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SQUADPOD SANTEMBER – Extract: The Disassembly of Dorren Durand by Ryan Collett

Published: May 13th, 2021
Publisher: Sandstone Press
Genre: General Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

As part of the Squadpod’s Sandtember, I’m featuring an extract from The Disassembly of Doreen Durant on the blog today. Thank you to Sandstone for the extract and proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

From her apartment window, Doreen Durand witnesses a horrific accident.
The police want to know what she saw. Doreen doesn’t want to tell them – or anyone. But when she runs away it’s straight into the fantastic world of the wealthy and mysterious Violet Cascade. With one rogue police officer in pursuit, and life becoming more bizarre by the day, Doreen is caught up in a surreal game of cat and mouse.

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EXTRACT:

Chapter One.

The first weekend after Whitney left, a man showed up at the apartment unannounced. He knocked on the door too many times in a row, then rang the doorbell. Doreen ignored it at first – slightly scared, but also sleepily negligent – but when he drilled one more ungodly time on the doorbell, she pushed her hair around into something not haphazard, slipped on a pair of sweatpants, and answered it.
‘Whitney, right?’ said an older, grizzled man. He wore a stained t-shirt that wrapped too-tight around his globe of a gut and extended a callused hand in greeting. ‘I’m Jack.’
‘Sorry, no,’ said Doreen, not saying her name and not taking his hand. 
‘I’m here for the couch.’
‘The couch? What?’
‘You must be the roommate. Whitney gave me the address. I’m here for the couch you girls were selling.’
Doreen looked over her shoulder at the sofa in the living room, one of the few things Whitney had left. There was the sofa, a coffee table, an empty TV stand, and not much else. ‘I didn’t know she was selling it,’ Doreen said to the sofa. Jack craned his neck to try to see around her. 
‘I’m sorry, I don’t want to cause a fuss,’ he said. ‘She posted an ad for the couch the other day. I said I was interested and we made a deal over email. I already sent her a hundred bucks – pretty good deal for a couch that nice. She said this morning would be a good time to pick it up. She said you might be the only one here, but it was fine to stop by.’ 
‘Right,’ said Doreen. She picked at nothing behind her ear and squinted at the man. ‘I guess, yeah, you have to take it. Sure.’
Jack called down to a younger man who had been waiting in a pickup truck in the parking lot and the two of them came inside, thudding across the living room carpet in heavy, dusty boots, Saturday-sweaty. They lifted the long sofa, but struggled to shimmy it out the front door. The apartment was built in the seventies – Whitney said she had had to sign a waiver about lead paint or something – and its age showed whenever furniture was moved around like this. The floor creaked, the walls were too easily scuffed. The wood around the doorframe might as well have been made of fabric and seemed to stretch around the sofa squeezing through. 
‘That’s it. There we go,’ said Jack. They marched it down to the pickup and threw it in the back. After they had it secured, Jack turned and nodded a mannish goodbye up at Doreen on the balcony, who shrugged and went back inside. 
A brighter rectangle of carpet remained where the couch had been. Whitney had bought it, so she had sold it. That was it. Logic, running its course around Doreen like a river running dry. 
What else had she bought? Doreen paced around and took inventory of all the things in her life that were not her own and could also vanish without warning. It was true, she hadn’t bought any of the furniture in the apartment – Whitney had been living there for almost a year before she came along – but the sudden removal was still jarring. For a minute, it felt like her life was being uprooted without her, but that was followed quickly by the realization that these roots were never hers to begin with.
This scene repeated itself all weekend and the following weekend as well. With no warning, strangers showed up at the apartment asking for Whitney, explaining the transaction they had made and requesting entry. One after the other, the coffee table, the TV stand, the kitchen table and chairs, the decorative poufs, a mirror – all disappeared, taken away by strangers – men and women of varying ages and degrees of inclination towards small talk, like ants touring the shell of some dead animal, taking what they needed. 
After the second weekend of this, Doreen still hadn’t communicated with Whitney. An aggressive-aggressive text message would have been more than appropriate to send by now, but she didn’t. 
It wasn’t that she was actively refusing to communicate – the idea of reaching out, of snidely asking if anyone else would be coming by, just wasn’t there to be had. She sat on the carpet in the empty living room alone and did nothing while the dwelling around her disappeared. The trappings of life flew away. Sounds reverberated differently in the emptiness. She had no idea what to do with herself.
She started letting things go. Nothing extraordinary, but little things like letting the few dishes that were left pile up in the sink, leaving wrappers and pop cans on the floor, letting the long black tails of chargers for different electronics dangle out across the living room. It wasn’t depression, she thought, it was simply a letting go. A closing. She felt a valve in her mind turn off, and another turn on, leading somewhere else, with some other function entirely. There was a miraculousness to it. She felt weightless. She had read once, in some quasi-self-help, tip-ridden pop-up article, about the importance of letting go – a more dressed-up version of spring cleaning, sponsored by a cleaning company – and how it could clean the mind, reformat the authenticity of life. Doreen wasn’t sure this was what was happening to her, but whatever was happening she allowed it. 
She lost track of time. She started to forget things, like turning the lights off in the kitchen or in the living room before bed, leaving them on all night. Other times, she’d spend a whole day forgetting to turn them on, dwelling in the dark. She would run the air conditioner at arctic levels or not at all. She started sleeping at odd times throughout the day, napping all the time. She went to work, then came home and disrobed right in the living room, leaving her clothes on the floor. She dragged Whitney’s bare mattress into the living room and fashioned it into a couch, which became a multi-purpose nest as the clutter gathered, until another stranger came and took that away, so then she dragged her own mattress out and never slept in her bedroom again. 
After nearly two months of this, like an amoeba left to morph and transform (some might say break down), new household problems cropped up. That strange smell from the laundry machine – maybe it wasn’t mold, maybe there was a dead rat behind it, Doreen wondered but did nothing about it – then the rust forming in the tub. The toilet and the kitchen sink continually clogging. These combined dangerously with her new listlessness – outliers that threatened to taint the overall image of her well-being as not one of letting go and living lightly, but one of neglect and mental illness. Objectively speaking, anyone stepping foot in that apartment would see more than a few reasons for concern, but after the strangers stopped coming to take her things away, she was left alone. 
The only person who saw the inside of Doreen’s apartment now was a delivery boy named Tyler, who caught glimpses of the chaos behind her when she opened the door for her dinner. She had stopped grocery shopping entirely and had taken to ordering in expensive meals every night when she came home from work. Money was another thing she felt herself letting go and she let it fly, ordering the best meals from the best places.
‘Sorry, I know it’s probably not my place to ask, but are you OK?’ Tyler finally asked one evening. He had just dropped off a platter of sushi. 
‘What do you mean?’ said Doreen. She leaned out. Her long hair draped like a privacy curtain between him and the scene behind her. He craned his neck to see past her. He shrugged.
‘You’re ordering food every night, tipping me way too much money, and – I don’t want to be rude – but your apartment looks kind of messed up.’
‘Messed up?’ Doreen adjusted her jacket. She was still wearing her work clothes on this occasion. She looked professional, with a blue blouse with a high collar, a dark skirt, and a freshly dry-cleaned white jacket. Behind her though, was a nest of blankets, empty take-out boxes covered in crumbs, unopened mail, cords for electronics, silverware, mugs. Also, all of the lights were off and the blinds were closed. Doreen and Tyler were standing in almost total darkness. 
‘Not messed up,’ said Tyler. ‘It’s just that it doesn’t seem healthy to still have your take-out boxes from yesterday and the day before all thrown around back there. It looks like you’ve just let the trash stay there. And the lights are always off. Did they cut your power or something? Do you have any furniture?’
‘How would I have charged my phone and used it to order dinner if I didn’t have power?’ said Doreen without missing a beat. 
Tyler fumbled over himself.
‘I’m sorry, I was just saying—’ 
Doreen leaned back into the living room and turned on the light, the mess behind her lit up in all its glory, then she stepped outside and stood next to Tyler, closing the door behind her. The two of them faced each other, illuminated by the orange glow through the window. Shadows cut across Doreen’s diamond-shaped face. 
‘Is that better?’ she asked. ‘Now that you can’t see it? 
‘I just wanted to make sure everything was OK,’ said Tyler. ‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said anything.’
‘No, you shouldn’t have.’ 
The next evening, when Tyler came back with a bacon cheeseburger, two orders of sweet potato fries, and a strawberry shake from a hip new gastropub, Doreen was standing outside the front door already, waiting for him. The porch light was on this time and the door was closed behind her. She accepted the food, thanked Tyler and stayed standing there until he left. He got on his motorcycle, consulted his phone for his next delivery, and drove off. Once he was out of the complex and Doreen could no longer hear his motorcycle bumbling off into the night, she finally went inside and closed the door. Nothing had appeared out of the ordinary this time except for a small pile of dead grass, dirt, and a bottle cap on the ground, and the porch light itself, which had been twisted upside down. 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ryan Collett is a writer, knitter, and animator. He grew up in Oregon and now lives in London where he works as an editor. He also runs a popular YouTube…

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BUY THE BOOK:

Sandstone Press | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

*These links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours Book Features book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Published: October 28th, 2021
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback, Hardback, Kindle, Audiobook

Shiver was one of my favourite books of 2020 so I was thrilled to be asked to take part in the blog tour for its paperback publication.

This exhilarating debut sold in a ten-way auction to Headline UK in partnership with Hachette Australia. It has now sold in 23 territories and Firebird Pictures have optioned it for a TV series.

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SYNOPSIS:

They don’t know what I did. And I intend to keep it that way.

How far would you go to win? Hyper-competitive people, mind games and a dangerous natural environment combine to make the must-read thriller of the year. Fans of Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell will be gripped by spectacular debut novel Shiver.

When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.

The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.

In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.

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MY REVIEW:

“It’s that time of year again. The time the glacier gives up bodies.”

Wow! What a book! A deliciously dark, chilling, tense and twisty tour-de-force, this was hard to put down. 

Shiver was one of my most highly anticipated books of 2021, and had received a lot of praise and hype even prior to publication. I’m happy to tell you that every bit of it is deserved. 

Milla, a former semi-pro snowboarder, returns to Le Rocher for a reunion with five of her  friends. It’s the first time they’ve all been together in ten years. Since Saskia disappeared.

They start the weekend with an icebreaker game that quickly turns sinister and forces them to question who brought them together and why. Trapped together on a deserted glacier they don’t know who to trust or how far some will go to uncover the truth about what really happened on the mountain a decade ago…

“He doesn’t know what I did. None of them do. And I intend to keep it that way.”

An electrifying, high-octane thrill ride, this addictive and atmospheric read had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. 

Told in the present day and flashbacks to ten years ago, we see the story through the eyes of Milla, who I instantly felt a connection to as she hails from my hometown of Sheffield. Milla is haunted by events from the last time she was at Le Rocher, by a body yet to be given up by the glacier and a dark secret she desperately hopes to keep unveiled. I liked Milla and found her to be a compelling and relatable protagonist. In fact, all of the characters are compelling and richly drawn with backstories that keep you glued to the page. The claustrophobic dynamics of living and competing together on the mountain is ripe for conflict and the author mines this to perfection both in the flashbacks and in the present day. 

Though she’s an awful person, I loved Saskia’s character and thought she was fantastically written. As we only ever see her through Milla’s eyes it’s obviously a skewed opinion we have of her, but to be fair, I don’t think there’s much that could redeem her character. Despite the extremes she goes to, it all feels realistic and I could imagine someone who is both competitive and of questionable morals behaving that way to keep ahead. She gave the story a sense of foreboding and tension that made me keep reading as I needed to know what she’d do next and what had really happened to her. 

“I soar above the ice, mind pure and empty, seeing nothing, hearing nothing. Only feeling. These precious moments of weightlessness at the top of the arc, suspended by gravity.”

Allie Reynolds is a former freestyle snowboarder and you can feel the authenticity of her expertise in the writing. The imagery, emotions and little details are all so transportive and on point that it is clear she has lived this. I felt like I was flying through the air with Milla and could almost feel the icy air of the French Alps. There were times that the book had a cinematic quality to it and I could definitely see this on the big screen one day. 

So if you’re looking for a book that’s dripping with suspense, an atmosphere thick with malevolence and will have your heart pounding, this is the book for you. 

An outstanding debut by a talent that is one to watch, don’t miss this book. 

 Rating: ✮✮✮✮. 5 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From the author’s website:

I was once a freestyle snowboarder in the UK top ten at halfpipe. I spent five winters in the mountains of France, Switzerland, Austria and Canada.

I taught English for fifteen years. I’ve also been a London primary school teacher, bookshop assistant, barmaid, nanny and French teacher/translator. My short fiction has appeared in women’s magazines in the UK, Australia, Sweden and South Africa. I’ve been a full-time writer since 2018.

Born and raised in England, I moved to Gold Coast Australia in 2003. I have two young children and a cat who thinks he’s a dog.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| 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

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Book Features Cover Reveal Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Cover Reveal: Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Sutanto

Happy Friday Bibliophiles! Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in an exciting cover reveal in collaboration with HQ.

Prepare for the return of Meddy and her meddling aunties in #FourAunties and a Wedding, the hilarious sequel to Jesse Sutano’s #DialAForAunties! They vow to make it a day to remember… 👰🏻

SYNOPSIS:

They vow to make it a day to remember…

After Meddy Chan and her aunties got away with literal murder, she’s hoping for a quieter life. She’s happily coupled up with love of her Nathan, and excited to plan her dream wedding. She just needs to keep her family from interfering too much.

Meddy has dreamt of her wedding day but with the Chans involved, this is going to be a wedding day you’ll never forget…

Four Aunties and a Wedding is published March 3rd 2022. RSVP here.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jesse Q. Sutanto is the author of adult, YA, and children’s middle grade books. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from Oxford University, though she hasn’t found a way of saying that without sounding obnoxious. The film rights to her women’s fiction, Dial A for Aunties, was bought by Netflix in a competitive bidding war. Her adult books include Dial A for Aunties and its sequel, Four Aunties and a Wedding. Her YA books include The Obsession, The New Girl, and her upcoming romcom, Well, That Was Unexpected. Her MG books include Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit and an untitled sequel. 

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Cheltenham Literature Festival

Today I’m taking part in a blog tour that’s a little bit different. I was contacted by Midas PR asking if I would like to take part in a tour to celebrate the return of Cheltenham Literature Festival. They sent me a surprise book from an author who was appearing at the event, which I’m featuring today along with some information about the festival itself.

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I was thrilled to discover that the book I’ve been sent is Murder Isn’t Easy by Carla Valentine as this is one of my most anticipated October releases. I was so excited when I found out and can’t wait to read this fascinating book.

SYNOPSIS:

While other children were devouring the works of Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter, Carla Valentine was poring through the pages of Agatha Christie novels. It was this early fascination that led to her job as a pathology technician, trained in forensics and working in mortuaries.

Nearly every Agatha Christie story involves one – or, more commonly, several – dead bodies, and for a young Carla, a curious child already fascinated with biology, these stories and these bodies were perfect puzzles.

Of course, Agatha herself didn’t talk of ‘forensics’ in the way we use it now, but in each tale she writes of twists and turns with her expert weave of human observation, ingenuity and genuine science of the era. Through the medium of the ‘whodunnit’, Agatha Christie was a pioneer of forensic science, and in Murder Isn’t Easy Carla illuminates all of the knowledge of one of our most beloved authors.

Published October 21st by Sphere books

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From Amazon UK: I’m a qualified Anatomical Pathology Technologist (Mortuary Technician) who assisted pathologists with autopsies for almost 10 years. I’m now the technical curator of a Pathology Museum, author and broadcaster and after I finish my Masters Degree I hope to write more books!

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BUY THE BOOK

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

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ABOUT CHELTENHAM LITERATURE FESTIVAL

*Taken from the website*
Cheltenham Literature Festival is the world’s first literature festival, leading the way in celebrating the written and spoken word, presenting the best new voices in fiction and poetry alongside literary greats and high-profile speakers, while inspiring over 9,000 school children with a love of books through its Literature for Schools programme. 

Cheltenham Literature Festival is part of  Cheltenham Festivals – a charity delivering a pioneering year-round educational programme culminating in four internationally-acclaimed Jazz, Science, Music and Literature Festivals. Cheltenham Festivals creates experiences that bring joy, spark curiosity, connect communities and inspire change.

The Festival has an accompanying year-round programme of education and talent development outreach including its flagship Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils project which has rolled out nationally, enabling teachers and their pupils to rediscover the joy of reading. The other programmes include: the award-winning Beyond Words, a creative writing project working with vulnerable young people unable to access mainstream education in Gloucestershire, Words That Burn, a national human rights poetry project created in partnership with Amnesty International and Write Now, a unique mentoring, workshop and networking project that nurtures young people’s creative writing abilities.

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The festival is taking place both in person and online in 2021. Events take place 8th-17th October.

You can book tickets to watch online here and find tickets for in-person events here.

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Book Features 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. 

It’s not the killing, that’s not the thing. Gotta watch, moniter, think, a lot, and – come the time – carve into the void. That’s it. Carve into the void. Find a way to make the universe shrink, to make it shrink till it’s condensed into the barrel of the gun or the point of the knife. That’s all. Don’t ask any questions, don’t be driven by anger, choose protocol, and proceed methodically.”

Today’s captivating first lines are taken from the international bestseller, The Anomaly by Hervé le Tellier., which is published in the UK on January 20th. I was fortunate to recently receive a copy along with some great book swag and I’m looking forward to diving into this one very soon.

SYNOPSIS:

WINNER OF THE PRIX GONCOURT. 1 MILLION COPIES SOLD. AN INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON.

What do you do if your life is no longer your own?

When flight Air France 006 enters a terrifying storm, the plane – inexplicably – duplicates. For every passenger on board that day, there are now two – a double with the same mind, body and memories.

Just one thing sets them apart. One plane leaves the storm in March. The other doesn’t land until June. For world leaders, the emergence of the June flight raises serious alarms. No science, faith, or protocol can explain this unprecedented event.

But for the passengers, a bigger question is at stake. What happens to them, now that their life is shared? What happens to those who land in June, when their March doubles make decisions that will change their lives forever?

And as the doubles prepare to meet, they have an extraordinary decision to make.

If there are two of them, and just one life – who gets to live it?

A runaway bestseller and winner of the 2020 Prix Goncourt, The Anomaly is a genre-defying, whip-smart novel that explores the very essence of who we are.

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How amazing does that sound? If I’ve tempted you, then you can pre-order your copy here*

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

*This is an affiliate link

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Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this breathtaking thriller. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

SOME LESSONS CAN BE DEADLY . . .

Teddy Crutcher won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious 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 he doesn’t let anything distract him – even the tragic death of a school parent.
Even when the whispers start, saying 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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MY REVIEW:

Dark academia, deadly secrets and a dash of poison. A teacher who will do anything for his students. Entitled rich kids and their parents who will do whatever it takes to guarantee their success. But it’s all for your own good…

Samantha Downing is one of the freshest and most outstanding voices in thriller fiction today. So when I heard her latest book was dark academia and has been optioned by HBO Max and Robert Downey Jnr, I was there with bells on. As a huge fan of this author, my expectations were high, and she blew them out of the water.

Unnerving, atmospheric and intriguing, For Your Own Good is a Russian doll of a book; so many hidden layers, secrets, twists and turns just waiting to be revealed. And every time you think you have it figured out, you find something else nesting inside. Exquisitely written, cleverly crafted, and deftly told, Ms. Downing just gets better and better. She had me so transfixed that I couldn’t stop thinking about the book and felt desperate to get back to it when I wasn’t reading. 

The story is told from multiple points of view, taking us inside the minds of students and teachers at Belmont Academy, a private prep school full of entitled rich students under pressure to be the best of the best. Only the elite attend. And kids find themselves caught between demanding teachers and parents who will accept nothing but the best from them. It’s for them, they are told. For their futures. So they don’t complain or argue. They endure and survive. 

This is a book filled with deeply flawed characters. Even the most likeable ones are not always what they first appear to be; something darker lurking beneath the surface. They all have their masks they wear to make it through each day: whether it’s Teddy and his perfect teacher mode, Sonia telling herself that “today will be a good day” and talking herself down from her competitiveness, or Zach plastering on a smile and nodding in agreement with his parents or teachers while dying inside. They are all brilliantly written, the author once again using her skill of bringing characters to life to evoke a visceral reaction in the reader. 

Our main protagonist is Teddy Crutcher. Recently crowned Teacher of the Year, Teddy is a petty, bitter man with a superiority complex. He seems to dislike everyone, thinking the worst of them, and delights in doing anything possible to pull them down or take revenge over the smallest perceived slight. But he tells himself he’s helping them, making them better people and teaching them life lessons. And he’s willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do that. Including murder. Teddy is brilliantly written. He’s instantly unlikeable, though the true depths of his villainy are hidden behind a mask of professionalism  and delusion. Cold, callous and calculating, the truly frightening thing about him is that he is totally unapologetic of his actions, even proud of them, and sees himself as these people’s saviour. All while plotting their downfall and demise. 

Deliciously dark, devious and menacing, the tension rises with every shocking twist in this propulsive thriller. It will make your jaw hit the floor and leave you reeling. But the author balances that with moments of dark humour and emotion that enhance the charm of this book. If you love a well-written and atmospheric thriller, then this is for you. Read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Downing is the author of the bestselling My Lovely Wife, nominated for Edgar, ITW, Macavity, and CWA awards. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel. Her second book, He Started It, was released in 2020 and became an instant international bestseller.

For Your Own Good was released on July 20, 2021. It has been optioned by Robert Downey Jr. and Greg Berlanti for HBO Max.

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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 review from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Book Features

Blog Tour – Extract: The House of Whispers by Anna Kent

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Ghost Story, Supernatural Fiction, Domestic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Today I’m delighted to share and extract from this creepy psychological thriller. Thank you to Becky at Midas PR for the invitation to take part and HQ for the eBook ARC.

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EXTRACT:

PROLOGUE:

Transcript of interview with Mr Rohan Allerton, husband of Abigail Allerton: 20 December 2019

‘So, let’s rewind right to the beginning. When was it that you first suspected that something might be wrong?’
‘It’s really hard to say. Abi’s always been a bit of an oddball.
It’s what I love about her. She has what I call… “quirks”, but I put that down to her being so talented. You know she’s an artist?
Her work is sublime, and I always think that, with such talent, comes a degree of… [cough] “individuality”? “Uniqueness”? [pause] I guess what I’m saying is that it’s hard to tell where that ended and… Look: I thought things were pretty normal, given that one of us was an artist. I wasn’t looking for signs. I wasn’t on high alert.’
‘But if you had to pin it down? How long ago are we talking?’
‘I guess last summer. Do you remember how hot it was? God.
Our house is old. It traps the heat. It rises, right up to the attic where she works. Maybe that had something to do with it. Stuck up there all day, stewing in the heat. I don’t know. Even my mum said she wasn’t herself.’
‘And did she have any ideas on what might be the root of the problem?’
[Laughs] ‘Let’s not go there! But, yeah, I suppose it was the summer when I knew something was up with Abi. I felt she might be hiding something from me… To be honest, I thought she might be pregnant.’
‘And would that be a problem? Something you would describe as “wrong”?’
‘Oh God, no. Not at all. It would be right. All right. We’ve been trying for over a year.’
‘I see. But she wasn’t pregnant?’
‘No. She wasn’t pregnant.’


One

I didn’t tell Rohan straight away that Grace was coming back. The morning that I got her email, I started to tell him, but then I held the thought inside me, like a breath. Inviting her to stay with us was a huge decision. I knew it would change everything.
It was 7.30 a.m. and already the air in the kitchen was stifling; residual heat from the long days of the heatwave was an unwelcome guest trapped in the ceilings and walls of the house, like a ghost.
London was suffocating.
‘Darling,’ I’d begun, thinking at that point that I would tell him – not just about Grace, but everything – the whole story.
Ridiculous, really, but it was honestly what I was thinking that sweltering morning. We were sitting at the small table in the kitchen, and the back door was propped open to suck in what reluctant breeze there might be. I was nursing a coffee and my husband, ready in his work shirt, his silk tie slung over his shoulder, was eating scrambled eggs on toast. Already I could see the fabric of his shirt darkening under his arms.
But he hadn’t heard me. Maybe I hadn’t said it loud enough; maybe I hadn’t said it out loud at all – I don’t like to think he ignored me. The unresolved issue of what we were going to do about New York hung in the air between us, crackling like an electrical charge. I was still upset with him and he knew it. The fine hairs on my forearms tickled under a sheen of sweat. A fly, gleaming metallic blue, circled lazily over the fruit bowl. The
coffee made me sweat more; I pushed it away.
‘So, what are you up to today?’ Rohan said. ‘More pets?’ He shook his head and tutted, but he was smiling. ‘I don’t know why you do it. You should be focusing on your real work: going to galleries, looking at books – I don’t know. Nobody ever got inspired painting dogs. And no gallery ever bought Rufus – the Series.’ He laughed.
I closed my eyes as I let out an imperceptible sigh. We’d been here before. ‘As Picasso said,’ I told him, ‘“inspiration exists – but it has to find us working.”’
Rohan moved his head in time with the words; he’d heard that before, too.
‘I’m doing a home visit today,’ I said.
His eyebrows shot up. ‘A home visit?’
‘Yep.’
Rohan looked at me then, his head tilted; the ghost of a frown lining his forehead. ‘I thought they were supposed to upload photos. Wasn’t that the whole point of the website?’ He shook his head and smiled indulgently. ‘You’re too soft.’ I went over to him and put my hands on his shoulders, feeling the heat of his skin under his shirt as I gave him a little massage.
‘It’s a one-off.’
Rohan leaned back into my hands. ‘Yeah, that’s good. Right there.’ He groaned as my fingers released the tension in his muscles and I realized that, with one thing or another, we hadn’t touched properly for a day or two. That was unusual for us; New York really was taking a toll.
‘Look,’ Rohan said, ‘you’re the best judge, of course, but I really think you need to focus on your next collection and stop messing about. You’ve exhibited in London, hon. It was a sell-out! You can do it again!’ His voice softened. ‘You’re good.’ He reached up and squeezed my hands. ‘I hate it when you sell yourself short.’
He stood up and touched his lips to mine. The tension went out of me as I relaxed into the kiss and, for a few moments, there was no New York, no Grace, no house, no masterpiece waiting to be painted – just the feel of my husband’s mouth on mine and the familiar smell of his skin. But then he pulled away reluctantly, stroking a finger across my cheek as he did so.
‘Hold that feeling, gorgeous. Save it for tonight.’ His hand slid down my body, round my waist and across my bum. ‘I’ve got to run.’
He winked as he looked around for his keys and his briefcase, and that was it: the moment to bring up the topic of Grace was lost. But what I didn’t realize then was that the longer I held the information inside me, secret and burning, the harder it would be to tell him. Rohan didn’t know Grace, or the effect she had on me, but I did. I’d lived with her before.

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SYNOPSIS:

Once you let her in, she’ll never leave…

‘A nail-biting read that absolutely gripped me’ Susan Lewis
‘Haunting, dark and wonderfully atmospheric’ B A Paris
‘Utterly compelling’ Lesley Kara

Some secrets aren’t meant to be kept…

When Grace returns to Abi’s life, years after they fell out at university, Abi can’t help but feel uneasy. Years ago, Grace’s friendship was all-consuming and exhausting.

Now happily married, Abi’s built a new life for herself and put those days behind her. And yet as Grace slips back into her life with all the lethal charm she had before, Abi finds herself falling back under her spell…

Abi’s husband, Rohan, can’t help but be concerned as his wife’s behaviour changes. As their happy home threatens to fall apart, he realises that there’s something deeply unnerving about Grace. Just what influence does this woman have over his wife, and why has she come back now?

A chilling story of guilt and obsession from Anna Kent

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Anna Kent has worked as a journalist, magazine editor and book editor as well as enjoying a stint as a radio producer. She’s written for numerous publications at home and abroad, including the Daily Telegraph, where she was a contributor for six years. Brought up in the South East, she loves to travel while maintaining a base in Gloucestershire. She’s married with two children.

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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
Blog Tours Book Features Q&A

Q&A with Tim Ewins, Author of We Were Animals

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour celebrating the paperback publication of We Are Animals. This is our first official Squadpod On Tour and I’m excited to bring you a Q&A with Tim today.

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Q: What inspired the idea for We Are Animals?

I don’t really know what the idea for We Are Animals was. I just wanted to write a book, and my idea about writing a book about how to write a book fell apart pretty quickly, because I didn’t know how to write a book. Also, I’m pretty sure it’s already been written by much smarter people. I think We Are Animals started as a collage, with parts from my old travel blog and small facts about my relationship with my wife scattered around a very loose plot.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the book?

I can! I can tell you a bit about the book in the style of an author: It’s a book about fate and love, but I wouldn’t say it’s a romance novel. I like the idea of it being uplit fiction, because at every stage of writing I wanted to reflect the goodness in people and in nature. And I can tell you a bit about the book in a very literal sense: It’s about a bloke on a beach that meets a kid on a beach and tells that kid his life story. They both get drunk and watch a cow dance to dance music.

Q: Who is your favourite character in the book?

I think probably Hylad’s partner, Michael. Michael is only a small character, and when he’s introduced, he comes across as quite grumpy and a little unlikeable, but as the plot goes on, we watch him put his whole life on hold to help and support Hylad. He’s the rock that keeps Hylad going. I think Michael is what every partner should be to their significant other. Also, I do quite like that dancing cow.

Q: What was your favourite scene to write?

There are a lot of mini-stories in We Are Animals which explain some of the smaller character’s backstories. They were always the most fun parts to write, and there was a certain pleasure in making these seemingly unconnected stories become relevant to the main plot several chapters later. There is one particular backstory which stands out though. I really enjoyed writing about the lives of Ebba and Olivia. The section only lasts a few pages, but I remember writing it and feeling so sad because their story is really quite tragic. That scene came out so quickly that I felt like I was reading it rather than writing it.

Q: What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Time. Sometimes, even just writing a sentence, it’s hard to find the time to fi

Q: Are there any hidden ‘Easter Eggs’ in the book, e.g. that only people who know you would get?

Absolutely! The boat Moondance has the same name as my dad’s fishing boat. My mate and I used to work in a box factory. I literally know Shakey – I go for a drink with him every week, and I met Manjan a while back in Malaysia. The reason Ladyjan isn’t typically Swedish looking is because Ladyjan looks exactly like my wife (and she’s from Whitby)… the list really
does go on. The guy who I used to work with in the box factory read We Are Animals recently and he told me after that finding the little easter eggs was his favourite part of the book (which, on reflection, may have been an insult).

Q: What was your journey to publication like?

I have a spreadsheet full of rejection and a list of the reasons why publishers and agents don’t want to work with me, so I think probably quite normal. Working with Eye and Lightning Books (my publisher) has been amazing though. They really care about all the books they publish, so I went from no-one reading my novel to a group of people taking the time to go through it with a fine-tooth comb and working with me to get it perfect. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more. When it came out it was on e-only format and now, a year later, it’ll be out in paperback, so I’ve been lucky enough to ride two waves!

Q: What’s the best thing about being a published author?

It is just so nice that people are reading the book. When I was writing, I never really knew if anyone would read it (other than my mum), but the fact that strangers are reading it now is beyond what I could ever have dreamed of.

Q: What kind of books do you like reading? Any current favourites?

I like anything a bit cute or surreal. I love Andrew Kaufman and Jonas Jonassan. I’ve recently been reading Ronan Hession’s books (Leonard and Hungry Paul, and Panenka) and I think I’ve found my new favourite author in him (he also makes nice music to write to under the name Mumblin’ Deaf Ro, so that’s a double win). I’m on a real reading streak at the moment so I could list a million books here that I’ve loved recently; The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn, Perfect on Paper by Gillian Harvey, Whatever You Are Is Beautiful by Richard Blandford, Marrow Jam by Susan A King. Honestly, the list could go on and on.

Q: When do you find time to write? Do you have a ‘writing routine’?

I made a joke earlier about time, which I can only apologise for, but it really is one of the hardest parts of writing for me (and plot, that’s hard too). I work a full-time job and have a toddler, so my writing routine has always consisted of writing an hour in my lunch breaks at work, writing on the bus to and from work and occasionally whilst watching Love Island. We Are Animals was written entirely on an iPad. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite follow one series of Love Island as closely as I’d have liked to, but I hear they’re all on Netflix now anyway, so…

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

I’m waiting to get some edits back on my second novel, which I cannot wait to share. The story is very close to me. The main character is based on my Nan, and again, it’s about fate and love, but I wouldn’t say it’s a romance novel. Maybe after that I’ll try to write a book about how to write a book…

We Are Animals is out now.

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You can get 30% off your copy of the book using the code above until 8th August here

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SYNOPSIS:

A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.

Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the passport-thief who stole his heart (and his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.

Jan has not. In his long search he has accidentally held a whole town at imaginary gunpoint in Soviet Russia, stalked the proprietors of an international illegal lamp-trafficking scam and done his very best to avoid any kind of work involving the packing of fish. Now he thinks if he just waits, if he just does nothing at all, maybe fate will find it easier to reunite them.

His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…

Will…

Not…

Leave.

But maybe an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find the missing thief?

Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a quirky, heart-warming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the certainty of fate (or lack thereof).

For the first time in her life the cow noticed the sun setting, and it was glorious.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Tim Ewins had an eight-year stand-up career alongside his accidental career in finance, before turning to writing fiction.

He has previously written for DNA Mumbai, had two short stories highly commended and published in Michael Terence Short Story Anthologies, and had a very brief acting stint (he’s in the film Bronson, somewhere in the background).

He lives with his wife, son and dog in Bristol. We Are Animals is his first novel.

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Don’t miss the Cake and Cocktail blast on August 3rd and check the hashtags to read reviews from the Squadpod Ladies.

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