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Blog Tour: The Lost Hours by Susan Lewis

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

SYNOPSIS:

A perfect marriage…

Golden couple Annie and David Crayce have it all. A loving marriage, three beautiful children and a thriving family business. Life couldn’t be better. Until the unthinkable happens…   

A perfect crime? 

A piece of damning DNA evidence has arisen, placing David as the prime suspect of a murder committed twenty-years ago. Annie is sure her David is innocent. But if he isn’t guilty, then either his father or brother must be. 

As the police investigate the cold case, so does Annie. Trawling through her old diaries, she begins desperately looking for answers. But it all comes down to a few lost hours she can’t solve.

And Annie begins to doubt the one person she thought she knew best… Her husband.

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MY REVIEW:

“The perfect family… until you scratch the surface and out come all the bugs.”

The Lost Hours is the story of a picture-perfect family who seem to have it all until a damning piece of DNA evidence shows there is a killer lurking among them. Is it David; the police’s prime suspect in the twenty-year-old case who swears his innocence? Or his father or brother; who also claim to know nothing about the death of the local teenager. The police and the family are all searching for answers in this compelling and emotional page-turner. 

This story is every family’s worst nightmare: DNA evidence proves that someone in your family is linked to a murder but everyone swears they are innocent, and you don’t want to believe that someone you love, that you thought you knew, could have murdered a 17-year-old girl and then kept it hidden for twenty years. Told by dual narrators in dual timelines, it moves seamlessly between them to tell the story as it unfolds in the present day while also detailing events leading up to and immediately after Karen’s murder. 

The author starts the story with the unearthing of Karen’s body not long after her disappearance and then jumps forward twenty years, immersing us in the world of the Cayce family. We get to know the family, and while they may be a little too perfect, a little too twee, and the children a little spoiled, I did like them. It is cleverly written, as allowing us to build this rapport with them before the shock of the DNA evidence leaves you with the same sense of disbelief Annie has that anyone in this family could be hiding such a dark secret. Combined with her evocative writing this makes it one of those books you really feel while reading; feeling all of the pain, confusion and torment that Annie and the others are going through. 

For me, it was this emotional side of the story that I found most compelling. Seeing the mystery from that angle and watching as the family’s perfect world crumbled around them was what got my blood pumping and had me on the edge of my seat. I didn’t really vibe with Natalie, the detective investigating the murder. I found her annoying and it felt like she was allowing her own past to influence her investigation. I could have happily read the book without her point of view and think this would have been a five star read for me if the second narrator had instead been the mysterious murderer rather than Natalie. 

The Lost Hours is a taut, twisty, atmospheric and heart-rending family drama with a mysterious twist that keeps you guessing. I would recommend this book, and this author, and look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of over forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime, including One Minute Later, My Lies, Your Lies and Forgive Me. Susan’s novels have sold nearly three million copies in the UK alone. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s.

Susan has previously worked as a secretary in news and current affairs before training as a production assistant working on light entertainment and drama. She’s lived in Hollywood and the South of France, but now resides in Gloucestershire with husband James, two stepsons and dogs.

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Website |Instagram |Twitter |Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and to Harper Collins UK for the gifted copy of the book. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Girls from Alexandria by Carol Cooper

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Agora Books
Format: Kindle (Paperback published April 29th)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Historical Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this evocative novel. Thank you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘A compelling, multi-layered read – equal parts funny, frank and sinister’ – Fiona Valpy, author of The Dressmaker’s Gift

Memories are fragile when you are seventy years old. I can’t afford to lose any more of them, not when remembering the past might help with the here and now.

Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her.

Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years.

Despite being told she’s ‘confused’ and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.

Set against the lush and glamorous backdrop of 20th century Alexandria, Carol Cooper’s third novel is equal parts contemporary mystery and historical fiction: a re-coming of age story about family, identity, and homeland.

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MY REVIEW:

Seventy-year-old Nadia is in a London hospital and not quite sure what’s going on. Her memory isn’t what it used to be, and she keeps getting confused and misremembering. But one thing she’s sure of is that she needs to find her sister Simone, who she hasn’t seen in fifty years. The problem is, no one else believes Simone exists. Well, no one except the lovely nurse Deidre, who tries to help her find her sister before it’s too late.

The author opens the book talking about how her inspiration for the story came from her own memories of growing up in Alexandria and you can really feel that authenticity radiating from the pages. The author offers the reader not only an insight into the cultural and political landscape of Egypt, but also an authentic perspective on how it feels to grow up in Alexandria, its multiculturalism and verve oozing from the pages. It is a fascinating, educational and thought-provoking read, the author touching on a variety of subjects such as family, identity, loss, loneliness and female empowerment. 

Nadia is a character I won’t soon forget. It is impossible not to feel for her lying in hospital distressed, confused and alone. But there is so much more to her.  She is a nuanced, funny, compelling and feisty character who is determined to find her sister by solving the brief, cryptic messages she wrote on decades-old postcards; even learning how to use the internet to search for answers. I enjoyed following her through timelines, countries and cultures as she revisited old memories and searched them for any small clue that might lead her to her beloved sister. 

I will admit that it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of this story. The huge shift between the bleak British hospital where Nadia languishes alone and confused and the striking, sunny backdrop of Alexandria was difficult to follow at first, particularly as the flashbacks don’t follow a chronological order. But once I did I was engrossed, lost in Nadia’s story and fully invested in her search for Simone. 

This novel is unlike anything else I’ve read. Merging historical fiction, mystery and coming-of-age fiction,, the author has crafted a multilayered, evocative and affecting story that will linger long after reading. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carol graduated in medicine from Cambridge University. She then spent time in different hospital specialities, including orthopaedic surgery and rheumatology, before entering general practice when her first son was born.

Carol’s journalism and broadcasting developed in tandem with GP work, and she is now well-known as a media medic. She writes for The Sun newspaper and other titles, and broadcasts on TV and radio on topical health issues.

Many of Carol’s non-fiction books are on child health and parenting, such as the much-loved guide Twins & Multiple Births, and the titles combine her professional expertise and her personal experience as a mother. As co-author of the book General Practice at a Glance, Carol won a British Medical Association book award in 2013. A companion volume, General Practice Cases at a Glance, appeared later.

Carol’s frivolous side has never been far from the surface. She became a columnist for Punch magazine and her articles can still be read in dentists’ waiting rooms. Her contemporary novels One Night at the Jacaranda and Hampstead Fever are also infused with a sharp wit. Her next novel, The Girls from Alexandriais due to be published in April 2021.

At Imperial College, London, Carol teaches medical students consultation skills, clinical reasoning, and medicine in the media. 

Carol is a Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, a trustee of Action on Pre-Eclampsia, an ambassador for Lucy Air Ambulance for Children, and honorary consultant in family medicine for the Twins Trust (formerly Tamba). She was elected President of the Guild of Health Writers in 2014.

Website | Instagram | Twitter

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon*| Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Broken Ones (Detective Gina Harte Book 8) by Carla Kovach

Published: March 1st, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series

Welcome to my stop on the tour for The Broken Ones. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Amber applies a dash of red lipstick and checks herself out in the mirror before heading out on a date. ‘Don’t wait up!’ she calls to her housemates as she leaves. But Amber never returns home that night. Amber Slater is never seen again.

The last person to see Amber was her housemate. He remembers everything she was wearing that night. He watched her leave. He listened to every word of her phone conversation with her friend before she left. He knows more about Amber’s movements than anyone.

At university, she is well-liked by her fellow students and teachers. Her tutor’s voice shakes when he is questioned by the police. Some say he and Amber were very close. Too close. Some say his wife had just found out about their relationship.

The manager at the restaurant where Amber was supposed to eat that night says she didn’t show up. Yet the chef at the restaurant is overly chatty about her. He wasn’t working that night. He wasn’t answering his phone. Nobody knows where he was when Amber went missing.

