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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BOOK REVIEW: Once Upon A Broken Heart by Stephanie Garber

Published: September 30th 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Romance Novel, Romantic Fantasy, Paranormal Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review of Once Upon A Broken Heart. I read this beguiling novel as part of a buddy read with Jodie.

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SYNOPSIS:

How far would you go for happily ever after?

From the #1 Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval series, the first book in a new series about love, curses, and the lengths that people will go to for happily ever after.

For as long as she can remember, Evangeline Fox has believed in happily ever after. Until she learns that the love of her life is about to marry another, and her dreams are shattered.

Desperate to stop the wedding, and heal her wounded heart, Evangeline strikes a deal with the charismatic, but wicked, Prince of Hearts. In exchange for his help, he asks for three kisses, to be given at the time and place of his choosing.

But after Evangeline’s first promised kiss, she learns that bargaining with an immortal is a dangerous game – and that the Prince of Hearts wants far more from her than she pledged. He has plans for Evangeline, plans that will either end in the greatest happily ever after, or the most exquisite tragedy . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“The bell hanging outside the curiosity shop knew the human was trouble from the way he moved through the door.”

And with that intriguing quote so begins one of my most highly anticipated books of 2021.  
I’d read many reviews raving about this book and had heard countless praise for Stephanie Garber, so I was filled with both excitement and trepidation when I finally read it as part of a buddy read in February.  Would it live up to the hype?  What I discovered between the pages was not what I expected, it was even better.  Alluring, intoxicating and beguiling, it cast its spell on me from the first page and didn’t let go.  I got lost in this fairytale world and never wanted to find my way out. 

“Always promise less than you can give, for Fates always take more,
Do not make bargains with more than one Fate,
And, above all, never fall in love with a Fate.”

Set in the fictional world of Valenda, it tells the story of Evangeline Fox, a young girl desperate to win back the man she loves.  So she seeks out Jacks, also known as the Prince of Hearts, and strikes a deal.  All he asks for is three kisses that are to be given at a time and place of his choosing.  It seems so simple.  But Evangeline soon learns that a deal made with an immortal can be dangerous and there is always a higher price to pay…

“She sensed that she was living in an illusion and if she looked closely, she’d see that everything she’d thought was stardust was really just the burning embers of a wicked spell.” 

Stephanie Garber has a new fan.  I was mesmerised by this magical tale and now understand the hype.  Beautifully and evocatively written, Ms. Garber brings to life the world she created so vividly that I felt like I was right beside Evangeline in this world of enchantment, illusion and bewitchment where fairytales come true.  But I don’t want to say more about the plot because this is one of those times I think it’s best to go in as blind as possible and enjoy the thrill of experiencing the story unfold for yourself.

“She also knew that sometimes there was a murky space in between good and evil.”

Evangeline and Jacks are great protagonists. I enjoyed their contrasting characters and how they represented good versus evil: Evangeline the innocent, sweet and naive girl who believes in love and happily-ever-after is the good, while Jacks is the seductive, enthralling, calculating and manipulative villain represents the bad.  But over time we begin to see other sides to their personalities, particularly Evangeline, who must become more wiley in order to survive her time in Valenda.  But it was Jacks who stole the show for me; his irresistible charm captivating me like those he traps with his bargains.  Plus, there is just something about a complex, layered and morally grey character like him that I love.

“All stories are both truth and lies. What matters is the way we believe in them.”

Once Upon a Broken Heart is a delightful and whimsical tale that glistens with magic.  And that ending!  It crept up on me out of nowhere and left me desperate to know what happened next.  I need book two now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Stephanie Garber is the #1  New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author of the Caraval Series. Once Upon A Broken Heart is her newest book. Her books are published in over thirty languages.

When she’s not writing, she’s usually reading or watching television shows with vampires. Now that her dream of becoming a published author has come true, her new dream is to visit Club 33 at Disneyland.

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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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: One Girl Missing by Carla Kovach (Detective Gina Harte Book 11)

Published: March 9th 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Noir Fiction, Crime Series
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Five-year-old Cally waits in her pretty pink bedroom for the sound of the front door opening and her mother’s sweet voice in the hall. But when the doorbell finally rings, and Cally creeps out of bed to peer through the banister, a large man in uniform is all she sees. Her mother is missing…

Teacher Annabel Braddock was last seen drinking at the local pub with her best friend, Jennifer. Witnesses saw tears running down her cheeks, and friends say she was having problems with a colleague at work, and that her marriage had broken down.

But as the two women hugged goodbye, neither noticed the car speeding towards them. As the dust settled, Jennifer lay unconscious on the ground and Annabel was nowhere to be seen. She’d never abandon her little girl, so did someone snatch her?

As family crowd around Jennifer’s hospital bed, hoping she’ll wake up, police visit Annabel’s home and her inconsolable daughter, Cally, tells them she had seen a man outside staring into her room as she climbed into bed that evening. Was it her childish imagination, or had someone been watching Annabel’s home?

When Jennifer finally opens her eyes and tells the police what happened that night, it’s clear there are plenty of people with a reason to harm Annabel. With an unpredictable husband, a colleague who denies harassing her and a neighbour who seems to know her every move, could she be in imminent danger? As the hours turn to days, will little Cally ever see her precious mother again? Or will she be next?

If you love fast-paced, gripping crime thrillers that keep you up all night, you’ll be completely addicted to One Girl Missing. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh.

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MY REVIEW:

Best friends Annabel and Jennifer are hugging each other goodbye at the end of a girls night out when a car speeds towards them.  Jennifer is left unconscious on the ground and Annabel is nowhere to be seen, only her bag and spots of her blood left behind.  Detective Gina Harte and her team are called in and as they investigate it soon becomes clear that there are multiple people who might want to harm Annabel.  But can they figure it out and find Annabel before it’s too late?

The eleventh instalment in Carla Kovach’s Gina Harte series is another compelling thriller. There are numerous suspects in this case, each with a valid motive, and they are all on the run: a cheating husband, his young girlfriend who was also the family childminder, an angry father, a teenage pupil with a crush, a colleague she was rumoured to be seeing and a friendly neighbour.  But who took Annabel?  I was sure it was each of them at one point or another and even wondered if some of them were working together.  It is a tangled web of suspicion that is full of so many twists and turns I thought I’d get book whiplash!  But was my final choice the real culprit?  Or had Ms. Kovach duped me again with her red herrings? 

One of the things I love most about reading a series is coming back to the familiar, much-loved characters and I was glad to be back with Gina and her team.  Gina is dealing with emotional turmoil after seeing  Briggs out with another woman.  Is this the end of her relationship?  And the whole team face heartache as they wait to learn if one of their own will survive, Jacob being particularly tortured as he hopes the love of his life pulls through.  
The new characters were well written as always.  I felt a real bond with Annabel and could feel her terror as she’s held captive and wonders if she will ever see her young daughter, Cally, again.  And it was Cally, along with teenage student Omar, who went right to my heart in this book.  They were such great characters who it was impossible not to feel for.  I was rooting for them, especially as young Omar takes it upon himself to save Annabel himself in order to keep her secrets.  

Dark, suspenseful, gripping and action-packed, One Girl Missing is another riveting thriller from Ms. Kovach.  Fans of this genre will love not only this book, but the whole series and I recommend them both highly.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: A Royal Murder by Verity Bright (Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery Book 9)

Published: February 28th 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Cozy Mystery, Historical Mystery, Historical Romance, Historical Comedy
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this lively and entertaining romp. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

At the royal boat race there are beautiful barges, plenty of bunting, a handsome prince and… is that a body in the water? Lady Swift is on the case!

Spring, 1923. One-time adventurer and now amateur sleuth Lady Eleanor Swift is attending the annual royal regatta with her new pal Tipsy Fitzroy. Tipsy has Eleanor trussed up like a debutante in a new dress, determined to turn her into a proper society lady. Even Eleanor’s favourite companion, Gladstone the bulldog, has a new outfit for the occasion.

But the sparkling prize-giving ceremony is interrupted when the devilishly handsome host gulps his glass of champagne on stage and collapses to the floor. The victim is none other than the king’s cousin, Lord Xander Taylor-Howard. He was rumoured to be entangled in a rather dubious gambling ring, but did someone kill him instead of collecting his debt? Or was this simply an ill-timed tragic accident? Either way, a right royal scandal is afoot…

Sir Percival, the head of the royal police, asks Eleanor for her help investigating. He’d do anything to keep the story under wraps. She knows it will get her into hot water with a certain dapper Detective Seldon, but she’s determined to see justice done. However, as she digs deeper, she learns Lord Taylor-Howard was hiding more than one murky secret. It isn’t until she takes a closer look at the unfortunate royal’s shattered champagne flute that she stumbles upon just the clue she needs. But can she reel in the killer before her ship is sunk too?

A warm and witty 1920s mystery that cozy fans will just adore. Addictive reading for fans of T E Kinsey, Lee Strauss and Agatha Christie.

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MY REVIEW:

We’re back for another fun romp with my favourite aristocratic amateur sleuth.  For the ninth instalment in their Lady Eleanor Swift series, Verity Bright transport us back to Spring 1923 and the annual royal regatta, which Eleanor is attending with her new friend, Tipsy Fitzroy.  Tipsy is determined to turn Eleanor into a ‘proper’ Lady and find her a suitable man at the event.  But all thoughts of love and propriety are swiftly forgotten when Lord Xander Taylor-Howard, a minor member of the royal family, collapses at the prize-giving ceremony.  Though initially reluctant, Eleanor soon finds herself drawn into the investigation into Xander’s death, trying to identify the suspect and avoid a royal scandal.  But someone doesn’t appreciate Eleanor’s investigations and once again she finds herself in danger…

I have come to view this series as a real comfort read and it was the beginning of my journey into reading cosy mysteries, which I’d always previously thought would be too tame for my dark crime-loving soul.  The characters are a delight and I love the relationship between Lady Eleanor and her butler Clifford.  This witty crime-solving duo never fails to entertain me while keeping me glued to their latest mystery.  I am also deeply invested in her burgeoning romance with Chief Inspector Hugh Sleddon, which I’m hoping will head towards the happily-ever-after they deserve. 

Once again I was glued to the pages as Eleanor finds herself embroiled in yet another murder investigation.  The poor woman can’t seem to go anywhere without a dead body turning up!  This time she’s doing it for King and country as she tries to help avoid a royal scandal after the poisoning of a maverick minor royal.  Xander was charming but left a trail of potential scandal behind him, leaving a myriad of possible killers and motives.  It’s a tangled web to unravel, but if anyone can do it it’s Eleanor and Clifford.  I loved how much this story twisted and turned, taking me by surprise and revealing truths I never even considered.  

If you’re looking for a murder mystery that is also lively, witty and uplifting then pick up this book.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Confident woman at office with laptop computer, mobile phone, and schedule notebook.Gradients, Blending tool, Clipping mask is used.

Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery. They are the authors of the fabulous Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery series, set in the 1920s.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon*
*This is an affiliate link

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Reputation by Sarah Vaughan

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction, Legal Thriller, Political Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Simon & Schuster UK for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

From the bestselling author of Anatomy of a Scandal, soon to be a major Netflix series…
Reputation: it takes a lifetime to build and just one moment to destroy.
‘Sarah Vaughan has done it again. Superb’ Shari Lapena

Emma Webster is a respectable MP.

Emma Webster is a devoted mother.

Emma Webster is innocent of the murder of a tabloid journalist.

Emma Webster is a liar.

#Reputation: The story you tell about yourself. And the lies others choose to believe…

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MY REVIEW:

MP Emma Webster is riding high; her career is flourishing, she’s making changes to laws she’s passionate about, and she’s being interviewed and featured on the front cover of the Guardian Weekend magazine.  But then things start to fall apart and Emma soon finds her life is in tatters as she’s put on trial for a murder she says she didn’t commit.  But what is the truth?  Is Emma Webster a terrified woman who acted in self-defence, or is she a calculating killer erasing the threat to her reputation?

Tense, twisty and powerful, Reputation is a riveting blend of captivating whodunnit, gripping legal thriller and exploration of important social issues we face today.  This was my first time reading one of Sarah Vaughan’s books and my expectations were high after hearing high praise of her previous novels.  I was not disappointed.  From the opening pages there is a foreshadowing of something terrible occurring that turns Emma’s world upside down, adding an ominous atmosphere that looms over every word.  It had me on the edge of my seat as I waited for the full story to unfold, my heart pounding as it reached its dramatic crescendo.  While I did guess some of the twists, many of them surprised me, taking the plot and characters in directions I never saw coming.  Sharply written and intelligent, this is a thriller that keeps you guessing, makes you think and entertains you all in one fell swoop.  

The characters are compelling, flawed and relatable, with problems that are both recognisable and believable.  Emma was a great protagonist and I found her easy to root for at every step.  She is a nuanced character who is strong, fierce and capable but also scared and unsure.  I was never sure if she was guilty or not but could see how everything could have come together to create the perfect storm that led to murder.  But the character I was most drawn to was Flora, Emma’s fourteen-year-old daughter.  The author expertly puts the reader back into the psyche of a teenage girl as her isolation, fear and teenage angst leap from the page. I found her chapters heart-rending as a parent of teenagers; worrying what my children might be going through without me having any clue it’s happening.  It also transported me back to my own teenage years and that feeling of having nowhere to turn and being scared to talk to your parents when something is really wrong.  Emma and Flora’s experiences mirrored each other in many ways and I did enjoy seeing how it drew them closer together when they could have let it tear them further apart. 

Emma’s political career sees her being a voice for the voiceless as she fights against violence and threats towards women, particularly concentrating on the battle for new legislation around revenge porn.  It is a fight that makes her many enemies and she is subjected to the most vile threats and abuse every day.  Before reading this book I had no idea of the extent of the abuse that is part of the daily lives of women in the public eye, the fear they live with or the many safety measures they are forced to take each day.  I was shocked and appalled at what they are subjected to and can’t imagine needing water at public events in case acid is thrown in your face or being told to accept that threats of death and rape are part of the job you’ve chosen.  All of this leads into the other many timely and important themes explored in the book such as female empowerment and solidarity, how women are judged more harshly than their male counterparts, online bullying and the misogyny,  threats and violence that women endure and have grown to expect in their day to day lives.  Even the young aren’t immune, with pre-teens and teenagers using technology as a bullying tool.  While technology and social media can be a positive thing, when it’s used in this way it means that those who are targeted have no respite from the onslaught of abuse.  

Unsurprisingly, the topic of reputation is another theme that recurs throughout the book and the author explores the subject of our reputation versus our character.  Our reputations are built from the outside in but can be destroyed by those who don’t even know us in an instant.  Emma is someone who is very aware of her reputation and carefully cultivates it, particularly in relation to her job.  She has spent years building her reputation as a loving mother, no-nonsense MP and fierce warrior for female rights.  It’s who she is from the inside out.  So when it all comes crumbling down and her reputation is left in tatters, it shakes her to her core and Emma struggles with being portrayed as a person she doesn’t recognise.  It is her reputation, as well as her freedom, that she is fighting for in court.   

Bold, brilliant and intriguing, Reputation packs a punchThis is a book you need to read. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist. After training at the Press Association, she spent eleven years at the Guardian as a news reporter and political correspondent before leaving to freelance and write fiction. Anatomy of a Scandal, her 3rd novel and her first courtroom drama/psychological thriller, combined these experiences and became an instant international bestseller, and Sunday Times top five bestseller. Translated into 22 languages, it was also a kindle number 1 bestseller, shortlisted for awards in the UK, France and Sweden, and filmed as a six-part Netflix mini-series, starring Sienna Miller, Michelle Dockery, and Rupert Friend. It will be transmitted in spring 2022.

Little Disasters has also been optioned for the screen, was a Waterstone’s thriller of the month, WH Smith paperback of the month, Kindle bestseller, and has been published in the US and various other countries. She is currently working on her fifth novel

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Em & Me by Beth Morrey

Published: February 3rd 2022
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful and uplifting book. Thank you to Harper Collins for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A mother.
A daughter.
A secret waiting to be discovered.

For too long – since the sudden death of her mother as a teenager, since the birth of her daughter, Em, when she was just seventeen – Delphine has been unable to let go of the past, obsessed with protecting Em and clinging to a secret that could ruin everything. She’s been living life in safe shades of grey.

The day that Delphine finally stands up for herself is the day that changes everything.

Delphine begins to remember what it’s like to want more: rediscovering her singing voice, opening herself to friendship, and reviving not only her mother’s roots, but her mother’s memories. As her life begins to fill with colour, can she be brave for herself and for Em? And what would happen if she finally told the truth?

A big-hearted, hopeful novel about finding second chances – and taking them.

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MY REVIEW:

“Was it better to unlock your mind like that, with the possibility of it being shuttered again, or was it preferable to stay in darkness?  You could leave things exactly as they are or be bold enough to make a change, but I was wary of making that leap.”

When I picked up this book I was looking forward to something light.  A bit of uplit after some darker reads.  And this certainly delivered. Before the story even began I was in love thanks to the gorgeous letter to her readers from author Beth Morrey.  It put a big smile on my face and set an upbeat tone that carried through to the rest of the book.  As for the story itself, this was a balm for the soul that felt like getting a warm hug in book form.  I was besotted.  I was a big fan of Ms. Morrey’s charming debut, Saving Missy, but with Em & Me she took things to another level. Enthralling, captivating and addictive, I couldn’t put this down and was to the spot as I flew through the pages.  

“We danced from story to dying and song to story until my thirteenth birthday, when the music stopped, and the stories ended, and from then on it vest just silence, me sitting on my bed with my arms around my knees, my father in his chair, both of us talking to the shadows.”

Em & Me explores the impact of the choices we make in life.  Not just the defining and pivotal moments, but also the seemingly small choices we make in our lives every day and how the ripple effect of every choice shapes our lives for both good and bad.  As the story moves between the past and present Delphine reflects on her past, looking back at the significant events that shaped her life and the decisions she made that led her to where she is today. For Delphine, motherhood is the thing that has had the greatest impact on her life.  Becoming a mother at a young age meant shelving her dreams and the life she imagined for herself, while losing her own mother at such a young age meant a huge shift in her life and we see how this loss shaped her, her grief hovering over every page.  But this is also a story about second chances, reminding us that it is never too late to chase our dreams and steer our life into another direction if only we can be brave enough to take that step.  

“The only time I felt properly warm was deep in a book, escaping to another world where I wasn’t Delphine Jones.”

This is a love letter to books and literature.  To the importance of them in our lives and the joy they bring.  I loved that both Delphine and Em are book lovers and literature is one of their biggest forms of communication.  There is so much joy to be found in books and the author really portrays this, highlighting the way they make you feel and allowing the characters to be a conduit for everything she had said in her letter at the start of the book.  It was very relatable to this lifelong bookworm and added an extra layer of joy while reading.

Delphine is a very relatable and recognisable character.  When we meet her she is frustrated, disenchanted and worn down by the daily grind of a life she didn’t plan.  One where she feels stuck and unable to reach the dreams and ambitions she once had. She is a proud woman who doesn’t like to accept help from others and is practised in hiding the full, bleak truth of her life out of the fear of discovery.  Her daughter Em is a bright, ambitious young girl full of potential.  Delphine is determined she will soar where her own wings were clipped, willing to move heaven and earth to help her reach her dreams. 

“You never forget a good teacher. They stay with you, kindly ghosts at your shoulder reminding you you’re worth something.”

While Delphine and Em are the story’s central characters, there are a number of background characters who are vital to the book.  Delphine’s old English teacher, Miss. Challoner, who is now Em’s Headteacher, and Mrs. Gill, who is Em’s English teacher, are both central to their literary love.  Their encouragement and support helps them to dream and, for Delphine, they help her realise that these dreams are not completely out of reach like she believed.  My secondary school English teacher was an inspiration in my own life and someone who gave me so much support at the times I truly needed it.  I don’t think she ever knew just how much it meant and I have never forgotten her.  Miss Challoner and Mrs. Gill were my Mrs. Ball and it felt like my old teacher was back with me whenever these characters were on the page.  But the background character who stole the show is Letty, the old lady who Delphine is hired to talk with in French, her mother’s native tongue.  Letty is a cantankerous, no-nonsense kind of woman and I adored her.  Her interactions with Delphine were funny, heartwarming and entertaining.  What seems like a frustration to Delphine at the beginning, ends up being a gift that gives her back a link to her mother and is one of the pivotal instruments in helping her to realise it is never too late to change her life.  

“Sometimes you’ve got to put yourself out there. Even if it all goes tits-up.” 

Lyrically written with an intricately woven plot, great characterisation and perfectly paced Ms. Morey’s talent as a storyteller is on full display in this novel.  She delicately weaves in themes such as teenage angst, family drama, grief and motherhood that allow us to feel for and connect with the characters and allow us to explore their deepest, most emotional memories. 

Delightful, heartfelt, warm and uplifting, there is an understated brilliance to this book that makes it stay with you long after reading.  It has that winning combination of never wanting it to end and yet needing to inhale it whole.  I am jealous of those yet to read it as I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time.  READ IT NOW!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

I’m a TV producer by trade. For a long time, I worked in development where I created quizzes, documentary formats and reality shows.

I’ve been trying to write a novel since my early 20s, when I wrote a spin-off of Mary Poppins, called Sister Suffragette, which was all about Winifred Banks’ adventures when she wasn’t at home singing. It’s probably for the best that it’s still in a drawer somewhere.

The Love Story of Missy Carmichael is my first full-length novel, and I wrote it on maternity leave, inspired by the people I met while I was walking my dog in the park.

In my spare time I enjoy running, cooking curries, and reading the entire internet when I should be sleeping.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon*
*This is an affiliate link

Published in the US as Delphine Jones Takes a Chance on April 5th. Buy here

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Nasty Little Cuts by Tina Baker

Published: February 24th 2022
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

I’m delighted to be opening the blog tour for this terrifically twisted thriller. Thank you to Viper Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

WHO WILL SURVIVE THE NIGHT?

A nightmare jolts Debs awake. She leaves the kids tucked up in their beds and goes downstairs. There’s a man in her kitchen, holding a knife. But it’s not an intruder. This is her husband Marc, the father of her children. A man she no longer recognises.

Once their differences were what drew them together, what turned them on. Him, the ex-army officer from a good family. Her, the fitness instructor who grew up over a pub. But now these differences grate to the point of drawing blood. Marc screams in his sleep. And Debs hardly knows the person she’s become, or why she lets him hurt her.

Neither of them is completely innocent. Neither is totally guilty. Marc is taller, stronger, and more vicious, haunted by a war he can’t forget. But he has no idea what Debs is capable of when her children’s lives are at stake…

A powerful exploration of a relationship built on passion, poisoned by secrets and violence. Perfect for readers of Blood Orange and Big Little Lies.

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MY REVIEW:

“What if the thing she’s most afraid of isn’t some threat lurking outside the safety of this cosy home, clawing at the doors, peering into her double-glazed windows, its breath frosting the panes? 

What if it’s right here in the kitchen beside her?” 

Debs wakes early Christmas Eve from a nightmare.  Quietly, she makes her way downstairs and discovers she has woken up to something even more terrifying than what haunts her dreams; her husband, Marc, standing in the kitchen holding a knife.  She no longer recognises the man she married and as fear courses through her, she wonders what he has planned.  Over the course of a few hours that cold morning, the couple’s problems in their marriage come to a head.  But will Debs and her children make it out alive?

Tina Baker has done it again!  Nasty Little Cuts jumps straight into the action, taking no prisoners with a twisted opening, heavy with foreshadowing.  There’s an unbearable sense of dread as Debs and Marc face off against one another in the kitchen,  the story unfolding slowly as it moves between that December morning and flashbacks to the past; small clues about their characters and relationship unveiling as the reader is kept on a knife edge wondering how Debs will escape.  

“Each word, a tiny snag, each shallow cut stings. A word, a look, a sigh. One after the other after the other, all in a row, like the teeth on a bread knife. Tiny, tiny serrations. Eventually, they could slice you in half.”

My love for Ms. Baker is no secret.  I adore her.  And I have been waiting with bated breath for this follow up ever since I finished her fantastic debut, Call Me Mummy.  Once again she has delivered a knock-out thriller that is complex, layered and nuanced.  It is a psychological puzzle that not only examines the characters in uncomfortabledetail, but explores topics such as depression, PTSD, infertility and the need for communication in relationships.  She breathes pain into the story that will make your heart break in two.  I loved the imagery she used to describe depression, anxiety and PTSD; the dark, haunting, overwhelming feelings that you can’t escape and eat you up from the inside.  It is so vivid and raw, helping those who might never have experienced these things really understand how it feels.  The writing is ebullient, sharp, funny and riveting, much like the lady herself, and she creates a tone that moves between deeply unsettling, heart-wrenchingly emotional and darkly amusing, keeping me hostage as I was unable to tear myself away. 

“For a long time now a syrupy blackness has seeped back into this vacuum inside him.” 

The characters are deeply flawed and achingly real.  Richly drawn and compelling, they are superbly written and jump from the pages.  Dolly is a vivacious, fun child and I couldn’t get enough of her.  I loved little Pat-Pat, who reminded me of my own son when he was young, right down to the ‘Duracell bunny’ comparison.  And while there are multiple narrators, Debs feels like the main character.  The true heart of the story.  And it is her I felt the strongest connection with.  Her terror during those hours in the kitchen is palpable, making my heart race as if I was in the room myself.  Marc is someone we see as the villain from the start, but I found my heart breaking for him as I learned of his past and the inner turmoil he was trying to keep locked inside.  It isn’t easy to make a character someone the reader can both loathe and feel sympathy for, but Ms. Baker shows her talent as an author when she manages to accomplish this with Marc. 

“Bruises fade. Another blooms internally.” 

This is a portrait of a failing marriage and we soon discover the idyllic, happy relationship they try to portray isn’t the truth. Theirs is a marriage filled with misery, misunderstanding, isolation, abuse and fear.  A toxic relationship that is slowly killing them both on the inside but neither knows how to fix.  They are both adrift and desperately trying to reach out and tell each other what they feel and need.  Only they never come out and say it, leading to a minefield of miscommunication and resentment.  It is devastating to watch as they destroy not only themselves, but each other, all building up to the morning that Debs finds Marc in the kitchen holding the knife.  They have reached their breaking point. 

Nasty Little Cuts is a pacy, punchy and gripping thriller.  A harrowing, brutal and tortured story that will make your heart pound and leave your nerves on edge.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  Go and read this as soon as possible.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Tina Baker, the daughter of a window cleaner and fairground traveller, worked as a journalist and broadcaster for thirty years and is probably best known as a television critic for the BBC and GMTV. After so many hours watching soaps gave her a widescreen bum, she got off it and won Celebrity Fit Club. She now avoids writing-induced DVT by working as a Fitness Instructor.

Call Me Mummy is Tina’s first novel, inspired by her own unsuccessful attempts to become a mother. Despite the grief of that, she’s not stolen a child – so far. But she does rescue cats, whether they want to be rescued or not.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*

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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
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Uncategorised

BLOG TOUR: The Gifts by Liz Hyder

Published: February 17th 2022
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising and magical tale. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Manilla Press for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Haunting, thrilling, wonderful. I loved it’ Stacey Halls

The luminous debut adult novel from the Waterstones Prize Winner, perfect for fans of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, The Essex Serpent and The Doll Factory

In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are . . .

October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.

Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grip of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .

THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.

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MY REVIEW:

In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are…

October, 1840. A scared young woman is fleeing from an unknown assailant, running for her life in a dark forest when the impossible happens: a huge pair of wings rip from her shoulders and she transforms into something extraordinary and impossible;  she becomes an angel.  
A man finds the corpse of a woman in the Thames. But she is no ordinary woman, wings sprouting from her shoulders like an angel.  The man seizes the opportunity and sells her to an ambitious surgeon who swears him to secrecy.  But rumours are soon rife about ‘the Angel of the Thames’, spreading through the city like wildfire, though most dismiss it as folly. As tales of more impossible beings spread through the city, the surgeon seeks out these extraordinary women to add to his collection, seeing an opportunity to make his fortune and live in infamy.  But he isn’t the only one on their trail, a would-be journalist is also seeking out these women, determined to find out the truth behind these rumours and further her writing career.

“It is an extraordinary story, he thinks, utterly fantastical and yet… could it really be that there is something to it?” 

The Gifts is an enthralling gothic fairy tale.  A story about girl power, self-belief and finding out who you really are set against a backdrop of the Victorian era with a little bit of magical realism woven into the narrative. Liz Hyder has crafted a novel that combines great storytelling, vivid imagery, compelling characters and authentic social history that lured me in from the first page and kept me guessing right until the last.  The short, punchy chapters give the story fluidity and the five narrators: Etta, Annie, Mary, Natalya and Edward, add their own unique voices to the story as it explores themes of patriarchy, religion, science, power and social class.

“It is her first day with wings. It is also her first day as a prisoner.” 

Told from multiple points of view, the varied cast of characters are richly drawn and entertaining.  The four female narrators are each in a dark place and feeling marginalised when we meet them and we follow as they try to find out who they are and what their place is in a patriarchal society that doesn’t want their voices to be heard.  It is a journey that will see these four strangers come together in the most unexpected of ways and I loved reading every one of them.  Even in their darkest hours they are quietly determined, fierce and strong, showing a resilience that carries them through.  Etta and Mary were women who pushed the envelope, going beyond what society tells them is acceptable for a woman to live the life they want, although they do this in very different ways.  
Natalya has a heartbreaking story but her strength still shines through as she refuses to give up time and time again.  Annie is a woman who has given up her dreams for herself to be a wife and then found herself infertile, longing for a child she seems unable to have.  My heart broke for her as I know that pain; though  I did laugh at the idea that reading causes blood to drain from the uterus and therefore stops a woman getting pregnant.
Though there were times I’d wish the author would allow them to push social boundaries and not rely on men even more, I did enjoy how each of these women were written. I particularly enjoyed watching Etta harnessing her rage into a power and using her intelligence to outwit the men who would try to hold her back or keep her captive. 

“He smiles to himself as his lips run over the words.  It will be outstanding, he thinks, and is greatly pleased – even overwhelmed – by his own magnificence.”

Though this is ultimately a story about women, it is Edward who is at the centre of the story.  He is a truly fantastic villain, so brilliantly written that he made me incandescent with rage.  I despised him.   Edward is a man possessed by ambition, religious fanaticism and delusion; a dangerous combination that sets him on a path that merges with the four women with catastrophic consequences.  After watching him mercilessly kill an animal early in the book I wasn’t surprised when he later showed no compassion towards ‘his angels’.  He sees these women as merely tools to aid his ascension to greatness, possessions given to him to use in any way he desires and gives no thought for them as human beings with autonomy or feelings.  He also sees his wife as an extension of himself, only there to further him socially, treating her with increasing disdain.  It was disturbing to watch as his mania grew and he became more paranoid, unable to be reasoned with and only caring about his notoriety and God’s so-called plan.  I was itching for him to meet his downfall.

“And perhaps the world is not ready for women such as us.  Not yet.” 

The Gifts is a mesmerising piece of historical and gothic fiction that will delight, enthral and enrage you.  The author weaves an illuminating tale that builds to a dramatic climax as the women finally discover their power.  I would recommend this book and can’t wait to read more by Ms. Hyder. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Liz Hyder is a writer, creative workshop leader and arts PR Consultant. Bearmouth, her debut for Young Adults, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Readers, the Branford Boase Award and was named Children’s Book of the Year in The Times. The Gifts, her debut book for grown-ups, is out in February 2022.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*
*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
Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The House of Ashes by Stuart Neville

Published: February 3rd 2022
Publisher: Zaffre
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Gothic Fiction, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this unsettling gothic tale. Thanks to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Zaffre for the ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A house built on secrets
An old woman haunted by her past
A young woman fighting for her life

For Sara Keane, it was supposed to be a second chance.
A new country. A new house. A new beginning.

Then came the knock on the door.

Elderly Mary Jackson can’t understand why Sara and her husband are living in her home.
She remembers the fire. She remembers the house burning down. But she also remembers the children. The children who need her. The children she must protect.

‘The children will find you,’ she tells Sara, because Mary knows she needs help too. As Sara becomes obsessed with what happened in that house nearly sixty years ago, and the family wiped out in one bloody night, she begins to see things. Things that can’t be real.

In a story that spans six decades, the truth will not stay buried, and the ghosts of the past can never remain in the shadows . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“The children. They’ll find you… They’re hiding. Waiting for me. Waiting for you.”

A fire tears through The Ashes in the dead of night, forcing Mary to flee the only home she’s ever known and reducing it to a shell.  Sara and Damien Keene move in as it is being rebuilt, but strange occurrences leave Sara feeling uneasy.  Then one morning, an old woman turns up, her feet bloodied, demanding to know why Sara is in her house and where the children are.  Who is this woman?  And what children is she talking about?  Unsatisfied with her husband’s explanation, Sara is determined to discover what secrets he and the house is hiding.  The old woman is the key.  But can she get Mary to finally speak the secrets she’s been holding in for decades?

The House of Ashes is a dark, twisted and unsettling gothic novel that you don’t want to read in the dark.  From the first pages I had chills, reading on tenterhooks with an almost unbearable feeling of dread in my stomach.  It isn’t a book for the faint hearted; the author explores dark themes such as abuse that are written with both brutal honesty and heartwarming compassion.  It is in these themes that we see Mary and Sara’s lives mirror each other; both kept prisoner in The Ashes by men who terrify them.  And just as the house kept them captive, the book did the same to me, refusing to let me go until I’d read the final page and its story had been told. 

“People about the town would say she’s mad in the head. Some of the children would call her Scary Mary. And fair enough, she might be a wee bit touched, but who wouldn’t be after what she went through.” 

Told by multiple narrators, the story unfolds in the past and the present.  Sara and Mary are the main narrators and while Sara’s story mostly focuses on the present, Mary tells the story of her past.  She finally speaks the secrets she’s been silent about for sixty years, slowly revealing to the reader the dark secrets that the house holds within its walls and the true horror of that bloody night.  I had a real soft spot for all of the women but felt for Mary most.  She was a young girl who knew nothing but a life within the walls of The Ashes. A life of neglect, abuse and fear that made the house both her misery and her solace.  Seeing the story through her eyes was heartrending and I loved how the author managed to convey such childish innocence alongside her resignation to things no one should ever know.  

“Maybe you shouldn’t know too much about that place. Not if you’re going to live in it.” 

The Ashes is more than just a house. It is like another character that lives and breathes.  A sense of malevolence and foreboding radiating from this chilling place.  But the strange and unnerving occurrences aren’t merely there to torment it’s inhabitants, it is the past returning to try and warn those in the present.  Warnings they must heed in order to survive.  

Darkly atmospheric, harrowing and haunting, The House of Ashes is a chilling gothic tale.  Just make sure you read with the lights on!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Stuart Neville’s debut novel, THE TWELVE (published in the USA as THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST), won the Mystery/Thriller category of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was picked as one of the top crime novels of 2009 by both the New York Times and the LA Times. He has been shortlisted for various awards, including the Barry, Macavity, Dilys awards, as well as the Irish Book Awards Crime Novel of the Year. He has since published three critically acclaimed sequels, COLLUSION, STOLEN SOULS and THE FINAL SILENCE.

His first four novels have each been longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and RATLINES was shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.

Stuart’s novels have been translated into various languages, including German, Japanese, Polish, Swedish, Greek and more. The French edition of The Ghosts of Belfast, Les Fantômes de Belfast, won Le Prix Mystère de la Critique du Meilleur Roman Étranger and Grand Prix du Roman Noir Étranger.

His fourth novel, RATLINES, about Nazis harboured by the Irish state following WWII is currently in development for television.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs

Published: February 3rd 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this exquisite and beautiful novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Simon & Schuster UK for the gorgeous gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Eliza Acton, despite having never before boiled an egg, became one of the world’s most successful cookery writers, revolutionizing cooking and cookbooks around the world. Her story is fascinating, uplifting and truly inspiring.

Told in alternate voices by the award-winning author of The Joyce Girl, and with recipes that leap to life from the page, The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs is the most thought-provoking and page-turning historical novel you’ll read this year, exploring the enduring struggle for female freedom, the power of female friendship, the creativity and quiet joy of cooking and the poetry of food, all while bringing Eliza Action out of the archives and back into the public eye.

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MY REVIEW:

“Neat and elegant, Miss Acton. Bring me a cookery book as neat and elegant as your poems.”

The Language of Food tells the story of Eliza Acton, the woman who wrote what became known as the greatest British cookbook of all time. It follows her as she and her assistant, Ann Kirby, spend ten years creating the now-famous recipes. But it is so much more than a book about food and poetry.  It is a story of strength, endurance, friendship and self-discovery that you won’t be able to put down.

“I have started to see poetry in the strangest of things: from the roughest nub of nutmeg to the pale parsnip seamed with soil. And this has made me wonder if I can write a cookery book that includes the truth and beauty of poetry.”

I’m not going to lie, a big part of the reason I wanted to read this book was the cover.  I mean, look at it!  It is simply beautiful.  And I was delighted to find that inside the book was something every bit as breathtaking as it’s cover.  

This delicious story is a readers and food lover’s paradise. Annabel Abbs is an exquisite wordsmith and storyteller, writing like a dream with lyrical and poetic prose that is woven together like the delicate folding of ingredients in a cake recipe.  I was completely immersed and lost myself in the story, torn between wanting to savour each word like I would a luxury box of chocolates and needing to read it quickly so it sated my hunger.  I loved how she combined fact with fiction so seamlessly that it was impossible to tell where one ends and another begins.  Her vivid imagery transported me back in time to Victorian England, the tantalising whispers of scandal kept me guessing and the descriptions of food made my mouth water and stomach rumble; I wanted to eat everything! Well, almost everything (I’m not sure about eel or badger ham). 

“There was something else about her too.  A poignancy I can’t explain.  A feeling that we are united in some odd and intricate way.”

Told in alternating chapters, this is a narrative driven by the thoughts, desires, actions and choices of two strong, captivating, complex and memorable female characters. They make unlikely friends, coming from such different backgrounds that they wouldn’t even recognise the life the other lived:  Eliza raised as a lady in a wealthy family with a father that indulged her dreams while Ann lives in poverty trying to juggle survival with caring for a disabled, alcoholic father and a mother with severe mental health issues. But despite their apparent differences, they are also very alike. Both women possess an underlying strength that carries them through the darkest of times, go against societal expectations, and discover a shared talent and passion for cooking.  I loved watching their bond blossom as they figured out their new roles in life side by side and seeing the kindness with which Eliza treats Ann even though she is one of her servants, allowing the girl to feel like she has value for the first time in her life.  I knew nothing about this cookbook or these characters before starting this book but after reading I feel like they could be my closest friends, the author writing them so evocatively that they sprang to life from the pages. Eliza was a woman ahead of her time and I can see why she remains an inspiration for modern cooks to this day.  

Decadent, sensuous, enthralling and heartwarming, The Language of Food is, quite simply, a work of art.  A luscious feast for the imagination that will stir all of your senses, I can’t recommend this highly enough.  Now I’m off to buy the author’s back catalogue!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Annabel Abbs is the award-winning author of The Joyce Girl, a fictionalised story of Lucia Joyce, daughter of James, and her relationship with Samuel Beckett. It won the Impress Prize for New Writers and the Spotlight Novel Award, and was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award, the Caledonia Novel Award and the Waverton Good Read Award. The Joyce Girl was a Reader Pick in The Guardian 2016 and was one of ten books selected for presentation at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival, where it was given Five Stars by the Hollywood Reporter. It is currently being adapted for stage and screen.

Her second novel, Frieda, is a fictionalised story of Frieda Weekely, the German aristocrat who eloped with DH Lawrence and who was the inspiration for Lady Chatterley. It was a 2018 Times Book of the Year. Her 2019 non-fiction book, The Age-Well Project, explores the latest science of longevity and has been serialised in the Guardian and The Daily Mail.

Her journalism has appeared in The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Irish Times, Tatler, The Author, Sydney Morning Herald, The Weekend Australian Review, Psychologies and Elle Magazine.

She earned a BA in creative writing from the University of East Anglia, where she now sponsors a post-graduate scholarship in creative writing, and an MA from Kingston. She was born in Bristol, and now lives in London and East Sussex.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon*| Bookshop.org* | Blackwells (gorgeous indie edition with sprayed edges)
*These are affiliate links

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – February 2022

Welcome to my list of Emma’s Anticipated Treasures for February. It’s another fantastic month with so many books I’ve been eagerly awaiting for a long time finally being published. There’s books from authors I’ve loved before like Marian Keyes, Beth Morrey, Eve Smith and Linwood Barclay, as well as some amazing debuts such as The Leviathan, The Hemlock Cure and The Embroidered Book.

It was hard to narrow down my list, but here are the 25 books I’m most anticipating that are released next month:

The Leviathan by Rosie Andrews

Published: February 3rd
Publisher: Raven Books
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Suspense, Metaphysical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
SELECTED AS ONE OF THE OBSERVER’S 10 BEST DEBUT NOVELISTS OF 2022

A beguiling tale of superstition, myth and murder, perfect for fans of The Binding, The Essex Serpent and Once Upon a River.

SHE IS AWAKE…

Norfolk, 1643. With civil war tearing England apart, reluctant soldier Thomas Treadwater is summoned home by his sister, who accuses a new servant of improper conduct with their widowed father. By the time Thomas returns home, his father is insensible, felled by a stroke, and their new servant is in prison, facing charges of witchcraft.

Thomas prides himself on being a rational, modern man, but as he unravels the mystery of what has happened, he uncovers not a tale of superstition but something dark and ancient, linked to a shipwreck years before.

Something has awoken, and now it will not rest.

Richly researched, incredibly atmospheric, and deliciously unsettling, The Leviathan is set in England during a time of political and religious turbulence. It is a tale of family and loyalty, superstition and sacrifice, but most of all it is a spellbinding mystery and a story of impossible things.

Buy here*

Em & Me by Beth Morrey

Published: February 3rd
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story

SYNOPSIS:
A mother.
A daughter.
A secret waiting to be discovered.

For too long – since the sudden death of her mother as a teenager, since the birth of her daughter, Em, when she was just seventeen – Delphine has been unable to let go of the past, obsessed with protecting Em and clinging to a secret that could ruin everything. She’s been living life in safe shades of grey.

The day that Delphine finally stands up for herself is the day that changes everything.

Delphine begins to remember what it’s like to want more: rediscovering her singing voice, opening herself to friendship, and reviving not only her mother’s roots, but her mother’s memories. As her life begins to fill with colour, can she be brave for herself and for Em? And what would happen if she finally told the truth?

A big-hearted, hopeful novel about finding second chances – and taking them.

Buy here*

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim

Published: February 3rd
Publisher: Oneworld Publications
Genre: Historical Fiction, Saga, Romance Novel

SYNOPSIS:
An expansive epic spanning the turbulent decades of Korea’s fight for independence, perfect for fans of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko

Beasts take many shapes…

It is 1917, and Korea is yet to be divided into north and south. With the threat of famine looming, a young girl named Jade is sold by her family to Miss Silver’s courtesan school in cosmopolitan Pyongyang, an act of desperation that will cement her place in the lowest social status. But the city’s days as a haven are numbered. 

Jade flees to Seoul where she forms a deep friendship with an orphan boy called JungHo, who scrapes together a living begging on the streets. As Jade becomes a sought-after performer with unexpected romantic prospects, JungHo is swept up in the revolutionary fight for independence. Soon Jade must decide between following her own ambitions, or risking everything for the one she loves. 

From the perfumed chambers of the courtesan school to the glamorous cafes of a modernising Seoul, the unforgettable characters of Beasts of a Little Land unveil a world where friends become enemies and enemies become saviours, where heroes are persecuted and beasts take many shapes.

Buy here*

Devotion by Hannah Kent

Published: February 3rd
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
1836, Prussia. Hanne is nearly fifteen and the domestic world of womanhood is quickly closing in on her. A child of nature, she yearns instead for the rush of the river, the wind dancing around her. Hanne finds little comfort in the local girls and friendship doesn’t come easily, until she meets Thea and she finds in her a kindred spirit and finally, acceptance.

Hanne’s family are Old Lutherans, and in her small village hushed worship is done secretly – this is a community under threat. But when they are granted safe passage to Australia, the community rejoices: at last a place they can pray without fear, a permanent home. Freedom.

It’s a promise of freedom that will have devastating consequences for Hanne and Thea, but, on that long and brutal journey, their bond proves too strong for even nature to break . . .

From the bestselling author of Burial Rites and The Good PeopleDevotion is a stunning story of girlhood and friendship, faith and suspicion, and the impossible lengths we go to for the ones we love.

Buy here*

Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka

Published: February 3rd
Publisher: Phoenix
Genre: Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Ansel Packer is scheduled to die in twelve hours.

He knows what he’s done, and now awaits the same fate he forced on those girls, years ago. Ansel doesn’t want to die; he wants to be celebrated, understood.

But this is not his story.

As the clock ticks down, three women uncover the history of a tragedy and the long shadow it casts. Lavender, Ansel’s mother, is a seventeen-year-old girl pushed to desperation. Hazel, twin sister to his wife, is forced to watch helplessly as the relationship threatens to devour them all. And Saffy, the detective hot on his trail, is devoted to bringing bad men to justice but struggling to see her own life clearly.

This is the story of the women left behind.

Blending breathtaking suspense with astonishing empathy, Notes On An Execution presents a chilling portrait of womanhood as it unravels the familiar narrative of the American serial killer, interrogating our cultural obsession with crime stories, and asking readers to consider the false promise of looking for meaning in the minds of violent men.

Buy here*

The Perfect Escape by Leah Konen

Published: February 3rd
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Romance Novel

SYNOPSIS:
YOU WON’T BE ABLE TO STOP READING.
BECAUSE YOU’LL NEVER GUESS WHAT HAPPENS NEXT . . .
________

When her husband Harry walks out after just six months, a girls’ weekend away with two friends seems like just what Sam needs.

But they aren’t even halfway to their destination when things start to go wrong: car trouble that just happens to leave them stranded in the town where Harry lives.

And that’s only the beginning.

Because there are three things Sam doesn’t yet know:

One of her friends is lying about what happened.
One is lying about who she is.
And one of them will never make it home . . .

Buy here*

Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay

Published: February 3rd
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A missing woman. A husband suspected.
The truth will … Take Your Breath Away

It’s always the husband, isn’t it? 

One weekend, while Andrew Mason was on a fishing trip, his wife, Brie, vanished without a trace. Most people assumed Andy had got away with murder, but the police couldn’t build a strong case against him. For a while, Andy hit rock bottom – he drank too much, was abandoned by his friends, nearly lost his business and became a pariah in the place he had once called home.

Now, six years later, Andy has put his life back together. He’s sold the house he shared with Brie and moved away for a fresh start. When he hears his old house has been bulldozed and a new house built in its place, he’s not bothered. He’s settled with a new partner, Jayne, and life is good.

But Andy’s peaceful world is about to shatter. One day, a woman shows up at his old address, screaming, ‘Where’s my house? What’s happened to my house?’ And then, just as suddenly as she appeared, the woman – who bears a striking resemblance to Brie – is gone. The police are notified and old questions – and dark suspicions – resurface.

Could Brie really be alive after all these years? If so, where has she been? It soon becomes clear that Andy’s future, and the lives of those closest to him, depends on discovering what the hell is going on. The trick will be whether he can stay alive long enough to unearth the answers…

Buy here*

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

Published: February 3rd
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
She thought the murders had stopped. She was wrong.

Soon to be a major TV series, developed by Emma Stone

Chloe Davis’ father is a serial killer.
He was convicted and jailed when she was twelve but the bodies of the girls were never found, seemingly lost in the surrounding Louisiana swamps. The case became notorious and Chloe’s family was destroyed.

His crimes stalk her like a shadow.
Now Chloe has rebuilt her life. She’s a respected psychologist in Baton Rouge and has a loving fiancé.
But she just can’t shake a tick-tick-tick of paranoia that, at any moment, it might all come crashing down.

As does something darker.
It is the anniversary of her father’s crimes, and Chloe is about to see her worst fears come true –
a girl she knows goes missing.  

The nightmare has started again…

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A Very Nice Girl by Imogen Crimp

Published: February 3rd
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story

SYNOPSIS:
CHOSEN AS A BOOK OF 2022 BY VOGUE AND ESQUIRE

A bitingly honest, darkly funny debut about love, sex, power and desire, by a major new British talent

Anna is struggling to afford life in London as she trains to be a singer. During the day, she vies to succeed against her course mates with their discreet but inexhaustible streams of cultural capital and money, and in the evening she sings jazz at a bar in the City to make ends meet.

It’s there that she meets Max, a financier fourteen years older than her. Over the course of one winter, Anna’s intoxication oscillates between her hard-won moments on stage, where she can zip herself into the skin of her characters, and nights spent with Max in his glass-walled flat overlooking the city.

But Anna’s fledgling career demands her undivided attention, and increasingly – whether he necessarily wills it or not – so does Max.

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Black Cake by Charmaine Wilkerson

Published: February 3rd
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Fiction, Contemporary Literature, Domestic Fiction, Saga, Coming-of-Age Story

SYNOPSIS:
**A Grazia Instagram ‘IT’ book to watch out for**

________

‘We can’t go to the island, Bryon. We don’t really know what we’re getting into . . .’

Eleanor Bennett won’t let her own death get in the way of the truth. So when her estranged children – Byron and Benny – reunite for her funeral in California, they discover a puzzling inheritance.

First, a voice recording in which everything Byron and Benny ever knew about their family is upended. Their mother narrates a tumultuous story about a headstrong young woman who escapes her island home under suspicion of murder, a story which cuts right to the heart of the rift that’s separated Byron and Benny.

Second, a traditional Caribbean black cake made from a family recipe with a long history that Eleanor hopes will heal the wounds of the past. Can Byron and Benny fulfil their mother’s final request to ‘share the black cake when the time is right’?

Will Eleanor’s revelations bring them back together or leave them feeling more lost than ever?

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Nights of Demons and Saints by Menna van Praag

Published: February 3rd
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, Fantasy Series

SYNOPSIS:
And then there were three . . .

Three years ago, the sisters confronted their demon father in that strange other-world called Everwhere. It was a battle that ended in a devastating loss, and the scars they carry seem to have slowly pushed the sisters apart . . .

One sister, still raw with grief, is now a near recluse but determined to use her powers to resurrect what she has lost.

Another has made the journey to learn more of her family, her culture and her roots.

And another seems to have turned her back on what she is and opted to lead a more normal life.

But now the sisters are about to be brought together once more. Because when the clock strikes midnight, when October ticks into November, when autumn wilts into winter, when All Hallows’ Eve becomes All Saints’ Day, the sisters Grimm will turn twenty-one and reach the zenith of their powers.

And on this night, at this time, in this place called Everwhere, anything is possible . . .

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The Hemlock Cure by Joanne Burn

Published: February 10th
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Mystery

SYNOPSIS:
It is 1665 and the women of Eyam keep many secrets.

Isabel Frith, the village midwife, walks a dangerous line with her herbs and remedies. There are men in the village who speak of witchcraft, and Isabel has a past to hide. So she tells nobody her fears about Wulfric, the pious, reclusive apothecary.

Mae, Wulfric’s youngest daughter, dreads her father’s rage if he discovers what she keeps from him. Like her feelings for Rafe, Isabel’s ward, or that she studies from Wulfric’s forbidden books at night.

But others have secrets too. Secrets darker than any of them could have imagined.

When Mae makes a horrifying discovery, Isabel is the only person she can turn to. But helping Mae will place them both in unspeakable peril.

And meanwhile another danger is on its way from London. One that threatens to engulf them all . . .

Based on the real history of an English village during the Great Plague, The Hemlock Cure is an utterly beguiling tale of fear and ambition, betrayal, self-sacrifice and the unbreakable bond between two women.

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I, Mona Lisa by Natasha Solomons

Published: February 10th
Publisher: Hutchinson Heinemann
Genre: Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Listen to my history. My adventures are worth hearing. I have lived many lifetimes and been loved by emperors, kings and thieves. I have survived kidnap and assault. Revolution and two world wars. But this is also a love story. And the story of what we will do for those we love.

In Leonardo da Vinci’s studio, bursting with genius imagination, towering commissions and needling patrons, as well as discontented muses, friends and rivals, sits the painting of the Mona Lisa. For five hundred tumultuous years, amid a whirlwind of power, money, intrigue, the portrait of Lisa del Giocondo is sought after and stolen.

Over the centuries, few could hear her voice, but now she is ready to tell her own story, in her own words – a tale of rivalry, murder and heartbreak. Weaving through the years, she takes us from the dazzling world of Florentine studios to the French courts at Fontainebleau and Versailles, and into the Twentieth Century.

I, Mona Lisa is a deliciously vivid, compulsive and illuminating story about the lost and forgotten women throughout history.

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House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City 2) by Sarah J. Maas

Published: February 15th
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Romantic Fantasy, Paranormal Fantasy, High Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Fantasy Series

SYNOPSIS:
Sequel to the #1 New York Times bestseller. Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, groundbreaking CRESCENT CITY series continues with this second installment.

Bryce Quinlan and Hunt Athalar have made a pact. As they process the events of the Spring they will keep things . platonic . until the Solstice. But can they resist when the crackling tension between them is enough to set the whole of Crescent City aflame?

And they are not out of danger yet. Dragged into a rebel movement they want no part of, Bryce, Hunt and their friends find themselves pitted against the terrifying Asteri – whose notice they must avoid at all costs. But as they learn more about the rebel cause, they face a choice: stay silent while others are oppressed, or fight. And they’ve never been very good at staying silent.

In this sexy, action-packed sequel to the #1 bestseller House of Earth and Blood, Sarah J. Maas weaves a captivating story of a world about to explode – and the people who will do anything to save it.

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Off Target by Eve Smith

Published: February 17th
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction, Adventure Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
When a one-night stand leads to a long-desired pregnancy, Susan will do anything to ensure her husband won’t find out … including the unthinkable. But when something horrendous is unleashed around the globe, her secret isn’t the only thing that is no longer safe…

––––––––––––––––––––––––

A longed-for baby
An unthinkable decision
A deadly mistake

In an all-too-possible near future, when genetic engineering has become the norm for humans, not just crops, parents are prepared to take incalculable risks to ensure that their babies are perfect … altering genes that may cause illness, and more…

Susan has been trying for a baby for years, and when an impulsive one-night stand makes her dream come true, she’ll do anything to keep her daughter and ensure her husband doesn’t find out … including the unthinkable. She believes her secret is safe. For now.

But as governments embark on a perilous genetic arms race and children around the globe start experiencing a host of distressing symptoms – even taking their own lives – something truly horrendous is unleashed. Because those children have only one thing in common, and people are starting to ask questions…

Bestselling author of The Waiting Rooms, Eve Smith returns with an authentic, startlingly thought-provoking, disturbing blockbuster of a thriller that provides a chilling glimpse of a future that’s just one modification away…

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The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Published: February 17th
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Romantic Fantasy, Coming-of-Age Story

SYNOPSIS:
Brimming with romance, betrayal, and enchantment, The Embroidered Book reveals and reimagines a dazzling period of history as you have never seen it before.

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’

1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.

The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless. When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences.

In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives.

But every spell requires a sacrifice. And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

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The Gifts by Liz Hyder

Published: February 17th
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
The luminous debut adult novel from the Waterstones Prize Winner, perfect for fans of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, The Essex Serpent and The Doll Factory

In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are . . .

October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.

Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grip of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .

THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.

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Breathless by Amy McCulloch

Published: February 17th
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Adventure Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
IT’S ICE COLD. YOU’RE MILES FROM HELP. AND ONE OF YOU WILL BE NEXT . . . 

When struggling journalist Cecily Wong is invited to join an expedition to climb one of the world’s tallest mountains, it seems like the chance of a lifetime.

She doesn’t realise how deadly the climb will be.

As their small team starts to climb, things start to go wrong. There’s a theft. Then an accident. Then a mysterious note, pinned to her tent: there’s a murderer on the mountain.

The higher they get, the more dangerous the climb becomes, and the more they need to trust one another.

And that’s when Cecily finds the first body . . .

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Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes

Published: February 17th
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Domestic Ficiton

SYNOPSIS:
Twenty-five years after the iconic, 1.5 million-copy bestseller Rachel’s Holiday burst into our lives, Rachel’s BACK!

Pre-order Marian Keyes’ hilarious, heart-warming sequel, Again, Rachel, NOW.

Back in the long ago nineties, Rachel Walsh was a mess.

But a spell in rehab transformed everything. Life became very good, very quickly. These days, Rachel has love, family, a great job as an addiction counsellor, she even gardens. Her only bad habit is a fondness for expensive trainers.

But with the sudden reappearance of a man she’d once loved, her life wobbles.

She’d thought she was settled. Fixed forever. Is she about to discover that no matter what our age, everything can change?

Is it time to think again, Rachel?

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The Dictator’s Wife by Freya Berry

Published: February 17th
Publisher: Headline Review
Genre: Historical Fiction, Legal Story

SYNOPSIS:
‘I am not my husband. I am innocent. Do you believe me?’

The beautiful, enigmatic wife of a feared dictator stands trial for her late husband’s crimes against the people. The world will finally know the truth. But whose?

__________

WOMAN
I learned early in life how to survive. A skill that became vital in my position.

WIFE
I was given no power, yet I was expected to hold my own with the most powerful man in the country.

MOTHER OF THE NATION
My people were my children. I stood between him and them.

I am not the person they say I am.
I am not my husband.
I am innocent.
Do you believe me?

Visceral and thought provoking, haunting and heartbreaking, The Dictator’s Wife will hold you in its grip until its powerful conclusion and keep you turning the pages long into the night.

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A Good Day to Die (Pretty Boy Thriller Bool 1) by Amen Alogne

Published: February 17th
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
Meet Pretty Boy. Vengeance is on his mind.

His real name:
Unknown

His code of conduct:
Don’t be a pawn in someone else’s game.
Never underestimate the enemy.
Above all, survive. There is no glory in death.

His mission:
It’s been ten years since Pretty Boy left the big city – today he’s back. No one knows why, but it’s clear that revenge is on his mind: he is determined to make the person responsible for his exile from the London scene finally pay. But his plans seem derailed when he takes possession of a bracelet, unaware that its original owner has set a high price for its safe return. Suddenly, the hunter becomes the hunted and Pretty Boy will have to find out if it is indeed a ‘good day to die’.

Jam-packed with action, an unforgettable cast of characters and peppered with dry humour, A Good Day to Die marks the arrival of a fresh and exciting new voice in thriller writing.

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The Secrets of Sainte Madeleine by Tilly Bagshawe

Published: February 17th
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Saga

SYNOPSIS:
Deep in the French countryside, inside the walls of a family chateau, a remarkable legacy awaits . . .

From the international bestselling author comes an escapist, glamorous tale spanning generations & sweeping from Burgundy to Greece and beyond . . .

ONE FAMILY
THREE GENERATIONS
SOME SECRETS NEVER DIE . . .

Elise would do anything to inherit Sainte Madeleine, the vineyard that’s been home to the Salignacs for generations. Only Laurent Senard, a distant cousin, is a rival for her heart – yet when a family rift sends her on a new and dangerous path, she risks losing them both . . .
 
Alexandre, Elise’s brother, can’t bear to see their capricious father put the vineyard – and Alex’s birthright – in jeopardy. He leaves to carve out his own fortune in the rich hills of Napa, California. But will turning his back on the chateau be his biggest mistake?
 
Laurent Senard’s love for Elise was planted at Sainte Madeleine long ago. But with the shadow of war sweeping over Europe, Laurent must leave France to fight. Through the years of longing, secrecy and tragedy that follow, he vows to find his way back – if only it isn’t too late . . .
 
Sweeping through the 1920s to WWII and beyond, this is the story of the Salignac family – the loves that bind them, the secrets that threaten to divide them, and the chateau that will always call them home.

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The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh

Published: February 22nd
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Myth and Legend

SYNOPSIS:
Don’t chase fate. Let fate chase you.

For generations, deadly storms have ravaged Mina’s homeland. Her people believe the Sea God, once their protector, now curse them with death and despair. To appease him, each year a maiden is thrown into the sea, in the hopes that one day the ‘true bride’ will be chosen and end the suffering.

Many believe Shim Cheong – Mina’s brother’s beloved – to be the legendary true bride. But on the night Cheong is sacrificed, Mina’s brother follows her, even knowing that to interfere is a death sentence. To save her brother, Mina throws herself into the water in Cheong’s stead.

Swept away to the Spirit Realm, a magical city of lesser gods and mythical beasts, Mina finds the Sea God, trapped in an enchanted sleep. With the help of a mysterious young man and a motley crew of demons, gods and spirits, Mina sets out to wake him and bring an end to the storms once and for all.

But she doesn’t have much time: a human cannot live long in the land of the spirits. And there are those who would do anything to keep the Sea God from waking . . .

The Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea is a magical feminist retelling of a classic Korean legend, perfect for fans of Uprooted and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away.

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Daughters of a Dead Empire by Carolyn Tara O’Neil

Published: February 22nd
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Young Adult Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
From debut author Carolyn Tara O’Neil comes a thrilling alternate history set during the Russian Revolution.

Russia, 1918: With the execution of Tsar Nicholas, the empire crumbles and Russia is on the edge of civil war–the poor are devouring the rich. Anna, a bourgeois girl, narrowly escaped the massacre of her entire family in Yekaterinburg. Desperate to get away from the Bolsheviks, she offers a peasant girl a diamond to take her as far south as possible–not realizing that the girl is a communist herself. With her brother in desperate need of a doctor, Evgenia accepts Anna’s offer and suddenly finds herself on the wrong side of the war.

Anna is being hunted by the Bolsheviks, and now–regardless of her loyalties–Evgenia is too.

Daughters of a Dead Empire is a harrowing historical thriller about dangerous ideals, inequality, and the price we pay for change. An imaginative retelling of the Anastasia story.

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Nasty Little Cuts by Tina Baker

Published: February 24th
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
WHO WILL SURVIVE THE NIGHT?

A nightmare jolts Debs awake. She leaves the kids tucked up in their beds and goes downstairs. There’s a man in her kitchen, holding a knife. But it’s not an intruder. This is her husband Marc, the father of her children. A man she no longer recognises.

Once their differences were what drew them together, what turned them on. Him, the ex-army officer from a good family. Her, the fitness instructor who grew up over a pub. But now these differences grate to the point of drawing blood. Marc screams in his sleep. And Debs hardly knows the person she’s become, or why she lets him hurt her.

Neither of them is completely innocent. Neither is totally guilty. Marc is taller, stronger, and more vicious, haunted by a war he can’t forget. But he has no idea what Debs is capable of when her children’s lives are at stake…

A powerful exploration of a relationship built on passion, poisoned by secrets and violence. Perfect for readers of Blood Orange and Big Little Lies.

Buy here*

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Are any of these on your tbr? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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