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REVIEW: Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Nobody But Us was April’s SquadPod Book Club pick, and boy was it a good one! Unpredictable and totally crazy, this is a phenomenal debut that everyone needs to read.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

MEET 2022’S MOST DANGEROUS COUPLE . . .
________

Steven Harding is a handsome, well-respected professor.
Ellie Masterson is a wide-eyed young college student.

Together, they are driving south from New York, for their first holiday: three days in an isolated cabin, far from the city.

Ahead of them, the promise of long, dark nights – and the chance to explore one another’s bodies, away from disapproving eyes.

It should be a perfect, romantic trip for two.

EXCEPT THAT HE’S NOT WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

BUT THEN AGAIN, NEITHER IS SHE . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“Morning will cast a light on all this, shine on the craziness of the situation; this sham won’t survive sunrise, like all other evil it can only thrive in darkness.” 

What a wild ride!  This is a book that does exactly what it says on the tin and lives up to its tagline that calls Ellie and Steven ‘2022’s most f*cked up couple’.  This one took me quite some time to recover from after reading.  It’s that crazy.  I thought I knew what was in store but I had no idea just how messed up this was going to get…

The story opens with Ellie and Steven heading off on a three-day trip to celebrate their six month anniversary.  They both seem anxious and feel like everything rests on this weekend but the reader is in the dark as to what that is and why.  They quickly arrive at their destination: a remote cabin in the forest, surrounded by snow and with no cell phone reception.  Right then you would know this is going to be a getaway-gone-wrong even if you’d gone into this book blind.  Ominous and claustrophobic, there is an unbearable tension that wreaked havoc on my blood pressure as I tried to guess what would happen next.  But I could never have guessed what was coming if I’d had a hundred guesses.  It plays its cards extremely close to the vest so I won’t say anything more about the plot so you can discover the craziness for yourself. 

Stylish, sinister, scalpel-sharp and sophisticated, Laure Van Rensburg’s cunningly crafted debut is one you won’t forget.  She holds the reader in her vice-like grip, making it impossible to stop reading even when you want to turn away.  Ellie and Steven are richly drawn, memorable, unsavoury and unreliable characters, hiding their dysfunction behind a mask of normalcy that once removed will change everything you thought you knew. 

Unpredictable, darkly atmospheric and charged with adrenaline, Nobody But Us is the debut everyone is going to be talking about.  Laure Van Rensburg is a spectacular new talent that is one to watch and I for one can’t wait to read what she writes next.

READ THIS BOOK!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 & 2019 Bath Short Story Award.

Her debut novel, Nobody But Us, follows Ellie and Steven who take their first trip away together, but what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbour secrets – and that one of those secrets is deadly.

Nobody But Us (originally titled The Downfall) was shortlisted for the 2019 First Novel Prize, 2019 Novel London Competition and 2019 Flash 500 Novel Opening. It will be published by Michael Joseph in April 2022 and has sold in fourteen territories, including Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States.

Laure’s current work in progress, Eden Lost, was longlisted in 2019 Exeter Novel Prize and more recently shortlisted in the 2020 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REVIEW: Elektra by Jennifer Saint

Published: April 28th, 2022
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Greek Mythology, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Fairy Tale
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to one of my most anticipated books of the year!

Thank you to Caitlin at Wildfire for the gifted ARC and gorgeous finished copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

An exciting and equally lyrical new retelling from Jennifer Saint, the Sunday Times bestselling author of ARIADNE

‘Saint’s immersive novel thrusts the reader straight into the heart of Greek mythology’ ipaper on Ariadne

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

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MY REVIEW:

Jennifer Saint has done it again.  Elektra was one of my most anticipated books of this year, but would it live up to the splendour of Ariadne, one of my favourite books of 2021?  The answer is yes!  Enthralling, powerful and mesmerising, Elektra is a glorious tapestry of a novel, a richly drawn portrayal of war and betrayal, of families torn apart by men’s lust for women, power and the so-called will of the gods, and of women trying to find agency in a man’s world.

This time the author retells the story of the Trojan War.  But instead of taking the obvious route of telling the story from Helen’s perspective she gives a voice to three other women: Elektra, Clytemnestra and Cassandra.  Elektra is the daughter of Agamenmon, a young girl who idolises her father and longs for his victorious return from Troy, Clytemnestra is Helen’s twin sister and wife of Agamenmon, a dutiful wife until a shocking act that leaves her devastated and plotting revenge, and Cassandra is a princess of Troy who is given the gift of visions by Apollo yet no one will believe her predictions or listen when she tries to tell them what lies in store for their city.  They are very different women whose fates are inextricably intertwined and share feelings of rage at their powerlessness in a world controlled by men.  Moving between their stories the author paints a vivid and illuminating picture of the Trojan War through the prism of these strong, fascinating and unforgettable women.  

Jennifer Saint is an author I could read every day and never get bored.  Her books are a masterclass in storytelling as she brings ancient Greece and its myths back to life in vivid technicolour with her lush and evocative prose.  You find yourself completely immersed in their world as the one around you completely falls away.  Her passion and knowledge of not only the myths, but the women themselves leaps from the pages and makes me want to read more; in fact, it was reading Ariadne that awakened my love of mythology.  

Lyrical, atmospheric and consuming, I couldn’t get enough of this book, devouring it quickly and feeling bereft when I’d finished.  Elektra is another masterpiece from the talented Jennifer Saint that I will be telling everyone to read.

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. Her second novel, ELEKTRA, explores the curse upon the House of Atreus, giving voice to three women who are caught up in its shadows: Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra whose lives are shattered by the Trojan War and who seek to find justice at any cost. Jennifer Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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BLOG TOUR: The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Century
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS

Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her.

So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace?

Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is – or even whether she is still alive.

A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind, and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her.

Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence – and with the trauma that shattered her life.

For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years?

Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever …

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MY REVIEW:

Since the day their eighteen-year-old daughter, Emma, left home and never returned a year ago, Cath and Jim have been struggling to cope, unable to understand why their precious daughter would walk out of their life or even if she is still alive.  Every day they are caught between feelings of guilt, despair and helplessness, clinging to the hope that they will see her again one day soon.   
Cath begins to channel her maternal feelings into their tenants Lara and Nick, hoping to fill the void that threatens to break her.  But Lara and Nick are facing their own secret traumas that they are unable to even voice to one another, trying to live up to a version of themselves that isn’t real.   
Meanwhile, Emma is trying to adapt to her new life and struggling to deal with a traumatic event that shattered her entire world.   

The Shadow Child is a story about relationships, loss, trauma and hope.  A story filled with secrets that threaten to break hearts and shatter already fragile relationships.  The author explores difficult topics such as miscarriage and grief, writing with honesty and empathy.  She also asks if it is ever acceptable to keep secrets in a relationship and examines how those relationships can be affected when a secret is revealed. 

Cath, Jim, Lara, Nick and Emma each narrate their story, allowing us a glimpse into their psyche and the opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level.   Each of them are trying to find a way to live life while also trying to come to terms with trauma, grief and heartache.  The author also examines how  events in our childhood can shape who we become and the massive impact that seemingly insignificant events can have on our lives.   

Steadily paced, emotionally resonant and intriguing, The Shadow Child is a compelling debut about the complexities and nuances that make us human. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Hancox read Medicine and Social and Political Science at Cambridge, qualified as a doctor three months after getting married, and has juggled her family, her career and a passion for writing ever since. She worked in Paediatrics and Public Health for twenty years, writing short stories alongside NHS policy reports, and drafting novels during successive bouts of maternity leave. Rachel loves singing, cooking, gardening and pottery, and has five children, three dogs and a cat. As someone once said, she thrives on chaos. She lives in Oxford with her husband and youngest children.

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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 other bloggers taking part in the tour.

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Fall by Rachael Blok

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Police Procedural, Medical Thriller

It’s a little late due to health problems but welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Fall. Thank you to Sophie at Ransom PR for the invitation to take part and Head of Zeus for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The sins of the past echo in the present in the new literary thriller from crime-critic favourite, Rachael Blok.

The bigger the sin, the further the fall…

With Easter approaching, the verger of St Albans Cathedral was supposed to be readying the church. Instead he discovers a man lying dead, fallen from the famous 150-foot-high tower. Did he jump, or was he pushed?

For DCI Maarten Jansen, it’s a simple case of suspected suicide. Until a witness, Willow, prompts a deeper investigation into a long-buried past, involving a psychiatric hospital, a pregnant woman, and fifty years of silence. As Willow’s own family history entwines with the case, Jansen starts to wonder how everything is connected.

The Fall is a haunting literary thriller about loss, trauma, silence, and how our past shapes who we are.

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MY REVIEW:

“Secrets don’t stay buried forever. Even those cast in stone.”

After a long day of travel Willow Eliot finally arrives at St Albans ready to prepare for her exhibition.  But in the darkness she hears a scream and witnesses a body falling from the cathedral in the shadows.  Did he jump or was he pushed?  And are the fall of a young man who works at the cathedral a few days later and the disappearance of Willow’s twin sister connected or simply tragic coincidences? 

A story of sins, secrets and suspicion, this literary thriller hit all the right notes for me.  Taut, tense and intricately woven, it takes us on a twisty journey as past and present merge together and dark truths are slowly revealed.  This book was my introduction to Rachael Blok and I didn’t realise that it is the fourth instalment in a series until I had almost finished reading.  But that means I can tell  you it makes a great standalone as I never felt like I was missing out on anything or confused about what was going on.

Told in three parts from multiple points of view, I loved the very different voices the author chose in which to tell the story.  I found young Alice’s chapters were especially compelling and powerful, drawing into her tragic story.  Many of the characters are keeping secrets, some of them with the power to shatter entire lives, leaving us with a complex puzzle to solve that looks nothing like I thought it would.  

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was that it is rich in history.  But it is an awful history that dates back to the psychiatric hospital, Hill Barnes, a bleak, grim place where people were sent when they didn’t know how to deal with them, often committed for what now seem like trivial reasons.  Behavioural issues, epilepsy, a wife disagreeing with her husband and being a young mother could all see you committed and subjected to barbaric treatments that did more harm than healing.  It is a potent reminder of how we used to treat mental health and those we didn’t understand.  

Dark, twisty and captivating, The Fall is a great read for anyone who enjoys a steadily paced thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rachael Blok is a best-selling author of the UK crime series set in the cathedral city of St Albans. Here, DCI Maarten Jansen struggles against his plain-speaking Dutch upbringing when faced with the seemingly polite world of the picturesque city. Under the Ice, The Scorched Earth and Into The Fire are out now. The Fall is coming April 2022.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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 Most Anticipated 2022

SOCIAL MEDIA BLAST: The No-Show by Beth O’Leary

Published: April 12th 2022
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication day to Beth O’Leary! I’m delighted to share my review for this magnificent novel as part of the social media blast. Thank you to Ella at Quercus for the invitation to take part and the gifted finished copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

The funny, heart-breaking and uplifting new novel from the bestselling author of The Flatshare

Three women. Three dates. One missing man…

8.52 a.m. Siobhan is looking forward to her breakfast date with Joseph. She was surprised when he suggested it – she normally sees him late at night in her hotel room. Breakfast on Valentine’s Day surely means something … so where is he?

2.43 p.m. Miranda’s hoping that a Valentine’s Day lunch with Carter will be the perfect way to celebrate her new job. It’s a fresh start and a sign that her life is falling into place: she’s been dating Carter for five months now and things are getting serious. But why hasn’t he shown up?

6.30 p.m. Joseph Carter agreed to be Jane’s fake boyfriend at an engagement party. They’ve not known each other long but their friendship is fast becoming the brightest part of her new life in Winchester. Joseph promised to save Jane tonight. But he’s not here…

Meet Joseph Carter. That is, if you can find him.

The No-Show is the brilliantly funny, heart-breaking and joyful new novel from Beth O’Leary about dating, and waiting, and the ways love can find us. An utterly extraordinary tearjerker of a book, this is O’Leary’s most ambitious novel yet.

MY REVIEW:

“Three women.  Three dates.  One missing man…” 

Oh, my heart.  How am I supposed to read anything else after this?  The No-Show was one of my most anticipated books of 2022 and it exceeded every one of my sky-high expectations.  Beth O’Leary hasn’t merely done it again with this novel; she’s outdone herself.  I devoured it in under a day and was left with one of the biggest book hangovers I’ve ever had. 

The No-Show is a story not just about love, but about learning who you are and loving that person, about going after what you want and stepping out of your comfort zones.  Told by a trio of female narrators, the story opens on Valentine’s Day.  First we meet Siobhan who is waiting for Joseph, her favourite London hook-up, to meet her for breakfast.  Next we meet Miranda who is looking forward to lunch with Carter, her boyfriend of five months.  And then there’s Jane, who’s relying on her friend Joseph Carter to be her fake boyfriend to save her from humiliation at an engagement party.  It is soon clear that all three women were meeting the same man, though he is someone and something different to each of them.  You see where this is going, right?  Yeah, I thought so too…

“Being a human is messy… Sometimes you just need to let yourself feel something, even if it’s ugly.”

Wonderfully choreographed, intricately woven and cleverly plotted, The No-Show is like a treasure trove: its secrets hidden under layers you have to peel back in order to discover the gems hidden at the bottom.  It is a story that breaks your heart into pieces and then puts it back together again, giving you back the hope you thought you’d lost.  It is a clear-your-schedule-and-lock-out-the-world kind of book; and it utterly consumed me.  

Narrators Siobhan, Miranda and Jane are three very different women who share similar hopes, dreams and insecurities.  They are flawed, relatable, likeable and real; the kind of women you can imagine knowing yourself, and by the end of the book they felt like friends to me.  They each had qualities I admired but it was ultimately bookworm Jane that I found myself relating to most of all.  I found this amusing as an online quiz I took a number of months ago had said that I was a Jane. I guess sometimes those quizzes are right.
And then there’s Joseph.  For most of the story I wasn’t sure what to make of him.  Was he simply a cad who’s callously playing with their hearts or is there more to him than meets the eye?  As time went on I did begin to think there was something we didn’t yet know that might help us see beyond his façade and enable us to get to know the man underneath.  If only he would let us.

“Remember everyone thought Ted Bundy was really sweet! Nobody ever suspects the nice guy!” 

Beth O’Leary is an exquisite storyteller who knows how to get to the heart and soul of both her characters and readers.  She makes the world around you vanish as you read, leaving you completely immersed in the world that she’s created.  For me, returning to O’Leary’s writing felt like being wrapped in a big hug: familiar, warm, comforting and soothing for the soul.  It also lifted my spirits, something I needed when I picked up this book.  Another thing I love about her novels is how she takes romantic fiction and transcends the genre, creating stories that explore deeper issues such as PTSD and coercive control.  In The No-Show she explores topics such as mental health, self harm, pregnancy loss and grief, weaving these serious issues in amongst the witty, lighthearted moments to create a thought-provoking yet entertaining read.

Absorbing, heartrending and hopeful, The No-Show is a masterpiece that made my heart sing.  It is my favourite read this month so far and I have no doubt it will be on my list of top books of the year.  It might even be my favourite Beth O’Leary book yet.  Believe the hype and go read this book. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Beth O’Leary is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

She wrote her debut novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from her job at a children’s publisher.

She now lives in the Hampshire countryside and writes full time.

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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 social media blast.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BLOG TOUR: Quicksand of Memory by Michael J. Malone

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this powerful psychological thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Scarred by their pasts, Jenna and Luke fall in love, brimming with hope for a rosy future. But someone has been watching, with chilling plans for revenge … An emotive, twisty, disturbing new psychological thriller by the critically acclaimed author of A Suitable Lie and In the Absence of Miracles.

Jenna is trying to rebuild her life after a series of disastrous relationships.

Luke is struggling to provide a safe, loving home for his deceased partner’s young son, following a devastating tragedy.

When Jenna and Luke meet and fall in love, they are certain they can achieve the stability and happiness they both desperately need.

And yet, someone is watching.

Someone who has been scarred by past events.

Someone who will stop at nothing to get revenge…

Dark, unsettling and immensely moving, Quicksand of Memory is a chilling reminder that we are not only punished for our sins, but by them, and that memories left to blacken and sharpen over time are the perfect breeding ground for obsession, and murder…

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MY REVIEW:

“Just a hundred yards away, a hooded figure watched. Shadows obscured his face like they were part of his costume. His heartbeat thumped insistently in his neck, and his hands flexed in and out of fists, like lungs drawing in breath.”

Quicksand of Memory is another gripping thriller from Michael J. Malone.  Drenched in atmosphere, charged with adrenaline and sizzling with suspense, there are so many twists I thought I’d get book whiplash.  It’s a ticking time bomb of sheer dread as new couple Luke and Jenna find themselves in the crosshairs of someone with an unquenchable thirst for revenge.  Someone who is watching and waiting for the perfect time to strike…

“Guilt was an ever-present for Luke. It wrapped itself around his heart and mind, weighed down muscle and bone, and invaded his sleep. Every waking moment arrived to him through a filter of shame.” 

A redemption tale that packs a punch, this story will get under your skin and into your heart. A layered, nuanced and complex thriller full of misery, malevolence and misfortune, the richly drawn characters pull you in and there’s a profound sense of loss and sadness that permeates every page.  The story is told by multiple narrators, each of whom is fractured, flawed and trying to break free of the shackles of their past.  But can they ever really manage it?  Malone highlights the importance of positive support and role models in order for us to be able to transcend the negative parts of our lives and succeed in breaking free in the differing levels of success the characters have at overcoming their past.  As the spectres of their past continue to haunt them and the ripple effects continue to mark their lives in present, we see how positive support helps Luke and Jenna to move on and move forward while still feeling the trauma and guilt of their past while Jamie and Amanda, who have had no such support, are stuck in a cycle of anger and bitterness.  I enjoyed each perspective and felt the most empathy for Jamie, despite his terrible actions.  I felt like he truly was a victim of circumstance and he would be a better person with the right encouragement, help and support, whereas Amanda seemed rotten to her core and to delight in causing pain to others.  

“But now the spectre of Danny hung over them. Toxins flowing from his ever-strong memory, poisons that leached into Luke’s every vein, every muscle, tainting every thought, perception and action.”

Michael J. Malone is a talented storyteller who will take you through a range of emotions while reading and is the master of dark thrillers that also hold a deeper, more important message.  In this book he explores a number of harrowing and difficult topics such as dysfunctional families, neglect, trauma, drug use and violence.  He examines the correlation between poverty, violence and drug use and the lack of a father figure, and also asks what drives people to destruction and revenge.  He also poses the question of whether we truly have free will or are our lives  shaped by circumstances and events?

“He felt like there were two people living under his skin. The little boy who craved love and attention. And the one who wanted to set fire to the world.” 

Sinister, suspenseful and compelling, Quicksand of Memory is a powerful and thought-provoking thriller that you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan; and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. Since then, he’s written two further thought-provoking, exquisitely written psychological thrillers In the Absence of Miracles and A Song of Isolation, cementing his position as a key proponent of Tartan Noir and an undeniable talent. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | 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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Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

AUDIOBOOK BLOG TOUR: Shattered Bones by Kate Bendelow, Narrated by Annabelle Indge

Published: April 1st 2022
Publisher: Isis Publishing
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural
Format: Audiobook, Kindle, Paperback

Welcome to my delayed stop on the blog tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Danielle for the invitation to take part in the tour and to Isis Audio for the gifted audiobook.

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SYNOPSIS:

SOCO Maya Barton is called to a canal where a heavily decomposed male body has been discovered. A bank card belonging to Trevor Dawlish is found in the cadaver’s pocket, and the name matches that of a missing person. All seems straightforward – until Trevor’s wife phones the police to say that Trevor has returned home, leaving Maya and the team wondering who the unknown male is. 

When it’s revealed that the male was dead before he entered the water, Maya finds herself with a murder on her hands. But when another body is discovered, the case becomes further complicated. The hope is that facial reconstruction of the first victim will help solve the mystery – but it may lead Maya and her team down an even darker path.

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MY REVIEW:

When a heavily decomposed body is found in a canal and a bank card is found in the cadaver’s pocket belonging to Trevor Dawlish it looks like a pretty straightforward case for SOCO Maya Barton and her team.  But when Trevor’s wife calls saying he just assaulted her and then disappeared things get more complicated.  But the crazy twists in this case are only beginning…

This gripping audiobook packs a punch from the start with a rage-filled prologue that is immediately followed by a gruesome crime scene.  I was caught on the author’s hook and on the edge of my seat as I listened. 
While Shattered Bones is the second in Kate Bendelow’s Maya Barton trilogy, it was my introduction to both the series and the author.  Despite this I never struggled to keep up or understand what was happening, making this a great standalone or introduction to the series.  The story is skillfully written, the author’s history as a CSI shining through in the gritty, authentic feel and small details.

This story is a tangled web with many threads, some that I found hard to imagine how they wove together.  But as the investigation goes on they slowly begin to weave together and I saw the final picture take shape.  And it looked nothing like I’d imagined.  I love it when a thriller is hard to predict and this one really was, forcing me to reassess my predictions again and again.  

Maya is a great protagonist.  I found her likeable, interesting, witty and adept.  I loved her relationship with her mother Dominique and enjoyed the tension and emotion that their shared history added to the story.  I was very invested in this particular thread of the story and listened with my heart in my throat and even tears in my eyes at one point.  

Tense, twisty, unflinching and compelling, Shattered Bones was one of my favourite audiobooks yet and I look forward to the final part of this trilogy.  A must-listen for anyone who enjoys a really well-written thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

I am the author of The Real CSI: A Forensic Handbook for Crime Writers. I also deliver presentations on the same subject to crime writers. I hope you find The Real CSI a useful resource.

Bloodhound Books are the publishers behind the SOCO Maya Barton trilogy. It’s crime fiction with a twist, as the main protagonist is a scene of crime office rather than a detective. The first two books in the series are Definitely Dead and Shattered Bones and are perfect for you if you’re interested in forensics crime scene investigation.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – April 2022

Welcome to April’s anticipated treasures. There are new releases from authors I love as well as exciting debuts and some of my most anticipated of the year such as Elektra, Lessons in Chemistry, The No-Show, Nobody But Us, First Born and Theatre of Marvels. It’s an incredible month and I had a hard time narrowing it down to the twenty-eight on this list. Yes, twenty-eight books. I think that is the most I’ve included on an Anticipated Treasures list but I just couldn’t bring myself to take any of these off the list.
So, without further ado, here are the thirty books I’m most excited about being released in April:

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Published: April 5th
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.

Like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

Meet the unconventional, uncompromising Elizabeth Zott.

Buy here*

Easy Beauty by Chloe Cooper Jones

Published: April 7th
Publisher: Virago
Genre: Biography, Autobiography

SYNOPSIS:
I am in a bar in Brooklyn listening to two men, my friends, discuss whether or not my life was worth living.

So begins Chloé Cooper Jones’s bold account of moving through the world in a body that looks different than most. Born with a rare congenital condition called sacral agenesis, she must contend not only with her own physical pain, but the emotional discomfort of others.

It is only when she unexpectedly becomes a mother that she confronts the demand to live life fully, propelling her on a journey across the globe, reclaiming the spaces she’d been denied, and denied herself.

From Roman sculptures to a Beyoncé concert, from a tennis tournament to the Cambodian Killing Fields, Jones interrogates the myths of beauty with spiky intelligence, aesthetic philosophy, love and humor, inviting us to find a new way of seeing.

Buy here*

The No-Show by Beth O’Leary

Published: April 12th
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance Novel

SYNOPSIS:
The funny, heart-breaking and uplifting new novel from the bestselling author of  The Flatshare

Three women. Three dates. One missing man…

8.52 a.m. Siobhan is looking forward to her breakfast date with Joseph. She was surprised when he suggested it – she normally sees him late at night in her hotel room. Breakfast on Valentine’s Day surely means something … so where is he?

2.43 p.m. Miranda’s hoping that a Valentine’s Day lunch with Carter will be the perfect way to celebrate her new job. It’s a fresh start and a sign that her life is falling into place: she’s been dating Carter for five months now and things are getting serious. But why hasn’t he shown up?

6.30 p.m. Joseph Carter agreed to be Jane’s fake boyfriend at an engagement party. They’ve not known each other long but their friendship is fast becoming the brightest part of her new life in Winchester. Joseph promised to save Jane tonight. But he’s not here…

Meet Joseph Carter. That is, if you can find him.

The No-Show is the brilliantly funny, heart-breaking and joyful new novel from Beth O’Leary about dating, and waiting, and the ways love can find us. An utterly extraordinary tearjerker of a book, this is O’Leary’s most ambitious novel yet.

Buy here*

First Born by Will Dean

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
*** From the acclaimed author of THE LAST THING TO BURN comes a new thriller about identity, rivalry and deceit. ***

THE LAST THING A TWIN EXPECTS IS TO BE ALONE …

Molly
 lives a quiet, contained life in London. Naturally risk averse, she gains comfort from security and structure. Every day the same.

Her identical twin Katie is her exact opposite: gregarious and spontaneous. They used to be inseparable, until Katie moved to New York a year ago. Molly still speaks to her daily without fail.

But when Molly learns that Katie has died suddenly in New York, she is thrown into unfamiliar territory. Katie is part of her DNA. As terrifying as it is, she must go there and find out what happened. As she tracks her twin’s last movements, cracks begin to emerge. Nothing is what it seems. And a web of deceit is closing around her.

Delivering the same intensity of pace and storytelling that made THE LAST THING TO BURN a word-of-mouth sensation, FIRST BORN will surprise, shock and enthral.

Buy here*

Nobody But Us by Laure van Rensburg

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Romance Novel

SYNOPSIS:
**PRE-ORDER NOBODY BUT US AND MEET 2022’S MOST DANGEROUS COUPLE**

Steven Harding is a handsome, well-respected professor.
Ellie Masterson is a wide-eyed young college student.

Together, they are driving south from New York, for their first holiday: three days in an isolated cabin, far from the city.

Ahead of them, the promise of long, dark nights – and the chance to explore one another’s bodies, away from disapproving eyes.

It should be a perfect, romantic trip for two.

EXCEPT THAT HE’S NOT WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

BUT THEN AGAIN, NEITHER IS SHE . . .

Buy here*

Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Domestic Fiction, Crime Fiction Police Procedural

SYNOPSIS:
Into the Dark is the new dark and gripping crime thriller from Fiona Cummins about revenge, greed, ambition and the true cost of friendship.


THE PLACE: Seawings, a beautiful Art Deco home overlooking the sweep of the bay in Midtown-on-Sea.

THE CRIME: The gilded Holden family – Piper and Gray and their two teenage children, Riva and Artie – has vanished from the house without a trace.

THE DETECTIVE: DS Saul Anguish, brilliant but with a dark past, treads the narrow line between light and shade.

One late autumn morning, Piper’s best friend arrives at Seawings to discover an eerie scene – the kettle is still warm, all the family’s phones are charging on the worktop, the cars are in the garage. But the house is deserted.

In fifteen-year-old Riva Holden’s bedroom, scrawled across the mirror in blood, are three words:

Make
Them
Stop.

What happens next?

Buy here*

The Aerialists by Kate Munnik

Published: April 14th
Publisher: The Borough Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

SYNOPSIS:
THE AERIALISTS is a rich historical novel based on the true story of Louisa Maud Evans, a fourteen-year old girl who died during the Great Exhibition in Cardiff, 1896, and whose demise – tumbling 8,000 feet into the Bristol Channel – captured the imagination of the city.

Paris, 1891 Laura is living on the streets, far from the American Prairies where she was born. When aerialists Ena and August Gaudron, believing Laura to be English, decide to rescue her, she soon finds herself ensconced in the family hot air balloon business, and offered the chance to learn how to fly.

Cardiff, 1896 The Gaudrons accept an invitation to be part of the Cardiff Fine Art, Industrial and Maritime Exhibition, presenting a show of balloon ascents and parachute descents. Late one night, a young girl, Grace Parry, knocks on the door. She is desperate to fly, whatever the cost. 

As Grace’s dreams begin to take wing, can Laura be the one to keep her grounded? Histories real and invented intertwine as the novel explores the many risky ways girls are expected to perform.

Buy here*

Wet Paint by Chloe Ashby

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Trapeze
Genre: New Adult Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Urban Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
‘This isn’t a book you read, but a book you step into . . . mesmerising’ Emma Gannon

Since the death of her best friend Grace, twenty-six-year-old Eve has learned to keep everything and everyone at arm’s length. Safe in her detachment, she scrapes along waiting tables and cleaning her shared flat in exchange for cheap rent, finding solace in her small routines.

But when a chance encounter at work brings her past thundering into her present, Eve becomes consumed by painful memories of Grace. And soon her precariously maintained life begins to unravel: she loses her job, gets thrown out of her flat, and risks pushing away the one decent man who cares about her.

Taking up life-modelling to pay the bills, Eve lays bare her body but keeps hidden the mounting chaos inside her head. When her self-destructive urges spiral out of control, she’s forced to confront the traumatic event that changed the course of her life, and to finally face her grief and guilt.

Perfect for fans of Sally Rooney’s Conversations with Friends, Raven Leilani’s Luster, and Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation.

Buy here*

Violets by Kyung-Sook Shin

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Genre: Literary Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Lesbian Literature

SYNOPSIS:
We join San in 1970s rural South Korea, a young girl ostracised from her community. She meets a girl called Namae, and they become friends until one afternoon changes everything. Following a moment of physical intimacy in a minari field, Namae violently rejects San, setting her on a troubling path of quashed desire and isolation.

We next meet San, aged twenty-two, as she starts a job in a flower shop. There, we are introduced to a colourful cast of characters, including the shop’s mute owner, the other florist Su-ae, and the customers that include a sexually aggressive businessman and a photographer, who San develops an obsession for. Throughout, San’s moment with Namae lingers in the back of her mind.

A story of desire and violence about a young woman who everyone forgot, VIOLETS is a captivating and sensual read, full of tragedy but also beauty in its lush, vibrant prose.

Buy here*

Quicksand of Memory by Michael J. Malone

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
Scarred by their pasts, Jenna and Luke fall in love, brimming with hope for a rosy future. But someone has been watching, with chilling plans for revenge … An emotive, twisty, disturbing new psychological thriller by the critically acclaimed author of A Suitable Lie and In the Absence of Miracles.

_____________________________

Jenna is trying to rebuild her life after a series of disastrous relationships.

Luke is struggling to provide a safe, loving home for his deceased partner’s young son, following a devastating tragedy.

When Jenna and Luke meet and fall in love, they are certain they can achieve the stability and happiness they both desperately need.

And yet, someone is watching.

Someone who has been scarred by past events.

Someone who will stop at nothing to get revenge…

Dark, unsettling and immensely moving, Quicksand of Memory is a chilling reminder that we are not only punished for our sins, but by them, and that memories left to blacken and sharpen over time are the perfect breeding ground for obsession, and murder…

Buy here

It Ends At Midnight by Harriet Tyce

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
It’s New Year’s Eve and the stage is set for a lavish party in one of Edinburgh’s best postcodes. It’s a moment for old friends to set the past to rights – and move on.

The night sky is alive with fireworks and the champagne is flowing. But the celebration fails to materialise.

Because someone at this party is going to die tonight.

Midnight approaches and the countdown begins – but it seems one of the guests doesn’t want a resolution.

They want revenge.

Buy here*

With This Kiss by Carrie Hope-Fletcher

Published: April 14th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Romance Novel, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction, Contemporary Romance

SYNOPSIS:
A brand new timeless romance with a sprinkling of magic from the Number One Sunday Times bestselling author – coming April 2022

If you knew how your love story ends, would you dare to begin?

From the outside, Lorelai is an ordinary young woman with a normal life. She loves reading, she works at the local cinema and she adores living with her best friend. But she carries a painful burden, something she’s kept hidden for years; whenever she kisses someone on the lips, she sees how they are going to die.

Lorelai has never known if she’s seeing what was always meant to be, or if her kiss is the thing that decides their destiny. And so, she hasn’t kissed anyone since she was eighteen.

Then she meets Grayson. Sweet, clever, funny Grayson. And for the first time in years she yearns for a man’s kiss. But she can’t…or can she? And if she does, should she try to intervene and change what she sees?

Spellbinding, magical and utterly original, With This Kiss is one love story you will never forget.

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Single Bald Female by Laura Price

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Romance Novel, Medical Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Jessica Jackson has hit all the milestones for turning 30 – the career, the loving boyfriend and a cosy London flat they share with their cat. But a shock diagnosis of breast cancer turns Jess’s world upside down, and her contented life implodes with it.

Around her, her friends’ lives continue to follow the script, with the big white weddings and the baby scans. With her own future so uncertain, the only thing Jess is sure of is that she’s being left behind.

In the midst of it all, she meets Annabel, an enigmatic twenty-seven year old with incurable cancer. But while Annabel may not have long left, she understands much more about living than anyone Jess has ever met. And she’s determined to show Jess how to make every day count . . .

Frank, funny and poignant, Single Bald Female by Laura Price is a completely unforgettable story of love and friendship.

Buy here*

Concerning My Daughter by Kim Hye-Jin

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
When a mother allows her thirty-something daughter to move into her apartment, she wants for her what many mothers might say they want for their child: a steady income, and, even better, a good husband with a good job with whom to start a family.

But when Green turns up with her girlfriend, Lane, in tow, her mother is unprepared and unwilling to welcome Lane into her home. In fact, she can barely bring herself to be civil. Having centred her life on her husband and child, her daughter’s definition of family is not one she can accept. Her daughter’s involvement in a case of unfair dismissal involving gay colleagues from the university where she works is similarly strange to her.

And yet when the care home where she works insists that she lower her standard of care for an elderly dementia patient who has no family, who travelled the world as a successful diplomat, who chose not to have children, Green’s mother cannot accept it. Why should not having chosen a traditional life mean that your life is worth nothing at all?

In Concerning My Daughter, translated from Korean by Jamie Chang, Kim Hye-jin lays bare our most universal fears on ageing, death, and isolation, to offer finally a paean to love in all its forms.

Buy here*

Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
One by one, she undid each event, each decision, each choice.
If Davy had remembered to put on a coat.
If Seamie McGeown had not found himself alone on a dark street.
If Michael Agnew had not walked through the door of the pub on a quiet night in February in his white shirt.

There is nothing special about the day Cushla meets Michael, a married man from Belfast, in the pub owned by her family. But here, love is never far from violence, and this encounter will change both of their lives forever.

As people get up each morning and go to work, school, church or the pub, the daily news rolls in of another car bomb exploded, another man beaten, killed or left for dead. In the class Cushla teaches, the vocabulary of seven-year-old children now includes phrases like ‘petrol bomb’ and ‘rubber bullets’. And as she is forced to tread lines she never thought she would cross, tensions in the town are escalating, threatening to destroy all she is working to hold together.

Tender and shocking, Trespasses is an unforgettable debut of people trying to live ordinary lives in extraordinary times.

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Breakneck Point by T. Orr Munroe (CSI Ally Dymond Series Book 1)

Published: April 14th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
A gripping new crime series for fans of Val McDermid, Jane Casey, Cara Hunter and Mare of Easttown

CSI Ally Dymond’s commitment to justice has cost her a place on the major investigations team. After exposing corruption in the ranks, she’s stuck working petty crimes on the sleepy North Devon coast.

Then the body of nineteen-year-old Janie Warren turns up in the seaside town of Bidecombe, and Ally’s expert skills are suddenly back in demand.

But when the evidence she discovers contradicts the lead detective’s theory, nobody wants to listen to the CSI who landed their colleagues in prison.

Time is running out to catch a killer no one is looking for – no one except Ally. What she doesn’t know is that he’s watching, from her side of the crime scene tape, waiting for the moment to strike.

Buy here*

Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Welbeck
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
A young journalist embroiled in an international art scandal centred around a Nazi-looted masterpiece, forcing the ultimate showdown between passion and possession, lovers and liars, history and truth.

After talking her way into a job, rising young journalist Jules Roth is given an unusual assignment: locate a painting stolen by the Nazis more than 75 years earlier. The painting? None other than legendary artist Ernst Engel’s most famous work, Woman on Fire. World-renowned shoe designer Ellis Baum wants this portrait of a mysterious woman for deeply personal reasons, but Jules doesn’t have much time; the famous designer is dying.

Meanwhile, in Europe, provocative and powerful Margaux de Laurent also searches for the painting. Heir to her art collector family’s millions, Margaux is a cunning gallerist who gets everything she wants. The only thing standing in her way is Jules. Yet Jules has resources of her own, including Adam Baum, Ellis’s grandson. A recovering addict and artist in his own right, Adam was once in Margaux’s clutches, and he’ll do anything to help Jules locate the painting before Margaux.

A thrilling tale of secrets, love, and sacrifice, Woman on Fire tells the story of a remarkable woman and an exquisite work of art that burns bright, moving through hands, hearts, and history.

Buy here*

Things They Lost by Okwiri Odour

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Vulture ‘Book We Can’t Wait to Read in 2022’

From the 2014 Caine Prize winner comes an astonishing new novel, riven through with mystery and magic, about a daughter’s quest to save her mother

The Manor Mabel Brown looms high over Mapeli Town, its rickety gate flanked by stone angels with severed heads, its yard full of tangled thorns and wildflowers. Inside these ramshackle walls lives Ayosa, twelve years old and the loneliest girl in the world.

With her mother prone to frequent disappearances, Ayosa’s only companions are the ghosts and spirits who wander through her Kenyan village. She craves escape, but more than that she longs for the love of her fearsome mother, Nabumbo Promise. 

When a new friend arrives in the shape of Mbiu, Ayosa is forced to choose between protecting her mama and seizing a life of her own.

Okwiri Oduor’s stunningly original debut novel sings with Kenyan folklore and myth as it traces the fragile, intoxicating bond between a mother and daughter like no other. 

Buy here*

Elektra by Jennifer Saint

Published: April 28th
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Greek Mythology, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
An exciting and equally lyrical new retelling from Jennifer Saint, the Sunday Times bestselling author of ARIADNE

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

Buy here*

Theatre of Marvels by Lianne Dillsworth

Published: April 28th
Publisher: Hutchinson Heinmann
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller, Historical Romance

SYNOPSIS:
Behind the spectacle there are always secrets.

Unruly crowds descend on Crillick’s Variety Theatre. A black, British actress, Zillah, is headlining tonight. An orphan from the slums of St Giles, her rise to stardom is her ticket out – to be gawped and gazed at is a price she’s willing to pay.

Rising up the echelons of society is everything Zillah has ever dreamed of. But when a new stage act disappears, Zillah is haunted by a feeling that something is amiss. Is the woman in danger?

Her pursuit of the truth takes her into the underbelly of the city – from gas-lit streets to the sumptuous parlours of Mayfair – as she seeks the help of notorious criminals from her past and finds herself torn between two powerful admirers.

Caught in a labyrinth of dangerous truths, will Zillah face ruin – or will she be the maker of her fate?

A deliciously immersive tale, Theatre of Marvels whisks you on an unforgettable journey across Victorian London in this bold exploration of race, class and gothic spectacle.

Buy here*

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel

Published: April 28th
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Science Fiction, Contemporary Horror, Time Travel Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
The award-winning author of Station Eleven returns with a story of time travel that precisely captures the reality of our current moment . . .

In 1912, eighteen-year-old Edwin St. Andrew crosses the Atlantic, exiled from English polite society. In British Columbia, he enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and for a split second all is darkness, the notes of a violin echoing unnaturally through the air. The experience shocks him to his core.

Two centuries later Olive Llewelyn, a famous writer, is traveling all over Earth, far away from her home in the second moon colony. Within the text of Olive’s bestselling novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.

When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the black-skied Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in time, he uncovers a series of lives upended: the exiled son of an aristocrat driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel is a novel that investigates the idea of parallel worlds and possibilities, that plays with the very line along which time should run. Perceptive and poignant about art, and love, and what we must do to survive, it is incredibly compelling.

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The Birdcage by Eve Chase

Published: April 28th
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Thriller, Gothic Romance, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story

SYNOPSIS:
Lauren, Kat and Flora are half-sisters who share a famous artist father – and a terrible secret.

Over the years they’ve lived wildly different lives, but their father has unexpectedly summoned them to Rock Point, the cliff house where they once sat for his most celebrated painting Girls and Birdcage.

Rock Point is a beautiful, windswept place, thick with secrets and electrically charged with the catastrophic events of a summer twenty years before, the day of the total solar eclipse. It’s the first time they’ve dared return.

When the sisters arrive, it is clear that someone is determined not to let the past lie. Someone who is watching their every move. Who remembers the girls in the painting, and what they did. . .

Set on the rugged Cornish coast, The Birdcage is a twisty, spellbinding novel with unforgettable characters who must piece together their family’s darkest secrets.

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Miss Aldridge Regrets by Louise Hare

Published: April 28th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction, Urban Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
London, 1936

Lena Aldridge is wondering if life has passed her by. The dazzling theatre career she hoped for hasn’t worked out. Instead, she’s stuck singing in a sticky-floored basement club in Soho and her married lover has just left her. She has nothing to look forward to until a stranger offers her the chance of a lifetime: a starring role on Broadway and a first-class ticket on the Queen Mary bound for New York. 
 
After a murder at the club, the timing couldn’t be better and Lena jumps at the chance to escape England. Until death follows her onto the ship and she realises that her greatest performance has already begun.

Because someone is making manoeuvres behind the scenes, and there’s only one thing on their mind…

MURDER

Miss Aldridge Regrets is the exquisite new novel from Louise Hare. A brilliant murder mystery, it also explores class, race and pre-WWII politics, and will leave readers reeling from the beauty and power of it.

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Arcadian Days by John Spurling

Published: April 28th
Publisher: Duckworth
Genre: Historical Fiction, Greek Mythology, Folklore,

SYNOPSIS:
Award-winning historical novelist and playwright John Spurling draws on his lifelong love and knowledge of Classical Greek drama and poetry to reanimate, with vivid wit and zest, five great male–female pairings of Greek myth.

The Greek myths, refined by the great poets and playwrights of Ancient Greece, distil the essence of human life: its brief span, its pride, courage and insecurity, its anxious relationship with the natural world – earth, sea and sky, represented by powerful gods and monsters.

Taking inspiration from the incomparably beautiful and intense poetry of Homer, Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides, Spurling – a lifelong classicist and an award-winning playwright and historical novelist – spins five more myths for contemporary readers. These captivating tales centre on male-female pairs – Prometheus and Pandora, Jason and the sorceress Medea, Oedipus and his daughter Antigone, Achilles and his mother Thetis, Odysseus and Penelope – that destroyed dynasties, raised and felled heroes, and sealed the fates of men.

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Begars Abbey by V. L. Valentine

Published: April 28th
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
A dark house filled with darker secrets…

Winter 1954, and in a dilapidated apartment in Brooklyn, Sam Cooper realises that she has nothing left. Her mother is dead, she has no prospects, and she cannot afford the rent. But as she goes through her mother’s things, Sam finds a stack of hidden letters that reveal a family and an inheritance that she never knew she had, three thousand miles away in Yorkshire.

Begars Abbey is a crumbling pile, inhabited only by Lady Cooper, Sam’s ailing grandmother, and a handful of servants. Sam cannot understand why her mother kept its very existence a secret, but her newly discovered diaries offer a glimpse of a young girl growing increasingly terrified. As is Sam herself.

Built on the foundations of an old convent, Begars moves and sings with the biting wind. Her grandmother cannot speak, and a shadowy woman moves along the corridors at night. There are dark places in the hidden tunnels beneath Begars. And they will not give up their secrets easily…

A chilling read that will keep you turning the pages late into the night, Begars Abbey is a must-read for fans of Laura Purcell and W.C. Ryan.

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Guilty Women by Melanie Blake

Published: April 28th
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Genre: Crime Thriller, Erotic Suspense, Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
“Guilty Women’s already stamped it’s razor sharp, blood stained stiletto heel firmly in the lead to be 2022’s ‘book of the year.” The Daily Mirror

Can they get away with murder?

 On a beautiful island off the English coast, four TV actresses gather.
Their fifth member is missing – and only they know why she was killed.
As the secret between them threatens to come out, tensions on set run high.
The women are determined that the show must go on – no matter what it costs.
But one of them is on the edge of telling the truth – and no show in the world could survive this scandal…   
 
All of the women have something to hide – but the question is, are they all guilty?

The cast of RUTHLESS WOMEN is back – but this time they’re in trouble…

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People Person by Candice Carty-Williams

Published: April 28th
Publisher: Trapeze
Genre: Urban Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Biographical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
IF YOU COULD CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY…

YOU WOULDN’T CHOOSE THE PENNINGTONS.

Dimple Pennington knew of her half siblings, but she didn’t really know them. Five people who don’t have anything in common except for faint memories of being driven through Brixton in their dad’s gold jeep, and some pretty complex abandonment issues.

Dimple has bigger things to think about. She’s thirty, and her life isn’t really going anywhere. An aspiring lifestyle influencer with a terrible and wayward boyfriend, Dimple’s life has shrunk to the size of a phone screen. And despite a small but loyal following, she’s never felt more alone.

That is, until a catastrophic event brings her half siblings Nikisha, Danny, Lizzie and Prynce crashing back into her life. And when they’re all forced to reconnect with Cyril Pennington, the absent father they never really knew, things get even more complicated.

From the Sunday Times bestselling author of QUEENIE comes a propulsive story of heart, humour, homecoming, and about the truest meaning of family you can get when your dad loves his jeep more than he loves his children.

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The Attic Child by Lola Jaye

Published: April 18th
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Two children trapped in the same attic, almost a century apart, bound by a secret.

1907: Twelve-year-old Celestine spends most of his time locked in an attic room of a large house by the sea. Taken from his homeland and treated as an unpaid servant, he dreams of his family in Africa even if, as the years pass, he struggles to remember his mother’s face, and sometimes his real name . . .

Decades later, Lowra, a young orphan girl born into wealth and privilege, will find herself banished to the same attic. Lying under the floorboards of the room is an old porcelain doll, an unusual beaded claw necklace and, most curiously, a sentence etched on the wall behind an old cupboard, written in an unidentifiable language. Artefacts that will offer her a strange kind of comfort, and lead her to believe that she was not the first child to be imprisoned there . . .

Lola Jaye has created a hauntingly powerful, emotionally charged and unique dual-narrative novel about family secrets, love and loss, identity and belonging, seen through the lens of Black British History in The Attic Child.

Buy here*

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Are any of these on your tbr? Let me know in the comments?

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 See you next month for more anticipated reads, Emma xxxx

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Categories
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