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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Readalong

Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Two Roads/John Murray Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Contemporary Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

I read this book as part of a readalong hosted by the publisher. Thank you Two Roads Books for the gifted copy of this book

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SYNOPSIS:

Madame Burova – Tarot Reader, Palmist and Clairvoyant is retiring and leaving her booth on the Brighton seafront after fifty years.

Imelda Burova has spent a lifetime keeping other people’s secrets and her silence has come at a price. She has seen the lovers and the liars, the angels and the devils, the dreamers and the fools. Her cards had unmasked them all and her cards never lied. But Madame Burova is weary of other people’s lives, their ghosts from the past and other people’s secrets, she needs rest and a little piece of life for herself. Before that, however, she has to fulfill a promise made a long time ago. She holds two brown envelopes in her hand, and she has to deliver them.

In London, it is time for another woman to make a fresh start. Billie has lost her university job, her marriage, and her place in the world when she discovers something that leaves her very identity in question. Determined to find answers, she must follow a trail which might just lead right to Madame Burova’s door.

In a story spanning over fifty years, Ruth Hogan conjures a magical world of 1970s holiday camps and seaside entertainers, eccentrics, heroes and villains, the lost and the found. Young people, with their lives before them, make choices which echo down the years. And a wall of death rider is part of a love story which will last through time.

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MY REVIEW:

“Madame Burova was a woman who knew where the bodies were buried.”

With that breathtaking first line I was hooked. What a way to start! I was ready for a book full of intrigue, suspense and spirits. Madame Burova is a story of two women, a lifetime of secrets and identity. The author moves seamlessly between dual timelines and narrators, slowly unveiling decades-old secrets and piecing together the truth of Billie’s mother’s identity.

This is a story filled with an array of authentic, vibrant, quirky and compelling characters. The women are fierce, feisty, independent and flawed, showing strength but also showing their vulnerable side. I enjoyed the banter between Imelda and her mother, Shunty-Mae, and enjoyed following Billie’s journey as she tried to rebuild her sense of self and discover who she really is after having her world torn apart. The author had me completely invested and unable to turn away. But the character who really stole my heart was young Treasure. I had tears in my eyes for that boy many times as he reminded us of the devastating effects of racism and bullying.

“As she read what was written on the pages it contained, her whole world washed away like the chalked hopscotch squares of her childhood in a sudden downpour of rain.”

This is a very character-driven story. And while I enjoyed that, and loved the characters and mystery elements of the book, I wanted to see more of Imelda’s gift. I was expecting a book full of mysticism and was disappointed that there was relatively little of it featured in the story, particularly in the present day. But that aside, the rest of the book was brilliant and I thought the mystery element was particularly well written as the author kept me guessing right up until the big reveal. As someone who reads a lot of books featuring mysteries, I like when one isn’t easy to guess and keeps me on my toes.

The author really brought the 1970s to life with her evocative imagery, making me feel like I had stepped into the pictures in my parents’ old photo albums. I felt like I could see the people in their flares and platform shoes walking down the street and smell the smoke in the cafe alongside the bacon grease. Speaking of the cafe, I loved how it was the local meeting place and at the core of a lot of the action in that era. It felt true to the time and place and some of my favourite scenes took place there. Another thing that added to the authenticity of the era, were the toxic behaviours that were more acceptable in the 70s that the author skillfully wove into the lighthearted, witty and tender prose. While it was hard to read at times, it was sensitively written and served as an important reminder of how such things were deemed acceptable just a few short years ago.

Uplifting, funny, warm and affecting, Madame Burova is an entertaining story that I would recommend. This was my first foray into Ruth’s books and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

FROM RUTH’S WEBSITE:
I was born in the house where my parents still live in Bedford. My sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at me.

As a child, I loved the Brownies but hated the Guides, was obsessed with ponies and read everything I could lay my hands on.  Luckily, my mum worked in a bookshop.  My favourite reads were The MoomintrollsA Hundred Million Francs, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the back of cereal packets, and gravestones.

I passed enough O and A levels to get a place at Goldsmiths College, University of Londonto study English and Drama.  It was brilliant and I loved it.

And then I got a proper job.

I worked for ten years in a senior local government position (Human Resources – Recruitment, Diversity and Training). I was a square peg in round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage.

In my early thirties I had a car accident which left me unable to work full-time and convinced me to start writing seriously.  I got a part-time job as an osteopath’s receptionist and spent all my spare time writing.  It was all going well, but then in 2012 I got Cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept me up all night I passed the time writing, and the eventual result was THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS.

I live in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering husband.  I spend all my free time writing or thinking about it and have notebooks in every room so that I can write down any ideas before I forget them.  I am a magpie; always collecting treasures (or ‘junk’ depending on your point of view) and a huge John Betjeman fan.  My favourite word is antimacassar and I still like reading gravestones.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Thriller, Crime Fiction, Drama, Police Procedural, Crime Series, Mystery
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting thriller. Thank you to Ellie at Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

An attractive student. An older professor.

Think you know the story? Think again.

THE NEW UP-ALL-NIGHT THRILLER FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER CARA HUNTER, PERFECT FOR FANS OF LINE OF DUTY

She has everything at stake; he has everything to lose. But one of them is lying, all the same.

When an Oxford student accuses one of the university’s professors of sexual assault, DI Adam Fawley’s team think they’ve heard it all before. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Because this time, the predator is a woman and the shining star of the department, and the student a six-foot male rugby player.

Soon DI Fawley and his team are up against the clock to figure out the truth. What they don’t realise is that someone is watching.

And they have a plan to put Fawley out of action for good…

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MY REVIEW:

The Whole Truth is the fifth book in the DI Adam Fawley series and I’m a little late to the party. While I own all of the books, I have only read the first one. And that was a few years ago. So I appreciated that the author opens the book with a ‘Previously… in the Fawley Files’ that details all the recurring characters along with some important information on their backstory and personality. I think more series should do this as it not only makes it easier to read as a standalone, but is also a refresher for those who’ve read the previous books. 

In this book the author explores the timely subject of sexual harassment by a person in authority. Only this story is a twist on the familiar tale of a teacher taking advantage of a student or the stories of abuse of power often heard in the current #MeToo movement. In this story, the victim is male and the perpetrator is female. Parallel to this investigation is a storyline involving Adam and his pregnant wife, Alex. There is a storm cloud approaching their happy horizon. One that involves and old case coming back to haunt them and a brutal murder that will turn their world upside down. 

While I had enjoyed the first book in the series, this one really had me on the edge of my seat. The author is fantastic at connecting the reader to her characters and made me care about what happened to them even though I’ve not built up that long-standing relationship you get when reading a series. I loved her use of mixed media to tell the story as it makes it even more fun and interesting to read. She writes about the difficult but important topics in the story with truth and sensitivity, showing both sides without judgement or prejudice. She illustrates the added struggles male rape victims face to be believed, the mystogynistic beliefs some people still hold and the fine line officers have to take between investigating and victim blaming. But this isn’t a clear cut case and we are never quite sure who to believe, giving the author the opportunity to also explore the psychology of those who abuse their power in such a way as well as how false allegations might impact those they are levered against.

Captivating and twisty, this is an excellent thriller that had me on tenterhooks. I’m now looking forward to going back and reading the other books in the series, as well as finding out what comes next for the characters in book six. A must-read for fans of crime thrillers and police procedurals. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Trigger Warnings: Sexual assault, rape.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Cara Hunter is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling crime novels Close to Home, In the Dark, No Way Out and All the Rage, all featuring DI Adam Fawley and his Oxford-based police team. Close to Home was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and was shortlisted for Crime Book of the Year in the British Book Awards 2019. No Way Out was selected by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 best crime novels since 1945. Cara’s novels have sold more than a million copies worldwide, and the TV rights to the series have now been acquired by the Fremantle group. She lives in Oxford, on a street not unlike those featured in her books.

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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

Blog Tour: Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this fantastic book. Thank you to Chrissie at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the ARC of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

NOAH AND KATE WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER FOREVER.

Married with two gorgeous sons, it looked like they’d got their happy ever after.

But marriage isn’t easy. And one day, Kate left, taking their two boys with her.

These days, Noah is a weekend dad – and it breaks his heart. He misses the chaotic mealtimes, the bedtime stories, the early mornings and the late homework.

Suddenly, he decides enough is enough – he has to win his family back. Starting with Kate.

The only problem?

IN SIX WEEKS’ TIME, KATE IS GETTING MARRIED TO SOMEONE ELSE . . .

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MY REVIEW:

Until Next Weekend is a story about love, loss and moving on. It made me laugh, made me cry, and it made my heart ache. The author has cleverly crafted a nuanced, emotive and tender story that is also a funny and entertaining read.

It is expertly and sensitively written, weaving serious topics such as depression, suicide, grief and child neglect amongst the lighthearted jokes and banter. With evocative and descriptive prose she brings the story and characters to life. I loved the scenes with Noah’s pupils in particular as she perfectly captured the wonderful innocence, beauty and frustration of young children in his buzzing, chaotic classroom. 

I liked Noah. He’s a great character who feels very real. He makes mistakes and isn’t always likeable, yet the author knows how to make you care about him and root for him, particularly for the sake of his young sons. But while he was a great narrator and main character, for me the stars of the show were Mimi and little Harley. 

Barmaid Mimi is a vibrant, charismatic and feisty character who challenges Noah from the moment they meet. I enjoyed their dynamic and how she helped him to grow. Harley, Mimi’s troubled nephew who is also one of Noah’s pupils, was by far my favourite character. He has a lot of problems and is initially seen as a naughty and unlikeable child. But we soon learn there is much more to his behaviour than first meets the eye. My heart broke for him as his story unfolded and this little boy found a place in my heart. Marks is a master at writing troubled children and knows exactly how to shatter your heart into a million pieces and make you want to throw your arms around them and reassure them it will all be okay. 

Compelling, truthful, thought-provoking and dripping with humour, Ms. Marks is two for two on fantastic books that I would recommend. I’m looking forward to reading what she writes next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Trigger Warnings: Depression, suicide.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Marks studied English at Exeter University before becoming a primary school teacher. After having her first son, she decided to focus mainly on being a mum, teaching one day a week and nurturing her creative side by starting a small photography business.

Despite always loving to write, it wasn’t until she gained a place on the 2016 Curtis Brown Creative online novel writing course that she started to believe it could be anything more than just a much-loved hobby. Her inspiration for her first novel came from the challenges she faced with her eldest son, testing and fascinating in equal measure. When she discovered Pathological Demand Avoidance, a poorly understood Autism Spectrum Disorder, she could finally make sense of her son’s behavior, and the idea for the first novel fell into place.

When not writing, she loves dragging her husband and two boys around Europe to off-the-beaten track and sometimes sub zero destinations, snowboarding and sightseeing, the kind of trips that would undeniably be easier without children but only half the adventure…

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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.

Until next time Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon

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

SYNOPSIS:

Best friends tell each other everything.Or do they?

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

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

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

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

Georgia’s in too deep.

But what can she save?

Her marriage, her friendship – or just herself?

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Don’t Come Looking by AJ Campbell

Published: April 17th, 2021
Publisher: Code Grey Publishing
Genre: Mystery, Thriller. Crime Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle

SYNOPSIS:

A missing man. A desperate friend. A circle of deceit.

Would you refuse your friend’s desperate plea for help?

It’s eight years on from the dramatic events of Leave Well Alone, and Eva is now a detective constable on the brink of promotion. When her close friend Marc disappears, his wife Sasha is distraught, and Eva is baffled. Sasha and Marc were happy, the perfect couple, or so everybody thought.

Sasha begs Eva to help her find Marc. But he has appeared at the police station where Eva works and has made a statement. It’s on record – when his family report him missing, Marc doesn’t want to be found.

Eva is torn. She has a professional duty not to get involved, but Sasha and Marc have gone above and beyond over the years to help Eva and her husband Jim through their own troubled times.

Ultimately, friendship and loyalty override Eva’s professional integrity, and she is compelled to use her skills to delve into Marc’s life, even if it means going against Jim’s advice and breaking the police code of conduct. As each day passes, the drama unfolds, and the mystery deepens. What was Marc up to? What made him do the things he did in the months leading up to his disappearance? Things so out of character, Eva struggles to tell Sasha about them….

And then a disturbing discovery changes everything.

For lovers of domestic and psychological thrillers, and stories with a strong female lead, this one will keep you turning the pages.

Perfect for readers of Lisa Jewell, Shari Lapena, Clare Mackintosh, Rachel Abbotts and Adele Parks.

MY REVIEW:

“Oh, how people weave webs of lies. Each one threaded so tightly around the next until the mess they’ve created becomes impossible to unravel.”

Don’t Come Looking is the second book in the Eva Barnes Series. I enjoyed book one, so when the author approached me to take part in the blog tour of her follow up I didn’t hesitate. 

This time Eva is trying to unravel an intricate and tangled web of secrets when her best friend’s husband walks out on his family. Before disappearing Marc goes to the local police station to tell them he’s leaving of his own volition and he doesn’t want to be found, so the police can’t investigate, and neither should Eva. But she can’t just stand by and watch her best friend crumble, so she quietly looks into Marc’s life, trying to get to the bottom of why a seemingly happy family man would one day walk out without a word to anyone. It soon becomes clear that Marc wasn’t the man they all thought he was and the deeper Eva delves into his life, the more messy and puzzling things get…

Gripping, mysterious, twisty and full of foreboding, AJ Campbell has crafted a psychological thriller even better than her first. Once again, her vivid and evocative writing had me hooked from the first page and I sped through the book quickly. Her characters are compelling and relatable; normal people put in extraordinary situations they can’t quite fathom. 

“That’s what depression does to you. You can’t think clearly… You’re confused all the time. Helpless… you feel powerless, and you can’t see anything positive. It’s painful – mentally, as well as physically, harrowing… You lose sight of what it feels like to be happy. “

What I’ve come to like most of all about Campbell’s books, is how she writes mental health. Her writing is a skillful amalgamation of education, sensitivity and entertainment as she highlights depression in middle aged men, something that isn’t talked about enough despite the fact that they have the highest rate of suicide in the UK and three quarters of adults who go missing are men. They are scary statistics. As is the fact that men are less likely to reach out for help and accept physiological therapies than women. I know men that age who’ve battled their mental health and sought help, but I have no doubt that this book will help those who haven’t or who need to reach out for help themselves. 

For me personally, I also appreciated her portrait of someone living with chronic pain and disability. Too often these characters are written as pill-popping drug addicts and two-dimensional characters, but Jim is a well rounded character full of nuance who just happens to also have pain and mobility issues. With accuracy she portrays the daily struggle of living with pain and the guilt and frustration it brings. It was the little details like him gritting his teeth as he silently dealt with the agonising pain and pushing through to still go out with the family because he didn’t want to let his kids down that resonated with me most of all. I felt truly seen. Thank you Amanda. 

I would highly recommend this, and the previous book, to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers, particularly if you’re looking for well written ones without any gore. Ms. Campbell is now one of my auto-buy authors and I’m looking forward to reading book three.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

AJ Campbell is the debut author of the bestselling novel Leave Well Alone, which readers describe as ‘a gripping story with a killer twist’. An alumna of the Faber Academy, AJ writes in the psychological suspense, thriller and mystery genres. Her latest novel Don’t Come Looking, although a standalone story, is a sequel to her debut and is due for release in April 2021.

The human mind and how different people react to each other and interact in society fascinates AJ. She draws inspiration for her novels from many facets of everyday life. Asking, ‘How can that have possibly happened?’ AJ loves to immerse herself in developing threads, plotting and letting her creative energy help her characters evolve.

Until the birth of her twins in 2005, which radically changed her life, AJ worked as an accountant in London. One of her twins was born with severe disabilities, as a result of which she had to give up work to care for him.  During this incredibly challenging (and rewarding) time, AJ began to draw on her love of the written word, partly for daily inspiration and partly for her own mental health. 

Reading or writing, AJ loves nothing more than settling down with a good book. She enjoys reading most genres, especially thought-provoking novels that beg the question – what would I have done in that situation?

AJ lives on the Essex / Hertfordshire border with her husband, two of her three sons, and her cocker spaniel, Max. She is a firm believer in daily exercise for mental health and enjoys walking Max in the local fields. AJ also loves cooking oriental food while sipping a good glass of white wine.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon*

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Thank you to A. J. Campbell for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and the ARC of the book. 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: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Wildfire
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale

SYNOPSIS:

A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

ARIADNE gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.

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MY REVIEW:

“I am Ariadne, Princess of Crete, though my story takes us a long way from the rocky shores of my home.”

Ariadne is quite simply a masterpiece. Lush and evocative, it is a rich tapestry that brings to life many of the famous Greek myths through a new lens; telling them from the perspective of the women. Narrated by Ariadne and her sister, Phaedra, we follow the sisters from their childhood days as Princesses of Crete, a time of innocence when they acquiesce to the life and duties expected of them, and watch their metamorphosis as their naivete evaporates and they grow into tenacious, feisty and formidable women.  

I knew very little about Greek mythology and recognised snippets of the myths retold in this book but I had never heard the story of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur. I was hooked; totally obsessed and savouring every word as I luxuriated in this book. Illuminating, captivating and educational, this was a revelatory experience for me and left me desperate to learn more about the subject. 

“What I did not know was that I had hit upon a truth of womanhood: however blameless a life we led, the passions and the greed of men could bring us to ruin, and there was nothing we could do.”

A commentary on womanhood, female agency and what it is like to live in a man’s world, the author gives a voice to the forgotten women who were merely pawns. These women were forced to endure pain and punishment for the whims of men and gods, something Ariadne learns from a young age. The author explores myths such as Medusa and the Minotaur to show how it is the women who are punished by the gods, not the wrongdoer. The rage that burns in the women is anger I recognise at the injustice of female punishment for a man’s crimes. It feels very timely, especially with the ongoing discussions surrounding the #metoo movement and our culture of victim blaming. 

“No longer was my world one of brave heroes; I was learning all too swiftly the women’s pain that throbbed unspoken through the tales of their feats.”

An accomplished and spectacular debut from an exciting new talent, this book is exquisitely and meticulously written. The author vividly paints the world of gods and mortals as she sweeps you away to the golden shores of Naxos and Crete. The depth of her research is palpable and makes it all feel unquestioningly real as we are immersed in this mesmerising world. 

Luminous, atmospheric, breathtaking and unforgettable, when I finished this book I was lost for words and felt bereft at leaving the characters behind. A truly phenomenal story that everyone needs to read, even if you’ve never been interested in Greek mythology before. READ IT NOW!

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Saint grew up reading Greek mythology and was always drawn to the untold stories hidden within the myths. After thirteen years as a high school English teacher, she wrote ARIADNE which tells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur from the perspective of Ariadne – the woman who made it happen. Jennifer Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.

Instagram | Twitter

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BUY THE BOOK

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

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Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and to Wildfire for my gifted ARC. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Categories
Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up -April 2021

It’s the end of another month so it’s also time to share what I’ve been reading. April was a busy month for me; I finished thirteen books and was part-way through another when the month ended. Four of these were five star reads and I may have even found my book of the year. So here is what I read in April:

Look What You Made Me Do by Nikki Smith

As well as making me have the Taylor Swift song buzzing round my head, this book is an addictive and twisty page-turner that will knock your socks off. I was already a fan of Ms. Smith’s writing after reading her debut, but this has confirmed her place on my list of auto-read authors.
Read the review here

The Lost Hours by Susan Lewis

The Lost Hours is a compelling mystery that follows a family through their worst nightmare. It was the author’s ability to convey the emotion of the story that made this one so enjoyable for me, though I did also like how she keeps the reader guessing right until the very end.
Read the review here

The Source by Sarah Sultoon

A story of survival, strength, power, abuse and justice, this is a book that elicits strong emotions. Unflinchingly and sensitively written, it isn’t an easy read, but it’s one I’m glad I picked up.
Read the review here

The Dinner Guest by B. P. Walter

One of the best thriller’s I’ve read in a while, this had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. Skillfully written, atmospheric and intoxicating, this might have been my first time reading this author, but it won’t be my last.
Read the review here

Bibliomysteries Vol.1

I enjoyed listening to this anthology of thirteen short stories with a bookish theme which was my first audiobook review for NetGalley. A great listen for anyone who enjoys a mystery with stories from some famous names in crime.

The Plague Letters by V. L. Valentine

I’ve long had a fascination with anything related to the plague of the 17th Century so this book was one of my most anticipated books this year. And it didn’t disappoint. The Plague Letters is a gripping whodunnit with a sinister and supernatural twist that is made me feel like I had gone back in time. A sensational debut, I’m looking forward to seeing what this author writes next.
Read the review here

Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth MacNeal

As a huge fan of the author’s debut novel, The Doll Factory, I was so excited to read this book. I was worth the wait. Once again Ms. Macneal has written a magnificent and truly wonderful story. I got lost in the world and characters she created and didn’t want it to end. This was very nearly my book of the month and is one fans of historical fiction don’t want to miss.

The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs

I haven’t read this series in years but it was still like meeting up with old friends. I had forgotten just how amazing this series, and Reich’s writing, are and am so glad I decided to jump back into it. A twisty, taut and tense thriller that I highly recommend.
Read the review here

The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea

This book is truly something special. I was unprepared for how much I’d fall in love with this book and it’s characters as they reached into my soul and took up residence there. The writing is exquisite, the imagery so vivid you feel like you are there, and the characters utterly compelling. Dorothy and Cesare will make you believe in true love as they find something beautiful in the darkest and most unexpected of places.
Read the review here

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I’m not going to deny the beautiful cover is partly what enticed me to add this book to my tbr. And it lived up to the expectation of beauty for sure, with its luxurious prose and evocative imagery. I also really liked how the author addressed the topic of female agency and power. The only thing that let this down was that it is sold as Fantasy but there was no real magical element to it. It is a great book for those who enjoy historical romance.
Read the review here

The Liar’s Daughter by Rona Halsall

This was another amazing thriller from one of my favourite voices in psychological fiction. Halsall had me fooled for a while, lulling me into a false sense of security where I thought I had it all figured out, before pulling the rug from under me and turning everything on it’s head.
Read the review here

Don’t Come Looking by A. J. Campbell

The second installment in the Eva Barnes is even better than the first! An intriguing, suspenseful and gripping thriller that I couldn’t put down, keep an eye out for my review soon.

Dead Secret by Noelle Holten

This has become a must-read series for me thanks to the author’s dark and twisty plots and razor-sharp writing. This wasn’t as dark as the previous books in the series and I enjoyed exploring more of the character’s personal lives. Unexpected and addictive, I flew through this in just a few hours.
Read the review here

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While there were a few books that stood out this month, as soon as I began reading The Metal Heart I knew this was my Book of the Month. It is something truly beautiful and special that reached into my soul.

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Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite read in April? Let me know in the comments.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Dead Secret (Maggie Jamieson Book 4) by Noelle Holten

Published: April 23rd, 2021
Publisher: One More Chapter
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Hardboiled, Police Procedural

SYNOPSIS:

Psychopaths can take root in the unlikeliest soil…

DC Maggie Jamieson crosses paths once again with Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood when a domestic violence survivor stumbles into her new refuge, unable to speak, desperate for help.

Then another case hits Maggie’s desk. A young man has been murdered, and a curious constellation of black dots has been inked onto his cheek.

That’s when DCI Hastings goes missing and Maggie uncovers a shocking connection that turns the case on its head.

Every family may hide secrets, but not every family buries them…

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MY REVIEW:

“Psychopaths can take root in the unlikeliest soil…”

The DC Maggie Jamieson series has become a must-read series for me thanks to the author’s dark, twisty and sharply-written plots and compelling characters. Like the previous installments, this fourth installment doesn’t miss a beat and jumps straight into the action with a heart-pounding and mysterious prologue that sets us up for the tense journey we are about to be taken on. 

It was great to be back with familiar characters. Even though these books can be quite hard-hitting, there is a comfort to the familiar characters that makes reading a series so enticing for me. This installment is probably the least hard-hitting of the author’s books so far, focusing more on Maggie’s personal life and how Lucy is coping with running her new refuge than on dark and malevolent characters. And as much as I like the twisted characters I enjoyed this change. But don’t let that fool you, there is still plenty of action and the team spend a lot of time investigating two pressing cases: the murder of a young man and the disappearance of DCI Hastings and his family. And as they dig deeper, they unveil shocking secrets that reveal the cases are connected in unexpected ways. 

As with all of her books, Ms Holten addresses some tough topics in this book, including domestic abuse and self harm. While it is always written with honesty, it is also sensitive and real, showing things such as the struggle faced by survivors of abuse. Her villains are always scarily sinister, and this book does not disappoint in that regard. They may only appear for a short time, but they make quite the impact and lasting impression. 

An unpredictable, gripping and suspenseful thriller, Dead Secret will have you on tenterhooks from start to finish. The author succinctly catches you up on past events, making it readable as both a standalone of part of the series. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Domestic abuse, self harm

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at http://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Sarah at Book on the Bright Side Publicity and Promo for the invitation to take part in this tour and to One More Chapter for the eBook ARC. 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

Blog Tour: The Bone Code by Kathy Reichs

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:

THE NEW EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT THRILLER IN THE NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING TEMPERANCE BRENNAN SERIES

‘I await the next Kathy Reichs’ thriller with the same anticipation I have for the new Lee Child or Patricia Cornwell’ JAMES PATTERSON

‘Over the course of twenty books, Kathy Reichs and Tempe Brennan have thrilled readers with pacey, mazey tales . . . We readers are truly grateful’ IAN RANKINNO CRIME CAN STAY HIDDEN FOREVER

When a hurricane hits the Carolinas it uncovers two bodies, sharing uncanny similarities with a cold case in Quebec that has haunted Temperance Brennan for fifteen years.

At the same time, a rare bacterium that can eat human flesh is discovered in Charleston. Panic erupts and people test themselves for a genetic mutation that leaves them vulnerable.

With support from her long time partner Andrew Ryan, in a search that soon proves dangerous, Temperance discovers the startling connection between the victims of both murder cases – and that both the murders and the disease outbreak have a common cause . . .

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MY REVIEW:

When Hurricane Inara hits the Carolinas it unearths two bodies that bear a striking similarity to a cold case from her past that has haunted Temperance Brennan for fifteen years. Could they be connected? 

Meanwhile, there is a new pandemic in Charleston; a rare, flesh-eating bacteria that is passed from animals to humans is spreading through the population at an alarming rate and causing panic among its residents. 

As Temperance and her partner investigate, they find surprising links between not only the two murder cases, but also to the outbreak. And as they get closer to the truth, it becomes clear that someone will do anything to stop them…

The Bone Code is the twentieth installment in the infamous Temperance Brennan series. I haven’t read this series in probably close to a decade and I was excited to get back into it, but apprehensive about how easy it would be to do so. I needn’t have worried. Reichs catches up the reader with finesse, making those who’ve not read for years feel like you’ve never been away and making it easy for others to pick this up as a first foray into the series. 

You’re guaranteed a fascinating case when you pick up one of Reichs’ books and this one was no exception. Granted, some of the talk about vaccines went over my head, but she does a great job of explaining complex medical and scientific jargon to those of us with no experience in the field. Unlike many books out at the moment, Reichs opts to mention Covid-19 in this book. But she takes a positive approach, consigning it to history and setting the book at a time when the virus has been conquered, mentioning it in the past tense. Obviously this is fiction, but it gave me a sense of comfort all the same to imagine myself in a world where the threat is overcome and we are living normal lives again. 

Twisty, taut and tense, reading this was a great reminder of just how good Reichs is. I loved being back with Tempe. She is a fantastic character and I’d forgotten just how much I enjoy her and how fascinating I find the work she does. Intelligently and sharply written, I love how she expertly weaves together all of the intricate threads slowly in striking and unexpected ways. Addictive and consuming, I inhaled this book in under a day, unable to put it down once I’d started reading. It has definitely made me want to go back and read more of the books I’ve missed.

A darkly atmospheric thriller with a kick, this is one not to be missed. Even if you’ve never read Ms. Reichs before, I suggest you pick this up and find out for yourself why she, and Tempe, are some of the biggest names in crime fiction. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her other Temperance Brennan books include Death du Jour, Deadly Decisions, Fatal Voyage, Grave Secrets, Bare Bones, Monday Mourning, Cross Bones, Break No Bones, Bones to Ashes, Devil Bones, 206 Bones, Spider Bones, Flash and Bones, Bones Are Forever, Bones of the Lost, Bones Never Lie, Speaking in Bones and the Temperance Brennan short story collection, The Bone Collection.   In addition, Kathy co-authored the Virals young adult series with her son, Brendan Reichs. The best-selling titles are: Virals, Seizure, Code, ExposureTerminal, and the novella collection Trace Evidence. The series follows the adventures of Temperance Brennan’s great niece, Tory Brennan.  Dr. Reichs’ latest novel, Two Nights, was released July 11 and features Sunday Night, a tough-talking, scarred heroine.  Dr. Reichs was also a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.

From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as a forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerizing forensic thrillers. For years she consulted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina and to the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. Dr. Reichs has traveled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. As part of her work at JPAC (Formerly CILHI) she aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Reichs also assisted in the recovery of remains at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Dr. Reichs is one of only 100 forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and is currently a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Dr. Reichs is a native of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. She now divides her time between Charlotte, NC and Montreal, Québec.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in this tour and to Simon & Schuster UK for the ARC. 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

Blog Tour: The Liar’s Daughter by Rona Halsall

Published: April 26th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Noir Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

The call comes on an ordinary Sunday afternoon to say your sister has been admitted to hospital with a serious head injury. But you don’t have a sister… do you?

You’ve never doubted your parents. You’ve loved them without question your whole life. But your stepmother is uncharacteristically speechless, and your father isn’t well enough to understand.

So you get in your car.

Turn the key in the ignition.

Knowing everything behind you is a lie.

Not knowing what lies ahead: the truth… or something far darker?

A deliciously dark and twisty tale of deception, secrets and family ties, The Liar’s Daughter is perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, The Woman in the Window and The Family Upstairs.

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MY REVIEW:

Rona Halsall is one of my must-read thriller authors. So anytime I hear she has a new book coming out I jump at the chance to read it and be part of the blog tour. This latest book sounded as intriguing and entertaining as her others so I was excited to start reading. 

She had me hooked with the intriguing prologue as Eva’s life is torn apart on that ordinary Sunday afternoon when she finds out she has a sister her parents never mentioned. A sister who is now in hospital with a serious head injury and needs taking care of. Feeling betrayed, Eva rushes to her side, reeling from the betrayal and searching for answers she feels only the mysterious Nancy might be willing to give. 

This readable page-turner was so expertly written that it lulled me into a false sense of security. I should have known better than to get comfortable and think I had it all figured out. But I did. And then out of the blue she delivered one of her trademark twists that revealed a skillfully crafted hall of mirrors and turned everything I thought I knew on its head. I couldn’t read fast enough and was flying through the pages as the author took me on a wild ride packed with sizzling suspense. I’ll never underestimate Rona again!

The story is filled with compelling characters that may or may not be reliable. I don’t want to ruin the surprises in store for those yet to read the book, so I’m only going to talk about Eva. She was a likeable character that I found it easy to root for. Most of us have experienced that gut wrenching feeling when we discover someone we trusted  implicitly has lied to us for a long time. I can only imagine how much more painful that is when it was your parents. Eva’s heartbreak, loss, confusion and sense of betrayal is palpable, Halsall putting us in her shoes as her whole world crumbles and she tries to rebuild it with the broken pieces of lies and truths that she never imagined. 

Riveting, unexpected and tense, The Liar’s Daughter is another morally complex and emotional story from a sensational author. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rona lives on the Isle of Man with her husband, two dogs and three guinea pigs. She has been a bookworm since she was a child and now she’s actually creating stories of her own, which still feels like a dream come true. 

She is an outdoorsy person and loves stomping up a mountain, walking the coastal paths and exploring the wonderful beaches on the Island while she’s plotting how to kill off her next victim. She also makes sure she deletes her Google history on a regular basis, because… well, you can’t be too careful when you spend your life researching new and ingenious ways for people to die.

She has three children and two step-children who are now grown up and leading varied and interesting lives, which provides plenty of ideas for new stories!

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

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Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and for the eBook ARC. Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx