Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Summer Fever by Kate Riordan

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Holiday Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this sizzling summer thriller. Thank you to Jen at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Two couples. One sweltering Italian villa . . .

Nick and Laura are the hosts:
pretending their marriage isn’t on the rocks.

Madison and Bastian are the guests:
neither is remotely who they claim to be.

Under the scorching Mediterranean sun
no secret is safe.
No betrayal goes unnoticed.

Two couples. But will either survive the summer . . .

********

MY REVIEW:

After the heartbreak of infertility takes them to breaking point, Laura and Nick decide to start again in Italy.  Luna Rossa promises to be that fresh start and when their first guests arrive it looks like things are finally looking up.  But Madison and Bastian aren’t who they claim to be, and all four of them are hiding secrets that threaten to turn this dream into a nightmare.

Sexy, sultry and suspenseful, Summer Fever is an edge-of-your seat thriller full of lust, secrets and betrayal.  Kate Riordan is a skilled storyteller who had me transfixed from the first page as she opened with an ominous and foreboding prologue that sets the scene for the rest of the book.

Told in two parts with sporadic flashbacks to the mysterious past love who broke Laura’s heart, I loved how the atmosphere crackled with a deliciously dark tension and overwhelming sense of dread that kept me on tenterhooks.  The flashbacks had that sense of haziness that only looking back on our past with rose-tinted glasses can bring and left me apprehensive about what was in store for Laura, who seemed to be hurtling back towards the fire that had already burned her.  I wanted to yell at her to stop but knew she would never have listened.  There was an air of inevitability that left you feeling powerless to do anything but wait and see just how bad the fallout would be when it came.

The dynamics between each of the four main characters are compelling and I liked how having Laura as our only narrator makes the others a bit of an enigma and you aren’t always sure what to make of them.  But one of my favourite things is how she transported me to the sweltering shores of Italy with such realism that I could almost feel the sun beating down on me and see the gorgeous view from Luna Rossa.  Italy has always been at the top of my bucket list and I felt like I got a virtual holiday there thanks to this book, albeit one with a lot of turmoil. 

Alluring, addictive and sizzling with tension, this is the perfect thriller to read in the sun with a glass of wine in hand.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist. She is an avid reader of Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie, both of whom have influenced her writing. She lives in the Cotswolds, where she writes full-time. Her previous novels include The Girl In The Photograph, The Shadow Hour, The Stranger and The Heatwave, which was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Summer Fever is her fifth novel.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BLOG TOUR: The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance Novel, Book Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent book. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Freed from Pompeii’s brothel. Owned as a courtesan. Determined to have revenge. Her name is Amara. What will she risk for power?

Amara has escaped her life as a slave in Pompeii’s most notorious brothel. She now has a house, fine clothes, servants – but all of these are gifts from her patron, hers for as long as she keeps her place in his affections.

As she adjusts to this new life, Amara is still haunted by her past. At night she dreams of the wolf den, and the women she left behind. By day, she is pursued by her former slavemaster. In order to be truly free, she will need to be as ruthless as he is.

Amara knows she can draw strength from Venus, the goddess of love. Yet falling in love herself may prove to be her downfall.

The House with the Golden Door is the stunning second novel in Elodie Harper’s celebrated Wolf Den Trilogy, which reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.

********

MY REVIEW:

“There is always a price to pay for underestimating a woman.”

Ever since the jaw-dropping ending of The Wolf Den I have been impatiently awaiting book two in the trilogy and the chance to find out what was next for Amara, her fellow she-wolves and the residents of Pompeii.  The story picks up a few months after the shocking events at the end of book one: Amara is no longer a slave working at the brothel but a freedwoman living in the house with the golden door that her patron Rufus rents for her.  While happy to be free, she is haunted by her past, misses her friends and lives in fear of losing Rufus’ favour and her position as his concubine.  Her former master is also out for revenge and she must find a way to keep herself safe against not only him, but the man on whom she now relies.  

