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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Keep It In The Family by John Marrs

Published: October 18th, 2022
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Literary Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this chilling novel. Thank you to FMcM for the invitation to take part and my copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

In this chilling novel from bestselling author John Marrs, a young couple’s house hides terrible secrets―and not all of them are confined to the past.

Mia and Finn are busy turning a derelict house into their dream home when Mia unexpectedly falls pregnant. But just when they think the house is ready, Mia discovers a chilling message scored into a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. Following the clue up into the eaves, the couple make a gruesome discovery: their dream home was once a house of horrors.

In the wake of their traumatic discovery, the baby arrives and Mia can’t shake her fixation with the monstrous crimes that happened right above them. Haunted by the terrible things she saw and desperate to find answers, her obsession pulls her ever further from her husband.

Secrecy shrouds the mystery of the attic, but when shards of a dark truth start to emerge, Mia realises the danger is terrifyingly present. She is prepared to do anything to protect her family―but is it already too late?

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MY REVIEW:

“You feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You’re looking into their eyes. A person in that situation is God.”

– Ted Bundy

When a book opens with a quote from a notorious, sadistic serial killer you know it’s going to be a wild ride.  From the first page I had shivers down my spine and was on the edge of my seat, full of anticipation at the promise of such a chilling tale.  

Mia and Finn’s new house is a dilapidated two-storey detached Victorian house on an ordinary street.  It’s a house you’d never really notice but for the young couple this house is a promise of a better future.  But what they don’t yet know is that it is also a place harbouring dark secrets.  Secrets that the person who is quietly watching them knows.  The truth finally begins to emerge after the couple make a gruesome attic in the attic that haunts Mia and leaves her desperate to uncover the truth of what happened in the house.  But someone else will do anything to keep it from being uncovered.  The only question is, which of them will succeed?

“He isn’t the first to be caught in their web and he won’t be the last. Most of them beg for mercy but they are all wasting their time. There will be no change of heart because there never is. No one under this roof believes in compassion. Empathy is an alien emotion here. “

OMG!  What the f#@% did I just read?!  Deliciously dark, marvellously menacing and totally twisted, I am slightly terrified of John Marrs after reading this; though I would love to peek inside his mind to know how he came up with what is his darkest book yet.  I’ve been a big fan of Marrs’ books since I first read The One upon its release in 2017, and with every book he just gets better.  He truly is the king of the twisted psychological thriller.  Everything about his books makes my thriller-loving heart sing as he holds me hostage, my heart pounding as I read with baited breath as he drops clues like breadcrumbs to build the suspense.  Every time you think all the twists have been revealed and you have it all figured out he will pull the rug from under you and turn the world upside down.  It’s a never-ending maze of secrets, lies and murder.  Twist after twist that makes your jaw drop and your head spin.  And I can’t get enough of it. 

This story makes even the most messed-up and crazy family you know seem sane. By giving each of them a voice we are able to really get inside their minds and discover who they are. I felt most drawn to Mia, my heart going out to her in particular after the events at the end of part one.  I also really enjoyed the play on the traditional awful mother-in-law trope. Debbie is detestable for so many reasons and I admit I was team Mia from the start. 

But it is the mystery narrator who I felt was most powerfully written.  Though they are clearly a killer with a warped moral code, they are utterly fascinating. Through flashbacks to their childhood we learn that they are a creation of their horrific experiences, my heart breaking for what they endured and witnessed.  Writing a one-dimensional villain is easy, but it takes true talent such as that possessed by Marrs to craft such a mesmerising yet chilling portrayal of a disturbed individual who is both repulsive yet sympathetic. 

“To some, I’m a saviour, but to others, I’m a monster. I know what my work has been about, all the souls I’ve saved from torment. It’s part of the bargain that I can never share my role with the world. There’d be no hope of them understanding. Blinkered as they are, I could only be a monster. “

But who was our mysterious villain?  I enjoyed trying to piece the clues together to work out the answer but the clever red herrings left by the author led me to also suspect the innocent at times.  Even when I’d guessed correctly I discovered there were yet more crazy antics to come as this person toyed with their victims further and prolonged their torment with glee.  When and how would it end?  I had no idea.  But I don’t think I could have guessed what was in store even with infinite opportunities.  

Keep It In The Family is my new favourite John Marrs book.  And I think it will be yours too after you read this dark, sinister and mind-blowing tale.  Just buckle yourself in and enjoy the ride.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

John Marrs is an author and former journalist based in London and Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. His books include No1 bestseller and Netflix series The One, The Passengers, award winning What Lies Between Us and The Good Samaritan.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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book reviews

REVIEW: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

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

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

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THE HOUSE OF FORTUNE PRE-ORDER COMPETITION

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

Pre-order the book here*

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SYNOPSIS:

The phenomenal Number One Bestseller

Winner of the Specsavers National Book Award 2014

Waterstones Book of the Year 2014

Selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club 2015

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

Her novels have been published in 40 languages.

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

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

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*

*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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

BLOG TOUR: The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance Novel, Book Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent book. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Freed from Pompeii’s brothel. Owned as a courtesan. Determined to have revenge. Her name is Amara. What will she risk for power?

Amara has escaped her life as a slave in Pompeii’s most notorious brothel. She now has a house, fine clothes, servants – but all of these are gifts from her patron, hers for as long as she keeps her place in his affections.

As she adjusts to this new life, Amara is still haunted by her past. At night she dreams of the wolf den, and the women she left behind. By day, she is pursued by her former slavemaster. In order to be truly free, she will need to be as ruthless as he is.

Amara knows she can draw strength from Venus, the goddess of love. Yet falling in love herself may prove to be her downfall.

The House with the Golden Door is the stunning second novel in Elodie Harper’s celebrated Wolf Den Trilogy, which reimagines the lives of women who have long been overlooked.

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MY REVIEW:

“There is always a price to pay for underestimating a woman.”

Ever since the jaw-dropping ending of The Wolf Den I have been impatiently awaiting book two in the trilogy and the chance to find out what was next for Amara, her fellow she-wolves and the residents of Pompeii.  The story picks up a few months after the shocking events at the end of book one: Amara is no longer a slave working at the brothel but a freedwoman living in the house with the golden door that her patron Rufus rents for her.  While happy to be free, she is haunted by her past, misses her friends and lives in fear of losing Rufus’ favour and her position as his concubine.  Her former master is also out for revenge and she must find a way to keep herself safe against not only him, but the man on whom she now relies.  

Once again I was utterly captivated by the mesmerising world that Elodie Harper brings to life on the pages. So evocative that it was like I was watching it all unfold on a movie screen in vivid technicolour, she transported me back to the ancient streets of Pompeii at a time when they were bustling with life and the fate awaiting this doomed city was unimaginable.  Her research and attention to detail is exquisite, depicting day to day life in a believable and entertaining way as she explores everything from mundane domesticity to the exciting but bloodthirsty sports citizens of Pompeii once enjoyed. 

“Amara wonders how long they will all be together in a household like this, and it is not only the habitual fear of being separated from Philos that makes her chest tighten. She has grown used to this place, to the strange almost-family of women she has collected.”

The Amara of this book is both the same and completely different. I enjoyed watching her learn to navigate the new world she inhabits and how skillfully she plays the game.  She is a strong, intelligent woman who now not only has a thirst for revenge and determination to survive, but more autonomy and power than before, though she does fear she will never completely be free.  But one of my favourite things about these books is the sisterhood the women share.  There are new characters and alliances alongside the old ones, but themes of strength, tenacity, vulnerability and wiliness remain and I enjoyed seeing them gain more power and freedom than they had in the brothel.  A sisterhood I particularly enjoyed was the blossoming friendship between Amara and Britannica.  I loved that Britannica was given such a large role in this story and how we finally got to see the person lurking beneath the silent savage we met in book one.  I adore this fierce Briton and she has become my favourite character.

Enthralling, exhilarating and unflinching, The House with the Golden Door is an accomplished piece of historical fiction.  If you’re a fan of the genre then you need to read this outstanding series.  Sadly I now have the agonising wait for the final instalment…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Elodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, which was judged by Stephen King.

She is currently a reporter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News. Her job as a journalist has seen her join one of the most secretive wings of the Church of Scientology and cover the far right hip hop scene in Berlin, as well as crime reporting in Norfolk where her first two novels were set – The Binding Song and The Death Knock.

Elodie studied Latin poetry both in the original and in translation as part of her English Literature degree at Oxford, instilling a lifelong interest in the ancient world. The Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy of novels about the lives of women in ancient Pompeii.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

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

BLOG TOUR: Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Phoenix
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medical Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for for this astonishing, powerful and unforgettable novel. Thank you to Alex at Phoenix Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Montgomery, Alabama. 1973. Fresh out of nursing school, Civil Townsend has big plans to make a difference in her community. At the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic, she intends to help women make their own choices for their lives and bodies.

But when her first week on the job takes her down a dusty country road to a tumbledown cabin, she’s surprised to find that her new patients are just eleven and thirteen years old. Neither of the Williams sisters has even kissed a boy, but they are poor and Black, and for those handling their welfare benefits, that’s reason enough to have the girls on birth control. As Civil grapples with her new responsibilities, she takes India and Erica into her heart and comes to care for their family as though they were her own. But one day she arrives at their door to discover the unthinkable has happened, and nothing will ever be the same.

Inspired by true events and a shocking chapter of American history, Take My Hand is a novel that will open your eyes and break your heart. An unforgettable story about love and courage, sisterhood and solidarity, it is also a timely and hopeful reminder that it only takes one person to change the world.

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MY REVIEW:

“How dare they?  Our bodies belonged to us. Poor, disabled, it didn’t matter.  These were our bodies, and we had the right to decide what to do with them.  It was as if they were just taking our bodies from us, as if we didn’t even belong to ourselves.” 

Of the many profound quotes in Dolen Perkin-Valdez’ astonishingly powerful Take My Hand, it is this one that I feel best sums up its message.   If the erosion of human and female reproductive rights matters to you, then this is probably the most key piece of literature you can read right now.  A story about poverty, race, eugenics and the fight for justice and equality, this mesmerising novel is a reminder that we must heed the mistakes made in our history to avoid repeating them once more.

“We thought we were doing something useful for society, but this is where the so-called good deed had gotten us. Right smack into a nightmare.” 

Set in Montgomery, Alabama in 1973, the story follows Civil Townsend, a newly qualified nurse working at the Montgomery Family Planning Clinic.  Civil is a young woman who believes in the good work she’ll be doing at the clinic serving poor Black women.  She believes in the difference that can be made to their lives through contraception and good care and has a strong moral code that guides her.  But when she’s given her first case she is shocked to discover her patients are sisters aged just eleven and thirteen and that they are on the new Depo-provera shot.  What follows is a shocking tale based in fact that goes beyond these two innocent young girls and even Alabama, shocking the entire United States.  It will leave you outraged, appalled, heartbroken and determined never to allow such a tragedy to happen again. 

“History repeats what we don’t remember…”

I believe there are some books that come at the perfect time.  That you read them when you are meant to in order for them to have the greatest impact on you and change your life in some way.  That is what happened with this book.  It feels like fate that this book, set around the time of Roe vs Wade, is being released just as courts in America threaten to overturn it and take away the rights of women once again.  It feels like a call to arms to protect these rights and prevent the events of this story from ever happening again as they threaten to do if women’s rights are once again stripped away.

“I had never known that good intentions could be just as destructive as bad ones.” 

Though based on a true case, the characters and events are fiction, but Ms. Perkins-Valdez writes so exquisitely that you believe every word is real as she breathes such life into the richly drawn characters that they felt like flesh and blood that stood in front of me.  Her writing is hypnotic yet invigorating, both putting a spell on me so I was lost in its pages and filling me with a passion to ensure such evil never happens again.  It is a memorable masterclass in storytelling that made this book immediately take a place as one of my favourites of all time.

“A year never passes without me thinking of them. India. Erica.  Their names are stitched inside every white coat I have ever worn.  I tell this story to stitch their names inside your clothes too. A reminder to never forget.  Medicine taught me, really taught me, to accept the things I cannot change. A difficult-to-swallow serenity prayer. I’m not trying to change the past. I’m telling it in order to lay those ghosts to rest.” 

Civil is a remarkable heroine and I adored her.  Intelligent, strong, brave and kind, she only wants to do good in the world and is devastated to learn that good intentions don’t always mean a good outcome.  She is also still trying to come to terms with her own trauma that is portrayed in such a real, but sensitive way that really connects you to her pain.  
Erica and India, the sisters at the heart of this tragedy, are two girls that you can’t help but take into your heart just as Civil did.  From the start I was desperate to know what fate had befallen them but was unprepared for the shocking truth that tore my heart in two and made tears fall from my eyes.  I wanted to hold those sweet girls and undo everything that they were forced to endure.  I was thankful that they found a champion in Civil who would fight for them to her last instead of allowing them to remain a silent statistic like so many others before them.  She gave them a voice when no one else was willing to hear them and made an entire country listen to what they had to say.  

“There is no greater right for a woman than having a choice.”

Magnificent, timely, poignant and immersive, this unforgettable novel rocked me to my core and seared itself into my heart, mind and soul. A story that everyone needs to read, I can’t recommend it highly enough and will be putting it into the hands of everyone I possibly can. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the author of the New York Times bestselling novel WENCH. In 2011, she was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction. In 2017, HarperCollins released Wench as one of eight “Olive Titles,” limited edition modern classics that included books by Edward P. Jones, Louise Erdrich, and Zora Neale Hurston.

Dolen received a DC Commission on the Arts Grant for her second novel BALM which was published by HarperCollins in 2015.  In 2013, Dolen wrote the introduction to a special edition of Solomon Northup’s Twelve Years a Slave, published by Simon & Schuster, which became a New York Times bestseller. She followed that with an introduction to Elizabeth Keckly’s Behind the Scenes published in 2016.  Dolen is a 2020 nominee for a United States Artists Fellowship.

Her forthcoming novel TAKE MY HAND will be published April 2022 by Berkley/Penguin Random House.

Dolen is the current Chair of the Board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. On behalf of the foundation, she has visited nearly every public high school in the District of Columbia to talk about the importance of reading and writing.   She is currently Associate Professor in the Literature Department at American University and lives in Washington, DC with her family.

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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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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REVIEW: Elektra by Jennifer Saint

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

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

Published: March 31st 2022
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Contemporary Literature, Romance Novel, Humorous Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this spectacular debut. Thank you to Viking for the invitation to take part and gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Yinka wants to find love. Her mum wants to find it for her.

She also has too many aunties who frequently pray for her delivery from singledom, a preference for chicken and chips over traditional Nigerian food, and a bum she’s sure is far too small as a result. Oh, and the fact that she’s a thirty-one-year-old South-Londoner who doesn’t believe in sex before marriage is a bit of an obstacle too…

When her cousin gets engaged, Yinka commences ‘Operation Find A Date for Rachel’s Wedding’. Armed with a totally flawless, incredibly specific plan, will Yinka find herself a huzband?

What if the thing she really needs to find is herself?

MARIE CLAIRE ‘BEST BOOKS OF 2022’ AND FEBRUARY PICK FOR MALALA’S LITERATI BOOKCLUB

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MY REVIEW:

Let me just start by saying that everyone needs to read this book! Funny, heartwarming and addictive, Yina Where is Your Huzband? is feel-good fiction at its absolute best.  This delightful debut is a balm for the soul and I inhaled it quickly, too hooked to put it down for long and unable to stop thinking about it whenever it wasn’t in my hands.  Lizzie Damilola Blackburn is a magnificent storyteller and I am an instant fan. I will pre-ordering anything she writes in future without hesitation. 

The story centres around thirty-one year old Yinka.  Yinka wants to find love but her interfering mum and aunties want to find it for her.  They do this by attempting to set her up with any bachelor they come across that they deem suitable and publicly praying for God to deliver her from the curse of singledom.  They see her love for chicken and chips over traditional Nigerian food as an obstacle and think she’s already over the hill.  
When her cousin announces her engagement Yinka decides it’s time to take matters into her own hands and launches Operation Wedding Date.  Will she find love in time for the wedding?  Or does she need to find herself first?

Yinka is a single-woman’s heroine for the modern age.  A kind of spiritual, 21st Century Bridget Jones.  And I absolutely adored her.  She was easy to relate to and root for and I was cheering for her every step of the way as she tries to navigate not only societal and cultural expectations of who she is and what her life should look like, but the expectations of her well meaning, but interfering, family.  I also loved the author’s realistic portrayal of complex family dynamics and friendships and the effect they can have on our behaviours.  
Just like Yinka, the other characters are fascinating, vibrant, memorable and leap from the pages.  There is also a chaos and craziness to both the characters and the story that is part of their charm.  It also helps to convey to the reader the feelings of mounting pressure that Yinka experiences, making my own heart pound with stress at times. 

Yinka Where Is Your Huzband? was everything I’d hoped for and more.  I never wanted it to end and actually hugged the book to my chest after reading.  It is a story not only about the search for love, but also a journey of self-discovery and learning to love ourselves. 
Yinka and her story are perfect for the big screen and I truly hope to see them there soon.  Does anyone have Reese Witherspoon’s number?

READ THIS BOOK NOW!  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn is a British-Nigerian writer, born in Peckham, who wants to tell the stories that she and her friends have longed for but never seen – romcoms ‘where Cinderella is Black and no-one bats an eyelid’. In 2019 she won the Literary Consultancy Pen Factor Writing Competition with the early draft of Yinka, Where is your Huzband?, which she had been writing alongside juggling her job at Carers UK. She has been at the receiving end of the question in the title of her novel many times, and now lives with her husband in Milton Keynes.

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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.

Categories
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

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

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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 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.

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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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.

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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: ✮✮✮✮✮

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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.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*
*These are affiliate links

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

Categories
book 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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx