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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.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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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.

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

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

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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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BUY THE BOOK:

Bookshop.org* |Waterstones*| Amazon* |Google Books
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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 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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BUY THE BOOK:

Bookshop.org*|Waterstones |Amazon*|Google Books |Kobo
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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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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Publisher: Headline
Published: January 21st, 2021
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this sensational debut thriller. Thank you to Headline for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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.

MY REVIEW:

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

Wow! What a book! A deliciously dark, chilling, tense and twisty tour-de-force, this was hard to put down. 

Shiver is one of my most highly anticipated books of 2021, so I was thrilled to receive a proof and be asked to post my review today. It’s a book that’s been receiving a lot of praise and hype and, let me tell you, every bit of it is deserved. 

Milla, a former semi-pro snowboarder, returns to Le Rocher for a reunion with five of her  friends. The last time they were together was ten years ago when another member of their group, Saskia, disappeared. 

They start the weekend with an icebreaker game that quickly turns sinister and forces them to question who brought them together and why. Trapped together on a deserted glacier they don’t know who to trust or how far some will go to uncover the truth about what really happened on the mountain a decade ago…

“He doesn’t know what I did. None of them do. And I intend to keep it that way.”

An electrifying, high-octane thrill ride, this addictive and atmospheric read had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. 

Told in the present day and flashbacks to ten years ago, we see the story through the eyes of Milla, who I instantly felt a connection to as she hails from my hometown of Sheffield. Milla is haunted by events from the last time she was at Le Rocher, by a body yet to be given up by the glacier and a dark secret she desperately hopes to keep unveiled. I liked Milla and found her to be a compelling and relatable protagonist. In fact, all of the characters are compelling and richly drawn with backstories that keep you glued to the page. The claustrophobic dynamics of living and competing together on the mountain is ripe for conflict and the author mines this to perfection both in the flashbacks and in the present day. 

Though she’s an awful person, I loved Saskia’s character and thought she was fantastically written. As we only ever see her through Milla’s eyes it’s obviously a skewed opinion we have of her, but to be fair, I don’t think there’s much that could redeem her character. Despite the extremes she goes to, it all feels realistic and I could imagine someone who is both competitive and of questionable morals behaving that way to keep ahead. She gave the story a sense of foreboding and tension that made me keep reading as I needed to know what she’d do next and what had really happened to her.

“I soar above the ice, mind pure and empty, seeing nothing, hearing nothing. Only feeling. These precious moments of weightlessness at the top of the arc, suspended by gravity.”

Allie Reynolds is a former freestyle snowboarder and you can feel the authenticity of her expertise in the writing. The imagery, emotions and little details are all so transportive and on point that it is clear she has lived this. I felt like I was flying through the air with Milla and could almost feel the icy air of the French Alps. There were times that the book had a cinematic quality to it and I could definitely see this on the big screen one day. 

So if you’re looking for a book that’s dripping with suspense and an atmosphere thick with malevolence that has your heart pounding, this is a book for you. 

An outstanding debut by a talent that is one to watch, don’t miss this book. 

 Rating: ✮✮✮✮. 5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

From the author’s website:

I was once a freestyle snowboarder in the UK top ten at halfpipe. I spent five winters in the mountains of France, Switzerland, Austria and Canada.

I taught English for fifteen years. I’ve also been a London primary school teacher, bookshop assistant, barmaid, nanny and French teacher/translator. My short fiction has appeared in women’s magazines in the UK, Australia, Sweden and South Africa. I’ve been a full-time writer since 2018.

Born and raised in England, I moved to Gold Coast Australia in 2003. I have two young children and a cat who thinks he’s a dog.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday – The Split by Sharon Bolton

Welcome to First Lines Friday. This is a tag that was started by mrscookesbooks on Instagram and I’ve been doing on there for a while. I decided to start posting here too, offering more than just one line and hoping to entice you into reading the books I share.

This week, I’m sharing the first line from a book I reviewed earlier this year that came out in paperback yesterday:

“It’s not a ship. It’s an iceberg. Oh, thank Christ. She drops her binoculars and feels a thudding in her chest that might be her heart starting to beat again. There’s no smoking allowed in the island, but she pulls out her cigarettes all the same, because if she can subdue the shaking hands for long enough to light one then she might feel like she’s in control again. The wind, though. Won’t let the flame catch.”

This first line is from The Split by Sharon Bolton, which I read and reviewed for the blog tour back in June.

SYNOPSIS:

SHE’LL NEVER STOP RUNNING.
BUT HE’LL NEVER STOP LOOKING.

A year ago Felicity Lloyd fled England to South Georgia, one of the most remote islands in the world, escaping her past and the man she once loved. Can she keep running her whole life?

Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder – and now he wants her back. Wherever she is, he won’t stop until he finds her. Will he be able to track her to the ends of the earth?

TOGETHER THEY’LL FIND THEMSELVES TRAPPED ON THE ICE AND IN DANGER. WHO WILL SURVIVE?

You can read my full review here.

Buy the book here

*Thank you to Orion for my gifted copy of the book.

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Housewarming by S. E. Lynes

Published: October 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Thriller

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

SYNOPSIS:

Everyone is going to the housewarming party.

All the same people who lived on the street the day Abi vanished…

Will her mother finally learn the truth?

Ava only left her daughter in the pushchair for five minutes. The buckle was fastened, and she was sure it was safe. But when she came downstairs, the door was open and Abi was gone – she walked down the road, past the Lovegoods’ house, and was never seen again.

A year later, the Lovegoods are planning their long-anticipated housewarming party. Ava doesn’t want to go. She can’t bear to look down that end of the road, to see the place where Abi vanished, and she doesn’t want to spend time with people who don’t share her grief. Her husband Matt persuades her: he’s worried about her. A night out might do her good.

But as her friends and neighbours chat, and the drink and gossip flows, Ava learns something new about the day she has re-lived a thousand times. A throwaway comment which could change everything.

Ava thought she knew every last detail of that day.

She’s about to find out she was wrong

MY REVIEW:

“I am a woman who has a daughter. I am a woman who had a daughter. Both these things are true. I live in the past; I survive in the present.” 

Ava only left Abi alone for a few moments. But that was all it took for the two-year-old to wander off and vanish. She didn’t realise she’d left the front door open or that she could unbuckle herself from her pushchair. She didn’t know she would never see her again. 

A year later Ava is struggling to accept her daughter’s death and to live with the guilt she carries. When their neighbours invite them to their housewarming party, her husband Matt convinces her to go, saying it is time they start to rebuild their lives. But that night, Ava discovers something that changes everything she thought she knew about the day Abi disappeared, and makes her look at those around her in a new light. 

Could the truth about her daughter’s disappearance actually be more sinister than she believed?

“Second by second. Beat by beat. A metronome keeps time for the frantic melody of my life’s unravelling. I watch myself from above. I shout out the things I should have done, places I should have looked, the order in which I should have done it all.” 

This was one of those books that I knew I was going to love immediately. The author drew me in from the first pages with her melodic prose that oozes with panic, fear and despair as she recalls the moment she found Abi was missing and frantically searched for her. She looks back scathingly at the decisions she made and the mistakes she sees as costing her daughter’s life. 

After that night at the party, the tension rises as Ava notices the inconsistencies and begins to doubt the things she believed about Abi’s disappearance. A cloud of suspicion now hangs over those she never suspected as small details begin to reveal a dark and horrifying picture. As I approached the jaw-dropping finale, my heart was in my throat and I got book whiplash from all the twists and turns.

“It is simply that the party has pulled the plug on the weird, stagnant pond of our lives, has drained the water from details half submerged, which lie now in the shallows, exposed.”

Compelling, heartbreaking and harrowing, this was impossible to put down. Lynes is a master of stories that have you on the edge of your seat but also full of heart. 

Don’t miss this sensational thriller. 

Rating : ✮✮✮✮. 5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

She has also published three children’s books in Italy: IL LEOPARDO LAMPO, LA COCCODRILLA INGAMBA, and the bilingual LA SCIMMIA SPIRITOSA/THE FUNNY MONKEY, all available at Amazon.it

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Postscript by Cecelia Ahern

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Hardback
Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction.

Happy paperback publication day to this wonderful novel. Thank you to HarperCollinsUK for my gifted copy of the book and for asking me to share my review in celebration of the paperback publication.

MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR:

Dear readers,

In October 2002 I began writing a story that would change my life. As I poured my heart and soul into PS, I Love You, a novel that began as a story simply for myself, I had no idea the impact it would have around the world and on my own life.

So it is with great excitement that I give you its sequel, Postscript, a book intended to honour its predecessor, all its fans and supporters, and with the aim to bring Holly Kennedy forward, to discover the woman she is now seven years after the death of Gerry.

I am so proud of this story and I hope you enjoy being reacquainted with old friends, enjoy meeting new characters. I have loved every moment of writing this very special book and I hope it will hold a special place on your bookshelf as it does in my heart.

Cecelia x

SYNOPSIS:

The long-awaited sequel to the international bestseller PS, I Love You!

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life. 

She’s proud of all the ways in which she’s grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world she worked hard to leave behind.

Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of the people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever.

MY REVIEW:

“In one second, almost two and a half million emails are sent, the universe expands fifteen kilometres and thirty stars explode, a honey bee can flap its wings two hundred times, the fastest snail travels 1.3 centimetres, objects can fall sixteen feet, and ‘Will you marry me?’ can change a life. Four babies are born. Two people die. One second can be the difference between life and death.”

Poignant, emotive and uplifting, Postscript is a story of life, death, love and hope. Exquisitely written, it tackles the difficult topics of death and grief with sensitivity and candour, and also gives hope in its message of the power of love and healing.

The story picks up seven years after the death of Holly’s husband, Gerry, and six years after she read the last of the ten letters he left for her to read after he passed. Holly is trying to move on with her life. She’s working at a vintage clothing shop, Magpie, with her sister Cara and has been dating Gabriel for two years, who she worries she’s using as a stop-gap until she can be reunited with Gerry once more. But that isn’t who she wants to be. So she finally agrees to move in with him and begin to move forward.

“We all have something that unexpectedly derails us when we are motoring smoothly, blissfully, ardently. This encounter with the club is mine. And it hurts.”

Meanwhile Ciara has a podcast series called How To Talk About and has asked Holly to take part in the episode How To Talk About Death. Reluctantly, Holly agrees. The crowd are particularly interested in Gerry’s letters and some people express that they wish their loved ones had left them letters like he did for Holly. One lady in particular is keen for Holly to keep sharing her story and maybe even write a book. She keeps coming into the shop and Holly tries to evade her thinking she’s a bit of a stalker. When she learns the woman is part of something called the PS I Love You Club she’s had enough. But in time she begins to connect with the small group and help them as they try to leave behind a small piece of themselves for their loved ones to cherish, changing not only their lives, but hers too as she begins to re-examine what Gerry’s letters meant and what they could continue to mean. 

What a book! I read PS I Love You when it was first released and was both thrilled and apprehensive when I learned that there was to be a sequel. Would it live up to the emotive power of the first book? It didn’t take long to realise that my concerns were unfounded. Postscript exceeded all my expectations and even surpassed the first book for me. I fell in love with the author’s writing style all over again. She knows just how to stir emotion, how to break your heart one moment and then make you laugh the next. The vivid imagery and metaphors were spectacular and I couldn’t put this book down.

“We want to control our deaths, our goodbye to the world, and if we can’t control it, we can at least control how we leave it behind.”

For me, the best parts of this book were Holly’s interactions with the members of the PS, I Love You Club. They are an eclectic group whose commonality is they’ve all been diagnosed with a terminal or life-long, degenerative illness. Joy has MS and is preparing for life in a wheelchair, losing her ability to communicate and needing a feeding tube, Bert has emphysema, Paul is in remission from a brain tumor for the second time but is preparing for it possibly returning, and teenager Ginka has cervical cancer. They all have their own reasons for wanting to leave parts of themselves behind and each teach Holly something different about life, love and grief. Amongst this group Holly slowly finds a safe harbour where she can talk about Gerry without worrying she’s making them uncomfortable or having to edit what she says.

The story and character that touched me the most was Ginka. She’s just sixteen-years-old and is a single mother to baby Jewel. She has no family – they disowned her after she announced her pregnancy and cruelly told her that the cancer is God’s punishment for her sins – and lives with the heartbreak of knowing there’s no one who knows to care for Jewel and tell her about the mother who adored her. She’s practically a child herself yet is facing more pain and hardship than most of us can imagine. As a mother the idea of strangers raising my children would be terrifying. The relationship that develops between Ginka and Holly was my favourite and I loved their scenes together. Her story is just one example of this author’s magnificent talent for writing characters and stories that reach into your soul.

This novel was a truly breathtaking read that reminded me why Cecelia Ahern is such a beloved author. She tackles a difficult subject in a beautiful and powerful way and reminds us to cherish every moment with those we love. I highly recommend this book and don’t think you need to have read the first one to enjoy it.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

cecelia

MEET THE AUTHOR:

After completing a degree in Journalism and Media Communications, Cecelia wrote her first novel at 21 years old. Her debut novel, PS I Love You was published in January 2004, and was followed by Where Rainbows End (aka Love, Rosie) in November 2004. Both novels were adapted to films; PS I Love You starred Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler, and Love, Rosie starred Lily Collins and Sam Claflin.

Cecelia has published a novel every year since then and to date has published 15 novels; If You Could See Me Now, A Place Called Here, Thanks for the Memories, The Gift, The Book of Tomorrow, The Time of My Life, One Hundred Names, How To Fall in Love, The Year I Met You, The Marble Collector, Flawed, Perfect and Lyrebird.

To date, Cecelia’s books have sold 25 million copies internationally, are published in over 40 countries, in 30 languages.

Along with writing novels, Cecelia has co-created the US ABC Comedy Samantha Who? and has created many other original TV projects.

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The Heatwave by Kate Riordan

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Holiday Fiction

I’m delighted to be sharing my review for this outstanding thriller as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Ella at Michael Joseph for the invitation and copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was troubled. 

Elodie is dead.

Sylvie hasn’t been back to her crumbling French family home in years. Not since the death of her eldest daughter Elodie.

Every corner of the old house feels haunted by memories of her – memories she has tried to forget.

But as temperatures rise, and forest fires rage through the French countryside, a long-buried family secret is about to come to light.

Because there’s something Sylvie’s been hiding about what really happened to Elodie that summer.

And it could change everything.

MY REVIEW:

Sultry, evocative and alluring, The Heatwave is an outstanding summer sizzler. Set in 1993, the story moves between timelines to tell the story of the Winters family and the dark secrets they have kept for a decade. Sylvie and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Emma, return to La Reverie, Sylvie’s family home in the south of France, after a fire. They haven’t been back since Sylvie fled a decade ago following tragic events and the loss of her oldest daughter, Elodie. What happened has always been shrouded in mystery, with Sylvie only obliquely referring to her eldest daughter and never explaining the full story to her youngest child. But the house feels haunted, echoes of the truth living in its walls like a ghost, Elodie’s presence becoming stronger. As Emma begins to ask questions, Sylvie is scared she’s starting to remember. That the truth is coming back to haunt her, and her family will be shattered once again.

I devoured this book quickly, the author’s exquisite prose transfixing me from the first pages. A smouldering thriller that shimmers like the summer sun, it transported me to the south of France from the comfort of my own home so vividly that I could almost feel the heat. I loved that the author wrote it in two parts, each having their own distinct vibe while also continuing the steady temp loopo of malevolence and foreboding and the eerie and suspenseful atmosphere that had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.

The characters are richly drawn and compelling, with Elodie casting a particularly sinister and mysterious presence throughout the novel. I liked Sylvie and found her easy to relate to, though I did wonder what secrets she was harbouring, why she was so convinced Emma would hate her if she knew the truth. I had my suspicions, but with each new twist I was left questioning what I thought I knew.

An intoxicating and tantalising read, The Heatwave gave me vibes of We Need To Talk About Kevin, one of my all-time favourite books, and has earned a place on my forever shelf and I can’t wait to read more by this author. A beautifully written, layered and immersive thriller that you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮. 5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist. She is an avid reader of Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie, both of whom have influenced her writing. She lives in the Cotswolds, where she writes full-time. The Heatwave is her fourth novel.
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