Review: Exquisite by Sarah Stovell

exquisiteWhat I thought:

What an exceptionally beautifully written book Exquisite is. A psychological thriller of such deliciously sumptuous, yet so clean and crisp, prose and not a word wasted.

Narrated in turn by Bo Luxton – author, married mother to two young girls, living an idyllic life in a cottage in the Lakes –  and Alice Dark – young, lively aspiring author living in a bedsit in Brighton, who attends one of Bo’s creative writing courses, Exquisite starts out as a friendship based on their love of the written word, but soon spirals into something much darker. What the reader is then presented with is two increasingly differing accounts of the same thing by each woman, it becomes clear that one or both of them is twisting the truth. We know right from the first page that one of the women ends up in prison, but what we don’t know is which one and why. This cloaks the book in tension and suspicion as we know that things won’t end well and this, along with its undercurrent of intensity and unpredictability, provides the sense of teetering on the cusp of something and never quite knowing when we’re going to fall off the edge (or be pushed).

Verdict:

Exquisite is a perfectly suited title of a book of such lush lyrical prose with themes of obsession, manipulation, and all-consuming passion. With gorgeous descriptions of one of my favourite places in the world – The Lake District – and strong, believable narrative, Exquisite has proved itself more than worthy of being among the best psychological thrillers I have read in some time. Debut author, Sarah Stovell, is definitely one to watch.

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Have you read this yet? Are you going to?

With thanks to Karen at Orenda for providing me with a copy of this book (for which I have provided an honest review).

The Orenda Roadshow came to Leeds

Authors come to Yorkshire!

In December last year, I resurrected my 7-year-old book blog after a couple of years hiatus. Within weeks of me re-joining the Twitter community of book lovers, I became very aware of a new-to-me publisher. That publisher was Orenda. The first thing I noticed was the buzz and excitement around the books and authors represented by Orenda, and of the energy and passion of its owner, Karen Sullivan. The way she engaged with her followers seemed really genuine and I couldn’t help but be drawn into it.

There was a big buzz around a new title, Rupture by Ragnar Jónasson, at the time and after downloading the first 3 titles in the series on my Kindle, and having fallen in love with the first one Snowblind, I (cheekily) asked Karen if I could have a copy of Rupture. What arrived in the post was a parcel with 4 of her titles in. Since then I have become a stalwart Orenda fan! Out of the ones I have so far read, there is not just not a bad one among them, they are all utterly fantastic!

When I found out that Karen would be bringing 8 of her authors to Leeds as part of the Orenda Roadshow, I jumped at the chance to go.

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Orenda Roadshow

When I met Karen, she was just as I’d imagined: friendly, fun and fabulous! And what a great evening! Out of the eight authors there, I had already read 3 of the books (and the others I now have – they are sitting patiently on my shelf waiting to be picked up really soon).

Meet the authors

Lousie Beech

Hull author and fellow Yorkshire Lass Louise wrote the utterly fantastic The Mountain in My Shoe (my review is here).

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Louise signed my copy of her book with a pair of boobs which is still making me laugh! (apparently she is well known for this…)

Michael J Malone

Michael is author of several novels, including his latest A Suitable Lie, which I am intending to read really soon, especially as another blogger in the audience said that it contains one of the best villains she has ever read about! Praise indeed.

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Kati Hiekkapelto

Kati is apparently the Queen of Finnish Noir. Her latest book, The Exiled, is the third in a series (that you can read as stand-alones)  and this sounds like a really gripping read. Kati is very cool too – definitely Noir Queen looking!

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Antti Tuomainen

The other Finnish author of the panel and the King of Finnish Noir, Antti was the class clown who made me laugh. A lot. Very funny and slightly mischievous and author of a great sounding book, The Mine, which I am looking forward to getting to soon too.

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Matt Wesolowski

British author of debut novel Six Stories, which I finished last week and is SO good! I can’t wait to share my review of this book and as I am part of the blog tour on 17th March I will also be asking Matt some questions so please do pop back then.

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Johana Gustawsson

New girl on the block (I thank you…) is French author Johana who, according to Karen has the face of an angel and the mind of a sicko. This book is as yet unpublished in the UK (coming May) but I have already heard some noise about it on Twitter and when Johana read (and sang!) from her book Block 46, I knew I have to have a copy of this book. Soon!

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Matt Johnson

Ex-Cop and ex-Soldier, Matt, told us about how he started writing to help him with PTSD, and it was a really inspiring story. His second book, Deadly Game, is just out very soon and sounds like a really gripping read.

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Thomas Enger

Norwegian Thomas is author of the much-talked-about recently released book Cursed. I read this a few weeks ago but haven’t got round to reviewing it yet (I know, so naughty) but it is a really great, action-packed book and well worth a read.

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It was a really great evening and I was so chuffed to meet so many of the Orenda authors and it has really made me excited to read more of the titles from the Orenda catalogue.

Here are the books the authors read from and if you want to find out more about them then please take a look at the Orenda website and support one of the best publishers out there at the moment (in my humble opinion).