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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – July 2021

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

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

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

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

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Rule by David Jackson

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

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

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Painting by Alison Booth

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Mr Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Mrs England by Stacey Halls

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

Review to come
Buy the book here*

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

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

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

Read my review here
buy the book here*

The Woman in the Water by Kelly Heard

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here

The Secret Life of Writers by Guillaume Musso

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

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Face at the Window by Ruby Speechley

This is one of those books that’s a bit like an iceberg: what you see at first is only a part of what is actually going on. The author slowly unveils the truth, weaving together the layers to create a complex and intricate thriller. Themes of domestic violence and coercive control are explored in various ways through out the book and it is clear it is well researched. Unnerving and affecting, I would recommend this to fans of the genre.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

That Night by Gillian McAllister

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

Review to follow
Buy the book here*

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

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

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

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

*These are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Book Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for this magnificent novel on its publication day. Thank you to Midas PR for the invitation to take part and to them and Bloomsbury UK for the gifted copy and champagne.

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SYNOPSIS:

When they took everything from her, they didn’t count on her fighting to get it back… Born into the House of Romanov to the all-powerful Peter the Great and Catherine I, beautiful Tsarevna Elizabeth is the world’s loveliest Princess and the envy of the Russian empire. Insulated by luxury and as a woman free from the burden of statecraft, Elizabeth is seemingly born to pursue her passions.

However, a dark prophecy predicts her fate as inexorably twined with Russia. When her mother dies, Russia is torn, masks fall, and friends become foes. Elizabeth’s idyllic world is upended. By her twenties she is penniless and powerless, living under constant threat. As times change like quicksand, an all-consuming passion emboldens Elizabeth: she must decide whether to take up her role as Russia’s ruler, and what she’s willing to do for her country – and for love.

********

MY REVIEW:

“Everything comes at a price.”

Take a bow, Ellen Alpsten, for you have created another absolute masterpiece.

The Tsarina’s Daughter follows the journey of Tsarevna Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. When the story begins she is a teenager, known for being the world’s most beautiful Princess and awaiting her expected engagement to the King of France. But after her mother’s death her fortunes quickly change and a dark prophecy predicting a turbulent future inexorably linked with her beloved Russia seems to be coming to pass. As Russia is torn apart, so is Elizabeth’s life, and we follow her one a journey of highs and lows, of rags and riches and of life and death.

Tsarina was one of my favourite books of 2020 and put Ellen Alpsten on my list of aut-buy authors. I was elated to learn that it was the first in a series and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the follow up. Expectations were high, and she exceeded them all. The Tsarina’s Daughter is a spectacular novel. Exquisitely written, beautifully crafted and addictive, I luxuriated in every word. Once again the author’s meticulous research leaps from the pages and transports you back in time to the opulence of Imperial Palace and the rule of the Tsars. One of the things I love about historical fiction is when a book educates and entertains you, and this certainly does both of those things flawlessly.

“I had not yet turned twenty but felt weighed down by all I had lived through.”

Elizabeth is a fascinating historical figure. The daughter of not only one of Russia’s greatest Tsars, but its first Tsarina, she is understandably a force to be reckoned with. She lives in an era where everything is a matter of life or death. You have to watch your every word and play the game carefully in order to survive, and I loved watching her grow and learn to master the rules of the game. But Elizabeth was also born during a time of great change, where women took power and had their voices heard for the first time in Russia’s history. At the beginning of her journey, the best she hopes for is to be the wife of a great King, and by the end she is fighting to take her place as Tsarina of All of Russias.

The Tsarina’s Daughter is a dazzling, magnificent and captivating novel that I couldn’t put down. And after that ending I can not wait for book three to see what is next for Elizabeth and the Romanov dynasty. This outstanding series is a must for any history lover.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ellen Alpsten was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands, where she dressed up her many pets and forced them to listen to her stories.

Upon graduating from the ‘Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris’, she worked as a news-anchor for Bloomberg TV London. While working gruesome night shifts on breakfast TV, she started to write in earnest, every day, after work, a nap and a run. So much for burning midnight oil!

Today, Ellen works as an author and as a journalist for international publications such as Vogue, Standpoint, and CN Traveller. She lives in London with her husband, three sons, and a moody fox red Labrador.

‘Tsarina’ is her debut novel in the ‘Tsarina’ series, followed by ‘The Tsarina’s Daughter’.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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Book Features book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Publication Day Feature: Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Today is the paperback publication day of Tsarina, the first in an exciting new trilogy that was also one of my favourite books of 2020. To celebrate, I’m resharing my review.

Thank you Midas PR and Bloomsbury UK for my gifted copies of the book.

The second book in the series, The Tsarina’s Daughter, is out July 8th.

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SYNOPSIS:

SHORTLISTED FOR THE AUTHOR’S CLUB BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD

‘It makes Game of Thrones look like a nursery rhyme’ – Daisy Goodwin

Lover, mother, murderer, Tsarina

1699: Illegitimate, destitute and strikingly beautiful, Marta is sold into labour at the age of fifteen – where in desperation she commits a crime that will force her to go on the run. Cheating death at every turn, she is swept into the current of the Great Northern War. Working as a washer woman at a battle camp, she catches the eye of none other than Peter the Great. Passionate and iron-willed, Peter has a vision for transforming the traditionalist Tsardom of Russia into a modern, Western empire.

With nothing but wits, courage and formidable ambition, Marta will rise from nothing to become Catherine I of Russia. But it comes at a steep price and is tied to the destiny of Russia itself.

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MY REVIEW:

“He is dead. My beloved husband, the mighty Tsar of all the Russias, has died – and just in time.”

Tsarina is a story of power, lust, sex, murder and betrayal. Of rags-to-riches. Of Catherine, the first Tsarina of all the Russias.

It begins in February 1725, on the night that Peter the Great, Tsar of All the Russias, dies. Catherine, her children and his advisors try to conceal his death for as long as possible to delay their fate. It is a matter of life and death. The story then moves between that night and flashbacks to Catherine’s life, beginning when she was just thirteen-years-old, still known as Marta and living with her serf family. We then follow her journey from poor peasant girl to Tsarina; a story that would be deemed too far fetched if you tried to sell it to a publisher. But every word of this novel is based in fact, with just a few liberties taken as the details of Catherine’s early life is shrouded in mystery.

I have always had a love for history and ever since studying the fall of the Tsars for my History A Level I have been fascinated with their story. So when I saw this book advertised I knew from just the title that I HAD to read it. After reading the synopsis it became one of my most anticipated books of the year. Thankfully, this magnificent debut surpassed every one of my high expectations. It was an all-encompassing read. A book that I took my time with, taking time to soak in every word, but also one that I couldn’t put down or stop thinking about when I had to do so.

Ellen Alpsten is a new talent to watch. Exquisitely written and wonderfully crafted, her meticulous research shines through on every page, bringing back to life those who lived and died three hundred years ago and making you feel like they are right there beside you with her powerful storytelling. I was hooked from the start and became totally lost in Catherine’s story, living every word of this book while reading it. Every moment of love and joy, every piercing pain of heartbreak and every gut-wrenching horror she witnessed and experienced, I felt along with her.

“Together, we have lived and loved, and together, we ruled.”

After reading this novel it seems unimaginable that Catherine’s story has been forgotten. That such a strong, brave and remarkable woman had been consigned to a footnote in history. At that time life for most of Russia’s people was hard, harsh and bleak. Even those in the upper classes lived in fear of falling out the Tsar’s favour and losing not only their wealth but their lives. Peter had a new vision for Russia and was a ruthless leader who was willing to sacrifice anyone and everything to achieve it. Even as his wife Catherine walked a tightrope knowing she could be stripped of everything and either sent to a convent or killed should the fancy take him. The brutality of life at that time and the lack of rights that were held by even the highest-ranking women is starkly illuminated in Catherine’s story in sobering detail.

Tsarina is a masterpiece of historical fiction. Atmospheric, intoxicating, unsettling, and compelling, this outstanding novel is one that will linger long after you close it’s pages. This gloriously decadent debut is one you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ellen Alpsten was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands, where she dressed up her many pets and forced them to listen to her stories.

Upon graduating from the ‘Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris’, she worked as a news-anchor for Bloomberg TV London. While working gruesome night shifts on breakfast TV, she started to write in earnest, every day, after work, a nap and a run. So much for burning midnight oil!

Today, Ellen works as an author and as a journalist for international publications such as Vogue, Standpoint, and CN Traveller. She lives in London with her husband, three sons, and a moody fox red Labrador.


‘Tsarina’ is her debut novel in the ‘Tsarina’ series, followed by ‘The Tsarina’s Daughter’.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* |Bookshop.org* | Amazon*| Google Books |Apple Books |Kobo

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – July 2021

I can’t quite believe that we’re so far into the year that I’m writing July’s anticipated treasures. And it was a tough one to do. July is so packed with fantastic releases that I had about 15 more books I could have added to this list. There were six more on it but I made myself cut it down to ‘just’ twenty-one titles.

So here is what made my list of most anticipated books in July:

The Rule by David Jackson

Published: July 1st, 2021
Publisher: Viper

SYNOPSIS:
MY DAD SAYS BAD THINGS
HAPPEN WHEN I BREAK IT…

Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants fish and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen. But Daniel has no idea that he’s about to kill a stranger.

Daniel’s parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn’t know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die…

Because they’ll do anything to protect Daniel. Even murder.

Buy here*

This Shining Life by Harriet Kline

Published: July 1st, 2021
Publisher: Doubleday

SYNOPSIS:
For Rich, life is golden.
He fizzes with happiness and love.
But Rich has an incurable brain tumour.

When Rich dies, he leaves behind a family without a father, a husband, a son and a best friend. His wife, Ruth, can’t imagine living without him and finds herself faced with a grief she’s not sure she can find her way through.
At the same time, their young son Ollie becomes intent on working out the meaning of life. Because everything happens for a reason. Doesn’t it?

But when they discover a mismatched collection of presents left by Rich for his loved ones, it provides a puzzle for them to solve, one that will help Ruth navigate her sorrow and help Ollie come to terms with what’s happened. Together, they will learn to lay the ghosts of the past to rest, and treasure the true gift that Rich has left them: the ability to embrace life and love every moment.

Harriet Kline weaves together the voices of a grieving family and paints an achingly beautiful picture of love in all its forms: absent, lost and, ultimately, regained.

Buy here*

The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury

SYNOPSIS:
When they took everything from her, they didn’t count on her fighting to get it back… Born into the House of Romanov to the all-powerful Peter the Great and Catherine I, beautiful Tsarevna Elizabeth is the world’s loveliest Princess and the envy of the Russian empire. Insulated by luxury and as a woman free from the burden of statecraft, Elizabeth is seemingly born to pursue her passions. However, a dark prophecy predicts her fate as inexorably twined with Russia. When her mother dies, Russia is torn, masks fall, and friends become foes. Elizabeth’s idyllic world is upended. By her twenties she is penniless and powerless, living under constant threat. As times change like quicksand, an all-consuming passion emboldens Elizabeth: she must decide whether to take up her role as Russia’s ruler, and what she’s willing to do for her country – and for love.

Buy here*

The Hollows by Mark Edwards

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer

SYNOPSIS:
From the bestselling author of The House Guest comes a chilling story set deep in the woods…

With his marriage over and his career in freefall, journalist Tom decides to reconnect with his fourteen-year-old daughter, Frankie. Desperate to spend precious time together now that they live an ocean apart, he brings her to Hollow Falls, a cabin resort deep in the woods of Maine.

From the outset there’s something a little eerie about the place―strange whispers in the trees, windchimes echoing through the forest―but when Tom meets true-crime podcasters David and Connie, he receives a chilling warning. Hollow Falls has a gruesome history: twenty years ago this week, a double slaying shut down the resort. The crime was never solved, and now the woods are overrun with murder-obsessed tourists looking to mark the grim anniversary.

It’s clear that there’s something deeply disturbing going on at Hollow Falls. And as Tom’s dream trip turns into a nightmare, he and Frankie are faced with a choice: uncover the truth, or get out while they still can.

Buy here*

I Know What You’ve Done by Dorothy Koomson

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Headline

SYNOPSIS:
What if all your neighbours’ secrets landed in a diary on your doorstep?

What if the woman who gave it to you was murdered by one of the people in the diary?

What if the police asked if you knew anything?

Would you hand over the book of secrets?

Or … would you try to find out what everyone had done?

I Know What You’ve Done is the unputdownable thriller from the Queen of the Big Reveal.

Buy here*

Damage by Caitlin Waher

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph

SYNOPSIS:
Sometimes, the true story is the hardest to believe.

TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.

JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of?

NICK 
went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.

Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. When the police get involved with this family in crisis, all the cracks will start to show . . .

Set to ignite debate and as gripping as your favourite box-set, Damage is a compulsive drama from an extraordinary new writer.

Buy here*

That Night by Gillian McAllister

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Jospeh

SYNOPSIS:
What would you do to protect your family?

ANYTHING.

During a family holiday in Italy, you get an urgent call from your sister.

There’s been an accident: she hit a man with her car and he’s dead.

She’s overcome with terror – fearing years in a foreign jail away from her child.

She asks for your help. It wasn’t her fault, not really. She’d cover for you, so will you do the same for her?

But when the police come calling, the lies start. And you each begin to doubt your trust in one another.

What really happened that night?

Who is lying to who?

Who will be the first to crack?

Buy here*

Songbirds by Christy Leferti

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Manilla Press

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

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

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

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

Buy here*

Meet Me In Another Life by Catriona Silvey

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Voyager

SYNOPSIS:
Joyful, devastating, and profound, Meet Me in Another Life is a story of love and connection in every possible form that will captivate fans of Stuart Turton, Claire North, and Audrey Niffenegger.

Thora and Santi have met before…

Under the clocktower in central Cologne, with nothing but the stars above and their futures ahead.

They will meet again…

They don’t know it yet, but they’ll meet again: in numerous lives they will become friends, colleagues, lovers, enemies – meeting over and over for the first time, every time; each coming to know every version of the other.

Only they can make sure it’s not for the last time.

But as they’re endlessly drawn together and the lines between their different lives begin to blur, they are faced with one question: why?

They must discover the truth of their strange attachment before this, and all their lives, are lost forever.

Buy here*

Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: W&N

SYNOPSIS:
When March Briscoe returns to East Texas two years after he was caught having an affair with his brother’s wife, the Briscoe family becomes once again the talk of the small town of Olympus. His mother, June, hardly welcomes him back with open arms. Her husband’s own past affairs have made her tired of being the long-suffering spouse. Is it, perhaps, time for a change?
But within days of March’s arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of alliances are shattered. In the end, the ties that hold them together might be exactly what drag them all down.

An expansive tour de force, Olympus, Texas combines the archetypes of Greek and Roman mythology with the psychological complexity of a messy family. After all, at some point, we all wonder: what good is this destructive force we call love?

Buy here*

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

Published: July 13th, 2021
Publisher: Titan

SYNOPSIS:
A fast-paced, thrilling horror novel that follows a group of heroines to die for, from the brilliant New York Times bestselling author of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.

In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. The one who emerges bloodied but victorious. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her?

Lynnette Tarkington survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with five other final girls and their therapist in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable, putting their lives back together, piece by piece. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized―someone knows about the group and is determined to take their lives apart again, piece by piece.

But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.

Buy here*

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

Published: July 15th, 2021
Publisher: Sphere

SYNOPSIS:
This is not just another novel about a dead girl.

When she arrived in New York on her 18th birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city’s latest Jane Doe, an unidentified murder victim.

Ruby Jones is also trying to start over; she travelled halfway around the world only to find herself lonelier than ever. Until she finds Alice Lee’s body by the Hudson River.

From this first, devastating encounter, the two women form an unbreakable bond. Alice is sure that Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her life – and death. And Ruby – struggling to forget what she saw that morning – finds herself unable to let Alice go. Not until she is given the ending she deserves.

Before You Knew My Name doesn’t ask whodunnit. Instead, this powerful, hopeful novel asks: Who was she? And what did she leave behind? The answers might surprise you.

Buy here*

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Century

SYNOPSIS:
“Mum, there’s some people here from college, they asked me back to theirs. Just for an hour or so. Is that OK?”

Midsummer 2017: teenage mum Tallulah heads out on a date, leaving her baby son at home with her mother, Kim.

At 11pm she sends her mum a text message. At 4.30am Kim awakens to discover that Tallulah has not come home.

Friends tell her that Tallulah was last seen heading to a pool party at a house in the woods nearby called Dark Place.

Tallulah never returns.

2018: walking in the woods behind the boarding school where her boyfriend has just started as a head-teacher, Sophie sees a sign nailed to a fence.

A sign that says: DIG HERE . . .
A cold case. An abandoned mansion. A family hiding a terrible secret.
Prepare to be hooked. Lisa Jewell’s latest thriller is her best yet.

Buy here*

The Beresford by Will Carver

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Orenda

SYNOPSIS:
Everything stays the same for the tenants of The Beresford, a grand old apartment building just outside the city … until the doorbell rings… Will Carver returns with an eerie, deliciously and uncomfortably dark standalone thriller.
 
Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.
 
There’s a routine at The Beresford.
 
For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.
 
Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. 
 
In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.
 
And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.
 
Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…
 
Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.

Buy here*

Daughters of Sparta by Claire Heywood

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

SYNOPSIS:
Two sisters parted. Two women blamed. Two stories reclaimed.

For millennia, two women have been blamed for the fall of a mighty civilisation – but now it’s time to hear their side of the story . . .

As princesses of Sparta, Helen and Klytemnestra have known nothing but luxury and plenty. With their high birth and unrivalled beauty, they are the envy of all of Greece.

Such privilege comes at a high price, though, and their destinies are not theirs to command. While still only girls they are separated and married off to legendary foreign kings Agamemnon and Menelaos, never to meet again. Their duty is now to give birth to the heirs society demands and be the meek, submissive queens their men expect.

But when the weight of their husbands’ neglect, cruelty and ambition becomes too heavy to bear, they must push against the constraints of their sex to carve new lives for themselves – and in doing so make waves that will ripple throughout the next three thousand years.

Perfect for readers of Circe and Ariadne, Daughters of Sparta is a vivid and illuminating retelling of the Siege of Troy that tells the story of mythology’s most vilified women from their own mouths at long last.

Buy here*

How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: The Borough Press

SYNOPSIS:
· Kill my family
· Make a claim on their fortune
· Get away with the above
· Adopt a dog

Meet Grace Bernard.
Daughter, sister, colleague, friend, serial killer…
Grace has lost everything. And now she wants revenge.
How to Kill Your Family is a fierce and addictive novel about class, family, love… and murder.

Buy here*

The Ophelia Girls by Jane Healey

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Mantle

SYNOPSIS:
A mother’s secret past collides with her daughter’s present in this intoxicating novel from Jane Healey, the author of The Animals at Lockwood Manor.

In the summer of 1973, teenage Ruth and her four friends are obsessed with pre-Raphaelite paintings, and a little bit obsessed with each other. They spend the scorching summer days in the river by Ruth’s grand family home, pretending to be the drowning Ophelia and recreating tableaus of other tragic mythical heroines. But by the end of the summer, real tragedy has found them.

Twenty-four years later, Ruth is a wife and mother of three children, and moves her family into her still-grand, but now somewhat dilapidated, childhood home following the death of her father. Her seventeen-year-old daughter, Maeve, is officially in remission and having been discharged from hospital can finally start acting like a ‘normal’ teenager with the whole summer ahead of her. It’s just the five of them until Stuart, a handsome photographer and old friend of her parents, comes to stay. And there’s something about Stuart that makes Maeve feel more alive than all of her life-saving treatments put together . . .

As the heat of the summer burns, how long can the family go before long-held secrets threaten to burst their banks and drown them all?

Set between two fateful summers, The Ophelia Girls is a visceral, heady exploration of illicit desire, infatuation and the perils and power of being a young woman.

here*

Hope Nicely’s Lessons For Life by Caroline Day

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Zaffre

SYNOPSIS:
I don’t have any friends, only dog ones, because they don’t make you do bad things. I don’t want any human friends, actually. It’s for the best.’

Hope Nicely hasn’t had an easy life.

But she’s happy enough living at 23 Station Close with her mum, Jenny Nicely, and she loves her job, walking other people’s dogs. She’s a bit different, but as Jenny always tells her, she’s a rainbow person, a special drop of light.

It’s just . . . there’s something she needs to know. Why did her birth mother abandon her in a cardboard box on a church step twenty-five years ago? And did she know that drinking while pregnant could lead to Hope being born with Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder?

In a bid to find her birth mother and the answers to these questions, Hope decides to write her autobiography. Despite having been bullied throughout school, Hope bravely joins an evening class where Hope will not only learn the lessons of writing, but will also begin to discover more about the world around her, about herself and even make some (human) friends.

But when Jenny suddenly falls ill, Hope realises there are many more lessons to come . . .

Hope Nicely’s Lessons for Life is a heartwarming, coming-of-age novel about loneliness, friendship, acceptance and, above all, hope.

Buy here*

The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK

SYNOPSIS:
A new chapter is just beginning…

When Aleisha discovers a crumpled reading list tucked into a tattered library book, it sparks an extraordinary journey.

From timeless stories of love and friendship to an epic journey across the Pacific Ocean with a boy and a tiger in a boat, the list opens a gateway to new and wonderful worlds – just when Aleisha needs an escape from her troubles at home.

And when widower Mukesh arrives at the library, desperate to connect with his bookworm granddaughter, Aleisha introduces him to the magic of the reading list. An anxious teenager and a lonely grandfather forming an unlikely book club of two.

Inspiring and heartwarming, The Reading List is a love letter to storytelling – its power to transport us, connect us, and remind us that a new beginning is only a page away…

Book here*

Cicely by Annie Garthwaite

Published: July 29th, 2021
Publisher: Viking

SYNOPSIS:
‘Rebellion?’
The word is a spark. They can start a fire with it, or smother it in their fingertips.
She chooses to start a fire.

You are born high, but marry a traitor’s son. You bear him twelve children, carry his cause and bury his past.

You play the game, against enemies who wish you ashes. Slowly, you rise.

You are Cecily.

But when the king who governs you proves unfit, what then?

Loyalty or treason – death may follow both. The board is set. Time to make your first move.

Told through the eyes of its greatest unknown protagonist, this astonishing debut plunges you into the closed bedchambers and bloody battlefields of the first days of the Wars of the Roses, a war as women fight it.

Buy here*

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Published: July 29th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder Books

SYNOPSIS:
What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into a rambling Victorian estate called Baneberry Hall. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a memoir called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon.

Now, Maggie has inherited Baneberry Hall after her father’s death. She was too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist.

But when she returns to Baneberry Hall to prepare it for sale, her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the pages of her father’s book lurk in the shadows, and locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself – a place that hints of dark deeds and unexplained happenings.

As the days pass, Maggie begins to believe that what her father wrote was more fact than fiction. That, either way, someone – or something – doesn’t want her here. And that she might be in danger all over again . . .

Buy here*

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Are any of these books on your TBR or wishlist? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading this month’s list Bibliophiles😊 See you next month for more anticipated treasures, Emma xxx

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures

First Lines Friday

Welcome to First Lines Friday where I share the first lines from one of the books on my shelves to try and tempt you to add it to yours.

“My little nephew, Ivan is innocent — he’s a baby, and as pure as only a one-year-old can be. But tonight, at my order, the infant Tsar will be declared guilty as charged.”

Today’s first lines come from one of my most anticipated books this year, The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten.

Recently I was fortunate to win an amazing giveaway of a proof copy of the book and a bottle of champagne. Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing & Midas PR for my giveaway prize. I was so excited when it arrived yesterday and am eager to dive into the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

When they took everything from her, they didn’t count on her fighting to get it back…

Born into the House of Romanov to the all-powerful Peter the Great and Catherine I, beautiful Tsarevna Elizabeth is the world’s loveliest Princess and the envy of the Russian empire.

Insulated by luxury and as a woman free from the burden of statecraft, Elizabeth is seemingly born to pursue her passions. However, a dark prophecy predicts her fate as inexorably twined with Russia. When her mother dies, Russia is torn, masks fall, and friends become foes. Elizabeth’s idyllic world is upended. By her twenties she is penniless and powerless, living under constant threat.

As times change like quicksand, an all-consuming passion emboldens Elizabeth: she must decide whether to take up her role as Russia’s ruler, and what she’s willing to do for her country – and for love.

******

Doesn’t that sound amazing?! The Tsarina’s Daughter is the follow up to Tsarina, which was one of my favourite books of 2020. You can read my review here.

Published July 8th, you can order a copy of the book here* (this is an affiliate link)

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. See you next week for more first lines xxx

Categories
Year In Review

My 20 Favourites of 2020

I can’t quite believe that 2020 is over! It’s been a strange year and I think we’re all hoping that 2021 brings better things and that we can soon get back to a new normal.

It was my second full year of blogging and once again I read more than I had even hoped to. I had set my Goodreads challenge at 120 and managed to read 177. That’s 27 more than in 2019.

As you can probably imagine, reading so many books made putting together my favourite twenty books of the year a difficult task. That last spot in particular had four other books that I really wanted to include and it was a real struggle to know which should make the final spot.

Here is my list in the order that I read the books:

  1. Firewatching by Russ Thomas
  2. The Foundling by Stacey Halls
  3. Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior
  4. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  5. The Switch by Beth O’Leary
  6. What’s Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott
  7. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs
  8. Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten
  9. The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith
  10. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  11. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  12. All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle
  13. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  14. Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons
  15. The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey
  16. The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby
  17. The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  18. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside by Jessica Ryn
  19. The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn
  20. The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Out of the final twenty, sixteen are by new to me authors, nine of them debuts. I found that 2020 was a strong year in terms of fantastic debuts, with others such as The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, Pine, The Memory Wood, The Wreckage, The Holdout, If I Can’t Have You, Dear Child, The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon, Shiver, The Push and The Thursday Murder Club standing out in particular.

So what almost made it? Contenders for this list included Three Hours, Pine, The Memory Wood, In Five Years, The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, If I Could Say Goodbye, The Push, Strangers, Dear Child, The Ice Cream Girls, All My Lies Are True and The Thursday Murder Club.

My favourite book of the year was not a difficult choice. Though there were many that were good enough to take the title, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours is the standout book of the year for me. I can honestly say that I’ve thought about this stunning debut every day since I read it in April. Do yourself a favour and read it if you haven’t already. I’m just hoping it’s not too long before I can read another book by the talented Stephanie Scott.

Did we have any of the same favourites? What was your book of the year? Let me know in the comments.

Keep an eye out for a post tomorrow with the top 20 lists of some other bloggers and which 2020 book we recommend most of all.

*Thank you to the tagged publishers for my #gifted ARCs.

Categories
Blog Tours Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – May 2020

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Another month is done and I’m writing another wrap up. These seem to come around quicker each month. Does anyone else think the same?

May has been my best reading month in quite some time. I finished sixteen books and took part in fourteen blog tours. The quality of books has again been high with all books being four stars or above.

Here’s what I read in May:

  1. He Started It by Samantha Downing ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Who We Were by B. M. Carroll ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Happy Couple by Samantha Hayes ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. The Secrets of Sunshine by Phaedra Patrick ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. One Mistake by Rona Halsall ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. Dear Child by Romy Hausmann ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. Her Last Mistake (Detective Gina Harte Book 6) by Carla Kovach ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  11. The Bride by Wendy Clarke ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The Glass House by Eve Chase ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. His & Hers by Alice Feeney ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5
  14. The Ice Cream Girls by Dorothy Koomson⭐⭐⭐⭐
  15. Water’s Edge (Detective Megan Carpenter Book 2) by Gregg Olsen ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  16. The Majesties by Tiffany Tsao ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 You can read the reviews for all the books by clicking on the title except for The Ice Cream Girls and The Majesties. My reviews for those books will be posted in the coming week.

This month there were two books that stood out as favourites for me. They are very different books and I found it impossible to choose one over the over. Therefore, I have two books of the month: What Lies Between Us and Tsarina. What Lies Between Us is an outstanding thriller that was so twisted I can’t stop thinking about it. John Marrs really outdid himself with this book and I’m hoping it is turned into a series or film soon. Tsarina is the epic story of Catherine, Tsarina of All the Russias. Catherine’s story is one so crazy that you couldn’t make it up. The novel is beautifully written and I was utterly immersed in Catherine’s world while reading. I already had a fascination with the fall of the Tsars but this novel brought about a greater interest in the Tsars reign and Catherine and Peter’s stories in particular. I highly recommend both books.

Are any of these in your tbr? What is your favourite book you’ve read this month?

Next month I have a slightly more relaxed schedule of blog tours which I’m looking forward to as maybe I’ll get to do more free reading soon. I’m very excited about my buddy read of The Phone Box at the Edge of the World with Beth as it’s our first buddy read and the book is one of my most anticipated books of the year.

Thank you to all the tagged publishers for my gifted copies of these books.

Hope you are all staying safe and well,
Emma x

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Published: May 14th, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction

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

SYNOPSIS:

Lover. Murderer. Mother. Meet TSARINA, the most powerful woman history ever forgot.

Spring 1699: Illegitimate, destitute and strikingly beautiful, Marta has survived the brutal Russian winter in her remote Baltic village. Sold by her family into household labour at the age of fifteen, Marta survives by committing a crime that will force her to go on the run.

A world away, Russia’s young ruler, Tsar Peter I, passionate and iron-willed, has a vision for transforming the traditionalist Tsardom of Russia into a modern, Western empire. Countless lives will be lost in the process.

Falling prey to the Great Northern War, Marta cheats death at every turn, finding work as a washerwoman at a battle camp. One night at a celebration, she encounters Peter the Great. Relying on her wits and her formidable courage, and fuelled by ambition, desire and the sheer will to live, Marta will become Catherine I of Russia. But her rise to the top is ridden with peril; how long will she survive the machinations of Peter’s court, and more importantly, Peter himself?

MY REVIEW:

“He is dead. My beloved husband, the mighty Tsar of all the Russias, has died – and just in time.”

Tsarina is a story of power, lust, sex, murder and betrayal. Of rags-to-riches. Of Catherine, the first Tsarina of all the Russias. 

It begins in February 1725, on the night that Peter the Great, Tsar of All the Russias, dies. Catherine, her children and his advisors try to conceal his death for as long as possible to delay their fate. It is a matter of life and death. The story then moves between that night and flashbacks to Catherine’s life, beginning when she was just thirteen-years-old, still known as Marta and living with her serf family. We then follow her journey from poor peasant girl to Tsarina; a story that would be deemed too far fetched if you tried to sell it to a publisher. But every word of this novel is based in fact, with just a few liberties taken as the details of Catherine’s early life is shrouded in mystery.

I have always had a love for history and ever since studying the fall of the Tsars for my History A Level I have been fascinated with their story. So when I saw this book advertised I knew from just the title that I HAD to read it and after reading the synopsis it became one of my most anticipated books of the year. Thankfully, this magnificent debut surpassed every one of my high expectations. It was an all-encompassing read. A book that I took my time with, taking time to soak in every word, but also one that I couldn’t put down or stop thinking about when I had to do so. 

Ellen Alpsten is a new talent to watch. Exquisitely written and wonderfully crafted, her meticulous research shines through on every page, bringing back to life those who lived and died three hundred years ago and making you feel like they are right there beside you with her powerful storytelling. I was hooked from the start and became totally lost in Catherine’s story, living every word of this book while reading it. Every moment of love and joy, every piercing pain of heartbreak and every gut-wrenching horror she witnessed and experienced, I felt along with her. 

“Together, we have lived and loved, and together, we ruled.”

After reading this novel it seems unimaginable that Catherine’s story has been forgotten. That such a strong, brave and remarkable woman had been consigned to a footnote in history. At that time life for most of Russia’s people was hard, harsh and bleak. Even those in the upper classes lived in fear of falling out the Tsar’s favour and losing not only their wealth but their lives. Peter had a new vision for Russia and was a ruthless leader who was willing to sacrifice anyone and everything to achieve it. Even as his wife Catherine walked a tightrope knowing she could be stripped of everything and either sent to a convent or killed should the fancy take him. The brutality of life at that time and the lack of rights that were held by even the highest-ranking women is starkly illuminated in Catherine’s story in sobering detail. 

Tsarina is a masterpiece of historical fiction. Atmospheric, intoxicating, unsettling, and compelling, this outstanding novel is one that will linger long after you close it’s pages. This gloriously decadent debut is one you don’t want to miss. 

Ellen Alpsten Author Pic

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ellen Alpsten was born and raised in the Kenyan highlands. Today, Ellen works as an author and as a journalist for international publications such as Vogue, Standpoint, and CN Traveller. She lives in London with her husband, three sons, and a moody fox red Labrador. Tsarina is her debut novel.

CONNECT WITH THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Tsarina BT Poster