Review: On The Edge by Jane Jesmond (2021)

Blurb

Jen Shaw has climbed all her life: daring ascents of sheer rock faces, crumbling buildings, cranes – the riskier the better. Both her work and personal life revolved around climbing, and the adrenaline high it gave her. Until she went too far and hurt the people she cares about. So she’s given it all up now. Honestly, she has. And she’s checked herself into a rehab centre to prove it.

Yet, when Jen awakens to find herself drugged and dangling off the local lighthouse during a wild storm less than twenty-four hours after a ‘family emergency’ takes her home to Cornwall, she needs all her skill to battle her way to safety.

Has Jen fallen back into her old risky ways, or is there a more sinister explanation hidden in her hometown? Only when she has navigated her fragmented memories and faced her troubled past will she be able to piece together what happened – and trust herself to fix it.

Review

Huge thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I don’t read that many thrillers, but I was irresistibly drawn to that opening image of a woman waking to find herself hanging off the edge of a lighthouse with no idea how she got there – it is like the opposite of waking from a nightmare, and wow, it is written so powerfully. Right from the start, we are as invested as Jen in finding out just what the hell has happened, and the pace does not let up throughout this utterly gripping story.

There’s a touch of The Girl on the Train in the way that Jen’s hazy memories leave huge gaps, and she is unable to trust her own wobbly understanding of events, but once we get into the storyline about the family home, Tregonna, the Paula Hawkins vibes give way to a more sinister Daphne du Maurier feel. The mixture of these two modes creates a heady cocktail of danger, mystery and deep psychological intrigue that I found impossible to tear myself away from.

Jen Shaw is a fantastic protagonist – complex, flawed, self-aware enough to invoke our sympathy, both hardened by the world and vulnerable. I’m so pleased this is the start of a series as I really want to see more of Jen. The other characters are well drawn, and the bubbling sense of not knowing who to trust adds a frisson of unease to almost every interaction.

I won’t go into specifics of the plot, as following its twists and turns is one of the great delights for the reader, but I will say that there is some truly excellent misdirection in this book! I had my theories all worked out, and the author toppled them like dominoes!

On The Edge is the start of a really exciting new thriller series, and I strongly urge all fans of the genre to meet Jen Shaw and join her on her heart-stopping adventures.

On The Edge by Jane Jesmond is published by Verve Books and is available to purchase here.

October 2021 Reading: The Whistling; Somebody Loves You; The Book of Uriel; On The Edge; You; More Than Mistletoe; Human Terrain

I read seven books in October, and I enjoyed them all, in very different ways! Even for me, this was quite an eclectic reading month, covering everything from ghost stories to thrillers to festive tales. A few of these were read on holiday, which was absolutely blissful, although with two little kids, gone are the days of devouring a book a day by the pool! Here’s a quick round-up, with links to reviews where relevant – I have a few reviews pending as I’m still in catch-up mode, but I’ll get to them soon!

The Whistling by Rebecca Netley (2021)

This is a fabulously spooky read, with just the right amount of supernatural creepiness for me. I really enjoyed it. You can read my full review of The Whistling here.

Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi (2021)

Somebody Loves You is a short but extremely powerful book. Every line is beautifully crafted, and Ruby is a character who will stay with me. Full review coming soon, but I highly recommend getting your hands on this one.

The Book of Uriel by Elyse Hoffman (2021)

I took part in The Write Reads tour for this highly original book. A powerful blend of history and fantasy, it doesn’t shy away from the horrors of war, but also manages to be readable and surprisingly uplifting. You can read my full thoughts here.

On The Edge by Jane Jesmond (2021)

I really enjoyed this twisty thriller – it isn’t my usual genre, but I do like to mix things up! I whizzed through this one as I found the protagonist, Jen, so original and compelling. Full review to come very soon.

You: From Pissed to Publication by Drew Gummerson (2021)

I loved Seven Nights at the Flamingo Hotel (full review here) and this chapbook is the perfect accompaniment. By turns funny, rude, irreverent and oddly touching, it’s a sly but good-natured skewering of the elusive quest for publication, and I think any writer would find something to smile wryly at in this book!

More Than Mistletoe by The Christmas Collective (2021)

I loved the festive stories in this anthology, but I also love the story behind the book: a group of writers coming together to support each other and create something. The result is the perfect stocking filler, and a wonderful introduction to some exciting new writing talent. You can read my full review of More Than Mistletoe here.

Human Terrain by Emily Bullock (2021)

Emily Bullock’s novel Inside The Beautiful Inside absolutely blew me away, and I jumped at the chance to read her short story collection. It did not disappoint. The stories are full of kinetic energy – movement and muscle and life in all its messy glory. Full review coming soon, but this is a wonderful collection from Reflex Press, not to be missed.

All in all, it was a pretty good reading month, even though I forgot to read my October section of Ducks, Newburyport, so I have some catching up to do if I’m to finish the beast by the end of the year! I’ve got loads on the TBR for November, so we’ll see what I actually end up reading!

Let me know what you’ve enjoyed recently!

Happy reading!

Ellie x

Review: More Than Mistletoe by The Christmas Collective (2021)

Blurb

Cosy up for Christmas with 12 very different tales of love with all the festive feels!

More than Mistletoe, the debut anthology from The Christmas Collective, is an eclectic and inclusive mix of stories, with swoon-worthy characters, second chances and happy endings.

Between the pages, you will discover classic romance, festive thrillers, LGBTQ+ love stories, hilarious romcoms and historical settings, these stories really do span the whole spectrum of festive fiction.

Featuring twelve up and coming new authors, this refreshing, diverse and romantic read, is a must-have for Christmas 2021 that will leave you reaching for your Christmas jumper, gingerbread cookies and a mug of hot chocolate!

  • Lumikinos by Lucy Alexander
  • The Ghost of Christmas Past by Michelle Harris
  • Christmas for Two by Marianne Calver
  • August in December by Joe Burkett
  • Under the Christmas Tree by Cici Maxwell
  • Killing Christmas Eve by Jake Godfrey
  • Christmas and Cocktails by Jenny Bromham
  • Christmas at The Little Blu Bookshop by Sarah Shard
  • Not Today, Santa by Martha May Little
  • Sealed with a Christmas Kiss by Bláithín O’Reilly Murphy
  • Love Forever by Donna Gowland
  • The Last Christmas by S.L.Robinson

Review

I was delighted when The Christmas Collective reached out and asked if I would like to review More Than Mistletoe, and I owe them huge thanks not only for providing a digital copy in exchange for an honest review, but also for the wonderful festive gift box they sent out to reviewers. As we all know, book bloggers are completely impartial and not at all swayed by freebies, but we do not have hearts of stone, and I was deeply touched! Above all, I think it shows the enormous effort and care that has gone into producing this labour of love – of which, more later.

Onto the stories: as I have said before, I don’t tend to theme my reading around seasons, so it was perhaps appropriately Ellie-ish that I read this festive collection in the sunshine on holiday! I like a bit of juxtaposition, and reading snowy tales on the beach created the desired effect, although I suspect the intention is more that this book should be read curled up by a roaring fire with a mug of hot chocolate beside you. Which would definitely also work! The stories themselves are, as promised, a lovely, eclectic mix, and the perfect length for dipping into two or three at a time.

There’s a strong rom com vibe to many of the stories (it is Christmas, after all), but often with a twist or an unexpected slant that brings something new to the genre. There are also elements of mysteries, thrillers, quirky tales that don’t quite fit a single genre (my favourite sort of story!) – in short, definitely something for everyone. I enjoyed all of the stories: I loved the twist of ‘Lumikinos’ by Lucy Robinson, the gentle poignancy of ‘Christmas for Two’ by Marianne Calver, and the surprising change of mood provided by Jake Godfrey’s ‘Killing Christmas Eve’. I was particularly moved by the final story in the collection, S.L. Robinson’s ‘The Last Christmas’ – and one of the most exciting things is that several of the stories are being developed into full-length novels, so there are plenty of chances to add to the ‘books to watch out for’ list.

Indeed, in some ways the most important, heart-warming story of all is how this collection came into being. Authors supporting authors, working together to create something they believe in, is something I LOVE to see, and everything from the showcase style of putting the stories into their context (ie giving information about where they fit into a longer work), to the lovely, warm, funny biographies at the back of the book reveals that this is a truly collaborative, supportive venture, and I think The Christmas Collective deserve a massive pat on the back for all their hard work.

More Than Mistletoe would make a great stocking filler for a Christmas-loving reader, or else buy it for yourself for your winter hygge downtime, or your Christmas Eve Jolabokaflod (the most wonderful Icelandic tradition of exchanging books and reading into the night). It really is a lovely collection, and I’ll be watching out for all of these authors in the future, and wishing them the very best of luck.

More Than Mistletoe is available to purchase in paperback or ebook here (it is also free on Kindle Unlimited). You can follow The Christmas Collective on Twitter @ChristmasCo2021 and Instagram @christmasco2021