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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Face at the Window by Ruby Speechley

Published: July 28th, 2021
Publisher: Hera Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Noir Fiction, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Kindle

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Sarah at Books on the Bright Side for the invitation to take part and Hera Books for the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

They’re in your house.

They want your life.

And now, they have your baby.

To the world, I’m @HappyWife. Online, people only see my picture-perfect home, my handsome husband, Nick, and my beautiful baby, Thomas.

They don’t see the real Gemma Adams. They don’t see my past, the dark secrets I’m hiding in my marriage. They don’t see the fear I live in every single day.

But I know someone is watching me. And now, they’ve taken Thomas.

I just don’t know why.

But I’m going to stop at nothing to get my baby back.

Even if it destroys everything I’ve got to find him.

A compelling thriller, packed with suspense – fans of K.L. Slater and Lisa Jewell won’t be able to put it down.

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MY REVIEW:

“A few nice photos of your house and they think they know you, that you must be living the perfect life. If only they knew.”

TW: Domestic abuse

Gemma and her husband Nick seem to have the ideal life: a happy marriage, picture-perfect home and a beautiful newborn baby. But behind the shiny image they portray to the outside world is something much darker. A life where Gemma lives in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and Nick has all the control. 

Scarlett and her lover Cole are soulmates. As soon as his divorce is finalised they are going to be together properly. Forever. At least that’s what he’s promised her. So when he suddenly ends their relationship Scarlett is shocked, and determined to win back her man. But as she starts to think that he has in fact lied to her, her thoughts instead turn to revenge. Leading her to take drastic and shocking action to make him pay for what he did. 

This is one of those books that’s a bit like an iceberg: what you see at first is only a part of what is actually going on beneath the surface. Taut, tense and twisty, the author shifts seamlessly between timelines to slowly unveil the layers in the story, weaving them together to craft a complex and intricate thriller. And while there were some things that were easy to predict, there were so many unanswered questions, unexpected revelations and misdirection that it kept you on your toes and avoided feeling predictable. 

Gemma and Scarlett felt like they could be any young woman you know.  They are close in age but their lives couldn’t be more different, a contrast that is compelling. Gemma in particular was very likeable and reading her felt like I could have been reading about myself many years ago. I just wanted to help her break free of Nick’s grasp. Scarlett had her charms, but she also did a lot of messed up things in the name of revenge that disturbed me. But while the author doesn’t make excuses for her, she does show the reader her motivations, helping us to understand her behaviour. I found myself often empathising with her, even if I didn’t agree with what she was doing. Then there’s Nick; a vile, abusive man who made my stomach churn and blood boil. The author got the mix of charm and viciousness down to perfection so you could understand both how Gemma fell in love with him and why she was so scared. 

The author explores the topic of domestic violence and coercive control in a multitude of ways throughout this book. She looks at how people find themselves in these kinds of relationships, what it is like to live in a relationship dominated by escalating abuse and control, and the aftermath of abuse and what that means for those who survived. As a domestic abuse survivor I appreciated the honesty and sensitivity with which she wrote. It is clear that she has done her research and was so realistic that it did bring back memories of my own experience. But it is also a book that educates and makes you think, helping those who don’t have any experience of these kinds of situations to understand how easily anyone can find themselves trapped in that kind of life. I also liked that she showed the many facets of abuse and control and appreciated her note at the end with places to go to for help for those who need it. 

Unnerving, explosive and affecting, this was a gripping thriller that I’d recommend to fans of the genre. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruby Speechley is the author of four psychological thrillers published by Hera Books. She loves writing about domestic situations with plenty of twists and secrets.

She was born in Portugal but has lived in the UK since she was three months old. She now lives in Cheshire with her husband and two of her three children and two dogs. She has an older son and grandson.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this truly remarkable and unforgettable novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

When the mother of an autistic young man hires a call girl to make him happy, three lives collide in unexpected and moving ways … changing everything. A devastatingly beautiful, rich and thought-provoking novel that will warm and break your heart…

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Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely.

Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy … she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants.

Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.

When these three lives collide – intertwine in unexpected ways – everything changes. For everyone.

A topical and moving drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family … to survive … This Is How We Are Human is a searching, rich and thought-provoking novel with an emotional core that will warm and break your heart.

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MY REVIEW:

“This is how we are human. We learn from one another.” 

This Is How We Are Human is a truly astonishing novel from the incomparable Louise Beech. I need to begin this review by saying that nothing I write will do justice to this work of art. This is a story about the nuances and complexities of being human. A story full of heart, warmth and wisdom that is beautifully crafted and achingly real. It is unflinchingly honest, not shying away from the awkward, difficult or embarrassing topics and questions, instead putting them at the heart of the story and exploring them in detail. I found myself stopping frequently to discuss things with my partner, read him excerpts or laugh hysterically. The author has crafted something magnificent and special that has gone right to my soul and will stay there forever.

For a story like this you need great characters. And these are ones I will not forget. Sebastian, Veronica and Isabelle are compelling, multilayered, richly drawn and real . They each narrate their own chapters, offering three unique perspectives and getting to the heart of their stories while also allowing the reader to follow on their journeys of self-discovery. You can imagine them being you, your family or your friends. And that is what pulls you in, makes you connect to them, feel with them and fully invest in their story. And while I loved them all, Sebastian was truly the star. 

“Everyone thinks autistic people can’t understand expressions, but we have to look at the strangest ones anyone can make and, and then work out what they mean. That is called irony, you know.

It is impossible not to fall in love with Sebastian. He is just the most wonderful young man; so wise and full of kindness, honesty and love. He is hilarious but also made my heart break. But what I loved most about him was that while autism is obviously part of him, it isn’t who he is. He is a nuanced character who is as individual as anyone else. He isn’t a bunch of traits or symptoms, but a human being with his own thoughts, feelings and dreams. 

I am the mother of a son with autism. He is now sixteen and beginning to face similar challenges to those Sebastian faces in the book, though my son doesn’t struggle as much with social interaction and cues as Sebastian does. I am often frustrated by the clichés we see in stories featuring autism so I was a little apprehensive about how it would be represented, but I trust both Louise and Orenda, so I had faith it would be well written. And what is vividly clear from the start is not just the depth of research and commitment to authenticity Louise has taken to represent people with autism and the things they and their families go through, but also the compassion, empathy and sensitivity with which it is written. This reads like she’s lived it, though I know from her interviews she hasn’t. At the end of the book there is a note from the author about her research and it is a must read. She truly went above and beyond in her commitment to accurately represent autism. Louise, thank you. 

“The small print tells us all the things we don’t really want to know, the things we should know.”

I was already a fan of her work after reading the fantastic I Am Dust last year. I loved it’s haunting gothic vibes and her exceptional storytelling. I knew from other people and interviews that Louise doesn’t really have a genre, she creates them; simply writing from her heart and brilliant imagination to give the reader something different each time. So I was excited to read another of her books, though I had a feeling this would be emotional (spoiler: I wasn’t wrong). But she also makes it side-splittingly funny, which stops the book from feeling heavy or overwhelming. And that ending; sheer perfection *chef’s kiss*. 

This Is How We Are Human is a masterpiece. Enthralling, thought-provoking, powerful and heart-rending, I could have read this book forever. I loved the characters and story so much that I felt bereft when I had to leave them behind. I can always count on Orenda to publish quality fiction and this story is yet another example of why I will always recommend their books. 

Louise Beech has given a voice to a story that needed to be told and characters who needed to be heard. I believe this book will help create more awareness, compassion and understanding of autism and help people with the condition to be seen for who they are, not the condition they were born with. Thank you Louise for writing it. And thank you Karen for publishing it. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition,
as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Shop| 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 Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy, Horror Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Fantasy Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this enchanting tale. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Voyager UK for the gorgeous proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.

‘Magic and love. Love and magic. They destroy everything in the end …’

Anna’s Aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences.

Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever.

Until she meets Effie and Attis.

They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose themselves in a haze of spells.

But as she is swept deeper into this world, Anna begins to wonder if her Aunt was right all along.

Is her magic a gift … or a curse?

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MY REVIEW:

“Goddess of Silence and Secrets: Seal our mouths, so we can’t speak. Pierce our eyes, so we can’t seek. Knot our hearts, so we can’t feel. Bind our spells; to you we kneel. What is forgotten, can’t be known. What isn’t planted, can’t be sown. Lock the door and turn the key. We bear our magic silently. – The Binders’ Blessing”

This first installment in the new Language of Magic series tells the story of Anna, an orphaned fifteen-year-old who lives with her Aunt, Vivienne. They are witches, but Aunt believes magic to be dangerous and deadly, and has brought Anna up to fear her powers. When she turns sixteen Anna will undergo the Knotting ceremony and become a Binder like her Aunt, no longer able to use her magic. But when her late mother’s best friend Selene moves back to London with her teenage daughter Effie and Attis, a family friend, Anna’s eyes are opened to a world she’s never known. 

Meanwhile, a group of six women are found hanged at Big Ben, sending her Aunt and the Binders into a frenzy. As Anna begins to question the things she has been told about both magic and her past, she starts to wonder if there could be a future out there for her that doesn’t include having her magic bound. 

“Whispers divide, in secrets we thrive.”

Before we talk about the book we need to talk about the cover. Both the proof and the finished version are so beautiful that it is impossible to resist their allure. But what about what’s inside? 

Threadneedle is a story of secrets, lies and self-discovery interwoven with a hidden magical world. It opens with an eerie and macabre scene that gives the book an air of ominous foreboding and mystery. After that, things slow down a little as the author sets the scene for the reader. But when I got to about a fifth of the way through, the pace picked up and the story was soon sizzling with tension, twists and mischief.

Magic had beckoned its hand and she had followed. It was a beginning — the door was ever so slightly ajar.” 

Anna is a very sheltered character. She has been controlled and mistreated by her Aunt all her life, even believing it is wrong to have friends. The author immerses the reader in the indoctrination Anna has been subjected to by starting each chapter with a quote from The Book of the Binders and the teachings are woven into every thread of the story, omnipresent and impossible to escape, enabling you to understand Anna’s feelings of fear and powerlessness. When the outgoing and spirited Effie and Attis come into her life, they are initially unwelcome and a danger to her protected bubble. But once Effie has identified Rowan and Miranda as witches and the four of them come together, things slowly change. For the first time in her life Anna has friends, feels happy, and is making some of her own choices; though she is still terrified of the consequences should her Aunt find out. I enjoyed watching Anna’s journey as she grappled with the lies she’s been told, began to break free of her Aunt’s control and finally blossomed into her own person. 

Aunt Vivienne is a truly vile character. She is so well-written that I despised her and wished for her downfall. In fact she was so evil that I felt like if you unzipped her a demon would emerge. The women of the Binders have an equally malevolent and sinister vibe and together they would send shivers down my spine as they subjected poor Anna to yet more trauma. 

“This was magic without bounds, without rules, magic fed by something else entirely.” 

The magical world that the author has created is so believable that I accepted it without hesitation. I could imagine all of these secret, mystical places hidden in London and the witches moving amongst ordinary humans without detection. There is so much potential in this world and the characters for her future books and I’m excited to see where she takes it. 

A magical, mysterious and bewitching story full of serpentine twists, Threadneedle is an enthralling story that I would highly recommend. I can’t wait to read more of this exciting new series. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Cari Thomas grew up in the Wye Valley area of Wales and, after studying English Literature & Creative Writing at Warwick University and Magazine Journalism at the Cardiff School of Journalism, moved to London. She worked as a journalist and at a creative agency, before finally doing what she’d always wanted to do: quit her job and write a book about magic.

The result is Threadneedle, her debut novel and the first in her Language of Magic series. Be introduced to a world of wild, ancient witchcraft hidden within today’s London; where libraries made of books breathe dusty pages beneath the city, where witch clubs serve up magical cocktails and vintage shops sell memories. A world where magic gleams light and very, very dark.

Cari now lives in Bristol with her husband and son. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx