Book Review: Dune by Frank Herbert

“It is impossible to live in the past, difficult to live in the present and a waste to live in the future.”

Originally released in 1965, Dune by Frank Herbert is set in the inhospitable desert world Arrakis where melange, or ‘spice’, is the most valuable element in the universe; a drug that does everything from increasing a person’s life-span to making interstellar travel possible. Whoever controls Arrakis controls the spice. And whoever controls the spice controls the universe.

When the Emperor transfers stewardship of Arrakis from the noble House Harkonnen to House Atreides, the Harkonnens fight back, murdering Duke Leto Atreides. Paul, his son, and Lady Jessica, his concubine, flee into the desert. On the point of death, they are rescued by a band for Fremen, the native people of Arrakis, who control Arrakis’ second great resource: the giant worms that burrow beneath the burning desert sands. In order to avenge his father and retake Arrakis from the Harkonnens, Paul must earn the trust of the Fremen and lead a tiny army against the innumerable forces aligned against them. And his journey will change the universe.

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Book Review: Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano

“A luminous, life-affirming novel about a 12-year-old boy who is the sole survivor of a deadly plane crash.”

The 2020 book, Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano, follows 12-year-old Edward Adler who is the sole survivor of a flight from New York to Los Angeles. There were 191 passengers aboard: among them a young woman taking a pregnancy test in the aeroplane toilet; a Wall Street millionaire flirting with the air hostess; an injured soldier returning from Afghanistan; and two beleaguered parents moving across the country with their adolescent sons, bickering over who gets the window seat. When the plane suddenly crashes in a field in Colorado. Now, Edward struggles to make sense of the meaning of his survival, the strangeness of his sudden fame, and find his place in the world without his family. What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

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Book Review: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

“May you not rest, as long as I am living. You said I killed you – haunt me, then.”

The 1847 classic, Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte, follows Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange on the bleak Yorkshire moors, who is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before: of the intense passion between the foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw, and her betrayal of him. As Heathcliff’s bitterness and vengeance is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past.

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Book Review: The Last Guests by J. P. Pomare

“Ever get the feeling that you’re being watched?”

Set to be published on 24th August, The Last Guests by J. P. Pomare follows married couple Lina and Cain who don’t make it out to their vacation home on gorgeous Lake Tarawera as often as they’d like. So when Cain suggests that they rent the property out on weekends, Lina reluctantly agrees. What could go wrong? At first, Lina is amazed at how quickly guests line up to spend a weekend – and at how much they’re willing to pay. But both Lina and Cain have been keeping secrets. When a visit takes a deadly turn, Lina becomes convinced that someone out there knows something they shouldn’t.

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BLOG TOUR: Mother Loves Me by Abby Davies

“One little girl. Two little girls. But Mother only needs one.”

The 2020 book by Abby Davies, Mother Loves Me follows 13-year-old Mirabelle whose mother loves her. She’s her ‘little doll’. Mother dresses her, paints her face, and plaits her hair. But as Mirabelle grows, the dresses no longer fit quite as well, the face paint no longer looks quite so pretty. And Mother isn’t happy. On her birthday, Mother arrives home with a present – a new sister, 5-year-old Clarabelle, who Mother has rescued from the outside world. As it dawns on Mirabelle that there is a new ‘little doll’ in her house, she also realizes that her life isn’t what she thought it was. And that dolls often end up on the scrap heap.

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Book Review: The Other People by CJ Tudor

“People tried to make sense of tragedy, when the point of tragedy was that it was senseless. Bad things didn’t happen for a greater reason. They just happened.”

Released in 2020, The Other People by CJ Tudor follows Gabe who, three years ago, saw his daughter taken in the back of a rusty old car. He was driving behind the car. He watched her disappear. But no one believes him. Most people believe that his daughter, and wife, are dead. For a while, people believed that Gabe was responsible. But Gabe cannot give up hope. He spends his days and nights travelling up and down the motorway, sleeping in his camper van in service stations, searching for the car that took her. Searching for his daughter.

Fran and her daughter, Alice, also spend a lot of time in service stations. But they aren’t searching. They are running, trying to keep one step ahead of the people that want to hurt them. Because Fran knows the truth. She knows what really happened to Gabe’s daughter. She knows who is responsible. And she knows that if they ever find them, they’re dead.

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Book Review: The Affair by Hilary Boyd

“A summer she will remember forever. Because he won’t let her forget…”

Set to be published on 19th August, The Affair by Hilary Boyd follows tour manager Connie who longs for the summer where she spends her days touring the continent. But it’s on the glamorous shores of Lake Como where she is truly swept away, when Jared, a much younger man, falls for her. Despite resisting his advances, Connie finds that he’s got under her skin. And so begins a long, hot, intoxicating summer where Connie succumbs to temptation – breaking her marriage vows. At the end of the season, Connie returns home to her husband, ready to put this affair behind her. But Jared has other ideas . . .

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READALONG: Good Girl, Bad Blood (A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder #2) by Holly Jackson

“But justice doesn’t exist, and the truth doesn’t matter, not in the real world.”

The second book in the A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder series, Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson picks up with Pip who is releasing the first series of her true-crime podcast about the murder case she solved last year with the help of her now-boyfriend, Ravi. The podcast has gone viral, yet Pip insists her investigating days are behind her. She is not a detective anymore. But then someone she knows goes missing. Jamie Reynolds has disappeared, and the police won’t do anything about it. So if they won’t look for Jamie, Pip will. And this time, everyone is listening.

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Book Review: 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

“No one even knew they were together. Now one of them is dead.”

Set to be published on 19th August, 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard follows Ciara and Oliver who meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin and start dating the same week COVID-19 reaches Irish shores. When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees a unique opportunity for a relationship to flourish without the scrutiny of family and friends. Oliver sees a chance to hide who – and what – he really is. 56 days later, detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside. Can they determine what really happened, or has lockdown created an opportunity for someone to commit the perfect crime?

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Audiobook Review: Evidence Of The Affair by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Often, I feel overwhelmed by this sinking feeling in my heart that I will never be enough.”

Evidence Of The Affair is a short story by Taylor Jenkins Reid that follows the correspondence between Carrie Allsop and David Mayer which reveals, piece by piece, the painful details of a devastating affair between their spouses. With each commiserating scratch of the pen, they confess their fears and bare their souls. They share the bewilderment over how things went so wrong and come to wonder where to go from here.

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Audiobook Review: The Hollows by Mark Edwards

Published in July 2021, The Hollows by Mark Edwards follows journalist Tom who, with his marriage over and his career in freefall, decides to reconnect with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Frankie. Desperate to spend precious time together now that they live an ocean apart, he brings her to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort deep in the woods of Maine.

From the outset, there’s something a little eerie about the place — strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest. But Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.

It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can.

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Book Review: The Silence Of The Girls (Women of Troy #1) by Pat Barker

“We’re going to survive–our songs, our stories. They’ll never be able to forget us. Decades after the last man who fought at Troy is dead, their sons will remember the songs their Trojan mothers sang to them. We’ll be in their dreams–and in their worst nightmares too.”

Published in 2019, The Silence Of The Girls by Pat Barker follows the story of Queen Briseis who is stolen from her conquered homeland and given as a concubine to a foreign warrior. The warrior is Achilles: famed hero, loathed enemy, ruthless butcher, darkly troubled spirit. Briseis’s fate is now indivisibly entwined with his.

No one knows it yet, but there are just ten weeks to go until the Fall of Troy, the end of this long and bitter war. This is the start of The Iliad: the most famous war story ever told. The next ten weeks will be a story of male power, male ego, male violence. But what of the women? The thousands of female slaves in the soldiers’ camp – in the laundry, at the loom, laying out the dead? Briseis is one of their number – and she will be our witness to history.

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Book Review: Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

“Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.”

Set to be published on 19th August, Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney follows Mr and Mrs Wright, whose marriage hasn’t been right for a long time. So when Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after.

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Book Review: The Anniversary by Laura Marshall

“Some are dying to remember. Some would kill to forget.”

Set to be published on 5th August, The Anniversary by Laura Marshall is set in the small town of Hartstead where, 25 years ago, a local man raged through the town, shooting eleven people dead at random. Cassie Colman was only four when Travis Green killed his last victim: the father she never knew. Cassie has spent her life trying to escape her past, but she is forced to return home when her mother starts forgetting even the basic details of hers. Then a strange discovery amongst her mother’s possessions calls into question everything Cassie thought she knew about the murders all those years ago. And on her quest for answers, Cassie realizes the past is a complicated thing. Some can’t remember it, some don’t want to. And some will do anything to ensure it stays buried…

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Book Review: The Perfect Life by Nuala Ellwood

“HAVE YOU EVER WANTED TO BE SOMEONE ELSE?”

Set to be published on 5th August, The Perfect Life by Nuala Ellwood follows Vanessa who has always found it easy to pretend to be somebody different, somebody better. When things get tough in her real life, all she has to do is throw on some nicer clothes, adopt a new accent and she can escape. That’s how it started: looking around houses she couldn’t possibly afford. Harmless fun really. Until it wasn’t. Because a man who lived in one of those houses is dead, and everyone thinks Vanessa killed him…

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Book Review: The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean

“He is her husband. She is his captive. Her husband calls her Jane. That is not her name.”

Published in January 2021, The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean follows a woman called Jane who lives in a small farm cottage with her husband, Lenn. But her name is not Jane, and she is his captive. Surrounded by vast, open fields, there is space everywhere she looks. But she is trapped. No one knows how she got to the UK: no one knows she is there. Visitors rarely come to the farm and, if they do, she is never seen. Her husband records her every movement during the day. If he doesn’t like what he sees, she is punished. For a long time, escape seemed impossible. But now, something has changed. She has a reason to live and a reason to fight. Now, she is watching him and waiting…

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Book Review: The Boy In The Well by Dan Clark

“A time to mourn. A gruesome find. A race for the truth.”

Published earlier this year, The Boy In The Well by Dan Clark follows grieving Carolyn who goes to stay with her mother in a quiet, rural town after her husband and son are killed in a tragic car accident. Hoping the break will help her cope with her loss, she soon discovers that the small town holds unforgivable secrets. One she stumbles upon when she discovers the body of a young boy down a well – only to find he has disappeared when she returns with the police. The local residents doubt her discovery and blame it on her current state of mind. But with somebody determined to stop Carolyn from uncovering the truth, she knows that she needs to prove what she saw. Not just for the boy and his family, but also for herself.

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Audiobook Review: I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara

“You’ll be silent forever, and I’ll be gone in the dark.”

Published in 2018, I’ll Be Gone In The Dark by Michelle McNamara follows the true-crime journalist’s efforts to find the violent psychopath she called the Golden State Killer. Committing at least 13 murders, 50 rapes, and 120 burglaries across California between 1973 and 1986, the GSK, also known as the East Area Rapist and the Original Night Stalker, terrorised California for over a decade and eluding capture by some of the best detectives in the area. Determined to uncover the truth, Michelle pored over police reports, interviewed victims, and embedded herself in the online communities that were as obsessed with the case as she was.

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Book Review: The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller

“This house, this place, knows all my secrets.”

Published in July 2021, The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller follows fifty-year-old happily married mother of three Elle, who awakens one perfect July morning at “The Paper Palace” – the family summer place which she has visited every summer of her life. But this morning is different: last night Elle and her oldest friend Jonas crept out the back door into the darkness and had sex for the first time, all while their spouses chatted away inside. Now, over the next twenty-four hours, Elle will have to decide between the life she has made with her husband Peter, and the life she always imagined she would have had with her childhood love Jonas, if a tragic event hadn’t forever changed the course of their lives.

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