Once again I was utterly captivated by the mesmerising world that Elodie Harper brings to life on the pages. So evocative that it was like I was watching it all unfold on a movie screen in vivid technicolour, she transported me back to the ancient streets of Pompeii at a time when they were bustling with life and the fate awaiting this doomed city was unimaginable.  Her research and attention to detail is exquisite, depicting day to day life in a believable and entertaining way as she explores everything from mundane domesticity to the exciting but bloodthirsty sports citizens of Pompeii once enjoyed. 

“Amara wonders how long they will all be together in a household like this, and it is not only the habitual fear of being separated from Philos that makes her chest tighten. She has grown used to this place, to the strange almost-family of women she has collected.”

The Amara of this book is both the same and completely different. I enjoyed watching her learn to navigate the new world she inhabits and how skillfully she plays the game.  She is a strong, intelligent woman who now not only has a thirst for revenge and determination to survive, but more autonomy and power than before, though she does fear she will never completely be free.  But one of my favourite things about these books is the sisterhood the women share.  There are new characters and alliances alongside the old ones, but themes of strength, tenacity, vulnerability and wiliness remain and I enjoyed seeing them gain more power and freedom than they had in the brothel.  A sisterhood I particularly enjoyed was the blossoming friendship between Amara and Britannica.  I loved that Britannica was given such a large role in this story and how we finally got to see the person lurking beneath the silent savage we met in book one.  I adore this fierce Briton and she has become my favourite character.

Enthralling, exhilarating and unflinching, The House with the Golden Door is an accomplished piece of historical fiction.  If you’re a fan of the genre then you need to read this outstanding series.  Sadly I now have the agonising wait for the final instalment…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Elodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, which was judged by Stephen King.

She is currently a reporter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News. Her job as a journalist has seen her join one of the most secretive wings of the Church of Scientology and cover the far right hip hop scene in Berlin, as well as crime reporting in Norfolk where her first two novels were set – The Binding Song and The Death Knock.

Elodie studied Latin poetry both in the original and in translation as part of her English Literature degree at Oxford, instilling a lifelong interest in the ancient world. The Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy of novels about the lives of women in ancient Pompeii.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BLOG TOUR: Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Phoenix
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medical Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for for this astonishing, powerful and unforgettable novel. Thank you to Alex at Phoenix Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Montgomery, Alabama. 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend has big plans to make a difference in her community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies.

But when her first week on the job takes her down a dusty country road to a tumbledown cabin, she’s surprised to find that her new patients are just eleven and thirteen years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black, and for those handling their welfare benefits, that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her new responsibilities, she takes India and Erica into her heart and comes to care for their family as though they were her own. But one day she arrives at their door to discover the unthinkable has happened, and nothing will ever be the same.

Inspired by true events and a shocking chapter of American history, Take My Hand is a novel that will open your eyes and break your heart. An unforgettable story about love and courage, sisterhood and solidarity, it is also a timely and hopeful reminder that it only takes one person to change the world.

********

MY REVIEW:

“How dare they?  Our bodies belonged to us. Poor, disabled, it didn’t matter.  These were our bodies, and we had the right to decide what to do with them.  It was as if they were just taking our bodies from us, as if we didn’t even belong to ourselves.” 

Of the many profound quotes in Dolen Perkin-Valdez’ astonishingly powerful Take My Hand, it is this one that I feel best sums up its message.   If the erosion of human and female reproductive rights matters to you, then this is probably the most key piece of literature you can read right now.  A story about poverty, race, eugenics and the fight for justice and equality, this mesmerising novel is a reminder that we must heed the mistakes made in our history to avoid repeating them once more.

“We thought we were doing something useful for society, but this is where the so-called good deed had gotten us. Right smack into a nightmare.” 

Set in Montgomery, Alabama in 1973, the story follows Civil Townsend, a newly qualified nurse working at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic.  Civil is a young woman who believes in the good work she’ll be doing at the clinic serving poor Black women.  She believes in the difference that can be made to their lives through contraception and good care and has a strong moral code that guides her.  But when she’s given her first case she is shocked to discover her patients are sisters aged just eleven and thirteen and that they are on the new Depo-provera shot.  What follows is a shocking tale based in fact that goes beyond these two innocent young girls and even Alabama, shocking the entire United States.  It will leave you outraged, appalled, heartbroken and determined never to allow such a tragedy to happen again. 

“History repeats what we don’t remember…”

I believe there are some books that come at the perfect time.  That you read them when you are meant to in order for them to have the greatest impact on you and change your life in some way.  That is what happened with this book.  It feels like fate that this book, set around the time of Roe vs Wade, is being released just as courts in America threaten to overturn it and take away the rights of women once again.  It feels like a call to arms to protect these rights and prevent the events of this story from ever happening again as they threaten to do if women’s rights are once again stripped away.

“I had never known that good intentions could be just as destructive as bad ones.” 

Though based on a true case, the characters and events are fiction, but Ms. Perkins-Valdez writes so exquisitely that you believe every word is real as she breathes such life into the richly drawn characters that they felt like flesh and blood that stood in front of me.  Her writing is hypnotic yet invigorating, both putting a spell on me so I was lost in its pages and filling me with a passion to ensure such evil never happens again.  It is a memorable masterclass in storytelling that made this book immediately take a place as one of my favourites of all time.

“A year never passes without me thinking of them. India. Erica.  Their names are stitched inside every white coat I have ever worn.  I tell this story to stitch their names inside your clothes too. A reminder to never forget.  Medicine taught me, really taught me, to accept the things I cannot change. A difficult-to-swallow serenity prayer. I’m not trying to change the past. I’m telling it in order to lay those ghosts to rest.” 

Civil is a remarkable heroine and I adored her.  Intelligent, strong, brave and kind, she only wants to do good in the world and is devastated to learn that good intentions don’t always mean a good outcome.  She is also still trying to come to terms with her own trauma that is portrayed in such a real, but sensitive way that really connects you to her pain.  
Erica and India, the sisters at the heart of this tragedy, are two girls that you can’t help but take into your heart just as Civil did.  From the start I was desperate to know what fate had befallen them but was unprepared for the shocking truth that tore my heart in two and made tears fall from my eyes.  I wanted to hold those sweet girls and undo everything that they were forced to endure.  I was thankful that they found a champion in Civil who would fight for them to her last instead of allowing them to remain a silent statistic like so many others before them.  She gave them a voice when no one else was willing to hear them and made an entire country listen to what they had to say.  

“There is no greater right for a woman than having a choice.”

Magnificent, timely, poignant and immersive, this unforgettable novel rocked me to my core and seared itself into my heart, mind and soul. A story that everyone needs to read, I can’t recommend it highly enough and will be putting it into the hands of everyone I possibly can. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel WENCH. In 2011, she was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction. In 2017, HarperCollins released Wench as one of eight “Olive Titles,” limited edition modern classics that included books by Edward P. Jones, Louise Erdrich, and Zora Neale Hurston.

Dolen received a DC Commission on the Arts Grant for her second novel BALM which was published by HarperCollins in 2015.  In 2013, Dolen wrote the introduction to a special edition of Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave, published by Simon & Schuster, which became a New York Times bestseller. She followed that with an introduction to Elizabeth Keckly’s Behind the Scenes published in 2016.  Dolen is a 2020 nominee for a United States Artists Fellowship.

Her forthcoming novel TAKE MY HAND will be published April 2022 by Berkley/Penguin Random House.

Dolen is the current Chair of the Board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. On behalf of the foundation, she has visited nearly every public high school in the District of Columbia to talk about the importance of reading and writing.   She is currently Associate Professor in the Literature Department at American University and lives in Washington, DC with her family.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Keep Her Sweet by Helen FitzGerald

Published: May 26th 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this crazy thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

When a middle-aged couple downsizes to the countryside for an easier life, their two daughters become isolated, argumentative and violent … A chilling, vicious and darkly funny psychological thriller from bestselling author Helen FitzGerald.
________________________________________ 

Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Penny and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille.

Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Penny and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent.

When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move.

But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that.

This is a murder, just waiting to happen…

Chilling, vicious and darkly funny, Keep Her Sweet is not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but also a startling look at sister relationships and the bonds they share … or shatter.

********

MY REVIEW:

“Unhappy families always cheered her up.”

This intriguing first line sets the tone for this addictive portrayal of dark domesticity featuring one of the most messed-up families I’ve ever read.  

Penny and Andeep Maloney-Singh should have been enjoying their empty nest but their baby birds have come back to roost.  Tensions rise, tempers flare, violence escalates and the Maloney-Singhs become a family on fire and hire therapist Joy to help them douse the flames.  But even she underestimates just how broken they are, finding herself caught up in a tableau of misery that seems to be speeding towards a catastrophic outcome. 

What a ride!  When I started this book I thought I knew what to expect but instead found myself reading something even more sinister, savage and shocking that I anticipated.  The author explores topics such as sibling rivalry, unhappy marriage, bad parenting, mental health and religious fervour with nuance and humour.  The multiple points of view give us very different perspectives that not only add to the suspense but would make me question if what I was reading was as reliable as I first thought.  Would I get to the end and discover I’d been fooled from the start? 

The Maloney-Singhs are a dysfunctional, toxic and damaged family.  Their home and hearts are a cesspit of bitterness, rage, trauma and fear that rapidly escalates with fatal results.  They vacillate between being characters we can understand and ones we will never fathom, but they are utterly compelling and great to read.  My heart broke for Camille.  She seemed the most sane and normal of them all but seemed forgotten by her parents and was always on the receiving end of Asha’s vicious outbursts.  I wanted to scream at her parents to step in and help!  While very unlikeable, Asha made a great villain and I loved to hate her.  She added so much tension and suspense to the story and was that great combination of unbelievably crazy and totally believable. 

Darkly funny, chaotic, claustrophobic and unflinching, Keep Her Sweet is an intense  psychological thriller that will make you grateful for the family you have. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and adapted for a major BBC drama. Her 2019 dark-comedy thriller Worst Case Scenario was a Book of the Year in the Literary Review, Herald Scotland, Guardian and Daily Telegraph, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and won the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia, and now lives in Glasgow with her husband. 

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking par in the tour.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent contemporary romance. Thank you to Ellie at Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…
————————————————————

Nora is a cut-throat literary agent at the top of her game. Her whole life is books.

Charlie is an editor with a gift for creating bestsellers. And he’s Nora’s work nemesis.

Nora has been through enough break-ups to know she’s the one men date before finding their happy-ever-after. To prevent another dating dud, Nora’s sister has persuaded her to swap her city desk for a month’s holiday in Sunshine Falls.

It’s a small town straight out of a romance novel, but instead of meeting sexy lumberjacks, handsome doctors or cute bartenders, Nora keeps bumping into…Charlie.

She’s no heroine. He’s no hero. So can they take a page out of an entirely different book?

Binge-read The Hating Game and now looking to escape into another suitably steamy love story? Look no further… Set over one sizzling August, BOOK LOVERS is the new chemistry-filled ‘rivals to lovers’ romcom from New York Times #1 bestseller Emily Henry

********

MY REVIEW:

“Sometimes, even when you start with the last page and you think you know everything, a book finds a way to surprise you.”

Book Lovers is a bibliophile’s dream romance novel.  Heartwarming, emotional, funny and uplifting, this was an utter delight from beginning to end.  I finished it with a smile on my face, warmth in my heart and tears in my eyes.  

Workaholic Nora is a successful, cut-throat literary agent with little time in her life for anything else.  Her sister Libby is a burnt out, heavily pregnant mum-of-two who needs an escape.  Together the sisters head to Sunshine Falls, the setting that inspired the bestselling book by one of Nora’s clients, for a month-long vacation armed with a checklist Libby has created to ensure they get the full small town experience.  But Sunshine Falls has something in store neither of them foresee: Charlie Lastra, Nora’s professional rival who is also in town.  What follows is a compelling and immersive enemies to lovers story with a fabulous literary twist. 

This was my second time reading one of Emily Henry’s books and has secured her place on my list of auto-buy romance authors.  Well-written, nuanced and believable, she knows how to pull you in and make you root for her characters even when they themselves don’t.   Romance novels can be cliched, tired and predictable, but while Book Lovers is filled with the usual tropes and clichés, it draws attention to them, makes fun of them and surprises you by not always taking the route you expect.  I especially liked how it flips the familiar trope on its head and offers a refreshing twist on the usual romance heroine by putting the ambitious city girl who enjoys her life and has no desire to change it at the heart of the book.

“Because that’s my life. The trope that governs my days. The archetype over which my details are superimposed. 
I’m the city person. Not the one who meets the hot farmer. The other one.
The uptight, manicured literary agent.. I’m the one who gets dumped.”

Nora, Charlie and Libby were great characters that I found easy to root for.  The bond between the sisters was beautiful and Charlie and Nora make a believable couple with funny, authentic banter and chemistry that sizzles from the pages.  I liked that the author also explores their pasts to help us understand them better, allowing us to see why they made decisions we might not have otherwise understood.  But what I loved most of all was how the author wrote Nora as someone who lives and breathes books.  In her job she’s passionate, dedicated and cut-throat, nicknamed ‘the shark’ by her colleagues, and her literary love spills over into every facet of her life, he sees people as the character they would be in a story, thinks in plots and views life through the lens of the tropes she knows so well.  She even applies this thinning to herself, accepting that in a romance novel she would be the girl the hero dates before meeting the love of his life in the small town.  It made her one of my favourite heroines to date and we all know a book about books makes any book lover extra happy.

An enthralling contemporary romance with depth, warmth, heart and humour, Book Lovers is a truly uplifting enemies to lovers story that will make you believe in the power of true love.  And books.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the now-defunct New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. 

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: Guilty Women by Melanie Blake

Published: April 28th 2022
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Genre: Crime Thriller, Suspense, Humorous Fiction, Erotic Mystery Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sexy, salacious and spectacular novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins for the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

THE SENSATIONAL NEW THRILLER FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

Can they get away with murder?

 On a beautiful island off the English coast, four TV actresses gather.
Their fifth member is missing – and only they know why she was killed.
As the secret between them threatens to come out, tensions on set run high.
The women are determined that the show must go on – no matter what it costs.
But one of them is on the edge of telling the truth – and no show in the world could survive this scandal…   
 
All of the women have something to hide – but the question is, are they all guilty?

The cast of RUTHLESS WOMEN is back – but this time they’re in trouble…

********

MY REVIEW

We’re back in Falcon Bay for more blood, blackmail, backstabbing, Botox and bonking.   Two months on from the now infamous live Christmas Day episode that ended in tragedy, St Augustine’s Cove is just beginning to get back its serenity after the media circus that followed Madeline Kane’s death.  But one of the group is so filled with guilt over her part in the TV-executive’s death that she’s threatening to crack.  The others rally round to try and stop her from hitting self-destruct, but can they survive the scrutiny of a cut-throat reporter, an ex with an unquenchable thirst for revenge and the glare of the world’s media and get away with murder?

Sassy, sharp, saucy and spectacular, this is another winner from Melanie Blake, who has shown herself to be the new queen of the killer bonkbuster.  While this isn’t my usual kind of read, these delightfully over-the-top tomes of pure escapism have become auto-reads for me.  I love the feeling of nostalgia that comes from these books, like a throwback to the eighties heyday of Dynasty and Jackie Collins but with a modern-day twist, and how we are given a peek behind the curtain to see the darker truths that lurk behind the glitz and glamour of showbiz.  They are a guilty pleasure that I devour hungrily,  feeling bereft when I’m finished. 

Another allure for me is how the author has chosen to shine a spotlight on the mature woman.  Women of middle age and above have long been silenced and invisible, especially in the media, and I love seeing them given a voice at last.  The women in these books, whether heroine or villain, are powerhouses; beautiful, fierce, ambitious and utterly compelling.  They are the shining stars who propel both the plot and fictional show forward and write their own stories in a business dominated by men. Themes of sisterhood and female empowerment running through every page, particularly within the bond that our quintet of narrators share.  But they are also flawed and complex, making terrible decisions that I couldn’t condone yet the author still had me rooting for them every step of the way.  And then there’s the sex.  This is a spicy novel that not only embraces the sexuality of these women but celebrates it, reminding us that it isn’t just young women who are hot, vivacious sexual beings.  It is refreshing to see such representation of older women, particularly as a woman of that age myself.

An outrageous, lusty romp filled with adrenaline, Guilty Women is a hilarious and gripping read that had me completely hooked.  Highly recommended for some sizzling summer reading.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Bestselling author Melanie Blake’s own real life Rags to Riches story reads like the plot of an outrageous drama…

At fifteen years old Melanie Blake was told by her high school career advisors that her decision to do work experience at a local record shop was an ‘embarrassment to the school and a clear example that she wouldn’t go far in life or her career’. They were wrong. By nineteen she was working at the BBC’s iconic Top of the Pops show and by twenty-seven she had built a reputation as one of the UK’s leading music and entertainment managers, with her own agency and roster of award-winning artists who had sold more than 100 million records. During this time she also built up an acting agency from scratch which quickly became the most successful independent boutique agency in the UK where she manages clients from some of the biggest internationally syndicated shows in the world.

Her roster have won Baftas, Emmys and pretty much every best actress award going and Melanie is one of the most successful female agents in the world. In the UK alone, over 25 million people a week currently tune in to watch the very stars Melanie represents in their globally syndicated shows. In 2018 after two decades at the top of her game, Melanie decided to manage a smaller client list and concentrate on her other passion, writing – first as a columnist for a national newspaper, then as a playwright and now as a best-selling novelist.

Her first book The Thunder Girls became a Number 1 Best Seller in the summer of 2019 and the play she adapted from the novel broke box office records for a new work at the prestigious Lowry Theatre. She still represents a high profile stable of some of the best known faces on British television but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a producer, author and playwright.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

Please check out the it reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Squadpod Book Club Squadpod Recommends Support Debuts

REVIEW: Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Nobody But Us was April’s SquadPod Book Club pick, and boy was it a good one! Unpredictable and totally crazy, this is a phenomenal debut that everyone needs to read.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

MEET 2022’S MOST DANGEROUS COUPLE . . .
________

Steven Harding is a handsome, well-respected professor.
Ellie Masterson is a wide-eyed young college student.

Together, they are driving south from New York, for their first holiday: three days in an isolated cabin, far from the city.

Ahead of them, the promise of long, dark nights – and the chance to explore one another’s bodies, away from disapproving eyes.

It should be a perfect, romantic trip for two.

EXCEPT THAT HE’S NOT WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

BUT THEN AGAIN, NEITHER IS SHE . . .

********

MY REVIEW:

“Morning will cast a light on all this, shine on the craziness of the situation; this sham won’t survive sunrise, like all other evil it can only thrive in darkness.” 

What a wild ride!  This is a book that does exactly what it says on the tin and lives up to its tagline that calls Ellie and Steven ‘2022’s most f*cked up couple’.  This one took me quite some time to recover from after reading.  It’s that crazy.  I thought I knew what was in store but I had no idea just how messed up this was going to get…

The story opens with Ellie and Steven heading off on a three-day trip to celebrate their six month anniversary.  They both seem anxious and feel like everything rests on this weekend but the reader is in the dark as to what that is and why.  They quickly arrive at their destination: a remote cabin in the forest, surrounded by snow and with no cell phone reception.  Right then you would know this is going to be a getaway-gone-wrong even if you’d gone into this book blind.  Ominous and claustrophobic, there is an unbearable tension that wreaked havoc on my blood pressure as I tried to guess what would happen next.  But I could never have guessed what was coming if I’d had a hundred guesses.  It plays its cards extremely close to the vest so I won’t say anything more about the plot so you can discover the craziness for yourself. 

Stylish, sinister, scalpel-sharp and sophisticated, Laure Van Rensburg’s cunningly crafted debut is one you won’t forget.  She holds the reader in her vice-like grip, making it impossible to stop reading even when you want to turn away.  Ellie and Steven are richly drawn, memorable, unsavoury and unreliable characters, hiding their dysfunction behind a mask of normalcy that once removed will change everything you thought you knew. 

Unpredictable, darkly atmospheric and charged with adrenaline, Nobody But Us is the debut everyone is going to be talking about.  Laure Van Rensburg is a spectacular new talent that is one to watch and I for one can’t wait to read what she writes next.

READ THIS BOOK!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 & 2019 Bath Short Story Award.

Her debut novel, Nobody But Us, follows Ellie and Steven who take their first trip away together, but what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbour secrets – and that one of those secrets is deadly.

Nobody But Us (originally titled The Downfall) was shortlisted for the 2019 First Novel Prize, 2019 Novel London Competition and 2019 Flash 500 Novel Opening. It will be published by Michael Joseph in April 2022 and has sold in fourteen territories, including Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States.

Laure’s current work in progress, Eden Lost, was longlisted in 2019 Exeter Novel Prize and more recently shortlisted in the 2020 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org* |
*These are affiliate links

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REVIEW: Elektra by Jennifer Saint

Published: April 28th, 2022
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Greek Mythology, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Fairy Tale
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to one of my most anticipated books of the year!

Thank you to Caitlin at Wildfire for the gifted ARC and gorgeous finished copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

An exciting and equally lyrical new retelling from Jennifer Saint, the Sunday Times bestselling author of ARIADNE

‘Saint’s immersive novel thrusts the reader straight into the heart of Greek mythology’ ipaper on Ariadne

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

********

MY REVIEW:

Jennifer Saint has done it again.  Elektra was one of my most anticipated books of this year, but would it live up to the splendour of Ariadne, one of my favourite books of 2021?  The answer is yes!  Enthralling, powerful and mesmerising, Elektra is a glorious tapestry of a novel, a richly drawn portrayal of war and betrayal, of families torn apart by men’s lust for women, power and the so-called will of the gods, and of women trying to find agency in a man’s world.

This time the author retells the story of the Trojan War.  But instead of taking the obvious route of telling the story from Helen’s perspective she gives a voice to three other women: Elektra, Clytemnestra and Cassandra.  Elektra is the daughter of Agamenmon, a young girl who idolises her father and longs for his victorious return from Troy, Clytemnestra is Helen’s twin sister and wife of Agamenmon, a dutiful wife until a shocking act that leaves her devastated and plotting revenge, and Cassandra is a princess of Troy who is given the gift of visions by Apollo yet no one will believe her predictions or listen when she tries to tell them what lies in store for their city.  They are very different women whose fates are inextricably intertwined and share feelings of rage at their powerlessness in a world controlled by men.  Moving between their stories the author paints a vivid and illuminating picture of the Trojan War through the prism of these strong, fascinating and unforgettable women.  

Jennifer Saint is an author I could read every day and never get bored.  Her books are a masterclass in storytelling as she brings ancient Greece and its myths back to life in vivid technicolour with her lush and evocative prose.  You find yourself completely immersed in their world as the one around you completely falls away.  Her passion and knowledge of not only the myths, but the women themselves leaps from the pages and makes me want to read more; in fact, it was reading Ariadne that awakened my love of mythology.  

Lyrical, atmospheric and consuming, I couldn’t get enough of this book, devouring it quickly and feeling bereft when I’d finished.  Elektra is another masterpiece from the talented Jennifer Saint that I will be telling everyone to read.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Saint grew up reading Greek mythology and was always drawn to the untold stories hidden within the myths. After thirteen years as a high school English teacher, she wrote ARIADNE which tells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur from the perspective of Ariadne – the woman who made it happen. Her second novel, ELEKTRA, explores the curse upon the House of Atreus, giving voice to three women who are caught up in its shadows: Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra whose lives are shattered by the Trojan War and who seek to find justice at any cost. Jennifer Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Century
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this emotional debut. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Century for the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS

Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her.

So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace?

Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is – or even whether she is still alive.

A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind, and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her.

Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence – and with the trauma that shattered her life.

For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years?

Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever …

********

MY REVIEW:

Since the day their eighteen-year-old daughter, Emma, left home and never returned a year ago, Cath and Jim have been struggling to cope, unable to understand why their precious daughter would walk out of their life or even if she is still alive.  Every day they are caught between feelings of guilt, despair and helplessness, clinging to the hope that they will see her again one day soon.   
Cath begins to channel her maternal feelings into their tenants Lara and Nick, hoping to fill the void that threatens to break her.  But Lara and Nick are facing their own secret traumas that they are unable to even voice to one another, trying to live up to a version of themselves that isn’t real.   
Meanwhile, Emma is trying to adapt to her new life and struggling to deal with a traumatic event that shattered her entire world.   

The Shadow Child is a story about relationships, loss, trauma and hope.  A story filled with secrets that threaten to break hearts and shatter already fragile relationships.  The author explores difficult topics such as miscarriage and grief, writing with honesty and empathy.  She also asks if it is ever acceptable to keep secrets in a relationship and examines how those relationships can be affected when a secret is revealed. 

Cath, Jim, Lara, Nick and Emma each narrate their story, allowing us a glimpse into their psyche and the opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level.   Each of them are trying to find a way to live life while also trying to come to terms with trauma, grief and heartache.  The author also examines how  events in our childhood can shape who we become and the massive impact that seemingly insignificant events can have on our lives.   

Steadily paced, emotionally resonant and intriguing, The Shadow Child is a compelling debut about the complexities and nuances that make us human. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

*******

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Hancox read Medicine and Social and Political Science at Cambridge, qualified as a doctor three months after getting married, and has juggled her family, her career and a passion for writing ever since. She worked in Paediatrics and Public Health for twenty years, writing short stories alongside NHS policy reports, and drafting novels during successive bouts of maternity leave. Rachel loves singing, cooking, gardening and pottery, and has five children, three dogs and a cat. As someone once said, she thrives on chaos. She lives in Oxford with her husband and youngest children.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

Please check out the reviews from other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Fall by Rachael Blok

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Police Procedural, Medical Thriller

It’s a little late due to health problems but welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Fall. Thank you to Sophie at Ransom PR for the invitation to take part and Head of Zeus for the eBook ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

The sins of the past echo in the present in the new literary thriller from crime-critic favourite, Rachael Blok.

The bigger the sin, the further the fall…

With Easter approaching, the verger of St Albans Cathedral was supposed to be readying the church. Instead he discovers a man lying dead, fallen from the famous 150-foot-high tower. Did he jump, or was he pushed?

For DCI Maarten Jansen, it’s a simple case of suspected suicide. Until a witness, Willow, prompts a deeper investigation into a long-buried past, involving a psychiatric hospital, a pregnant woman, and fifty years of silence. As Willow’s own family history entwines with the case, Jansen starts to wonder how everything is connected.

The Fall is a haunting literary thriller about loss, trauma, silence, and how our past shapes who we are.

********

MY REVIEW:

“Secrets don’t stay buried forever. Even those cast in stone.”

After a long day of travel Willow Eliot finally arrives at St Albans ready to prepare for her exhibition.  But in the darkness she hears a scream and witnesses a body falling from the cathedral in the shadows.  Did he jump or was he pushed?  And are the fall of a young man who works at the cathedral a few days later and the disappearance of Willow’s twin sister connected or simply tragic coincidences? 

A story of sins, secrets and suspicion, this literary thriller hit all the right notes for me.  Taut, tense and intricately woven, it takes us on a twisty journey as past and present merge together and dark truths are slowly revealed.  This book was my introduction to Rachael Blok and I didn’t realise that it is the fourth instalment in a series until I had almost finished reading.  But that means I can tell  you it makes a great standalone as I never felt like I was missing out on anything or confused about what was going on.

Told in three parts from multiple points of view, I loved the very different voices the author chose in which to tell the story.  I found young Alice’s chapters were especially compelling and powerful, drawing into her tragic story.  Many of the characters are keeping secrets, some of them with the power to shatter entire lives, leaving us with a complex puzzle to solve that looks nothing like I thought it would.  

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was that it is rich in history.  But it is an awful history that dates back to the psychiatric hospital, Hill Barnes, a bleak, grim place where people were sent when they didn’t know how to deal with them, often committed for what now seem like trivial reasons.  Behavioural issues, epilepsy, a wife disagreeing with her husband and being a young mother could all see you committed and subjected to barbaric treatments that did more harm than healing.  It is a potent reminder of how we used to treat mental health and those we didn’t understand.  

Dark, twisty and captivating, The Fall is a great read for anyone who enjoys a steadily paced thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rachael Blok is a best-selling author of the UK crime series set in the cathedral city of St Albans. Here, DCI Maarten Jansen struggles against his plain-speaking Dutch upbringing when faced with the seemingly polite world of the picturesque city. Under the Ice, The Scorched Earth and Into The Fire are out now. The Fall is coming April 2022.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.