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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Uncategorised

BLOG TOUR: The Gifts by Liz Hyder

Published: February 17th 2022
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising and magical tale. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Manilla Press for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Haunting, thrilling, wonderful. I loved it’ Stacey Halls

The luminous debut adult novel from the Waterstones Prize Winner, perfect for fans of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, The Essex Serpent and The Doll Factory

In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are . . .

October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.

Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grip of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .

THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.

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MY REVIEW:

In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are…

October, 1840. A scared young woman is fleeing from an unknown assailant, running for her life in a dark forest when the impossible happens: a huge pair of wings rip from her shoulders and she transforms into something extraordinary and impossible;  she becomes an angel.  
A man finds the corpse of a woman in the Thames. But she is no ordinary woman, wings sprouting from her shoulders like an angel.  The man seizes the opportunity and sells her to an ambitious surgeon who swears him to secrecy.  But rumours are soon rife about ‘the Angel of the Thames’, spreading through the city like wildfire, though most dismiss it as folly. As tales of more impossible beings spread through the city, the surgeon seeks out these extraordinary women to add to his collection, seeing an opportunity to make his fortune and live in infamy.  But he isn’t the only one on their trail, a would-be journalist is also seeking out these women, determined to find out the truth behind these rumours and further her writing career.

“It is an extraordinary story, he thinks, utterly fantastical and yet… could it really be that there is something to it?” 

The Gifts is an enthralling gothic fairy tale.  A story about girl power, self-belief and finding out who you really are set against a backdrop of the Victorian era with a little bit of magical realism woven into the narrative. Liz Hyder has crafted a novel that combines great storytelling, vivid imagery, compelling characters and authentic social history that lured me in from the first page and kept me guessing right until the last.  The short, punchy chapters give the story fluidity and the five narrators: Etta, Annie, Mary, Natalya and Edward, add their own unique voices to the story as it explores themes of patriarchy, religion, science, power and social class.

“It is her first day with wings. It is also her first day as a prisoner.” 

Told from multiple points of view, the varied cast of characters are richly drawn and entertaining.  The four female narrators are each in a dark place and feeling marginalised when we meet them and we follow as they try to find out who they are and what their place is in a patriarchal society that doesn’t want their voices to be heard.  It is a journey that will see these four strangers come together in the most unexpected of ways and I loved reading every one of them.  Even in their darkest hours they are quietly determined, fierce and strong, showing a resilience that carries them through.  Etta and Mary were women who pushed the envelope, going beyond what society tells them is acceptable for a woman to live the life they want, although they do this in very different ways.  
Natalya has a heartbreaking story but her strength still shines through as she refuses to give up time and time again.  Annie is a woman who has given up her dreams for herself to be a wife and then found herself infertile, longing for a child she seems unable to have.  My heart broke for her as I know that pain; though  I did laugh at the idea that reading causes blood to drain from the uterus and therefore stops a woman getting pregnant.
Though there were times I’d wish the author would allow them to push social boundaries and not rely on men even more, I did enjoy how each of these women were written. I particularly enjoyed watching Etta harnessing her rage into a power and using her intelligence to outwit the men who would try to hold her back or keep her captive. 

“He smiles to himself as his lips run over the words.  It will be outstanding, he thinks, and is greatly pleased – even overwhelmed – by his own magnificence.”

Though this is ultimately a story about women, it is Edward who is at the centre of the story.  He is a truly fantastic villain, so brilliantly written that he made me incandescent with rage.  I despised him.   Edward is a man possessed by ambition, religious fanaticism and delusion; a dangerous combination that sets him on a path that merges with the four women with catastrophic consequences.  After watching him mercilessly kill an animal early in the book I wasn’t surprised when he later showed no compassion towards ‘his angels’.  He sees these women as merely tools to aid his ascension to greatness, possessions given to him to use in any way he desires and gives no thought for them as human beings with autonomy or feelings.  He also sees his wife as an extension of himself, only there to further him socially, treating her with increasing disdain.  It was disturbing to watch as his mania grew and he became more paranoid, unable to be reasoned with and only caring about his notoriety and God’s so-called plan.  I was itching for him to meet his downfall.

“And perhaps the world is not ready for women such as us.  Not yet.” 

The Gifts is a mesmerising piece of historical and gothic fiction that will delight, enthral and enrage you.  The author weaves an illuminating tale that builds to a dramatic climax as the women finally discover their power.  I would recommend this book and can’t wait to read more by Ms. Hyder. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Liz Hyder is a writer, creative workshop leader and arts PR Consultant. Bearmouth, her debut for Young Adults, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Readers, the Branford Boase Award and was named Children’s Book of the Year in The Times. The Gifts, her debut book for grown-ups, is out in February 2022.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*
*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 House of Ashes by Stuart Neville

Published: February 3rd 2022
Publisher: Zaffre
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Gothic Fiction, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this unsettling gothic tale. Thanks to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Zaffre for the ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A house built on secrets
An old woman haunted by her past
A young woman fighting for her life

For Sara Keane, it was supposed to be a second chance.
A new country. A new house. A new beginning.

Then came the knock on the door.

Elderly Mary Jackson can’t understand why Sara and her husband are living in her home.
She remembers the fire. She remembers the house burning down. But she also remembers the children. The children who need her. The children she must protect.

‘The children will find you,’ she tells Sara, because Mary knows she needs help too. As Sara becomes obsessed with what happened in that house nearly sixty years ago, and the family wiped out in one bloody night, she begins to see things. Things that can’t be real.

In a story that spans six decades, the truth will not stay buried, and the ghosts of the past can never remain in the shadows . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“The children. They’ll find you… They’re hiding. Waiting for me. Waiting for you.”

A fire tears through The Ashes in the dead of night, forcing Mary to flee the only home she’s ever known and reducing it to a shell.  Sara and Damien Keene move in as it is being rebuilt, but strange occurrences leave Sara feeling uneasy.  Then one morning, an old woman turns up, her feet bloodied, demanding to know why Sara is in her house and where the children are.  Who is this woman?  And what children is she talking about?  Unsatisfied with her husband’s explanation, Sara is determined to discover what secrets he and the house is hiding.  The old woman is the key.  But can she get Mary to finally speak the secrets she’s been holding in for decades?

The House of Ashes is a dark, twisted and unsettling gothic novel that you don’t want to read in the dark.  From the first pages I had chills, reading on tenterhooks with an almost unbearable feeling of dread in my stomach.  It isn’t a book for the faint hearted; the author explores dark themes such as abuse that are written with both brutal honesty and heartwarming compassion.  It is in these themes that we see Mary and Sara’s lives mirror each other; both kept prisoner in The Ashes by men who terrify them.  And just as the house kept them captive, the book did the same to me, refusing to let me go until I’d read the final page and its story had been told. 

“People about the town would say she’s mad in the head. Some of the children would call her Scary Mary. And fair enough, she might be a wee bit touched, but who wouldn’t be after what she went through.” 

Told by multiple narrators, the story unfolds in the past and the present.  Sara and Mary are the main narrators and while Sara’s story mostly focuses on the present, Mary tells the story of her past.  She finally speaks the secrets she’s been silent about for sixty years, slowly revealing to the reader the dark secrets that the house holds within its walls and the true horror of that bloody night.  I had a real soft spot for all of the women but felt for Mary most.  She was a young girl who knew nothing but a life within the walls of The Ashes. A life of neglect, abuse and fear that made the house both her misery and her solace.  Seeing the story through her eyes was heartrending and I loved how the author managed to convey such childish innocence alongside her resignation to things no one should ever know.  

“Maybe you shouldn’t know too much about that place. Not if you’re going to live in it.” 

The Ashes is more than just a house. It is like another character that lives and breathes.  A sense of malevolence and foreboding radiating from this chilling place.  But the strange and unnerving occurrences aren’t merely there to torment it’s inhabitants, it is the past returning to try and warn those in the present.  Warnings they must heed in order to survive.  

Darkly atmospheric, harrowing and haunting, The House of Ashes is a chilling gothic tale.  Just make sure you read with the lights on!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Stuart Neville’s debut novel, THE TWELVE (published in the USA as THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST), won the Mystery/Thriller category of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was picked as one of the top crime novels of 2009 by both the New York Times and the LA Times. He has been shortlisted for various awards, including the Barry, Macavity, Dilys awards, as well as the Irish Book Awards Crime Novel of the Year. He has since published three critically acclaimed sequels, COLLUSION, STOLEN SOULS and THE FINAL SILENCE.

His first four novels have each been longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and RATLINES was shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.

Stuart’s novels have been translated into various languages, including German, Japanese, Polish, Swedish, Greek and more. The French edition of The Ghosts of Belfast, Les Fantômes de Belfast, won Le Prix Mystère de la Critique du Meilleur Roman Étranger and Grand Prix du Roman Noir Étranger.

His fourth novel, RATLINES, about Nazis harboured by the Irish state following WWII is currently in development for television.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*
*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 Language of Food by Annabel Abbs

Published: February 3rd 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Eliza Acton, despite having never before boiled an egg, became one of the world’s most successful cookery writers, revolutionizing cooking and cookbooks around the world. Her story is fascinating, uplifting and truly inspiring.

Told in alternate voices by the award-winning author of The Joyce Girl, and with recipes that leap to life from the page, The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs is the most thought-provoking and page-turning historical novel you’ll read this year, exploring the enduring struggle for female freedom, the power of female friendship, the creativity and quiet joy of cooking and the poetry of food, all while bringing Eliza Action out of the archives and back into the public eye.

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MY REVIEW:

“Neat and elegant, Miss Acton. Bring me a cookery book as neat and elegant as your poems.”

The Language of Food tells the story of Eliza Acton, the woman who wrote what became known as the greatest British cookbook of all time. It follows her as she and her assistant, Ann Kirby, spend ten years creating the now-famous recipes. But it is so much more than a book about food and poetry.  It is a story of strength, endurance, friendship and self-discovery that you won’t be able to put down.

“I have started to see poetry in the strangest of things: from the roughest nub of nutmeg to the pale parsnip seamed with soil. And this has made me wonder if I can write a cookery book that includes the truth and beauty of poetry.”

I’m not going to lie, a big part of the reason I wanted to read this book was the cover.  I mean, look at it!  It is simply beautiful.  And I was delighted to find that inside the book was something every bit as breathtaking as it’s cover.  

This delicious story is a readers and food lover’s paradise. Annabel Abbs is an exquisite wordsmith and storyteller, writing like a dream with lyrical and poetic prose that is woven together like the delicate folding of ingredients in a cake recipe.  I was completely immersed and lost myself in the story, torn between wanting to savour each word like I would a luxury box of chocolates and needing to read it quickly so it sated my hunger.  I loved how she combined fact with fiction so seamlessly that it was impossible to tell where one ends and another begins.  Her vivid imagery transported me back in time to Victorian England, the tantalising whispers of scandal kept me guessing and the descriptions of food made my mouth water and stomach rumble; I wanted to eat everything! Well, almost everything (I’m not sure about eel or badger ham). 

“There was something else about her too.  A poignancy I can’t explain.  A feeling that we are united in some odd and intricate way.”

Told in alternating chapters, this is a narrative driven by the thoughts, desires, actions and choices of two strong, captivating, complex and memorable female characters. They make unlikely friends, coming from such different backgrounds that they wouldn’t even recognise the life the other lived:  Eliza raised as a lady in a wealthy family with a father that indulged her dreams while Ann lives in poverty trying to juggle survival with caring for a disabled, alcoholic father and a mother with severe mental health issues. But despite their apparent differences, they are also very alike. Both women possess an underlying strength that carries them through the darkest of times, go against societal expectations, and discover a shared talent and passion for cooking.  I loved watching their bond blossom as they figured out their new roles in life side by side and seeing the kindness with which Eliza treats Ann even though she is one of her servants, allowing the girl to feel like she has value for the first time in her life.  I knew nothing about this cookbook or these characters before starting this book but after reading I feel like they could be my closest friends, the author writing them so evocatively that they sprang to life from the pages. Eliza was a woman ahead of her time and I can see why she remains an inspiration for modern cooks to this day.  

Decadent, sensuous, enthralling and heartwarming, The Language of Food is, quite simply, a work of art.  A luscious feast for the imagination that will stir all of your senses, I can’t recommend this highly enough.  Now I’m off to buy the author’s back catalogue!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Annabel Abbs is the award-winning author of The Joyce Girl, a fictionalised story of Lucia Joyce, daughter of James, and her relationship with Samuel Beckett. It won the Impress Prize for New Writers and the Spotlight Novel Award, and was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, the Caledonia Novel Award and the Waverton Good Read Award. The Joyce Girl was a Reader Pick in The Guardian 2016 and was one of ten books selected for presentation at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, where it was given Five Stars by the Hollywood Reporter. It is currently being adapted for stage and screen.

Her second novel, Frieda, is a fictionalised story of Frieda Weekely, the German aristocrat who eloped with DH Lawrence and who was the inspiration for Lady Chatterley. It was a 2018 Times Book of the Year. Her 2019 non-fiction book, The Age-Well Project, explores the latest science of longevity and has been serialised in the Guardian and The Daily Mail.

Her journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Irish Times, Tatler, The Author, Sydney Morning Herald, The Weekend Australian Review, Psychologies and Elle Magazine.

She earned a BA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, where she now sponsors a post-graduate scholarship in creative writing, and an MA from Kingston. She was born in Bristol, and now lives in London and East Sussex.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon*| Bookshop.org* | Blackwells (gorgeous indie edition with sprayed edges)
*These are affiliate links

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Please check out the review 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 Lost by Simon Beckett

Published: November 25th, 2021
Publisher: Trapeze Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Medical Thriller, Hardboiled, Police Procedurals, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this heart-pounding thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Trapeze Books for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A MISSING CHILD

Ten years ago, the disappearance of firearms police officer Jonah Colley’s young son almost destroyed him.

A GRUESOME DISCOVERY

A plea for help from an old friend leads Jonah to Slaughter Quay, and the discovery of four bodies. Brutally attacked and left for dead, he is the only survivor.

A SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH

Under suspicion himself, he uncovers a network of secrets and lies about the people he thought he knew – forcing him to question what really happened all those years ago…

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MY REVIEW:

Do I need yet another crime series to read? No. Have I found one? Hell yes!

When I signed up for the blog tour for this highly anticipated thriller I had no idea it was the first in a new series. But after inhaling this taut, tense and unflinching book I was ecstatic to learn that it is only the beginning, and Jonah Colley will be back for more adventures.

The story packs a punch from the start, opening with the discovery of four bodies and Jonah fighting for his life against an unknown assailant at the aptly named Slaughter Quay. The only survivor, he is immediately under suspicion. The suspicion increases after the police find a possible connection at the scene to the disappearance of Jonah’s son, Theo, ten years earlier. Desperate to prove his innocence, Jonah begins his own investigation, hoping to both clear his name and discover what really happened to Theo all those years ago.

The word unputdownable can be thrown around a little too easily, but this one really was. I had to force myself to put it down at 2am when my eyes could no longer stay open and then read straight through until I’d reached the conclusion when I picked it up the next day. I was addicted. I needed answers. And when I got them they made my jaw drop.

Jonah is a great protagonist. Flawed but likeable, he is easy to root for with a tragic yet compelling backstory that piqued my interest from the start. The events surrounding the disappearance of his son are told in flashbacks that are utterly heartbreaking. It is every parent’s worst nightmare, his guilt, pain and anguish tearing my own heart in two. And the hits kept coming for Jonah, a conveyor belt of bad luck and betrayal that doesn’t seem like it will end as his investigation uncovers a twisted web of secrets and lies by those he thought he knew.

The other characters are all equally compelling, the author bringing to life Gavin and Theo from beyond the grave through a combination of flashbacks and Jonah’s memories. Each of the characters are flawed, fractured and fallible. And no one is blameless in this story. I loved this as flawed characters are much more fun to read, especially when written with such skill.

This was my first Simon Beckett book but it will not be my last. Multilayered, flawlessly plotted and sizzling with suspense that builds to a heart-pounding crescendo. I read on tenterhooks, the many twists and turns almost making me dizzy, and was totally blindsided by the big reveal.

Gritty, dark, sinister and addictive, this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a well-written, twisty thriller. Just make sure you have lots of time free because you aren’t going to want to put this one down.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Simon Beckett is the No.1 International Bestselling author of the David Hunter series. His books have been translated into 29 languages, appeared in the Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller lists and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. A former freelance journalist who has written for The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday and The Observer, the inspiration for the first David Hunter novel came after a visit to the world-renowned Body Farm in Tennessee introduced him to the work of forensic anthropologists.

As well as co-winning the Ripper Award in 2018/19, the largest European crime prize, Simon has won the Raymond Chandler Society’s ‘Marlowe’ Award and been short-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger, CWA Dagger in the Library and Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year.

In addition to the six David Hunter titles, the most recent of which is The Scent of Death, he has written five standalone novels, one of which, Where There’s Smoke, was adapted into a major ITV two-part drama.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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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: The Shadowing by Rhiannon Ward

Published: September 16th, 2021
Publisher: Trapeze
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Gothic Fiction, Thriller, Ghost Story, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this haunting gothic mystery. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Trapeze for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy’s death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.

Haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant – both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years.

Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?

As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost…

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MY REVIEW:

“The shadowing had returned.” 

The Shadowing is an atmospheric and absorbing historical gothic mystery overflowing with menace. A story laced with secrets, spirits and sinister happenings, I was drawn in from the first pages right and couldn’t put it down. My mind was full of questions that I needed answers to as desperately as the characters did. And I genuinely had no idea what they were going to be. 

Hester Goodwin lives in Bristol with her wealthy family in a strict Quaker home. Three years ago, her sister Mercy disappeared and none of them have heard from her since, until the day they receive a letter informing them that Mercy has died in Southwell Workhouse in Nottinghamshire. But how did her sister end up in such a place? And how did she die? Searching for answers, Hester travels to Southwell to try and answer their questions, little knowing that she is stepping into a much deeper and darker mystery than she ever imagined. One that involves spectres, missing children and cover ups. 

I’ve been wanting to read Rhiannon Ward’s books since her debut last year so I jumped at the chance when the opportunity to take part in this blog tour arose. My expectations were high and I’m happy to say that she exceeded them with this magnificent novel. Eloquently and evocatively written, it wrenches you out of your own reality and into the one the author created, making you feel like you can feel a ghostly spirit behind you or that you are walking the dank corridors of the workhouse. As the secrets are slowly revealed and Hester brings the women’s plights to light I got goosebumps from the emotion and tension. Their fear was so palpable that I could feel it’s cold claws raking their way down my spine. I was very glad to be reading in the daytime at that point! But, for me, one of the best things about this book is that it genuinely surprised me. I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, so it isn’t often I’m stumped by an author. But Ward had me at a loss, suspicious of everyone and no real idea who was behind it all, and my jaw hit the floor when it was time for the big reveal. 

“Don’t let the angelmaker take my baby. She wants it for her own end. If I see her, it’s already too late. Do you understand?” 

The characters are all richly drawn and compelling, vividly brought to life by the author in such a way that you feel like they are in the room with you. I found Hester to be especially likeable and easy to root for, her naivete giving her an innocent charm that gave her an extra sweetness alongside her courage and determination. The journey to Southwell is a big deal for a woman of her age and standing, and she is both excited and full of trepidation at her task. Her fears only deepen when she arrives at Southwell Workhouse, a gloomy, bleak and eerie place where frightened women tell her stories of ‘the pale lady’ or ‘the angelmaker’, a ghostly figure who takes women’s babies.  Instead of answers about Mercy, she’s left with even more questions about what happened to her beloved sister and vows to keep digging until she uncovers the truth, unaware of just how much danger she’s putting herself in. 

But the pale lady isn’t the only ghostly part of the story. There are also the shadowings, visions of spirits who appear to Hester that she has experienced since childhood. Her father tried to beat them out of her but they return shortly before she learns of her sister Mercy’s death. She is too terrified of further punishments to mention them, and keenly aware that others, not just her father, will see them as the work of the Devil or Witchcraft. So she keeps them to herself, afraid of the consequences of discovery. 

Captivating, dark and haunting, The Shadowing is a sensational gothic mystery with an eerie charm that lingers over every page. Perfect for the cold nights heading our way, this is ideal for reading with a cosy blanket and warm drink by the fire. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rhiannon Ward. As Sarah Ward, I’m the author of the DC Childs crime series set in the Derbyshire Peak District. I’m also the writer of Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish.

My gothic thriller, The Quickening, was published by Trapeze as Rhiannon Ward and The Shadowing is coming in September 2021.

Throughout COVID-19, I’ve been talking about all things bookish either online or, more recently, in person. 

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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 Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – July 2021

Another month has flown by and it’s time for another wrap up.

July was a great reading month. I read 16 books, took part in one book club readalong and 18 blog tours. Below is a quick summary of what I read this month:

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is one of my favourite crime writers and book she releases is on my must-read list. I was particularly excited about reading False Witness as it was a standalone, and it’s been a while since I read one of those from her. It did not disappoint. Once again she delivered a first-class thriller that was dark, twisted and sinister. Thrillers don’t get better than this.
Rating:  ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

A Cut For A Cut (Kate Young 2) by Carol Wyer

Carol is another of my go-to crime authors. Her newest series is her darkest yet, and I’m loving it. A Cut For A Cut sees Kate Young once again embroiled in an investigation when she and her son find the body of a young man while diving. It had my totally hooked from the start and didn’t let go. If you are looking for an exhilarating and propulsive thriller, then this is for you.
Rating:  ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Rule by David Jackson

The Rule is a readable thriller about family, love, and the lengths a parent will go to to protect their child. I really liked Daniel, the young man at the centre of the story, and the themes of duality the author used throughout.
Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten

One of my most anticipated books of the year, I luxuriated in every word of this absolute masterpiece. The second book in her Romanov series follows Tsarevna Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. She is a fascinating historical figure and I loved expanding my knowledge of an era that has long fascinated me. Dazzling, captivating and truly magnificent, this is a joy for history and literature lovers alike. I’m now counting down to book three!
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

Just as the tagline says, this is not another novel about a dead girl. In her startling debut, Jacqueline Bublitz has taken the familiar narratives we see in psychological thrillers and given them an original twist. Instead of asking whodunnit, she asks who was the victim? What was her story? And what can we learn from her? She also asks who was the person who discovered the victims broken body? And how did that discovery after them?

Breathtakingly beautiful, hypnotic, mesmerising and unflinching, this book went right to my soul. I’m still thinking about it almost a month after reading. It stands out not only amongst the mystery and thriller books I’ve read this year, but all the ones I’ve ever read. This is a must-read for thriller lovers and the author is a talent to watch.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

Songbirds is a beautiful story that gives a voice to the voiceless. In this harrowing and heartbreaking tale, the author explores the world of transient and migrant workers, shining a light on their experiences and the institutionalised racism they face. She also highlights how this racism runs so deep that the authorities won’t search for them if they go missing, claiming they must have just moved on instead. A richly drawn novel full of memorable characters, beautiful imagery and exquisite storytelling, this is a story that needs to be read.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Painting by Alison Booth

The Painting is a simple yet enlightening story. A portrait of totalitarianism, immigration, family and self-discovery, it tells the story of Anika, a Hungarian immigrant living in Australia after being forced to flee her oppressively homeland. One of the few possessions she brought with her was a valuable painting. After it is stolen in what appears to be a targeted robbery, Anika is forced to confront uncomfortable questions about her family’s past. This book surprised me as it took a different, but fascinating, turn to what I was expecting. A captivating and moving story that I would recommend.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Mr Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland

An ordinary man on an ordinary street is hiding grim secrets in this dark and sinister thriller. I listened to this book as part of the audiobook blog tour and it chilled me to the bone. I had struggled to get into it at first, but am so glad I stuck with it as this was a gripping and unnerving psychological thriller that I couldn’t stop listening to.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley

The Art of Loving You is an exploration of love, grief and the afterlife. It looks at how we find meaning in life when it seems to have become meaningless and what we do with the love we have for someone when they die. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, it follows Libby, who is left devastated after the sudden death of her soulmate Jack. Full of wonderful characters and some truly tender and beautiful moments, I couldn’t put this down.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Mrs England by Stacey Halls

Mrs England with the Tasting Notes Book Club for July. I am a huge fan of Stacey Halls so I was excited for this book and the online book club meeting. Wonderfully written, atmospheric and compelling, this is one of those books that is even better after you’ve thought about it for a few days and realised that things weren’t what they first appeared. For me, one of the best things about reading a book with others is the way you can read the same book yet see things so differently. This was the best Tasting Notes Book Club yet and I enjoyed the book even more after hearing about it from the author and exploring it with others in greater detail. This is an ideal read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Review to come
Buy the book here*

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

This warm, witty, slow-burning romance was the perfect summer read to get lost in. Poppy and Alex were fun to read and had a great dynamic. But my favourite thing about the book is the escapism it offered. I loved being able to live vicariously through the characters and travel to different countries from my back garden during a pandemic.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Girls Who Lie (Forbidden Iceland Book 2) by Eva Björg Aegisdottir

Girls Who Lie is the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series, but was the first one I’ve read. The author quickly catches you up and it was easy to keep up with the characters making it easy to read even without the first book. A harrowing, complex and multilayered thriller, this was another amazing read from Orenda Books. I will definitely be reading the first book in the series and any further installments. Perfect for crime fiction fans.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
buy the book here*

The Woman in the Water by Kelly Heard

The Woman in the Water is a story about a fractured family, tragic death and search for answers. Though it was predictable in places, the author leaves you with enough doubt and unanswered questions that you keep turning the pages, needing to know more. A dark, tense and twisty read that fans of the genre will enjoy.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5

Read my review here
Buy the book here

The Secret Life of Writers by Guillaume Musso

Books, murder and mystery. What more could I want? Utterly mesmerising and addictive, I devoured this book. Perfectly plotted, intricately woven and full of tension, this is a masterclass in storytelling. The Secret Life of Writers is a stylish, sharp and suspenseful thriller that is so twisty it will make your head spin. After reading it I understand why Guillaume Musso is known as the French suspense king.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Face at the Window by Ruby Speechley

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. The author slowly unveils the truth, weaving together the layers to create a complex and intricate thriller. Themes of domestic violence and coercive control are explored in various ways through out the book and it is clear it is well researched. Unnerving and affecting, I would recommend this to fans of the genre.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

That Night by Gillian McAllister

Wow! Just, wow! I have been a fan of Gillian McAllister since the first time I read one of her books, but this is her best one yet. Taut, tense and twisty, this riveting thriller had me hooked. A multilayered and complex story, there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Jaw-dropping and unexpected revelations pulled the rug from under me repeatedly and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. That Night is a must read for anyone who enjoys an intelligent, sharp and sensational thriller.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Review to follow
Buy the book here*

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I swear that it’s getting harder and harder to choose a favourite each month, as there are just so many high-quality books being written. It was really difficult to choose this month and after getting it down to two, I just couldn’t pick between them. Therefore, my books of the month for July are The Tsarina’s Daughter and Before You Knew My Name.

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What did you read this month? Did we read any of the same books?

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Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. See you next month Emma xxx

Thank you to the publishers for my gifted proof copies and eBook ARCS.

*These are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this beautifully told story. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Manilla Press for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

She walks unseen through our world.
Cares for our children, cleans our homes.
She has a story to tell.
Will you listen?

Nisha has crossed oceans to give her child a future. By day she cares for Petra’s daughter; at night she mothers her own little girl by the light of a phone.

Nisha’s lover, Yiannis, is a poacher, hunting the tiny songbirds on their way to Africa each winter. His dreams of a new life, and of marrying Nisha, are shattered when she vanishes.

No one cares about the disappearance of a domestic worker, except Petra and Yiannis. As they set out to search for her, they realise how little they know about Nisha. What they uncover will change them all.

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MY REVIEW:

‘Isn’t it funny,’ Aliki said, in her most adult voice, ‘that you saw everything but yourself ?’

Songbirds is a beautifully written story that gives a voice to the voiceless. Using her exquisite storytelling, Christy Leferti explores the world of migrant and transient workers, showing why they leave their families, including children, behind and travel thousands of miles to work only to be mistreated and abused. They are also encumbered by huge debts owed to those who facilitate their new jobs. They are unseen and unheard, their own lives and stories of no consequence to anyone but themselves and others like them.

Nisha is a character we only get to know through others, which reinforces the sense of invisibility that surrounds her and women like her. Petra and Yannis are the ones to narrate and reveal her story, and Petra in particular realises that she knows nothing about Nisha, despite the fact this woman has lived in her home for nine years and cares for her daughter.  She also shines a light on the institutionalised racism towards these workers that runs so deep that authorities won’t search for them if they go missing, instead simply assuming they have moved on. 

‘What they uncover will change them all.’

There are themes of bondage and captivity woven throughout this story in a variety of ways. As we learn more about the exploitative situations Nisha and other domestic workers often end up in, we see that what they believe to be their escape, is actually a bigger prison than they left behind. Yannis is caught in the web of his black market dealings and unable to escape them, and finally Petra is an emotional captive, frozen stagnant after her husband’s death to the detriment of her relationship with her daughter. 

Harrowing, heartbreaking and powerful, this is  a story that needed to be told and demands to be read. A story that reminds us you can find beauty and joy in the darkest of places. It will move you, anger you, and hopefully spark a greater understanding and empathy for the people whose stories it tells. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Brought up in London, Christy Lefteri is the child of Cypriot refugees. She is a lecturer in creative writing at Brunel University. The Beekeeper of Aleppo was born out of her time working as a volunteer at a Unicef supported refugee centre in Athens.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Bookshop.org* | Amazon* | 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
Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – June 2021

I can’t quite believe that I’m doing my June wrap up and that we’re half way through the year already. One of the hardest things I had to do this month was to decide my list of favourite reads so far, so look out for that post coming soon. It was another great reading month for me and I read a total of 15 books. I enjoyed them all and most of them were four stars or above.

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Threadneedle was one of my most anticipated books this year. The first book in the exciting new Language of Magic Series, it is a story of secrets, lies and self-discovery interwoven with a hidden magical world. It is a magical and bewitching story that slowly hooks the reader in as the author introduces us to the characters and the hidden magical world around us. I loved the world building and following Anna on her journey and can’t wait to see what the author has in store for book two.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
Read my review here
Buy the book*

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

Beautiful, moving and heartfelt, One Last Time is a portrait of an ordinary family dealing with the realities of terminal illness. This was my first foray into Helga Flatland’s books, and I was struck by the beauty, warmth and compassion with which she writes. She skillfully created a book centred around terminal illness that manages to be elegant, poignant and funny that I would highly recommend.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book

The Forever Home by Sue Watson

Taut tense and twisty, this gripping thriller that had me hooked. It was my first time reading this author and I enjoyed her compelling characters and how she kept me guessing. I will definitely be reading more of her books.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book*

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

The Wolf Den was another of my most anticipated books this year and I was also excited as it was the first read with the SquadPod Book Club. It did not disappoint. I am yet to post my review as I am struggling to do the book justice. It is an absolute masterpiece. Lush, evocative and enthralling, I couldn’t get enough of Amara and the women who worked at the Wolf Den. It felt like I had been transported back in time and was walking on Pompeii’s dusty streets alongside them. And that ending. Omg! I am so relieved that this is a trilogy as I have to know what is next for Amara and the others.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Keep an eye out for my review soon
Buy the book*

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Nothing was what it seemed in this mysterious and sinister thriller that had a chilling gothic twist. The suspense crackled on every page and the author had me in the palm of her hand. It was a perplexing tale full of red herrings that kept me guessing right until the end. Fans of the genre will love this book.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen

I am still shook that this extraordinary novel is a debut. It seeped into my heart and soul and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The author bravely draws on her own experiences of grief and losing a child to tell Rachel’s story, injecting an authenticity into the book that is searing. It took me through a kaleidoscope of emotions, including tears, but this book is far from depressing. Sharp, witty, sarcastic and full of dark humour, you will laugh as often as you cry. Maybe more. Everything Happens For A Reason is a powerful, moving and unforgettable story that everyone should read.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book

The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

This glorious debut was nothing like I was expecting. It was better. Captivating, imaginative and original, The Stranding is a richly imagined and evocative tale about the end of the world. It follows two survivors, Ruth and Nik, as they attempt to navigate this new existence alongside a complete stranger. An absolute triumph, this swept me away. This is a debut you don’t want to miss.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Murder at the Fair by Verity Bright

This was another witty, fun and compelling cozy mystery in the Lady Eleanor Swift series. I love the combination of historical fiction and mystery and even after just two books, this feels like putting on a cosy cardigan and sitting by the fire. Great as a standalone or part of the series.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

I’ve been listening to the fifth book in the Harry Potter series on audio for a few months now. I often listen at night as I fall asleep, which is why it’s taken so long to get through it. I love the Harry Potter films and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios was one of my favourite parts of our 2016 visit to Florida, but I’d never finished reading the books. I decided to start where I left off reading in audio as I knew that sitting down with one of the books is something I’m not as likely to do. I loved Stephen Fry’s narration and thought it was a fantastic adaptation that was entertaining and compelling. I’ve downloaded the next book in the series and am looking forward to listening to that next.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Buy the book*

Suspects by Lesley Pearse

Suspects is an ensemble piece told in the third person, all of the residents of the idyllic Willow Close narrate the story, slowly unveiling the secrets they are hiding behind their picture-perfect facades as the police try to solve the murder of thirteen-year-old Chloe Church, who lived on the close. This was an entertaining and steadily paced whodunnit I’d recommend for those who like their mysteries without gore.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

I read Shadow Sands as part of a buddy read organised by the Tandem Collective and devoured this fast-paced and addictive thriller. I really enjoyed the first installment in this series, so I had high hopes for book two. Thankfully, the author delivered once again and I couldn’t put it down. My review will be posted soon, but I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys tense and twisty thrillers.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Buy the book*

The Beresford by Will Carver

Wow. Just wow. Will Carver is a twisted genius, and The Beresford is another outstanding and original novel from one of the most unique voices in Fiction and his best book yet. I’ve never read anything like this and it’s taking me some time to put into words what I thought of this book, so the full review will probably be up closer to publication day, which is July 22nd. What I can tell you, is that you need to read this book!
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Buy the book

One Child Alive by Ellery Kane

I didn’t need anther crime series when I read the first installment of the Rockwell and Decker series, but I’m so glad I started it. This is a compelling series with great characters, back stories and plots that are readable, tense and twisty. One Child Alive is an exciting, fast-paced thriller that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the genre.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Truth or Dare by M. J. Arlidge

The DI Helen Grace series has been a favourite of mine ever since I read the first book and anything the author writes is a must read for me. Truth or Dare is the tenth book in the series and sees Helen under pressure like never before. Not only is there an unprecedented crime wave sweeping the city, but she’s facing mounting tension in her personal life and fighting for her career and reputation. Once again, M. J. Arlidge has written a dark and cunningly crafted novel that weaves multiple plot lines together in unexpected ways. An unmissable read for anyone who loves crime fiction.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book*

This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

This Is How We Are Human is a truly astonishing novel that explores the nuances and complexities of being human. Full of heart, warmth and wisdom, this beautiful story is one you will never forget. I really can’t say much in a short paragraph about this book, it needs so much more, so please go and read my full review. But I can tell you that this is a story that needed to be told and one that needs to be read. It is one I believe will help create more awareness and compassion for those who are neuro-diverse and I am so grateful to Ms Beech for writing it. It is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. Go and read it.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book

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With so many five-star reads that made it onto my favourite books that were also some of my favourites this year, choosing a book of the month was no easy task. I had five contenders: The Wolf Den, The Beresford, The Stranding, Everything Happens For A Reason and This Is How We Are Human. After a lot of consideration, I narrowed it down to two and chose The Wolf Den and This Is How We Are Human as my books of the month.

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What did you read in June? Did we read any of the same books? Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. See you next month😊 Emma xxx

Thank you to the publishers for my gifted proof copies and eBook ARCS.

*These are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Truth Or Dare (DI Helen Grace 10) by M. J. Arlidge

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Hardboiled, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural, Adventure Ficiton

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the latest brilliant thriller in the DI Helen Grace Series. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and to Orion for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

DO YOU WANT TO PLAY THE GAME?

THE BRAND NEW THRILLER FROM THE MIND OF MILLION-COPY BESTSELLER M. J. ARLIDGE

A crimewave sweeps through the city and no-one is safe. An arson at the docks. A carjacking gone wrong. A murder in a country park. What connects all these crimes without causes, which leave no clues?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace faces the rising tide of cases which threatens to drown the city. But each crime is just a piece of a puzzle which is falling into place.

And when it becomes clear just how twisted and ingenious this web of crime is, D.I. Grace will realise that it may be impossible to stop it . . .

THE BEST BOOK YET FROM THE MASTER OF THE KILLER THRILLER.

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MY REVIEW:

“So much bloodshed, so much heartache of late, yet so little to go on. Recently, Helen had felt like she was swimming with one hand tied behind her back, drowning in a rising tide of violence and brutality.”

Helen and her team are under pressure. They are facing an unprecedented crime wave following the Covid-19 Pandemic; seemingly unrelated crimes without motive and leave few clues. Things feel out of control and they are yielding few results, which the press aren’t letting them forget. But then evidence emerges that suggests these crimes could be linked. Could one mastermind really be behind it all? Pulling the strings like a twisted puppeteer? And, more importantly, can Helen find and stop them?

Gripping, atmospheric and addictive, this 10th installment in the fantastic DI Helen Grace series was every bit as compelling as the previous books. I devoured it quickly, unable to put it down once I’d started reading. I always enjoy coming back to a series I love and being immersed in the familiar world and characters that the author has created. Helen and her team have been part of my reading world for a decade now and I’ve enjoyed following their journey and watching them solve crimes over the years.

In Truth or Dare Helen is facing some of her greatest challenges yet. Not only is she facing the rise in crimes that are difficult to solve, but there is also mounting tension between herself and her team, particularly her and former lover Joseph Hudson, who is determined to undermine her at every turn. She finds herself not only fighting crime, but fighting for her career and reputation. I loved the extra tension this created and how you are constantly wondering if this could be the end for our beloved but beleaguered detective. I won’t spoil the surprise about whether or not it is. You’ll have to read it for yourself and find out. And while this could be read as a standalone, I do highly recommend the whole series. It’s one you won’t regret adding to your TBR.

One of the things I love about M. J. Arlidge is that he knows how to set the scene so vividly that it is like you’re watching it on a TV screen. You feel like you are there with the characters, feeling every moment of tension, frustration, despair and disappointment. He also smoothly juggles multiple plot lines, effortless weaving them together in surprising ways. I always fall for his red herrings as he expertly sends the reader looking in the wrong direction before blindsiding you with the jaw-dropping truth. 

Tense, twisty, dark and cunningly crafted, Truth or Dare is another unmissable thriller from the brilliant M. J. Arlidge. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last twenty years, specializing in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Silent Witness, Torn, The Little House and, most recently, the hit ITV show Innocent. In 2015 his audiobook exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a number-one bestseller. His debut thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek and Love Me Not. Down to the Woods is the eighth DI Helen Grace thriller. In 2019 he published a standalone thriller, A Gift for Dying.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | 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