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Laura Purcell, My Author of 2020: Three Non-Spoiler Reviews in One

Laura Purcell has always been an author I’ve wanted to try as her titles have consistently popped out to me from bookshop shelves, BookTube videos and Instagram images alike. She’s always been recommended to me as soon as anyone finds out my reading taste for Gothic, medically/anatomically macabre, suspense and intriguing twists. Her books are also published by Raven Books (Bloomsbury imprint) who specialise in these favourite genres and themes of mine and their authors also include Stuart Turton and his debut, The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.

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The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Non-Spoiler Review

As I imagine many of us were, I was introduced to Richard Osman through Pointless alongside Alexander Armstrong, who I was already a fan of thanks to his musical and theatrical connections. Since then he’s an easily recognisable, partly due to his height, source of wit, knowledge and trivia to fuel hundreds of game nights. When I heard he was foraying into the world of fiction, and crime/murder mysteries no less, I was immediately intrigued and even more so when it seemed to be a hit from the moment of the announcement. Viking has put so much behind this book and its been so interesting to watch this roaring success make waves throughout the industry and beyond.

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The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Non-Spoiler Review

2020 has been a turbulent year. However, it has remained consistent in both the onslaught of new releases and the anticipated nature of those releases. However, if I had to pick just one highly anticipated release for 2020 it would have to be Stuart Turton’s The Devil and the Dark Water as I adored The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, Turton’s debut which won the First Novel Award at the 2018 Costa Book Awards. I’ve already published my first impressions to celebrate publication day, but now I’ve finished all 500+ pages! Let’s find out if this beautifully produced book lived up to my expectations.

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The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton: First Impressions (100 Pages)

Book lovers will know the unrivalled anticipation of counting the days to the publication date of your most anticipated read of the year. Well, there is no better feeling than being blessed by Waterstones to receive your pre-order a couple of days early. I received my pre-order of Stuart Turton’s The Devil and the Dark Water on Tuesday and immediately devoured the first one hundred pages. To celebrate the publication day of this dark, mysterious and deliciously addictive read I’m going to share my initial impressions of the pages I’ve read. *

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People of Abandoned Character by Clare Whitfield:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Non-Spoiler Review

As soon as I read the synopsis for Clare Whitfield’s debut novel, People of Abandoned Character, following Daniel Bassett’s Instagram review (@Dantheman1504) I just had to read it. Like many, I am fascinated by the Jack the Ripper case focusing on the unsolved 1888 murders of five women in Whitechapel, London. The very concept of unsolved cases which have remained at the forefront of public knowledge for over one-hundred years and the continuous research surrounding both the perpetrator and his victims has remained fascinating since my early high school years. Discussions of Victorian surgery, nursing and doctors often come hand-in-hand with discussions of Jack the Ripper and his victims, so People of Abandoned Character also piqued my academic interests due to the focus on the body. You can imagine, therefore, how ecstatic I was to see the invitation to this wonderful blog tour pop into my inbox. I’m so happy to be participating in the Head of Zeus blog tour running from September 21st to 27th so please check out my fellow reviewers.

If this book sounds right up your street, I highly recommend reading it either alongside or directly preceding Hallie Rubenhold’s The Five, the ground-breaking historical account of the canonical five women’s lives and a powerful condemnation of the misogyny surrounding them.

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Afterland by Lauren Beukes:⭐️⭐️⭐️Non-Spoiler Review

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my ability to steer clear of pandemic fiction and non-fiction throughout lockdown. However, when the opportunity to read and review Afterland by Lauren Beukes I just had to make an exception. I’ll discuss this further below, but the concept of this sounded so intriguing that I just had to give it a read. As a medical humanities academic researcher, I’m sure you can imagine my intrigue to receive a book focusing on an oncovirus which has killed most men through prostate cancer. I’m so excited to be taking part in the blog tour for Afterland.

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The Inheritance by Anne Allen:⭐️⭐️⭐️Non-Spoiler Review

If your book features Victor Hugo, Les Misérables, and the history of his writing I’m going to read it. That is a fact of life. As soon as I read the description for Anne Allen’s latest Guernsey novel, I was so excited to see my favourite author feature so heavily in the plot.

I can’t easily describe my personal preference for Victor Hugo’s novels anymore, especially as my three favourite Hugo novels would make up a majority of my favourite novels of all time and they formed the basis of all three of my favourite musicals of all time. Les Misérables is the one that started it all as the epic basis of my go-to favourite musical, which fully converted me into a musical theatre fan, The Man Who Laughs became The Grinning Man which is easily my favourite modern musical ever and every time I read Notre-Dame de Paris it becomes my favourite novel all over again, it was also included in my Undergraduate dissertation and essays, and it became my favourite Disney animated film and stage musical. So, it’s all very close at the top.

I will give a content warning for this novel and by extension this review, for divorce and domestic abuse. As I’ve recently experienced the emotional rollercoaster that is job hunting, and as we’re in a difficult time for employment, I will also state that this novel focuses heavily on employment, and features Tess securing a new job.

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The Flip Side by James Bailey: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Non-Spoiler Review

As I grew up reading fantasy and classics it was a surprise to discover, a couple of years ago, that I thoroughly enjoy reading slice of life romance narratives thanks to picking up Giovanna Fletcher’s novels via Audiobook and Beth O’Leary’s The Flatshare. Due to this discovery, I immediately jumped at the chance to try out a completely new contemporary/romance narrative which popped into my inbox as a blog tour. Please check out my fellow book bloggers and reviewers using the image I’ve included below.

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The Honey and the Sting by E. C. Fremantle: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Non-Spoiler Review

I have seen this book everywhere. As soon as the proofs were released into the world my Twitter and Instagram feeds were flooded with lovely photos of this gorgeous cover. I must admit, this piqued my interest when it fell into my inbox and as soon as I heard secrets, historical fiction and bees I was completely hooked.

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The Witch House by Ann Rawson: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Non-Spoiler Review

As a lover of mysteries with a psychological twist, always looking to read more about suspected witches, I knew I just had to check out Ann Rawson’s The Witch House! Today is my stop on The Witch House blog tour as organised by Red Dog Press, a small indie publisher of all things mysterious, thrilling and crime scene hijinks from unique voices, so if the synopsis intrigues you please do check out the other lovely bloggers posting their reviews.

Alice Hunter, grieving and troubled after a breakdown, stumbles on the body of her friend and trustee, Harry Rook. The police determine he has been ritually murdered, and suspicion falls on the vulnerable Alice, who inherited the place known locally as The Witch House from her grandmother, late High Priestess of the local coven.
When the investigations turn up more evidence, and it all seems to point to Alice, even she begins to doubt herself.

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The Guilty Die Twice by Don Hartshorn:⭐️⭐️⭐️Non-Spoiler Review

Today’s review is an interesting one. I am always on the hunt for a good legal thriller. If I’m not watching Suits, I’ve now given up attempting to count the number of times I’ve watched it, you can find me watching legal-centric YouTube videos from Legal Eagle or Eve Cornwell. This interest has also seeped into my academic life as my current research is focusing explicitly on capital convictions in the US and their representation in literature. It’s almost as if the team at TCK Publishing knew this when their invitation to review The Guilty Die Twice dropped into my inbox and I jumped at the chance.

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One White Lie by Leah Konen: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Non-Spoiler Review

From the end of July and throughout August I’m going to be participating in a lot of blog tours and I am so excited! I’ve always enjoyed challenging myself through my reading and I’ve achieved this predominantly using prompts for readathons, however, blog tours are a challenge unto themselves. Especially when you’re a famously slow reader with one week exactly to read each subsequent book! However, by going into each book having only read the synopsis and nothing else, whereas I’d have normally heard bloggers raving about them first, I get to explore each read and create my own excitement whilst also ensuring I do review them promptly. This all kicked off with The Puritan Princess last Monday, a roaring success, and today’s blog follows the trend in covering Leah Konen’s One White Lie for my stop on the blog tour as detailed down below.

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The Puritan Princess by Miranda Malins: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Non-Spoiler Review

Firstly, this book has continued a trend across my 2020 reading that this year is proving to be a good year for beautifully designed navy and gold covers between Hamnet, The Court of Miracles and The Puritan Princess. Today is my stop on the blog tour for The Puritan Princess which will continue through to Monday 27th of July and I’ve included the banner below so please make sure to check out the other awesome book bloggers also posting reviews.

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You Can Read and Write Anything! Top Five Creative Plays on the Norm

Any writer can attest to the unpredictable nature of ideas and inspiration. Regardless of genre, from the slice of life contemporaries to intricately plotted thrillers, the most mundane aspects of everyday life may spark a thought which is suddenly well on its way to becoming a full-length novel. However, if these everyday aspects of life find their way into the narrative there is enjoyment to be had, for both writer and reader, in creatively twisting the norm. Personally, I’m excited to spot these norm twists in a synopsis and I’m intrigued by an author’s ability to incorporate them regardless of genre.

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Wales Millennium Centre Announces Closure Until January 2021

I don’t typically post news on this blog, nor have I outwardly posted about theatre closures and show cancellations instead choosing to continue to post reviews and keep their word-of-mouth going or taking a small break to take extra marketing courses and improve my future content. I have also been enjoying the theatrical content consistently released during this lockdown including all of the Andrew Lloyd Webber shows, and beyond, from The Show Must Go On, various Leave a Light On concerts from the Theatre Café and Frankenstein, This House, and The Madness of King George III from National Theatre at Home. I’ve even been granted the chance to relive two favourites as A Monster Calls was streamed by Bristol Old Vic just last week and my favourite show The Grinning Man is still to come. As I’ve mentioned, the reason I haven’t been keeping up to date with these releases review wise is that I’m currently taking advantage of a break to think about and improve, the content on this website (in my head) ready for when theatre returns with a bang!

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& Juliet (Shaftesbury Theatre): ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review

This show has been following me around since I saw the first announcement ahead of its initial run. However, the soundtrack did not immediately convince me to see it as, while the voices were great, I found it difficult to listen to without narrative context. I normally do not mind listening to the soundtrack first and trying to gauge the story from this, but as the individual songs each had their own contexts outside of the show it was exceedingly difficult to get past that. When I went down to London, initially for the week of London Book Fair, at the end of February I was lucky enough to catch & Juliet on my first night using TodayTix for a £15 ticket. Also, in the couple of days between booking and my visit the show was nominated for nine Olivier Awards and many WhatsOnStage Awards so you could say I was expecting a good time!

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Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Non-Spoiler Review

Before I can say anything about the content of this book, just look at how gorgeous it is! I know the old saying, “never judge a book by its cover”, but I have been making a conscious effort to be more aware of book design this year and this is the perfect example of how design can really push a book ahead. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and it did not disappoint. My current reads are turning into a five/four-star streak but this, the one which started it, has stayed with me far beyond the final page.

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8 1/2 Stone by Liz Jones: ⭐️⭐️Review [Blog Tour]

If I see a book written by the former editor-in-chief of Marie Claire and compared to Helen Feilding’s Bridget Jones series, of course, I am going to be intrigued. However, as you can likely gauge from the title the subject matter is incredibly sensitive and the book speaks directly on several aspects of how we perceive ourselves, and our current difficulties, and relationships in relation to body shape. Therefore, this book is very difficult to review but I’m going to give it my best shot.

All views below are, as usual, entirely my own and I am taking the content of this book at face value to the level of the words on the page. There is an author’s note at the end of the book detailing Liz Jones’ own experiences with eating disorders and her journey to writing this book, however, please be aware I did not read it prior to reading the main narrative or writing this review. Alongside my own rating I have also included a five-star review and one-star review at the end to give any prospective readers multiple perspectives and a range of information.

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The Prince of Egypt (Dominion Theatre): ⭐️⭐️⭐️ Review

So many people, including myself, have been waiting for this production to happen for years. It is finally here! I am a lover of animated films, particularly hand-drawn animation, and The Prince of Egypt was a significant contributor to this alongside Disney and a couple of Fox films. Little did I know when I first watched it as a child, however, that the gorgeous score accompanying the awesome animation was written by none other than Stephen Schwartz, also known as the composer of a little-known show called Wicked. When I heard that this production was finally getting off the ground with the continued contribution of Schwartz, and after hearing ‘Footprints on the Sand’, I knew this show could not be missed.

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O.W.L.s Magical Readathon TBRs (Featuring the Family)

As I’ve been engrossed with job hunting since the beginning of this year, I will be the first to admit that time to read for pleasure, especially when I’m over ambitious during readathons, can run away from me. However, I’m finding this pressure is lifting due to openings being pushed back and thinning out. Overall, I’m using this time to work on my CV, learn more about the market through the Get Into Book Publishing online course, read more for my PhD and… finally participate in the Magical Readathon!

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Mortmain Hall by Martin Edwards: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️Non-Spoiler Review [Blog Tour]

It’s already time for my second blog tour! I was so happy to see this review request in my inbox, and that was from the summary alone. Mortmain Hall promised a classic whodunit puzzle set in 1930, the Golden Age of gothic mystery and chilling murder. Plus, look at that gorgeous cover! There is just no way I could resist being part of this awesome blog tour to celebrate the publication of Mortmain Hall.

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After Dark by Dominic Nolan: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Non-Spoiler Review [Blog Tour]

I’m so excited to be posting this review! Today is my stop on the After Dark blog tour and my first ever contribution to a blog tour. Headline have organised this blog tour to celebrate the release of Dominic Nolan’s second novel, and the latest appearance of D.S. Abigail Boone, After Dark following Past Life published in 2019.

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15 Highly Anticipated 2020 Book Releases

I’m just going to come right out and say that I’m expecting my 2020 reading year to be absolutely insane. After completing my Masters in September 2019 I got a Christmas job at Waterstones which made me aware of the upcoming releases and popular titles. Luckily I picked up some later 2019 releases, such as Bridget Collins’ The Binding, but I’ve also got a list of previous releases which I’m hoping are going to become new favourites judging from the BookTube reviews including such casual reads as V. E. Schwab’s Vicious and Villians, Taylor Jenkins Reid’s The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo and Brandon Sanderson’s Skyward series as I caught the hardback of Starsight. To add even more to that rapidly growing list, this post details fifteen books to be released in 2020 which I simply cannot wait for. This list does focus more on early year releases, however, due to the timely nature of the publishing industry which also explains the lack of information for the later releases. As I mentioned above this list is mainly inspired by my efforts last year to be far more conscious of recent releases and those heavily marketed in stores like Waterstones and Foyles. For example, I read quite a few authors below for the first time in 2019, loved that book and so want to continue to support them and their publishers.

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