Audio Books book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

REVIEW: Eighteen Seconds by Louise Beech

Published April 27th, 2023 by Mardle Books
Memoir, Depression and Mental Health Biographies

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Mental health, suicide, abuse, neglect, trauma.


My mother once said to me, ‘I wish you could feel the way I do for eighteen seconds. Just eighteen seconds, so you’d know how awful it is.’

I thought about it. Realised we could all learn from being in another person’s head for eighteen seconds. Eighteen seconds inside Grandma Roberts’ head as she sat alone with her evening cup of tea, us girls upstairs in bed. Eighteen seconds inside one-year-old Colin’s head when he woke up in a foster home without his family. Eighteen seconds inside the head of a girl waiting for her bedroom door to open.

Writer, Louise Beech, looks back on the events that led to the day her mother wrote down her last words, then jumped off the Humber Bridge. She missed witnessing the horror herself by minutes.

Louise recounts the pain and trauma of her childhood alongside her love for her siblings with a delicious dark humour and a profound voice of hope for the future.



“This is my story. No fiction to hide behind.”

February 2019. As author Louise Beech took her usual morning walk she paused to photograph some early daffodils she was surprised to see. Five hours later she gets the devastating news that her mother has jumped from the Humber Bridge. Had Louise not stopped to take that photograph, she might have been there when it happened.  

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it feels like the perfect time to be sharing this review.  Powerful, poignant and heart-wrenching, Eighteen Seconds is the true story of Louise’s life and the aftermath of the harrowing event that shook her family to its core. It was hard-hitting and emotional from the start, and I cried many times while listening to the audio version of this book.  But this is Louise Beech, and even the most solemn of stories cannot be told without her trademark wit, and there is lots of laughter amongst the tears. However, this isn’t only her story. It is also the story of her family, and includes interviews and quotes from her siblings and other family members that discuss how events impacted them. The strong bond Ms. Beech shares with her siblings is clear to see, and I loved their banter and their sense of humour, which they use as a coping mechanism and a way to lighten the darkest of times. I loved her reflections of her grandmother and the special relationship they shared. These were deeply moving and made me think of my own Nan, who I was very close to. 

“… humour is the wonky mirror for emotions often too difficult to look at directly.”

This isn’t an easy read, but it is an important one, featuring topics such as trauma, mental health, suicide, and abuse. It also highlights how dysfunction, pain and trauma don’t only affect us in that moment, but our whole lives, with ripple effects trickling down through the generations as we attempt to not only survive, but flourish, and break those harmful cycles.  And Louise seems to have achieved this. Her love for her own children shines brightest of all in this book and it is evident she is a wonderful mother. I admired her ability to help her children through their problems while navigating her own pain and breaking those toxic cycles. 

“I discovered the one thing that thawed me: writing.”

There is no question that Beech is a talented author. She is one of my favourite authors and I’ve loved every book of hers that I’ve read. Consequently, I expected this book to be well written, but I was unprepared for just how beautiful, potent and unflinching her prose would be this time around.  The narration was fantastic and perfectly conveyed the appropriate emotions for the listener while bringing to life those whose stories are being told. Though my own story is obviously different, her story resonated with me on a personal level in many ways, particularly the exploration of the effects of trauma in chapter five. I laughed, cried, raged, and felt every emotion in between as I was swept away by this phenomenal and courageous memoir.

Eighteen Seconds is a tableau of heartbreak, healing, and forgiveness that demands to be read. Piercingly frank, raw, heartrending, and courageous, it never shies away from the pain and messiness of family and life, striking a resonant chord as it pulls on your heartstrings and then ties them back together with uplifting humour. Louise’s story is one I will never forget and I applaud her for being brave enough to share it with the world. It is a reminder that those who have been through the greatest pain often have the kindest hearts and brightest smiles, and my admiration for this author has grown after reading her story. 

Bravo, Louise, and thank you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮



Louise’s debut novel, How to be Brave, was a Guardian Readers’ pick in 2015 and a top ten bestseller on Amazon. The Mountain in my Shoe longlisted for the Guardian’s Not The Booker Prize 2016. The Sunday Mirror called Maria in the Moon ‘quirky, darkly comic, original and heartfelt’. It was also a Must Read in the Sunday Express and a Book of the Year at LoveReadingUK. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was described as ‘engrossing and captivating’ by the Daily Express. It also shortlisted for the RNA’s Romantic Novel of the Year and longlisted for the Polari Prize 2019. Call Me Star Girl hit number one on Kobo. It also longlisted for the Not The Booker Prize and won the Best magazine Big Book Award 2019. This Is How We Are Human was a Clare Mackintosh August Book of the Month 2021. Audiobook memoir Daffodils came out in 2022, and novel Nothing Else too. Her memoir is coming in paperback as Eighteen Seconds April 2023.

Louise also writes as Louise Swanson.



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Book Features book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022


Published: March 30th, 2023
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Medical Thriller, Domestic Fiction, Political Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover

Happy Paperback Publication Day to one of my favourite thrillers of 2023!

To celebrate, I’m sharing my review with you all again.



‘Chilling and perfectly paced, one to put on the very top of your TBR!’ Sarah Pearse
‘Thriller fans will be in heaven’ Louise Candlish


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.




“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. 


Rating: 💉💉💉💉💉



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, was an instant Times bestseller and shortlisted for the Most Recommended Book in the DeadGood Reader Awards. Coined the thriller of the summer for 2022, it was 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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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Reputation by Sarah Vaughan

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction, Legal Thriller, Political Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Simon & Schuster UK for the gifted ARC.



From the bestselling author of Anatomy of a Scandal, soon to be a major Netflix series…
Reputation: it takes a lifetime to build and just one moment to destroy.
‘Sarah Vaughan has done it again. Superb’ Shari Lapena

Emma Webster is a respectable MP.

Emma Webster is a devoted mother.

Emma Webster is innocent of the murder of a tabloid journalist.

Emma Webster is a liar.

#Reputation: The story you tell about yourself. And the lies others choose to believe…



MP Emma Webster is riding high; her career is flourishing, she’s making changes to laws she’s passionate about, and she’s being interviewed and featured on the front cover of the Guardian Weekend magazine.  But then things start to fall apart and Emma soon finds her life is in tatters as she’s put on trial for a murder she says she didn’t commit.  But what is the truth?  Is Emma Webster a terrified woman who acted in self-defence, or is she a calculating killer erasing the threat to her reputation?

Tense, twisty and powerful, Reputation is a riveting blend of captivating whodunnit, gripping legal thriller and exploration of important social issues we face today.  This was my first time reading one of Sarah Vaughan’s books and my expectations were high after hearing high praise of her previous novels.  I was not disappointed.  From the opening pages there is a foreshadowing of something terrible occurring that turns Emma’s world upside down, adding an ominous atmosphere that looms over every word.  It had me on the edge of my seat as I waited for the full story to unfold, my heart pounding as it reached its dramatic crescendo.  While I did guess some of the twists, many of them surprised me, taking the plot and characters in directions I never saw coming.  Sharply written and intelligent, this is a thriller that keeps you guessing, makes you think and entertains you all in one fell swoop.  

The characters are compelling, flawed and relatable, with problems that are both recognisable and believable.  Emma was a great protagonist and I found her easy to root for at every step.  She is a nuanced character who is strong, fierce and capable but also scared and unsure.  I was never sure if she was guilty or not but could see how everything could have come together to create the perfect storm that led to murder.  But the character I was most drawn to was Flora, Emma’s fourteen-year-old daughter.  The author expertly puts the reader back into the psyche of a teenage girl as her isolation, fear and teenage angst leap from the page. I found her chapters heart-rending as a parent of teenagers; worrying what my children might be going through without me having any clue it’s happening.  It also transported me back to my own teenage years and that feeling of having nowhere to turn and being scared to talk to your parents when something is really wrong.  Emma and Flora’s experiences mirrored each other in many ways and I did enjoy seeing how it drew them closer together when they could have let it tear them further apart. 

Emma’s political career sees her being a voice for the voiceless as she fights against violence and threats towards women, particularly concentrating on the battle for new legislation around revenge porn.  It is a fight that makes her many enemies and she is subjected to the most vile threats and abuse every day.  Before reading this book I had no idea of the extent of the abuse that is part of the daily lives of women in the public eye, the fear they live with or the many safety measures they are forced to take each day.  I was shocked and appalled at what they are subjected to and can’t imagine needing water at public events in case acid is thrown in your face or being told to accept that threats of death and rape are part of the job you’ve chosen.  All of this leads into the other many timely and important themes explored in the book such as female empowerment and solidarity, how women are judged more harshly than their male counterparts, online bullying and the misogyny,  threats and violence that women endure and have grown to expect in their day to day lives.  Even the young aren’t immune, with pre-teens and teenagers using technology as a bullying tool.  While technology and social media can be a positive thing, when it’s used in this way it means that those who are targeted have no respite from the onslaught of abuse.  

Unsurprisingly, the topic of reputation is another theme that recurs throughout the book and the author explores the subject of our reputation versus our character.  Our reputations are built from the outside in but can be destroyed by those who don’t even know us in an instant.  Emma is someone who is very aware of her reputation and carefully cultivates it, particularly in relation to her job.  She has spent years building her reputation as a loving mother, no-nonsense MP and fierce warrior for female rights.  It’s who she is from the inside out.  So when it all comes crumbling down and her reputation is left in tatters, it shakes her to her core and Emma struggles with being portrayed as a person she doesn’t recognise.  It is her reputation, as well as her freedom, that she is fighting for in court.   

Bold, brilliant and intriguing, Reputation packs a punchThis is a book you need to read. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰



Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist. After training at the Press Association, she spent eleven years at the Guardian as a news reporter and political correspondent before leaving to freelance and write fiction. Anatomy of a Scandal, her 3rd novel and her first courtroom drama/psychological thriller, combined these experiences and became an instant international bestseller, and Sunday Times top five bestseller. Translated into 22 languages, it was also a kindle number 1 bestseller, shortlisted for awards in the UK, France and Sweden, and filmed as a six-part Netflix mini-series, starring Sienna Miller, Michelle Dockery, and Rupert Friend. It will be transmitted in spring 2022.

Little Disasters has also been optioned for the screen, was a Waterstone’s thriller of the month, WH Smith paperback of the month, Kindle bestseller, and has been published in the US and various other countries. She is currently working on her fifth novel



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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Monthly Wrap Up

August Wrap Up


So the summer is at an end. August has been a great month for me. I read lots of great books, completed my Goodreads Reading Challenge, and celebrated on year on Bookstagram.  I was thrilled to take part in a number of blog tours and am excited for the many I have coming up the rest of this year.

Collage 2019-09-02 16_35_04

So here is what I’ve read in August:

  • The Girl at The Window by Rowan Coleman ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Take It Back by Kia Abdullah ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Where I Found You by Emma Robinson ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (now titled My Silent Child)
  • Mother Knows Best by Kira Peikoff ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
  • The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Roam by Erik Therme ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • The Sixth Wicked Child by JD Barker ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Dear Child by Romy Haussmann (sampler)
  • The Familiars by Stacey Halls ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Degrees of Guilt by HS Chandler ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Home Truths by Susan Lewis ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Elevator Pitch by Linwood Barclay ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • Nobody’s Wife by Laura Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  • A Shadow on the Lens by Sam Hurcom ⭐⭐⭐⭐

In total I read 13 books and one sampler this month. As you can see they were all highly rated. It seems that each month the quality of what I read gets stronger and as such I’ve decided that instead of attempting the impossible task of choosing a favourite, I will instead highlight the ones that stood out and were my highest rated. My standout titles were The Girl at the Window, Take It Back, The Family Upstairs, The Familiars, The Sixth Wicked Child and Elevator Pitch.

The reviews for The Familiars, Elevator Pitch, Degrees of Guilt and A Shadow on the Lens will be available on the blog in the coming weeks as part of the blog tours and the reviews for most of the others are in past posts (I’m behind on some reviews so haven’t yet written my review for The Family Upstairs).

What did you read this month? Have you read any of these books or are they on your tbr? Let me know in the comments below.

*Thank you to the publishers and to NetGalley for the ARCs I read this month.

Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour Review: ‘Where I Found You’ by Emma Robinson ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Today is my stop on the blog tour for this emotional novel. Thank you to NetGalley, Bookoture and Emma Robinson for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.


Your daughter will not speak…But can she teach you how to live?

Ever since Ruby was tiny, she has been unique. Her smiles are magically rare, and she likes things done in a very particular way – her blocks are always colour-coded and her toy animals stand in regimented lines. She is also the daughter of Sara’s dreams – even on days when being a mother to a three-year-old is exhausting.

Not everyone understands Ruby like Sara does though. Not Sara’s husband Mike, and certainly not her disapproving mother-in-law, Barbara. So when circumstances force their family to move in with Barbara, Sara knows it’s going to make motherhood even harder.

Then Ruby’s pre-school suggests that her behaviour and refusal to speak might be the first signs of a bigger issue, in the same week that Mike walks out on them. And Sara’s world is blown apart.

Facing life as a single parent and trying to work out Ruby’s needs is more than Sara can face alone. There’s only one person she can turn to for help – Barbara.

But Barbara knows something Sara doesn’t. She knows what can go wrong if you don’t look after your children right. And she’s determined not to let Sara make the same mistakes she did.

An emotional page-turner about motherhood, friendship and family. Guaranteed to take your breath away. Perfect for fans of A Boy Made of Blocks, Jodi Picoult and JoJo Moyes.


A beautiful, moving and compelling story about a mother’s love and how she’d do anything for her child. It’s also a story of family, friendship, letting go and about how there is often so much more going on underneath the surface than we know. This book will break your heart, make you angry and challenge you. Can you paint a different picture and see all the different shades of colour that are waiting to be found?

This was my first time reading this author’s work but it won’t be my last. I’ll admit, part of my interest in this book was the comparison to my favourite author, Jodi Picoult, and I think that is an accurate description of Emma’s beautiful writing style. I was quickly immersed in the story and characters and felt invested in Sara and Ruby.

Sara loves her daughter and loves being a mother. She didn’t have a great upbringing so she’s determined to give Ruby everything she didn’t – which is mostly love and security. She as a difficult time making friends, feels anxious and like everyone is judging both Ruby and her as a mother and is very defensive. She hopes to finally make friends after the move and I enjoyed seeing her find her confidence in herself and her abilities as a mother as she found some lovely friendships over the course of the book. I particularly loved her friendship with Leonard from the art gallery and the positive effect this had on their lives and Ruby’s too.

Reading how Sara felt as she realised something might really be wrong with Ruby and how helpless she felt was heartbreaking. As a mother I could relate to some of what she was feeling.Though I’ve not ever had to go through the trauma of battling to get a diagnosis for my child’s autism – my stepson is autistic and had an easier journey to diagnosis – I do know the helplessness of not knowing how to help them when they’re struggling to deal with their illness and that feeling of loving who they are while aso wishing they weren’t born with something that makes their life harder. I also know the pain of their being something wrong with your child that  you can’t fix. My son was diagnosed with a hole in his heart at a few days old and I’ll never forget coming home from the hospital with a list of what to do if he turned blue or grey and sitting in tears watching him sleep in his moses basket convinced I’d lose the baby I’d struggled to conceive and carry. Thankfully he is fine now but you don’t ever forget those feelings or lose the desire to protect you children.

I didn’t like either Mike or Barbara from the start. Mike is a useless, selfish deadbeat dad. His refusal to ever really parent Ruby was sadly familiar and while I hated him for abandoning his wife and child, I also think the are better without him so I was rooting for Sara to find her strength and realise she’s a better mother without having to walk on eggshells and essential parent him too. Barbara was the typical disapproving mother-in-law who can’t let go of her adult child. My heart went out to Sara having to deal with all her judgments and sly shenanigans, how she ignored Ruby’s problems and wanted to control everything. There was a lot of deja vu for me in her character and I’ll be honest in saying I know that made me dislike her more than I would have otherwise. Even so, I did begin to warm to her after Mike left and I hoped that she would support Sara how she needed.

The characters in this book were multilayered and the author reminds us that there can be reasons for a person’s behaviour, however bad it may seem, by showing us what’s behind the mask. While I liked that this is a reminder that no-one is dimensional or just good or bad, I must admit that I did think that giving Sara the answers to almost everyone’s behaviour difficult to accept. Not everything gets tied up in neat bows and we are often left without closure or an answer for the wrongs others do to us or the reason they aren’t good people. Not everyone will see a problem with their behaviour and make amends, and while we did see this in the book too it was to a lesser extent.

Where I Found You is a wonderfully written book that will stay with me. Though I wouldn’t describe this as a twisty book, it did contain some surprising twists. I thought these were fantastically written and helped create an even greater depth to the book. I loved how it reminds us that life doesn’t work out how we planned or pictured it but that’s okay, we just need to paint a new picture and make the most of the life in front of us. I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to have some tissues handy when you read it.

Out now




Apple Books:





Emma Robinson is the author of three novels about motherhood and female friendship including The Undercover Mother.

Her fourth novel  – Where I Found You – is available to preorder now and will be released on the 16th August 2019.

When she is not writing, Emma is an English teacher and lives in Essex with a patient husband and two children who are an endless source of material.



Twitter: @emmarobinsonuk

Instagram: emmarobinsonuk