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Blog Tour: The Girl at my Door by Rebecca Griffiths

Published: September 23rd, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Crime Fiction
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this addictive and menacing thriller. Thank you Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The young friends were unaware of the man who had followed them through the park. With his trilby pulled down, he moved stealthily through the trees. He was careful and kept to the shadows. He worried it might not have been his wisest move to join the girl on the bench but hadn’t been able to resist seeing her sitting alone like that: she was his absolute ideal.

London 1949: Queenie Osbourne and her best friend Joy are walking through the bustling city streets looking forward to a bright future. The two friends have a striking beauty which draws everyone to them. Queenie dreams of making her fortune as a singer in America and Joy is engaged to wealthy bachelor Charles Gilchrist.

As they prepare for the wedding, it becomes clear that there is a spark between Queenie and Charles and soon they commit the ultimate betrayal. But Queenie’s dream is shattered in an instant when she discovers she is pregnant.

With nowhere else to turn, Queenie is told about a man named John Reginald Christie. He helps women like her and will keep her secret. But as she stands on the steps outside 10 Rillington Place, she feels instantly threatened.

On the other side of the door, Reg Christie is waiting. Queenie doesn’t know that he has been watching her for a long time. To Reg she is perfect in every way. Now, all she has to do is knock…

Inspired by the true crime story of the Rillington Place killer John Reginald Christie, this is a chilling mystery based on a fictional cast of characters. Fans of Gregg Olsen, Louise Douglas and Jess Lourey will be hooked.

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MY REVIEW:

“He’s a dark one, he is. A right queer fish… It seems we got him quite wrong.”

As soon as I read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it. True crime mixed with a historical murder mystery? It was like it was written for me.

I think most of us are familiar with the name John Reginald Christie and the awful  events that occurred behind the closed doors of 10 Rillington Place. The address alone lives in infamy; conjuring up images of helpless young women at the mercy of a sick and depraved man. In this novel the author merges fact with fiction, taking real people and real things that occurred, and combining them with fictional characters and events to create an intoxicating thriller that reads like non-fiction. I found myself googling characters and events to double check what was fact and what wasn’t as it all felt so authentic that it could have been featured in a true crime documentary. 

Atmospheric and utterly engrossing, Griffiths transported me back to post-war London with such evocative descriptions and prose that I felt like I could see the dim gaslit streets and choking smog. The story is told by multiple narrators that were richly drawn, captivating and memorable, vividly putting me in each of their shoes. But as wonderfully as they were all written, what stood out to me most of all was Christie. It felt like she really got inside the mind of this sick and twisted killer. There is a pervading sense of unease as we witness him skulking around and stalking his prey, get glimpses into his depraved fantasies, and watch as he wears a mask of ordinariness to disguise himself. He sent shivers down my spine every time he was on the page and it felt authentic and I never questioned what I was reading, except that it was fiction. It was as if she’d found his journals and transcribed them.

Part of the problem with writing a book based on a well-known serial killer, is that we know how the story ends. Or we think we do. By combining fact and fiction the author is able to surprise the reader with unexpected twists. But for me, the real talent is when they can take those familiar events and still have you on the edge of your seat with your heart in your throat. And Ms. Griffiths did that again and again. As we hurtle towards those scenes where we know how it ends, there is still that rising sense of foreboding and frisson of fear that makes it impossible to stop reading. I was so invested in the story and so connected to the characters that I wanted to jump into the pages and stop it. To find a way to travel back in time to change the course of history. To scream a warning at Queenie not to go to Rillington Place because she wouldn’t find a solution, only her doom. My heart was racing so fast I felt like it was going to beat out of my chest as I waited to see if she was saved, forgetting for a moment that history has already been written and, those who step inside Rillington Place are beyond our help. 

In 1949 Britain was still recovering from the war and was in a time of great change: rationing was still in effect, homes were being rebuilt, people were readjusting to normal life, women were gaining independence and the newly established NHS was changing medicine and health for the better. But it was a time caught between the old and the new as patriarchal expectations remained prevalent and homosexuality and abortion were still illegal. The author touches on and examines these topics in varying detail over the course of the book. I was deeply moved by how she portrayed Terrance’s fear that his homosexuality will be discovered and his torment at being seen as a criminal for simply loving another man. And I found the discussion of desperate, backstreet abortions to be particularly timely with the recent legislation in Texas of the so-called ‘Heartbeat Bill’. It is a potent reminder that making such things against the law doesn’t stop them, only puts lives in danger as desperate people take desperate risks.

Deliciously dark, menacing, suspenseful and unsettling, The Girl at my Door is an addictive thriller that you won’t be able to put down. This was my first foray into Rebecca Griffiths’ books but it certainly won’t be my last. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Griffiths grew up in mid-Wales and went on to gain a first class honours degree in English Literature. After a successful business career in London, Dublin and Scotland she returned to rural mid-Wales where she lives with her husband, a prolific artist, their four black rescue cats, two pet sheep the size of sofas and writes full time. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: What She Did by Carla Kovach

Published: September 20th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Crime Fiction
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Marissa lives alone in her tiny one-bed apartment. It’s quiet and safe; all she’s ever wanted. But when the police knock on her door with the news that her last remaining family member has died, she comes face to face with the family secret she has spent a lifetime running from.

A witness saw her car outside his house that day, but Marissa knows she’s innocent. She hasn’t seen her uncle in years and remembers going to bed in her own home that night. But she’s had blackouts before and can’t always trust her memory.

Days later, Marissa’s neighbour is found dead in his home, exactly like her uncle. It was no secret that Marissa didn’t get on with her neighbour, but she’d never want to see him hurt.

As you read, you’ll think you know where to draw the line between innocence and guilt. But blame is a dangerous thing, and nothing is ever what it seems…

Perfect for fans of C.L. Taylor, Teresa Driscoll and Lisa Jewell, What She Did is a dark and twisty crime thriller that will keep you up all night!

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MY REVIEW:

I am a big fan of Carla Kovach’s Gina Harte series so when I heard that she’d written her first standalone thriller, I was excited to read it. As much as I love a series I always enjoy getting to know fresh characters in a standalone and I was interested to see if this would have the same vibe as the series or feel totally different. 

What She Did is a taut, tense and gripping thriller that centres around a young woman named Marissa who has a tragic backstory full of loss, heartache and trauma.  When she was just  five-years-old she witnessed her mother’s murder while hiding under the bed. The killer was never caught and she is still haunted by that night and lives in fear that the killer will one day come back for her too. Sadly, that night was just the beginning of her nightmare, and when she went to live with her aunt and uncle she found not solace, but cruelty and abuse. These events, and other secrets she is hiding, still linger and have left her isolated, fearful and scared to trust. 

Now twenty-eight and living in an apartment and working towards her dream of owning the cottage that was special to her and her mother, Marissa’s life spirals out of control after her uncle is murdered. She can’t remember where she was or what she did the night it happened and, plagued by sleepwalking since childhood, she can’t trust her memory of events. Could she have killed him? When the neighbour she has been arguing with is also found dead just a few days later after a similar blackout, Marissa really begins to question what’s going on. She is sure she didn’t kill them. But how can she prove it when she can’t remember? And why does it seem like someone is out to frame her?

Carla Kovach has proven with this book that she can write any thriller and knock it out of the park. As much as I love the Gina Harte series and her team, this novel shows us that even with all new characters and a totally different storyline, she can keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. The story moves seamlessly between dual timelines using flashbacks to significant events in Marissa’s life. This was a vital tool in helping us to understand her paranoid and skittish behaviour, inability to trust and why she has almost no friends or family. I just wanted to reach into the book, put my arms around her, and comfort her, especially in the scenes when she is a young child; I wanted to protect her from witnessing her mother’s murder or rescue her from her vile aunt and uncle’s clutches. Her pain was palpable and my heart broke for her.

But Marissa is also an unreliable narrator and we are never quite sure what is true and what is paranoia. While I was rooting for her and wanted her to be innocent, part of me was never quite sure, and I really enjoyed that. I think it’s a talent to make a reader like a character while also making it possible that they have committed awful crimes, and Ms. Kovach pulled it off expertly. This unreliability also meant that we were never sure if she really is being followed or set up, so it made it hard to know what to make of some of the other characters and know if things were red herrings. I loved the tension this added and how it kept me on my toes. And when the truth was revealed I was totally blindsided by a scenario that I had never even contemplated. Bravo, Ms. Kovach. Bravo.

Captivating and twisty, What She Did is a first-rate psychological thriller from one of my favourite writers in the genre. Definitely one not to be missed.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carla started writing more seriously ten years ago after having flirted with musical theatre and occasional writing in her youth.

Since then she has written & produced several stage plays, has four self-published books, has acted in several independent films and is currently in the final stages of production of her feature horror film, Penny for the Guy.

She now writes full time as well as co-owning a film, photography & video production company located in the heart of Redditch town centre.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Shadowing by Rhiannon Ward

Published: September 16th, 2021
Publisher: Trapeze
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Gothic Fiction, Thriller, Ghost Story, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this haunting gothic mystery. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Trapeze for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy’s death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.

Haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant – both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years.

Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?

As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost…

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MY REVIEW:

“The shadowing had returned.” 

The Shadowing is an atmospheric and absorbing historical gothic mystery overflowing with menace. A story laced with secrets, spirits and sinister happenings, I was drawn in from the first pages right and couldn’t put it down. My mind was full of questions that I needed answers to as desperately as the characters did. And I genuinely had no idea what they were going to be. 

Hester Goodwin lives in Bristol with her wealthy family in a strict Quaker home. Three years ago, her sister Mercy disappeared and none of them have heard from her since, until the day they receive a letter informing them that Mercy has died in Southwell Workhouse in Nottinghamshire. But how did her sister end up in such a place? And how did she die? Searching for answers, Hester travels to Southwell to try and answer their questions, little knowing that she is stepping into a much deeper and darker mystery than she ever imagined. One that involves spectres, missing children and cover ups. 

I’ve been wanting to read Rhiannon Ward’s books since her debut last year so I jumped at the chance when the opportunity to take part in this blog tour arose. My expectations were high and I’m happy to say that she exceeded them with this magnificent novel. Eloquently and evocatively written, it wrenches you out of your own reality and into the one the author created, making you feel like you can feel a ghostly spirit behind you or that you are walking the dank corridors of the workhouse. As the secrets are slowly revealed and Hester brings the women’s plights to light I got goosebumps from the emotion and tension. Their fear was so palpable that I could feel it’s cold claws raking their way down my spine. I was very glad to be reading in the daytime at that point! But, for me, one of the best things about this book is that it genuinely surprised me. I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, so it isn’t often I’m stumped by an author. But Ward had me at a loss, suspicious of everyone and no real idea who was behind it all, and my jaw hit the floor when it was time for the big reveal. 

“Don’t let the angelmaker take my baby. She wants it for her own end. If I see her, it’s already too late. Do you understand?” 

The characters are all richly drawn and compelling, vividly brought to life by the author in such a way that you feel like they are in the room with you. I found Hester to be especially likeable and easy to root for, her naivete giving her an innocent charm that gave her an extra sweetness alongside her courage and determination. The journey to Southwell is a big deal for a woman of her age and standing, and she is both excited and full of trepidation at her task. Her fears only deepen when she arrives at Southwell Workhouse, a gloomy, bleak and eerie place where frightened women tell her stories of ‘the pale lady’ or ‘the angelmaker’, a ghostly figure who takes women’s babies.  Instead of answers about Mercy, she’s left with even more questions about what happened to her beloved sister and vows to keep digging until she uncovers the truth, unaware of just how much danger she’s putting herself in. 

But the pale lady isn’t the only ghostly part of the story. There are also the shadowings, visions of spirits who appear to Hester that she has experienced since childhood. Her father tried to beat them out of her but they return shortly before she learns of her sister Mercy’s death. She is too terrified of further punishments to mention them, and keenly aware that others, not just her father, will see them as the work of the Devil or Witchcraft. So she keeps them to herself, afraid of the consequences of discovery. 

Captivating, dark and haunting, The Shadowing is a sensational gothic mystery with an eerie charm that lingers over every page. Perfect for the cold nights heading our way, this is ideal for reading with a cosy blanket and warm drink by the fire. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rhiannon Ward. As Sarah Ward, I’m the author of the DC Childs crime series set in the Derbyshire Peak District. I’m also the writer of Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish.

My gothic thriller, The Quickening, was published by Trapeze as Rhiannon Ward and The Shadowing is coming in September 2021.

Throughout COVID-19, I’ve been talking about all things bookish either online or, more recently, in person. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Giften by Leyla Suzan

Published: September 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this entertaining debut. Thank you to Pushkin Press for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

One girl takes on an oppressive system in this electrifying teen dystopia, set in a post-apocalyptic world sapped of natural resources
A BLIGHTED LAND
Ever since The Darkening, survival has been a struggle. The people of the Field toil on parched earth, trying to forge a life amid dwindling resources.

A GIFT
As one of the Giften, Ruthie is a saviour to her isolated community: her hands hold the rare ability to raise food from dead soil. But she is also its greatest danger.

A SINISTER REGIME
In the City lurks a dark army, intent on hunting Giften to harness their power, destroying all who stand in their way. With the threat growing ever stronger, Ruthie and her friends must leave behind all they have ever known and embark on a quest that will pitch them towards the City, and unknowable danger. One way or another, a battle is coming.

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MY REVIEW:

“When our world was destroyed, no thought was given to what might happen to people like us, the survivors.” 

Since The Darkening life has been a constant struggle. A fight to survive that is made even harder by those in power, who insist on taking a share of the food that the isolated communities grow. But nature has provided hope in the Giften: people whose hands hold the rare ability to make food grow from the parched earth. But the Giften are in danger, hunted by an army from the City who snatch them from their homes never to be seen again, leaving behind a trail of whispered rumours about their fate. 

When Ruthie shows signs of being Giften her mother is terrified. She forbids her from using her powers to avoid being betrayed by others in the Field and being taken by the MAGs. But her gift is ultimately revealed, so, along with her friends, Ruthie embarks on a perilous journey to find a place of safety. But will they be able to outrun those who hunt them? And just what is it that they want with the Giften?

“But it was the discovery of the Giften that changed everything —it read like finding out magic was real.”

Giften is an entertaining debut novel. Set in a post-apocalyptic world in the future, things such as an abundance of food, air travel and talking with people around the world are now merely stories of old passed down from previous generations. Unimaginable concepts in the world that the characters now live in. 

I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this book, but I liked the premise and decided to venture out of my comfort zone by reading it. It took a little while for me to get into, but once the world had been built and the stage set, I found it to be gripping and I sped through the remaining pages in a few short hours. It is a book that is written for young adults, and I think the target audience would enjoy it much more as it felt a little young for me. But I was able to recognise that I’m not the intended demographic and enjoy it for what it was.  

 “I didn’t know that monsters look just like the rest of us.” 

The story is told through the eyes of Ruthie, but we get glimpses of other people’s stories at the start of each chapter in the form of snippets of the stories Logan the Recorder has written down through the years. These help the story to slowly unfold as they give us an insight into the lives of the background characters and clues to parts of the mystery surrounding the Giften. I enjoyed this as it shows the importance and power of stories; how they shape our world and offer us valuable information about the past that we can learn from. 

Ruthie is a young girl with the weight of the world on her shoulders. When we meet her she is still reeling from the disappearance of her father, Dan, two years ago and her mother subsequently replacing him with a step-father, step-brother and half-brother, when her world is turned upside down even further by a violent illness that is actually her transition into Giften. Her life is now in danger and she’s forced to leave her home to survive, her terror, heartache and confusion leapt from the pages and my heart broke for this young girl who has been forced to leave everything she’s ever known. 

“You have no idea what’s coming.”

The author brings the post-apocalyptic world to life with vivid and evocative imagery and storytelling. I could see the barren land and feel the isolation that came together to create a claustrophobic and fearful atmosphere. It is a commentary on global warming and warning of what our world could ultimately look like that manages to deliver its message without becoming preachy. 

Giften is a great start to a new series that has the potential to be a huge hit amongst young adult readers. If you liked The Hunger Games then you will probably enjoy this book. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Leyla Suzan is an editor who has worked in publishing for many years, editing some of our most beloved authors. Now a freelancer, while she’s not writing or editing books, she can be found in her studio making woodcut prints. Giften is her debut novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: A Lesson in Murder (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery 7) by Verity Bright

Published: September 14th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Cozy Mystery, Sherlock Holmes Mystery
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this lively cosy mystery. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

When Lady Swift is invited to her old school, she walks through familiar classrooms, finds her favourite books in the library… and surely that’s not a body? Time for a lesson in murder!

Autumn, 1921Lady Eleanor Swift is invited to her old school, St Mary’s, as a guest speaker. Her favourite teacher, Mrs Wadsworth, has asked that Eleanor talk about her intrepid travels around the globe – travelling the Silk Road by bicycle, crossing the Himalayas and even befriending the Maharaja of India. But in the circumstances, perhaps it would have been a good idea to talk about her career as a daring detective…

Because no sooner has Eleanor brushed up on her times tables then she is greeted by terrible news: Mrs Wadsworth has been murdered. Eleanor is utterly devastated but she owes it to her dearest teacher to find out who killed her and why. So, alongside Gladstone the bulldog, it’s best paw forward to track down a villain.

But when the art teacher is also found dead, Eleanor is sure someone is trying to do away with the people who taught her everything. As Eleanor delves into possible motives, she discovers a clue in the most unlikely place: her mother’s old school diary. Does the route to the murderer lie within a secret passageway her mother uncovered? Can Eleanor nail the culprit in time or is the killer coming for her next?

A totally gripping and glamorous 1920s cozy! Fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Rhys Bowen are in for a treat.

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MY REVIEW:

“I’ve learned that a wrongdoer never gives one reason to mistrust them until they seize the opportunity they’ve been waiting for.” 

A Lesson in Murder is another entertaining adventure in the  Lady Eleanor Swift series. This time the ameteur sleuth finds herself embroiled in the hunt for a killer after a body is found in the Library of St Mary’s Boarding School for Young Ladies, Eleanor’s former school. Originally there to deliver an inspirational speech to the students, she is asked to investigate when the police determine that Mrs. Wadsworth’s death was not merely a tragic accident. Officials don’t want it publically known that there’s a murder investigation, so it is decided she will poses as Boarding mistress for Holly House, stepping into the late Mrs. Wadsworth’s shoes and secretly investigating while she does so. 

This series has become a real comfort read for me this year. I was late to start, beginning with book five back in March, but Verity Bright is adept at succinctly catching you up on any important information throughout the books so that you never feel lost. It means you can start this series at any time, or read just one as a standalone. But I have found myself so fond of these fun historical cosy mysteries, that every book is now an auto-read for me. In fact, I’ve already signed up for the blog tour for the next book in December.

Lady Eleanor Swift is an unorthodox woman for her time. It is unusual enough to be thirty and unmarried, but add to the fact she has travelled the world and is a part-time ameteur sleuth, and you have an unusual lady indeed. But I love her. She is a breath of fresh air;  strong, feisty, determined and impetuous. I love watching her do all the things she isn’t supposed to but I did like the glimpse into her more vulnerable side in this installment. Her time at St. Mary’s was lonely and painful, and she finds all these difficult memories and emotions assail her when she’s back in its halls. But she once again has her trusty butler, Clifford, on hand to assist her. Their great dynamic and witty banter are always the highlight of these books for me.

Lively, refreshing, humorous and authentic, this quick read was just the tonic I needed between darker mysteries. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

Published: September 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Literary Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins UK for the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Five people.
Five chances.
One woman’s search for happiness.

Allegra Bird’s arms are scattered with freckles, a gift from her beloved father. But despite her nickname, Freckles has never been able to join all the dots. So when a stranger tells her that everyone is the average of the five people they spend the most time with, it opens up something deep inside.

The trouble is, Freckles doesn’t know if she has five people. And if not, what does that say about her? She’s left her unconventional father and her friends behind for a bold new life in Dublin, but she’s still an outsider.

Now, in a quest to understand, she must find not one but five people who shape her – and who will determine her future.

Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from modern Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and of growing into your own skin.

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MY REVIEW:

“They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” 

Cecelia Ahern has done it again. Freckles is like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day: warm, comforting and uplifting. A story about finding yourself and your tribe, it was a joy to read, reminding me why she is one of my auto-buy authors. 

Allegra Bird longs to fit in but has always felt like an outsider. Known as Freckles because of the freckles that scatter her arms like stars from the sky, she has moved to Dublin from her small town to make something of her life. Only it’s not going to plan. Instead of the Garda job she’d always dreamed of, she works as a parking warden. And she hasn’t mustered up the courage to fulfill her main goal since moving there. So when a stranger tells her that we are all the average of the five people we spend the most time with, it hits her right in the heart. What if you don’t have five people? Who shapes who you are then? So Allegra set out to find her five people, taking us on her journey of self-discovery.

“Even though it may feel like it, this is not where it ends. I’m not dead. I’m crushed and oozing. A smithereened Allegra Bird. You can’t fix the broken outer shell. But you can rebuild.”

Allegra is a great protagonist. As someone covered in freckles myself, I felt an instant connection with this quirky, warm and endearing young woman. She’s a lonely soul who feels like she’s on her own in the world apart from her beloved father, and thrives on rules and a rigid routine. Unfortunately, these things only serve to make her appear ‘strange’ to others and she struggles to make the connections she longs for. I think most of us know the pain of feeling like an outsider. And we all just want to fit in and find those people in life who love and accept us. Through this and that special spark that Allegra has, the author expertly creates a connection between her and the reader, making her someone you really care about. The background characters were also well written and had some interesting stories to tell. I loved her sweet and close relationship with her father, her bumpy relationship with Tristan, and thought Spanner was always entertaining when on the page. 

Fresh, witty, compelling and achingly real, Freckles is a magnificent story that goes straight to your heart. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

After completing a degree in Journalism and Media Communications, Cecelia wrote her first novel at 21 years old. Her debut novel, PS I Love You was published in January 2004, and was followed by Where Rainbows End (aka Love, Rosie) in November 2004. Both novels were adapted to films; PS I Love You starred Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler, and Love, Rosie starred Lily Collins and Sam Claflin.

Cecelia has published a novel every year since then and to date has published 15 novels; If You Could See Me Now, A Place Called Here, Thanks for the Memories, The Gift, The Book of Tomorrow, The Time of My Life, One Hundred Names, How To Fall in Love, The Year I Met You, The Marble Collector, Flawed, Perfect and Lyrebird.

To date, Cecelia’s books have sold 25 million copies internationally, are published in over 40 countries, in 30 languages.

Along with writing novels, Cecelia has co-created the US ABC Comedy Samantha Who? and has created many other original TV projects.

Cecelia’s next book is a collection of 30 short stories about 30 women, titled ROAR. ROAR will be published in the UK and Ireland in Autumn 2018 by HarperCollins UK, and in Spring 2019 in the US by Grand Central Publishing.

“At the age of 19 I experienced a difficult time in my life, and as I have done since childhood and throughout my teenage years, I turned to writing to process my feelings. PS I Love You was born from my feelings of sadness, fear and loss of my identity. I poured my heart into the story of a woman suffering from grief after the loss of her husband, a woman who had hit the lowest point of her life and was struggling with both the desire and the ability to find her way out of the fog. Writing Holly’s journey helped me find my own path, writing PS I Love You brought both Holly and I to a more positive place in our lives and that is what I continue to do with my novels.

The thread that links my work is in capturing that transitional period in people’s lives. I’m drawn to writing about loss, to characters that have fallen and who feel powerless in their lives. I am fascinated and inspired by the human spirit, by the fact that no matter how hopeless we feel and how dark life can be, we do have the courage, strength and bravery to push through our challenging moments. We are the greatest warriors in our own stories. I like to catch my characters as they fall, and bring them from low to high. My characters push through and as a result evolve, become stronger and better equipped for the next challenge that life brings. I like to mix dark with light, sadness with humour, always keeping a balance, and always bringing the story to a place of hope.”

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Ghostlights by Grainne Murphy

Published: September 1st, 2021
Publisher: Legend Press
Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this moving story. Thank you to Legend Press for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Can we ever truly escape our past?

The Ghostlights is the poignant story of a family of Irish women who are each looking for the real meaning of home. This is a novel about family, obligation, identity and small-town life, written with deftness and sensitivity by the author of Where the Edge Is.

When a stranger checks into a family B&B – in a small village in rural Ireland – no one takes too much notice… at least until his body is found in the lake four days later.

The identity of the unknown guest raises questions for polar opposite twin sisters Liv and Marianne and their mother Ethel, all of whom feel trapped by the choices they made earlier in life. They each find themselves forced to confront their past, their present and what they really want from their future.The new novel from Gráinne Murphy, whose short fiction has been longlisted for 2021 Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award.

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MY REVIEW:

Can we choose to be forgotten? And just how do we want to be remembered when we’re gone? Those are the questions at the heart of this story.

Four days after checking into the B&B in Coolaroone, Fred Stille’s body is found in the lake.  The discovery and mystery surrounding him forces the family that runs the B&B to evaluate their own lives and legacy in this poignant tale.

This is a story about family, home and identity that explores love, guilt, resentment and forgiveness. Beautifully written, it tackles serious issues such as alcoholism and suicide in a way that is honest but sensitive, and adds a dash of humour to lighten the mood. 

Filled with very real characters who are easy to relate to, I felt like they could be any family on any street. The author explores familial relationships and the complexities surrounding them; the deep seated resentments and jealousies, the way they talk to and relate to each other and the bond they share that ultimately overcomes everything else. Narrated by Ethel, Liv and Marianne, we soon learn they are flawed women who are haunted by their personal demons. The death of a guest magnifies everything, forcing them to really look at how they can move forward instead of being held back by regret. 

Set in rural Ireland, it has a great sense of place, vividly portraying the sense of community and claustrophobia of small town life. I think that it was an ideal setting for this story as immersing the reader in a place where religion, folklore and superstition are at the core of village life, adds to the atmosphere of the story. When Fred’s body is found, it impacts the entire community. They claim him as one of their own and there is a genuine outpouring of grief for this stranger. It is a reminder that we are all part of the same community and that there is kindness to be found even in the darkest of moments. 

The Ghostlights is a very human story. One that I’m sure will resonate in some way with most of us. Warm, witty, compassionate and contemplative, this was an enjoyable read from a talented storyteller. I’ve enjoyed both of her books and am looking forward to seeing what she writes next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Gráinne’s debut novel Where the Edge Is will be published by Legend Press in September 2020, with The Ghostlights to follow in 2021.

Gráinne’s stories are about family and identity, about staring life down and choosing the kind of person you want to be. Earlier novels were shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award 2019, the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair 2019, the Luke Bitmead Bursary 2016 and the Virginia Prize for Fiction 2014.

In short fiction, her story Further West placed third in the Zoetrope All-Story Contest 2018, with other stories appearing in Nivalis 2015 (Full of Grace), Irish Literary Review Issue 5 (Frank & Alfie) and RiPPLE 2016 (The Agatha Christie Bookclub).

Gráinne’s several lives to date include stints in forensic research, human resources, training, volunteering and editing. No matter what she did, it always came back to words. After spending several years struggling to eavesdrop in Belgian cafes, she now lives and writes in a gloriously rainy corner of West Cork.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Trapped Wife by Samantha Hayes

Published: September 8th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

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

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SYNOPSIS:

The rain hammers the glass outside. My husband has stoked the wood burner with a fresh supply of logs, and I’ve just put a joint of beef in the oven. It’s the most clichéd Sunday afternoon ever, and it’s the most heavenly one, too. Little do I know that days later, the ash in the fire will be all that remains of us…

My perfect life…

I thought I had it all – a dream job as a doctor in small town, a stunning home and a family I adore – but that illusion shattered the moment my husband Jeremy left on a work trip and vanished without a trace. Now my son and I are all alone in the world.

My missing husband…

My best friend thinks Jeremy had an accident up in the mountains, that I’ll never see him again and need to move on. I know he loves us too much to ever abandon us, but my head is still spinning with the texts I found on his phone before he left. Did I ever really know the man I married?

The night I can’t remember…

Everything changed the night of the medical conference weeks before Jeremy disappeared. I wrack my brains for answers, but my memory goes blank after my first drink. Ever since, I’ve felt like I’m being followed and can’t explain why panic thunders in my chest every time I see my newest patient. If he’s not local to the village, then why does he seem so familiar? And so dangerous?

As I piece together the shards of what really happened that fateful evening, only one thing can possibly be true: everyone is lying, even me…

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MY REVIEW:

Samantha Hay is the queen of misdirection, red herrings and curveballs. And her latest book, The Trapped Wife, is just as tense and twisty as her others. And that ending? I did NOT see it coming. Not one bit. After being so sure I had it figured out she totally blindsided, leaving me with my jaw on the floor trying to figure out how on earth she’d done it yet again.

Jennifer Miller is trying to piece her life back together after the recent death of her husband in a tragic accident. The golden couple seemed to have it all. But behind closed doors was a different story, one that Jen is still trying to conceal after Jeremy’s death. She hasn’t even confided these secrets in her best friend, especially the dark secret about the night she can’t really remember; the night that echoes in her memory through fleeting flashbacks. But then one of those secrets comes back to haunt her in person and Jen finds herself in a living nightmare. 

In a second timeline we meet a young, troubled boy full of dark thoughts. He forms a bond with a kindred spirit, creating a club where they fantasise about revenge on those who have hurt them. It’s all harmless fun, until one day when he decided to make the fantasies a reality. But just how are the two timelines connected? What could this troubled boy have to do with the respectable widow? I had so many suspicions and predictions, but were they right? 

Ms. Hayes is one of my auto-read thriller authors. When you pick up one of her books you know you’re getting a gripping thriller and, once again, she did not disappoint. Cleverly plotted, intricately woven, and full of crazy twists, the author has filled this book with emotion, yet there is a coldness that lingers over the pages. An emptiness that doesn’t only surround the loss of Jeremy, whose presence is always felt despite his death happening before the story begins. There is a pervading atmosphere of malice and foreboding; a powder keg just waiting for a spark. And when it did, it exploded many lives in the process. I tore through the pages, not wanting to put it down or even sleep. Though I eventually forced myself to sleep at 2am and finished it the next day.

The characters are brilliantly written and compelling. There’s an increasing sense of claustrophobia as Jen’s world closes in around her, her stress and anxiety rising as she tries to stop it from crumbling even more. Scott is such a fantastic villain that he sent shivers down my spine each time he was on the page, the feelings he gave Jen radiating from the pages into my own body. He oozes malevolence and I had no doubt he’d stop at nothing to get what he’d set his sights on. I really liked Rhonda, Jen’s best friend. She was a great character who went out of her way to help her friend, and I was shouting at the book for Jen to just confide the truth to her so they could work together to figure things out and escape his clutches.

But nothing, and no-one, is what they seem in this twisty story. There are secrets much darker than you imagine lurking in the shadows. Revelations that will make your head spin. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, and I’m still reeling from that final twist that hit out of the blue.

Fiendishly dark, surprising and suspenseful, The Trapped Wife is a must read for any thriller lover. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Hayes grew up in a creative family where her love of writing began as a child. Samantha has written eight thrillers in total, including the bestselling Until You’re Mine. The Independent said “fantastically written and very tense” while Good Housekeeping said “Her believable psychological thrillers are completely gripping.” Samantha’s books are published in 22 languages at the last count.

When not writing, Samantha loves to cook, go to the gym, see friends and drink nice wine. She is also studying for a degree in psychotherapy. She has three grown-up children and lives in Warwickshire.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon| Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

SOME LESSONS CAN BE DEADLY . . .

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

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

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

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

You’re sure you can prove it.

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

Published: September 2nd, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Legal Thriller, Legal Story, Domestic Fiction, Political Thriller,
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this outstanding legal thriller. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

ON AN ORDINARY WORKING DAY…

Leila Syed receives a call that cleaves her life in two. Her brother-in-law’s voice is filled with panic. His son’s nursery has called to ask where little Max is.

YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE…

Leila was supposed to drop Max off that morning. But she forgot.

Racing to the carpark, she grasps the horror of what she has done.

IS ABOUT TO COME TRUE…

What follows is an explosive, high-profile trial that will tear the family apart. But as the case progresses it becomes clear there’s more to this incident than meets the eye…

A gripping, brave and tense courtroom drama, Next of Kin will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final, heart-stopping page.

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MY REVIEW:

Next of Kin examines a truly devastating tragedy: the accidental death of a child caused by his loving aunt. She claims she forgot he was in the back of the car but the prosecution says she left him there deliberately. Who is telling the truth?

Authors take note, because THIS is how you write a gripping legal thriller. Once again, Abdullah takes a shocking crime and puts a thought-provoking spin on things. This trope is proving to be her signature and forte; executed to perfection each time as she makes you ponder the grey areas of a crime, holds you hostage in breathless anticipation, and throws in some shocking twists. 

The book opens with a normal family get together that quickly gives way to crushing and heartbreaking scenes as three-year-old Max dies after being left in a hot car by his Aunt, Leila. As we learn his fate the pain and anguish is palpable. It is like  you can actually feel their hearts shattering. Tears stung my eyes and my heart ached as I read. The emotions continue to leap from the pages as the family try to deal with Max’s tragic death, Leila’s possible guilt, the impending court case, and an array of family secrets lurking in the shadows. 

Every facet of this book is spectacularly written. The story and characters are nuanced, compelling and full of depth. As with all this author’s books, this is a story that has many layers and deals with a multitude of topics, going beyond simply the crime that took place. At the heart of this book is a family who have been visited by tragedy many times. She explores the effect this has on mental health and how trauma and jealousy can affect our perception of people and events, often clouding our ability to see things clearly. She asks just how much someone can take before they break and examines the complicated threads that can both hold a family together and threaten to tear it apart. 

Another aspect of Ms. Abdullah’s books I admire, is how she uses them as a social commentary, focusing on a different issue in each one. In Next of Kin it is childless women. Leila isn’t a mother, and through this she explores how it feels to be a childless woman in our society. She shows how these women are scorned, viewed as cold and selfish and looked down upon. In Leila’s case, her childlessness is even used against her as a reason she’d want to kill her nephew, adding to the already pervading sense of injustice you feel on her behalf.

Sizzling with tension, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat right until the last page, the author slowly peeling away the layers to reveal the hidden truth. And just when I thought I’d got it all figured out… Holy twist, Batman! In comes a curve ball that hits like a bomb and blows everything I thought I knew into pieces. Days later I’m still reeling from the shock. 

Gritty, hard-hitting and addictive, this is one of the best legal thrillers I’ve ever read. Ms. Abdullah just keeps getting better and better and is now my go-to author recommendation in this genre, overtaking John Grisham, who I’ve been a huge fan of since my mid teens. If you haven’t read her books, then what are you waiting for? Do it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From the author’s website:
Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. Her novel Take It Back was named one of the best thrillers of the year by The Guardian and Telegraph and was selected for an industry-first audio serialisation by HarperCollins and The Pigeonhole. Her follow-up novel, Truth Be Told, is out now (Mar 2021, HarperCollins).

Kia has written for The New York TimesThe GuardianThe FTThe Telegraphthe BBC and The Times, and is the founder of Asian Booklist, a nonprofit that advocates for diversity in publishing. 

Born in Tower Hamlets in East London, Kia was raised in a family of eight children. As the most stubborn of six daughters, she constantly found herself in trouble for making choices that clashed with her parents’, a habit they came to accept when she became their first and only child to graduate from university – with a degree in Computer Science.

In 2007, Kia left her job in tech to pursue the one thing she had always wanted: a career as a writer, taking a 50% pay cut in the process. She worked as sub-editor and later features editor at Asian Woman Magazine where she interviewed British-Asian luminaries like Riz Ahmed, Meera Syal, Nitin Sawnhey and Anoushka Shankar. 

Kia went on to join global publisher Penguin Random House where she helped grow digital readership at Rough Guides to over a million users per month. In 2014, she quit her day job to found Atlas & Boots, an outdoor travel blog now read by 250,000 people a month. 

Today, she splits her time between London and the Yorkshire Dales town of Richmond, and spends her time writing, hiking, mentoring pupils from Tower Hamlets and visiting far-flung destinations for Atlas & Boots.

Kia loves to travel, hates to cook and periodically highlights that, in actual fact, she is one of nine children (one passed away), making her Seven of Nine… which is cool but only if you’re a Star Trek fan… which she is. But please don’t hold it against her.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx