#BookReview: TO MARRY AND TO MEDDLE by Martha Waters @marthabwaters @eternal_books

Publication: 5th April 2022 – Headline Eternal

Marriage isn’t always smooth sailing

Lady Emily Turner should really be married by now, but with a dowry of her father’s debts, her only suitor is the odious owner of her father’s favourite gambling house.

Lord Julian Belfry is the second son of a marquess, but has managed to scandalise polite society with his acting career and the fact that he owns a less than salubrious theatre.

Crossing paths at a house party, they discover that a marriage of convenience might benefit them both: Emily can use her society connections to add some respectability to Julian’s theatre, while also managing to escape the dubious world of her father.

With differing ideas on the roles each will play in their marriage, and an on-the-run actress, a murderous kitten, and some meddlesome friends adding to the complications, Emily and Julian will have to confront the fact that their marriage of convenience might be leading to some rather inconvenient feelings.

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In the past year, thanks to Bridgerton, I have been reading and enjoying many historical romance novels and Martha Waters’ novels are some of my favourite. 

Her novels follow a group of friends in Regency England in their romantic and often ridiculous and hilarious adventures. Each book follows a couple and even though they can easily be read as stand-alone I highly recommend you read all of them because they are engrossing and entertaining and all the characters are likable and engaging. 

To Marry and to Meddle is the third book in the series and it follows the story of Emily Turner, a young woman who, because of her father’s huge gambling debts, is forced to enjoy the courtship of a vile man, and Julian Belfry, the second son of a Marquess who was disinherited when he opened his own scandalous theatre. They agree to make a marriage of convenience to get rid of unwanted suitors for Emily and gain respectability for the theatre for Julian.

This was such a fun and addictive read. I loved the characters, the story, and the setting. I really enjoyed the first two novels, but if I had to choose, I’d say that To Marry and to Meddle is my favourite so far. I really loved the characters of Emily and Julian, I loved their witty exchanges and their easy relationship, and their story is so beautiful and romantic. And let’s not forget the best characters of all, Cecil Lucifer Beelzebub, spoiler of wedding nights and adorable, kind of devilish, and way too smart kitten.

I finished reading To Marry and to Meddle a few days ago and I already want to reread it. It is hilarious, witty, and sexy and I can’t recommend it enough!

To Marry and to Meddle is out now (happy publication day to Martha Waters!).

A huge thank you to Headline Eternal and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Martha Waters was born and raised in sunny South Florida, and is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She works as a children’s librarian in North Carolina, and spends much of her free time traveling. To Have and To Hoax is her first novel. To discover more find her online at: www.marthawaters.com Twitter and Instagram @marthabwaters

#BookReview: THE CITY OF DUSK by Tara Sim @hodderscape

Publication: 22nd March 2022 – Hodder & Stoughton

The realms are dying, and only the heirs can save the city  but at what cost.

The Four Realms – Life, Death, Light, and Darkness – all converge on the city of dusk. For each realm there is a god, and for each god there is an heir.

But the gods have withdrawn their favour from the once vibrant and thriving city. And without it, all the realms are dying.

Unwilling to stand by and watch the destruction, the four heirs-Risha, a necromancer struggling to keep the peace; Angelica, an elementalist with her eyes set on the throne; Taesia, a shadow-wielding rogue with rebellion in her heart; and Nik, a soldier who struggles to see the light- will sacrifice everything to save the city.

But their defiance will cost them dearly.

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The City of Dusk is the first gripping book in a fantasy trilogy by Tara Sim. I liked the characters that I found intriguing and relatable and the plot is very well-written and addictive.

In the City of Dusk there are four powerful families. For each family there is a god and an heir, one of which will take the throne. The four heirs, Taesia, Risha, Nikolas, and Angelica, have formed some sort of alliance to restore the balance to the realms and prevent them from dying, even if the cost might be too high.

I am not going to lie, the book is long and the pace sometimes is too slow, but I really enjoyed reading The City of Dusk. The world-building is incredible and complex: magic, vengeful gods, realms, the Sealing, four families in competition for the crown… I was hooked!

There are many characters in this book and, at the beginning, I may have mixed up a few, but they are really interesting and well-developed. The story is told from the perspectives of the heirs and they are very different characters. Some are ambitious, some are looking for revenge, others want to do what’s right, and others want just to keep their loved ones safe. However, when it’s clear that their world is dying and they could be the only ones to be able to save it, they team up, no matter the cost.

The City of Dusk is a story I highly recommend. There is magic, political intrigue, rebellion and revenge and I can’t wait to see what the author has planned for the next book!

A huge thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Tara Sim is the author of The City of Dusk, the Scavenge the Stars duology, and the Timekeeper trilogy who can typically be found wandering the wilds of the Bay Area, California. When she’s not chasing cats or lurking in bookstores, she writes books about magic, murder, and mayhem. Follow her on Twitter at @EachStarAWorld, and check out her website for fun extras at tarasim.com.

#BookReview: NINE LIVES by Peter Swanson @PeterSwanson3 @FaberBooks

Publication: 3rd March 2022 – Faber & Faber

If you’re on the list you’re marked for death…

The envelope is unremarkable. There is no return address. It contains a single, folded, sheet of white paper.

The envelope drops through the mail slot like any other piece of post. But for the nine complete strangers who receive it – each of them recognising just one name, their own, on the enclosed list – it will be the most life altering letter they ever receive. It could also be the last, as one by one, they start to meet their end.

But why?

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​​Nine Lives is the second book by Peter Swanson I read and, as for the previous novel, I was hooked from the first to the very last page. Fast-paced, twisty, and suspenseful, I was sold the moment I read the intriguing synopsis and I wasn’t disappointed.

Nine people. They don’t know each other, they come from different upbringing, different cities, states, jobs, but they have one thing in common: their name is on a list, a list each of them has received anonymously. The FBI tells them not to worry, they will have an agent protecting them, and yet, one by one, they start dying.  Who is the killer? And why they have been chosen?

Oooh, this was very well done. The plot is full of twists and surprises that kept me guessing until the end. As each person is killed, a name is ticked off and the list is updated and I kept wondering what these nine people had done to end up on a killer list. The story is told from the perspective of each character so that we get glimpses into their lives hoping to figure out the mystery before it is revealed.

I really enjoyed reading this novel and not only because it reminded me of one of my favorite Agatha Christie’s novels while still remaining original and refreshing. I loved the pace which is fast and there is never a dull moment. I loved how you never know who is going to be the next victim. And I loved how there is a final twist that made me gasp in surprise.

Nine Lives is a novel I highly recommend. It is gripping, terrific and unpredictable and you won’t regret reading it one bit!

A huge thank you to Faber & Faber and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Peter Swanson‘s novels include The Girl With a Clock for a Heart, nominated for an LA Times book award, The Kind Worth Killing, a Richard and Judy pick and the iBooks store’s thriller of the year in 2015, and, most recently, Before She Knew Him. He lives with his wife and cat in Somerville, Massachusetts.

#BookReview: FOUR AUNTIES AND A WEDDING by Jesse Q. Sutanto @thewritinghippo @HQstories

Publication: 31st March 2022 – HQ

It’s supposed to be the perfect day…
After getting away with literal murder, Meddy can’t wait to settle down and marry the love of her life, Nathan. She’s found the dress, got the dream venue at Christ Church College, Oxford, plus having a destination wedding comes with the added bonus of not having to invite her very large extended family.

…But is it even a wedding if nobody gets killed?
Although when her meddling aunties get involved, Meddy knows her wedding is going to be anything but quiet. Even though there’s no dead body hidden in the freezer this time, for better or worse, it’s certainly going to be a day she’s never going to forget…

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Meddy and her crazy and hilarious family are back for a wedding no one will ever forget.

After the events of the first book, Dial A For Aunties, Meddy has finally everything she ever wanted: some kind of independence from her overprotective and interfering mother and aunties, although she still goes to dinner to her mother’s every evening, and the man of her dreams. Meddy and Nathan are getting married and her mother seems to have found the perfect catering company. It’s a family company and Meddy quickly starts to consider the photographer, Staphanie, a friend. Of course, weddings can be stressful and with her family being her family, things won’t be easy or relaxing. For one thing, the wedding is in Oxford, where Nathan’s more conservative family lives, and Meddy’s mother and aunts have been learning to speak with a British accent and a vocabulary that had me with tears in my eyes from laughing. Also, there are the ridiculous huge hats that they have bought for the wedding. And when Meddy thinks that things couldn’t get any worse than her and Nathan’s family not getting along, she finds out that Staphanie is not who she really says she is and that her wedding day may turn into a mafia gun fight.

If I had to describe this book with two words, I would say HILARIOUS and ADDICTIVE! It’s been a while since I laughed so much reading a book. The situations that Meddy and her family get into are incredibile, ridiculous and entertaining. Meddy’s aunts and mother are fantastic characters. They are loud, meddling, and they talk about murdering people like one talks about going grocery shopping, and you can’t help but love them.

If you’re looking for laugh, romance, and fantastic and lovable characters, then I highly suggest you read Four Aunties and A Wedding… you won’t regret it!

A huge thank you to HQ and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of this novel.

Jesse Sutanto is an author of books for children and adults. She is the author of The Obsession, a YA suspense novel forthcoming from Sourceboks Fire in February 2021, and Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit, the first in a middle grade series set to publish in early 2022 from Imprint.

She received her Masters from the University of Oxford. She grew up in Indonesia and Singapore and currently lives in Jakarta with her husband and two daughters.

You can find out more about Jesse on her website www.jesseqsutanto.com and follow her on Twitter @thewritinghippo and on Facebook and Instagram @JesseQSutanto

#BlogTour: THE NIGHT SHIFT by Alex Finlay @HoZ_Books

Publication: 3rd March 2022 – Head of Zeus

What connects a massacre in a Blockbuster video store in 1999 with the murder
of four teenagers fifteen years later?

It’s New Year’s Eve of 1999 when four teenagers working late are attacked at a
Blockbuster video store in New Jersey. Only one inexplicably survives. Police quickly
identify a suspect, the boyfriend of one of the victims, who flees and is never seen
again.

Fifteen years later, four more teenagers are attacked at an ice cream store in the
same town, and again only one makes it out alive.

In the aftermath of the latest crime, three lives intersect: the lone survivor of the
Blockbuster massacre, who is forced to relive the horrors of her tragedy; the brother
of the fugitive accused, who is convinced the police have the wrong suspect; and FBI
agent Sarah Keller, who must delve into the secrets of both nights to uncover the
truth about the night shift murders…

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Good morning, everyone! Today, it’s my turn on the blog tour for The Night Shift, the gripping new novel by Alex Finlay.

Last year, I devoured Every Last Fear, and this year I found myself, once again, engrossed in a novel by Alex Finlay. The Night Shift begins on the night of New Year Eve 1999, when five teenagers are brutally attacked at a Blockbuster store in New Jersey. Four of them are killed, only one of them survives. Many years later, that survivor, Ella, is a therapist and she is called on the scene of yet another attack. Four teenagers, three are killed, only one survivor, Jess. And Jess will talk only to her. Ella can relate to Jess, but she soon finds out that Jess has her own dark secrets. In the meantime, FBI agent Sarah Keller is called in to investigate whether the two killings are related, while Chris Ford, a public defender, is in a desperate search for his brother.

The plot is fast-paced, suspenseful, and full of surprises and twists, and I love how the perspective switch from one point of view to the other: from Ella who has her demons to face to Chris with a past that he keeps secret from everyone to Sarah who is convinced that there is something missing from the investigation of the first massacre.

Once I started reading The Night Shift, I found it difficult to put it down, especially because the author inserts many cliffhangers that made me say “just one more chapter” over and over again. Even though I suspected the truth right before it was revealed, it didn’t spoil the experience and there were still many things that took me by surprise. The ending and resolution were intense and well-thought, although a bit heart-breaking. The Night Shift is definitely a book I highly recommend!

A huge thank you to Polly and Head of Zeus for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a proof of the novel.

Alex Finlay is the pseudonym of Anthony Franze, an author who lives in Washington D.C. As Alex Finlay, he writes gripping psychological thrillers such as Every Last Fear. As Anthony Franze, he writes compelling legal thrillers including The Advocate’s Daughter, The Outsider and The Last Justice.
He’s garnered national praise for his work as a lawyer in the Appellate and Supreme Court practice of a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm and he has been a commentator on high-court issues for The New Republic, Bloomberg, and National Law Journal.

#BookReview: GALLANT by V. E. Schwab @TitanBooks

Publication: 8th March 2022 – Titan Books

Sixteen-year-old Olivia Prior is missing three things: a mother, a father, and a voice. Her mother vanished all at once, and her father by degrees, and her voice was a thing she never had to start with. She grew up at Merilance School for Girls. Now, nearing the end of her time there, Olivia receives a letter from an uncle she’s never met, her father’s older brother, summoning her to his estate, a place called Gallant. But when she arrives, she discovers that the letter she received was several years old. Her uncle is dead. The estate is empty, save for the servants. Olivia is permitted to remain, but must follow two rules: don’t go out after dusk, and always stay on the right side of a wall that runs along the estate’s western edge. Beyond it is another realm, ancient and magical, which calls to Olivia through her blood…

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Gallant is the second book I read by V. E. Schwab and I think it’s time I start on her backlist, too, because I am really loving this author and I found Gallant to be a brilliant and engrossing story.

The protagonist of Gallant is Olivia Prior. She doesn’t speak, but she knows how to express herself. She is an orphan, raised in the Merilance School for Girls. The only thing she has left of her mother is her journal. In her journal, her mother warned Olivia to never go to Gallant, the place she escaped from before Olivia was born, but that’s where Olivia is headed after being summoned by her uncle. However, when Olivia arrives at Gallant, her uncle is not there, her cousin doesn’t want her there, and the house is full of mystery and secrets, ghouls, demons, and shadows, and a wall that leads to alternate Gallant. 

I savored each page of this book. The plot is gripping and intense, featuring the author’s distinctive style. Olivia is a fantastic heroine. A young woman with unique abilities who lives in her own world, ignored or bullied by the other girls in the school. She is drawn to Gallant, despite being warned off both by her cousin and by her mother’s journal. It is her home, where she finds her family, and, as she uncovers its secret, she will have to make a choice. I really liked and rooted for this character.

Gallant is a gothic and thrilling novel. The pace is very slow, but it makes up with the atmospheric and thrilling plot. An incredible read!

A huge thank you to Titan Books and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

V.E. Schwab is the No.1 New York Times bestselling author of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRueViciousThe Near Witch and the Shades of Magic series, which was described as “a classic work of fantasy” by Deborah Harkness. It was one of Waterstones’ Best Fantasy Books of 2015, The Guardian’s Best Science Fiction novels, and a Telegraph choice. The Independent has called her “The natural successor to Diana Wynne Jones.” She lives between Nashville, France and Edinburgh.

#BookReview: TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY by Linwood Barclay @linwood_barclay @HQstories

Publication: 3rd February 2022 – HQ

It’s always the husband, isn’t it?

One weekend, while Andrew Mason was on a fishing trip, his wife, Brie, vanished without a trace. Most people assumed Andy had got away with murder, but the police couldn’t build a strong case against him. For a while, Andy hit rock bottom – he drank too much, was abandoned by his friends, nearly lost his business and became a pariah in the place he had once called home.

Now, six years later, Andy has put his life back together. He’s sold the house he shared with Brie and moved away for a fresh start. When he hears his old house has been bulldozed and a new house built in its place, he’s not bothered. He’s settled with a new partner, Jayne, and life is good.

But Andy’s peaceful world is about to shatter. One day, a woman shows up at his old address, screaming, ‘Where’s my house? What’s happened to my house?’ And then, just as suddenly as she appeared, the woman – who bears a striking resemblance to Brie – is gone. The police are notified and old questions – and dark suspicions – resurface.

Could Brie really be alive after all these years? If so, where has she been? It soon becomes clear that Andy’s future, and the lives of those closest to him, depends on discovering what the hell is going on. The trick will be whether he can stay alive long enough to unearth the answers…

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New year, new Linwood Barclay novel that keeps me on the edge of my seat. I really enjoyed Take Your Breath Away. I never knew what to expect and it certainly kept me glued to the pages.

Brie Mason has been missing. For six years her family has wondered whether she was still alive. For six years a police detective has been convinced that she’s been killed by her husband. And then one day, a woman who looks exactly like her appears in front of her old house, where now lives a new family, asking what happened and where her husband is. And then she disappears again.

Andrew Mason has started a new life, but when his neighbour calls to tell him that a woman with a strong resemblance to Brie came to his old house, the memories of six years ago come crashing back. Is Brie really back? And where has she been for the past six years?

Switching between different POVs, Linwood Barclay tells a gripping story of jealousies, secrets, lies, mystery, and search for the truth. Everyone in Brie’s life is a possible suspect and the truth took me completely by surprise. Brie’s disappearance and what happened to her is at the centre of the story, but the author also analyzes the effects of her possible return on her family. Will she return to her husband disrupting his new life? Will her mother finally find peace?

Self-paced and twisty, Take Your Breath Away confirms that Linwood Barclay is an incredible storyteller. I read it in two sittings spending a few hours completely engrossed in the story!

A huge thank you to HQ and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Linwood Barclay is an international bestselling crime and thriller author with over twenty critically acclaimed novels to his name, including the phenomenal number one bestseller No Time For Goodbye. Every Linwood Barclay book is a masterclass in characterisation, plot and the killer twist, and with sales of over seven million copies globally, his books have been sold in more than 39 countries around the world and he can count Stephen King, Shari Lapena and Peter James among his many fans.
 
Many of his books have been optioned for film and TV, and Linwood wrote the screenplay for the film based on his bestselling novel Never Saw It Coming. Born in the US, his parents moved to Canada just as he was turning four, and he’s lived there ever since. He lives in Toronto with his wife, Neetha. They have two grown children. Visit Linwood Barclay at www.linwoodbarclay.com or find him on Twitter at @linwood_barclay.

#BookReview: ONLY A MONSTER by Vanessa Len @vanessa_writes @Hodderscape

Publication: 17th February 2022 – Hodder & Stoughton

In every story there is a hero and a monster.

It should have been the perfect summer. Sent to stay with her late mother’s eccentric family in London, sixteen-year-old Joan is determined to enjoy herself. She loves her nerdy job at the historic Holland House, and when her super cute co-worker Nick asks her on a date, it feels like everything is falling into place.

Then a Good Samaritan attempt gone wrong sends Joan spinning through time, and her life quickly begins to unravel. Her family aren’t just eccentric: they’re monsters, with terrifying, hidden powers. And Nick isn’t just a cute boy: he’s a legendary monster slayer, who will do anything to bring them down.

As she battles Nick, Joan is forced to work with the beautiful and ruthless Aaron Oliver, heir to a monster family that hates her own. She’ll have to embrace her own monstrousness if she is to save herself, and her family. Because in this story…

… she is not the hero.

Dive deep into the world of Only a Monster, where the line between monster and hero is razor thin: hidden worlds dwell in the shadows, beautiful monsters with untold powers walk among humans, and secrets are the most powerful weapon of all.

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Only A Monster is the debut fantasy novel by Vanessa Len and I am completely addicted. I read it in two days, finding it very hard to put it down. Not only it’s very well-written, but there is magic, time-traveling, a protagonist who is not the hero of the story, and a hero who… I don’t know how to talk about him without spoiling. The plot is action-packed and intriguing, full of twists, and romance.

The protagonist is Joan, a sixteen-year-old who loves spending the summer with her mother’s family in London. She always thought they were a bit strange and eccentric. She also thought her grandmother joked when she called her a monster, but the night she shared her first kiss with the boy she’d been having a crush on all summer, she finds out that her grandmother wasn’t joking. She is really a monster, there are more monsters like her, and there is also monster slayer who won’t stop until he kills them all. The night ends deadly, but Joan is determined to change her fate and the fate of her family, no matter the cost.

This is a great debut novel. The characters are incredible. I really liked them… Joan, Ruth, Aaron… Joan is a fantastic protagonist. She’s a normal teenager who suddenly is thrown in a dangerous world where she has the fate of many people on her hands. She is torn between the love for her family and doing what’s right and not always she makes the right or wise choice.

The world-building is fascinating and very well-thought and the story is so engrossing that I didn’t even notice I was reaching the end. I am so happy that Only A Monster is the first of a trilogy because I can’t wait to go back to this world and see what happens next!

A huge thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel (I also got the Fairyloot edition that is stunning!!!).

Vanessa Len is Australian author of Chinese-Malaysian and Maltese heritage. An educational editor, she has worked on everything from language learning programs to STEM resources, to professional learning for teachers. Vanessa is a graduate of the Clarion Workshop in San Diego, and currently lives in Melbourne. You can find her on Twitter at vanessa_writes and via her website at https://www.vanessalen.com

#BookReview: THE PARIS APARTMENT by Lucy Foley @lucyfoleytweets @HarperFiction

Publication: 3rd March 2022 – HarperCollins

Welcome to No.12 rue des Amants

A beautiful old apartment block, far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower and the bustling banks of the Seine.

Where nothing goes unseen, and everyone has a story to unlock.

The watchful concierge
The scorned lover
The prying journalist
The naïve student
The unwanted guest

There was a murder here last night.
A mystery lies behind the door of apartment three.

Who holds the key?

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The Paris Apartment is the new novel by Lucy Foley and it is BRILLIANT! It’s chilling and suspenseful and there is a sense of dread that starts on the first page and never leaves. I love that the author chose to set it in the beautiful Paris, the city of lights, right in the middle of riots and a summer heat that makes everyone jumpy and nervous. And in a building that indicates wealth and power and its tenants a group of dysfunctional and suspicious characters full of secrets.

Jess needs a place to stay. Somewhere where she can have a fresh start and leave her troubles behind in England. So, she calls her big brother Ben, living in a beautiful apartment in Paris. On the phone, Ben didn’t sound too happy about her arrival, but he said he’d be waiting for her. Except, when Jess arrives at his place, Ben is not there. He left his phone and his wallet and he’s nowhere to be found. Worried, Jess starts digging into her brother’s life, but his neighbours don’t seem so happy with her questions, and the more Jess investigates, the more is clear that something suspicious is going on at number 12 Rue des Amants.

Most of the characters are unreliable and not very likable. There is something dark and unsettling about them that gave me chills. Jess is the only character that I found likable and relatable. Unlike her brother, she had a difficult childhood and she does her best to survive. However, when her brother disappears, she is the only one who cares about it and she is determined to find out the truth, no matter the cost.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Lucy Foley is a brilliant and addictive storyteller and she never disappoints. The Paris Apartment will keep you on the edge of your seat and you won’t be able to put it down!

A huge thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities. She then worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry – during which time she also wrote her debut, The Book of Lost and Found. Lucy now writes full-time, and is busy travelling (for research, naturally!) and working on her next novel.

Visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LucyFoleyAuthor and follow her on Twitter @lucyfoleytweets

#BookReview: THE LANGUAGE OF FOOD by Annabel Abbs @annabelabbs @simonschusterUK @TeamBATC

Publication: 3rd February 2022 – Simon & Schuster UK

England 1835. Eliza Acton is a poet who dreams of seeing her words in print. But when she takes her new manuscript to a publisher, she’s told that ‘poetry is not the business of a lady’. Instead, they want her to write a cookery book. That’s what readers really want from women. England is awash with exciting new ingredients, from spices to exotic fruits. But no one knows how to use them
 
Eliza leaves the offices appalled. But when her father is forced to flee the country for bankruptcy, she has no choice but to consider the proposal. Never having cooked before, she is determined to learn and to discover, if she can, the poetry in recipe writing. To assist her, she hires seventeen-year-old Ann Kirby, the impoverished daughter of a war-crippled father and a mother with dementia. 
 
Over the course of ten years, Eliza and Ann developed an unusual friendship – one that crossed social classes and divides – and, together, they broke the mould of traditional cookbooks and changed the course of cookery writing forever. 

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The Language of Food is such a beautiful and captivating story. I read it in two days, completely engrossed in the real-life characters, the evocative descriptions of food, and the emotional and engaging story.

The two protagonists are Eliza Acton and Ann Kirby. Many people may not know her name (me included before reading the novel), but Eliza Acton published the first cookery book for the domestic reader, the first cookery book that listed ingredients in each recipe. The Language of Food is the well-researched and well-written fictional story based on her life and the life of her scullery maid Ann Kirby.

The story begins in 1837. Eliza Acton wants to be a published poet and travels to London to submit her work to a renowned publisher who quickly makes it clear that poetry is not the job for a woman. If she really wants to be published she can write a cookery book. Initially Eliza is reluctant to the idea, but when her economic position changes and she also discovers how badly cookery books are written, she decides to write her own book of recipes. She is helped by her newly-hired scullery maid, Ann Kirby. Ann has always been interested in cooking, she dreams of becoming a cook and, because she can write and read, she becomes valuable to Eliza in putting together the recipes.

Eliza and Ann are two unique characters. In a time when women were expected to stay within the domestic walls and follow their husband or parents’ bidding, these two women fight for more. They want independence and to follow their dreams and, despite their different upbringing and social status, they form a close and deep friendship.

The story is told from the perspective of both women and I loved how each chapter is named after a dish and, at the end, there are also a few recipes. I don’t read many historical novels, but The Language of Food – and its incredible protagonists – kept me enraptured for a few hours and I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommended!!!

A huge thank you to SJV and Simon & Schuster UK for providing me with a beautiful proof of this fantastic novel.

Annabel Abbs is the award-winning author of The Joyce Girl, a fictionalised story of Lucia Joyce, daughter of James, and her relationship with Samuel Beckett. It won the Impress Prize for New Writers and the Spotlight Novel Award, and was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, the Caledonia Novel Award and the Waverton Good Read Award. The Joyce Girl was a Reader Pick in The Guardian 2016 and was one of ten books selected for presentation at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, where it was given Five Stars by the Hollywood Reporter. It is currently being adapted for stage and screen.

Her second novel, Frieda, is a fictionalised story of Frieda Weekely, the German aristocrat who eloped with DH Lawrence and who was the inspiration for Lady Chatterley. It was a 2018 Times Book of the Year. Her 2019 non-fiction book, The Age-Well Project, explores the latest science of longevity and has been serialised in the Guardian and The Daily Mail.

Her journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Irish Times, Tatler, The Author, Sydney Morning Herald, The Weekend Australian Review, Psychologies and Elle Magazine.

She earned a BA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, where she now sponsors a post-graduate scholarship in creative writing, and an MA from Kingston. She was born in Bristol, and now lives in London and East Sussex. Follow her on Twitter at @annabelabbs, or visit her website, www.annabelabbs.com.