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Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

AUDIOBOOK BLOG TOUR: The Girls by Bella Osborne

Published: May 1st, 2022
Publisher: Isis Audio
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Pensioners in the Pages
Format: Audiobook, Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful summer read. Thank you to Danielle for the invitation to take part and Isis Audio for the gifted copy of the audiobook.

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SYNOPSIS:

In the 1970s, the girls were best friends sharing a house and good times: Zara, the famous diva actor; Val, the uptight solicitor; Jackie, the wild child and Pauline, the quirky introvert. Now they’re in their twilight years, and Zara suggests that they live with her to support each other through old age. 

Initially, being housemates again is just as much fun as in their heyday. But then Zara reveals the real reason she asked them to move in with her, and suddenly things take a sinister turn. 

As the women confront their demons, they come under the spotlight of the press, the police and an angry parrot. With their lives spiralling out of control, can they save their friendships and each other?

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MY REVIEW:

“One last hoorah. What do you say.” 

Legendary actress Zara is hoping to spend her 80th birthday quietly, but her agent has other ideas and has put together a surprise party.  At the event are the three friends she shared a house with back in the 70s. Though they haven’t seen each other in decades, the group share an undeniable bond and spend the evening reminiscing on old times and wondering where the years have gone.  Wondering aloud why they are spending their twilight years alone, Zara surprises her friends when she suggests they spend them together, the other women moving into her house so they can recreate the joy of their youth.  Though initially reluctant, Pauline, Val and Jackie soon decide to take Zara up on her offer and the adventure begins. 

I love a book with older characters at its centre, so when I was offered the chance to listen to The Girls on audiobook as part of this blog tour, I didn’t hesitate.  Refreshing, funny and uplifting, it also has a much deeper side of poignant moments, controversial topics and sensitive issues which the author handles with both realism and compassion.  It also transports you to sunnier climes, something that is very welcome during the unreliable British ‘summer’.

The four women at the centre of the story are richly drawn and compelling characters, though not particularly likeable at times.  Each are very different people and are battling their own demons that are slowly revealed through glimpses into their past.  And when Zara’s true motivation for inviting them to live with her is revealed, the women are outraged.  I liked their dynamics and how the bonds, friction and struggles were still there after so many years apart.  But what I loved most of all is that despite the problems, that bond of true friendship triumphed and they supported each other through some of the most difficult moments they’ve ever faced. 

Delightful, entertaining and full of emotion and adventure, The Girls is a feel-good summer story that I highly recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From Bella’s website:

I’ve been jotting down my stories for as far back as I can remember… well that’s not exactly true. I remember writing a story when I was about nine and I was in Mrs Hurran’s class. The story was about a thief who stole the crown jewels but then didn’t know what to do with them. It went on for pages and pages, in my spiders dance handwriting, so my teacher typed it up and pinned it to the classroom wall. It was a proud day!

Somehow life took over, I got a sensible job and the writing remained a hobby which other people puzzled over and which I adored.

Over the years there have been dalliances into poetry, short stories and five unfinished novels. But I decided that 2013 would be the year that was going to change. I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writer Scheme which gave me a deadline to chase – a full length novel had to be completed and submitted  for review by 31st August. I beat the deadline by a month!

In 2014 I secured a two book contract with Harper Impulse, part of the HarperCollins Group, and my first novel ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ was published in ebook format on 12th February 2015 and paperback on 23rd April 2015. It went on to be shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award and the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year 2016.

​My second book ‘A Family Holiday’ and my fifth ‘A Walk in Wildflower Park’ were both shortlisted for the RNA Contemporary Romantic Novel of the Year!

In 2016 I moved to Avon, which is also part of the wonderful HarperCollins family. My books are released in four digital instalments ahead of the whole story being published a few months later. 

2021 saw the publication of two novels: a romantic comedy The Promise of Summer and a bookclub read The Library. The Library was published by a new publisher – Aria, Head of Zeus. 2022 looks like it will be just as busy with The Girls out in April and A Wedding At Sandy Cove being published in July. I can’t believe these will be books ten and eleven!

​I was overjoyed to win the RNA Jane Wenham-Jones Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award 2022 with The Promise of Summer!

In my spare time I love to read, cook with my daughter, plan holidays and rehabilitate rescue hedgehogs.

Website

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MEET THE NARRATOR:

This is one of the loveliest and most challenging jobs for any actor and Julia Franklin is a passionate enthusiast for audiobooks. She has read everything from romance, historical fiction, sagas and “chick lit” to gritty detective fiction and thrillers. She has combined this with a busy career in broadcasting as a TV and radio presenter and as a voiceover artist. “There are,” she says, “few things more exciting than starting a new book and feeling it beginning to work its magic.”

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BUY THE BOOK:

The Reading House

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Century
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this emotional debut. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Century for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS

Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her.

So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace?

Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is – or even whether she is still alive.

A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind, and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her.

Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence – and with the trauma that shattered her life.

For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years?

Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever …

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MY REVIEW:

Since the day their eighteen-year-old daughter, Emma, left home and never returned a year ago, Cath and Jim have been struggling to cope, unable to understand why their precious daughter would walk out of their life or even if she is still alive.  Every day they are caught between feelings of guilt, despair and helplessness, clinging to the hope that they will see her again one day soon.   
Cath begins to channel her maternal feelings into their tenants Lara and Nick, hoping to fill the void that threatens to break her.  But Lara and Nick are facing their own secret traumas that they are unable to even voice to one another, trying to live up to a version of themselves that isn’t real.   
Meanwhile, Emma is trying to adapt to her new life and struggling to deal with a traumatic event that shattered her entire world.   

The Shadow Child is a story about relationships, loss, trauma and hope.  A story filled with secrets that threaten to break hearts and shatter already fragile relationships.  The author explores difficult topics such as miscarriage and grief, writing with honesty and empathy.  She also asks if it is ever acceptable to keep secrets in a relationship and examines how those relationships can be affected when a secret is revealed. 

Cath, Jim, Lara, Nick and Emma each narrate their story, allowing us a glimpse into their psyche and the opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level.   Each of them are trying to find a way to live life while also trying to come to terms with trauma, grief and heartache.  The author also examines how  events in our childhood can shape who we become and the massive impact that seemingly insignificant events can have on our lives.   

Steadily paced, emotionally resonant and intriguing, The Shadow Child is a compelling debut about the complexities and nuances that make us human. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Hancox read Medicine and Social and Political Science at Cambridge, qualified as a doctor three months after getting married, and has juggled her family, her career and a passion for writing ever since. She worked in Paediatrics and Public Health for twenty years, writing short stories alongside NHS policy reports, and drafting novels during successive bouts of maternity leave. Rachel loves singing, cooking, gardening and pottery, and has five children, three dogs and a cat. As someone once said, she thrives on chaos. She lives in Oxford with her husband and youngest children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

SOCIAL MEDIA BLAST: The No-Show by Beth O’Leary

Published: April 12th 2022
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication day to Beth O’Leary! I’m delighted to share my review for this magnificent novel as part of the social media blast. Thank you to Ella at Quercus for the invitation to take part and the gifted finished copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

The funny, heart-breaking and uplifting new novel from the bestselling author of The Flatshare

Three women. Three dates. One missing man…

8.52 a.m. Siobhan is looking forward to her breakfast date with Joseph. She was surprised when he suggested it – she normally sees him late at night in her hotel room. Breakfast on Valentine’s Day surely means something … so where is he?

2.43 p.m. Miranda’s hoping that a Valentine’s Day lunch with Carter will be the perfect way to celebrate her new job. It’s a fresh start and a sign that her life is falling into place: she’s been dating Carter for five months now and things are getting serious. But why hasn’t he shown up?

6.30 p.m. Joseph Carter agreed to be Jane’s fake boyfriend at an engagement party. They’ve not known each other long but their friendship is fast becoming the brightest part of her new life in Winchester. Joseph promised to save Jane tonight. But he’s not here…

Meet Joseph Carter. That is, if you can find him.

The No-Show is the brilliantly funny, heart-breaking and joyful new novel from Beth O’Leary about dating, and waiting, and the ways love can find us. An utterly extraordinary tearjerker of a book, this is O’Leary’s most ambitious novel yet.

MY REVIEW:

“Three women.  Three dates.  One missing man…” 

Oh, my heart.  How am I supposed to read anything else after this?  The No-Show was one of my most anticipated books of 2022 and it exceeded every one of my sky-high expectations.  Beth O’Leary hasn’t merely done it again with this novel; she’s outdone herself.  I devoured it in under a day and was left with one of the biggest book hangovers I’ve ever had. 

The No-Show is a story not just about love, but about learning who you are and loving that person, about going after what you want and stepping out of your comfort zones.  Told by a trio of female narrators, the story opens on Valentine’s Day.  First we meet Siobhan who is waiting for Joseph, her favourite London hook-up, to meet her for breakfast.  Next we meet Miranda who is looking forward to lunch with Carter, her boyfriend of five months.  And then there’s Jane, who’s relying on her friend Joseph Carter to be her fake boyfriend to save her from humiliation at an engagement party.  It is soon clear that all three women were meeting the same man, though he is someone and something different to each of them.  You see where this is going, right?  Yeah, I thought so too…

“Being a human is messy… Sometimes you just need to let yourself feel something, even if it’s ugly.”

Wonderfully choreographed, intricately woven and cleverly plotted, The No-Show is like a treasure trove: its secrets hidden under layers you have to peel back in order to discover the gems hidden at the bottom.  It is a story that breaks your heart into pieces and then puts it back together again, giving you back the hope you thought you’d lost.  It is a clear-your-schedule-and-lock-out-the-world kind of book; and it utterly consumed me.  

Narrators Siobhan, Miranda and Jane are three very different women who share similar hopes, dreams and insecurities.  They are flawed, relatable, likeable and real; the kind of women you can imagine knowing yourself, and by the end of the book they felt like friends to me.  They each had qualities I admired but it was ultimately bookworm Jane that I found myself relating to most of all.  I found this amusing as an online quiz I took a number of months ago had said that I was a Jane. I guess sometimes those quizzes are right.
And then there’s Joseph.  For most of the story I wasn’t sure what to make of him.  Was he simply a cad who’s callously playing with their hearts or is there more to him than meets the eye?  As time went on I did begin to think there was something we didn’t yet know that might help us see beyond his façade and enable us to get to know the man underneath.  If only he would let us.

“Remember everyone thought Ted Bundy was really sweet! Nobody ever suspects the nice guy!” 

Beth O’Leary is an exquisite storyteller who knows how to get to the heart and soul of both her characters and readers.  She makes the world around you vanish as you read, leaving you completely immersed in the world that she’s created.  For me, returning to O’Leary’s writing felt like being wrapped in a big hug: familiar, warm, comforting and soothing for the soul.  It also lifted my spirits, something I needed when I picked up this book.  Another thing I love about her novels is how she takes romantic fiction and transcends the genre, creating stories that explore deeper issues such as PTSD and coercive control.  In The No-Show she explores topics such as mental health, self harm, pregnancy loss and grief, weaving these serious issues in amongst the witty, lighthearted moments to create a thought-provoking yet entertaining read.

Absorbing, heartrending and hopeful, The No-Show is a masterpiece that made my heart sing.  It is my favourite read this month so far and I have no doubt it will be on my list of top books of the year.  It might even be my favourite Beth O’Leary book yet.  Believe the hype and go read this book. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Beth O’Leary is a Sunday Times bestselling author whose books have been translated into more than 30 languages.

She wrote her debut novel, The Flatshare, on her train journey to and from her job at a children’s publisher.

She now lives in the Hampshire countryside and writes full time.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the social media blast.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG BLAST: One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Published: March 1st 2022
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to this beautiful and unique story. Thank you to Quercus books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The heartbreaking new novel from the author of the international bestseller In Five Years

When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mum, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, the mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town where Carol spent the summer before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and – of course – delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears, healthy and sun-tanned… and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how – all she can focus on is that somehow, impossibly, she has her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman who came before.

But can we ever truly know our parents? Soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.

Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and daughter. With her signature ‘heartbreaking and poignant’ (Glamour) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.

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MY REVIEW:

“She had all the answers. I, on the other hand, have none of them, and now I no longer have her.”

Katy is grieving the death of her mother, Carol, who wasn’t just her mother but also her best friend, confidante and guide.  Before Carol died they had booked a mother-daughter trip of a lifetime to Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, a place full of meaning to Carol after spending the summer there before she met Katy’s father.  Trying to come to terms with her loss and find her way in the world without her mother, Katy decides to take the trip alone.  In Positano Katy can feel her mother’s spirit and enjoys discovering the places her mother once inhabited.  But then things take a strange turn when Carol appears, thirty years old and full of life.  It’s impossible.  A miracle.  It’s a chance for Katy to not only have her mother back, but get to know her as a woman.  This will be a summer she’ll never forget. 

First of all, let me warn you that this book will make you want to book the next plane to Italy and explore the Amalfi Coast for yourself.  Beautiful and transportive, I could almost feel the sun on my skin and see the terra-cotta houses nestled into the hillside.  I have found myself dreaming of Positano since reading this and it is now added to my travel bucket list.  Also, be prepared for the food descriptions which made my mouth water and my stomach rumble.  Nothing I had in my snack cupboard seemed good enough after reading about the delicious food Katy was enjoying. 

I fell in love with Rebecca Serle’s writing after reading In Five Years and was highly anticipating this book.  And while the former remains my favourite, with this book she once again shows her talent as a storyteller with a flare for evocative imagery, great characters, beautiful prose and a dash of the unexpected.  This is a book that requires you to suspend your disbelief a little when Carol suddenly seems to return from the dead thirty years younger, and I’ll admit to struggling with that at first, but once I got past that initial strangeness and my own expectations of reading the same book again, I was able to again immerse myself in the story being told.

One Italian Summer is a story of family, love, loss and self-discovery.  A story that reminds us to cherish those we love.  Katy’s deep grief is woven through every page and I found my own heart breaking along with hers.  I loved how the author explores the theme of our own identity in relation to grief, asking who we are when we lose that person close to us; are we still a daughter, a mother, a friend? Through Katy and Carol the author explores the complexities of mother-daughter relationships and how we often don’t take the time to get to know the person beyond that role.  This story is a great reminder that we need to take the time to really get to know the whole person when it comes to those we love. 

Poignant, unique and beautifully told, this is a quick read that I’d recommend to those who enjoy their stories with a touch of magical realism. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives in New York and Los Angeles. Serle developed the hit TV adaptation of her YA series Famous in Love, and is also the author of The Dinner List, and YA novels The Edge of Falling and When You Were Mine. She received her MFA from the New School in NYC. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️Emma xxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Review: The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn

Published: November 25th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review of this heartwarming novel. Thank you to HQ for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

One small act can make a big difference

Violet Strong is strong by name but not by nature, or so she thinks. She listens but never talks about herself. She’s friendly but doesn’t have many real friends. She’s become good at keeping people at a distance ever since she left home at eighteen and never looked back.

But when Violet is forced to return home to care for her estranged mother, Glenys, she quickly finds out that life as a carer isn’t easy. Feeling overwhelmed, she’s forced to turn to the other local carers, including childhood friend, Adam, for help.

Although returning home still feels like a mistake, maybe it will help Violet right some wrongs. After all, she can’t keep running from her past forever, and in learning to look after others, perhaps Violet can start to finally love herself…

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MY REIVEW:

“Not everyone’s burdens are visible, lots are inside. Trapped. Unseen.”

Sometimes you pick up a book and it is exactly what you need.  That was the case when I decided to read this book on a whim at the weekend.  Uplifting, heartwarming and tender, this book warmed me from the inside like a bowl of porridge on a cold day. 

This is a story of friendship, community and forgiveness.  A story about loving yourself and how there is joy to be found in helping those around us.  The protagonist, Violet, is forced to move back home to care for the mother she’s not spoken to for 14 years, bringing her face to face with the people and place that she has been running from all that time.  The terrible mistake she made haunts her every minute of the day and has left her feeling that she is Bad News and better off alone.  Forced to face her demons, can Violet learn to forgive and love herself?  

I was a big fan of Jessica Ryn’s debut novel so I was highly anticipating this one.  She has a talent for enveloping important life lessons and social commentary in a heartwarming tale, executing it to perfection once more with this novel. Exquisitely written, it draws you into Violet’s world with descriptive, vivid imagery that makes the story leap from the page.  I was mesmerised. Ms. Ryn has solidified her place on my list of auto-buy authors with this book for sure. 

There is a compelling cast of characters who I loved; each one richly drawn and memorable.  I loved Violet and was thrilled that the author made her a book blogger as it immediately gave me a connection to her.  I enjoyed the many literary references throughout the book and how she finds solace in the pages of what she reads, something  I’m sure we can all relate to. She is a wonderful character and I was desperate to know what she could have possibly done that was worth such self-recrimination.  I also had a real soft spot for Tammy and enjoyed watching her blossom as the story went on. 

Charming, warm and affecting, this is a hug in book form that will give you all the feels.  The perfect read to snuggle under a blanket with this winter. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

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book reviews

Review: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout

Published: February 4th, 2016
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Domestic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

SYNOPSIS:

A #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE & THE WOMEN’S PRIZE FOR FICTION

An exquisite story of mothers and daughters from the Pulitzer prize-winning author of Olive Kitteridge

Lucy is recovering from an operation in a New York hospital when she wakes to find her estranged mother sitting by her bed. They have not seen one another in years. As they talk Lucy finds herself recalling her troubled rural childhood and how it was she eventually arrived in the big city, got married and had children. But this unexpected visit leaves her doubting the life she’s made: wondering what is lost and what has yet to be found.

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MY REVIEW:

“Lonely was the first flavor I had tasted in my life, and it was always there, hidden in the crevices of my mouth, reminding me.” 

When I picked up this book I did so out of duty; I am on the blog tour for the follow up and thought I should read this one first. While I’d heard great things and even read a review that day that had me feeling more excited to read it, I still wasn’t sure. It was about getting this one out of the way. I was unprepared for the masterpiece I was about to read. A book that captivated me so completely that I devoured it in one sitting over just a few hours, unable to tear myself away from the mesmerising story between its pages.

Set in New York in the 1980s, this is a story of not only mothers and daughters, but the human condition and its trials and tribulations. Lucy Barton is recovering from an operation when she wakes to find her estranged mother by her bedside. The two have always had a difficult relationship, which the author explores throughout the book. Lucy yearns for her mother’s love and recognition, feeling like she has never received either from her. As the pair talk, she finds herself looking back at her life, particularly her impoverished childhood in a small, rural town. It is a childhood filled with neglect, hunger, abuse and isolation, the scars faded, but still visible on her soul. This angst-ridden inner turmoil is cleverly juxtaposed with the lighthearted gossip and banter mother and daughter share as they talk, ensuring the story never feels too heavy.

After reading this book it is easy to see why Elizabeth Strout is so lauded and has won prestigious awards. The prose is unique and it almost feels that the protagonist is rambling, just blurting out things about her life without a filter. But it totally works. And the reason it works is because the writing is exquisite, pulling me into the world she had crafted and holding me captive until the final page. She has a new fan in this reader for sure.

Beautiful, haunting and evocative, this chilled story is one that will stay with me. My only frustration is why on earth I waited so long to read it. If you haven’t, then don’t wait any longer. Read it now! I promise you won’t regret it.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

th Strout is the author of the New York Times bestseller Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestseller Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine and New York City.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles☺️ Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun (Translated by Janet Hong)

Published: October 14th, 2021
Publisher: Apollo
Genre: Literary Crime Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Thriller, Translated Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this intriguing and thought-provoking novel. Thank you to Jade at Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.

Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.

Told at different points in time from the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates, Lemon is a piercing psychological portrait that takes the shape of a crime novel and is a must-read novel of 2021.

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MY REVIEW:

“And so began the revenge of the yellow angel. Lemon, I muttered. Like a chant of revenge, I muttered: Lemon, lemon, lemon.”

Set in Korea, Lemon examines the murder of nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on in July 2002 and the impact it had on those left behind. Told by a trio of narrators, the story begins with the interrogation of one of the two boys suspected of her murder, and then follows chronologically to the present day as her sister searches for the truth of what happened that summer night. 

The story unfolds from three different perspectives: the victim’s sister, Da-on, and two of her classmates and each has a unique voice that makes them easy to distinguish from one another. But it is Da-on whose voice is the loudest of them all. Hae-on was the beautiful older sister and when she was killed Da-on was left feeling even more inadequate in comparison. To try and fill the void of her sister’s absence Da-on resorted to extreme measures, including extensive plastic surgery, to try and emulate her sister. But it didn’t work and she is still left struggling to move on. Over the years she becomes increasingly focused on Han Manu, one of the boys suspected of Hae-on’s murder, and embarks on an obsessive search for answers and revenge. It would be impossible not to feel for Da-on, her pain so vivid and raw that it makes you want to weep. And while I didn’t always agree with her actions, I did understand them. 

An intriguing and compelling read, there is a dark, haunting atmosphere that pervades each page. Beautifully written, I loved how the author used different writing styles for the different narrators yet still manages to make it all blend together and flow seamlessly. I particularly loved the chapter titled ‘Rope’ as it just felt so unique, so different to anything else I’ve read. But I have to confess that I have been left with mixed feelings about this one and think it will be a bit of a marmite book. I was all set to give this a five star rating but then it ended in such a sudden and ambiguous way. I was left feeling stunned, like I must have missed something as surely that couldn’t be it. I’ve been pondering on it ever since I finished and I still feel the same way. While I think this is a great book that is worth reading, I would caution anyone who reads it to be prepared for a cryptic climax that will make you think about what you just read. 

While it is a short read at just 148 pages, this is a book packed with emotion that examines a variety of topics. Not only does it look at the impact of Hae-on’s death on those still living over the years, but it also looks at how families were torn apart and lives ruined by suspicion. It also explores how a desire for justice can lead to a quest for vengeance and asks if healing is ever really served by doing so. Is it better to sometimes leave things without closure than cause further hurt and pain by focusing on the past?

A thought-provoking and fascinating read, Lemon is a striking and reflective story that will linger long after that final page. 

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kwon Yeo-sun was born in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea in 1965. Kwon enjoyed a brilliant literary debut in 1996 when her novel Niche of Green was awarded the Sangsang Literary Award. At the time, novels that reflected on the period of the democratization movement in South Korea, were prevalent.

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MEET THE TRANSLATOR:

Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the 2018 TA First Translation Prize for her translation of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale, which was also a finalist for both the 2018 PEN Translation Prize and the 2018 National Translation Award. She has translated Ha Seong-nan’s Flowers of Mold, Ancco’s Bad Friends, and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass.

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tour – Dinner Party: A Tragedy by Sarah Gilmartin

Published: September 16th, 2021
Publisher: Pushkin Press
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this intriguing debut. Thank you to Tara McEvoy at Pushkin Press for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Kate has taught herself to be careful, to be meticulous.

To mark the anniversary of a death in the family, she plans a dinner party – from the fancy table settings to the perfect Baked Alaska waiting in the freezer. Yet by the end of the night, old tensions have flared, the guests have fled, and Kate is spinning out of control.

But all we have is ourselves, her father once said, all we have is family.

Set between the 1990s and the present day, from a farmhouse in Carlow to Trinity College, Dublin, Dinner Party is a dark, sharply observed debut that thrillingly unravels into family secrets and tragedy.

As the past catches up with the present, Kate learns why, despite everything, we can’t help returning home.

