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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

BOOK REVIEW: The Drift by C.J. Tudor

Published: January 19th, 2023
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror Fiction, Suspense, Psychological Ficiton, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Sunday Bibliophiles! Today I’m finally sharing my review of C.J. Tudor’s latest heart-pounding thriller. This is one you don’t want to miss! Thank you to C.J. Tudor for sending me a proof copy of this book and the delicious cookies.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE HEART-POUNDING NEW NOVEL FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE CHALK MAN AND RICHARD & JUDY PICK THE BURNING GIRLS

‘The wildest thriller of the year is three thrillers in one. Buckle up‘ LINWOOD BARCLAY

‘An exceptional thriller. Original, high-octane plot, jaw-dropping twists . . . A writer at the top of her game’ CLAIRE DOUGLAS

‘A truly terrifying, ice-cold chiller from the master of macabre. C.J. Tudor should be on everyone’s must-read list’ CHRIS WHITAKER
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Survival can be murder . . .

Hannah awakens to carnage, all mangled metal and shattered glass. Evacuated from a secluded boarding school during a snowstorm, her coach careered off the road, trapping her with a handful of survivors.

Meg awakens to a gentle rocking. She’s in a cable car stranded high above snowy mountains, with five strangers and no memory of how they got on board.

Carter is gazing out of the window of an isolated ski chalet that he and his companions call home. As their generator begins to waver in the storm, the threat of something lurking in the chalet’s depths looms larger.

Outside, the storm rages. Inside each group, a killer lurks.

But who?

And will anyone make it out alive? . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“They were trapped. With the dead. And if rescue didn’t come soon, they would be buried with them.”

There is something uniquely terrifying about the idea of being trapped in a place that is cut off from everything else. Add in a harsh, brutal, unrelenting snowstorm and it becomes even more dangerous. Then people begin to disappear or turn up dead. You realise that nowhere is safe and if the elements, thirst or starvation don’t kill you, then one of your fellow companions just might. All of a sudden that picturesque home or resort doesn’t look so inviting. The Drift is all of these things and more, making it exactly the kind of compelling claustrophobic thriller I love.

C. J. Tudor has done it again. Chilling, tense and twisty, this is one f****d-up rollercoaster ride that packs a punch from the first page. A prime example of an author at the top of her game, this Queen of sinister storytelling knows how to hold her reader hostage, making our hearts pound as she chills us to the bone. Expertly written and plotted, she holds the reader in her thrall and we are powerless to resist. It is why every book she releases is a must read for me. I don’t even read the synopsis anymore as I know I’m  a first-class thriller.

“Obviously, everyone here was hiding something. The only difference was the size of the secret and the depth of the lie. ” 

I was on the edge of my seat from those first grisly and ominous pages, reading in breathless anticipation as things spiralled out of control. A ticking timebomb of sheer dread, the overwhelming fear leaping from the pages as the characters fight to survive not only the brutal conditions, but someone who wants to silence them. Told from multiple points of view, there is also a sense of something dark lurking, watching and waiting to strike. A feeling of being hunted that only heightens the sense of danger and ramps up the tension. But who can they trust? Most of the characters are strangers thrown together in the worst of circumstances and they have no idea who is truthful and who is spinning a web of lies.

“The realization unfurled slowly in her stomach, like poisonous tentacles. 
No. No, no, no.” 

I loved unwrapping the layers one by one to see what they revealed, trying to piece to puzzle together. But there were still things I couldn’t work out, and I needed answers. As I sped toward the finale nothing could stop me from flying through the pages, not even sleep threatening to overtake me at 3am. But when that big reveal came I was unprepared, my jaw left on the floor as I tried to comprehend what I’d just learned. It’s been over a week since I finished the book and I’m still thinking about it.

Unsettling, eerie and unbearably tense, The Drift is a nerve-shredding masterpiece that you won’t want to put down. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

C. J. Tudor’s love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.
Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author.
C. J. Tudor’s first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in over forty countries. Her second novel, The Taking of Annie Thorne, was also a Sunday Times bestseller as was her third novel, The Other People. All three books are in development for TV. Her fourth novel, The Burning Girls, was a Richard and Judy Book Club selection and has been adapted for television by award-winning screenwriter Hans Rosenfeldt (creator of The Bridge and Marcella). It will debut on Paramount Plus in 2023. The Drift is her fifth novel and has also been optioned for the screen. C.J. Tudor is also the author of A Sliver of Darkness, a collection of short stories.
She lives in Sussex with her family.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Berts Books |Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: Only Girl Alive by Holly S. Roberts

Published: January 13th, 2023
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to this compelling thriller! Thank you to Noelle at Bookouture for the invitation to take part and gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

As day breaks over the Tanner family home, the house is deadly silent and the door is firmly closed. Upstairs, the whole family lie cold and lifeless in their beds. All with the same look of fear in their unblinking eyes…

Detective Eve Bennet takes a steadying breath as she enters the main bedroom of the Tanners’ modest home in the tight-knit town of Hilldale, Utah. Mrs Tanner’s high-collared nightgown and her long plaited blonde hair are soaked in blood. Next to her, Mr Tanner’s hands are clasped together in a final prayer.

Filled with dread, Eve forces herself towards the children’s rooms. But instead of two children, she only finds one. Where is the youngest daughter, Hannah? And why are there long scratches across the walls?

Eve tracks Hannah down to her uncle’s house nearby. But he won’t let her step foot in the house. Eve knows what it’s like to be held captive by a family member, and fears for Hannah’s safety. What is he terrified Hannah might reveal?

Back at the Tanner home, Eve makes a shocking discovery in the dust covered attic. Mr Tanner was hiding a dark secret from the rest of the community—the kind of secret someone would kill for.

Realizing another family could be in danger, Eve runs from the house and stumbles into the path of the one man she spent years trying to forget— and he won’t let her get away this time. Can Eve escape the evil that has haunted her whole life? And will she catch the killer before another innocent family is murdered?

Fans of Melinda Leigh, Kendra Elliot and Lisa Regan will be absolutely gripped by this explosive and totally unputdownable crime thriller from a USA Today bestselling author.

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MY REIVEW:

“The killer lightly inhaled and exhaled into the silence, awaiting God’s next command… Sinners waited for salvation in the next rooms”

The bodies of four members of the Tanner family are found lifeless in their beds. An entire family, wiped out as they slept. Or so it first appears. There is actually a survivor. One child that is still alive who may hold the key to solving this violent and unthinkable crime. But her uncle won’t allow the police to speak with her and the entire community seems determined to keep the ten-year-old hidden. What are they so scared she might reveal?
As Detective Eve Bennett and her team investigate, they make a shocking discovery in the attic of the Tanner’s home that leads to even darker revelations. Now they must race against the clock to catch the brutal killer before they strike again.

Did I need a new crime series on my already overflowing TBR? Not at all. But despite this, and the fact I’d sworn to cut right back on blog tours in the last few months leading up to my wedding, I was unable to resist reading Only Girl Alive and joining the blog tour. Noelle Holten, I blame you. But I also have to thank you, because this book had me hooked and I’ve found a fantastic new series to follow. 

“The evil that permeated this community was the history that she unsuccessfully tried to escape.”

Only Girl Alive introduces us to a new star in crime fiction. Detective Eve Bennett works for Utah’s special investigative squad, a unit committed to helping find justice for the victims of the polygamist sect of the Mormon Church. Her motives are personal as Eve was raised in the sect before escaping as a young teenager. Her fundamentalist past still haunts her, the trauma and indoctrination a daily battle she must wage. I really liked the author’s choice to give Eve a fundie background as it not only gives the reader an added insight into the community she is investigating, but also makes for complex dynamics and interesting plot points such as working against her own family when investigating crimes. She is a fascinating character who was a joy to read. I also really enjoyed the characters who made up Eve’s team. I loved their dynamic and how they handled the tricky obstacles they faced from the community as they investigated. The hint of blossoming romance was also fun to read and I’m hoping to see that develop in book two. 

There aren’t many fiction books that focus on fundamentalism so setting a new series around a fundie community is something that immediately makes it stand out from the crowd. And as someone who has long been interested in fundamentalism and its consequences, it made me even more invested in this book and its characters. The author skillfully portrays what it is like to live with such an indoctrinated mindset, something that is shown particularly well when we read the opening chapter, which is written from the killer’s point of view. This chapter chilled me to my core as it is clear that they are a deeply disturbed person who is so indoctrinated that they genuinely believe they are carrying out God’s judgement and helping their victims atone for their sins. Seriously creepy but sadly understandable with all they are taught.

“An evil corruption that twisted the hearts and minds of over ten thousand people waited to stop Eve’s team from discovering the truth. What secret were they willing to kill for? “

Holly S. Roberts’ biography tells us that she is a retired homicide detective, something that totally makes sense after reading this book. Exquisitely written, evocative and utterly compelling, it also includes lots of little details about the inner workings of investigating a crime that felt authentic. I now know why. As someone who reads a lot of thrillers, it isn’t often I can genuinely say that I did not see a twist coming. But that is what happened with this book. There are a lot of surprising revelations along the way, but the big reveal totally blindsided me. My jaw was on the floor and I suddenly had to question everything I thought I knew. How did I miss it?! Well played, Ms. Roberts. Well played. 

Tense, twisty and gripping, Only Girl Alive is a fantastic thriller from what promises to be an exciting new series. Thriller lovers, add this to your TBR now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Religious indoctrination, religious trauma, sexual abuse

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Holly Roberts began writing to alleviate stress in her day job, that of a homicide and sex crimes detective. Romance was her go to genre because she required a happy ending. She also touched on cozy mysteries and added six books to her forty book romance repertoire. Now that she’s retired and her mind at peace, she decided to delve into crime thrillers using her background and thirst for research to write the Eve Bennet series.

Holly has two movie/television options under her belt for her amazing life story. Part of the reason is Holly became a police officer at age 45 and led two high profile cases, one involving a serial killer. Now she enjoys the excitement of writing about crime while sitting at home with her two dogs, laptop, and a cup of hot tea close by.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon* | Apple | Audible US

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*These links are affiliate links

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

REVIEW: Their Silent Graves by Carla Kovach (Detective Gina Harte Book 7)

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Ficiton, Crime Ficiton, Police Procedural, Crime Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for the gifted ARC of this book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Dressed in garish Halloween costumes, two teenage girls run through a patch of dense woodland towards the outskirts of town. But before they can reach the safety of the streets beyond, they make a shocking discovery.

Following a piece of old rope, the girls find a large mound of freshly laid earth, undisturbed in the darkness of the trees. Clawing at the ground beneath them, they make contact with something solid. When they realise what they’ve discovered, the silence is broken by their piercing screams as they stare down at the shallow grave.

Without looking back, they run as fast as they can, failing to spot the person nearby watching their every move…

And when another grave is found just days later, it’s clear a serial killer is praying on the small town. But who is the killer watching now? And when will another grave be filled?

If you like Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, you’ll love this heart-racing thriller from bestselling author, Carla Kovach. With gripping suspense and a twist you won’t see coming, Their Silent Graves will have you hooked from page one.

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MY REVIEW:

Some lies won’t stay buried forever…

Two teenage girls on their way to a Halloween party are unprepared for the discovery they are about to make. While walking through the woods the girls come across a piece of old rope they follow to a large mound of freshly laid earth. Clawing at the ground, they uncover a shallow grave and run screaming for help. But they failed to notice the person lurking in the shadows who was watching their every move…

Detective Gina Harte and her team arrive to investigate and discover the body of a man sealed in a coffin. A few days later, another grave is found, and it is clear they are hunting a twisted serial killer. 

Racing to find the perpetrator before another grave is filled, Gina receives chilling messages from someone claiming to be the person they are looking for. Messages that threaten to reveal the secret she has kept hidden for decades. 

The Detective Gina Harte series is one of my favourite crime series, yet somehow I’d missed book seven. So when I was looking for a mood read thriller I could sink my teeth into, it seemed like the ideal time to finally put that right. And I’m glad I did. This book had everything I’ve come to expect from Carla Kovach: great writing, grim murder scenes, richly drawn characters, chilling villains, and morally complex dilemmas. It showcases her talent for crafting dark, disturbing, and twisty thrillers that are hard to predict or put down.

One of the aspects I particularly enjoyed in this instalment was wondering if Gina’s secrets would be revealed. I loved the heightened tension it created as I questioned not only this, but just how she might be connected to the killer. And speaking of the killer, this one was really hard to figure out! I am usually good at figuring out twists and who a perpetrator is, but this time I really had no set suspect in my mind until right before the big reveal. And even then I was wrong! Their identity was a genuine surprise that made my jaw drop. Well played, Ms. Kovach. 

Chilling, ominous and addictive, Their Silent Graves is a pacy page-turner all thriller lovers won’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carla started writing more seriously ten years ago after having flirted with musical theatre and occasional writing in her youth.

Since then she has written & produced several stage plays, has four self-published books, has acted in several independent films and is currently in the final stages of production of her feature horror film, Penny for the Guy.

She now writes full time as well as co-owning a film, photography & video production company located in the heart of Redditch town centre

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Her Deadly Promise by Carla Kovach (Detective Gina Harte Book 12)

Published: December 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Her Deadly Promise, the latest compelling thriller in the fantastic Detective Gina Harte series. Thank you to Noelle at Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Four-year-old Kayden has been sitting alone on the little patch of tired grass outside his house for hours. His cheeks are wet with tears as he waits for his mother’s warm embrace. But she’ll never arrive to pick up her darling boy. She’ll never be seen again…

Church Road is a quiet corner of suburbia where happy families play in the local park and neighbours smile as they pass in the street. But behind the bright red door of number 8 lies the body of Billie Reeves, a young mum who just took her last breath.

Serena is Billie’s sister. When she found out her boyfriend had been obsessively calling Billie, she’d all but cut her from her life. But not before vowing she would make Billie pay for ruining her relationship…

Shaun is Billie’s ex-boyfriend. He left her the moment she fell pregnant. When he turned up at Billie’s door, demanding to see Kayden, she refused to take the risk of him hurting her precious son. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his little boy back…

Nadia is Billie’s best friend. Their kids attended the same school and Billie often opened up to Nadia about her struggles as a single mother. She knows Billie’s deepest, darkest secret. She promised never to tell, but that was before the argument…

When police investigate the quiet little street, they discover everyone was whispering about Billie’s late-night callers. What was going on behind the closed door of Billie’s small home? And if someone was prepared to kill her, what do they know, and who will be next?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, will love Her Deadly Promise – a completely gripping crime thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page!

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MY REVIEW:

“One thing I don’t know is how it all ends, but I know it’s not going to be pretty. It’s going to be explosive.”

Four-year-old Kayden has been playing outside in his garden for hours. His mother, Billie, told him not to come in the house until she tells him to, so he’s waiting for her to call him. But she never will. Because while Kayden was playing someone brutally murdered his mother in their home. 

Detective Gina Harte and her team are called in to investigate the shocking crime. Who could commit such a savage act? As they delve deeper, they discover that things are not as simple as they seem and that this is a case filled with dark secrets that could hold the key to cracking the case. They just have to unravel them first. 

The twelfth book in the Detective Gina Harte series is another gripping thriller. Infused with mystery and a sense of imminent danger, I was on the edge of my seat as I tried to figure out the secrets each of the characters were hiding. It had a dark and ominous atmosphere, like there was something evil lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce. And I couldn’t get enough. 

While I enjoy a good standalone thriller, there is something to be said about coming back to characters you know and love. It’s like catching up with an old friend and I’ve come to care about Gina and her team. Gina herself is one of my favourite crime protagonists, and it was hard to see her going through such a hard time in this book. But in addition to the regular characters, each instalment in a series requires new characters and Ms. Kovach manages to create fascinating new characters who draw us in and tug on our heartstrings or enrage us again and again. And while we know one of them is our killer, the mask they wear is so convincing that it can be hard to see their true face. This was particularly true in this story and my jaw was left on the floor at the big reveal. 

Carla Kovach is one of my auto-buy authors thanks to this series. Her books are always well written, morally complex, darkly thrilling, and filled with compelling characters. I also enjoy how she weaves important issues such as domestic violence, mental health, and, in this book, the cost of living crisis into her stories, giving them greater depth and making the reader think. I also like that her books are often hard to predict, keeping me on my toes as I read. But this time she had something truly tantalising in store with the book’s final line. How can you do that to me?! I need the next book now! I’m going to be thinking about what it could mean until book thirteen.

Suspenseful, captivating and twisty, this is perfect for anyone who enjoys a multilayered thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carla Kovach is a USA Today bestselling author from the UK and is published by Bookouture, Sphere and Boekerij. Her DI Gina Harte series has been translated into Dutch.

As well as novels, she has also written stage and screenplays.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Suicide Thursday by Will Carver

Published: November 24th, 2022|
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Hardboiled, Noir Ficiton, Crime Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Suicide Thursday. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

A disenchanted man struggles to get beyond the first chapter of the books he’s writing, and to separate fact from fiction in his own life. His friend’s suicide changes everything … The mind-blowing, heart-rending new thriller from cult bestselling author Will Carver.
 
‘One of the most exciting authors in Britain’ Daily Express

_________________________________________
 
Eli Hagin can’t finish anything. 
 
He hates his job, but can’t seem to quit. He doesn’t want to be with his girlfriend, but doesn’t know how end things with her, either. Eli wants to write a novel, but he’s never taken a story beyond the first chapter. 
 
Eli also has trouble separating reality from fiction. 
 
When his best friend kills himself, Eli is motivated, for the first time in his life, to finally end something himself, just as Mike did…
 
Except sessions with his therapist suggest that Eli’s most recent ‘first chapters’ are not as fictitious as he had intended … and a series of text messages that Mike received before his death point to something much, much darker…

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MY REVIEW:

“Suicide is a beginning for those left behind.”

Bold, uncompromising and unique, Suicide Thursday is another thought-proovoking novel from the incomparable Will Carver. 

Aspiring writer Eli Hagin can’t finish things. He can’t get past the opening chapter of his book, can’t end his relationship, and can’t leave the job he hates. But when his best friend takes his own life Eli finds himself feeling motivated to finally finish something. But not everything is as it seems and fact begins to merge with fiction as the truth behind Mike’s suicide is revealed…

This is one of those books that haunts your subconscious long after reading and I have not stopped thinking about it. Will Carver is a master of his craft, holding us in the palm of his hand from beginning to end as he explores a multitude of social and moral topics in this genre-blending tale. I am a proud member of the #CarverCult and I will pick up his books without even looking at the synopsis. They are like nothing else you will ever read, but you know you are getting a story that is meticulously written, twisty, sinister and atmospheric. 

The story is told by multiple narrators using mixed media as it moves between the days leading up to Sucide Thursday and the heartrending aftermath. This is a story filled with flawed, unreliable and unlikable characters. Eli is particularly abhorrent; selfish, acerbic and unfeeling. I couldn’t decide if he was simply a terrible person or if there were elements of neurodiversity that affected his perception of the world. There was nothing that could excuse him deciding Mike had killed himself as a message to him rather than an expression of his own desperation though and I really hated him at times. But he was great to read. 

As someone who has lost friends to suicide and struggled with mental health, I was a little apprehensive about how I’d feel reading this book. But while this is undoubtedly hard to read, Carver skillfully and realistically conveys the psychological and emotional torment of depression and suicidal thoughts, and the complex layers of the particular kind of grief that comes with losing a loved one in this way. Carver is also an author with a knifelike awareness of the human condition who gets to the heart of why people behave like they do. 

Disturbing, moving and darkly funny, Suicide Thursday is a compelling and audacious novel that stays with you. Highly recommended.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for both the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2020 and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*These purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart

Published: September 13th, 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Medical Thriller, Police Procedural, Horror Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the deliciously dark, menacing and eerie The Butcher and the Wren. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE CHILLING SERIAL KILLER THRILLER FROM THE CO-HOST OF CHART-TOPPING PODCAST MORBID

WREN WAS NEVER AFRAID OF THE DARK. UNTIL SHE LEARNED THAT SOME MONSTERS ARE REAL . . .
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In deep Louisiana, a serial killer with a taste for medical experimentation is completing his most ambitious project yet. The media call him ‘The Butcher’ – and, so far, he’s proved impossible to catch.

With her encyclopaedic knowledge of humanity’s darkest minds, and years of experience examining their victims, forensic pathologist Dr Wren Muller is the best there is. The longer the Butcher’s killing spree continues, the more determined she is to bring him to justice.

And yet, he continues to elude her.

As body after body piles up on Wren’s examination table, her obsession grows. Pressure to put an end to the slaughter mounts. And her enemy becomes more brazen.

How far is Wren willing to go to draw the Butcher into the light . . .?

An addictive read with straight-from-the-morgue details only an autopsy technician could provide, The Butcher and the Wren promises to ensnare all who enter.

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MY REVIEW:

Wren was never afraid of the dark.  Until she learned that some monsters are real…

The Butcher and the Wren is a dark, menacing and forbidding game of cat and mouse that will send shivers down your spine.  This is one of those books best read in the daytime because if you read it in the dark you will never close your eyes…

Forensic pathologist Dr Wren Muller is determined to bring the killer known as ‘The Bayou Butcher’ to justice.  But as the body count rises, she fears she is no closer to finding the brutal murderer with a penchant for experimenting on his victims.  Then one day she notices a clue that changes the game completely.  Now she knows who he is and she is willing to do whatever it takes to stop him. 

“Catch me if you can.” 

Alaina Urquhart wields a scalpel as sharp as her protagonist in this outstanding debut.  Intricately woven, tightly plotted, fast-paced and unbearably tense, it oozed fear from its every pore and had me on the edge of my seat with my heart racing.  Darkly atmospheric and cleverly written, the author uses the power of suggestion to make your imagination go wild, conjuring imagery more horrifying than graphic descriptions could ever portray, though there are some gruesome moments too.  I devoured it quickly, unable to turn away even though I desperately wanted to. 

 “The feeling in this place is dark and ominous, saturated with the evil that has touched it for so long.”

Not only has Urquhart written a chilling story, but she’s created a truly terrifying villain.  Jeremy is particularly frightening because he seems like he could be anyone you know.  He is completely sane and aware of his actions, meticulously plans his every move, and seems so normal that his victims willingly accompany  him to their doom.  He’s the monster that lurks in the shadows or under your bed while also being the person sitting next to you on the bus or who chats to you at a bar.  He is what we don’t want to believe evil is made of.  

Ominous, suspenseful and filled with jaw-dropping twists that will take you by surprise, this is a must-read for any thriller lover.  Urquhart is my new favourite sinister storyteller and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.  Hopefully it will include Wren as I’d love to see her featured in a series. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon*| Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*These purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

Published: September 15th, 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this remarkable debut. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

They claim they saw nothing. She knows they’re lying.
1996 – Cabramatta, Sydney

‘Just let him go.’

Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation with friends. That night, Denny – optimistic, guileless Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, a refugee enclave facing violent crime, and an indifferent police force.

Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case. Even though several people were present at Denny’s murder, each bystander claims to have seen nothing, and they are all staying silent.

Determined to uncover the truth, Ky tracks down and questions the witnesses herself. But what she learns goes beyond what happened that fateful night. The silence has always been there, threaded through the generations, and Ky begins to expose the complex traumas weighing on those present the night Denny died. As she peels back the layers of the place that shaped her, she must confront more than the reasons her brother is dead. And once those truths have finally been spoken, how can any of them move on?

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MY REVIEW:

Cabramatta, Sydney. 1996.  Seventeen-year-old Denny Tran is brutally murdered while celebrating his high school graduation with his friends.  Everyone in the busy restaurant claims to have seen nothing, their fear of retribution holding the truth hostage.  Denny’s older sister Ky refuses to accept their denials or the police force’s indifference and embarks on her own quest to find out what happened to her brother.  But is she ready for what she will learn?

This is a truly remarkable debut.  Harrowing, moving and powerful, this is the story of the aftermath of a tragedy.  A tragedy shrouded in such secrecy that the truth is almost impossible to find.  This isn’t a book you simply read but one where you live every grief-laden word, the loss and heartbreak so raw that it almost makes you weep.  Though marketed as crime and mystery fiction, the novel has more of a  literary vibe as while Denny’s murder and the mystery surrounding it are part of the essence of the book, the other topics felt more prominent in the narrative than the crime itself.  I personally loved this but am aware that some hard-core thriller lovers might struggle with a more literary novel.

Exploring themes such as grief, family dynamics and cultural and societal divides alongside darker topics such as racism and prejudice, author Tracey Lien examines the Vietnamese community and how immigration to Australia affected the generations.  I knew nothing about many of the topics covered in this book before reading and enjoyed being educated while I read as I think it is important to read books that expand our knowledge of the world and other cultures. 

As Denny’s family try to come to terms with his death, they also struggle to fathom how this all-round good kid ended up the victim of such a vicious crime.  His older sister, Ky, is our main character.  Ky is feeling overwhelming guilt as she is the one who convinced her strict mother to allow Denny to attend the celebration the night he was killed and her heartache and torment is palpable. We also see how she struggles with the different way in which her Vietnamese parents grieve his loss, a cultural divide that leaves her feeling even more alone. It is just one example of the divide between immigrants and their children, who are more immersed in Australian society than their elders, and how it affects their understanding of each other.  
The other characters are equally as compelling and I especially liked that the author ensured that Denny felt as real as any other character thanks to the flashbacks that are peppered throughout the narrative.  His life is one that was extinguished far too soon and I mourned him, the tragedy, horror and devastating impact of his murder lingering over every page.

Complex, memorable and heart-shattering, All That’s Left Unsaid is a book I’d highly recommend.  An emotional journey that I couldn’t put down, this outstanding debut highlights Tracey Lien as an author to watch and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Tracey Lien was born and raised in southwestern Sydney, Australia. She earned her MFA at the University of Kansas and was previously a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. All That’s Left Unsaid is her first novel.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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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 TOUR: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Published: September 15th, 2022
Publisher: Ultimo Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this truly original whodunit. Thank you to Tracy at Campulsive Reader Tours for the invitation to take part and Ultimo Press for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘And then there is a scream. Ragged and terrified. A beat of silence even after it stops, until we all seem to realise that the Reading Room Rules no longer apply.’

Hannah Tigone, bestselling Australian crime author, is crafting a new novel that begins in the Boston Public Library: four strangers; Winifred, Cain, Marigold and Whit are sitting at the same table when a bloodcurdling scream breaks the silence. A woman has been murdered. They are all suspects, and, as it turns out, each character has their own secrets and motivations – and one of them is a murderer.

While crafting this new thriller, Hannah shares each chapter with her biggest fan and aspirational novelist, Leo. But Leo seems to know a lot about violence, motive, and how exactly to kill someone. Perhaps he is not all that he seems…

The Woman in the Library is an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship – and shows that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

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MY REVIEW:

“And then there is a scream. Ragged and terrified. A beat of silence even after it stops, until we all seem to realise that the Reading Room rules no longer apply.”

Bestselling Australian crime writer Hannah Tigone is creating a new story set in the Boston Public Library.  It opens with four strangers sitting at a table when a bloodcurdling scream pierces the silence.  A woman has been murdered.  Finding themselves under suspicion, the four new friends embark on a quest to find out who killed the woman in the library.  But could one of them be the killer?

As she writes, Hannah shares each new chapter with fan and aspiring author Leo Johnson. But there are clues that Leo may not be all he seems…

Entertaining, addictive and suspenseful, The Woman in the Library was a heart-pounding rollercoaster ride.  Action-packed, shrewdly choreographed and twist-filled, I flew through it in under a day. Author Sunil Gentill tells the story in a truly unique way.  This is a story within a story and the chapters alternate between the murder mystery novel and letters critiquing her work.  It is a great concept and she executed it perfectly, the dual narratives working well in tandem and keeping the reader on tenterhooks as she builds things to a shocking crescendo.

Though she is elusive and never features in her own voice, Hannah lingers over every page of the book and I found myself quickly drawn into her fictional storyland with its fascinating characters, exhilarating tension and the compelling mystery that Freddie and her friends were trying to solve.  In the letters I got a creepy vibe from Leo early on and was intrigued by his character more than any other.  He’s quite the enigma as we know almost nothing about him as all he seems to discuss with Hannah is her work.  I loved how Gentill used this to heighten the tension in the novel and created a second mystery for the reader to unravel.  

Writing is a theme that is intrinsically woven into the heart of this book.  The cast of characters has many authors, aspiring authors and journalists and in addition to Hannah’s novel, we have Leo discussing his ‘opus’ and Freddie writing her novel and using her new friends for inspiration.   It was an interesting glimpse into not only the writing process but the kinds of challenges and dilemmas faced before a book makes it into our hands.

A clever multiple whodunit that had my nerves on edge, The Woman in the Library is a riveting read that has the vibe of an old-fashioned murder mystery.  Highly recommended. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sulari Gentill is an Australian author, also known under the pen name of S.D. Gentill. She initially studied astrophysics before becoming a corporate lawyer, but has since become a writer. She is the author of the award-winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries, a series of historical crime fiction novels set in the 1930s about Rowland Sinclair, the gentleman artist-cum-amateur-detective.

Website

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BUY THE BOOKS:

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

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BLOG TOUR: The Last Girl To Die by Helen Fields

Published: September 1st, 2022
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this astonishing and unsettling thriller. Thank you to Olivia at Avon for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

In search of a new life, seventeen-year-old Adriana Clark’s family moves to the ancient, ocean-battered Isle of Mull, far off the coast of Scotland. Then she goes missing. Faced with hostile locals and indifferent police, her desperate parents turn to private investigator Sadie Levesque.

Sadie is the best at what she does. But when she finds Adriana’s body in a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head, she knows she’s dealing with something she’s never encountered before.

The deeper she digs into the island’s secrets, the closer danger creeps – and the more urgent her quest to find the killer grows. Because what if Adriana is not the last girl to die?

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MY REVIEW:

All the stars for this truly astonishing and mesmerising novel!  Merging mythology, folklore and superstition with suspicion, mystery and murder in an isolated, claustrophobic and forbidding setting, The Last Girl To Die is a tantalising and unforgettable read.

Set on the Isle of Mull, the story follows Sadie Levesque, a Canadian private investigator and teenage tracking specialist, who has been hired to find missing 17-year-old Adriana Clark.  After days of searching she finds poor Adriana’s body inside a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head in a macabre twist.  Faced with an island of people who distrust outsiders and closely guard their secrets, finding the killer is not going to be easy.  Or without danger.  And the more she uncovers, the more those with secrets will do anything to keep them hidden…

I have been a fan of Helen Fields ever since reading her debut novel and I don’t even read the blurb before adding her books to my TBR anymore.  She always delivers a well written, suspenseful, gritty and visceral thriller filled with compelling characters, but with this book she took things to another level. Sadie is my favourite of her standalone protagonists and I enjoyed the decision to move away from traditional crime fiction by including supernatural and mythological elements as I love a witchy read.  I didn’t want to put this book down and found myself thinking about it every minute I wasn’t reading.  

From the start there is a sense that there is more to this island than they want to tell, a sense of chilling foreboding that you can’t shake. As the ancient folklore and rituals are slowly introduced we understand this place and its people a little more but I found my sense of horror grew with each new shocking twist and surprising revelation. Fields captured the atmosphere of a secluded island perfectly and I felt like I was walking on Mull alongside Sadie, and the animosity, distrust and menace radiating from the pages and cast of characters bringing it to life in vivid technicolour.

Gripping, unpredictable and breathtakingly brilliant, this is Fields’ best book yet.  If you like nerve-shredding thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat and the unsettling aura of the supernatural, then this is for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Helen Fields is the author of best-selling crime, thriller and historical fiction books Perfect Remains, Perfect Prey, Perfect Death, Perfect Silence, Perfect Crime, Perfect Kill, These Lost and Broken Things & Degrees of Guilt written as HS Chandler. A former barrister and film producer, her books have been translated into more than 20 languages. 

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xx

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REVIEW: Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook

Today I’m sharing my review for this brutal and brilliant novel. Thank you Michael Joseph for the gifted copy and Ceri for asking me to buddy read this one with her.

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SYNOPSIS:

You’ve never met a woman as dangerous as Bella Sorensen . . .

THE FASCINATING REIMAGINING OF THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HISTORY’S ORIGINAL FEMALE SERIAL KILLER
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1900, Chicago.

Bella Sorenson knows that the world is made for men.

They control everything: jobs, property, money. Marriage makes women like her their slaves.

But now Bella is fighting back.


Because she’s angry. She’s bloodthirsty. She’s willing to kill to get what she wants – starting with her husband.

And then her next husband. And the next one . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“They thought that was it, then-that I was safe and would not bite. That I would take my lesson and learn from it, be humble and meek and know my place… They never expected me to hold a grudge…”

Bella Sorenson was the original female serial killer.  As a big true crime junkie I had heard her name but knew little about her or her crimes and knew this was a book for me.  It had been languishing on my shelves ever since I received an ARC last year so I was delighted to finally get around to reading it as part of a buddy read with my lovely blogger friend Ceri. 

Brutal, bold and brilliant, author Camilla Bruce seamlessly blends fact with fiction to reimagine Bella’s story.  It is a dark character study of the life and psyche of the woman behind the sensational headlines while never making excuses for her crimes or shying away from the grim facts.  In the must-read author’s note at the end Bruce explains that the aim of this book was to try to understand what drove Bella to commit her crimes and I think she has achieved that, helping us see the nuances of her character, bond with her and even feel some sympathy for her.  She claimed my attention instantly and kept me hooked until the final page, taking me on a journey that spans multiple decades and two continents.  And while it is well researched and mindful of attention to detail, the author never allows it to become bogged down by them, instead being driven by the story and characters.

“She had been swallowed up by something else,  something dark with terrible jaws – like a wolf.” 

Bella is a terrifying character.  She is a woman fuelled by spite, anger and contempt with an unquenchable thirst for revenge.  I both loved and loathed this ruthless and remorseless killer who fails to understand why she shouldn’t hurt those she feels have wronged her.  And knowing she was a real person, that she existed and committed these crimes rather than being simply a creation of an author’s twisted imagination, made her all the more fearsome.  But despite all of this, Bruce manages to humanise her by exploring the pivotal moments of trauma in her life she can’t escape; the things that haunt her and helped shape her into a merciless killer. And while I never condoned her actions, I did have a lot of sympathy for some of the things she had endured. 

But Bella isn’t our only narrator.  Her older sister, Nellie, also shares her perspective.  She is the voice of empathy and a morally complex character whose dilemmas raise both tension and emotion.  I really enjoyed how Nellie provided another side to everything that happened, moved the story forward, and helped to create nuance in the story that would have otherwise been missing.  There was also a cast of compelling and richly drawn background characters who leapt from the pages and helped bring the whole tragic tale to life in vivid technicolour.

“I would rise, if only to spite.”

Captivating, suspenseful, devilishly dark and dripping with malice, Triflers Need Not Apply is a phenomenal story that thriller lovers and crime junkies will love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Camilla Bruce is a Norwegian writer of speculative and historical fiction. She has a master’s degree in comparative literature and has co-run a small press that published dark fairy tales. Camilla currently lives in Trondheim with her son and cat.

https://camillabruce.com/

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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