Book Review: Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman

“There is a fine line between coincidence and fate…”

Set to be published on 27th January, Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman is set in London, 1799, where aspiring jewellery artist Dora lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle. But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.

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Audiobook Review: The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup

“She’d been swallowed up in her own pain for so many years that she didn’t notice his until it was too late.”

Originally published in 2019, The Chestnut Man by Søren Sveistrup is set in Copenhagen where a young woman has been killed and dumped at a playground. One of her hands has been cut off, and above her hangs a small doll made of chestnuts. Young detective Naia Thulin is assigned the case with her partner Mark Hess, a burned-out investigator. They soon discover a mysterious piece of evidence on the chestnut man – evidence connecting it to a girl who went missing a year earlier and is presumed dead, the daughter of politician Rosa Hartung. Another woman is then found murdered, along with another chestnut man. Thulin and Hess suspect that there’s a connection between the Hartung case, the murdered women and a killer who is spreading fear throughout the country. But what is it?

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Book Review: The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood

“To solve an impossible murder, you need an impossible hero…”

Published in 2021, The Marlow Murder Club by Robert Thorogood follows seventy-seven-year-old Judith who lives on her own in a faded mansion just outside Marlow. To keep herself busy, she sets crosswords for The Times newspaper. There’s no man in her life to tell her what to do or how much whisky to drink, and that’s just how she likes it. One evening, while out swimming in the Thames, Judith witnesses a brutal murder. The local police don’t believe her story, so she decides to investigate for herself, and is soon joined in her quest by Suzie, a salt-of-the-earth dog-walker, and Becks, the prim and proper wife of the local Vicar. Together, they are the Marlow Murder Club.

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Book Review: One Step Too Far (Frankie Elkin #2) by Lisa Gardner

“Five men head into the woods for a bachelor party weekend. Only four return.”

Set to be published on 20th January and the second series in the Frankie Elkin series, One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner sees missing persons specialist Frankie travel to Wyoming where she joins a seven-day woodland search team to find Tim and bring him home – whatever the cost. Tim has been missing for five years now after disappearing during a bachelor party weekend in the woods. The search, led by Tim’s father Martin, uncovers broken tree limbs and traces of blood which suggest a wild animal may be lurking nearby. But Frankie knows better. With secrets swirling and tensions raised in the group, it becomes clear that Frankie’s newest case could be her last.

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BOOK TOUR: Remember My Name by Sam Blake

“If she’d turned off her phone, instead of listening in, perhaps no one would have died…”

Published earlier this month, Remember My Name by Sam Blake follows Cressida Howard who, after catching her entrepreneur husband playing away from home, hires security expert Brioni to get the evidence she needs for a speedy and financially rewarding divorce. But what Brioni uncovers goes beyond simple infidelity. Because Laurence Howard is also in bed with some very dangerous people. Bribery and blackmail are the least of his worries as someone comes after the women in his life – someone who is out to destroy Laurence and his empire, whatever the cost. And Cressida and her teenage daughter could soon be collateral damage if she and Brioni don’t act fast.

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Book Review: I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney

“Sometimes it only takes one person to believe in you to change your life forever. Sometimes it only takes one person not believing in you to destroy it.”

Published in 2019, I Know Who You Are by Alice Feeney follows Aimee Sinclair: the actress everyone thinks they know, but they can’t remember where from. Except one person. Someone who knows Aimee very well, and what she’s done…

When Aimee comes home and discovers her husband is missing, she doesn’t seem to know what to do or how to act. The police think she’s hiding something. And they’re right, she is. But perhaps not what they thought. Aimee has a secret she’s never shared, and yet, she suspects that someone knows. As she struggles to keep her career and sanity intact, her past comes back to haunt her in ways more dangerous than she could have ever imagined.

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Book Review: Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington

“Every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings…”

Published in 2015, Every Time A Bell Rings by Carmel Harrington follows married couple Belle and Jim as we meet them over three different time periods – when they first meet as children in foster care, the day that Jim proposes, and in the aftermath of the now-married couple crashing their car on an icy December night. Now foster parents themselves, Belle and Jim have given many children the chance of a happier start in life, but a confrontation starts when Jim pleads for the couple to start a family of their own. With her husband now in hospital, Belle finds herself standing on The Ha’Penny Bridge wishing she had never been born. But what happens to a Christmas wish when an angel is listening? Will Belle realize that her life is the most wonderful life of all, before it’s too late?

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Book Review: Her Perfect Twin by Sarah Bonner

“HER PERFECT TWIN. YOUR NEW OBSESSION.”

Set to be released on 20th January, Her Perfect Twin by Sarah Bonner follows identical twin sisters Megan and Leah, who haven’t spoken for nearly five years. So when Megan discovers photographs of her estranged identical twin sister on her husband’s phone, she wants answers. Leah already has everything Megan has ever wanted: fame, fortune, freedom to do what she wants. And when Megan confronts Leah, an argument turns to murder. The only way Megan can get away with killing her twin is to become her. But then lockdown hits. How can she continue living two lives? And what happens if someone else knows her secret too?

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Book Review: Breaking Point by Edel Coffey

“An innocent mistake. A lifetime of guilt.”

Set to be published on 20th January, Breaking Point by Edel Coffey follows high-flying Susannah has two beautiful daughters, a successful medical career, a caring husband, and an enviable life. She truly has it all. But when – on the hottest day of the year – her strict morning routine is disrupted, Susannah finds herself running on autopilot. It is hours before she realizes she has made a devastating mistake. Her baby, Louise, is still in the backseat of the car and it is too late to save her. As the press closes in around her, Susannah is put on trial for negligence. It is plain to see that this is not a trial, it’s a witch hunt. But what will the court say?

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Book Review: Circus Of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal

“This is what the girls felt, she thinks, those seized by pedlars in the lanes. Pinned down like moths, like squids on rocks. This is the fight women have always fought, their soft bodies turned to battlegrounds, slim bones crushed beneath the solid weight of men.”

Published in 2021, Circus Of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal is set in a coastal village in southern England in 1866 where Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea. But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell’s life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.

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Book Review: Before She Disappeared (Frankie Elkin #1) by Lisa Gardner

“Maybe the question shouldn’t be why am I doing this, but why isn’t everyone looking?”

The first book in the Frankie Elkin series and published in 2021, Before She Disappeared by Lisa Gardner follows Frankie, a middle-aged recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings. But she spends her life doing what no one else will – searching for missing people the world has stopped looking for. When the police have given up, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.

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Book Review: Last Breath (The Good Daughter #0.5) by Karin Slaughter

“Protecting someone always comes at a cost.”

Last Breath by Karin Slaughter is a short story which serves as a prequel to her 2017 standalone, The Good Daughter. Looking at one of Charlie Quinn’s earliest cases as a lawyer, we see the early days of Charlie’s career after making it her mission to defend those with no one else to turn to. So when Flora Faulkner, a motherless teen, begs for help, Charlie is reminded of her own past and is powerless to say no. But honour-student Flora is in far deeper trouble than Charlie could ever have anticipated. Soon she must ask herself: How far should she go to protect her client? And can she truly believe everything she is being told?

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Audiobook Review: The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

“Remember the small things, and the big things will work themselves out.”

Published in 2018, The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris tells the true story of Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, in April 1942, who is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a tattooist, tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners. Imprisoned for over two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism—but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion. Risking his own life, he uses his privileged position to exchange jewels and money from murdered Jews for food to keep his fellow prisoners alive. One day, Lale comforts a trembling young woman waiting in line to have her number tattooed onto her arm. Her name is Gita, and in that first encounter, Lale vows to somehow survive the camp and marry her.

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Book Review: The Girl Before by JP Delaney

“Please make a list of every possession you consider essential to your life.”

Published in 2017 and recently adapted for the BBC, The Girl Before by JP Delaney follows two women, Emma and Jane, who, three years apart, move in to the architectural masterpiece that is One Folgate Street – a minimalist design of pale stone, plate glass, and soaring ceilings. Emma is reeling from a traumatic break-in, and Jane is seeking a fresh start after a personal tragedy, so each feel comforted by the safety that the house offers. But there are rules. The enigmatic architect who designed the house retains full control: no books, no throw pillows, no photos or clutter or personal effects of any kind. The space is intended to transform its occupant – and it does.

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Audiobook Review: Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

“Their lives and stories weren’t their own; and all the different stories he set in motion would play out at the same time, the simultaneity generated by him.”

Published in 2020, Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton is set in a rural English village in the middle of a snowstorm, where the unthinkable happens: the school is under siege. From the brave, wounded headmaster barricaded in the library, to teenage Hannah in love for the first time, to the pregnant police psychologist who must identify the gunmen, to the terrified 8-year-old Syrian refugee, to the kids trapped in the school theatre still rehearsing Macbeth, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and try to save the people they love.

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Book Review: The Crucifix Killer (Robert Hunter #1) by Chris Carter

“Cross your heart and hope to die… Quickly.”

The first book in the Robert Hunter series and originally published in 2009, The Crucifix Killer by Chris Carter follows Robert Hunter and his rookie partner, Garcia, who are thrown into a nightmare case when the body of a young woman is discovered in a derelict cottage. The victim suffered a terrible death, and on the nape of her neck has been carved a strange double-cross: the signature of a psychopath known as the Crucifix Killer.
But that’s impossible. Because two years ago, the Crucifix Killer was caught and executed. Could this be a copycat killer? Or could the unthinkable be true? Is the real killer still out there, ready to embark once again on a vicious and violent killing spree, selecting his victims seemingly at random, taunting Robert Hunter with his inability to catch him?

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Book Review: One Of Us Is Next (One of Us Is Lying #2) by Karen M. McManus

“I can’t stop thinking about how rare it is to have someone you can be completely real with, even when things get raw and uncomfortable and a little scary.”

The 2020 sequel to One of Us Is Lying, One Of Us Is Next by Karen M. McManus where, back at Bayview, someone has started playing a game of Truth or Dare. But this is no ordinary Truth or Dare. This game is lethal. Choosing the truth may reveal your darkest secrets, accepting the dare could be dangerous, even deadly. The teenagers of Bayview must work together once again to find the culprit, before it’s too late.

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Book Review: Christmas In The Snow by Karen Swan

“No secret stays buried forever…”

Published in 2014, Christmas In The Snow by Karen Swan is set in London where the snow is falling and Christmas is just around the corner. But driven Allegra Fisher barely has time to notice. She’s pitching for the biggest deal of her career and can’t afford to fail. And when she meets an attractive stranger on the plane to the meeting, she can’t afford to lose her focus. But when Allegra finds herself up against Sam for the bid and the remains of a long distant relative are found in the Swiss Alps after sixty years, hearts thaw and dark secrets are uncovered, long buried by the snow.

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Book Review: The Dead of Winter (Josephine Tey #9) by Nicola Upson

The ninth book in the Josephine Tey series and published in 2020, The Dead of Winter by Nicola Upson is set in December 1938, when storm clouds hover over the Cornish coast where Josephine Tey and Archie Penrose gather with friends for a Christmas at St Michael’s Mount. But when two strange and brutal deaths on interrupt the festivities and the group are cut off by the sea and a relentless blizzard, the hunt for a murderer begins.

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Book Review: Caraval (Caraval #1) by Stephanie Garber

“Welcome to Caraval, where nothing is quite what it seems…”

Published in 2017 and the first book in a trilogy, Caraval by Stephanie Garber follows sisters Scarlett and Tella who have never left the tiny isle of Trisda. Scarlett pines from afar for the wonder of Caraval, a once-a-year week-long performance where the audience participates in the show. To Scarlett and Tella, it represents freedom and an escape from their ruthless, abusive father. So when their long-awaited invitation to Caraval finally arrives, it seems their dreams have come true. But no sooner have they arrived than Tella vanishes, kidnapped by the show’s mastermind organiser, Legend. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. Nevertheless, she quickly becomes enmeshed in a dangerous game of love, magic and heartbreak. And real or not, she must find Tella before the game is over, and her sister disappears forever.

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