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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy, Horror Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Fantasy Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this enchanting tale. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Voyager UK for the gorgeous proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.

‘Magic and love. Love and magic. They destroy everything in the end …’

Anna’s Aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences.

Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever.

Until she meets Effie and Attis.

They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose themselves in a haze of spells.

But as she is swept deeper into this world, Anna begins to wonder if her Aunt was right all along.

Is her magic a gift … or a curse?

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MY REVIEW:

“Goddess of Silence and Secrets: Seal our mouths, so we can’t speak. Pierce our eyes, so we can’t seek. Knot our hearts, so we can’t feel. Bind our spells; to you we kneel. What is forgotten, can’t be known. What isn’t planted, can’t be sown. Lock the door and turn the key. We bear our magic silently. – The Binders’ Blessing”

This first installment in the new Language of Magic series tells the story of Anna, an orphaned fifteen-year-old who lives with her Aunt, Vivienne. They are witches, but Aunt believes magic to be dangerous and deadly, and has brought Anna up to fear her powers. When she turns sixteen Anna will undergo the Knotting ceremony and become a Binder like her Aunt, no longer able to use her magic. But when her late mother’s best friend Selene moves back to London with her teenage daughter Effie and Attis, a family friend, Anna’s eyes are opened to a world she’s never known. 

Meanwhile, a group of six women are found hanged at Big Ben, sending her Aunt and the Binders into a frenzy. As Anna begins to question the things she has been told about both magic and her past, she starts to wonder if there could be a future out there for her that doesn’t include having her magic bound. 

“Whispers divide, in secrets we thrive.”

Before we talk about the book we need to talk about the cover. Both the proof and the finished version are so beautiful that it is impossible to resist their allure. But what about what’s inside? 

Threadneedle is a story of secrets, lies and self-discovery interwoven with a hidden magical world. It opens with an eerie and macabre scene that gives the book an air of ominous foreboding and mystery. After that, things slow down a little as the author sets the scene for the reader. But when I got to about a fifth of the way through, the pace picked up and the story was soon sizzling with tension, twists and mischief.

Magic had beckoned its hand and she had followed. It was a beginning — the door was ever so slightly ajar.” 

Anna is a very sheltered character. She has been controlled and mistreated by her Aunt all her life, even believing it is wrong to have friends. The author immerses the reader in the indoctrination Anna has been subjected to by starting each chapter with a quote from The Book of the Binders and the teachings are woven into every thread of the story, omnipresent and impossible to escape, enabling you to understand Anna’s feelings of fear and powerlessness. When the outgoing and spirited Effie and Attis come into her life, they are initially unwelcome and a danger to her protected bubble. But once Effie has identified Rowan and Miranda as witches and the four of them come together, things slowly change. For the first time in her life Anna has friends, feels happy, and is making some of her own choices; though she is still terrified of the consequences should her Aunt find out. I enjoyed watching Anna’s journey as she grappled with the lies she’s been told, began to break free of her Aunt’s control and finally blossomed into her own person. 

Aunt Vivienne is a truly vile character. She is so well-written that I despised her and wished for her downfall. In fact she was so evil that I felt like if you unzipped her a demon would emerge. The women of the Binders have an equally malevolent and sinister vibe and together they would send shivers down my spine as they subjected poor Anna to yet more trauma. 

“This was magic without bounds, without rules, magic fed by something else entirely.” 

The magical world that the author has created is so believable that I accepted it without hesitation. I could imagine all of these secret, mystical places hidden in London and the witches moving amongst ordinary humans without detection. There is so much potential in this world and the characters for her future books and I’m excited to see where she takes it. 

A magical, mysterious and bewitching story full of serpentine twists, Threadneedle is an enthralling story that I would highly recommend. I can’t wait to read more of this exciting new series. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Cari Thomas grew up in the Wye Valley area of Wales and, after studying English Literature & Creative Writing at Warwick University and Magazine Journalism at the Cardiff School of Journalism, moved to London. She worked as a journalist and at a creative agency, before finally doing what she’d always wanted to do: quit her job and write a book about magic.

The result is Threadneedle, her debut novel and the first in her Language of Magic series. Be introduced to a world of wild, ancient witchcraft hidden within today’s London; where libraries made of books breathe dusty pages beneath the city, where witch clubs serve up magical cocktails and vintage shops sell memories. A world where magic gleams light and very, very dark.

Cari now lives in Bristol with her husband and son. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: Flashback

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

“It’s that time of year again. The time the glacier gives up the bodies.”

Those eerie first lines are taken from Shiver, the sensational debut novel by Allie Reynolds that was published in January. I read this one in December last year and it featured on my favourite reads of 2020. You can read my review here.

About a month ago, I was excited to learn that a quote from my review had been used on the Norwegian copy of the book and today I received a copy in the post. I can’t describe how amazing and unreal it feels to see my name in print on an actual book. Thank you so much to Allie Reynolds for arranging this gifted copy. I will treasure it forever.

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SYNOPSIS:

They don’t know what I did. And I intend to keep it that way.

How far would you go to win? Hyper-competitive people, mind games and a dangerous natural environment combine to make the must-read thriller of the year. Fans of Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell will be gripped by spectacular debut novel Shiver.

When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.

The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.

In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.

You can buy the book here

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

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

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Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Strange Tricks (The Essex Witch Museum Mysteries) by Syd Moore

Published: June 3rd, 2021
Publisher: Isis Audio
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Contemporary Fantasy
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Strange Tricks. Thank you to Danielle for the offer to take part, and to Isis Audio for the audiobook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Rosie Strange is back in the latest of the fabulously creepy Essex Witch Museum Mysteries

Secretly Rosie Strange has always thought herself a little bit more interesting than most people – the legacy her family has bequeathed her is definitely so, she’s long believed. But then life takes a peculiar turn when the Strange legacy turns out not just to be the Essex Witch Museum, but perhaps some otherworldly gifts that Rosie finds difficult to fathom. Meanwhile Sam Stone, Rosie’s curator, is oddly distracted as breadcrumb clues into what happened to his missing younger brother and other abducted boys from the past are poised to lead him and Rosie deep into a dark wood where there lurks something far scarier than Hansel and Gretel’s witch…

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MY REVIEW:

Witty, entertaining, mysterious and slightly sinister, Strange Tricks is my favourite audiobook experience yet. From it’s eerie opening chapter until the final sentence, this had me hooked. The combination of the vivid imagery, brilliant writing and fabulous narration was spectacular, bringing the characters and story to life so powerfully that it felt like they were in the room with me. 

While this was a mostly comedic and lighthearted story, there were some darker, more sinister elements too. The author writes these as skillfully as the rest of the story, literally giving me chills as she describes the shocking, macabre and depraved sights that Rosie is confronted with. Let me say that I’m glad I was listening in daylight. 

Rosie is one of the most fun, fabulous, bubbly, charismatic and feisty characters I’ve read. I loved her immediately and she is the sort of woman I’d love to be friends with. She had me in stitches with her overactive imagination and hilarious and saucy quips and is a fantastic protagonist who gripps and entertains the reader, making it impossible to stop reading or listening. The background characters were just as richly drawn, creating a great cast I enjoyed following. I liked the romantic tension between Rosie and Sam, and the added mystery surrounding the death of her mother, Celeste, when she was a baby. I liked that the author included flashbacks in the form of extracts from Celeste’s diary, allowing us to build an image of who she was and learn more about her at the same time Rosie did and I’m looking forward to seeing where this element of the story goes in future installments. 

If you’re looking for a first-rate mystery that is full of humour, heart and will also give you the heebie-jeebies, Strange Tricks is the book for you. Charming, tense and addictive, I couldn’t get enough of Rosie and will be buying and listening to the other books as soon as possible.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Before embarking on a career in education, Syd worked extensively in the publishing industry, fronting Channel 4’s book programme, Pulp. She was the founding editor of Level 4, an arts and culture magazine, and is co-creator of Super Strumps, the game that reclaims female stereotypes. Syd has also been a go go dancer, backing singer, subbuteo maker, children’s entertainer and performance poet, She now works for Metal Culture, an arts organisation, promoting arts and cultural events and developing literature programmes. Syd is an out and proud Essex Girl and is lucky enough to live in that county where she spends her free time excavating old myths and listening out for things that go bump in the night.

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MEET THE NARRATOR:

After graduating from Bristol University and joining The Bristol Old Vic Julia Barrie has worked extensively in Theatre; in rep, touring both nationally and internationally, as a member of the RSC, at the Old Vic and Royal Court and in the West End at The Duke of York’s and the Theatre Royal Haymarket. For BBC Radio she recorded Anthony Shaffer’s Widow’s Weeds and her TV and film credits include Prisoners’ Wives, The Commander, Doctors, Close Relations, Our Friends in the North, Out of Bounds, Ghost in the Machine and Five Greedy Bankers.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction, Humour, Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

Best friends tell each other everything.Or do they?

Georgia and Lydia are so close, they’re practically sisters.

So when Lydia starts an online business that struggles, Georgia wants to help her – but Lydia’s not the kind to accept a handout. Setting up a fake Twitter account, Georgia hopes to give her friend some anonymous moral support by posing as a potential customer.

But then Lydia starts confiding in her new internet buddy and Georgia discovers she doesn’t know her quite as well as she thought. Georgia knows she should reveal the truth – especially when Lydia starts talking about her – but she just can’t help herself.

Until Lydia reveals a secret that could not only end their friendship, but also blow-up Georgia’s marriage . . .

Georgia’s in too deep.

But what can she save?

Her marriage, her friendship – or just herself?

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MY REVIEW:

Worst Idea Ever is a sharply-observed story of tumultuous female friendship, a misguided act of charity, jealousy, vengeance and betrayal. 

Georgia and Lydia have been best friends for over twenty years. But while on the surface they appear to be soul sisters who are more like family and friends, they are both hiding secret jealousies and rivalry that lurks beneath their love and support of one another. When Georgia, a successful children’s author and illustrator, drunkenly creates a fake twitter account to secretly try and boost Lydia’s confidence in her own creative endeavours, she sparks a chain of events that sees their resentment and irritation boil over and threatens to tear them apart forever. 

Why on earth have I waited so long to read one of this author’s books?! After inhaling this book in pretty much one sitting and staying up until 3am to finish it as I NEEDED answers, I’m kicking myself for letting her books languish on my shelves for so long. I loved how she pulled the rug from under me with a jaw-dropping twist that took this from an entertaining but predictable read, to one that had me on the edge of my seat trying desperately to figure out what would happen next. It was pure genius and made it impossible to put the book down. 

Expertly written, Fallon entertains while examining the complexities of issues such as friendship, jealousy, deception and revenge, putting the reader in the shoes of both sides of the story so they can make their own mind up about who and what is right or wrong. She also looks at the lies we tell ourselves to excuse our bad decisions, the damage we can cause to others when trying to do the right thing, and the masks people can wear to hide who they really are. 

Georgia and Lydia are great characters that I enjoyed individually and as a duo. They have that easy rapport of long-standing, close friendship, that I’m sure we all recognise. They’ve been there for each other’s highest highs and lowest lows and feel like they know each other inside out. But there are things unspoken, fragments of envy and conflict they don’t give a voice to, that lurk under the surface and fester. It is a combination of all of these things that leads to Georgia’s misguided act of kindness and Lydia’s Judas kiss of betrayal. 

If you’re looking for an entertaining read full of twists and tension, then this is the book for you. Compulsive, clever, witty and utterly brilliant, I am an instant fan. Now I’m off to buy more of her books…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jane Fallon is the multi-award-winning television producer behind shows such as This Life, Teachers and 20 Things to Do before You’re 30. Her debut novel “Getting Rid of Matthew’ was published in 2007 and became a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller as have her subsequent books ‘Got You Back’, ‘Foursome’, ‘The Ugly Sister’, ‘Skeletons’, ‘Strictly Between Us’,’My Sweet Revenge’, ‘Faking Friends’ and ‘Tell Me a Secret’
Her 10th novel Queen Bee is available now to pre order in both paperback and for Kindle.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and for the gifted ARC. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Dangerous Women by Hope Adams

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery

Thank you to Michael Jacobs for the invitation to take part in the tour and for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

The compelling, gorgeously atmospheric tale of female friendship, redemption and betrayal, inspired by the incredible true story of female convicts at sea

London, 1841.

The Rajah sails for Australia.

On board are 180 women convicted of petty crimes, sentenced to start a new life half way across the world.

Daughters, sisters, mothers – they’ll never see home or family again. Despised and damned, all they have now is each other.

Until the murder.

As the fearful hunt for a killer begins, everyone on board is a suspect.

The investigation risks tearing their friendships apart . . .

But if the killer isn’t found, could it cost them their last chance of freedom?

Based on a real-life voyage, Dangerous Women is a sweeping tale of confinement, hope and the terrible things we do to survive.

MY REVIEW:

“That’s what we, too, are like, us women… We’re many small pieces, each of us different but now stitched together. A patchwork of souls.”

Dangerous Women is a story of dark secrets, intrigue, betrayal and redemption. Flawlessly blending fact with fiction, the author has reimagined the story group of needlewomen who made the Rajah Quilt and crafted an epic sea voyage turned locked room murder mystery where everyone is a suspect and anyone could be next…

As soon as I heard about this book I knew it was one I had to read. I’m a big lover of the three key elements at the heart of this book and had high expectations. It did not disappoint. The author brings the past to life, telling the story of the Rajah’s long journey from London to Van Diemen’s Land with almost two hundred female convicts on board. Exquisitely written, richly imagined, and told with finesse, it is a real labour of love. Her passion for the subject is poured onto the pages and the depth of her research is clear as she immerses you in the women’s bleak world aboard the ship. Her love for this story is so infectious that it has sparked a desire in me to learn more about the Rajah, its ladies and the quilt, and I’ve got a number of books added to my wishlist so I can delve deeper. 

Moving between past and present, the story is narrated by three women – Kezia, Clara and Hattie – who each offer a unique voice and perspective. All of the characters are vibrant and compelling, with richly drawn backstories full of heartbreaking tragedy. We learn that most of the women have only broken the law due to desperation and are as much victims as criminals. Thankfully, their matron Kezia understands this and is there to advocate for them with the other staff on board who may have been more ready to dismiss them as mere criminals without a thought for what they have endured. I loved her character and am eager to know more about the real woman she is based on, particularly her work with Elizabeth Fry. 

I love character-driven stories so I revelled in the fact that the author made the women’s stories as fundamental as she did the murder investigation. It made me care about them, root for them and have a stake in the outcome. Though as I learned more about them I actually found it harder to predict who might have stabbed poor Hattie. The author had embedded the truth in the women and their stories with such skill that it was invisible even to my watchful eye, making my jaw drop when it was revealed. 

Atmospheric, mysterious, suspenseful and compelling, this is a beautiful piece of historical fiction. If you are a fan of this genre, then make sure you pick up this book. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hope Adams was born in Jerusalem and spent her early childhood in many different countires, including Nigeria and British Norht Borneo. She now lives near Cambridge. She has written books for children and adults as Adèle Geras.

Instagram |Twitter | Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Please take the time to read the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Deity by Matt Wesolowski

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction

I’m a little late posting this due to ill health, but here is my review for the fifth installment in Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories series. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted ebook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rake over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Are reports of a haunting really true? Why was he never officially charged?

Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…

MY REVIEW:

“This journey feels like it’s just begun — pulling apart a myth bit by bit to see what lies within.”

The fifth installment in Matt Wesolwski’s Six Stories series offers what we’ve come to expect: an eerie, mysterious and exhilarating novel exploring a fictional cold case over six episodes of the fictional podcast. This time presenter Scott King is trying to get answers about the life of music superstar Zach Crystal, a controversial, enigmatic and eccentric figure who perished in a fire in 2019.

As always, we jump straight into the action, with a chilling and sinister opening that will leave you both desperate for more and terrified to turn the page. I don’t want to talk too much about the details of the plot as the beauty of these stories is the journey of discovery, the mystery and surprises that unfold. What I will say is that once again Wesolwski has knocked it out of the park.

Wesolowski’s books are always highly anticipated in the blogging and book community; and for good reason. You will never read anything else like it. He has a style that is instantly recognisable as his and has crafted a series that is compelling, memorable and unique. Wesolowski isn’t a man afraid of taking risks or writing about the dark side. And his books aren’t for the faint hearted. They will send shivers down your spine, make you question the world around you and see monsters where there were none before. He is a genius. And I am yet to meet anyone who has read his books that doesn’t agree. I was late to discover this series and I’m still playing catch-up with the earlier books. But what is so good about them is while you will want to, and should, read every one, you can dip in at any point as each one is about a completely new case with all new characters bar the presenter.

Hypnotic, thrilling, innovative and simply brilliant, Deity is an unmissable book by one of the greatest voices in fiction.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Trigger Warnings: sexual abuse

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.

Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

Bookshop.org* | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo
*Links to Bookshop.org, Waterstones and Amazon are affiliate links

Please check out the reviews by the other bloggers on the tour.

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Blog Tour: Last One At The Party by Bethany Clift

Published: February 4th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Humour, Science Fiction, Science Fiction Comedy, Dystopian Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Steven at Hodder Books for the invitation to take part and for my limited edition proof.

SYNOPSIS:

THE END OF EVERYTHING WAS HER BEGINNING

It’s December 2023 and the world as we know it has ended.

The human race has been wiped out by a virus called 6DM (‘Six Days Maximum’ – the longest you’ve got before your body destroys itself).

But somehow, in London, one woman is still alive. A woman who has spent her whole life compromising what she wants, hiding how she feels and desperately trying to fit in. A woman who is entirely unprepared to face a future on her own.

Now, with only an abandoned golden retriever for company, she must travel through burning cities, avoiding rotting corpses and ravenous rats on a final journey to discover if she really is the last surviving person on earth.

And with no one else to live for, who will she become now that she’s completely alone?

MY REVIEW:

“Everything had stopped.
And it would never start again.
Ever.”

Last One at the Party is a sensational debut that everyone needs to read. I was strangely apprehensive when I started this book. The moment I first saw that striking cover and read the synopsis I knew I had to read it and I wanted to love it. But the fact that it was billed as Science Fiction worried me as it’s a genre that isn’t usually my thing. Well, it turns out I was wrong. When it’s this book I love Science Fiction. 

December 2023. The world as we know it has ended. People have been wiped out by a virus known as 6DM (6 Days Maximum); an illness with a 100% mortality rate that kills its victims in a cruel and gruesome way. 

Against the odds one woman has survived. And now she must find a way to not only survive, but live in the post-apocalyptic world she now inhabits. 

WHAT. A. BOOK. If, when you close a book, you’re left reeling, wanting to scream at the author that they can’t end things like that and are desperate for more, then you know it is one you won’t soon forget. Even after reading a number of other books since, this one lingers. I can’t get it out of my head (and now I won’t be able to get that Kylie song out of my head either). 

“This is a story about life, not death.”

Razor-sharp, witty, riveting and achingly real, the author examines what it means to live and be human. She says in her note to the reader that opens the book that this is a story about life, not death. And it is. Death will inevitably feature in abundance in a post-apocalyptic story about a deadly virus, but despite this she has crafted a tale with a message of living your best life and staying true to who you are at its heart. 

You can’t get much more timely than a book about a virus killing off the human race being released during a global pandemic. The novel was written before Covid-19 but the author has gone back and woven current events into the story. The effect is an authenticity that would be missing without the pandemic. If this had been released before 2020 it would still have been a fantastic book, but it wouldn’t have hit so hard. It would have seemed a little far-fetched rather than something that could happen. 

The name of our protagonist is never revealed, adding to the mysterious and dream like quality of the book. She is a fantastic character; flawed, fallible and messy, she is recognisable as any one of us. I liked that the author made her so relatable. That she didn’t immediately go into survivor mode and act like a hero. I loved that her immediate response to being possibly the last person alive is to make her Hollywood movie dreams come true and live it up in lavish hotels, shops til she drops and create a bucket list of the sites she wants to see in London. She was so much fun to read and I liked her. 

“I don’t want to be alone anymore.”

But she wasn’t the only compelling and memorable character. There were others who left their mark. Her best friend was fabulous and I still laugh thinking about his hilarious coming out story. And Simon the rooster was comedy gold. My favourite character of all has to be Lucky, the Golden Retriever who accompanies our protagonist on her journey. Thank you Bethany Clift for giving her such an adorable and heartwarming sidekick. 

Last One at the Party is a sensational debut that you don’t want to miss. Funny, heartwarming, unsettling and yet hopeful, when I turned the last page I was left emotionally drained and desperately wishing I could hug everyone I love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Trigger Warning: Mental Health, Talk of suicide.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Bethany Clift is a graduate of the Northern Film School and has had projects in development with Eon and Film 4, as well as being a director of her own production company. Last One At The Party is her debut novel.

Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Bookshop.org * |Waterstones* |Amazon* |Google Books |Kobo
*Links to Bookshop.org, Waterstones and Amazon are affiliate links

Please read the reviews from the other bloggers on the tour.

I hope you enjoyed this review. Unimpressedtil next time Bibliophiles, Emma xx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: An Eye For An Eye (Detective Kate Young 1) by Carol Wyer

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Published: February 1st, 2022
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Thriller, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series

Happy Publication Day Carol!

I am thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this first book in a new crime series by the wonderful Ms. Wyer. Thank you to Emma at Damppebbles for the invitation to take part.

SYNOPSIS:

A killer running rings around the police. A detective spiralling out of control.

DI Kate Young is on leave. She’s the force’s best detective, but her bosses know she’s under pressure, on medication and overcoming trauma. So after her bad judgement call leads to a narrowly averted public disaster, they’re sure all she needs is a rest.

But when Staffordshire Police summon her back to work on a murder case, it’s a harder, more suspicious Kate Young who returns. With a new ruthlessness, she sets about tracking down a clinical, calculating serial killer who is torturing victims and leaving clues to taunt the police. Spurred on by her reporter husband, Young begins to suspect that the murderer might be closer than she ever imagined.

As she works to uncover the truth, Young unravels a network of secrets and lies, with even those closest to her having something to hide. But with her own competence—and her grip on reality—called into question, can she unmask the killer before they strike again?

Picture courtesy of Carol Wyer

MY REVIEW:

She’s done it again! When one of my favourite crime writers announced a new series I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was thrilled to be one of the lucky people who first received a copy and to then learn I’d be one of the bloggers opening the tour in publication day. Expectations were high and, as always, Ms. Wyer did not disappoint. An Eye for an Eye is a gripping, twisty, pacy and gritty thriller that had me hooked from the start. I couldn’t put it down and was up until 5am the first night as I didn’t want to stop reading! 

Detective Kate Young is off work after a traumatic incident earlier in the year that led to PTSD. She is still struggling to get through each day when one of her bosses asks her to come back to work on a sensitive case. She isn’t sure she’s ready to go back, but her boss convinces her that he needs his best detective, so she returns. 

Supported by her husband, Chris, and her handpicked team, Kate finds returning even more difficult than she imagined. But she’s determined to crack the case, particularly after finding clues that seem to point to the killer being uncomfortably close to home. 

This book has everything you expect when you pick up a Carol Wyer book: great writing that is gritty and compelling,  grizzly murders, a layered plot full of shocking twists, and interesting characters. 

Once again Carol has created a protagonist who is a feisty, flawed and strong-willed woman with an interesting backstory. When we meet Kate she’s on leave from work and struggling with PTSD after a traumatic incident earlier in the year. She is suffering from flashbacks, nightmares and disassociation and using pills to try and cope with her feelings. When she returns to work she must battle against not only her symptoms but the doubts and insecurities of herself and those around her. Everyone is watching and some are counting on her to fail, but Kate is determined to overcome her challenges to bring a killer to justice. As someone with PTSD following trauma I appreciate Carol portraying the condition in such a raw and accurate way. Despite these things I will admit it took me a little while to warm to Kate, though I found her compelling and was rooting for her from start to finish. 

As much as I love her Natalie Ward books I am glad that Carol decided to write a new series as I loved this thrilling page-turner. And, after that ending, I can’t wait for book two!

So if you’re a crime fiction fan, don’t miss the first in what I believe will be another unmissable series from the incomparable Ms. Wyer. READ THIS NOW.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

A former teacher and linguist, Carol began writing full-time in 2009 and enjoyed much success with several comedies and humorous non-fiction books, one of which, Grumpy Old Menopause won her the People’s Book Prize Award in 2015. 

January 2017, saw her move into police procedurals withLittle Girl Lost, the first in the DI Robyn Carter series, that featured in USA Today Top 150 best selling books and became the #2 best-selling book on Amazon. The books, set in Staffordshire where Carol has lived for over 30 years, earned her acclaim as a crime writer and in 2018, a new team lead by DI Natalie Ward was introduced to her readers.

Carol’s crime novels have since sold over half a million copies and been translated worldwide.

As well as writing crime, Kindle top 5 best-seller Carol also still writes comedies because as the ex-stand-up comedian claims, “Laughter is the best medicine”.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She 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.

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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers on the tour.

Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton

Published: February 4th, 2021
Publisher: Bantam Press
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: New Adult Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Medical Romance

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this uplifting debut. Thank you Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Bantam Press for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

CAN YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH SOMEONE YOU’VE NEVER SEEN?

Alice and Alfie are strangers. But they sleep next to each other every night.

Alfie Mack has been in hospital for months recovering from an accident. A new face on the ward is about as exciting as life gets for him right now, so when someone moves into the bed next to him he’s eager to make friends. But it quickly becomes clear that seeing his neighbour’s face won’t happen any time soon.

Alice Gunnersley has been badly burned and can’t even look at herself yet, let alone allow anyone else to see her. She keeps the curtain around her bed firmly closed, but it doesn’t stop Alfie trying to get to know her. And gradually, as he slowly brings Alice out of her shell, might there even be potential for more?

MY REVIEW:

“Our scars are simply the marks of our stories. They show we’ve lived our life, and most of all that we have survived it. Don’t hide your story away in the shadows.”

Can you fall in love with someone you’ve never seen? Not even a picture? Just what is it that makes us fall in love with someone? Those are the questions explored in this wonderful debut. A sheer delight from beginning to end, I had a feeling I was going to enjoy this book but was unprepared for how much it would reach into my heart and soul. This is a book that makes you feel a rainbow of emotions, giving you a warm glow inside like porridge on a cold day

The story is told by Alice and Alfie, each taking alternating chapters. These are characters I cared about tremendously; both individually and as a couple. I was rooting for them. And while I loved both characters, there was something just a little special about Alfie. I can’t imagine anyone disliking him (even though Alice did try). He is one of those people who has a spark about them, brings joy, and makes life better for everyone he meets. He sees all strangers as a friend he just hasn’t met yet and can’t bear to see anyone suffer, so when the silent, stoic Alice arrives and initially resists his charms he is determined to find a way to help her. I loved how they were polar opposites and reading as he tried to slowly coax her out of her shell while she battles to resist. 

But it isn’t just the two main characters who are so richly drawn, compelling and memorable. It’s every character. No matter how small their part, they leap from the page. Nurse Angels and Mr Peterson each have a particular place in my heart and lit up the page every time they were featured. I know I would have loved a nurse like Nurse Angles when I was in hospital for six weeks as a child. The only nurse I have any real memory of from my time there is a mean one who seemed to go out of her way to make sure we were all as miserable as she was.

Both Alfie and Alice suffered traumatic events that led them to be on the Moira Gladstone Ward and are still dealing with the harrowing physical and psychological aftermath of what happened. The author handles these issues in a raw, realistic way, but also with sensitivity and I was moved to tears a few times. But she balances this with joy, love and humour in abundance, including the sharp, witty dialogue that makes this feel so authentic.  

Charming, uplifting and pure escapism, this fantastic debut would make the perfect romantic movie. I highly recommend this one. Just don’t forget the tissues. My one tiny niggle with it was how it ended so abruptly. I needed more to the story after investing so much. I have seen NetGalley reviewers talk about an epilogue that wasn’t included in my ARC so I am hopeful that including that creates the perfect end to the story. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Emily Houghton is an ex digital specialist and full-time creative writer. She originally comes from Essex but has been living in London for the past 8 years. Emily is a trained yoga and spin teacher, completely obsessed with dogs and has dreamt of being an author ever since she could hold a pen..

Houghton’s debut novel, BEFORE I SAW YOU, is a commercial love story and will be published by Transworld in the UK in January 2021 and by Simon & Schuster in the US.

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Please read the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Thriller, Domestic Thriller

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

SYNOPSIS:

*** Pre-order The Push now and be one of the first to discover why this novel you can’t put down is also the novel you will never forget . . . ***

What if your experience of motherhood was nothing like what you hoped for – but everything you always feared?

‘The women in this family, we’re different . . .’

The arrival of baby Violet was meant to be the happiest day of my life.

It was meant to be a fresh start.

But as soon as I held her in my arms I knew something wasn’t right. I have always known that the women in my family aren’t meant to be mothers.

My husband Fox says I’m imagining it. He tells me I’m nothing like my own mother, and that Violet is the sweetest child.

But she’s different with me. Something feels very wrong.

Is it her? Or is it me?

Is she the monster? Or am I?

The Push is a heart-pounding exploration of motherhood, obsession and the terrible price of unconditional love.

MY REVIEW:

“One day you’ll understand, Blythe. The women in this family… we’re different.”

What if there was something wrong with your child? Could you still love them? Would others see what you do? Is it you or them? 

Compelling, bold, unsettling, and thought-provoking, The Push explores themes of our expectations of motherhood, unconditional love, family,  and if monsters are born or made.

From the first pages the author had me in the palm of her hand. There is an immediate air of mystery and an impending sense of doom that made me excited to keep reading. I needed to know why Blythe was watching her daughter through the window and why she would feel the need to write her side of the story to give to her ex-husband. From the beginning there is also a spine-tingling terror attached to Violet, though I wasn’t sure if this was because she is someone to be feared or it was Blythe’s perception being pushed onto the reader. This conundrum is at the heart of the story as Blythe tries to solve the puzzle of if her daughter really is born a monster or if she is the monster for thinking that of her child. 

The idea of children being born evil or being deliberately manipulative is one that is controversial; you aren’t supposed to dislike your child let alone voice that feeling. We see in this story how people are aghast and disgusted with Blythe when she voices her concerns about Violet or tells them the things she’s done. Children are supposed to be innocent and born good. We like to believe that as parents we have an element of control over how they turn out and that by raising them the right way, they will be good people. When people do bad things we look for a reason – neglect, abuse, absent parents, poverty – anything that will reassure us this can’t happen to us. Not our children. This book addresses that fear in all of us that it may not be in our hands and that some people might just be born bad.

The characters are all well-written and compelling, particularly Blythe and Violet. Not since We Need To Talk About Kevin has a child given me the chills or been so unlikable. I thought the author wrote her brilliantly as while she evokes these feelings, we’re never quite sure if they’re the truth or if it is all in Blythe’s head. Every time I made my mind up about Violet something would happen to make me doubt my conclusion, the author keeping me on the edge of my seat until the final page. 

I liked the confessional style of writing and how it is mixed with flashbacks to the older generations of women in Blythe’s family. The flashbacks give important insight into not only Blythe’s mindset, but the mystery of the women in her family and the raw truth of motherhood. They also help to show how the past can ripple down through the generations with devastating effects. 

Riveting, pacy and insightful, The Push certainly packs a punch. It is a story that feels both shocking and sadly familiar and I think it will resonate with many people as every mother’s nightmare come true. I am still in awe that this is the author’s debut novel and can’t wait to read more from her in the future.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

TW: Child death, postnatal depression, mental illness, self harm.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ashley Audrain is a Canadian writer. During a July 2019 interview with the Toronto Star Audrain described her debut novel, The Push, as a “psychological drama told through the lens of motherhood.” Prior to turning her hand to writing, Audrain was publicity director for the publisher Penguin Canada.
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