Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown

Published: January 13th 2022
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller, Horror Thriller, Gothic Romance
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising and beguiling piece of gothic fiction. Thank you to Ellie at Viking for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of this book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

THE PAGE-TURNING NEW NOVEL FROM THE AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF THE WITCHFINDER’S SISTER

__________________________________

I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire. Smoke unravelling from an upper window, and the terrace bathed in a hectic orange light . . . Now I see that the decision I made at Polneath was the only decision of my life. Everything marred in that one dark minute.

By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose death decades ago haunts her still.

For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

But once you open a door to the past, can you ever truly close it again?

From the award-winning author of The Witchfinder’s Sister comes a captivating story of burning secrets and buried shame, and of the loyalty and love that rises from the ashes.

********

MY REVIEW:

“I still dream, every night, of Ponleath on fire…”

This is gothic fiction at its finest. Hauntingly beautiful, darkly atmospheric and beguiling, I was captivated from the first page.  A story of secrets, loss and lies filled with mystery and suspense that sends shivers down your spine.  

Moving between dual timelines we follow Ivy Boscawen as she struggles to come to terms with the loss of her son during the Great War, telling the story of her search for the truth about his death, the intense guilt she feels, and how she is still tormented by events that took place thirty years before.  Ivy confesses the secrets she’s kept hidden for decades that still haunt her dreams each night, finally revealing the truth of what happened at Ponleath all those years ago. 

This is an easy five stars from me.  It is my first foray into Beth Underwood’s books and I am kicking myself for allowing her previous book to languish on my shelf unread for so long.  Exquisitely written and intricately plotted, the evocative imagery sets an eerie scene and I felt like I could hear the ghosts whispering their secrets, waiting for their chance to finally be heard.  I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish, my heart aching for these characters, particularly young William Tremain and all he must have gone through on that terrifying night. 

Ivy was a great narrator.  She is a fascinating character and I instantly felt an  emotional connection to her over the death of her only child.  But what could she have done that made not only his death, but marriage to a man she never wanted, to be with the price she deserved to pay for her transgressions?  I never figured it out, the many twists and turns taking me by surprise as she finally lays the spirits of her past to rest with her confessions.  In fact, I found myself so caught up in the story itself I almost forgot there was a mystery surrounding something she’d done as well as the one surrounding who was behind the fire that December night.  What did Ivy know that no one else did? 

Clever, absorbing and utterly mesmerising, The Key in the Lock is an accomplished piece of gothic fiction that keeps you guessing until the very end. Read it now. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is her first novel, and is out with Viking in the UK and Ballantine in the US in Spring 2017. The book is based on the life of the 1640s witch finder Matthew Hopkins, whom she first came across while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. As you do.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*
*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
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

One Left Behind (Detective Gina Harte Book 9) by Carla Kovach

Published: July 15th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Noir Fiction, Crime Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for the eBook ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Music and loud voices echo through the woods surrounding her. Wiping her tears, she hears the rustle of leaves close by. Footsteps. She has no time to scream before a hand covers her mouth and her entire world goes black.

In a patch of forest on the outskirts of a small town, five teenage school friends prepare to spend a night away from home. Carrying their tents and sleeping bags, they laugh and joke as they make their way into the darkest part of the woods, away from prying eyes. But as the sun rises the following morning, only four are left alive.

Devastated, Leah’s friends all swear they didn’t see or hear anything. Her best friend sobs as she recounts what she remembers from that night – dancing, roasting marshmallows, sipping warm cans of beer by the fire – but is it grief, or is she hiding something? What happened to Naomi in the hour that no one can account for? And what troubled past lies behind the perfect manners of the boy who organised the trip, and who is prepared to lie to keep it buried?

As the cracks in their stories grow, it’s clear one of them is lying, and one of them is next…

Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, One Left Behind is a thrilling crime novel that will have you hooked from the very first page!

********

MY REVIEW:

“Would their secrets cost them their lives?”

The ninth book in the Detective Gina Harte series opens with the discovery of the body of a sixteen-year-old girl the morning after a party in the woods with her friends.  Sure the teenagers are hiding something, Gina and her team try to discover what really happened that night.  But then a second teenager is murdered and it looks like each of them are in the killer’s sights.  But why?  And can they stop them before anyone else ends up dead?

Wow.  Just, wow.  Carla Kovach has reminded me why this is one of my favourite crime series and delivered the best installment yet.  Exquisitely written, perfectly plotted and filled with flawed and complex characters, it sizzles with tension, mystery and foreboding from the start.  Then, with one flawlessly executed, blindsiding twist, she took my breath away.   I’m still shook.   This is how it’s done, ladies and gentleman.

There are an array of suspects and intriguing subplots,  including a mysterious person  threatening to expose a dark secret from Gina’s past that could destroy her whole life.  Who could possibly know?  And can she unveil them before it’s too late?  I enjoyed watching Gina battle what is probably one of her most terrifying personal situations while investigating the case.  I love how she always rises to whatever challenge is in front of her, giving her all to find a killer no matter the other things she is dealing with.

Fast-paced, intricately woven and irresistible, this is an easy five-stars from me.  I couldn’t put this down and devoured it in one sitting, literally reading through the night.  A spectacular thriller that I highly recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

TW: Domestic abuse

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carla Kovach is a crime and horror author from Worcestershire. Her most popular work, the DI Gina Harte series is published by Bookouture. As well as books, she also writes stage and screenplays.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Readalong Tandem Readalong

The Maid by Nita Prose

Published: January 20th, 2022
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this phenomenal debut. Thank you to the Tandem Collective UK for selecting me as a VIP for this readalong and to them and Harper Collins for the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

POLISHED TO PERFECTION, THE HOTLY-ANTICIPATED DEBUT, COMING JANUARY 2022
RIGHTS SOLD IN 29 TERRITORIES

*Film rights snapped up by Universal, with Florence Pugh set to star as the title character*

I am your maid.
I know about your secrets. Your dirty laundry.
But what do you know about me?

Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests passing through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?
 
But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And as Molly becomes embroiled in the hunt for the truth, following the clues whispering in the hallways of the Regency Grand, she discovers a power she never knew was there. She’s just a maid – but what can she see that others overlook?

Escapist, charming and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how everyone deserves to be seen. And how the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s found in the dirtier, grey areas in between . . .

********

MY REVIEW:

“I am your maid. I know so much about you. But when it comes down to it: what is it that you know about me?”

Molly loves her job as  a maid at the luxurious Regency Grand Hotel. She enjoys blending into the background and takes pride in her work cleaning up the messes that guests leave behind. But when she stumbles across the infamous Mr. Black dead in his bed it seems she has finally found a mess she can’t easily wipe away. Finding herself embroiled in the murder investigation, Molly’s whole world changes and, suddenly, everyone can see her.  Could Molly really hold the key to solving Mr. Black’s murder? 

This book! A murder mystery that was also a balm for my soul, it was like nothing I’ve ever read before and I loved every single thing about it.  I just know this is going to be HUGE when it’s released next year.

First of all, how on earth is this a debut?  The writing is exquisite, with evocative imagery that brought the world the author had created to life in vivid technicolour.  The opulent splendor of The Regency Grand made me think of the Emerald City from my favourite book, endearing me even more to this fictional place.  I devoured this book, unable to get enough as I lived every moment alongside Molly.  Nita Prose is an exciting new talent and I will be buying anything else she writes without hesitation.

“It’s easier than you’d ever think- existing in plain sight while remaining largely invisible.”

I adored Molly.  Quirky, naive and endearing, it was impossible not to love her.  She knows she’s different, that she doesn’t perceive things in the same way others do and that her love of order makes her seem strange, and we feel her pain at knowing that. She’s always struggled to navigate the world, but it is even harder without her beloved Gran who’s always guided and interpreted things for her.  Molly’s loneliness and naivete make her the perfect candidate for others to take advantage, which they do, and I dreaded the inevitable moment when she learned of their duplicity.  But, like those around her, I underestimated Molly and sat back in awe as she took us all by surprise when she found her power and strength in her darkest moment.  The world would be a better place if we were all a little more Molly. 

One of the unexpected parts of the story for me was how emotional it would feel.  Molly is all alone in the world after losing her Gran and the author makes us feel this deeply. The book is filled with Molly’s memories of her Gran and the quotes of sayings or advice she would give, making her as much of a presence for the reader as she was for Molly. The quotes from Gran were one of my favourite things about the book and having lost my own Nan just a few months ago, it made me feel an even stronger connection to Molly.

“It seems everyone’s an ameteur sleuth. They all believe they can waltz right into the hotel and solve the mystery of Mr. Black’s untimely demise.”

Another aspect I enjoyed was the shift in tone that takes place, making it almost feel like it is split into two parts.  The first part has a more chilled vibe, filled with lots of gorgeous imagery and heartrending moments as Molly talks about her loneliness in the world.  But after finding Mr. Black things switch up and the excitement and tension rises, keeping me on the edge of my seat and reading in breathless anticipation. 

Heartwarming, addictive, tense and twisty, The Maid is a phenomenal debut that is not to be missed.  Everyone is going to be talking about this book.  I was thrilled to find out the rights have already been bought and can’t wait to see it on the big screen. 

Go and read this book!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Nita Prose is a longtime editor, serving many bestselling authors and their books. She lives in Toronto, Canada, in a house that is only moderately clean.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

Published: November 25th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mind-blowing thriller. I’m still shook! Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Suspicion is cast on two successful crime writers, when their seven-year-old son goes missing. Are they trying to show that they can commit the perfect crime? A mesmerisingly twisty, dark thriller from number-one bestselling author Paul Cleave…

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.

So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… 

Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?

Electrifying, taut and immaculately plotted, The Quiet People is a chilling, tantalisingly twisted thriller that will keep you gripped and guessing to the last explosive page.

********

MY REVIEW:

“I know how it looks but we didn’t do this. Somebody is doing this to us.”

Holy twist Batman! The Quiet People is a psychological thriller on steroids. Deliciously dark, crazy and twisted, this one had me glued to my kindle from start to finish.  You think you know the answers, but you have no idea…

Husband and wife crime-writing duo Cameron and Lisa Murdoch find themselves in the midst of every parent’s worst nightmare when their seven-year-old son, Zach goes missing. And to compound their grief/turmoil, they find that their job also makes them the police’s prime suspects, embroiling them in a fight to not only find their son, but clear their names. 

I am still reeling from this book, and doubt I’ll recover any time soon. So twisty it made me dizzy, this is a clever book rich with details, twists and something sinister. It takes you to some unsettling places, a pervading dread lingering over each page that tells you no one is coming out of this story unscathed. The plot is intricately woven, the threads slowly unravelling with each twist. And there are A LOT of them. Each time I thought I had it figured out, BOOM! I’m hit with another shocking twist that turns the world on its axis and makes me re-evaluate everything I think I know. So buckle up and hold on tight, because this high-octane thrill ride is a bumpy one. 

“Zach doesn’t answer, but Mr What If does. Mr What If is the voice in my imagination who comes out to play when I’m working. It’s the voice that sends my characters down paths I’m not expecting, who can take any everyday situation and turn it on it’s head.”

Cameron was a brilliant protagonist. You think he’s reliable, but there is always that tiny sliver of doubt in the back of your mind, adding to the tension. But his pain, grief, regret, anger and desperation is achingly real, his emotions leaping from the page. And I felt helpless, unable to do anything but watch as the Murdoch’s lives unravelled before my eyes. Lisa is more of a mystery and we see little of her, but all the same I was rooting for them, especially in the face of such vicious hatred and attacks from the general public where they’ve been tried before there’s any real evidence of their guilt. 

One of my favourite parts of the book was Mr What If, the voice in Cameron’s head that tells him where to send his characters, that always lingers, whispering in his ear.  I really enjoyed the concept and how when the tone got darker and things began to spiral even further out of control, it was Mr What If at the helm, encouraging Cameron with his intoxicating words. It’s a devil on his shoulder that he doesn’t want to shake. 

This twisty psychological puzzle is suspense at its best. It was my first foray into Paul Cleave’s books and I am an instant fan. With assured writing, great characterisation, a captivating plot and heaps of tension he has crafted a nail-biting and unputdownable thriller that will blow your mind. 

READ. IT. NOW. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Paul is Christchurch born and raised, and other than a couple of years when he was living in London and bouncing around Europe a little, he’s always lived there. Paul wanted to write horror, and it was a few years in when he realised that crime – real life crime – is horror. When he made that connection, he turned to writing dark crime fiction, writing first The Killing Hour, and then The Cleaner, in his mid-twenties. Not long after that Paul sold his house and lived with his parents so he could write full time – a gamble that paid off a few years later when Random House signed him up. From that point on he’s written his dark tales set in his home city, introducing Joe Middleton – the Christchurch Carver, and Melissa, and Theodore Tate, and Schroder, and Jerry Gray, among others to the world.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon | Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*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
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Readalong Tandem Readalong

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza

Published: October 14th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Thriller, Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

I read this book as part of a readalong organised by Tandem Collective UK. Thank you to them for the invitation to take part and be a VIP host, and to HQ for the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

THE MOST IMPORTANT NOVEL YOU’LL READ THIS YEAR

Not every story is black and white.

Riley and Jen have been best friends since they were children, and they thought their bond was unbreakable. It never mattered to them that Riley is black and Jen is white. And then Jen’s husband, a Philadelphia police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and everything changes in an instant.

This one act could destroy more than just Riley and Jen’s friendship. As their community takes sides, so must Jen and Riley, and for the first time in their lives the lifelong friends find themselves on opposing sides.

But can anyone win a fight like this?

We Are Not Like Them is about friendship and love. It’s about prejudice and betrayal. It’s about standing up for what you believe in, no matter the cost.

********

MY REVIEW:

“When the bullets hit him, first his arm, then his stomach, it doesn’t feel like he’d always imagined it would. Because of course as a Black boy growing up in this neighbourhood, he’d imagined it.”

Wow. Just, wow. It’s been a few weeks since I read this phenomenal debut and I’m still thinking about it every day. I also still have no idea how to review it. The topic feels too big, too important to reduce to a review. But I will do my best. 

Lifelong friends Riley and Jen have never cared that one of them is Black and the other white. But after unarmed Black teenager Justin Dwyer is shot by two white police officers they find their friendship tested in ways they never imagined. They are both embroiled in the story and find themselves on opposing sides for the first time in their lives. Can their friendship withstand such a test? 

“At the end of the day, I’m afraid that Jen won’t get it. Maybe I’ve always been afraid.”

The story is narrated by Riley and Jen in alternating chapters, offering the reader an insight into how both women are affected in the aftermath of the shooting. Riley’s job as a news reporter and Jen’s position as the wife of one of the officers involved in the shooting immediately place them on opposing sides immediately. But then race becomes part of the discussion and adds more layers and nuance to this already complex story. 

I felt so conflicted reading this book. So many questions swam through my mind as I read and I found myself full of emotions I never expected. I didn’t know who to root for or where my allegiance should lay. I felt deeply sorry for both Jen and Riley, who are both great characters and saw both sides of their opposing arguments.  A big part of the problem between them is down to assumption and miscommunication, which left me feeling frustrated as so much of the pain they caused each other could have been avoided. I also had some sympathy for Kevin, who is clearly torn apart by what happened, though my ultimate sympathy lay with the young boy he shot and his devastated mother, who I would have liked to see more of in the book. 

“It kills me to think how some people want so badly to believe racism is buried beneath layers and layers of history, “ancient history”, they say. But it’s not. It’s like an umpire brushing the thinnest layer of dirt off the home plate: it’s right there. Only too often the trauma, the toll of it, remains unknown generation after generation. Like how Gigi kept her own awful secret, presumably to protect us from the ugly truth, and I’ve kept my own secrets, haunted by a similar shame.”

As a white woman I am aware I occupy a position of privilege and see the world through the lens of my own experiences. I love reading books like this one as they open my eyes to things that I might not have considered and help me to understand prejudice on a deeper level.  And that is part of the beauty of this book; whatever your race, gender or beliefs, there are things to learn from it. I was fortunate to read this as part of a readalong with other bloggers and during the chats about the book I enjoyed hearing their insights and views on the book as there were things some of them saw that I had missed or never considered. This enabled me to look at things from a perspective I’d otherwise never have had, something which I am grateful for. 

“He wants to tell them his name. If they know his name he’ll be less alone. Worse than the pain or even the fear is that he’s never felt so alone in his life.”

Bold, brave and thought-provoking, this made me feel ALL the feelings. It opens  as it means to go on, with a chapter that is so searing, raw and heartbreaking that I will never forget it. It is an unsettling but important read. A story about humanity, compassion, privilege, race and justice that reminds us not everything is black and white, and that the truth lies in the shades of grey. Exquisitely written with vivid characterisation, you can see the care that has been taken over every word on the page and I would love to have been a fly on the wall to see how the two authors co-wrote the book. 

A powerful, honest and heart-rending debut, We Are Not Like Them is a story that lingers long after closing that final page. A book that demands to be read and discussed. And one that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHORS:

Christine Pride is a writer, editor and 15-year publishing veteran. She has held editorial posts at various imprints, including Doubleday, Broadway, Crown, Hyperion, and, most recently, as a Senior Editor at Simon and Schuster. Christine has edited and published a range of bestselling books, with a special emphasis on inspirational stories and memoirs. We Are Not Like Them, written with Jo Piazza, is her first book. She lives in New York City. 

Jo Piazza is an award-winning reporter and editor who has written for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New York Daily News, New York Magazine, Glamour, Marie Claire, Elle and Salon. She has appeared on CNN, NPR, Fox News, the BBC and MSNBC. Her novel, The Knockoff, with Lucy Sykes became an instant international bestseller and has been translated into more than seven languages.

Jo received a Masters in Journalism from Columbia, a Masters in Religious Studies from NYU and a Bachelors in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed If Nuns Ruled the World and Celebrity Inc: How Famous People Make Money.

She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and their giant dog.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Man Who Died Twice (The Thursday Murder Club 2) by Richard Osman

Published: September 16th, 2021
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Mystery, Crime Novel, Cozy Mystery
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful cosy mystery. Thank you to Ellie at Viking for the invitation to take part and the proof copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

THE SECOND NOVEL IN THE RECORD-BREAKING, MILLION-COPY BESTSELLING THURSDAY MURDER CLUB SERIES BY RICHARD OSMAN

It’s the following Thursday.

Elizabeth has received a letter from an old colleague, a man with whom she has a long history. He’s made a big mistake, and he needs her help. His story involves stolen diamonds, a violent mobster, and a very real threat to his life.

As bodies start piling up, Elizabeth enlists Joyce, Ibrahim and Ron in the hunt for a ruthless murderer. And if they find the diamonds too? Well, wouldn’t that be a bonus?

But this time they are up against an enemy who wouldn’t bat an eyelid at knocking off four septuagenarians. Can The Thursday Murder Club find the killer (and the diamonds) before the killer finds them?

********

MY REVIEW:

“Time flies when you are living it.” 

We’re back with the Thursdays Murder Club.

The second installment in this charming series picks up the following Thursday after the events of book one. Elizabeth has received a cryptic message from someone from her past that sets in motion a chain of events involving stolen diamonds, mobsters and murder. 

I was delighted to be back with this gang of unlikely amateur sleuths for what was one of my most anticipated books this year. I found that it not only lived up to its whip-smart, richly crafted and brilliantly written predecessor, but surpassed it. The secret? Feeling like you’re reconnecting with old friends. Not only did it feel like I was right there with them, but I felt like I could be part of the gang. Ok, maybe not one of the actual Thursday Murder Club, but an outside helper like police officers Chris and Donna, who are also back to help this intrepid quartet in their investigations. 

Pensioners behaving badly is something I will never tire of reading, especially when it’s done this well. The characters are authentic, intriguing and memorable; each having that spark that makes you take them into your heart. Then when you add in the camaraderie, loyalty and love they have for one another, you have the perfect mix that just makes you want to keep reading about these people. I loved how their bonds of friendship had been strengthened by the events of book one, and seeing how both their antics and friendship with one another has impacted them individually. Joyce in particular shone out for me in this installment and has become my favourite member of the Thursday Murder Club. 

Cosy, comforting, witty and uplifting, reading this book is like a warm cup of tea on a cold day. Once again Richard Osman has knocked it out of the park with his masterful storytelling, dynamic characters, vivid world-building and funny dialogue. It is these things that make this series feel so fresh and stand out from the crowd in the saturated crime and cosy mysteries market. It was a joy to read, allowing the author to take me on a wild and entertaining ride as the story unfolded before me. I’m already excited about revisiting this lively bunch in book three. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Richard Osman is an author, producer and television presenter. The Thursday Murder Club is his first novel. He is well known for TV shows including Pointless and Richard Osman’s House of Games. As the creative director of Endemol UK, Richard has worked as an executive producer on numerous shows including Deal Or No Deal and 8 Out of 10 Cats. He is also a regular on panel and game shows such as Have I Got News For You, Would I Lie To You and Taskmaster.

*********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org* | Amazon| Google Books| Apple Books | Kobo
*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 Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Freckles by Cecelia Ahern

Published: September 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Literary Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins UK for the gifted eBook ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Five people.
Five chances.
One woman’s search for happiness.

Allegra Bird’s arms are scattered with freckles, a gift from her beloved father. But despite her nickname, Freckles has never been able to join all the dots. So when a stranger tells her that everyone is the average of the five people they spend the most time with, it opens up something deep inside.

The trouble is, Freckles doesn’t know if she has five people. And if not, what does that say about her? She’s left her unconventional father and her friends behind for a bold new life in Dublin, but she’s still an outsider.

Now, in a quest to understand, she must find not one but five people who shape her – and who will determine her future.

Told in Allegra’s vivid, original voice, moving from modern Dublin to the fierce Atlantic coast, this is an unforgettable story of human connection, of friendship, and of growing into your own skin.

********

MY REVIEW:

“They say you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” 

Cecelia Ahern has done it again. Freckles is like a cup of hot chocolate on a cold day: warm, comforting and uplifting. A story about finding yourself and your tribe, it was a joy to read, reminding me why she is one of my auto-buy authors. 

Allegra Bird longs to fit in but has always felt like an outsider. Known as Freckles because of the freckles that scatter her arms like stars from the sky, she has moved to Dublin from her small town to make something of her life. Only it’s not going to plan. Instead of the Garda job she’d always dreamed of, she works as a parking warden. And she hasn’t mustered up the courage to fulfill her main goal since moving there. So when a stranger tells her that we are all the average of the five people we spend the most time with, it hits her right in the heart. What if you don’t have five people? Who shapes who you are then? So Allegra set out to find her five people, taking us on her journey of self-discovery.

“Even though it may feel like it, this is not where it ends. I’m not dead. I’m crushed and oozing. A smithereened Allegra Bird. You can’t fix the broken outer shell. But you can rebuild.”

Allegra is a great protagonist. As someone covered in freckles myself, I felt an instant connection with this quirky, warm and endearing young woman. She’s a lonely soul who feels like she’s on her own in the world apart from her beloved father, and thrives on rules and a rigid routine. Unfortunately, these things only serve to make her appear ‘strange’ to others and she struggles to make the connections she longs for. I think most of us know the pain of feeling like an outsider. And we all just want to fit in and find those people in life who love and accept us. Through this and that special spark that Allegra has, the author expertly creates a connection between her and the reader, making her someone you really care about. The background characters were also well written and had some interesting stories to tell. I loved her sweet and close relationship with her father, her bumpy relationship with Tristan, and thought Spanner was always entertaining when on the page. 

Fresh, witty, compelling and achingly real, Freckles is a magnificent story that goes straight to your heart. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

After completing a degree in Journalism and Media Communications, Cecelia wrote her first novel at 21 years old. Her debut novel, PS I Love You was published in January 2004, and was followed by Where Rainbows End (aka Love, Rosie) in November 2004. Both novels were adapted to films; PS I Love You starred Hilary Swank and Gerard Butler, and Love, Rosie starred Lily Collins and Sam Claflin.

Cecelia has published a novel every year since then and to date has published 15 novels; If You Could See Me Now, A Place Called Here, Thanks for the Memories, The Gift, The Book of Tomorrow, The Time of My Life, One Hundred Names, How To Fall in Love, The Year I Met You, The Marble Collector, Flawed, Perfect and Lyrebird.

To date, Cecelia’s books have sold 25 million copies internationally, are published in over 40 countries, in 30 languages.

Along with writing novels, Cecelia has co-created the US ABC Comedy Samantha Who? and has created many other original TV projects.

Cecelia’s next book is a collection of 30 short stories about 30 women, titled ROAR. ROAR will be published in the UK and Ireland in Autumn 2018 by HarperCollins UK, and in Spring 2019 in the US by Grand Central Publishing.

“At the age of 19 I experienced a difficult time in my life, and as I have done since childhood and throughout my teenage years, I turned to writing to process my feelings. PS I Love You was born from my feelings of sadness, fear and loss of my identity. I poured my heart into the story of a woman suffering from grief after the loss of her husband, a woman who had hit the lowest point of her life and was struggling with both the desire and the ability to find her way out of the fog. Writing Holly’s journey helped me find my own path, writing PS I Love You brought both Holly and I to a more positive place in our lives and that is what I continue to do with my novels.

The thread that links my work is in capturing that transitional period in people’s lives. I’m drawn to writing about loss, to characters that have fallen and who feel powerless in their lives. I am fascinated and inspired by the human spirit, by the fact that no matter how hopeless we feel and how dark life can be, we do have the courage, strength and bravery to push through our challenging moments. We are the greatest warriors in our own stories. I like to catch my characters as they fall, and bring them from low to high. My characters push through and as a result evolve, become stronger and better equipped for the next challenge that life brings. I like to mix dark with light, sadness with humour, always keeping a balance, and always bringing the story to a place of hope.”

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this breathtaking thriller. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

SOME LESSONS CAN BE DEADLY . . .

Teddy Crutcher won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy. Everyone thinks he’s brilliant.
Only you know the truth.

They all smile when he tells us his wife couldn’t be more proud.
But no-one has seen her in a while.

They’re impressed when he doesn’t let anything distract him – even the tragic death of a school parent.
Even when the whispers start, saying it was murder.

You’re sure Teddy is hiding something about what happened that day.

You’re sure you can prove it.

But you didn’t stop to think that when it comes to catching a killer, there’s no place more dangerous than just one step behind . . .

********

MY REVIEW:

Dark academia, deadly secrets and a dash of poison. A teacher who will do anything for his students. Entitled rich kids and their parents who will do whatever it takes to guarantee their success. But it’s all for your own good…

Samantha Downing is one of the freshest and most outstanding voices in thriller fiction today. So when I heard her latest book was dark academia and has been optioned by HBO Max and Robert Downey Jnr, I was there with bells on. As a huge fan of this author, my expectations were high, and she blew them out of the water.

Unnerving, atmospheric and intriguing, For Your Own Good is a Russian doll of a book; so many hidden layers, secrets, twists and turns just waiting to be revealed. And every time you think you have it figured out, you find something else nesting inside. Exquisitely written, cleverly crafted, and deftly told, Ms. Downing just gets better and better. She had me so transfixed that I couldn’t stop thinking about the book and felt desperate to get back to it when I wasn’t reading. 

The story is told from multiple points of view, taking us inside the minds of students and teachers at Belmont Academy, a private prep school full of entitled rich students under pressure to be the best of the best. Only the elite attend. And kids find themselves caught between demanding teachers and parents who will accept nothing but the best from them. It’s for them, they are told. For their futures. So they don’t complain or argue. They endure and survive. 

This is a book filled with deeply flawed characters. Even the most likeable ones are not always what they first appear to be; something darker lurking beneath the surface. They all have their masks they wear to make it through each day: whether it’s Teddy and his perfect teacher mode, Sonia telling herself that “today will be a good day” and talking herself down from her competitiveness, or Zach plastering on a smile and nodding in agreement with his parents or teachers while dying inside. They are all brilliantly written, the author once again using her skill of bringing characters to life to evoke a visceral reaction in the reader. 

Our main protagonist is Teddy Crutcher. Recently crowned Teacher of the Year, Teddy is a petty, bitter man with a superiority complex. He seems to dislike everyone, thinking the worst of them, and delights in doing anything possible to pull them down or take revenge over the smallest perceived slight. But he tells himself he’s helping them, making them better people and teaching them life lessons. And he’s willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do that. Including murder. Teddy is brilliantly written. He’s instantly unlikeable, though the true depths of his villainy are hidden behind a mask of professionalism  and delusion. Cold, callous and calculating, the truly frightening thing about him is that he is totally unapologetic of his actions, even proud of them, and sees himself as these people’s saviour. All while plotting their downfall and demise. 

Deliciously dark, devious and menacing, the tension rises with every shocking twist in this propulsive thriller. It will make your jaw hit the floor and leave you reeling. But the author balances that with moments of dark humour and emotion that enhance the charm of this book. If you love a well-written and atmospheric thriller, then this is for you. Read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Downing is the author of the bestselling My Lovely Wife, nominated for Edgar, ITW, Macavity, and CWA awards. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel. Her second book, He Started It, was released in 2020 and became an instant international bestseller.

For Your Own Good was released on July 20, 2021. It has been optioned by Robert Downey Jr. and Greg Berlanti for HBO Max.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon| Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*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
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: She’s Mine by A. A. Chaudhuri

Published: August 18th, 2021
Publisher: Hera Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction, Urban Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mind-blowing thriller. Thank you to Hera Books for the ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Her missing daughter was just the start of the nightmare

Twenty years ago, Christine Donovan took a call she should have ignored while shopping. In those few seconds while her back was turned, her toddler, Heidi, was kidnapped. She’s never been seen again.

Despite having two other children with husband Greg, Christine remains guilt-stricken that her neglect caused her child to be stolen, while haunted by a secret that consumes her.

Just as she takes measures to finally heal, a note is posted through her door, with the words she has always longed to hear: Heidi isn’t dead.

Christine might finally get the answers she craves – but what she doesn’t know is that finding her daughter will uncover dark secrets close to home.

In seeking the truth, Christine might destroy everything that she loves … so how far is she willing to go to find Heidi?

With a truly jaw-dropping end twist, She’s Mine is a dark, scandalous, and gripping read from a major new talent in psychological thriller writing. For fans of Harriet Tyce, C.L. Taylor and Apple Tree Yard.

********

MY REVIEW:

Secrets. Lies. Deceit. Vengeance. A mother’s worst nightmare come true. These are the things at the heart of this twisty psychological thriller. Like an iceberg, there is much more to this story than at first appears; layers hidden beneath the surface that slowly reveal themselves to the reader. Intricately woven and expertly plotted, the author skillfully crafts a hall of smoke and mirrors where nothing is quite what it seems and each time you think you have it figured out, that things couldn’t get any more dark, sinister or shocking, Chaudhuri pulls the rug from under you and leaves your jaw on the floor. 

Utterly mind-blowing and addictive, this is exactly the kind of dark and twisted thriller that sings to me. A story oozing with atmosphere that has tension leaping from the pages. It takes you on a wild ride, your heart pounding as you immerse yourself in this convoluted game of revenge. My mind was full of so many theories and suspicions, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, unable to turn away as things spiraled more and more out of control. But would I be proven correct or be blindsided by the truth? I couldn’t wait to find out. 

The author tells the story from multiple points of view and various timelines, seamlessly shifting between them and creating a connection between the reader and each character. It offered us a glimpse of the fuller picture. An insight into the character’s true selves. What they really think and feel. The things they kept secret from those closest to them. It allows us to explore their deepest, darkest memories, dreams and fantasies in a way that wouldn’t have been possible if we’d only had one or two points of view. 

What I think I loved most about this story is the complex, fractured and unlikeable characters. No one is completely innocent. And no one is completely guilty. A miasma of despair surrounding them.  It is a hard feat to pull off writing so many unlikeable characters while also making them compelling, but Chaudhuri does so with finesse, managing to add sympathetic qualities to even the most detestable characters. A great example of this is Chrissy. As the mother of the missing child you would traditionally expect her to be a very likeable, sympathetic character. But she’s not. She repeatedly makes bad choices and is a selfish woman who made me frustrated and angry most of the time. 

She’s Mine is a dark, devious, warped and suspenseful psychological thriller that quite honestly blew my mind.  And that ending: Wow! It was impossible to predict, my jaw was on the floor when the kidnapper was unmasked and the truth was revealed. This is by far one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time. If you like this genre then READ THIS BOOK. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

A. A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer. After gaining a degree in History at University College London, she later trained as a solicitor and worked for several major London law firms before leaving law to pursue her passion for writing. She is the author of The Scribe and The Abduction, books 1 and 2 of her Kramer & Carver legal thriller series featuring the feisty Maddy Kramer, also published in audio. Her first psychological thriller with Hera Books, She’s Mine, will be published in 18th August 2021. Represented by Annette Crossland of A for Authors Literary Agency, she lives in Surrey with her family, and loves films, all things Italian and a good margarita!

#1 Amazon Australia Amateur Sleuth Mysteries (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Canada Women Sleuth Mysteries; (Aug ’19) top 10 Amazon UK Legal crime thrillers (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Australia Legal Thrillers (November ’19)

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon | Apple Books | Kobo
*This is an affiliate link

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Blog Tour: Patience by Victoria Scott

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Humour, Holiday Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this phenomenal debut. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

If you were offered a chance to cure your child’s disease, would you take it?

‘A thought-provoking, compelling and entertaining read. I could barely put the book down until its equally heart-wrenching and heart-warming ending. A wonderful, smart and funny book – I know readers will absolutely love it’ Louise Fein, bestselling author of People Like Us

The Willows have been through a lot. Louise has devoted her life to caring for her disabled youngest daughter. Pete works abroad, almost never seeing his loved ones. And their eldest, Eliza, is burdened by all the secrets she’s trying to keep from her overloaded family.

Meanwhile, Patience observes the world while trapped in her own body. She laughs, she cries, she has opinions and knows what she wants. But those who love her most – and make every decision about her life – will never know.

Or will they? When the Willows are offered the opportunity for Patience to take part in a new gene therapy trial to cure her Rett syndrome, they face an impossible dilemma. Are the very real risks worth the chance of the reward, no matter how small?

********

MY REVIEW:

Normal doesn’t exist. We are all extraordinary.

Patience is a truly remarkable debut. Heartbreaking, harrowing, honest and hopeful, this 

is a thought-provoking, no-holds-barred look at what life is like for those with severe disabilities, how it affects their families, and challenges our concept of what a good life actually looks like. 

Thirty-year-old Patience Willow has Rett Syndrome. She is unable to walk or talk and requires twenty-four hour care. When a new gene therapy offers the hope of reversing the condition, her family find themselves in an impossible dilemma. Is the chance of giving Patience the life they dreamed of for her worth the risks? And is it what she would want?

 “She realised she had spent almost all of Patience’s life waiting for a miracle.”

The author tells the story from the points of view of each of the Willow family: Louise, Pete, Eliza and Patience. This allows us an intimate glimpse at the ripple effect of disability on those around them. We see the strain it has put on all of their relationships, especially Louise and Pete’s marriage, the financial strain, the pressure Eliza feels to fulfill her parents dreams and be everything her sister can’t, how caring for another person can slowly wear you down and the guilt and anger they all feel.

The decision to give Patience a voice is my favourite part of this book. And what a loud and memorable voice she has! By giving her the voice life has denied her, the author  makes Patience visible and reminds the reader that she is a three-dimensional character who is as nuanced and complex as any other person. That she is someone who has her own thoughts, feelings, desires and dreams, despite her inability to communicate them. We get an insight into how she feels having to watch her sister have the things she can never have, how it feels knowing she is the ‘cause’ of her family’s struggles, and what life is really like for her. We are the only ones who get to see the woman she is inside, that she is an intelligent and funny person that understands everything. And I absolutely adored her. 

“Over the years I’ve heard many doctors, carers, nurses and social workers debate whether I have a decent quality of life or not. So I’d like to state here, for the record, that I do. I don’t have anything to compare my life to, of course, but then, who does?”

Through this story the author challenges the concept of what a fulfilling and happy life actually is. As someone with a disability myself, albeit a much milder one than Patience,  this is something I love and appreciate. Life doesn’t have to look a certain way to be valuable. A life with limits can be happy and meaningful and, as Patience herself observes, being able-bodied does not necessarily equal happiness and contentmentin life. This is what is at the heart of the family’s dilemma over whether to enter Patience into the gene therapy.  She seems happy, so is it worth risking that to give her a life they consider more ‘normal’? Personally, I would cure my own illnesses in a heartbeat and would love a better quality of life.  But there are some risks I wouldn’t take to achieve that and it doesn’t make my life any less joyful or meaningful as it stands. 

“But the thing was, he didn’t see her as broken. He saw her as whole, as a person in her own right, her own special variety of normal.”

Victoria Scott is a spectacular talent. She writes with heart, humour, compassion and raw honesty, managing to educate while also entertaining. I was completely invested in the lives of this family and they felt so real to me, like I could go to Oxford and pay them a visit. The Author’s Note at the end of the book is a must-read as she talks about her inspiration for the story. It was no surprise to learn that she has intimate knowledge of living alongside someone with Rett Syndrome and I believe this book will not only educate people like myself who knew nothing about the illness, but offer comfort to those who have a loved one with the illness. 

An extraordinary story about family, love and hope, this is a book that will linger long after reading and hold a special place in my heart. Read this book. I can’t recommend it enough. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Victoria Scott is a British novelist, journalist, lecturer, copywriter and media trainer with two decades of experience working for online, print, TV and radio outlets around the world.

Currently, Victoria is lead tutor of the NCTJ Journalism Diploma at Sutton College, South London, and a lecturer in journalism at Kingston University.

She is also a novelist, represented by agent Hannah Weatherill at Northbank Talent Management. Her debut novel Patience will be published in 2021 by Head of Zeus, and in German translation by Droemer Knaur.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx