Zoe is just beginning to get over the heartbreak of losing the love of her life. A chef, she and her cat Frazzle live upstairs from the bar she cooks at aptly named The Ginger Cat.
She starts to get a bit of pressure to begin to date again from the other chef, Ronnie, who seems to have no problem finding trysts. He insists she at least put herself out there on one of the many dating apps that exist. She does and after her first date, or no show date, she decides she can’t find love this way. But then she discovers a dating astrology app, which partners love compatibility through your signs. Zoe thinks she has hit the jackpot! She signs up! Let the love match begin!
And then it doesn’t go as well as anticipated. She finds one match to be perfect! So perfect that not only do they never go on another date, but he blocks her! Then there is another date which after serenading her for one hour has her married with children! Finding Mr. Right may be very wrong for Zoe.
Then the stars align, not on the app but accidently and she literally falls for someone. She seems to think she has met “the one”. OK, so he’s not that great in bed, that will get better, and he does not have a real job but that could change right? and he is a bit of a slob, but at least she can clean up after him. It’s still a boyfriend and she can stop dating.
As Zoe debates the pro’s and con’s of being in love, what she seems to miss are the goings on at the bar and how sometimes you may not need an an astrology app to see the vision right in front of you. Perhaps sometimes the only help you really need when looking for love is no help at all.
Thank You, Next is an enjoyable, funny story as are all Ranald’s books. This book will take you away from the toil of one’s life and plunge you into a world of lightness, wit and of course, love.
Thank you #NetGalley #Bookouture #SohieRanald #ThankYou,Next for the advanced copy.
In a sleepy retirement village in England, a group of seniors meet every Thursday in their clubhouse to discuss old unsolved mysteries. They call themselves the Thursday Murder Club. Until one day a local developer is found dead. And now they have an actual murder they can investigate themselves. And they are very excited!
We are introduced to these comical, intelligent, octogenarians as they seem to bumble through the investigation, but quietly actually begin to piece together the clues. One must never underestimate the power of a senior citizen able to manipulate a situation! We have Elizabeth, who seems to be the ring leader with a mysterious past who has many former friends in law enforcement, Joyce, a retired nurse, who through her written humorous yet informative daily journal gives us more detail into the goings of the club members, Ron, whose son is a celebrity boxer turned reality star and Ibrahim, a former psychiatrist.
As the group begins to investigate and tackle the murder, they are hindered as more bodies start to pile up, some from years ago. With the help from their friends…but in reality are the police investigators Donna De Freitas and Chris Hudson, who they seem to be able to manipulate into unknowingly (or knowingly) pass them information during hysterical tea visits. Suddenly, the case takes a strange turn…could the killer or killers be one of them? Will this group be able to piece together the clues, and masterfully solve the case?
But the Thursday Club not only solves murders. We see the love they have not only for each other, but for spouses both past and present as well as others who live in the retirement community. They take care of each other, no matter what that means. No matter what needs to be done. No matter what needs to be left unsaid. Their bond is unbreakable.
The Thursday Murder Club is an extremely funny mystery with ingenious clues and a perfectly executed ending. One can only hope Richard Osman writes a second.
When Ellie and Neil Patterson finally vacation without children at their newly purchased cottage, they believe it will be a chance for them to reconnect and try to get back to where they once were. It seems their relationship has stalled and neither knows really what to do.
But they may never get that chance. Ellie is kidnapped by their next door neighbor, a George Clooney look-a-like. He tells her that they knew each other from long ago. He explains to Ellie that she will be given only three chances to guess his name. With each wrong answer Neil, who has also been abducted and is in the next room, will have extremities chopped off. If she fails to remember him by the third name, Neil dies.
Ellie then must begin a difficult walk down memory lane, with situations she never wanted to remember, including the tragic death of her beloved sister Bethany after she was involved in a horrific car accident. But those memories are nothing compared to what this mysterious psychotic man has in store for her and her husband. And what Ellie will learn will tear her world apart forever.
As the police try and track Ellie and her captor by the bodies he leaves in their wake, will they be able to find her before she too becomes one of his casualties? Will both Ellie and Neil come out of this alive? Will Ellie be able to make peace with what she discovers about her captor, a murderer with mommy issues, or with her husband after she uncovers an explosive secret he as hidden from her all these years.
Tell Me My Name is an intense psychological thriller with so many twists and turns you never see coming, and shocking revelations which intertwine in the storylines brilliantly.
Thank you #NetGalley #Dundurn #TellMeMyName #ErinRuddy for the advanced copy.
Take It Back is a riveting courtroom thriller which explores race, disabilities, entitlement and rape. Although not your average psychological suspense novel, the story will haunt you for days after you have finished it and your heart will perhaps hurt with sadness.
Jodie is a disabled young girl in high school with a misshapen face. She is lonely and quiet. Her mother is an alcoholic who can barely tolerate her. She abuses her emotionally by making her feel less than human. They barely make ends meet. When her best friend invites her to attend a party she is hesitant, but her friend offers to dress her with her clothes and put her hair up and they are off. At some point they become separated and a boy, who she has had a crush on for years, offers to take her to her friend. And from that point on there are two sides of the story. Jodie says she was raped. Four boys says nothing happened.
Zara Kaleel is a Muslim social worker, former attorney now working to help assist children in need. When Jodie comes to her a few days after the rape and tells they story of how four Muslim boys took turns raping her, she does not know what to believe. Jodie’s story at times seems inconsistent, but when her shirt with DNA on it from one of the boys comes back that sends the case to trial.
The boys who do not seem very concerned, repeatedly deny any knowledge of what Jodie is accusing them. Why would they rape an ugly girl when they could have anyone they want? All from Muslim families, there neighborhood supports them and condemns the victim. As the case goes to trial it becomes a media circus. Zara is shunned for taking the side of the victim and not supporting her community.
Her own family is close to disowning her for taking the case. Zara, who tried for years to live by the stringent laws and rules of her religion was banished by her father when she decided she could not continue to believe in the religious views of her family.
As the hatred between sides spills into the streets, a picture of Zara kissing a white man surfaces which puts her own life in jeopardy. But she will not give up. Jodie has no one to support her. As the case winds down explosive information against Jodie and the rape surfaces. It will take all of Zara’s strength to both physically and mentally survive as well as hold on to her belief that Jodie is innocent.
The book as a whole gives a radical inside look at racism, mob mentality and social injustice which can sometimes worsen when a person does not fit the norm. Are they not to be believed just because they don’t fit everybody’s perception of what is ordinary?
But the ending will surely haunt you for quite a while.
KIA ABDULLAH is an author and travel writer. She has contributed to The Guardian, BBC, Channel 4 News, and The New York Times. Kia currently travels the world as one half of the travel blog Atlas & Boots, which receives over 200,000 views per month.
In TAKE IT BACK, you deal with a challenging topic–a sixteen-year-old girl accuses four boys from her class in school of rape–how do you tell a story about such a traumatic subject while keeping readers turning the pages?
For me, character is so important because it does two things. Firstly, it forces me to approach a subject sensitively because I grow to care about my characters. I didn’t want Jodie – the 16-year-old girl in Take It Back – to be a loosely-sketched victim on which to hang my plot, so I took the time to interview survivors, counsellors, lawyers and police officers to make sure I was doing her justice.
Secondly, great characters make readers care about what happens and that’s what keeps the pages turning. The four boys who are accused in the novel are fully-fledged characters in their own right and so that setup is really compelling for the reader: “I care about both the victim and the accused here, but who is telling the truth?”
Where did the inspiration for TAKE IT BACK come from?
I wouldn’t say that Take It Back is an angry novel, but it does come from a place of anger. I don’t like to admit that because anger is such a primitive emotion, but I was angry for nearly my whole twenties. I was raised in a conservative Muslim family in London and struggled with the pressures it placed on me: to be quiet and not raise my head above the parapet.
At the same time, I could see how the mood in certain quarters of the media was turning against Muslims and that made me deeply uncomfortable because we are not the monolithic, malevolent entity we are sometimes made out to be.
Take It Back allowed me to examine this conflict in the context of a thriller. It’s a gripping courtroom drama at heart, but it also asks: how do we judge people based on what they look like or what they believe in? That is really the root of the novel.
How much of a challenge is it to write about potentially divisive social issues like racial and ethnic biases while keeping the tension high and driving the plot forward?
There is definitely a temptation to get on my soapbox and preach about issues that matter to me. The key is to trust the reader. I don’t need to spell things out or drone on for pages and pages. Sometimes, a simple action speaks volumes and I have to trust the reader to catch its meaning.
For example, in one scene, Mo (one of the accused) is embarrassed of his father who works as a butcher because of the dried crust of blood on the cuticles of his nails. I could have expanded on this for several pages – about how immigrant children can be simultaneously proud and ashamed of their parents, or the plight of the working class – but I trusted the reader to recognise the pathos of that moment. Cutting out extra detail helps to keep tension high and drive the plot forward.
I can’t take all the credit though. There were definitely parts where my brilliant editor stepped in to say, “Um, this might be a bit much, so pare it back a little”. I owe her a huge amount.
Zara, the heroine in TAKE IT BACK, is smart, strong and fearless. And she faces a lot of pressure from her family over her choices that break with tradition. How did you go about writing her?
Zara was tricky because when you’re writing a woman of colour – especially one from a South-Asian background – you feel the burden of representation because there aren’t many characters like this in fiction. On one hand, I wanted to be true to who and what she was, but on the other I didn’t want to play into stereotypes.
I’ll give you an example. Zara’s backstory involves an arranged marriage. On one hand, that plays into stereotypes of the South-Asian woman, but on the other, nearly every British-Bangladeshi woman from London that I personally know – certainly of Zara’s generation – had an arranged marriage (as did I by the way). Do I ignore this in favour of a false narrative?
Ultimately, I opted for what I felt was true to Zara’s character. She isn’t purely one thing (strong, fearless, invincible) or the other (quiet, docile, submissive); she’s a mixture of many things as are we all.
Tell us about your other passion–travel writing. How did you get started with that? And does it influence your fiction?
I’d always wanted to travel around the world so, after a year of intense saving, my boyfriend and I quit our jobs in 2014 to spend a year hopping across the South Pacific and South America. Along the way, we set up our own travel blog, Atlas & Boots, mostly as a way to keep our skills sharp. It quickly gained traction and continued to grow. (Before Covid hit, it was getting 300,000 readers a month!)
The travel writing is very different from fiction, although I’m sure that the first informs the second. For example, I might be out on a swim and notice how seaweed looks like a woman’s hair floating in the bath and use that description in fiction. I could have written my novels if I’d just stayed at home, but the writing would likely be flatter.
What is your writing process typically like? Do you set a goal of a certain number of pages per day? Start with an outline or see where the story leads you?
I am a planner for sure. I outline my novels before I write a single word. The idea of jumping in headfirst without knowing that I have a strong ending (or beginning and middle for that matter!) is just too scary. I do leave some room for the story to breathe so if it takes me in a different direction, I’m open to that.
In terms of the writing itself, I’m fairly regimented. I write 1,500 words a day and won’t stop until that’s done. Sometimes, this means that I end up with terrible words, but I leave that for the editing!
Do you have a routine or process that helps to get into a flow and stay productive when you’re writing?
I use Freedom to block out social media, which is absolutely intrinsic to my routine. Without it, Twitter would swallow hours of productivity.
Other than that, I try to get out for a short walk every day. Sometimes, when I’m warm and toasty in my study and it’s gloomy outside (as it often is in England), it’s hard to motivate myself to venture out, but I always feel better for it. Whenever friends tell me that they’re feeling a bit sad or sluggish, I always encourage them to get out and go somewhere green if possible.
TAKE IT BACK was first published in the UK in 2019–was the reaction to the book what you’d hoped for? Any memorable reader feedback?
I’ve been blown away by the feedback. I’ve been writing professionally for 14 years and would occasionally receive a message of appreciation for a column or a feature. With Take It Back, I got hundreds of tweets, emails and messages from readers who adored the book.
It’s especially heartening when South-Asian women get in touch to say that they really see themselves in Zara. This makes me pleased that I stuck to the truest version of her.
Another piece of feedback that sticks in my mind is from a reader who compared my work to Ibsen. That was rather nice to hear!
What’s coming up next that you’re excited about?
I’m gearing up for the UK paperback release of Truth Be Told in March 2021. It’s the follow-up to Take It Back and we will see Zara return to fight a new case.
Aside from that, I’m looking forward to the world getting back to normal – or some version of it. I really miss travelling. In December 2019, I was on a road trip through Florida, Georgia and North Carolina. I’d love to return and explore more of the area and beyond.
Early praise for Take It Back:
“Riveting, thought-provoking legal thriller… Abdullah is definitely a writer to watch.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Abdullah has done an exemplary job of character development and is especially good at ratcheting up suspense as the trial proceeds.” – Booklist, starred review
“A thought-provoking and sparklingly intelligent novel, with the welcome bonus of an unguessable ending.” —The Telegraph
Take It Back Book Description
From author Kia Abdullah, Take It Back is a harrowing and twisting courtroom thriller that keeps you guessing until the last page is turned.
Who is telling the truth?
Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a brilliant legal career. But her decisions came at a high cost, and now, battling her own demons, she has exchanged her high profile career for a job at a sexual assault center, helping victims who need her the most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.
When Jodie, a sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, accuses four boys in her class of an unthinkable crime, the community is torn apart. After all, these four teenage defendants are from hard-working immigrant families and they all have proven alibis. Even Jodie’s best friend doesn’t believe her.But Zara does—and she is determined to fight for Jodie—to find the truth in the face of public outcry. And as issues of sex, race and social justice collide, the most explosive criminal trial of the year builds to a shocking conclusion.
Thank you #NetGalley #St.Martin’sPublishingGroup #TakeItBack #KiaAbdulla for the advanced copy. You can buy the book now with the following links:
Ever since I read and laughed through Irby’s latest book of essays, Wow, No Thank You, I wanted to read her very first book which is based on her blog, bitches gotta eat. Although Meaty is still very funny and extremely clever, it is much more raunchy than her last book. But what I could absolutely see is how strong her writing has become since Meaty.
The essays are once again hysterical and identifiable. She writes what women feel. In the essay “awkward first date” Irby lets the reader begin to know her by answering questions she poses to herself. Question: what is your favorite cereal? Answer: Is Triscuits a cereal? Question: who do you miss the most? Answer: The idea of my mother. As you can see, she tries to give both funny and truth.
Irby grew up raising herself, and being the caretaker for her disabled mother at the early age of 9. Her mother, a nurse had suffered from MS and other debilitating issues. It was up to her to run home and make sure her mother was ok for fear if the school found out her mother could not care for her, she would be taken away and put in a foster home.
But as Irby grew up, and her outlook on life being sarcastic yet naive, being complicated by her many health issues which she takes on with honesty and humor, she was able to prosper and grow stronger. With wit she describes dates where she had to wear adult diapers due to her colitis, having chin hairs, being exhausted by bad first dates…you know, having to shave your body and be extra super clean, only to know in an instant the guy was not for her and wondering why she tried so hard in the first place. She opens up about how she really enjoys eating in bed and watching television. Irby also give us a few of her favorite recipes, with entertaining commentary as she explains the ingredients.
The book of essays is filled with her distinctly different views on just about everything; life, love, hospital stays and hilarious stories of friends. Although some of the essays could be taken for being a bit vulgar, they are always based in truths which I believe some of us really do think, but never say out loud. Irby though, brazenly puts them down on paper.
Get your PJ’s on, make some hot chocolate (with marshmallows), sit in your most comfy chair and enjoy this extremely tender, warm love story, A Surprise Christmas Wedding!
As we meet Lottie who has just started a new job as an event planner in the Lake District, we only know she and her former fiancee broke up the year before leaving her heartbroken. At the same time, Lottie found out her sister, a single mother raising twins discovers she has cancer. As Lottie stepped in to help her ailing sister, she was never really able to process exactly what had gone wrong in her relationship. But now as she is beginning a new job in the village she grew up in, Lottie’s excitement for her future grows.
As the Christmas season nears, her boss puts her in charge of planning a last minute Christmas Eve wedding. But when she is finally introduced to the happy couple, she discovers to her horror that the groom is none other than her ex-fiancee Connor. As they both realize this could be a horribly awkward situation, they choose to pretend they don’t know each other. Which both angers Lottie and confuses her as to why he ended their relationship but seems eager to marry now.
From there, the story grows into lost love, perhaps new love, and of course everything that could go wrong, going wrong! As Lottie treads carefully with wedding plans for someone other than herself, she finds herself having feelings for her next door neighbor Jay, a man who himself has been hurt by love and is not willing to make another commitment. And with her sister’s check-up approaching to see if she is cancer free, Lottie has a great deal on her plate.
As secrets begin to be exposed, and Connor perhaps still having feelings for Lottie and this Christmas Eve wedding occurring during an unexpected snow storm, how will it be possible to pull off the perfect Christmas wedding? Or perhaps the wedding was never meant to be.
If you are looking for a cheerful Christmas story perfect for this time of year, look no further! A Surprise Christmas Wedding by Phillipa Ashley will put you in the holiday spirit!
Thank you #NetGalley #HarperCollins #ASupriseChristmasWedding #PhillipaAshley for the advanced copy.