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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Guest House by Robin Morgan-Bentley

Published: June 23rd, 2022
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Medical Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Orion for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE.
WHATEVER THE COST…

Jamie and Victoria are expecting their first baby.

With a few weeks to go, they head off for a final weekend break in a remote part of the North Pennines. The small and peaceful guesthouse is the ideal location to unwind together before becoming parents. Upon arrival, they are greeted by Barry and Fiona, the older couple who run the guesthouse. They cook them dinner and show them to their room before retreating to bed themselves.

The next morning, Jamie and Victoria wake to find the house deserted. Barry and Fiona are nowhere to be seen. All the doors are locked. Both their mobile phones and car keys have disappeared. Even though it’s a few weeks early, Victoria knows the contractions are starting.

The baby is coming, and there’s no way out.

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MY REVIEW:

“Every time, after each scan of the nursery, I find myself on the verge of surrender… My hand hovers over the nine.  Just press it three times, Jamie.  Take the risk.  Tell them what happened in the guest house.” 

The Guest House is a thriller that packs a punch from the start.  It opens with Jamie and Victoria enjoying a last weekend away in a remote guest house a few weeks before their longed for first baby arrives. But on their first night Victoria wakes up with labour pains and they find the guest house is deserted, the doors locked and their mobile phones and car keys missing.  Leaving us on tenterhooks, the story then jumps forward.  Jamie and Victoria are now home but we have no idea what happened that day at the guest house.  Is their baby ok?  Why is someone sending them anonymous veiled threats?  And what is the secret that they are so scared will be revealed?  

Robin Morgan-Bentley has done it again. Deceptively layered and complex, this perfectly executed psychological thriller takes you on a twist-filled rollercoaster ride that exceeded my already high expectations. It is deceptively layered and complex, a perfectly executed psychological thriller takes you on a twist-filled rollercoaster ride that I absolutely loved. The story moves between timelines as Jamie and Victoria tell their story piece by piece, slowly revealing the true horror of what happened that fateful day.  Drenched in atmosphere, sizzling with suspense and charged with adrenaline, the fear, heartache, guilt, regret and internal conflict leaps from the page and the scenes from the guest house are a ticking time bomb of sheer dread.  It is one of those books that you clear your schedule for and I devoured it in under a day. 

The characters are well written and intriguing, and I liked that both Jamie and Victoria narrated the story and that neither of them were what you’d typically expect.  Victoria isn’t the sweet, demure new mother that we typically see and I actually found her quite cold, hard to like and difficult to connect with.  On the other hand, Jamie is a very likeable, endearing character that I felt a strong connection with.  Another thing I liked about Jamie is the representation of disability.  As a disabled person it is great to see disability portrayed in such a realistic way, where it is simply part of his character and not a weakness or flaw.  It doesn’t stop him doing normal or even heroic things, in fact it makes him even more determined to protect his family.  I also liked that he was given the opportunity to address how other people’s perceptions and judgement make him feel, something I related to on a personal level.  We need more characters like Jamie in fiction so that those without experience of living with disability see us as we are, not simply a token character to be pitied or seen as a burden. 

Riveting, addictive and unbearably tense, this dark and twisted tale will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. A must read for  any thriller lover. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Robin Morgan-Bentley was born and grew up in London. After studying Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University, he went on to work for Google before moving to Audible, where he has been working since 2014.

His debut thriller, The Wreckage, was nominated for the CWA Dagger John Creasey New Blood Award, the CrimeFest Specsavers Debut Crime Award and Capital Crime’s Debut Book of the Year Award. His next thriller, The Guest House, will be released in the UK in June 2022 and in the US in September 2022.

Robin lives in Buckinghamshire with his husband and son.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent contemporary romance. Thank you to Ellie at Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

One summer. Two rivals. A plot twist they didn’t see coming…
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Nora is a cut-throat literary agent at the top of her game. Her whole life is books.

Charlie is an editor with a gift for creating bestsellers. And he’s Nora’s work nemesis.

Nora has been through enough break-ups to know she’s the one men date before finding their happy-ever-after. To prevent another dating dud, Nora’s sister has persuaded her to swap her city desk for a month’s holiday in Sunshine Falls.

It’s a small town straight out of a romance novel, but instead of meeting sexy lumberjacks, handsome doctors or cute bartenders, Nora keeps bumping into…Charlie.

She’s no heroine. He’s no hero. So can they take a page out of an entirely different book?

Binge-read The Hating Game and now looking to escape into another suitably steamy love story? Look no further… Set over one sizzling August, BOOK LOVERS is the new chemistry-filled ‘rivals to lovers’ romcom from New York Times #1 bestseller Emily Henry

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MY REVIEW:

“Sometimes, even when you start with the last page and you think you know everything, a book finds a way to surprise you.”

Book Lovers is a bibliophile’s dream romance novel.  Heartwarming, emotional, funny and uplifting, this was an utter delight from beginning to end.  I finished it with a smile on my face, warmth in my heart and tears in my eyes.  

Workaholic Nora is a successful, cut-throat literary agent with little time in her life for anything else.  Her sister Libby is a burnt out, heavily pregnant mum-of-two who needs an escape.  Together the sisters head to Sunshine Falls, the setting that inspired the bestselling book by one of Nora’s clients, for a month-long vacation armed with a checklist Libby has created to ensure they get the full small town experience.  But Sunshine Falls has something in store neither of them foresee: Charlie Lastra, Nora’s professional rival who is also in town.  What follows is a compelling and immersive enemies to lovers story with a fabulous literary twist. 

This was my second time reading one of Emily Henry’s books and has secured her place on my list of auto-buy romance authors.  Well-written, nuanced and believable, she knows how to pull you in and make you root for her characters even when they themselves don’t.   Romance novels can be cliched, tired and predictable, but while Book Lovers is filled with the usual tropes and clichés, it draws attention to them, makes fun of them and surprises you by not always taking the route you expect.  I especially liked how it flips the familiar trope on its head and offers a refreshing twist on the usual romance heroine by putting the ambitious city girl who enjoys her life and has no desire to change it at the heart of the book.

“Because that’s my life. The trope that governs my days. The archetype over which my details are superimposed. 
I’m the city person. Not the one who meets the hot farmer. The other one.
The uptight, manicured literary agent.. I’m the one who gets dumped.”

Nora, Charlie and Libby were great characters that I found easy to root for.  The bond between the sisters was beautiful and Charlie and Nora make a believable couple with funny, authentic banter and chemistry that sizzles from the pages.  I liked that the author also explores their pasts to help us understand them better, allowing us to see why they made decisions we might not have otherwise understood.  But what I loved most of all was how the author wrote Nora as someone who lives and breathes books.  In her job she’s passionate, dedicated and cut-throat, nicknamed ‘the shark’ by her colleagues, and her literary love spills over into every facet of her life, he sees people as the character they would be in a story, thinks in plots and views life through the lens of the tropes she knows so well.  She even applies this thinning to herself, accepting that in a romance novel she would be the girl the hero dates before meeting the love of his life in the small town.  It made her one of my favourite heroines to date and we all know a book about books makes any book lover extra happy.

An enthralling contemporary romance with depth, warmth, heart and humour, Book Lovers is a truly uplifting enemies to lovers story that will make you believe in the power of true love.  And books.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the now-defunct New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

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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.

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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 . . .

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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

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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.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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BOOK REVIEW: Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Published: September 30th 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Romance Novel, Romantic Fantasy, Paranormal Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review of Once Upon A Broken Heart. I read this beguiling novel as part of a buddy read with Jodie.

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SYNOPSIS:

How far would you go for happily ever after?

From the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval series, the first book in a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in happily ever after. Until she learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, and her dreams are shattered.

Desperate to stop the wedding, and heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game – and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“The bell hanging outside the curiosity shop knew the human was trouble from the way he moved through the door.”

And with that intriguing quote so begins one of my most highly anticipated books of 2021.  
I’d read many reviews raving about this book and had heard countless praise for Stephanie Garber, so I was filled with both excitement and trepidation when I finally read it as part of a buddy read in February.  Would it live up to the hype?  What I discovered between the pages was not what I expected, it was even better.  Alluring, intoxicating and beguiling, it cast its spell on me from the first page and didn’t let go.  I got lost in this fairytale world and never wanted to find my way out. 

“Always promise less than you can give, for Fates always take more,
Do not make bargains with more than one Fate,
And, above all, never fall in love with a Fate.”

Set in the fictional world of Valenda, it tells the story of Evangeline Fox, a young girl desperate to win back the man she loves.  So she seeks out Jacks, also known as the Prince of Hearts, and strikes a deal.  All he asks for is three kisses that are to be given at a time and place of his choosing.  It seems so simple.  But Evangeline soon learns that a deal made with an immortal can be dangerous and there is always a higher price to pay…

“She sensed that she was living in an illusion and if she looked closely, she’d see that everything she’d thought was stardust was really just the burning embers of a wicked spell.” 

Stephanie Garber has a new fan.  I was mesmerised by this magical tale and now understand the hype.  Beautifully and evocatively written, Ms. Garber brings to life the world she created so vividly that I felt like I was right beside Evangeline in this world of enchantment, illusion and bewitchment where fairytales come true.  But I don’t want to say more about the plot because this is one of those times I think it’s best to go in as blind as possible and enjoy the thrill of experiencing the story unfold for yourself.

“She also knew that sometimes there was a murky space in between good and evil.”

Evangeline and Jacks are great protagonists. I enjoyed their contrasting characters and how they represented good versus evil: Evangeline the innocent, sweet and naive girl who believes in love and happily-ever-after is the good, while Jacks is the seductive, enthralling, calculating and manipulative villain represents the bad.  But over time we begin to see other sides to their personalities, particularly Evangeline, who must become more wiley in order to survive her time in Valenda.  But it was Jacks who stole the show for me; his irresistible charm captivating me like those he traps with his bargains.  Plus, there is just something about a complex, layered and morally grey character like him that I love.

“All stories are both truth and lies. What matters is the way we believe in them.”

Once Upon a Broken Heart is a delightful and whimsical tale that glistens with magic.  And that ending!  It crept up on me out of nowhere and left me desperate to know what happened next.  I need book two now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Stephanie Garber is the #1  New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval Series. Once Upon A Broken Heart is her newest book. Her books are published in over thirty languages.

When she’s not writing, she’s usually reading or watching television shows with vampires. Now that her dream of becoming a published author has come true, her new dream is to visit Club 33 at Disneyland.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

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BLOG TOUR: The Baby Shower by S. E. Lynes

Publisher: March 1st 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
Format: Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this addictive psychological thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

She doesn’t know I’m there, watching her in the mirror. She slides her hand under her blouse. And then I see something impossible. She isn’t pregnant…

She bursts into my life like a storm, and nothing is the same again. She seems so perfect, with her lilting laugh and her beautiful face. One by one, I watch as my friends fall under her spell.

Only I seem to suspect something. Only I see that her smiles don’t reach her cold, furious eyes. And when I’m accused of things I didn’t do, when my home is vandalized, I know she’s behind it. But she only lets her mask slip when no one is looking, so if I say anything, I’ll look crazy.

So when the baby shower comes around I’m there, sitting on a velvet sofa in a posh hotel room, surrounded by balloons. We share gifts, we pour small glasses of champagne, and she beams, her bump just visible under her bright red shirt.

But that afternoon, I finally learn the unbelievable truth.

There is no baby…

A stunningly twisty story of toxic female friendships, guilt and lies from S.E. Lynes, author of the no.1 bestseller The Housewarming. If you like Lisa Jewell, Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, you’ll be glued to The Baby Shower.

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MY REVIEW:

WHAT. A. BOOK!   S.E. Lynes has proven herself to be the psychological thriller master with this tense, mind-blowing and crazy book.  It was so addictive that I read half of it in one sitting and would have read the whole thing if it hadn’t have been 2am and my eyes were betraying me. 

It begins with a woman waking up in hospital after a car accident.  Though in pain she is full of rage towards another woman who she needs to find before the woman finds her.  Only one of them can leave the hospital alive and she’s determined it will be her.  I was full of questions: who is this other woman?  What did she do?  And why does one of them have to die?  From there the story moves between timelines, shifting from the hospital to events leading up to the crash, telling a story of lies, betrayal and toxic female friendship that will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

The story is told by multiple narrators but it was Jane who resonated most with me.  Over the course of the story we see her whole world get turned upside down and it all begins when Lexie Lane is brought into her close friendship group by Jane’s best friend, Sophie.  Sophie thinks Lexie is golden and doesn’t see the callous and spiteful things she does to push her and Jane apart, instead choosing to believe her lies and turn away from the person she’s been closest to for years.  Jane’s heartache through all of this is palpable.  She is shocked that her best friend doesn’t believe her and that another grown woman seems intent on wrecking her life for no apparent reason.  You feel her internal struggle to believe it is even happening herself and her pain as she wonders why.  Her heartache is compounded by her early menopause and infertility, especially in the face of Sophie and Lexie’s pregnancies.  Having been through infertility myself, I know that pain of longing for something so much that it hurts and being happy yet also jealous when it happens for those you love.  It is powerfully but sensitively written and really pulls you close to Jane while wondering what on earth Sophie is thinking. 

Lexie is a fantastic villain who is brilliantly written.  She is friendly and charming when she chooses, a facade that masks her true character, which is sly, calculating, cruel and manipulative.  The game she’s playing is so obvious to the reader and I immediately sided with Jane, yet I could also see why Sophie liked her and found it hard to believe she was doing such terrible things.  But I think it ultimately says more about Sophie when she refused to listen to Jane’s side of things than it did about Lexie.  After all, you can’t turn a true friend against someone with lies.  I think this will resonate with so many of us as I think most of us have unfortunately experienced these toxic kinds of female friendships at some point in our lives and will recognise someone we knew in Lexie’s character.  

Brimming with tension and foreboding, The Baby Shower is a compelling, twisty and surprising psychological thriller that will make you feel all the feelings.  Trust me when I tell you this is a book not to be missed. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Former BBC Producer, S.E. Lynes is the Amazon best selling author of ‘intelligent and haunting’, ‘beautifully written’ psychological thrillers, VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT, THE PROPOSAL, THE WOMEN, THE LIES WE HIDE, CAN YOU SEE HER? and her latest novel, THE HOUSEWARMING, available for pre-order NOW.

After completing her MA, Lynes taught creative writing at Richmond Adult Community College for over ten years. She now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon*
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Check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: All For You by Louise Jensen

Published: January 20th 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this crazy, heart-stopping thriller. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and to Louise Jensen for my signed copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

MEET THE WALSH FAMILY

Lucy: Loving mother. Devoted wife. And falling to pieces.
Aidan: Dedicated father. Faithful husband. And in too deep.
Connor:Hardworking son. Loyal friend. But can never tell the truth.

Everyone in this family is hiding something, but one secret will turn out to be the deadliest of all . . .

Can this family ever recover when the truth finally comes out?

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MY REIVEW:

“The hands of the clock tick out their warning as they march from the present into the future. More than anything I wish I could wind them back and step into the past. Rewrite history. Keep us safe.”

Wow! What a rollercoaster ride this was!  All For You has everything you could want in a thriller and more.  Heart-pounding, tense and unputdownable it gets its hooks into you at the start and doesn’t let go.  And I suggest you simply hold on and enjoy the ride. 

I knew Louise Jensen wrote a good psychological thriller, but this time she really knocked it out of the park. Fast-paced and vividly written, this book was crazy!  In the best way.  Cleverly and intricately plotted, this is a layered, complex and nuanced story with so much beneath the surface waiting to be revealed.  You feel the foreboding, mystery and dark secrets looming from the first page and the pain and torment flow from every pore as the author explores the dynamics of family life, friendships, love, loss and tragedy, as well as the reality of living with someone with a chronic and potentially fatal illness alongside the mystery.  I was desperate to know what this family was hiding and why they thought someone would want revenge.  I loved how hard this was to predict and how the slight shift in part two brought something new and surprising to the story that ramps up the tension you already feel, leaving me flying through the remaining pages to discover the truth.  

“Suddenly, he knew what madness looked like.  He was staring it straight in the eyes.” 

I love a well-written multiple pov story and this one pulls it off flawlessly.  The narrators are richly drawn and intriguing characters.  They are all hiding something, making them unreliable narrators, and I soon began to wonder if they are keeping the same secret or if there were multiple skeleton’s hidden in this family’s closet.  The author writes them all so skillfully, really getting inside the tortured souls of this family and bringing them to life.  

This book blew me away and I’m still reeling from the cascade of shocking revelations that came as we approached the finale.  Jaw-dropping and addictive, this is a must read for thriller fans.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers ‘The Sister’, ‘The Gift’, ‘The Surrogate’, ‘The Date’, ‘The Family’ & ‘The Stolen Sisters’. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s seventh thriller, ‘All For You’, will be published in Autumn 2020 by Harper Collins.

Louise has been nominated for multiple awards including Goodreads Debut Author Of The Year, The Guardians ‘Not The Booker Prize’, best polish thriller of 2018 and she has also been listed for two CWA Dagger awards. All of Louise’s thrillers are currently under option for TV & film.

Louise also has a penchant for exploring the intricacies of relationships through writing heart-breaking, high-concept love stories under the pen name Amelia Henley. ‘The Life We Almost Had’ was an international best seller. her latest release ‘The Art of Loving You’ is out now.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

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

BLOG TOUR: The Unravelling by Polly Crosby

Published: January 6th 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Magical Realism, Fairy Tale
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising and haunting novel. Apologies that I am posting late due to illness. Thank you to HQ for the gifted copy of the book and the invitation to take part.

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SYNOPSIS:

A darkly beautiful dual-timeline novel with a captivating mystery, for fans of Diane Setterfield, Kate Morton, Kate Mosse and Kiran Millwood Hargrave

’Like a surreal cabinet of curiosities – haunting, eerie, evocative’ Bridget Collins, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Binding

When Tartelin Brown accepts a job with the reclusive Marianne Stourbridge, she finds herself on a wild island with a mysterious history.

Tartelin is tasked with hunting butterflies for Marianne’s research. But she quickly uncovers something far more intriguing than the curious creatures that inhabit the landscape.

Because the island and Marianne share a remarkable history, and what happened all those years ago has left its scars, and some terrible secrets.

As Tartelin pieces together Marianne’s connection to the island, she must confront her own reasons for being there. Can the two women finally face up to the painful memories that bind them so tightly to the past?

Atmospheric and deeply emotional, The Unravelling is the captivating novel from the author of The Illustrated Child.

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MY REVIEW:

“There’s something about this place that I can’t quite get a grip on. It’s as if it’s trying to tell me something, but I don’t know the language.” 

The Unravelling is a story of mystery, grief and metamorphosis set on an isolated island where decades-old secrets are rooted in its very fabric.  Told in dual timelines, this mesmerising story is woven together by gossamer threads that slowly unfurl to reveal the mystery of this peculiar island, its mysterious matriarch and a strange summer many years earlier.

“That night my sleep is velvet blue, dark and dreamless, and when I wake in the morning I forget where I am.”

Polly Crosby is a masterful storyteller who is skilled at crafting intricate and multilayered stories that have so much hidden beneath the surface.  This one has trauma, grief and pain woven into every facet of the narrative, while beautiful, immersive and hypnotic prose pulls you into the world the author has created so completely that everything else falls away.  With evocative imagery she crafts an original landscape that feels vividly real, transporting you to this dark, cryptic place and holding you captive as you try to decipher what is real and what is imagination.  With this book Ms. Crosby has confirmed she is no one-hit wonder and secured her place on my list of favourite and auto-buy authors.

“She is right. This place is tangled up with secrets. Not just the island itself: I sense Miss Stourbridge holds secrets here too.” 

The story centres around two women: Marianne and Tartelin.  Marianne is a cantankerous, secretive old woman who has recently returned to the island owned by her family to study mutation of the local butterflies.  She has hired Tartelin, a young woman trying to come to terms with the recent death of her mother, as her assistant.  From the start Tartelin is intrigued by Marianne and eager to know more about her.  But Marianne is a closed book, unwilling to form any kind of bond or share stories with her only companion or tell her what it is that she is searching for.  They are fascinating and compelling characters, but while I took to Tartelin immediately, it took me a while to warm to Marianne, her spiky shell making it hard to see who she really is underneath.  But as the dual timelines gave us a glimpse into who they both were, and as Tartelin managed to persuade her to reveal more of her heartbreaking story, I grew to not only care about her but admire how strong she was after surviving all she’d been through.

“When I first arrived on Duhhalund, I was disappointed that it wasn’t the beautiful island I hoped for, but now I can see its strange beauty everywhere I look.  It is a wild beauty, a secret beauty that twists and burrows inside me until sometimes I can’t separate myself from it. I’ve never felt like this about a place before. It’s an exhilarating feeling. “

Ms. Crosby has created such a strong and spectacular sense of place in this book that Duhholund feels like a character in itself.  Claustrophobic and isolated, it is a place shrouded in shadows and secrets.  It is a wild place, taken over by nature, without electricity, covered in ruins and inhabited by strange creatures.  It is as if the island is alive, its sinister beauty a living, breathing thing you can feel.  There is a power to it, something almost mythical, the menace and foreboding lingering over every page as you read. 

“The pull of it. Magnetic. As if it wants me to search out its secrets.” 

Haunting, atmospheric and alluring, The Unravelling is like stepping into a cabinet of curiosities.  A magnificent historical mystery that is not to be missed.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

After a whirlwind of a year which saw Polly receive writing scholarships from both Curtis Brown Creative and The University of East Anglia’s MA in Creative Writing, she went on to be runner up in the Bridport Prize’s Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel. Read Polly’s piece for the Bridport Prize’s blog here.

Polly’s novel was snapped up by HarperCollins HQ in the UK and Commonwealth in a 48 hour pre-empt, and a few days later by HarperCollins Park Row Books in North America.

Polly grew up on the Suffolk coast, and now lives in the heart of Norfolk with her husband and son, and her very loud and much loved rescue Oriental cat, Dali.

The Illustrated Child is her first novel. Her second novel, The Unravelling, is out on 6th January ‘22.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon*
*These are affiliate links

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Demon (Six Stories Book 6) by Matt Wesolowski

Published: January 20th 2022
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fairy Tale, Horror Fiction, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Biographical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my first blog tour of 2022. And I’m delighted that it is for one of my favourite series that is published by one of my favourite publishers. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in this tour and to Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Scott King’s podcast investigates the 1995 cold case of a demon possession in a rural Yorkshire village, where a 12-year-old boy was murdered in cold blood by two children. Book six in the chilling, award-winning Six Stories series.

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In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act.

And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public’s ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

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MY REVIEW:

“A horror. There’s no other word for it. Horror upon horror.”

Scott King is back with his Six Stories Podcast, a show that investigates old crimes from six different perspectives to try to get to the truth of what happened. He specialises in the strange and mysterious. Cases that are surrounded by rumours of the supernatural and the occult. This time it is the brutal, senseless murder of a child by other children, two outcast boys mired in trauma and grief, the Usslethwaite kilns with their magnetic pull and the strange folklore that surrounds them and rumours of witchcraft and demons. Can he unravel the truth of what happened that day in 1995?

What a way to start the year! Unsettling, dark and haunting, this atmospheric story had me hooked. The sixth book in the Six Stories series sees Podcaster Scott King is investigating the 1995 murder of twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons by two of his classmates. It was a brutal murder with no apparent motive that took place in a small North Yorkshire village where superstition and suspicion of those who are different was and is rife.

It is a disturbing case, and while there are inevitably stomach-churning and spine-chilling moments, this goes much deeper, humanising the boys that the media dubbed the ‘Demonic Duo’ and exploring what could have led two troubled boys to escalate from acting up in class and playing pranks to terrorising the village and savagely killing one of their peers. Through the interviews with six people with very different perspectives, news articles and letters from one of the boys to his late mother that he wrote in the months and days leading up to the crime, we get an insight into who these boys were and how they arrived at the moment where they killed another child without any apparent motive.

“The answer to this case lies somewhere in the strange hinterland between pity and condemnation. It’s a rocky and treacherous place to stand.”

The story also examines topics such as the lingering effects of the crime, offender rehabilitation, the bestowing of new identities and lifetime anonymity upon the most vilified offenders, vigilante justice and online commentary. It makes you think, stirs up uncomfortable emotions and makes you reflect on your own reactions to a crime such as this. When a crime seems particularly heinous and unforgivable, it is easy to demonise the perpetrators rather than taking a real look at the very human reasons this could have happened. We need to believe only real evil can do such a thing in order to separate ourselves from the people who commit such unspeakable acts.

For me, it conjured up memories of the tragic murder of James Bulger; the horror and disbelief that two children could commit such a terrible act, the outrage at what they did, and how the pair were immediately demonised with the entire country calling for justice. I don’t know if the Bulger case or its aftermath inspired this book, but I feel like it echoed a lot of what I remember happening in the media and my own conversations with people about the crime even to this day.

When I pick up one of Matt Wesolowski’s books I know what I’m getting, a book that is bold, mysterious, thought-provoking, eerie and addictive. Demon delivers all of those things and more in what I think is the best of his books I’ve read yet. But it isn’t for the faint hearted. In fact, the book opens with warnings about the content which I appreciated as it means readers can make an informed decision before deciding to proceed.

Expertly written, deftly told and filled with fascinating characters, Demon is a chilling tale you won’t forget.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

TW: Violence against children and animals.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care.

‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017, ‘Changeling’ in 2018, ‘Beast’ in 2019 and ‘Deity’ in 2020.

‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio and the third book in the series, ‘Changeling’ was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Award for Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.

‘Beast’ won the Amazon publishing award for Best Independent voice in 2020.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | Waterstones*| Amazon*
*There 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 Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Review: Mrs England by Stacey Halls

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Mystery
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

I am finally getting around to sharing my review of this spectacular novel. Thank you to Manilla press for the gifted ARC and Jenna at Tasting Notes Book Club for hosting a fantastic readalong and chat.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Something’s not right here.’
I was aware of Mr Booth’s eyes on me, and he seemed to hold his breath. ‘What do you mean?’
‘In the house. With the family.’

West Yorkshire, 1904. When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England.

Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband, and is far from the ‘angel of the house’ Ruby was expecting. As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.

Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric West Yorkshire landscape, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.

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MY REVIEW:

“I just have a feeling that… That something’s not right here.” 

My love for Stacey Halls is no secret and her debut novel, The Familiars, remains one of my favourite books of all time.  So I had high expectations when this, her third book, was released in June.  She did not disappoint and though it has taken me a long time to get around to sharing this review, Mrs England is one of my favourite books of 2021. 

Atmospheric and eerie, this slow-burning novel sent shivers down my spine.  Though I read it at the height of summer, there is an iciness to it that I felt deep in my bones.  Ms. Halls has said that she immersed herself in the landscape in which she set the novel, living there in complete isolation during the winter of early 2020.  This has certainly shone through in her vivid imagery of the bleak, desolate landscape, and evocative descriptions of the isolation and menace that pervades the halls of Hardcastle House.  Merged with unexpected twists and an air of mystery and foreboding, it comes together to create an irresistible read that I couldn’t put down. 

“I knew about secrets, and I knew, too, how one led to another. I was a fool for thinking she’d have no more.”

As with her previous books, Ms. Halls has taken inspiration from real life and crafted an exquisite work of her own imagination around it.  I won’t tell you about the event that inspired this book as it would spoil one of the biggest twists, but she talks about it in the author’s notes and I loved how it was woven into the story.  In this book she also explores coercive control with an honesty and sensitivity that I appreciated as a survivor of such abuse.  It is clear that she has taken care to research it at length and really helps the reader understand the ways in which both the abusers and those who are abused behave, as well as the ripple effect it has on those around them.

“It was as though I’d stumbled into an upside-down world, where the master has taken the place of the mistress.” 

Ruby May is a fascinating narrator.  Born into an impoverished background, she gained a scholarship to the Norland Institute where she trained as one of it’s prestigious Nurses.  She is clearly still cleaved to her family, not only sending half her wages home, but forced to never be too far away thanks to an invisible chain of guilt forged thanks to mysterious circumstances that are slowly revealed.  Then there is Mrs. Lilian England herself, the antithesis of the stereotypical mistress of the house.  She is an enigma, rarely emerging from her room, and cold and distant to her children.  The strange way in which the whole England household is run perplexes Ruby and because we see the story through her eyes, we are also suspicious of Lilian.  But we soon learn that things aren’t quite what they seem in the England home and I found my view of some of the characters shifted as the truth about this mysterious family unfurled. 

Haunting, evocative, suspenseful and compelling, Stacey Halls has once again shown why she is one of my favourite authors.  Mrs England is a must read for anyone who enjoys well-written historical fiction with a twist.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Stacey Halls was born in Lancashire and worked as a journalist before her debut The Familiars was published in 2019. The Familiars was the bestselling debut hardback novel of that year, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards’ Debut Book of the Year. The Foundling, her second novel, was also a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Mrs England is her third novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Psychopaths Anonymous (Detective Pace 4) by Will Carver

Published: November 25th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this deliciously dark and twisted thriller. Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Orenda Books for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

When AA meetings make her want to drink more, alcoholic murderess Maeve sets up a group for psychopaths … The dark, unpredictable, electrifyingly original new thriller from critically acclaimed author Will Carver.

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Maeve has everything. A high-powered job, a beautiful home, a string of uncomplicated one-night encounters. She’s also an addict: A functioning alcoholic with a dependence on sex and an insatiable appetite for killing men. 

When she can’t find a support group to share her obsession, she creates her own. And Psychopaths Anonymous is born. Friends of Maeve. 

Now in a serious relationship, Maeve wants to keep the group a secret. But not everyone in the group adheres to the rules, and when a reckless member raises suspicions with the police, Maeve’s drinking spirals out of control. 

She needs to stop killing. She needs to close the group. 

But Maeve can’t seem to quit the things that are bad for her, including her new man…

A scathing, violent and darkly funny book about love, connection, obsessions and sex – and the aspects of human nature we’d prefer to hide – Psychopaths Anonymous is also an electrifyingly original, unpredictable thriller that challenges virtually everything.

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MY REVIEW:

“I don’t have to kill… It’s not a necessity.
But I do enjoy it.”

Psychopaths Anonymous is another deliciously dark and sinister offering from the incomparable Will Carver.  Not for the weak of heart, this twisted thriller is a character study of the psychopathic mind and a reminder that humans are the scariest of monsters.  

The story follows Maeve, a self-confessed psychopath, as she attends AA meetings to feed on the misery of others and kills for kicks.  Frustrated with the rules of AA, she sets up her own group for like minded people:  Psychopaths Anonymous.  But when someone betrays the secrets of the group Maeve is forced to take deadly action. 

Told in Will’s singular style, you can expect gruesome scenes, black humour and scathing social commentary, with religion and God facing particular critique this time around.  Filled with malice, murder and mayhem, this book is as addictive as his others and I flew through it quickly.  It does differ from the other books in the series though as there is no narration from Detective Pace and he is barely featured in the book.  It gives this story a slightly different vibe from the others and makes it work even more as a standalone or introduction to the series.

Maeve is a brilliant but terrifying creation.  A psychopath with an unquenchable desire for alcohol, sex and murder who also loves reality TV, she is a fascinating and compelling character.  She embraces her psychopathy and enjoys being free of the constraints of conscience, guilt and regret.  Mr. Carver did a great job of humanising her despite her murderous ways, and even though she’s messed up, I loved her.  She is that blend of charisma and crazy that is impossible to resist and up there with my other favourite serial killing character, Rhiannon from Sweetepa.

Bold, gritty, macabre and intoxicating, Will Carver has knocked it out of the park yet again and you need to go read it.   You will be horrorstuck, you will be sickened, and you will laugh.  You shouldn’t love this book, but you will. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for both the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2020 and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books| Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon*| Kobo| Google Books| Apple Books
*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