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The Pretenders By Agatha Zaza

The Pretenders‘The Pretenders’ is the latest book by Agatha Zaza.

Jasper is ready to surprise his brother; Holly is ready to celebrate their engagement. Anne tags along for fear of missing out, and John might just be going for another drink. But Edmund and Ovidia had other plans for their Saturday. Over the course of one day, these couples must own up to the secrets they’ve been hiding from one another and the lies they’ve been telling themselves. And face the devastating consequences.

It’s difficult to go into a lot of detail about this book as it’s quite easy to give a lot away.

It’s seen from the perspective of Edward and Ovidia, they are at a crossroad in their relationship. After many years together, they have been faced with a situation that has made them doubt through the strength of their relationship, as well as on this particular day, they have to make a difficult decision.

But on this day, Edward’s younger brother, Jasper has called around to share the exciting news of becoming newly engaged to Holly. Included in this day of celebrations is Anne and John, who are friends of the brothers. But the day quickly becomes sour when Jasper discovers that Edward is seeing Ovidia, the famous ex who broke Jasper’s heart who Holly only recently healed. This makes the already tense and sad day, a more complex and dramatic meeting.

The characters are intriguing in this story. I warmed to Edward with his quiet intensity and love towards Ovidia that he’s trying to hold back from. I deplored Jasper, he’s self absorbed and as the story progresses, he gets even more narcissistic and absorbed in his problems rather than those around him. His relationship with Edward is complicated, although Edward sees out for his brother and wants to protect him, Jasper is caught up in his own drama that he is unable to see beyond his own jury and recognise his brother’s psi and this makes for upsetting reading as Jasper seemed unaware of other people’s pain.

Ovidia is an interesting person, she paints a different character behind closed doors and it’s evident that like Edward, she is also struggling. Other supporting characters in the story make for interesting reading as Anne wonders about her own relationship and Holly is questioning her love for Jasper.

I was hooked from the start with this book, with each chapter, a new secret is revealed making this bold and dramatic debut a shocking noir. Brilliantly written and heartbreakingly honest, ‘The Pretenders’ is a compelling and reflective debut that touches on love, relationships and recovering from domestic violence that made for tender and upsetting reading in parts. This family drama had me enthralled from the first page.

You can pre-order ‘The Pretenders’ from Amazon and will be available from good bookshops from 5th November 2020.

Monstrous Souls By Rebecca Kelly

Monstrous Souls‘Monstrous Souls is the latest book by Rebecca Kelly.

Over a decade ago, Heidi was the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her younger sister missing, and her best friend dead. But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her friends and family and no recollection of the crime. Now, it’s all starting to come back. As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in. When the truth is worse than fiction, is the past worth reliving?

I started this book last night and was disappointed that I had to put the book down when it was time to put it down.

Written in a snappy and fast paced manner, the story takes place over a 15 year period. 15 years ago, Heidi and best friend Nina were attacked, Nina was killed, Heidi was left for dead and Heidi’s little sister Anna was taken away. Heidi has no memory of what happened that day. But now her memory is beginning to come back and she’s beginning to piece memories together but in doing so, is putting her life in jeopardy.

The story is written in past and present tense leading up to the moment of the incident. The past tenses are seen through Heidi’s perspective and it makes for interesting reading. Her best friend Nina was once outspoken and fun but now she’s surly and snappy and wants Heidi to run away with her. As a teenager, Heidi is naive and sees the best in people. But when Nina reveals the darker side of life, Heidi becomes a different person.

The story is a thrilling read, the past and present scenes are cleverly interweaved setting the drama and suspense up from the first page. With each moment that Heidi remembers something vital to the case, brings them one step closer to solving the case. Tackling issues of drug and sexual abuse, this book is shocking story and highlights corruption in the world where the people we put our trust on prove to be the most evil.

A haunting and dramatic debut that is addictive from the first page, ‘Monstrous Souls’ is a disturbing story that doesn’t hold any punches and leaves the reader bursting for more.

You can buy ‘Monstrous Souls’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops.

I Wanted You To Know By Laura Pearson

I Wanted You To Know‘I Wanted You To Know’ is the latest book by Laura Pearson.

Jess never imagined she’d be navigating single motherhood, let alone while facing breast cancer. A life that should be just beginning is interrupted by worried looks, heavy conversations, and the possibility of leaving her daughter to grow up without her. Propelled by a ticking clock, Jess knows what she has to do: tell her daughter everything. How to love, how to lose, how to forgive, and, most importantly, how to live when you never know how long you have.

I spent this morning with my head in this book and towards the end, I could barely see the words for the tears, as this book is such a genuinely heartbreaking story.

It’s seen through the narrative of Jess, at twenty one years of age, is told that she’s dying of cancer. Having to deal with this news as well as cope with being a new mother, she writes letters to her little girl to tell her about her mother that she wouldn’t know, as well as offer advice for the times that she’s not around.

Beautifully written, the story evokes such emotion throughout. As a cancer survivor, Laura writes from experience about her time and gives an insight into the illness and the trauma of it.

The story really tugs at the heartstrings and is such a powerful piece of writing. As Jess reflects on the life that she has led and the life that she will be leaving, it’s hard not to feel emotional whilst reading the letters that she writes to her daughter, Edie.

A heartfelt and honest story, ‘I Wanted You To Know’ is a story, that really stays with the reader long after you’ve reached the final page and has you pulling your loved ones in for an extra hug.

You can buy ‘I Wanted You To Know’ on Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

The Flower Arranger By JJ Ellis

The Flower Arranger‘The Flower Arranger’ is the latest book by JJ Ellis.

Holly Blain wants to cover real news. The entertainment beat — pop stars and teen trends — was not why she moved to Tokyo. When she meets Inspector Tetsu Tanaka, head of Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police’s Gaikoku-jin unit, it might just be her big break. Tanaka isn’t so sure. Always one to do things by the book, he’s hesitant about bringing this headstrong reporter into his carefully controlled investigation. But young women keep disappearing and Tanaka is given no choice. He and Blain must trust each other if they are to stop a tormented killer from bringing his twisted plan to its shocking conclusion.

Today I spent my head buried in this Japanese fast paced thriller packed with suspense and drama from the start.

The story is seen from the perspective of budding crime journalist Holly Blain and Inspector Tetsu Tanaka as they race against time to find a young missing French woman after another young woman turns to dead with mysterious wounds.

Set in the bustling city of Tokyo, young English journalist Holly Blain has always wanted to report crime instead of showbiz so she offers to work with one of the police stations, she seizes the opportunity to work alongside Inspector Tetsu Tanaka and report, what has become known as ‘The Flower Arranger’, a murderer who leaves his victims with intricate floral arrangements.

This is a fantastic book, gritty and intense the story flows at a fast pace that really pulls the reader in. Set in Japan, the story is so vividly written that you can almost smell the cherry blossom and find yourself bowing with each new meeting. As well as being a gritty thriller, the story is incredibly well researched and it’s obvious that the author has a genuine passion for Japan and it’s heritage and this was an interesting addition to the story, as new legends and traditions are revealed.

Holly and Tanaka are an interesting duo that work well together. They both have the same goal to catch the killer but Holly has an even bigger goal to become a crime journalist as well as being respected amongst her peers. With Tanaka, there’s an underlying sadness to the character, that makes the reader feel an empathy towards him.

A clever slant to the story is the inclusion of the perspective from the killer, as they race against the police and try not to be caught. An interesting angle about the killer narrative is that the author has written them in a way that you feel a sympathetic connection with them.

With a fast paced narrative and twists at every turn, ‘The Flower Arranger’ is a thrilling new voice in crime fiction. The book introduces an exciting new duo that gives both sides of the story when it comes to investigating and reporting crime and the complexities and horror they impact along the way.

You can buy ‘The Flower Arranger’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Nobody’s Wife By Laura Pearson

‘Nobody’s Wife‘Nobody’s Wife’ is the latest book by Laura Pearson.

Emily and Josephine have always shared everything. They’re sisters, flatmates, and best friends. It’s the two of them against the world. When Emily has the perfect wedding, and Josephine finds the perfect man, they know things will change forever. But nothing can prepare them for what, or who, one of them is willing to give up for love. Four people. Three couples. Two sisters. One unforgivable betrayal.

At only 244 pages, this book is quite short and can easily be consumed in one sitting which is what I did. The story is seen through the perspective of the four main characters, after Michael and Emily get married. Michael is delighted to call Emily his wife, he’s besotted with her but for Emily, she feels that something is missing and when Josephine introduces her new boyfriend Jack to her sister and her husband, Emily finally figures out what is missing from her life.

As much as they try to fight it, both Emily and Jack are drawn to each other and even though they are torn at the pain that they are causing their partners, they are unable to stay away.

This book is quite the moral dilemma, obviously we all want people to have their happy ever afters but when it’s at the expense of others, then things more complicated and lines become blurred. Surprisingly, I found myself sympathising with all the characters, as they all battled with emotions and drama, but it was really Emily that I was drawn to, because she was not only hurting her sister, but also her best friend. The one person that she had become to rely on whilst growing up when their family fell apart and scenes between the pair of them made for emotional reading at times.

Wonderfully crafted and an observant insight into complexities of life and relationships, ‘Nobody’s Wife’ is a frank and honest recollection about love, obsession and betrayal.

You can buy ‘Nobody’s Wife’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.