Book Review: Exiles (Aaron Falk #3) by Jane Harper

“Not everyone leaves by choice…”

The third book in Jane Harper‘s Aaron Falk series, Exiles follows a mother who disappears from a busy festival on a warm spring night. Her baby lies alone in the pram, her mother’s possessions surrounding her, waiting for a return which never comes.

A year later, Kim Gillespie’s absence still casts a long shadow as her friends and loved ones gather to welcome a new addition to the family. Joining the celebrations on a rare break from work is federal investigator Aaron Falk, who begins to suspect that all is not as it seems.

As he looks into Kim’s case, long-held secrets and resentments begin to come to the fore, secrets that show that her community is not as close as it appears. Falk will have to tread carefully if he is to expose the dark fractures at its heart, but sometimes it takes an outsider to get to the truth…

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Book Review: The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell

“Be careful what you wish for… it may just come true.”

Set to be published on 2nd February, The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell is set at The Mercury Theatre in London’s West End, where rumours are circulating of a curse. It is said that the lead actress Lilith has made a pact with Melpomene, the tragic muse of Greek mythology, to become the greatest actress to ever grace the stage. Suspicious of Lilith, the jealous wife of the theatre owner sends dresser Jenny to spy on her, and, desperate for the money to help her family, Jenny agrees.

What Jenny finds is a woman as astonishing in her performance as she is provocative in her nature. On stage, it’s as though Lilith is possessed by the characters she plays, yet off stage she is as tragic as the muse who inspires her, and Jenny, sorry for her, befriends the troubled actress. But when strange events begin to take place around the theatre, Jenny wonders whether the rumours are true and fears that when the muse comes calling for payment, the cost will be too high.

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Book Review: Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes

“This is the story of how a young woman became a monster. And how she was never really a monster at all.”

Published in 2022, Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes tells the story of Medusa, the only mortal in a family of gods. Growing up with her sisters, she quickly realizes that she is the only one who gets older, experiences change, feels weakness. Her mortal lifespan gives her an urgency that her family will never know.

When desire pushes a God to commit the unforgivable, Medusa’s mortal life is changed forever. Her punishment is to be turned into a Gorgon: sharp teeth, snakes for hair, and a gaze that will turn any living creature to stone. Appalled by her own reflection, Medusa can no longer look upon anything she loves without destroying it. She condemns herself to a life of solitude in the shadows to limit her murderous range.

That is, until Perseus embarks upon a fateful quest to fetch the head of a Gorgon…

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Book Review: Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen

“Money can’t buy happiness… but it can buy a decent fake.”

Published in 2022, Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen follows Ava Wong who has always played it safe. As a strait-laced, rule-abiding Chinese American lawyer with a successful surgeon as a husband, a young son, and a beautiful home, she’s built the perfect life. But beneath this façade, Ava’s world is crumbling: her marriage is falling apart, her expensive law degree hasn’t been used in years, and her toddler’s tantrums are pushing her to the breaking point.

Enter Winnie Fang, Ava’s enigmatic college roommate from Mainland China, who abruptly dropped out under mysterious circumstances. Now, twenty years later, Winnie is looking to reconnect with her old friend. But the shy, awkward girl Ava once knew has been replaced with a confident woman of the world, dripping in luxury goods, including a coveted Birkin in classic orange. The secret to her success? Winnie has developed an ingenious counterfeit scheme, and now she needs someone with a US passport to help manage her business – someone who’d never be suspected of wrongdoing, someone like Ava.

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Book Review: Tell Me About… Human Body & Plants by Emily Dodd

“Making big science topics just the right size for little readers as we explore the human body.”

The Tell Me About… series are a new set of books written by expert scientist and CBeebies writer Emily Dodd and illustrated by Chorkung with bite-sized text, facts to make you say ‘WOW’, easy-to-understand explanations, and big science topics are. The first two instalments are Human Body and Plants.

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Book Review: House Of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

“WANTED: A bloodmaid of exceptional taste. Must have a keen proclivity for life’s finer pleasures. Girls of weak will need not apply.”

Published in 2022, House Of Hunger by Alexis Henderson follows Marion Shaw who was raised in the slums, where want and deprivation were all she knew. Despite longing to leave the city and its miseries, she has no real hope of escape until the day she spots a strange advertisement in the newspaper, seeking a ‘bloodmaid’.

Though she knows little about the far north – where wealthy nobles live in luxury and drink the blood of those in their service – Marion applies to the position. In a matter of days, she finds herself at the notorious House of Hunger. There, Marion is swept into a world of dark debauchery – and there, at the centre of is Countess Lisavet. Loved and feared in equal measure, she presides over this hedonistic court. And she takes a special interest in Marion.

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Book Review: All The Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham

“Today is day 364. 364 days since my last night of sleep. 364 days since my son, Mason, was taken from his bed.”

Set to be published on 2nd February, All The Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham follows Isabelle Drake whose life changed forever one year ago when her toddler son, Mason, was taken out of his crib in the middle of the night while she and her husband were asleep in the next room. With little evidence and few leads for the police to chase, the case quickly went cold. However, Isabelle cannot rest until Mason is returned to her — literally. She hasn’t slept in a year.

Isabelle’s entire existence now revolves around finding him, but she knows she can’t go on this way forever. In hopes of jarring loose a new witness or buried clue, she agrees to be interviewed by a true-crime podcaster—but his interest in Isabelle’s past makes her nervous. His incessant questioning paired with her severe insomnia has brought up uncomfortable memories from her own childhood, making Isabelle start to doubt her recollection of the night of Mason’s disappearance, as well as second-guess who she can trust… including herself. But she is determined to figure out the truth no matter where it leads.

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Book Review: Lies by TM Logan

“WHAT IF YOUR WHOLE LIFE WAS BASED ON LIES?”

Published in 2017, Lies by TM Logan follows Joe who stumbles across his wife driving into a hotel car park while she’s supposed to be at work. Intrigued enough to follow her in, he then witnesses her in an angry altercation with family friend Ben, and knows he ought to intervene.

But just as the confrontation between the two men turns violent, and Ben is knocked unconscious, Joe’s young son has an asthma attack – and Joe must flee in order to help him. When he returns, desperate to make sure Ben is okay, Joe is horrified to find that Ben has disappeared. And that’s when Joe receives the first message . . .

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Book Review: Murder at the Theatre Royale by Ada Moncrieff

“It’s Christmas at London’s Theatre Royale and journalist Daphne King is determined to solve an extraordinary mystery…”

Published in 2022, Murder at the Theatre Royale by Ada Moncrieff is set in December, 1935. Director Chester Harrison’s production of A Christmas Carol has had a troubled run on its tour of regional theatres. With tensions amongst the cast running high, the company reach their final stop – London’s Theatre Royale – a few days before Christmas.

Catastrophe, however, strikes on opening night: ‘Scrooge’ dies on stage, seemingly due to a heart attack. But the show must go on. Until, that is, an old rival of Chester’s is murdered in a dressing room. Are those associated with the production being picked off one by one? Journalist Daphne King is determined to reveal the truth…

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Book Review: The Foundling by Stacey Halls

“These female vessels we inhabited: why did nobody expect them to contain unfeminine feelings? Why could we, too, not be furious and scornful and entirely altered by grief? Why must we accept the cards we had been dealt?”

Published in 2020, The Foundling by Stacey Halls is set in London, 1754, where, six years after leaving her daughter at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

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Book Review: Pretty Evil by Zoe Rosi

“You’ve done a bad thing. She has you in her sights. Now you’re going to pay.”

Set to be released on 17th January, Pretty Evil by Zoe Rosi follows Camilla Black: an affluent, respected, influential fashion magazine editor, who lives it up in her beautiful Mayfair apartment. But Camilla’s glamorous life is a lie. Behind her poised exterior beats the cold dark heart of a vigilante killer, a murderer hell-bent on wreaking vengeance upon bad men.

Camilla expects to get away with murder. She’s careful. And anyway, it’s worth the risk. She’s making the world a better place with each predator she kills. But when one of her victims’ bodies is unexpectedly found, his gruesome death is splashed all over the papers. To make matters worse, she’s now being pursued by Detective Wheelan, a new addition to the Met with laser-sharp focus and a worrying habit of solving impossible crimes…

She knows she should stop, but she can’t. Some men just deserve to die. Will Camilla’s insatiable appetite for justice be her downfall, or can she outsmart the police?

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Book Review: The Haunting Season by Various Authors

“Curl up, light a candle, and fall under the spell of The Haunting Season..”

Published in 2020, The Haunting Season is a collection of short ghostly stories by Bridget Collins, Natasha Pulley, Imogen Hermes Gowar, Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Andrew Michael Hurley, Jess Kidd, Elizabeth Macneal, and Laura Purcell.

From a bustling Covent Garden Christmas market to the frosty moors of Yorkshire, from a country estate with a dreadful secret, to a London mansion where a beautiful girl lies frozen in death, these are stories to make your hair stand on end, send shivers down your spine and to serve as your indispensable companion to the long nights of winter.

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Book Review: How To Sell A Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

“Every childhood home is haunted, and each of us are possessed by our parents.”

Set to be published on 17th January, How To Sell A Haunted House by Grady Hendrix follows estranged siblings Louise and Mark who are brought together after the death of their parents. Louise dreads going home. She doesn’t want to deal with her family home, stuffed to the rafters with the remnants of her father’s academic career and her mother’s lifelong obsession with puppets and dolls.

Mostly, she doesn’t want to deal with her brother who never left their hometown, gets fired from one job after another, and resents her success. But she’ll need his help to get the house ready for sale because it’ll take more than some new paint on the walls and clearing out a lifetime of memories to get this place on the market.

Some houses don’t want to be sold, and their home has other plans for both of them…

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Book Review: The Marriage Act by John Marrs

“What if marriage was the law? Dare you disobey?”

Set to be released on 19th January, The Marriage Act by John Marrs is set in the near future where a right-wing government believes it has the answer to society’s ills – the Sanctity of Marriage Act, which actively encourages marriage as the norm, punishing those who choose to remain single.

But four couples are about to discover just how impossible relationships can be when the government is monitoring every aspect of our personal lives, monitoring every word, every minor disagreement, and will use every tool in its arsenal to ensure everyone will love, honour and obey.

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Book Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

“People said Ove saw the world in black and white. But she was colour. All the color he had.”

Originally published in 2012, A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman follows Ove, a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbour from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior, there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

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Book Review: To Keep You Safe by Kate Bradley

“How far would you go to save a child that isn’t yours?”

Published in 2019, To Keep You Safe by Kate Bradley follows teacher Jenni Wales who, when sees 15-year-old Destiny’s black eye, is immediately worried. Destiny isn’t your average student: she’s smart, genius IQ smart, and she’s in care. But concern turns to fear when Jenni witnesses an attempt to abduct Jenni from school.

Who are these men and what can Destiny know to make them hunt her? With those around her not taking the threat seriously, Jenni does the only thing she can think of to keep Destiny safe: she takes her.

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Book Review: Ready Or Not by Alex Lake

“A happy family…
A murderer lurking in the shadows…
Not everyone will live to tell the tale.”

Published in 2021, Ready Or Not by Alex Lake follows Alice and Tom Sark who seem to have it all – a wonderful marriage, a gorgeous baby, a beautiful home. And now Alice, a journalist, starts investigating a story which could make her career – a serial killer in their town.

Very quickly though, the murder case takes its toll. Alice and Tom begin fighting all the time. Their baby daughter just won’t stop crying. And sometimes, it feels almost as if they’re being followed. The killer has found a new family to target. And the clock is ticking for Alice and Tom to stop their worlds being destroyed forever.

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Book Review: The Drift by CJ Tudor

“Survival can be murder…”

Set to be published on 19th January, The Drift by CJ Tudor follows three ordinary people who risk everything for a chance at redemption.

Hannah awakens to carnage when, during a hasty escape from a secluded boarding school, her schoolbus careened over a hillside road during one of the year’s heaviest snowstorms, trapping her inside with a handful of survivors, a brewing virus and no way to call for help.

A former detective, Meg awakens to the gentle rocking of her cable car which is suspended far above a snowstorm and surrounded by strangers in the same uniform as her, with no memory of how they got there. They were heading to a mysterious place known only to them as The Retreat, but when they discover a dead man among their ranks, Meg soon realises that there’s something far more insidious going on.

Carter is gazing out the window of the abandoned ski chalet that he and his ragtag compatriots call home. Together, they manage what they can to survive. But as their generator begins to waver, the threat of something lurking in the chalet’s depths looms larger, and their fragile bonds will be tested when the power finally fails -for good.

The imminent dangers faced by Hannah, Meg and Carter are each one part of the puzzle. Lurking in their shadows is an even greater threat–one that threatens to consume all of humanity.

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Book Review: Those People Next Door by Kia Abdullah

“You can choose your house. Not your neighbours.”

Set to be published on 19th January, Those People Next Door by Kia Abdullah follows the new residents of Blenheim, Salma Khatun and her family, who are extremely hopeful about moving to a safe suburban development. Their family is in desperate need of a fresh start, and Blenheim feels like the place to make that happen.

Not long after they move in, Salma spots her neighbour, Tom Hutton, ripping out the anti-racist banner she put in her front garden. She chooses not to confront Tom because she wants to fit in. It’s a small thing, really. No need to make a fuss. So Salma takes the banner inside and puts it in her window instead.

But the next morning she wakes up to find her window smeared with paint. This time she does confront Tom, and the battle lines between the two families are drawn. As things begin to escalate and the stakes become higher and higher, it’s clear that a reckoning is coming… And someone is going to get hurt.

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Book Review: The Other Guest by Heidi Perks

“She thinks she knows the truth. But what if she’s wrong?”

Set to be published on 19th January, The Other Guest by Heidi Perks follows Laila and her husband who arrive for a week’s holiday in Greece in desperate need of a reset. As Laila sits by the pool she finds herself inexplicably drawn to the other family staying in their resort. Em has no idea who Laila is, or that she has been watching her and her teenage sons and husband so intently.

Five days later their worlds will be blown apart by a horrifying event. Laila thinks she knows the truth of what happened. But in telling Em what she’s seen, she stands to lose everything she holds dear. And what if she’s got it wrong?

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