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Blog Tour: For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this breathtaking thriller. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

SOME LESSONS CAN BE DEADLY . . .

Teddy Crutcher won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy. Everyone thinks he’s brilliant.
Only you know the truth.

They all smile when he tells us his wife couldn’t be more proud.
But no-one has seen her in a while.

They’re impressed when he doesn’t let anything distract him – even the tragic death of a school parent.
Even when the whispers start, saying it was murder.

You’re sure Teddy is hiding something about what happened that day.

You’re sure you can prove it.

But you didn’t stop to think that when it comes to catching a killer, there’s no place more dangerous than just one step behind . . .

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MY REVIEW:

Dark academia, deadly secrets and a dash of poison. A teacher who will do anything for his students. Entitled rich kids and their parents who will do whatever it takes to guarantee their success. But it’s all for your own good…

Samantha Downing is one of the freshest and most outstanding voices in thriller fiction today. So when I heard her latest book was dark academia and has been optioned by HBO Max and Robert Downey Jnr, I was there with bells on. As a huge fan of this author, my expectations were high, and she blew them out of the water.

Unnerving, atmospheric and intriguing, For Your Own Good is a Russian doll of a book; so many hidden layers, secrets, twists and turns just waiting to be revealed. And every time you think you have it figured out, you find something else nesting inside. Exquisitely written, cleverly crafted, and deftly told, Ms. Downing just gets better and better. She had me so transfixed that I couldn’t stop thinking about the book and felt desperate to get back to it when I wasn’t reading. 

The story is told from multiple points of view, taking us inside the minds of students and teachers at Belmont Academy, a private prep school full of entitled rich students under pressure to be the best of the best. Only the elite attend. And kids find themselves caught between demanding teachers and parents who will accept nothing but the best from them. It’s for them, they are told. For their futures. So they don’t complain or argue. They endure and survive. 

This is a book filled with deeply flawed characters. Even the most likeable ones are not always what they first appear to be; something darker lurking beneath the surface. They all have their masks they wear to make it through each day: whether it’s Teddy and his perfect teacher mode, Sonia telling herself that “today will be a good day” and talking herself down from her competitiveness, or Zach plastering on a smile and nodding in agreement with his parents or teachers while dying inside. They are all brilliantly written, the author once again using her skill of bringing characters to life to evoke a visceral reaction in the reader. 

Our main protagonist is Teddy Crutcher. Recently crowned Teacher of the Year, Teddy is a petty, bitter man with a superiority complex. He seems to dislike everyone, thinking the worst of them, and delights in doing anything possible to pull them down or take revenge over the smallest perceived slight. But he tells himself he’s helping them, making them better people and teaching them life lessons. And he’s willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do that. Including murder. Teddy is brilliantly written. He’s instantly unlikeable, though the true depths of his villainy are hidden behind a mask of professionalism  and delusion. Cold, callous and calculating, the truly frightening thing about him is that he is totally unapologetic of his actions, even proud of them, and sees himself as these people’s saviour. All while plotting their downfall and demise. 

Deliciously dark, devious and menacing, the tension rises with every shocking twist in this propulsive thriller. It will make your jaw hit the floor and leave you reeling. But the author balances that with moments of dark humour and emotion that enhance the charm of this book. If you love a well-written and atmospheric thriller, then this is for you. Read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Downing is the author of the bestselling My Lovely Wife, nominated for Edgar, ITW, Macavity, and CWA awards. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel. Her second book, He Started It, was released in 2020 and became an instant international bestseller.

For Your Own Good was released on July 20, 2021. It has been optioned by Robert Downey Jr. and Greg Berlanti for HBO Max.

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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 review from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Wolf Mile by C. F. Barrington

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Suspense, Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Adventure Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this thrilling first book in a new series. Thank you to C. F. Barrington and Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC. Apologies that this is a day late, but I had my dates mixed up.

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SYNOPSIS:

An action-packed adventure thriller, where modern-day recruits compete in an ancient, deadly game in the streets of Edinburgh.

Welcome to the Pantheon Games. Let the streets of Edinburgh run with blood . . .

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

Tyler Maitland and Lana Cameron have their own reasons for signing up. Now they must risk their lives and join the ranks of seven ancient warrior teams that inhabit this illicit world. Their journey will be more extraordinary and horrifying than anything they could have dreamed, testing them to breaking point.

Let the Season begin.

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

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MY REVIEW:

The streets of Edinburgh will be their fighting ground . . . and they will run with the blood of warriors.

The Wolf Mile is the first in an addictive new series. This is a book that’s out of my comfort zone but I was drawn to it as the synopsis reminded me of The Hunger Games, which I loved. And while it did take a little time for me to get into the story, I was soon on the edge of my seat, turning the pages furiously as I awaited Tyler and Lana’s fate. 

Expertly merging fantasy and reality, the author brings the city of Edinburgh to life with his vivid imagery. And with slow, comprehensive world-building he also brings the Pantheon to life, making these brutal games feel real. By the end, I truly believed there was an underground battle raging between these seven groups and was rooting for the Horde to emerge victorious. 

Tyler and Lana are great protagonists. They have rich backstories, are likeable and fascinating. I wanted them to succeed in every way and loved the twists and turns the story took us on as the author merged their real lives with that of Vahalla. The story is also filled with some great background characters, both hero and villain, who I’m hoping we learn more about in subsequent installments of the series. 

The Wolf Mile is a thrilling and compelling debut that even those who don’t usually read the genre, like me, will love. I could have cried in frustration when it ended as I was so immersed in the story and am relieved that the follow up has already been announced for October. I need to know what happens next!

 Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

When his role as Head of Communications at Edinburgh Zoo meant a third year of fielding endless media enquiries about the possible birth of a baby panda, he finally retreated to a quiet desk beside the sea and discovered the inspiration for the Pantheon saga.

Raised in Hertfordshire and educated at Oxford, he now divides his time between running over the hills of the Lake District and dog walking on the beaches of Fife.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: No Honour by Awais Khan

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

“Love or honour.”

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Mimic by Daniel Cole

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Trapeze
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this addictive and macabre thriller. Thank you to Orion for the invitation to take part and the gifted finished copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

1989
DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winter are on the trail of a twisted serial killer with a passion for recreating the world’s greatest works of art through the bodies of his victims. But after Chambers almost loses his life, the case goes cold – their killer lying dormant, his collection unfinished.

1996
Jordan Marshall has excelled within the Metropolitan Police Service, fuelled by a loss that defined her teenage years. Obsessed, she manages to obtain new evidence, convincing both Chambers and Winter to revisit the case. However, their resurrected investigation brings about a fresh reign of terror, the team treading a fine line between police officers and vigilantes in their pursuit of a monster far more dangerous and intelligent than any of them had anticipated…

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MY REVIEW:

A brutal killer is recreating famous works of art through his victims. But when one of the officers chasing him almost becomes one of his grim statues, the killer stops and the trail goes cold. Seven years later, a trainee officer is determined to find the killer and get justice for someone she loved. But in doing so, she brings the killer out of hiding. Enlisting the help of the officers who originally investigated the case, can they catch him before he completes his macabre collection?

When a book starts with an eerie, sinister prologue titled ‘The Day Death Came Visiting’, you know you’re onto a winner. Jumping straight into the action, this book takes you on a terrifying rollercoaster ride: where you’re holding on for dear life, yet loving every minute. 

Mixing murder, art and mythology, the author has crafted something unique: a brutal yet elegant thriller that is completely addictive. This is a killer who has a reason behind everything. And it is only once we get deeper inside his psyche and learn his reasons, that we truly understand this killer. There is a sickening beauty to his statues, and as a reader I appreciated the depth of research that was done and the inclusion of drawings of the statues he was recreating as I’d never seen them for myself. He is a truly terrifying creation. Evil and disturbed, yet also strikingly human. And it is that realism that makes this story resonate so deeply with me. That chilled me to my core. 

The officers hunting the killer were great characters that I liked, found easy to root for and had a great dynamic, their differences working for them rather than against them. I also enjoyed that the story was set in 1989 and 1996. It was like going back to my youth as I read about them scrambling to find a phone box and being unable to contact people when they weren’t home. It definitely made finding a killer and communicating while on a case more difficult, but I liked the extra tension, and humour, that it brought to the story. 

This was my first foray into Daniel Cole’s books, though I’ve obviously read the rave reviews for his Ragdoll series, and I am an instant fan. The writing is sharp, tense, chilling and full of black humour. I was hooked! Reading in breathless anticipation and unable to turn the pages fast enough as they hunted the killer. 

Intelligent, gritty, and addictive, this thriller will have your heart racing. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a walk on the dark side…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Daniel Cole is the Sunday Times bestselling author of the Ragdoll trilogy, which has now been published in over thirty countries. A TV adaption is currently in the works and his fourth novel is due to be published late-summer 2021. He has worked as a paramedic, an animal protection officer, and with the beach lifeguards, but for the past five years has been describing himself on paperwork as a ‘full-time writer’.
He lives on the south coast of England and divides his time between the beach and the forest.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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: I Let Him In by Jill Childs

Published: August 17th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Last night I dreamt about the past for the first time in years. I thought I was over it. I thought I’d finally learned to block it out. But I’m right back there, all over again, inside the house. The room is dark, the corners black with shadow. Then, the scream…

When Louise Taylor is hit by a car as she cycles home in the rain following a fight with her boyfriend, she’s left hurt, frightened and confused. And worse, something tells her it wasn’t an accident.

Housebound in her cramped apartment while she recovers, flashbacks to her traumatic childhood begin to resurface, threatening her hard-won self-control. Desperate to keep busy and distract herself, she hires Edward – a friend of a friend – to repaint her shabby living room and, hopefully, keep the past at bay.

But when Edward arrives – quiet, considerate and handsome – Lou instantly feels like they’ve met before, that she can trust him. Tired of carrying the guilt alone after all these years, Lou tells Edward her secret. And to her surprise, he doesn’t pull away. He doesn’t gasp, or grimace or preach about what she did. And Lou is so relieved to finally be free of this burden at last.

Until she learns that Edward has a secret of his own. One he’s been waiting a very, very long time to tell…

A gripping domestic drama from a USA Today bestselling author full of twists and turns, and with a very unexpected ending. Fans of Amanda Prowse, Kerry Fisher and Jodi Picoult won’t be able to stop turning the pages.

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MY REVIEW:

Recovering from a nasty hit and run, Louise hires decorator Ed to spruce up her apartment. The two are immediately drawn to one another, something they try to resist, but the connection proves too strong. But what is it that bonds them? Could it be the dark, shameful secrets that they both never speak of? Or something even more sinister…

Intriguing, tense and atmospheric, I Let Him In is an entertaining read. A sense of mystery and dread lingers over the pages as the story is told by Louise in the present day, with flashbacks to Ed’s time serving in the Army in Afghanistan. I liked this as it helps Ed remain an enigma, someone whose true self and motivations you really don’t know, his story slowly unfolding. It keeps suspicions high and tension tight, particularly as the two of them get closer. 

The suspense increases when Louise’s memories of the accident descend into flashbacks of a night twenty years ago when she did something terrible, something she can never take back and doesn’t speak of, and we learn that Ed is hiding his own shameful secret. What are they hiding? Are they who they appear to be or someone completely different? I loved this unpredictability and how we don’t know who to trust, especially with Louise’s ex Toby lingering in the background trying to win her back in all the wrong ways. 

The only qualm I have with this story is the sudden shift it takes at the end. I am still not sure what I think of it, whether it is a stroke of genius or too much of a bolt from the blue. I think it’s a twist that many will love and personally one I just need to sit with for a while. It makes the book a bit of a thinker, and one that definitely sticks in your mind.

Overall, I enjoyed this book. Fast paced, tense and mysterious, it keeps you on your toes right until the final pages. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jill has always loved writing – real and imaginary – and spent 30 years travelling the world as a journalist, living overseas and reporting wherever the news took her. She’s now made her home in London with her husband and twin girls who love stories as much as she does. Although she’s covered everything from earthquakes and floods, riots and wars, she’s found some of the most extraordinary stories right here at home – in the secrets and lies she imagines behind closed doors on ordinary streets, just like yours.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

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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: She’s Mine by A. A. Chaudhuri

Published: August 18th, 2021
Publisher: Hera Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction, Urban Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mind-blowing thriller. Thank you to Hera Books for the ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Her missing daughter was just the start of the nightmare

Twenty years ago, Christine Donovan took a call she should have ignored while shopping. In those few seconds while her back was turned, her toddler, Heidi, was kidnapped. She’s never been seen again.

Despite having two other children with husband Greg, Christine remains guilt-stricken that her neglect caused her child to be stolen, while haunted by a secret that consumes her.

Just as she takes measures to finally heal, a note is posted through her door, with the words she has always longed to hear: Heidi isn’t dead.

Christine might finally get the answers she craves – but what she doesn’t know is that finding her daughter will uncover dark secrets close to home.

In seeking the truth, Christine might destroy everything that she loves … so how far is she willing to go to find Heidi?

With a truly jaw-dropping end twist, She’s Mine is a dark, scandalous, and gripping read from a major new talent in psychological thriller writing. For fans of Harriet Tyce, C.L. Taylor and Apple Tree Yard.

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MY REVIEW:

Secrets. Lies. Deceit. Vengeance. A mother’s worst nightmare come true. These are the things at the heart of this twisty psychological thriller. Like an iceberg, there is much more to this story than at first appears; layers hidden beneath the surface that slowly reveal themselves to the reader. Intricately woven and expertly plotted, the author skillfully crafts a hall of smoke and mirrors where nothing is quite what it seems and each time you think you have it figured out, that things couldn’t get any more dark, sinister or shocking, Chaudhuri pulls the rug from under you and leaves your jaw on the floor. 

Utterly mind-blowing and addictive, this is exactly the kind of dark and twisted thriller that sings to me. A story oozing with atmosphere that has tension leaping from the pages. It takes you on a wild ride, your heart pounding as you immerse yourself in this convoluted game of revenge. My mind was full of so many theories and suspicions, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, unable to turn away as things spiraled more and more out of control. But would I be proven correct or be blindsided by the truth? I couldn’t wait to find out. 

The author tells the story from multiple points of view and various timelines, seamlessly shifting between them and creating a connection between the reader and each character. It offered us a glimpse of the fuller picture. An insight into the character’s true selves. What they really think and feel. The things they kept secret from those closest to them. It allows us to explore their deepest, darkest memories, dreams and fantasies in a way that wouldn’t have been possible if we’d only had one or two points of view. 

What I think I loved most about this story is the complex, fractured and unlikeable characters. No one is completely innocent. And no one is completely guilty. A miasma of despair surrounding them.  It is a hard feat to pull off writing so many unlikeable characters while also making them compelling, but Chaudhuri does so with finesse, managing to add sympathetic qualities to even the most detestable characters. A great example of this is Chrissy. As the mother of the missing child you would traditionally expect her to be a very likeable, sympathetic character. But she’s not. She repeatedly makes bad choices and is a selfish woman who made me frustrated and angry most of the time. 

She’s Mine is a dark, devious, warped and suspenseful psychological thriller that quite honestly blew my mind.  And that ending: Wow! It was impossible to predict, my jaw was on the floor when the kidnapper was unmasked and the truth was revealed. This is by far one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time. If you like this genre then READ THIS BOOK. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

A. A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer. After gaining a degree in History at University College London, she later trained as a solicitor and worked for several major London law firms before leaving law to pursue her passion for writing. She is the author of The Scribe and The Abduction, books 1 and 2 of her Kramer & Carver legal thriller series featuring the feisty Maddy Kramer, also published in audio. Her first psychological thriller with Hera Books, She’s Mine, will be published in 18th August 2021. Represented by Annette Crossland of A for Authors Literary Agency, she lives in Surrey with her family, and loves films, all things Italian and a good margarita!

#1 Amazon Australia Amateur Sleuth Mysteries (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Canada Women Sleuth Mysteries; (Aug ’19) top 10 Amazon UK Legal crime thrillers (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Australia Legal Thrillers (November ’19)

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon | Apple Books | Kobo
*This is an affiliate link

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: W&N
Genre: Humour, Domestic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my review of Olympus, Texas. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and W&N for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

When March Briscoe returns to East Texas two years after he was caught having an affair with his brother’s wife, the Briscoe family becomes once again the talk of the small town of Olympus. His mother, June, hardly welcomes him back with open arms: her husband’s own past affairs have made her tired of being the long-suffering spouse. Is it, perhaps, time for a change?

But within days of March’s arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of alliances are shattered. In the end, the ties that hold the Briscoes together might be exactly what drag them all down.

An expansive tour de force, Olympus, Texas combines the archetypes of Greek and Roman mythology with the psychological complexity of a messy family. After all, at some point, we all wonder: what good is this destructive force we call love?

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MY REVIEW:

“Our reactions to most things are much muddier than we admit. Yours don’t have to be all good or evil. They just are what they are.” 

A steadily paced family saga that takes place over six days, Olympus, Texas overflows with tension, drama and emotion. It follows the Briscoe family, who are not only the wealthiest family of their smalltown, but possibly it’s most dysfunctional; their complex history woven into smalltown lore.

The Briscoes are a fractious, fractured and warring family. A labyrinthine entanglement of love, lies, pain, deception and regret. A family full of deep wounds they don’t know how to heal. Elegantly written, the author makes the emotions leap from the page and immerses you in their lives as she tells the story in the present day with flashbacks that explain their history in greater detail. These chapters have titles that begin with ‘The Origin of…’, offering a deeper glimpse into their family dynamics. It helped me understand their behaviours and sympathise with their perspectives.

The characters are richly drawn, nuanced and compelling, the author experly evoking feelings of sympathy and making me root for them, while also making me dislike them and even making me angry. No one is all good or all bad in this story, it is about the shades of grey that are much more uncomfortable to see. I felt like this was most evident in March, who is seen as the black sheep of the family. A role he partly deserves from his own bad choices and behaviour. But we also see the pain raging inside him, how he wants to be better but just doesn’t know how to change.

A fascinating and thought-provoking read, Olympus, Texas is an atmospheric, tense, engaging and emotional debut that explores family, flaws and forgiveness. I would definitely recommend adding this to your tbr.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

STACEY SWANN holds an M.F.A. from Texas State University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her fiction has appeared in Epoch, Memorious, Versal, and other journals, and she is a contributing editor of American Short Fiction. She is a native Texan.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Blog Tour: Cecily by Annie Garthwaite

Published: August 12th, 2021
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Political Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this powerful debut. Thank you to Viking for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Rebellion?’
The word is a spark. They can start a fire with it, or smother it in their fingertips.
She chooses to start a fire.

You are born high, but marry a traitor’s son. You bear him twelve children, carry his cause and bury his past.

You play the game, against enemies who wish you ashes. Slowly, you rise.

You are Cecily.

But when the king who governs you proves unfit, what then?

Loyalty or treason – death may follow both. The board is set. Time to make your first move.

Told through the eyes of its greatest unknown protagonist, this astonishing debut plunges you into the closed bedchambers and bloody battlefields of the first days of the Wars of the Roses, a war as women fight it.

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MY REVIEW:

‘Rebellion?’
The word is a spark. They could light a fire with it, or smother it now in their fingertips.
She chooses to start a fire.

Cecily was my 100th read of the year and one of my most anticipated books. I was drawn to it not only by the synopsis, but by its striking cover. But lying beneath that bright, luring jacket, is a dark, grim and savage story. The author pulls you in immediately, opening the book with the burning at the stake of Joan of Arc, a shocking and atmospheric scene that feels like it’s setting the tone for what is to come.

This is the story of the Wars of the Roses through the eyes of the women who fought from the shadows. It was a brutal time. A time where power is won by blood and playing the game well is the difference between life and death. A cutthroat and ruthless time when your best friend today could be your enemy tomorrow. It is meticulously researched and beautifully written, transporting you back to a time when women were often forgotten and discounted, when they had to use the voices of men to be heard. And without taking away from those things, I feel I must mention that it took me a while to really get into this book. There were times my concentration wandered and the story felt too heavy, disjointed or hard to follow. I found it a little too bogged down in politics and would have liked more emotion and insight into what makes the characters tick. I had to put it down for a few days and come back to it, and when I did I finally got to a place where it felt like Cecily finally came alive, and it was then that I really started to enjoy the book.

“Women have no swords, brother. We do our work by talking.”

Cecily is a forgotten heroine that I am glad is finally having her story told. Feisty, strong, determined and intelligent, she is a force to be reckoned with. Born at a time when women are denied a voice or any real power, she is able to become a woman of influence in politics from the sidelines. A lot of this is down to the relationship she has with her husband, Richard. Their marriage is strong, loving and respectful, and it is clear he values her opinion. Other women gain power through marrying a weak man, which is what her enemy, Marguerite, does. The two women were undoubtedly similar in many ways, but while Marguerite comes off as unlikeable and venomous, Cecily appears resolute and caring. I enjoyed their bitter feud and how both women got stronger as time went on while the men appeared to wither.

I love how many books there have been recently that have taken a familiar story from history and told it from the woman’s perspective, illuminating voices that were silenced and finally revealing to the world the true strength these women possessed and how instrumental the moments that shaped our world today. I can’t help but wonder how many more of these forgotten heroines are out there, still waiting for their chance to shine. 

A familiar story with a feminist edge, Ceicily is a powerful debut and brilliant historical read. You will never look at the Wars of the Roses the same again. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Annie Garthwaite grew up in a working class community in the north-east of England. 

A schoolgirl interest in medieval history became a lifelong obsession with Cecily Neville, so, at age fifty-five, she enrolled on the Warwick Writing MA programme. Her extraordinary debut novel Cecily is the result. During a thirty-year international business career she frequently found herself the only woman at the table, where she gained valuable insights into how a woman like Cecily might have operated. 

Today she lives with her partner – and far too many animals – on the side of a green Shropshire hill close to the Yorkist stronghold of Ludlow.

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

“There is mischief afoot…”

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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*These are affiliate links

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Blog Tour: Patience by Victoria Scott

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Humour, Holiday Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this phenomenal debut. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

If you were offered a chance to cure your child’s disease, would you take it?

‘A thought-provoking, compelling and entertaining read. I could barely put the book down until its equally heart-wrenching and heart-warming ending. A wonderful, smart and funny book – I know readers will absolutely love it’ Louise Fein, bestselling author of People Like Us

The Willows have been through a lot. Louise has devoted her life to caring for her disabled youngest daughter. Pete works abroad, almost never seeing his loved ones. And their eldest, Eliza, is burdened by all the secrets she’s trying to keep from her overloaded family.

Meanwhile, Patience observes the world while trapped in her own body. She laughs, she cries, she has opinions and knows what she wants. But those who love her most – and make every decision about her life – will never know.

Or will they? When the Willows are offered the opportunity for Patience to take part in a new gene therapy trial to cure her Rett syndrome, they face an impossible dilemma. Are the very real risks worth the chance of the reward, no matter how small?

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MY REVIEW:

Normal doesn’t exist. We are all extraordinary.

Patience is a truly remarkable debut. Heartbreaking, harrowing, honest and hopeful, this 

is a thought-provoking, no-holds-barred look at what life is like for those with severe disabilities, how it affects their families, and challenges our concept of what a good life actually looks like. 

Thirty-year-old Patience Willow has Rett Syndrome. She is unable to walk or talk and requires twenty-four hour care. When a new gene therapy offers the hope of reversing the condition, her family find themselves in an impossible dilemma. Is the chance of giving Patience the life they dreamed of for her worth the risks? And is it what she would want?

 “She realised she had spent almost all of Patience’s life waiting for a miracle.”

The author tells the story from the points of view of each of the Willow family: Louise, Pete, Eliza and Patience. This allows us an intimate glimpse at the ripple effect of disability on those around them. We see the strain it has put on all of their relationships, especially Louise and Pete’s marriage, the financial strain, the pressure Eliza feels to fulfill her parents dreams and be everything her sister can’t, how caring for another person can slowly wear you down and the guilt and anger they all feel.

The decision to give Patience a voice is my favourite part of this book. And what a loud and memorable voice she has! By giving her the voice life has denied her, the author  makes Patience visible and reminds the reader that she is a three-dimensional character who is as nuanced and complex as any other person. That she is someone who has her own thoughts, feelings, desires and dreams, despite her inability to communicate them. We get an insight into how she feels having to watch her sister have the things she can never have, how it feels knowing she is the ‘cause’ of her family’s struggles, and what life is really like for her. We are the only ones who get to see the woman she is inside, that she is an intelligent and funny person that understands everything. And I absolutely adored her. 

“Over the years I’ve heard many doctors, carers, nurses and social workers debate whether I have a decent quality of life or not. So I’d like to state here, for the record, that I do. I don’t have anything to compare my life to, of course, but then, who does?”

Through this story the author challenges the concept of what a fulfilling and happy life actually is. As someone with a disability myself, albeit a much milder one than Patience,  this is something I love and appreciate. Life doesn’t have to look a certain way to be valuable. A life with limits can be happy and meaningful and, as Patience herself observes, being able-bodied does not necessarily equal happiness and contentmentin life. This is what is at the heart of the family’s dilemma over whether to enter Patience into the gene therapy.  She seems happy, so is it worth risking that to give her a life they consider more ‘normal’? Personally, I would cure my own illnesses in a heartbeat and would love a better quality of life.  But there are some risks I wouldn’t take to achieve that and it doesn’t make my life any less joyful or meaningful as it stands. 

“But the thing was, he didn’t see her as broken. He saw her as whole, as a person in her own right, her own special variety of normal.”

Victoria Scott is a spectacular talent. She writes with heart, humour, compassion and raw honesty, managing to educate while also entertaining. I was completely invested in the lives of this family and they felt so real to me, like I could go to Oxford and pay them a visit. The Author’s Note at the end of the book is a must-read as she talks about her inspiration for the story. It was no surprise to learn that she has intimate knowledge of living alongside someone with Rett Syndrome and I believe this book will not only educate people like myself who knew nothing about the illness, but offer comfort to those who have a loved one with the illness. 

An extraordinary story about family, love and hope, this is a book that will linger long after reading and hold a special place in my heart. Read this book. I can’t recommend it enough. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Victoria Scott is a British novelist, journalist, lecturer, copywriter and media trainer with two decades of experience working for online, print, TV and radio outlets around the world.

Currently, Victoria is lead tutor of the NCTJ Journalism Diploma at Sutton College, South London, and a lecturer in journalism at Kingston University.

She is also a novelist, represented by agent Hannah Weatherill at Northbank Talent Management. Her debut novel Patience will be published in 2021 by Head of Zeus, and in German translation by Droemer Knaur.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx