going to say it. This is C.J. Tudor’s BEST book yet and it is without a doubt a huge contender for my book of the year. Right now, it has caused a massive book hangover. I loved everything about it, in case you hadn’t noticed, and I’m sad this thrilling ride is over.

By the way, my hardback copy has a teaser chapter of C.J. Tudor’s next book (out next year) and I already can’t wait! It promises to be another absolute belter but for now, do yourself a favour, pick up a copy of The Other People because I promise you, C.J. Tudor is the real deal.

To recap, I’d like to borrow a tiny part from my review for The Taking of Annie Thorne, which is just as apt here :

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! x infinity (😉)

The Other People is available to buy!

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All The Rage by Cara Hunter | @CaraHunterBooks @VikingBooksUK | #recommended

Author : Cara Hunter
Title : All The Rage
Series : DI Adam Fawley #4
Pages : 440
Publisher : Penguin UK
Publication date : January 23, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

A teenage girl is found wandering the outskirts of Oxford, dazed and distressed. The story she tells is terrifying. Grabbed off the street, a plastic bag pulled over her face, then driven to an isolated location where she was subjected to what sounds like an assault. Yet she refuses to press charges.

DI Fawley investigates, but there’s little he can do without the girl’s co-operation. Is she hiding something, and if so, what? And why does Fawley keep getting the feeling he’s seen a case like this before?

And then another girl disappears, and Adam no longer has a choice: he has to face up to his past. Because unless he does, this victim may not be coming back.

| MY THOUGHTS |

It has been pointed out to me that I’ve been doing an awful lot of judging lately and I’m here to tell you that if you’re not reading this series, I’ll be doing it again! I’ll even add in some shaking of the fist. *shakes fist*

Set in Oxford, All The Rage is the fourth instalment in the DI Adam Fawley series and here is something else I say quite a lot : it’s the best one yet! That’s saying a lot because this series has been remarkably outstanding from the get-go and I don’t know how Cara Hunter manages to raise the bar every single time but she does. Now, I know there are a truckload of crime fiction series out there but there is something about this series right here that somehow makes it stand out from the crowd. I wish I could explain it better but I can’t. It’s that certain “je ne sais quoi”, that thing you just can’t quite put your finger on.

A teenage girl is found wandering the streets. It’s obvious she’s been the victim of a brutal assault, yet she refuses to press charges. But why? Without her cooperation, there is little police can do. But then another girl disappears and DI Adam Fawley’s past is suddenly hot on his heels. Hasn’t he seen this kind of case before?

In case it wasn’t yet clear, I absolutely love this series and I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this latest one. I personally don’t feel this can be read as a stand-alone. Not only are changes in DI Fawley’s team quite important to keep track of with respect to team dynamics, his personal life has a huge impact on the cases he works on. Especially when they involve children.

Prepare yourself for one of the most addictive stories I’ve ever read. This plot, you guys! Like whoa! All The Rage is so incredibly twisty, I almost ended up with whiplash. This is a book to devour in one glorious reading session, if you can. Once I picked it up, it became absolutely impossible to put it back down again. I couldn’t at all figure out what had happened and the story ended up going into a completely different direction than what I had been expecting. The shocking revelations just kept on coming and I loved every single one of them. A compelling and gripping investigation, believable characters, a dreamy DI and a fast-paced intricate plot that will keep you guessing until the end …. what more could you possibly want?

All The Rage is a corker of a book in a truly corker of a series! If you’re a fan of crime fiction and police procedurals, this series HAS to be on your shelves! Bring on the next one, I say!

All The Rage will be published on January 23rd.

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Beast by Matt Wesolowski | @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks | #recommended

Author : Matt Wesolowski
Title : Beast
Series : Six Stories #4
Pages : 242
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : February 6, 2020

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

In the wake of the “Beast from the East” cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger Elizabeth Barton had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as “The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged “cult,” were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a “prank gone wrong.” However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses—people who knew both the victim and the three killers—to peer beneath the surface of the case.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Goodness gracious me. What do they put in Matt Wesolowski’s food?!

Another year, another episode in the absolutely brilliant Six Stories series. If you’re not reading this series, I’m judging you like you wouldn’t believe. And if this fourth book in the series doesn’t get under your skin and make you think about the truly warped-up world we live in these days, there is something really wrong with you.

Scott King, our not-so-much-elusive-anymore online podcaster, travels to the, quite frankly, utterly miserable town or Ergarth to delve in to the case of Elizabeth Barton’s death. Elizabeth was twenty-four years old and a successful and popular vlogger when she was found murdered inside, what locals refer to as, The Vampire Tower. Three young men were found guilty of her murder. The “who” seems to have been solved, but what about the “why”?

Murder, a vampire legend and a young dead woman at the centre of it all. It has all the ingredients of a gripping thriller right there, doesn’t it? But there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Beast is a story of hidden truths, of secrets, of labels and masks and more than anything, of the most horrific manipulation and Matt Wesolowski once again manages to prove that the monsters we all fear are sadly very much real. It brings to the fore the power some people are able to exert over others, the power of social media and the growing dangers of modern society’s almost unhealthy obsession with “likes” and “followers”, while all the while showing that most people will only see what they want to see.

Obviously I don’t want to give anything away but there is something to be said for an author who somehow makes a reader feel compassion for those who at first glance don’t seem to deserve it. Beast is immensely compelling and a true page-turner with each of the six stories and points-of-view giving the reader an opportunity to try and figure out for themselves what went on in the tower that night and why. I had a bit of an inkling but the truth ended up being far more devastating than I could ever have imagined and at the end of this thrilling ride, what I was left with the most, was this overwhelming feeling of sadness.

This is one of those series that just keeps getting better and better. With impeccable writing, believable characters and folklore combined with a modern scenario, there is so much to love about Beast. Dark, disturbing and thought-provoking, Beast is an impressive addition to the series; a must-read like its predecessors, and you’d better believe you’ll be seeing this book on my list of “books of the year” in December. Just outstanding! Way to kick off my year in style, Mr. Wesolowski. I can’t wait for more!

My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my fabulous review copy!

Beast is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published in February.

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

Today is paperback publication day for the wonderful Finding Dorothy by Elizabeth Letts so I thought I’d re-share my review from April last year. This is one of those novels that just captured my heart from the first page and unsurprisingly, it made my list of “books of the year”.

Author : Elizabeth Letts
Title : Finding Dorothy
Pages : 368
Publisher : Quercus
Publication date : January 9, 2020 (paperback)

| 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.

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The Vanished Bride by Bella Ellis | @brontemysteries @HodderBooks | #recommended

Author : Bella Ellis
Title : The Vanished Bride
Series : Bronte Mysteries #1
Pages : 337
Publisher : Hodder & Stoughton
Publication date : November 7, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Yorkshire, 1845. A young wife and mother has gone missing from her home, leaving behind two small children and a large pool of blood. Just a few miles away, a humble parson’s daughters–the Brontë sisters–learn of the crime. Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë are horrified and intrigued by the mysterious disappearance.

These three creative, energetic, and resourceful women quickly realize that they have all the skills required to make for excellent “lady detectors.” Not yet published novelists, they have well-honed imaginations and are expert readers. And, as Charlotte remarks, “detecting is reading between the lines–it’s seeing what is not there.”

As they investigate, Charlotte, Emily, and Anne are confronted with a society that believes a woman’s place is in the home, not scouring the countryside looking for clues. But nothing will stop the sisters from discovering what happened to the vanished bride, even as they find their own lives are in great peril.

| MY THOUGHTS |

For those of who you do not know, Bella Ellis is a pen name for author Rowan Coleman and I’m getting to that stage where I’m beginning to think she can just write me a shopping list and I’ll read it and love every word of it.

A young mother disappears from her home, leaving only a big pile of blood in her bedroom but no clue as to her whereabouts. When word of this mystery reaches the home of the Brontë sisters, they take it upon themselves to go out and try to solve what happened to this young woman.

I was a little wary at first to have these three pretty iconic characters fictionalised as “lady detectors”, investigating a possible crime. But the warmth with which Bella Ellis brings these sisters to life won me over from the get-go. It is abundantly clear from reading this first instalment in the Brontë Mysteries that Bella Ellis deeply loves Charlotte, Emily and Anne and that a lot of research went into this. I soon found myself pulled along in their enthusiasm trying to solve the case of the vanished bride.

But The Vanished Bride is more than just a mystery. It highlights the plight of women in those days; how they were seen as property; how they weren’t allowed their own opinions or were definitely not allowed to voice them; how their place was at home, raising children and most definitely not running wild across the countryside. Some of these women truly suffered but they had no means to escape some of the brutal events they had to endure. These circumstances stand in sharp contrast with the peaceful lives of the sisters.

Beautifully written, hugely atmospheric and with engaging characters, The Vanished Bride made me wish I could run across the fields and the moors along with the Brontë sisters. Each sister has a distinctive voice and with each one of them getting their own point-of-view, it truly allows the reader to get to know them better. Throughout the story, I leaned more towards Emily but at the end, through all the squabbles and disagreements, rivalry and slight jealousy, giggles and love, I realised I adored all three equally. I absolutely loved The Vanished Bride and I can’t wait to spend more time with these three characters, solving the next mystery they are sure to stumble upon.

The Vanished Bride is available to buy!

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Black Summer by M.W. Craven | @MWCravenUK @TheCrimeVault @bethwright26| #blogtour #BlackSummer

One of my books of the summer (and of the year, but that’s a story for another day) will be published in paperback next week with a shiny, and quite bloody, new cover. Black Summer is the follow-up to The Puppet Show and I insist you read this series … or else 😉. Anyway, I’m re-sharing my review as part of the paperback blog tour and I hope you’ll all be convinced that you really need to meet Tilly and Poe!

Author : M.W. Craven
Title : Black Summer
Series : Washington Poe #2
Pages : 388
Publisher : Constable / Little Brown UK
Publication date : December 12, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Black Summer is the second book in the Washington Poe series and I’ll say right now that it’s even better than its predecessor. I never reviewed The Puppet Show on my blog because the sheer awesomeness blew me away and I couldn’t find the words to describe all the feels, as the youngsters would say. Ever since I finished reading that one, I’ve been impatiently awaiting its follow-up and here it is. This time, I’m determined to get some half-decent sentences on paper and try to convince you that, yes, you DO absolutely need a new series in your life.

Celebrated chef Jared Keaton is serving a life sentence for the murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. But Elizabeth’s body was never found. So when a young woman walks into a remote police station declaring she is Elizabeth, it looks like Jared will be released. Washington Poe suddenly finds himself on the wrong side of the investigation. Determined to find out the truth, he enlists the help of the only person he trusts, the absolutely fabulous Tilly Bradshaw. The question they need to answer is a real conundrum. How can someone be both alive and dead at the same time?

Fair warning. Black Summer kicks off with a rather gruesome event at a restaurant. It’s not a brutal murder scene, in case you wondered. It’s a dish that is served, which made me gag. I also made the horrible mistake of googling to see if it was a real thing. Stupid me. It’s things like that, that give me nightmares, people! Shudder.

Anywho! From that opening scene, we go back in time, when two weeks prior Elizabeth reappears. And just like that, we’re off on a ridiculously tense and gripping journey with a manipulative psychopath at the helm. I couldn’t at all figure out what was going on. While I had some theories, I just couldn’t make them stick, which was rather apt because that was also Poe’s problem. He’s quite convinced he knows the score, he just can’t seem to find the proof he so desperately needs.

A fascinating investigation to keep you hooked from start to finish but what really makes this series stand out is the truly delightful relationship between Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw. Tilly herself is a joy but it’s her interactions with Poe and others that really make her shine and allow for some comic relief in between all the gore, murder and mayhem.

I don’t know about being Team Poe or Team Tilly, the decision is too hard, but I am most definitely Team Craven! Black Summer is immensely compelling, a delicious page-turner and it’s undoubtedly left me wanting more. Make some room on your shelves for this one! You won’t regret it!

Black Summer is available to buy! And while you’re checking that one out, do have a look at book 3, The Curator, which you can (and should!) preorder.

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The Home by Sarah Stovell | @sarahlovescrime @OrendaBooks | #recommended

Author : Sarah Stovell
Title : The Home
Pages : 303
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : November 28, 2019 (ebook)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

When the body of pregnant, 15-year-old Hope Lacey is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away. 

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking revelations and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

| MY THOUGHTS |

Oh …. goodness gracious me. Devastating doesn’t even begin to cover it. Wow!

It’s been a while since Sarah Stovell’s last offering, Exquisite, and while I thoroughly enjoyed that one when I read it, I’m just going to go right ahead and say that The Home is on a completely different level and most definitely worth the wait!

On Christmas morning, the body of a fifteen year old girl is discovered in a churchyard. Hope was a resident at The Home, a place where three young girls lived. Three girls who have been severely affected by violent and disturbing pasts. But what happened to Hope?

I wasn’t at all able to figure out what happened to Hope and to be honest, I wasn’t even really trying. I became so utterly absorbed by these girls’ lives that solving that particular mystery almost became secondary. Despite knowing what happened to Hope, I oddly found myself wishing for a happy ending throughout, which is a credit to Sarah Stovell’s amazing writing.

This incredibly powerful story about the lives of Hope, Annie and Lara will get under your skin and will be impossible to forget. These three girls are so realistic and believable, they almost jump from the pages and you want to reach in and help them in any way you can. It was abundantly clear to me from the very first pages that this book would leave me completely and utterly broken and it did. It is so extremely dark, brutal and raw that I often couldn’t decide if I should keep reading or maybe take a break, have a breather and trawl YouTube for some funny clips.

It should almost go without saying that this is one incredibly uncomfortable book to read. It’s harrowing, it is insanely disturbing, it is shocking. It’s positively heartbreaking but also immensely gripping and compelling. It hurts, people. It’s really, really painful in that way where it feels someone has reached into the very core of you, pulled out your heart and stomped all over it. And yet there is also a sliver of hope and love throughout, amidst all this darkness.

The Home will draw you in from the start and not let go. It will haunt you and linger in your mind for eternity. It will leave you with a lump in your throat and it will make you admire Sarah Stovell for tackling such hard topics in the most exquisite (see what I did there?) way possible.

I have no more words left. Completely and utterly broken. 😭

Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my review copy!

The Home will be available to buy in ebook format next week. The UK paperback will be published in January.

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Celebrating #Orentober with Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver | @will_carver @OrendaBooks | #recommended

Author : Will Craven
Title : Nothing Important Happened Today
Pages : 276
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : November 14, 2019 (UK paperback)

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Nine suicides
One Cult
No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of The People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe: a decapitation in Germany, a public shooting at a university in Bordeaux; in Illinois, a sports team stands around the centre circle of the football pitch and pulls the trigger of the gun pressed to the temple of the person on their right. It becomes a movement.

A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.
But how do you stop a cult when people do not know they are members?

One week after the two witnesses jump to their deaths, twenty letters are opened across London that all say the same thing. Later that day, the strangers all know to meet at Tower Bridge. The Teacher will jump first. The Detective will be last…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Holy guacamole! What … the …. flipping … hell … was … this?! 🤯

And breathe. 

Nothing important happened today. And even if it did, I wouldn’t remember because what little brain I have was blown to smithereens from reading Will Carver’s weird and wonderful new book. I don’t know what they put in his breakfast but it sure is providing us with the most exceptional and deliciously dark stories I’ve ever come across.

Nine strangers meet on Chelsea Bridge and jump to their deaths. Thirty-two people on a train witness the event. Two of those witnesses will die next. The People of Choice are here and their movement is growing. It all feels like something from a cult. But how do you stop a cult when people do not know they are members? And how do you find their leader when it doesn’t look like there is one?

This is unlike anything I’ve read before, which I’m pretty sure I said about Will’s previous book too. I was all set to expect the unexpected but I was not prepared for the amount of “WTF’s” that went through my head. Fifty pages in, I was already panicking about having to write this review, wondering what the heck I was reading and how to go about convincing you to pick this one up as soon as you can. I often struggle with reviewing Orenda books but this one? This is the kind of book that makes you want to throw in the reviewer towel altogether and just admit you’re not good enough. WTF and exclamation points abuse seem to be the extent of my vocabulary. Or I could try to say it with emojis, which would look like this 🤨🤔😲🤯

As I’m sure you’ve noticed from the book descriptions, this is not the easiest of topics to tackle. Some of it is heartbreaking, a lot of it is hugely uncomfortable. Nothing Important Happened Today is one of the most dark and disturbing stories out there but it’s immensely compelling from start to finish. All the while, it manages to highlight some of the issues modern society deals with, or doesn’t deal with depending on how you look at it, and it all just pulls you in like a magnet and doesn’t let go. I couldn’t at all figure out what the heck was going on but I enjoyed every bloody single minute of this unique, suspenseful and tense ride.

You know what? I have no idea what else I’m supposed to say. Nothing Important Happened Today is an amazingly original and extremely shocking story of manipulation and a total WTF book from the highest WTF shelf. You should read it, that’s all there is to it. Thank me later.

Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my proof copy!

Nothing Important Happened Today is available to buy in ebook format. The UK paperback will be published on November

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Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (trs by @givemeawave | @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks

Delighted to welcome you all to the final day of the blog tour for Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson. Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for the fab review copy and to Anne Cater for the opportunity to join the tour.

Author : Johana Gustawsson (trs by David Warriner)
Title : Blood Song
Series : Roy &. Castells #3
Pages : 272
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : September 19, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Spain, 1938

The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Teresa witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Teresa gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016

A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells, and they soon find themselves on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer, in an investigation that takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule…

| MY THOUGHTS |

I am broken. Good grief.

I apologise upfront for this review but words completely fail me and I can only hope that what little I say next will convince you that this book, and the rest of the series, is an absolute must-read for any crime fiction fan who also doesn’t mind being educated somewhat.

Few crime fiction series leave me feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut numerous times, wanting to curl up into a tiny ball under my duvet, but Johana Gustawsson manages it every single time. You’d think I would have learned my lesson from her previous books but apparently I hadn’t because I wasn’t all prepared for the emotional impact Blood Song would have on me.

Blood Song is the third instalment in the Roy and Castells series and it is even stronger than its predecessors, proving this series only goes from strength to strength. In Falkenberg, Sweden, a wealthy family is found murdered in their home. The hunt for the killer leads Roy and Castells right back to the terror of Franco’s regime in Spain.

Cue some of the most harrowing chapters I’ve ever read in my life! I wasn’t at all familiar with this devastating period in Spanish history and it made me feel remarkably uncomfortable to realise that it actually wasn’t all that long ago. I don’t want to give anything away, obviously, but I will say that some events are extremely brutal, disturbing and dark and I have no doubt whatsoever that these chapters will haunt me forever.

As if that wasn’t enough, Johana Gustawsson also tackles the topic of inferitily and the measures some people will go to to obtain what Mother Nature is denying them, while also laying bare the unscrupulous side of infertility clinics.

Basically, Blood Song left me utterly reeling and feeling completely heartbroken. I don’t have the words to do this story justice at all. It is devastating and yet, there is also a tiny glimmer of hope and a sense of empowerment of women who have dealt with the worst of the worst.

Johana Gustawsson is a remarkable talent and I continue to be absolutely impressed by the way she manages to combine modern crime fiction with some of history’s most shocking eras and the atrocious things humans are capable of. I can’t recommend this powerful read and this entire series enough and I absolutely can’t wait for more! And as always, shout-out to David Warriner for the seamless translation!

Blood Song is available to buy!

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| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production.

Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.

Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard | @cathryanhoward @AtlanticBooks @theotherkirsty | #20BooksOfSummer #recommended

Author : Catherine Ryan Howard
Title : Rewind
Pages : 327
Publisher : Atlantic Books / Corvus
Publication date : August 22, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

PLAY
Andrew, the manager of Shanamore Holiday Cottages, watches his only guest via a hidden camera in her room. One night the unthinkable happens: a shadowy figure emerges onscreen, kills her and destroys the camera. But who is the murderer? How did they know about the camera? And how will Andrew live with himself?

PAUSE
Natalie wishes she’d stayed at home as soon as she arrives in the wintry isolation of Shanamore. There’s something creepy about the manager. She wants to leave, but she can’t – not until she’s found what she’s looking for…

REWIND
This is an explosive story about a murder caught on camera. You’ve already missed the start. To get the full picture you must rewind the tape and play it through to the end, no matter how shocking…

| MY THOUGHTS |

Say “hello” to Catherine Ryan Howard’s best book yet! Yes, I said it!

Instagram influencer Natalie seems to have it all. Fab house, handsome husband, easy and cushy “job”. But behind the pretty filtered pictures, things are not what they seem. Natalie is on a mission, which leads her to the tiny isolated village of Shanamore. Will she find what she is looking for?

A creepy manager with Norman Bates vibes watches a murder caught on camera. Who is the victim? Who is the killer? Why is there a camera in the room to begin with and how did the killer know it was there? Creepy to the nth degree!

The way the plot is set out in this book is just sheer genius. Even though the rewind/foreward/play/pause chapters tied my brain into knots at the beginning, I can honestly say I’ve never been this ecstatic about being confused before and I loved every minute of trying to figure out how the whole thing fit together. It is just such an original take on a past and present storyline and what is basically a whodunnit murder mystery.

Despite the fact I had quite a few things figured out early on, that didn’t matter at all because Rewind remains compelling and totally creepy throughout. I am never staying at a hotel, B&B, whatever again! Brilliantly paced with intriguing characters and a mystery to solve, this is one of those books I found impossible to put down.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Catherine Ryan Howard’s previous books but with this one, she knocked it right out of the park. Gripping and tense, I absolutely devoured Rewind and if you’re a crime fiction fan who’s looking for that little something different, ta-da! Here it is! I so can’t wait to see what’s next from Catherine Ryan Howard.

My thanks to Kirsty Doole at Atlantic for my review copy!

Rewind is available to buy!

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Book 19 from my 20 Books of Summer list.