Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Squadpod Book Club Support Debuts

BLOG TOUR: Nobody But Us by Laure van Rensberg

Published: November 10th, 2022~
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psycholgical Thriller
Format: Paperback, Hardback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour celebrating the paperback publication of Nobody But Us. Thank you to Sryia at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and gifted paperback copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

‘READS LIKE A GLOSSY 90s THRILLER. OBSESSED‘ JUNO DAWSON
‘IT GRIPS LIKE A VICE’ WILL DEAN
‘A MUST READ FOR 2022’ 5* READER REVIEW
‘ADDICTIVE AND INTOXICATING’ 5* READER REVIEW
‘NOT ONE TO BE MISSED’ EVENING STANDARD
________

He’s a well-respected college professor. She’s a young and eager-to-please student.

He knows she would do anything for him. She knows his certainty is his weakness

He thinks he’ll get what he wants. She thinks he’ll get exactly what he needs.

Two liars.
One twisted path.
A game of cat and mouse.

BUT WHO IS THE HUNTER? AND WHO IS THE PREY?

********

MY REVIEW:

“Morning will cast a light on all this, shine on the craziness of the situation; this sham won’t survive sunrise, like all other evil it can only thrive in darkness.”

What a wild ride! This is a book that does exactly what it says on the tin and lives up to its tagline that calls Ellie and Steven ‘2022’s most f*cked up couple’. It took me quite some time to recover from this one after reading. It’s that crazy. I thought I knew what was in store but I had no idea just how messed up this was going to get…

The story opens with Ellie and Steven heading off on a three-day trip to celebrate their six month anniversary. They both seem anxious and feel like everything rests on this weekend but the reader is in the dark as to what that is and why. They quickly arrive at their destination: a remote cabin in the forest, surrounded by snow and with no cell phone reception. Right then you would know this is going to be a getaway-gone-wrong even if you’d gone into this book blind. Ominous and claustrophobic, there is an unbearable tension that wreaked havoc on my blood pressure as I tried to guess what would happen next. But I could never have guessed what was coming if I’d had a hundred guesses. It plays its cards extremely close to the vest so I won’t say anything more about the plot so you can discover the craziness for yourself. 

Stylish, sinister, scalpel-sharp and sophisticated, Laure Van Rensburg’s cunningly crafted debut is one you won’t forget. She holds the reader in her vice-like grip, making it impossible to stop reading even when you want to turn away. Ellie and Steven are richly drawn, memorable, unsavoury and unreliable characters, hiding their dysfunction behind a mask of normalcy that once removed will change everything you thought you knew. 

Unpredictable, darkly atmospheric and charged with adrenaline, Nobody But Us is the debut everyone is going to be talking about. Laure Van Rensburg is a spectacular new talent that is one to watch and I for one can’t wait to read what she writes next.

READ THIS BOOK!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 & 2019 Bath Short Story Award.

Her debut novel, Nobody But Us, follows Ellie and Steven who take their first trip away together, but what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbour secrets – and that one of those secrets is deadly.

Nobody But Us (originally titled The Downfall) was shortlisted for the 2019 First Novel Prize, 2019 Novel London Competition and 2019 Flash 500 Novel Opening. It will be published by Michael Joseph in April 2022 and has sold in fourteen territories, including Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States.

Laure’s current work in progress, Eden Lost, was longlisted in 2019 Exeter Novel Prize and more recently shortlisted in the 2020 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Readalong

REVIEW: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Published: August 18th, 2022
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Gothic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Today I’m sharing my review for the atmospheric and consuming Daisy Darker. Thank you to BookBreak UK and Pan Macmillan for the gifted ARC and for organising the readalong.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Daisy Darker is an all-consuming tale of psychological suspense with a spectacular twist from the internationally bestselling author Alice Feeney.

Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as dark can be, when one of them died all of them lied and pretended not to see . . .

Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer . . .

********

MY REIVEW:

“Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as can be. 
When one of them died, all of them lied and pretended not to see…”

Daisy Darker arrives at Seaglass, her grandmother’s house on a private island on the Cornish coast, to celebrate her eightieth birthday.  They are soon joined by the rest of the Darker family and Daisy is feeling apprehensive about seeing her whole family for the first time in a decade.  As the tide comes in and isolates them on the island for eight hours, one of them is found dead.  With a killer in their midst and no means of escape, how many of them will survive the night…

What. A. Book!  Sinister, spooky and utterly brilliant, this was not only one of my favourite reads of last month, but one of my favourite of all time. I love a claustrophobic and creepy novel and there is nothing better for those vibes than a dysfunctional family full of dark secrets that are trapped in an old house with no means of escape or contacting the outside world.  It adds an air of mystery and foreboding that hovers over the story from the first pages and sets the scene for what is to come.  As the bodies pile up the terror rises and you could cut the tension with a knife.  A cloud of suspicion hangs over everyone, including Daisy, and you have no idea who to trust. 

The Darker family are a cast of complex, unlikeable and unreliable characters.  They are a minefield of toxicity and dysfunction, the extent of which is unravelled slowly through flashbacks.   I could understand why Daisy hadn’t seen them in so long and was dreading spending time with them.  But Nana was different; an ebullient and caring character who totally stole the show and was my favourite family member. I could understand why Daisy loved her and cherished their relationship.  Narrator Daisy seems to be a quite timid character who doesn’t give us any obvious reasons not to trust her yet there was just something that felt off about her from the start.  This gave the book a magnetic quality I couldn’t resist as I love when you have an unreliable narrator or a character who you have no idea if they are friend or foe.

Alice Feeney can always be relied upon to deliver a first-class psychological thriller.  But this time she really outdid herself, expertly messing with our minds as she delivered twist after twist.  A ticking time bomb of lies, misdirection and sheer dread, I was on the edge of my seat and it wreaked havoc on my blood pressure.  But there was also an old-fashioned murder mystery feel to the story that I loved and made it easy to imagine this being adapted for the screen.  

Atmospheric, unnerving and consuming, Daisy Darker is a jaw-dropping masterpiece of a thriller that will linger long after reading.  Just make sure you have a block of free time available before picking it up, because once you start you won’t be putting it down until you’ve read the last page. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Alice Feeney is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. Her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, was an international bestseller and has been translated into over twenty languages. His & Hers is being adapted for screen by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films. Rock Paper Scissors is her fourth novel and is also being made into a TV series for Netflix by the producer of The Crown.

Alice was a BBC Journalist for fifteen years, and now lives in the British countryside with her family.

Daisy Darker is her fifth novel.

Website

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REVIEW: The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh (DC Morgan 1)

Published: August 4th, 2022
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this sensational start to a new series by one of my favourite authors. Thank you Sphere for the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

INTRODUCING DC FFION MORGAN, IN THE UNMISSABLE NEW SERIES FROM #1 BESTSELLER CLARE MACKINTOSH

‘Superb, with echoes of Agatha Christie‘ PATRICIA CORNWELL
‘A dark delight of a murder mystery’ JANICE HALLETT
‘Detectives Leo and Ffion make a storming debut‘ BELINDA BAUER
‘Mackintosh is just getting better and better‘ PETER JAMES

On New Year’s Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests.

His lakeside holiday homes are a success, and he’s generously invited the village to drink champagne with their wealthy new neighbours. This will be the party to end all parties.

But not everyone is there to celebrate. By midnight, Rhys will be floating dead in the freezing waters of the lake.

On New Year’s Day, DC Ffion Morgan has a village full of suspects.

The tiny community is her home, so the suspects are her neighbours, friends and family – and Ffion has her own secrets to protect.

With a lie uncovered at every turn, soon the question isn’t who wanted Rhys dead . . . but who finally killed him.

In a village with this many secrets, a murder is just the beginning.

********

MY REVIEW:

“Is anyone at The Shore who they appear to be?” 

Do I need to start a new crime series?  No.  Was I going to the moment I knew Clare Mackintosh had written one?  Of course!  

The Last Party introduces us to DC Ffion Morgan, a spiky detective who lives in Cwm Coed, North Wales.  I loved Ffion.  She isn’t always likeable but there is something about her that makes her compelling to read.  We know from early on that she has secrets and I loved how that made me question if I could trust her, even making me wonder if she could be our perpetrator a few times.  By the end of the book I felt a real bond with her character and am excited to see what’s next for her as the series continues.  For this investigation, Ffion is paired with English detective Leo Brady, something neither one is thrilled about.  I loved their dynamic and found Leo to be a likeable and fascinating character in his own right, so I’m hoping he will be back for book two.

The case that brings Ffion and Leo together is the murder of local celebrity Rhys Lloyd, whose body is found floating in the lake during the traditional New Year’s Day swim. Rhys is a deplorable character who gave me the heebie-jeebies from the beginning.  He is a man with more enemies than friends and I could understand why someone would want him dead.  In fact, I had more sympathy for whoever might have killed him than the victim himself, which tells you a lot.  But it isn’t that simple as the suspects are the other residents, an array of richly drawn background characters who also happen to be Ffion’s family and friends.  And this small town is a place filled with secrets, including those being kept by Ffion herself.  These added layers and complexities created moral dilemmas that helped us learn more about Ffion’s as both a person and a detective.  Would she do whatever it takes to catch the killer or would she sacrifice justice in order to protect herself and those she loves?  

Tense, twisty, claustrophobic and surprising, The Last Party is a great example of why Clare Mackintosh needs to be on everyone’s TBR.  She is a master of her craft, carefully constructing the many threads so that they collide into a finale that made my jaw drop.  I need book two now! 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

With more than two million copies of her books sold worldwide, number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016.

Both Clare’s second and third novels, I See You and Let Me Lie, were number one Sunday Times bestsellers. All three of her books were selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club. Clare’s latest novel, After the End, was published in June 2019 and spent seven weeks in the Sunday Times hardback bestseller chart.

Clare’s thriller, Hostage, was published in June 2021, and her latest thriller, The Last Party, which is the first in a new crime series, is published in August 2022.

Together, Clare’s books have been published in more than forty countries. Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

Website

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

********

Will you be adding this to your list? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

*All links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Setup by Lizzy Dent

Published: June 9th, 2022
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Holiday Fiction, New Adult Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this funny, heartwarming and uplifting rom-com. Thank you to Ellie at Viking for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

SHE HAS A PLAN . . .
FATE HAS OTHER IDEAS.
—————–

There are two men in my life. But this is not a love triangle.



Mara Williams reads her horoscope every day – but she wasn’t expecting to be in a whole other country when destiny finally found her. Just as a fortune teller reveals that her true love is about to arrive, a gorgeous stranger literally walks into her life. And now Mara is determined to bring them together again . . . Surely even fate needs a nudge in the right direction sometimes?

But while Mara is getting ready for ‘the one’, the universe intervenes. Her new flatmate Ash is funny, and kind, and sexy as hell . . . There was no predicting this: it’s as if her destiny just arrived on her doorstep.

So will Mara put her destiny in fate’s hands – or finally trust herself to reach for the stars?

*An edgy, hilarious rom-com from the author of The Summer Job. For fans of Beth O’Leary, Starstruck and New Girl.*

********

MY REVIEW:

“Fate always knows how to deliver.” 

Lizzy Dent has done it again!  Charming, witty and uplifting, The Setup is a fabulous summer read that has cemented her place as one of my Queens of rom-com.  

Alone in Budapest after her best friend Charlie dropped out of their girls trip at the last minute, Mara decides to go visit a fortune teller.  She tells her that she will meet the love of her life imminently, a prediction that seems to come true when the very man she described literally walks through the door shortly after.  But life is never simple and it seems that the universe has another plan, one that includes Mara’s sexy new flatmate, Ash.  Will Mara follow fate or finally trust herself to choose what she wants? 

I became an instant fan of Lizzy Dent when I read her debut, The Summer Job, last year and was excitedly anticipating this follow up.  I had the pleasure of meeting Lizzy recently at The Book Party and she is every bit as charismatic, funny and delightful in person as she appears online, something she also brings to her books. I love how she cleverly plays with the familiar romance tropes, making them feel fresh and entertaining and injecting them with laugh-out-loud humour and valuable life lessons.  I couldn’t put it down, reading the first ¾ of the book in one sitting and staying up until almost 2am without realising the time. And that ending! It couldn’t have been more perfect.

“I’ve never understood how people can know themselves so well that they know exactly where they’re going and what to do to get there. How to make clear decisions that truly come from just them. It’s a mystery to me.”

Mara is a wonderful character.  Quirky, shy, awkward but totally endearing, she is someone I loved from the start.  A horoscope enthusiast, she is so invested in the idea of fate and destiny that she doesn’t trust her own instincts or feelings and won’t make even the smallest of decisions without consulting what her horoscope says.  I particularly loved her system for choosing which movie to watch.  It certainly saves the many hours of flicking through the choices and trying to make a selection that is familiar to us all.  Mara is also a lonely character, her shyness leaving her with only one real friend who she feels like she’s drifted apart from lately, so I enjoyed watching her create new friendships as she tries to improve herself, especially with Samira.  I also really liked her relationship with Ash which, though predictable, felt very real and natural.  I was rooting for them and definitely Team Ash over Team Joe.  When she would waver I wanted to shake her and tell her to forget a dream and go for what was right in front of her.  But would she?

Funny, heartwarming and sweet, The Setup is a feel-good romance that should be on everyone’s tbr. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Lizzy Dent (mis)spent her early twenties working in Scotland in hospitality. After years travelling the world making Music TV for MTV and Channel 4, and creating digital content for Cartoon Network, the BBC and ITV, she wrote three Young Adult novels as Rebecca Denton published in the UK. This is her debut adult novel. She lives between London, Austria, and New Zealand with her young family.

Website

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REVIEW: Do No Harm by Jack Jordan

Published: May 26th 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Medical Thriller, Medical Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Police Procedural

I’m finally getting around to sharing my review for this nerve-shredding thriller. Thank you to The Likely Suspects and Simon and Schuster UK for the gifted proof copies of this book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

MY CHILD HAS BEEN TAKEN.
AND I’VE BEEN GIVEN A CHOICE . . .
KILL A PATIENT ON THE OPERATING TABLE
OR LOSE MY SON FOREVER.


The man lies on the table in front of me.
As a surgeon, it’s my job to save him.
As a mother, I know I must kill him.
You might think that I’m a monster.
But there really is only one choice.
I must get away with murder.
Or I will never see my son again.

I’VE SAVED MANY LIVES.
WOULD YOU TRUST ME WITH YOURS?

DON’T MISS THE HEART-STOPPING THRILLER OF 2022
#DONOHARM

********

MY REVIEW:

“Either I abide by my oath, and kill my son. 
Or I save Zack, and kill an innocent man.” 

Renowned cardiothoracic surgeon Anna Jones is being forced to make a horrendous choice: the life of her patient or the life of her son.  Eight-year-old Zack has been abducted and the kidnappers will only give him back if she kills a prestigious patient on the operating table and gets away with it.  As parents we always say we’d do anything for our children.  But does that include murder?

“We are all so blind, thinking that we know who we truly are. It is only pain like this that reveals what we are really capable of.” 

Do No Harm is a book that just screams ‘read me’. I mean, look at that cover!  And this nerve-shredding thriller was everything I hoped and more.  The premise is every parent’s worst nightmare, blurring the lines of morality as the author examines the question of just how far a parent would go to save their child.  It is an impossible dilemma, where whatever you choose you will lose, and the paralysing suspense and outright dread is omnipresent, making you feel everything Anna does.  It is unbearably tense at times, particularly in the operating room, as you are kept on a knife-edge, waiting to see what Anna will do and if Zack can be saved.  

I have long been a fan of Jack Jordan and will automatically read and buy anything he writes.  His magnificent storytelling, perfect plotting and sizzling suspense always blow me away, and he is a must-read author for any thriller lover.  But with Do No Harm Jordan has taken things to another level, crafting a dynamic thriller that is now one of my favourites of all time. It would make a fantastic movie or TV show so I hope someone snaps it up soon.  The hype is real and this is going to be huge.

“I never used to think of myself as an angry person, but these men have clawed a rabid animal out of me. I want to kill them, slowly, painstakingly, until they are begging for their mothers.”

One of my favourite things about this book is that it’s so intricate and multilayered.  As well as the moral dilemma there is a strong theme of motherhood woven into this book.  Through each of the three narrators we explore different stages of motherhood and opposing arguments to the dilemma, making you confront the many shades of grey and exposing the motivations and biases of each of the characters.  Each of them are deeply flawed and I liked that Jordan wasn’t scared to make even Anna unlikeable at times, instead focusing on making the characters complex, nuanced and layered.  And while they are all richly drawn and compelling, Anna is the one that stood out strongest to me.  I loved the dichotomy of her character: a Doctor who has taken the Hippocratic Oath and vowed to do no harm but also a mother who will do anything to keep her child safe.  It is the kind of agonising choice that you would never want to be faced with but is so fascinating to read.  

Nail-bitingly intense, and bingeable, Do No Harm is an absolute must-read.  Just make sure that when you pick it up you’ve got nothing else to do as it will hold you captive from the first page until the last. 

READ IT NOW. 

Rating: 💉💉💉💉💉

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jack Jordan is the global number one bestselling author of Anything for Her (2015), My Girl (2016), A Woman Scorned (2018), Before Her Eyes (2018) and Night by Night (2019).

His latest thriller Do No Harm has been coined the thriller of the summer for 2022, described as “relentlessly tense” by Sunday Times Bestseller Lesley Kara, and “Chilling and perfectly paced” by New York Times Bestseller Sarah Pearse.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

*These are affiliate links

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REIVEW: Madwoman by Louisa Treger

Published: June 9th 2022
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this outstanding and remarkable novel. Thank you Louisa Trager and Bloomsbury for the gifted proof.

********

SYNOPSIS:

In 1887 young Nellie Bly sets out for New York and a career in journalism, determined to make her way as a serious reporter, whatever that may take.

But life in the city is tougher than she imagined. Down to her last dime and desperate to prove her worth, she comes up with a dangerous plan: to fake insanity and have herself committed to the asylum that looms on Blackwell’s Island. There, she will work undercover to document – and expose – the wretched conditions faced by the patients.

But when the asylum door swings shut behind her, she finds herself in a place of horrors, governed by a harshness and cruelty she could never have imagined. Cold, isolated and starving, her days of terror reawaken the traumatic events of her childhood. She entered the asylum of her own free will – but will she ever get out?

An extraordinary portrait of a woman way ahead of her time, Madwoman is the story of a quest for the truth that changed the world.

‘Madwoman is one of the best, a magnificent portrayal of Nelly Bly in all her journalistic integrity and daring’ New York Journal of Books

********

MY REVIEW:

“Welcome to Blackwell’s Island. Once you get in here, you’ll never get out.”

Madwoman is a powerful, haunting and remarkable story about an unforgettable young woman. It’s 1887 and 19-year-old Nelly Bly has come to New York to try and make her name as a journalist, something unheard of for women at the time. In order to secure her dream job she pitches a daring idea: faking insanity to get herself committed to the asylum on Blackwell’s Island to go undercover and unearth the truth behind the rumours of mistreatment and expose them once and for all. But Nelly is unprepared for the horrors that lay in store and begins to wonder if she will ever escape the living hell she put herself in.

I’d heard the name Nelly Bly but knew nothing more about the woman at the heart of this story. But as soon as I read the synopsis and saw the striking cover I knew I needed to read this book. I needed to know what kind of woman would willingly get herself committed to an asylum in the nineteenth century and just what did she experience while there?

“Nellie shivered and gritted her teeth. She was going to sleep with madwomen, eat with them, be considered one of them.  Anything could happen, anything at all.” 

Louisa Trager has crafted a mesmerising novel full of evocative imagery and prose that made me see and feel everything that was on the page as vividly as if I were experiencing it myself. She brings the characters and places to life so clearly that you’d believe they were right in front of you. She tears your heart apart and puts it back together as you laugh, cry, rage, despair and feel absolute terror.

But it isn’t just her prose and imagery that makes you feel all of this, it is the deep connection she forges between the reader and Nelly that makes this story so deeply moving. Nelly is a fascinating and compelling character. As a young girl she gives us glimpses of the trailblazer she will become and little Nelly – or Pinks as she is then known – is a fierce and outspoken tomboy who doesn’t fit in and wants much more than to just be somebody’s wife. It helps us understand her actions as an adult such as why she is so determined to be independent and has her sights set on succeeding in what was then considered a man’s profession. Ms. Trager really gets inside Nelly’s mind, body and soul, allowing the reader to walk in her shoes and making our emotions mirror hers.

“Looking into her eyes, Nellie saw that there was a grief only beheld in lunatic asylums, a grief so deep and black that its victim was submerged beyond reach, far more wretched than a criminal.”

I don’t think it will be a surprise that where this story shines brightest is in the darkest of places. Nelly’s time in the asylum is harrowing, heartbreaking and raw. Blackwells is a bleak, gloomy place. A place of horror, degradation, humiliation and fear. A place where those charged with looking after the patients either give inadequate care or delight in doling out the most cruel and inhumane treatments they can think of. This was a time where women could be deemed insane for simply falling in or out of love or having the wrong opinion, and once you were behind that locked door you were usually left to rot. It was a dangerous and terrifying time to be a woman. Especially if you rebelled against the oppressive patriarchal system. The atmosphere on every page during Nelly’s time in the asylum is harsh and unforgiving. You wonder how anyone can survive such torture. But there is humanity and true strength alongside all of the darkness that is truly moving. The women fighting to survive beside Nelly each day are memorable and compelling and I especially enjoyed her friendship with Sofia. I was completely lost in Nelly’s world during this section of the book, reading most furiously and consumed by all she was going through.

An extraordinary story that is one of my top books of the year, I can’t recommend Madwoman enough.

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louisa Treger has worked as a classical violinist. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. Treger subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a Ph.D. in English at University College London, where she focused on early 20th century women’s writing and was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship “for distinguished work in the study of English Language and Literature.” The Lodger was published in 2014, The Dragon Lady in 2019 and she is currently working on her third novel.

Website

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

*These are affiliate links

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Squadpod Squadpod Book Club Squadpod Recommends Support Debuts

That Green-Eyed Girl by Julie Owen-Moylan

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Mystery, Historical Mystery, Romance Novel, Lesbian Literature, LGBT Literature
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this outstanding debut. Thank you to Jen at Michael Joseph for the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

1955: In an apartment on the Lower East Side, school teachers Dovie and Gillian live as lodgers. Dancing behind closed curtains, mixing cocktails for two, they guard their private lives fiercely. Until someone guesses the truth . . .

1975: Twenty years later in the same apartment, Ava Winters is keeping her own secret. Her mother has become erratic, haunted by something Ava doesn’t understand – until one sweltering July morning, she disappears.

Soon after her mother’s departure, Ava receives a parcel. Addressed simply to ‘Apartment 3B’, it contains a photo of a woman with the word ‘LIAR’ scrawled across it. Ava does not know what it means or who sent it. But if she can find out then perhaps she’ll discover the answers she is seeking – and meet the woman at the heart of it all . . .

********

MY REVIEW:

That Green-Eyed Girl was not only the Squadpod Book Club pick for May, but one of my most anticipated debuts of 2022.  A dual timeslip novel, it moves between 1955 and 1975 to tell  an unforgettable story that deals with difficult topics such as homophobia, racism, mental illness and neglect alongside everyday issues such as teenage crushes.  

Atmospheric, immersive and utterly compelling, I am in awe that this is a debut.  Julie Owen Moylan is a skilled storyteller whose vivid prose brings the story and characters to life, transporting me to the streets of New York so clearly it was as if I could feel the oppressive summer heat on my skin, hear the noise from the traffic and smell the smoke in the jazz bars. She moves seamlessly between timelines as she slowly converges the two storylines, beginning the connection with the mysterious package and then intricately weaving them together until the full picture emerges.

The book is filled with richly drawn, fascinating characters, including our two narrators: Dovie in 1955 and Ava in 1975.  The author creates a strong connection between them and the reader, allowing us to explore their innermost thoughts, feelings and fears.  I had a particularly strong maternal connection to Ava and longed to jump into the book and be the parent she desperately needed and wanted.  Despite their many differences, Ava and Dovie are actually very similar.  Both are imprisoned in their own ways; caught in a web of shameful secrets and lies that hold them captive and paralysed by the fear of discovery.  An oppressive and claustrophobic air of anguish, humiliation and dread permeates each page, and there is a bite of loneliness and regret that runs through the story as societal values and expectations force Dovie and Ava to live these half-lives in order to conform.  It is heartbreaking, powerful and perfectly written. 

Hauntingly beautiful, poignant and bittersweet, this book was both nothing like I expected and everything I wanted.  It is a truly astonishing debut from an author I predict big things from in the future.  This is one not to be missed. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Julie Owen Moylan is a writer whose short stories and articles have appeared in New Welsh ReviewHorizon Literary Review, and The Voice of Women in Wales Anthology

She has also written and directed several short films as part of her MA in Film. Her graduation short film called ‘BabyCakes’ scooped Best Film awards at the Swansea Film Festival, Ffresh, and the Celtic Media Awards. She also has an MA in Creative Writing, and is an alumna of the Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course. 

Her debut novel THAT GREEN-EYED GIRL will be published by Penguin Michael Joseph on May 12th 2022.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BLOG TOUR: The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance Novel, Book Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent book. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Freed from Pompeii’s brothel. Owned as a courtesan. Determined to have revenge. Her name is Amara. What will she risk for power?

Amara has escaped her life as a slave in Pompeii’s most notorious brothel. She now has a house, fine clothes, servants – but all of these are gifts from her patron, hers for as long as she keeps her place in his affections.

As she adjusts to this new life, Amara is still haunted by her past. At night she dreams of the wolf den, and the women she left behind. By day, she is pursued by her former slavemaster. In order to be truly free, she will need to be as ruthless as he is.

Amara knows she can draw strength from Venus, the goddess of love. Yet falling in love herself may prove to be her downfall.

The House with the Golden Door is the stunning second novel in Elodie Harper’s celebrated Wolf Den Trilogy, which reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.

********

MY REVIEW:

“There is always a price to pay for underestimating a woman.”

Ever since the jaw-dropping ending of The Wolf Den I have been impatiently awaiting book two in the trilogy and the chance to find out what was next for Amara, her fellow she-wolves and the residents of Pompeii.  The story picks up a few months after the shocking events at the end of book one: Amara is no longer a slave working at the brothel but a freedwoman living in the house with the golden door that her patron Rufus rents for her.  While happy to be free, she is haunted by her past, misses her friends and lives in fear of losing Rufus’ favour and her position as his concubine.  Her former master is also out for revenge and she must find a way to keep herself safe against not only him, but the man on whom she now relies.  

Once again I was utterly captivated by the mesmerising world that Elodie Harper brings to life on the pages. So evocative that it was like I was watching it all unfold on a movie screen in vivid technicolour, she transported me back to the ancient streets of Pompeii at a time when they were bustling with life and the fate awaiting this doomed city was unimaginable.  Her research and attention to detail is exquisite, depicting day to day life in a believable and entertaining way as she explores everything from mundane domesticity to the exciting but bloodthirsty sports citizens of Pompeii once enjoyed. 

“Amara wonders how long they will all be together in a household like this, and it is not only the habitual fear of being separated from Philos that makes her chest tighten. She has grown used to this place, to the strange almost-family of women she has collected.”

The Amara of this book is both the same and completely different. I enjoyed watching her learn to navigate the new world she inhabits and how skillfully she plays the game.  She is a strong, intelligent woman who now not only has a thirst for revenge and determination to survive, but more autonomy and power than before, though she does fear she will never completely be free.  But one of my favourite things about these books is the sisterhood the women share.  There are new characters and alliances alongside the old ones, but themes of strength, tenacity, vulnerability and wiliness remain and I enjoyed seeing them gain more power and freedom than they had in the brothel.  A sisterhood I particularly enjoyed was the blossoming friendship between Amara and Britannica.  I loved that Britannica was given such a large role in this story and how we finally got to see the person lurking beneath the silent savage we met in book one.  I adore this fierce Briton and she has become my favourite character.

Enthralling, exhilarating and unflinching, The House with the Golden Door is an accomplished piece of historical fiction.  If you’re a fan of the genre then you need to read this outstanding series.  Sadly I now have the agonising wait for the final instalment…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Elodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, which was judged by Stephen King.

She is currently a reporter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News. Her job as a journalist has seen her join one of the most secretive wings of the Church of Scientology and cover the far right hip hop scene in Berlin, as well as crime reporting in Norfolk where her first two novels were set – The Binding Song and The Death Knock.

Elodie studied Latin poetry both in the original and in translation as part of her English Literature degree at Oxford, instilling a lifelong interest in the ancient world. The Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy of novels about the lives of women in ancient Pompeii.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BLOG TOUR: Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Phoenix
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medical Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for for this astonishing, powerful and unforgettable novel. Thank you to Alex at Phoenix Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Montgomery, Alabama. 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend has big plans to make a difference in her community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies.

But when her first week on the job takes her down a dusty country road to a tumbledown cabin, she’s surprised to find that her new patients are just eleven and thirteen years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black, and for those handling their welfare benefits, that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her new responsibilities, she takes India and Erica into her heart and comes to care for their family as though they were her own. But one day she arrives at their door to discover the unthinkable has happened, and nothing will ever be the same.

Inspired by true events and a shocking chapter of American history, Take My Hand is a novel that will open your eyes and break your heart. An unforgettable story about love and courage, sisterhood and solidarity, it is also a timely and hopeful reminder that it only takes one person to change the world.

********

MY REVIEW:

“How dare they?  Our bodies belonged to us. Poor, disabled, it didn’t matter.  These were our bodies, and we had the right to decide what to do with them.  It was as if they were just taking our bodies from us, as if we didn’t even belong to ourselves.” 

Of the many profound quotes in Dolen Perkin-Valdez’ astonishingly powerful Take My Hand, it is this one that I feel best sums up its message.   If the erosion of human and female reproductive rights matters to you, then this is probably the most key piece of literature you can read right now.  A story about poverty, race, eugenics and the fight for justice and equality, this mesmerising novel is a reminder that we must heed the mistakes made in our history to avoid repeating them once more.

“We thought we were doing something useful for society, but this is where the so-called good deed had gotten us. Right smack into a nightmare.” 

Set in Montgomery, Alabama in 1973, the story follows Civil Townsend, a newly qualified nurse working at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic.  Civil is a young woman who believes in the good work she’ll be doing at the clinic serving poor Black women.  She believes in the difference that can be made to their lives through contraception and good care and has a strong moral code that guides her.  But when she’s given her first case she is shocked to discover her patients are sisters aged just eleven and thirteen and that they are on the new Depo-provera shot.  What follows is a shocking tale based in fact that goes beyond these two innocent young girls and even Alabama, shocking the entire United States.  It will leave you outraged, appalled, heartbroken and determined never to allow such a tragedy to happen again. 

“History repeats what we don’t remember…”

I believe there are some books that come at the perfect time.  That you read them when you are meant to in order for them to have the greatest impact on you and change your life in some way.  That is what happened with this book.  It feels like fate that this book, set around the time of Roe vs Wade, is being released just as courts in America threaten to overturn it and take away the rights of women once again.  It feels like a call to arms to protect these rights and prevent the events of this story from ever happening again as they threaten to do if women’s rights are once again stripped away.

“I had never known that good intentions could be just as destructive as bad ones.” 

Though based on a true case, the characters and events are fiction, but Ms. Perkins-Valdez writes so exquisitely that you believe every word is real as she breathes such life into the richly drawn characters that they felt like flesh and blood that stood in front of me.  Her writing is hypnotic yet invigorating, both putting a spell on me so I was lost in its pages and filling me with a passion to ensure such evil never happens again.  It is a memorable masterclass in storytelling that made this book immediately take a place as one of my favourites of all time.

“A year never passes without me thinking of them. India. Erica.  Their names are stitched inside every white coat I have ever worn.  I tell this story to stitch their names inside your clothes too. A reminder to never forget.  Medicine taught me, really taught me, to accept the things I cannot change. A difficult-to-swallow serenity prayer. I’m not trying to change the past. I’m telling it in order to lay those ghosts to rest.” 

Civil is a remarkable heroine and I adored her.  Intelligent, strong, brave and kind, she only wants to do good in the world and is devastated to learn that good intentions don’t always mean a good outcome.  She is also still trying to come to terms with her own trauma that is portrayed in such a real, but sensitive way that really connects you to her pain.  
Erica and India, the sisters at the heart of this tragedy, are two girls that you can’t help but take into your heart just as Civil did.  From the start I was desperate to know what fate had befallen them but was unprepared for the shocking truth that tore my heart in two and made tears fall from my eyes.  I wanted to hold those sweet girls and undo everything that they were forced to endure.  I was thankful that they found a champion in Civil who would fight for them to her last instead of allowing them to remain a silent statistic like so many others before them.  She gave them a voice when no one else was willing to hear them and made an entire country listen to what they had to say.  

“There is no greater right for a woman than having a choice.”

Magnificent, timely, poignant and immersive, this unforgettable novel rocked me to my core and seared itself into my heart, mind and soul. A story that everyone needs to read, I can’t recommend it highly enough and will be putting it into the hands of everyone I possibly can. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel WENCH. In 2011, she was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction. In 2017, HarperCollins released Wench as one of eight “Olive Titles,” limited edition modern classics that included books by Edward P. Jones, Louise Erdrich, and Zora Neale Hurston.

Dolen received a DC Commission on the Arts Grant for her second novel BALM which was published by HarperCollins in 2015.  In 2013, Dolen wrote the introduction to a special edition of Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave, published by Simon & Schuster, which became a New York Times bestseller. She followed that with an introduction to Elizabeth Keckly’s Behind the Scenes published in 2016.  Dolen is a 2020 nominee for a United States Artists Fellowship.

Her forthcoming novel TAKE MY HAND will be published April 2022 by Berkley/Penguin Random House.

Dolen is the current Chair of the Board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. On behalf of the foundation, she has visited nearly every public high school in the District of Columbia to talk about the importance of reading and writing.   She is currently Associate Professor in the Literature Department at American University and lives in Washington, DC with her family.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Squadpod Book Club Squadpod Recommends Support Debuts

REVIEW: Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Nobody But Us was April’s SquadPod Book Club pick, and boy was it a good one! Unpredictable and totally crazy, this is a phenomenal debut that everyone needs to read.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

MEET 2022’S MOST DANGEROUS COUPLE . . .
________

Steven Harding is a handsome, well-respected professor.
Ellie Masterson is a wide-eyed young college student.

Together, they are driving south from New York, for their first holiday: three days in an isolated cabin, far from the city.

Ahead of them, the promise of long, dark nights – and the chance to explore one another’s bodies, away from disapproving eyes.

It should be a perfect, romantic trip for two.

EXCEPT THAT HE’S NOT WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

BUT THEN AGAIN, NEITHER IS SHE . . .

********

MY REVIEW:

“Morning will cast a light on all this, shine on the craziness of the situation; this sham won’t survive sunrise, like all other evil it can only thrive in darkness.” 

What a wild ride!  This is a book that does exactly what it says on the tin and lives up to its tagline that calls Ellie and Steven ‘2022’s most f*cked up couple’.  This one took me quite some time to recover from after reading.  It’s that crazy.  I thought I knew what was in store but I had no idea just how messed up this was going to get…

The story opens with Ellie and Steven heading off on a three-day trip to celebrate their six month anniversary.  They both seem anxious and feel like everything rests on this weekend but the reader is in the dark as to what that is and why.  They quickly arrive at their destination: a remote cabin in the forest, surrounded by snow and with no cell phone reception.  Right then you would know this is going to be a getaway-gone-wrong even if you’d gone into this book blind.  Ominous and claustrophobic, there is an unbearable tension that wreaked havoc on my blood pressure as I tried to guess what would happen next.  But I could never have guessed what was coming if I’d had a hundred guesses.  It plays its cards extremely close to the vest so I won’t say anything more about the plot so you can discover the craziness for yourself. 

Stylish, sinister, scalpel-sharp and sophisticated, Laure Van Rensburg’s cunningly crafted debut is one you won’t forget.  She holds the reader in her vice-like grip, making it impossible to stop reading even when you want to turn away.  Ellie and Steven are richly drawn, memorable, unsavoury and unreliable characters, hiding their dysfunction behind a mask of normalcy that once removed will change everything you thought you knew. 

Unpredictable, darkly atmospheric and charged with adrenaline, Nobody But Us is the debut everyone is going to be talking about.  Laure Van Rensburg is a spectacular new talent that is one to watch and I for one can’t wait to read what she writes next.

READ THIS BOOK!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 & 2019 Bath Short Story Award.

Her debut novel, Nobody But Us, follows Ellie and Steven who take their first trip away together, but what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbour secrets – and that one of those secrets is deadly.

Nobody But Us (originally titled The Downfall) was shortlisted for the 2019 First Novel Prize, 2019 Novel London Competition and 2019 Flash 500 Novel Opening. It will be published by Michael Joseph in April 2022 and has sold in fourteen territories, including Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States.

Laure’s current work in progress, Eden Lost, was longlisted in 2019 Exeter Novel Prize and more recently shortlisted in the 2020 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx