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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – August 2021

August is packed full of amazing books that are finally being released into the world. It was so hard to get my list down to the 21 books you see here.

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The Night Singer by Johanna Mo

Published: August 3rd, 2021
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
You’ve got no idea what you’re dredging up. You’re going to ruin everything.

The past is not going to stay buried in this unputdownable crime novel, the first in a series featuring Detective Hanna Duncker. Fans of Ragnar Jonasson and Ann Cleeves will be gripped by this moving and atmospheric crime novel, already a bestseller in Sweden.

Hanna Duncker has returned to the remote island she spent her childhood on and to the past that saw her father convicted for murder. In a cruel twist of fate her new boss is the policeman who put him behind bars.

On her first day on the job as the new detective, Hanna is called to a crime scene. The fifteen-year-old son of her former best friend has been found dead and Hanna is thrown into a complex investigation set to stir up old ghosts.

Not everyone is happy to have the daughter of Lars Duncker back in town. Hanna soon realises that she will have to watch her back as she turns over every stone to find the person responsible…

Buy here*

In My Dreams I Hold A Knife by Ashley Winstead

Published: August 3rd, 2021
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
Six friends.
One college reunion.
One unsolved murder.

Ten years after graduation, Jessica Miller has planned her triumphant return to her southern, elite Duquette University, down to the envious whispers that are sure to follow in her wake. Everyone is going to see the girl she wants them to see—confident, beautiful, indifferent. Not the girl she was when she left campus, back when Heather Shelby’s murder fractured everything, including the tight bond linking the six friends she’d been closest to since freshman year.

But not everyone is ready to move on. Not everyone left Duquette ten years ago, and not everyone can let Heather’s murder go unsolved. Someone is determined to trap the real killer, to make the guilty pay. When the six friends are reunited, they will be forced to confront what happened that night—and the years’ worth of secrets each of them would do anything to keep hidden.

Told in racing dual timelines, with a dark campus setting and a darker look at friendship, love, obsession, and ambition, In My Dreams I Hold A Knife is an addictive, propulsive read you won’t be able to put down.

Buy here*

A Narrow Door by Joanne Harris

Published: August 4th, 2021
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Now I’m in charge, the gates are my gates. The rules are my rules.

It’s an incendiary moment for St Oswald’s school. For the first time in its history, a headmistress is in power, the gates opening to girls.

Rebecca Buckfast has spilled blood to reach this position. Barely forty, she is just starting to reap the harvest of her ambition. As the new regime takes on the old guard, the ground shifts. And with it, the remains of a body are discovered.

But Rebecca is here to make her mark. She’ll bury the past so deep it will evade even her own memory, just like she has done before. After all…

You can’t keep a good woman down.

Buy here*

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
Teddy Crutcher won Teacher of the Year at Belmont Academy. Everyone thinks he’s brilliant.
Only you know the truth.

They all smile when he tells us his wife couldn’t be more proud.
But no-one has seen her in a while.

They’re impressed when the tragic death of a school parent doesn’t distract him.
Even when rumours start to say it was murder.

You’re sure Teddy is hiding something about what happened that day.

You’re sure you can prove it.

But you didn’t stop to think that when it comes to catching a killer, there’s no place more dangerous than just one step behind . . .

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Patience by Victoria Scott

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
If you were offered a chance to cure your child’s disease, would you take it?

The Willows have been through a lot. Louise has devoted her life to caring for her disabled youngest daughter. Pete works abroad, almost never seeing his loved ones. And their eldest, Eliza, is burdened by all the secrets she’s trying to keep from her overloaded family.

Meanwhile, Patience observes the world while trapped in her own body. She laughs, she cries, she has opinions and knows what she wants. But those who love her most – and make every decision about her life – will never know.

Or will they? When the Willows are offered the opportunity for Patience to take part in a new gene therapy trial to cure her Rett syndrome, they face an impossible dilemma. Are the very real risks worth the chance of the reward, no matter how small?

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Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Biographical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
THE DELICIOUSLY DARK REIMAGINING OF THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HISTORY’S ORIGINAL FEMALE SERIAL KILLER

Bella Sorensen loves men. She loves them to death . . .

Early in life Bella Sorensen discovers the world is made only for men. They own everything: jobs, property, wives. But Bella understands what few others do: where women are concerned, men are weak.

A woman unhampered by scruples can take from them what she wants. And so Bella sets out to prove to the world that a woman can be just as ruthless, black-hearted and single-minded as any man.

Starting with her long suffering husband, Mads, Bella embarks on a killing spree the like of which has never been seen before nor since.

And through it all her kind, older sister Nellie can only watch in horror as Bella’s schemes to enrich herself and cut down the male population come to a glorious, dreadful fruition . . .

Based on the true story of Belle Gunness whose killing spree began in Chicago in 1900, Triflers Need Not Apply is a novelistic tour de force exploring one woman’s determination to pay men back for all they have taken.

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The Heights by Louise Candlish

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
He thinks he’s safe up there. But he’ll never be safe from you. 

The Heights is a tall, slender apartment building among the warehouses of Tower Bridge, its roof terrace so discreet you wouldn’t know it existed if you weren’t standing at the window of the flat directly opposite. But you are. And that’s when you see a man up there – a man you’d recognize anywhere. He’s older now and his appearance has subtly changed, but it’s definitely him. 

Which makes no sense at all since you know he has been dead for over two years.  You know this for a fact.  

Because you’re the one who killed him.  It’s time to confess what we did up there.

‘Kieran Watts has been dead for over two years when I see him standing on the roof of a building in Shad Thames…’

#CloseToTheEdge

Buy here*

Mrs March by Virginia Feito

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Fourth Estate
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Satire

SYNOPSIS:
Shirley Jackson meets Ottessa Moshfegh meets My Sister the Serial Killer in a brilliantly unsettling and darkly funny debut novel full of suspense and paranoia

George March’s latest novel is a smash hit. None could be prouder than Mrs. March, his dutiful wife, who revels in his accolades and relishes the lifestyle and status his success brings.

A creature of routine and decorum, Mrs. March lives an exquisitely controlled existence on the Upper East Side. Every morning begins the same way, with a visit to her favourite patisserie to buy a loaf of
olive bread, but her latest trip proves to be her last when she suffers an indignity from which she may never recover: an assumption by the shopkeeper that the protagonist in George March’s new book –
a pathetic sex worker, more a figure of derision than desire – is based on Mrs. March.

One casual remark robs Mrs. March not only of her beloved olive bread but of the belief that she knew everything about her husband – and herself – sending her on an increasingly paranoid journey, one
that starts within the pages of a book but may very well uncover both a killer and the long-buried secrets of Mrs. March’s past.

A razor-sharp exploration of the fragility of identity and the smothering weight of expectations, Mrs. March heralds the arrival of a wicked and wonderful new voice.

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Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
In the quiet, wealthy enclave of Brecken Hill, an older couple is brutally murdered hours after a tense Easter dinner with their three adult children. Who, of course, are devastated.

Or are they? They each stand to inherit millions. They were never a happy family, thanks to their vindictive father and neglectful mother, but perhaps one of them is more disturbed than anyone knew. Did someone snap after that dreadful evening? Or did another person appear later that night with the worst of intentions? That must be what happened. After all, if one of the family were capable of something as gruesome as this, you’d know.

Wouldn’t you?

Buy here*

The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Adventure Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Could one rare plant hold the key to a thousand riches?

It’s the summer of 1822 and Edinburgh is abuzz with rumours of King George IV’s impending visit. In botanical circles, however, a different kind of excitement has gripped the city. In the newly-installed Botanic Garden, the Agave Americana plant looks set to flower – an event that only occurs once every few decades.

When newly widowed Elizabeth arrives in Edinburgh to live with her late husband’s aunt Clementina, she’s determined to put her unhappy past in London behind her. As she settles into her new home, she becomes fascinated by the beautiful Botanic Garden which borders the grand house and offers her services as an artist to record the rare plant’s impending bloom. In this pursuit, she meets Belle Brodie, a vivacious young woman with a passion for botany and the lucrative, dark art of perfume creation.

Belle is determined to keep both her real identity and the reason for her interest the Garden secret from her new friend. But as Elizabeth and Belle are about to discover, secrets don’t last long in this Enlightenment city . . .

And when they are revealed, they can carry the greatest of consequences.

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Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Biography, Autobiography, Cookbook

SYNOPSIS:
From the indie rockstar Japanese Breakfast, an unflinching, powerful, deeply moving memoir about growing up mixed-race, Korean food, losing her Korean mother, and forging her own identity.

‘As good as everyone says it is and, yes, it will have you in tears. An essential read for anybody who has lost a loved one, as well as those who haven’t.’ MarieClaire

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humour and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian-American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food. As she grew up, moving to the east coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, performing gigs with her fledgling band – and meeting the man who would become her husband – her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother’s diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Michelle Zauner’s voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.

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A Passion For Poison by Carol Anne Lee

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: John Blake
Genre: True Crime

SYNOPSIS:
‘The whole story is so terrible. You will be disgusted and amazed.’
Graham Young, confessing his crimes to detectives

There are few criminal cases more astonishing yet less well known than that of Graham Young. A quintessentially British crime story set in the post-war London suburbs, it involves two sensational trials, murders both certain and probable, a clutch of forgiving relatives, and scores of surviving victims.

Fourteen in the summer of 1962, Graham stood in the Old Bailey dock charged with poisoning a schoolfriend and family members by adding antimony to their packed lunches, Sunday roast and morning cups of tea. Diagnosed with multiple personality disorders, Graham’s trial resulted in his detainment at Broadmoor, where he was the youngest patient.

But it was on his release from Broadmoor that Graham caused the greatest harm. Finding employment in Hadlands, a photographic supplies firm, his role as junior storeman meant he was expected to make tea and coffee for his colleagues. And very soon, numerous members of staff began experiencing crippling stomach pains…

A psychologically astute insight into the mind of a complex and intriguing individual, A Passion for Poison is true crime at its best.

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Look What You Made Me Do by Elaine Murphy

Published: August 12th, 2021
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Suspense, Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
Carrie wants a normal life.
Carrie Lawrence doesn’t need a happily ever after. She’ll just settle for “after.” After a decade of helping her sister hide her victims. After a lifetime of lies. She just wants to be safe, boring, and not trekking through the woods at night with a dead body wrapped in a carpet.

Becca wants to get away with murder.
Becca Lawrence doesn’t believe in happily ever after because she’s already happy. She’s gotten away with murder for a decade and has blackmailed her sister into helping her hide the evidence-what more could a girl want?

But first they have to stop a serial killer.
When thirteen bodies are discovered in their small town, people are shocked. But not as shocked as Carrie, who thought she knew all the details of Becca’s sordid pastime. When Becca swears she’s not behind the grisly new crimes, they realize the town has a second serial killer who has the sisters in his sights, and what he wants is . . . Carrie.

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The Dark by Emma Haughton

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
ONE DEAD BODY. TWELVE SUSPECTS. TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR DARKNESS.

In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose.

A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the opportunity to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.

The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all.

And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes . . .

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Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Soon to be a Netflix series from the producer of The Crown

The phenomenal new thriller from the bestselling author of Sometimes I Lie

‘Not just fiendish but positively Feeneyish – dark, ingenious and very clever’ Cara Hunter, author of Close to Home

Ten years of marriage.
Ten years of secrets.
An anniversary they’ll never forget.

Adam and Amelia are spending the weekend in the Scottish Highlands. The remote location is perfect for what they have planned.

But when their romantic trip takes a dark turn, they both start to wonder – can they trust the one they’re with?

Because every couple tells little white lies. Only for Adam and Amelia, the truth is far more dangerous.

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What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Political Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
From the widely acclaimed author of American War, Omar El Akkad, a beautifully written, unrelentingly dramatic and profoundly moving novel that brings the global refugee crisis down to the level of a child’s eyes.

More bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island. Another over-filled, ill-equipped, dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of its too-many passengers: Syrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, all of them desperate to escape untenable lives in their homelands. And only one had made the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who has the good fortune to fall into the hands not of the officials, but of Vänna: a teenage girl, native to the island, who lives inside her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain. And though Vänna and Amir are complete strangers and don’t speak a common language, Vänna determines to do whatever it takes to save him.

In alternating chapters, we learn the story of Amir’s life and of how he came to be on the boat; and we follow the duo as they make their way towards a vision of safety. But as the novel unfurls, we begin to understand that this is not merely the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world. Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise is the story of our collective moment in this time: of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair – and of the way each of those things can blind us to reality, or guide us to a better one.

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Emily Noble’s Disgrace by Mary Paulson-Ellis

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
The case is unexceptional, that is what I know. A house full of stuff left behind by a dead woman, abandoned at the last . . .

When trauma cleaner Essie Pound makes a gruesome discovery in the derelict Edinburgh boarding house she is sent to clean, it brings her into contact with a young policewoman, Emily Noble, who has her own reasons to solve the case.

As the two women embark on a journey into the heart of a forgotten family, the investigation prompts fragmented memories of their own traumatic histories – something Emily has spent a lifetime attempting to bury, and Essie a lifetime trying to lay bare.

Emily Noble’s Disgrace is the third novel from Mary Paulson-Ellis, the bestselling author of The Other Mrs Walker, a Waterstones Scottish Book of the Year.

Buy here*

No Honour by Awais Khan

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Political Fiction, Religious Fiction, Adventure Fiction, Urban Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A young woman defies convention in a small Pakistani village, with devastating results for her and her family. A stunning, immense beautiful novel about courage, family and the meaning of love, when everything seems lost…

In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.

When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore and then disappears.

Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.

Moving from the depths of rural Pakistan, riddled with poverty and religious fervour, to the dangerous streets of over-populated Lahore, No Honour is a story of family, of the indomitable spirit of love in its many forms … a story of courage and resilience, when all seems lost, and the inextinguishable fire that lights one young woman’s battle for change.

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56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Corvus
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
No one even knew they were together. Now one of them is dead.

56 DAYS AGO
Ciara and Oliver meet in a supermarket queue in Dublin and start dating the same week COVID-19 reaches Irish shores.

35 DAYS AGO
When lockdown threatens to keep them apart, Oliver suggests they move in together. Ciara sees a unique opportunity for a relationship to flourish without the scrutiny of family and friends. Oliver sees a chance to hide who – and what – he really is.

TODAY
Detectives arrive at Oliver’s apartment to discover a decomposing body inside.

Can they determine what really happened, or has lockdown created an opportunity for someone to commit the perfect crime?

Buy here*

SYNOPSIS:
THE STANDALONE THRILLER FROM THE MILLION-COPY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF RAGDOLL – SOON TO BE A MAJOR TV SERIES

The Women of Troy by Pat Barker

Published: August 26th, 2021
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton
Genre: Historical Fiction, War Story

SYNOPSIS:
Following her bestselling, critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls, Pat Barker continues her extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest myths.

Troy has fallen. The Greeks have won their bitter war. They can return home as victors – all they need is a good wind to lift their sails. But the wind has vanished, the seas becalmed by vengeful gods, and so the warriors remain in limbo – camped in the shadow of the city they destroyed, kept company by the women they stole from it.

The women of Troy.

Helen – poor Helen. All that beauty, all that grace – and she was just a mouldy old bone for feral dogs to fight over.

Cassandra, who has learned not to be too attached to her own prophecies. They have only ever been believed when she can get a man to deliver them.

Stubborn Amina, with her gaze still fixed on the ruined towers of Troy, determined to avenge the slaughter of her king.

Hecuba, howling and clawing her cheeks on the silent shore, as if she could make her cries heard in the gloomy halls of Hades. As if she could wake the dead.

And Briseis, carrying her future in her womb: the unborn child of the dead hero Achilles. Once again caught up in the disputes of violent men. Once again faced with the chance to shape history.

Masterful and enduringly resonant, ambitious and intimate, The Women of Troy continues Pat Barker’s extraordinary retelling of one of our greatest classical myths, following on from the critically acclaimed The Silence of the Girls.

Buy here*

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins

Published: August 31st, 2021
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
‘What is wrong with you?’

Laura has spent most of her life being judged. She’s seen as hot-tempered, troubled, a loner. Some even call her dangerous.

Miriam knows that just because Laura is witnessed leaving the scene of a horrific murder with blood on her clothes, that doesn’t mean she’s a killer. Bitter experience has taught her how easy it is to get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Carla is reeling from the brutal murder of her nephew. She trusts no one: good people are capable of terrible deeds. But how far will she go to find peace?

Innocent or guilty, everyone is damaged. Some are damaged enough to kill.

Look what you started.

THE SCORCHING NEW THRILLER FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN and INTO THE WATER

Buy here*

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Are any of these in your tbr? Let me know in the comments.

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Thanks for reading this month’s anticipated treasures. See you next month for more exciting reads😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Girls Who Lie (Forbidden Iceland Book 2) by Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this gripping thriller.

Thank you Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPIS:

When a depressed, alcoholic single mother disappears, everything suggests suicide, but when her body is found, Icelandic Detective Elma and her team are thrust into a perplexing, chilling investigation.

_____________

When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, everyone assumes that she’s taken her own life … until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?

Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to a shocking tragedy.

Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the number of suspects grows and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…

Breathtakingly chilling and tantalisingly twisty, Girls Who Lie is at once a startling, tense psychological thriller and a sophisticated police procedural, marking Eva Björg Ægisdottir as one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
_______________

Book 1 in the series, The Creak on the Stairs, WON THE CWA JOHN CREASEY NEW BLOOD DAGGER

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MY REIVEW:

Seven months after her disappearance, the beaten body of single mother Marianna is found in a cave in the lava field. Detective Elma and her team are thrown into a difficult investigation where there are few clues and no real suspects. But as they slowly delve deeper into Marianna’s life, they discover that the case is much more complex than they anticipated and the clues begin to take them in a surprising direction. 

The story moves between the investigation into the murder and flashbacks to the life of an unknown single mother. It was these chapters that I enjoyed most of all because we get a deeper insight into her character than any other. But this is contrasted with the fact that her identity is a mystery, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the story. In these chapters we follow the young woman’s struggle to connect with her daughter and be a good mother. They were heart-rending, disturbing and affecting. Filled with raw emotion and uncomfortable truths. They highlighted the difficulties of motherhood we don’t always want to admit and the shades of gray we don’t always see when we paint someone as a ‘bad parent’. The author continues exploring these themes in the present day with the storyline of Marianna being a neglectful mother whose relationship with her daughter was so troubled that she wanted to live with foster parents. While hard to read at times, it is well written, sensitive and a thought-provoking commentary on motherhood and the problems that lie within social services.

This is the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series but my first time reading this author’s books. Despite that I never felt confused as the author quickly catches you up, enabling this to be read as a standalone or part of the series. I have already bought the first book in the series and plan to read any further books by this author after loving this one. Elma was a great protagonist who is likeable, relatable and has an interesting backstory. The author managed to hit that sweet spot of showing the reader Elma’s personal life and history without saturating the story, enabling us to feel a connection while still being able to focus on the case she’s trying to solve. The supporting and background characters are compelling and richly drawn which kept me hooked on the story and provided an abundance of suspects. 

A harrowing, complex and multilayered thriller with a twist that comes like a bolt out of the blue, Girls Who Lie is another amazing read from Orenda Books. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir studied for an MSc in Globalisation in Norway before returning to Iceland and deciding to write a novel – something she had wanted to do since she won a short-story competition at the age of fifteen. After nine months combining her writing with work as a stewardess and caring for her children, Eva finished The Creak on the Stairs. It was published in 2018, and became a bestseller in Iceland, going on to win the Blackbird Award, a prize set up by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson to encourage new Icelandic crime writers. The Creak on the Stairs was published in English by Orenda Books in 2020, and became a number-one bestseller in ebook in three countries, and shortlisted for the Capital Crime/Amazon Publishing Awards in two categories. Girls Who Lie, the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series, is published in 2021. Dubbed the ‘Icelandic Ruth Rendell’ by the British press, Eva lives in Reykjavík with her husband and three children and is currently working on the third book in the Forbidden Iceland series.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Feature: Is This It? by Hannah Tovey

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Piatkus
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Romantic Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this fantastic and funny novel. Thank you so much to Hannah Tovey and Piatkus for my gifted copy.

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SYNOPSIS:

-Employed (you have frequent nightmares about your job)
Single and fabulous (swiping Tinder in your pyjamas while your best friend shops for engagement rings)
Thriving (surviving)

Ivy and Mia have been best friends since the fun, messy, hungover years of their twenties.

Ten years later, Mia has it all – the man, the house, the career. Ivy is skint, single, and scared that she isn’t a ‘hot mess’ any more – she’s a walking disaster.

But one night, Ivy switches her phone off, peels last night’s drunken pizza off the sofa, and makes a list. A list that changes everything . . .

The new Ivy has a proper job. She goes on fancy dates in wine bars. She’s starting to think: maybe ‘faking it till you make it’ is easy?

But then she meets Scott.

Curly-haired, sarcastic Scott.

Sh*t.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hannah Tovey is from South Wales and grew up in Hong Kong. She graduated from the Faber Academy in 2018, where she finished her debut novel, The Education of Ivy Edwards. Hannah lives in East London where she misses Llanelli beach, her mother and cockles. Her second novel, Is This It?, comes out July 2021.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours Book Features

Book Feature: Woman of a Certain Rage by Georgie Hall

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Today I’m featuring the hilarious Woman of a Certain Rage as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A smart and funny novel about love, life and a second shot at freedom for rebellious women of a certain age.

Eliza is angry. Very angry, and very, very hot.

Late for work and dodging traffic, she’s still reeling from the latest row with husband Paddy. Twenty-something years ago, their eyes met over the class divide in oh-so-cool Britpop London, but while Paddy now seems content filling his downtime with canal boats and cricket, Eliza craves the freedom and excitement of her youth. Fifty sounds dangerously close to pensionable: her woke children want to cancel her, a male motorist has just called her a ‘mad old bat’ and to cap it all her hormones are on the run. Who knew menopause was puberty’s evil older sister?

But then a moment of heroism draws an unexpected admirer, and Eliza sets out to discover whether the second half of life can be a glass half full after all. She might suffer mental fog and night sweats – and have temporarily mislaid her waist – but this is her renaissance.

Woman of a Certain Rage is a smart and funny novel for all women who won’t be told it’s too late to shake things up.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Georgie Hall is the alter-ego of best-selling author and woman of a certain (r)age, Fiona Walker. Stepping aside from her usual big-cast comedies to write as Georgie, she has her sharp-eyed wit firmly fixed on midlife, marriage, motherhood and menopause. Woman of a Certain Rage is for women everywhere who refuse to be told it’s too late to shake things up.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Review: The Beresford by Will Carver

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Happy almost-publication day to this outstanding and original book. Thank you to Karen at Orenda for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Everything stays the same for the tenants of The Beresford, a grand old apartment building just outside the city … until the doorbell rings… Will Carver returns with an eerie, deliciously and uncomfortably dark standalone thriller.
 
Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.
 
There’s a routine at The Beresford.
 
For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.
 
Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. 
 
In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.
 
And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.
 
Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…
 
Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.

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MY REVIEW:

“The Beresford was old. It was grand. It evolved with the people who inhabited its rooms and apartments. It was dark and elephantine and it breathed with its people. Paint peeled and there were cracks in places. It was bricks and mortar and plaster and wood. And it was alive.”

Will Carver has done it again! The Beresford is another outstanding and original novel from one of the most unique voices in fiction. The striking, eerie and trippy cover matches what’s between it’s pages: a strange, sinister and twisted tale that is both gloriously absurd and totally plausible. 

The story opens with a murder. Sixty seconds later the doorbell rings. Thus begins a dark chain of events that many of those involved won’t survive, propelling the reader straight into the action, not letting go until the final page. I devoured this book, unable to put it down once I’d started. I was hypnotised by the dark, claustrophobic and haunting world of The Beresford and its doomed residents. 

“We all go a little mad sometimes.”

His characters are ordinary and familiar but also quirky, richly drawn and compelling. Abe Schwartz is an unassuming and unremarkable geek who is lonely and aches to be loved. You can’t help but feel for him despite knowing that beneath his façade of normality is a deeply disturbed individual hiding a dark secret. It’s this juxtaposition that makes him so fascinating and frightening. He really could be anyone and you would never expect him to be a killer. 

Blair Conroy is trying to escape her small town life and has come in search of the excitement of the city. It is she who Abe greets just seconds after committing murder, not realising she may have just sealed her fate. I liked Blair and could relate to her in many ways. I even liked her blossoming relationship with Abe and was rooting for her not to end up in the same position as the previous resident. 

Then we have Mrs. May, the lady who oversees everything that happens at The Beresford. She is a bit of an enigma, a complex character with many layers that are slowly peeled away as the story progresses. Deeply religious, she has suffered a lot of trauma and seems to genuinely care for her tenants. But she also seems terrified of the house itself. Just what does she know? And what power does this place have over her? I enjoyed trying to figure out this mysterious lady and her secrets and found her surprisingly likeable. 

“The Beresford was a halfway house for the disenchanted and disenfranchised, whose focus was to become. To be. To discover and make their impact. The inhabitants were not necessarily the outsiders, but were certainly the ones found on the periphery. The wallflowers at society’s ball.”

The house is a character in itself that feels as if it lives and breathes as much as any of the human characters. It oozes malevolence and foreboding and is hiding secrets so dark and terrifying they will send shivers down your spine. It is a place that changes those who live there, feasting on them from the inside before moving onto another unsuspecting victim.

Will Carver has quickly become one of my favourite authors. His distinctive style is like nothing else out there and when you pick up his books they are instantly recognisable as his. With his sharp, choppy prose that is both tongue in cheek and deadly serious, his bold topics, scathing and unapologetic social commentary and dark humour he creates an atmosphere of mystery and foreboding, a chill that runs through your veins and builds the tension and dread till you are on the edge of your seat with your heart pounding. 

The Beresford is one of my favourite books so far this year and my favourite book by the author to date, so it was an easy five stars from me. A seductive and unsettling read that you will love while also questioning why. When it’s over you will wonder what on earth you just read and find it impossible to forget. 

Just remember: DON’T RING THE DOORBELL.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for both the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2020 and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Novel, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, New Adult Fiction, Holiday Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this fun summer romance that is published tomorrow. Thank you to Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

TWO FRIENDS
TEN SUMMER TRIPS

THEIR LAST CHANCE TO FALL IN LOVE

12 SUMMERS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they’ll never speak again.

11 SUMMERS AGO: They’re forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together.

10 SUMMERS AGO: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver.
Poppy holds his hand the whole way.

7 SUMMERS AGO: They get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans.

2 SUMMERS AGO: It all goes wrong.

THIS SUMMER: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.

You and Me on Vacation is a New York Times bestselling love story for fans of When Harry Met Sally and One Day. Get ready to travel the world, snort with laughter and – most of all – lose your heart to Poppy and Alex.

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MY REVIEW:

“It’s fascinating. How much of love is who you are with someone.”

You and Me on Vacation is a warm, witty, slow-burning romance that is perfect to read on a hot summer’s day. 

The story follows the familiar best friends to lovers trope, exploring the trepidation, fear and complications that can arise when you fall in love with your closest friend. While it was often predictable, this wasn’t a bad thing, and the author injected some additional mystery and tension with the inclusion of an unknown event two years earlier that had led to them not speaking since. I liked this as it made the book  more than a simple ‘will they or won’t they’ story and I felt like their tentative steps to rebuilding their friendship made me root for them from the start. There were times it felt like it was a little too drawn out, but the author soon picked up the pace and it was an entertaining read overall. 

I liked Poppy and Alex both individually and as a pair. They had a great dynamic and the spark was clear even before Poppy admitted her feelings. There were some great background characters too and I enjoyed how the author wrote little descriptions when introducing a new character that gives the reader an instant picture of what they are like. 

Being centred around a travel writer and the vacations she takes with her best friend gave this book a vibe of pure escapism and I loved being able to travel to the various destinations from my back garden during a pandemic. But the current situation also made the book feel wistful and it felt like I was reading about another life. It really made me miss the days where we could just hop on a plane and go somewhere new without a second thought. *Sigh* 

If you’re looking for a book to escape with and a good way to wile away a few hours in the sun, then this entertaining romance is the book for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Emily Henry is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation and Beach Read, as well as several young adult novels. She lives and writes in the Cincinnati and the part of Kentucky just beneath it.

Her books have been featured in Buzzfeed, Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, The Skimm, Shondaland, Betches, Bustle, and more.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Google Books | Apple Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate links

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Suspense, Domestic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my review of this gorgeous novel. Thank you HQ for the eBook ARC and invitation to take part.

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SYNOPSIS:

They were so in love . . .
And then life changed forever . . .
Will they find happiness again?
 
Libby and Jack are the happiest they’ve ever been. Thanks to their dear friend, eighty-year-old Sid, they’ve just bought their first house together, and it’s the beginning of the life they’ve always dreamed of.

But the universe has other plans for Libby and Jack and a devastating twist of fate shatters their world.
 
All of a sudden life is looking very different, and unlikely though it seems, might Sid be the one person who can help Libby and Jack move forward when what they loved the most has been lost?
 
The Art of Loving You is a beautiful love story for our times. Romantic and uplifting, it will break your heart and then put it back together again. Perfect for fans of Rebecca Serle, Josie Silver and Sophie Cousens.

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MY REIVEW:

“The butterfly effect. The delicate flutter of wings. The tiniest change leading to chaos, catastrophe, an ordered life falling apart.”

The Art of Loving You is a different kind of love story. An exploration of love, grief and the afterlife, it looks at what we do with the love we have for someone when they are suddenly gone and asks how we find new meaning when life feels meaningless. 

It is narrated by Libby, who has been left heartbroken and adrift after the sudden death of her soulmate Jack. But it isn’t only grief that she is struggling with, Libby is also finding it hard to trust people and the world around her. She is stuck in a tortuous roller-coaster that she can’t seem to get off. Family and friends rally around and do their best, but nothing helps. All she wants is the one thing she can’t have: Jack. 

Skillfully written, every page is coated in pain, but there is a hopefulness that creeps in and some funny moments that lighten the mood. But the writing device I enjoyed most of all was how Libby would insert snippets of things that are yet to happen or be revealed, referencing her ignorant bliss before something rocked her world. This happens mostly at the end of a chapter, a cunning ploy by the author to make the book impossible to put down that totally worked on this reader. That devilish hint of foreboding that kept me on the edge of my seat and made me think I’d read just one more chapter; and then another, and another. Before I knew it I’d flown through half the book. Well written and well played, Ms. Henley. 

“Enjoy the beer and skittles days.”

There are some wonderful and fascinating characters in the book and I really liked both Libby and Jack, but the one who stole my heart was Sid. Delightful, funny and wise, he brightened up every scene he was in and I could have happily read an entire book just about him. I loved his relationship with Jack and Libby and I feel like I need to write his words of wisdom in a notebook. He is a character that I won’t forget and I think will make an impact on everyone who reads this book. 

Uplifting, emotional, heartbreaking and hopeful, The Art of Loving You is an hopelessly romantic tearjerker that also manages to be funny and real. A truly beautiful and captivating story that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Amelia Henley is a hopeless romantic who has a penchant for exploring the intricacies of relationships through writing heart-breaking, high-concept love stories.

Amelia also writes psychological thrillers under her real name, Louise Jensen. As Louise Jensen she has sold over a million copies of her global number one bestsellers. Her stories have been translated into twenty-five languages and optioned for TV as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers list. Louise’s books have been nominated for multiple awards.

‘The Life We Almost Had’ is the first story she’s written as Amelia Henley and is out now, published by HQ, Harper Collins. ‘The Art of Loving You’ publishes this July.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*These are affiliate books

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Year In Review

Top Ten of the Year So Far

2021 has been a fantastic reading year so far; I’ve discovered some great new authors, found a passion for Greek mythology, and started some exciting new series’. As of June 30th I had read 78 books, most of which were four star and above, so it wasn’t easy to put together my 10 favourites. But, after a lot of consideration, I’m ready to share my top ten reads of 2021 so far, with links to my reviews where relevant.

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Have you read any of these books? What are some of your favourite reads so far this year? Let me know in the comments.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

Published: July 15th, 2021
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this phenomenal debut. Thank you to Frankie at Little Brown Book Group for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

This is not just another novel about a dead girl.

When she arrived in New York on her 18th birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city’s latest Jane Doe, an unidentified murder victim.

Ruby Jones is also trying to start over; she travelled halfway around the world only to find herself lonelier than ever. Until she finds Alice Lee’s body by the Hudson River.

From this first, devastating encounter, the two women form an unbreakable bond. Alice is sure that Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her life – and death. And Ruby – struggling to forget what she saw that morning – finds herself unable to let Alice go. Not until she is given the ending she deserves.

Before You Knew My Name doesn’t ask whodunnit. Instead, this powerful, hopeful novel asks: Who was she? And what did she leave behind? The answers might surprise you.

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MY REVIEW:

“If I tell you my story. If I let you know what happened to me. Maybe you’ll see who I was. Who I am. Maybe you’ll like the truth of me better, and maybe you’ll wish this for every dead girl from now on. The chance to speak for herself, to be known for more than her ending.”

We are all familiar with the brutal crimes often committed against women and the sadly common stories that accompany them. In this startling debut, Jacqueline Bublitz takes those stories and gives them a twist. Instead of asking whodunnit, she asks who was the victim? What is her story? And what can we learn from her?

Narrated by Alice Lee, the eighteen-year-old girl who moves to New York for a new start and ends up dead just a few weeks later, the story is told directly to the reader as she hovers between this life and the next. She needs us to see her. Remember her. To focus on who she was and how she lived, rather than how she died. This style of narration reminded me of The Lovely Bones, which is one of my favourite books of all time. But while it echoed Susie Salmon, Alice was unique, standing out as an original, bold and memorable voice. Having Alice tell her story directly to the reader also helped me to connect with her and see her as a real person rather than just a dead body. It gives you a sense of her character, feelings, thoughts, dreams and fears. It compounds the tragedy of what happened to her as you grieve for the loss of a life that was just beginning.

“Though we come from very different places, Ruby Jones and I might as well be the same person when it comes to how we landed here in New York City.”

But it isn’t just the story of the victim that the author illuminates in this book. She also shines a light on another familiar person whose voice is rarely heard in these cases: the person who finds the body. We don’t usually know who they are or how the grim discovery reverberates through their life. Bulbitz examines these questions and more, telling the story of Ruby Jones,  a thirty-six-year-old Australian who moved to New York for a fresh start. After finding Alice’s brutalised and broken body in the park on that stormy day she is shaken, traumatised and determined to find out the name and the story of Jane Doe. 

“You may be gone but your legacy isn’t finished.”

Breathtaking beautiful, hypnotic and mesmerising, Before You Knew My Name is one of those books that goes right to your soul. I was captivated from the first page. It is a story about new beginnings and self-discovery; full of intrigue, promise and hope. But it is also a tragic story of a life extinguished before it has even really begun. This may be a story told by a dead girl, but the author’s masterful storytelling and melodic prose breathe life into every word. I lived every moment alongside Alice and Ruby, feeling a strong bond to these two compelling, fractured yet strong women. They were great characters that I enjoyed reading and I particularly loved how the author entwined their stories. I also loved how the evocative imagery made New York leap from the page like I was watching the story in technicolour on a movie screen. Alice’s feelings about the city were infectious and I found myself falling in love with it too.  the city just as Alice did.

“There is no name to be spoken, but I am recognised by each of the women present, clasped around their lifted hands, heavy on their hearts. I am their fears, and their lucky escapes, their anger, and their wariness. I am their caution and their yesterdays, the shadow version of themselves all those nights they have spent looking over their shoulders, or twisting keys between fingers.”

Timely, brave and thought-provoking, this book feels all the more pertinent with the Sarah Everard case fresh in our minds. The author explores the things that as women we have to be aware of each day, the threat we face from the men who lurk in the shadows waiting to strike. She talks about how we feel we have to smile and act a certain way, say the right things, dampen the threat, and how the onus is put on us instead of society asking those men to change. I feel like the tides are turning now though, and that this book will help ignite much-needed discussion.

“I’m ready to tell you a little more now. Stay with me as we take that closer look. But don’t you believe a single thing he said about me.”

Atmospheric, powerful, enthralling and unflinching, the answers unfold slowly in this novel. Alice is unable to speak her secrets at first, the horror of what she suffered affecting her even after she’s left this earth. The reader learns the truth almost in sync with Ruby, keeping me guessing right up until the big reveal. 

Before You Knew My Name is a phenomenal debut that stands out amongst the many mystery and thriller books I’ve read over the years. Jacqueline Bublitz is an extraordinary talent and an author to watch. I for one will be reading anything she writes. 

READ IT NOW!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

TW: Sexual assault, PTSD

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jacqueline ‘Rock’ Bublitz is a writer, feminist, and arachnophobe, who lives between Melbourne, Australia and her hometown on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

She wrote her debut novel Before You Knew My Name after spending a summer in New York, where she hung around morgues and the dark corners of city parks (and the human psyche) far too often.

She is now working on her second novel, where she continues to explore the grand themes of love, loss and connection.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Painting by Alison Booth

Published: July 15th, 2021
Publisher: Red Door Press
Genre: General Fiction, Mystery, Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this moving novel. Thank you to Midas PR for the invitation to take part and Red Door Press for the ARC.

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MY SYNOPSIS:

A young Hungarian woman confronts her family’s past in an engrossing quest for a stolen painting.

When Anika Molnar flees her home country of Hungary not long before the break-up of the Soviet Union, she carries only a small suitcase – and a beautiful and much-loved painting of an auburn-haired woman in a cobalt blue dress from her family’s hidden collection.

Arriving in Australia, Anika moves in with her aunt in Sydney, and the painting hangs in pride of place in her bedroom. But one day it is stolen in what seems to be a carefully planned theft, and Anika’s carefree life takes a more ominous turn.

Sinister secrets from her family’s past and Hungary’s fraught history cast suspicion over the painting’s provenance, and she embarks on a gripping quest to uncover the truth.

Hungary’s war-torn past contrasts sharply with Australia’s bright new world of opportunity in this moving and compelling mystery.

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MY REVIEW:

“The portrait was home, it was family, it was the uncle she’d never met, it had become a part of who she was.”

The Painting is an simple yet enlightening portrait of totalitarianism, immigration, family and self-discovery.  It tells the story of Anika, a Hungarian immigrant living in Australia with her Aunt after being forced to flee her oppressive homeland during communist rule. One of the few possessions she brought with her was a painting from her family’s secret collection that she is shocked to discover is actually a very valuable piece by a French Impressionist. When it is then stolen in what looks like a targeted theft, questions about the painting’s origin force Anika to face uncomfortable questions about her family’s past. 

After loving the author’s novel The Philosopher’s Daughter last year, I jumped at the chance to take part in the blog tour for this book. Compelling, mysterious and skillfully written, the author drew me into Anika’s world, taking me back to a period in time that I knew little about, offering me the chance to be educated while also being entertained. 

“A cobweb of lies and concealments, that’s what a police state was. That’s what families became.”

The book is clearly well researched and the author writes with compassion, bringing  to life the fear and suspicion that grips those who lived under the communist regime before the fall of the Soviet Union. Anika and her family are unable to communicate freely as the secret police listen to their phone calls and open their letters and after the break in she is scared to reveal any emotion or give information to the police even though they are there to help her. I think where we see the greatest effect of her upbringing though is in her distrust of everyone she meets. She is suspicious and unable to put her faith in anyone but her family, which affects every facet of her life. It can’t be easy to alter your entire way of thinking, and I enjoyed watching Anika’s journey as she slowly learned to see the world in a different way. 

“She felt sick at heart about what she might discover in Budapest. It could blow her family apart. She would have to take things slowly, very slowly. One question at a time.”

When Anika learns the true origins of the painting her whole world falls apart and she is forced to question what secrets her family might be hiding. How did her grandparents amass their secret art collection? Could there be more to their secrecy than fear of the Hungarian secret police? She has to confront the fact that they could be very different people from who she has always believed and I admired her bravery in seeking the truth at the cost of her own comfort. I appreciated the sympathy with which the author wrote these parts of the story, making me feel like I really understood Anika’s anxiety, heartache, and the strength it took her to find answers. 

This book surprised me. I was expecting a book that focused on an investigation into the missing painting but instead found myself reading a story that focused on what the painting meant to Anika and the other characters. The author intricately weaves their stories together, crafting a captivating and moving novel that I would definitely recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Alison Booth was born in Melbourne and grew up in Sydney. She is a professor at the Australian National University and the author of three novels: Stillwater CreekThe Indigo Sky and A Distant Land, all set in the fictional town of Jingera. She lives with her husband in Canberra’s inner north, and has spent two decades living and working in the UK.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

*********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx