#BookReview: ANGELIKA FRANKENSTEIN MAKES HER MATCH by Sally Thorne @Sally__Thorne @PiatkusBooks

Publication: 15th September 2022 – Piatkus

For generations, every Frankenstein has found their true love and equal, unlocking lifetimes of blissful wedded adventure. Clever, pretty (and odd) Angelika Frankenstein has run out of suitors and fears she may become the exception to this family rule. When assisting in her brother Victor’s ground-breaking experiment to bring a reassembled man back to life, she realizes that having an agreeable gentleman convalescing in the guest suite might be a chance to let a man get to know the real her. For the first time, Angelika embarks upon a project that is all her own.

When her handsome scientific miracle sits up on the lab table, her hopes for an instant romantic connection are thrown into disarray. Her resurrected beau (named Will for the moment) has total amnesia and is solely focused on uncovering his true identity. Trying to ignore their heart-pounding chemistry, Angelika reluctantly joins the investigation into his past, hoping it will bring them closer. But when a second suitor emerges to aid their quest, Angelika wonders if she was too hasty inventing a solution. Perhaps fate is not something that can be influenced in a laboratory? Or is Will (or whatever his name is!) her dream man, tailored for her in every way? And can he survive what was done to him in the name of science, and love?

Filled with carriages, candlesticks, and corpses, Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match is the spooky-season romcom that reminds us to never judge a man by his cadaver!

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Meet Angelika, sister of Victor Frankenstein. The two siblings live together in Blackthorne Manor, a huge house owned by the Frankenstein family for generations, just outside Salisbury village. Orphans and with only the elderly grumpy maid for company, the two siblings are very close. By night, they visit the morgue to buy corpses that nobody has reclaimed and then they try to bring them back to life in their lab. For Victor, his experiments are all about science and beating his competitor, but Angelika is looking for love, for the man who will never leave her. Beautiful and wealthy, Angelika has no problem attracting men, but then they are discouraged once they get to know her. 

Tired of being alone (and in need of sexual respite), Angelika decides it’s time to create her own man, so when she finds the perfect corpse at the morgue, she brings him back to her lab and back to life. Will, as she names him, has no memories of his past and, even though he is clearly attracted to Angelika, he is determined to discover the truth and Angelika promises to help him, even if it means giving up on him. 

Angelika Frankenstein Makes Her Match is one of the funniest, weirdest, and most unexpected novels I have ever read. I LOVED IT! Angelika and Will are fantastic characters. She is smart, competent, and resourceful. Will is sweet, caring, and adorable. They are indeed a perfect match and their romance is both steamy and slow-burning.

I laughed so much at the easy and witty banters between the characters and I loved the sexy and spicy romance and the quirky and incredible characters, and the setting of Blackthorne Manor gave a gothic atmosphere that fit perfectly with the story.

I enjoyed Sally Thorne’s previous novels, but I must admit that this new one is my favorite. Even though I knew how it was going to end, there were many unexpected surprises that kept me on the edge until the end. Highly recommended!

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

Sally Thorne lives in Canberra, Australia and spends her days writing funding submissions and drafting contracts (yawn!) so it’s not surprising that after hours she climbs into colorful fictional worlds of her own creation. Sally believes that romance readers are always searching for intensity in their next favorite book – and it isn’t always so easy to find. The Hating Game is her first novel.

#BookReview: MARPLE: TWELVE NEW STORIES by 12 best-selling authors @HarperFiction

Publication: 15th September 2022 – HarperCollins

A brand new collection of short stories featuring the Queen of Crime’s legendary detective Jane Marple, penned by twelve remarkable bestselling and acclaimed authors.

This collection of twelve original short stories, all featuring Jane Marple, will introduce the character to a whole new generation. Each author reimagines Agatha Christie’s Marple through their own unique perspective while staying true to the hallmarks of a traditional mystery.

· Naomi Alderman
· Leigh Bardugo
· Alyssa Cole
· Lucy Foley
· Elly Griffiths
· Natalie Haynes
· Jean Kwok
· Val McDermid
· Karen M. McManus
· Dreda Say Mitchell
· Kate Mosse
· Ruth Ware

Miss Marple was first introduced to readers in a story Christie wrote for The Royal Magazine in 1927 and made her first appearance in a full-length novel in 1930’s The Murder at the Vicarage. It has been 45 years since Agatha Christie’s last Marple novel, Sleeping Murder, was published posthumously in 1976, and this collection of ingenious new stories by twelve Christie devotees will be a timely reminder why Jane Marple remains the most famous fictional female detective of all time.

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I am a huge fan of Agatha Christie and read some of her novels multiple times. However, while I’ve read most of the Hercule Poirot novels, Miss Marple is still quite unknown to me. So far, I’ve read only one of the novels featuring the woman turned detective whose shrewd intelligence and inquisitive eyes lead her to solve cases that the police can’t, but after reading these intriguing and entertaining twelve short stories, I think I need to start focusing my attention on the legendary Jane Marple.

Each story is unique while also remaining faithful to the original stories and each features a different case in which Miss Jane Marple somehow gets involved. There is of course murder, but there is also blackmail, theft, mistaken identities, revenge, jealousies, inheritances at stake, missing jewels, and, in one case, a missing groom. And while the police thinks the case is quite straightforward and the culprit is arrested, Jane Marple analyses the complexity of each situation and the characters in play and reveals the often shocking truth.

“It wasn’t the first and it wouldn’t be the last time she was dismissed as a silly old woman with one foot in the grave.”

People often underestimate Miss Jane Marple because of her age and her sex. She wears tweed, tea and cherry are her drinks of choice, she is often found knitting or attending to her garden or taking part in gossip. She is barely noticed, not at all threatening, but nothing goes past her and she quietly solves cases. From her small village of St Mary Mead to New York, from Hong Kong to the Amalfi coast, whether it is during a wedding ceremony or a Christmas dinner, on a cruise or dining at the high table of an Oxford college, there is never a dull moment for Miss Jane Marple. 

Marple: Twelve New Stories is an incredible and original collection of short stories written by twelve fantastic and renowned authors (including some of my favourite): Lucy Foley, Val McDermid, Alyssa Cole, Natalie Haynes, Ruth Ware, Naomi Alderman, Jean Kwok, Dreads Say Mitchell, Elly Griffiths, Karen M. McManus, Kate Mosse, and Leigh Bardugo.

A huge thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of this gripping collection.

#BookReview: WITHIN THESE WICKED WALLS by Lauren Blackwood @LJ_Blackwood @AtomBooks

Publication: 15th September 2022 – Atom Books

What the heart desires, the house destroys…

Andromeda is a debtera – an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. She would be hired, that is, if her mentor hadn’t thrown her out before she could earn her license. Now her only hope is to find a Patron – a rich, well-connected individual who will vouch for her abilities.

When a handsome heir named Magnus reaches out to hire her, she takes the job without question. Never mind that he’s rude and eccentric, that the contract comes with outlandish rules, and that the many previous debteras had quit before her. If Andromeda wants to earn a living, she has no choice.

But this is a job like no other, and Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the likely outcome if she stays, the reason every debtera before her quit. But leaving Magnus to live out his curse isn’t an option because, heaven help her, she’s fallen for him.

Stunningly romantic, Lauren Blackwood’s heartstopping debut, Within These Wicked Walls, ushers in an exciting new fantasy voice.

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Andromeda is a debtera, an exorcist who cleanses houses from the presence of the Evil Eye. Abandoned by her master and father-figure before she could get her license, Andromeda needs a proper patron, someone well-connected who can attest to her abilities as a debtera and recommend her for other jobs. Enter Magnus Rochester. He is the sole heir of Thorne Manor and he hires Andromeda to cleanse it before he takes over his father’s business on his 21st birthday. Other debteras have tried to do the job before her, but either they ran away or they died trying. However, Andromeda is determined to get the job done, no matter the danger. The job is complicated by her relationship with handsome Magnus, who is arrogant and privileged, but also charming and entertaining.

It is good thing that I read Within These Wicked Walls while I was on holiday and I had a lot of free time to read, because I devoured this debut fantasy. It is atmospheric, gothic, claustrophobic, and gripping. It reminds of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, with the abandoned heroine in search of affection, the cranky male protagonist (whose name, of course, is Rochester), and the haunted castle. Add a well-developed and intriguing world-building and you have a fantastic story!

I loved the characters of Andromeda and Marcus. Their witty exchanges added a bit of levity despite the horrors that haunted the house and I liked how they develop both singularly and together throughout the story.

There is horror, monsters, murders, but also romance, friendship, and reconciliation. Action-packed, riveting, and terrifying, I can’t recommend Within These Wicked Walls enough!

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

Lauren Blackwood is a Jamaican American New Yorker living in Virginia who writes Romance-heavy Fantasy for most ages. When not writing, she’s a PTA and violinist who really doesn’t know how to settle on one career field. Within These Wicked Walls is her debut novel.

#BookReview: DAISY DARKER by Alice Feeney @alicewriterland @panmacmillan

Publication: 18th August 2022 – Macmillan

Daisy Darker is an all-consuming tale of psychological suspense with a spectacular twist from the internationally bestselling author Alice Feeney.

Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as dark can be, when one of them died all of them lied and pretended not to see . . .

Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer…

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Let me start my review by saying that I’ve read and enjoyed all Alice Feeney’s novels and Daisy Darker is my favorite so far. It is chilling, dark, and suspenseful and I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish. I read it in one day and, even though I started to figure out a bit of truth towards the ending, there were so many more twists and surprises until the last page that I still had a unique and gripping reading experience. 

The Darker family is not what you would call close or affectionate. You would probably call it dysfunctional – with capital letters. Its members are very complex and self-centered, their insecurities and jealousies making them despicable and vengeful towards each other. I can honestly say I didn’t like most of them.

The story is told from the perspective of Daisy, the youngest daughter. Daisy Darker was born with a broken heart. When she was a child, her heart would suddenly stop beating and she was rushed to the hospital where she was quickly revived. Her life expectancy was not very long and her family didn’t seem to care about it. She had a lonely childhood where her older sisters bullied her, her mother resented her, and her father was never around. The only person who ever showed her love and care was her grandmother who wrote a children’s book called after her that sold millions of copies around the world. 

The Darker family hasn’t been all together in years, but they reunite to celebrate Nana’s 80th (and probably last, according to a fortune-teller) birthday at Seaglass, the family home on a private small island in Cornwall. A will is read, making many family members unhappy, but, as a storm rage outside and the tide is high, no one can leave the house, and, perfectly-inspired by And Then There Were None, a mysterious and spooky poem appears, old video tapes are watched, and, at every strike of the clock, one of them dies. Who, among them, is the killer? And who will survive? 

With Agatha Christie vibes, complex and multi-layered characters, high level of tension, and more twists than I expected, Daisy Darker is a remarkable and gripping read!

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

Alice Feeney is a New York Times million-copy bestselling author. Her books have been translated into over twenty-five languages, and have been optioned for major screen adaptations. Including her novel Rock Paper Scissors, which is being made into a TV series by the producer of The Crown. Alice was a BBC journalist for fifteen years, and now lives in Devon with her family. Daisy Darker is her fifth novel.

#BookReview: THE UNDERTAKING OF HART AND MERCY by Megan Bannen @MeganBannen @orbitbooks

Publication: 25th August 2022 – Orbit

The Princess Bride meets You’ve Got Mail in this enchantingly quirky, completely refreshing fantasy with a rom-com-worthy premise, perfect for readers of The House in the Cerulean Sea and The Invisible Library.

Hart is a marshal, tasked with patrolling the magical wilds of Tanria. It’s an unforgiving job, and he’s got nothing but time to ponder his loneliness.

Mercy never has a moment to herself. She’s been single-handedly keeping Birdsall & Son Undertakers afloat in defiance of sullen jerks like Hart-ache Hart, the man with a knack for showing up right when her patience is thinnest.

After yet another run-in with Merciless Mercy, Hart finds himself penning a letter addressed simply to “A Friend”. Much to his surprise, he receives an anonymous reply, and a tentative friendship is born. Little does Hart know he’s baring his soul to the person who infuriates him most. . .

Set in a world equally full of magic and demigods as it is donuts and small-town drama, this utterly unique fantasy is sure to sweep you off your feet.

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I just finished reading this novel and I want to reread it all over again. Hart and Mercy captured my heart and their story is beautiful, romantic, and heart-warming.

Hart Ralston is a demi-god marshal who is tasked to rid the magical world of Tanria of the drudges, reanimated corpses inhabited by the souls of those who have died, and then he delivers them to the undertakers. Mercy Birdsall has been managing the family undertaking business, Birdsall & Son, since her father’s retirement, keeping it afloat while her brother finishes his studies.

When Hart and Mercy met four years ago, it was hate at first sight. She calls him “Hart-ache”, he calls her “Mercy-less” and, the few times they meet, a battle of wits and insults begins. After yet another exchange of taunts, Hart takes pen and paper and pours his feelings in a letter to “A Dear Friend” never imagining that that letter would reach anyone and that someone would reply. And as the exchange of letters grows more frequent and he is more honest than he’s ever been, he could never imagine that the person replying to him, laying her own heart bare, is none other than his nemesis, Mercy Birdsall. 

The thing I loved most about this novel is its two incredible protagonists. Hart is grumpy and anti-social, but also kind and sweet. He wonders about his true parentage and (im)mortality, he works all day and he feels very lonely, especially since the death of his mentor and father-figure. Mercy is fun, compassionate, and determined. She has dedicated her life to her job and her family. She loves her job as an undertaker and she is really good at it, even if her own family thinks they know what’s best for her. Both book lovers and dog lovers, Hart and Mercy are opposites, but they also have more in common than they think and their love story is superb and emotional.

The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is a grumpy vs sunshine, enemies-to-lovers fantastic love story that made me laugh and it made me cry, it made me stay up late at night to finish reading it. I loved the letters Hart and Mercy write to each other and I enjoyed their banter. The world-building is fantastic, there are gods, old and new, semi-gods, dead bodies, and talking animals who deliver mail. All in all, The Undertaking of Hart and Mercy is an addictive and unique novel and I couldn’t recommend it enough!

I am very grateful to Orbit for providing me with a proof of this beautiful novel.

Megan Bannen is a former librarian and a full-time writer. While most of her professional career has been spent behind the reference desk, she has also sold luggage, written grants, collected a few graduate degrees from various Kansas state universities, and taught English at home and abroad. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, two sons, and a lot of pets

#BookReview: LOVE ON THE BRAIN by Ali Hazelwood @EverSoAli @BooksSphere

Publication: 23rd August 2022 – Sphere Books

Bee Königswasser lives by a simple code: What would Marie Curie do? If NASA offered her the lead on a neuroengineering project – a literal dream come true – Marie would accept without hesitation. Duh. But the mother of modern physics never had to co-lead with Levi Ward.

Sure, Levi is attractive in a tall, dark, and piercing-eyes kind of way. But Levi made his feelings toward Bee very clear in grad school – archenemies work best employed in their own galaxies far, far away.

But when her equipment starts to go missing and the staff ignore her, Bee could swear she sees Levi softening into an ally, backing her plays, seconding her ideas… devouring her with those eyes. The possibilities have all her neurons firing.

But when it comes time to actually make a move and put her heart on the line, there’s only one question that matters: What will Bee Königswasser do?

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After reading The Love Hypothesis, Ali Hazelwood has become my favorite author. I love her witty and addictive writing style (I would probably read her grocery list if she publishes it!) and she creates amazing characters and plots. So when she announced her next novel, Love on the Brain, I couldn’t wait to read it and I was delighted when Little, Brown accepted my NetGalley request (thank you so so much, btw!!!). I started reading it right away, even though I thought that no one could surpass Olive and Adam and their story… and I loved it!!!

Enter Bee and Levi. They first met in grad school, but Levi seemed to dislike Bee right from the beginning, leaving a room when she entered, looking the other way when she talked in class, and refusing to collaborate with her on a project. Years later, Bee is offered her dream job leading a neuroengineering project at NASA, but the problem is that her co-leader is none other than Levi. She has no choice but to work with her enemy, after all that’s what her idol Marie Curie would do. But is Levi the arch-enemy she’s always considered him to be? And who is trying to sabotage their project?

I LOVED BEE AND LEVI!!! I adored them, and not only because Empire Strikes Back is their favorite movie. They are smart, funny, relatable, cat lover, nerdy, and just incredible and adorable characters. Bee had a difficult childhood as she and her twin sister Reike were raised by different relatives in different countries following the death of their parents. And while now Reike travels around the world, Bee wants stability and security. She is a fan of Marie Curie (I enjoyed all the references to her life) and she created an anonymous Twitter account, @WhatWouldMarieDo, where women in STEM can vent their frustration on the way they are treated by their male counterparts.      

With a few similarities to The Love Hypothesis – grumpy vs sunshine, enemies-to-lovers, protagonists who misunderstand each other, women in STEM – Love on the Brain is another brilliant, unique, witty, and addictive novel by Ali Hazelwood, whose novels always leave me in a huge reading slump that it takes me a while to overcome!

Ali Hazelwood is a multi-published author—alas, of peer-reviewed articles about brain science, in which no one makes out and the ever after is not always happy. Originally from Italy, she lived in Germany and Japan before moving to the U.S. to pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. She recently became a professor, which absolutely terrifies her. When Ali is not at work, she can be found running, crocheting, eating cake pops, or watching sci-fi movies with her two feline overlords (and her slightly-less-feline husband).

BookReview: THE LOST DIARY OF SAMUEL PEPYS by Jack Jewers @jackjewers @moonflowerbooks @midaspr

Publication: 4th August 2022 – Moonflower Books

It is the summer of 1669 and England is in dire straits. The treasury’s coffers are bare and tensions with the powerful Dutch Republic are boiling over. And now, an investigator sent by the King to look into corruption at the Royal Navy has been brutally murdered.

Loathe to leave the pleasures of London, Samuel Pepys is sent dragging his feet to Portsmouth to find the truth about what happened. Aided by his faithful assistant, Will Hewer, he soon exposes the plot as the work of a Dutch spy. But has he got the right man? The truth may be much more sinister. And if the real killer isn’t found in time, then England could be thrown into a war that would have devastating consequences…

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Although the name Samuel Pepys sounded familiar, I didn’t know much about him or his role in history, but then I read the blurb for The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys and I was drawn to this intriguing character and this historical thriller described as “Bridgerton meets Sherlock”.

In the 17th century, Samuel Pepys was an administrator of the Royal Navy and a member of Parliament, but he is most famous for the diaries he kept from 1660 to 1669 which have become an important historical source as he witnessed and recounted great historical events such as the Great Plague of London and the Great Fire of London. In The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys, Jack Jewers reimagines the diarist as he is asked to find out what happened to an investigator looking into the administration of Portsmouth who made claims about a conspiracy to defraud the Crown. His loyal assistant and friend, Will Hewers, accompanies him, and as the threat of the Dutch war looms, they find out that the truth is much more complicated than they thought.

I really enjoyed reading The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys. The characters are well-drawn and I really liked the female characters that the author depicts as strong and feisty. Samuel Pepys is a fascinating protagonist. In his diary, he recounts the historical and political events of the time, but we also get a glimpse into his personal life as he reports his infidelities and his worries about his health. He is really a diligent diarist and a scrupulous detective.

The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys is a fast-paced, suspenseful, and riveting historical thriller full of political intrigue, suspense, and fantastic characters, the perfect read for all fans of historical mysteries!

A huge thank you to Midas PR for providing me with a proof of the novel.

Jack Jewers is a filmmaker and writer, passionate about history. His career has been spent telling stories across every form of media, and his body of work includes film, TV, and digital media. His films have been shown at dozens of international film festivals, including Cannes, New York, Marseille, Dublin, and London’s FrightFest, garnering multiple accolades, including an award from the Royal Television Society and a nomination from BAFTA Wales for Best Short Film. The Lost Diary of Samuel Pepys is his first novel.

#BookReview: THE VERY SECRET SOCIETY OF IRREGULAR WITCHES by Sangu Mandanna @SanguMandanna @HodderBooks

Publication: 23rd August 2022 – Hodder & Stoughton

She found magic in the most unlikely of places.

The House in the Cerulean Sea meets Practical Magic in this cosy, heartwarming, and uplifting magical romance about an isolated witch whose opportunity to embrace a quirky new family – and a new love – changes the course of her life.

As one of the few witches in Britain, Mika Moon has lived her life by three rules: hide your magic, keep your head down, and stay away from other witches. An orphan raised by strangers from a young age, Mika is good at being alone, and she doesn’t mind it . . . mostly.

But then an unexpected message arrives, begging her to travel to the remote and mysterious Nowhere House to teach three young witches, and Mika jumps at the chance for a different life.


Nowhere House is nothing like she expects, and she’s quickly tangled up in the lives and secrets of its quirky, caring inhabitants . . . and Jamie, the handsome, prickly librarian who would do anything to protect his charges, and who sees Mika’s arrival as a threat. An irritatingly appealing threat.

As Mika finds her feet, the thought of belonging somewhere starts to feel like a real possibility. But magic isn’t the only danger in the world, and soon Mika will need to decide whether to risk everything to protect the found family she didn’t know she was looking for…

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The Very Secret Society of Witches meets on the third Thursday of every third month.  They never meet in the same place twice and this is the only chance for its members to connect and socialize as witches can stay too long together because it attracts too much magic. 

Mika Moon is one of its members, one of the youngest. Orphaned right after her birth, she was raised by a string of nannies and tutors. Mika is used to being alone and she never stays long in the same place. She posts online videos where she pretends to be a witch and that’s how she attracts the attention of a particular inhabitant of Nowhere House who contacts her to teach three young witches to control their magic. When she arrives at Nowhere House she is welcomed warmly by most of the residents, which include two caretakers and one retired actor, except for one of her charges, Terracotta, who comes up with different ideas on how to murder her, and Jamie, the handsome and grumpy librarian, whose constant scowl is proof she doesn’t trust her. As Mika starts to feel like she belongs, someone threatens her happiness and that of the people she has come to care about…

I LOVED THIS BOOK!!! I loved the setting, the writing, the plot, but, most of all, the characters. They are eccentric, witty, vivid, and engaging and you can’t help but love them. Mika is relatable, funny, and smart; Jamie is charming and prickly and he would do anything to protect the three young witches; Ian, an energetic and eccentric retired actor, who likes to play Cupido; kind and considerate Ken who, despite not having any powers, has a magical touch in the garden; Lucie, the caring housekeeper who tries to keep everyone in line; and all of them would do anything – including come up with far-fetched and absurd plans – to protect the three young witches in their care: Rosette, Terracotta, and Altamira.

I can’t recommend The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches enough. There is romance, magic, entertaining plans and much more. It was such such an enjoyable, addictive, and superb read and I am really hoping for a sequel in the future.

A huge thank you to Hodder & Stoughton and NetGalley for providing me with a ARC of this amazing book.

Sangu Mandanna is the author of The Very Secret Society of Irregular WitchesKiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom, and other novels about magic, monsters and myths. She lives in Norwich with her husband and kids.

#BlogTour: THE IT GIRL by Ruth Ware @RuthWareWriter @simonschusterUK @RandomTTours

Publication: 4th August 2022 – Simon & Schuster UK

Everyone wanted her life
Someone wanted her dead

It was Hannah who found April’s body ten years ago.
It was Hannah who didn’t question what she saw that day.
Did her testimony put an innocent man in prison?
 
She needs to know the truth.
 
Even if it means questioning her own friends.
Even if it means putting her own life at risk.
 
Because if the killer wasn’t a stranger, it’s someone she knows…

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Today, it’s my stop on the blog tour for The It Girl, the addictive new novel by Ruth Ware.

The It Girl is the seventh novel by Ruth Ware and, like the ones before, it kept me engrossed from the first to the last page. The protagonist of the novel is Hannah Jones. Smart, bookish, a bit shy, raised by her middle-class mother, she is the opposite of rich, spoiled, vivacious, April Coutts-Cliveden and yet they became best friends on their first day at Oxford. Before the end of their first year, April was murdered and it was Hannah’s testimony to help the police find the killer and send him to prison.

Ten years later, Hannah is living in Edinburgh, working in a bookstore and married to one of her university friends, Will, and they are expecting their first child together. The news of the death in prison of April’s killer and a call from a journalist convinced that there is something missing from the investigation in April’s murder lead Hannah to revisit her first year of university and wonder if the real killer is still out there. It was not easy to be friends with April, she could be jealous and vengeful and her jokes were not always that funny. Was there someone else who wanted April dead?

There are so many things that I liked about The It Girl. First of all, half of the story is set in Oxford, one of my favorite places in the world. Also, I loved the dark academia atmosphere. And the narrative that switches between the past and the present. And the twists that kept me guessing until the end. And the unreliable and multi-layered characters.

The story is told from the perspective of Hannah Jones. I found it difficult to understand her friendship with April because they are completely different characters. April was mean and used to always have her way, while Hannah was kind-hearted and generous. Notwithstanding their unlikely friendship, April’s death and finding her body has completely changed Hannah’s life. Her testimony sent a man to prison, but what if he wasn’t the real killer? She needs to find out the truth.

Dark, suspenseful, and captivating, The It Girl is another masterpiece from the queen of crime Ruth Ware and I enjoyed every page of it. Highly recommended!

A huge thank you to Anna Cater and Simon & Schuster for inviting me to join the blog tour and providing me with a proof of the novel. 

Ruth Ware is an international number one bestseller. Her thrillers In a Dark, Dark WoodThe Woman in Cabin 10, The Lying Game, The Death of Mrs Westaway, The Turn of the Key and One by One have appeared on bestseller lists around the world, including the Sunday Times and New York Times. Her books have been optioned for both film and TV, and she is published in more than 40 languages. Ruth lives near Brighton with her family. You can find her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @ruthwarewriter or at ruthware.com

#BookReview: STAY AWAKE by Megan Goldin @megangoldin @StMartinsPress

Publication: 9th August 2022 – St. Martin’s Press

A murder she doesn’t remember committing. A killer she doesn’t remember meeting. Megan Goldin’s Stay Awake is an electrifying novel that proves memory can be deadly.

Liv Reese wakes up in the back of a taxi with no idea where she is or how she got there. When she’s dropped off at the door of her brownstone, a stranger answers―a stranger who claims to live in her apartment. She reaches for her phone to call for help, only to discover it’s missing. In its place is a bloodstained knife. Her hands are covered in scribbled messages, like graffiti on her skin: STAY AWAKE.

Two years ago, Liv was thriving as a successful writer for a trendy magazine. Now, she’s lost and disoriented in a New York City that looks nothing like what she remembers. Catching a glimpse of the local news, she’s horrified to see reports of a crime scene where the victim’s blood has been used to scrawl a message across a window, similar to the message that’s inked on her hands. What did she do last night? And why does she remember nothing from the past two years? Liv finds herself on the run for a crime she doesn’t remember committing. But there’s someone who does know exactly what she did, and they’ll do anything to make her forget―permanently.

A complex thriller that unfolds at a breakneck speed, Stay Awake will keep you up all night.

AMAZON

Liv Reese has the perfect life. She works as a journalist for the magazine Cultura, she lives in an apartment in Brooklyn with her best friend Amy, and she has a boyfriend, Marco, who she adores. However, one night she wakes up in the back of a taxi, a knife covered in blood in her hands, and writing on her hands warning her not to fall asleep. She doesn’t know where the knife comes from or who the blood belongs to and when she tries to get inside her apartment, she finds strangers living there. Her last memory is working at the office and answering the phone, then blank. Except that this happened two years ago. With no memory of the last two years and sensing that she is in danger, Liv knows she must figure out what happened, but, most importantly, she mustn’t fall asleep, because every time she does she forgets the last two years of her life.

In the meantime, in an apartment in Manhattan the body of a man has been found naked with a stab wound to the heart. Detective Darcy Halliday, temporarily assigned to the murder unit, is the first on the scene. There is blood writing on the window, the weapon is missing, and the identity of the victim is unknown, but as Halliday and her new partner, Detective Jack Lavelle, investigate they discover that the clues lead to Liv. However, they are not the only ones looking for her. There is someone who knows exactly what happened to Liv and wants to stop her before she figures it out…

I loved Megan Goldin’s previous novels and this new one didn’t disappoint. Packed with suspense, tension, and twists that I didn’t see coming, Stay Awake kept me on the edge of my seat from the first to the last page. The story is split between different timelines and points of views. Two years ago, we meet Liv before her memory loss, with her dream job, house, and boyfriend, and we learn what happened to her. In the present time, the narrative switches between the two smart, determined, and bold female protagonists: on the one side, there is a confused and afraid Liv, on the run from someone who doesn’t want her to remember and from a crime that she doesn’t know if she committed. On the other side, Darcy Hallidays, after various tours in Afghanistan, has chosen a life in the police and hopes to prove her worth and remain in the murder unit.

If you are looking for an exciting, action-packed, intense read, and two fantastic and likable protagonists then I can recommend Stay Awake enough!!!

Stay Awake is out today and I would like to thank St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for providing me with a proof of the novel.

MEGAN GOLDIN, author of THE ESCAPE ROOM and THE NIGHT SWIM, worked as a correspondent for Reuters and other media outlets where she covered war, peace, international terrorism and financial meltdowns in the Middle East and Asia. She is now based in Melbourne, Australia where she raises three sons and is a foster mum to Labrador puppies learning to be guide dogs.