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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Forcing by Paul E. Hardisty

Published: February 16th, 2023
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Suspense, Dystopian Fiction, Science Ficiton, Political Fiction, Adventure Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this atmospheric, powerful and unforgettable novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda for the ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Lured by rumours of tropical sanctuary, a disparate group of men and women escape their inhospitable exile to seek freedom, in a near future where civilisation has collapsed … A cataclysmic, clarion-call climate-change thriller from one of the world’s leading environmental scientists… 

‘Hardisty is a fine writer’ Lee Child 

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Civilisation is collapsing. Frustrated and angry after years of denial and inaction, a ‘government of youth’ has taken power in North America, and deemed all those older than a prescribed age responsible for the current state of the world, and decreed they should be ‘relocated’, their property and assets confiscated.

David Ashworth, known by his friends and students as Teacher, and his wife May, find themselves among the thousands being moved to ‘new accommodation’ in the abandoned southern deserts – thrown together with a wealthy industrialist and his wife, a high court lawyer, two recent immigrants to America, and a hospital worker. Together, they must come to terms with their new lives in a land rendered unrecognisable.

As the terrible truth of their situation is revealed, lured by rumours of a tropical sanctuary where they can live in peace, they plan a perilous escape. But the world outside is more dangerous than they could ever have imagined. And for those who survive, nothing will ever be the same again…

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MY REVIEW:

“This is the story of how I came to be here, so far from what I used to call home, and those who shared my journey. I have tried to record it faithfully, as truly as memory allows. Some moments remain as indelible scars, despite my best attempts to forget. Others are fading even now. And parts of the story, I fear, will never be revealed.”

David Armstrong, a scientist and teacher better known as ‘Teach’ to his friends and family, is looking back at what happened when the world fell apart. The younger generation has taken power in an attempt to save what is left of civilisation. Among their new policies is one of institutionalised ageism that sees all those of a prescribed age and above being forced to relocate as punishment for what is seen as their role in the destruction of the planet. Teach and his wife May are among the thousands relocated to ‘new accommodation’ in the desert. Given just one case each and two days’ notice, they pack up what they can and begin their journey to an unknown future. 

When they arrive it is immediately clear that what was promised will not be delivered, starting with forcing them into a shared apartment with five other people instead of the house they were expecting. Their new home is unorganised and so overcrowded that people are sleeping in corridors. Food and water is scarce and they face long days of hunger and thirst as they work the mandatory six days a week for the government. But it is only after witnessing a brutal crime by two of the guards that Teach really begins to understand the danger they are in. And so begins a story of their fight to survive against the odds in a world that wants to see them pay the ultimate price for their sins.

“Some things you never forget. The surroundings might fade, the faces blur, the circumstances of weather and place and time dissolving away as the decades pass. But other, seemingly random details somehow remain immune to the ravages of time and distance, and conscious, destructive will.” 

I have no idea how to review this book. Atmospheric, haunting, and powerful, this is an absolute masterpiece. Although it is marketed as a “clarion-call climate-change thriller”, it almost defies genre, being in a box all of its own. From the first pages I was awe-struck and hypnotised by the breathtaking beauty of what I was reading. Hardisty’s writing melts off the page. His poetic, intricate prose is acutely observed and there is a real talent to being able to write so delicately yet with such power. Taking us to some unsettling places, he transports us into the forbidding future he has created.  Quietly terrifying yet intriguing, this was impossible to put down.

Told in two timelines over seven parts, it moves between the harrowing events of that turbulent time to his present, where he is reflecting on what happened and pouring out his heart for his children, grandchildren and future generations. As we slowly unwrap the layers of his story, there is a melancholy woven into the pages that pierces your heart. The heartbreak on the pages is mixed with guilt and regret, the emotion so palpable you feel it in your own chest. Each of the characters are compelling and richly drawn and I found myself rooting for them, even Teach’s bitter wife, May, and the villainous Ardent, though I did find them hard to like. 

A thought-provoking and unforgettable story of the best and worst of humanity, and a warning call to all of us, The Forcing is one not to miss. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Canadian Paul Hardisty has spent twenty-five years working all over the world as an environmental scientist and freelance journalist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a in 1993, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen at the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). The four novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of Fear, Reconciliation for the Dead and Absolution, all received great critical acclaim and The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and a Telegraph Book of the Year. Paul drew on his own experiences to write Turbulent Wake, an extraordinary departure from his high-octane, thought-provoking thrillers. Paul is a keen outdoorsman, a conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*These links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Dirt by Sarah Sultoon

Published: Janaury 19th, 2023
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Political Thriller, Political Fiction, War Story
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

A compulsive, searing political thriller set on a kibbutz in Northern Israel, where the discovery of the body of an Israeli-Arab worker sets off a devastating chain of events…


‘A first-class political thriller’ Steve Cavanagh
 
‘A bitingly sharp, pacy thriller. Devilishly good. I inhaled it’ Freya Berry 
 
‘A powerful political thriller that brims with authentic detail. Clever, compulsive and achingly atmospheric’ Kia Abdullah 
 
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This is no utopia…

1996. Northern Israel. Lola leaves an unhappy home life in England for the fabled utopian life of a kibbutz, but this heavily guarded farming community on the Arab-Israeli border isn’t the idyll it seems, and tensions are festering.

Hundreds of miles away, in the Jerusalem offices of the International Tribune newspaper, all eyes are on Israel’s response to a spate of rocket attacks from Lebanon, until cub reporter Jonny Murphy gets a tip from a mysterious source that sends him straight into the danger zone.

When the body of an Arab worker is discovered in the dirt of the kibbutz chicken house, it triggers a series of events that puts Lola and the whole community in jeopardy, and Jonny begins to uncover a series of secrets that put everything at risk, as he begins to realise just how far some people will go to belong…

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MY REIVEW

“The body steamed gently in the heat as the birds pecked their way around it, the fetid smell of chicken feed mingling with the sulphurous whiff of smashed eggs. The pecking became indecorous as the hardest-working chicken, a champion amongst fowl, found an eyeball. Then another.”

When a thriller opens with lines like that you know you’re in for a great read. And Dirt did not disappoint. There is a sense of foreboding that hovers over the pages from the start, something ominous in the air that we are yet to discover. And there is a lot to discover in the complex, layered and twisty political thriller filled with secrets, tension and cover-ups.

1996 is a nostalgic year for me. I was 17-years-old and it was the year I felt I found a sense of freedom and adventure among my peers, so I instantly connected with Lola who is experiencing that on a much bigger scale in this story. Lola has left behind her unhappy home life in England for an adventure in Northern Israel alongside her Jewish best friend, Sam. The two are working as volunteers on a kibbutz, a fabled utopian farming community located on the Arab-Israeli border. There is a real sense of family living and working alongside these people every day. But when a body is found in the heavily guarded community all signs point to murder, and it seems Lola doesn’t know these people as well as she thought.

Meanwhile, our other narrator, Jonny, is hundreds of miles away in Jerusalem. Jonny has also come to the country to find himself, a quest to learn more about his heritage after his Jewish mother was disowned by her family for falling in love with his Irish father. A reporter for the International Tribune, a source alerts him to the body discovered on the kibbutz. Unable to resist the lure of a story, he travels there to investigate, not realising the dangerous chain of events he is about to ignite.

“You have no idea what you’ve stumbled into. Everyone thinks that it is simple – both sides hate the other and will fight to the death until one of them wins. Nothing’s ever that simple though is it?” 

Sarah Sultoon isn’t afraid to tackle a difficult subject. Her debut, The Source, was a hard-hitting read and this one is just as unflinching. Alongside her examination of the Arab-Israeli conflict is an exploration of identity that also touches on subjects such as prejudice and sexual assault. While there are occasional gruesome scenes, it is never graphic and she instead focuses on the emotions of the characters to tell her story, making the reader feel everything alongside Lola and Jonny. The writing is so evocative that I was transported and it was almost like I could feel the heat of the sun bearing down on me in the kibbutz or feel the terror as rockets flew overhead during an air raid. It gave me a real connection not only to the characters, but to the setting itself, something that is very important in this book.

A clever, intriguing and intricate thriller that I’d highly recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer, whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if… Sarah lives in London with her family, and she’s currently working on her second thriller

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

BLOG TOUR: Becoming Ted by Matt Cain

Published: January 19th, 2023
Publisher: Headline Review
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to Becoming Ted! I’m delighted to be sharing my review today for this uplifting novel. Thank you to Joe at Headline for the invitation to take part and proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

A charming, joyful and surprising story about love, friendship and learning to be true to yourself, Becoming Ted will steal your heart.

Ted Ainsworth has always worked at his family’s ice-cream business in the quiet Lancashire town of St Luke’s-on-Sea.

But the truth is, he’s never wanted to work for the family firm – he doesn’t even like ice-cream, though he’s never told his parents that. When Ted’s husband suddenly leaves him, the bottom falls out of his world.

But what if this could be an opportunity to put what he wants first? This could be the chance to finally follow his secret dream: something Ted has never told anyone …

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MY REVIEW:

“I’ve dimmed my light for decades – now it’s time to turn it up to the max!” 

Oh, my heart. A story that will strike a resonant chord with many of us, it pulled on my heartstrings, made me laugh out loud and gave me life. I loved every minute of reading it and now want everyone else to experience that same joy. 

43-year-old Ted Ainsworth is happily married to his husband, Giles, of twenty years. They live in the small Lancashire town of St Luke’s-on-Sea where Ted works for the family ice cream business. It’s a good life. One he’s happy with. Or so he thinks.
When Giles announces he’s leaving Ted out of the blue one Sunday morning, Ted’s whole world is rocked. He has lost his anchor, his future, his everything. As he picks up the broken pieces of his heart, Ted begins to reflect on not only his relationship, but his entire life, and rediscovers a long-forgotten dream that he has kept secret all of his life. Maybe now it’s finally time to become who he was always meant to be…

“Bursting to life in front of them is a colourful chaos of non-conformity.” 

I’d heard a lot of great things about Matt Cain’s previous book, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, so I was looking forward to discovering his writing for myself. And let me tell you, it was everything I’d hoped for and more. Beautifully written and compelling, I was completely immersed in Ted’s story from the start. I’m a big fan of slice of life books that allow us to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, to feel their struggles, heartache and joy. Ted’s journey to find the best version of himself is interspersed with memories of his childhood and his relationship with Giles, giving the reader a greater understanding of how Ted became the man he is, as well as giving glimpses at who he wants to be. So much of this story is recognisable and relatable, from its characters inspired by everyday people, to the themes of heartbreak, self-discovery and friendship, to how it perfectly captures life in a small, northern seaside town. The last part was a particularly enjoyable nostalgia-fest for me. 

“In just a few minutes the dull, unremarkable, barely noticeable Ted Ainsworth had blossomed into a glamorous, fierce-looking, powerful queen.”

The eponymous Ted is a marvellous and magnetic character who I fell in love with immediately. His story is one that will strike a resonant chord in many of us, including this 43-year-old straight woman. So many times I felt like I was seeing myself on the page as I read Ted’s story, many times I had been exactly where he was and I wanted to jump into the book so I could hug him. The author’s portrayal of how it feels when your marriage or long-term relationship ends was devastatingly real. I felt like my own heart broke along with Ted’s as he was filled with overwhelming grief and began to question everything he thought he knew. But after every storm, a rainbow appears, and watching as Ted transformed into his best self was emotional, courageous and inspiring. I wanted to shout ‘Yesss Queen’ as this butterfly emerged from its cocoon and lit up the world. 

Loud, proud and utterly fabulous, Becoming Ted is a reminder that it is never too late to follow our dreams and become who we are meant to be. Heartwarming, hopeful and uplifting, I think everyone should read this book and meet Ted. I promise you won’t regret it.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Matt Cain is a writer, broadcaster, and a leading commentator on LGBT+ issues.

He was Channel 4’s first Culture Editor, Editor-In-Chief of Attitude magazine, has written for all the major national newspapers, and presented the flagship discussion show on Virgin Radio Pride. He’s also an ambassador for Manchester Pride and the Albert Kennedy Trust, plus a patron of LGBT+ History Month.

Matt’s first two novels, Shot Through the Heart and Nothing But Trouble, were published by Pan Macmillan. His third, The Madonna Of Bolton, became Unbound’s fastest crowdfunded novel ever before its publication in 2018. His latest, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, was published by Headline Review in May 2021 and Becoming Ted will follow in January 2023.

Born in Bury and brought up in Bolton, Matt now lives in London with his partner, Harry, and their cat, Nelly.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

BLOG TOUR: The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

Published: January 19th, 2023
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Episolatry Novel, Police Procedural
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tantalising and twisty tale. This was my favourie book of December 2022 and I’m so glad to finally be able to share my review with you all. Thank you to Viper for the invitation to take part and the proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

*** THE NEW MYSTERY PHENOMENON FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE APPEAL AND THE TWYFORD CODE ***

‘The queen of tricksy crime’ – SUNDAY TIMES
‘An astonishing piece of work’ – IAN MOORE

Open the safe deposit box.
Inside you will find research material for a true crime book.
You must read the documents, then make a decision.
Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the sad story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. Believing they had a divine mission to kill the infant, they were only stopped when the girl came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than stand trial, while mother and baby disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed; if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. And the story of the Alperton Angels is far from over.

From the bestselling author of The Appeal and The Twyford Code comes a stunning new mystery for fans of Richard Osman and S.J. Bennett. The devil is in the detail…

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MY REVIEW:

You have a key that opens a safe deposit box.
Inside is a bundle of documents, archived research material for a book that has just been published.
You must read it all and make a decision, either:
Replace all the documents and the box, then throw the key where it will never be found…
Or: take everything to the police. 

And so begins The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels. A tantalising, eerie and intriguing story of secrets, lies, delusion, mystery and  murder. 

True-crime author Amanda Bailey is asked to revisit the infamous case of the Alperton Angels, the cult who brainwashed a teenager into believing her baby was the anti-Christ and that God had charged them with sacrificing it in order to save humanity. The girl managed to save her baby, but the Angles sacrificed themselves rather than face trial for their crimes, and the case has been surrounded by whispers of conspiracy and cover-ups ever since.

With the surviving baby about to turn eighteen, the race is on to secure the first interview, and Amanda is determined to get that scoop. But she soon discovers discrepancies in the case and finds there is a wall of secrecy that surrounds the baby and it’s teenage parents, all three of which have not been seen since that night. It seems that everything people think they know about the Alperton Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker, stranger and more sinister than anyone could ever imagine. And some people will do anything to prevent the truth from being revealed.

“There’s something about this case. It burrows insidiously into your mind, then sets about changing it.” 

I had been in a reading slump for a while when I picked this up, hoping that this might be the magic story to break the curse. And, boy, did it have the desired effect! Tantalising, eerie and intriguing, I couldn’t get enough of this book and devoured it quickly. It haunted my every thought and I’d be thinking about it even when forced to stop reading to do other things. I even dreamed about it when I slept! An absolute masterpiece, this was exactly what I needed to get me out of my slump.

Janice Hallett is a true innovator in crime fiction. She writes exclusively in mixed media, yet somehow you forget that you aren’t reading a traditionally written story. She makes it flow seamlessly and I completely lost myself in the world that she created.  A world that feels so real. I  am not ashamed to admit that I turned to google to check if this was based on a real case. It reads so authentically that it felt unfathomable that it could be purely a work of fiction. Ms. Hallett is a master storyteller who has created a story where nothing is as it seemed. The plot is an intricate maze of secrets, red herrings, duplexities and double crosses that I challenge anyone to predict. It is all so detailed and complex that it made my head spin, pulling me one way, then another, and then back again, like clothes spinning round a washing machine. I have no idea how she manages to come up with it, let alone how she keeps all those balls in the air and plots the clues perfectly. Yet it never feels confusing, which is a testament to her extraordinary skill as a writer.

Dark, curious and forbidding, you will not be able to stop reading this book until you have a resolution to your questions. And as the tension ramps up as you race to the finale, you will find yourself on the edge of your seat holding on for dear life as Ms. Hallett takes you on a wild and twisty ride. An absolute must-read for anyone who enjoys crime fiction. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Janice Hallett studied English at UCL, and spent several years as a magazine editor, winning two awards for journalism. After gaining an MA in Screenwriting at Royal Holloway, she co-wrote the feature film RetreatThe Appeal is inspired by her lifelong interest in amateur dramatics. Her second novel, The Twyford Code, will be published by Viper in 2022. When not indulging her passion for global adventure travel, she is based in West London.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: Only Girl Alive by Holly S. Roberts

Published: January 13th, 2023
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to this compelling thriller! Thank you to Noelle at Bookouture for the invitation to take part and gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

As day breaks over the Tanner family home, the house is deadly silent and the door is firmly closed. Upstairs, the whole family lie cold and lifeless in their beds. All with the same look of fear in their unblinking eyes…

Detective Eve Bennet takes a steadying breath as she enters the main bedroom of the Tanners’ modest home in the tight-knit town of Hilldale, Utah. Mrs Tanner’s high-collared nightgown and her long plaited blonde hair are soaked in blood. Next to her, Mr Tanner’s hands are clasped together in a final prayer.

Filled with dread, Eve forces herself towards the children’s rooms. But instead of two children, she only finds one. Where is the youngest daughter, Hannah? And why are there long scratches across the walls?

Eve tracks Hannah down to her uncle’s house nearby. But he won’t let her step foot in the house. Eve knows what it’s like to be held captive by a family member, and fears for Hannah’s safety. What is he terrified Hannah might reveal?

Back at the Tanner home, Eve makes a shocking discovery in the dust covered attic. Mr Tanner was hiding a dark secret from the rest of the community—the kind of secret someone would kill for.

Realizing another family could be in danger, Eve runs from the house and stumbles into the path of the one man she spent years trying to forget— and he won’t let her get away this time. Can Eve escape the evil that has haunted her whole life? And will she catch the killer before another innocent family is murdered?

Fans of Melinda Leigh, Kendra Elliot and Lisa Regan will be absolutely gripped by this explosive and totally unputdownable crime thriller from a USA Today bestselling author.

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MY REIVEW:

“The killer lightly inhaled and exhaled into the silence, awaiting God’s next command… Sinners waited for salvation in the next rooms”

The bodies of four members of the Tanner family are found lifeless in their beds. An entire family, wiped out as they slept. Or so it first appears. There is actually a survivor. One child that is still alive who may hold the key to solving this violent and unthinkable crime. But her uncle won’t allow the police to speak with her and the entire community seems determined to keep the ten-year-old hidden. What are they so scared she might reveal?
As Detective Eve Bennett and her team investigate, they make a shocking discovery in the attic of the Tanner’s home that leads to even darker revelations. Now they must race against the clock to catch the brutal killer before they strike again.

Did I need a new crime series on my already overflowing TBR? Not at all. But despite this, and the fact I’d sworn to cut right back on blog tours in the last few months leading up to my wedding, I was unable to resist reading Only Girl Alive and joining the blog tour. Noelle Holten, I blame you. But I also have to thank you, because this book had me hooked and I’ve found a fantastic new series to follow. 

“The evil that permeated this community was the history that she unsuccessfully tried to escape.”

Only Girl Alive introduces us to a new star in crime fiction. Detective Eve Bennett works for Utah’s special investigative squad, a unit committed to helping find justice for the victims of the polygamist sect of the Mormon Church. Her motives are personal as Eve was raised in the sect before escaping as a young teenager. Her fundamentalist past still haunts her, the trauma and indoctrination a daily battle she must wage. I really liked the author’s choice to give Eve a fundie background as it not only gives the reader an added insight into the community she is investigating, but also makes for complex dynamics and interesting plot points such as working against her own family when investigating crimes. She is a fascinating character who was a joy to read. I also really enjoyed the characters who made up Eve’s team. I loved their dynamic and how they handled the tricky obstacles they faced from the community as they investigated. The hint of blossoming romance was also fun to read and I’m hoping to see that develop in book two. 

There aren’t many fiction books that focus on fundamentalism so setting a new series around a fundie community is something that immediately makes it stand out from the crowd. And as someone who has long been interested in fundamentalism and its consequences, it made me even more invested in this book and its characters. The author skillfully portrays what it is like to live with such an indoctrinated mindset, something that is shown particularly well when we read the opening chapter, which is written from the killer’s point of view. This chapter chilled me to my core as it is clear that they are a deeply disturbed person who is so indoctrinated that they genuinely believe they are carrying out God’s judgement and helping their victims atone for their sins. Seriously creepy but sadly understandable with all they are taught.

“An evil corruption that twisted the hearts and minds of over ten thousand people waited to stop Eve’s team from discovering the truth. What secret were they willing to kill for? “

Holly S. Roberts’ biography tells us that she is a retired homicide detective, something that totally makes sense after reading this book. Exquisitely written, evocative and utterly compelling, it also includes lots of little details about the inner workings of investigating a crime that felt authentic. I now know why. As someone who reads a lot of thrillers, it isn’t often I can genuinely say that I did not see a twist coming. But that is what happened with this book. There are a lot of surprising revelations along the way, but the big reveal totally blindsided me. My jaw was on the floor and I suddenly had to question everything I thought I knew. How did I miss it?! Well played, Ms. Roberts. Well played. 

Tense, twisty and gripping, Only Girl Alive is a fantastic thriller from what promises to be an exciting new series. Thriller lovers, add this to your TBR now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Religious indoctrination, religious trauma, sexual abuse

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Holly Roberts began writing to alleviate stress in her day job, that of a homicide and sex crimes detective. Romance was her go to genre because she required a happy ending. She also touched on cozy mysteries and added six books to her forty book romance repertoire. Now that she’s retired and her mind at peace, she decided to delve into crime thrillers using her background and thirst for research to write the Eve Bennet series.

Holly has two movie/television options under her belt for her amazing life story. Part of the reason is Holly became a police officer at age 45 and led two high profile cases, one involving a serial killer. Now she enjoys the excitement of writing about crime while sitting at home with her two dogs, laptop, and a cup of hot tea close by.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon* | Apple | Audible US

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*These links are affiliate links

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Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews Cozy Mysteries

THE TWELVIE COSIES OF CHRISTMAS AUDIO TOUR: Murder at the Theatre Royale by Ada Moncrieff

Published: Sepetember 22nd, 2022
Publisher: Ulverscroft/Vintage
Genre: Cosy Mystery, Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Christmas Story, Holiday Fiction
Format: Audiobook, Kindle, Paperback

Welcome to my belated stop on the Twelve Cosies of Christmas Audio Tour. Thank you to Danielle for the invitation to take part and Ulvercroft for the gifted audiobook.

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SYNOPSIS:

It’s Christmas at London’s Theatre Royale and journalist Daphne King is determined to solve an extraordinary mystery…

December 1935. Director Monty Harrison’s production of A Christmas Carol has had a troubled run on its tour of regional theatres. With tensions amongst the cast running high, the company reach their final stop—London’s Theatre Royale.

Catastrophe, however, strikes on opening night: Scrooge dies on stage, the result (it is presumed) of a heart attack. But the show must go on. Until, that is, a leading theatre critic—and old rival of Monty’s—is killed backstage. Are those associated with the production being picked off one by one? Budding journalist Daphne King takes up the case…

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MY REVIEW:

The 12 Audiobooks of Christmas Audiobook Tour is now firmly a part of my festive reading traditions. This year, I listened to Murder at the Theatre Royale, which is the second book in Ada Moncrieff’s A Christmas Mystery Series. 

We are transported to December 1935 as amateur sleuth Daphne King investigates more mysterious murders. It begins with the actor playing Scrooge in A Christmas Carol who drops dead while on stage on opening night at London’s Theatre Royal. Then, when an old rival of Director Chester Harrison is also found dead, Daphne begins to wonder if someone is slowly picking off those involved with the production. There are few clues to follow, but Daphne pieces them together as she tries to unmask the killer before they can strike again. 

This was an absolute joy to listen to. The snowy landscape and Christmas setting were perfect for festive listening and the author’s evocative descriptions and old fashioned language merged with the delightful narration to completely immerse me in the story. I was hooked and kept guessing right until the big reveal, the murderer’s identity as much of a surprise to me as it was those involved. 

Charming, entertaining and atmospheric, this is cosy festive fun at its best and is the perfect book to listen to this time of year. I’m already looking forward to following Daphne’s escapades again next year. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ada Moncrieff was born in London. She studied English at Cambridge University, and has worked in theatre, publishing and as a teacher. Murder Most Festive was her first novel. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*The purchase link in this post is an affiliate link

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Behind Closed Doors by Carol Wyer

Published: December 6th, 2022
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Suspense, Psycholgocial Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this heart-stopping thriller. Thank you to Zoe at Zooloo’s Book Tours for the invitation to take part, and Carol Wyer for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Two kidnappings, thirty years apart. Can Stacey face her own dark past in order to save her stepdaughter?

When Stacey’s ex-husband turns up on her doorstep begging her to help save his kidnapped thirteen-year-old daughter, Lyra, the terror is all too familiar. Stacey’s own violent kidnapping thirty years ago was never solved, and while a severe case of amnesia spares her from recalling the specific horrors, she remembers enough…

Stacey knows her father never paid the ransom―she has the missing pinkie finger to prove it. She knows she was only saved because of an anonymous tip-off to the police. And she knows her captor was never apprehended.

Lyra’s kidnappers have made it clear the police must not get involved. But Stacey can’t shake the eerie similarities between the two cases, and she’ll use whatever she can, from her journalistic powers to her shady contacts, to save Lyra from the same nightmare. Desperate to find any link between Lyra’s abduction and her own, Stacey forces herself to revisit her forgotten, traumatic past for clues.

But can she make sense of the terrible secrets she unearths in time to save Lyra? And if she does, is she ready to face her own tormentor?

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MY REVIEW:

“Stacey couldn’t shake the ominous feeling surrounding her. The hair. The dingy room. The scissors. This had to be an echo of her past.”

When Stacey’s ex-husband, Jack, turns up on her doorstep one afternoon, Stacey O’Hara is unprepared for the nightmare she’s about to be plunged into. Her thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, Lyra, has been kidnapped, and he wants Stacey’s help to rescue her from a terror she is all too familiar with after her own violent kidnapping thirty years ago. 

As they race against the clock to save Lyra, Stacey can’t shake the strange similarities with her own abduction that keep cropping up. Could the two be linked? Forced to face the past she’s run from for decades, can Stacey make sense of the secrets she’s unearthed before it is too late?

“The room was dimly lit by a small lamp. Shadows, like demons, danced on the wall.” 

Wow! This book certainly packs a punch, grabbing me from the forbidding opening pages. I didn’t want to put this book down! It showcases why Carol Wyer has become one of my favourite thriller authors, her ability to hypnotise the reader and keep them guessing as she weaves her tangled web of dark secrets keeping me on the edge of my seat as I read. As the secrets are slowly revealed, the intricate puzzle begins to come together. But would it look like I imagined? Or something completely different?

“A hazy vision floated from the recesses of her mind. She saw herself as a terrified teenager, tied to a chair, a hood over her head. Her heartbeat increased. She didn’t want to remember.” 

I loved that this book was essentially two mysteries in one as we uncover the truth not only about Lyra’s abduction, but Stacey’s too. While Lyra is never on the page as anything other than a character being discussed, her presence is felt over every sentence, along with the urgency to save her. And while trying to do so, Stacey begins to discover things she never knew about her abduction thirty years ago. Because of her profound dissociative amnesia Stacey has never processed the trauma of being abducted. The memories were buried so deep that she can’t reach them. But after Lyra’s abduction, she is assailed by flashes of the long-repressed memories that she isn’t always sure she can trust. It is so evocatively written that we feel every bit of her confusion, torment and fear as she faces the truth of her abduction for the first time while desperately trying to rescue Lyra. She is a likeable protagonist and was easy to root for, unlike her ex-husband, Jack. 

In Jack we see Wyer’s skill for writing morally dubious and complex characters that you aren’t sure you can trust. Did I dislike and suspect him because he reminded me of my own abusive ex-husband? Or was he really involved in this somehow? I could never make up my mind but also couldn’t shake my suspicions of him no matter how much Stacey was adamant he wasn’t involved. 

Dripping with suspense, charged with adrenalin and fraught with malice, Behind Closed Doors is a heart-pounding thriller that fans of the genre will love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

USA Today bestselling author and winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer’s crime novels have sold over one million copies and been translated into nine languages.

A move from humour to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in Little Girl Lost and proved that Carol had found her true niche.

February 2021 saw the release of the first in the much-anticipated new series, featuring DI Kate Young. An Eye For An Eye was chosen as a Kindle First Reads and became the #1 bestselling book on Amazon UK and Amazon Australia.

Carol has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’, featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post. She’s also been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television.

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr. Grumpy… who is very, very grumpy. When she is not plotting devious murders, she can be found performing her comedy routine, Smile While You Still Have Teeth.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Her Deadly Promise by Carla Kovach (Detective Gina Harte Book 12)

Published: December 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Her Deadly Promise, the latest compelling thriller in the fantastic Detective Gina Harte series. Thank you to Noelle at Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Four-year-old Kayden has been sitting alone on the little patch of tired grass outside his house for hours. His cheeks are wet with tears as he waits for his mother’s warm embrace. But she’ll never arrive to pick up her darling boy. She’ll never be seen again…

Church Road is a quiet corner of suburbia where happy families play in the local park and neighbours smile as they pass in the street. But behind the bright red door of number 8 lies the body of Billie Reeves, a young mum who just took her last breath.

Serena is Billie’s sister. When she found out her boyfriend had been obsessively calling Billie, she’d all but cut her from her life. But not before vowing she would make Billie pay for ruining her relationship…

Shaun is Billie’s ex-boyfriend. He left her the moment she fell pregnant. When he turned up at Billie’s door, demanding to see Kayden, she refused to take the risk of him hurting her precious son. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his little boy back…

Nadia is Billie’s best friend. Their kids attended the same school and Billie often opened up to Nadia about her struggles as a single mother. She knows Billie’s deepest, darkest secret. She promised never to tell, but that was before the argument…

When police investigate the quiet little street, they discover everyone was whispering about Billie’s late-night callers. What was going on behind the closed door of Billie’s small home? And if someone was prepared to kill her, what do they know, and who will be next?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, will love Her Deadly Promise – a completely gripping crime thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page!

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MY REVIEW:

“One thing I don’t know is how it all ends, but I know it’s not going to be pretty. It’s going to be explosive.”

Four-year-old Kayden has been playing outside in his garden for hours. His mother, Billie, told him not to come in the house until she tells him to, so he’s waiting for her to call him. But she never will. Because while Kayden was playing someone brutally murdered his mother in their home. 

Detective Gina Harte and her team are called in to investigate the shocking crime. Who could commit such a savage act? As they delve deeper, they discover that things are not as simple as they seem and that this is a case filled with dark secrets that could hold the key to cracking the case. They just have to unravel them first. 

The twelfth book in the Detective Gina Harte series is another gripping thriller. Infused with mystery and a sense of imminent danger, I was on the edge of my seat as I tried to figure out the secrets each of the characters were hiding. It had a dark and ominous atmosphere, like there was something evil lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce. And I couldn’t get enough. 

While I enjoy a good standalone thriller, there is something to be said about coming back to characters you know and love. It’s like catching up with an old friend and I’ve come to care about Gina and her team. Gina herself is one of my favourite crime protagonists, and it was hard to see her going through such a hard time in this book. But in addition to the regular characters, each instalment in a series requires new characters and Ms. Kovach manages to create fascinating new characters who draw us in and tug on our heartstrings or enrage us again and again. And while we know one of them is our killer, the mask they wear is so convincing that it can be hard to see their true face. This was particularly true in this story and my jaw was left on the floor at the big reveal. 

Carla Kovach is one of my auto-buy authors thanks to this series. Her books are always well written, morally complex, darkly thrilling, and filled with compelling characters. I also enjoy how she weaves important issues such as domestic violence, mental health, and, in this book, the cost of living crisis into her stories, giving them greater depth and making the reader think. I also like that her books are often hard to predict, keeping me on my toes as I read. But this time she had something truly tantalising in store with the book’s final line. How can you do that to me?! I need the next book now! I’m going to be thinking about what it could mean until book thirteen.

Suspenseful, captivating and twisty, this is perfect for anyone who enjoys a multilayered thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carla Kovach is a USA Today bestselling author from the UK and is published by Bookouture, Sphere and Boekerij. Her DI Gina Harte series has been translated into Dutch.

As well as novels, she has also written stage and screenplays.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Sanctuary by Emma Haughton

Published: November 24th, 2022
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Suspense, Psycholgical Thriller, Mystery
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty locked-room mystery. Thank you to Jenny at Hodder and Stoughton for the invitation to take part and gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Zoey enjoys her life. She fills it with travel, casual work and partying with friends, and tries not to think about what’s gone wrong in the past.

But after a night out clubbing in New York to celebrate her best friend’s birthday, Zoey wakes in a stifling white room she’s never seen before, with no memory of how she got there. Filled with panic, she searches the luxurious house for someone who can tell her where she is, only to find herself entirely alone in what appears to be vast, unending desert.

Until, in the distance, she hears a woman screaming…

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MY REVIEW:

“In that moment I know I can’t just leave the Sanctuary – not until I’ve got to the bottom of whatever is going on.” 

I love a good locked-room mystery, and The Sanctuary certainly fits that bill. Fast-paced, tense and addictive, I was putty in the palm of Emma Haughton’s hand as she wove her clever, twisty and intricate tale. There are many layers of mystery in the story: who is Zoey’s mysterious benefactor? Why are residents leaving in the middle of the night? And what is the secret Zoey can’t face?

Haughton transports you into the story, making you feel Zoey’s disorientation and fear as she wakes in this strange place. These feelings only deepen, and are joined  by anger and frustration, as she adjusts to her situation. And as she begins to get to know the other patients and staff, it seems things only get more cryptic and strange. Something is clearly not right about this place, and Zoey can’t resist delving deeper into the mystery, the tension escalating alongside the danger they are facing. I was reading with my heart pounding in my chest as I tried to predict the answers to my many questions.

Atmospheric, claustrophobic and utterly compelling, this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a well written thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From Emma’s Website:
Emma Haughton grew up in Sussex; after a stint au pairing in Paris and a couple of half-hearted attempts to backpack across Europe, she studied English at Oxford University then trained in journalism. During her career as a journalist, she wrote many articles for national newspapers, including regular pieces for the Times Travel section.

Following publication of her picture book, Rainy Day, Emma wrote three YA novels. Her first, Now You See Me, was an Amazon bestseller and nominated for the Carnegie and Amazing Book Awards. Better Left Buried, her second, was one of the best YA reads for 2015 in the Sunday Express. Her third YA novel, Cruel Heart Broken, was picked by The Bookseller as a top YA read for July 2016.

The Dark, Emma’s chilling new thriller for adults, was published by Hodder in August 2021.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Pain Tourist by Paul Cleave

Published: November 10th, 2022
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Medical Thriller, Police Procedural
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Pain Tourist. I’m so excited to finally share my review for this jaw-dropping thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Book for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

A young man wakes from a coma to find himself targeted by the men who killed his parents, while someone is impersonating a notorious New Zealand serial killer … the latest chilling, nerve-shredding, twisty thriller from the author of The Quiet People…
 
‘Paul Cleave is an automatic must-read for me’ Lee Child
 
‘You can’t be a true fan of crime fiction if you’re not reading Cleave’s books’ Tom Wood

‘Uses words as lethal weapons’ New York Times

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James Garrett was critically injured when he was shot following his parents’ execution, and no one expected him to waken from a deep, traumatic coma. When he does, nine years later, Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent is tasked with closing the case that her now retired colleague, Theodore Tate, failed to solve all those years ago.
 
But between that, and hunting for Copy Joe – a murderer on a spree, who’s imitating Christchurch’s most notorious serial killer – she’s going to need Tate’s help … especially when they learn that James has lived out another life in his nine-year coma, and there are things he couldn’t possibly know, including the fact that Copy Joe isn’t the only serial killer in town…

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MY REVIEW:

“Pain tourists are who we get when the podcasts and true-crime novels and the documentaries aren’t enough. They wonder what it’s like being either killer or victim. They slake that curiosity by visiting places where the terrible things happened, and the next you know they’re going from ‘how did this happen?’ to ‘how can I make this happen?’ ” 

It’s been a few months since I read this book and I still can’t stop thinking about it.  A heart-pounding, jaw-dropping thrill ride that will blow your mind, this book is like nothing I’ve ever read before.  It is one of those books where you think you know where it’s going but you really have no clue, the many twists and turns giving me book whiplash. Complex and layered, author Paul Cleave slowly weaves the many threads together so that the full picture begins to take shape. And it looks nothing like you imagined. And that finale… I was holding my breath in anticipation and did NOT expect the turns it took. 

I was a big fan of Cleave’s last book, The Quiet People, and I feel like he gets better every time. Exquisitely written with gorgeous and evocative imagery, this book really showcases just how damn good he is. An ensemble cast thriller with multiple threads, it manages to avoid getting confusing. Each character is brilliantly written, compelling and memorable, and it felt like there were no real background characters. But it was James and the mysterious killer whose points of view I found most enthralling. The concept of James living an entire life in ‘coma world’ was genius, and the anguish and confusion he felt upon waking was heartbreaking. I loved how the author brought James’ coma world to life for the reader, making it feel as real to us as it did him. As for the killer, well, what can I say except that I’m a sucker for an insight into a dark and twisted mind. 

Imaginative, tense and moving, The Pain Tourist is an absolute triumph. It is one of those books you never want to end but you are also desperate for answers. One of my favourite books this year, if you haven’t read this author yet then do it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Paul is an award winning author who often divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe. He’s won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia. HIs books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his Frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many. The critically acclaimed The Quiet People was published in 2021, with The Pain Tourist to follow in 2022.

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BUY THE BOOK

Orenda Books | Berts Books | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*These links are affiliate links