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Book Features Uncategorised

Quick Reads 15th Anniversary

One in six adults in the UK – approximately 9 million people – have difficulty reading, and one in three people do not read regularly for pleasure. Quick Reads was created by The Reading Agency to help address those statistics. They are a collection of books released each year by well known authors designed to be a short and entertaining read. The hope is that they will help those who find they’ve little time to read, struggle with a longer book or have just simply fallen out of the habit of reading, to get back into a love of books by indulging in a Quick Read.

This year Quick Reads is celebrating their 15th Anniversary. Over five million copies of their titles have been distributed since the programme began in 2006. To celebrate, for every book bought until July 31st 2021, another copy will be gifted to someone to help them discover the joy of reading.

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I was contacted by Midas PR offering me a choice of one of this years Quick Reads to read and review. This years titles are:

The Baby Is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite
When his girlfriend throws him out during the pandemic, Bambi has to go to his Uncle’s house in lock-down Lagos. He arrives during a blackout and is surprised to find his Aunty Bidemi sitting in a candlelit room with another woman. They are fighting because both claim to be the mother of the baby boy, fast asleep in his crib. At night Bambi is kept awake by the baby’s cries, and during the days he is disturbed by a cockerel that stalks the garden. There is sand in the rice. A blood stain appears on the wall. Someone scores tribal markings into the baby’s cheeks. Who is lying and who is telling the truth?

Oyinkan Braithwaite gained a degree in Creative Writing and Law at Kingston University. Her first book, My Sister, the Serial Killer, was a number one bestseller. It was shortlisted for the 2019 Women’s Prize and was on the long list for the 2019 Booker Prize.

Oyinkan Braithwaite, author of The Baby is Mine (Atlantic) said: “When I am writing, I don’t know what my readers will look like or what challenges they may be facing. So it was an interesting experience creating work with the understanding that the reader might need a story that was easy to digest, and who might not have more than a few hours in a week to commit to reading. It was daunting – simpler does not necessarily mean easier – I may have pulled out a couple of my hairs; but I would do it again in a heartbeat. Quick Reads tapped into my desire to create fiction that would be an avenue for relief and escape for all who came across it.”

The Skylight by Louise Candlish
They can’t see her, but she can see them… Simone has a secret. She likes to stand at her bathroom window and spy on the couple downstairs through their kitchen skylight. She knows what they eat for breakfast and who they’ve got over for dinner. She knows what mood they’re in before they even step out the door. There’s nothing wrong with looking, is there? Until one day Simone sees something through the skylight she is not expecting. Something that upsets her so much she begins to plot a terrible crime…

Louise Candlish is the Sunday Times bestselling author of The Other Passenger and thirteen other novels. Our House won the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year at the 2019 British Book Awards. It is now in development for a major TV series. Louise lives in London with her husband and daughter.

Louise Candlish, author of The Skylight (Simon & Schuster) said: It’s an honour to be involved in this [next] year’s Quick Reads. Reading set me on the right path when I was young and adrift and it means such a lot to me to be a part of literacy campaign that really does change lives.”

Saving the Day by Katie Ffjord
Allie is bored with her job and starting to wonder whether she even likes her boyfriend, Ryan. The high point in her day is passing a café on her walk home from work. It is the sort of place where she’d really like to work. Then one day she sees as advert on the door: assistant wanted. But before she can land her dream job, Allie knows she must achieve two things: 1. Learn to cook; 2. End her relationship with Ryan, especially as through the window of the café, she spies a waiter who looks much more like her type of man. And when she learns that the café is in danger of closing, Allie knows she must do her very best to save the day …

Katie Fforde lives in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with her family and is a true country girl at heart. Each of her books explores a differentjoband her research has helped her bring these to life. To find out more about Katie Fforde step into her world at www.katiefforde.com, visit her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter @KatieFforde.

Katie Fforde, author of Saving the Day (Arrow, Penguin Random House) said: “As a dyslexic person who even now can remember the struggle to read, I was delighted to be asked to take part in the scheme. Anything that might help someone who doesn’t find reading easy is such a worthwhile thing to do.”

Wish You Were Dead by Peter James
Roy Grace and his family have left Sussex behind for a week’s holiday in France. The website promised a grand house, but when they arrive the place is very different from the pictures. And it soon becomes clear that their holiday nightmare is only just beginning. An old enemy of Roy, a lowlife criminal he had put behind bars, is now out of jail – and out for revenge. He knows where Roy and his family have gone on holiday. Of course he does. He’s been hacking their emails – and they are in the perfect spot for him to pay Roy back…

Peter James is a UK number one bestselling author, best known for his crime and thriller novels. He is the creator of the much-loved detective Roy Grace. His books have been translated into thirty-seven languages. He has won over forty awards for his work, including the WHSmith Best Crime Author of All Time Award. Many of his books have been adapted for film, TV and stage.

Peter James, author of Wish You Were Dead (Macmillan) said: “The most treasured moments of my career have been when someone tells me they hadn’t read anything for years, often since their school days, but are back into reading via my books. What more could an author hope for? Reading helps us tackle big challenges, transports us into new worlds, takes us on adventures, allows us to experience many different lives and open us up to aspects of our world we never knew existed. So I’m delighted to be supporting Quick Reads again – I hope it will help more people get started on their reading journeys and be the beginning of a life-long love of books.”

How To Be A Woman (abridged) by Caitlin Moran
It’s a good time to be a woman: we have the vote and the Pill, and we haven’t been burnt as witches since 1727.  But a few nagging questions remain… Why are we supposed to get Brazilians? Should we use Botox? Do men secretly hate us? And why does everyone ask you when you’re going to have a baby? Part memoir, part protest, Caitlin answers the questions that every modern woman is asking.

Caitlin Moran became a columnist at The Times at eighteen and has gone on to be named Columnist of the Year six times. She is the author of many award-winning books and her bestseller How to Be a Woman has been published in 28 countries and won the British Book Awards’ Book of the Year 2011. Her first novel, How to Build a Girl, is now a major feature film. Find out more at her website www.caitlinmoran.co.uk and follow her on Twitter @caitlinmoran

Caitlin Moran, author of How to Be a Woman (abridged) (Ebury) said: “I wrote How To Be A Woman because I felt that feminism is such a beautiful, brilliant, urgent and necessary invention that it should not be hidden away in academic debates, or in books which most women and men found dull, and unreadable. Having a Quick Reads edition of it, therefore, makes me happier than I can begin to describe – everyone deserves to have the concept of female equality in a book they can turn to as a chatty friend, on hand to help them through the often bewildering ass-hattery of Being A Woman. There’s no such thing as a book being too quick, too easy, or too fun. A book is a treat – a delicious pudding for your brain. I’m so happy Quick Reads have allowed me to pour extra cream and cherries on How To Be A Woman.”

The Motive by Khurrum Rahman
Business has been slow for Hounslow’s small time dope-dealer, Jay Qasim. A student house party means quick easy cash, but it also means breaking his own rules. But desperate times lead him there – and Jay finds himself in the middle of a crime scene. Idris Zaidi, a police constable and Jay’s best friend, is having a quiet night when he gets a call out following a noise complaint at a house party. Fed up with the lack of excitement in his job, he visits the scene and quickly realises that people are in danger after a stabbing. Someone will stop at nothing to get revenge…

Born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1975, Khurrum moved to England when he was one. He is a west London boy and now lives in Berkshire with his wife and two sons. Khurrum is currently working as a Senior IT Officer but his real love is writing. His first two books in the Jay Qasim series, East of Hounslow and Homegrown Hero, have been shortlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and CWA John Creasey Debut Dagger.

Khurrum Rahman, author of The Motive (HQ) said: “I started reading late in life, as the idea of reading a book always seemed overwhelming. I hesitantly began a book a friend had recommended and quickly became totally immersed in the story. I found joy and comfort and most importantly, an escape. It’s for this very reason that I am so proud to be involved with Quick Reads. This initiative is so important for people, like I once was, to engage in stories that may mirror their own lives or to read experiences far beyond their imagination. Just like a friend once did for me, I hope I am able to play a small part in encouraging somebody to pick up a book.”

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Released May 27th, each book is just £1, or 88p on Amazon. An absolute bargain for a great read by a contemporary author. As I had already pre-ordered one of the books, I requested a copy of The Baby Is Mine. Keep an eye out for my review on publication day.

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Are you planning to buy an of this years Quick Reads? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Ad Book Features book reviews

The Other Emily by Dean Koontz

Published: March 23rd
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

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#Ad Welcome to my review of this gripping thriller. Thank you to Amazon Publishing and Thomas and Mercer for the gifted copy of this book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Number one New York Times bestselling master of suspense Dean Koontz takes readers on a twisting journey of lost love, impossible second chances, and terrifying promises.

A decade ago, Emily Carlino vanished after her car broke down on a California highway. She was presumed to be one of serial killer Ronny Lee Jessup’s victims whose remains were never found.

Writer David Thorne still hasn’t recovered from losing the love of his life, or from the guilt of not being there to save her. Since then, he’s sought closure any way he can. He even visits regularly with Jessup in prison, desperate for answers about Emily’s final hours so he may finally lay her body to rest. Then David meets Maddison Sutton, beguiling, playful, and keenly aware of all David has lost. But what really takes his breath away is that everything about Maddison, down to her kisses, is just like Emily. As the fantastic becomes credible, David’s obsession grows, Maddison’s mysterious past deepens―and terror escalates.

Is she Emily? Or an irresistible dead ringer? Either way, the ultimate question is the same: What game is she playing? Whatever the risk in finding out, David’s willing to take it for this precious second chance. It’s been ten years since he’s felt this inspired, this hopeful, this much in love…and he’s afraid.

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MY REVIEW:

The Other Emily is a gripping page-turner that had me guessing from start to finish. From the ominous and intriguing opening I was on tenterhooks. What had happened to Emily? And just who is Maddison? Could she really be David’s lost love? Or is she a mysterious doppelganger?

What I loved most about this book was the perpetual mystery. There’s nothing better than a book that genuinely surprises you, and this one did that again and again. What appeared to be happening seemed impossible and illogical, so you’re kept on your toes and it’s impossible to predict. It felt like the more we knew, the more the mystery deepened. As secrets were unfurled the tension rose and I was on the edge of my seat, my heart pounding as I waited for David to discover the truth about Emily’s disappearance.

The characters are all captivating and well-written. David was a great protagonist. He is likeable and easy to root for. His love for Emily is still so strong even after ten years and you can feel his heartbreak radiating from the pages. You want him to find the truth, but you also don’t because it is inevitably going to cause him even more pain. Maddison is suitably enigmatic and impossible to figure out. Common sense told me she wasn’t Emily but so many other things pointed to her being her. I couldn’t figure it out and decided to instead just enjoy the ride and see where the author took me. Ronny Lee Jessup is a fantastic villain. Both he and his house of horrors are chilling, disturbing and repulsive. I would cringe every time he was on the page and felt sick to my stomach at the thrills he got from hurting others and continuing David’s torment.

I’d obviously heard of Dean Kootz before. What thriller reader hasn’t? But this was my first time reading one of his books. I loved his style and the short, sharp chapters and am now wondering why it’s taken me so long to pick up one of his books. I will definitely be reading more of them in the future.

A tense, eerie, twisty and curious thriller, this was an entertaining read. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the genre.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

mght.co/OEemmasbiblio

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday Uncategorised

First Lines Friday: Flashback

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

“The morning one of the lost twins returned to Mallard, Lou LeBon ran to the diner to break the news, and even now, many years later, everyone remembers the shock of sweaty Lou pushing through the glass doors, chest heaving, neckline darkened with is own effort. The barely awake customers clamored around him, ten or so, although more would lie and say they’d been there too, if only to pretend that this once, they’d witnessed something truly exciting. In that little farm town, nothing surprising every happened, not since the Vignes twins had disappeared. But that morning in April 1968, on his was to work, Lou spotted Desiree Vignes walking along Partridge Road carrying a small leather suitcase.”

Today’s first lines are taken from The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, which is one of the books shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2021. It’s been on my shelf since it’s release in June last year and is one of the 21 books I’ve committed to reading from my backlist this year.

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SYNOPSIS:

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ story lines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

You can buy the book here*
*This is an affiliate link

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Have I tempted you to add this one to your shelves? Or have you already read it? Let me know in the comments.

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Thank you to Dialogue Books for the gifted copy of the book.

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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.

“I will tell you a story.
Seven years ago, when I was a child of ten, I became lost in the woods. My sisters and I had been travelling the road that skims the coast like a stone from Ditagel. I loved our summer home – a spume-silvered rock of houses and workshops, it’s docks piled high with amphorae. But there is a place, many leagues to the east, where the road slows, turning inland. It loses itself amongst the trees, straying into giant country. Branches interlace here, it is easy to slip away into the green space between the giant’s fingers. Easy for a careless child to disappear.”

I don’t know about you, but those lines just make me want to keep reading. So what book are they from? The answer is…

Sistersong by Lucy Holland. This stunning debut was released April 1st and is one I’m hoping to read this month.

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SYNOPSIS:

Betrayal. Magic. Murder.
A tale of three siblings and three deadly sins.

In a magical ancient Britain, bards sing a story of treachery, love and death. This is that story.


For fans of Madeline Miller’s Circe, 
Lucy Holland’s Sistersong retells the folk ballad ‘The Two Sisters.’

King Cador’s children inherit a land abandoned by the Romans, torn by warring tribes. Riva can cure others, but can’t heal her own scars. Keyne battles to be seen as the king’s son, although born a daughter. And Sinne dreams of love, longing for adventure.

All three fear a life of confinement within the walls of the hold, their people’s last bastion of strength against the invading Saxons. However, change comes on the day ash falls from the sky – bringing Myrdhin, meddler and magician. The siblings discover the power that lies within them and the land. But fate also brings Tristan, a warrior whose secrets will tear them apart.

Riva, Keyne and Sinne become entangled in a web of treachery and heartbreak, and must fight to forge their own paths. It’s a story that will shape the destiny of Britain.

Sistersong is a powerfully moving story, perfect for readers who loved Naomi Novik’s Uprooted and Katherine Arden’s The Bear and the Nightingale.

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How incredible does that sound? I’m really excited to read this one after anticipating it for so long. Thank you to Pan Macmillan and Black Crow PR for my gifted copy.

You can buy the book here*
*This is an affiliate link

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

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Blog Tours Book Features

Book Feature: What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson

Published: April 8th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

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Today I’m featuring What Beauty There Is, an unflinching debut that is receiving some fantastic reviews. Coincidentally, today is release day, so Happy Publication Day to Cory Anderson 🥳

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SYNOPSIS:

When everything you love is in danger, how long can you keep running to survive?

Life can be brutal

Winter in Idaho. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.

Jack knew it

Jack Dahl has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d die for. Their mother is gone, and their funds are quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison.

So did I.

Ava lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father, a merciless man, has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one.

Did I feel the flutter of wings when Jack and I met? Did I sense the coming tornado?

But now Ava wants to break the rules – to let Jack in and open her heart. Then she discovers that Jack and her father are stalking the same money, and suddenly Ava is faced with a terrible choice: remain silent or speak out and help the brothers survive.

Looking back, I think I did . . .

Perfect for fans of Patrick Ness, Meg Rosoff and Daniel Woodrell, What Beauty There Is an unforgettable debut novel that is as compulsive as it is beautiful, and unflinchingly explores the power of determination, survival and love.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Cory Anderson is a winner of the League of Utah Writers Young Adult Novel Award and Grand Prize in the Storymakers Conference First Chapter Contest. She lives in Farmington, Utah with her family. What Beauty There Is is her debut novel.

Website| Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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I love the UK cover, but check out its beautiful US counterpart:

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Thank you to The Write Reads for the invitation to take part in the tour and to Penguin UK for the gifted ARC.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours Book Features

Book Feature: The Drowned City (Daniel Pursglove 1) by K. J. Maitland

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Headline
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Historical Mystery, Thriller

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Today I’m featuring the first in a new historical fiction series set in the Jacobean era.

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SYNOPSIS:

Gunpowder and treason changed England forever. But the tides are turning and revenge runs deep in this compelling historical thriller for fans of C.J. Sansom, Andrew Taylor’s Ashes of London, Kate Mosse and Blood Sugar.

1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.

In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.

For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.

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If this sounds like a book you’d enjoy, then head over to my Instagram page where I’m giving away a proof copy of this book.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Karen Maitland is an historical novelist, lecturer and teacher of Creative Writing, with over twenty books to her name, including the much-loved Company of Liars. She grew up in Malta, which inspired her passion for history, and travelled and worked all over the world before settling in the United Kingdom. She has a doctorate in psycholinguistics, and now lives on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon.

Website | Twitter

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Headline for the gifted ARC. Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Nighthawking by Russ Thomas

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Hardboiled, Police Procedural, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:

The latest novel by the author of FIREWATCHING, by ‘a bold and brilliant new voice in crime fiction’ 
 
Sheffield’s beautiful Botanical Gardens – an oasis of peace in a world filled with sorrow, confusion and pain. And then, one morning, a body is found in the Gardens. A young woman, dead from a stab wound, buried in a quiet corner. Police quickly determine that the body’s been there for months. It would have gone undiscovered for years – but someone just sneaked into the Gardens and dug it up.
 
Who is the victim? Who killed her and hid her body? Who dug her up? And who left a macabre marker on the body?
 
In his quest to find her murderer, DS Adam Tyler will find himself drawn into the secretive world of nighthawkers: treasure-hunters who operate under cover of darkness, seeking the lost and valuable… and willing to kill to keep what they find.
 
That which was lost… will always be found again

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MY REVIEW:

He can’t bear to think of her that way, all cold and dead and wasting away in her grave beneath the rose bushes. He’d always pictured her whole, whenever he thought about her. All peaceful and sleeping. The way she’d looked when he buried her.”

On a cold winter night, a nighthawker – a treasure hunter who operates under the cloak of darkness – breaks into Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens to search for treasures buried beneath the flower beds and instead uncovers the arm of a murdered young woman. DS Adam Tyler is called in to investigate, drawing him and his team into the mysterious, tangled web of nighthawkers, hidden treasure, secrets and murder. 

Russ Thomas’ debut thriller, Firewatching, was one of my favourite books of last year, leaving me eagerly awaiting its follow up. But with such excitement comes trepidation. Would Nighthawking live up to the brilliance of Firewatching? The answer is, yes. Like its predecessor, Nighthawking is a heart-pounding thriller that had me on the edge of my seat. 

Being set in my hometown gives this series a special place in my heart, but that isn’t the only reason I love these books. They are exquisitely written, intricate and action-packed, bringing Sheffield to life not only in terms of the vivid imagery, but the atmosphere. When I first heard that this book would be set in the Botanical Gardens I was delighted as it is probably my favourite place in the city. I even went there just last week and loved how clearly I could picture every moment that happened there. It was a fabulous setting that the author has clearly researched extensively and I know that the Gardens will forever be synonymous with this book for me. 

The author has filled this book with a cast of richly drawn, compelling and nuanced characters. The multiple narrators allow him to weave in the human elements of the story and offer us greater insight into their nature, behaviour and motivations, and drawing more empathy from us for certain characters by showing us the trauma and pain they have suffered. I loved being back with Tyler and his team, a realistic bunch who bicker and don’t always work together well. I like that Tyler isn’t your usual affable and charming protagonist. He is someone you warm up to and I think his spiky, zealous nature gives the books a bit of an edge over the ones with a more likeable central character. I was glad to see Mina Rabbani back as she is probably my favourite character. It was great to see her  grow in confidence and come into her own over the course of this book and I’m looking forward to seeing what is in store for her next. 

Complex, twisty, dark and exhilarating, Nighthawking is an addictive page-turner that keeps you guessing. This can be read as a standalone, but I would highly recommend reading them in order because they are simply fantastic thrillers. My only question after that nail-biting finale is how long do I have to wait until book three? 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

RUSS THOMAS was born in Essex, raised in Berkshire and now lives in Sheffield. After a few ‘proper’ jobs (among them: pot-washer, optician’s receptionist, supermarket warehouse operative, call-centre telephonist, and storage salesman) he discovered the joys of bookselling, where he could talk to people about books all day. Firewatching is his debut novel.

Website| Instagram | Twitter

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Simon & Schuster UK for the gifted ARC. Please check out the reviews from other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours 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.

“The girls, Selkie Holm, Orkney, November 1942.
Of all the ways to die, drowning must be the most peaceful. Water above, sounds cushioned, womb-dark. Drowning is a return to something before the knife-blade of living. It is the death we would choose, if the choice was ours to make.”

What eerie and evocative first lines! They are from a book I have been anticipating ever since the author announced it last year. It even featured on my list of the 21 books I was most anticipating in 2021 and, more recently, my most anticipated books out in April. And that book is…

The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea, which is published by Michael Joseph on April 29th.

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SYNOPSIS:

The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.

No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year.
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Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.

Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artists swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea debris, and something beautiful begins to blossom.

But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.

Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…

In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times.

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How amazing does that sound? I absolutely loved the author’s debut novel, The Glass Woman, when I read it in 2019 and immediately pre-ordered this one when it was announced. If you also want to pre-order, you can do so here*.

I will be sharing my review for this one on April 20th as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the gifted ARC.

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Thank you for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

*This is an affiliate link

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Book Features

Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize 2021: Shortlist

Today the shortlist for the Swansea University Dylan Thomas Prize was announced and I’m excited to share it here. The prize is one of the world’s largest literary prizes for young writers and this year’s shortlist features bold new voices who are challenging expectations with their work. The shortlist is comprised of five novels and one short story collection, four of which are debuts. The winner will be announced on May 13th, 2021.

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THE SHORTLIST:

Namita Gokhale, Chair of Judges, said: “We are thrilled to present this year’s extraordinary shortlist – it is truly a world-class writing showcase of the highest order from six exceptional young writers. I want to press each and every one of these bold, inventive and distinctive books into the hands of readers, and celebrate how they challenge preconceptions, ask new questions about how we define identity and our relationships, and how we live together in this world. Congratulations to these tremendously talented writers – they are master storytellers in every sense of the word.”

Alligator and Other Stories by Dima Alzayat

Published: May 28th, 2020
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In Alligator and Other Stories, Dima Alzayat captures luminously how it feels to be ‘other’: as a Syrian, as an Arab, as an immigrant, as a woman. Each one of the nine stories collected here is a snapshot of those moments when unusual circumstances suddenly distinguish us from our neighbours, when our difference is thrown into relief.

Here are ‘dangerous’ women transgressing, missing children in 1970s New York, a family who were once Syrian but have now lost their name, and a young woman about to discover the hollowness of the American dream. At its centre lies ‘Alligator’: a remarkable compilation of real and invented sources, which rescues from history the story of a Syrian American couple who were murdered at the hands of the state.

Alzayat explores experiences that are startling and real, delivering an emotional punch that lingers long after reading.

Buy the book here*

Francesca Rhydderchon Alligator and Other Stories by Dima Alzayat: “Dima Alzayat’s visceral, innovative Alligator & Other Stories marks the arrival of a major new talent. While the range of styles and stories is impressively broad, there is a unity of voice and tone here which must have been so very difficult to achieve, and a clear sense that all these disparate elements are part of an overriding, powerful examination of identity.”

Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis

Published: February 6th, 2020
Publisher: 4th Estate Books
Genre: Adventure Fiction

SYNOPISIS:
The lives of two women―the sole survivor of an airplane crash and the troubled park ranger who leads the rescue mission to find her ―intersect in a gripping debut novel of hope and resilience, second thoughts and second chances

I no longer pass judgment on any man nor woman. People are people, and I do not believe there is much more to be said on the matter. Twenty years ago I might have been of a different mind about that, but I was a different Cloris Waldrip back then. I might have gone on being that same Cloris Waldrip, the one I had been for seventy-two years, had I not fallen out of the sky in that little airplane on Sunday, August 31, 1986. It does amaze that a woman can reach the tail end of her life and find that she hardly knows herself at all.

When seventy-two-year-old Cloris Waldrip finds herself lost and alone in the unforgiving wilderness of the Montana mountains, with only a bible, a sturdy pair of boots, and a couple of candies to keep her alive, it seems her chances of ever getting home to Texas are slim.

Debra Lewis, a park ranger, who is drinking her way out of the aftermath of a messy divorce is the only one who believes the old lady may still be alive. Galvanized by her newfound mission to find her, Lewis leads a motley group of rescuers to follow the trail of clues that Cloris has left behind.

But as days stretch into weeks, and Cloris’s situation grows ever more precarious, help arrives from the unlikeliest of places, causing her to question all the certainties on which she has built her life.

Suspenseful, wry and gorgeously written Kingdomtide is the inspiring account of two unforgettable characters, whose heroism reminds us that survival is only the beginning.

‘Suspenseful from start to finish … First novels are often praised for an author’s potential, but Kingdomtide displays an exceptional talent fully realized’ Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of Serena

Buy the book here*

Joshua Ferris on Kingdomtide by Rye Curtis: “Kingdomtide is a propulsively readable and frequently very funny book about the resources, personal and natural, necessary to survive a patently absurd world. The winning voice of Texas-native Cloris Waldrip artfully takes us through her eighty-eight-day ordeal in the wilds of Montana as the inimitable drunk and park ranger Debra Lewis searches for her. This fine novel combines the perfect modern yarn with something transcendent, lyrical and wise.”

The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi

Published: August 20th, 2020
Publisher: Faber
Genre: Coming-of-Age Story, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
They burned down the market on the day Vivek Oji died.

One afternoon, a mother opens her front door to find the length of her son’s body stretched out on the veranda, swaddled in akwete material, his head on her welcome mat. The Death of Vivek Oji transports us to the day of Vivek’s birth, the day his grandmother Ahunna died. It is the story of an over protective mother and a distant father, and the heart-wrenching tale of one family’s struggle to understand their child, just as Vivek learns to recognize himself.

Teeming with unforgettable characters whose lives have been shaped by Vivek’s gentle and enigmatic spirit, it shares with us a Nigerian childhood that challenges expectations. This novel, and its celebration of the innocence and optimism of youth, will touch all those who embrace it.

Buy the book here*

Namita Gokhale on The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi: “The Death of Vivek Oji’ by Akwaeke Emezi is a powerful novel that carries the authenticity of cultural and emotional context. The story unfolds brilliantly, with the prescient foreboding about Vivek Oji’s death already announced in the brief line that constitutes the opening chapter. Yet the suspense is paced and carefully maintained until the truth is finally communicated in the final chapter. A triumph of narrative craft.” 

Pew by Catherine Lacey

Published: May 14th, 2020
Publisher: Granta
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Fleeing a past they can no longer remember, Pew wakes on a church bench, surrounded by curious strangers.

Pew doesn’t have a name, they’ve forgotten it. Pew doesn’t know if they’re a girl or a boy, a child or an almost-adult. Is Pew an orphan, or something worse? And what terrible trouble are they running from?

Pew won’t speak, but the men and women of this small, god-fearing town are full of questions. As the days pass, their insistent clamour will build from a murmur to a roar, as both the innocent and the guilty come undone in the face of Pew’s silence.

Buy the book here*

Francesca Rhydderch on Pewby Catherine Lacey: “In this brilliant novel Catherine Lacey shows herself to be completely unafraid as a writer, willing to tackle the uglier aspects of a fictional small town in America, where a stranger’s refusal to speak breeds paranoia and unease. Beautifully written, sharply observed, and sophisticated in its simplicity, Pew is a book I’m already thinking of as a modern classic.”

Luster by Raven Leilani

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Raven Books


Genre: Literary Fiction, Humour, Bildungsroman

SYNOPSIS:
Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s home and family.

Razor sharp, provocatively page-turning and surprisingly tender, Luster by Raven Leilani is a painfully funny debut about what it means to be young now.

Buy the book here*

Syima Aslam on Luster by Raven Leilani:Sharp and incisive, Luster speaks a fearless truth that takes no hostages. Leilani is unflinchingly observant about the realities of being a young, black woman in America today and revelatory when it comes to exploring unconventional family life and 21st century adultery, in this darkly comic and strangely touching debut.”

My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

Published: March 31st, 2020
Publisher: 4th Estate
Genre: Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
ALL HE DID WAS FALL IN LOVE WITH ME AND THE WORLD TURNED HIM INTO A MONSTER

Vanessa Wye was fifteen years old when she first had sex with her English teacher.

She is now thirty-two and in the storm of allegations against powerful men in 2017, the teacher, Jacob Strane, has just been accused of sexual abuse by another former student.

Vanessa is horrified by this news, because she is quite certain that the relationship she had with Strane wasn’t abuse. It was love. She’s sure of that.

Forced to rethink her past, to revisit everything that happened, Vanessa has to redefine the great love story of her life – her great sexual awakening – as rape. Now she must deal with the possibility that she might be a victim, and just one of many.

Nuanced, uncomfortable, bold and powerful, My Dark Vanessa goes straight to the heart of some of the most complex issues of our age.

Buy the book here*

Stephen Sexton on My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell: “My Dark Vanessa is an articulate, uncompromising and compelling novel about abuse, its long trail of damage and its devastating iterations. In Vanessa, Russell introduces us to a character of immense complexity, whose rejection of victimhood—in favour of something more like love—is tragic and unforgettable. Timely, harrowing, of supreme emotional intelligence, My Dark Vanessa is the story of one girl; of many girls, and of the darknesses of western literature.”

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Thank you for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Feature: Can you hear the hum?

𝘾𝙖𝙣 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙝𝙚𝙖𝙧 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙝𝙪𝙢? 

Last week some curious photos began popping up on twitter of posters asking if we can hear the hum. There was a number to call and I took the plunge, my heart thumping in my chest as I listened to the eerie message.

Today, I received a copy of The Listeners, the book that the posters and messages were talking about. I think that this exciting debut is one that many of you will want to add to your tbr…

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SYNOPSIS:

A masterful speculative novel exploring the fine lines between faith, conspiracy, and mania in contemporary America.

While lying in bed next to her husband one night, Claire Devon hears a low hum that he cannot. And, it seems, no one else can either. This innocuous noise begins causing Claire headaches, nosebleeds, insomnia, gradually upsetting the balance of her life, though no obvious source or medical cause can be found. When she discovers that a student of hers can also hear the hum, the two strike up an unlikely and intimate friendship. Finding themselves increasingly isolated from their families and colleagues, they fall in with a disparate group of neighbours who also perceive the sound. What starts as a neighbourhood self-help group gradually transforms into something far more extreme and with far-reaching, devastating consequences.

The Listeners is an exhilarating and erotic novel exploring the seduction of the wild and unknowable, the human search for the transcendent, the rise of conspiracy culture in the West, and the desire for community and connection in our increasingly polarised times.

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The Listeners is published July 8th. You can pre-order your copy here*
Thank you to 4th Estate Books for my gifted ARC.

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Will you be adding The Listeners to your tbr? Let me know in the comments.

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Thanks for reading. Until next time, Bibliophiles xxx

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