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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

REVIEW: No Place To Run by Mark Edwards

Published: June 21st, 2022
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Thank you to Mark Edwards and Netgalley for the eBook ARC of this book.

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SYNOPSIS:

In this exhilarating thriller from four million copy bestselling author Mark Edwards, Aidan’s spent years looking for his sister. Will he ever find her?

Two years ago, on a trip to Seattle to visit her brother Aidan, fifteen-year-old Scarlett vanished into thin air. After years of false leads and dead ends, Aidan has almost given up hope. But then a woman sees a girl running for her life across a forest clearing in Northern California. She is convinced the girl is the missing Scarlett. But could it really be her?

Heading south, Aidan finds a fire-ravaged town covered in missing-teenager posters. The locals seem afraid, the police won’t answer any questions and it looks like another dead end―until a chance meeting with returned local Lana gives Aidan his first clue. But as they piece together what happened, Lana and Aidan make deadly enemies. Enemies willing to do anything to silence them.

Only one thing matters now: finding Scarlett―even if it kills him.

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MY REVIEW:

Scarlett Faith disappeared two years ago while visiting her older brother Aiden in Seattle.  He has been searching for her ever since, plagued by guilt that she vanished on his watch.  There has been nothing but false leads and dead ends, until a woman says she is sure she saw Scarlett fleeing a pursuer in a forest clearing in Northern California.  It seems fantastical, but could it be the lead Aiden has been waiting for?  

Deciding to follow the lead, Aiden heads to California and finds himself in a town ravaged by fire, covered in missing posters and filled with secrets they will do anything to keep. 

A new book by Mark Edwards is always an event for me and he can be relied upon to deliver an intriguing, suspenseful and twist-filled thriller where ordinary people find themselves in terrifying situations.  And he’s done it again, this time taking a very timely topic and merging it with something much more sinister that makes you think twice about who you trust and what you get involved in.  There is a lot of action but I will admit that it wasn’t my favourite of his books as I prefer his darker stories. 

The book is filled with a cast of fascinating and well developed characters.  There are siblings desperate for answers, naive young women, a mysterious woman with a mission, brutal security men and corrupt officials.  Aiden is at the centre of it all.  He is likeable and easy to root for; an innocent bystander who just wants to find his sister, he gets caught up in a web of dangerous secrets that makes him enemies who will do anything to silence him.  There are also some great villains who have that sadistic streak you commonly see in Edwards’ books.  Told from multiple points of view with flashbacks to the time leading up to Scarlett’s disappearance, it isn’t immediately clear how all of the different characters and threads are connected.  But Edwards slowly weaves them together until the full, surprising picture emerges. 

Menacing, tense and twisty, No Place To Run is an entertaining thriller that I’d recommend to those who like their thrillers on the quirky side.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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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.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Guest House by Robin Morgan-Bentley

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE.
WHATEVER THE COST…

Jamie and Victoria are expecting their first baby.

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

Robin lives in Buckinghamshire with his husband and son.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REVIEW: Do No Harm by Jack Jordan

Published: May 26th 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Medical Thriller, Medical Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Police Procedural

I’m finally getting around to sharing my review for this nerve-shredding thriller. Thank you to The Likely Suspects and Simon and Schuster UK for the gifted proof copies of this book.

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SYNOPSIS:

MY CHILD HAS BEEN TAKEN.
AND I’VE BEEN GIVEN A CHOICE . . .
KILL A PATIENT ON THE OPERATING TABLE
OR LOSE MY SON FOREVER.


The man lies on the table in front of me.
As a surgeon, it’s my job to save him.
As a mother, I know I must kill him.
You might think that I’m a monster.
But there really is only one choice.
I must get away with murder.
Or I will never see my son again.

I’VE SAVED MANY LIVES.
WOULD YOU TRUST ME WITH YOURS?

DON’T MISS THE HEART-STOPPING THRILLER OF 2022
#DONOHARM

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MY REVIEW:

“Either I abide by my oath, and kill my son. 
Or I save Zack, and kill an innocent man.” 

Renowned cardiothoracic surgeon Anna Jones is being forced to make a horrendous choice: the life of her patient or the life of her son.  Eight-year-old Zack has been abducted and the kidnappers will only give him back if she kills a prestigious patient on the operating table and gets away with it.  As parents we always say we’d do anything for our children.  But does that include murder?

“We are all so blind, thinking that we know who we truly are. It is only pain like this that reveals what we are really capable of.” 

Do No Harm is a book that just screams ‘read me’. I mean, look at that cover!  And this nerve-shredding thriller was everything I hoped and more.  The premise is every parent’s worst nightmare, blurring the lines of morality as the author examines the question of just how far a parent would go to save their child.  It is an impossible dilemma, where whatever you choose you will lose, and the paralysing suspense and outright dread is omnipresent, making you feel everything Anna does.  It is unbearably tense at times, particularly in the operating room, as you are kept on a knife-edge, waiting to see what Anna will do and if Zack can be saved.  

I have long been a fan of Jack Jordan and will automatically read and buy anything he writes.  His magnificent storytelling, perfect plotting and sizzling suspense always blow me away, and he is a must-read author for any thriller lover.  But with Do No Harm Jordan has taken things to another level, crafting a dynamic thriller that is now one of my favourites of all time. It would make a fantastic movie or TV show so I hope someone snaps it up soon.  The hype is real and this is going to be huge.

“I never used to think of myself as an angry person, but these men have clawed a rabid animal out of me. I want to kill them, slowly, painstakingly, until they are begging for their mothers.”

One of my favourite things about this book is that it’s so intricate and multilayered.  As well as the moral dilemma there is a strong theme of motherhood woven into this book.  Through each of the three narrators we explore different stages of motherhood and opposing arguments to the dilemma, making you confront the many shades of grey and exposing the motivations and biases of each of the characters.  Each of them are deeply flawed and I liked that Jordan wasn’t scared to make even Anna unlikeable at times, instead focusing on making the characters complex, nuanced and layered.  And while they are all richly drawn and compelling, Anna is the one that stood out strongest to me.  I loved the dichotomy of her character: a Doctor who has taken the Hippocratic Oath and vowed to do no harm but also a mother who will do anything to keep her child safe.  It is the kind of agonising choice that you would never want to be faced with but is so fascinating to read.  

Nail-bitingly intense, and bingeable, Do No Harm is an absolute must-read.  Just make sure that when you pick it up you’ve got nothing else to do as it will hold you captive from the first page until the last. 

READ IT NOW. 

Rating: 💉💉💉💉💉

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jack Jordan is the global number one bestselling author of Anything for Her (2015), My Girl (2016), A Woman Scorned (2018), Before Her Eyes (2018) and Night by Night (2019).

His latest thriller Do No Harm has been coined the thriller of the summer for 2022, described as “relentlessly tense” by Sunday Times Bestseller Lesley Kara, and “Chilling and perfectly paced” by New York Times Bestseller Sarah Pearse.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REIVEW: Madwoman by Louisa Treger

Published: June 9th 2022
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this outstanding and remarkable novel. Thank you Louisa Trager and Bloomsbury for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

In 1887 young Nellie Bly sets out for New York and a career in journalism, determined to make her way as a serious reporter, whatever that may take.

But life in the city is tougher than she imagined. Down to her last dime and desperate to prove her worth, she comes up with a dangerous plan: to fake insanity and have herself committed to the asylum that looms on Blackwell’s Island. There, she will work undercover to document – and expose – the wretched conditions faced by the patients.

But when the asylum door swings shut behind her, she finds herself in a place of horrors, governed by a harshness and cruelty she could never have imagined. Cold, isolated and starving, her days of terror reawaken the traumatic events of her childhood. She entered the asylum of her own free will – but will she ever get out?

An extraordinary portrait of a woman way ahead of her time, Madwoman is the story of a quest for the truth that changed the world.

‘Madwoman is one of the best, a magnificent portrayal of Nelly Bly in all her journalistic integrity and daring’ New York Journal of Books

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MY REVIEW:

“Welcome to Blackwell’s Island. Once you get in here, you’ll never get out.”

Madwoman is a powerful, haunting and remarkable story about an unforgettable young woman. It’s 1887 and 19-year-old Nelly Bly has come to New York to try and make her name as a journalist, something unheard of for women at the time. In order to secure her dream job she pitches a daring idea: faking insanity to get herself committed to the asylum on Blackwell’s Island to go undercover and unearth the truth behind the rumours of mistreatment and expose them once and for all. But Nelly is unprepared for the horrors that lay in store and begins to wonder if she will ever escape the living hell she put herself in.

I’d heard the name Nelly Bly but knew nothing more about the woman at the heart of this story. But as soon as I read the synopsis and saw the striking cover I knew I needed to read this book. I needed to know what kind of woman would willingly get herself committed to an asylum in the nineteenth century and just what did she experience while there?

“Nellie shivered and gritted her teeth. She was going to sleep with madwomen, eat with them, be considered one of them.  Anything could happen, anything at all.” 

Louisa Trager has crafted a mesmerising novel full of evocative imagery and prose that made me see and feel everything that was on the page as vividly as if I were experiencing it myself. She brings the characters and places to life so clearly that you’d believe they were right in front of you. She tears your heart apart and puts it back together as you laugh, cry, rage, despair and feel absolute terror.

But it isn’t just her prose and imagery that makes you feel all of this, it is the deep connection she forges between the reader and Nelly that makes this story so deeply moving. Nelly is a fascinating and compelling character. As a young girl she gives us glimpses of the trailblazer she will become and little Nelly – or Pinks as she is then known – is a fierce and outspoken tomboy who doesn’t fit in and wants much more than to just be somebody’s wife. It helps us understand her actions as an adult such as why she is so determined to be independent and has her sights set on succeeding in what was then considered a man’s profession. Ms. Trager really gets inside Nelly’s mind, body and soul, allowing the reader to walk in her shoes and making our emotions mirror hers.

“Looking into her eyes, Nellie saw that there was a grief only beheld in lunatic asylums, a grief so deep and black that its victim was submerged beyond reach, far more wretched than a criminal.”

I don’t think it will be a surprise that where this story shines brightest is in the darkest of places. Nelly’s time in the asylum is harrowing, heartbreaking and raw. Blackwells is a bleak, gloomy place. A place of horror, degradation, humiliation and fear. A place where those charged with looking after the patients either give inadequate care or delight in doling out the most cruel and inhumane treatments they can think of. This was a time where women could be deemed insane for simply falling in or out of love or having the wrong opinion, and once you were behind that locked door you were usually left to rot. It was a dangerous and terrifying time to be a woman. Especially if you rebelled against the oppressive patriarchal system. The atmosphere on every page during Nelly’s time in the asylum is harsh and unforgiving. You wonder how anyone can survive such torture. But there is humanity and true strength alongside all of the darkness that is truly moving. The women fighting to survive beside Nelly each day are memorable and compelling and I especially enjoyed her friendship with Sofia. I was completely lost in Nelly’s world during this section of the book, reading most furiously and consumed by all she was going through.

An extraordinary story that is one of my top books of the year, I can’t recommend Madwoman enough.

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louisa Treger has worked as a classical violinist. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. Treger subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a Ph.D. in English at University College London, where she focused on early 20th century women’s writing and was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship “for distinguished work in the study of English Language and Literature.” The Lodger was published in 2014, The Dragon Lady in 2019 and she is currently working on her third novel.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

*These are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Midwife of Auschwitz by Anna Stuart

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon*
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

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Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

AUDIOBOOK BLOG TOUR: The Girls by Bella Osborne

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

“One last hoorah. What do you say.” 

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From Bella’s website:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website

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MEET THE NARRATOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

The Reading House

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxxx

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

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Squadpod Squadpod Book Club Squadpod Recommends Support Debuts

That Green-Eyed Girl by Julie Owen-Moylan

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Mystery, Historical Mystery, Romance Novel, Lesbian Literature, LGBT Literature
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this outstanding debut. Thank you to Jen at Michael Joseph for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

1955: In an apartment on the Lower East Side, school teachers Dovie and Gillian live as lodgers. Dancing behind closed curtains, mixing cocktails for two, they guard their private lives fiercely. Until someone guesses the truth . . .

1975: Twenty years later in the same apartment, Ava Winters is keeping her own secret. Her mother has become erratic, haunted by something Ava doesn’t understand – until one sweltering July morning, she disappears.

Soon after her mother’s departure, Ava receives a parcel. Addressed simply to ‘Apartment 3B’, it contains a photo of a woman with the word ‘LIAR’ scrawled across it. Ava does not know what it means or who sent it. But if she can find out then perhaps she’ll discover the answers she is seeking – and meet the woman at the heart of it all . . .

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MY REVIEW:

That Green-Eyed Girl was not only the Squadpod Book Club pick for May, but one of my most anticipated debuts of 2022.  A dual timeslip novel, it moves between 1955 and 1975 to tell  an unforgettable story that deals with difficult topics such as homophobia, racism, mental illness and neglect alongside everyday issues such as teenage crushes.  

Atmospheric, immersive and utterly compelling, I am in awe that this is a debut.  Julie Owen Moylan is a skilled storyteller whose vivid prose brings the story and characters to life, transporting me to the streets of New York so clearly it was as if I could feel the oppressive summer heat on my skin, hear the noise from the traffic and smell the smoke in the jazz bars. She moves seamlessly between timelines as she slowly converges the two storylines, beginning the connection with the mysterious package and then intricately weaving them together until the full picture emerges.

The book is filled with richly drawn, fascinating characters, including our two narrators: Dovie in 1955 and Ava in 1975.  The author creates a strong connection between them and the reader, allowing us to explore their innermost thoughts, feelings and fears.  I had a particularly strong maternal connection to Ava and longed to jump into the book and be the parent she desperately needed and wanted.  Despite their many differences, Ava and Dovie are actually very similar.  Both are imprisoned in their own ways; caught in a web of shameful secrets and lies that hold them captive and paralysed by the fear of discovery.  An oppressive and claustrophobic air of anguish, humiliation and dread permeates each page, and there is a bite of loneliness and regret that runs through the story as societal values and expectations force Dovie and Ava to live these half-lives in order to conform.  It is heartbreaking, powerful and perfectly written. 

Hauntingly beautiful, poignant and bittersweet, this book was both nothing like I expected and everything I wanted.  It is a truly astonishing debut from an author I predict big things from in the future.  This is one not to be missed. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Julie Owen Moylan is a writer whose short stories and articles have appeared in New Welsh ReviewHorizon Literary Review, and The Voice of Women in Wales Anthology

She has also written and directed several short films as part of her MA in Film. Her graduation short film called ‘BabyCakes’ scooped Best Film awards at the Swansea Film Festival, Ffresh, and the Celtic Media Awards. She also has an MA in Creative Writing, and is an alumna of the Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course. 

Her debut novel THAT GREEN-EYED GIRL will be published by Penguin Michael Joseph on May 12th 2022.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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BLOG TOUR: The Trial of Lotta Rae by Siobhan MacGowan

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Summer Fever by Kate Riordan

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Two couples. One sweltering Italian villa . . .

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

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

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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