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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

BOOK REVIEW: Keep Her Secret by Mark Edwards

Published May 30th 2023 by Thomas & Mercer
Thriller, Psychololgical Fiction, Crime Fiction

Happy Publication Day Mark Edwards! I’m thrilled to be opeining the blog tour today for this sensational thriller.
Thank you FMcM Associates for the invitation to take part, and to them and Thomas & Mercer for the gifted copy of the book.

TRIGGER WARNING: Domestic Abuse

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SYNOPSIS:
In this sinister tale from 4 million copy bestselling author Mark Edwards, a deadly secret turns a couple’s new romance into a nightmare. And they’re not the only ones who know the truth…

After twenty years apart, Matthew and Helena have rekindled their college romance and are away in Iceland on their first holiday together. Swept up in the romance on a mountain hike, one moment they are taking the perfect photo, the next Helena is hanging from the cliff edge…

Terrified, Matthew almost misses Helena’s sudden and shocking confession―but what he hears chills him to the bone. And when Helena reveals the full truth Matthew is horrified, not only by what she’s done, but why she did it. Does he really know her at all?

His shock turns to horror when, back in England, they discover that someone not only overheard Helena’s confession but plans to blackmail her. Now Matthew must decide whether to go to the police or help Helena keep her secret―and as events spiral out of control, how far is Matthew willing to go to protect his ‘perfect’ girlfriend?

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MY REVIEW:

“What happened next took no more than three seconds. But looking back, as I sometimes do now when I’m unable to sleep, I see it unfolding in slow motion. The beginning of all that followed.”

He’s done it again! I’m delighted to be opening the tour today for Keep Her Secret, the new, first-class thriller by psychological suspense powerhouse, Mark Edwards, which is out today. Disturbing, deadly, and deliciously deranged, it had me on tenterhooks from start to finish. And that ending! Sheer perfection. But, I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s go back a little.

Matthew and Helena are in the heady, blissful days of new romance when she confesses a dark, secret. He vows to keep it, but someone else knows what Helena is hiding and is determined to make her pay, sparking a chain of events that threaten to destroy not only the couple’s new romance, but their entire lives. As things spiral more and more out of control, Matthew is forced to question just how far he’s prepared to go to protect his new girlfriend. Will he keep her secret? And if he does, can they find a way to come out of this unscathed?

“It had been the most insane twelve hours. The view from the top of the mountain. Helen’s fall and rescue. The revelation that had followed. And now this. 
An unforgettable, crazy day, following an intense two weeks. Standing there, beside Helena, I didn’t think that as long as I lived, I would ever have another one like it.”

This book is one of the most insane, unpredictable, intricately-woven thrillers I’ve ever read. From the start there’s a sense of foreboding that intensifies with every page. It’s fast-paced, addictive, and absolutely wild, delivering jaw-dropping twists again and again. It was like being in a boxing ring with the heavyweight champion of the world and I was being pummelled again and again, the shocking twists raining down on me without mercy. And every time I thought it was over, that the bell was ringing and there were no more surprises, I’m on the floor again, knocked out by another shocking revelation.  I can still feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins and my heart beating out of my chest.  

It is no secret that I’m a huge fan of Mark Edwards. He never fails to deliver and every new book is a highlight in my reading year. I love how he takes ordinary people living ordinary lives and puts them into terrifying situations. It is the relatability that makes it so frightening because it could be you, your family, your friend, or your neighbour. And it is that relatability we see again in Matthew and Helena. Richly drawn, relatable, flawed and layered, they have that spark that makes them compelling even when they are making questionable choices time and again. As their mistakes pile up they sink deeper into the quicksand with no sign of a liferaft to help them get out. It was impossible to predict what would happen or how they could emerge virtuous from this mess. Another thing I liked is that we can never be sure if we can trust Helena. Is she really who she claims to be or is there a darker, more sinister side hidden beneath a mask of vulnerability? All I knew was that I needed answers and I devoured the book quickly to get them. 

Cryptic, menacing, and propulsive , Keep Her Secret is a turbulent rollercoaster ride that will keep you guessing. A must-read for all thriller-lovers. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people. He has sold more than three million copies of his books and topped the bestseller lists numerous times since his first solo novel was published in 2013.

His novels include What You Wish For, Because She Loves Me, Follow You Home, The Devil’s Work, The Lucky Ones, The Retreat, In Her Shadow, Here To Stay and The House Guest. He has also published two short sequels to The Magpies, A Murder of Magpies and Last of The Magpies, and six books co-authored with Louise Voss.

Many of his books have been translated into foreign languages including French, German, Italian, Spanish, Estonian, Thai, Lithuanian, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish and Russian. In 2019 Mark won The Cat and Mouse Award for Most Elusive Villain at the Dead Good Reader Awards for Last of the Magpies.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Thirty Days of Darkness by Jenny Lund Masden

Published May 25th, 2023 by Orenda Books
Crime Fiction, Mystery, Hardboiled, Translated Fiction

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this darkly atmospheric thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part, and to Orenda Books for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

A snobbish Danish literary author is challenged to write a crime novel in thirty days, travelling to a small village in Iceland for inspiration, and then a body appears … an atmospheric, darkly funny, twisty debut thriller, first in an addictive new series.

‘Dark and sharp … A lot of fun’ Val McDermid

‘Witty, dark, meta, ingenious and hugely compelling. I LOVED the Icelandic setting and satirical observations. EXCELLENT’ Will Dean
 
‘Dark and atmospheric … a bleak and beautiful evocation of Iceland, and Hannah is a pitch-perfect depiction of the bombastic neurosis that we writers know so very well’ Harriet Tyce
 
‘Hilariously scathing … satirises genre fiction while creating a first-class example of it, full of suspects, red herrings and twists … wit and originality make it a joy to read’ Mark Sanderson, The Times CRIME BOOK OF THE MONTH
 
**Winner of the Harald Mogensen Prize for Best Danish Crime Novel**
**Shortlisted for the Glass Key Award**

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MY REVIEW:

“Hannah looks up, suddenly struck by the thought that she isn’t sure if reality is serving as a blueprint for her novel, or whether her novel may end up predicting reality.” 

Hannah takes her writing seriously. The sweetheart of the literary world, she agonises over every word and is dismissive of genre fiction. At a book fair she declares that genre fiction is so easy, anyone could write a book in thirty days, which she is then challenged to do by another author. Afraid to lose face, Hanmah accepts the challenge and soon finds herself on her way to a remote, tight-knitvillage in Iceland, where she will write her thriller. Two days after her arrival the discovery of a body in the water provides Hannah with the perfect plot material. But things soon spiral out of control and she finds herself immersed in a dangerous and chaotic investigation that puts her, and others, at risk.

“At the end of the day, it’s not the dead we’re interested in. It’s ourselves. The death of another forces the bereaved to reflect on their own lives. Through death, we can put everything into perspective, look at the details of one’s own life anew. And ponder in what way death may eventually come for us. “

Darkly atmospheric, twisty, original and filled with black humour, , Thirty Days of Darkness is a riveting debut that keeps you guessing from start to finish. I’m always excited about a new book from Orenda, but when I read the synopsis for this one I was even more intrigued. I loved the idea of taking some of the criticisms of genre fiction and challenging them by having a character who shares those negative ideas and daring her to prove it’s as easy as they think. I think it’s a difficult plot to pull off as it risks being cliche or a caricature of itself, but Jenny Lund Masden accomplishes it with finesse, crafting a story that is well written, compelling and has the reader on the edge of their seat. Told in short, choppy chapters that help keep the story feeling fresh, there’s an element of satire as Hannah scathingly bashes genre fiction in a book that is an outstanding illustration of why she’s so wrong. 

“She looks down at her nails, flexes her fingers, as if they contain some unknown mystery. Which they do, in a way. They translate her thoughts into words, bring her soul into the world, materialise it.”

I love a flawed character so I was thrilled that Hannah isn’t your typical charming protagonist. Snarky, difficult, snobby, and not particularly likeable, she nonetheless has something about her that makes you want to keep reading, if only to see her fall flat on her face or be proven wrong. It was interesting to watch her journey of self-reflection during her time in Iceland and found her much more likeable by the end. But I was glad she never fully lost her spiky edge. Another thing I enjoyed is watching Hannah spar with her nemesis, fellow author Jorn, who is the one who set her the challenge. But I was never quite sure what to make of him and couldn’t decide if the bad feeling I got from him was genuine or had been coloured by Hannah’s opinions. 

“Don’t stick your nose too deep into all this. This town has secrets that are best left alone.”

I think small towns make for a great book setting, and I loved the ominous atmosphere of this one. It’s a very secretive place and from the start Hannah is warned not to dig too deep, adding to the impending sense of danger and foreboding that crackles on every page. The residents are a colourful bunch of characters, many of whom match the strange vibe of the village and add to the menacing atmosphere. But is this because they know something, or just a case of a small town closing ranks against an outsider? I had mixed feelings but loved that this, along with the author’s brilliant writing, made it impossible for me to feel like I’d actually figured out who the antagonist was right up until the big reveal that left my jaw on the floor.

Unsettling, mysterious and suspenseful, Thirty Days of Darkness is a must-have addition to the TBR of all thriller lovers. 

Rating:  ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jenny Lund Madsen is one of Denmark’s most acclaimed scriptwriters (including the international hits Rita and Follow the Money) and is known as an advocate for better representation for sexual and ethnic minorities in Danish TV and film. She recently made her debut as a playwright with the critically acclaimed Audition (Aarhus Teater) and her debut literary thriller, Thirty Days of Darkness, first in an addictive new series, won the Harald Mogensen Prize for Best Danish Crime Novel of the year and was shortlisted for the coveted Glass Key Award. She lives in Denmark with her young family.

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MEET THE TRANSLATOR:

Megan Turney is originally from the West Midlands, and after having spent several years working back and forth between the UK and the Hardanger region of Norway, she is now based in Edinburgh, working as a commercial and literary translator and editor. She was the recipient of the National Centre for Writing’s 2019 Emerging Translator Mentorship in Norwegian, and is a published science fiction critic. She holds an MA (Hons) in Scandinavian Studies and English Literature from the University of Edinburgh, as well as an MA in Translation and Interpreting Studies from the University of Manchester.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | Berts Books |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.

*These purchase links are affiliate links

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

BLOG TOUR: Love & Other Scams by PJ Ellis

Published April 13th by Harper North
Humour, Mystery, Crime Fiction, Romcantic Comedy, Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction, Urban Fiction, LGBT Literature, Holiday Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delicious debut. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part, and to HarperNorth for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:
There’s no thrill like breaking the rules…

‘MISCHIEVOUS, MAGNETIC AND HEAPS OF FUN’ EMMA GANNON

‘THE ROMCOM OF 2023’ LIZZY DENT

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Cat has a dangerously dwindling bank balance. She also has:

· a month before her landlord kicks her out
· a surprise wedding invitation from rich mean girl, Louisa
· a secret talent for con artistry

A priceless jewel the size of a cocktail olive is glinting on Louisa’s finger.

And when Cat meets her ideal plus one, Jake – who’s gifted at hustling and posing as the perfect boyfriend – this wedding becomes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After all,

How hard can a diamond heist be?

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MY REVIEW:

Sparkling, funny, magnetic and ebullient, Love and Other Scams is the romcom everyone should be reading this summer. A delicious debut filled with diamonds, duplicity and debauchery, I was completely hooked.

Cat is single, unemployed, and about to be homeless. As her bank balance dwindles and the date of her impending eviction looms, she becomes increasingly desperate. Then she gets an invitation to the wedding of an old friend, Louisa, a rich mean girl she hasn’t seen in years. When Louisa brags about her priceless engagement ring Cat spies an opportunity. You see, what people don’t know is that Cat is a skilled thief. So, with bartender Jake on her arm masquerading as her boyfriend, the tricky twosome plan a heist that will solve all their financial problems. 

This comedic caper is everything you want in romcom. I’m calling it now, PJ Ellis is going to be huge. He’s definitely an author to watch and writes like he’s been doing this forever. Skillfully crafted, laugh-out-loud funny and addictive, it manages to be both relatable and completely absurd. I had high expectations for this debut after hearing so many great reviews and it exceeded them all. It’s the perfect book to read this summer whether you’re on the beach, by the pool or just in your garden, and I predict it is just the start of many uproarious novels from Mr. Ellis. But first, I’m going to need a sequel. 

This is a book filled with vibrant, compelling and unforgettable characters. Though none so much as our protagonist, Cat. She’s bold, feisty, messy, resourceful and dodgy as hell, but despite all of this – and her illegal ‘hobby’- I liked her immediately and was rooting for her scheme to succeed. By giving her struggles that the reader can relate to and then slowly revealing how she started stealing, Ellis makes her someone we can connect and empathise with, rather than simply a crook out to rip people off. And, let’s be honest,  there’s nothing better than living vicariously through a character, which I loved doing with Cat. 
When your main character is someone so memorable you need someone who can shine as brightly to compliment them. And that is exactly what we get in Jake. At first it seems like Jake is someone who fades into the background, but we soon learn this is part of his ruse. He and Cat make a great duo and I loved the banter and chemistry between them. It seemed inevitable that they would fall in love, and I was totally here for it. 

Upbeat, entertaining and hilarious, this first-class romcom with a twist was an absolute riot from beginning to end. Trust me when I tell you that this is one not to be missed. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Philip Ellis is a contributing editor for Men’s Health, covering relationships, pop culture, and LGBTQ+ issues. His work has appeared in British GQ, Teen Vogue, and Repeller, and his short fiction has been long-listed for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. He lives in Birmingham, UK. 

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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.

*Purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR REVIEW: The Funeral Cryer by Wenyan Lu

Published May 4th, 2023 by Allen & Unwin
Literary Fiction, Humorous Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the beautiful and moving, The Funeral Cryer. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part, and Allen & Unwin for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

***’A refreshing perspective on mourning, as well as a moving tale of a social outcast’ – i-D Magazine***

An Yu’s Braised Pork meets Flaubert’s Madame Bovary in this unforgettable, tragi-comic tale of one woman’s mid-life re-awakening in contemporary rural China.

The Funeral Cryer long ago accepted the mundane realities of her life: avoided by fellow villagers because of the stigma attached to her job as a professional mourner and under-appreciated by The Husband, whose fecklessness has pushed the couple close to the brink of break-up. But just when things couldn’t be bleaker, The Funeral Cryer takes a leap of faith – and in so doing things start to take a surprising turn for the better . . .

Dark, moving and wry, The Funeral Cryer is both an illuminating depiction of a ‘left behind’ society – and proof that it’s never too late to change your life.

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MY REVIEW:

“I almost live in isolation, with very little movement. Sometimes I was even suspicious of myself. Was I really carrying something contagious or lethal in my body? Maybe I was. I did breathe in a deadly atmosphere regularly at funerals.”

The Funeral Cryer isn’t an easy book to review. A truly unique story, this touching exploration of identity, mourning and social isolation follows the mid-life awakening of one woman in contemporary rural China.

Living in a loveless, unhappy marriage, the funeral cryer is resigned to her mundane life in the small village where she was born and raised. A good husband is one who doesn’t hit you, which hers doesn’t, but he also never speaks a kind word and they are just two people who sleep in the same bed each night rather than partners or friends. It is a lonely and bleak existence, something that is magnified by the superstition surrounding her profession that makes her an outcast. We never learn the funeral cryer’s name. In fact, she isn’t even sure the others in her village even remember it as they now only refer to her as that woman who cries at funerals. This namelessness adds to the sense of a lack of identity and belonging surrounding her, and makes her feel all the more distant and disconnected from both the reader and the world. It is a life filled with sadness, guilt and isolation, emotions that permeate the pages along with an atmosphere of melancholy, monotony and acceptance as she  evaluates and looks back on her life, wondering how things might be now had she taken different paths and contemplating an array of questions she has no one to answer. 

From the start this story avoids feeling overshadowed by any of its sombre or negative emotions thanks to Wenyan Lu’s exquisite and at times almost poetic prose. It is also helped by the narration continuously and seamlessly moving between a tale of heartrending tragedy and dark comedy as the funeral cryer finally makes choices for her own happiness and begins her reawakening. I was rooting for her to seize something for herself and rejoiced as she discovered parts of life, and herself, that had lain dormant for so long.

Profoundly moving, wistful and thought-provoking, The Funeral Cryer is a curiously beautiful story that will linger long after reading.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Originally from Shanghai, China, Wenyan Lu is the winner of the SI Leeds Literary Prize 2020. She holds a Master of Studies in Creative Writing as well as a Postgraduate Certificate in Teaching Creative Writing from the University of Cambridge. Her unpublished historical novel The Martyr’s Hymn was also longlisted for SI Leeds Literary Prize 2018 and Bridport First Novel Prize 2019.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Watertones | 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

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

BLOG TOUR: Atalanta by Jennifer Saint

Published April 13th, 2023 by Wildfire
Greek Mythology, Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Atalanta, the magnificent third book by Jennifer Saint. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Caitlin at Wildfire for the gifted proof copy.

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SYNOPSIS:
The heroic story of the only female Argonaut, told by Jennifer Saint, the bestselling author of ELEKTRA (UK, Sunday Times, May 2022) and ARIADNE (UK, Sunday Times, April 2021).

A brilliant read’ Women & Home | ‘A spirited retelling’ Times | ‘Beautiful and absorbing’ Fabulous | ‘A vivid reimagining of Greek mythology’ Harper’s Bazaar | ‘Jennifer Saint has done an incredible job’ Red

When a daughter is born to the King of Arcadia, she brings only disappointment.

Left exposed on a mountainside, the defenceless infant Atalanta is left to the mercy of a passing mother bear and raised alongside the cubs under the protective eye of the goddess Artemis.

Swearing that she will prove her worth alongside the famed heroes of Greece, Atalanta leaves her forest to join Jason’s band of Argonauts. But can she carve out her own place in the legends in a world made for men?

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MY REVIEW:

“The world should know the name Atalanta. They should see what you can do.”

I think we’ve all heard the infamous story of Jason and the Argonauts. Those of us of a certain age will find our minds instantly flash to the 1963 movie of the same name and its now-dated special effects. But it turns out that we have been missing an important detail in most of these retellings; Atalanta – the only female Argonaut. Now it’s time to hear her heroic story.

Jennifer Saint’s books have become one of the most anticipated highlights of my reading year. I love how she gives a voice to the forgotten women and lesser-known parts of the infamous myths. A perfect combination of entertaining, educational and enthralling, her love for the subject radiates from every page. You will lose yourself in these stories, the real world falling away as she brings ancient Greece and its mythology to life in vivid technicolour. She makes the heroes, gods and goddesses feel real, allowing us to really see them, rather than them remaining one-dimensional characters from a distant time, something that is particularly evident in how she explores and expands the female perspective so these women are no longer consigned to be merely possessions or accessories to men. I think Atalanta is her best book yet and I am only sad that I now have a year to wait for another one of her books.

“I felt his words awakening something within me, opening up a vision of myself alongside the catalogue of demi-gods and heroes. I saw myself, as though from the outside. A baby opening her eyes to the savage bear, a child running through the forest, a young woman loosing arrows at rampaging monsters. It felt as though every moment of my life had been building up to this: my destiny. “

Atalanta is a feisty, formidable, and unyielding woman who I found utterly fascinating. Though mortal, the expert huntress and warrior has a strength and ability that surpasses other mortals, in part thanks to being raised first by bears and then by the goddess Artemis in the forest. She knows nothing but a life of freedom surrounded by nature, so when she first encounters the city she finds it overwhelming and claustrophobic. Atalanta is excited by the thought of joining Jason and his Argonauts in the search for the Golden Fleece as Artemis’ champion; the promise of battle and adventure is a greater lure than her fear of leaving all she knows.  But she soon realises she has a lot to prove as the men either doubt her abilities or find her strength emasculating. It’s an uphill battle but Atalanta never wavers from the challenge and proves herself again and again. I loved hearing this story from a new perspective and am thankful I’ve finally been introduced to this remarkable woman. 

Lush, atmospheric, immersive and bursting with adventure, Atalanta is another masterpiece from the pen of Ms. Saint. A must-read for anyone who enjoys great storytelling. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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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

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

PAPERBACK BLOG TOUR: The Guilty Couple by C.L. Taylor

Published April 27th, 2023 by Harper Collins UK
Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Ficiton, Psychological Fiction

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour celebrating the paperback publication of The Guilty Couple. Thank you to Maddie at Avon Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:
Wow. Addictive. And what an ending!’ – Sunday Times bestselling author Claire Douglas

A red-hot, non-stop rollercoaster of a book’ – Sunday Times bestselling author Lisa Jewell

What would you do if your husband framed you for murder?

Five years ago, Olivia Sutherland was convicted of plotting to murder her husband.

Now she’s finally free, Olivia has three goals. Repair her relationship with her daughter. Clear her name. And bring down her husband – the man who framed her.

Just how far is she willing to go to get what she wants? And how far will her husband go to stop her?

Because his lies run deeper than Olivia could ever have imagined – and this time it’s not her freedom that’s in jeopardy, but her life…

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MY REVIEW:

Olivia Sutherland is on trial for plotting to murder her husband, Dominic, and is awaiting the jury’s verdict. Though she maintains her innocence, she is found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison. 

Five years later, Olivia is finally released. Her priority is rebuilding her relationship with her daughter, Grace, but she also has two other goals: prove her innocence and bring down the man who framed her – her husband. But Dominic’s lies run far deeper than Olivia ever imagined and this time she is at risk of losing more than her freedom…

I’m a big fan of C. L. Taylor but it’s been a minute since I read one of her books, so I was excited to start The Guilty Couple. And what a return to her books it was! Intriguing, compelling and suspenseful, I was hooked from the first pages and flew through it in under a day. It’s been a reminder of why I love her books so much and am now pushing some of her unread backlist higher up my TBR. 

Adultery, conspiracy to murder, false incriminations, injustice, betrayal, and even tween angst. This book has them all. It is a messy minefield that is ripe for conflict and suspicion, which the author skillfully explores to unearth as much tension, animosity, and distrust as possible. And as if all of that wasn’t enough, there is also the sense of something underlying; something sinister burrowed deeper underground than any of us can see which adds to the sense of foreboding (I’m looking at you, Dom).  The clues are drip-fed slowly to keep the reader guessing but as things spin further out of control there is a sense of urgency that makes your heart race. It was also hard to predict and I didn’t see the truth until it was right in front of me despite my many different theories and suspicions. 

This is multi-narrative storytelling at its best. Ms. Taylor uses the various narrators to increase the tension and keep the reader on the edge of their seats, creating that perfect balance between giving us more information than the characters and holding enough back to keep our attention. The characters are all complicated, flawed and conflicted, with some being more likeable and sympathetic than others, and the background characters are as richly drawn, captivating, and vital to the story as the narrators. Olivia is a great protagonist because she isn’t perfect. She also isn’t immune to making foolish or reckless decisions that made me want to jump into the book and shake her. But we can see that her bad decisions are driven by sheer desperation, wanting to clear her name, and to get vengeance for what was taken from her. It doesn’t make it right, but it does make it more understandable and she was easy to root for. I also loved her relationship with Smithy, her former cellmate. I had a real soft sport for this character despite her many flaws and loved the bond between the two women.

When it comes to deplorable characters, there is no one more abhorrent in this book than Dominic. God, I hated that man! Alarm bells rang quickly and I didn’t trust this slippery weasel of a man. Ruthless, cunning and vindictive, he made me so angry every time he was on the page and I couldn’t wait for him to get his comeuppance, especially because of how arrogant he was about everything he did. 

Intricately woven, enmeshed in drama, and nail-bitingly tense, The Guilty Couple is a riveting thriller you won’t be able to put down. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Cally Taylor, better known by her alias C. L. Taylor, is a Sunday Times Bestselling author whose pyschological thrillers have sold sold over a million copies in the UK alone, been translated into over twenty languages, and optioned for television. Her 2019 novel, Sleep, was a Richard and Judy pick.

Cally Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and son.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

*Purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours Extract

EXTRACT: I, Julian by Claire Gilbert

Published April 13th, 2023 by Hodder & Stoughton
Historical Fiction, Christian Fiction, Biographical Fiction

For my stop on the blog tour for I, Julian I am delighted to share an exclusive extract with you all. Thank you to Rhoda Hardie PR for the invitation to take part and to Hodder & Stoughton for the gifted copy of the book.

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EXTRACT:

*This extract describes the moment when Julian, after a funeral-like service to mark her farewell to the world, is bricked up in the anchorhold attached to the cathedral where she will spend the rest of her life*

‘Stillness.
There is a quiet rustling of clothes and patter of feet as the people leave the church, then the thin cry of a baby rises, piercing the silence: is it a cry of pain or for new life or both? The cry leaves the church with the people and silence returns.

I rise and release the curtain over the squint and I turn to face my cell, my coffin, my small home.

*

I have never felt so fully alive.

*

I am not expecting this. I was expecting to feel tortured by confinement at this moment, as the portal is bricked up, the impervious walls pressing upon me like the walls of my home with Martin in the city, my breath short and shallow, and panic only just kept under control. But the panic I felt when I first kneeled has gone.
At last, at last I am alone, I am at home. My breath is deep and satisfying, like drinking delicious clean water and slaking a thirst I hardly knew I had. I stand in the vast space that feels like the cathedral, made bigger not smaller by the walls, and it is all my own. Grateful relief floods through me like a balm. At last, I can ask the world to recede, and it will. All I have to do is to close the curtain and I will be left in peace. Dona nobis pacem. So much space, just for me. And warm! A fire has been lit in the little fireplace, life in new death. I reach with careful fingertips and touch the east wall where my altar stands beneath my crucifix, towards the dawn, towards new life, towards God.
I kneel, and weep tears of joy and speak words of thanks, for the time that is granted me here, now. Time, and space, and strength, for the long, slow interior journey. I have come home.’

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SYNOPSIS:
‘So I will write in English, pressing new words from this beautiful plain language spoken by all. Not courtly French to introduce God politely. Not church Latin to construct arguments. English to show it as it is. Even though it is not safe to do so.’

From the author of Miles to Go before I Sleep comes I, Julianthe account of a medieval woman who dares to tell her own story, battling grief, plague, the church and societal expectations to do so. Compelled by the powerful visions she had when close to death, Julian finds a way to live a life of freedom – as an anchoress, bricked up in a small room on the side of a church – and to write of what she has seen. The result, passed from hand to hand, is the first book to be written by a woman in English.

Tender, luminous, meditative and powerful, Julian writes of her love for God, and God’s love for the whole of creation. ‘All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.’

‘Written with profound insight, spiritual and psychological, and a rare sensitivity to the everyday world of the fourteenth century, I, Julian is a brilliantly illuminating companion to one of the greatest works of spiritual writing in English.’ Rowan Williams, Magdalene College, Cambridge University

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Claire Gilbert grew up in London of English, Jewish, Scottish and Spanish heritage. She writes and speaks about ethics and spirituality in politics and public service, medicine, ecology and on Julian of Norwich. She is founding Director of Westminster Abbey Institute for ethics in public life. With her husband Seán she divides her time between London, Hastings and the west of Ireland.

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BUY THE BOOK:

https://linktr.ee/ijulian

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

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

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

BLOG TOUR: Looking Glass Sound by Catriona Ward

Published April 20th, 2023 by Viper Books
Mystery, Thriller, Gothic Fiction, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Horror Fiction

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Today I’m sharing my review for the mesmerising and haunting Looking Glass Sound. Apologies that this is a few days late due to illness. Thank you to Angie at Viper Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:
Writers are monsters. We eat everything we see…

In a windswept cottage overlooking the sea, Wilder Harlow begins the last book he will ever write. It is the story of his childhood companions and the shadowy figure of the Daggerman, who stalked the New England town where they spent their summers. Of a horror that has followed Wilder through the decades. And of Sky, Wilder’s one-time friend, who stole his unfinished memoir and turned it into a lurid bestselling novel, The Sound and the Dagger.

This book will be Wilder’s revenge on Sky, who betrayed his trust and died without ever telling him why. But as he writes, Wilder begins to find notes written in Sky’s signature green ink, and events in his manuscript start to chime eerily with the present. Is Sky haunting him? And who is the dark-haired woman drowning in the cove, whom no one else can see?

No longer able to trust his own eyes, Wilder feels his grip on reality slipping. And he begins to fear that this will not only be his last book, but the last thing he ever does.

Discover the new dark thriller from the bestselling author of The Last House on Needless Street

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MY REIVEW:

“Writers are monsters, really. We eat everything we see.”

Take a bow, Catriona Ward, because once again you have knocked it out of the park! Looking Glass Sound is everything I hoped for, while also being nothing like I expected it to be. And like Ward’s sensational debut, The Last House on Needless Street, it left me wondering what the hell I’d just read but loving whatever it was. Haunting, twisty, forbidding and utterly remarkable, it reads like one of the eerie local folklore stories kids whisper to each other in the night or tell around the campfire. But what is real and what is in the imagination? That’s the question you’ll be trying to answer as you read this book. And with its ideal combination of making you feel like you never want it to end while also making you feel like you need to devour it whole, you won’t want to put it down. I would have inhaled this in one sitting if not for my eyelids betraying me and forcing me to tear myself away to go to bed in the early hours. 

Looking Glass Sound is a book best read almost blind. The less you know, the better it is. So I’m going to talk very little about the plot. What I will tell you is that the story follows a young man named Wilder Harlow, and the events at Whistler Bay that shook the small seaside town to its core. He writes a memoir about what happened only to have it stolen by someone he trusts, leaving Wilder plotting his revenge for decades. When he finally returns to Whistler Bay to take that vengeance, strange things begin to happen that make Wilder question what he sees and hears. Could there be something supernatural at play? Or is his grip on reality slipping away? Told in multiple timelines and filled with unreliable, shady characters who have ulterior motives, you will have no idea who or what you can trust in this inventive smoke and mirrors horror thriller. 

“It was just my mind, making pictures in the dark. Old fears, reaching long fingers up from the pit of the past. Did I really expect there would be no consequences, when I decided to open the coffin of the past and poke at its corpse?” 

Catriona Ward is without a doubt one of the most original voices in fiction today. Her books are instantly recognisable as her own unique brand of thriller; she lulls her reader into accepting the story as one thing while hiding another underneath it. After reading her first book I knew it was there; this secret, hidden part of the story that I wasn’t seeing. But it didn’t spoil anything for me. In fact, it only heightened the tension as I waited for the shoe to drop, desperately trying to predict the twists. But once again she blindsided me with her revelations, leaving me trying to pick up my jaw from the floor. Ward is also a master at blurring the lines between what is real and what is in the imagination – including just enough of a supernatural feeling to make you question what is really happening. She is a master storyteller, which is evident in the book through flawless plotting, perfect pacing, imaginative twists, and a constant tempo of nerve-shredding malevolence and foreboding that will keep you on the edge of your seat. And let’s not forget the scene-setting, which is so evocative that  it felt like the story came alive around me, something that was intensified by my proof copy having some sentences underlined and notes written in green ink, just like in Sky’s original manuscript. Some of the notes even addressed me by name, sending chills down my spine and covering me in goosebumps. A terrifying and unique addition to the story, it was a stroke of genius! Whoever came up with this idea deserves a raise!

Darkly atmospheric, unnerving, sinister and brilliantly bizarre, this mesmerising story will linger long after you close that final page. 

READ. IT. NOW.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

CATRIONA WARD was born in Washington, DC and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia.

‘The Last House on Needless Street’ (Viper Books, Tor Nightfire) was a Times Book of the Month, Observer Book of the Month, March Editor’s Pick on Open Book, a Between the Covers BBC2 book club selection, a Times bestseller, and is being developed for film by Andy Serkis’s production company, The Imaginarium.

‘Little Eve’ (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2018) won the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award and the August Derleth Prize for Best Horror Novel at the 2019 British Fantasy Awards, making her the only woman to have won the prize twice, and was a Guardian best book of 2018. Her debut Rawblood (W&N, 2015) won Best Horror Novel at the 2016 British Fantasy Awards, was shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award and a WHSmith Fresh Talent title. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. She lives in London and Devon.

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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 blog tour.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Girl on the 88 Bus by Freya Sampson

Published April 13th, 2023 by Zaffre Books
Contemporary Romance, Romantic Comedy, Romance Novel

Welcome to my review for the gorgeous and heartfelt The Girl on the 88 Bus. Thank you to Zaffre books for the gifted copy of the book and for the invitation to take part in the tour.

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SYNOPSIS:
‘The characters are relatable and lovable; the story is uplifting and romantic, full of emotions and heart, celebrating the importance of making human connections and embracing our dreams. This book is my happy place!’ Ali Hazelwood, author of The Love Hypothesis

‘I loved it ‘ Hannah Tovey

‘Heartwarming, gorgeously written and I fell instantly in love with the quirky cast of characters’ Jessica Ryn

‘A must-read’ Sarah J. Harris

When Libby Nicholls arrives in London, broken-hearted and with her life in tatters, the first person she meets on the bus is elderly pensioner Frank. He tells her about the time in 1962 he met a girl on the number 88 bus with beautiful red hair just like her own. They made plans for a date, but Frank lost the ticket with her number written on it. For the past sixty years, he’s ridden the same bus trying to find her.

Libby is inspired by the story and, with the help of an unlikely companion, she makes it her mission to continue Frank’s search. As she begins to open her guarded heart to strangers and new connections, Libby’s tightly controlled world expands. But with Frank’s dementia progressing quickly, their chance of finding the girl on the 88 bus is slipping away . . .

More than anything, Libby wants Frank to see his lost love one more time. But their quest also shows Libby just how important it is to embrace her own chance for happiness – before it’s too late.

The author of The Last Library brings us this beautifully uplifting novel about how one chance meeting can change the course of your life forever

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MY REVIEW:

“In the space of one bus ride I’d fallen head over heels in love, and now I had no way of finding her again.” 

Endearing, heartwarming and uplifting, The Girl on the 88 Bus feels like a big hug that warms you from the inside out. It will make you laugh, make you cry, make your heart ache, and make it soar as you go on an unforgettable journey with characters that will stay with you long after reading. Filled with romance and hope, this book is both an unconventional love story and a journey of self discovery, with some valuable life lessons sprinkled in along the way. 

When I picked up this book I was needing something lighthearted after reading some heavier books back-to-back. I remembered how much I loved Freya Sampson’s debut and was hoping for some of that same magic again. I was not disappointed. Once again Ms. Sampson has written a truly special story that I didn’t want to put down. The meet-cute at the beginning of the book has to be the most adorable one I’ve ever read. *Sigh*. And while it was this scene alone that cemented it as a book that would stay with me, it was the exquisite writing, surprising depth and unexpected curveballs of this story that left me reeling and made it one of my favourite books so far this year.

“On the 88 there’s always the chance for a bit of drama or a brief chat with a stranger, a nugget of something new.” 

This wonderful story is elevated by the motley crew of quirky characters who are impossible not to love. I was captivated by them, invested in them, and rooting for them to find the elusive redhead who had rocked Franks’ world. Libby is a compelling protagonist with problems that many of us will relate to. I enjoyed watching her rediscover herself and her confidence after coming out of her long relationship. It is so easy to lose ourselves when with the wrong person but not realise until it’s too late, leaving us adrift and trying desperately to reconnect with ourselves when that relationship ends. I’ve been there and Libby captures those feelings perfectly. But dear old Frank was the character who stole the show for me. I had a soft spot for him immediately and fell in love with him more and more as we discovered more about him; how he’s been making friends and changing lives on the 88 bus for years. It was a reminder that the smallest acts of kindness can impact people in the biggest ways, how we never know the impression we have on someone, and how our lives can change in a moment. 
No character is too small or inconsequential to make an impact in this book, which I loved. I could mention them all, but instead I’ll give a shout-out to the delightful Esme, who made me laugh every time she was on the page, and Peggy, the mysterious lady who we are never quite sure where she fits in, but most of us can relate to for her love of people watching on the bus. They both made lasting impressions from their first appearances in the book and jumped from the pages again and again. 

A bingeable read full of heart and humour, this is feel-good fiction at its best. An absolute must-read. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Freya Sampson is the USA Today bestselling author of two novels, The Last Chance Library and The Lost Ticket/The Girl on the 88 Bus. She worked in TV as an executive producer and her credits include two documentary series for the BBC about the British Royal Family, and a number of factual and entertainment series.

She studied History at Cambridge University and in 2018 was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize.

She lives in London with her husband, two young children and an antisocial cat.

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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

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BLOG TOUR: A Truth For A Truth by Carol Wyer (Detective Kate Young 4)

Published April 6th, 2023 by Thomas & Mercer
Thriller, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural

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Today is my stop on the blog tour for the tense, twisty and gripping A Truth For A Truth. Thank you to Zoe at Zooloos Book Tours for the invitation to take part, and to Carol Wyer for the signed copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:
DI Kate Young’s team is hunting for a killer. What they don’t know…is that the killer is her.

DI Kate Young has known for years that her boss, Superintendent John Dickson, is a violent and evil man. But when she finally confronts him and accidentally shoots and kills him, she’s forced to cover her tracks before anyone can pin his death on her. With revelations about his corruption soon to become public knowledge, Kate sets up a trail of evidence to make it seem that Dickson has conveniently vanished…

But Kate knows the corruption doesn’t end with Dickson. As she heads up the team investigating his supposed disappearance, she also pursues other loose ends. Stanka, the sex worker who supplied the evidence against Dickson, leads her to crucial information on another corrupt officer, DI Harriet Khatri, and her dubious involvement with sex traffickers.

As the noose starts to tighten on Kate, she finds herself targeted by traffickers, the bent cops on her force and even her own team of detectives. Can she stay one step ahead of them all and bring Harriet to justice? Can she trust anyone around her? And can she possibly get away with murder?

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MY REVIEW:

DI Kate Young’s team is hunting for a killer. What they don’t know…is that the killer is her.

For years, DI Kate Young has known that her boss, Superintendent John Dickson, is not only dodgy, but cruel and violent. Finally armed with the evidence she needs to expose him, she decides to confront him. But things don’t go to plan and she accidentally kills him in self defence, leaving Kate covering her tracks with a trail of evidence designed to make her colleagues think he’s vanished after allegations of his crimes are printed by the press. 

But avoiding capture for murder isn’t Kate’s only worry. Dickson wasn’t working alone and there is a whole team of corrupt officers she must track down before they discover what she did. With no idea who she can trust and feeling increasingly desperate to share her secrets with someone, things increasingly spiral out of control. Will Kate be able to bring the corrupt officers to justice and get away with murder?

“There is a way out of this. 
But if she takes it, she will never be the same person again.”

Wow! The stakes are higher than ever in this fourth instalment of Carol Wyer’s Kate Young series, and you feel it from the first page. Fast-paced, tense and twist-filled, this is a crazy thrill-ride full of foreboding that I flew through in under a day. Wyer succinctly catches you up on the events of book three, allowing you to understand how Kate found herself in this shocking position. I was on tenterhooks from beginning to end, the menacing suspense leaping from the pages and into my bloodstream so that my heart was literally racing. Wyer’s ability to create such tension is one of the reasons I love her books. They are always brilliantly written, fast paced, filled with gritty storylines, and full of compelling characters. 

DI Kate Young is a very different woman in this book than the one we are used to. She is still determined and feisty, but she is also a woman grappling with having become the very thing she detests and you can feel her heart-pounding anxiety, stress and strain radiating from the pages. Her mental state is also more shaky than ever, now haunted by the taunting voice of Dickson in her head instead of being comforted by the supporting voice of her late husband, Chris. Kate is having to put on the performance of her life and the cost of failure is unimaginable. Despite being wracked with guilt over what she’s done and the lies she must tell, she still burns with the need to unmask Dickson and his cohorts for the vile, evil people they are and find justice for their victims. I was rooting for her, but found myself torn because she’s covering up her crime. Was our moral protagonist now the villain? I wrestled with this but couldn’t deny I wanted her to succeed. 

Intense, riveting and addictive, Ms. Wyer has once again delivered a first-rate thriller that isn’t to be missed. And that ending! I was not ready. I need book five ASAP!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

A move from writing comedies 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.

In 2021, An Eye For An Eye, the first in the DI Kate Young series, was chosen as a Kindle First Reads. It became the #1bestselling book on Amazon UK, USA and Australia. Since then, two further books in the series have been published, with a fourth, A Truth for a Truth due out April 6th 2023.

Her first standalone psychological thriller, Behind Closed Doors, was an Amazon Editor’s Pick and selected as one of the Best Books of December 2022.

Carol has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’, featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and written for the Huffington Post. She’s also been interviewed on numerous radio shows and on Sky and BBC Breakfast television.

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband, Mr. Grumpy . . . who is very, very grumpy.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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 purhcase links are affiliate links