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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Guest House by Robin Morgan-Bentley

Published: June 23rd, 2022
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Medical Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Orion for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE.
WHATEVER THE COST…

Jamie and Victoria are expecting their first baby.

With a few weeks to go, they head off for a final weekend break in a remote part of the North Pennines. The small and peaceful guesthouse is the ideal location to unwind together before becoming parents. Upon arrival, they are greeted by Barry and Fiona, the older couple who run the guesthouse. They cook them dinner and show them to their room before retreating to bed themselves.

The next morning, Jamie and Victoria wake to find the house deserted. Barry and Fiona are nowhere to be seen. All the doors are locked. Both their mobile phones and car keys have disappeared. Even though it’s a few weeks early, Victoria knows the contractions are starting.

The baby is coming, and there’s no way out.

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MY REVIEW:

“Every time, after each scan of the nursery, I find myself on the verge of surrender… My hand hovers over the nine.  Just press it three times, Jamie.  Take the risk.  Tell them what happened in the guest house.” 

The Guest House is a thriller that packs a punch from the start.  It opens with Jamie and Victoria enjoying a last weekend away in a remote guest house a few weeks before their longed for first baby arrives. But on their first night Victoria wakes up with labour pains and they find the guest house is deserted, the doors locked and their mobile phones and car keys missing.  Leaving us on tenterhooks, the story then jumps forward.  Jamie and Victoria are now home but we have no idea what happened that day at the guest house.  Is their baby ok?  Why is someone sending them anonymous veiled threats?  And what is the secret that they are so scared will be revealed?  

Robin Morgan-Bentley has done it again. Deceptively layered and complex, this perfectly executed psychological thriller takes you on a twist-filled rollercoaster ride that exceeded my already high expectations. It is deceptively layered and complex, a perfectly executed psychological thriller takes you on a twist-filled rollercoaster ride that I absolutely loved. The story moves between timelines as Jamie and Victoria tell their story piece by piece, slowly revealing the true horror of what happened that fateful day.  Drenched in atmosphere, sizzling with suspense and charged with adrenaline, the fear, heartache, guilt, regret and internal conflict leaps from the page and the scenes from the guest house are a ticking time bomb of sheer dread.  It is one of those books that you clear your schedule for and I devoured it in under a day. 

The characters are well written and intriguing, and I liked that both Jamie and Victoria narrated the story and that neither of them were what you’d typically expect.  Victoria isn’t the sweet, demure new mother that we typically see and I actually found her quite cold, hard to like and difficult to connect with.  On the other hand, Jamie is a very likeable, endearing character that I felt a strong connection with.  Another thing I liked about Jamie is the representation of disability.  As a disabled person it is great to see disability portrayed in such a realistic way, where it is simply part of his character and not a weakness or flaw.  It doesn’t stop him doing normal or even heroic things, in fact it makes him even more determined to protect his family.  I also liked that he was given the opportunity to address how other people’s perceptions and judgement make him feel, something I related to on a personal level.  We need more characters like Jamie in fiction so that those without experience of living with disability see us as we are, not simply a token character to be pitied or seen as a burden. 

Riveting, addictive and unbearably tense, this dark and twisted tale will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. A must read for  any thriller lover. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Robin Morgan-Bentley was born and grew up in London. After studying Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University, he went on to work for Google before moving to Audible, where he has been working since 2014.

His debut thriller, The Wreckage, was nominated for the CWA Dagger John Creasey New Blood Award, the CrimeFest Specsavers Debut Crime Award and Capital Crime’s Debut Book of the Year Award. His next thriller, The Guest House, will be released in the UK in June 2022 and in the US in September 2022.

Robin lives in Buckinghamshire with his husband and son.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Cat & Mouse by M. J. Arlidge (DI Helen Grace Book 11)

Published: June 9th, 2022
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Cat & Mouse, the latest gripping thriller from M. J. Arlidge. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Orion for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

When you think you’re safe,
When you think you’re all alone,
That’s when he’ll come for you…

A silent killer stalks the city, targeting those home alone at night, playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with the victims.

As panic spreads, Detective Inspector Helen Grace leads the investigation, but is herself a hunted woman, her every step shadowed by a ruthless psychopath bent on revenge.

As she tracks the murderer, Grace begins to suspect there is a truly shocking home truth that connects these brutal crimes. But what she will find is something more twisted than she could ever suspect…

Check the windows, lock the doors – this is a twisted page-turner that will prey on your darkest fears, in the way only M.J. Arlidge can.

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MY REVIEW:

“He had led them a merry dance so far, spreading terror and bloodshed in his wake….”

A brutal killer stalks Southampton, creeping into houses and slaughtering victims at their most vulnerable.  There is no apparent motive, few clues and DI Helen Grace and her team are under pressure to stop the mysterious killer quickly.  

We’re back for the latest instalment in one of my favourite crime series.  It’s always exciting for me to be back with these characters and M.J. Arlidge can always be counted upon to write a tense, twisty and tantilising thriller that has me hooked.  But this time around the stakes seemed higher than ever for the team, particularly Helen, who finds herself in a battle for her job, reputation, liberty and life.  It seemed like there was no end to this rollercoaster as the pressure mounted, the suspense sizzled and I questioned if this could be the end for these characters.  I read on tenterhooks, desperate not only for answers to the crimes, but to the dilemmas facing these much loved characters.

This is a series that isn’t afraid to explore the darkest sides of humanity or feature gruesome, bloody crime scenes that make your skin crawl.  The mysterious killer in this book was truly the work of nightmares: someone methodical, measured and organised who stalks your home and breaks in while you sleep before brutally bludgeoning you in a senseless crime with no apparent motive  The chapters told from his perspective were especially chilling as we get a glimpse inside the depraved mind of the person who Southampton’s residents fear and my nerves were shredded as I read.  

Sinister, dark and compelling, M. J. Arlidge has delivered another outstanding thriller that shows why his books are auto-buys for me.  An absolute must read for any fans of crime fiction.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Midwife of Auschwitz by Anna Stuart

Published: May 31st, 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Historical Fiction, Religious Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this heart-wrenching, poignant and remarkable book. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Auschwitz, 1943: As I held the tiny baby in my arms, my fingers traced the black tattoo etched across her little thigh. And I prayed that one day this set of numbers, identical to her mother’s, would have the power to reunite a family torn apart by war…

Inspired by an incredible true story, this poignant novel tells of one woman’s fight for love, life and hope during a time of unimaginable darkness.

Ana Kaminski is pushed through the iron gates of Auschwitz beside her frightened young friend Ester Pasternak. As they reach the front of the line, Ana steps forward and quietly declares herself a midwife – and Ester her assistant. Their arms are tattooed and they’re ordered to the maternity hut. Holding an innocent new-born baby, Ana knows the fate of so many are in her hands, and vows to do everything she can to save them.

When two guards in their chilling SS uniforms march in and snatch a blond-haired baby from its mother it’s almost too much for Ana to bear. Consoling the distraught woman, Ana realises amidst the terrible heartache there is a glimmer of hope. The guards are taking the healthiest babies and placing them with German families, so they will survive. And there are whispers the war is nearly over… Ana and Ester begin to secretly tattoo little ones with their mother’s numbers, praying one day they might be reunited.

Then, early one morning, Ana notices the small bump under Ester’s thin striped clothing…

An absolutely heart-breaking and page-turning WW2 novel of one woman’s bravery and determination to bring life and hope into a broken world. Fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Alice Network and The Nightingale will be gripped.

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MY REVIEW:

Auschwitz, 1943: As I held the tiny baby in my arms, my fingers traced the black tattoo etched across her little thigh.  And I prayed that one day this set of numbers, identical to her mother’s, would have the power to reunite a family torn apart by war…

Heart-wrenching, harrowing, haunting and hopeful, The Midwife of Auschwitz is a story of love, strength and courage.  Based on an incredible true story, we follow two women as they fight to survive one of the darkest times in our history.  Opening the day Germany invades Poland we follow Ester, a young Jewish girl, and Ana, a Catholic midwife, as their worlds are turned upside down and even Ester’s wedding day isn’t safe from the wrath of the Gestapo. They are uprooted from their homes and later, in a cruel twist of fate, find themselves on the same transport to Auschwitz where they serve as midwives in a place where even the newest lives are far from sacred. 

“The invaders had taken their city and now they were going to divide its people. Some fool man had decided that the baby Ana had brought into the world eighteen years ago, naked and innocent, was in some way less valuable than any other and was out to eliminate her and her kin from the earth. This was surely not just war, but the end of civilisation. “

Anna Stuart is a skilled storyteller.  She takes us inside the hearts and minds of Ana and Ester, their sorrow, pain, terror and rage so palpable I was moved to tears.  Her evocative imagery makes the barbaric inhumanity of Auschwitz and the Ghetto feel so vivid that I could almost feel the lice crawling on my skin.  The Holocaust is a brutal, raw and heartbreaking subject, but Ms. Stuart also writes with compassion, allowing us to also see the characters’ resilience, their acts of kindness, and how they held onto humanity whenever they could.  Ana and Ester are true heroines who are written so evocatively that I could feel everything they did.  Their sorrow, pain, terror and rage leaps from the pages and they teach us about bravery again and again as they stand up against evil, risking their lives in the process. It is impossible not to be moved by the way some were so determined to bring hope to others even when everything around them seemed helpless.

“This is war and it isn’t all fought on battlefields.”

Powerful, poignant and moving, this remarkable story is one I’ll never forget.  While it isn’t an easy read, it is an incredibly important one that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Anna Stuart lives in Derbyshire with her campervan-mad husband, two hungry teenagers and a slightly loopy dog. She was hooked on books from the moment she first opened one in her cot so is thrilled to now have several of her own to her name. Having studied English literature at Cambridge university, she took an enjoyable temporary trip into the ‘real world’ as a factory planner, before returning to her first love and becoming an author. History has also always fascinated her. Living in an old house with a stone fireplace, she often wonders who sat around it before her and is intrigued by how actively the past is woven into the present, something she likes to explore in her novels. Anna loves the way that writing lets her ‘try on’ so many different lives, but her favourite part of the job is undoubtedly hearing from readers.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon*
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

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Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

AUDIOBOOK BLOG TOUR: The Girls by Bella Osborne

Published: May 1st, 2022
Publisher: Isis Audio
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Pensioners in the Pages
Format: Audiobook, Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful summer read. Thank you to Danielle for the invitation to take part and Isis Audio for the gifted copy of the audiobook.

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SYNOPSIS:

In the 1970s, the girls were best friends sharing a house and good times: Zara, the famous diva actor; Val, the uptight solicitor; Jackie, the wild child and Pauline, the quirky introvert. Now they’re in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age. 

Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn. 

As the women confront their demons, they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control, can they save their friendships and each other?

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MY REVIEW:

“One last hoorah. What do you say.” 

Legendary actress Zara is hoping to spend her 80th birthday quietly, but her agent has other ideas and has put together a surprise party.  At the event are the three friends she shared a house with back in the 70s. Though they haven’t seen each other in decades, the group share an undeniable bond and spend the evening reminiscing on old times and wondering where the years have gone.  Wondering aloud why they are spending their twilight years alone, Zara surprises her friends when she suggests they spend them together, the other women moving into her house so they can recreate the joy of their youth.  Though initially reluctant, Pauline, Val and Jackie soon decide to take Zara up on her offer and the adventure begins. 

I love a book with older characters at its centre, so when I was offered the chance to listen to The Girls on audiobook as part of this blog tour, I didn’t hesitate.  Refreshing, funny and uplifting, it also has a much deeper side of poignant moments, controversial topics and sensitive issues which the author handles with both realism and compassion.  It also transports you to sunnier climes, something that is very welcome during the unreliable British ‘summer’.

The four women at the centre of the story are richly drawn and compelling characters, though not particularly likeable at times.  Each are very different people and are battling their own demons that are slowly revealed through glimpses into their past.  And when Zara’s true motivation for inviting them to live with her is revealed, the women are outraged.  I liked their dynamics and how the bonds, friction and struggles were still there after so many years apart.  But what I loved most of all is that despite the problems, that bond of true friendship triumphed and they supported each other through some of the most difficult moments they’ve ever faced. 

Delightful, entertaining and full of emotion and adventure, The Girls is a feel-good summer story that I highly recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From Bella’s website:

I’ve been jotting down my stories for as far back as I can remember… well that’s not exactly true. I remember writing a story when I was about nine and I was in Mrs Hurran’s class. The story was about a thief who stole the crown jewels but then didn’t know what to do with them. It went on for pages and pages, in my spiders dance handwriting, so my teacher typed it up and pinned it to the classroom wall. It was a proud day!

Somehow life took over, I got a sensible job and the writing remained a hobby which other people puzzled over and which I adored.

Over the years there have been dalliances into poetry, short stories and five unfinished novels. But I decided that 2013 would be the year that was going to change. I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writer Scheme which gave me a deadline to chase – a full length novel had to be completed and submitted  for review by 31st August. I beat the deadline by a month!

In 2014 I secured a two book contract with Harper Impulse, part of the HarperCollins Group, and my first novel ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ was published in ebook format on 12th February 2015 and paperback on 23rd April 2015. It went on to be shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award and the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year 2016.

​My second book ‘A Family Holiday’ and my fifth ‘A Walk in Wildflower Park’ were both shortlisted for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year!

In 2016 I moved to Avon, which is also part of the wonderful HarperCollins family. My books are released in four digital instalments ahead of the whole story being published a few months later. 

2021 saw the publication of two novels: a romantic comedy The Promise of Summer and a bookclub read The Library. The Library was published by a new publisher – Aria, Head of Zeus. 2022 looks like it will be just as busy with The Girls out in April and A Wedding At Sandy Cove being published in July. I can’t believe these will be books ten and eleven!

​I was overjoyed to win the RNA Jane Wenham-Jones Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award 2022 with The Promise of Summer!

In my spare time I love to read, cook with my daughter, plan holidays and rehabilitate rescue hedgehogs.

Website

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MEET THE NARRATOR:

This is one of the loveliest and most challenging jobs for any actor and Julia Franklin is a passionate enthusiast for audiobooks. She has read everything from romance, historical fiction, sagas and “chick lit” to gritty detective fiction and thrillers. She has combined this with a busy career in broadcasting as a TV and radio presenter and as a voiceover artist. “There are,” she says, “few things more exciting than starting a new book and feeling it beginning to work its magic.”

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BUY THE BOOK:

The Reading House

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Trial of Lotta Rae by Siobhan MacGowan

Published: May 26th, 2022
Publisher: Welbeck
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting piece of historical fiction. Thank you to Welbeck for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

If you enjoyed The Familiars and The Binding, you’ll love this sweeping and empowering historical novel, set in Suffragette England.
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On Halloween night, 1906, young working class Lotta Rae is attacked by a wealthy gentleman. She seeks justice at an Old Bailey trial alongside her barrister, William Linden, who she believes to be her ally.

The verdict is devastating and Lotta Rae soon realises the guardians of justice do not support her. But what none could foresee were the shocking consequences.

Twelve years later, as the suffragettes rise and the ghost of WW1 looms large over London, William is joined again by Lotta Rae. Now they will travel to a fateful destination, where truths must be faced and wrongs will be righted.

The day in court is done. But tonight he will hear her testimony.

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MY REVIEW:

“I have seen my name become notorious. Lotta Rae. The talk of London. There was talk, much talk for sure. But was there truth? Was there justice?”

Halloween Night 1906.  Lotta Rae, a working-class girl working in a brewery, is attacked by a gentleman in a dark alley.  She bravely reports the crime and heads to court with her barrister William Linden by her side.  When the devastating verdict is announced it sparks a chain of tragic events that will alter Lotta’s life forever.  Years later Lotta still searches for justice.  Only this time it won’t be the courts that she trusts to deliver it.

The Trial of Lotta Rae is a story of power, privilege and the fight for justice.  I quickly devoured this haunting debut, the air of menace and foreboding that lingers over every page holding me captive. Siobhan MacGowan’s beguiling prose, skilled storytelling and memorable characters are a potent combination that I felt powerless to resist.  Steeped in history, the author has set the story against a backdrop of the suffragettes’ struggle, transporting you back to a time when doctors believed that only with consent could you conceive, and any woman who just walks with a man is seen as leading him on.   It all combines to create an atmosphere of authenticity that is so well done I  actually found myself searching the internet to see if Lotta Rae and her story were real. I am in awe of the fact it is not yet she crafted a character and story so convincing that I believed every word could be true.

“It seems we imagine there will be a harbinger of those days that come to shatter our lives. Will herald their arrival not with duplicitous blue sky, but a clutch of foreboding clouds. That we will be granted a sign. But the day it happened dawned comforting in its simplicity: sunny, fresh and bright. “

The story is narrated by not only Lotta Rae, but also her barrister, William Linden.  I enjoyed these very different perspectives, though it did get a little confusing going back and forth between them in the same chapter at times.  And while both sides are equally well written and both characters compelling, Lotta is without a doubt the star of this book.  Fierce, feisty, strong and resolute, she leaps from the pages.  I could feel her anguish after the attack, her shame during the court case, disbelief at the verdict, and, finally, the desire for revenge that burned in her like fire.  She is someone who manages to be sympathetic even when not likeable and I was rooting for her every step of the way.  William was someone whose character surprised me, though I don’t want to say much more to avoid spoilers.  But I will say he is fantastically written and a very believable character of the time for his class and gender.

An intense and enthralling debut, Lotta and her story is one that will stay with me.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Siobhan MacGowan is a journalist and musician who lived and worked in London for much of her life before returning to Ireland several years ago. She is from a family of great storytellers, the most prominent of which is her brother, Shane MacGowan, of The Pogues.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Summer Fever by Kate Riordan

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Holiday Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this sizzling summer thriller. Thank you to Jen at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Two couples. One sweltering Italian villa . . .

Nick and Laura are the hosts:
pretending their marriage isn’t on the rocks.

Madison and Bastian are the guests:
neither is remotely who they claim to be.

Under the scorching Mediterranean sun
no secret is safe.
No betrayal goes unnoticed.

Two couples. But will either survive the summer . . .

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MY REVIEW:

After the heartbreak of infertility takes them to breaking point, Laura and Nick decide to start again in Italy.  Luna Rossa promises to be that fresh start and when their first guests arrive it looks like things are finally looking up.  But Madison and Bastian aren’t who they claim to be, and all four of them are hiding secrets that threaten to turn this dream into a nightmare.

Sexy, sultry and suspenseful, Summer Fever is an edge-of-your seat thriller full of lust, secrets and betrayal.  Kate Riordan is a skilled storyteller who had me transfixed from the first page as she opened with an ominous and foreboding prologue that sets the scene for the rest of the book.

Told in two parts with sporadic flashbacks to the mysterious past love who broke Laura’s heart, I loved how the atmosphere crackled with a deliciously dark tension and overwhelming sense of dread that kept me on tenterhooks.  The flashbacks had that sense of haziness that only looking back on our past with rose-tinted glasses can bring and left me apprehensive about what was in store for Laura, who seemed to be hurtling back towards the fire that had already burned her.  I wanted to yell at her to stop but knew she would never have listened.  There was an air of inevitability that left you feeling powerless to do anything but wait and see just how bad the fallout would be when it came.

The dynamics between each of the four main characters are compelling and I liked how having Laura as our only narrator makes the others a bit of an enigma and you aren’t always sure what to make of them.  But one of my favourite things is how she transported me to the sweltering shores of Italy with such realism that I could almost feel the sun beating down on me and see the gorgeous view from Luna Rossa.  Italy has always been at the top of my bucket list and I felt like I got a virtual holiday there thanks to this book, albeit one with a lot of turmoil. 

Alluring, addictive and sizzling with tension, this is the perfect thriller to read in the sun with a glass of wine in hand.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist. She is an avid reader of Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie, both of whom have influenced her writing. She lives in the Cotswolds, where she writes full-time. Her previous novels include The Girl In The Photograph, The Shadow Hour, The Stranger and The Heatwave, which was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Summer Fever is her fifth novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

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

BLOG TOUR: The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance Novel, Book Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent book. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Freed from Pompeii’s brothel. Owned as a courtesan. Determined to have revenge. Her name is Amara. What will she risk for power?

Amara has escaped her life as a slave in Pompeii’s most notorious brothel. She now has a house, fine clothes, servants – but all of these are gifts from her patron, hers for as long as she keeps her place in his affections.

As she adjusts to this new life, Amara is still haunted by her past. At night she dreams of the wolf den, and the women she left behind. By day, she is pursued by her former slavemaster. In order to be truly free, she will need to be as ruthless as he is.

Amara knows she can draw strength from Venus, the goddess of love. Yet falling in love herself may prove to be her downfall.

The House with the Golden Door is the stunning second novel in Elodie Harper’s celebrated Wolf Den Trilogy, which reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.

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MY REVIEW:

“There is always a price to pay for underestimating a woman.”

Ever since the jaw-dropping ending of The Wolf Den I have been impatiently awaiting book two in the trilogy and the chance to find out what was next for Amara, her fellow she-wolves and the residents of Pompeii.  The story picks up a few months after the shocking events at the end of book one: Amara is no longer a slave working at the brothel but a freedwoman living in the house with the golden door that her patron Rufus rents for her.  While happy to be free, she is haunted by her past, misses her friends and lives in fear of losing Rufus’ favour and her position as his concubine.  Her former master is also out for revenge and she must find a way to keep herself safe against not only him, but the man on whom she now relies.  

Once again I was utterly captivated by the mesmerising world that Elodie Harper brings to life on the pages. So evocative that it was like I was watching it all unfold on a movie screen in vivid technicolour, she transported me back to the ancient streets of Pompeii at a time when they were bustling with life and the fate awaiting this doomed city was unimaginable.  Her research and attention to detail is exquisite, depicting day to day life in a believable and entertaining way as she explores everything from mundane domesticity to the exciting but bloodthirsty sports citizens of Pompeii once enjoyed. 

“Amara wonders how long they will all be together in a household like this, and it is not only the habitual fear of being separated from Philos that makes her chest tighten. She has grown used to this place, to the strange almost-family of women she has collected.”

The Amara of this book is both the same and completely different. I enjoyed watching her learn to navigate the new world she inhabits and how skillfully she plays the game.  She is a strong, intelligent woman who now not only has a thirst for revenge and determination to survive, but more autonomy and power than before, though she does fear she will never completely be free.  But one of my favourite things about these books is the sisterhood the women share.  There are new characters and alliances alongside the old ones, but themes of strength, tenacity, vulnerability and wiliness remain and I enjoyed seeing them gain more power and freedom than they had in the brothel.  A sisterhood I particularly enjoyed was the blossoming friendship between Amara and Britannica.  I loved that Britannica was given such a large role in this story and how we finally got to see the person lurking beneath the silent savage we met in book one.  I adore this fierce Briton and she has become my favourite character.

Enthralling, exhilarating and unflinching, The House with the Golden Door is an accomplished piece of historical fiction.  If you’re a fan of the genre then you need to read this outstanding series.  Sadly I now have the agonising wait for the final instalment…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Elodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, which was judged by Stephen King.

She is currently a reporter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News. Her job as a journalist has seen her join one of the most secretive wings of the Church of Scientology and cover the far right hip hop scene in Berlin, as well as crime reporting in Norfolk where her first two novels were set – The Binding Song and The Death Knock.

Elodie studied Latin poetry both in the original and in translation as part of her English Literature degree at Oxford, instilling a lifelong interest in the ancient world. The Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy of novels about the lives of women in ancient Pompeii.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

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BLOG TOUR: Keep Her Sweet by Helen FitzGerald

Published: May 26th 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

When a middle-aged couple downsizes to the countryside for an easier life, their two daughters become isolated, argumentative and violent … A chilling, vicious and darkly funny psychological thriller from bestselling author Helen FitzGerald.
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Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Penny and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille.

Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Penny and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent.

When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move.

But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that.

This is a murder, just waiting to happen…

Chilling, vicious and darkly funny, Keep Her Sweet is not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but also a startling look at sister relationships and the bonds they share … or shatter.

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MY REVIEW:

“Unhappy families always cheered her up.”

This intriguing first line sets the tone for this addictive portrayal of dark domesticity featuring one of the most messed-up families I’ve ever read.  

Penny and Andeep Maloney-Singh should have been enjoying their empty nest but their baby birds have come back to roost.  Tensions rise, tempers flare, violence escalates and the Maloney-Singhs become a family on fire and hire therapist Joy to help them douse the flames.  But even she underestimates just how broken they are, finding herself caught up in a tableau of misery that seems to be speeding towards a catastrophic outcome. 

What a ride!  When I started this book I thought I knew what to expect but instead found myself reading something even more sinister, savage and shocking that I anticipated.  The author explores topics such as sibling rivalry, unhappy marriage, bad parenting, mental health and religious fervour with nuance and humour.  The multiple points of view give us very different perspectives that not only add to the suspense but would make me question if what I was reading was as reliable as I first thought.  Would I get to the end and discover I’d been fooled from the start? 

The Maloney-Singhs are a dysfunctional, toxic and damaged family.  Their home and hearts are a cesspit of bitterness, rage, trauma and fear that rapidly escalates with fatal results.  They vacillate between being characters we can understand and ones we will never fathom, but they are utterly compelling and great to read.  My heart broke for Camille.  She seemed the most sane and normal of them all but seemed forgotten by her parents and was always on the receiving end of Asha’s vicious outbursts.  I wanted to scream at her parents to step in and help!  While very unlikeable, Asha made a great villain and I loved to hate her.  She added so much tension and suspense to the story and was that great combination of unbelievably crazy and totally believable. 

Darkly funny, chaotic, claustrophobic and unflinching, Keep Her Sweet is an intense  psychological thriller that will make you grateful for the family you have. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and adapted for a major BBC drama. Her 2019 dark-comedy thriller Worst Case Scenario was a Book of the Year in the Literary Review, Herald Scotland, Guardian and Daily Telegraph, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and won the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia, and now lives in Glasgow with her husband. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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

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BLOG TOUR: Guilty Women by Melanie Blake

Published: April 28th 2022
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Genre: Crime Thriller, Suspense, Humorous Fiction, Erotic Mystery Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sexy, salacious and spectacular novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE SENSATIONAL NEW THRILLER FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

Can they get away with murder?

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

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

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MY REVIEW

We’re back in Falcon Bay for more blood, blackmail, backstabbing, Botox and bonking.   Two months on from the now infamous live Christmas Day episode that ended in tragedy, St Augustine’s Cove is just beginning to get back its serenity after the media circus that followed Madeline Kane’s death.  But one of the group is so filled with guilt over her part in the TV-executive’s death that she’s threatening to crack.  The others rally round to try and stop her from hitting self-destruct, but can they survive the scrutiny of a cut-throat reporter, an ex with an unquenchable thirst for revenge and the glare of the world’s media and get away with murder?

Sassy, sharp, saucy and spectacular, this is another winner from Melanie Blake, who has shown herself to be the new queen of the killer bonkbuster.  While this isn’t my usual kind of read, these delightfully over-the-top tomes of pure escapism have become auto-reads for me.  I love the feeling of nostalgia that comes from these books, like a throwback to the eighties heyday of Dynasty and Jackie Collins but with a modern-day twist, and how we are given a peek behind the curtain to see the darker truths that lurk behind the glitz and glamour of showbiz.  They are a guilty pleasure that I devour hungrily,  feeling bereft when I’m finished. 

Another allure for me is how the author has chosen to shine a spotlight on the mature woman.  Women of middle age and above have long been silenced and invisible, especially in the media, and I love seeing them given a voice at last.  The women in these books, whether heroine or villain, are powerhouses; beautiful, fierce, ambitious and utterly compelling.  They are the shining stars who propel both the plot and fictional show forward and write their own stories in a business dominated by men. Themes of sisterhood and female empowerment running through every page, particularly within the bond that our quintet of narrators share.  But they are also flawed and complex, making terrible decisions that I couldn’t condone yet the author still had me rooting for them every step of the way.  And then there’s the sex.  This is a spicy novel that not only embraces the sexuality of these women but celebrates it, reminding us that it isn’t just young women who are hot, vivacious sexual beings.  It is refreshing to see such representation of older women, particularly as a woman of that age myself.

An outrageous, lusty romp filled with adrenaline, Guilty Women is a hilarious and gripping read that had me completely hooked.  Highly recommended for some sizzling summer reading.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Bestselling author Melanie Blake’s own real life Rags to Riches story reads like the plot of an outrageous drama…

At fifteen years old Melanie Blake was told by her high school career advisors that her decision to do work experience at a local record shop was an ‘embarrassment to the school and a clear example that she wouldn’t go far in life or her career’. They were wrong. By nineteen she was working at the BBC’s iconic Top of the Pops show and by twenty-seven she had built a reputation as one of the UK’s leading music and entertainment managers, with her own agency and roster of award-winning artists who had sold more than 100 million records. During this time she also built up an acting agency from scratch which quickly became the most successful independent boutique agency in the UK where she manages clients from some of the biggest internationally syndicated shows in the world.

Her roster have won Baftas, Emmys and pretty much every best actress award going and Melanie is one of the most successful female agents in the world. In the UK alone, over 25 million people a week currently tune in to watch the very stars Melanie represents in their globally syndicated shows. In 2018 after two decades at the top of her game, Melanie decided to manage a smaller client list and concentrate on her other passion, writing – first as a columnist for a national newspaper, then as a playwright and now as a best-selling novelist.

Her first book The Thunder Girls became a Number 1 Best Seller in the summer of 2019 and the play she adapted from the novel broke box office records for a new work at the prestigious Lowry Theatre. She still represents a high profile stable of some of the best known faces on British television but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a producer, author and playwright.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

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

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

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SYNOPSIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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