Wednesday, 12 June 2019

My Summer 2019 Reading List!

Hi guys! Remember me? It's been a minute since I've blogged, huh? In fact, it has been a whole lot more than a minute. A whole nine months, in fact. Wow. I've never taken a blog break like this before. This extended break from blogging wasn't really a conscious decision, but I guess it's fair to say that after years and years of blogging pretty consistently, I am all blogged out. Still, maybe I'll pop back from time to time with quick book reviews and lists like this one - my 2019 Summer Reading List. 

Let me know what books you can't wait to read this summer. I'm always looking for recommendations. I'd especially love some summer 2019 YA recommendations as this list is a little light on YA summer reads!






I love a good family saga (heavy on the drama) and The Most Fun We Ever Had, a multi-generational novel spanning forty years of highs and lows in the lives of the Sorenson family, certainly sounds like it fits the bill!


From the synopsisAt a family wedding, the four Sorenson sisters polka-dot the green lawn in their summer pastels, with varying shades of hair and varying degrees of unease. Their long-infatuated parents watch on with a combination of love and concern.

Sixteen years later, the already messy lives of the sisters are thrown into turmoil by the unexpected reappearance of a teenage boy given up for adoption years earlier - and the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons' past is revealed.

Weaving between past and present, The Most Fun We Ever Had portrays the delights and difficulties of family life and the endlessly complex mixture of affection and abhorrence we feel for those closest to us. A dazzlingly accomplished debut and an utterly immersive portrait of one family's becoming, it marks the arrival of a major new literary voice.


Release date: July 25th by W&N


*****




The cover art screams summer as does the description which promises beach bonfires, boat parties and secret movie sessions. There's also summer romance (a secret affair, no less) and a mid-90's setting. Sold. 


From the synopsis: Commencement meets The Graduate in this sparkling novel about a secret affair, the summer it all unravels, and the reunion a decade later that will be one woman’s happy ending or her biggest mistake.


Becc was the good girl. A dedicated student. Aspiring reporter. Always where she was supposed to be. Until a secret affair with the charming Cal one summer in college cost her everything she held dear: her journalism dreams; her relationship with her best friend, Eric; and her carefully imagined future.


Now, Becc’s past is back front and center as she travels up the scenic California coast to a wedding—with a man she hasn’t seen in a decade. As each mile flies by, Becc can’t help but feel the thrilling push and pull of memories, from infinite nights at beach bonfires and lavish boat parties to secret movie sessions. But the man beside her is not so eager to re-create history. And as the events of that heartbreaking summer come into view, Becc must decide if those dazzling hours they once shared are worth fighting for or if they’re lost forever.


Set in the mid ’90s and 2008, Amy Mason Doan’s Summer Hoursis a warmly told novel about the idealism of youth, the seductive power of nostalgia and what happens when you realize you haven’t become the person you’d always promised to be.



Release date: June 4th by Graydon House

*****




The Virgin Suicides meets Picnic at Hanging Rock in Felicity McLean's The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone, an Australian-set saga detailing the mysterious disappearance of the Van Apfel sisters and the summer that changed everything. 


From the synopsisTikka Malloy was eleven and one-sixth years old during the long, hot, Australian summer of 1992. The TV news in the background chattered with debate about the exoneration of Lindy (“dingo took my baby”) Chamberlain. That summer was when the Van Apfel sisters--Ruth, Hannah, and the beautiful Cordelia--mysteriously disappeared. Did they just run far away from their harsh, evangelical parents, or were they taken? While the search for the girls united the small community, the mystery of their disappearance was never solved, and Tikka and her older sister, Laura, have been haunted ever since by the loss of their friends and playmates.

Now, years later, Tikka has returned home to try to make sense of that strange moment in time.

Part mystery, part darkly comic coming-of-age story, The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone is a page-turning read--with a dark, shimmering absence at its heart.
 

Release date: June 25th by Algonquin Books



*****




I love a good summer thriller and this one about a killer who strikes every year on the same night in July sounds right up my street! Other books on my summer thriller reading list include Lock Every Door by Riley Sager and The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda.


From the synopsis: Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost. 

Addie has a secret. On the morning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks - but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman's purse hidden in his room. Jessie says they mustn't tell. She says there's nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman's baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn't always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they're keeping may start costing lives...


Release date: July 25th by Wildfire

*****





Understated but utterly compelling, The Rest of the Story from the queen of YA summer reads is a must-read if you're a fan of coming-of-age summer contemps.  I've already read this one and I'll be delving into Dessen's backlist to get my summer contemp fix as my TBR is very light on 2019 YA summer releases. Got any recommendations for me? I'd love to hear them!


From the synopsisEmma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?



Release date: June 4th by Balzer & Bray


*****


Friday, 14 September 2018

Win a copy of Trace: who killed Maria James? by Rachael Brown (UK & ROI)


Love True Crime Podcasts ?




Trace: who killed Maria James? by Rachael Brown || Release date: September 13th 2018


The whole place seems cold, and he feels a terrible sense of dread. He calls out, but gets no reply. Taking a knife from the cutlery drawer, he unlocks the back door as an escape route. Then he sees her on the floor. Her eyes and mouth are open, and there is blood everywhere. He’s too late. 


After a strange phone call with his ex-wife, John James had sensed something was wrong and raced over to her house. As he stood in her bedroom doorway, transfixed by the sight of her body, the killer was almost certainly just a breath away, hiding behind the door. Had John walked in, he could have been the next victim. Instead, he left to call the police. The culprit escaped, taking with him the secret of a shocking murder that has shown no sign of being solved for nearly 40 years — until now.


Based on the international #1 podcast, Trace re-examines the 1980 murder of Maria James — the single mother of two sons, one with a disability — revealing abuse in the Catholic Church, cult activities, and claims of incompetence and corruption at the highest levels. Investigating possible conspiracies and uncovering fresh evidence, Rachael Brown's riveting investigation has won multiple media awards and may lead to the reopening of this chilling case.


*****




*****


Win a copy of Trace: who killed Maria James by Rachael Brown


+ This competition is open to entrants in the UK and Republic of Ireland. You must have a UK or ROI postal address to enter.
+Winners details will be supplied to a third party.
+Prize will be sent directly from third party.
+I bear no responsibility for prizes lost or undelivered - alternative prizes will not be offered.
+ One winner will receive a copy of Trace: who killed Maria James? by Rachael Brown.
+This is a sponsored giveaway: please refer to T&C's for further information.
+ Fill in the Rafflecopter Form to Enter!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Podcasts: Five to try if you love True Crime.

The pop culture phenomenon of 2014, the first season of Serial, which has since been downloaded a whopping 175 million times (and counting!) was the one the one that started it all: Serial brought podcasts to the masses and also unleashed the True Crime obsessive in us all (or is that just me?) In any case, if you were obsessed with Serial (and who wasn't?) then you've probably checked out a few dozen or so true crime podcasts in the time since Sarah Koenig detailed her investigation into the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee via weekly nail-biting instalments.

That's the thing about pop culture phenomenons - they tend to spawn a gazillion offshoots.

True crime podcasts are as popular as ever, but I think it's fair to say that not all true crime podcasts are made equally.  While it might be true that not every true crime podcast is the next Serial, it's also fair to say that a few have come pretty close.  Here are five to try before Serial Season Three launches on September 20th. (I wonder if Kim K. is all caught up yet?!)





The latest podcast phenomenon on the block, The Teacher's Pet is an Australian podcast investigating the disappearance and probable murder of mother-of-two Lyn Dawson back in 1982. 


What They Say: 

A star footballer. His school girl lover. 

A wife who vanishes.

Chris and Lyn appear to have the perfect marriage. But when Lyn goes missing, dark secrets are buried. This is no fairytale, but a sordid story of strangely close twin brothers, teenage student lovers, and probable murder.


Find Out More: 



*****




If you are planning on checking out Dirty John be prepared clear your schedule. This podcast, which details the relationship between Debra Newell, a successful interior designer, and John Meehan, a man who just doesn't check out, is what binge listening was made for.  A TV series based on the podcast, starring Connie Britton and Eric Bana, is currently in the works.


What They Say:

Debra Newell is a successful interior designer. She meets John Meehan, a handsome man who seems to check all the boxes: attentive, available, just back from a year in Iraq with Doctors Without Borders. But her family doesn’t like John, and they get entangled in an increasingly complex web of love, deception, forgiveness, denial, and ultimately, survival. 


Find Out More:


*****





One of the most affecting podcasts I have listened to, Trace is an Australian podcast detailing the murder of Maria James, a mother-of-two, who was stabbed to death in June 1980. 


What They Say:

On a winter morning in June 1980, Maria James turned to her son Mark and looked him in the eyes.

"She said to me, 'if anything happens to me, look after your brother.'"

Later that day she was found stabbed to death at the back of her suburban Melbourne bookshop, where she lived with her two boys.

Was it a scorned lover? A random stranger? Or was the murder tied up in the sins of the Catholic Church?


Find Out More:




*****




One of the podcast hits of 2018, West Cork investigates the 1996 murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier, and takes a deep dive into the dark side of rural Ireland.


What They Say:



This much we do know: Sophie Toscan du Plantier was murdered days before Christmas in 1996, her broken body discovered at the edge of her property near the town of Schull in West Cork, Ireland. The rest remains a mystery.


Gripping, yet ever elusive, join the real-life hunt for answers in the year’s first not-to-be-missed, true-crime series. Investigative journalist, Sam Bungey, and documentarian, Jennifer Forde, guide listeners through the brutal, unsolved murder and the tangled web of its investigation, while introducing an intricate cast of characters, a provocative prime suspect, and a recovering community whose story begs to be heard.



Find Out More:



*****




Season One of Up and Vanished investigated the 2005 disappearance of high school teacher Tara Grinstead - and got results. Season Two, which premiered August 20th, delves into the case of Kristal Anne Reisinger, a young mother who disappeared from the tiny town of Crestone, Colorado, in 2016.


What They Say: 


On July 13, 2016, Kristal reportedly disappeared from a full moon drum circle. She has not been seen since. After 2 years with no arrests, Saguache County Sheriff’s Office is no longer treating Kristal’s disappearance as a missing persons case, but rather suspected foul play.


Find Out More:



*****




So, there you have it: five podcasts to try if you love True Crime. I could easily have made this a Top Ten (so many great podcasts that haven't made the cut today - but maybe I'll do a Part 2?) If you're a fan of True Crime and have any podcast recommendations, I'd love to hear them!

Monday, 10 September 2018

Book Review: You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke.



Product details:
Publisher: HarperCollins.
Hardcover 416 pages.
Release date: September 6th 2018.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Source: Received from publisher for review.

Spine-tingling, chilling, and utterly compulsive, YOU LET ME IN is the stunning new novel from Richard & Judy Book Club author, Lucy ClarkeNothing has felt right since Elle rented out her house . . .

I’M IN YOUR HOUSEThere’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows.

I’M IN YOUR HEADMaybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night.

AND NOW I KNOW YOUR SECRETAs fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key…



Thinking of renting out your home on Airbnb? You might think again when you read You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke...

With her debut novel, Wild Fear, author Elle Fielding enjoyed the kind of runaway success most writers can only dream of.   Wild Fear made all of Elle’s dreams come true, affording her the life she always wanted, including her dream home, a beautiful old house on the Cornish coast. The thing about dream homes is that they don’t come cheap; Elle has spent most of the six-figure advance she received for her second novel renovating her home to perfection. Now, the money is gone and with the deadline for her highly-anticipated sophomore novel looming, Elle is starting to panic. The problem is, Elle’s work in progress is currently nothing more than a masterclass in procrastination. Elle might have been living a whirlwind life of festivals, signings and talks while meeting her adoring fans, but what she hasn’t been doing is a whole lot of writing. 

What’s a girl to do when her advance is gone and she’s behind on her mortgage repayments? Why, let a bunch of paying strangers live in her house for a few weeks, of course!

This sharing economy we live in today is all well and good – if you don’t think about it too deeply or too often. The thing about You Let Me In is that it makes you think about this stuff; this book makes you think about posting your personal information online (as Elle does – along with the rest of us), it makes you think about all the people that sign up to Airbnb and hand over their house keys to complete strangers without a second thought. When you think about it, it’s totally insane that we do this stuff! After all, there’s nothing to stop those strangers getting your keys copied. There’s nothing to stop them using those keys to sneak into you’re your house late at night...Eeek! 

However, when Elle returns from her trip, it seems that any fears she had about letting strangers stay in her house were unfounded. Apart from a few kids toys left lying around, Elle’s house is just as she left it: pristine.  Elle is pretty house proud, just FYI.  The thing is, though everything seems to have gone well, Elle appears to be troubled. She can’t sleep on her first night back. And she feels uneasy, almost as if someone is watching her...Then there’s the shard of glass on Elle’s bedroom floor; the shard of glass -  placed right in front of her floor-length mirror - that pierced her foot. There’s that uneasy feeling again. There’s something strange about the placement of that shard of glass. It’s almost as if it was staged – almost as if it was put there on purpose to hurt Elle. But who would want to hurt Elle? After all, Elle has never hurt anybody. Or has she?

As things go from bad to worse and Elle’s dream life turns into the stuff of nightmares, it soon becomes clear that a blank word document and a dwindling bank account are not the only things Elle has been keeping secret from the people in her life. 


 Tense, tightly-plotted and highly original, You Let Me In wins in terms of shocks and surprises, twists and thrillers. In short, it has everything I want in a thriller. A winner! 




P.S: Enter to WIN a copy of YOU LET ME IN.

Thursday, 6 September 2018

Win a copy of You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke! (UK & ROI)

Looking for a great new thriller?


 Look no further!  Today sees the release of You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke and it just so happens -
with thanks to Harper Collins -  that I have a shiny new copy of this most excellent book to give away to one lucky winner! I'll be reviewing You Let Me In next week (spoiler alert: I loved it!) but for now you can find more details on both book and blog tour below:




You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke || Release date: September 6th 2018

Spine-tingling, chilling, and utterly compulsive, YOU LET ME IN is the stunning new novel from Richard & Judy Book Club author, Lucy Clarke
Nothing has felt right since Elle rented out her house...
I’M IN YOUR HOUSE
There’s a new coldness. A shift in the atmosphere. The prickling feeling that someone is watching her every move from the shadows.
I’M IN YOUR HEAD
Maybe it’s all in Elle’s mind? She’s a writer – her imagination, after all, is her strength. And yet every threat seems personal. As if someone has discovered the secrets that keep her awake at night.
AND NOW I KNOW YOUR SECRET
As fear and paranoia close in, Elle’s own home becomes a prison. Someone is unlocking her past – and she’s given them the key…

*****



*****


WIN A COPY OF YOU LET ME IN BY LUCY CLARKE!


+ This competition is open to entrants in the UK and Republic of Ireland. You must have a UK or ROI postal address to enter.
+Winners details will be supplied to a third party.
+Prize will be sent directly from third party.
+I bear no responsibility for prizes lost or undelivered - alternative prizes will not be offered.
+ One winner will receive a copy of You Let Me In by Lucy Clarke.
+This is a sponsored giveaway: please refer to T&C's for further information.
+ Fill in the Rafflecopter Form to Enter!



a Rafflecopter giveaway
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