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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Blood Isles by C. F. Barrington (Pantheon Book 2)

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Suspense, Fantasy Fiction, Travel Literature, Adventure Fiction, Book Series, Fantasy Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

This is a few days late but I’m finally sharing my review for the suspenseful second book in the Pantheon trilogy. Thank you to Jade at Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The second in an action-packed adventure thriller series, where modern-day recruits compete in an ancient fight to the death in the streets of Edinburgh.

New Season. New Rules. Same deadly game…

The Pantheon Games are the biggest underground event in the world, followed by millions online. New recruits must leave behind their twenty-first century lives and vie for dominance in a gruelling battle to the death armed only with ancient weapons – and their wits.

Last season’s new recruits Tyler and Lana have lived to fight another day, but now they face a series of even more lethal clashes before the Grand Battle that will end the Season.

It’s survival of the fittest, in the most brutal fashion imaginable. Lana must face the demons of her past, and Tyler has the mother of all targets on his back.

This action-packed adventure thriller is perfect for fans of Pierce Brown’s Red RisingBattle Royale and The Running Man.

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MY REVIEW:

“Battle is terror. The wait is worse.” 

The Pantheon Games are the world’s biggest underground events.  Bankrolled by the elite, they are watched by millions online as the chosen competitors embark on life or death battles armed with only ancient weapons.  
Tyler and Lana – now known as Punnr and Calder – are new recruits to Edinburgh’s Valhalla Horde and are gearing up for their first blood season.  It begins with the blood nights and culminates in the Grand Battle, a brutal war between Scotland’s two warring factions that is the most dangerous of Pantheon’s year.  Can the pair survive to fight another year?  Or will they fall.

In the second of C.F. Barrington’s Pantheon trilogy he again merges fantasy and reality to create a world that is believable and addictive.  The book opens with the stats of both Hordes and then succinctly catches you up on the events of book one with a section titled ‘What has come before’.  This was a brilliant idea to include as this is a complex and layered world filled with an array of characters.  I still found myself getting a little confused at times due to the huge amount of detail that is needed to explain Pantheon’s rules but it didn’t last long and I was soon back on tenterhooks as the riveting action occurred.  
In the background of the games is the ongoing search for Morgan, Tyler’s sister, who was part of Valahlla’s rival Horde.  This parallel storyline provides added tension and mystery to the story as well as increased risk to Tyler and the others who are trying to track Morgan down.  Some of those high up in Pantheon risk losing their position should she be found and reveal what she knows meaning Tyler and the others are fighting against not only their sworn enemies but those in their own ranks who will do anything to silence those who pose a threat to their position. 

There are a multitude of great characters from heroes you can root for to villains you love to hate.  I enjoyed being back with them, particularly the ones familiar from book one, and enjoyed seeing how they and their relationships developed in this instalment.  Tyler/Punnr is a great protagonist and I loved his friendship with Brante, his blossoming relationship with Lana/Calder, and the brotherly bond he shares with Oliver.  I was completely invested and worrying about Tyler would be affected should he lose any of these people just added to the tension.  I thought there was a good balance of character study and action, allowing the reader to feel a real connection with the many characters while also being full of suspense.  

The Blood Isles is an addictive and entertaining read that you will enjoy even if, like me, this isn’t your usual genre.  And that ending!  I thought my heart would beat out of my chest and am going to be counting down to book three after that climatic cliffhanger!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

C F Barrington spent twenty years intending to write a novel, but found life kept getting in the way. Instead, his career took him into major gift fundraising, leading teams in organisations as varied as Oxford University, the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles☺️ Emma xxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Adventure Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent and haunting gothic mystery. Thank you to Alex at Orion for the invitation to take part and ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Paris, 1750.

In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city’s celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.

Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker’s experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.

For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker’s intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.

And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles…

A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.

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MY REVIEW:

“She knew then that the clockmaker might not be simply strange. He might well be something much worse.”

Paris, 1750.  Madeleine Casteel arrives at the home of Doctor Maximillian Reinhart, a clockmaker who is the talk of the city thanks to his strange and unique creations.  She has been tasked with spying on Reinhart’s every move in exchange for her own freedom.  But Madeleine soon finds that she may have stumbled upon a secret much darker than she imagined.  A secret that may go to the heart of Versailles and put her life in danger.

“She was tired of being told she was worth less than nothing by men who did nothing themselves.”

Macabre, haunting and suspenseful, this twisted gothic tale was everything I could have hoped for and more.  A story cloaked in the syrupy blackness of a sinister mystery, this is a much darker tale than I expected.  A story of a maid, a clockmaker, a King, a Courtesan and missing children.  It has something for everyone: true crime mixed with historical fiction, a dash of mystery and a sprinkle of feminism.  The addition of French language amongst the prose was a coupe de genie that perfected this magnificent and original tale.  

My love for historical fiction is no secret and one of my favourite things about it is how much I learn while being entertained.  I know relatively little about the time and place this story is set in but the author’s meticulous research and evocative imagery transported me back to the bleak streets of 18th Century Paris so vividly that I could see the buildings leaning into one another, and the beggars in the shadows, hear the horses as they pulled their carriages full of passengers and smell the filth.  It was a time of corruption when humanity was forsaken in favour of wealth and power.  Men would use their position to control women, a theme that runs throughout the story as we see our three female narrators at the mercy of men with power no matter their position in society and feel powerless to change it.  

“Those things he makes, whatever it is he calls them – look at them closely. They’re impossible things, made with dark magic.” 

I love when a talented author takes an outlandish idea and runs with it successfully, which is what Anna Mazzola has done with this book.  Automata is a fascinating topic and through King Louis IV’s obsession with death, automata and reanimation and the fictitious Doctor Reinhart, the author explores how these astounding yet bizarre creations were both revered and feared, their ability to seemingly defy the laws of nature leading to whispers of witchcraft and black magic.  Combined with the mention of how children are quietly vanishing from the streets of Paris that is slowly dripped into the story this creates a chilling air of suspicion, menace and fear that hovers over every page.

Richly drawn, exquisitely told and intricately woven, The Clockwork Girl kept me guessing until the final pages, giving up its twisted secrets slowly, my heart racing in breathless anticipation as I read.  A spellbinding and unique story that I would highly recommend.

Rating:  ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Anna is a writer of historical thrillers and Gothic fiction. Her novels explore the impact of crime and injustice.

Her debut novel, The Unseeing, is based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1837. It won an Edgar Allan Poe Award in the US and was nominated for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown in the UK.

Her second novel, The Story Keeper, is out now. It follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857. The Story Keeper  was nominated for the Highland Book Prize.

Her third novel, The Clockwork Girl, set in Paris in 1750 and based partly on the story of the vanishing children of Paris, will be published by Orion in March 2022. She is currently working on her fourth novel, a ghost story set in Fascist Italy.

As well as novels, Anna writes short stories. She is an accomplished public speaker and regularly speaks at and chairs literary events.

Anna is also a human rights and criminal justice solicitor, working with victims of crime. She lives in Camberwell, South London, with her family, a snake, a lizard and a cat.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*This is an affiliate link

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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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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Call of the Penguins by Hazel Prior

Published: November 11th, 2021
Publisher: Black Swan
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Adventure Fiction, Holiday Fiction, Pensioners in the Pages
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the tour for this delightful and uplifting book. Thank you to Anne at Random Things tours for the invitation to take part and to Black Swan for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Meet the heroine everyone’s talking about . . .

Fiercely resilient and impeccably dressed, Veronica McCreedy has lived an incredible 87 years. Most of them alone, in her huge house by the sea.

But Veronica has recently discovered a late-life love for family and friendship, adventure and wildlife.

More specifically, a love for penguins!

And so when she’s invited to co-present a wildlife documentary, far away in the southern hemisphere, she jumps at the chance.

Even though it will put her in the spotlight, just when she thought she would soon fade into the wings.

Perhaps it’s never too late to shine?

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MY REVIEW:

‘Penguins,’ I remind her, ‘are not only a source of endless entertainment; they are an example to us all.’

Hazel Prior has done it again. Call of the Penguins is another absolute gem of a book. Full of wit, warmth and wisdom, she reunites us with our unlikely heroine in this delightful sequel to one of my favourite books of last year.

Jumping straight in, the story picks up with Veronica McCreedy back at her house in Scotland by the sea. Her adventures in Antarctica with her beloved penguins are never far from her mind. So when she is offered the chance to venture to Australia and the Falklands to present a wildlife documentary on her favourite bird, she jumps at the chance. It seems the octogenarian’s adventures are not over yet.

My love of this book and it’s protagonist are no secret, so I was thrilled when I learned that Hazel Prior had written a follow up and immediately ordered the book. I couldn’t wait to be back with Veronica, although I admit to a little trepidation that I might not love this book as I did the first one. I need not have worried. Call of the Penguins is filled with the same heartwarming and heart-rending emotions of the first book as the author dives deeper into the lives of these now-familiar characters.

“I am fizzing with excitement like a bottle of vintage champagne.”

87-year-old Veronica McCreedy is the same intrepid, bold, sharp, feisty and determined woman from book one, only with less of the cantankerous protective layer she used to surround herself with. Instead, she is now surrounded by people she loves. And her memories of the penguins. And just like Veronica, the other characters in the book are a colourful, intriguing and richly drawn bunch. I had a particular soft spot for Daisy, a nine-year-old battling cancer.  Gutsy, ebullient and utterly compelling, Daisy reminded me a lot of Veronica. It was impossible not to love her, especially during her cute and comical interactions with the penguins. 

This is a story about family, self-discovery, self-reflection, unlocking hidden secrets and penguins. Lots of cute penguins. It is clear that not only does Ms. Prior adore these wobbly creatures, but also has a wide range of knowledge about them. This book is filled with even more penguin trivia, this time taking us to the southern hemisphere and featuring a variety of species. It even gave me a new favourite: the Little penguin. 

Once again the book also contains commentary on climate change, plastics and our responsibilities to change our habits in order to create a world that is safe for the birds and animals we love. Reading it certainly made me stop and think about my own part in this and left me with a desire to change some of my shopping habits. But it never preachy, instead expertly woven into the story so all you feel is the passion of the characters for this vital cause. I love how she educates while entertaining the reader and I’ve learned so much reading these books. 

Utterly addictive, joyous and uplifting, Veronica’s story reminds us all that it is never too late to have an adventure or to make the most of life. It is the perfect book to cosy up with under a blanket on a cold day and totally lose yourself in. After all, that’s what I did. So grab a blanket, hot chocolate and some biscuits, and go read this book.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hazel is an enthusiastic and experienced harp-player based in Somerset and Exmoor. Her repertoire spans many styles of music and includes singing with harp accompaniment.  

Hazel is also an author. Her two bestselling novels, published by Penguin Random House, are described as ‘quirky’, ‘lyrical’ and ‘life-affirming’. AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS (USA tile = HOW THE PENGUINS SAVED VERONICA) is a Richard and Judy and a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: No Honour by Awais Khan

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Format: Mystery, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Political Fiction, Religious Fiction, Adventure Fiction
Genre: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

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

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SYNOPSIS:

A young woman defies convention in a small Pakistani village, with devastating results for her and her family. A stunning, immense beautiful novel about courage, family and the meaning of love, when everything seems lost…

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In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.

When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore and then disappears.

Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.

Moving from the depths of rural Pakistan, riddled with poverty and religious fervour, to the dangerous streets of over-populated Lahore, No Honour is a story of family, of the indomitable spirit of love in its many forms … a story of courage and resilience, when all seems lost, and the inextinguishable fire that lights one young woman’s battle for change.

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MY REVIEW:

“Love or honour.”

Wow. Just, wow. I flew through this mesmerising and powerful novel in one sitting, staying up well past my bedtime and unable to stop reading as the story took up home in my heart and soul. 

No Honour opens with a shocking and horrifying scene that propels you head first into the heartbreaking themes on its pages. For this is not simply a story of love, it is a portrait of lives lived in poverty under the constant threat of prejudice, strict age-old rules, honour killings and misogyny. 

Set in a small village in Pakistan, we follow the story of Jamil and his sixteen-year-old daughter, Abdia. Abdia is a girl full of spirit who longs to live a life that makes her happy. She resists the rules set for her and rebels against them. When she falls pregnant out of wedlock, the village sentences her to death. But Jamil protects his daughter and helps her escape to the city, where she then disappears. As we follow Abdia’s story, we see that each time she seems to have escaped and finds a new place to rest her head, there are new horrors she must endure. You begin to wonder if she will ever find freedom or happiness in this place where men make the rules and women pay the price.

The story is beautifully written, containing both honesty and compassion. The characters are richly crafted and compelling, each one feeling so real as they leap from the pages. It was impossible not to feel drawn towards Abdia and Jamil. They are characters who will stay with me forever, holding a place in my heart after reading their story. I loved Abida’s fierce and determined spirit, even in the face of insurmountable torture and pain, and Jamil’s bold strength and refusal to give up on his daughter, even when it looked like there was no way to win. 

Powerful, brave, harrowing and yet hopeful, No Honour is an absolute masterpiece. An addictive and phenomenal story that you won’t forget. Everyone needs to read this book. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Awais Khan is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and Durham University. He has studied creative writing with Faber Academy. His debut novel, In the Company of Strangers, was published to much critical acclaim and he regularly appears on TV and Radio. Awais also teaches a popular online creative writing course to aspiring writers around the world. He is currently working on his third book. When not working, he has his nose buried in a book. He lives in Lahore.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Adventure Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this exquisite novel. Thank you to Steven at Hodder for the invitation to take part and the gifted finished copy.

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SYNOPSIS:

Could one rare plant hold the key to a thousand riches?

It’s the summer of 1822 and Edinburgh is abuzz with rumours of King George IV’s impending visit. In botanical circles, however, a different kind of excitement has gripped the city. In the newly-installed Botanic Garden, the Agave Americana plant looks set to flower – an event that only occurs once every few decades.

When newly widowed Elizabeth arrives in Edinburgh to live with her late husband’s aunt Clementina, she’s determined to put her unhappy past in London behind her. As she settles into her new home, she becomes fascinated by the beautiful Botanic Garden which borders the grand house and offers her services as an artist to record the rare plant’s impending bloom. In this pursuit, she meets Belle Brodie, a vivacious young woman with a passion for botany and the lucrative, dark art of perfume creation.

Belle is determined to keep both her real identity and the reason for her interest the Garden secret from her new friend. But as Elizabeth and Belle are about to discover, secrets don’t last long in this Enlightenment city . . .

And when they are revealed, they can carry the greatest of consequences.

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MY REVIEW:

“There is mischief afoot…”

Sumptuous and sensual, The Fair Botanists is an intoxicating blend of secrets, skullduggery, friendship, passion and empowerment. So beautifully crafted that every sentence reads like a work of art, this book is one to savor, and I luxuriated in it as I slowly drank in every luscious word.

The thing I love most about historical fiction is how it transports you back in time, something the author expertly does with this novel. . She has taken historical and reimagined characters and combined them with real history and moments she created to bring 1820s Edinburgh to life and create a world that is evocative, alluring and authentic. I knew nothing about the events of the story, or about botany, but the author writes with such rich detail that her meticulous research, vast knowledge and passion is both evident and infectious. I never imagined I’d care about the blooming of a plant or its seeds, but the author had me so invested that I was excited to see the Agave Americana – also known as the Century Plant – flower and on tenterhooks waiting to see who’s scheme would be successful. 

“Why must it be women who shoulder the shame and not men? Why is it so shocking that she might choose her own path and be perfectly happy along it?”

The story centers around two female characters, Belle and Elizabeth, who become unlikely friends. I adored these fascinating women and how the author explored female empowerment and challenged society’s expectations through them in different ways, giving a voice to those who were silenced in history. Belle is a feisty, strong, independent and determined woman who refuses to conform to society’s expectations. She is a courtesan who also makes money from her secret passion – botany – and dreams of finding financial freedom by concocting a love potion. I loved how she challenges patriarchal society and refuses to apologise for who she is. And the description of her as “an attractive but determined fairy general” is not only utterly brilliant, but one that will stay with me. She’s a bad-ass woman who I would love to be friends with. Elizabeth is much more subdued but through her friendship with Belle she finds strength and a new life that she never dreamed she deserved. I enjoyed watching as she blossomed, just like the famous plant, coming into bloom and finding herself as the story progressed. The author also filled the story with an array of vibrant background characters that I enjoyed, each one inextricably linked with the Botanical Gardens and Century Plant.

Dazzling, evocative, intricate and absorbing, The Fair Botanists is an exquisite piece of historical fiction. I was so completely immersed in the story and lives of these characters that I never wanted to leave and felt bereft when it was finished. I can’t recommend this enough to anyone who enjoys the genre. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sara Sheridan is a writer and activist who is interested particularly in female history. She has written more than 20 books.

Truth or Dare, her first novel received a Scottish Library Award and was shortlisted for the Saltire. Her novel On Starlit Seas, was shortlisted for the Wilbur Smith Prize in 2017. An occasional journalist, Sara has reported for BBC Radio 4’s From Our Own Correspondent and on ‘being a lady’ for Women’s Hour. In 2019 Sara re mapped Scotland according to women’s history for Historic Environment Scotland – the resulting book Where are the Women was listed as one of the David Hume Institute’s Books of the year 2019. In it, she imagined several monuments to the witches.

Sara mentors fledgling writers for the Scottish Book Trust and has sat on the board of several writers’ organisations. In 2015, Sophie McKay Knight’s portrait of Sara garnered media and critical attention at the National Gallery of Scotland.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Truth Or Dare (DI Helen Grace 10) by M. J. Arlidge

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Hardboiled, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural, Adventure Ficiton

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the latest brilliant thriller in the DI Helen Grace Series. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and to Orion for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

DO YOU WANT TO PLAY THE GAME?

THE BRAND NEW THRILLER FROM THE MIND OF MILLION-COPY BESTSELLER M. J. ARLIDGE

A crimewave sweeps through the city and no-one is safe. An arson at the docks. A carjacking gone wrong. A murder in a country park. What connects all these crimes without causes, which leave no clues?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace faces the rising tide of cases which threatens to drown the city. But each crime is just a piece of a puzzle which is falling into place.

And when it becomes clear just how twisted and ingenious this web of crime is, D.I. Grace will realise that it may be impossible to stop it . . .

THE BEST BOOK YET FROM THE MASTER OF THE KILLER THRILLER.

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MY REVIEW:

“So much bloodshed, so much heartache of late, yet so little to go on. Recently, Helen had felt like she was swimming with one hand tied behind her back, drowning in a rising tide of violence and brutality.”

Helen and her team are under pressure. They are facing an unprecedented crime wave following the Covid-19 Pandemic; seemingly unrelated crimes without motive and leave few clues. Things feel out of control and they are yielding few results, which the press aren’t letting them forget. But then evidence emerges that suggests these crimes could be linked. Could one mastermind really be behind it all? Pulling the strings like a twisted puppeteer? And, more importantly, can Helen find and stop them?

Gripping, atmospheric and addictive, this 10th installment in the fantastic DI Helen Grace series was every bit as compelling as the previous books. I devoured it quickly, unable to put it down once I’d started reading. I always enjoy coming back to a series I love and being immersed in the familiar world and characters that the author has created. Helen and her team have been part of my reading world for a decade now and I’ve enjoyed following their journey and watching them solve crimes over the years.

In Truth or Dare Helen is facing some of her greatest challenges yet. Not only is she facing the rise in crimes that are difficult to solve, but there is also mounting tension between herself and her team, particularly her and former lover Joseph Hudson, who is determined to undermine her at every turn. She finds herself not only fighting crime, but fighting for her career and reputation. I loved the extra tension this created and how you are constantly wondering if this could be the end for our beloved but beleaguered detective. I won’t spoil the surprise about whether or not it is. You’ll have to read it for yourself and find out. And while this could be read as a standalone, I do highly recommend the whole series. It’s one you won’t regret adding to your TBR.

One of the things I love about M. J. Arlidge is that he knows how to set the scene so vividly that it is like you’re watching it on a TV screen. You feel like you are there with the characters, feeling every moment of tension, frustration, despair and disappointment. He also smoothly juggles multiple plot lines, effortless weaving them together in surprising ways. I always fall for his red herrings as he expertly sends the reader looking in the wrong direction before blindsiding you with the jaw-dropping truth. 

Tense, twisty, dark and cunningly crafted, Truth or Dare is another unmissable thriller from the brilliant M. J. Arlidge. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last twenty years, specializing in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Silent Witness, Torn, The Little House and, most recently, the hit ITV show Innocent. In 2015 his audiobook exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a number-one bestseller. His debut thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek and Love Me Not. Down to the Woods is the eighth DI Helen Grace thriller. In 2019 he published a standalone thriller, A Gift for Dying.

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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

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Shadows Over the Spanish Sun by Caroline Montague

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance Novel, Adventure Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this beautiful novel. Thank you to Ellen at Orion for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Escape to the Spanish hills with this spellbinding story of passionate love, family secrets and betrayal

A country in the shadow of war. A love that burns through the decades…

Mia Ferris’s heart has always belonged in Spain. Every childhood summer was spent at her grandfather’s hacienda, riding together amongst the olive trees or listening to his stories of the past. So when she learns that he has fallen from his horse, she knows that she belongs by his bedside – even if it means leaving behind her life in London, and her new fiancé.

But as Leonardo fights for his life, and Mia to save the family home from financial ruin, secrets begin to emerge that tell a different story of the past – a terrible history that begins with a boy running for his life over the Andalusian hills, and ends with a forbidden love that only war can destroy…

As Mia untangles the passions and betrayals of the past, everything she thought she knew is turned upside down. Can she heal the wounds of the past, and face the truth of her own heart?

A sweeping novel of passionate love, betrayal and redemption, set against the turmoil and tragedy of the Spanish Civil War.

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MY REVIEW:

“Throughout my erratic childhood it had been a haven of tranquility, a golden sanctuary. Papa Leonardo had wrapped me up in his world of horses, orange groves and fireflies.”

One of the things I miss during this pandemic is travelling to new places. Thankfully, we can still travel through books and this beautiful novel transported me to the sunny skies and stunning vistas of Spain. The lush and evocative descriptions made me feel like I was in Andalusia.  It was the perfect book to enjoy in the garden on the day the sun had finally decided to arrive in England.

A sweeping saga laced with secrets, mystery and betrayal, this is a story of family, love, loss and forgiveness. The author immerses you in the world of the Palamera de Santos family. She moves seamlessly between timelines and narrators, taking the reader on a journey alongside Mia as she slowly unfurls the enigmas of her family. 

This book is filled with wonderful characters that are so vibrant and well written that they leap from the page and compel you to keep reading. I adored the relationship between Mia and Leonardo. It is so special and there were parts that felt reminiscent of my own relationship with my grandmother. I love reading about multigenerational relationships, whether they are family or friends, and combining that with my love of historical fiction and mysteries made this story irresistible to me. With that being said, it is probably no surprise to learn that Leonardo’s backstory was one of my favourite parts of this book. My heart went out to him as a scared, heartbroken little boy and I enjoyed seeing what he went through over the years that shaped him  into the man that Mia knows. 

One of the reasons I love historical fiction is because I like broadening my knowledge of history. And as I didn’t know anything about the Spanish civil war, this story offered the perfect chance to educate myself more about it. I found it fascinating and also liked reading about the time leading up to WW2 from a different perspective than I’ve read previously. 

Shadows over the Spanish Sun is a tender, moving and sumptuous story that will take your breath away. Perfect for fans of historical fiction. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From early childhood a poem, executed by my own hand was a compulsory requirement for my father’s birthday. To the reluctant five year old this was considered a trial, but by the age of seven writing poetry had become my passion. At ten I won my first national poetry competition and from that moment I dreamt of being a writer.

This particular dream took rather longer than I had hoped because reading law, marriage at nineteen, children, a career as an interior designer – something always got in the way. When I moved with my second husband, three children and four step children to Burnt Norton twenty years ago, and I happened upon the empty pools made famous by TS Eliot in the first of his Four Quartets, I knew that one day the dream would become a reality.

In 2018 after first writing a historical novel set at Burnt Norton I changed agents to William Morris Endeavour and it was here that I felt truly at home. Within a fairly short time, Matilda Forbes Watson had procured a two book deal with Orion for ‘An Italian Affair’ and ‘A Paris Secret’. She recently procured a further two book deal for a novel set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and a novel set in Greece.

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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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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Dangerous To Know by Chloe Esposito

Published: October 15th, 2020
Publisher: Penguin UK
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Dark Comedy, Satire, Suspense, Psychological Fiction Noir Fiction, Humorous Fiction, Adventure Fiction, Romance, Contemporary Romance

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this darky humorous and addictive thriller. Thank you to Sryia at Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

The sharp, smart and outrageously funny finale in the Alvie Knightly trilogy

MY REVIEW:

“I’m flawed. Aren’t we all? What’s your fatal flaw? Mine? I love too much. I do crazy shit for love, mad and bad and dangerous…”

Alvie Knightly is a serial killer. After a killing spree in Italy last year she’s been laying low and evading arrest. But vengeance in the name of her now deceased lover Nino is calling, so she sets about changing her identity and luring her next victim…

What. A. Book. Darkly humorous, thrilling and addictive, Dangerous To Know is an uproarious and strangely uplifting read that I absolutely loved. 

Alvie is quite the character. Hilarious, memorable and compelling, I couldn’t help but love her. Yes, she’s a killer, but she’s not a sociopath like Ted Bundy. She knows because she feels bad for some of her murders; like her  hot boyfriend Nino. The author writes her with a killer combination – see what I did there? – of twisted evil, humour and emotion, and her magnetism is impossible to resist.

“I think killing her will cheer me up. I’ve been stuck in a rut this past year. I miss murder.”

Alvie takes quite the emotional journey in this book and begins to question some of her choices. Through her narrative and in flashbacks we learn more about her childhood and discover what shaped her into the person she is today. It was a deeper aspect to the story that I wasn’t anticipating, but I liked how it showed her in a more sympathetic light and gave us a more complete picture that was the opposite of her murderous deeds. 

When I took on the blog tour I didn’t realise it is the final installment in a trilogy, and unfortunately I didn’t have time to read the first two books. But despite this I never felt confused as the author succinctly catches you up on past events, making it easy to read this as a standalone. That said, I will be buying and reading the other books in the series as I enjoyed this one so much. 

I also liked that the author utilises one of my favourite writing techniques in this book by having Alvie addressing the reader. This technique makes it feel like you’re listening to a friend, though none of my friends are killers. That I’m aware of anyway. 

Fast-paced, salacious and wickedly funny, this is an utterly brilliant book. If you enjoyed Sweetpea, then you’ll enjoy this. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮. 5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Chloé Esposito is from Cheltenham and now lives in London. She has a BA and MA in English from Oxford University, where her dissertation focused on 19th-century feminist writers. She has been a senior management consultant, an English teacher at two of the UK’s top private schools and a fashion stylist at Condé Nast. She is a graduate of the Faber Academy and is now writing full-time.

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The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Adventure Fiction, Science Fiction, Urban Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this outstanding and timely thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Orenda for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

MY REVIEW:

“No one touches each other’s hands anymore. Not unless they’re intimate.” 

When I first heard about this book at the beginning of the year it sounded like a Sci-Fi movie; something that felt both imaginable and unimaginable. Wearing masks and gloves and being unable to touch. Illness that is untreatable and deadly. That sounded like something from the Victorian era or a third world country where they can’t afford the medicine we have.  Fast forward a few months and reading it during the current pandemic felt like getting a glimpse into our future. This book was suddenly a lot scarier and incredibly timely. 

“Do you have any idea what it’s like growing up in this ‘safe world’ of yours? How fucking suffocating it is? Nothing left to chance, endless checks and scans?

… I’ve seen the films: people rolled into bed with complete strangers! No body scans. No STD checks. No profile searches. I can’t even hug a friend without asking!”

Multilayered, exquisitely told and tightly plotted, the novel weaves through different timelines to tell the story of the Crisis and our three narrators. As long-buried secrets are slowly unearthed, the full picture emerges to a shocking conclusion. The characters are richly drawn and I have to say that I had a soft spot for Lily. I can’t imagine how awful it must be to approach an age knowing that something treatable will likely kill you as you are deemed disposable and unworthy of treatment. My own grandmother has recently beat Covid-19 at the age of 93 thanks in part to antibiotics and all I kept thinking how awful it would have been knowing she simply wasn’t getting that help because of her age. 

It is clear that the author has done a lot of research on antibiotic resistance from how intelligently written this novel is.  Even without the current pandemic this would read as something that could actually happen and it certainly made me think about things such as how we farm out animals. At the end of the book she writes about how she got her inspiration for the novel after reading frightening data about antibiotic resistance and has posted more information for readers on her website. 

The Waiting Rooms is a captivating and thrilling debut that is both topical and timely. I highly recommend this thriller and can’t wait to read more from this author.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Eve Smith Author pic

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Eve Smith’s debut novel The Waiting Rooms was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award. Eve writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. She attributes her love of all things dark and dystopian to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills.

Eve’s flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues.
Eve’s previous job as COO of an environmental charity took her to research projects across Asia, Africa and the Americas, and she has an ongoing passion for wild creatures, wild science and far-flung places. A Modern Languages graduate from Oxford, she returned to Oxfordshire fifteen years ago to set up home with her husband.
When she’s not writing, she’s chasing across fields after her dog, attempting to organise herself and her family or off exploring somewhere new.

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FINAL The Waiting Rooms BT Poster