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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023 Squadpod Squadpod Book Club Squadpod Recommends

BOOK REVIEW: I’ll Never Tell by Philippa East

Published: January 5th, 2023
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Ficiton, Domestic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

I’ll Never Tell was the Squadpod Book Club pick for January. Tense and twisty, this one had me on the edge of my seat! Thank you to HQ for the gifted proof and Philippa East for a great month of events.

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SYNOPSIS:
Gripping new suspense from the author of Little White Lies

‘A tense, cat and mouse tale . . . a compelling read’ Catherine Cooper, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Chateau

‘Had me gripped from start to finish. So original and clever’ Lesley Kara, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Apartment Upstairs

‘Wow! What a book! I couldn’t read it fast enough. The tension and pace were absolute magic’ Lauren North, author of All the Wicked Games

Keep your family close, and your secrets closer…

To the outside world, the Goodlights are perfect.

Julia is a lawyer, Paul a stay-at-home dad who has dedicated his life to helping their daughter Chrissie achieve her dreams as a talented violinist.

But on the night of a prestigious music competition, which has the power to change everything for Chrissie and her family, Chrissie goes missing.

She puts on the performance of a lifetime, then completely disappears. Suddenly every single crack, every single secret that the family is hiding risks being exposed.

Because the Goodlights aren’t perfect. Not even close.

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MY REVIEW:

“A sense of horror begins to creep through him, a sense of reality cracking apart. It feels as though the last forty-eight hours is unravelling backwards, all the dot-to-dot connections coming apart. He thought he had this; he thought he knew what he was doing… Now everything he’s assumed has been flipped on its head.”

To everyone they know, the Goodlights seem like the perfect, happy family. Julie is a lawyer, Paul is a stay-at-home dad who is committed to helping their daughter Christie, a talented violinist, achieve her dreams. But the truth is completely different and the Goodlights are each hiding secrets that could tear them apart. And when Christie goes missing, their secrets risk being revealed. Can they find their daughter while keeping their secrets safe? Or will their perfect facade finally be exposed?

I’ll Never Tell was the January pick for the Squadpod Book Club. And what an incredible way to start our 2023 reading! Tense, twisty and unexpected, I devoured this book. I loved Philippa East’s debut, Little White Lies, but this one surpassed my already high expectations. The fast-paced plot kept me on the edge of my seat from start to finish and I loved that it was so hard to predict, my mind swimming with a multitude of questions and possibilities as the story unfolded.  And that ending! It came out of the blue and left my jaw on the floor. I did not see it coming. 

It’s no secret how much I love an unreliable narrator, and this book has two of them. Paul and Julie are not only hiding secrets from the police, but each other. Secrets that threaten to tear their happy family apart if discovered. The air is thick with suspicion and suspense, the lies they are trying to keep concealed threatening to choke them. They are flawed, shady and broken, but utterly compelling to read. And while I had my misgivings about them, I was hoping to be proven wrong and rooting for them to get their daughter back safely. And though Chrissie is at the centre of the story, we only really see her through the eyes of others, which I felt was a great decision by the author as it made her character even more cryptic and elusive, adding to the veil of mystery that surrounds her. The fact that we don’t know if she has been taken or run away also adds to the mystery, all coming together to create an awful, inescapable tension. 

Atmospheric, gripping and nerve-shatteringly tense, this is a thriller you need on your TBR.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Philippa East is a fiction writer with HQ/HarperCollins and she also works as a clinical psychologist.

Philippa grew up in Scotland before moving to Oxford and then London to complete her clinical psychology training. A few years ago, she left the NHS to set up her own part-time practice and dedicate more hours to writing. The result was her debut novel LITTLE WHITE LIES, which was longlisted for The Guardian’s Not-The-Booker Prize and shortlisted for the CWA “New Blood” Award 2020.

Released in 2021, Philippa’s second book SAFE AND SOUND is another twisty and compelling tale. For a fun preview, check out the video trailer on Philippa’s Amazon Author page (best with sound on!). Philippa’s brilliant third book, I’LL NEVER TELL, will release in January 2023 and is available to pre-order via Amazon now. You can hear more about the book via Philippa’s latest two Author Update videos on this page.

Philippa now lives in the beautiful Lincolnshire countryside with her spouse and cat. She loves reading (of course!) and long country walks, and she also performs in a local folk duo called The Miracle Cure. Alongside her writing, Philippa continues to work as a psychologist and therapist.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REIVEW: A Lady’s Guide to Fortune Hunting by Sophie Irwin

Published: May 12th, 2022
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Novel, Regency Romance
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this sassy, outrageous and bingeable debut. Thank you to Harper Fiction for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Read summer 2022’s biggest historical debut!

The season is about to begin – and there’s not a minute to lose…

Kitty Talbot needs a fortune.

Or rather, she needs a husband who has a fortune. This is 1818 after all, and only men have the privilege of seeking their own riches.

With just twelve weeks until Kitty and her sisters are made homeless, launching herself into London society is the only avenue open to her. And Kitty must use every ounce of cunning and ingenuity she possesses to climb the ranks.

The only one to see through her plans is the worldly Lord Radcliffe and he is determined to thwart her at any cost.

Can Kitty secure a fortune and save her sisters from poverty? There is not a day to lose and no one – not even a lord – will stand in her way…

Sophie Irwin’s book ‘A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting’ was a Sunday Times bestseller w/c 09-05-2022.

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MY REVIEW:

“And there is not a day to lose – the Season is about to begin.” 

As soon as I heard about A Lady’s Guide To Fortune Hunting I was desperate to read it. My two beautiful editions sat taunting me from my shelves for months, so this was an obvious choice to put on my 12 backlists books to read in 2023. I couldn’t wait to finally read it. 

The year is 1818 and Kitty Talbot is in need of a fortune. Or rather she needs a husband who has one. And with just twelve weeks until she and her sisters are made homeless, there is no time to waste, so she heads to London to find a suitor. It is there that she meets Lord Radcliffe, a man equally as determined to thwart Kitty’s plans as she is to make them succeed. Will he win this battle of wits or will Kitty triumph and capture her prize?

Sassy, spirited and simply swoon-worthy,  A Lady’s Guide To Fortune-Hunting feels like Jane Austen with a dynamic and modern flare. My only regret about this bingeable debut is that I didn’t read it sooner. Debut author Sophie Irwin is a magnificent new talent who I’m adding straight to my auto-buy list. From the first page I was in love and wrenched out of my own reality and into the world she created. And what a world it is! Richly drawn, evocative and full of ebullient, colourful and multifaceted characters who leap from the page, it was like stepping into an episode of Bridgerton. 

“Becoming a gentlewoman, Kitty soon began to appreciate, was to contain one’s self so tightly that one could not breathe – your whole body had to become a corset, with indelicacies, gracelessness and character kept strictly within.” 

One of the things that make this book so special is its fabulous heroine, Kitty Talbot. Feisty, gutsy and bright, it was easy to root for her as she takes on polite society in her pursuit of a rich husband. I loved that she was a complex and layered character, rather than simply an airhead looking for a fortune. It certainly made her more relatable and compelling to read. She and Lord Radcliffe were formidable opponents and I loved their dynamic. The banter was sharp and witty, and it was entertaining to watch as plotted and schemed to try and outsmart each other. Lord Radcliffe himself was a great character that I found myself warming to more as the story went on and the layers to his character were revealed.

Witty, outrageous and utterly glorious, I have no doubt that this will be one of my top reads this year. I was bereft at saying goodbye to the characters so I was delighted to learn that this is going to be the first in a new series. I’m already counting down to book two this summer. Fans of historical fiction or romance need to read this one ASAP. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sophie has spent years immersed in the study of historical fiction, from a dissertation on why Georgette Heyer helped win World War Two, to time spent in dusty stacks and old tomes doing detailed period research when writing this book. Her love and passion for historical fiction bring a breath of fresh air and a contemporary energy to the genre. Sophie hopes to transport readers to Regency London, where ballrooms are more like battlegrounds.

A Lady’s Guide to Fortune-Hunting is Sophie’s debut novel and it has already sold in twenty territories worldwide.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Behind Closed Doors by Carol Wyer

Published: December 6th, 2022
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Suspense, Psycholgocial Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this heart-stopping thriller. Thank you to Zoe at Zooloo’s Book Tours for the invitation to take part, and Carol Wyer for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Two kidnappings, thirty years apart. Can Stacey face her own dark past in order to save her stepdaughter?

When Stacey’s ex-husband turns up on her doorstep begging her to help save his kidnapped thirteen-year-old daughter, Lyra, the terror is all too familiar. Stacey’s own violent kidnapping thirty years ago was never solved, and while a severe case of amnesia spares her from recalling the specific horrors, she remembers enough…

Stacey knows her father never paid the ransom―she has the missing pinkie finger to prove it. She knows she was only saved because of an anonymous tip-off to the police. And she knows her captor was never apprehended.

Lyra’s kidnappers have made it clear the police must not get involved. But Stacey can’t shake the eerie similarities between the two cases, and she’ll use whatever she can, from her journalistic powers to her shady contacts, to save Lyra from the same nightmare. Desperate to find any link between Lyra’s abduction and her own, Stacey forces herself to revisit her forgotten, traumatic past for clues.

But can she make sense of the terrible secrets she unearths in time to save Lyra? And if she does, is she ready to face her own tormentor?

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MY REVIEW:

“Stacey couldn’t shake the ominous feeling surrounding her. The hair. The dingy room. The scissors. This had to be an echo of her past.”

When Stacey’s ex-husband, Jack, turns up on her doorstep one afternoon, Stacey O’Hara is unprepared for the nightmare she’s about to be plunged into. Her thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, Lyra, has been kidnapped, and he wants Stacey’s help to rescue her from a terror she is all too familiar with after her own violent kidnapping thirty years ago. 

As they race against the clock to save Lyra, Stacey can’t shake the strange similarities with her own abduction that keep cropping up. Could the two be linked? Forced to face the past she’s run from for decades, can Stacey make sense of the secrets she’s unearthed before it is too late?

“The room was dimly lit by a small lamp. Shadows, like demons, danced on the wall.” 

Wow! This book certainly packs a punch, grabbing me from the forbidding opening pages. I didn’t want to put this book down! It showcases why Carol Wyer has become one of my favourite thriller authors, her ability to hypnotise the reader and keep them guessing as she weaves her tangled web of dark secrets keeping me on the edge of my seat as I read. As the secrets are slowly revealed, the intricate puzzle begins to come together. But would it look like I imagined? Or something completely different?

“A hazy vision floated from the recesses of her mind. She saw herself as a terrified teenager, tied to a chair, a hood over her head. Her heartbeat increased. She didn’t want to remember.” 

I loved that this book was essentially two mysteries in one as we uncover the truth not only about Lyra’s abduction, but Stacey’s too. While Lyra is never on the page as anything other than a character being discussed, her presence is felt over every sentence, along with the urgency to save her. And while trying to do so, Stacey begins to discover things she never knew about her abduction thirty years ago. Because of her profound dissociative amnesia Stacey has never processed the trauma of being abducted. The memories were buried so deep that she can’t reach them. But after Lyra’s abduction, she is assailed by flashes of the long-repressed memories that she isn’t always sure she can trust. It is so evocatively written that we feel every bit of her confusion, torment and fear as she faces the truth of her abduction for the first time while desperately trying to rescue Lyra. She is a likeable protagonist and was easy to root for, unlike her ex-husband, Jack. 

In Jack we see Wyer’s skill for writing morally dubious and complex characters that you aren’t sure you can trust. Did I dislike and suspect him because he reminded me of my own abusive ex-husband? Or was he really involved in this somehow? I could never make up my mind but also couldn’t shake my suspicions of him no matter how much Stacey was adamant he wasn’t involved. 

Dripping with suspense, charged with adrenalin and fraught with malice, Behind Closed Doors is a heart-pounding thriller that fans of the genre will love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

USA Today bestselling author and winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer’s crime novels have sold over one million copies and been translated into nine languages.

A move from humour to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in Little Girl Lost and proved that Carol had found her true niche.

February 2021 saw the release of the first in the much-anticipated new series, featuring DI Kate Young. An Eye For An Eye was chosen as a Kindle First Reads and became the #1 bestselling book on Amazon UK and Amazon Australia.

Carol has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’, featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post. She’s also been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television.

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr. Grumpy… who is very, very grumpy. When she is not plotting devious murders, she can be found performing her comedy routine, Smile While You Still Have Teeth.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

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

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BLOG TOUR: Daughters of Darkness by Katharine and Elizabeth Core

Published: August 4th, 2022
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Greek Mythology, Roman Mythology,
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is the last day of the blog tour for Daughter of Darkness and I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for this enthralling start to a new series. Thank you to Vic at Insta Book Tours for the invitation to take part and to Hot Key Books for the gifted copy of the book

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SYNOPSIS:

DISCOVER THE EPIC NEW FANTASY INSPIRED BY ANCIENT GREEK MYTH . . .

The Underworld awaits . . .

Deina is trapped. As one of the Soul Severers serving the god Hades on earth, her future is tied to the task of shepherding the dying on from the mortal world – unless she can earn or steal enough to buy her way out.

Then the tyrant ruler Orpheus offers both fortune and freedom to whoever can retrieve his dead wife, Eurydice, from the Underworld. Deina jumps at the chance. But to win, she must enter an uneasy alliance with a group of fellow Severers she neither likes nor trusts.

So begins their perilous journey into the realm of Hades. . . The prize of freedom is before her – but what will it take to reach it?

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MY REVIEW:

“All you have to do is succeed and survive.” 

Deina, one of the Soul Severers of Hades, is trapped and desperate to escape.  But it’s years before she can buy her freedom and there are many Soul Severers who don’t live long enough to be free, losing their minds as a result of what it takes for them to escort souls from the mortal world and into the next.

Then Orpheus comes to town.  The tyrant ruler offers Soul Severers who volunteer to take part in a special crusade the chance of both fortune and freedom.  It is an opportunity too good for Deina to resist and she becomes one of a group of severers chosen to embark on the quest.  But can they survive long enough to gain their freedom?

A fantasy series inspired by Greek Mythology with a breathtakingly beautiful cover is a book I was always going to read and I couldn’t wait to start this book.  Imbued with mythology, suspense and beauty, this spellbinding tale had me hooked from the first pages.  Beautifully written, the world building is magnificent and the authors’ vivid imagery makes it feel like you are watching a movie in brilliant technicolour.  It is a complex world with an intricate and layered plot full of serpentine twists you won’t see coming.  Overflowing with tension, the creepy notes began to play in earnest as the group of Soul Severers stepped into the underworld.  There is danger in every step and a savage fight to survive that is alluring.  

I listened to the story on audiobook as I was unwell in the time leading up to my stop on the blog tour and while I know I’d have still enjoyed the book however I read it, I am glad I experienced the audiobook.  The narrator was superb, capturing the atmosphere and every emotion perfectly, transporting me from my sickbed into the world the author had created.  I didn’t just listen to this story, I lived it, my heart actually pounding and the terror creeping through my bones. 

The book is filled with a fantastic cast of characters, some of whom will be familiar because of the myths.  But our narrator, Deina, and the Soul Servers she journeys with, are creations of the authors’ imaginations.  Deina is a fierce young woman, full of fire and determination.  She and the other Soul Severers band together for the quest but it is forced and they are still filled with the competitiveness and distrust that’s been bred in them for years.  This makes their journey through the underworld all the more perilous and I enjoyed trying to guess who Deina could trust and what might happen next.  Spoiler: I was usually wrong. 

Atmospheric, enthralling and utterly breathtaking, Daughter of Darkness is a magnificent start to a new series that you will get lost in.  I was on the edge of my seat for most of the book and can’t wait for book two so I can find out what happens next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHORS:

From their website: We are sisters and best friends (try writing a book with someone else and you’ll see why that last bit is kind of important). After spending our childhood in Essex, we now live ten minutes away from each other in Surrey. We both studied history at university and went to work in London for a bit. When we both decided to write novels – on account of fictional people being much easier to deal with than real ones – it was obvious we should do it together.

We are authors of The Witch’s Kiss Trilogy (HarperCollins) and the Solanum Duology (Hot Key Books), including A Throne Of Swans (which topped the Amazon chart as the best seller in fantasy romance for young adults) and A Crown Of Talons. Our new duology is House Of Shadows, also with Hot Key. Book 1 (Daughter of Darkness) will be out in August 2022 and book 2 in August 2023.

Stuff Katharine likes: playing instruments badly; dead languages; LOTR; loud pop concerts; Jane Austen; Neil Gaiman; Loki; the Surrey Hills. Killing off characters.

Stuff Elizabeth likes: sketching, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, cinema, long baths, kitchen discos, Terry Pratchett, Thor, London. Saving characters.

Stuff we both like: YA / non-YA fantasy and science fiction, Star Wars, Star Trek, each other (most of the time).

Website

Katherine:

Elizabeth:

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxxx

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

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

REVIEW: Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook

Today I’m sharing my review for this brutal and brilliant novel. Thank you Michael Joseph for the gifted copy and Ceri for asking me to buddy read this one with her.

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SYNOPSIS:

You’ve never met a woman as dangerous as Bella Sorensen . . .

THE FASCINATING REIMAGINING OF THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HISTORY’S ORIGINAL FEMALE SERIAL KILLER
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1900, Chicago.

Bella Sorenson knows that the world is made for men.

They control everything: jobs, property, money. Marriage makes women like her their slaves.

But now Bella is fighting back.


Because she’s angry. She’s bloodthirsty. She’s willing to kill to get what she wants – starting with her husband.

And then her next husband. And the next one . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“They thought that was it, then-that I was safe and would not bite. That I would take my lesson and learn from it, be humble and meek and know my place… They never expected me to hold a grudge…”

Bella Sorenson was the original female serial killer.  As a big true crime junkie I had heard her name but knew little about her or her crimes and knew this was a book for me.  It had been languishing on my shelves ever since I received an ARC last year so I was delighted to finally get around to reading it as part of a buddy read with my lovely blogger friend Ceri. 

Brutal, bold and brilliant, author Camilla Bruce seamlessly blends fact with fiction to reimagine Bella’s story.  It is a dark character study of the life and psyche of the woman behind the sensational headlines while never making excuses for her crimes or shying away from the grim facts.  In the must-read author’s note at the end Bruce explains that the aim of this book was to try to understand what drove Bella to commit her crimes and I think she has achieved that, helping us see the nuances of her character, bond with her and even feel some sympathy for her.  She claimed my attention instantly and kept me hooked until the final page, taking me on a journey that spans multiple decades and two continents.  And while it is well researched and mindful of attention to detail, the author never allows it to become bogged down by them, instead being driven by the story and characters.

“She had been swallowed up by something else,  something dark with terrible jaws – like a wolf.” 

Bella is a terrifying character.  She is a woman fuelled by spite, anger and contempt with an unquenchable thirst for revenge.  I both loved and loathed this ruthless and remorseless killer who fails to understand why she shouldn’t hurt those she feels have wronged her.  And knowing she was a real person, that she existed and committed these crimes rather than being simply a creation of an author’s twisted imagination, made her all the more fearsome.  But despite all of this, Bruce manages to humanise her by exploring the pivotal moments of trauma in her life she can’t escape; the things that haunt her and helped shape her into a merciless killer. And while I never condoned her actions, I did have a lot of sympathy for some of the things she had endured. 

But Bella isn’t our only narrator.  Her older sister, Nellie, also shares her perspective.  She is the voice of empathy and a morally complex character whose dilemmas raise both tension and emotion.  I really enjoyed how Nellie provided another side to everything that happened, moved the story forward, and helped to create nuance in the story that would have otherwise been missing.  There was also a cast of compelling and richly drawn background characters who leapt from the pages and helped bring the whole tragic tale to life in vivid technicolour.

“I would rise, if only to spite.”

Captivating, suspenseful, devilishly dark and dripping with malice, Triflers Need Not Apply is a phenomenal story that thriller lovers and crime junkies will love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Camilla Bruce is a Norwegian writer of speculative and historical fiction. She has a master’s degree in comparative literature and has co-run a small press that published dark fairy tales. Camilla currently lives in Trondheim with her son and cat.

https://camillabruce.com/

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Daves Next Door by Will Carver

Published: July 21st, 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Urban Fiction, Political Fiction, Religious Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this atmospheric and compelling novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The lives of five strangers collide on a London train carriage, as they become involved in an incident that will change them all forever. A shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original new thriller from Will Carver…

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A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care.

An injured young sportsman wakes up find that he can see only in black and white.

A desperate old widower takes too many pills and believes that two angels have arrived to usher him through purgatory.

Two agoraphobic men called Dave share the symptoms of a brain tumour, and frequently waken their neighbour with their ongoing rows.

Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.

Like the suicide bomber, riding the Circle Line, day after day, waiting for the right time to detonate, waiting for answers to his questions: Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train?

Shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original, Will Carver’s The Daves Next Door is an explosive existential thriller and a piercing examination of what it means to be human … or not. 

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MY REVIEW:

“Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.”

Five strangers’ lives collide on a carriage on the London Underground during a shocking event.  But was it fate?  Did they have the power to change what would happen to them?  

Told from multiple points of view over three parts, The Daves Next Door is a sinister, scathing and stylish social commentary that explores the question of fate versus choice and asks if there are such things as good and evil.  It makes you question the way you think, examining our prejudices and apathy, potentially changing the way you see the world around you.

“Is there such a thing as destiny? Is the path laid out?  The story already written?” 

The characters are familiar, flawed and fascinating.  They could be our neighbour or the person next to us on the bus.  Each of them are richly drawn and complex, allowing us to find compassion for the villain and dislike for the hero in places.  The many threads of the story appear unconnected at first but are slowly woven together, keeping the reader guessing at every step.  It takes a lot of talent to make a story that opens with references to how it all ends still feel unpredictable, but Carver pulls it off expertly. 

Will Carver is a tour-de-force in fiction. His singular style is instantly recognisable, the quirky, intelligent, playful and affecting prose pulling you into the world he created and holding you captive from beginning to end. His original and visionary style make his books absolute must reads. 

Fierce, intelligent, atmospheric and unapologetic, The Daves Next Door is a must-read.  Add it to your TBR now!

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 | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

*These links are affiliate links

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BLOG TOUR: More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Gutierrez

Published: July 7th, 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Ella at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A RADIO 2 BOOK CLUB PICK
A GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK
SCREEN RIGHTS SOLD TO THE PRODUCTION COMPANY OF BARACK AND MICHELLE OBAMA

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Lore Rivera was married to two men at once, until on a baking hot day in 1986, one of them found out and shot the other. A secret double life, a tragic murder.

That’s the story the world knows.

It’s not the story that fascinates Cassie Bowman.

Carrying the weight of her own family tragedy, true-crime writer Cassie wants to know more about the mysterious woman at the heart of it all: Lore.

And to her surprise, Lore is willing to talk – about how a dance became an affair; how a marriage became a murder.

As the two women grow closer, Cassie finds she can’t help but confess her own darkest secrets.

But when it becomes clear that there might be more to the night of the murder than anyone realised, can either woman face up to the thing they’ve been hiding from . . . the truth?

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MY REVIEW:

“When it’s done right, true crime tells us who we are, who we should fear, who we are always in danger of becoming. Under a careful investigative eye, someone opaque briefly becomes transparent. Even if what’s revealed is ugly, it’s true. And nothing is more beautiful than truth. “

Love.  Lies.  A secret double life that leads to a tragic murder.  A true crime reporter who wants to tell the story behind the ending we already know.  But could there be more to that fateful night than anyone realised?  Can  she uncover the truth? 

“Crime is rarely over for the people involved.  The impact lingers.”

This book is a true crime and thriller-lover’s dream.  Like protagonist Cassie, I’ve had a fascination with true crime since I was young so any book, fact or fiction, that includes this topic is an instant addition to my TBR.  There’s something about knowing how it will all end and that you are powerless to stop it that is just unbearably horrifying and haunting.  Katie Gutierrez paints pictures with words that is at times poetic, at times stark and always flawless and suspenseful.  Perfectly plotted and paced, this skillfully crafted hall of mirrors teases the reader with hints at the truth lying beneath the surface.  
Alongside the true crime element, this is also a deft exploration of identity, motherhood, love, fidelity and secrets, the many layers to this story made for exciting reading.  It is an emotionally charged, morally complex and cautionary tale with a looming sense of danger and deceit that hovers over every page as the characters hurtle towards tragedy in the past narrative and suspicions fly in the present.  As the narrative that demands your full attention and I lost myself in the story, devouring it hungrily and racing through the final chapters to find out how it all ends.  And when I did it made my jaw drop…drama unfolds, the tension builds to a delicious climax. It created a transfixing 

“Motherhood is supposed to be quiet and pretty.  Motherhood is not pretty.  Motherhood has teeth.” 

The story is told in dual timelines by two narrators: Cassie and Lore.  Each woman has a distinct and different voice that is evocatively written, making you feel like you are in the story with them.  Richly drawn, compelling, nuanced and flawed, I found them both easy to root for and connect with and enjoyed the complex relationship between them.  I felt the strongest bond with Cassie thanks to our shared fascination with true crime and when she talked about why she loves the genre I felt like it was my own voice on the page.  Lore is a much more complicated character.  She is likeable yet her actions are unquestionably wrong, the decisions she makes having far-reaching consequences for those around her that she claims to love.  I also liked that she is an unreliable narrator, the author making us question her story with suggestions that there are yet more secrets to be revealed.  

“For every story told out loud, there is the private story, the one we only tell ourselves.  And behind that—somewhere, often out of reach—is the truth.” 

Stylish, intelligent, addictive and unpredictable, More Than You Will Ever Know is a sensational debut.  Read it now. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Katie Gutierrez is the author of the national bestselling debut novel More Than You’ll Ever Know ( Morrow/Michael Joseph), which is also a Good Morning America Book Club pick for June 2022. She is a National Magazine Award finalist whose writing has appeared in TIME, Harper’s Bazaar, the Washington Post, Longreads, and more. She has an MFA from Texas State University and lives in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and their two kids.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xx

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

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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 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:

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*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