Rumours begin to circulate about Amber, it seems that everyone has a story to tell. But when the young girl’s lifeless body is found in a local park, with her blue lips glued shut, the gossip suddenly goes quiet. As the police trace the last few hours of Amber’s life, it seems that the girl simply vanished on her way to catch her bus. And when another woman goes missing in the dead of night, it’s a race against time to find her before she too is silenced forever.

MY REVIEW:

“She’s out there and if she won’t come willingly, I will take her and I will transform her, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.”

Detective Gina Harte and her team are back. This time they are investigating the kidnapping and murder of Amber Slater after her body was found in a local park with her lips glued shut. As they interview those who knew her they begin to suspect the killer might have used a dating app to target and track his victim. And when he snatches another young girl, the team finds themselves up against the clock in a race to find their culprit before he can silence her too forever.  

This series was one of my first new discoveries after joining NetGalley and Bookstagram and I always look forward to coming back to these books. It’s like catching up with an old friend, just with a side order of murder. And after a week of being unable to read due to illness, this book was just what I needed to get my mojo back.

One of my favourite things is when a thriller tells you the story from the killer’s point of view and, once again, the author has done this perfectly; crafting a disturbing, sinister and eerie antagonist who I would definitely want to avoid on the street. Reading as he hunted for his perfect woman and then stalked her, all while she was completely unaware that he was about to pounce, made the suspense soar. I liked that the author toyed with us and brought Gina and her team into the fray as potential victims. The tension couldn’t have been higher and I was on the edge of my seat hoping that she wouldn’t kill off a much-loved character. 

The author keeps the reader on their toes through an abundance of suspects, curve balls and red herrings that make it impossible to predict what will happen next and who is behind the kidnappings. The scenes from the adductor and his victim’s perspective ramped up the tension and Gina’s frustration and fear was palpable as she worried they wouldn’t identify the culprit in time to save his latest victim.

Captivating, addictive and sizzling with tension, this crime series shows no signs of slowing down. Carla knocks it out of the park with every book and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carla Kovach is a crime and horror author from Worcestershire. Her most popular work, the DI Gina Harte series is published by Bookouture. As well as books, she also writes stage and screenplays.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker

Published: February 25th, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

I am thrilled to be one of the bloggers opening the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Viper Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

THIS MOTHER’S DAY YOU WILL CALL HER MUMMY

Glamorous, beautiful Mummy has everything a woman could want. Except for a daughter of her very own. So when she sees Kim – heavily pregnant, glued to her phone and ignoring her eldest child in a busy shop – she does what anyone would do. She takes her. But foul-mouthed little Tonya is not the daughter that Mummy was hoping for.

As Tonya fiercely resists Mummy’s attempts to make her into the perfect child, Kim is demonised by the media as a ‘scummy mummy’, who deserves to have her other children taken too. Haunted by memories of her own childhood and refusing to play by the media’s rules, Kim begins to spiral, turning on those who love her.

Though they are worlds apart, Mummy and Kim have more in common than they could possibly imagine. But it is five-year-old Tonya who is caught in the middle…

CALL ME MUMMY. IT’LL BE BETTER IF YOU DO.

MY REVIEW:

“From the moment I clasped my sister’s doll to my chest, I yearned for a child of my own. I knew it would take a miracle. And here she is!” 

A number of days after finishing this book I am still at a loss as to how to write this review and do it justice. I was expecting this book to be fantastic;  I had no doubt that Ms. Baker’s vivacious charisma and hilarity would carry over into her writing. I was not disappointed. In fact, Ms. Baker exceeded my already high expectations to craft a striking, original and accomplished debut that left me excited to read more from the author. 

All Mummy has ever wanted is a child. But by a cruel twist of fate, she has been unable to have a child. So when she sees a beleaguered Kim snapping at her children in the shop it is like a knife to her heart. How can someone like her be blessed with the gift of a child that she doesn’t appreciate when it is all she wants? In an instant, Mummy decides to rescue the poor child. But she is unprepared for Tonya’s resistance and the realities of motherhood and is enraged that her picture-perfect image is not coming to fruition. Meanwhile, Kim is finding herself demonised by the press and public after she refuses to conform to their rules and expectations. She begins to fall apart and lash out at those around her, unable to see anything but her own pain. And then there is little Tonya, a scared, confused child who just wants to go home. 

This story is every parents’ worst nightmare come true. It captures the evil that lurks in the shadows and the nefarious face behind the guise of a beautiful mask. Sharply observed, darkly funny and as subtle as a sledgehammer, this made me feel ALL the  feelings. I loved the short chapters, choppy writing style and how there was a tempo of malevolence and despair that runs through the narrative. The characters and story were so unpredictable that it was impossible to guess what would happen next and my heart was in my throat over and again as I read in breathless anticipation of the next shocking twist. 

“They want the chavs, the scum, lost souls like her, to rip each other apart in the name of entertainment, so observers like her can sit on their high fucking horses, looking down on their godforsaken misfortunes.” 

The story is told from multiple points of view. Our main narrators are Mummy and Kim, with regular short chapters from young Tonya. Each had their own very distinct voice and character that felt vivid and real. At first glance, Mummy and Kim couldn’t be more different; but they are characters rich with nuance and complexities that unveil surprising similarities that would horrify both women. Mummy is menacing, capricious and chilling. Appearances are very important to her and she is very particular about the face and character that she shows people. But underneath the mask she is a woman haunted by the mental and physical scars of past trauma. A powder keg just waiting for that final spark before it blows. Kim is the opposite; she is course, foul-mouthed and has no time for airs or graces or putting on a show. She is unapologetically who she is. And underneath she is also haunted by past traumas, teetering on the edge of a breakdown. 

Like Mummy and Kim, Tonya is wonderfully written. She isn’t your stereotypical pretty, likeable child who is easy to please. Full of personality, but not the kind that Mummy had hoped for, she is a foul-mouthed, sour-faced, fierce and contentious little girl who fights Mummy every step of the way. I loved everything about her and she certainly found a place in my heart. 

Longing, obsession, pain and trauma seep from every pore of this book and its characters, the author holding my heart in her hands as she examines topics such as mental health issues, trauma, infertility, addiction, eating disorders, neglect, and domestic and sexual abuse. She looks at the effects of trauma on the psyche and how it filters down into our very being, affecting how we treat ourselves and others, sometimes with catastrophic effects. The author shows these subjects without any gloss, exposing their dark side and the wounds that can fester from such pain. She also addresses society’s expectations and judgements of mothers, particularly in situations such as a child abduction when many people seem to think they are fair game and use it as an opportunity to break them down even further instead of offering kindness and support. 

Compelling, bold, tense, thought-provoking and unsettling, this twisty page-turner had me on the edge of my seat. This is an astonishing debut that you do not want to miss. READ IT NOW!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

TW: mental health, infertility, eating disorders, neglect, sexual abuse, domestic abuse.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Tina was brought up in a caravan after her mother, a fairground traveller, fell pregnant by a window cleaner. After leaving the bright lights of Coalville, she came to London and worked as a journalist and broadcaster for thirty years. She’s probably best known as a television critic for the BBC and GMTV. Call Me Mummy is Tina’s first novel, partly inspired by her own unsuccessful attempts to have a child. Despite the grief and disappointment of that, she hasn’t stolen one. So far.

Website |Instagram |Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

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

Please read the reviews from the other bloggers on the tour.

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

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Dead Head by C. J. Skuse

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Dark Comedy, Psychological Thriller, Zine, Crime Fiction, Crime Series

Thank you to HQ for the gifted copy of this book.

SYNOPSIS:

Victim. Murderer. Serial Killer. What next?
The third darkly comic thriller in the highly addictive Sweetpea series featuring serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.

‘Bridget Jones meets American Psycho’ RED
Can a serial killer ever lose their taste for murder?

Since confessing to her bloody murder spree Rhiannon Lewis, the now-notorious Sweetpea killer, has been feeling out-of-sorts.

Having fled the UK on a cruise ship to start her new life, Rhiannon should be feeling happy. But it’s hard to turn over a new leaf when she’s stuck in an oversized floating tin can with the Gammonati and screaming kids. Especially when they remind her of Ivy – the baby she gave up for a life carrying on killing.

Rhiannon is all at sea. She’s lost her taste for blood but is it really gone for good? Maybe Rhiannon is realising that there’s more to life than death…

The third book in the critically-acclaimed series following Sweetpea and In Bloom featuring everyone’s favourite truly original girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.

MY REVIEW:

“Is there such a thing as a ‘normal life’ for a serial killer?” 

It’s no secret that the Sweetpea series is one of my favourite series EVER. Or that this latest installment is one of my most anticipated books of 2021. I am not ashamed to admit that I squealed with excitement when HQ offered me a copy of Dead Head, or that I dived into it within days of its arrival. I had so many questions about what was next for Rhiannon. And what is next is a new side to Rhiannon. One that the woman herself doesn’t even recognise. 

Rhiannon is hiding out on a cruise ship after confessing to her murder spree and fleeing the UK. She is not only trying to conceal her identity to avoid prison, but also recover from the premature birth of her daughter.  Instead of feeling liberated, she is lost in malaise and can think of nothing except how much she misses her baby daughter, Ivy, who she was forced to leave behind. She has also lost her murderous appetite. Is it gone for good? Or could this be the beginning of a new Rhiannon?

Oh, how I’ve missed Rhiannon. Her coarse, dark, filthy humour, the twisted way she sees the world, how she says what’s on her mind without a care, and even her murderous ways. But I liked that in this installment we are given a more emotional and relatable Rhiannon. She is lost in malaise, missing her baby, and finds that her anger and desire to kill has dissipated. She feels untethered. Like she has lost the things that make her who she is. I thought this was a fantastic direction to take the character. After all, she might be a ruthless serial killer, but she’s still human, and few women wouldn’t be broken up at having to abandon their baby. But don’t get it twisted, she’s still got that hilarious inner monologue, dark wit and snarky personality that we first fell in love with. 

Darkly funny, compelling and sharply observed, Dead Head is a sensational installment in a truly unique series that you won’t forget. And though you need to read the previous books to keep up with events they are so brilliant that I would have recommended that you read them anyway. 

Once again, C. J. Skuse has knocked it out of the park. I loved being back in Rhiannon’s warped and crazy world and was left yearning for more. I truly hope this is not the last we see of Rhiannon.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

C. J. Skuse is the author of the young adult novels Pretty Bad Things, Rockaholic, Dead Romantic (Chicken House) as well as Monster and The Deviants (Mira Inc) and the adult novels Sweetpea and In Bloom for HQ/Harper Collins.

Born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England, C.J. has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Young People. Aside from writing novels, C.J. is a Senior Lecturer in Writing for Children on the M.A. at Bath Spa University.

C.J. loves Masterchef, Gummy Bears and Sylvanian Families. She hates carnivals, hard-boiled eggs and coughing. The movies Titanic, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Ruby Sparks were all probably based on her ideas – she just didn’t get to write them down in time.

Before she dies, C.J. would like to go to Japan, try clay-pigeon shooting and have Tom Hardy present her with the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Website |Instagram |Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Shadow Man by Helen Fields

Published: February 4th, 2021
Publisher: Avon Books
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

The brand new crime thriller from the bestselling author of the Perfect series – Helen Fields is back with her first stand-alone novel!

He collects his victims. But he doesn’t keep them safe.

Elspeth, Meggy and Xavier are locked in a flat. They don’t know where they are, and they don’t know why they’re there. They only know that the shadow man has taken them, and he won’t let them go.

Desperate to escape, the three of them must find a way out of their living hell, even if it means uncovering a very dark truth.

Because the shadow man isn’t a nightmare. He’s all too real.

And he’s watching.

Helen Fields is back with a heart-pounding new book, perfect for fans of Cara Hunter and Stuart MacBride.

MY REVIEW:

“She wished he were just a monster. There were rules for those… But there were no rules that would keep you safe from him.”

All the stars for this spine-tingling thriller! 

What a thrill ride this was! Deliciously dark, sinister and addictive, this was like a twisty rollercoaster I didn’t want to end. From the start there’s a chill in the air and a lingering sense of dread, leaving you in no doubt what kind of read you’re in for. And with all the elements of a thriller that make my dark heart sing, I couldn’t get enough. I devoured this book; staying up until ridiculous o’clock, unable to resist the lure of breathless anticipation; reading until the author delivered her spectacular coupe de grace. 

“He pressed the handkerchief to her lips. A cotton kiss in the dark.”

Helen Fields is a crime fiction powerhouse. She was already on my must-read list thanks to her spectacular DI Callanach series, but with this standalone she has become a crime writer to shout about and recommend to anyone who enjoys this genre. She gives you everything you could want in a dark and gritty thriller: visceral, chilling prose, shocking twists and turns, plenty of heart-stopping moments, and fantastic characters, including a villain that makes your blood run cold. 

I really liked Connie. She’s intelligent, fierce and straight-talking, with a dash of quirkiness that spoke to my inner weirdo. She is so fabulously written, with such a rich backstory that I really felt like I knew her. Her achromatopsia was a fascinating aspect of her character that I loved reading. I liked how it changed her perception of people and the world around her. In fact, I think my only complaint about this entire book is that it isn’t the start of a series and I won’t get to join Connie as she solves another case. 

As much as I liked Connie I think my favourite character was young Meggy. She is a little firecracker and I loved her strength, bravery and ferocity. It gave me hope that just maybe she might survive her abduction. I loved the contrast between her and Elspeth and the way it showed it isn’t always the people you expect who take charge and fight when in those kinds of situations. 

“Death had arrived. He might be wearing jeans and a denim jacket, but there was no mistaking the lack of humanity in that gaze.” 

Fergus, aka the Shadow Man, is suitably vile and chilling, The descriptions of him are so vivid I felt like I could see him in front of me. Ghoulish and predatory, he silently stalks his prey from the shadows; waiting for the right time to strike. He is masterfully written, with the author capturing every shade of his character; from  darkest, despicable evil, to charming and feeble, that evoked some sympathy alongside the abhorrence.  Calculated, organised, methodical and manipulative, he doesn’t follow the normal rules of a kidnapper which makes him harder to predict and apprehend and Connie must think outside of the box to capture him. 

Scalpel-sharp, eerie, captivating, and dripping with suspense and heart-stopping tension, this is a page-turner full of red herrings, shocking reveals and so many twists you’ll get book whiplash. DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK! And, to Helen: PLEASE consider writing a follow up. I need more Connie!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Thank you to Avon Books for my gifted copy of the book.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

A former criminal and family law barrister, Helen Fields has the expertise and experience to make the characters and plots scorch with authenticity.

With a background as both a prosecutor and defence counsel, Helen Fields has a depth of knowledge about crime that lends a fierceness to her writing. From Courts Martials to care proceedings, the Coroner Courts to the Crown Court, Fields draws on her professional years for the extraordinary colour and texture that makes her writing jump off the page. Twice long-listed for the McIllvanney Scottish Crime Book of the Year, and a multi-bestselling author whose books have been translated across the globe, Fields consistently produces high impact, compelling novels that readers love. The ‘Perfect’ series, set in Edinburgh, introduced the world to DI Luc Callanach. This year saw the release of Degrees of Guilt, her first psychological thriller in the name HS Chandler, a book as shockingly realistic as it is darkly entertaining.

Website |Instagram |Twitter |Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Deity by Matt Wesolowski

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

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

SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Trigger Warnings: sexual abuse

MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: An Eye For An Eye (Detective Kate Young 1) by Carol Wyer

Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Published: February 1st, 2022
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Thriller, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series

Happy Publication Day Carol!

I am thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this first book in a new crime series by the wonderful Ms. Wyer. Thank you to Emma at Damppebbles for the invitation to take part.

SYNOPSIS:

A killer running rings around the police. A detective spiralling out of control.

DI Kate Young is on leave. She’s the force’s best detective, but her bosses know she’s under pressure, on medication and overcoming trauma. So after her bad judgement call leads to a narrowly averted public disaster, they’re sure all she needs is a rest.

But when Staffordshire Police summon her back to work on a murder case, it’s a harder, more suspicious Kate Young who returns. With a new ruthlessness, she sets about tracking down a clinical, calculating serial killer who is torturing victims and leaving clues to taunt the police. Spurred on by her reporter husband, Young begins to suspect that the murderer might be closer than she ever imagined.

As she works to uncover the truth, Young unravels a network of secrets and lies, with even those closest to her having something to hide. But with her own competence—and her grip on reality—called into question, can she unmask the killer before they strike again?

Picture courtesy of Carol Wyer

MY REVIEW:

She’s done it again! When one of my favourite crime writers announced a new series I couldn’t contain my excitement. I was thrilled to be one of the lucky people who first received a copy and to then learn I’d be one of the bloggers opening the tour in publication day. Expectations were high and, as always, Ms. Wyer did not disappoint. An Eye for an Eye is a gripping, twisty, pacy and gritty thriller that had me hooked from the start. I couldn’t put it down and was up until 5am the first night as I didn’t want to stop reading! 

Detective Kate Young is off work after a traumatic incident earlier in the year that led to PTSD. She is still struggling to get through each day when one of her bosses asks her to come back to work on a sensitive case. She isn’t sure she’s ready to go back, but her boss convinces her that he needs his best detective, so she returns. 

Supported by her husband, Chris, and her handpicked team, Kate finds returning even more difficult than she imagined. But she’s determined to crack the case, particularly after finding clues that seem to point to the killer being uncomfortably close to home. 

This book has everything you expect when you pick up a Carol Wyer book: great writing that is gritty and compelling,  grizzly murders, a layered plot full of shocking twists, and interesting characters. 

Once again Carol has created a protagonist who is a feisty, flawed and strong-willed woman with an interesting backstory. When we meet Kate she’s on leave from work and struggling with PTSD after a traumatic incident earlier in the year. She is suffering from flashbacks, nightmares and disassociation and using pills to try and cope with her feelings. When she returns to work she must battle against not only her symptoms but the doubts and insecurities of herself and those around her. Everyone is watching and some are counting on her to fail, but Kate is determined to overcome her challenges to bring a killer to justice. As someone with PTSD following trauma I appreciate Carol portraying the condition in such a raw and accurate way. Despite these things I will admit it took me a little while to warm to Kate, though I found her compelling and was rooting for her from start to finish. 

As much as I love her Natalie Ward books I am glad that Carol decided to write a new series as I loved this thrilling page-turner. And, after that ending, I can’t wait for book two!

So if you’re a crime fiction fan, don’t miss the first in what I believe will be another unmissable series from the incomparable Ms. Wyer. READ THIS NOW.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

MEET THE AUTHOR:

A former teacher and linguist, Carol began writing full-time in 2009 and enjoyed much success with several comedies and humorous non-fiction books, one of which, Grumpy Old Menopause won her the People’s Book Prize Award in 2015. 

January 2017, saw her move into police procedurals withLittle Girl Lost, the first in the DI Robyn Carter series, that featured in USA Today Top 150 best selling books and became the #2 best-selling book on Amazon. The books, set in Staffordshire where Carol has lived for over 30 years, earned her acclaim as a crime writer and in 2018, a new team lead by DI Natalie Ward was introduced to her readers.

Carol’s crime novels have since sold over half a million copies and been translated worldwide.

As well as writing crime, Kindle top 5 best-seller Carol also still writes comedies because as the ex-stand-up comedian claims, “Laughter is the best medicine”.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

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

Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Book Features

Endgame by Carol Wyer

It’s no secret that Carol Wyer is one of my favourite crime fiction authors. Her Detective Natalie Ward series is one of my favourite crime series and having just read An Eye For An Eye, the first book in her new Detective Kate Young series, I can see I’m going to have another favourite on my hands. But today I’m not here to talk about either of those. I’m here to talk about her first series.

The Detective Robyn Carter series comprises of five installments and, from today, there is a new bonus story available.

Endgame is only available as a bonus story at the end of the fifth book, The Chosen Ones. If you don’t have a copy of the book you can still access the story by watching Carol read a chapter a day on her YouTube channel here.

Unfortunately, because I’ve not yet read this series I haven’t read the story (I didn’t want to spoil the series for myself). But I have it on good authority from other members of her Street Team that it’s fantastic:

Steph Lawrence said, “…thoroughly enjoyed it and it wraps up a brilliant series.”

Ann Jones said, “Wow Endgame! What a cracking read!”

Melanie Robertson-King said: “Holy wow! Just finished reading Endgame. ❤ ❤ ❤ it!’“

I will certainly be starting the series from the beginning so I can read it ASAP!

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Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Body Language by A. K. Turner

I’m delighted to be one of the bloggers opening the blog tour to for Body Language, the first book in an exciting new series. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part and to Zaffre for the gifted eBook ARC.

Published: November 26th, 2020
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Noir Fiction, Police Procedural, Medical Fiction, Medical Thriller

SYNOPSIS:

For fans of Tess Gerritsen and Kathy Reichs comes a gripping debut thriller introducing Camden’s most exciting new forensic investigator.

Cassie Raven believes the dead can talk. We just need to listen . . .

People think being a mortuary technician is a seriously weird job. They can’t understand why I choose to cut up dead bodies for a living. But they don’t know what I know:

The dead want to tell us what happened to them.

I’ve eviscerated thousands of bodies, but never someone I know before – someone who meant a lot to me; someone I loved.

The pathologist says that her death was an accident.

Her body is telling me differently.

MY REVIEW:

“From her first day in the mortuary five years ago it had felt totally natural to talk to the bodies in her care, to treat them as if they were still alive — still people. Occasionally they would even answer.”

Body Language introduces us to a new and original voice in crime fiction. Cassie Raven is a goth mortuary assistant who secretly believes the dead speak to her, practices taxidermy in her free time and has held a fascination with the dead since childhood. It goes without saying that she’s viewed as strange by some. But I liked this complex, flawed and slightly offbeat protagonist. 

When the body of her former teacher, mentor and friend Geraldine Edwards is brought into the morgue following her sudden death, Cassie is hit by not only a tidal wave of grief, but the feeling that this wasn’t a natural death. When the police and pathologist rule out foul play she decides to listen to what the body is telling her and embarks on her own investigation. 

This was an entertaining read. It took me a while to get into, but asked halfway through the pace picked up and oozed tension. From that point on I was unable to stop reading and stayed up until the early hours finishing the whole thing. 

The novel is full of interesting and memorable characters and storylines that feel both far-fetched and relatable. The author’s examination of grief and trauma stood out to me in particular for the sensitive, moving and realistic way in which it is portrayed. And Cassie isn’t our only protagonist. We are also told the story from the point of view of DS Phyllida Flyte. She and Cassie are poles apart and yet at their core they are very much like. They are both strong women who are seen as outsiders and believe in fighting to get the answers and justice that victims deserve. I liked how the pair paralleled each other while instantly disliking each other and enjoyed watching the slow shift in their dynamic over the course of the book. 

A tense, twists, darkly humorous and sometimes grisly read that keeps you guessing, this is a great start to a new series. I’m especially excited to see where the author takes Cassie next after the jaw-dropping conclusion. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

A.K.’s first foray into crime fiction was a detective thriller trilogy, written under the pen name Anya Lipska, following the adventures of Janusz Kiszka, tough guy and fixer to London’s Polish community. The first of the trilogy led Val McDermid to select her for the prestigious New Blood panel at Harrogate Crime Festival. All three books won critical acclaim and are currently under option as a potential TV crime series.

Set in a Camden morgue, A.K.’s new novels feature crime-solving Goth-girl mortuary attendant Cassie Raven. Cassie has already appeared in Cut and Paste, a crime short for BBC Radio 4, who are interested in commissioning further stories featuring the character.

In her other life as a TV producer and writer, A.K. makes documentaries and drama-docs on subjects as diverse as the Mutiny on the Bounty, the sex lives of Neanderthals, and Monty Don’s Italian Gardens.

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