Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023 Publisher Feature

SNEEK PEEK: Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Published: February 28th, 2023
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Psychological Thrillers
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today I’m thrilled to be able to share with you the first chapter of Never Never. Thank you to HQ for allowing me to share this sneek peek with you all.




A crash. Books fall to the speckled linoleum floor. They skid a few feet, whirling in circles, and stop near feet. My feet. I don’t recognize the black sandals, or the red toenails, but they move when I tell them to, so they must be mine. Right?

A bell rings. Shrill.

I jump, my heart racing. My eyes move left to right as I scope out my environment, trying not to give myself away.

What kind of bell was that? Where am I?

Kids with backpacks walk briskly into the room, talking and laughing. A school bell. They slide into desks, their voices competing in volume. I see movement at my feet and jerk in surprise. Someone is bent over, gathering up books on the floor; a red-faced girl with glasses. Before she stands up, she looks at me with something like fear and then scurries off. People are laughing. When I look around I think they’re laughing at me, but it’s the girl with glasses they’re looking at.

“Charlie!” someone calls. “Didn’t you see that?” And then, “Charlie…what’s your problem…hello…?”

My heart is beating fast, so fast.

Where is this? Why can’t I remember? “Charlie!” someone hisses. I look around. Who is Charlie? Which one is Charlie?

There are so many kids; blond hair, ratty hair, brown hair, glasses, no glasses…

A man walks in carrying a briefcase. He sets it on the desk.

The teacher. I am in a classroom, and that is the teacher. High school or college? I wonder.

I stand up suddenly. I’m in the wrong place. Everyone is sitting, but I’m standing…walking.

“Where are you going, Miss Wynwood?” The teacher is looking at me over the rim of his glasses as he riffles through a pile of papers. He slaps them down hard on the desk and I jump. I must be Miss Wynwood.

“She has cramps!” someone calls out. People snicker. I feel a chill creep up my back and crawl across the tops of my arms. They’re laughing at me, except I don’t know who these people are.

I hear a girl’s voice say, “Shut up, Michael.”

“I don’t know,” I say, hearing my voice for the first time. It’s too high. I clear my throat and try again. “I don’t know. I’m not supposed to be here.”

There is more laughing. I glance around at the posters on the wall, the faces of presidents animated with dates beneath them. History class? High school.

The man—the teacher—tilts his head to the side like I’ve said the dumbest thing. “And where else are you supposed to be on test day?”

“I… I don’t know.”

“Sit down,” he says. I don’t know where I’d go if I left. I turn around to go back. The girl with the glasses glances up at me as I pass her. She looks away almost as quickly.

As soon as I’m sitting, the teacher starts handing out

papers. He walks between desks, his voice a flat drone as he tells us what percentage of our final grade the test will be. When he reaches my desk he pauses, a deep crease between his eyebrows. “I don’t know what you’re trying to pull.” He presses the tip of a fat pointer finger on my desk.

“Whatever it is, I’m sick of it. One more stunt and I’m sending you to the principal’s office.” He slaps the test down in front of me and moves down the line.

I don’t nod, I don’t do anything. I’m trying to decide what to do. Announce to the whole room that I have no idea who and where I am—or pull him aside and tell him quietly. He said no more stunts. My eyes move to the paper in front of me. People are already bent over their tests, pencils scratching.

Fourth Period
Mr. Dulcott

There is a space for a name. I’m supposed to write my name, but I don’t know what my name is. Miss Wynwood, he called me.

Why don’t I recognize my own name? Or where I am?

Or what I am?

Every head is bent over their papers except mine. So I sit and stare, straight ahead. Mr. Dulcott glares at me from his desk. The longer I sit, the redder his face becomes.

Time passes and yet my world has stopped. Eventually, Mr. Dulcott stands up, his mouth open to say something to me when the bell rings. “Put your papers on my desk on the way out,” he says, his eyes still on my face. Everyone is filing out of the door. I stand up and follow them because I don’t know what else to do. I keep my eyes on the floor, but I can feel his rage. I don’t understand why he’s so angry with me. I am in a hallway now, lined on either side by blue lockers.

“Charlie!” someone calls. “Charlie, wait up!” A second later, an arm loops through mine. I expect it to be the girl with the glasses; I don’t know why. It’s not. But, I know now that I am Charlie. Charlie Wynwood. “You forgot your bag,” she says, handing over a white backpack. I take it from her, wondering if there’s a wallet with a driver’s license inside. She keeps her arm looped through mine as we walk. She’s shorter than me, with long, dark hair and dewy brown eyes that take up half her face. She is startling and beautiful.

“Why were you acting so weird in there?” she asks. “You knocked the shrimp’s books on the floor and then spaced out.”

I can smell her perfume; it’s familiar and too sweet, like a million flowers competing for attention. I think of the girl with the glasses, the look on her face as she bent to scoop up her books. If I did that, why don’t I remember?


“It’s lunch, why are you walking that way?” She pulls me down a different corridor, past more students. They all look at me…little glances. I wonder if they know me, and why I don’t know me. I don’t know why I don’t tell her, tell Mr. Dulcott, grab someone random and tell them that I don’t know who or where I am. By the time I’m seriously entertaining the idea, we’re through a set of double doors in the cafeteria. Noise and color; bodies that all have a unique smell, bright fluorescent lights that make everything look ugly. Oh, God. I clutch at my shirt.

The girl on my arm is babbling. Andrew this, Marcy that. She likes Andrew and hates Marcy. I don’t know who either of them is. She corrals me to the food line. We get salad and Diet Cokes. Then we are sliding our trays on a table. There are already people sitting there: four boys, two girls. I realize we are completing a group with even numbers. All the girls are matched with a guy. Everyone looks up at me expectantly, like I’m supposed to say something, do something. The only place left to sit is next to a guy with dark hair. I sit slowly, both hands flat on the table. His eyes dart toward me and then he bends over his tray of food. I can see the finest beads of sweat on his forehead, just below his hairline.

“You two are so awkward sometimes,” says a new girl, blonde, across from me. She’s looking from me to the guy I’m sitting next to. He looks up from his macaroni and I realize he’s just moving things around on his plate. He hasn’t taken a bite, despite how busy he looks. He looks at me and I look at him, then we both look back at the blonde girl.

“Did something happen that we should know about?” she asks. “No,” we say in unison.

He’s my boyfriend. I know by the way they’re treating us. He suddenly smiles at me with his brilliantly white teeth and reaches to put an arm around my shoulders.

“We’re all good,” he says, squeezing my arm. I automatically stiffen, but when I see the six sets of eyes on my face, I lean in and play along. It’s frightening not knowing who you are—even more frightening thinking you’ll get it wrong. I’m scared now, really scared. It’s gone too far. If I say something now I’ll look…crazy. His affection seems to make everyone relax. Everyone except…him. They go back to talking, but all the words blend together: football, a party, more football. The guy sitting next to me laughs and joins in with their conversation, his arm never straying from my shoulders. They call him Silas. They call me Charlie. The dark-haired girl with the big eyes is Annika. I forget everyone else’s names in the noise.

Lunch is finally over and we all get up. I walk next to Silas, or rather he walks next to me. I have no idea where I’m going. Annika flanks my free side, winding her arms through mine and chatting about cheerleading practice. She’s making me feel claustrophobic. When we reach an annex in the hallway, I lean over and speak to her so only she can hear. “Can you walk me to my next class?” Her face becomes serious. She breaks away to say something to her boyfriend, and then our arms are looped again.

I turn to Silas. “Annika is going to walk me to my next class.”

“Okay,” he says. He looks relieved. “I’ll see you…later.” He heads off in the opposite direction.

Annika turns to me as soon as he’s out of sight. “Where’s he going?”

I shrug. “To class.”

She shakes her head like she’s confused. “I don’t get you guys. One day you’re all over each other, the next you’re acting like you can’t stand to be in the same room. You really need to make a decision about him, Charlie.”

She stops outside a doorway.

“This is me…” I say, to see if she’ll protest. She doesn’t. “Call me later,” she says. “I want to know about last night.”

I nod. When she disappears into the sea of faces, I step into the classroom. I don’t know where to sit, so I wander to the back row and slide into a seat by the window. I’m early, so I open my backpack. There’s a wallet wedged between a couple of notebooks and a makeup bag. I pull it out and flip it open to reveal a driver’s license with a picture of a beaming, dark-haired girl. Me.

Charlize Margaret Wynwood

2417 Holcourt Way

New Orleans, LA

I’m seventeen. My birthday is March twenty-first. I live in Louisiana. I study the picture in the top left corner and I don’t recognize the face. It’s my face, but I’ve never seen it. I’m…pretty. I only have twenty-eight dollars.

The seats are filling up. The one beside me stays empty, almost like everyone is too afraid to sit there. I’m in Spanish class. The teacher is pretty and young; her name is Mrs. Cardona. She doesn’t look at me like she hates me, like so many other people are looking at me. We start with tenses.

I have no past. I have no past.

Five minutes into class the door opens. Silas walks in, his eyes downcast. I think he’s here to tell me something, or to bring me something. I brace myself, ready to pretend, but Mrs. Cardona comments jokingly about his lateness. He takes the only available seat next to me and stares straight ahead. I stare at him. I don’t stop staring at him until finally, he turns his head to look at me. A line of sweat rolls down the side of his face.

His eyes are wide. Wide…just like mine.


I don’t know about you guys, but that chapter has me needing to read the full story! If you want to pre-order the book, there are purchase links at the end of this post.

Let me know in the comments if this is one you’re planning to read.



Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times and International bestselling author. Born in Sulphur Springs, Texas in 1979, she became a publishing phenomenon thanks to the rise in popularity of her books on soical media, particularly Tik Tok. She is the founder of The Bookworm Box, a non-profit book subscription service and bookstore in Sulphur Springs, Texas. Colleen lives in Texas with her husand and their three boys.

Tarryn Fisher

Tarryn Fisher is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of twelve novels. Born a sun hater, she currently makes her home in Seattle, Washington with her children, husband, and psychotic husky. Tarryn writes about villains.



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Book Features book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

Review: Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

Published: April 14th, 2022
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Historical Fiction, Political Fiction, Spiritual and Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review of this powerful and moving debut.




‘Like Sally Rooney mixed with a political thriller’ RUSSELL KANE
‘Intense, unflinchingly honest, it broke my heart a million times’ MARIAN KEYES
‘Absolutely loved it’ MAX PORTER
‘A beautiful, devastating novel’ NICK HORNBY

One by one, she undid each event, each decision, each choice.
If Davy had remembered to put on a coat.
If Seamie McGeown had not found himself alone on a dark street.
If Michael Agnew had not walked through the door of the pub on a quiet night in February in his white shirt.

There is nothing special about the day Cushla meets Michael, a married man from Belfast, in the pub owned by her family. But here, love is never far from violence, and this encounter will change both of their lives forever.

As people get up each morning and go to work, school, church or the pub, the daily news rolls in of another car bomb exploded, another man beaten, killed or left for dead. In the class Cushla teaches, the vocabulary of seven-year-old children now includes phrases like ‘petrol bomb’ and ‘rubber bullets’. And as she is forced to tread lines she never thought she would cross, tensions in the town are escalating, threatening to destroy all she is working to hold together.

Tender and shocking, Trespasses is an unforgettable debut of people trying to live ordinary lives in extraordinary times.



“I love Ireland. I just don’t think it’s worth killing anyone over it.”

A young catholic school-teacher and an older Protestant barrister from very different backgrounds shouldn’t fall in love. Especially not in Belfast at the height of the troubles. But that is exactly what happens after Michael walks into Cushla’s family pub in this story of mismatched and forbidden love. It is a love that must be kept secret; filled with clandestine dates and snatched moments. Can it last or will they be caught in the crossfire of the war that wages around them?

Belfast is a place that’s always felt like a part of my life. My Dad was stationed there in the Army during the troubles. I’ve grown up with his tales of what it was like there in the seventies and a love of all-things Irish remains in him to this day. Ireland became an even bigger part of my life in 2021 when my partner began working there for two weeks out of every month. Last May I accompanied him for two weeks while he worked in Belfast, and it was there that we got engaged. So, as you can imagine, it has a special place in my heart and I knew I had to read this book as soon as I first heard about it. 

Powerful, moving, and heartbreaking, this is a story that will stay with me. I listened to Trespasses on audiobook, and the narrator was fantastic, not only transporting me back in time but bringing the story and characters to life so vividly that I could smell the cigarette smoke, taste the Guiness and see the soldiers on the streets. Debut author Louise Kennedy has skillfully written a story bursting with emotion on every page. It gets to the heart of how it felt to be an ordinary person living in a war zone and is a jarring reminder of the reality and dangers of their everyday lives. You can feel their fear of the soldiers and bombs, and of having to be so careful about who you are seen with and what you say. The side you were born into controlled every facet of their lives, and there was no escape. And having so recently been to the city and walked its streets, drank in The Crown pub, and even stayed at the Europa Hotel, which Cushla tells us was then known as the “hardboard hotel” because it was the most bombed hotel in Europe, I felt a real connection to this story, the city, and the characters.

The relationship between Michael and Cushla is used by the author not only as a love story but as a clever tool to help highlight the realities of everyday life for people in the troubles, as well as to help humanise the people on both sides of the conflict rather than focusing solely on Cushla’s Catholic perspective. But theirs isn’t the only complex relationship featured in this book. It is filled with many complicated relationships and characters that are richly drawn, compelling, and relatable. But my favourite character was young Davey, a little boy from one of Cushla’s classes from a deprived background. He went straight to my heart, and I loved the relationship between him and Cushla.

Gritty, unflinching, hopeful and transportive, Trespasses is an outstanding debut from an author that’s one to watch. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰



Louise Kennedy grew up in Holywood, Co. Down. Her short story collection, The End of the World is a Cut de Sac (Bloomsbury/ Riverhead US 2021) won the John McGahern Prize. Her debut novel, Trespasses (Bloomsbury/ Riverhead US 2022) won Eason’s Novel of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards, and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize and Barnes and Noble Discover Prize. Before she started writing, she spent nearly thirty years working as a chef. She lives in Sligo.



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Book Features book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Squadpod Squadpod Recommends

REVIEW: Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior

Publsihed: March 19th, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, New Adult Ficiton, Women’s Fiction, Pensioners on the Pages
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today I’m resharing my review for this heartwarming story. I’m taking part in the Squadpod Advent Calendar Challenge this month and today’s prompt is a ‘Book with a character you’d like to meet’. I couldn’t think of anyone who I would like to meet more than the delightful Veronica McCreedy. I read this back in March 2020 and it has stayed with me ever since. It really is the perfect book to read to lift your spirits. And I dare anyone not to fall in love with Veronica.



A Richard & Judy Book Club and BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.
A truly feel-good book club read – a #1 bestseller in ebook and audio!

‘This year’s Eleanor Oliphant . . . Funny, bittersweet and wholly original.’ Daily Express

Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .

Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.

Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.

She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).

Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.

But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.



Oh how I loved this absolute gem of a book. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, it had me transfixed. I got lost in the pages and totally immersed in Veronica’s story. 

Veronica McCreedy is an eccentric, feisty, cantankerous, witty and unstoppable old lady. I just couldn’t help but love her and she quickly found a place in my heart. Her bad-tempered idiosyncrasies became endearing and I was sure she had a heart of gold hidden behind it all. When a locked wooden box containing her teenage diaries is found, Veronica’s poignant story is slowly unveiled and we finally learn what lies underneath those brusque layers she uses to protect herself. 

Running parallel to Veronica’s story is her daring adventure to Antarctica to see the Adélie penguins. She became obsessed with them after watching a nature programme and decided she wanted to leave her vast wealth to the research programme. But she needs to make sure they are worthy of it, so she books a trip to see the penguins for herself; refusing to heed to frantic warnings of her assistant Eileen and the trio of scientists that it is too dangerous. I adored this part of the story – the different sides we see to Veronica’s personality, her blossoming friendship with young scientist Terry, and the adorable rescued chick, Pip. I found myself in awe of Eileen’s spriteliness and determination, overcoming her age and the bracing conditions to have the adventure of a lifetime. 

But behind the cuteness of this storyline is a serious commentary on climate change and our responsibility to save the environment and a number of earth’s most beloved species that are facing extinction in the near future.  It is peppered with blog posts by Terry which are informative as well as entertaining. The author has clearly done her research and I know a lot more about climate change and penguins after reading this book. 

The story is narrated by two very distinct voices and is filled with a rich, colourful and fascinating cast of characters. The cutest of these is without a doubt little Pip, and I now blame the author for the fact I really want a pet penguin! The investment, hard work and love that the author has put into this book is evident in the exquisite writing and attention to detail. I savoured every word, devouring this book while also trying to make it last as I dreaded parting with Veronica and the penguins.

Away with the Penguins is without a doubt the most delightful, joyous and uplifting book I’ve read so far this year, if not in a long time, and I have no doubt it will have a place in my top reads of the year. A lush blend of characters and storylines that is immersive and reaches into your soul and serves as a great reminder that it is never too late to have an adventure, try new things or make changes in your life. Whatever your reading preferences, I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to have lots of tissues and be prepared to fall in love.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮



From Hazel’s website:
Hazel is an enthusiastic and experienced harp-player based in Somerset and Exmoor. Her repertoire spans many styles of music and includes singing with harp accompaniment.  

Hazel is also an author. Her three bestselling novels, published by Penguin Random House, are described as ‘quirky’, ‘lyrical’ and ‘life-affirming’. AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS (USA title = HOW THE PENGUINS SAVED VERONICA) is a Richard and Judy and a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.



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Book Features Extract Squadpod Squadpod Recommends

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.



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.



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. 



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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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.



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.



“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 



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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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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… 👰🏻


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.



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. 


Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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.


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.


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



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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*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.


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.


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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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.



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.


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


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

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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.




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 . . .



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: ✮✮✮✮✮



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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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.




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.’


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?’
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.



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



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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx