#BookReview: ONCE UPON A BROKEN HEART by Stephanie Garber @hodderscape @HodderBooks

Publication: 30th September 2021 – Hodder & Stoughton

From the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval series, the first book in a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in happily ever after. Until she learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, and her dreams are shattered.

Desperate to stop the wedding, and heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game – and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy…

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Stephanie Garber is the reason I read so many fantasy novels. Until a few years ago, I read mostly crime and women’s fiction and then I stumbled upon the Caraval series and I fell in love with this magic world of games and fantasy, bargains and fates and I became addicted to Stephanie’s writing style. Since then, I started reading more and more fantasy books, often because of Stephanie Garber’s recommendations on Instagram.

Once Upon A Broken Heart is her new novel after the Caraval series, set in the same world (although, you can still easily read it if you haven’t read Caraval), with new characters and a couple of old acquaintances, most notably Jacks, the Prince of Hearts.

“He looked like a bad decision some unfortunate person was about to make. His midnight-blue hair was unruly, and his sable half cape was rakishly crooked, hanging over one shoulder to reveal a partially buttoned, smoke-gray doublet.”

The protagonist of Once Upon A Broken Heart is Evangeline Fox. She and Luc are in love, about to announce their engagement when, instead, he announces his wedding to another woman. She knows that Luc loves her, but he refuses to see her. The only way to stop the wedding is to make a bargain with the Prince of Hearts, even though she knows that you should never make a bargain with a Fate, especially when that Fate is Jacks.

“Even if you never want to see Jacks again, you’ll gravitate toward him until you fulfill the deal you’ve made with him. But if you desire a chance to happiness, fight the pull – Jacks will only lead to your destruction.”

Evangeline stops the wedding, but at a cost, and then she travels to the mysterious and magnificent North her mother used to tell her about as the ambassador for the Meridian Empire where, once again, her life becomes entangled with Jacks.

We had to wait two years for a new novel by Stephanie Garber, but it was worth it. Addictive, intriguing, and hard to put down, Once Upon A Broken Heart proves, once again, that Stephanie Garber is a master storyteller. The characters are incredible and engaging and I am delighted that Jacks finally got his own story to tell. Evangeline is a fantastic, smart, and witty heroine and I can’t wait to see what is coming up next for her in the sequel.

Once Upon A Broken Heart is a must-read, an enchanting and riveting story set in a fantastic world of fairytales, curses, bargains, elixirs, and romance that I couldn’t put down!

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

P. S.: how beautiful is the UK edition with its secret covers???

Stephanie Garber wanted to be an explorer until she realised most of the world had already been discovered. So she started creating her own worlds, which is why she now writes imaginative fiction. When she’s not writing, Stephanie teaches creative writing at a private college in northern California.

#BookReview: LAKESEDGE by Lyndall Clipstone @lkclipstone @titanbooks

Publication: 12th October 2021 – Titan Books

A stunningly written, lush dark fantasy perfect for fans of A Curse So Dark and Lonely and Uprooted.

There are monsters in the world.

Violeta Graceling has spent her life in an isolated cottage, trying to protect herself and her beloved younger brother Arien from their adoptive mother’s twisted cruelty. A cruelty driven by the mysterious shadows that unwillingly spill from Arien’s hands, spelling dark magic and an even darker underworld.

To escape means taking a position at the haunted estate of Rowan Sylvanan―the so-called “Monster of Lakesedge”―who comes seeking Arien’s dark magic. The monster who, it is whispered, stalks the halls of his manor and the shores of the blackened, cursed lake. Yet as Violeta investigates Lakesedge’s tragic history, she discovers that its prickly, standoffish lord is far from a monster, but an orphaned boy not much older than she is. As their friendship blossoms, Violeta learns the tragic truth of Rowan’s curse and his fateful bargain with the Lord Under. To save Lakesedge, she must make a bargain of her own with the fiendish being who rules over the world Below.

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Lakesedge is an engrossing and dark fantasy novel, the first book in what promises to be a brilliant duology, about a young woman who would do anything to protect her younger brother, even allying with a monster.

Violeta “Leta” Graceling has always taken care of her brother Arien. They live in an isolated cottage with the cruel woman who adopted them after the death of their parents. Dark shadows live inside Arien’s body and Leta lives in fear that someone is going to find out and kill Arien.

One day, in their village, Lord Rowan Sylvanan – also known as the Monster of Lakesedge – comes to collect tithes. Everyone knows what he did to his family, and when he discovers Arien’s secret and wants to take him back with him to Lakesedge Estate, Leta has no choice but to go with them to his big and solemn house. Here, Leta discovers that Rowan is not the monster everyone believes and that there is a powerful curse that haunts them all.

Lakesedge is such an intriguing and thrilling story. There is magic and alchemy, family curses and gods of death, and, of course, fantastic chemistry and romance between the heroine and the villain(-who-is-not-a-monster-after-all). The characters are all captivating and engaging, especially Leta. She is a brave, strong, and determined protagonist, ready to sacrifice herself to the darkness and death to save the people she loves.

Lakesedge is a well-written, compelling, and dark gothic novel that ends with a cliffhanger that makes me impatient to read the sequel! Highly recommended!!!

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

Lyndall Clipstone writes about monsters and the girls who like to kiss them. A former youth librarian who grew up running wild in the Barossa Ranges of South Australia, she currently lives in Adelaide, where she tends her own indoor secret garden. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @lkclipstone and at lyndallclipstone.com

#BlogTour: THE IMPOSSIBLE TRUTHS OF LOVE by Hannah Beckerman @hannahbeckerman @AmazonPub @FMcMAssociates

Publication: 5th October 2021 – Lake Union Publishing

The highly-anticipated new novel from bestselling author Hannah Beckerman, The Impossible Truths of Love slips between past and present, mother and daughter, to explore the secrets we keep to protect those we love.

As Nell’s father is dying, he makes a final declaration that hints at a long-held family secret. Feelings of isolation that have plagued Nell for years resurface, and suspicions about her past are raised.

Thirty-five years earlier, Annie was devastated by a series of traumas: one shock after another that she buried deep in her heart. The decisions she made were motivated by love, but she feared even then that nobody could ever understand her actions, let alone forgive her.

As their stories unravel, a generation apart, Nell finally discovers the devastating truth about her mother’s past, and her own.

A gripping, emotionally charged novel, The Impossible Truths of Love is a moving story about identity, secrets, and what it really means to feel that you’re one of the family.

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I am delighted to welcome you on my stop for the blog tour of The Impossible Truths of Love, the incredible new novel by Hannah Beckerman.

The Impossible Truths of Love is out today so go and buy a copy and also grab a few tissues because this is an emotional novel that it will make you shed a few tears. It is the heart-breaking and thought-provoking story of a family, a mother overwhelmed by a series of traumas and grief and with a huge secret to keep, and a daughter in search of the truth.

Nell has always known how much her parents love her, but her dying father’s last words and her mother’s odd comments, not caused by her dementia, make her think that her parents have been keeping a huge secret from her and she starts questioning everything she knows about her past and her family.

The story is told in two timelines. In the present, Nell’s need to figure out the secret her parents have been keeping make her question old friends, go through family photos, and revisit her memories in search of the truth. Her mother’s deteriorating mental health make her unreliable, so the author takes the reader back in the past when a younger Annie goes through a series of traumas that lead her to make a life-changing decision.

Nell and Annie’s stories are told in parallel. I sympathized with Nell in her search of the truth, in her shock at its discovery and the way she handled it. I found Annie’s narrative heart-breaking and thought-provoking and I really felt for her. A series of devastating traumas and a deep love for her child led her to make a choice and keep a secret for more than thirty years. Did she do right? Did she do wrong? What would you have done in her place?

Beautifully-written, gripping, and moving, The Impossible Truths of Love is one of these novels that you can’t stop thinking about it days after finishing reading it proving that Hannah Beckerman is an amazing storyteller! Highly recommended!!!

A huge thank you to Rhiannon and FMcM Associates for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a proof of the novel.

Hannah Beckerman is a novelist and journalist. She is a book critic and features writer for The Observer and FT Weekend Magazine and has contributed to a wide range of publications from The Guardian to Red magazine. As a regular chair at literary festivals and corporate events she has interviewed a host of authors and celebrities, as well as appearing as a book critic on BBC Radio 2 and Times Radio. Prior to becoming a
full-time writer, Hannah worked in television as a producer and commissioning editor for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel USA. She lives in London. The Impossible Truths of Love is her third novel.

#BookReview: HOW TO KILL YOUR BEST FRIEND by Lexie Elliott @elliott_lexie @CorvusBooks

Publication: 2nd September 2021 – Corvus

The perfect getaway – to get away with murder…

Georgie, Lissa and Bronwyn have been best friends since they met on their college swimming team. Now Lissa is dead – drowned off the coast of the remote island where her second husband owns a luxury resort. But could a star open-water swimmer really have drowned? Or is something more sinister going on?

Brought together for Lissa’s memorial, Georgie, Bron, Lissa’s grieving husband and their friends find themselves questioning the circumstances around Lissa’s death – and each other. As the weather turns ominous, trapping the guests on the island, it slowly dawns on them that Lissa’s death was only the beginning. Nobody knows who they can trust. Or if they’ll make it off the island alive…

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For me, Lexie Elliott is a must-buy author, one of those authors whose new book I pick up without hesitation ever since I first read her debut novel, The French Girl. I love her writing style, the suspenseful plots full of twists, and the multi-layered and intriguing characters.

How To Kill Your Best Friend is set on a small island where Georgie has just arrived for a short stay. Georgie is not on holiday, she is there for the memorial of her best friend Lissa who is believed to have drown during a night swim, her body never found. At the memorial, there are Georgie and Lissa’s closest friends, Bronwyn, Adam, Duncan, and Jem, Lissa’s husband and owner of the luxury hotel on the island. While the others reminisce about old times, Georgie is convinced that Lissa’s death was not an accident. She was an excellent swimmer and why would she be swimming in the middle of the night? In the meantime, Bron is receiving threats, someone is attacked, and a storm could prevent them from leaving the island.

I really enjoyed How To Kill Your Best Friend. It is chilling, twisty, and intense, a story full of secrets, lies, revenge, and guilt. There is murder, there is a storm that isolates the characters, there is a mysterious creature swimming deep into the ocean, and there is a curse that haunts the cove… everything to make this a gripping psychological thriller! The story is told from the point of view of Georgie and Bron, but Lissa, through the many stories of her friends, is the protagonist and probably the most complex character.

How To Kill Your Best Friend is a brilliant and addictive thriller featuring a group of friends on a remote island with their secrets, hidden truths, and dysfunctional relationships. And when these threaten to come to light, everyone is in danger and who can they trust?

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

Lexie Elliott grew up in Scotland, at the foot of the Highlands. She graduated from Oxford University where she obtained a doctorate in theoretical physics. A keen sportswoman, she works in fund management in London, where she lives with her husband and two sons. The rest of her time is spent writing, or thinking about writing, and juggling family life and sport.

#Review: THE HAWTHORNE LEGACY by Jennifer Lynn Barnes @jenlynnbarnes @PenguinUKBooks

Publication: 9th September 2021 – Penguin

The Inheritance Games ended with a bombshell, and now heiress Avery Grambs has to pick up the pieces and find the man who might hold the answers to all of her questions – including why Tobias Hawthorne left his entire fortune to Avery, a virtual stranger, rather than to his own daughters or grandsons.

As the mystery grows and the plot thickens, Grayson and Jameson, the enigmatic and magnetic Hawthorne grandsons, continue to pull Avery in different directions. And there are threats lurking around every corner, as adversaries emerge who will stop at nothing to see Avery out of the picture – by any means necessary.

With nonstop action, aspirational jet-setting, family intrigue, swoonworthy romance, and billions of dollars hanging in the balance, The Hawthorne Legacy will thrill Jennifer Lynn Barnes fans and new readers alike.

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The Hawthorne Legacy is the gripping and addictive sequel to The Inheritance Games in which Avery Grambs, a seventeen-year-old living between her sister’s place and her own car following the death of her mother, finds out to be the heiress of a large fortune.

Following the events of the first book, someone is still threatening Avery’s life, while she is still getting accustomed to what it means being the heiress of one of the richest men in the world (i.e. attending parties, giving interviews, being chased by paparazzi). Also, she is trying to figure out the clues left by billionaire Tobias Hawthorne. With the help of the four Hawthorne brothers, Nash, Grayson, Jameson, and Xander, she finds out more about the family, about her own past, and she gets closer to solving the mystery of why Tobias Hawthorne chose her as his sole heir of Tobias Hawthorne.

The Hawthorne Legacy is sooo good! A YA novel full of twists and surprises, entertaining, fast-paced, and intriguing…I couldn’t put it down! Imagine a huge mansion with its locked rooms and full of secret tunnels. Add mysteries, puzzles, secrets, and characters who are charming, witty, and very likable. There is also a love triangle that kept me completely engrossed (and I still haven’t decided if I am Team Jameson or Team Grayson). Book three can’t come soon enough… highly recommended!

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

Jennifer Lynn Barnes has written more than a dozen acclaimed young adult novels. Jen is also a Fulbright Scholar with advanced degrees in psychology, psychiatry, and cognitive science. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 2012 and is currently a professor of psychology and professional writing at the University of Oklahoma. You can find her online at www.jenniferlynnbarnes.com or follow her on Twitter @jenlynnbarnes.

#Extract: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RIDE: CAT MANIA by Laura Stamps @LauraStamps16

Publication: 30th August 2021

What happens when a neurotic cat rescue lady, who considers herself a magnet for bad-news men, tries to heal her PTSD with self-help books and YouTube videos? One hilarious cat and therapy adventure after another. If you’re a cat lover or an abuse survivor, be prepared to laugh your way through this wacky, fast-paced novella!  

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21. 

I always knew I’d find him. It was just that kind of dream. Still, proof is nice. Proof that some dreams do mean what they say. Proof that sometimes we do find what we’ve been searching for.  

22. 

Sometimes. With other dreams, who knows? 

23. 

With this dream last night: The sun hovers in a clear summer sky, bathing my face in warmth. It feels good. I shift the two backpacks I’m carrying, one on each shoulder. Walking up sloped pavement, I reach the wooded area on the far side of the parking lot. Lowering my backpacks to the ground, I sit on the curb and rest my head in my hands. Not for sadness. Or weariness. But for joy. In a few minutes my best friend will arrive. We’re going on vacation. Taking three weeks to drive from one coast to the other and back again, stopping wherever we like along the way. New towns to explore. New sights to see. Two small backpacks are all we’re taking on this trip. The goal is to travel light. Nothing weighing us down. At the end of the trip she’ll return to this city. Not me. I quit my job and moved out of my apartment this morning. Everything I own is in these two backpacks. I’m ready for a change. A big one. I need to get out of here. See more of life while I can. Meet new people. See new places. If I like one of the towns we stop at along the way, I’ll stay. Live there awhile. Find a job, an apartment. Maybe adopt a cat from the local rescue. I love cats. I miss having one in my life. This is my chance. I’m taking it. A Toyota turns into the parking lot and pulls up in front of me. A woman rolls down the window, rests her elbow on the door, and smiles. “Ready?” she asks. She knows how I am. She knows what it feels like when your soul tells you this place isn’t where you’re supposed to be anymore. That it’s time to leave. To move on. After all, that’s how we met. On the road. Two years ago. “Let the adventure begin,” I say, smiling back at her. It’s time to go.     

24. 

And that’s it. End of dream. 

25. 

What did it mean? I have no idea. But I woke up this morning with a craving for a backpack. Had to have one. Not just any backpack. But a small one. Small enough to use as a purse. Drove to Target after work to buy one. Found a little backpack in the children’s department. Loved it. Bought it. Blame it on the dream. I did.   

26.  

Sponges. Any kind. Petunia has a thing for them. The cat likes to jump in the kitchen sink, perform a series of gymnastics and gyrations, lift a paw, swipe the sponge off the ledge, hug it, wrestle with it, and attack it. “Stop that,” I say, while she works herself into a frenzy, gnawing the corners of the sponge. I wrench it from her jaws and put it back on the ledge next to the bottle of dishwashing liquid where it belongs. She gives me her best impression of an innocent look. I’m not buying it. “Do you know,” I say, “according to a popular guru on YouTube, we’re all just consciousness inhabiting a body. We’re not our thoughts. We’re not our bodies. We’re consciousness.” In response, Petunia demonstrates her talent for slithering around the perimeter of the sink like a snake, claws clicking against stainless steel. “The guru said this is a life-altering revelation,” I continue. “It’s supposed to be the answer we’ve all been searching for, the key to enlightenment. He said knowing this will change everything. It’s an interesting concept. I like it. But what do you think? Does knowing this change anything for you?” Petunia flips over, grabs the pink sponge from the ledge, bites off the corner, and spits it out. “I guess not,” I say. 

27. 

But he’s right. The guru. It does make a difference. Consciousness. I am consciousness. When terrorizing thoughts from my bad-news past appear, I rule. Consciousness rules. And I am consciousness. Nothing more. Nothing less. End of story. I rule. Nice. Very nice. I like.  

28. 

This week a gibbous moon hangs from the sky. Not a full moon. Not a crescent moon. Not a new moon. Not a sliver or a full bloom. Just a bulbous blob of moonglow. Gibbous. What an odd word. Funny to see, funny to say. Gibbous. Gibbous moon. Gibbidy, gibbidy, gibbidy-goop. I stop by the hospital to visit a friend. He was a good guy until he started hanging out with a bad crowd. Adopted their bad habits. Addicts. All of them. He developed a heart condition. Takes medication for it every day. Now he’s in the hospital with a heart flutter. I’m not surprised. Those friends of his were bad news from the start. It was easy to see. But he couldn’t. He still can’t. They’re still his “buddies.” Bad company. Walking down the corridor on his floor, I pass several rooms before I reach his. In one room a man tells the doctor he sees visions. Ex-girlfriends and giant animals. Must be the gibbous moon. In the next room, a man covered in blood screams like a maniac, trying to pull out his tubes. Three nurses struggle to subdue him. By the time I reach my friend’s room, I’m done. Enough is enough. We need to talk. No matter how much you love your buddies, they aren’t worth ending up in a place like this. Now he needs extra heart medication (doesn’t work). Then shock therapy to stabilize his heart (does work). We have a nice visit. I only yell at him for an hour. Then I leave. Return to my life with cats. The ones who fill my days with laughter. Good company. It’s no wonder I prefer my buddies to have fur and purr, gibbous moon or not.   

Laura Stamps is the author of several novels, short story collections, and poetry books, including IT’S ALL ABOUT THE RIDE: CAT MANIA (Alien Buddha Press), THE YEAR OF THE CAT (Artemesia Publishing), and IN THE GARDEN (The Moon). Winner of the Muses Prize. Recipient of a Pulitzer Prize nomination and 7 Pushcart Prize nominations. Mom of 5 cats. Twitter: @LauraStamps16. Website: www.laurastampspoetry.blogspot.com   

#BookReview: BAD CHOICES by Lucy Vine @Lecv @orionbooks

Publication: 10th June 2021 – Orion

Two friends. Two decades.
One big mistake…

Nat and Zoe have always shared everything.

Hopeless crushes, emergency tampons, messy sex stories, work triumphs, those days where you can’t stop crying in the loos, those days where you can’t stop dancing on the bar. They even share the same birthday, FFS. The struggle is real, but they’ll always have each other.

Except best friends forever is a hard promise to keep…

Eye-wateringly hilarious, tender and true, this a story about growing up, falling apart, and the friendships that hold us together.

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I really enjoyed Lucy Vine’s latest novel, Bad Choices. I was completely engrossed in this honest, entertaining and, at times, emotional story of two women and their twenty-year-long friendship, with its ups and downs, its secrets and revelations.

Natalie and Zoe met when they were fourteen years old, both crying in a loo cubicle on their own birthday. From that moment, a beautiful, close, and strong friendship is born and we meet them every year as they celebrate their birthdays together, sometimes just the two of them, sometimes with friends and families. As they celebrate yet another birthday, we learn more about them, about their struggles, their hopes, and their dreams. About their love, their jobs, and their lives. Things change, but Natalie and Zoe are still best friends.

I liked the characters of Natalie and Zoe. They feel realistic and relatable, I felt for them at their lowest, I cheered for them when they succeeded. Sometimes, I found Natalie a little annoying – she is the first to admit that she is always annoying -, but I liked her enthusiasm and how she speaks without filters, her dialogue a stream of thought that it often made me laugh. On the other hand, Zoe is bit reserved and introvert, keeping things more to herself. Despite being different, despite a few betrayals and jealousies, their friendship is authentic and strong.

Bad Choices is a brilliant and beautiful story that I devoured in two days. Highly recommended!

A huge thank you to Orion for providing me with a proof of this fantastic novel.

Lucy Vine is a writer, editor and columnist. She’s also the best selling author of Hot Mess, What Fresh Hell and Are We Nearly There Yet? Book 4, Bad Choices is out 10 June 2021
@lecv
www.lucyvine.co.uk

#BlogTour: THE STORYTELLER OF CASABLANCA by Fiona Valpy @FionaValpy @AmazonPub @FMcMAssociates

Publication: 21st September 2021 – Lake Union Publishing

In this evocative tale from the bestselling author of The Dressmaker’s Gift, a strange new city offers a young girl hope. Can it also offer a lost soul a second chance?

Morocco, 1941. With France having fallen to Nazi occupation, twelve-year-old Josie has fled with her family to Casablanca, where they await safe passage to America. Life here is as intense as the sun, every sight, smell and sound overwhelming to the senses in a city filled with extraordinary characters. It’s a world away from the trouble back home―and Josie loves it.

Seventy years later, another new arrival in the intoxicating port city, Zoe, is struggling―with her marriage, her baby daughter and her new life as an expat in an unfamiliar place. But when she discovers a small wooden box and a diary from the 1940s beneath the floorboards of her daughter’s bedroom, Zoe enters the inner world of young Josie, who once looked out on the same view of the Atlantic Ocean, but who knew a very different Casablanca.

It’s not long before Zoe begins to see her adopted city through Josie’s eyes. But can a new perspective help her turn tragedy into hope, and find the comfort she needs to heal her broken heart?

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Josie’s Journal – Wednesday 1st January 1941

 I love my new journal. Papa told me it’s for me to write my life story in. He knows I want to be a writer, and he says it’s also good to write things down because then you don’t have to carry them around in your head all the time and that it might help me not to have so many bad dreams. It’s my best Christmas present. This year we got dresses made of silk because the big trunk with all our good clothes went missing somewhere in Marseille, or maybe on the way to Algeria. Anyway, it wasn’t there when we got off the boat in Oran. Maman says we’ll need something to wear when we go out now that we have a proper home again because the one thing Casablanca does have is a social life. The hotels and bars are full of people, some who live and work here and many who are just passing through like us. There are even tea dances at the Hotel Excelsior on Saturday afternoons, so those might cheer Annette up a bit. Even though my dress is nice and I know it must have cost a lot, it was a bit of a boring present. My new notebook and the little basket of sugared almonds were better.

I’m going to go to sleep now. We stayed up late last night to celebrate the arrival of the new year. I wore my new dress and I was allowed a glass of champagne. It didn’t taste as nice as lemonade really, but everyone was making a big fuss about it so I pretended to enjoy it. It’s the start of our new life too. I’m sad to have left France, but excited to be going to America to meet my cousins there. Maybe when the war is over we will go back to Paris and I’ll see my friends again. I suppose many of them will have left too. I hope they are alright and have somewhere safe to go like us. I’m sending them good wishes now. I hope I’ll sleep well tonight now that I’ve started writing things down in my journal.

Goodnight.

Fiona spent seven years living in France, having moved there from the UK in 2007, before returning to live in Scotland. Her love for both of these countries, their people and their histories, has found its way into the books she’s written.

She draws inspiration from the stories of strong women, especially during the years of the Second Word War, and her meticulous historical research enriches her writing with an evocative sense of time and place.

An acclaimed Number 1 bestselling author, Fiona Valpy’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide.

#BookReview: THE MAN WHO DIED TWICE by Richard Osman @richardosman @VikingBooksUK

Publication: 16th September 2021

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can the Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

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The gang is back! There is never a dull moment at Cooper’s Chase, Britain’s First Luxury Retirement Village, as the Thursday Murder Club finds itself, once again, in the middle of an investigation. This time, it involves spies, stolen diamonds, and, of course, murder.

Elizabeth’s past resurfaces as an old friend and colleague asks for her help to protect him. And then, there is a murder and Elizabeth and her friends need to stop a killer and find some stolen diamonds.

The Man Who Died Twice is the second book in the Thursday Murder Club series and it is as brilliant and engrossing as the first novel. It can easily be read as a stand-alone, but, if you still haven’t read it, I highly recommend you read The Thursday Murder Club first for a fantastic introduction to these incredible characters: Elizabeth, a former spy full of surprises and tricks; Joyce, a former nurse who is not as innocent as she looks; Ron, a former Labour Unionist who is not afraid to go under cover; Ibrahim, a retired psychologist who is also very good with technology; and let’s not forget police detectives Donna De Frietas and Chris Hudson who, somehow and sometimes against their will, find themselves involved in the cases of the Thursday Murder Club.

The Man Who Died Twice is a thrilling, immersive, and very well-written novel. It is told from many perspectives and I especially adore Joyce’s diary which is always a fun and entertaining read. We learn more about Elizabeth’s secret past and we get a more insightful glimpse into the personal lives of the two police detectives. Full of surprises and twists, this is a book I won’t stop recommending while waiting to see what’s up next for these fantastic characters!

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

Richard Osman is an author, producer and television presenter. His first novel, The Thursday Murder Club, was a million-copy bestseller. Critics have already described The Man Who Died Twice as ‘his second novel’.

This review was featured on Twinkl as part of their Literary Lovers campaign.

#BookReview: THE GILDED CAGE by Lynette Noni @LynetteNoni @hodderscape @HodderBooks

Publication: 7th October 2021 – Hodder & Stoughton

The magical and exciting sequel to The Prison Healer from Australia’s #1 YA author Lynette Noni.

Kiva Meridan is a survivor.

She survived not only Zalindov prison, but also the deadly Trial by Ordeal. Now Kiva’s purpose goes beyond survival to vengeance. For the past ten years, her only goal has been to reunite with her family and destroy the people responsible for ruining their lives. But now that she has escaped Zalindov, her mission has become more complicated than ever.

As Kiva settles into her new life in the capital, she discovers she wasn’t the only one who suffered while she was in Zalindov-her siblings and their beliefs have changed too. Soon it’s not just her enemies she’s keeping secrets from, but her own family as well.

Outside the city walls, tensions are brewing from the rebels, along with whispers of a growing threat from the northern kingdoms. Kiva’s allegiances are more important than ever, but she’s beginning to question where they truly lie. To survive this time, she’ll have to navigate a complicated web of lies before both sides of the battle turn against her and she loses everything.

AMAZON

WATERSTONES

I read The Prison Healer twice in a few months, completely addicted to the story of Kiva Meridan, how she ended up, at seven years of age, in the prison of Zalandov, how she became the prison healer, how she met Tipp, Jaren, and Naari and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. So when Hodder & Stoughton accepted my request for the proof of The Gilded Cage (thank you so much!) I read it straight away. After reading the reactions of those who have already read The Gilded Cage, I went into it both excited and scared and, after finishing reading it, I can say I was right and to say that I ADORED The Gilded Cage is to say little.

Kiva is torn between her loyalty towards her own family and her mixed feelings for the family she’s hated for the last ten years and who she blames for the death of some members of her family. However, she slowly starts realizing that the truth is not at all what she thought, and she feels more and more guilty for the lies and secrets that she keeps both from Jaren and from her siblings.

The Gilded Cage is brilliantly written and once I started reading it was very difficult to put it down. I love the characters: Kiva, the heroine torn between her loyalty to her family and her growing feelings toward her enemy; Jaren, the handsome prince who, I have to say, is too good to be true; the adorable Tipp, who’s become like a younger brother to Kiva; Caldon, the funny and smarter-than-he-looks cousin of the prince; and Naari, the loyal guard who’s become friend to Kiva.

I am dying to get my hands on the third book, The Blood Traitor, especially after yet another shocking ending, full of surprises and revelations that I didn’t see coming and that kept me on the edge of my seat. The Gilded Cage is an immersive, intriguing, and superb story of revenge, loyalties, and magic and, together with its prequel The Prison Healer, is at the top of my list of favourite books of the year.

Australian author LYNETTE NONI studied journalism, academic writing, and human behavior at university before venturing into the world of fiction. She is now a full-time writer and the #1 best-selling and award-winning author of The Medoran Chronicles, The Whisper duology, and The Prison Healer.