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Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023 Publisher Feature

SNEEK PEEK: Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Published: February 28th, 2023
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Psychological Thrillers
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today I’m thrilled to be able to share with you the first chapter of Never Never. Thank you to HQ for allowing me to share this sneek peek with you all.

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1

Charlie

A crash. Books fall to the speckled linoleum floor. They skid a few feet, whirling in circles, and stop near feet. My feet. I don’t recognize the black sandals, or the red toenails, but they move when I tell them to, so they must be mine. Right?

A bell rings. Shrill.

I jump, my heart racing. My eyes move left to right as I scope out my environment, trying not to give myself away.

What kind of bell was that? Where am I?

Kids with backpacks walk briskly into the room, talking and laughing. A school bell. They slide into desks, their voices competing in volume. I see movement at my feet and jerk in surprise. Someone is bent over, gathering up books on the floor; a red-faced girl with glasses. Before she stands up, she looks at me with something like fear and then scurries off. People are laughing. When I look around I think they’re laughing at me, but it’s the girl with glasses they’re looking at.

“Charlie!” someone calls. “Didn’t you see that?” And then, “Charlie…what’s your problem…hello…?”

My heart is beating fast, so fast.

Where is this? Why can’t I remember? “Charlie!” someone hisses. I look around. Who is Charlie? Which one is Charlie?

There are so many kids; blond hair, ratty hair, brown hair, glasses, no glasses…

A man walks in carrying a briefcase. He sets it on the desk.

The teacher. I am in a classroom, and that is the teacher. High school or college? I wonder.

I stand up suddenly. I’m in the wrong place. Everyone is sitting, but I’m standing…walking.

“Where are you going, Miss Wynwood?” The teacher is looking at me over the rim of his glasses as he riffles through a pile of papers. He slaps them down hard on the desk and I jump. I must be Miss Wynwood.

“She has cramps!” someone calls out. People snicker. I feel a chill creep up my back and crawl across the tops of my arms. They’re laughing at me, except I don’t know who these people are.

I hear a girl’s voice say, “Shut up, Michael.”

“I don’t know,” I say, hearing my voice for the first time. It’s too high. I clear my throat and try again. “I don’t know. I’m not supposed to be here.”

There is more laughing. I glance around at the posters on the wall, the faces of presidents animated with dates beneath them. History class? High school.

The man—the teacher—tilts his head to the side like I’ve said the dumbest thing. “And where else are you supposed to be on test day?”

“I… I don’t know.”

“Sit down,” he says. I don’t know where I’d go if I left. I turn around to go back. The girl with the glasses glances up at me as I pass her. She looks away almost as quickly.

As soon as I’m sitting, the teacher starts handing out

papers. He walks between desks, his voice a flat drone as he tells us what percentage of our final grade the test will be. When he reaches my desk he pauses, a deep crease between his eyebrows. “I don’t know what you’re trying to pull.” He presses the tip of a fat pointer finger on my desk.

“Whatever it is, I’m sick of it. One more stunt and I’m sending you to the principal’s office.” He slaps the test down in front of me and moves down the line.

I don’t nod, I don’t do anything. I’m trying to decide what to do. Announce to the whole room that I have no idea who and where I am—or pull him aside and tell him quietly. He said no more stunts. My eyes move to the paper in front of me. People are already bent over their tests, pencils scratching.

Fourth Period
History
Mr. Dulcott

There is a space for a name. I’m supposed to write my name, but I don’t know what my name is. Miss Wynwood, he called me.

Why don’t I recognize my own name? Or where I am?

Or what I am?

Every head is bent over their papers except mine. So I sit and stare, straight ahead. Mr. Dulcott glares at me from his desk. The longer I sit, the redder his face becomes.

Time passes and yet my world has stopped. Eventually, Mr. Dulcott stands up, his mouth open to say something to me when the bell rings. “Put your papers on my desk on the way out,” he says, his eyes still on my face. Everyone is filing out of the door. I stand up and follow them because I don’t know what else to do. I keep my eyes on the floor, but I can feel his rage. I don’t understand why he’s so angry with me. I am in a hallway now, lined on either side by blue lockers.

“Charlie!” someone calls. “Charlie, wait up!” A second later, an arm loops through mine. I expect it to be the girl with the glasses; I don’t know why. It’s not. But, I know now that I am Charlie. Charlie Wynwood. “You forgot your bag,” she says, handing over a white backpack. I take it from her, wondering if there’s a wallet with a driver’s license inside. She keeps her arm looped through mine as we walk. She’s shorter than me, with long, dark hair and dewy brown eyes that take up half her face. She is startling and beautiful.

“Why were you acting so weird in there?” she asks. “You knocked the shrimp’s books on the floor and then spaced out.”

I can smell her perfume; it’s familiar and too sweet, like a million flowers competing for attention. I think of the girl with the glasses, the look on her face as she bent to scoop up her books. If I did that, why don’t I remember?

“I—”

“It’s lunch, why are you walking that way?” She pulls me down a different corridor, past more students. They all look at me…little glances. I wonder if they know me, and why I don’t know me. I don’t know why I don’t tell her, tell Mr. Dulcott, grab someone random and tell them that I don’t know who or where I am. By the time I’m seriously entertaining the idea, we’re through a set of double doors in the cafeteria. Noise and color; bodies that all have a unique smell, bright fluorescent lights that make everything look ugly. Oh, God. I clutch at my shirt.

The girl on my arm is babbling. Andrew this, Marcy that. She likes Andrew and hates Marcy. I don’t know who either of them is. She corrals me to the food line. We get salad and Diet Cokes. Then we are sliding our trays on a table. There are already people sitting there: four boys, two girls. I realize we are completing a group with even numbers. All the girls are matched with a guy. Everyone looks up at me expectantly, like I’m supposed to say something, do something. The only place left to sit is next to a guy with dark hair. I sit slowly, both hands flat on the table. His eyes dart toward me and then he bends over his tray of food. I can see the finest beads of sweat on his forehead, just below his hairline.

“You two are so awkward sometimes,” says a new girl, blonde, across from me. She’s looking from me to the guy I’m sitting next to. He looks up from his macaroni and I realize he’s just moving things around on his plate. He hasn’t taken a bite, despite how busy he looks. He looks at me and I look at him, then we both look back at the blonde girl.

“Did something happen that we should know about?” she asks. “No,” we say in unison.

He’s my boyfriend. I know by the way they’re treating us. He suddenly smiles at me with his brilliantly white teeth and reaches to put an arm around my shoulders.

“We’re all good,” he says, squeezing my arm. I automatically stiffen, but when I see the six sets of eyes on my face, I lean in and play along. It’s frightening not knowing who you are—even more frightening thinking you’ll get it wrong. I’m scared now, really scared. It’s gone too far. If I say something now I’ll look…crazy. His affection seems to make everyone relax. Everyone except…him. They go back to talking, but all the words blend together: football, a party, more football. The guy sitting next to me laughs and joins in with their conversation, his arm never straying from my shoulders. They call him Silas. They call me Charlie. The dark-haired girl with the big eyes is Annika. I forget everyone else’s names in the noise.

Lunch is finally over and we all get up. I walk next to Silas, or rather he walks next to me. I have no idea where I’m going. Annika flanks my free side, winding her arms through mine and chatting about cheerleading practice. She’s making me feel claustrophobic. When we reach an annex in the hallway, I lean over and speak to her so only she can hear. “Can you walk me to my next class?” Her face becomes serious. She breaks away to say something to her boyfriend, and then our arms are looped again.

I turn to Silas. “Annika is going to walk me to my next class.”

“Okay,” he says. He looks relieved. “I’ll see you…later.” He heads off in the opposite direction.

Annika turns to me as soon as he’s out of sight. “Where’s he going?”

I shrug. “To class.”

She shakes her head like she’s confused. “I don’t get you guys. One day you’re all over each other, the next you’re acting like you can’t stand to be in the same room. You really need to make a decision about him, Charlie.”

She stops outside a doorway.

“This is me…” I say, to see if she’ll protest. She doesn’t. “Call me later,” she says. “I want to know about last night.”

I nod. When she disappears into the sea of faces, I step into the classroom. I don’t know where to sit, so I wander to the back row and slide into a seat by the window. I’m early, so I open my backpack. There’s a wallet wedged between a couple of notebooks and a makeup bag. I pull it out and flip it open to reveal a driver’s license with a picture of a beaming, dark-haired girl. Me.

Charlize Margaret Wynwood

2417 Holcourt Way

New Orleans, LA

I’m seventeen. My birthday is March twenty-first. I live in Louisiana. I study the picture in the top left corner and I don’t recognize the face. It’s my face, but I’ve never seen it. I’m…pretty. I only have twenty-eight dollars.

The seats are filling up. The one beside me stays empty, almost like everyone is too afraid to sit there. I’m in Spanish class. The teacher is pretty and young; her name is Mrs. Cardona. She doesn’t look at me like she hates me, like so many other people are looking at me. We start with tenses.

I have no past. I have no past.

Five minutes into class the door opens. Silas walks in, his eyes downcast. I think he’s here to tell me something, or to bring me something. I brace myself, ready to pretend, but Mrs. Cardona comments jokingly about his lateness. He takes the only available seat next to me and stares straight ahead. I stare at him. I don’t stop staring at him until finally, he turns his head to look at me. A line of sweat rolls down the side of his face.

His eyes are wide. Wide…just like mine.

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I don’t know about you guys, but that chapter has me needing to read the full story! If you want to pre-order the book, there are purchase links at the end of this post.

Let me know in the comments if this is one you’re planning to read.

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MEET THE AUTHORS:

Colleen Hoover

Colleen Hoover is the #1 New York Times and International bestselling author. Born in Sulphur Springs, Texas in 1979, she became a publishing phenomenon thanks to the rise in popularity of her books on soical media, particularly Tik Tok. She is the founder of The Bookworm Box, a non-profit book subscription service and bookstore in Sulphur Springs, Texas. Colleen lives in Texas with her husand and their three boys.

Tarryn Fisher

Tarryn Fisher is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of twelve novels. Born a sun hater, she currently makes her home in Seattle, Washington with her children, husband, and psychotic husky. Tarryn writes about villains.

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BUY THE BOOK

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Forcing by Paul E. Hardisty

Published: February 16th, 2023
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Suspense, Dystopian Fiction, Science Ficiton, Political Fiction, Adventure Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this atmospheric, powerful and unforgettable novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda for the ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Lured by rumours of tropical sanctuary, a disparate group of men and women escape their inhospitable exile to seek freedom, in a near future where civilisation has collapsed … A cataclysmic, clarion-call climate-change thriller from one of the world’s leading environmental scientists… 

‘Hardisty is a fine writer’ Lee Child 

_________________

Civilisation is collapsing. Frustrated and angry after years of denial and inaction, a ‘government of youth’ has taken power in North America, and deemed all those older than a prescribed age responsible for the current state of the world, and decreed they should be ‘relocated’, their property and assets confiscated.

David Ashworth, known by his friends and students as Teacher, and his wife May, find themselves among the thousands being moved to ‘new accommodation’ in the abandoned southern deserts – thrown together with a wealthy industrialist and his wife, a high court lawyer, two recent immigrants to America, and a hospital worker. Together, they must come to terms with their new lives in a land rendered unrecognisable.

As the terrible truth of their situation is revealed, lured by rumours of a tropical sanctuary where they can live in peace, they plan a perilous escape. But the world outside is more dangerous than they could ever have imagined. And for those who survive, nothing will ever be the same again…

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MY REVIEW:

“This is the story of how I came to be here, so far from what I used to call home, and those who shared my journey. I have tried to record it faithfully, as truly as memory allows. Some moments remain as indelible scars, despite my best attempts to forget. Others are fading even now. And parts of the story, I fear, will never be revealed.”

David Armstrong, a scientist and teacher better known as ‘Teach’ to his friends and family, is looking back at what happened when the world fell apart. The younger generation has taken power in an attempt to save what is left of civilisation. Among their new policies is one of institutionalised ageism that sees all those of a prescribed age and above being forced to relocate as punishment for what is seen as their role in the destruction of the planet. Teach and his wife May are among the thousands relocated to ‘new accommodation’ in the desert. Given just one case each and two days’ notice, they pack up what they can and begin their journey to an unknown future. 

When they arrive it is immediately clear that what was promised will not be delivered, starting with forcing them into a shared apartment with five other people instead of the house they were expecting. Their new home is unorganised and so overcrowded that people are sleeping in corridors. Food and water is scarce and they face long days of hunger and thirst as they work the mandatory six days a week for the government. But it is only after witnessing a brutal crime by two of the guards that Teach really begins to understand the danger they are in. And so begins a story of their fight to survive against the odds in a world that wants to see them pay the ultimate price for their sins.

“Some things you never forget. The surroundings might fade, the faces blur, the circumstances of weather and place and time dissolving away as the decades pass. But other, seemingly random details somehow remain immune to the ravages of time and distance, and conscious, destructive will.” 

I have no idea how to review this book. Atmospheric, haunting, and powerful, this is an absolute masterpiece. Although it is marketed as a “clarion-call climate-change thriller”, it almost defies genre, being in a box all of its own. From the first pages I was awe-struck and hypnotised by the breathtaking beauty of what I was reading. Hardisty’s writing melts off the page. His poetic, intricate prose is acutely observed and there is a real talent to being able to write so delicately yet with such power. Taking us to some unsettling places, he transports us into the forbidding future he has created.  Quietly terrifying yet intriguing, this was impossible to put down.

Told in two timelines over seven parts, it moves between the harrowing events of that turbulent time to his present, where he is reflecting on what happened and pouring out his heart for his children, grandchildren and future generations. As we slowly unwrap the layers of his story, there is a melancholy woven into the pages that pierces your heart. The heartbreak on the pages is mixed with guilt and regret, the emotion so palpable you feel it in your own chest. Each of the characters are compelling and richly drawn and I found myself rooting for them, even Teach’s bitter wife, May, and the villainous Ardent, though I did find them hard to like. 

A thought-provoking and unforgettable story of the best and worst of humanity, and a warning call to all of us, The Forcing is one not to miss. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Canadian Paul Hardisty has spent twenty-five years working all over the world as an environmental scientist and freelance journalist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a in 1993, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen at the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS). The four novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of Fear, Reconciliation for the Dead and Absolution, all received great critical acclaim and The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and a Telegraph Book of the Year. Paul drew on his own experiences to write Turbulent Wake, an extraordinary departure from his high-octane, thought-provoking thrillers. Paul is a keen outdoorsman, a conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | 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 links are affiliate links

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Book Features book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

Review: Trespasses by Louise Kennedy

Published: April 14th, 2022
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: Historical Fiction, Political Fiction, Spiritual and Historical Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review of this powerful and moving debut.

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SYNOPSIS:

WINNER OF THE AN POST IRISH BOOK AWARDS NOVEL OF THE YEAR 2022
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WATERSTONES DEBUT FICTION PRIZE 2022
AN OBSERVER BEST DEBUT NOVELIST OF 2022
A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK AT BEDTIME
A 2022 BOOK OF THE YEAR FOR: THE TIMES * SUNDAY TIMES * GUARDIAN * TELEGRAPH * NEW STATESMAN * DAILY MAIL * IRISH TIMES IRISH INDEPENDENT * BELFAST TELEGRAPH

‘Like Sally Rooney mixed with a political thriller’ RUSSELL KANE
‘Intense, unflinchingly honest, it broke my heart a million times’ MARIAN KEYES
‘Absolutely loved it’ MAX PORTER
‘A beautiful, devastating novel’ NICK HORNBY

One by one, she undid each event, each decision, each choice.
If Davy had remembered to put on a coat.
If Seamie McGeown had not found himself alone on a dark street.
If Michael Agnew had not walked through the door of the pub on a quiet night in February in his white shirt.

There is nothing special about the day Cushla meets Michael, a married man from Belfast, in the pub owned by her family. But here, love is never far from violence, and this encounter will change both of their lives forever.

As people get up each morning and go to work, school, church or the pub, the daily news rolls in of another car bomb exploded, another man beaten, killed or left for dead. In the class Cushla teaches, the vocabulary of seven-year-old children now includes phrases like ‘petrol bomb’ and ‘rubber bullets’. And as she is forced to tread lines she never thought she would cross, tensions in the town are escalating, threatening to destroy all she is working to hold together.

Tender and shocking, Trespasses is an unforgettable debut of people trying to live ordinary lives in extraordinary times.

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MY REVIEW:

“I love Ireland. I just don’t think it’s worth killing anyone over it.”

A young catholic school-teacher and an older Protestant barrister from very different backgrounds shouldn’t fall in love. Especially not in Belfast at the height of the troubles. But that is exactly what happens after Michael walks into Cushla’s family pub in this story of mismatched and forbidden love. It is a love that must be kept secret; filled with clandestine dates and snatched moments. Can it last or will they be caught in the crossfire of the war that wages around them?

Belfast is a place that’s always felt like a part of my life. My Dad was stationed there in the Army during the troubles. I’ve grown up with his tales of what it was like there in the seventies and a love of all-things Irish remains in him to this day. Ireland became an even bigger part of my life in 2021 when my partner began working there for two weeks out of every month. Last May I accompanied him for two weeks while he worked in Belfast, and it was there that we got engaged. So, as you can imagine, it has a special place in my heart and I knew I had to read this book as soon as I first heard about it. 

Powerful, moving, and heartbreaking, this is a story that will stay with me. I listened to Trespasses on audiobook, and the narrator was fantastic, not only transporting me back in time but bringing the story and characters to life so vividly that I could smell the cigarette smoke, taste the Guiness and see the soldiers on the streets. Debut author Louise Kennedy has skillfully written a story bursting with emotion on every page. It gets to the heart of how it felt to be an ordinary person living in a war zone and is a jarring reminder of the reality and dangers of their everyday lives. You can feel their fear of the soldiers and bombs, and of having to be so careful about who you are seen with and what you say. The side you were born into controlled every facet of their lives, and there was no escape. And having so recently been to the city and walked its streets, drank in The Crown pub, and even stayed at the Europa Hotel, which Cushla tells us was then known as the “hardboard hotel” because it was the most bombed hotel in Europe, I felt a real connection to this story, the city, and the characters.

The relationship between Michael and Cushla is used by the author not only as a love story but as a clever tool to help highlight the realities of everyday life for people in the troubles, as well as to help humanise the people on both sides of the conflict rather than focusing solely on Cushla’s Catholic perspective. But theirs isn’t the only complex relationship featured in this book. It is filled with many complicated relationships and characters that are richly drawn, compelling, and relatable. But my favourite character was young Davey, a little boy from one of Cushla’s classes from a deprived background. He went straight to my heart, and I loved the relationship between him and Cushla.

Gritty, unflinching, hopeful and transportive, Trespasses is an outstanding debut from an author that’s one to watch. I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louise Kennedy grew up in Holywood, Co. Down. Her short story collection, The End of the World is a Cut de Sac (Bloomsbury/ Riverhead US 2021) won the John McGahern Prize. Her debut novel, Trespasses (Bloomsbury/ Riverhead US 2022) won Eason’s Novel of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards, and was shortlisted for the Waterstones Debut Fiction Prize and Barnes and Noble Discover Prize. Before she started writing, she spent nearly thirty years working as a chef. She lives in Sligo.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

*All purhcase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

BLOG TOUR: Becoming Ted by Matt Cain

Published: January 19th, 2023
Publisher: Headline Review
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to Becoming Ted! I’m delighted to be sharing my review today for this uplifting novel. Thank you to Joe at Headline for the invitation to take part and proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

A charming, joyful and surprising story about love, friendship and learning to be true to yourself, Becoming Ted will steal your heart.

Ted Ainsworth has always worked at his family’s ice-cream business in the quiet Lancashire town of St Luke’s-on-Sea.

But the truth is, he’s never wanted to work for the family firm – he doesn’t even like ice-cream, though he’s never told his parents that. When Ted’s husband suddenly leaves him, the bottom falls out of his world.

But what if this could be an opportunity to put what he wants first? This could be the chance to finally follow his secret dream: something Ted has never told anyone …

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MY REVIEW:

“I’ve dimmed my light for decades – now it’s time to turn it up to the max!” 

Oh, my heart. A story that will strike a resonant chord with many of us, it pulled on my heartstrings, made me laugh out loud and gave me life. I loved every minute of reading it and now want everyone else to experience that same joy. 

43-year-old Ted Ainsworth is happily married to his husband, Giles, of twenty years. They live in the small Lancashire town of St Luke’s-on-Sea where Ted works for the family ice cream business. It’s a good life. One he’s happy with. Or so he thinks.
When Giles announces he’s leaving Ted out of the blue one Sunday morning, Ted’s whole world is rocked. He has lost his anchor, his future, his everything. As he picks up the broken pieces of his heart, Ted begins to reflect on not only his relationship, but his entire life, and rediscovers a long-forgotten dream that he has kept secret all of his life. Maybe now it’s finally time to become who he was always meant to be…

“Bursting to life in front of them is a colourful chaos of non-conformity.” 

I’d heard a lot of great things about Matt Cain’s previous book, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, so I was looking forward to discovering his writing for myself. And let me tell you, it was everything I’d hoped for and more. Beautifully written and compelling, I was completely immersed in Ted’s story from the start. I’m a big fan of slice of life books that allow us to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, to feel their struggles, heartache and joy. Ted’s journey to find the best version of himself is interspersed with memories of his childhood and his relationship with Giles, giving the reader a greater understanding of how Ted became the man he is, as well as giving glimpses at who he wants to be. So much of this story is recognisable and relatable, from its characters inspired by everyday people, to the themes of heartbreak, self-discovery and friendship, to how it perfectly captures life in a small, northern seaside town. The last part was a particularly enjoyable nostalgia-fest for me. 

“In just a few minutes the dull, unremarkable, barely noticeable Ted Ainsworth had blossomed into a glamorous, fierce-looking, powerful queen.”

The eponymous Ted is a marvellous and magnetic character who I fell in love with immediately. His story is one that will strike a resonant chord in many of us, including this 43-year-old straight woman. So many times I felt like I was seeing myself on the page as I read Ted’s story, many times I had been exactly where he was and I wanted to jump into the book so I could hug him. The author’s portrayal of how it feels when your marriage or long-term relationship ends was devastatingly real. I felt like my own heart broke along with Ted’s as he was filled with overwhelming grief and began to question everything he thought he knew. But after every storm, a rainbow appears, and watching as Ted transformed into his best self was emotional, courageous and inspiring. I wanted to shout ‘Yesss Queen’ as this butterfly emerged from its cocoon and lit up the world. 

Loud, proud and utterly fabulous, Becoming Ted is a reminder that it is never too late to follow our dreams and become who we are meant to be. Heartwarming, hopeful and uplifting, I think everyone should read this book and meet Ted. I promise you won’t regret it.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Matt Cain is a writer, broadcaster, and a leading commentator on LGBT+ issues.

He was Channel 4’s first Culture Editor, Editor-In-Chief of Attitude magazine, has written for all the major national newspapers, and presented the flagship discussion show on Virgin Radio Pride. He’s also an ambassador for Manchester Pride and the Albert Kennedy Trust, plus a patron of LGBT+ History Month.

Matt’s first two novels, Shot Through the Heart and Nothing But Trouble, were published by Pan Macmillan. His third, The Madonna Of Bolton, became Unbound’s fastest crowdfunded novel ever before its publication in 2018. His latest, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, was published by Headline Review in May 2021 and Becoming Ted will follow in January 2023.

Born in Bury and brought up in Bolton, Matt now lives in London with his partner, Harry, and their cat, Nelly.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

BLOG TOUR: The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

Published: January 19th, 2023
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Episolatry Novel, Police Procedural
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tantalising and twisty tale. This was my favourie book of December 2022 and I’m so glad to finally be able to share my review with you all. Thank you to Viper for the invitation to take part and the proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

*** THE NEW MYSTERY PHENOMENON FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE APPEAL AND THE TWYFORD CODE ***

‘The queen of tricksy crime’ – SUNDAY TIMES
‘An astonishing piece of work’ – IAN MOORE

Open the safe deposit box.
Inside you will find research material for a true crime book.
You must read the documents, then make a decision.
Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the sad story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. Believing they had a divine mission to kill the infant, they were only stopped when the girl came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than stand trial, while mother and baby disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed; if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. And the story of the Alperton Angels is far from over.

From the bestselling author of The Appeal and The Twyford Code comes a stunning new mystery for fans of Richard Osman and S.J. Bennett. The devil is in the detail…

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MY REVIEW:

You have a key that opens a safe deposit box.
Inside is a bundle of documents, archived research material for a book that has just been published.
You must read it all and make a decision, either:
Replace all the documents and the box, then throw the key where it will never be found…
Or: take everything to the police. 

And so begins The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels. A tantalising, eerie and intriguing story of secrets, lies, delusion, mystery and  murder. 

True-crime author Amanda Bailey is asked to revisit the infamous case of the Alperton Angels, the cult who brainwashed a teenager into believing her baby was the anti-Christ and that God had charged them with sacrificing it in order to save humanity. The girl managed to save her baby, but the Angles sacrificed themselves rather than face trial for their crimes, and the case has been surrounded by whispers of conspiracy and cover-ups ever since.

With the surviving baby about to turn eighteen, the race is on to secure the first interview, and Amanda is determined to get that scoop. But she soon discovers discrepancies in the case and finds there is a wall of secrecy that surrounds the baby and it’s teenage parents, all three of which have not been seen since that night. It seems that everything people think they know about the Alperton Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker, stranger and more sinister than anyone could ever imagine. And some people will do anything to prevent the truth from being revealed.

“There’s something about this case. It burrows insidiously into your mind, then sets about changing it.” 

I had been in a reading slump for a while when I picked this up, hoping that this might be the magic story to break the curse. And, boy, did it have the desired effect! Tantalising, eerie and intriguing, I couldn’t get enough of this book and devoured it quickly. It haunted my every thought and I’d be thinking about it even when forced to stop reading to do other things. I even dreamed about it when I slept! An absolute masterpiece, this was exactly what I needed to get me out of my slump.

Janice Hallett is a true innovator in crime fiction. She writes exclusively in mixed media, yet somehow you forget that you aren’t reading a traditionally written story. She makes it flow seamlessly and I completely lost myself in the world that she created.  A world that feels so real. I  am not ashamed to admit that I turned to google to check if this was based on a real case. It reads so authentically that it felt unfathomable that it could be purely a work of fiction. Ms. Hallett is a master storyteller who has created a story where nothing is as it seemed. The plot is an intricate maze of secrets, red herrings, duplexities and double crosses that I challenge anyone to predict. It is all so detailed and complex that it made my head spin, pulling me one way, then another, and then back again, like clothes spinning round a washing machine. I have no idea how she manages to come up with it, let alone how she keeps all those balls in the air and plots the clues perfectly. Yet it never feels confusing, which is a testament to her extraordinary skill as a writer.

Dark, curious and forbidding, you will not be able to stop reading this book until you have a resolution to your questions. And as the tension ramps up as you race to the finale, you will find yourself on the edge of your seat holding on for dear life as Ms. Hallett takes you on a wild and twisty ride. An absolute must-read for anyone who enjoys crime fiction. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Janice Hallett studied English at UCL, and spent several years as a magazine editor, winning two awards for journalism. After gaining an MA in Screenwriting at Royal Holloway, she co-wrote the feature film RetreatThe Appeal is inspired by her lifelong interest in amateur dramatics. Her second novel, The Twyford Code, will be published by Viper in 2022. When not indulging her passion for global adventure travel, she is based in West London.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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.

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures: Light-hearted Loves

As much as I enjoy darker reads, there’s nothing better than a light-hearted and uplifting story. And if there’s some romance or a pensioner in the pages, even better! Here are the light-hearted books out this year I’m most anticipating.

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Becoming Ted by Matt Cain

SYNOPSIS:
A charming, joyful and surprising story about love, friendship and learning to be true to yourself, Becoming Ted will steal your heart.

Ted Ainsworth has always worked at his family’s ice-cream business in the quiet Lancashire town of St Luke’s-on-Sea.

But the truth is, he’s never wanted to work for the family firm – he doesn’t even like ice-cream, though he’s never told his parents that. When Ted’s husband suddenly leaves him, the bottom falls out of his world.

But what if this could be an opportunity to put what he wants first? This could be the chance to finally follow his secret dream: something Ted has never told anyone …

Published January 19th by Headline
Pre-order here*

The House That Made Us by Alice Cavanagh

SYNOPSIS:
One Day meets UpThe House That Made Us is a love story – and a life story – told through a series of photographs and inspired by a true story
 
When Mac and Marie marry and find a home of their own, Mac takes a snap of them outside their newbuild bungalow, the garden bare and the paint on the front door still wet. It becomes a tradition, this snap, and slowly the photographs build into an album of a fifty-year relationship.
 
Every year they take a photo and though things change around them – the garden matures, the fashions change, they grow older – the one constant is their love. Every year, come rain, come shine, from the Seventies through the decades, every photo tells the story of their love. But life never travels the path you expect it to, though they know that a life with love is a life lived to the full.

Now, in the present day, the photo album belongs to someone who doesn’t know the people in its pages. As they watch the lives from the past unfold, will the truth of their love story be told…?
 
A heart-breaking story about life and love for readers who love Holly Miller, Jojo Moyes and Hazel Prior.

Published January 19th by Simon & Schuster UK
Pre-order here*

Looking Out For Love by Sophia Money-Coutts

SYNOPSIS:
… But is she searching in the right places?

Stella Shakespeare isn’t having a good day, or month come to think of it. She’s been unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend,cut off from the bank of dad and at thirty-two years old, she doesn’t know what she’s doing with her life.

What Stella really wants is to find love. She wants all-consuming, can’t-think-about-anything-else, can’t-even-manage-to-eat kind of love. What she found beside her in bed that morning wasn’t love. But when a tall, handsome man in a well-fitting suit walks into a Notting Hill pub, she thinks she’s finally found The One.

Everything seems to be falling into place now Stella has met the man of her dreams and has an actual job working with a private investigator nicknamed ‘The Affair Hunter’. Although sadly, life is never that straightforward and Stella starts to question whether she’s been looking for love in the wrong places all along…

Published February 2nd by HQ
Pre-order here*

Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes

SYNOPSIS:
A story of mix-ups, mess-ups and making the most of second chances, this is the new novel from international sensation Jojo Moyes, author of Me Before You and The Giver of Stars

Who are you when you are forced to walk in someone else’s shoes?

Meet Sam . . .
She’s not got much, but she’s grateful for what she has: a job she’s just about clinging on to and a family who depend on her for everything. She knows she’s one bad day away from losing it all – and just hopes today isn’t it . . .

Meet Nisha . . .
She’s got everything she always dreamed of – and more: a phenomenally rich husband; an international lifestyle; and . . . she’s just been locked out of all of it after her husband initiates divorce proceedings . . .

Sam and Nisha should never have crossed paths. But after a bag mix-up at the gym, their lives become intertwined – even as they spiral out of control.

Each blames the other as they feel increasingly invisible, forgotten, lost – and desperately alone.

But they’re not.

No woman is an island. Look around. Family. Friends. Strangers.
Even the woman you believe just ruined your life might turn out to be your best friend.
Because together you can do anything – like take back what is yours . . .

Published Februrary 2nd by Michael Joseph
Pre-order here*

Do I Know You? by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

SYNOPSIS:
After five years’ marriage they’re about to have their first date . . .

Eliza and Graham’s marriage is quietly failing. With their five-year anniversary approaching, neither of them are thrilled about the weeklong getaway they’ve been gifted. The luxury retreat prides itself on being a destination for those in love and those looking to find it – but for Eliza and Graham it’s the last place they want to be.

After a well-meaning guest mistakes Eliza and Graham as being single and introduces them at the hotel bar, they don’t correct him. Suddenly, they’re pretending to be perfect strangers and it’s unexpectedly fun. Eliza and Graham find themselves flirting like it’s their first date.

Everyone at the retreat can see the electric chemistry between Eliza and Graham’s alter egos. But as their game continutes they realize this performance could be the very thing that saves their marriage . . .

Published February 2nd by Pan Macmillan
Pre-order here*

The Vintage Shop of Second Chances by Libby Page

SYNOPSIS:
Among the cobbled streets of the Somerset town of Frome, Lou is embarking on the start of something new. After the death of her beloved mother, she takes a deep breath into the unknown and is opening her own vintage clothes shop.

In upstate New York, Donna has just found out some news about her family which has called into question her whole upbringing. The only clue she has to unlock her past is a picture of a yellow dress, and the fact it is currently on display in a shop in England.

For Maggy, she is facing life as a 70-something divorcee and while she got the house, she’s not sure what to fill it with now her family have moved out. The new vintage shop in town sparks memories of her past and reignites a passion she’s been missing…

Together, can these three women find the answers they are searching for and unlock a second chance at a new life?

It’s never too late to start again…

Published February 16th by Orion Pre-order here*

This Could Be Everything by Eva Rice

SYNOPSIS:
From the author of modern classic The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets comes a feel-good novel about hope, love and the powerful bond between sisters. 
 
It’s 1990. The Happy Mondays are in the charts, a 15-year-old called Kate Moss is on the cover of the Face magazine, and Julia Roberts wears thigh-boots for the poster for a new movie called Pretty Woman
 
February Kingdom is nineteen years old when she is knocked sideways by family tragedy. Then one evening in May she finds an escaped canary in her kitchen and it sparks a glimmer of hope in her. With the help of the bird called Yellow, Feb starts to feel her way out of her own private darkness, just as her aunt embarks on a passionate and all-consuming affair with a married American drama teacher.   
 
THIS COULD BE EVERYTHING is a coming-of-age story with its roots under the pavements of a pre-Richard Curtis-era Notting Hill that has all but vanished. It’s about what happens when you start looking after something more important than you, and the hope a yellow bird can bring… 

Published February 16th by Simon & Schuster UK
Pre-order here*

Not That Kind of Ever After by Luci Adams

SYNOPSIS:
One damsel + one wolf + many, many, many frogs = DISTRESS

Gloriously fun, romantic and feel-good, discover a 21st century London fairytale with an unforgettable twist . . .

Bella Marble is a true, hopeless, despairing romantic. Above all things, even above her wish to be a writer, she wants love.

But when her beautiful best friend moves out of their flat share to live with the most boring ogre in history, and her perfectly paired parents tell her their own love story is coming to an end, Bella’s illusions of a happily ever after start to shatter. If they can’t find ‘the one’, what chance does she have?

Disenchanted, Bella throws herself into looking for love in all the wrong places. London may be fresh out of knights in shining Armani, but it’s got a surplus of frogs – and as Bella learns, kissing frogs can be extremely fun.

But Bella is forgetting the essential rule of all fairytales.

There is nothing more powerful than a first kiss . . .

Published Feburary 16th by Little Brown Book Group
Pre-order here*

One Moment by Becky Hunter

SYNOPSIS:
One moment in time can change everything…

The day Scarlett dies should have been one of the most important of her life. It doesn’t feel fair that she’ll never have the chance to fulfil her dreams. And now, she’s still … here – wherever here is – watching the ripple effect of her death on the lives of those she loved the most.

Evie cannot contemplate her life without Scarlett, and she certainly cannot forgive Nate, the man she blames for her best friend’s death. But Nate keeps popping up when she least expects him to, catapulting Evie’s life in directions she’d never let herself imagine possible. Ways, perhaps, even those closest to her had long since given up on.

If you could go back, knowing everything that happens after, everything that happens because of that one moment in time, would you change the course of history or would you do it all again?

Published March 2nd by Corvus
Pre-order here*

Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez

SYNOPSIS:
A novel of terrible first impressions, hilarious second chances and the joy in finding the perfect match

Dr Briana Ortiz’s life is seriously flatlining. Her divorce is just about finalised, her brother’s running out of time to find a kidney donor, and that promotion she wants…? Oh, that’s probably going to the new man-doctor who’s already registering eighty-friggin’-seven on Briana’s ‘pain in my ass’ scale.

But just when all systems are set to hate, Dr Jacob Maddox completely flips the game . . . by sending Briana a letter. It’s a really good letter. Like the kind that proves that Jacob isn’t actually Satan. Worse, he might be this fantastically funny and subversively likeable guy who’s terrible at first impressions. Because suddenly he and Bri are exchanging letters, sharing lunch dates in her ‘sob closet’ and discussing the merits of freakishly tiny horses.

When Jacob turns out to be the perfect donor for her brother, Bri starts to realise that this quietly sexy new doctor might just be her perfect match, too.

Published April 11th by Piatkus
Pre-order here*

Home Sweet Home by Amy Lavelle

SYNOPSIS:
Don’t miss the next heartwarming, uplifting and painfully relatable book from Amy Lavelle…

‘If you loved Fleabag, you’ll love this’ Laura Kemp on Definitely Fine

Four sisters. One house. It’s about to get messy…

Poppy, Saffron, Rosemary and Sorrell might be sisters, but they could not be more different…

Oldest Poppy has hit all the milestones before turning thirty, but constantly being in control is starting to feel a bit suffocating; peacemaker Saffron will do anything to keep her sisters together even at her own expense; Rosemary has crafted a perfect façade, but cracks in her engagement are beginning to surface; youngest Sorrell is pregnant after a one-night stand, and is determined to do it all on her own for once – without any help from her sisters!

But when they inherit their family home, the four must make the decision to keep or sell the house – and they’re about to discover that no one gets under your skin quite like family…

Can they ever put their differences aside and find a way to move forward together?

Heartwarming, uplifting and hilarious, Home Sweet Home is a novel about sisters, misunderstandings and growing up. Perfect for fans of Emma Gannon, Olivia Beirne and Helly Acton.

Published April 13th by Orion
Pre-order here*

Thirty Days in Paris by Veronica Henry

SYNOPSIS:
Because Paris is always a good idea…

Years ago, Juliet left a little piece of her heart in Paris – and now, separated from her husband and with her children flying the nest, it’s time to get it back!

So she puts on her best red lipstick, books a cosy attic apartment near Notre-Dame and takes the next train out of London.

Arriving at the Gare du Nord, the memories come flooding back: bustling street cafés, cheap wine in candlelit bars and a handsome boy with glittering eyes.

But Juliet has also been keeping a secret for over two decades – and she begins to realise it’s impossible to move forwards without first looking back.

Something tells her that the next thirty days might just change everything…

Published April 13th by Orion
Pre-order here*

Happy Place by Emily Henry

SYNOPSIS:
Two exes. One pact.
Could this holiday change everything?

Harriet and Wyn are the perfect couple – they go together like bread and butter, gin and tonic, Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds.

Every year for the past decade, they have run away from their lives to drink far too much wine and soak up the sea air with their favourite people in the world.

Except this year, they are lying through their teeth. Harriet and Wyn broke up six months ago. And they still haven’t told anyone.

But this is the last time they’ll all be together here. The cottage is for sale, and since they can’t bear to break their best friends’ hearts, they’ll fake it for one more week.

But how can you pretend to be in love – and get away with it – in front of the people who know you best?

Brimming with characters you can’t help but fall for and off-the-charts chemistry, HAPPY PLACE is Emily Henry doing what she does best!

Published April 27th by Viking
Pre-order here*

Found in a Bookshop by Stephanie Butland

SYNOPSIS:
Dear Lost for Words,

We are trying to stay at home . . . I am enclosing a cheque and I hope that you will use it to send us some books. Please choose books that we might think are wonderful
.

Rosemary

Loveday Cardew’s beloved Lost for Words bookshop, along with the rest of York, has fallen quiet. At the very time when people most need books to widen their horizons, or escape from their fears, or enhance their lives, the doors are closed. Then the first letter comes.

Rosemary and George have been married for fifty years. Now their time is running out. They have decided to set out on their last journey together, without ever leaving the bench at the bottom of their garden in Whitby. All they need is someone who shares their love of books.

Suddenly it’s clear to Loveday that she and her team can do something useful in a crisis. They can recommend books to help with the situations their customers find themselves in: fear, boredom, loneliness, the desire for laughter and escape.

And so it begins.

Published April 27th by Headline Review
Pre-order here*

Only Love Can Hurt Like This by Paige Toon

SYNOPSIS:
Neither of them expected to fall in love. But sometimes life has other plans.

When Wren realises her fiancé is in love with someone else, she thinks her heart will never recover.

On the other side of the world, Anders lost his wife four years ago and is still struggling to move on.

Wren hopes that spending the summer with her dad and step-family on their farm in Indiana will help her to heal. There, amid the cornfields and fireflies, she and Anders cross paths and their worlds are turned upside-down again.

But Wren doesn’t know that Anders is harbouring a secret, and if he acts on any feelings he has for Wren it will have serious fall-out for everyone.

Walking away would hurt Wren more than she can imagine. But, knowing the truth, how can she possibly stay?

Published April 27th by Penguin UK
Pre-order here*

Preloved by Lauren Bravo

SYNOPSIS:
A love story about things… 

Gwen’s life has stalled. She’s in her mid-thirties, perpetually single, her friends are busy procreating in the country and conversations with her parents seem to revolve entirely around herbaceous borders and the council’s wheelie-bin timetable. Above all she’s lonely. But then, isn’t everyone?
 
When Gwen’s made redundant from a job she drifted into a decade ago and never left, she realises it’s time to make a change. Over what might be the best – and most solitary – meal she’s ever eaten, Gwen vows to find something meaningful to do with her life, reconnect with her family and friends – and finally book herself a dentist appointment.
 
Her search for meaning soon leads her to volunteer in a local charity shop where she both literally and metaphorically unloads her emotional baggage. With the help of the weird and wonderful people she meets in the shop and the donated items bursting with untold stories that pass through its doors, Gwen must finally address the events and choices that led her to this point and find a way to move forward with bravery, humanity and more regular dental care.
 
Brimming with life, love and the stories bound up in even the most everyday items, Preloved is a tale about friendship, loss, being true to oneself no matter the expectations – and the enduring power and joy of charity shops.

Published April 27th by Simon & Schuster
Pre-order here*

The Cassandra Complex by Holly Smale

SYNOPSIS:
Cassandra Penelope Dankworth is a creature of habit.

She likes what she likes (museums, jumpsuits, her boyfriend Will) and strongly dislikes what she doesn’t (mess, change, her boss drinking out of her mug). Her life runs in a pleasing, predictable order. Until now.

She’s just been dumped.
She’s just been fired.
Her local café has run out of banana muffins.

Then, something truly unexpected happens: Cassie discovers she can go back and change the past.

Now, Cassie should be able to find a way to fix the life she accidentally obliterated. And with time on her side, how hard can it be…?

Published May 11th by Century
Pre-order here*

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren

SYNOPSIS:
Find out why readers LOVE Christina Lauren . . .

A romance novelist and a documentary filmmaker set out to craft the ultimate movie romance – but only if they can keep their own feelings for each other under control in this electrifying love story from the author of The Unhoneymooners.

Published May 16th by Piatkus
Pre-order here*

Life and Otter Miracles by Hazel Prior

SYNOPSIS:
19-year-old Phoebe and her courier father Al have recently moved to Devon, to a small cottage with a river at the end of the garden.

Struggling with her health, Phoebe doesn’t go out much these days. Instead, she spends her time playing detective – trying to deduce from her father’s deliveries what kinds of lives her neighbours lead.

When Phoebe finds an abandoned baby otter by the river, it’s just the push she needs to finally step into her new community. Taking the otter to the local sanctuary, she feels a joy that she has not felt in a very long time. But she soon starts to suspect that something is amiss at the local sanctuary – and she will need to put her detective skills to good use if she wants to save the otters.

A gorgeous feel-good novel about a young woman finding the courage to step back into the world, with the help of new friends and some very cute otters.

Published May 25th by Penguin UK
Pre-order here*

Seven Exes by Lucy Vine

SYNOPSIS:
Esther is out with her two friends, bemoaning her lack of relationship, when she finds a magazine from the noughties. Seeking comfort – and a laugh – she turns to the dating advice only to find an article that feels a little too close to home. According to the journalist, there are seven people a woman will date before finding the one:

The First Love, The Work Mistake, The Friend with Benefits, The Overlap, The Missed Chance, The Bastard and The Serious One. 

Her friends laugh but Esther realises each of her exes fits these roles perfectly. Deciding that she’s mistaken her true love in the reject pile she decides to contact each of her exes to find out which is the one that got away…

Published May 25th by Simon & Schuster UK
Pre-order here*

Lovestruck by Laura Jane Williams

SYNOPSIS:
This isn’t one love story. It’s two.

Becca Calloway is calling it: she’s ready for Mr Right, and she’s ready now.

She even goes as far as to hold a manifestation ceremony for him – and when she receives a text from her ex five minutes later, she knows it’s a sign.

The problem is, she doesn’t know which way it’s pointing…

Should Becca reply and reignite things with her old flame Mike? Or delete and block, moving forward with the new man in her life?

Becca has one choice, with two ways this could go. And in Lovestruck, you’re about to see them both…

Published June 8th by Cornerstone
Pre-order here*

Love, Theoretically

SYNOPSIS:
From the author of tiktok sensations and global bestsellers The Love Hypothesis and Love on the Brain 

Rival physicists collide in a vortex of academic feuds and fake dating shenanigans in this delightfully STEMinist romcom.

The many lives of theoretical physicist Elsie Hannaway have finally caught up with her. By day, she’s an adjunct professor, toiling away at grading labs and teaching thermodynamics in the hopes of landing tenure. By other day, Elsie makes up for her non-existent paycheck by offering her services as a fake girlfriend, tapping into her expertly honed people-pleasing skills to embody whichever version of herself the client needs. 

Honestly, it’s a pretty sweet gig – until her carefully constructed Elsie-verse comes crashing down. Because Jack Smith, the annoyingly attractive and arrogant older brother of her favourite client, turns out to be the cold-hearted experimental physicist who ruined her mentor’s career and undermined the reputation of theorists everywhere. And he’s the same Jack Smith who rules over the physics department at MIT, standing right between Elsie and her dream job. 

Elsie is prepared for an all-out war of scholarly sabotage but… those long, penetrating looks? Not having to be anything other than her true self when she’s with him? Will falling into an experimentalist’s orbit finally tempt her to put her most guarded theories on love into practice? 

Published June 13th by Sphere
Pre-order here*

The Man of Her Dream by Sarra Manning

No synopsis available

Published in June by Hodder & Stoughton

The Air Raid Book Club by Annie Lyons

SYNOPSIS:
As the bombs began to fall, the book club kept their hopes alive…

The most emotional, uplifting and captivating story of wartime London and the extraordinary power of books to shine a light and draw people together in the darkest of days, inspired by true events.

London, 1938. Bookseller Gertie Bingham is facing difficult times, having just lost her beloved husband, Harry, and with a lingering sadness at never having been able to have a child of her own. Struggling to face running the bookshop she and Harry opened together, Gertie is preparing to sell up and move away when she is asked if she would be willing to take in a young Jewish refugee from Germany. Gertie is unsure and when sullen teenager Hedy Fischer arrives, Gertie fears she has nothing left to give the troubled girl.

But when the German bombers come and the lights go out over London, Gertie and Hedy realise that joining forces will make them stronger, and that books have the power to bring young and old together and unite a community in need in its darkest hour…

Published July 11th by Headline Review
Pre-order here*

The Art of Belonging by Eleanor Ray

SYNOPSIS:
Grace’s life is perfectly fine, thank you very much. A widow of seventy-two, she lives quietly, and although hearing a little more from her daughter and granddaughter would be nice, she has her health, her friends, her octogenarian yoga (however reluctantly attended) and most of all her weekly club where she creates exquisite, miniature train sets.

However, when her estranged daughter rings her in shock, about to lose her home, Grace invites Amelia and her daughter Charlotte to live with her. With them, they bring all the messy, complicated feelings from the past, and the more Grace gets to know her granddaughter Charlotte, the more she adores her. As Charlotte enlists her help to solve a mystery at school, the small family begin to find each other again. Grace is about to discover that although opening her heart again may be painful, in the end it’s the only thing that makes life worth living . .

Published July 20th by Piatkus
Pre-order here*

The Little Italian Hotel by Phaedra Patrick

SYNOPSIS:
When a relationship expert’s own marriage falls apart, she invites four strangers to Italy for a vacation of healing and second chances in this uplifting new novel from the author of The Messy Lives of Book People.

Ginny Splinter, acclaimed radio host and advice expert, prides herself on knowing what’s best for others. So she’s sure her husband, Adrian, will love the special trip to Italy she’s planned for their thirtieth wedding anniversary. But when Ginny presents the gift to Adrian, he surprises her with his own very different plan—a divorce.

Beside herself with heartache, Ginny impulsively invites four heartbroken listeners to join her in Italy instead while live on air. From hiking the hills of Bologna to riding a gondola in Venice to sharing stories around the dining table of the little Italian hotel, Ginny and her newfound company embark on a vacation of healing.

However, when Adrian starts to rethink their relationship, Ginny must decide whether to commit to her marriage or start afresh, alone. And an unexpected stranger may hold the key to a very different future… Sunny, tender and brimming with charm, The Little Italian Hotel explores marriage, identity and reclaiming the present moment—even if it means leaving the past behind.

Published July 20th by HQ
Pre-order here*

The Sweetest Revenge by Lizzy Dent

SYNOPSIS:
Bridesmaids meets Emily in Paris–in London–this is a hilarious and heartfelt story of one woman who escaped to London after her moment of ridiculous revenge on an ex went viral, and the life-changing summer she discovers new love and her best self–and finally gets the sweetest revenge.

“I love-love-love Lizzy Dent.”–Emily Henry, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Book Lovers

Her past is a mess. But her present is about to get delicious.

Amy is more than the one disastrous night that ended in drunken revenge on her boss/ex-boyfriend’s canvas top Audi. The night that tanked her rising TV career and led to a hasty move to London for a fresh start. She is thirty-two years of awesomeness. At least, that’s what Amy tells herself every morning before trekking to her mediocre job making trailers at a failing British TV channel.

Two years later, she’s finally starting to believe it. But just as sparks fly between her and her handsome new downstairs neighbor and she starts to make inroads at work, the ex-boyfriend who wrecked her life is hired as her new boss and past and present are about to epically collide.

Published July 25th by Viking

The Wake-Up Call by Beth O’Leary

SYNOPSIS:
‘Beth O’Leary is that rare, one-in-a-million talent who can make you laugh, swoon, cry and ache all in the same book’ Emily Henry

Two sworn enemies. A failing hotel. One chance to save the season…

It’s the busiest season of the year, and Forest Manor Hotel is quite literally falling apart. So when Izzy and Lucas are given the same shift on the hotel’s front desk, they have no choice but to put their differences aside and see it through.

The hotel won’t stay afloat beyond Christmas without some sort of miracle. But when Izzy returns a guest’s lost wedding ring, the reward convinces management that this might be the way to fix everything. With four rings still sitting in lost property, the race is on for Izzy and Lucas to save their beloved hotel – and their jobs.

As their bitter rivalry turns into something much more complicated, Izzy and Lucas begin to wonder if there’s more at stake here than the hotel’s future. Can the two of them make it through the season with their hearts intact?

Published September 28th by Quercus
Pre-order here*

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Are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments below

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: So Pretty by Ronnie Turner

Published: January 19th, 2023
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Gothic Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this dark, hypnotic and unnerving debut. This was a fantastic start to my reading year and I’m thrilled to be sharing my review with you all today.
Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

A young man arrives in a small town, hoping to leave his past behind him, but everything changes when he takes a job in a peculiar old shop, and meets a lonely single mother … A chillingly hypnotic gothic thriller and a Mesmerising study of identity and obsession.
 
‘This chilling gothic tale explores the dark corners of identity … beautifully written and a real page-turner’ C J Cooke
 
‘Dark, lyrical and intriguing’ Fiona Cummins
 
‘Like Stephen King on crack … the most accomplished book I’ve read this year. Dark, gothic as hell, and genuinely scary, Turner has managed to portray loneliness, obsession, and monster-worship in one neat little package. I dare you to open it’ M W Craven
 
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Fear blisters through this town like a fever…

When Teddy Colne arrives in the small town of Rye, he believes he will be able to settle down and leave his past behind him. Little does he know that fear blisters through the streets like a fever. The locals tell him to stay away from an establishment known only as Berry & Vincent, that those who rub too closely to its proprietor risk a bad end. 

Despite their warnings, Teddy is desperate to understand why Rye has come to fear this one man, and to see what really hides behind the doors of his shop.

Ada moved to Rye with her young son to escape a damaged childhood and years of never fitting in, but she’s lonely, and ostracised by the community. Ada is ripe for affection and friendship, and everyone knows it.

As old secrets bleed out into this town, so too will a mystery about a family who vanished fifty years earlier, and a community living on a knife edge.

Teddy looks for answers, thinking he is safe, but some truths are better left undisturbed, and his past will find him here, just as it has always found him before. And before long, it will find Ada too.

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MY REVIEW:

‘It’s a curious box and a box of curiosities. We don’t go inside Berry & Vincent,’ they said. 
‘Why?’ 
Don’t go inside Berry & Vincent,’ they said. ‘There’s a devil inside that place.’

Teddy arrives in Rye hoping to make a fresh start and leave the ghosts of his past far behind. He answers an ad for an assistant at Berry & Vincent, a peculiar old shop that the residents avoid and refuse to even speak of. What is it they are so afraid of? And why do they keep telling Teddy to leave before it’s too late?
As Teddy tries to uncover the secrets of this strange place he meets single mother Ada, who has lived in Rye for two years but never managed to fit in. The pair bond over being outsiders and attempt to unravel the mystery of Berry & Vincent. But there is a darkness lurking and secrets that have been hidden for decades will soon be revealed.

Wow! This book needs to come with a warning label! Dark, haunting and malevolent, it chilled me to the bone, made my heart race and left my jaw on the floor. I finished reading it late last night, unable to go to bed until I had the answers to my many questions, and I’m still reeling, the adrenaline coursing through me even now. When you read this book, be prepared to be taken on one of the darkest, most twisted rides you’ve ever experienced. And be prepared to love every minute. 

“They were afraid. They were all afraid.” 

It is no secret that Orenda is not only my favourite indie publisher, but one of my favourite publishers overall. Anytime you read one of their books you know you’re guaranteed a magnificent story told by a skilled storyteller, so my hopes were high before even starting this book. But So Pretty took all of those expectations and blew them out of the water. Hypnotic and unnerving, it is cleverly choreographed, intricately layered and twisty, with the perfect balance of sinister suspense and edge-of-your-seat tension.  The imagery is evocative and chilling, making even the buildings feel alive with an evil that seeps into your pores as you read. There’s a sense of dread that pervades every page and I knew intrinsically that something was very wrong, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that no one would come out of this unscathed. I wanted to turn away and run. But I couldn’t. I was hooked.

Ronnie Turner may be a debut author, but she writes like a veteran beyond her years. A masterful sinister storyteller, she knows how to captivate her audience and blow their minds. I was putty in her hands as she took me down a rabbit hole of twists and turns, elevated the tension, and slowly revealed all the pieces so that the full, horrifying picture took shape. She is an author to watch and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. I’ll be first in line to buy it for sure!

“It takes twice as long to be mended than it does to be broken. If ever.”

Humans are the scariest of monsters, something that is explored throughout this book as it delves into the darkness that lurks inside the crevices of a twisted mind and illuminates the dark recesses of identity, and obsession. It is also a commentary on abuse, violence against women, and the lasting impact of trauma, showcasing how our pain can trickle down through generations to damage those we try to protect and reminding us that just because we know why someone acts a certain way, it doesn’t mean that it’s right or acceptable. The characters are all fractured, flawed, compelling, the author drawing you deeper inside their world and creating a bond between them and the reader. My heart ached for Teddy and Ada as they tried to escape the trauma of their pasts, and I rejoiced as they found friendship and solace from their lonely existence. But through it all I could never shake that growing disquiet. The sense of inherent darkness and danger coiled like a viper waiting to strike. And when it struck, it floored me completely and filled my heart with fear.

A buffet of dark delights, So Pretty is an unsettling, eerie and mesmerising gothic thriller. If you enjoy uncomfortable, claustrophobic and seriously creepy novels that will haunt your subconscious long after reading, then this one’s for you. An easy five stars, this was a phenomenal start to the reading year. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature. She now works as a Senior Waterstones Bookseller and barista. Ronnie lives in the South West with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and taking long walks on the coast.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers that are taking part the blog tour.

*These purchase links are from 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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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023 Support Debuts Tandem Readalong

REVIEW: No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby

Published: Mach 2nd, 2023
Publisher: Aria
Genre: Satire, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for No Life For A Lady. Thank you to the Tandem Collective for my place on the VIP readalong and Head of Zeus for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

The most joyful book of 2023!

Violet Hamilton is a woman who knows her own mind. Which, in 1896, can make things a little complicated…

At 28, Violet’s father is beginning to worry she will never find a husband. But every suitor he presents, Violet finds a new and inventive means of rebuffing.

Because Violet does not want to marry. She wants to work, and make her own way in the world. But more than anything, she wants to find her mother Lily, who disappeared from Hastings Pier 10 years earlier.

Finding the missing is no job for a lady, but when Violet hires a seaside detective to help, she sets off a chain of events that will put more than just her reputation at risk.

Can Violet solve the mystery of Lily Hamilton’s vanishing before it’s too late?

A delightfully quirky and clever book club read, perfect for fans of Dear Mrs BirdThe Maid and Lessons in Chemistry.

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MY REVIEW:

“Detective work is no life for a lady.”

A joyous romp with lashings of humour, No Life For A Lady is an original and uplifting debut. It follows Violet, a delightful new heroine who I absolutely adored. She isn’t your typical Victorian woman, going against social conventions by not wanting to get married and pursuing a career instead. But more than anything else, what Violet wants is to find her mother, Lily, who vanished 10 years ago. But there is no such thing as a lady detective, so Violet hires a professional to help, sparking a chain of events that risk not only Violet’s reputation, but unearths shocking secrets that some people will do anything to keep hidden. 

I’m a big fan of historical fiction, mysteries and uplift, so this was the perfect mix of genres for me. It was an absolute joy to read and I couldn’t get enough of Violet and her antics. The mystery unravels slowly, with some twists and surprises along the way, but what I particularly liked was that this is also the story of Violet’s journey of self-discovery, author Hannah Dolby weaving the two storylines together so they are inextricably linked. I loved how Dolby injected so much heart, humour and joy into the book, making a story that could have been very dark into one that radiates fun and hopefulness. 

Violet is a great protagonist. Inquisitive, tenacious and full of charisma, she was easy to like and root for, though I would sometimes cringe at her naivete that is a product of both her sheltered upbringing and the times they lived in. Violet lives in a time where autonomy for women is still an alien concept and there strict moral and societal codes she is expected to adhere to. But Violet rails against this, wanting to make her own way in life and pursue a career, rather than making marriage her priority and only goal in life. At 28 she is deemed pretty much over the hill and the idea she might not actually want a husband is unthinkable to most. She is a new favourite heroine of mine and I can’t imagine anyone not loving her. 

Funny, quirky and addictive, this marvellous debut is one you all need on your TBR. I’m hoping Ms. Dolby will turn this into a series so I can return to Violet and her antics again and again. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hannah’s first job was in the circus and she has aimed to keep life as interesting since. She trained as a journalist in Hastings and has worked in PR for many years, promoting museums, galleries, palaces, gardens and even Dolly the sheep.

She completed the Curtis Brown selective three-month novel writing course, and she won runner-up in the Comedy Women in Print Awards for this novel with the price of a place on an MA in Comedy Writing at the University of Falmouth. She lives in London and her debut novel, No Life for a Lady, will be published in Spring 2023.

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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: Behind Closed Doors by Carol Wyer

Published: December 6th, 2022
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Suspense, Psycholgocial Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this heart-stopping thriller. Thank you to Zoe at Zooloo’s Book Tours for the invitation to take part, and Carol Wyer for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Two kidnappings, thirty years apart. Can Stacey face her own dark past in order to save her stepdaughter?

When Stacey’s ex-husband turns up on her doorstep begging her to help save his kidnapped thirteen-year-old daughter, Lyra, the terror is all too familiar. Stacey’s own violent kidnapping thirty years ago was never solved, and while a severe case of amnesia spares her from recalling the specific horrors, she remembers enough…

Stacey knows her father never paid the ransom―she has the missing pinkie finger to prove it. She knows she was only saved because of an anonymous tip-off to the police. And she knows her captor was never apprehended.

Lyra’s kidnappers have made it clear the police must not get involved. But Stacey can’t shake the eerie similarities between the two cases, and she’ll use whatever she can, from her journalistic powers to her shady contacts, to save Lyra from the same nightmare. Desperate to find any link between Lyra’s abduction and her own, Stacey forces herself to revisit her forgotten, traumatic past for clues.

But can she make sense of the terrible secrets she unearths in time to save Lyra? And if she does, is she ready to face her own tormentor?

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MY REVIEW:

“Stacey couldn’t shake the ominous feeling surrounding her. The hair. The dingy room. The scissors. This had to be an echo of her past.”

When Stacey’s ex-husband, Jack, turns up on her doorstep one afternoon, Stacey O’Hara is unprepared for the nightmare she’s about to be plunged into. Her thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, Lyra, has been kidnapped, and he wants Stacey’s help to rescue her from a terror she is all too familiar with after her own violent kidnapping thirty years ago. 

As they race against the clock to save Lyra, Stacey can’t shake the strange similarities with her own abduction that keep cropping up. Could the two be linked? Forced to face the past she’s run from for decades, can Stacey make sense of the secrets she’s unearthed before it is too late?

“The room was dimly lit by a small lamp. Shadows, like demons, danced on the wall.” 

Wow! This book certainly packs a punch, grabbing me from the forbidding opening pages. I didn’t want to put this book down! It showcases why Carol Wyer has become one of my favourite thriller authors, her ability to hypnotise the reader and keep them guessing as she weaves her tangled web of dark secrets keeping me on the edge of my seat as I read. As the secrets are slowly revealed, the intricate puzzle begins to come together. But would it look like I imagined? Or something completely different?

“A hazy vision floated from the recesses of her mind. She saw herself as a terrified teenager, tied to a chair, a hood over her head. Her heartbeat increased. She didn’t want to remember.” 

I loved that this book was essentially two mysteries in one as we uncover the truth not only about Lyra’s abduction, but Stacey’s too. While Lyra is never on the page as anything other than a character being discussed, her presence is felt over every sentence, along with the urgency to save her. And while trying to do so, Stacey begins to discover things she never knew about her abduction thirty years ago. Because of her profound dissociative amnesia Stacey has never processed the trauma of being abducted. The memories were buried so deep that she can’t reach them. But after Lyra’s abduction, she is assailed by flashes of the long-repressed memories that she isn’t always sure she can trust. It is so evocatively written that we feel every bit of her confusion, torment and fear as she faces the truth of her abduction for the first time while desperately trying to rescue Lyra. She is a likeable protagonist and was easy to root for, unlike her ex-husband, Jack. 

In Jack we see Wyer’s skill for writing morally dubious and complex characters that you aren’t sure you can trust. Did I dislike and suspect him because he reminded me of my own abusive ex-husband? Or was he really involved in this somehow? I could never make up my mind but also couldn’t shake my suspicions of him no matter how much Stacey was adamant he wasn’t involved. 

Dripping with suspense, charged with adrenalin and fraught with malice, Behind Closed Doors is a heart-pounding thriller that fans of the genre will love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

USA Today bestselling author and winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer’s crime novels have sold over one million copies and been translated into nine languages.

A move from humour to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in Little Girl Lost and proved that Carol had found her true niche.

February 2021 saw the release of the first in the much-anticipated new series, featuring DI Kate Young. An Eye For An Eye was chosen as a Kindle First Reads and became the #1 bestselling book on Amazon UK and Amazon Australia.

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

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr. Grumpy… who is very, very grumpy. When she is not plotting devious murders, she can be found performing her comedy routine, Smile While You Still Have Teeth.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links