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First Lines Friday: Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Welcome to First Lines Friday. This is a tag that was started by Mrs Cooke’s Books on Instagram and I’ve been doing on there for a while. I decided to start posting here too, offering more than just one line and hoping to entice you into reading the books I share.

This week, I’m sharing the first line from one of my highly anticipated books of 2021:


“The bells rang out as they had done for hundreds of years, their sombre music sweeping over London with grace and stillness, bright as the moon which was till and ripe in the sky. Despite the late hour, the city below was restless, tossing and turning in the darkness with lights and buses and cars and people —walking, rushing, working, drinking, dancing, sleeping; none taking any notice of the bells at all.
Within the tower, the sound was deafening. Yet the women did not flinch as they stepped closer, forming a circle, their feet bare on the stone floor and their hair loose against plain robes. They pulled back their hoods, feeling the vibrations of the bells in their bones; feeling the buzz and excitement of the windows; feeling the languages of their own magic rising. The last chime rang out with finality.
Midnight. It was time.”

This first line is from Threadneedle by Cari Thomas. This debut is published on May 27th, 2021 by HarperVoyager. Thank you to them for my gifted ARC.


SYNOPSIS:

Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.
Magic is the first sin. It must be bound.


Ever since Anna can remember, her aunt has warned her of the dangers of magic. She has taught her to fear how it twists and knots and turns into something dark and deadly.

It was, after all, magic that killed her parents and left her in her aunt’s care. It’s why she has been protected from the magical world and, in one year’s time, what little magic she has will be bound. She will join her aunt alongside the other Binders who believe magic is a sin not to be used, but denied. Only one more year and she will be free of the curse of magic, her aunt’s teachings and the disappointment of the little she is capable of.

Nothing – and no one – could change her mind before then. Could it?


How amazing does that sound! I can’t wait to read this and am hoping to fit it in before the year ends.

You can pre-order the book here.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday – The Split by Sharon Bolton

Welcome to First Lines Friday. This is a tag that was started by mrscookesbooks on Instagram and I’ve been doing on there for a while. I decided to start posting here too, offering more than just one line and hoping to entice you into reading the books I share.

This week, I’m sharing the first line from a book I reviewed earlier this year that came out in paperback yesterday:

“It’s not a ship. It’s an iceberg. Oh, thank Christ. She drops her binoculars and feels a thudding in her chest that might be her heart starting to beat again. There’s no smoking allowed in the island, but she pulls out her cigarettes all the same, because if she can subdue the shaking hands for long enough to light one then she might feel like she’s in control again. The wind, though. Won’t let the flame catch.”

This first line is from The Split by Sharon Bolton, which I read and reviewed for the blog tour back in June.

SYNOPSIS:

SHE’LL NEVER STOP RUNNING.
BUT HE’LL NEVER STOP LOOKING.

A year ago Felicity Lloyd fled England to South Georgia, one of the most remote islands in the world, escaping her past and the man she once loved. Can she keep running her whole life?

Freddie Lloyd has served time for murder – and now he wants her back. Wherever she is, he won’t stop until he finds her. Will he be able to track her to the ends of the earth?

TOGETHER THEY’LL FIND THEMSELVES TRAPPED ON THE ICE AND IN DANGER. WHO WILL SURVIVE?

You can read my full review here.

Buy the book here

*Thank you to Orion for my gifted copy of the book.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby

Published: October 29th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age

Today is my stop on the tour for this spectacular debut. Thank you HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

A picture paints a thousand lies…

Romilly lives in a ramshackle house with her eccentric artist father and her cat, Monty. She knows little about her past – but she knows that she is loved.

When her father finds fame with a series of children’s books starring her as the main character, everything changes: exotic foods appear on the table, her father appears on TV, and strangers appear at their door, convinced the books contain a treasure hunt leading to a glittering prize.

But as time passes, Romilly’s father becomes increasingly suspicious of everything around him, until, before her eyes, he begins to disappear altogether.

In her increasingly isolated world, Romilly turns to the secrets her father has hidden in his illustrated books, realising that there is something far darker and more devastating locked within the pages…

The truth.

The Illustrated Child is the unforgettable, beguiling debut from Polly Crosby.

MY REVIEW:

This book is one of my most anticipated books of 2020. I’ve been green with envy at others receiving the gorgeous proofs and am so glad I’ve finally had the chance to read it. 

From the title and cover I had imagined a lighthearted and uplifting read, but thankfully I’d read a few reviews and been warned that it is a darker book than you expect. That being said, it’s one that’s best read blind so I’m not going to reveal much about the plot. 

I absolutely adored this book. I was immediately captivated by the beautiful prose and lost in Romilly’s strange world. The author has crafted an intricate, layered novel that has so much hidden beneath its surface. She holds the reader captive as she slowly unveils the truths waiting to be discovered, like the rumoured clues to the hidden treasure in Tobias’ stories. 

I loved Romilly. She is a fantastic and fascinating heroine who is a paradox in the way many children are: independent but vulnerable, strong but weak, daring but afraid. She hasn’t had the easiest life and I couldn’t help but feel for her, especially as the story went on. From the start I felt an affinity with her as I also had a part-siamese cat with a kink in its tail when I was younger, though he didn’t have a name nearly as important. 

This story consumed me. I didn’t want to put it down, not even to go to sleep, I was so immersed in its pages. Emotionally resonant, there wasn’t a feeling it didn’t make me feel as I lived every moment with Romilly. I needed to know what her future held, where she ended up, if my predictions were right. 

Evocative, dark, haunting and mesmerising, this is one of my favourite books this year. A sensational debut from an extraordinary new talent that you don’t want to miss. 

READ. THIS. BOOK. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

After a whirlwind of a year which saw Polly receive writing scholarships from both Curtis Brown Creative and The University of East Anglia’s MA in Creative Writing, she went on to be runner up in the Bridport Prize’s Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel.

Polly’s novel was snapped up by HarperCollins HQ in the UK and Commonwealth in a 48 hour pre-empt, and a few days later by HarperCollins Park Row Books in North America.

Polly grew up on the Suffolk coast, and now lives in the heart of Norfolk with her husband and son, and her very loud and much loved rescue Oriental cat, Dali.

The Illustrated Child is her first novel.

Website |Instagram |Twitter |Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive |Google Books |Apple Books |Kobo

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

The Nesting by C. J. Cooke

Published: October 15th, 2020
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fairy Tale, Mystery, Gothic Fiction, Ghost Story, Suspense, Thriller, Horror Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this creepy gothic thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Atmospheric, gothic, spine-chilling… The new thriller from C.J Cooke will haunt you long after you turn the last page…
It was like something out of a fairytale…
The grieving widower.
The motherless daughters.
A beautiful house in the woods.
Deep in a remote Norwegian forest, Lexi has found a new home with architect Tom and his two young daughters. With snow underfoot and the sound of the nearby fjord in her ears, it’s as if Lexi has stepped into a fairy tale

But this family has a history – and this place has a past. Something was destroyed to build their beautiful new house. And those ancient, whispering woods have a long memory.

Lexi begins to hear things, see things that don’t make sense. She used to think this place heavenly, but in the dark, dark woods, a menacing presence lurks.

With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care.

But protect them from what?

MY REVIEW:

All month I’ve been itching to read a creepy, gothic book. The Nesting is both of those things and more. 

Returning to Norway after the recent death of his wife Aurelia, Tom hires Lexi to accompany the family as their Nanny. For him, it’s a chance to honour his wife the house she dreamed of while avoiding his grief, and for Lexi it’s a chance to reinvent herself and start again after a recent suicide attempt. 

But deep in the remote Norwegian forest, there is a threat lurking. But is it human? Are the things Aurelia and Lexi see really hallucinations or are they a real and sinister supernatural force that is out to harm them?

Atmospheric, eerie and haunting, this is the perfect book for this time of year. I’m a big fan of gothic novels, and Cooke executes this one expertly, with just the right amount of spine-tingling terror to keep you hooked and not wanting to turn out the light. 

The writing is simply gorgeous and so vividly descriptive that I felt like I was seeing and feeling everything alongside the characters. I particularly liked how well her description of Lexi’s first month as a Nanny captured the exhaustive nature of children and how she put us inside the mind of a young child so realistically. 

The imagery of Norway made me feel like I was standing in that forest myself and I think that her choice of a remote Norwegian forest in winter was perfect for a Gothic thriller. Beautiful, haunting, dark, chilling and hostile, it sets the scene by simply being itself. The author entwines this with eerie Norwegian folklore and unexplained occurrences,  creating the perfect recipe for this spooky tale.

Dealing with themes of motherhood, mental health and suicide, this isn’t a light-hearted read, but it examines each one with sensitivity and realism. It is clear that mental health and motherhood are subjects that heavily impact and influence the author, as she has woven them into both Lexi and Aurelia’s stories. I loved this, the way the women mirrored each other in so many ways and felt it gave them a deep connection despite the fact that they’d never met. I could personally relate to them both in their mental health struggles and they were definitely the characters I felt closest too. 

All of the characters, even the minor ones, were interesting and well written. I enjoyed the flashbacks as they gave us a chance to get to know Aurelia and gave us possible clues about her death. It also gives the reader the chance to see a clearer picture of Tom, though I found him suspicious and unlikeable all the same. I thought Lexi was a great protagonist who was relatable, flawed and likeable. But the one who really stole my heart was Gaia. How could she not? She broke my heart when she talked about her ‘Mumma’ and definitely creeped me out most of all with all her talk of the Sad Lady. 

An immersive, ethereal and chilling read, The Nesting is the perfect gothic tale for reading while cosy under a blanket this autumn. Just don’t turn out the light! 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

CJ Cooke wrote her first book aged seven. A few decades later, her work is published in 23 languages, has won numerous awards, and has been optioned for film and television.

CJ’s previous works include the novels The Boy Who Could See Demons (2012), which was critically appraised by The New York Times, The Guardian, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and The New York Review of Books, The Guardian Angel’s Journal (2011), which was an international bestseller, and I Know My Name, which was a No. 1 iBooks bestseller and optioned for TV.

Her latest book, a gothic thriller called The Nesting, was awarded funding from the Arts Council of England to carry out research in Norway and is published by Penguin Random House (US) on 29th Sept 2020 and HarperCollins (UK & Commonwealth) on 15 October 2020.

Website |Instagram |Twitter |Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – November 2020

It’s time for another month of anticipated books. I can’t believe we’re up to November and I’ve been doing this for almost a year!

November has some of my most anticipated books of the year: The Swallowed Man, The Diabolical Bones and The Betrayals. It is set to be another great month full of exciting releases and increasing my never-ending TBR.

The Midnight Bargain by C. L. Polk

Published: November 1st, 2020
Publisher: Erwehon
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Romance Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
Beatrice Clayborn is a sorceress who practices magic in secret, terrified of the day she will be locked into a marital collar that will cut off her powers to protect her unborn children. She dreams of becoming a full-fledged Magus and pursuing magic as her calling as men do, but her family has staked everything to equip her for Bargaining Season, when young men and women of means descend upon the city to negotiate the best marriages. The Clayborns are in severe debt, and only she can save them, by securing an advantageous match before their creditors come calling.

In a stroke of luck, Beatrice finds a grimoire that contains the key to becoming a Magus, but before she can purchase it, a rival sorceress swindles the book right out of her hands. Beatrice summons a spirit to help her get it back, but her new ally exacts a price: Beatrice’s first kiss . . . with her adversary’s brother, the handsome, compassionate, and fabulously wealthy Ianthe Lavan.

The more Beatrice is entangled with the Lavan siblings, the harder her decision becomes: If she casts the spell to become a Magus, she will devastate her family and lose the only man to ever see her for who she is; but if she marries–even for love–she will sacrifice her magic, her identity, and her dreams. But how can she choose just one, knowing she will forever regret the path not taken?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’ve become a big fan of fantasy this year and this sounds like the perfect book in that genre to get lost in.
Pre-order here.

Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

Published: November 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
When Kate Marshall finds the bloated body of a young man floating in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the authorities label it a tragic accident.

But the details don’t add up: why was he there, in the middle of the night? If he was such a strong swimmer, how did he drown? As Kate and her assistant Tristan Harper follow the evidence, they make a far darker discovery . . .

This is only the latest victim in a series of bloody murders dating back decades. A mythic serial killer is said to hide in the rolling fog, abducting his victims like a phantom. And when another woman is taken, Kate and Tristan have a matter of days to save her from meeting the same fate.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I loved the first book in this new series when I read it earlier this year so I’m excited for the next installment.
Pre-order here.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

Published: November 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Titan Books
Genre: Suspense, Horror, Occult Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Carrot has moved into the Wonder Museum –  an eclectic collection of taxidermy, shrunken heads, and Mystery Junk owned by her Uncle Earl. For Carrot, it’s not creepy at all: she grew up with it. What’s creepy is the corridor behind one of the museum walls. There’s just no space for a corridor there – or the concrete bunker, or the strange islands beyond the bunker’s doors, or the unseen things  in the willow trees.

Carrot has stumbled into a horrifying world, and They are watching her. Strewn among the islands are the remains of Their meals – and Their experiments. And even if she manages to make it home, she can’t stop calling Them after her…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I love creepy books and this one sounds right up my street.
Pre-order here.

The Swallowed Man by Edward Carey

Published: November 5th, 2020
Publisher: Gallic Books
Genre: Fairy Tale, Dark Comedy, Fantasy Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
I am writing this account, in another man’s book, by candlelight, inside the belly of a fish. I have been eaten. I have been eaten, yet I am living still.

From the acclaimed author of Little comes this beautiful and haunting imagining of the years Geppetto spends within the belly of a sea beast.

Drawing upon the Pinocchio story while creating something entirely his own, Carey tells an unforgettable tale of fatherly love and loss, pride and regret, and of the sustaining power of art and imagination.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
When I read Little last year I instantly became a fan of this author. This book is written in a similar vein and I can’t wait to read it.
Pre-order here.

The Diabolical Bones by Bella Ellis

Published: November 5th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Biographical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
It’s Christmas 1845 and Haworth is in the grip of a freezing winter.

Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë are rather losing interest in detecting until they hear of a shocking discovery: the bones of a child have been found interred within the walls of a local house, Top Withens Hall, home to the scandalous and brutish Bradshaw family.

When the sisters set off to find out more, they are confronted with an increasingly complex and sinister case, which leads them into the dark world of orphanages, and onto the trail of other lost, and likely murdered children. After another local boy goes missing, Charlotte, Emily and Anne vow to find him before it’s too late.

But in order to do so, they must face their most despicable and wicked adversary yet – one that would not hesitate to cause them the gravest of harm. . .

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
I’m a huge fan of this author and historical fiction and mysteries are my two favourite genres. So when she released The Vanished Bride last year I was so excited, and thrilled to find it was everything I’d hoped for and more. Ever since, I’ve been impatiently waiting for the next book in the series. I’m taking part in the blog tour for this one and my review will be posted on November 11th.
Pre-order here.

Loved and Wanted by Christa Pavarani

Published: November 10th, 2020
Publisher: Manila Press
Genre: Biography, Autobiography

SYNOPSIS:
A harrowing account of one woman’s reckoning with life, death and choice in Trump’s America. For readers of Educated and Hillbilly Elegy.

In 2017, Christa Parravani had recently moved her family from California to West Virginia. Surviving on a teacher’s salary, she was already raising two young children with her husband, screenwriter Anthony Swofford.

Another pregnancy, a year after giving birth to her second child, came as a shock. Christa had a history of ectopic pregnancies and was worried that she wouldn’t be able to find adequate medical care. She immediately requested a termination – but her doctor refused to help. The only doctor who would perform an abortion made it clear that this would be illicit, not condoned by her colleagues or their community.

In exploring her own choice, or rather in discovering her lack of it, Christa reveals the desperate state of female healthcare in contemporary America.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This is a timely book that sounds like it needs to be read. The war against a woman’s right to choose is one we should all be fighting for.
Pre-order here.

The Betrayals by Bridget Collins

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: The Borough Press
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
If everything in your life was based on a lie
Would you risk it all to tell the truth?

At Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, the best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu: an arcane and mysterious contest. Léo Martin was once a student there, but lost his passion for the grand jeu following a violent tragedy. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning with his political career in tatters.
 
Montverre has changed since he studied there, even allowing a woman, Claire Dryden, to serve in the grand jeu’s highest office of Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire he senses an odd connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before.
 
Both Léo and Claire have built their lives on lies.  And as the legendary Midsummer Game, the climax of the year, draws closer, secrets are whispering in the walls…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Why? Just look at the cover! All jokes aside, I loved Bridget Collins’ debut novel and am really excited to read what she’s written next.
Pre-order here.

The Thief on the Winged Horse by Kate Mascarenhas

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Fairy Tale, Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
A dazzling mixture of crime, romance, magic and myth from the author of the bestselling The Psychology of Time Travel.

The Kendrick family have been making world-famous dolls for over 200 years. But their dolls aren’t coveted for the craftsmanship alone. Each one has a specific emotion laid on it by its creator. A magic that can make you feel bucolic bliss or consuming paranoia at a single touch. Though founded by sisters, now only men may know the secrets of the workshop.

Persephone Kendrick longs to break tradition and learn her ancestors’ craft, and when a handsome stranger arrives claiming doll-making talent and blood ties to the family, she sees a chance to grasp all she desires.

But then, one night, the firm’s most valuable doll is stolen. Only someone with knowledge of magic could have taken her. Only a Kendrick could have committed this crime…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Not only does the synopsis sound like this is a perfect book for me, but I loved this author’s last book and am interested to read more of her work.
Pre-order here.

One by One by Ruth Ware

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
Snow is falling in the exclusive alpine ski resort of Saint Antoine, as the shareholders and directors of Snoop, the hottest new music app, gather for a make or break corporate retreat to decide the future of the company. At stake is a billion-dollar dot com buyout that could make them all millionaires, or leave some of them out in the cold.

The clock is ticking on the offer, and with the group irrevocably split, tensions are running high. When an avalanche cuts the chalet off from help, and one board member goes missing in the snow, the group is forced to ask – would someone resort to murder, to get what they want?

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Ruth Ware is an author that has been on my tbr for a long time and her latest release sounds like an ideal winter thriller.
Pre-order here.

Little Threats by Emily Schultz

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In the summer of 1993, twin sisters Kennedy and Carter Wynn are embracing the grunge era and testing every limit in their privileged Richmond suburb. But Kennedy’s teenage rebellion goes too far when, after a night of partying in the woods, her best friend, Haley, is murdered, and suspicion quickly falls upon Kennedy. She can’t remember anything about the night in question, and this, along with the damning testimony from a college boy who both Kennedy and Haley loved, is enough to force Kennedy to enter a guilty plea.

In 2008, Kennedy is released into a world that has moved on without her. Carter has grown distant as she questions Kennedy’s innocence, and begins a relationship with someone who could drive the sisters apart forever. The twins’ father, Gerry, is eager to protect the family’s secrets and fragile bonds. But Kennedy’s return brings the tragedy back to the surface, along with a whole new wave of media. When a crime show host comes to town asking questions, believing the murder wasn’t as simple as it seemed, murky memories of Haley’s death come to light. As new suspects emerge and the suburban woods finally give up their secrets, two families may be destroyed again.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
As soon as I read the description I added this to my most anticipated list. This sounds like exactly the kind of twisted thriller I love.
Pre-order here.

Fortune Favours the Dead by Stephen Spootswood

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Historical Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
The first in the brilliant new Pentecost and Parker series, FORTUNE FAVOURS THE DEAD is a hugely entertaining murder mystery set in 1940s New York City.

New York, 1946. Lillian Pentecost is the most successful private detective in the city, but her health is failing. She hires an assistant to help with the investigative legwork. Willowjean Parker is a circus runaway. Quick-witted and street-smart, she’s a jack-of-all-trades with a unique skill-set. She can pick locks blindfolded, wrestle men twice her size, and throw knives with deadly precision – all of which come in handy working for Ms P.

When wealthy young widow Abigail Collins is murdered and the police are making no progress, Pentecost and Parker are hired by the family to track down the culprit. On Halloween night, there was a costume party at the Collins’ mansion, where a fortune teller performed a séance which greatly disturbed Abigail. Several hours later her body was discovered bludgeoned to death in her late husband’s office. Problem is, the door to the office was locked from the inside. There was no-one else in the room, and the murder weapon was beside the victim; the fortune teller’s crystal ball.

It looks like an impossible crime, but Pentecost and Parker know there is no such thing…

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Not only does the cover draw me in, but a book with a mix of history and mystery is guaranteed to get my attention.
Pre-order here.

The Package by Sebastian Fitzek

Published: November 12th, 2020
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
All you’ve done is taken in a parcel for a neighbour. You have no idea what you’ve let into your home.

Emma’s the one that got away.

The only survivor of a killer known in the tabloids as ‘the barber’ – because of the trophies he takes from his victims.

Or she thinks she was.

The police aren’t convinced. Nor is her husband. She never even saw her tormentor properly, but now she recognises him in every man.

Questioning her sanity, she gives up her job as a doctor in the local hospital and retreats from the world. It is better to stay at home. Quiet. Anonymous. Safe. He won’t find her here.

And all she did was take a parcel for a neighbour.

She has no idea what she’s let into her home.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
Any thriller endorsed by Harlan Coben is one I want to read. I’m on the blog tour for this book and my review will be posted on November 15th.
Pre-order here.

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

Published: November 17th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Gay Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang-a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love . . . and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns-and grudges-aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
The gorgeous cover. The setting. A retelling of Romeo and Juliet. This one sounds like a winner to me.
Pre-order here.

The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside by Jessica Ryn

Published: November 26th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Coming-of-Age Story, Domestic Fiction, Nautical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Dawn Elisabeth Brightside has been running from her past for twenty-two years and two months, precisely.

So when she is offered a bed in St Jude’s Hostel for the Homeless, it means so much more than just a roof over her head.

But with St Jude’s threatened with closure, Dawn worries that everything is about to crumble around her all over again.

Perhaps, with a little help from her new friends, she can find a way to save this light in the darkness?

And maybe, just maybe, Dawn will finally have a place to call home….

WHY I’M ANTICIPATING THIS BOOK:
This sounds like a fun, immersive and uplifting read. I’m taking part in the blog tour and will post my review on November 27th.
Pre-order here.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Line Friday

First Line Friday

Welcome to First Line Friday. This is a tag that was started by mrscookesbooks on Instagram and I’ve been doing on there for a while. I decided to start posting here too, offering more than just one line and hoping to entice you into reading the books I share.

So, here is this week’s first line:

“In glittering Shanghai, a monster awakens.

It’s eyes snap open in the belly of the Huangpu River, jaws unhinging at once to taste the foul blood seeping into the waters. Lines of red slither through this ancient city’s modern streets: lines that draw webs in the cobblestones like a network of veins, and drip by drip these veins surge into the waters, pouring the city’s life essence into the mouth of another.”

This amazing first line is from These Violent Delights, one of my most anticipated books released in November.

SYNOPSIS:

Perfect for fans of The Last Magician and Descendant of the Crane, this heart-stopping debut is an imaginative Romeo and Juliet retelling set in 1920s Shanghai, with rival gangs and a monster in the depths of the Huangpu River.

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.

A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang-a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love . . . and first betrayal.

But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns-and grudges-aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

Published by Hodder and Stoughton on November 17th, 2020. You can pre-order the book here.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Line Friday

First Line Friday

Welcome to First Line Friday. This is a tag that was started by mrscookesbooks on Instagram and I’ve been doing on there for a while. I decided to start posting here too, offering more than just one line and hoping to entice you into reading the books I share.

So here’s this week’s first line:

A girl is running for her life.

The summer air burns at her back, but there are no torches, no angry mobs, only the distant lanterns of the wedding party, the reddish glow of the sun as it breaks the horizon, cracks and spills across the hills, and the girl runs, skirts tangling in the grass as she surges towards the woods, trying to beat the dying light.

Voices carry on the wind, calling her name.

Adeline? Adeline? Adeline!

This week’s first line is from The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, which is one of my most anticipated books for October. I’ve been seeing so many great reviews for it lately, and I’m struggling not to pick it up and start reading immediately.

SYNOPSIS:

When Addie La Rue makes a pact with the devil, she trades her soul for immortality. But there’s always a price – the devil takes away her place in the world, cursing her to be forgotten by everyone.

Addie flees her tiny home town in 18th-Century France, beginning a journey that takes her across the world, learning to live a life where no one remembers her and everything she owns is lost and broken. Existing only as a muse for artists throughout history, she learns to fall in love anew every single day.

Her only companion on this journey is her dark devil with hypnotic green eyes, who visits her each year on the anniversary of their deal. Alone in the world, Addie has no choice but to confront him, to understand him, maybe to beat him.

Until one day, in a second hand bookshop in Manhattan, Addie meets someone who remembers her. Suddenly thrust back into a real, normal life, Addie realises she can’t escape her fate forever.

You can buy the book here.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Line Friday

First Line Friday: October 9th, 2020

Welcome to First Line Friday. This is a tag that was started by mrscookesbooks on Instagram and I’ve been doing on there for a while. I decided to start posting here too, offering more than just one line and hoping to entice you into reading the books I share.

So here’s this week’s first line:

My calendar is full of dead people.

When my phone alarm chimes, I fish it out from the pocket of my cargo pants. I’ve forgotten, with the time change, to turn off the reminder. I’m still groggy with sleep, but I open the date and read names: Iris Vale, Euan Ae Kim, Alan Rosenfeldt, Marlon Jensen.

I close my eyes and do what I do every day at this moment: I remember them.

That fantastic opening is from The Book of Two Ways, one of my most anticipated books this year. I’m starting the book today as part of a readalong with the Tandem Collective but the book is out on October 20th.

SYNOPSIS:

Who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are now?

Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully.

But when the plane she’s on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago – when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved.

Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to – but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain.

As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she’s never truly asked: what does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us?

Two possible futures. One impossible choice.

Doesn’t that sound amazing! Pre-order your copy here.

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Tandem Readalong

The Book of Two Ways by Jodi Picoult

Published: October 20th, 2020
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Literary Fiction, Saga

Happy Publication Day to my favourite author!

Thank you to the Tandem Collective for the invitation to take part in the readalong and to Hodder & Stoughton for the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Jodi Picoult’s stunning new novel about life, death, and missed opportunities.

Who would you be, if you hadn’t turned out to be the person you are now?

Dawn is a death doula, and spends her life helping people make the final transition peacefully.

But when the plane she’s on plummets, she finds herself thinking not of the perfect life she has, but the life she was forced to abandon fifteen years ago – when she left behind a career in Egyptology, and a man she loved.

Against the odds, she survives, and the airline offers her a ticket to wherever she needs to get to – but the answer to that question suddenly seems uncertain.

As the path of her life forks in two very different directions, Dawn must confront questions she’s never truly asked: what does a well-lived life look like? What do we leave behind when we go? And do we make our choices, or do our choices make us?

Two possible futures. One impossible choice.

MY REVIEW:

“My calendar is full of dead people… At one point, they were my clients. Now, they’re my stories to keep.”

Jodi Picoult is my favourite author and any book she releases is one I highly anticipate. So when Tandem announced a readalong of her new book I jumped at the chance to take part. It wasn’t only that it was a JP book that had me excited, it was the inclusion of Egyptology, as I have always been fascinated in ancient Egypt and looked forward to seeing how that was included in the book. 

“Even people who don’t know much about Egyptology have heard of the Book of the Dead… It’s a New Kingdom collection of spells to help the deceased make his or her easy to the afterlife —but it evolved from earlier, lesser known funerary texts… Also part of these Coffin Texts is the Book of Two Ways, the first known map of the afterlife.” 

The story begins when Dawn Edelstein is travelling on a plane that is about to make a planned emergency landing. As she prepares to land, she doesn’t see the face of her husband Brian or their daughter Meret, the person she sees in what could be her final moments is Wyatt, the man she left behind in Egypt fifteen years ago. What follows is a story of the two paths her life could have taken following a heated argument with Brian about their marriage that mirrors the two paths that can be taken to the afterlife in the titular Book of Two Ways.  

For the first time in almost two decades of reading this author, I DNF’d one of her books. This book has been a bit of a marmite book throughout the book community but like my thoughts about the controversial condiment, I’m ambiguous about this one. I didn’t stop reading it because of bad writing or not liking the story, I stopped reading because the book heavily focuses on the subject of death and I found it too traumatic to keep reading after losing one of my best friends suddenly earlier this year. 

“I think what really shocked me is how many people can’t see the shape of the life they’ve lived until they get to the very end of it.”

Overall, I liked the idea for this book and the concept of showing the two different paths Dawn’s life could take. As always with JP’s books, the story is well researched and there were many fascinating facts I learned about Egypt, ancient Egypt and death. But at times I felt like it  got bogged down in academia, which took away from my enjoyment of the story and it felt a bit like reading a textbook. 

This isn’t a lighthearted read and it is definitely one you have to be in the right frame of mind for. I wasn’t. It’s too soon for me. But I will go back and read the remaining third of this book at a later date as I was enjoying the story and characters and liked the format the story took. As with the layout of her last book, A Spark of Light, I don’t think everyone will like this. But I like that she takes these risks in both how and what she writes. It’s why she’s my favourite author. 

*I’m not rating this book at the present time as I feel my judgement would be clouded by my grief. I will rate it at a later date when I finish the final part of the book.

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jodi Picoult is the #1 bestselling author of twenty-five novels including My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, The Storyteller, Leaving Time, the acclaimed #1 bestseller, Small Great Things, which explored the issues of power, privilege and race, and has sold more than 1.5 million copies. Picoult’s most recent novel, A SPARK OF LIGHT., published on October 2, 2018, was her tenth consecutive instant #1 New York Times bestseller, and was praised as “Picoult at her fearless best” by the Washington Post.

Picoult’s books have been translated into thirty-four languages in thirty-five countries. Four novels – The Pact, Plain Truth, The Tenth Circle, and Salem Falls – have been made into television movies. My Sister’s Keeper was a film released from New Line Cinema, with Nick Cassavetes directing and Cameron Diaz starring. SMALL GREAT THINGS has been optioned for motion picture adaptation by Amblin Entertainment and is set to star Viola Davis and Julia Roberts. Picoult’s two Young Adult novels, Between The Lines and Off The Page, co-written with her daughter Samantha Van Leer, have been adapted and developed by the authors into a musical entitled Between The Lines which had its world premiere in September 2017 at the Kansas City Repertory Theater and is expected to premiere Off-Broadway in Summer 2019.

Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit and the Sarah Josepha Hale Award. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven.

Picoult is the recipient of many awards, including the New England Bookseller Award for Fiction, the Alex Awards from the YALSA, a lifetime achievement award for mainstream fiction from the Romance Writers of America, and the NH Literary Award for Outstanding Literary Merit. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from Dartmouth College and the University of New Haven. She is also a member of the advisory board for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts.

Picoult lives in New Hampshire with her husband. They have three children.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – September 2020

The weather has cooled and the nights are drawing in. Summer is officially over and autumn has arrived. Another month is also over, which means it’s time for another wrap up.

It’s been a fantastic month. I’ve read 17 books in total, which includes one audiobook, and I’m part way through two other audiobooks. I’ve read some outstanding books and discovered some new authors I’ll definitely read again.

I also took part in 14 blog tours, 4 readalongs and the Tasting Notes Book Club. I was excited to take part in my first author Q&As. The first was a private Zoom with Cecelia Ahern and other bloggers, and the other was my first over Instagram Live. Courtesy of One More Chapter I took part in a Q&A with Annie Lyons. I’m so grateful to have these opportunities and still can’t believe I’m able to talk with authors I’ve loved for years.

So lets get back to what I’ve read this month:

  1. After The Silence ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Truth Be Told ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. A Ruined Girl ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Heatstroke ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. Under Your Skin ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. To Cook A Bear ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. A Song of Isolation ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. A Court of Wings and Ruin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. If I Could Say Goodbye ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. Pizza Girl ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  11. The Thursday Murder Club ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The Philosopher Queens ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. In Black and White ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  14. Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  15. Mother Loves Me ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  16. Dead Woman Crossing ⭐⭐⭐
  17. Love Orange ⭐⭐⭐⭐

With so many great books, it’s not easy to choose a favourite. But Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You was such a standout read that it ended up making the choice easy. I loved it so much that it is even a contender for book of the year.

If you want to read my reviews for what I read in September, then click on the title and it will take you to my review (unless it’s one of the ones I’ve not written yet lol).

Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite book in September? Let me know in the comments.

*Thank you to the publushers for my gifted copies of the books.