So I’m having a book blogger’s dilemma. The arrival of this book through the door made me do a little Snoopy dance! There are a few books I’ve earmarked as my most anticipated summer reads, but this is right up there as my mostest anticipated novel. I know, we bloggers do love to throw out superlatives here and there, but I’ve honestly been waiting for this book ever since I finished The Misadventures of Evie Epworth two summers ago. Now I’m in an awful quandary. I want to devour it in one go, but once I do, the moment will have passed and Evie is gone again. I don’t know whether Evie’s story ends this time, or whether there’s more to come, so I’m trying to hang on for a little while, at least until my fellow Squadettes are reading so we can talk about it.
If you haven’t read Matson Taylor’s first novel then where have you been? I think this is one book where reading the previous instalment of Evie’s adventures is really helpful. You have a whole new literary heroine to meet and I think knowing where Evie comes from is vital in understanding her. I’m not going to use spoilers so it’s safe to read on. In book one we met Evie in the 1960’s, the summer after O’Levels and before A Levels. Her only plans for the summer are reading, helping their elderly neighbour with her baking and, most importantly, getting rid of her dad’s girlfriend who would like to see Evie working through her summer at the local salon. Christine has moved in and is slowly trying to erase everything Evie loves about the farmhouse, including her Adam Faith wall clock and that won’t do. Evie and her dad would like things to stay as they were when her Mum was alive. They love their Aga and old country kitchen, but Christine wants Formica and a new cooker that’s easier to clean. Her wardrobes are wall to wall pink, synthetic fabrics and she colonises the kitchen with her Mum and lumpen friend, who’re usually in tow. Her dad can’t seem to see that his girlfriend and daughter don’t get along, there’s quite a lot of avoidance practised here, he’s often got his head in the newspaper or listening to the cricket scores, or just popping out for a pint. Whatever the tactic, it means he hasn’t heard anything. This problem needs another woman to solve it. So, when her neighbour has an accident and her daughter Caroline arrives to look after her, the three women put their heads together to deal with the problem, just in time for the village fete and baking competition.
All About Evie starts ten years on from the previous novel with Evie settled in London and working at the BBC. She has all the things a 70’s girl could wish for – including an Ozzie Clark poncho. Then disaster hits. An incident with Princess Anne and a Hornsea Pottery mug means she must have a rethink about her future. So what can she do next? Will she be too old to do it? Most importantly, will it involve cork soled sandals? I have no qualms in saying this is my most anticipated book of the summer. I think I’ll have to compromise and as soon as I have a two week gap from blog tours I’ll be delving in to find out what happens next….
I don’t often do cover reveals or previews, but there are just so many books to look forward to I might start. I think it’s the only way I can tell show you the novels I’m excited about. Otherwise I have to wait till I’ve read and review them all and that can take a while! Sometimes just the blurb and the cover is enough to whet my appetite. Other times it’s the first page that I’ve been reading while stood up in the queue at the bookshop. Sometimes I’ve been granted the book on NetGalley and couldn’t resist peeking at the first chapter. Or it could be I’ve read the author’s first book and I’ve been waiting impatiently for that difficult second book, just knowing it will be great.
Today I’m talking about Freya Sampson’s new book The Girl on the 88 Bus. I loved reading her debut novel The Last Library last year because it was like a warm hug in a book. By the looks of early reviews this book has that same magical feel. Here’s the blurb:
When Libby Nicholls arrives in London, broken-hearted and with her life in tatters, the first person she meets on the bus is elderly pensioner Frank. He tells her about the time in 1962 he met a girl on the number 88 bus with beautiful red hair just like her own. They made plans for a date, but Frank lost the ticket with her number written on it. For the past sixty years, he’s ridden the same bus trying to find her.
More than anything, Libby wants Frank to see his lost love one more time. But their quest also shows Libby just how important it is to embrace her own chance for happiness – before it’s too late.
A beautifully uplifting novel about how one chance meeting can change the course of your life forever
Published in June 2022 by Zaffre Publishing. I can’t wait. Can you?
Meet The Author
Freya Sampson works in TV and was the executive producer of Channel 4’s Four in a Bed and Gogglesprogs. She studied History at Cambridge University and in 2018 was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize. She lives in London with her husband, two young children and an antisocial cat
It’s my pleasure on today’s blog to reveal the gorgeous cover for Emma Brodie’s new novel Songs in Ursa Major, coming from Harper Collins on 24th June 2021. Partly inspired by the relationship between Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, we’re publishing to coincide with the 50th anniversary for Joni Mitchell’s classic album, Blue – the soundtrack to my 1970s childhood! That’s two copies sold right there to me and my mum.
Full of atmosphere, sun-soaked hedonism, rock ‘n’ roll and an electric love story, Ursa Major is the perfect escapist read for summer 2021. Fans of The Girls by Emma Cline & Daisy Jones and the Six will be captivated.
This is the gorgeous new cover for Alison O’Leary’s new novel Country Cat Blues. I’m so excited for the second instalment in Aubrey’s life as a feline Sherlock Holmes. I’m glad to be on this month’s blog tour. I’m beginning to wonder what my two cats, Baggins and Hugo Agogo, might get up to as we move into the country next week.
When former rescue cat Aubrey moves to the picturesque village of Fallowfield with his owners and their foster son Carlos, he is keen to explore the delights of the English countryside. However, all is not as it seems among the villagers. The idyllic peace is shattered when a gruesome murder takes place at the village fete. Tensions run high as spectres from the past begin to emerge, and Aubrey is particularly upset when suspicion falls on Morris, who may be almost permanently drunk, but is also a good friend to the local cat population…
Can Aubrey restore the peace in the village and help clear Morris’s name?
About the Author:
I was born in London and spent my teenage years in Hertfordshire where I spent large amounts of time reading novels, watching daytime television and avoiding school. Failing to gain any qualifications in science whatsoever, the dream of being a forensic scientist collided with reality when a careers teacher suggested that I might like to work in a shop. I don’t think she meant Harrods. Later studying law, I decided to teach rather than go into practice and have spent many years teaching mainly criminal law and criminology to young people and adults.
I enjoy reading crime novels, doing crosswords, and drinking wine. Not necessarily in that order
The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex. Pan Macmillan. 4th March 2021
They say we’ll never know what happened to those men. They say the sea keeps its secrets . . .
Cornwall, 1972. Three keepers vanish from a remote lighthouse, miles from the shore. The entrance door is locked from the inside. The clocks have stopped. The Principal Keeper’s weather log describes a mighty storm, but the skies have been clear all week. What happened to those three men, out on the tower? The heavy sea whispers their names. The tide shifts beneath the swell, drowning ghosts. Can their secrets ever be recovered from the waves? Twenty years later, the women they left behind are still struggling to move on. Helen, Jenny and Michelle should have been united by the tragedy, but instead it drove them apart. And then a writer approaches them. He wants to give them a chance to tell their side of the story. But only in confronting their darkest fears can the truth begin to surface. Inspired by real events, The Lamplighters is an intoxicating and suspenseful mystery, an unforgettable story of love and grief that explores the way our fears blur the line between the real and the imagined.
For 150 years, Caldonbrae Hall has loomed high above the Scottish cliffs as a beacon of excellence in the ancestral castle of Lord William Hope. A boarding school for girls, it promises that its pupils will emerge ‘resilient and ready to serve society’. Into its illustrious midst steps Rose Christie, a 26-year-old Classics teacher and new head of department. Rose is overwhelmed by the institution: its arcane traditions, unrivalled prestige, and terrifyingly cool, vindictive students. Her classroom becomes her haven, where the stories of fearless women from ancient Greek and Roman history ignite the curiosity of the girls she teaches and, unknowingly, the suspicions of the powers that be. But as Rose uncovers the darkness that beats at the very heart of Caldonbrae, the lines between myth and reality grow ever more blurred. It will be up to Rose – and the fierce young women she has come to love – to find a way to escape the fate the school has in store for them, before it is too late.
The Split by Laura Kaye. Quercus. 18th March 2021.
Brutally dumped by her girlfriend, Ally is homeless, friendless and jobless… but at least she has Malcolm. Wounded and betrayed, Ally has made off with the one thing she thinks might soothe the pain: Emily’s cat.
After a long train journey she arrives home to her dad in Sheffield, ready to fold herself up in her duvet and remain on the sofa for the foreseeable. Her dad has other ideas. A phone call later, and Ally is reunited with her first ever beard and friend of old, Jeremy. He too is broken-hearted and living at home again. In an inspired effort to hold each other up, the pair decide to sign up for the local half marathon in a bid to impress their exes with their commitment and athleticism. Given neither of them can run, they enlist the support of athletic, not to mention beautiful, Jo. But will she have them running for the hills… or will their ridiculous plan pay off…? I’ve seen this described as ‘humour, kindness, cake and a cat’ – sounds like the perfect day to me. My full review will be out soon.
Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen. Orenda Books. 10th June 2021.
Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss. When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son. Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results… Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reasonis a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.
While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart. Headline. 4th March 2021.
On a platform in occupied Paris, a mother whispers goodbye. It is the end. But also the beginning.
Paris 1944 A young woman’s future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.
Santa Cruz 1953 Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi Occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door. On a darkened platform, two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined.
Unwell Women by Elinor Cleghorn. Weidenfeld and Nicholson. 10th June 2021.
See my very personal preview of this exciting book here:
The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. Serpent’s Tail/Viper. 18th March 2021.
I have been excited about this book for months now and was so excited to receive an ARC on NetGalley! It’s now at the top of my TBR pile and I’m looking forward to getting started this week. Why so excited? When I read that Stephen King had said ‘I haven’t read anything this exciting since Gone Girl’ I started to take notice. Another favourite author of mine, Joanne Harris, agreed that ‘Books like this don’t come around too often’ . This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street. All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies. You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it’s not what you think… Based on the reviews I’ve read, I would pre- order now ( I’ve already got my hardback on order because this is one of those ARC’s I need a real copy of). Review coming soon.
The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin. Doubleday/ Random House UK. 18th Feb 2021.
Everything I’ve read about this novel tells me it’s made for me. I’ve had a pending request for it on NetGalley for a while, but not long to wait until I can pop to the local bookshop for it. We all need something to keep our hopes alive, especially at the moment and this book seems to uplift people. It’s about an extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories. Their last one begins here. Life is short – no one knows that better than seventeen year-old Lenni Petterssen. On the Terminal Ward, the nurses are offering their condolences already, but Lenni still has plenty of living to do. When she meets 83-year-old Margot Macrae, a fellow patient offering new friendship and enviable artistic skills, Lenni’s life begins to soar in ways she’d never imagined. As their bond deepens, a world of stories opens up: of wartime love and loss, of misunderstanding and reconciliation, of courage, kindness and joy. Stories that have led Lenni and Margot to the end of their days.
The One Hundred Years is a celebration of life, hope and kindness. The perfect read to shine a light on dark days.
The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley. Bloomsbury. 27th May 2021.
Such are the problems of a book bloggers world – I’ve had this proof for a couple of months but have such a pile of proofs I need to wait till we’re a bit closer to publication. It’s calling to me though, because I became a die-hard fan of Natasha Pulley’s writing in 2016 when I fell in love with a clockwork octopus and a lonely Japanese watchmaker. This promises to be another imaginative mash-up of history and fantasy.
Come home, if you remember.
The postcard has been held at the sorting office for ninety-one years, waiting to be delivered to Joe Tournier. On the front is a lighthouse – Eilean Mor, in the Outer Hebrides. Joe has never left England, never even left London. He is a British slave, one of thousands throughout the French Empire. He has a job, a wife, a baby daughter. But he also has flashes of a life he cannot remember and of a world that never existed – a world where English is spoken in England, and not French. And now he has a postcard of a lighthouse built just six months ago, that was first written nearly one hundred years ago, by a stranger who seems to know him very well. Joe’s journey to unravel the truth will take him from French-occupied London to a remote Scottish island, and back through time itself as he battles for his life – and for a very different future.
These are just a few of the releases I’m looking forward to in the first part of this year. Look out for part 2 later in the week, but be prepared for your wish list to grow even longer. Happy Reading!
Synopsis | Life is short – no one knows that better than seventeen year-old Lenni Petterssen. On the Terminal Ward, the nurses are offering their condolences already, but Lenni still has plenty of living to do. When she meets 83-year-old Margot Macrae, a fellow patient offering new friendship and enviable artistic skills, Lenni’s life begins to soar in ways she’d never imagined.
As their bond deepens, a world of stories opens up: of wartime love and loss, of misunderstanding and reconciliation, of courage, kindness and joy. Stories that have led Lenni and Margot to the end of their days.
Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny, and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need it most.
My Thoughts | As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I knew it was meant for me. This is the type of world I understand; the kingdom of the sick. Not that I have a terminal illness, but I do have a life limiting illness and that puts me into a different bracket in society. I don’t do a 9-5, I have to spend a lot of time at home and I have no idea what the next day will bring. It’s a strange place to be; to have life in front of you, but knowing there are now limits to how I live and possibly how long I live for. It’s about learning to live, while dying.
That’s what Lenni and Margot understand. While the nurses are already saying their goodbyes, Lenni and Margot are making friends and learning how to carry on living. I love the idea of this cross generational friendship, because I do believe we can develop deep connections outside of our own age bracket. We have so much to offer each other. Older people bring their wisdom, experiences and perspective to the table. Whilst younger people can replenish a life with energy, knowledge of popular culture and technology that can enrich an older person, establish connections and reduce isolation. Also both are aware that they have limited time so put their all into the friendship, as well as the new experiences it brings. It sounds like a tearjerker, but one that that’s also uplifting and full of life lessons we could all do with learning.
Biography | Marianne Cronin is the author of ‘The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot, which took me six years to write and I’m very excited that their story is now reaching readers. Before She started working on writing fiction full-time, she worked in academia and has a PhD in Applied Linguistics but she doesn’t use the title ‘Dr’ on official documents because She’s scared of being asked to help in a medical emergency and having only a thesis on linguistics to help. She likes to write at night and when not writing, she can be found trying to be funny in various improv groups or watching her recently-adopted cat sleeping under my desk.