A brilliant coming-of-age page-turner about the complications of sibling relationships and the trauma of family secrets, perfect for fans of Kate Atkinson, Maggie O’Farrell and Anne Enright

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MY REVIEW:

“But there were secrets in the centre of secrets that were still trying to come out.”

I started this book expecting a thriller and instead found myself reading an Irish family saga that follows a dysfunctional family from the nineties to the present day. It started strong, opening with protagonist Kate welcoming her family over for dinner to mark the sixteenth anniversary of the death of her twin sister, Elaine. I loved their banter and the vivid descriptions that made me feel as if I could even smell the food cooking. The story then jumps back to August 1999 as we follow Kate and her family through pivotal moments that shape their lives. 

The inner demons and struggles of each of the Gleeson family are addressed in this exploration of fractured family relationships, and the effects of trauma and loss. It is written with both sensitivity and compassion, though it feels a little slow at times. The matriarch of the family, Bernadette, is an overbearing, volatile woman whose behaviour clearly traumatises her children and looms large over every aspect of their lives, even when physically absent. There were many times I wanted to slap her for things she said or did and I was willing them to stand up to her.  Elaine also casts a shadow over every page, but in a very different way. She is either the vivacious, outgoing twin who Kate adores, or makes the atmosphere feel heavy with the loss of her; a spark of light that was extinguished far too soon.

If you like family drama and literary fiction, then you will enjoy this intriguing debut.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

TW: Eating Disorders

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Gilmartin is an arts journalist who reviews fiction for the Irish Times.

She has an MFA from University College Dublin (2018/2019) and is co-editor of Stinging Fly Stories (2018).

Her short stories have been listed for the Sean O’Faolain Short Story Award, the RTE Francis MacManus Short Story Award and the Hennessy New Irish Writing Prize.

Sarah won Best Playwright for her play Match at the Short+Sweet Dublin 2019 festival.

Her story The Wife won the 2020 Máirtín Crawford Award at Belfast Book Festival.

Dinner Party: A Tragedy is her first novel, to be published by Pushkin Press in October 2021.

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tour: The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman

Published: October 5th, 2021
Publisher: Amazon Publishing
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this beautiful and moving story. Thank you to Rhiannon at FMcM Associates for the invitation to take part and to Amazon Publishing for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

From bestselling author Hannah Beckerman comes a moving story about memory, secrets, and what it really means to feel that you’re one of the family.

When Nell’s father makes a deathbed declaration that hints at a long-held secret, it reignites feelings of isolation that have plagued her for years. Her suspicions about the family’s past only deepen when her mother, Annie, who is losing her memories to dementia, starts making cryptic comments of her own.

Thirty-five years earlier, Annie’s life was upended by a series of traumas—one shock after another that she buried deep in her heart. The decisions she made at the time were motivated by love, but she knew even then that nobody could ever understand—let alone forgive—what she did.

As the two women’s stories unravel, a generation apart, Nell finally discovers the devastating truth about her mother’s past, and her own.

In this beautifully observed and emotionally powerful story of identity, memory and the nature of family, Hannah Beckerman asks: To what lengths would you go to protect the ones you love?

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MY REIVEW:

“I want you to know that I’ve always loved you… You need to know that I’ve always loved you even though you were never really mine to love.”

When Nell’s father makes a mysterious deathbed declaration it reignites her long-held feelings of not belonging within her family. Grappling with the death of her father and the slow loss of her mother, Annie, before her eyes from dementia, Nell searches for the truth behind her father’s compassion while also trying to dampen her feelings of being an outsider.

In a second timeline, we go back thirty-five years to when Annie’s world was turned upside down by a series of traumatic events. We follow as she battles to come to terms with them and makes decisions that will have repercussions for everyone in her family. As the two timelines weave together, we watch as Annie’s choices affect Nell in the present day, and how they changed a family forever. 

“In her mind the tapestry of her family history begins to unstitch, the fabric loosening at the seams”

Wow. You really do need the tissues for this one! A beautifully written dual timeline novel about love, family, memory, long-held secrets, and self-discovery, this book takes you on an emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end. The author has chosen to explore some of the most traumatic and devastating events that a family can go through in this book such as the loss of a child, dementia, the sudden death of a parent and decades-old family secrets. Just one of these would be enough to turn someone’s world upside down, and this family goes through them all. She writes with insight, compassion and sensitivity, drawing the reader into the heart and minds of the Hardy family so vividly that you feel everything alongside them. 

I loved the choice to tell the story in dual timelines and have just two family members as narrators. I think this helped me to feel a deep connection with both Nell and Annie. As the tangled weave of secrets slowly unravelled I felt like I lived it alongside them, breaking my heart as theirs did, shedding tears with them and silently telling them they could get through this. I feel like if other narrators had been involved  it would have diluted the emotional impact of Annie and Nell’s stories. Plus, the author still manages to convey the effect of events on the other characters through the lens of the two women.

Powerful, poignant and heart-rending, this hits you right in the heart and soul. A moving and compelling story that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

TW: death of a child. Please contact me for any other trigger warnings.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hannah Beckerman is a bestselling author and journalist whose novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide. She is a book critic and features writer for a range of publications including The Observer and the FT Weekend Magazine, and has appeared as a book pundit on BBC Radio 2 and Times Radio. She chairs literary events across the UK, interviewing authors and celebrities, and has judged numerous book prizes including the Costa Book Awards. Prior to writing her first novel, Hannah was a television producer and commissioning editor for the BBC, Channel 4 and the Discovery Channel, and for two years lived in Bangladesh, running a TV project for the BBC. She now lives in London where she writes full-time.

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tour: One Last Time by Helga Flatland

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Translated Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Anne’s diagnosis of terminal cancer shines a spotlight onto fractured relationships with her daughter and granddaughter, with surprising, heartwarming results. A moving, warmly funny novel by the Norwegian Anne Tyler.

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Anne’s life is rushing to an unexpected and untimely end. But her diagnosis of terminal cancer isn’t just a shock for her and for her daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia it shines a spotlight onto their fractured and uncomfortable relationships.

On a spur-of-the moment trip to France the three generations of women reveal harboured secrets, long-held frustrations and suppressed desires, and learn humbling and heart-warming lessons about how life should be lived when death is so close.

With all of Helga Flatland’s trademark humour, razor-sharp wit and deep empathy, One Last Time examines the great dramas that can be found in ordinary lives, asks the questions that matter to us all and ultimately celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, in an exquisite, enchantingly beautiful novel that urges us to treasure and rethink … everything.

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MY REVIEW:

Beautiful, moving and heartfelt, One Last Time is a portrait of an ordinary family, their fractured relationships and terminal illness. 

This was my first foray into Helga Flatland’s books and, as when I pick up any Orenda publication, I had high hopes. I was rewarded with a stylish and atmospheric novel full of heart, warmth and humour. 

The characters are achingly real and draw you in, making you care about them and their splintered relationships. They could be any family. Your family even. That familiarity makes it all the more potent when you read as their lives are turned upside down after Anne’s diagnosis. You can feel Anne’s struggle as she grapples with being sick for the first time in her life, her frustration as her health declines, and her pain as she comes face to face with her own mortality. We see the complexities that can exist in familial relationships, both sides of the story being shown as both Anne and Sigrid tell their story and recollect their difficult past. The author never takes sides, giving voice to both women’s pain, frustration and regret. 

It takes skill to make a book centered around terminal illness something beautiful, elegant and funny, but Flatland pulls it off with aplomb. She avoids it feeling morose, instead making the story poignant and emotionally resonant. One Last Time is a truly absorbing and thought-provoking novel that I highly recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Helga Flatland is one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize. She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies. A Modern Family marked Helga’s first English publication when it was released in 2019, achieving exceptional critical acclaim and sales, and leading to Helga being dubbed the ‘Norwegian Anne Tyler’. One Last Time is her second book to be translated into English (by Rosie Hedger), and published in 2021.

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Orenda Books | 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