Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Legal Crime by Samiksha Bhattacharjee

Published: February 15th, 2021
Publisher: The Conrad Press
Genre: Young Adult, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Legal Crime. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to The Conrad Press for the eBook ARC.

******

SYNOPSIS:

This exciting and captivating page-turner transports you into the fascinating story of sixteen-year-old aspiring singer Fiona Watson who runs away from her family, oblivious to the dangers outside her shielded comfort zone. As she journeys through her new world, leaving her past behind and determined to find a new identity, she uncovers surprising secrets buried deep within her long ago…

How do her new friends link to her past? What secrets are they hiding behind their misleading smiles? How much of herself has she really left behind? And how will she cope when she realises that she has made a huge mistake… one that could ruin her forever?

********

MY REVIEW:

In the early hours of her sixteenth birthday, Fiona runs away from home. Why she’s leaving isn’t clear at first, but things are revealed as the story goes on. With the help of a group of new friends, she starts to carve out a new identity for herself and chase her dreams. But being young and naïve, she is unaware and unprepared for the dangers and struggles that await her away from home. And as her new friends’ secrets are unveiled, she begins to wonder if she has made a big mistake…

I think it is important to know before reading this book that it is not just young adult fiction, but the author is just thirteen years old. When viewed through that lens, it is a good book. But I also feel like it makes it a little tricky to review this book objectively as I look at the world very differently as a woman in my forties to how a thirteen-year-old does. 

Writing any book is a remarkable achievement for anyone, particularly a young person. This book has the bare bones of a great book but suffers without the nuance and experience of a more mature author. The narration was sometimes a little confusing, the writing a bit clumsy and the pace a bit choppy for my liking, but all of that could be my more mature perspective of a book written by, and for, young adults. 

But being young also has its advantages and the author authentically conveys the frustration, pain, angst and naivete of being a teenager. She took me back to that time where every small problem felt like the end of the world and I was so sure I knew so much more than I did. A time where our friends are the most important people in our world and it seems our parents are only out to get in our way. But as the story goes on, she shows how a teenager learns the importance of the right friends, family, and how to forgive yourself for your mistakes. 

Legal Crime’s themes of identity, self-discovery and peer pressure will resonate with young readers. Quirky and imaginative, I think the author has the potential to be a great writer with a little more maturity and experience and I am sure we will see more from her in the future. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Samiksha Bhattacharjee is a thirteen-year-old British author living with her parents and younger brother. She started writing ‘Legal Crime’ when she was seven, and hopes to inspire other children to start creative writing too. She also enjoys acting, singing, drawing and talking (a lot).

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Viking
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Coming-of-Age Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for one of the best books I’ve read this year.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Have you ever imagined running away from your life?

Well Birdy Finch didn’t just imagine it. She did it. Which might’ve been an error. And the life she’s run into? Her best friend, Heather’s.

The only problem is, she hasn’t told Heather. Actually there are a few other problems…

Can Birdy carry off a summer at a luxury Scottish hotel pretending to be her best friend (who incidentally is a world-class wine expert)?

And can she stop herself from falling for the first man she’s ever actually liked (but who thinks she’s someone else)

The Summer Job is a fresh, fun, feel-good romcom for fans of The Flatshare, Bridget Jones and Bridesmaids.

WANT TO ESCAPE REAL LIFE FOR A WHILE? RUN AWAY WITH BIRDY FINCH, A MESSY HEROINE WITH A HEART OF GOLD. THE SUMMER JOB IS THE HOTTEST DEBUT TO LOSE YOURSELF IN THIS YEAR.

********

MY REVIEW:

“It’s like they’ll believe anything I say. I’m the Donald Trump of wine.”

Birdy Finch’s life is a mess. So when her best friend Heather decides to go to Italy with her new boyfriend instead of taking a summer job as sommelier at a Scottish hotel, Birdy decides to escape her own life and pose as Heather. All she has to do is convince everyone she’s a first-class wine expert. 

But there is much more to this job than she’d anticipated. Then there’s the complication of her burgeoning romance with sexy chef James. With both the hotel and her best friend’s reputations on the line, she’s feeling the pressure. Can Birdy pull it off?

I truly believe that some books come to you at just the right time. This was one of them for me. Absorbing, uplifting, witty and original, this was a balm for my soul and a joy to read from beginning to end. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much when reading. And though I read it three months ago, I still think of it most days with a smile on my face. 

To connect with a book you need a great main character. And Birdy is a fabulous creation. She’s a hot mess and absolutely hilarious, but also possesses a kindness, vulnerability and insecurity that endeared her to me even more. I enjoyed watching her grow from someone who saw it all as a bit of a lark to taking things seriously and being determined to prove what she could do. She is fabulously written and a wonderful heroine. I was cheering her on, rooting for her to pull it all off with her friendship intact while finding happiness for herself. 

Dent is a remarkable new talent that I’m really excited about. She possesses an abundance of wit and charisma that shines through her writing. She pulls the reader in, making you fully invested in the characters and story and transporting you to the sunny climes of France in May, even when reading the book under a blanket on a freezing January day. Her writing even had me believing in the most outlandish parts of the plot and made her cliched crush on James something I was rooting for. 

Heartwarming, entertaining, captivating and utterly brilliant, The Summer Job should be on everyone’s summer reading list. I devoured it quickly, unable to tear myself away from Birdy and her antics. And I have no doubt you will feel the same. So grab a glass of wine and immerse yourself in this truly spectacular debut. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Lizzy Dent (mis)spent her early twenties working in Scotland in hospitality. After years travelling the world making Music TV for MTV and Channel 4, and creating digital content for Cartoon Network, the BBC and ITV, she wrote three Young Adult novels as Rebecca Denton published in the UK. This is her debut adult novel. She lives between London, Austria, and New Zealand with her young family.

Website |Instagram |Twitter| Facebook

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thank you to Viking for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and for the gifted copy of the book. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Source by Sarah Sultoon

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Political Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

A young TV journalist is forced to revisit her harrowing past when she’s thrust into a sex-trafficking investigation in her hometown. A startling, searing debut thriller by award-winning CNN journalist Sarah Sultoon.
––––––––––––––––––––––––

1996. Essex.
 Thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Carly lives in a disenfranchised town dominated by a military base, struggling to care for her baby sister while her mum sleeps off another binge. When her squaddie brother brings food and treats, and offers an exclusive invitation to army parties, things start to look a little less bleak…

2006. London. Junior TV newsroom journalist Marie has spent six months exposing a gang of sex traffickers, but everything is derailed when New Scotland Yard announces the re-opening of Operation Andromeda, the notorious investigation into allegations of sex abuse at an army base a decade earlier…

As the lives of these two characters intertwine around a single, defining event, a series of utterly chilling experiences is revealed, sparking a nail-biting race to find the truth … and justice.

A riveting, searing and devastatingly dark thriller, The Source is also a story about survival, about hopes and dreams, about power, abuse and resilience … an immense, tense and thought-provoking debut that you will never, ever forget.

********

MY REVIEW:

The Source is a story of survival and strength, of power, abuse and corruption, and of finally finding justice. It is a story of a cesspit of evil and the nefarious characters that can hide behind a mask of authority and respectability; and a story of the courage and resilience of those who were their prey. 

It is told in three parts and in two timelines: in 1996. 13-year-old Carly is living on an army base with her mum and baby sister. Her world is one of neglect and doing whatever it takes to survive. She begins partying with the squddies in the barracks, turning to drinking, drugs and sex to escape the realities of her life. But things take an even darker turn and Carly finds herself embroiled in something much bigger, scarier and more powerful than she anticipated.  

In 2006, journalist Marie is taking part in her first undercover case. But after she and her team successfully get the evidence they need to a expose sex trafficing case, the Met quashes their story by announcing new evidence in Operation Andromeda: the investigation into sexual abuse in the army a decade earlier. Moving seamlessly between the two narratives, the author weaves the two stories together as secrets are exposed and the fight for long-overdue justice continues. 

Sultoon writes unflinchingly but with sensitivity. While it is horrifically authentic, it is never graphic, focusing instead on the emotions of the characters to tell the story. I was particularly drawn to Carly and her little sister Kayleigh. They are so evocatively written that you can feel their pain as if it’s your own and I wanted to reach in and save them from the neglect and nightmare that was their life. 

Unsettling, raw and close to the bone, this isn’t an easy read. This is a book that will elicit strong emotions: heartbreak, shock, outrage, disgust. If I’m honest, I might not have picked it up if I’d known the subject matter ahead of time, and there was a point I wasn’t sure if I could keep reading, but having finished I’m glad I kept going. 

The Source is a fast-paced, eye-opening and compassionate exploration of some of the darkest aspects of our society by a talented author. A striking debut. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

TW: Sexual abuse, child abuse, eating disorders 

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer, whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if … 

Twitter

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in this tour and to Karen at Orenda Books for the eBook ARC. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: The Favour by Laura Vaughan

“On my return, I found the city bleached of all colour, shimmering dullt in an August heatwave. The water was almost as full of glare as the sky. Once again, I had miscalculated. Once more, I was unprepared. Ancient treasure gleamed in doorways, shopfronts winked with made-in-China trash, and their competing glister seemed one and the same. My armpits were swampy, my mouth sour. My hands shook. So when I realised it was him, my first thought, absurdly, was I don’t want him to see me like this. After all those years, he still had that effect on me.

Cheer up Ada, he said. You look like you’re going to a funeral.

His mouth crooked. And then, of couse, we laughed.”

Today’s first lines are from The Favour, a book that piqued my interest as soon as I read the synopsis. When I received the fabulous parcel pictured above from the publishers, I became even more intrigued and knew I had to share this one with you all.

SYNOPSIS:

Fortune favours the fraud…

When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy. In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set. But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined…

The Favour is out now in eBook and out March 4th in Hardcover, You can buy the book here*

Will you be adding this one to your tbr? Let me know in the comments. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Thank you to Corvus for the gifted ARC.

*This is an affiliate link.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Deity by Matt Wesolowski

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction

I’m a little late posting this due to ill health, but here is my review for the fifth installment in Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories series. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted ebook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rake over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Are reports of a haunting really true? Why was he never officially charged?

Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…

MY REVIEW:

“This journey feels like it’s just begun — pulling apart a myth bit by bit to see what lies within.”

The fifth installment in Matt Wesolwski’s Six Stories series offers what we’ve come to expect: an eerie, mysterious and exhilarating novel exploring a fictional cold case over six episodes of the fictional podcast. This time presenter Scott King is trying to get answers about the life of music superstar Zach Crystal, a controversial, enigmatic and eccentric figure who perished in a fire in 2019.

As always, we jump straight into the action, with a chilling and sinister opening that will leave you both desperate for more and terrified to turn the page. I don’t want to talk too much about the details of the plot as the beauty of these stories is the journey of discovery, the mystery and surprises that unfold. What I will say is that once again Wesolwski has knocked it out of the park.

Wesolowski’s books are always highly anticipated in the blogging and book community; and for good reason. You will never read anything else like it. He has a style that is instantly recognisable as his and has crafted a series that is compelling, memorable and unique. Wesolowski isn’t a man afraid of taking risks or writing about the dark side. And his books aren’t for the faint hearted. They will send shivers down your spine, make you question the world around you and see monsters where there were none before. He is a genius. And I am yet to meet anyone who has read his books that doesn’t agree. I was late to discover this series and I’m still playing catch-up with the earlier books. But what is so good about them is while you will want to, and should, read every one, you can dip in at any point as each one is about a completely new case with all new characters bar the presenter.

Hypnotic, thrilling, innovative and simply brilliant, Deity is an unmissable book by one of the greatest voices in fiction.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Trigger Warnings: sexual abuse

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care.

‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017, ‘Changeling’ in 2018, ‘Beast’ in 2019 and ‘Deity’ in 2020.

‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio and the third book in the series, ‘Changeling’ was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Award for Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.
‘Beast’ won the Amazon publishing award for Best Independent voice in 2020.

Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

Bookshop.org* | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo
*Links to Bookshop.org, Waterstones and Amazon are affiliate links

Please check out the reviews by the other bloggers on the tour.

Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside by Jessica Ryn

Published: November 26th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Uplit, Contemporary Romance, Coming-of-Age Fiction

Today is my stop on the tour for this wonderful debut. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

She’s not lost. She’s just waiting to be found…

Dawn Elisabeth Brightside has been running from her past for twenty-two years and two months, precisely.

So when she is offered a bed in St Jude’s Hostel for the Homeless, it means so much more than just a roof over her head.

But with St Jude’s threatened with closure, Dawn worries that everything is about to crumble around her all over again.

Perhaps, with a little help from her new friends, she can find a way to save this light in the darkness?

And maybe, just maybe, Dawn will finally have a place to call home….

The utterly charming feel-good debut novel of 2020 to curl up with.

MY REVIEW:

“And if being at St Jude’s has taught me anything, it’s that you need to find your tribe. The rest of the journey’s not designed to be a solo one. Group tickets always offer the best value.”

The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside is a truly special book. The definition of ‘uplit’, it is one of those books that feels like a warm hug or a hot chocolate on a cold day. It will make you laugh and cry. It will steal your heart and make a permanent home in your soul.

I adored the colourful cast of compelling and very real characters. I liked that the author showed their humanity and personality rather than making them a cliché. She makes their experiences leap from the page, transports you into their world and makes you live every moment alongside them.

Dawn is quite the character. She is damaged, flawed and unreliable but also hopeful, joyous and endearing. Despite being down on her luck and going through some very traumatic things, she sees the silver lining – the ‘bright side’ you might say – and encourages others to do the same. She cares deeply about others and becomes a real light in the lives of those around her. She is a character I won’t forget and I challenge anyone not to fall in love with her too.

This was a very nostalgic book for me as my father was a manager for the YMCA and we lived on-site for three years when I was twelve to fifteen. The experience made a huge impact and is a big part of who I am today. The residents became like family and we are still in touch with a number of them even now. All the memories of that time came flooding back while reading and it was clear to me that the author knew her stuff. This felt authentic. So I wasn’t surprised to learn she’d worked with the homeless and had even lived on-site too.

But while this is a very uplifting book, it also addresses serious topics such as mental health, addiction and homelessness. She examines these things on a deeper level, commenting on the perception and judgement of the homeless or with mental health or addiction issues, the underfunding of homeless hostels and the degradation of applying for sickness benefits, something I personally related to as someone unable to work because of chronic illness. But she has a talent for doing all of this without bringing the mood down, balancing gritty realism with a humour and optimism that is reminiscent of Dawn.

Addictive, heartbreaking, hopeful, evocative, entertaining, warm and emotionally resonant, this is a remarkable debut. This book has arrived at the perfect time; Dawn’s kindness and positivity is something we all need more of right now. READ THIS BOOK!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jessica Ryn is a former midwife and homeless resettlement worker. She has recently completed her MA in Creative Writing at CCCU, and her stories have been shortlisted for the Kimberly Chambers’ Kickstarter Award, Wordsmag and the Val Wood Prize for Creative Writing. When she’s not scribbling away, Jessica can be found meandering through the woods, reading stories that pull on the feel-strings and eating yoghurt-covered skittles. Jessica lives in Dover with her husband, two children and their high-spirited springer spaniel. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside is her debut novel.

Website |Instagram |Twitter |Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive |Google Books |Apple Books |Kobo

Categories
Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday – Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse

“Listen. We know there are people who hide in our homes. They crawl into attic spaces. Tuck themselves behind yard equipment in garages. Flit between the rooms of the house just outside the reach of sight.
Some of us have found nests tucked in the back of bedroom closets behind hanging clothes. Or in the void space beneath the stairs. In that sliver between a living room sofa and the wall.
We have found half-empty water bottles and candy wrappers and the remains of leftovers of food cooked the day before. I found my own wrinkled clothes pressed flatt to the floor and stinking of someone else’s sweat. Look in the places behind the furniture. The spaces between beds. Every deep crevice of the house. No guarantee that once a space has been checked that someone will not sneak back into it.
You can stay home all day and still not find them. They are clever and patient and they know the insides of your home better than your ever will. But you have to find them.
You have to root them out.”

This week’s eerie first lines come from another of my most anticipated books of 2021, Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse, which I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy of this week.

SYNOPSIS:

She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.

‘A uniquely gothic tale about grief, belonging and hiding in plain sight’ Jess Kidd, author of Things in Jars

’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home,
stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can.
But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house.
Eventually, every hidden thing is found.’

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.

Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?

And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in?

Girl in the Walls is published by Fourth Estate on March 18th, 2021. You can pre-order your copy here.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Company Daughters by Samantha Rajaram

Published: October 30th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Lesbian Literature

I’m delighted to finally be able to share my review for this poignant novel. It’s late because of illness, but was worth the wait to read. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Wanted: Company Daughters. Virtuous young ladies to become the brides of industrious settlers in a foreign land. The Company will pay the cost of the lady’s dowry and travel. Returns not permitted, orphans preferred.

Amsterdam, 1620. Jana Beil has learned that life rarely provides moments of joy. Having run away from a violent father, her days are spent searching for work in an effort to stay out of the city brothels, where desperate women trade their bodies for a mouthful of bread. But when Jana is hired as a servant for the wealthy and kind Master Reynst and his beautiful daughter Sontje, Jana’s future begins to look brighter.

But then Master Reynst loses his fortune on a bad investment, and everything changes. The house is sold to creditors, leaving Jana back on the street and Sontje without a future.

With no other choice, Jana and Sontje are forced to sign with the East India Company as Company Daughters: sailing to a colonial Dutch outpost to become the brides of male settlers they know nothing about. With fear in their hearts, the girls begin their journey – but what awaits them on the other side of the world is nothing like what they’ve been promised…

Based on true history, this is a beautiful and sensual historical novel, perfect for fans of The Girl with the Pearl Earring, The Miniaturist and The Indigo Girl.

MY REVIEW:

“But having lived through so much upheaval, I doubt I will ever know the full taste of safety. I’m forever assuming some future disaster. Reading myself to flee.”

Jana Beil has not had an easy or happy life. She’s fought to survive, escaping violence and neglect only to find herself homeless and starving on the streets of Amsterdam in the late 17th century. She is grateful to find employment in the home of Master Reynst and his daughter, Sontje, but tragedy strikes when Reynst loses everything after a bad investment and Jana faces uncertainty once more. Sontje is faced with just one option; to travel to Batavia as one of the Company Daughters, a bride for one of the VOC settlers on the Dutch colony. When Sontje asks Jana to accompany her she agrees, eager to both escape her life in Amsterdam and to find a way to keep close to Sontje.

I am a big fan of historical fiction, especially when it’s based in fact, so I was instantly drawn to this book which is based on the true stories of Dutch women who were shipped to the other side of the world to become brides for strangers. It was a long and arduous ten month journey where they face increasing hunger and illness that threatens to end their voyage before they reach their destination. It is clear that the author has done a lot of research which she blends with fiction and vivid scene setting to transport you to another time and place, immersing you in this poignant tale.

“I ignore the fear rooting in me and feel triumph in this. Even in our captivity, we’ve found each other. Seized at whatever joy we can find.”

The characters are well written and richly drawn. I loved the protagonist, Jana. She’s easy to like and root for, a strong and determined character who isn’t typical of the women of the day. We follow her as she goes on a compelling journey that is both literal and figurative, her life marred by tragedy; where every time she feels like things are finally going well something comes along to pull the rug from under her feet once again. She isn’t someone who wishes to conform to what society expects of her, and over the course of the book her rebellious streak becomes increasingly evident as she is determined to carve her own path.

“I can’t help but feel bitterness—the fact of my body’s ownership passing from hand to hand—my father’s pummelling, the other men with their pawing and leering, as though I existed only for their gaze.”

The author also examines the lack of freedom, rights and choice available to women of the day. They are owned by men their whole lives and at their mercy. They can only hope for a father, husband or master who is kind and doesn’t beat or rape them. It’s a bleak existence and they have no way to independently make their way in the world; even a widowed woman is looked upon with suspicion if she doesn’t quickly remarry.

Atmospheric, harrowing, moving and hopeful, this was an easy and entertaining read that I would highly recommend to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Rajaram spent most of her childhood in Gillette, Wyoming, where she and her family were the first Indian-Americans to live in the community. As a law student, she focused on social justice and international human rights law with a focus on female sex trafficking.

She is now an educator, and currently teaches composition at Chabot College in Hayward, California. She lives in the California Bay Area with her three
children.

Website |Twitter |Instagram

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive |Google Books |Apple Books |Kobo

Categories
Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday Support Debuts

First Lines Friday: Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Welcome to First Lines Friday. This is a tag that was started by Mrs Cooke’s Books on Instagram and I’ve been doing on there for a while. I decided to start posting here too, offering more than just one line and hoping to entice you into reading the books I share.

This week, I’m sharing the first line from one of my highly anticipated books of 2021:


“The bells rang out as they had done for hundreds of years, their sombre music sweeping over London with grace and stillness, bright as the moon which was till and ripe in the sky. Despite the late hour, the city below was restless, tossing and turning in the darkness with lights and buses and cars and people —walking, rushing, working, drinking, dancing, sleeping; none taking any notice of the bells at all.
Within the tower, the sound was deafening. Yet the women did not flinch as they stepped closer, forming a circle, their feet bare on the stone floor and their hair loose against plain robes. They pulled back their hoods, feeling the vibrations of the bells in their bones; feeling the buzz and excitement of the windows; feeling the languages of their own magic rising. The last chime rang out with finality.
Midnight. It was time.”

This first line is from Threadneedle by Cari Thomas. This debut is published on May 27th, 2021 by HarperVoyager. Thank you to them for my gifted ARC.


SYNOPSIS:

Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.
Magic is the first sin. It must be bound.


Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.

It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.

Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it?


How amazing does that sound! I can’t wait to read this and am hoping to fit it in before the year ends.

You can pre-order the book here.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

Published: October 29th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age

Today is my stop on the tour for this spectacular debut. Thank you HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

A picture paints a thousand lies…

Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past – but she knows that she is loved.

When her father finds fame with a series of children’s books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.

But as time passes, Romilly’s father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.

In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages…

The truth.

The Illustrated Child is the unforgettable, beguiling debut from Polly Crosby.

MY REVIEW:

This book is one of my most anticipated books of 2020. I’ve been green with envy at others receiving the gorgeous proofs and am so glad I’ve finally had the chance to read it. 

From the title and cover I had imagined a lighthearted and uplifting read, but thankfully I’d read a few reviews and been warned that it is a darker book than you expect. That being said, it’s one that’s best read blind so I’m not going to reveal much about the plot. 

I absolutely adored this book. I was immediately captivated by the beautiful prose and lost in Romilly’s strange world. The author has crafted an intricate, layered novel that has so much hidden beneath its surface. She holds the reader captive as she slowly unveils the truths waiting to be discovered, like the rumoured clues to the hidden treasure in Tobias’ stories. 

I loved Romilly. She is a fantastic and fascinating heroine who is a paradox in the way many children are: independent but vulnerable, strong but weak, daring but afraid. She hasn’t had the easiest life and I couldn’t help but feel for her, especially as the story went on. From the start I felt an affinity with her as I also had a part-siamese cat with a kink in its tail when I was younger, though he didn’t have a name nearly as important. 

This story consumed me. I didn’t want to put it down, not even to go to sleep, I was so immersed in its pages. Emotionally resonant, there wasn’t a feeling it didn’t make me feel as I lived every moment with Romilly. I needed to know what her future held, where she ended up, if my predictions were right. 

Evocative, dark, haunting and mesmerising, this is one of my favourite books this year. A sensational debut from an extraordinary new talent that you don’t want to miss. 

READ. THIS. BOOK. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

After a whirlwind of a year which saw Polly receive writing scholarships from both Curtis Brown Creative and The University of East Anglia’s MA in Creative Writing, she went on to be runner up in the Bridport Prize’s Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel.

Polly’s novel was snapped up by HarperCollins HQ in the UK and Commonwealth in a 48 hour pre-empt, and a few days later by HarperCollins Park Row Books in North America.

Polly grew up on the Suffolk coast, and now lives in the heart of Norfolk with her husband and son, and her very loud and much loved rescue Oriental cat, Dali.

The Illustrated Child is her first novel.

Website |Instagram |Twitter |Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive |Google Books |Apple Books |Kobo