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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Fragile by Sarah Hilary

In

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Gothic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this chilling thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Pan Macmillan for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

Fragile is a dark, contemporary psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist from an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer who has been compared to Ruth Rendell, P. D. James and Val McDermid. Rebecca meets The Handmaid’s Tale in Sarah Hilary’s standalone breakout novel.

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MY REVIEW:

“I might wish Meagan in my past, outclassed and outpaced, but she was out there – looking for me. Hunting me, because of what I’d done. Everything I’d done.”

Mysterious, sinister and full of foreboding, Fragile is a story where nothing is quite what it seems. After fleeing her foster home, when Nell finds employment at Starling Villas she hopes she’s found her safe haven. But she soon starts to wonder if her employer is all that he appears to be. But as Nell attempts to unravel the secrets of her new home, her past is catching up with her, threatening to shatter her fragile new-found safety.

Tense, eerie and compelling, this story crackles with suspense. It had me hooked, pulling me under like I was drowning, unable to break free from its hold and reach the surface. The author explores themes of secrets, darkness, shadows, jealousy and vengeance in every facet of the book, using it in both the plot and the characters themselves, skillfully weaving in hidden layers and surprising twists. Using flashbacks she offers the reader pieces of the puzzle, allowing us to try and put it all together. But I found this to be a perplexing tale that was hard to solve and was taken in by many of the perfectly placed red herrings.

“Lyle’s had been held up as an example of how to run a good foster home. Until Little Nell had decided to bring it all crashing down.”

The story is told by two narrators, Nell Ballard and her former foster mother Meagan Flack. Nell’s tough exterior hides a deep vulnerability and pain. Her childhood was far from happy and things didn’t improve when she arrived at her foster home aged eight. Her only real joy were two of the other foster children, but a tragedy that is shrouded in mystery and secrecy has tinged even that with heartache and left her feeling unworthy of happiness. But for all her faults I liked Nell and had a soft spot for her after all she’d been through. Meanwhile Meagan is an immediately unlikeable character. She is a woman consumed by hatred, lacking empathy or compassion. All she wants is revenge on the girl she calls Little Nell for bringing her carefully constructed house of cards crashing down. It broke my heart to think of this person being in charge of the care of such vulnerable and fractured children and the additional damage she will have caused them. 

The other characters were just as well-written, fascinating and full of mystery; particularly Nell’s employer Dr Robin Wilder and his wife Carolyn. The Wilders and their home, Starling Villas, have an ominous and unsettling air about them. Carolyn in particular struck me as a coiled viper just waiting for the right time to strike. There was something calculated, cold and conniving about her and, like Nell, I didn’t like or trust her from the start. Robin was more of an enigma, his true character hidden like the secrets in his boxes.

Chilling, menacing and deftly told, this was a fantastic psychological thriller with a gothic twist. And that ending! Wow. I still have goosebumps. Fans of the genre will love this one for sure. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Hilary’s new standalone Fragile is publishing on 10 June 2021. Mick Herron called it ‘a dark river of a book’ while Erin Kelly said, ‘Timeless, tense and tender, Fragile will worm its way deep into your heart.’

Sarah’s debut Someone Else’s Skin won the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year and was a World Book Night selection and a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. In the US, it was a Silver Falchion and Macavity Award finalist. No Other Darkness was shortlisted for a Barry Award. The sixth in her DI Marnie Rome series Never Be Broken is out now. 

Sarah is one of the Killer Women, a crime writing collective supporting diversity, innovation and inclusion in their industry. She is also part of the team responsible for the St Hilda’s Crime Fiction Weekend in Oxford.

As well as writing, Sarah teaches crime fiction, and mentors its rising stars. Her short stories have won the Cheshire Prize for Literature, the Fish Criminally Short Histories Prize, and the SENSE prize.

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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

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Readalong

Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Two Roads/John Murray Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Contemporary Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

I read this book as part of a readalong hosted by the publisher. Thank you Two Roads Books for the gifted copy of this book

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SYNOPSIS:

Madame Burova – Tarot Reader, Palmist and Clairvoyant is retiring and leaving her booth on the Brighton seafront after fifty years.

Imelda Burova has spent a lifetime keeping other people’s secrets and her silence has come at a price. She has seen the lovers and the liars, the angels and the devils, the dreamers and the fools. Her cards had unmasked them all and her cards never lied. But Madame Burova is weary of other people’s lives, their ghosts from the past and other people’s secrets, she needs rest and a little piece of life for herself. Before that, however, she has to fulfill a promise made a long time ago. She holds two brown envelopes in her hand, and she has to deliver them.

In London, it is time for another woman to make a fresh start. Billie has lost her university job, her marriage, and her place in the world when she discovers something that leaves her very identity in question. Determined to find answers, she must follow a trail which might just lead right to Madame Burova’s door.

In a story spanning over fifty years, Ruth Hogan conjures a magical world of 1970s holiday camps and seaside entertainers, eccentrics, heroes and villains, the lost and the found. Young people, with their lives before them, make choices which echo down the years. And a wall of death rider is part of a love story which will last through time.

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MY REVIEW:

“Madame Burova was a woman who knew where the bodies were buried.”

With that breathtaking first line I was hooked. What a way to start! I was ready for a book full of intrigue, suspense and spirits. Madame Burova is a story of two women, a lifetime of secrets and identity. The author moves seamlessly between dual timelines and narrators, slowly unveiling decades-old secrets and piecing together the truth of Billie’s mother’s identity.

This is a story filled with an array of authentic, vibrant, quirky and compelling characters. The women are fierce, feisty, independent and flawed, showing strength but also showing their vulnerable side. I enjoyed the banter between Imelda and her mother, Shunty-Mae, and enjoyed following Billie’s journey as she tried to rebuild her sense of self and discover who she really is after having her world torn apart. The author had me completely invested and unable to turn away. But the character who really stole my heart was young Treasure. I had tears in my eyes for that boy many times as he reminded us of the devastating effects of racism and bullying.

“As she read what was written on the pages it contained, her whole world washed away like the chalked hopscotch squares of her childhood in a sudden downpour of rain.”

This is a very character-driven story. And while I enjoyed that, and loved the characters and mystery elements of the book, I wanted to see more of Imelda’s gift. I was expecting a book full of mysticism and was disappointed that there was relatively little of it featured in the story, particularly in the present day. But that aside, the rest of the book was brilliant and I thought the mystery element was particularly well written as the author kept me guessing right up until the big reveal. As someone who reads a lot of books featuring mysteries, I like when one isn’t easy to guess and keeps me on my toes.

The author really brought the 1970s to life with her evocative imagery, making me feel like I had stepped into the pictures in my parents’ old photo albums. I felt like I could see the people in their flares and platform shoes walking down the street and smell the smoke in the cafe alongside the bacon grease. Speaking of the cafe, I loved how it was the local meeting place and at the core of a lot of the action in that era. It felt true to the time and place and some of my favourite scenes took place there. Another thing that added to the authenticity of the era, were the toxic behaviours that were more acceptable in the 70s that the author skillfully wove into the lighthearted, witty and tender prose. While it was hard to read at times, it was sensitively written and served as an important reminder of how such things were deemed acceptable just a few short years ago.

Uplifting, funny, warm and affecting, Madame Burova is an entertaining story that I would recommend. This was my first foray into Ruth’s books and I’m looking forward to reading more.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

FROM RUTH’S WEBSITE:
I was born in the house where my parents still live in Bedford. My sister was so pleased to have a sibling that she threw a thrupenny bit at me.

As a child, I loved the Brownies but hated the Guides, was obsessed with ponies and read everything I could lay my hands on.  Luckily, my mum worked in a bookshop.  My favourite reads were The MoomintrollsA Hundred Million Francs, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the back of cereal packets, and gravestones.

I passed enough O and A levels to get a place at Goldsmiths College, University of Londonto study English and Drama.  It was brilliant and I loved it.

And then I got a proper job.

I worked for ten years in a senior local government position (Human Resources – Recruitment, Diversity and Training). I was a square peg in round hole, but it paid the bills and mortgage.

In my early thirties I had a car accident which left me unable to work full-time and convinced me to start writing seriously.  I got a part-time job as an osteopath’s receptionist and spent all my spare time writing.  It was all going well, but then in 2012 I got Cancer, which was bloody inconvenient but precipitated an exciting hair journey from bald to a peroxide blonde Annie Lennox crop. When chemo kept me up all night I passed the time writing, and the eventual result was THE KEEPER OF LOST THINGS.

I live in a chaotic Victorian house with an assortment of rescue dogs and my long-suffering husband.  I spend all my free time writing or thinking about it and have notebooks in every room so that I can write down any ideas before I forget them.  I am a magpie; always collecting treasures (or ‘junk’ depending on your point of view) and a huge John Betjeman fan.  My favourite word is antimacassar and I still like reading gravestones.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Shadows Over the Spanish Sun by Caroline Montague

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance Novel, Adventure Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this beautiful novel. Thank you to Ellen at Orion for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Escape to the Spanish hills with this spellbinding story of passionate love, family secrets and betrayal

A country in the shadow of war. A love that burns through the decades…

Mia Ferris’s heart has always belonged in Spain. Every childhood summer was spent at her grandfather’s hacienda, riding together amongst the olive trees or listening to his stories of the past. So when she learns that he has fallen from his horse, she knows that she belongs by his bedside – even if it means leaving behind her life in London, and her new fiancé.

But as Leonardo fights for his life, and Mia to save the family home from financial ruin, secrets begin to emerge that tell a different story of the past – a terrible history that begins with a boy running for his life over the Andalusian hills, and ends with a forbidden love that only war can destroy…

As Mia untangles the passions and betrayals of the past, everything she thought she knew is turned upside down. Can she heal the wounds of the past, and face the truth of her own heart?

A sweeping novel of passionate love, betrayal and redemption, set against the turmoil and tragedy of the Spanish Civil War.

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MY REVIEW:

“Throughout my erratic childhood it had been a haven of tranquility, a golden sanctuary. Papa Leonardo had wrapped me up in his world of horses, orange groves and fireflies.”

One of the things I miss during this pandemic is travelling to new places. Thankfully, we can still travel through books and this beautiful novel transported me to the sunny skies and stunning vistas of Spain. The lush and evocative descriptions made me feel like I was in Andalusia.  It was the perfect book to enjoy in the garden on the day the sun had finally decided to arrive in England.

A sweeping saga laced with secrets, mystery and betrayal, this is a story of family, love, loss and forgiveness. The author immerses you in the world of the Palamera de Santos family. She moves seamlessly between timelines and narrators, taking the reader on a journey alongside Mia as she slowly unfurls the enigmas of her family. 

This book is filled with wonderful characters that are so vibrant and well written that they leap from the page and compel you to keep reading. I adored the relationship between Mia and Leonardo. It is so special and there were parts that felt reminiscent of my own relationship with my grandmother. I love reading about multigenerational relationships, whether they are family or friends, and combining that with my love of historical fiction and mysteries made this story irresistible to me. With that being said, it is probably no surprise to learn that Leonardo’s backstory was one of my favourite parts of this book. My heart went out to him as a scared, heartbroken little boy and I enjoyed seeing what he went through over the years that shaped him  into the man that Mia knows. 

One of the reasons I love historical fiction is because I like broadening my knowledge of history. And as I didn’t know anything about the Spanish civil war, this story offered the perfect chance to educate myself more about it. I found it fascinating and also liked reading about the time leading up to WW2 from a different perspective than I’ve read previously. 

Shadows over the Spanish Sun is a tender, moving and sumptuous story that will take your breath away. Perfect for fans of historical fiction. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From early childhood a poem, executed by my own hand was a compulsory requirement for my father’s birthday. To the reluctant five year old this was considered a trial, but by the age of seven writing poetry had become my passion. At ten I won my first national poetry competition and from that moment I dreamt of being a writer.

This particular dream took rather longer than I had hoped because reading law, marriage at nineteen, children, a career as an interior designer – something always got in the way. When I moved with my second husband, three children and four step children to Burnt Norton twenty years ago, and I happened upon the empty pools made famous by TS Eliot in the first of his Four Quartets, I knew that one day the dream would become a reality.

In 2018 after first writing a historical novel set at Burnt Norton I changed agents to William Morris Endeavour and it was here that I felt truly at home. Within a fairly short time, Matilda Forbes Watson had procured a two book deal with Orion for ‘An Italian Affair’ and ‘A Paris Secret’. She recently procured a further two book deal for a novel set in Spain during the Spanish Civil War and a novel set in Greece.

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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: The Couple by Helly Acton

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: Zaffre
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Fantasy, Humour
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful and refreshing love story. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and to Zaffre for the gifted ebook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Millie is a perfectionist. She’s happy, she’s successful and, with a great support network of friends and family (and a very grumpy cat), she’s never lonely. She loves working at a big tech firm and is on track be promoted to her dream role. The last thing she needs is romance messing up her perfectly organised world.

Besides, normal people just don’t have romantic relationships. Everyone knows that being in a couple is a bit . . . well, odd. You know, like having a pet snake or referring to yourself in the third person. Why rely on another person for your own happiness? Why risk the humiliation of unrequited love or the agony of a break-up? No, Millie is more than happy with her conventional single life.

So, when Millie lands a new project at work, launching a pill that prevents you falling in love, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. That is, until she starts working with Ben. He’s charming and funny, and Millie feels an instant connection to him.

Will Millie sacrifice everything she believes in for love?

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MY REVIEW:

Imagine a world where being single was the norm and those in relationships were viewed as not only unusual, but less-than. Or a world where there’s a drug designed to prevent you falling in love. That is the world of The Couple, the delightful new book by Helly Acton. This book was a joy to read from beginning to end. A glorious mix of humorous, warm and compelling writing, the author also examines and challenges our perceptions of society, life and love. 

I adored Millie and Ben. Millie is a Type-A personality, a demure perfectionist with a love of schedules, order and control. She knows what she wants to achieve and won’t let anything get in her way. Yet there is also a vulnerability to her in her eagerness to please, concern about what others think and the panic attacks she suffers from. And then there’s Ben. Ben is ebullient, spontaneous, chaotic, adventurous and doesn’t care what others think. But he is also funny, kind, thoughtful and charming. I could see why Millie fell for him. The author expertly conveys Millie’s torment over her feelings for Ben and how the idea of even a crush, let alone being in love or having a relationship filled her with dread and a sense that there was something wrong with her. Their chemistry leapt from the pages and while it might seem cheesy and predictable, I found it well written, hopeful and authentic. It was impossible not to root for them and hope they would have the happy ending they deserve.

At the beginning of the book the author explains that she wanted to write a book for the happy single people who are tired of being made to feel ‘less than’ because they’re not in a relationship. There is a lot of societal pressure to be part of a couple, meaning some settle for unhappy, bad or toxic relationships just to be part of one. It was fascinating to see how the world could look if the roles were reversed. I enjoyed the discussions between those on different sides of the debate and thought that the addition of a new drug that is the antidote for love was a brilliant and thought-provoking concept. For all the heartache and struggles that love can sometimes bring, do we really want to live in a world without romantic love? 

All the stars for this funny, entertaining and uplifting book that gave me all the feels. A refreshing twist on the usual love story, I devoured it quickly. Perfect to lose yourself in, I highly recommend you read this book. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

I was born in Zimbabwe, finished school in the UK, spent time in Saudi Arabia and partied away my twenties in Australia.

After six years and one life-affirming divorce in Sydney, I returned home to London. Here, I made up for lost time with my family,
embraced midulthood and enjoyed the single life in a city where the dating apps don’t run dry. 

I am an open book and use my experiences as an inspiration for my stories. Like the time I married the wrong person because everyone else was doing it. Or the time I only dated men my Mum swiped right on, to see if She could choose any better. Or the time a date told me I wasn’t a real writer because I hadn’t published a book. I did eventually find Mr Right At The Right Time, and married Chris in 2019.

In the words of my completely unbiased publisher, I am a ‘huge talent’ and THE SHELF is a fabulously feminist novel and a breath of fresh air, full of real, relatable characters and an important message. The book is clever and empowering but, most importantly, incredibly fun. In my spare hours, I am writing, rewriting, and rewriting again, my second book, which is due for release in 2021.

THE SHELF has been optioned for Television by Monumental Pictures and the rights sold in five territories.

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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: The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Thriller, Crime Fiction, Drama, Police Procedural, Crime Series, Mystery
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting thriller. Thank you to Ellie at Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

An attractive student. An older professor.

Think you know the story? Think again.

THE NEW UP-ALL-NIGHT THRILLER FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER CARA HUNTER, PERFECT FOR FANS OF LINE OF DUTY

She has everything at stake; he has everything to lose. But one of them is lying, all the same.

When an Oxford student accuses one of the university’s professors of sexual assault, DI Adam Fawley’s team think they’ve heard it all before. But they couldn’t be more wrong.

Because this time, the predator is a woman and the shining star of the department, and the student a six-foot male rugby player.

Soon DI Fawley and his team are up against the clock to figure out the truth. What they don’t realise is that someone is watching.

And they have a plan to put Fawley out of action for good…

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MY REVIEW:

The Whole Truth is the fifth book in the DI Adam Fawley series and I’m a little late to the party. While I own all of the books, I have only read the first one. And that was a few years ago. So I appreciated that the author opens the book with a ‘Previously… in the Fawley Files’ that details all the recurring characters along with some important information on their backstory and personality. I think more series should do this as it not only makes it easier to read as a standalone, but is also a refresher for those who’ve read the previous books. 

In this book the author explores the timely subject of sexual harassment by a person in authority. Only this story is a twist on the familiar tale of a teacher taking advantage of a student or the stories of abuse of power often heard in the current #MeToo movement. In this story, the victim is male and the perpetrator is female. Parallel to this investigation is a storyline involving Adam and his pregnant wife, Alex. There is a storm cloud approaching their happy horizon. One that involves and old case coming back to haunt them and a brutal murder that will turn their world upside down. 

While I had enjoyed the first book in the series, this one really had me on the edge of my seat. The author is fantastic at connecting the reader to her characters and made me care about what happened to them even though I’ve not built up that long-standing relationship you get when reading a series. I loved her use of mixed media to tell the story as it makes it even more fun and interesting to read. She writes about the difficult but important topics in the story with truth and sensitivity, showing both sides without judgement or prejudice. She illustrates the added struggles male rape victims face to be believed, the mystogynistic beliefs some people still hold and the fine line officers have to take between investigating and victim blaming. But this isn’t a clear cut case and we are never quite sure who to believe, giving the author the opportunity to also explore the psychology of those who abuse their power in such a way as well as how false allegations might impact those they are levered against.

Captivating and twisty, this is an excellent thriller that had me on tenterhooks. I’m now looking forward to going back and reading the other books in the series, as well as finding out what comes next for the characters in book six. A must-read for fans of crime thrillers and police procedurals. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Trigger Warnings: Sexual assault, rape.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Cara Hunter is the author of the Sunday Times bestselling crime novels Close to Home, In the Dark, No Way Out and All the Rage, all featuring DI Adam Fawley and his Oxford-based police team. Close to Home was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick and was shortlisted for Crime Book of the Year in the British Book Awards 2019. No Way Out was selected by the Sunday Times as one of the 100 best crime novels since 1945. Cara’s novels have sold more than a million copies worldwide, and the TV rights to the series have now been acquired by the Fremantle group. She lives in Oxford, on a street not unlike those featured in her books.

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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: You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll

Published: May 13th, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part, and to Viper Books for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

WOULD YOU SAVE THE MAN
WHO DESTROYED YOUR LIFE?

When paramedic Megan Lowe is called to the scene of an attempted murder, all she can do is try to save the victim. But as the man is lifted onto a stretcher, she realises she knows him. She despises him. Why should she save his life when he destroyed hers?

Jess Foster is on her way home when she receives a text from Megan. Once best friends, the two women haven’t been close for years, not since the night when they were just the teenage girls whom no-one believed; whose reputations were ruined. All Jess can think is, you had it coming.

Now Megan and Jess are at the centre of a murder investigation. But what secrets are they hiding? Can they trust one another? And who really is the victim?

Perfect for fans of C.L. Taylor, Lucy Foley and Lisa Hall, You Had It Coming is a thrilling tale of suspense and dark secrets.

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MY REVIEW:

Taut, tense and twisty, You Had It Coming is a story of injustice, murder and vengeance. At the epicentre of it all is what really happened to two teenage girls on the night of a party twelve years ago. Two girls whose worlds were destroyed when they weren’t believed. Were Megan and Jess telling the truth? Did William Newton build his reputation at their cost? Or did he save two innocent young men from injustice? These questions and more are examined in this readable page-turner. 

The author addresses several difficult subjects in the story. She does this with honesty, but also sensitivity, never being graphic or sensational. She focuses instead on the emotion, the long-lasting effects of what happened that night and how trauma ripples through your life long after the event has occurred, seeping into every facet of your world. There is also a tempo of malevolence and foreboding that runs through the pages as she sprinkles crumbs of suggestion that hints at their possible guilt at random intervals in the story. It is cleverly done, and the effect is that even when I was 80% of the way through the book, I had lots of suspicions but no clear idea who the culprit was or what was going to happen next. Carroll had me on the edge of my seat, my heart racing as I quickly turned the pages to reach the finale and unveil the truth. 

She filled the book with a cast of fractured, troubled, but compelling, characters. The three narrators: Megan, Jess and Bridget – the detective in charge of the murder investigation – are great choices that each offer a unique perspective and insights. While Megan and Jess were both victims of the same crime twelve years ago, their backgrounds and the way it has impacted their lives since, are very different. Just as their reactions to Newton’s death and the murder investigation are different. I liked the uncertainty that having two of them added to the story and found it interesting to read as they get to know each other again all these years later. 

The narrator I liked best was Bridget. This wasn’t because she was the one investigating the murder, but because of the perspectives the author explored through her character. Bridget has a teenage son and daughter, and through her family and perspective as a mother rather than a police officer, the author explores the nuances of consent, rape and sexual assault. I particularly liked how the author had her address these issues directly with her children. As the mother of two teenage boys myself, I am keenly aware of how vital it is to have these conversations and make sure they understand consent and the dangers of those blurred lines for both men and women. 

Gripping, suspenseful, thought-provoking and emotionally-charged, I highly recommend this fantastic thriller.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Sexual assault, rape.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ber Carroll (also known as B.M Carroll) was born in Blarney, a small but famous village in Ireland. The middle child of six, she often retreated from the chaos of family life by immersing herself in books. She has fond memories of the mobile library bus that used to pull up outside their house in Blarney and the dozen or so books she would borrow at a time, some quite inappropriate for her age.

Ber moved to Sydney in 1995 with her boyfriend (now husband) Rob. She got a job as a finance manager in the IT industry and began to climb the corporate ladder. The exciting and dynamic work environment captured her imagination and inspired her first novel. When Executive Affair was published, Ber flatly denied it was in any way auto-biographical. She now admits that the novel did have a lot of her in it, and suspects that half the people who purchased the book were her ex colleagues, to see if they were in it too. Ber gave up her finance career when she realised that she couldn’t hold down a demanding job, be mum to two small children and write books to contractual deadline. She now writes fulltime, but says that she misses getting dressed up for work and being around people who listen to what she has to say, unlike her kids!

Ber is the author of ten novels, including Just Business, High Potential, The Better Woman, Less Than Perfect, Worlds Apart and Once Lost. Her most recent novels The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy, Who We Were, and You Had It Coming (May/June 2021) are published under B.M. Carroll.

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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: Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this fantastic book. Thank you to Chrissie at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the ARC of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

NOAH AND KATE WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER FOREVER.

Married with two gorgeous sons, it looked like they’d got their happy ever after.

But marriage isn’t easy. And one day, Kate left, taking their two boys with her.

These days, Noah is a weekend dad – and it breaks his heart. He misses the chaotic mealtimes, the bedtime stories, the early mornings and the late homework.

Suddenly, he decides enough is enough – he has to win his family back. Starting with Kate.

The only problem?

IN SIX WEEKS’ TIME, KATE IS GETTING MARRIED TO SOMEONE ELSE . . .

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MY REVIEW:

Until Next Weekend is a story about love, loss and moving on. It made me laugh, made me cry, and it made my heart ache. The author has cleverly crafted a nuanced, emotive and tender story that is also a funny and entertaining read.

It is expertly and sensitively written, weaving serious topics such as depression, suicide, grief and child neglect amongst the lighthearted jokes and banter. With evocative and descriptive prose she brings the story and characters to life. I loved the scenes with Noah’s pupils in particular as she perfectly captured the wonderful innocence, beauty and frustration of young children in his buzzing, chaotic classroom. 

I liked Noah. He’s a great character who feels very real. He makes mistakes and isn’t always likeable, yet the author knows how to make you care about him and root for him, particularly for the sake of his young sons. But while he was a great narrator and main character, for me the stars of the show were Mimi and little Harley. 

Barmaid Mimi is a vibrant, charismatic and feisty character who challenges Noah from the moment they meet. I enjoyed their dynamic and how she helped him to grow. Harley, Mimi’s troubled nephew who is also one of Noah’s pupils, was by far my favourite character. He has a lot of problems and is initially seen as a naughty and unlikeable child. But we soon learn there is much more to his behaviour than first meets the eye. My heart broke for him as his story unfolded and this little boy found a place in my heart. Marks is a master at writing troubled children and knows exactly how to shatter your heart into a million pieces and make you want to throw your arms around them and reassure them it will all be okay. 

Compelling, truthful, thought-provoking and dripping with humour, Ms. Marks is two for two on fantastic books that I would recommend. I’m looking forward to reading what she writes next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Trigger Warnings: Depression, suicide.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Marks studied English at Exeter University before becoming a primary school teacher. After having her first son, she decided to focus mainly on being a mum, teaching one day a week and nurturing her creative side by starting a small photography business.

Despite always loving to write, it wasn’t until she gained a place on the 2016 Curtis Brown Creative online novel writing course that she started to believe it could be anything more than just a much-loved hobby. Her inspiration for her first novel came from the challenges she faced with her eldest son, testing and fascinating in equal measure. When she discovered Pathological Demand Avoidance, a poorly understood Autism Spectrum Disorder, she could finally make sense of her son’s behavior, and the idea for the first novel fell into place.

When not writing, she loves dragging her husband and two boys around Europe to off-the-beaten track and sometimes sub zero destinations, snowboarding and sightseeing, the kind of trips that would undeniably be easier without children but only half the adventure…

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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.

Until next time Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal

Published: May 13th, 2021
Publisher: Picador
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction

Happy Publication Elizabeth Macneal! I’m thrilled to be sharing my review of this dazzling novel today.

SYNOPSIS:

The spellbinding novel from the author of the Sunday Times bestselling The Doll Factory.
‘An absolute triumph. Exquisitely written, intensely satisfying’ – Stacey Halls, author of The Familiars

1866. In a coastal village in southern England, Nell picks violets for a living. Set apart by her community because of the birthmarks that speckle her skin, Nell’s world is her beloved brother and devotion to the sea.

But when Jasper Jupiter’s Circus of Wonders arrives in the village, Nell is kidnapped. Her father has sold her, promising Jasper Jupiter his very own leopard girl. It is the greatest betrayal of Nell’s life, but as her fame grows, and she finds friendship with the other performers and Jasper’s gentle brother Toby, she begins to wonder if joining the show is the best thing that has ever happened to her.

In London, newspapers describe Nell as the eighth wonder of the world. Figurines are cast in her image, and crowds rush to watch her soar through the air. But who gets to tell Nell’s story? What happens when her fame threatens to eclipse that of the showman who bought her? And as she falls in love with Toby, can he detach himself from his past and the terrible secret that binds him to his brother?

Moving from the pleasure gardens of Victorian London to the battle-scarred plains of the Crimea, Circus of Wonders is an astonishing story about power and ownership, fame and the threat of invisibility.

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MY REVIEW:

“It is as if someone has taken a paintbrush and run it from her cheekbone to her chin, splashed tiny flecks of brown paint across the rest of her face and neck. He should look away, but he can’t. He cannot believe that this quiet village could contain someone so extraordinary.“

Elizabeth Macneal has done it again. Circus of Wonders is an absolute masterpiece. Captivating, illuminating and transportive, Macneal had me in the palm of her hands from beginning to end as I absorbed this marvelous dazzling tale. 

When you fall in love with an author and their debut novel there is always some trepidation that accompanies the excitement of reading their second novel. But Macneal has once again crafted something special. Exquisitely written and richly drawn, she paints an evocative picture that spirits you away to a world that has drifted away into history. With great attention to detail she immerses you in the sights and sounds of Victorian life, making you feel like you are right there beside Nell and the others.

“How can she do that, Nell wonders; how can she beat to make a feature of her own difference, to stare the world in the eye?” 

This is a book filled with a cast of fabulous and varied characters that are all outcasts, battling inner demons and searching for acceptance. Written with sensitivity and realism, the author draws them so vividly that they dance before your eyes as if you’re watching them on a movie screen. I adored Nell. She is a fantastic protagonist and I loved how the author really builds her character before the circus becomes a big part of the story. Allowing us to get to know her and her backstory straight away builds a rapport between her and the reader, creates  empathy for the heartbreak, pain and longing she feels, and helps us to understand her feelings and actions later in the story. Toby is another great character. The relationship between him and his brother Japer – the villain of the story – is mysterious and complex. But through glimpses of their childhood and their time on the battlefield during the Crimean War, we slowly have a greater understanding of their relationship and of them as individuals. 

“There’s more than one way to tell a story.”

The author weaves a number of recurring themes throughout the story: love, belonging, self-acceptance, redemption, the power of storytelling and of who controls the narrative, that are explored in a variety of ways. For example, Nell starts out as a pariah who tries to live a life in the shadows unseen. But through the acceptance and friendship of the other wonders at the circus, and the fame she finds as Nellie Moon, she not only begins to accept herself, but she soars. She is a butterfly emerging from her chrysalis, illuminated and spectacular, and discovers there is a power in being different. She also finds that it opens the door to something else she never thought possible: love. 

Spellbinding, intoxicating, atmospheric and consuming, this is a story about what it is to be human. I was lost in the world she created and didn’t want to go back to reality when it was finished. It is something truly special. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Elizabeth Macneal was born in Scotland and now lives in East London. She is a writer and potter and works from a small studio at the bottom of her garden. The Doll Factory, Elizabeth’s debut novel, was a Sunday Times bestseller, has been translated into twenty-nine languages and has been optioned for a major television series. It won the Caledonia Novel Award 2018. Circus of Wonders is her second novel.

Website | Instagram | Twitter

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Hope at Pan Macmillan for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC of the book.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Ad Book Features book reviews

The Other Emily by Dean Koontz

Published: March 23rd
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

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#Ad Welcome to my review of this gripping thriller. Thank you to Amazon Publishing and Thomas and Mercer for the gifted copy of this book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Number one New York Times bestselling master of suspense Dean Koontz takes readers on a twisting journey of lost love, impossible second chances, and terrifying promises.

A decade ago, Emily Carlino vanished after her car broke down on a California highway. She was presumed to be one of serial killer Ronny Lee Jessup’s victims whose remains were never found.

Writer David Thorne still hasn’t recovered from losing the love of his life, or from the guilt of not being there to save her. Since then, he’s sought closure any way he can. He even visits regularly with Jessup in prison, desperate for answers about Emily’s final hours so he may finally lay her body to rest. Then David meets Maddison Sutton, beguiling, playful, and keenly aware of all David has lost. But what really takes his breath away is that everything about Maddison, down to her kisses, is just like Emily. As the fantastic becomes credible, David’s obsession grows, Maddison’s mysterious past deepens―and terror escalates.

Is she Emily? Or an irresistible dead ringer? Either way, the ultimate question is the same: What game is she playing? Whatever the risk in finding out, David’s willing to take it for this precious second chance. It’s been ten years since he’s felt this inspired, this hopeful, this much in love…and he’s afraid.

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MY REVIEW:

The Other Emily is a gripping page-turner that had me guessing from start to finish. From the ominous and intriguing opening I was on tenterhooks. What had happened to Emily? And just who is Maddison? Could she really be David’s lost love? Or is she a mysterious doppelganger?

What I loved most about this book was the perpetual mystery. There’s nothing better than a book that genuinely surprises you, and this one did that again and again. What appeared to be happening seemed impossible and illogical, so you’re kept on your toes and it’s impossible to predict. It felt like the more we knew, the more the mystery deepened. As secrets were unfurled the tension rose and I was on the edge of my seat, my heart pounding as I waited for David to discover the truth about Emily’s disappearance.

The characters are all captivating and well-written. David was a great protagonist. He is likeable and easy to root for. His love for Emily is still so strong even after ten years and you can feel his heartbreak radiating from the pages. You want him to find the truth, but you also don’t because it is inevitably going to cause him even more pain. Maddison is suitably enigmatic and impossible to figure out. Common sense told me she wasn’t Emily but so many other things pointed to her being her. I couldn’t figure it out and decided to instead just enjoy the ride and see where the author took me. Ronny Lee Jessup is a fantastic villain. Both he and his house of horrors are chilling, disturbing and repulsive. I would cringe every time he was on the page and felt sick to my stomach at the thrills he got from hurting others and continuing David’s torment.

I’d obviously heard of Dean Kootz before. What thriller reader hasn’t? But this was my first time reading one of his books. I loved his style and the short, sharp chapters and am now wondering why it’s taken me so long to pick up one of his books. I will definitely be reading more of them in the future.

A tense, eerie, twisty and curious thriller, this was an entertaining read. I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys the genre.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Dean Koontz, the author of many #1 New York Times bestsellers, lives in Southern California with his wife, Gerda, their golden retriever, Elsa, and the enduring spirits of their goldens, Trixie and Anna.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

mght.co/OEemmasbiblio

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction, Humour, Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

Best friends tell each other everything.Or do they?

Georgia and Lydia are so close, they’re practically sisters.

So when Lydia starts an online business that struggles, Georgia wants to help her – but Lydia’s not the kind to accept a handout. Setting up a fake Twitter account, Georgia hopes to give her friend some anonymous moral support by posing as a potential customer.

But then Lydia starts confiding in her new internet buddy and Georgia discovers she doesn’t know her quite as well as she thought. Georgia knows she should reveal the truth – especially when Lydia starts talking about her – but she just can’t help herself.

Until Lydia reveals a secret that could not only end their friendship, but also blow-up Georgia’s marriage . . .

Georgia’s in too deep.

But what can she save?

Her marriage, her friendship – or just herself?

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MY REVIEW:

Worst Idea Ever is a sharply-observed story of tumultuous female friendship, a misguided act of charity, jealousy, vengeance and betrayal. 

Georgia and Lydia have been best friends for over twenty years. But while on the surface they appear to be soul sisters who are more like family and friends, they are both hiding secret jealousies and rivalry that lurks beneath their love and support of one another. When Georgia, a successful children’s author and illustrator, drunkenly creates a fake twitter account to secretly try and boost Lydia’s confidence in her own creative endeavours, she sparks a chain of events that sees their resentment and irritation boil over and threatens to tear them apart forever. 

Why on earth have I waited so long to read one of this author’s books?! After inhaling this book in pretty much one sitting and staying up until 3am to finish it as I NEEDED answers, I’m kicking myself for letting her books languish on my shelves for so long. I loved how she pulled the rug from under me with a jaw-dropping twist that took this from an entertaining but predictable read, to one that had me on the edge of my seat trying desperately to figure out what would happen next. It was pure genius and made it impossible to put the book down. 

Expertly written, Fallon entertains while examining the complexities of issues such as friendship, jealousy, deception and revenge, putting the reader in the shoes of both sides of the story so they can make their own mind up about who and what is right or wrong. She also looks at the lies we tell ourselves to excuse our bad decisions, the damage we can cause to others when trying to do the right thing, and the masks people can wear to hide who they really are. 

Georgia and Lydia are great characters that I enjoyed individually and as a duo. They have that easy rapport of long-standing, close friendship, that I’m sure we all recognise. They’ve been there for each other’s highest highs and lowest lows and feel like they know each other inside out. But there are things unspoken, fragments of envy and conflict they don’t give a voice to, that lurk under the surface and fester. It is a combination of all of these things that leads to Georgia’s misguided act of kindness and Lydia’s Judas kiss of betrayal. 

If you’re looking for an entertaining read full of twists and tension, then this is the book for you. Compulsive, clever, witty and utterly brilliant, I am an instant fan. Now I’m off to buy more of her books…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jane Fallon is the multi-award-winning television producer behind shows such as This Life, Teachers and 20 Things to Do before You’re 30. Her debut novel “Getting Rid of Matthew’ was published in 2007 and became a Sunday Times Top Ten Bestseller as have her subsequent books ‘Got You Back’, ‘Foursome’, ‘The Ugly Sister’, ‘Skeletons’, ‘Strictly Between Us’,’My Sweet Revenge’, ‘Faking Friends’ and ‘Tell Me a Secret’
Her 10th novel Queen Bee is available now to pre order in both paperback and for Kindle.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and for the gifted ARC. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx