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

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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
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

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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

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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
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

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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
Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

Welcome to First Lines Friday, where I share the first lines from one of the books on my shelves to try and tempt you to add it to yours. 

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“Malibu catches fire.
It is simply what Malibu does from time to time.
Tornadoes take the flatlands of the Midwest. Floods rise in the American South. Hurricanes rage against the Gulf of Mexico.
And California burns.”

Today’s first lines are taken from Malibu Rising, which is one of my highly anticipated summer reads.

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SYNOPSIS:

A lifetime holding it together.
One party will bring it crashing down.

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over-especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control.
By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames.

But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.

Malibu Rising is a story about one unforgettable night in the life of a family: the night they each have to choose what they will keep from the people who made them . . . and what they will leave behind.

Buy here*

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What books are you excited to read this summer? Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. See you next week for more first lines xxx

*This is an affiliate link

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this beautifully told story. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Manilla Press for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

She walks unseen through our world.
Cares for our children, cleans our homes.
She has a story to tell.
Will you listen?

Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. By day she cares for Petra’s daughter; at night she mothers her own little girl by the light of a phone.

Nisha’s lover, Yiannis, is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their way to Africa each winter. His dreams of a new life, and of marrying Nisha, are shattered when she vanishes.

No one cares about the disappearance of a domestic worker, except Petra and Yiannis. As they set out to search for her, they realise how little they know about Nisha. What they uncover will change them all.

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MY REVIEW:

‘Isn’t it funny,’ Aliki said, in her most adult voice, ‘that you saw everything but yourself ?’

Songbirds is a beautifully written story that gives a voice to the voiceless. Using her exquisite storytelling, Christy Leferti explores the world of migrant and transient workers, showing why they leave their families, including children, behind and travel thousands of miles to work only to be mistreated and abused. They are also encumbered by huge debts owed to those who facilitate their new jobs. They are unseen and unheard, their own lives and stories of no consequence to anyone but themselves and others like them.

Nisha is a character we only get to know through others, which reinforces the sense of invisibility that surrounds her and women like her. Petra and Yannis are the ones to narrate and reveal her story, and Petra in particular realises that she knows nothing about Nisha, despite the fact this woman has lived in her home for nine years and cares for her daughter.  She also shines a light on the institutionalised racism towards these workers that runs so deep that authorities won’t search for them if they go missing, instead simply assuming they have moved on. 

‘What they uncover will change them all.’

There are themes of bondage and captivity woven throughout this story in a variety of ways. As we learn more about the exploitative situations Nisha and other domestic workers often end up in, we see that what they believe to be their escape, is actually a bigger prison than they left behind. Yannis is caught in the web of his black market dealings and unable to escape them, and finally Petra is an emotional captive, frozen stagnant after her husband’s death to the detriment of her relationship with her daughter. 

Harrowing, heartbreaking and powerful, this is  a story that needed to be told and demands to be read. A story that reminds us you can find beauty and joy in the darkest of places. It will move you, anger you, and hopefully spark a greater understanding and empathy for the people whose stories it tells. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Brought up in London, Christy Lefteri is the child of Cypriot refugees. She is a lecturer in creative writing at Brunel University. The Beekeeper of Aleppo was born out of her time working as a volunteer at a Unicef supported refugee centre in Athens.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Bookshop.org* | Amazon* | Apple Books | Kobo
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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Ad book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Hollows by Mark Edwards

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Suspense
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

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SYNOPSIS:

From the bestselling author of The House Guest comes a chilling story set deep in the woods…

With his marriage over and his career in freefall, journalist Tom decides to reconnect with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Frankie. Desperate to spend precious time together now that they live an ocean apart, he brings her to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort deep in the woods of Maine.

From the outset there’s something a little eerie about the place―strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest―but when Tom meets true-crime podcasters David and Connie, he receives a chilling warning. Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.

It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can.

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MY REVIEW:

“We are the scary ones. And these woods are ours.”

Mark Edwards is the king of psychological suspense. And any book he releases is an absolute must-read for me. But I was especially excited to read The Hollows as he mixes psychological suspense with true crime, which is one of my favourite genres.

With that now familiar mix of apprehension, malevolence and humour, Edwards slowly weaves the ominous tale, transporting us to Hollow Falls, Maine; a camping ground with a dark history that Tom Anderson knew nothing about when he arrived there with his daughter Frankie. Strange things soon begin to occur and journalist Tom can’t resist digging deeper into the mysterious tale of an unsolved double homicide that occurred there twenty years ago. But the more he learns, the stranger things become. And soon Tom must choose between solving the crime and getting out of Hollow Falls while he still can…

“Tonight marks the new moon.
A new phase – not only in the lunar cycle, but in the history of the Hollows.
A beginning, and an end.”

Sinister, suspenseful and spectacular, The Hollows exceeded my already high expectations. It is so expertly written that you forget it is fiction. It is all just so flawless and authentic that you buy it, and I had to keep reminding myself that this wasn’t a true crime book, that these murders are fictional, and that there was no point searching for David and Connie’s podcast as it doesn’t exist. Hollow Falls had an ominous and eerie presence that loomed over everything.  It feels alive. And Edwards’ evocative imagery makes it leap from the page. I was hooked from beginning to end and found it impossible to put down.

I really liked Tom. He and Frankie were great narrators and their complex relationship made the story even more interesting. While reading from a teenage point of view made me feel old, the author has got the feeling and lingo down perfectly. As always he filled the book with a cast of equally fascinating and memorable characters. Buddy and Darlene were especially creepy, giving me chills every time they appeared on the page. One of my favourite tropes in a thriller is when an author includes a mystery narrator that we assume is the killer, so I loved that he included the enigmatic third narrator. These chapters, which were told in flashbacks that led up to the infamous crime, not only gave us an insight into the killer’s mind and motivations, but increased the tension. 

“Why was this slaying so notorious? Why had it brought all these dark tourists flocking to this place?” 

I loved that Edwards uses this book to not only send shivers down your spine, but also to explore our fascination with true crime. As an avid true crime reader I admit to feeling called out a few times, but not in a judgmental or negative way. It is more like a commentary on the culture of true crime, exploring why so many of us are fascinated with the subject and examines the impact that a famous case has on the place where the crime was committed, its residents and those directly affected by the crime. He explores the phenomenon of dark tourism, and this is where I learned a lot as I had no idea just how big and lucrative an industry it has become. It is clear he’s spent a lot of time researching from how vast his knowledge is and how authentically the book reads. 

Cryptic, eerie and addictive, this is without a doubt his best book yet. And that ending? Omg! This book is the perfect example of why everyone who enjoys this genre needs to read his books. I am going to need a follow up,  Mr. Edwards. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers about ordinary people who encounter terrifying events. He has been described as ‘a can’t-miss king of psychological suspense’ by thriller author Brad Parks and ‘a natural born storyteller with the darkest of imaginations’ by crime writer Fiona Cummins.

He has sold more than three million copies of his books and topped the bestseller lists numerous times since his first solo novel, The Magpies, was published in 2013. 

His other novels are What You Wish For, Because She Loves MeFollow You HomeThe Devil’s WorkThe Lucky OnesThe RetreatIn Her ShadowHere To Stay and The House Guest. He has also published two short sequels to The Magpies, A Murder of Magpies and Last of The Magpies, and six books co-authored with Louise Voss.

Many of his books have been translated into foreign languages including French, German, Italian, Spanish, Estonian, Thai, Lithuanian, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish and Russian.

In 2019 Mark won The Cat and Mouse Award for Most Elusive Villain at the Dead Good Reader Awards for Last of the Magpies.

Mark loves hearing from his readers and encourages them to contact him. He regularly interacts with readers on his Facebook page, where he hosts book release launch parties and lots of giveaways.

Mark lives in the West Midlands, England, with his wife, their three children and their three cats.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you Thomas and Mercer for the gifted copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

Welcome to First Lines Friday, where I share the first lines from one of the books on my shelves to try and tempt you to add it to yours. 

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“You can tell a lot about a person from the library books they borrow.”

Today’s first line is taken from The Last Library by Freya Sampson, which is published on September 2nd. I love the sound of this one and was so excited to receive this gorgeous personalised proof earlier this week.

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SYNOPSIS:

Library assistant June knows a lot about the regulars at Chalcot Library, yet they know very little about her. When her mum – the beloved local librarian – passed away eight years ago, June stepped into her shoes. But despite their shared love of books, shy June has never felt she can live up to the village’s memory of her mum. Instead, she’s retreated into herself and her memories, surviving on Chinese takeaways-for-one and rereading their favourite books at home.

When the library is threatened with closure, a ragtag band of eccentric locals establish the Friends of Chalcot Library campaign. There’s gentlemanly pensioner Stanley, who visits the library for the computers and the crosswords, cantankerous Mrs B, who is yet to find a book she approves of, and teenager Chantal, who just wants a quiet place to study away from home. But can they compel reclusive June to join their cause?

If June wants to save the library, she finally has to make some changes to her life: opening up her heart to friendship, opportunities and maybe even more . . .

You can pre-order the book here*

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Do you agree that you can tell a lot about someone from the books they read? Let me know in the comments.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. See you next week for more first lines xxx

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