Blog Tour: What Lies Within by Annabelle Thorpe

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Release: 2018
Publisher: Quercus Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

What Lies Within by Annabelle Thorpe

An intense, claustrophobic psychological novel about the dark side of expat life, and what being out of your comfort zone can do to you, set in the vibrant souks and ancient riads of Marrakech

A unique friendship, built on a lie

Freya, Paul and Hamad. Three friends from two different worlds; a seemingly unshakeable bond, suddenly under threat.

A move that would change all their lives.

The trio have stayed close since university despite Freya and Paul’s marriage and Hamad’s wealthy lifestyle – so different from their own. Then an incredible job offer from Hamad sees Paul and Freya move to Morocco.

A city where nothing is as it seems

Marrakech soon proves a perplexing place to live. Instead of reinvigorating their marriage, Freya finds the move is driving them apart. Revelations about their shared past force her to acknowledge that neither Paul nor Hamad is quite the man she thought. When a shocking crime is committed, Freya finds herself cast adrift in the dark corners of a bewildering city, unsure who to trust or to believe.

Extract

Taroudant, Morocco

‘Are you ready, monsieur?’

Hamad glanced down at the book; the signature was unrecognisable. His fingers had
locked around the pen; the final i was turning into an elongated r as the weight of his hand dragged the nib across the page. ‘I need a moment.’

‘Bien sûr.’

His phone vibrated; the screen glowed brightly in the dim light. Freya. He didn’t have
the words. Not yet.

‘OK.’ What was he waiting for? To feel better?

‘Shall we proceed?’

Hamad nodded. His gums were coated with a thin, sour liquid; his palms slid greasily
against the weave of his jeans. The man gestured towards the strip-lit corridor, following closely behind. His shoes clicked on the grubby linoleum.

‘Ici.’ He slipped a key into a metal door, heaved it open with a grunt. Thin,
refrigerated air rushed at them. Hamad shivered. ‘Through here.’

The room smelt of cleaning fluid and something odd, like stale tea. An older man was
leaning against a desk; sallow-skinned with thinning hair. The gendarme muttered something in Darija, pointed to the large steel cabinet that took up most of the far wall. Hamad had seen enough films to know what it was. Six compartments. Six bodies. Even in his state of shock he could feel the grotesqueness of the situation. He had always been unusually squeamish.

The balding man pulled down the handle on one of the panels, slotting his fingertips
underneath to lever out the drawer. The runners squealed. Lying on the shelf was something wrapped in what looked like white plastic.

‘Are you ready?’

‘I am.’ He smoothed his thumb and forefinger over his beard. The plastic sheet
crackled as it was peeled away. He glanced down. The body was discoloured, mustard and purple bruises spreading like faded ink beneath the skin. Her hair was smoothed back from her forehead, lashes long against her cheeks. The room swung gently. He reached out his hand to steady himself on the corner of the gurney.

‘Monsieur. Is this . . . ?’

Hamad closed his eyes for a moment; he felt disorientated, unable to process what
he was seeing. A word rose in his throat; he swallowed hard.

‘I understand this is difficult.’ The man’s voice was surprisingly gentle. ‘But can you… ?’

‘Yes.’

‘Monsieur Al-Bouskri? My apologies, but I must be clear. You are saying this is . . . ?’

‘Yes.’ His fingernails bit into the skin on his palms. He looked into the man’s blank
face. ‘This is the body of Racine Delacroix.’

Annabelle Thorpe

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After sixteen years as an award-winning travel and features journalist, writing for The Times and many other national broadsheets and magazines, Annabelle made the transition to fiction with The People We Were Before, the tale of a young boy and his family living through the Balkan Wars of the 1990s. The book was born of her experiences in travelling to Croatia for over thirty years, and witnessing the country’s spectacular fall and rise. 

As a travel writer, she has visited over 50 countries, including driving through the Omani desert, trekking in the New Zealand rainforest, learning (and failing) to sail in Bermuda and narrowly escaping being run over in Tripoli. Her fiction brings in locations she knows intimately; Croatia in The People We Were Before, and Marrakech and Qatar in her second novel, What Lies Within, published in April 2018.

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Review: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin @PutnamBooks

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Release: 2018
Publisher: GP Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary

I didn’t know exactly what to expect when I started The Immortalists. I knew it was about destiny and four siblings living in New York, but I didn’t really know if it would be a fantasy tale or not -it wasn’t.. There are definitely some magical elements, though. It’s 1969 and Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya visit a mysterious fortune teller who claims to know the day they will die. Each one of them reacts to the news in a different way and we get to follow their life adventures in four sections that take, as you could expect, 25% of the book.

First of all there’s Simon, a gay teenager who moves to San Francisco, then the mysterious Klara, who wants to be a magician; good-natured Daniel, who becomes a military doctor, and serious and responsible Varya, the eldest of the bunch. This was essentially a family saga, spanning many years from 1969 until 2006, and focusing on how the gypsy’s prediction affects each sibling and influences their life path.

I love family sagas, and I mainly ask one thing of them: the characters need to be appealing, you need to be able to connect with them, and become emotionally invested. And Chloe Benjamin’s The Immortalists managed to do that in a beautiful way. Even though Simon and Klara’s stories were my favorite, I could see why each one of the stories was special in its own way.

I loved the concept of the story, the inevitable question that everyone asks themselves after reading this book. Would you want to know? Would you live your life differently if you did? And what would you do if you were destined to die sooner than expected?

Many thanks to the publishers and Edelweiss for providing me a copy in exchange for an honest review

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Mini Reviews #11

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Hello and happy start of the week to everyone! Today I want to talk about two books, The Innocent Wife by Amy Lloyd and Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult, which seemed perfect for me at first sight but ended up being a bit disappointing. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy them, but not as much as I had hoped.

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Release: 2018
Publisher: Cornerstone
Genre: Mystery/Thriller

I really loved the concept of this book, as I’ve always enjoyed creepy stories and I’m fascinated by women who write letters to convicted men. However, Samantha wasn’t a character I could connect with and I struggled with most of her decisions, as she wasn’t crazy enough for me to find her remotely interesting. I actually liked the first part of the novel better than the other half.

Of course, I never liked Danny at all either, but the book was actually really entertaining and overall an easy read. I’m sad to say that I didn’t care much for the mystery. It wasn’t entirely predictable but it wasn’t surprising either.

Many thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for my copy

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Release: 2016
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Genre: Contemporary

I read this book as part of a ReadAlong , and it was a very interesting novel to discuss. The book deals with racism and discrimination and the different points of view gave it a deeper approach. Small Great Things grew on me as the plot advanced (the second part of the book was much better in my opinion), but I found it so incredibly manipulative that I can’t really say I liked it.

I had read a couple of Jodi Picoult’s books years ago and loved them, but I think I’ve just outgrown them. I’m not in the mood for being taught a lesson on every page and she is basically the opposite of subtle writing. Everything is so dramatic and hey, the book talks about racism, so of course the main character’s daughter is going to want to dress up as Moana and there will be a debate about the blackface issue, even if it’s totally unrelated to the main plot.

Turk was a horrible human being, but his perspective was fascinating, I love to “hate-read” and he gave me exactly that. The trial was entertaining, but then again, I love trials. Oh, and that last twist was completely ridiculous in my opinion.

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Review: The Heart’s Invisible Furies by @john_boyne

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Cyril Avery is not a real Avery or at least that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he? Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his three score years and ten, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country and much more.

After many recommendations from blogger friends (and especially from Renee), I finally sat down and read one of the most popular books this past year. And no, I didn’t read it all in a sitting, but I could have. It’s THAT good.

The Heart’s Invisible Furies was a beautiful, funny, sad, poignant and ultimately inspiring saga that tells the story of Cyril Avery, a young Irish boy who’s adopted by Maude and Charles -a very peculiar couple-. After getting to know her birth mother and her circumstances, we get to see him grow up, make friends, fall in love and find out who he really is. This book spans many years and is set in Dublin, Amsterdam and New York…

This is one of those books that I wish I hadn’t known anything before I read it, so I will be brief today. This is an absolute gem of a novel. It’s hilarious at times (seriously, the dialogues were witty and laugh out loud funny) and it will also make you cry. After all, aren’t those the best stories? Plus, there are lot of fun coincidences that made it even more enjoyable.

This was not a short book, but I flew through it like it was. It’s one of the most captivating sagas I’ve ever read and I would recommend it to absolutely everyone. Cyril Avery isn’t perfect and he behaves in a selfish way more than once, but I felt like I was inside his head and I could totally understand why he did those things.

In the end, crime fiction and mysteries are my favorite type of books, but John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies made me forget about those for two uforgettable days.

Doubleday, 2017

Review: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo @tjenkinsreid

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Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now? Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband, David, has left her, and her career has stagnated. Regardless of why Evelyn has chosen her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jumpstart her career. Summoned to Evelyn’s Upper East Side apartment, Monique listens as Evelyn unfurls her story: from making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the late 80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way. As Evelyn’s life unfolds through the decades—revealing a ruthless ambition, an unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love—Monique begins to feel a very a real connection to the actress. But as Evelyn’s story catches up with the present, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

Last year, I saw that a lot of blogger friends were reading a book called The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (x. x, x). I don’t know why, but I wasn’t really interested until I started reading the reviews, perhaps because of the title. However, you all know I’m a big Hollywood fan and every review I read made me more excited about this novel. And it was definitely not what I expected at all. It was better.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was one of my favorite books that I’ve read recently. I hadn’t been so addicted to a non-mystery book in a long time. This was a compulsive read, one of those you can’t put down because it’s so fun, dramatic and completely captivating. A well-written soap-opera that you don’t ever want to finish.

This is the story of famous actress Evelyn Hugo and the relationship between her and her seven husbands. Who was Evelyn’s true love? The narration is told in a pretty unique way, which was one of my favorite aspects of the book. Evelyn Hugo, after decades of silence, decides to give Monique Grant the truth about her life. Monique is a relatively unknown journalist and doesn’t know why Evelyn chose her. Thus begins the story of Evelyn Hugo, who narrates every chapter of her life story, beginning with her first husband.

I loved the structure because you got to judge every one of Evelyn’s husbands and decide who was your favorite. She was a fascinating character, albeit she made some terrible mistakes. Hers seems like an easy life at first sight, but it wasn’t, not really. I loved how every character in this novel (even the ones you hate with all your heart) has virtues and flaws. No one is perfect, and that makes them more realistic in my opinion. This was a book where both the plot and the characters were fantastically crafted.

After finishing the book, I realized I didn’t want it to end. When a great story like this one spans so many years, you can’t help but fall in love with the characters and it’s sad to see them go. This book touched many themes that I didn’t expect… and it tackled them beautifully.

Atria Books, 2017