Posted in Sunday Spotlight

Summer 2022. My Books To Look Out For.

When I look at the covers above and realise these are just the summer releases I’m excited about I’m startled by what a great year this is for books so far. Some of them I’ve already read thanks to NetGalley and some very kind publishers, some are still on my TBR (I’ll be honest and admit I’m always behind) and others are pre-ordered and I’ll be reading them at the same time as everyone else. I also pre-order some when I’ve had a proof or NetGalley book, because some books are for keeps. Yes, I know I have a book problem. I’m going to give you a little taster of each one and why I’m so excited about it. If it means adding books to your TBR or wishlist I can’t apologise because I enjoy sharing the book love!

I really can vouch for this book because I’ve already experienced how tense and gripping it is. Nick and Laura have fulfilled their dream, owning an Italian villa as a holiday destination and trying to paper over the cracks in their marriage. When their first guests Madison and Bastian arrive, neither is who they claim to be. As the heat rises, the tension is unbearable. Could there be a betrayal before the summer ends? Just like her previous novel, this is full of atmosphere, secrets and a sizzling sexual tension. The perfect holiday read.

Out now from Penguin Michael Joseph

Oh my goodness I’ve been waiting for this. I am a huge fan of Jessie Burton and The Miniaturist is one of my all time favourite novels. I went to see Jessie at a Q and A in Lincoln and she was asked about the unanswered questions of the novel – mainly who was the Miniaturist and what was her purpose? What we do know is we are returning to Amsterdam and the same house, where Thea Brandt is reaching her 18th birthday. The family’s fortunes are in decline, with her father Otto and Aunt Nella arguing and struggling to pay the bills. When an invite arrives for a society ball, might their fortunes be turning or, as Nella wonders, could it be the miniaturist isn’t finished with her yet? I truly can’t wait.

Out7th July from Picador

I was recently sent the cover reveal for this new book from Freya Sampson and it looks like another feel-good novel to look forward to. Libby Nicholls reaches London, broken-hearted and with life in tatters. Elderly pensioner Frank is the first man she meets on the bus. He tells her that in 1962 he met a red-haired girl on the number 88 bus. They planned a date at the National Gallery, but Frank lost the ticket with her number written on it. For sixty years, he’s ridden the same bus trying to find her. Libby gains the help of an unlikely companion and makes it her mission to help Frank’s search. As she begins to open her guarded heart to new connections, Libby’s tightly controlled world expands. But with Frank’s dementia progressing quickly, their chance of finding the girl on the number 88 bus is slipping away. Libby wants Frank to see his love one last time and her quest is teaching her to embrace life and love before it’s too late. I just know tears will be jerked and I will be uplifted by this lovely story.

Out 9th June from Zaffre Books

I truly loved Jane’s first novel MixTape so was given the chance to read this one early and what a thoughtful, emotional and compassionate read it is. As someone who can’t have children it really touched me personally. Chrissie has always wanted to be a mother. After months of trying to adopt, she and her husband Stuart finally get the news that a little girl named Sunshine is waiting for them.

Abandoned at a young age, the child comes to them without a family history, and it feels like a fresh start for all of them. But when fragments from Sunshine’s previous life start to intrude on her new one, the little girl’s mysterious past quickly becomes Chrissie’s greatest fear…

Published by 21st July 2022 by Bantam Press

1628. Embarking on a journey in search of her father, a young girl called Mayken boards the Batavia, the most impressive sea vessel of the age. During the long voyage, this curious and resourceful child must find her place in the ship’s busy world, and she soon uncovers shadowy secrets above and below deck. As tensions spiral, the fate of the ship and all on board becomes increasingly uncertain. 1989. Gil, a boy mourning the death of his mother, is placed in the care of his irritable and reclusive grandfather. Their home is a shack on a tiny fishing island off the Australian coast, notable only for its reefs and wrecked boats. This is no place for a child struggling with a dark past and Gil’s actions soon get him noticed by the wrong people. The Night Ship is an enthralling tale of human brutality, providence and friendship, and of two children, hundreds of years apart, whose fates are inextricably bound together.

Published by Canongate Books 4th August.

Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her house in 1,214 days.But she insists she isn’t alone.

She has her cat, Fred. Her friend Sadie visits when she can. There’s her online support group, StrengthInNumbers. She has her jigsaws, favourite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the Tesco delivery man and her treacherous memories for company.

But something’s about to change.

First, new friends Tom and Celeste burst into her life, followed by an estranged sister she hasn’t spoken to in years, and suddenly her carefully curated home is no longer a safe place to hide.

Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door. This sounds like an emotional but uplifting and hopeful read.

The Aylward women are mad about each other, but you wouldn’t always think it. You’d have to know them to know – in spite of what the neighbours might say about raised voices and dramatic scenes – that their house is a place of peace, filled with love, a refuge from the sadness and cruelty of the world. 

Their story begins at an end and ends at a beginning. It’s a story of terrible betrayals and fierce loyalties, of isolation and togetherness, of transgression, forgiveness, desire, and love. About all the things family can be and all the things it sometimes isn’t. More than anything, it is an uplifting celebration of fierce, loyal love and the powerful stories that last generations. This grabbed me with its gorgeous cover and the description of this family that sounds so much like my own.

From their very first date, Jamie and Lucy know they’ve met THE ONE. They’re as different as night and day. Jamie’s a home bird, while Lucy’s happiest on holiday. He has a place for everything – she can never find her keys.

Yet, somehow, they make each other happier than they ever thought possible.
So why does their story start with them saying ‘goodbye’?
And does this really have to be the end. . . ?
Relatable, romantic and heartbreakingly real, HELLO, STRANGER proves that the best love stories often have the most unexpected endings. I love this author’s relatable characters and subtle humour about life. Published by Michael Joseph 18th August

Paris 1944. Elise Chevalier knows what it is to love…and to hate. Her fiancé, a young French soldier, was killed by the German army at the Maginot Line. Living amongst the enemy Elise must keep her rage buried deep within. Sebastian Kleinhaus no longer recognises himself. After four years spent fighting a war he doesn’t believe in, wearing a uniform he despises, he longs for a way out. For something, someone, to be his salvation.

Brittany 1963. Reaching for the suitcase under her mother’s bed, eighteen-year-old Josephine Chevalier uncovers a secret that shakes her to the core. Determined to find the truth, she travels to Paris where she discovers the story of a dangerous love that grew as a city fought for its freedom. Of the last stolen hours before the first light of liberation. And of a betrayal so deep that it would irrevocably change the course of two young lives life for ever.

Published 7th July by Headline Review

This is a warning for all our guests at the wellness retreat.

A woman’s body has been found at the bottom of the cliff beneath the yoga pavilion. We believe her death was a tragic accident, though DS Elin Warner has arrived on the island to investigate. A storm has been forecast, but do not panic. Stick together and please ignore any rumours you might have heard about the island and its history. As soon as the weather clears, we will arrange boats to take you back to the mainland.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy your stay.

Published 21st July by Bantam Press
___________________________________

Rebels. Pirates. Women.

Caribbean, 1720. Two extraordinary women are on the run – from their pasts, from the British Navy and the threat of execution, and from the destiny that fate has written for them. Plantation owner’s daughter, runaway wife, pirate – Anne Bonny has forged her own story in a man’s world. But when she is involved in the capture of a British merchant ship, she is amazed to find another woman amongst the crew, with a history as unconventional as her own. Dressed as a boy from childhood, Mary Read has been a soldier, a sailor, a widow – but never a woman in charge of her own destiny.
As their exhilarating, tumultuous exploits find fame, the ballad of Bonny and Read is sung from shore to shore – but when you swim against the tide of history, freedom is a dangerous thing…

Published 3rd August by Hodder & Stoughton.



A young man walks into the woods on the worst morning of his life and finds something there that will change everything.

It’s a tale that might seem familiar. But how it speaks to you will depend on how you’ve lived until now.

Sometimes, to get out of the woods, you have to go into them. Isaac and the Egg is one of the most hopeful, honest and wildly imaginative novels you will ever read.

Published 18th August by Macmillan Review.


Ten years on from the events of The Miseducation of Evie Epworth, Evie is settled in London and working as a production assistant for the BBC. She has everything she ever dreamed of (a career, a leatherette briefcase, an Ossie Clark poncho) but, following an unfortunate incident involving a Hornsea Pottery mug and Princess Anne, she finds herself having to rethink her future. What can she do? Is she too old to do it? And will it involve cork-soled sandals?

As if this isn’t complicated enough, her disastrous love life leaves her worrying that she may be destined for eternal spinsterdom, concerned, as she is, that ‘even Paul had married Linda by the time he was 26’. Through it all, Evie is left wondering whether a 60s miseducation really is the best preparation to glide into womanhood and face the new challenges (strikes, power cuts, Edward Heath’s teeth) thrown up by the growing pains of the 70s.

With the help of friends, both old and new, she might just find a way through her messy 20s and finally discover who exactly she is meant to be…

Published by Scribner U.K. 21st July.

There are two men in my life. But this is not a love triangle.

Mara Williams reads her horoscope every day – but she wasn’t expecting to be in a whole other country when destiny finally found her. Just as a fortune teller reveals that her true love is about to arrive, a gorgeous stranger literally walks into her life. And now Mara is determined to bring them together again . . . Surely even fate needs a nudge in the right direction sometimes?

But while Mara is getting ready for ‘the one’, the universe intervenes. Her new flatmate Ash is funny, and kind, and sexy as hell . . . There was no predicting this: it’s as if her destiny just arrived on her doorstep.

So will Mara put her destiny in fate’s hands – or finally trust herself to reach for the stars?

Published by Penguin 7th June

2022. Stained-glass expert Rhoda Sullivan is called to Telton Hall to examine a window designed by an Italian prisoner of war during WW2. It should be a quick job but when she and the owner’s son, Nate Hartwell, discover a body underneath one of the flagstones in the chapel, Rhoda cannot let the mystery go. She knows what it’s like to miss someone who is missing – her twin brother disappeared just before their eighteenth birthday, and she has been looking for him for nearly a decade. But when the threats start, it’s clear someone doesn’t want the secrets of Telton Hall to come to light.

1945. Alice Renshaw is in trouble. Pregnant and alone she is sent away to hide her shame and taken in by Louise Hartwell who has a farm in Somerset worked by prisoners of war. As the weeks pass, Alice finds solace in new friendships, but not everyone at Telton Hall is happy about it. And even though peace has been declared in Europe, the war at home is only just beginning…

Published by Aria 21st July

Esta has known nothing but Eden’s Isle her whole life. After a fire left her orphaned and badly scarred, Esta was raised by her grandmother in a deeply religious society who cut itself off from the mainland in the name of salvation. Here, fear rules: fear of damnation, fear of the outside world and fear of what lurks beneath the water – a corrupting evil the islanders call the Seawomen. But Esta wants more than a life where touching the water risks corruption, where her every move is watched and women are controlled in every aspect of their lives. Married off, the women of the island must conceive a child within their appointed motheryear or be marked as cursed and cast into the sea as a sacrifice in an act called the Untethering.

When Esta witnesses a woman Untethered she sees a future to fear. Her fate awaits, a loveless marriage, her motheryear declared. And after a brief taste of freedom, the insular world Esta knows begins to unravel…
I’m currently reading this and finding it deeply unsettling.

Published by Hodder Studio 14th June.


Maudie, why are all the best characters men?’
Maudie closes the book with a clllump. ‘We haven’t read all the books yet, Miss Cristabel. I can’t believe that every story is the same’


Cristabel Seagrave has always wanted her life to be a story, but there are no girls in the books in her dusty family library. For an unwanted orphan who grows into an unmarriageable young woman, there is no place at all for her in a traditional English manor.But from the day that a whale washes up on the beach at the Chilcombe estate in Dorset, and twelve-year-old Cristabel plants her flag and claims it as her own, she is determined to do things differently.

With her step-parents blithely distracted by their endless party guests, Cristabel and her siblings, Flossie and Digby, scratch together an education from the plays they read in their freezing attic, drunken conversations eavesdropped through oak-panelled doors, and the esoteric lessons of Maudie their maid. But as the children grow to adulthood and war approaches, jolting their lives on to very different tracks, it becomes clear that the roles they are expected to play are no longer those they want. As they find themselves drawn into the conflict, they must each find a way to write their own story…

Published by Fig Tree 9th June 2022.


I have held you every night for ten years and I didn’t even know your name. We have a child together. A dog, a house.

Who are you?


Emma loves her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she’s told them about herself is a lie.

And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer and Emma is a well-known marine biologist, so, when she suffers a serious illness, Leo copes by doing what he knows best – reading and writing about her life. But as he starts to unravel her past, he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t really exist. Even her name is fictitious.

When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past life finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was . . .

But first, she must tell him about the love of her other life.

Published by Mantle 23rd June 2022.

I’m so happy to have such an exciting and full summer of reading ahead of me, and this is just the books I’ve been expecting. I’m sure there will be many more that grab me by surprise. I’m hoping to avoid the siren call of blog tours so I have some free reading time. I’ve treated myself to a brand new garden parasol in hot pink so I’m imagining myself lounging around outdoors a lot, whiling away my staycation in the best way I know how. Happy Summer Reading! ❤️📚

Posted in Fiction Preview 2022

New Books 2022! Part Four.

Waiting for Sunshine by Jane Sanderson.

I was offered this proof just before Christmas, probably because I loved Sanderson’s novel Mix Tape. I loved it’s combination of love story, the gritty Sheffield setting and sense what might have been.

‘Who would name a child Sunshine, then give her away?’

Chrissie has always wanted to be a mother. After months of trying to adopt, she and her husband Stuart finally get the news that a little girl named Sunshine is waiting for them. The child comes to them without a history, and it feels like a fresh start for all of them. But when fragments from Sunshine’s previous life start to intrude on her new one, the little girl’s mysterious past quickly becomes Chrissie’s greatest fear ..

Beautiful and compelling, this is a story of hope and love, about finding the perfect family and fighting to keep it, perfect for fans of Dawn French and Ruth Jones.

Published by Bantam Press 9th June 2022.

Mother’s Boy by Patrick Gale.

I can’t explain how much I love Patrick Gale’s writing. I started reading his work when his novel, Notes from an Exhibition, was published. I was impressed by his understanding of mental illness and the effect it has on a family, as well as his beautiful descriptions of Cornwall. I wrote earlier this year about how moving I found his novel A Place Called Winter and I’m always eagerly anticipating more. In this new novel, Laura, an impoverished Cornish girl, meets her husband when they are both in service in Teignmouth in 1916. They have a baby, Charles, but Laura’s husband returns home from the trenches a damaged man, already ill with the tuberculosis that will soon leave her a widow. In a small, class-obsessed town she raises her boy alone, working as a laundress, and gradually becomes aware that he is some kind of genius. As an intensely private young man, Charles signs up for the navy with the new rank of coder. His escape from the tight, gossipy confines of Launceston to the colour and violence of war sees him blossom as he experiences not only the possibility of death, but the constant danger of a love that is as clandestine as his work. MOTHER’S BOY is the story of a man who is among, yet apart from his fellows, in thrall to, yet at a distance from his own mother; a man being shaped for a long, remarkable and revered life spent hiding in plain sight. But it is equally the story of the dauntless mother who will continue to shield him long after the dangers of war are past.

Published by Tinder Press 1st March 2022

The Gifts by Liz Hyder.

When a book is recommended by the likes of Stacey Halls and Elizabeth MacNeal I sit up and take notice. This is Hyder’s first adult novel, having had success in the YA market.

The luminous debut adult novel from the Waterstones Prize Winner, perfect for fans of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, The Essex Serpent and The Doll Factory

In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are. October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders. Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grips of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger. THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author Liz Hyder. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.

Published by Manilla Press 17th Feb 2022.

I must admit that I was charmed by the stunning cover of this debut novel and who wouldn’t be? This is a captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess. A young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm, setting her on a dangerous path where those she loves are not the only ones at risk. Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when her magic flares and her existence is discovered, Xingyin is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to train in the Crown Prince’s service, learning to master archery and magic, despite the passion which flames between her and the emperor’s son. To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies, across the earth and skies. But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream —striking a dangerous bargain, where she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic, of loss and sacrifice — where love vies with honour, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

Published by Harper Voyager 20th January 2022

The Vanished Days by Susanna Kearsley.

I am very fond of the Outlander series and I could see some parallels between this and Diana Gabaldon’s books. I’m a huge reader of historical fiction so when I was asked to help with the cover reveal I jumped at the chance. There are many who believe they know what happened, but they do not know the whole of it. The rumours spread, and grow, and take their hold, and so to end them I have been persuaded now to take my pen in hand and tell the story as it should be told…

Autumn, 1707. Old enemies from the Highlands to the Borders are finding common ground as they join to protest the new Union with England, the French are preparing to launch an invasion to carry the young exiled Jacobite king back to Scotland to reclaim his throne, and in Edinburgh the streets are filled with discontent and danger. Queen Anne’s commissioners, seeking to calm the situation, have begun settling the losses and wages owed to those Scots who took part in the disastrous Darien expedition eight years earlier. When Lily, the young widow of a Darien sailor, comes forward to collect her husband’s wages, her claim is challenged, and one of the men who’s assigned to examine her has only days to decide if she’s honest, or if his own feelings are making him blind to the truth, and if he’s being used as a pawn in an even more treacherous game. A story of intrigue, adventure, endurance, romance…and the courage to hope.

Published by Simon and Schuster U.K. 28th April 2022.

The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield.

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’

1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette. The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives. But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution. I have this on my NetGalley shelf and I’m very excited to start reading it.

Published by Harper Voyager 17th Feb 2022.

The Seawomen by Chloe Timms.

Just look at that stunning cover! This one sounds like an incredible read and it isn’t published till the summer, so I’ll be hunting an ARC in the New Year. Esta has known nothing but Eden’s Isle her whole life. Raised by her grandmother, after a fire claimed her parents and scarred her face as a child, Esta faces a life of piety and dread, bound to a religious society who cut themselves off from the mainland in the name of salvation. The island is governed by a fear of the outside world and the corrupting evil, lurking deep in the water known as the Seawomen. They fear the water, and the only way to remain virtuous is never to enter the sea, to follow God’s word, but curious Esta longs for more.

Women on the island are controlled, married off and must conceive a child within the twelve months of their appointed motheryear. If she doesn’t bear a child in that year, she is marked as cursed, and cast back into the sea as a sacrifice, in an act called the Untethering.When Esta witnesses a woman Untethered before her eyes she sees a future to fear. Her fate awaits, a loveless marriage, her motheryear declared. But before long, Esta gets a taste of freedom and the insular world she knows begins to unravel.

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 14th June 2022.

Meredith, Alone by Claire Alexander.

This really is the hot debut of the summer, already gathering lots of attention on BookTwitter and Bookstagram and giving off Eleanor Oliphant vibes.

All that stands between Meredith and the world is her own front door . . . but what will it take for her to open it? 
________

Meredith Maggs hasn’t left her house in 1,214 days. But she insists she isn’t alone.She has her cat Fred. Her friend Sadie visits when she can. There’s her online support group, StrengthInNumbers. She has her jigsaws, favourite recipes, her beloved Emily Dickinson, the internet, the Tesco delivery man and her treacherous memories for company.But something’s about to change. Whether Meredith likes it or not, the world is coming to her door . . . Does she have the courage to overcome what’s been keeping her inside all this time?

Published by Penguin 9th June 2022.

The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill by C.S. Robertson.

Everybody who follows me knows how much I love Doug Johnstone and his Skelf family series of novels, so when he’s recommending a read, I’m listening.

‘A brilliantly original thriller, dark and brooding, with a real emotional punch’ DOUG JOHNSTONE

Death is not the end. For Grace McGill, it’s only the beginning.

When people die alone and undiscovered, it’s her job to clean up what’s left behind – whether it’s clutter, bodily remains or dark secrets. When an old man lies undetected in his flat for months, it seems an unremarkable life and an unnoticed death. But Grace knows that everyone has a story and that all deaths mean something more.

A STAND-OUT NOVEL WITH A UNIQUE NARRATIVE VOICE AND AN UNGUESSABLE MYSTERY, YOU ARE GUARANTEED TO REMEMBER GRACE McGILL.

Reader praise for The Undiscovered Deaths of Grace McGill:

‘A twisted story of undiscovered deaths and twisted minds, of people of little or no morality and Grace right in the thick of it, setting records straight and doing good in her own inimitable way

‘Wow! What an absolute stunner of a book. This was so different to a lot of the books out there at the moment. Totally gripping and thrilling and I couldn’t stop reading it although I really didn’t want to finish it!’

‘A premise that, gratifyingly, delivers the goods in spades and does so with a superbly well drawn cast of characters and a rather unique, well written, often dark narrative. Compelling and wholly engaging reading. Top notch

Published by Hodder & Stoughton 20th Jan 2022.