Categories
book reviews

REVIEW: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Published: July 3rd, 2014
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for The Miniaturist, the mesmerising debut by Jessie Burton. Thank you to BookBreak UK for organising the rereadalong and Picador for the gifted copy of the book.

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THE HOUSE OF FORTUNE PRE-ORDER COMPETITION

Pan Macmillan is offering three lucky winners the chance to win their own copy of the signed print, a unique piece of jewellery, and access to a book tour event. All entrants need to do is pre-order a copy of The House of Fortune and submit proof of purchase here.

Pre-order the book here*

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SYNOPSIS:

The phenomenal Number One Bestseller

Winner of the Specsavers National Book Award 2014

Waterstones Book of the Year 2014

Selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club 2015

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, Jessie Burton’s magnificent debut novel The Miniaturist is a story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

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MY REVIEW:

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…”

An absolute masterpiece of historical fiction, The Miniaturist instantly became one of my favourite books when I read it back in 2015.  It’s follow up, The House of Fortune, is my most anticipated book of the year and I have been counting down to its release for many months. So when Bookbreak UK offered me the chance to take part in a re-readalong of this extraordinary story along with other bookstagrammers, I jumped at the chance to step back into Nella’s world. 

18-year-old Nella arrives in Amsterdam to live with her new husband, Johannes.  But the merchant is often away and she finds herself left with his spiky sister, their two staff and her pet parakeet, Peebo, for company.  To cheer her up Johannes presents her with a cabinet-sized replica of their home, an unusual and extravagant wedding gift that she begins to furnish with the help of a local miniaturist.  But Nella soon discovers that her new home is one filled with secrets and finds herself embroiled deeper in Amsterdam’s dark underbelly.  And it seems the mysterious miniaturist knows their secrets.  Will she be their salvation or their undoing?

“There is a story here and it seems like Nella’s, but it isn’t hers to tell.  She spins my life, she thinks.  And I cannot see the consequences.” 

Atmospheric, claustrophobic, eerie and mesmerising, this book is why I fell in love with historical fiction. It instantly became one of my favourite books when I read it back in 2015 and I was just as besotted with it the second time around. Jessie Burton is a masterful storyteller and I am once again in awe that this is a debut novel. The lyrical, elegant prose pulls you in and evocative imagery transports you to 17th century Amsterdam so clearly that you lose yourself in Nella’s world.

The richly drawn characters are all so memorable that even after seven years and hundreds of other books since I’d last read them, I could clearly remember so many small details about them. Nella is an innocent young woman at the start of the book and we see her become increasingly isolated, disillusioned, anxious and unsettled. But she also gets much stronger and finds joy in things such as her friendship with their maid, Cordelia. But as much as I loved Nella, for me it was Marin who was most fascinating. Sharp, cynical and acerbic, she begins the story as a tragic yet hard character, but the layers are slowly peeled away to reveal the unexpected truth beneath her armour, making her a joy to read.

“Nella returns home and rushes upstairs to the cabinet, running her fingers over the miniaturist’s pieces.  They are charged with a different energy, laden with meaning she cannot penetrate, yet even more addictive in their mystery.  She’s chosen me, Nella thinks, glowing with this discovery, yearning to know more.”  

The miniaturist herself is an elusive character who exists in shadows; an almost phantom presence who you can never pin down.  Nella is so intrigued by her and desperately tries to learn more about this mysterious woman who seems to tell their secrets and stories through her tiny creations. But how she does this remains cryptic throughout the story.  Her mysterious and slightly sinister presence helps to provide the gothic elements that add the gothic elements that add darker and more compelling layers to the story.

A spellbinding and stylish modern classic that should be on everybody’s reading list, I can’t recommend The Miniaturist highly enough.  I loved every moment of being back with Nella and the others and am even more excited to dive into The House of Fortune soon to see what happens next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jessie Burton is the author of three novels, The MiniaturistThe Muse, and The Confession, all instant Sunday Times bestsellers. 

The Miniaturist and The Muse were Sunday Times no.1 bestsellers in both hardback and paperback, New York Times bestsellers, and Radio 4’s Book at BedtimeThe Miniaturist went on to sell over a million copies in its year of publication, was Christmas no.1 in the UK, National Book Awards Book of the Year, and Waterstones Book of the Year 2014.  In 2017 it was adapted as a two-part miniseries on BBC One, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Alex Hassell and Romola Garai, screened over Christmas, and now available on DVD and streaming services.

Her novels have been published in 40 languages.

Jessie’s first book for children, The Restless Girls, was published in September 2018, with Medusa​ to follow in 2021. ​Her story ‘Daphne and the Doughnuts’ appeared in The Book of Hopes, a collection of children’s stories published in 2020, from which all profits go to the NHS. 

As a non-fiction writer, she has written essays and reviews for The New York Times, Harpers Bazaar UK, The Wall Street JournalThe IndependentVogueElleRedGraziaLonely Planet Traveller and The SpectatorHarpers Bazaar US and Stylist have published her short stories. 

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*

*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REVIEW: Elektra by Jennifer Saint

Published: April 28th, 2022
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Greek Mythology, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Fairy Tale
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to one of my most anticipated books of the year!

Thank you to Caitlin at Wildfire for the gifted ARC and gorgeous finished copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

An exciting and equally lyrical new retelling from Jennifer Saint, the Sunday Times bestselling author of ARIADNE

‘Saint’s immersive novel thrusts the reader straight into the heart of Greek mythology’ ipaper on Ariadne

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

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MY REVIEW:

Jennifer Saint has done it again.  Elektra was one of my most anticipated books of this year, but would it live up to the splendour of Ariadne, one of my favourite books of 2021?  The answer is yes!  Enthralling, powerful and mesmerising, Elektra is a glorious tapestry of a novel, a richly drawn portrayal of war and betrayal, of families torn apart by men’s lust for women, power and the so-called will of the gods, and of women trying to find agency in a man’s world.

This time the author retells the story of the Trojan War.  But instead of taking the obvious route of telling the story from Helen’s perspective she gives a voice to three other women: Elektra, Clytemnestra and Cassandra.  Elektra is the daughter of Agamenmon, a young girl who idolises her father and longs for his victorious return from Troy, Clytemnestra is Helen’s twin sister and wife of Agamenmon, a dutiful wife until a shocking act that leaves her devastated and plotting revenge, and Cassandra is a princess of Troy who is given the gift of visions by Apollo yet no one will believe her predictions or listen when she tries to tell them what lies in store for their city.  They are very different women whose fates are inextricably intertwined and share feelings of rage at their powerlessness in a world controlled by men.  Moving between their stories the author paints a vivid and illuminating picture of the Trojan War through the prism of these strong, fascinating and unforgettable women.  

Jennifer Saint is an author I could read every day and never get bored.  Her books are a masterclass in storytelling as she brings ancient Greece and its myths back to life in vivid technicolour with her lush and evocative prose.  You find yourself completely immersed in their world as the one around you completely falls away.  Her passion and knowledge of not only the myths, but the women themselves leaps from the pages and makes me want to read more; in fact, it was reading Ariadne that awakened my love of mythology.  

Lyrical, atmospheric and consuming, I couldn’t get enough of this book, devouring it quickly and feeling bereft when I’d finished.  Elektra is another masterpiece from the talented Jennifer Saint that I will be telling everyone to read.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Saint grew up reading Greek mythology and was always drawn to the untold stories hidden within the myths. After thirteen years as a high school English teacher, she wrote ARIADNE which tells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur from the perspective of Ariadne – the woman who made it happen. Her second novel, ELEKTRA, explores the curse upon the House of Atreus, giving voice to three women who are caught up in its shadows: Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra whose lives are shattered by the Trojan War and who seek to find justice at any cost. Jennifer Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Published: April 5th 2022
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Historical Fiction, Humorous Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to the phenomenal Lessons in Chemistry. Today Elizabeth Zott is out in the world and I can’t wait for you to meet her. This is one of my favourite books this year and know it will be on my list of top books of 2022. This isn’t to be missed!

Thank you to Doubleday for the gifted ARC and finished copy in exchange for an honest review.

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SYNOPSIS:

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.

Like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

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MY REVIEW:

“Children. set the table.  Your mother needs a moment to herself.”

Well, I have been Zotted.  Witty, smart, vibrant and refreshing, I am in love with this heartwarming debut and its quirky heroine.  

Set in America during the 50s and 60s, Lessons in Chemistry tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, a woman like no one you’ve ever met.  She is an unusual woman for the times: a female research chemist, an unmarried woman living with her partner and then a single mother.  When we first meet her in 1961 Zott is a TV star, the famous host of Supper at Six, a show with unique concept where she not only combines cooking and chemistry, but uses her platform as a rallying cry to the housewives watching to reach their full potential and be appreciated for all they do.  The story then jumps back to 1952 and we follow Zott’s journey from no-nonsense scientist to inspirational feminist TV star in this powerful novel. 

“Elizabeth Zott was a woman with flawless skin and an unmistakable demeanor of someone who was not average and never would be.” 

There are some fabulous new literary heroines being written at the moment and I am here for it.  Zott stands out in this crowd as a feminist icon with timeless appeal; as relevant today as she is in the era she is created to inhabit.   Zott doesn’t see why women shouldn’t be equal to men, why she needs a husband or understand why others think it’s strange to have a laboratory instead of a kitchen.  She doesn’t underestimate women and talks to them like intelligent and capable beings, something that wasn’t the norm at the time.  She does things her own way and I adored this unconventional, determined, practical, straight-talking woman who is unapologetically herself.  
Zott’s passion for chemistry is all consuming.  Like it’s part of her DNA.  Though I’m clueless when it comes to science I still found her relatable, pulled in by her singular charm that makes her irresistible and unforgettable.  And while I’m not into science personally, I did love reading a female STEM character, especially one set in the 50s and 60s.  It is still a male dominated field where women are fighting for equality and Zott is an ideal icon to help challenge the sexism and misogyny of both the field and everyday life that women face to this day.  The book is set just before the sexual revolution of the sixties so Zott’s world is filled with the expectation that women are stupid, lesser thanand there to be used sexually by men in power.  I cheered as she challenged these expectations and rose beyond the expectations and limitations others held for her, refusing to acknowledge them herself.

“The reduction of women to something less than men, and the elevation of men to something more than women, is not biological: it’s cultural.  And it starts with two words: pink and blue.” 

But Zott isn’t the only great character in the book.  The author has filled the book with a cast of vivid and eccentric characters that are compelling and memorable, some likeable and others more nefarious. This includes Zott’s precocious daughter, Madeline, who might be even more intelligent and straight-talking than her mother, and their dog, Six Thirty, the most delightful dog ever written, who provides much of the comic relief and emotion of the story and stole my heart from his first appearance on the page. I dare any of you not to love him.

Lessons in Chemistry is a book for women who are authentically themselves, who challenge expectations and refuse to play dumb even when society tells them they should.  Zappy, zingy and zestful, this magnificent debut was a joy to read from beginning to end and I was sad to turn the final page.  The extraordinary Elizabeth Zott and her story will leave you with a warm glow in your heart and a smile on your face that lingers and I am hoping there will be more adventures from Zott, Mad and Six-Thirty, *crosses fingers*.

Read this book ASAP and be prepared to be Zotted.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

ABOUT

bjgbw copy.jpg

Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked widely in the fields of technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open-water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Born in California and most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

Categories
Squadpod Squadpod Recommends Year In Review

Squadpod Recommends: 21 Favourites of ’21

As many of you know, I’m part of a wonderful group of bloggers known as the Squadpod. Over the last eighteen months these women have become not only my friends but a much-needed support network and my chosen family. It started with books and became much more. This year we have expanded our group to go beyond our WhatsApp Chats and you can now follow us on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. We have started our Squadpod Book Club, organised blog tours and even cake blasts (the one for Evie Epworth was one of my favourite moments of 2021).

Last year, I shared a list of each of the Squadpod’s 20 Favourite books of 2020 so I’m doing it again. Though this year it is obviously our 21 favourite books of 2021. So, buckle up because there a quite a few of us. But please keep reading to the end so that you can find out what book the Squadpod recommends overall in 2021…

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Becca at Becca Kate Blogs

  • For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley
  • The Push by Ashley Audrain
  • Keeper by Jessica Moor
  • Shiver by Allie Reynolds
  • The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  • The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper
  • Everything Is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • Space Hopper by Helen Fisher
  • Dog Days by Ericka Walker
  • Lost Property by Helen Paris
  • The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  • The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
  • The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
  • The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
  • The Island Home by Libby Page
  • Another Life by Jodie Chapman
  • The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain
  • The Pact by Sharon Bolton
  • The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves
  • Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

BOOK OF THE YEAR: The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Follow Becca on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog

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Beth at Beth’s Booketlist

  • The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley
  • Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
  • The Last Library by Freya Sampson
  • Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  • Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
  • Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
  • The Arctic Curry Club by Dani Redd
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  • Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
  • Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
  • The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
  • The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
  • Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zarfon
  • Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare
  • The Switch by Beth O’Leary
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune
  • The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  • Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley

Follow Beth on Instagram

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Cara at Welsh Book Lover

  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
  • The Christmasaurus – Tom Fletcher
  • Johnny Be Good by Paige Toon
  • The Unhooneymooners by Christina Lauren
  • The Whisper Man by Alex North
  • Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon
  • Is This It? by Hannah Tovey
  • How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie
  • If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin
  • The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  • Throttled by Lauren Asher
  • Girl A by Dan Scottow
  • The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
  • All My Lies by Sophie Flynn
  • People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd
  • It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
  • Once Perfect Summer by Paige Toon
  • The Midnight Man by Caroline Mitchell
  • Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams
  • The Minute I Saw You by Paige Toon
  • The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

Follow Cara on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog

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Ceri at Ceri’s Lil Blog

  • Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray
  • She’s Mine by A. A. Chaudhuri
  • The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans
  • The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • All My Lies by Sophie Flynn
  • Shiver by Allie Reynolds
  • An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse
  • All You Need Is Love by Jessica Redland
  • Midnight Ladies Swimming Club by Faith Hogan
  • The Story of Our Secrets by Shari Low
  • The Islanders by S. V. Leonard
  • The New York Secret by Ella Carey
  • The Night We Met by Zoe Folbigg
  • The Queen’s Dressmaker by Meghan Masterson
  • Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks
  • Freckles by Cecelia Ahern
  • Lies Like Wildfire
  • The Little Duck Pond Cafe Series by Rosie Green
  • The Blood Brothers Series by Heather Atkinson
  • Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Everything Is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

Follow Ceri on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Chloe at Reviews by Chloe

  • Hostage by Clare Mackintosh
  • The Judge’s List by John Grisham
  • The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
  • The Chalet by Catherine Cooper
  • Mrs England by Stacey Halls
  • Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • Exit by Belinda Bauer
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
  • The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, Translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin
  • Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi
  • The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley
  • The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton
  • The Heights by Louise Candlish
  • Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena
  • Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
  • That Night by Gillian McAllister
  • My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
  • Yours Cheerfully by A. J. Pearce

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Hostage by Clare Macintosh

Follow Chloe on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Claire at Secret World of a Book

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Born of No Man by Franck Bouysse
  • Femilandia by Christina Dalcher
  • The Coven by Lizzie Fry
  • House of Hollow by Kristin Sotherland
  • Madame by Phoebe Wynne
  • We Go On Forever by Sarah Govett
  • Threadneedle by Cari Thomas
  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  • The Women of Troy by Pat Barker
  • Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes
  • Underbelly by Anna Whitehouse
  • Circe by Madeline Miller
  • The Hiding Place by Amanda Mason
  • We Are Not Like Them by Jo Piazza and Christine Pride
  • Elektra by Jennifer Saint
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cooke
  • Matrix by Lauren Groff

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint.

Follow Claire on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Clare at The Fallen Librarian Reviews

  • The Push by Ashley Audrain
  • On Hampstead Heath by Marisa Cobbold
  • Trobairitz: The StoryTeller – Ceila Mickenfield
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift
  • The Lip by Charlie Carroll
  • The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
  • Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan
  • The Island Home by Libby Page
  • Yours Cheerfully by A. J. Pearce
  • The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard
  • White Spines by Nicholas Royal
  • The Visitors by Caroline Scott
  • The Cove by L. J. Ross
  • A Woman Made of Snow by Elizabeth Gifford
  • Afloat by Diane Couchman
  • PAH by Orla Owen
  • Girl A by Abigail Dean
  • Dear Reader – Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • The Girl, The Crow, The Writer & The Fighter – George Patterson
  • The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift.

Follow Clare on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Ellie at Elspells

  • Panenka by Ronan Hession
  • The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn
  • Kolollo Hill by Neema Shah
  • What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson
  • Sybelia Drive by Karin Cecile Davidson
  • Boys Don’t Cry by Fiona Scarlett
  • Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden
  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • Havana Year Zero by Karla Suarez translated by Christina MacSweeney
  • Catch The Rabbit by Lana Bastasic
  • My Broken Language by Quiara Alegria Hudes
  • Still Life by Sarah Winman
  • Assembly by Natasha Brown
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  • Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
  • The Good Book by Iain Hood
  • Iron Annie by Luke Cassidy
  • Line by Niall Bourke
  • Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi
  • Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook

BOOK OF THE YEAR:  Iron Annie by Luke Cassidy 

Follow Ellie on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Emma at Emma’s Biblio Treasures

  • The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
  • Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • The Asylum by Karen Coles
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea
  • Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
  • This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech
  • The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten
  • Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bulbitz
  • Mrs England by Stacey Halls
  • The Beresford by Will Carver
  • The Last Library by Freya Sampson
  • The Hidden Child by Louise Fein
  • The Maid by Nita Prose
  • Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
  • The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn
  • A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington
  • Midnight in Everwood by M. A. Kuzniar

BOOK OF THE YEAR: This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

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Hayley at The Lotus Readers Blog

  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
  • The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
  • The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone
  • Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
  • Bad Apples by Will Dean
  • This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech
  • The Beresford by Will Carver
  • The Watchers by A.M. Shine
  • The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea
  • A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ni Ghriofa
  • The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell
  • The Spirit Engineer by A. J. West
  • The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cooke
  • The Return by Anita Frank
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
  • Snow and the Works on the Northern Line by Ruth Thomas
  • The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
  • Cold as Hell by Lilja Sigurdardóttir 
  • The Unheard by Nicci French

BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

Follow Hayley on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Hayley at Shelf Lyfe

  • House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
  • Under the Rainbow by Celia Laskey
  • Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift
  • Botanical Curses and Poisons; The Shadow Lives of Plants – Fez Inkwright
  • Spirited by Julie Cohen
  • Assembly by Natasha Brown
  • The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain
  • Small: On Motherhood by Claire Lynch
  • The Harpy by Megan Hunter
  • Malice by Heather Walter
  • The Crossing – Manjeet Mann
  • Gold Fury by Keiren Westwood
  • The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  • The Charmed Wife – Olga Grushin
  • 100neHundred – Laura Besley
  • The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood
  • Together by Luke Adam Hawker
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • Cerebral Palsy: A Story – Ilana Estelle
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  •  A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts: A Collection of Deliciously Frightening Tales – Ying Chang Compestine

BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Harpy by Megan Hunter

Follow Hayley on Instagram and Twitter.

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Jackie at Jackie’s Reading Corner

  • Kololo Hill by Neema Shah
  • No Honour by Awais Khan
  • The Art of Death by David Fennell
  • Blackstoke by Rob Parker
  • The Stonebridge Mysteries(Series, all 5) by Chris McDonald
  • Dead Ground by M. W. Craven
  • The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
  • True Crime Story by Joseph Knox
  • Cave Diver by Jake Avila
  • The Wolf Mile by C. F. Barrington
  • Dangerous Women by Hope Adams
  • Cunning Women by Elizabeth Lee
  • The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea
  • One Ordinary Day at a Time by Sarah J. Harris
  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
  • She’s Mine by A. A . Chaudhuri
  • Black Reed by Rod Reynolds
  • The Spirit Engineer by A. J. West
  • The Man Who Made Them Happy by John Lawrence
  • Facets of Death by Michael Stanley
  • The Appeal by Janice Hallett

BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Kololo Hill by Neema Shah and No Honour by Awais Khan.

You can follow Jackie on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog

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Jen at Travels Along My Bookshelf

  • Together by Luke Adam Hawker
  • Cecily by Annie Garthwaite
  • Diamonds At the Lost and Found by Sarah Aspinall
  • The Dead of Winter by Nicola Upson
  • When They Find Her by Lia Middleton
  • Under the Mistletoe by Sue Moorcroft
  • The Hollow by Agatha Christie
  • The Maid by Nita Prose
  • The Last Library by Freya Sampson
  • The Law of the Heart by Boris Starling
  • Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks
  • When I Ran Away by Ilona Bannister
  • The Spirit Engineer by A. J. West
  • The Prison Healer (series) Lynette Noni
  • All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle
  • The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain
  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
  • The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  • Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd Robinson
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Elektra by Jennifer Saint

BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Law of the Heart by Boris Starling, Together by Luke Adam Hawker and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Follow Jen on Instagram and Twitter

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Karen at Book Blogging Bureau

  • Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Appeal by Janice Hallett
  • The Smash Up by Ali Benjamin
  • The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jonasson 
  • A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington
  • Lullaby Beach by Stella Duffy
  • Leonard and Hungry by Paul Ronan Hession
  • The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
  • A Taste of Home by Heidi Swain
  • On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold 
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean
  • A Single Rose by Muriel Barbery
  • Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  • The Fair Botanist by Sara Sheridan
  • Common Ground by Naomi Ishiguro 
  • Dear Reader by Cathy Retzenbrink 
  • The Lip by Charlie Carroll
  • The Good Neighbours by Nina Allen
  • Shiver by Allie Reynolds

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Follow Karen on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Kate at Rutherford Reads

  • Other Parents by Sarah Stovell
  • Psychopaths Anonymous by Will Carver
  • The Christmas Dress by Courtney Cole
  • The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
  • Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
  • Freckles by Cecelia Ahern
  • The Appeal by Janice Hallett
  • For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing
  • Always in December by Emily Stone
  • The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker
  • Let That Be A Lesson by Ryan Wilson
  • My Best Friend’s Murder by Polly Phillips
  • Invite Me In by Emma Curtis
  • Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon
  • Both of You by Adele Parks
  • The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  • When They Find Her by Lia Middleton
  • The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
  • The Promise by Lucy Diamond
  • The Downstairs Neighbour by Helen Cooper
  • The Pact by Sharon Bolton

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Follow Kate on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Kirsty at Kirsty’s Book Buying Addiction

  • Someone I Used To Know by Paige Toon
  • Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton
  • On A Night Like This by Lindsey Kelk
  • Walking On Sunshine by Giovanna Fletcher
  • The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst
  • The Telephone Box Library by Rachael Lucas
  • The Village Green Bookshop by Rachael Lucas
  • A Taste of Home by Heidi Swain
  • Underneath the Christmas Tree by Heidi Swain
  • And Now You’re Back by Jill Mansell
  • The Promise by Lucy Diamond
  • The Woman in the Middle by Milly Johnson
  • A Cosy Countryside Christmas by Eliza J Scott
  • The Merry Christmas Project by Cathy Bramley
  • My Kind of Happy by Cathy Bramley
  • The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella
  • The Best Is Yet To Come by Katy Collins
  • The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
  • Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks
  • The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
  • Lost Property by Helen Paris

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Someone I Used To Know by Paige Toon.

Follow Kirsty on Twitter and her Blog

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Sue at Brown Flopsy’s Book Burrow

  • The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  • Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift
  • Rites of Spring – Anders de la Motte
  • On Hampstead Heath – Marika Cobbold
  • The Wolves of Leninsky Prospekt – Sarah Armstrong
  • Summer in the City by Fiona Collins
  • The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
  • The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  • The Hidden Child by Louise Fein
  • The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman
  • Kings of a Dead World – Jamie Mollart
  • The Girl in the Maze by Cathy Heyward
  • The Arctic Curry Club by Dani Redd
  • Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart
  • Blasted Things – Lesley Glaister
  • Tsarina/The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten
  • The Lip by Charlie Carroll
  • Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

BOOK OF THE YEAR: On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold

Follow Sue on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Vikkie at Little Miss Book Lover

  • When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins
  • I Know What You’ve Done by Dorothy Koomson
  • Love and Other Mushy Stuff by Lyndsay Gallagher
  • Love at First Sight by Mary Jayne Baker
  • All My Lies by Sophie Flynn
  • Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker
  • The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean
  • I Have Something To Tell You by Susan Lewis
  • The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting by Evanna Lynch
  • The Locksmith by Linda Calvey
  • Trust Me by TM Logan
  • The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley
  • Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon
  • Three Weddings and a Proposal by Sheila O’Flanagan
  • When They Find Her by Lia Middleton
  • Look What You Made Me Do by Nikki Smith
  • That Night by Gillian McAllister
  • No Honor by Awais Khan
  • The Beresford by Will Carver
  • Isn’t It Bromantic by Lissa Kay Adams
  • Is This It? by Hannah Tovey

BOOK OF THE YEAR: When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

Follow Vikkie on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Zoe at Zoe’s Book Nook

  • Still Life by Sarah Winman
  • Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
  • Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
  • You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry
  • The Upper World by Femi Fadugba
  • Assembly by Natasha Brown
  • Lean, Fall, Stand by John McGregor
  • Luster by Raven Leilani
  • The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights by Various
  • The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
  • Fault Lines by Emily Itami
  • The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa 
  • Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar
  • Cecily by Annie Garthwaite
  • 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard
  • Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke
  • Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski
  • Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson
  • Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain
  • Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling
  • It’s Behind You by Kathryn Fox

BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff and Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Follow Zoe on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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One of my favourite parts of putting together the Squadpod’s lists of favourite books is seeing how diverse they are. And this year that was even more evident. We had a lot of books that appeared on two or three of our lists, but only seven that appeared on four or more lists. One was even on many of our lists last year and very nearly took the title of overall favourite. So, here’s our ultimate Squadpod Recommendations for 2021:

Some debut novels that just narrowly missed this list but were clearly loved by many in the Squadpod were Shiver, The Last Library, The Last House on Needless Street, The Summer Job, The Appeal, When They Find Her, The Lip, Assembly and All My Lies.

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Squadpod Book of the Year

We had a tie for Book of the Year, with The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot and The Wolf Den both appearing on six of the Squad’s lists.

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What do you think of our choices? Do you see books you’ve loved this year on our lists? Let me know in the comments. And don’t forget to follow us.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles! Wishing you all a Happy New Year ☺️Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours Book Features book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Shiver by Allie Reynolds

Published: October 28th, 2021
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback, Hardback, Kindle, Audiobook

Shiver was one of my favourite books of 2020 so I was thrilled to be asked to take part in the blog tour for its paperback publication.

This exhilarating debut sold in a ten-way auction to Headline UK in partnership with Hachette Australia. It has now sold in 23 territories and Firebird Pictures have optioned it for a TV series.

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SYNOPSIS:

They don’t know what I did. And I intend to keep it that way.

How far would you go to win? Hyper-competitive people, mind games and a dangerous natural environment combine to make the must-read thriller of the year. Fans of Lucy Foley and Lisa Jewell will be gripped by spectacular debut novel Shiver.

When Milla is invited to a reunion in the French Alps resort that saw the peak of her snowboarding career, she drops everything to go. While she would rather forget the events of that winter, the invitation comes from Curtis, the one person she can’t seem to let go.

The five friends haven’t seen each other for ten years, since the disappearance of the beautiful and enigmatic Saskia. But when an icebreaker game turns menacing, they realise they don’t know who has really gathered them there and how far they will go to find the truth.

In a deserted lodge high up a mountain, the secrets of the past are about to come to light.

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MY REVIEW:

“It’s that time of year again. The time the glacier gives up bodies.”

Wow! What a book! A deliciously dark, chilling, tense and twisty tour-de-force, this was hard to put down. 

Shiver was one of my most highly anticipated books of 2021, and had received a lot of praise and hype even prior to publication. I’m happy to tell you that every bit of it is deserved. 

Milla, a former semi-pro snowboarder, returns to Le Rocher for a reunion with five of her  friends. It’s the first time they’ve all been together in ten years. Since Saskia disappeared.

They start the weekend with an icebreaker game that quickly turns sinister and forces them to question who brought them together and why. Trapped together on a deserted glacier they don’t know who to trust or how far some will go to uncover the truth about what really happened on the mountain a decade ago…

“He doesn’t know what I did. None of them do. And I intend to keep it that way.”

An electrifying, high-octane thrill ride, this addictive and atmospheric read had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. 

Told in the present day and flashbacks to ten years ago, we see the story through the eyes of Milla, who I instantly felt a connection to as she hails from my hometown of Sheffield. Milla is haunted by events from the last time she was at Le Rocher, by a body yet to be given up by the glacier and a dark secret she desperately hopes to keep unveiled. I liked Milla and found her to be a compelling and relatable protagonist. In fact, all of the characters are compelling and richly drawn with backstories that keep you glued to the page. The claustrophobic dynamics of living and competing together on the mountain is ripe for conflict and the author mines this to perfection both in the flashbacks and in the present day. 

Though she’s an awful person, I loved Saskia’s character and thought she was fantastically written. As we only ever see her through Milla’s eyes it’s obviously a skewed opinion we have of her, but to be fair, I don’t think there’s much that could redeem her character. Despite the extremes she goes to, it all feels realistic and I could imagine someone who is both competitive and of questionable morals behaving that way to keep ahead. She gave the story a sense of foreboding and tension that made me keep reading as I needed to know what she’d do next and what had really happened to her. 

“I soar above the ice, mind pure and empty, seeing nothing, hearing nothing. Only feeling. These precious moments of weightlessness at the top of the arc, suspended by gravity.”

Allie Reynolds is a former freestyle snowboarder and you can feel the authenticity of her expertise in the writing. The imagery, emotions and little details are all so transportive and on point that it is clear she has lived this. I felt like I was flying through the air with Milla and could almost feel the icy air of the French Alps. There were times that the book had a cinematic quality to it and I could definitely see this on the big screen one day. 

So if you’re looking for a book that’s dripping with suspense, an atmosphere thick with malevolence and will have your heart pounding, this is the book for you. 

An outstanding debut by a talent that is one to watch, don’t miss this book. 

 Rating: ✮✮✮✮. 5 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From the author’s website:

I was once a freestyle snowboarder in the UK top ten at halfpipe. I spent five winters in the mountains of France, Switzerland, Austria and Canada.

I taught English for fifteen years. I’ve also been a London primary school teacher, bookshop assistant, barmaid, nanny and French teacher/translator. My short fiction has appeared in women’s magazines in the UK, Australia, Sweden and South Africa. I’ve been a full-time writer since 2018.

Born and raised in England, I moved to Gold Coast Australia in 2003. I have two young children and a cat who thinks he’s a dog.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Book Features book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Publication Day Feature: Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten

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

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

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

SHORTLISTED FOR THE AUTHOR’S CLUB BEST FIRST NOVEL AWARD

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

Lover, mother, murderer, Tsarina

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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


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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Uncategorised

Blog Tour: One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Today is my stop on the tour for this remarkable debut. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Doubleday for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

An extraordinary friendship. A lifetime of stories. Their last one begins here.

‘This is something special: moving, joyful and life-affirming’ GOOD HOUSEKEEPING Book of the Month

‘Heartwarming, remarkable stories’ BBC BOOKS FOR 2021
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Life is short. No-one knows that better than seventeen-year-old Lenni living on the terminal ward. But as she is about to learn, it’s not only what you make of life that matters, but who you share it with.

Dodging doctor’s orders, she joins an art class where she bumps into fellow patient Margot, a rebel-hearted eight-three-year-old from the next ward. Their bond is instant as they realize that together they have lived an astonishing one hundred years.

To celebrate their shared century, they decide to paint their life stories: of growing old and staying young, of giving joy, of receiving kindness, of losing love, of finding the person who is everything.

As their extraordinary friendship deepens, it becomes vividly clear that life is not done with Lenni and Margot yet.

Fiercely alive, disarmingly funny and brimming with tenderness, THE ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF LENNI AND MARGOT unwraps the extraordinary gift of life even when it is about to be taken away, and revels in our infinite capacity for friendship and love when we need them most.

MY REVIEW:

“Living and dying are both complete mysteries, and you can’t know either until you’ve done both.”

Every once in a while you will come across a book that reaches into your heart and soul and changes you forever. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is such a book. A story of life, death, all the magical moments in between, it is hard to believe that this is a debut. Utterly mesmerising, this is a book that lingers long after reading. 

I loved Lenni. She is smart, sassy, fierce and funny. I loved how she thrived on challenging those around her; everyone from Father Arthur to the exasperated nurses, how she travelled via her imagination each day and the fact that she refused to be held back by the confines of impending death and the hospital ward. She is so alive that it is hard to believe she is dying, leaping from the page straight into my heart. Margot’s impact is a little more subtle, much like the lady herself. She has a dignified and graceful air about her, but from the moment we first meet her you also get a sense of rebellion. As we learn more, it becomes clear she has lived an extraordinary life and I could have read a whole other book about her without getting bored. I love a good multi-generational tale and their friendship is truly special and remarkable and will remain one of my favourites.

Marianne Cronin is a phenomenal new talent and this novel is storytelling at its finest. She immerses you in Lenni’s world, making you feel the helplessness, frustration, loneliness and claustrophobia of being confined to the hospital’s walls and her fear of death as she laments she has so much more she wants to experience. She has also crafted rich, compelling and memorable characters who occupy Lenni’s small world, each one vital to propelling the story forward, just like those in the stories they share through their paintings. 

What makes this book so special is how it makes you feel, which is obviously something you need to experience for yourself. I doubt I have managed to do it justice, but I’ve done my best.  Beautiful, poignant, heart-rending and hypnotic, this is a book everyone needs to read. It will make you laugh, smile, cry, break your heart, and when you close that final page you will not be the same. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Marianne Cronin was born in 1990. She studied English and Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning a PhD in Applied Linguistics from the University of Birmingham. She now spends most of her time writing, with her newly-adopted rescue cat sleeping under her desk. When she’s not writing, Marianne can be found performing improv in the West Midlands, where she lives. Her debut novel The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is to be published around the world and is being adapted into a feature film by a major Hollywood studio.

Instagram |Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Categories
First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

The Old Church, Amsterdam: Tuesday, 14th January 1687.

The funeral is supposed to be a quiet affair, for the deceased had no friends. But words are water in a Amsterdam, they flood your ears and set the rot, and the church’s east corner is crowded. She watches the scene unfold from the safety of the choir stall, as guildsmen and their wives approach the gaping grave like ants toward the honey. Soon, they are joined by WOC clerks and ship’s captains regentesses, pastry-makers — and him, still wearing that broad-brimmed hat. She tries to pity him. Pity unlike hate, can be boxed and put away.

Today’s first lines are taken from one of my favourite books of all time, The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton.

I wasn’t going to post a first lines today, but when a photo came up on timehop reminding me that it was six years ago today that a friend sent me this copy after she’d read and loved it herself. I read it immediately and became an instant fan of the author. It is a truly outstanding debut that began my love affair with historical fiction.

SYNOPSIS:

The phenomenal number one bestseller and a major BBC TV series.
Winner of the Specsavers National Book Award and Waterstones Book of the Year.
A Richard and Judy Book Club selection.

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, Jessie Burton’s magnificent debut novel The Miniaturist is a story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

I was fortunate enough to meet Ms Burton, and the talented Laura Purcell, at an event in October 2019. Her signature in my book made an already treasured novel become truly special.

Buy the book* (this is an affiliate link)

Have you read The Miniaturist? Let me know in the comments.

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

Categories
First Lines Friday

Festive First Lines Friday – Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

“Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

“It’s so dreadful to be poor!” sighed Meg, looking at her old dress.

“I don’t think it’s fair for some girls to have pretty things, and other girls nothing at all,” added little Amy, with an injured sniff.

“We’ve got Father and Mother and each other,” said Beth contentedly from her corner.

Today’s first lines are taken from a book that needs little introduction; Little Women. This is one of my favourite classics and always makes me think of two things: Christmas, and the 90s film adaptation. I’ve not read it for a number of years now but really should do a reread soon.

Have you read Little Women? What does the book mean to you?

Categories
Book Features First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday – The Snow Child

“Mabel has known there would be silence. That was the point, after all. No infants cooing or wailing. No neighbor children playfully hollering down the lane. No pad of small feet on wooden stairs worn smooth by generations, or clackety-clack of toys along the kitchen floor. All those sounds of her failure and regret would be left behind, and in there place there would be silence.”

Today’s first lines are taken from The Snow Child, one of my favourite Wintery reads.

I decided that this month I would dedicate each First Lines Friday to Christmassy or Wintery books that I think are perfect to pick up this time of year. I started with The Snow Child as it’s a book I fell in love with when I read it a few years ago.

SYNOPSIS:

A bewitching tale of heartbreak and hope set in 1920s Alaska, Eowyn Ivey’s THE SNOW CHILD was a top ten bestseller in hardback and paperback, and went on to be a Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Alaska, the 1920s. Jack and Mabel have staked everything on a fresh start in a remote homestead, but the wilderness is a stark place, and Mabel is haunted by the baby she lost many years before. When a little girl appears mysteriously on their land, each is filled with wonder, but also foreboding: is she what she seems, and can they find room in their hearts for her?

Written with the clarity and vividness of the Russian fairy tale from which it takes its inspiration, The Snow Child is an instant classic.

You can read my review here. The book is available to purchase here.