Alias Emma by Ava Glass #NetGalley @penguinrandom #PublicationDay #crime #spythriller #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Alias Emma by Ava Glass. This is a fabulous spy-thriller story and I have discovered it is the first in a planned series. Today is Publication Day for this book.

Emma Makepeace is about to spend the longest night in her life.

She’s on her first operation with a shadowy organisation known only as ‘The Agency’, assigned to track down and save an innocent man wanted by the Russian government

All Emma has to do is bring him in to MI6 before sunrise, and before an assassination team gets to him first.

But the Russians have hacked the city’s CCTV cameras. There are spies all over London searching for the two of them. And her target, Michael Primalov, doesn’t want to be rescued.

As London sleeps, a battle is taking place on its streets as Emma fights to keep Michael alive.

But what sort of reception await them if and when they get to MI6?

KILLING EVE meets JAMES BOND in the first novel of the ALIAS EMMA series: a thrilling, cinematic page-turner starring the most likeable and resourceful of heroines. 

MY REVIEW

I do love a good spy thriller story and especially one that involves different government agencies. I think most of us have a mistrust of these agencies and so it always makes sense that they are involved in some plot, conspiracy or cover-up.

Emma Makepeace, a spy for the British government has not long been in this job. She is not a rookie, she already has experience as she served as an intelligence officer in the forces. She also has an interesting family background.

As the synopsis suggests, she has been tasked with finding and convincing an innocent man that his life is at risk. It is her job to get him to a safe place. What should be a basic job, suddenly becomes a flight through and under the streets of London. Trying to evade capture and being seen, is very difficult when London has cameras everywhere.

This is a fast-paced read, a quick intro to Emma and that’s it, straight into the action. The story does have a little back and forth as far as timelines and people go, not much but it does give some valuable additional information. There is not a huge cast of characters in this story, some don’t even have a name. This makes sense given the genre of the story.

As I mentioned conspiracy goes hand in hand with spies and governments, so this story ticked a lot of boxes for me. There are several things on the go and it was interesting to see how the author would play this one out. I really enjoyed the route she took and it felt right. This is a story that is full of mystery as well as crime set mainly in London.

This is a cracking read and I am hoping this is the start of a series. The author has left the opportunity to make this an option.

This is one for those who like a fast-paced, spy thriller that has that edge-of-the-seat frenetic energy to it, It is one I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Birdcage by Eve Chase #PublicationDay #NeyGalley @PenguinUKBooks #mystery #suspense #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for The Birdcage by Eve Chase. This is a wonderful suspense and mystery read set in Cornwall.

My huge thanks to Penguin Random House & Michael Joseph Books for granting my request to read this title via NetGalley.

Kat, Flossie and Lauren are half-sisters who share a famous artist father – and a terrible secret.

Each has found their way of burying it. Over the years they’ve grown apart, and into wildly different lives. But an invitation to Rock Point, the Cornish cliff house where they once sat for their father’s most celebrated painting, Girls with Birdcage, reunites them.

Rock Point is a beautiful, windswept place, thick with secrets, electrically charged with the one subject the family daren’t discuss. And there is someone in the shadows watching the house, their every move. Someone who remembers the girls in the painting. What they did.

The sisters must unlock the truth to set themselves free – and find each other again.

MY REVIEW

Covers are a great way of noticing books and this cover is gorgeous. The cover shows a lovely white house in a cage and as I have now read this book, it is very relevant. The Birdcage is a novel that skips back and forth in time. It has mysterious undertones that are not always obvious.

Three sisters, well half-sisters as they share the same father, but have different mothers. The sisters have been summoned back to the house which has caused painful memories. They have been summoned by their father and it is the first time they have been back for 20 years. The last time was in 1999 for the solar eclipse.

Each sister is nervous as they make their way back to Rock House, each one has something that is easting away at them and each one just wants to get through this reunion and go back to their lives. While they may have tried to put events of 20 years ago behind them, things are certainly going to resurface.

This is a wonderful book that really draws on the wilder side of Cornwall, a country steeped in mystery and one that lends itself to stories like this one so well. The author brings the windswept moors and the crashing seas into the story. In some ways, the unpredictability of the weather also matches the feelings of those in the house.

Each of the sisters has memories from 1999, but some are more deeply hidden than others. The author gives the sisters very distinct characters and personalities, but the one thing they have in common is that they have all drifted. They are not the same people they were and so this becomes a very tentative, stepping on the egg-shells reunion.

I really enjoyed how the author gradually brought in the mystery via each of the main characters, there is a sense of something quite serious happening. When this is finally revealed I sort of didn’t see it coming as such, but it also wasn’t a huge shock as I had realised the author had been very subtly leaving breadcrumbs.

This has a haunting atmospheric feel to it, with the secrets and unsaid things that have lurked in the past. It is one that I think is ideal for those who like family mysteries and secrets as well as contemporary time-slip novels. It is one I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Theatre of Marvels by Lianne Dillsworth @PenguinUKBooks #PublicationDay #NetGalley #histfic #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Theatre of Marvels by Lianne Dillsworth. This is a wonderful historical fiction story about a Black Actress in London, that has its Publication Day today.

My huge thanks to Penguin Random House for my e-copy of this book via NetGalley.

Crowds gather at Crillick’s Variety Theatre, where curiosity is satisfied with displays of intrigue and fear. They’re here for the star of the show – the Great Amazonia warrior. They needn’t know this warrior is in fact Zillah, a mixed-race actress from the East End fooling them each night with her thrilling performance.

But something is amiss, and when Crillick’s new act goes missing Zillah feels compelled to investigate, knowing the fates that can befall women in Victorian London.

From the bustle of the West India Docks to the coffee houses of Fleet Street to the parlours of Mayfair, Zillah’s journey for answers will find her caught between both sides of her own identity, and between two men: her wealthy white admirer, and an African merchant appalled by her act.

Will Zillah be forced to confront the price of her own performance? And in risking everything can she also save herself?

Featuring a defiant heroine for our times and a theatrical world of fragile dreams and ruthless ambition, THEATRE OF MARVELS shines a light on the experience of being Black and British in Victorian London through one woman’s journey to live her life on her own terms.

MY REVIEW

Zillah is a young woman of mixed race. Her mother has given her the best chance in life she can, as a free person, not a slave. This is set in the Victorian era of London and the author has created a vivid picture of what life may have been like for someone like Zillah.

Working as an actress, she isn’t happy that her role is to play a warrior from the Amazon, especially when she has never left London. Zillah was born in the slums of St Giles and a job is a job. She does however start to realise that maybe her painting herself up, dancing and chanting on stage may not be right.

This story is about how a young girl is discovering more about herself and the world she lives in. In some ways, she does live a sheltered life, she has a job, and a place to live and while she has worries she does have the basics. It is when she starts to see other people and listen to their opinions and what they are fighting for that sZillah herself wants to make her own contribution.

This is a time of exploitation, slavery and manipulation. The world is changing and not everyone wants to keep up or change with it. The author does such a great job with descriptions of sights sounds and smells that this did become a very immersive story. I genuinely cared about what Zillah was faced with and what decisions she had to make.

Trying to do the right thing isn’t easy, but when you are still struggling to understand what is going on it makes it hard. But the thing about Zillah is her determination, it is something that grows with her and it was great to read of her finding the courage to join the campaign for better laws and freedoms.

This is a historical fiction story, I did think it had more of a Young Adult feel to it as the story does focus on Zillah, her realisation that there are things in the world that are not right, it is her journey of self-discovery and empowerment. It is a story that does have some serious themes, but the author doesn’t go into too much detail which was rather nice from a reader’s point of view. It is an interesting and evocative read and one that I would recommend reading.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton and James Patterson @PenguinRandom #NetGalley #mystery #contemporaryfiction #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Run Rose Run by Dolly Parton & James Patterson. It is a fabulous literary pairing and a cracking read. I also treated myself to the CD that goes with the book, after all the lyrics are mentioned throughout the book! The CD is a mix of a modern country sound as well as a more classic country, ballads and some nice bluesy numbers.

My thanks to Penguin for granting my request to read this title via NetGalley.

From America’s most beloved superstar and its greatest storyteller – a thriller about a young singer-songwriter on the rise and on the run, and determined to do whatever it takes to survive.

Every song tells a story.

She’s a star on the rise, singing about the hard life behind her.

She’s also on the run. Find a future, lose a past.

Nashville is where she’s come to claim her destiny. It’s also where the darkness she’s fled might find her. And destroy her.

Run, Rose, Run is a novel glittering with danger and desire – a story that only America’s #1 beloved entertainer and its #1 bestselling author could have created.

MY REVIEW

I had high hopes for this book when I first saw it, I mean Dolly Parton and James Patterson teaming up to write a book sounds amazing. Both are amazing writers in their own fields and they both have had amazing success over the years.

Run Rose Run is a wonderful story about a young singer, AnnieLee Keyes. She hitches her way to a run-down bar and asks if she can sing on their small stage. A random bloke happens to be there and has a slot after AnnieLee. A chance meeting or fate, either way, is the start of something for them both.

So, who is Rose, and why is she running? That is something that you will soon discover for yourself.

The authors have mixed the goings-on of Nashville and Country music with a fabulously tense mystery. I really enjoyed the way that the older legends of country music get a mention and how the industry is explored in this novel. Yeah, there is the glamour, glitz and rhinestones. There is also the damp bars, the hitch-hiking, and being one of the thousands hoping to see their name in lights. The balance between the up and coming singer against an established legend was great.

Around the music is an underlying mystery, this starts in quite a subtle way. If you are like me and don’t tend to read the synopsis for books, then the obvious title kind of hints at things. Quite how we get there though is an addictive and compelling story.

As this is Dolly, there are snippets of songs and these can be found in full at the end of the book. There is also an album that she has recorded with the same songs on, and the title is the same as the book.

This story was all I had hoped it would be. It is a mix of contemporary fiction, a journey of discovery and a mystery. If you are a fan of all things Dolly then I do think you are going to love this. It was a cracking read with some wonderful heartwarming and heartbreaking moments. At times dark and it is one I would definitely recommend.

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

No Such Thing As Perfect by Emma Hughes #NetGalley #20booksofsummer

I am delighted to share my review today for No Such Thing As Perfect by Emma Hughes. This is a book that was not originally on my #20booksofsummer reading list, but is now another one I have swapped in!

I requested an advance copy of this book from Random House via NetGalley. My review is my own.

No one’s life is as perfect as it looks.

Least of all Laura Morrison’s. (Although she’s not sure how perfect hanging onto your job by a thread and sleeping on an air mattress at your sister’s looks, in all honesty.)

When Laura gets the chance to trial Cupid – a high-tech new dating service which will draw on everything she’s ever done online to find her perfect match – she figures it’s got to be worth a try.

She can’t believe her luck when good-looking, kind considerate Adam turns up for their first date. On paper he’s…well…perfect.

But when Laura develops feelings for the person who led her to Adam in the first place, familiar doubt creeps in.

Maybe for life to start falling into place, Laura has to learn to let go…

My Review…

As the synopsis for this book tells you, life for Laura hasn’t been great. So when an invite to trial a new dating service arrives she decides to give it a go. Laura is a journalist and she can use her experience of the service to hopefully help her keep her job.

This is a light and fun read. Following Laura as she goes through her days and then her meeting with her potential perfect match. As this is supposed to be an easy way of meeting and finding your partner it is supposed to take the some of the doubts and lies out of the start of a new relationship.

I liked the idea of this book, using algorithms to find a potential match is great. As we know, algorithms are great but that do have peculiarities so I was waiting for a twist along the way.

Laura has other problems in life and this did help bring other characters into the story along with family and friends. These characters add a good range of personalities and give different advice and opinions.

Overall a light-hearted story that had a few surprises. If you are a fan of contemporary romance then I do think this is one you would enjoy and it’s one I would recommend. 

Many thanks for reading my post, a alike or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Malice by Heather Walter @penguinrandom #NetGalley #Fantasy #bookreview

I am delighted to share my review today for Malice by Heather Walter. This is a fab read and my thanks to Random House UK for approving my request to read this e-book via NetGalley.

I love the cover for this book!

The princess isn’t supposed to fall for an evil sorceress. But in this darkly magical retelling of Sleeping Beauty, true love is more complicated than a simple fairy tale. 

Once upon a time, there was a wicked fairy who, in an act of vengeance, cursed a line of princesses to die. A curse that could only be broken by true love’s kiss.

You’ve heard this before, haven’t you? The handsome prince. The happily-ever-after.

Utter nonsense.

Let me tell you, no one in Briar actually cares about what happens to its princesses. Not the way they care about their jewels and elaborate parties and charm-granting elixirs. I thought I didn’t care, either.

Until I met her.

Princess Aurora. The last heir to Briar’s throne. Kind. Gracious. The future queen her realm needs. One who isn’t bothered that I am Alyce, the Dark Grace, abhorred and feared for the mysterious dark magic that runs in my veins. Humiliated and shamed by the same nobles who pay me to bottle hexes and then brand me a monster. Aurora says I should be proud of my gifts. That she . . . cares for me. Even though it was a power like mine that was responsible for her curse.

But with less than a year until that curse will kill her, any future I might see with Aurora is swiftly disintegrating—and she can’t stand to kiss yet another insipid prince. I want to help her. If my power began her curse, perhaps it’s what can lift it. Perhaps, together, we could forge a new world.

Nonsense again.

Because we all know how this story ends, don’t we? Aurora is the beautiful princess. And I—

I am the villain.

My Review…

I really enjoyed this re-telling of the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty. It is the story of Alyce, or as she is nicknamed Malyce! She is a Vila, known as a Dark Grace. The Grace’s are the fairy’s if you like, and are admired, revered and people visit it them for the charms they make. Alyce doesn’t make charms like wisdom, beauty, intellect, she makes curses such as warts, forgetfulness and other inconveniences.

The story is how the “wicked witch” in the tale of Sleeping Beauty comes into being. The author has taken Alyce and adapted her story giving this young woman a backstory. Alyce does not fit in, she is considered an abomination and is bullied and looked down upon. All she wants is to be like the other Grace’s but her skin is dry, her hair lank, her blood green and is so different from the others. The Grace’s make charms for money, it gives them a purpose and a way of making a living and people do come to see Alyce as well.

The story takes a route that sees a friendship form, it unlikely and also frowned upon. Alyce discovers more about her villa heritage and how she is different from the other Grace’s. The author has then expanded on this difference in several ways and gradually bring Alyce up to the story we know concerning Princess Aurora becoming the Sleeping Beauty.

I found this to be a really enjoyable story and it did have a teen or young adult feel to it, and for me, this made it an easy book to read but one that did have a really captivating storyline. After finishing the story I did think that it felt right. There was a good amount of information, some history and also a general feel of Alyce being bullied and almost forced into becoming what she does.

While it is aimed at a teen or young adult market I really enjoyed escaping into this fantasy novel. It was interesting and I really enjoyed the route the author chose. One I would recommend if you are looking for a bit of escapism and also for returning to a childhood classic.

Malice is due for Publication on 13th April 2021

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Secret Santa by Trish Harteniaux @TrishHarnetiaux @rachel90kennedy #Bookreview

I am delighted to share my thoughts today on The Secret Santa by Trish Harteniaux. My thanks to Rachel at Penguin Random House for my spot on the Blog Tour and for arranging my e-copy of the book.

THIS YEAR YOU’LL GET WHAT YOU DESERVE…

When an international pop starlet rolls into town looking to buy the most expensive house on the market, struggling real estate agents and husband and wife duo Claudine and Henry think their terrible luck has finally turned.

The mysterious mansion has hidden secrets, and Claudine and Henry’s survival depends on no one finding out the truth about what really happened there. In a desperate move to secure the sale, Claudine decides to bury the house’s dark past and show it at its best – by inviting the singer to a lavish holiday party hosted inside the majestic mountainside mansion.

But when a murder weapon turns up as part of the party’s game of Secret Santa, Claudine’s carefully curated lie and the lives of all the party goers is threatened as they race to find the killer before they can strike again.

How far will Claudine go to protect her secrets? Is she prepared to kill to make a killing, or will she fall prey herself?

The synopsis does a good job of letting you know a little bit about this murder mystery story. A of seeing a stunning property means a change of location for Henry and Claudine’s staff Christmas do. The party will be moved to the remote property so that it can be shown off at its best for a potential buyer. Part of the party is the Secret Santa, a game of exchanging presents has been something that has increased over the years and everyone tries to out-do each other, however this year one of the gifts has a catch!

This is a murder mystery read that is about revenge for something that was done in the past. The truth is not revealed until far later in the story and it is where all the answers are suddenly revealed.

The story is told in quick chapters from the perspective of different characters, Claudine, Henry and Zara as well as a mystery italicised chapters! I like this style as it gave me a chance to get inside the heads of various people, see their thoughts and some of what they really think.

The story is well paced and definitely kept me guessing, gradually introducing me to everyone involved and also drawing me further into the story. The setting is good though not overwhelming, there are several good mentions about it and it does sound idyllic, isolated, remote and scenic. The focus is more on the people.

This is a murder mystery that has drama and suspense rather than blood and guts. Its not a thriller or police procedural and would suit cosy mystery readers. It is one I would recommend.

The Secret Santa is Trish Harnetiaux’s debut novel. She is a Brooklyn-based playwright whose published works includeTin Cat Shoes, How To Get Into Buildings, and If You Can Get To Buffalo
Follow her on Twitter @TrishHarnetiaux #TheSecretSanta

See what other Book Bloggers think by following the tour…

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Now You See Her by Heidi Perks @HeidiPerksBooks @arrowpublishing #NowYouSeeHer

Today I am delighted to be part of the Paperback Publication Day Celebrations for Now You See Her by Heidi Perks. My huge thanks to Rachel at Arrow Publishing for accepting my request to review this book and for sending me a paperback copy.

SHE WAS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY. AND NOW SHE’S MISSING.

Unputdownable psychological suspense from an exciting new talent, perfect for fans of The Couple Next Door and I Let You Go.

NOW YOU SEE HER
She’s playing at the school fete with your children. You pull out your phone, scroll through Facebook, and look up again.
NOW YOU DON’T

Charlotte is looking after her best friend’s daughter the day she disappears. She thought the little girl was playing with her own children. She swears she only took her eyes off them for a second.

Now, Charlotte must do the unthinkable, tell her best friend Harriet that her only child is missing. The child she was meant to be watching.

Devastated, Harriet can no longer bear to see Charlotte. No one could expect her to trust her friend again.

Only now she needs to. Because two weeks later Harriet and Charlotte are both being questioned separately by the police. And secrets are about to surface.

HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO TO PUT THINGS RIGHT?

Well, now that synopsis got my attention! It did a cracking job of hinting what I would discover on the ensuing pages. It comes across as intriguing, it has an element of suspense and tension and it hints that there is more to this than meets the eye. Well by the time I finished the book I was right, it did have those elements and a whole lot more.

It’s told in a very easy to follow way with a now and before timeline that alternates between Charlotte and Harriet. During the now sections it is mainly the questions being asked during the police investigations. This has been very cleverly done and in such an ambiguous way. It wasn’t until I had finished the story that I realised how the questioning never let on about how the story panned out. The before sections tell the lead up to the disappearance of CCharlottes daughter and how she was supposed to be the responsibility of Harriet. It delves into the relationship and lives of the two mothers.

I had no idea how this story would pan out until the Author was ready to let me in it. I was really interested in the dynamic and backlash that became part of Charlotte and Harriet’s lives. Imagine losing a child, then imagine losing someone else’s child. The build-up of icy stares, cold shoulders and snubbing were on the ball for me. It showed how a parent automatically gathers her children to her to protect them regardless of being in receipt of all the facts.

This is a clever story that I was immediately invested and drawn into. The author did a great job of dealing with various emotions, she kept the story flowing and my interest deeply rooted in the story. It gave me several Oh! moments as realisations where dropped.

A fabulous psychological thriller that I thoroughly enjoyed. A story with quick chapters and a flow that fitted perfectly. It’s one I would definitely recommend.

Purchase a copy of Now You See Her – HERE

Heidi Perks was born in 1973. She lives by the sea in Bournemouth with her husband and two children.
Heidi graduated from Bournemouth University in 1997 with a BA (Hons) in Retail Management, and then enjoyed a career in Marketing before leaving in 2012 to focus on both bringing up her family and writing.
Heidi successfully applied for a place on the inaugural Curtis Brown Creative online Novel Writing Course and after that dedicated her time to completing her first novel, Beneath The Surface.
She has a huge interest in what makes people tick and loves to write about family relationships, especially where some of the characters are slightly dysfunctional. 
Heidi is now writing her second novel

Many thanks for reading my post,

a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx