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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Rule by David Jackson

Published: July 1st, 2021
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Format: Hardcover, Kindle Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Rule. Thank you to Viper for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

MY DAD SAYS BAD THINGS
HAPPEN WHEN I BREAK IT…

Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants pie and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen.

Daniel will be twenty-three next week. And he has no idea that he’s about to kill a stranger.

Daniel’s parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn’t know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die…

Because they’ll do anything to protect Daniel. Even murder.

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MY REVIEW:

“The Rule was that Daniel should avoid physical contact with others as much as possible. It was a tough decree to enforce, but it was the safest option.”

Twenty-two-year-old Daniel has the mind of a child but the body of an exceptionally strong man. Because of that, he lives by The Rule. But during a chance encounter on his way home one afternoon, Daniel breaks The Rule in order to protect his beloved father, Scott and accidentally kills Joey Cobb, a local drug-dealer. Panic takes over, and Scott goes to extraordinary lengths to protect his vulnerable son. But when Joey’s body is found, chaos ensues as the clues draw the police and, more dangerous characters, closer to discovering the truth…

This is a story about family, love, and the lengths a parent will go to in order to protect their child. Daniel is a great character. I really liked him and it is impossible not to feel affection for him. When we meet him he is excited about enjoying chippy chips and his favourite cake for his upcoming twenty-third birthday and loves to escape into his favourite comic books. He is a gentle young man who has no idea of his own strength, which is why his parents created The Rule. Daniel is also very close to his father, Scott, and their bond is a real driving force in the story as it is at the heart of the actions of both men on the night of the accident. 

There is a duality that runs through the characters, a theme of them being both incredibly strong and deeply vulnerable, albeit in different ways. For instance, Daniel is a gentle giant, physically strong but also vulnerable because of his learning difficulty, while Hannah is a strong and determined woman struggling with a heartbreaking personal tragedy that seeps into all facets of her life. I really liked this contrast and how the author explored it in each of the narrators. But it all felt a bit one-dimensional. I think this was partly because there were so many narrators and that if the author had focused on fewer of them then I could have felt that depth, connection and investment that was missing. 

A readable thriller filled with some intriguing characters and unexpected twists, The Rule is great for anyone looking for a quick read. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

David Jackson is the author of eight crime novels, including the bestseller Cry Baby. When not murdering fictional people, David spends his days as a university academic in his home city of Liverpool.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx


Categories
book reviews

Quick Reads: The Baby Is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Happy Publication Day to this year’s Quick Reads. Thank you to Midas PR, the Reading Agency and Atlantic Books for gifting me this Quick Read.

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SYNOPSIS:

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 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?

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MY REVIEW:

The Baby is Mine is the first book I’ve read that is actually set during the pandemic. Darkly funny, claustrophobic and readable, it takes place in Nigeria during the first lockdown

Bambi has been kicked out by his girlfriend after being caught cheating and is forced to seek refuge with his recently widowed aunt and newborn cousin. When he arrives he is shocked to find another woman living there: his late uncle’s mistress. What’s more, both women are claiming the baby is their child. Who is telling the truth? 

This novella lived up to its Quick Read title. Short and not-so-sweet, this was an entertaining read with fascinating but unreliable characters. I liked that the story was told from Bambi’s point of view. A Casanova who believes it’s unnatural for men to be tied to just one woman, he isn’t a particularly likeable or sympathetic character at the start. But once he arrives at his Aunt Bidemi’s house things begin to change. Bidemi and Eshoe are caught up in their psychological games and battle over baby Remi and Bambi steps up, puting the child first and getting between the women to protect him. This makes him much more likeable, though he is still a flawed, misogynistic character. 

Bidemi and Eshoe are both crazy, unreliable and compelling characters. They are so well written that I was never sure who was telling the truth or what one of them would do next. Every time I thought I knew, something would happen and I’d be rethinking my conclusion. Their story reminded me a little of the judgement of Soloman in the bible, but thankfully Bambi didn’t offer to split little Remi in two to find out who his mother really was. 

If  you’re looking for a quick, fun, suspenseful read, then this is the book for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at a Nigerian Publishing House and has been freelancing as a writer and graphic designer since. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self-published work.

In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam. In 2016, she was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

She is the author of My Sister, the Serial Killer, which won the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller, the 2019 Morning News Tournament of Books, the 2019 Amazon Publishing Reader’s Award for Best Debut Novel, the 2019 Anthony Award for Best First Novel.

It was also shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019, shortlisted for the Goodreads Choice Awards 2019 in the Mystery & Thriller and Debut Novel categories, shortlisted for the British Book Awards 2020 in two categories, shortlisted for the Cameo Awards 2020 in the Book to Audio category, shortlisted for Book Bloggers’ Choice Awards 2020.

It was longlisted for the Booker Prize 2019, and longlisted for the 2020 Dublin Literary Award.

My Sister, the Serial Killer is being translated into 30 languages and has also been optioned for film.

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Click here to learn more about the other Quick Reads out today.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Legal Crime by Samiksha Bhattacharjee

Published: February 15th, 2021
Publisher: The Conrad Press
Genre: Young Adult, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Legal Crime. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to The Conrad Press for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

This exciting and captivating page-turner transports you into the fascinating story of sixteen-year-old aspiring singer Fiona Watson who runs away from her family, oblivious to the dangers outside her shielded comfort zone. As she journeys through her new world, leaving her past behind and determined to find a new identity, she uncovers surprising secrets buried deep within her long ago…

How do her new friends link to her past? What secrets are they hiding behind their misleading smiles? How much of herself has she really left behind? And how will she cope when she realises that she has made a huge mistake… one that could ruin her forever?

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MY REVIEW:

In the early hours of her sixteenth birthday, Fiona runs away from home. Why she’s leaving isn’t clear at first, but things are revealed as the story goes on. With the help of a group of new friends, she starts to carve out a new identity for herself and chase her dreams. But being young and naïve, she is unaware and unprepared for the dangers and struggles that await her away from home. And as her new friends’ secrets are unveiled, she begins to wonder if she has made a big mistake…

I think it is important to know before reading this book that it is not just young adult fiction, but the author is just thirteen years old. When viewed through that lens, it is a good book. But I also feel like it makes it a little tricky to review this book objectively as I look at the world very differently as a woman in my forties to how a thirteen-year-old does. 

Writing any book is a remarkable achievement for anyone, particularly a young person. This book has the bare bones of a great book but suffers without the nuance and experience of a more mature author. The narration was sometimes a little confusing, the writing a bit clumsy and the pace a bit choppy for my liking, but all of that could be my more mature perspective of a book written by, and for, young adults. 

But being young also has its advantages and the author authentically conveys the frustration, pain, angst and naivete of being a teenager. She took me back to that time where every small problem felt like the end of the world and I was so sure I knew so much more than I did. A time where our friends are the most important people in our world and it seems our parents are only out to get in our way. But as the story goes on, she shows how a teenager learns the importance of the right friends, family, and how to forgive yourself for your mistakes. 

Legal Crime’s themes of identity, self-discovery and peer pressure will resonate with young readers. Quirky and imaginative, I think the author has the potential to be a great writer with a little more maturity and experience and I am sure we will see more from her in the future. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Samiksha Bhattacharjee is a thirteen-year-old British author living with her parents and younger brother. She started writing ‘Legal Crime’ when she was seven, and hopes to inspire other children to start creative writing too. She also enjoys acting, singing, drawing and talking (a lot).

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews

Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

Published: February 4th, 2021
Publisher: Simon and Schuster UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Science Fiction

Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK for my gifted ARC.

*Please note that this book is published as Faye, Faraway in the US.

SYNOPSIS:

THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY DEBUT OF 2021

This is a story about taking a leap of faith
And believing the unbelievable

They say those we love never truly leave us, and I’ve found that to be true. But not in the way you might expect. In fact, none of this is what you’d expect.

I’ve been visiting my mother who died when I was eight.
And I’m talking about flesh and blood, tea-and-biscuits-on-the-table visiting here.

Right now, you probably think I’m going mad.
Let me explain…

Although Faye is happy with her life, the loss of her mother as a child weighs on her mind even more now that she is a mother herself. So she is amazed when, in an extraordinary turn of events, she finds herself back in her childhood home in the 1970s. Faced with the chance to finally seek answers to her questions – but away from her own family – how much is she willing to give up for another moment with her mother?

Space Hopper is an original and poignant story about mothers, memories and moments that shape life.

MY REVIEW:

Space Hopper tells the story of Faye, a woman in her early 30s. Faye is happy in her life as a wife and mother but has always struggled with the loss of her own mother when she was just eight years old. Then, one day, she is surprised to find herself back in her childhood home in the seventies. Faced with the chance to finally get to know the mother she lost and answer the questions she’s had all these years, she’s faced with a difficult choice: how much is she prepared to sacrifice in order to chase the past? 

The story got off to a fascinating start and I immediately loved the conversational writing style. I always find this style helps me connect with a book as you really feel like the narrator is talking to you. I found the story compelling and I was engrossed in the book. But there were a number of problems that made this book a bit of a miss for me. First was Faye. At first I didn’t mind her but I quickly found her really irritating and got frustrated with her. 

Another difficulty for me was that while the story has a lot of potential, it fell short somehow. What started as an interesting premise became far-fetched and didn’t hold my attention so easily. Some of the plot points felt really far-fetched and Faye made decisions that just didn’t sit right with what a loving mother would do. The ending was also a big issue for me that affected how I saw the book overall. 

I would always say that it is best to read a book for yourself and not let any review sway you from reading a book you like the sound of. While this didn’t live up to my expectations, it is a quirky, original and intriguing book that had lots right with it, such as the writing style and some sweet and tender moments. Just go in with an open mind and you might find it’s one you love.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Helen Fisher spent her early life in America, but grew up mainly in Suffolk where she now lives with her two children. She studied Psychology at Westminster University and Ergonomics at UCL and worked as a senior evaluator in research at the RNIB. She is now a full-time author.Space Hopper is her first novel. She is currently working on her second novel.

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Categories
book reviews

The Furies by Katie Lowe ⭐⭐⭐

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Published: February 20th, 2020
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre:  Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Gothic Fiction, Paramanoranol Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

Thank you to Tandem Collective UK for the invitation to take part in this readalong and to HarperCollinsUK for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

IT’S 1997. VIOLET IS A NEW STUDENT AT ELM HOLLOW ACADEMY AND DESPERATE TO FIT IN.

Quiet, artistic, unremarkable. When invited to an advanced study group by her alluring art teacher, Annabel, she is at once terrified and delighted.

There she meets Robin, Grace, and Alex: charismatic outsiders who invite her into their clique.

But once the study sessions on the school’s history of seventeenth-century witchcraft and magic become more than just theory, Violet must decide what she’s prepared to do in order to stay popular.

And maybe she’ll solve the mystery of what happened to a former member of their group. The one who went missing.

MY REVIEW:

“Some things simply cannot be believed. Even when you know they’re true.”

The Furies is a story about power and vengeance. It follows four teenage girls full of insecurities and desperate to fit in who, like the mythological Furies, use their powers to punish evil deeds. It shows the force peer pressure can wield and the damage that can be done by choosing the wrong friends.

Violet is the new girl at Elm Hollow College, a prestigious school with a past steeped in rumours of witchcraft. She is soon befriended by Robin, who is the yin to Violet’s yang. The pair soon become inseparable and Violet becomes friends with Robin’s other friends Alex and Grace. After being invited to be part of a secret group by one of the teachers, Violet learns more about the school’s inauspicious history and the four girls begin to study witchcraft, using it to wield power and seek vengeance on those they deem deserving.

Violet and Robin are drawn to each other for very different reasons – one wants a follower, the other to be accepted. Violet is a quiet, intelligent girl who overthinks everything. She is still coming to terms with the death of her father and sister and is just trying to get through each day, preferring to blend into the shadows. Robin is gregarious, spontaneous and loves any kind of attention. She has a reputation as a bad girl that she thrives on. Violet is beguiled by her and blindly follows wherever she goes, finding herself drawn down a dark path of debauchery, obsession and death. I liked their differences and felt like deep down they both had a vulnerability that’s rooted in a need to belong and feel seen. At times it seemed a stretch how Violet would do whatever Robin wanted without thinking, but peer pressure is a strong thing and many teenagers find themselves in situations they’d never have even considered because a friend dared or encouraged them to do it.

The Furies opens with a stunning prologue full of beautiful prose that is at odds with the dark, macabre things being described. There is a promise of something sinister and foreboding. Unfortunately, the rest of the book is a slow-burn and feels a bit lacklustre after such a compelling start.

But while I didn’t love the book, I did like it. The atmospheric, lyrical prose draws you in and brings the world to life around you. I enjoyed the school lore and the interesting perspective on vengeance that is offered through the study of myth and witchcraft – something that was clearly well researched. I did find some things about this book a little disappointing, such as the story was told like a stroll down memory lane rather than the eerie, murder mystery that the prologue and synopsis teased. Also, I found the characters in the book unlikeable and was unable to bring myself to really care who lived or died or what had happened to the missing girl.

Overall, this was a well-written book that was just a little too slow and not witchy enough for me. It may be more suited to a younger reader and I would recommend this if you’re looking for a coming-of-age story rather than a mystery.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Katie is a writer living in Worcester, UK, whose debut novel The Furies is published by Harperfiction (UK), St Martin’s Press (US) and eight other territories worldwide.

A graduate of the University of Birmingham, Katie has a BA(Hons) in English and an MPhil in Literature & Modernity. She returned to Birmingham in 2019 to complete a PhD in English Literature, with her thesis on female rage in literary modernism and the #MeToo era.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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