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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: The Favour by Laura Vaughan

“On my return, I found the city bleached of all colour, shimmering dullt in an August heatwave. The water was almost as full of glare as the sky. Once again, I had miscalculated. Once more, I was unprepared. Ancient treasure gleamed in doorways, shopfronts winked with made-in-China trash, and their competing glister seemed one and the same. My armpits were swampy, my mouth sour. My hands shook. So when I realised it was him, my first thought, absurdly, was I don’t want him to see me like this. After all those years, he still had that effect on me.

Cheer up Ada, he said. You look like you’re going to a funeral.

His mouth crooked. And then, of couse, we laughed.”

Today’s first lines are from The Favour, a book that piqued my interest as soon as I read the synopsis. When I received the fabulous parcel pictured above from the publishers, I became even more intrigued and knew I had to share this one with you all.

SYNOPSIS:

Fortune favours the fraud…

When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy. In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set. But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined…

The Favour is out now in eBook and out March 4th in Hardcover, You can buy the book here*

Will you be adding this one to your tbr? Let me know in the comments. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Thank you to Corvus for the gifted ARC.

*This is an affiliate link.

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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

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas

3 March 1885

Louise. It is time.’
With one hand, Genevieve pulls back the blanket that hides the sleeping figure of the girl. Curled up in a foetal position on the narrow mattress, her mass of thick, dark hair covers the pillow and part of her face. Lips parted, Louise is snoring softly. She cannot hear the other women, who are already awake and bustling about the dormitory. Between the rows of iron bedsteads, the women stretch, pin the hair up into chignons, button their ebony gowns over their translucent nightshifts, then trudge wearily towards the refectory under the watchful eye of the nurses. Timorous rays of sunshine steal through the misted windows.

Today’s first lines are taken from The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas, a bestseller in France which is published in the UK by Doubleday on June 17th. As soon as I saw the stunning cover and read the synopsis I knew this was a book for me. Thank you to Doubleday for sending me a copy to review.

SYNOPSIS:

‘Enter the danse of this little masterpiece and let yourself be dazzled. Assured of hitting the bestseller lists’ The Parisian; ‘Essential reading’ Cosmopolitan ‘A lovely, moving first novel, a cri de Coeur against the condition of women in this world’ Marie France

The Salpêtrière asylum,1885. All of Paris is in thrall to Doctor Charcot and his displays of hypnotism on women who have been deemed mad or hysterical, outcasts from society. But the truth is much more complicated – for these women are often simply inconvenient, unwanted wives or strong-willed daughters. Once a year a grand ball is held at the hospital. For the Parisian elite, the Mad Women’s Ball is the highlight of the social season; for the women themselves, it is a rare moment of hope.
Geneviève is a senior nurse. After the childhood death of her sister, she has shunned religion and placed her faith in Doctor Charcot and his new science. But everything begins to change when she meets Eugénie, the 19-year-old daughter of a bourgeois family. Because Eugénie has a secret, and she needs Genevieve’s help. Their fates will collide on the night of the Mad Women’s Ball…

You can pre-order the book here*

Happy reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xx

*Link is an affiliate link.

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Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: Hodder Fiction Showcase 2021

Today you’re getting two for the price of one as I couldn’t resist sharing the first lines from both of the gorgeous proofs I was kindly sent by Hodder and Stoughton this week. The Hodder Fiction Showcase 2021 was held last night and was a wonderful evening full of exciting upcoming releases. I might have requested almost all of the books that were discussed. But I was also fortunate to receive a package from them before the event with two of the books highlighted, which also happen to be two of the books I’m most excited for this summer.

“White. Endless, featureless, mind-numbing white. A white so bright it hurts your eyes, at once beautiful and dreadful. I’ve arrived, finally, at the end of the earth – or rather its southernmost tip.”

These arresting first lines are taken from The Dark by Emma Haughton, an electrifying thriller which is out August 19th. Check out the synopsis below to see why I’m so excited about this book.

SYNOPSIS:

ONE DEAD BODY
TWELVE SUSPECTS
TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR DARKNESS

In the most inhospitable environment – cut off from the rest of the world – there’s a killer on the loose.

A&E doctor Kate North has been knocked out of her orbit by a personal tragedy. So when she’s offered the chance to be an emergency replacement at the UN research station in Antarctica, she jumps at the chance. The previous doctor, Jean-Luc, died in a tragic accident while out on the ice.

The move seems an ideal solution for Kate: no one knows about her past; no one is checking up on her. But as total darkness descends for the winter, she begins to suspect that Jean-Luc’s death wasn’t accidental at all. And the more questions she asks, the more dangerous it becomes for them all . . .

You can pre-order the book here*


“Among the masses of driftwood on the shore, the creature lies sprawled on black-flecked sand.
From far away, it had looked like a giant slug, bloated on the shore, but now, nearing it, Ruth can see it is a mammal. A warm-blooded, air-breathing mammal with a belly button, just like her.”

The Stranding by Kate Sawyer is a hopeful debut which is out June 24th. And just look at that gorgeous proof cover.

SYNOPSIS:

HER WORLD FELL TO PIECES.
FROM THE BONES SHE BUILT A NEW LIFE.

Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.

When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand.

But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before.

When all has been razed to the ground, what does it mean to build a life?

The Stranding is a story about the hope that can remain even when the world is changed beyond recognition.

Pre-order the book here*


Thank you Hodder Fiction for my gifted copies of the books.
*Links are affiliate links

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First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: Cover Your Tracks by Daco S. Auffenorde

A violent gust of wind rocked the passenger train as it rolled down the tracks inside Glacier National Park. The cars yanked and pulled from one side of the track to the other, zigzagging like pinballs travelling though a narrow chute. Without any apparent reason, the breaks on the train squealed, and twenty-three cars and the powerful engine kangerooed into a hard deceleration.
Margot Fletcher, who was seated toward the rear of the train inside a viewing car, tightened her seatbelt and grasped the arms of her seat. At eight and a half months pregnant, she couldn’t afford a fall. Her heart rate shot into overdrive, and her baby shifted as if turnaning a complete somersault. Her stomach clenched as if she were experiencing a contraction. Unable to mask the pain and worry, she groaned. She hoped the baby hadn’t turned breech, prayed that she wasn’t going into labor.

Today’s First Lines Friday is taken from Cover Your Tracks by Daco S. Auffenorde, which I was kindly gifted by the author. This one sounds fantastic. And with a snowy cover I couldn’t resist sharing it while we have the perfect weather.


SYNOPSIS:

Margo Fletcher, eight months pregnant, is traveling by train from Chicago to Spokane, her childhood home. While passing through an isolated portion of the Rockies in blizzard conditions, the train unexpectedly brakes. Up ahead, deadly snow from a massive avalanche plummets down the mountain. Despite the conductor’s order for the passengers to stay seated, former Army Ranger Nick Eliot insists that survival depends on moving to the back of the train. Only Margo believes him. They take refuge in the last train car, which Nick heroically uncouples in time to avoid the avalanche. The rest of the train is hurled down the mountainside and is soon lost forever in a blanket of snow. Margo and Nick, the sole survivors, are stranded in the snowstorm without food, water, or heat. Rescuers might not arrive for days.

When the weather turns violent again, the pair must flee the shelter of the passenger car and run for their lives into the wilderness. They must fend off the deadly cold as well as predatory wild animals foraging for food. Eventually, Nick leads Margo to shelter in a watchtower atop a mountain. There, we learn that both Margo and Nick have secrets that have brought them together and threaten to destroy them.

Cover Your Tracks is a chilling story of love and hate, the devastating power of nature, and the will to survive.


BUY THE BOOK:

Bookshop.org* |Amazon*| Kobo
*The links to Bookshop.org and Amazon are affiliate links.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday Support Debuts

First Lines Friday: Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves

“At the end of Wolfie’s garden in a shed he built in the summer of 1951, the same year he turned nineteen and opened the kosher deli next to Victoria Park. He scavenged timber from a house shattered by the Blitz, and laid the roof with red clay tiles prised from the rubble.”

What is your first read of 2021? Today’s first lines are taken from mine, which is Victoria Park, a debut novel which is published on January 7th. I’m not far into it, but I’m really enjoying it so far and finding it a refreshing and uplifting read.

SYNOPSIS:

Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.

With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.

Keep an eye out for my review on January 14th as part of the blog tour.This sounds like the perfect way to start my reading year.

You can pre-order a copy here.

Festive First Lines Friday: The Snow Song by Sally Gardner

“It was the sound of his violin that first cast a spell on Edith. Even before she saw him, the restless notes of his melody drew her to him… His music danced into her heart to free her troubled soul from its cage, and she stood mesmerised.”

Today’s first lines are taken from The Snow Song, which is my newest festive book purchase. After reading the review from my friend Brown Flopsy last month I knew I had to read this book. You can read that review here.

SYNOPSIS:

Women imprisoned by superstition, chained by guilt.

Perched on a mountain in a land of ancient forests is a village, rife with secrets. Cut off from the outside world it is run by the elders, men to whom tradition is all.

Edith lives alone with her alcoholic father who is forcing her to marry the village butcher. But she is in love with a shepherd who promised to return to her.

As the village becomes isolated in a sea of snow, Edith loses her power of speech. And it is this enchantment that will have far-reaching consequences, not only for Edith but for the whole village.

How magical and mesmerising does this sound? You can buy the book here.

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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?

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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.

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Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday – Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse

“Listen. We know there are people who hide in our homes. They crawl into attic spaces. Tuck themselves behind yard equipment in garages. Flit between the rooms of the house just outside the reach of sight.
Some of us have found nests tucked in the back of bedroom closets behind hanging clothes. Or in the void space beneath the stairs. In that sliver between a living room sofa and the wall.
We have found half-empty water bottles and candy wrappers and the remains of leftovers of food cooked the day before. I found my own wrinkled clothes pressed flatt to the floor and stinking of someone else’s sweat. Look in the places behind the furniture. The spaces between beds. Every deep crevice of the house. No guarantee that once a space has been checked that someone will not sneak back into it.
You can stay home all day and still not find them. They are clever and patient and they know the insides of your home better than your ever will. But you have to find them.
You have to root them out.”

This week’s eerie first lines come from another of my most anticipated books of 2021, Girl in the Walls by A. J. Gnuse, which I was lucky enough to receive a proof copy of this week.

SYNOPSIS:

She doesn’t exist. She can’t exist.

‘A uniquely gothic tale about grief, belonging and hiding in plain sight’ Jess Kidd, author of Things in Jars

’Those who live in the walls must adjust, must twist themselves around in their home,
stretching themselves until they’re as thin as air. Not everyone can do what they can.
But soon enough, they can’t help themselves. Signs of their presence remain in a house.
Eventually, every hidden thing is found.’

Elise knows every inch of the house. She knows which boards will creak. She knows where the gaps are in the walls. She knows which parts can take her in, hide her away. It’s home, after all. The home her parents made for her. And home is where you stay, no matter what.

Eddie calls the same house his home. Eddie is almost a teenager now. He must no longer believe in the girl he sometimes sees from the corner of his eye. He needs her to disappear. But when his older brother senses her, too, they are faced with a question: how do they get rid of someone they aren’t sure even exists?

And, if they cast her out, what other threats might they invite in?

Girl in the Walls is published by Fourth Estate on March 18th, 2021. You can pre-order your copy here.