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BLOG TOUR: Dirt by Sarah Sultoon

Published: Janaury 19th, 2023
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Political Thriller, Political Fiction, War Story
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this compelling thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part, and Karen at Orenda for the ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A compulsive, searing political thriller set on a kibbutz in Northern Israel, where the discovery of the body of an Israeli-Arab worker sets off a devastating chain of events…


‘A first-class political thriller’ Steve Cavanagh
 
‘A bitingly sharp, pacy thriller. Devilishly good. I inhaled it’ Freya Berry 
 
‘A powerful political thriller that brims with authentic detail. Clever, compulsive and achingly atmospheric’ Kia Abdullah 
 
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This is no utopia…

1996. Northern Israel. Lola leaves an unhappy home life in England for the fabled utopian life of a kibbutz, but this heavily guarded farming community on the Arab-Israeli border isn’t the idyll it seems, and tensions are festering.

Hundreds of miles away, in the Jerusalem offices of the International Tribune newspaper, all eyes are on Israel’s response to a spate of rocket attacks from Lebanon, until cub reporter Jonny Murphy gets a tip from a mysterious source that sends him straight into the danger zone.

When the body of an Arab worker is discovered in the dirt of the kibbutz chicken house, it triggers a series of events that puts Lola and the whole community in jeopardy, and Jonny begins to uncover a series of secrets that put everything at risk, as he begins to realise just how far some people will go to belong…

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MY REIVEW

“The body steamed gently in the heat as the birds pecked their way around it, the fetid smell of chicken feed mingling with the sulphurous whiff of smashed eggs. The pecking became indecorous as the hardest-working chicken, a champion amongst fowl, found an eyeball. Then another.”

When a thriller opens with lines like that you know you’re in for a great read. And Dirt did not disappoint. There is a sense of foreboding that hovers over the pages from the start, something ominous in the air that we are yet to discover. And there is a lot to discover in the complex, layered and twisty political thriller filled with secrets, tension and cover-ups.

1996 is a nostalgic year for me. I was 17-years-old and it was the year I felt I found a sense of freedom and adventure among my peers, so I instantly connected with Lola who is experiencing that on a much bigger scale in this story. Lola has left behind her unhappy home life in England for an adventure in Northern Israel alongside her Jewish best friend, Sam. The two are working as volunteers on a kibbutz, a fabled utopian farming community located on the Arab-Israeli border. There is a real sense of family living and working alongside these people every day. But when a body is found in the heavily guarded community all signs point to murder, and it seems Lola doesn’t know these people as well as she thought.

Meanwhile, our other narrator, Jonny, is hundreds of miles away in Jerusalem. Jonny has also come to the country to find himself, a quest to learn more about his heritage after his Jewish mother was disowned by her family for falling in love with his Irish father. A reporter for the International Tribune, a source alerts him to the body discovered on the kibbutz. Unable to resist the lure of a story, he travels there to investigate, not realising the dangerous chain of events he is about to ignite.

“You have no idea what you’ve stumbled into. Everyone thinks that it is simple – both sides hate the other and will fight to the death until one of them wins. Nothing’s ever that simple though is it?” 

Sarah Sultoon isn’t afraid to tackle a difficult subject. Her debut, The Source, was a hard-hitting read and this one is just as unflinching. Alongside her examination of the Arab-Israeli conflict is an exploration of identity that also touches on subjects such as prejudice and sexual assault. While there are occasional gruesome scenes, it is never graphic and she instead focuses on the emotions of the characters to tell her story, making the reader feel everything alongside Lola and Jonny. The writing is so evocative that I was transported and it was almost like I could feel the heat of the sun bearing down on me in the kibbutz or feel the terror as rockets flew overhead during an air raid. It gave me a real connection not only to the characters, but to the setting itself, something that is very important in this book.

A clever, intriguing and intricate thriller that I’d highly recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer, whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if… Sarah lives in London with her family, and she’s currently working on her second thriller

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xx

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

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REVIEW: No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby

Published: Mach 2nd, 2023
Publisher: Aria
Genre: Satire, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for No Life For A Lady. Thank you to the Tandem Collective for my place on the VIP readalong and Head of Zeus for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

The most joyful book of 2023!

Violet Hamilton is a woman who knows her own mind. Which, in 1896, can make things a little complicated…

At 28, Violet’s father is beginning to worry she will never find a husband. But every suitor he presents, Violet finds a new and inventive means of rebuffing.

Because Violet does not want to marry. She wants to work, and make her own way in the world. But more than anything, she wants to find her mother Lily, who disappeared from Hastings Pier 10 years earlier.

Finding the missing is no job for a lady, but when Violet hires a seaside detective to help, she sets off a chain of events that will put more than just her reputation at risk.

Can Violet solve the mystery of Lily Hamilton’s vanishing before it’s too late?

A delightfully quirky and clever book club read, perfect for fans of Dear Mrs BirdThe Maid and Lessons in Chemistry.

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MY REVIEW:

“Detective work is no life for a lady.”

A joyous romp with lashings of humour, No Life For A Lady is an original and uplifting debut. It follows Violet, a delightful new heroine who I absolutely adored. She isn’t your typical Victorian woman, going against social conventions by not wanting to get married and pursuing a career instead. But more than anything else, what Violet wants is to find her mother, Lily, who vanished 10 years ago. But there is no such thing as a lady detective, so Violet hires a professional to help, sparking a chain of events that risk not only Violet’s reputation, but unearths shocking secrets that some people will do anything to keep hidden. 

I’m a big fan of historical fiction, mysteries and uplift, so this was the perfect mix of genres for me. It was an absolute joy to read and I couldn’t get enough of Violet and her antics. The mystery unravels slowly, with some twists and surprises along the way, but what I particularly liked was that this is also the story of Violet’s journey of self-discovery, author Hannah Dolby weaving the two storylines together so they are inextricably linked. I loved how Dolby injected so much heart, humour and joy into the book, making a story that could have been very dark into one that radiates fun and hopefulness. 

Violet is a great protagonist. Inquisitive, tenacious and full of charisma, she was easy to like and root for, though I would sometimes cringe at her naivete that is a product of both her sheltered upbringing and the times they lived in. Violet lives in a time where autonomy for women is still an alien concept and there strict moral and societal codes she is expected to adhere to. But Violet rails against this, wanting to make her own way in life and pursue a career, rather than making marriage her priority and only goal in life. At 28 she is deemed pretty much over the hill and the idea she might not actually want a husband is unthinkable to most. She is a new favourite heroine of mine and I can’t imagine anyone not loving her. 

Funny, quirky and addictive, this marvellous debut is one you all need on your TBR. I’m hoping Ms. Dolby will turn this into a series so I can return to Violet and her antics again and again. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hannah’s first job was in the circus and she has aimed to keep life as interesting since. She trained as a journalist in Hastings and has worked in PR for many years, promoting museums, galleries, palaces, gardens and even Dolly the sheep.

She completed the Curtis Brown selective three-month novel writing course, and she won runner-up in the Comedy Women in Print Awards for this novel with the price of a place on an MA in Comedy Writing at the University of Falmouth. She lives in London and her debut novel, No Life for a Lady, will be published in Spring 2023.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Her Deadly Promise by Carla Kovach (Detective Gina Harte Book 12)

Published: December 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Her Deadly Promise, the latest compelling thriller in the fantastic Detective Gina Harte series. Thank you to Noelle at Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Four-year-old Kayden has been sitting alone on the little patch of tired grass outside his house for hours. His cheeks are wet with tears as he waits for his mother’s warm embrace. But she’ll never arrive to pick up her darling boy. She’ll never be seen again…

Church Road is a quiet corner of suburbia where happy families play in the local park and neighbours smile as they pass in the street. But behind the bright red door of number 8 lies the body of Billie Reeves, a young mum who just took her last breath.

Serena is Billie’s sister. When she found out her boyfriend had been obsessively calling Billie, she’d all but cut her from her life. But not before vowing she would make Billie pay for ruining her relationship…

Shaun is Billie’s ex-boyfriend. He left her the moment she fell pregnant. When he turned up at Billie’s door, demanding to see Kayden, she refused to take the risk of him hurting her precious son. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his little boy back…

Nadia is Billie’s best friend. Their kids attended the same school and Billie often opened up to Nadia about her struggles as a single mother. She knows Billie’s deepest, darkest secret. She promised never to tell, but that was before the argument…

When police investigate the quiet little street, they discover everyone was whispering about Billie’s late-night callers. What was going on behind the closed door of Billie’s small home? And if someone was prepared to kill her, what do they know, and who will be next?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, will love Her Deadly Promise – a completely gripping crime thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page!

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MY REVIEW:

“One thing I don’t know is how it all ends, but I know it’s not going to be pretty. It’s going to be explosive.”

Four-year-old Kayden has been playing outside in his garden for hours. His mother, Billie, told him not to come in the house until she tells him to, so he’s waiting for her to call him. But she never will. Because while Kayden was playing someone brutally murdered his mother in their home. 

Detective Gina Harte and her team are called in to investigate the shocking crime. Who could commit such a savage act? As they delve deeper, they discover that things are not as simple as they seem and that this is a case filled with dark secrets that could hold the key to cracking the case. They just have to unravel them first. 

The twelfth book in the Detective Gina Harte series is another gripping thriller. Infused with mystery and a sense of imminent danger, I was on the edge of my seat as I tried to figure out the secrets each of the characters were hiding. It had a dark and ominous atmosphere, like there was something evil lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce. And I couldn’t get enough. 

While I enjoy a good standalone thriller, there is something to be said about coming back to characters you know and love. It’s like catching up with an old friend and I’ve come to care about Gina and her team. Gina herself is one of my favourite crime protagonists, and it was hard to see her going through such a hard time in this book. But in addition to the regular characters, each instalment in a series requires new characters and Ms. Kovach manages to create fascinating new characters who draw us in and tug on our heartstrings or enrage us again and again. And while we know one of them is our killer, the mask they wear is so convincing that it can be hard to see their true face. This was particularly true in this story and my jaw was left on the floor at the big reveal. 

Carla Kovach is one of my auto-buy authors thanks to this series. Her books are always well written, morally complex, darkly thrilling, and filled with compelling characters. I also enjoy how she weaves important issues such as domestic violence, mental health, and, in this book, the cost of living crisis into her stories, giving them greater depth and making the reader think. I also like that her books are often hard to predict, keeping me on my toes as I read. But this time she had something truly tantalising in store with the book’s final line. How can you do that to me?! I need the next book now! I’m going to be thinking about what it could mean until book thirteen.

Suspenseful, captivating and twisty, this is perfect for anyone who enjoys a multilayered thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carla Kovach is a USA Today bestselling author from the UK and is published by Bookouture, Sphere and Boekerij. Her DI Gina Harte series has been translated into Dutch.

As well as novels, she has also written stage and screenplays.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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BLOG TOUR: Suicide Thursday by Will Carver

Published: November 24th, 2022|
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Hardboiled, Noir Ficiton, Crime Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Suicide Thursday. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

A disenchanted man struggles to get beyond the first chapter of the books he’s writing, and to separate fact from fiction in his own life. His friend’s suicide changes everything … The mind-blowing, heart-rending new thriller from cult bestselling author Will Carver.
 
‘One of the most exciting authors in Britain’ Daily Express

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Eli Hagin can’t finish anything. 
 
He hates his job, but can’t seem to quit. He doesn’t want to be with his girlfriend, but doesn’t know how end things with her, either. Eli wants to write a novel, but he’s never taken a story beyond the first chapter. 
 
Eli also has trouble separating reality from fiction. 
 
When his best friend kills himself, Eli is motivated, for the first time in his life, to finally end something himself, just as Mike did…
 
Except sessions with his therapist suggest that Eli’s most recent ‘first chapters’ are not as fictitious as he had intended … and a series of text messages that Mike received before his death point to something much, much darker…

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MY REVIEW:

“Suicide is a beginning for those left behind.”

Bold, uncompromising and unique, Suicide Thursday is another thought-proovoking novel from the incomparable Will Carver. 

Aspiring writer Eli Hagin can’t finish things. He can’t get past the opening chapter of his book, can’t end his relationship, and can’t leave the job he hates. But when his best friend takes his own life Eli finds himself feeling motivated to finally finish something. But not everything is as it seems and fact begins to merge with fiction as the truth behind Mike’s suicide is revealed…

This is one of those books that haunts your subconscious long after reading and I have not stopped thinking about it. Will Carver is a master of his craft, holding us in the palm of his hand from beginning to end as he explores a multitude of social and moral topics in this genre-blending tale. I am a proud member of the #CarverCult and I will pick up his books without even looking at the synopsis. They are like nothing else you will ever read, but you know you are getting a story that is meticulously written, twisty, sinister and atmospheric. 

The story is told by multiple narrators using mixed media as it moves between the days leading up to Sucide Thursday and the heartrending aftermath. This is a story filled with flawed, unreliable and unlikable characters. Eli is particularly abhorrent; selfish, acerbic and unfeeling. I couldn’t decide if he was simply a terrible person or if there were elements of neurodiversity that affected his perception of the world. There was nothing that could excuse him deciding Mike had killed himself as a message to him rather than an expression of his own desperation though and I really hated him at times. But he was great to read. 

As someone who has lost friends to suicide and struggled with mental health, I was a little apprehensive about how I’d feel reading this book. But while this is undoubtedly hard to read, Carver skillfully and realistically conveys the psychological and emotional torment of depression and suicidal thoughts, and the complex layers of the particular kind of grief that comes with losing a loved one in this way. Carver is also an author with a knifelike awareness of the human condition who gets to the heart of why people behave like they do. 

Disturbing, moving and darkly funny, Suicide Thursday is a compelling and audacious novel that stays with you. Highly recommended.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for both the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2020 and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*These purchase links are affiliate links

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BLOG TOUR: The Coming Darkness by Greg Mosse

Published: November 10th, 2022
Publsiher: Moonflower Publishing
Genre: Thriller, Legal Thriller, Spy Stories, Dystopian Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this heart-pounding dysopian thriller. Thank you to Sofia at Midas PR for the invitation to take part and to Midas PR and Moonflower Publishing for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

A thrilling debut that has been likened to John Le Carré and Raymond Chandler . . .

Paris, 2037. Alexandre Lamarque of the French external security service is hunting for eco-terrorists. Experience has taught him there is no one he can trust – not his secretive lover Mariam, not even his old mentor, Professor Fayard, the man at the centre of the web. He is ready to give up. But he can’t.

In search of the truth, Alex must follow the trail through an ominous spiral of events, from a string of brutal child murders to a chaotic coup in North Africa. He rapidly finds himself in a heart-thumping race against chaos and destruction. He could be the world’s only hope of preventing THE COMING DARKNESS . . .

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MY REVIEW:

Paris, Summer 2037. Alexandre Lamarque of the French external security service is hunting for eco-terrorists. Experience has taught him to trust no-one – not even his mentor, Professor Fayad or his secret lover, Mariam. He follows the trail of a string of brutal child murders, a chaotic coup in North Africa, and the extraction of its leader while under fire, all against the stressful backdrop of his mother fighting a new virus that threatens her life. As events spiral further out of control, Alex is haunted by the coming darkness he sees looming on the horizon. Can he discover who is trying to once again destabilise climate controls and prevent them from wreaking destruction on the world?

Greg Mosse’s compelling debut is set in a dystopia not too far into our future. References to Covid 19, climate change and other current events make the world he has created feel frighteningly familiar.  Like we are glimpsing a possible future rather than reading fiction. It jumps straight into the action and is filled with an ominous tension and sense of foreboding from beginning to end.  While it is mostly steady or fast-paced, there was a time where I felt it slowed down and the plethora of characters we follow got a little confusing, but this soon changed and I was left on tenterhooks as I read, rooting for Alex as he tries to save the world. He is a great protagonist who is easy to get behind and relate to, even in the most extraordinary of circumstances.

Timely, thought-provoking and intelligent, this is not your average thriller and I’d recommend reading it even if you aren’t usually a fan of dystopian fiction.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From Greg’s Website:
Greg Mosse is currently the founder and leader of the Criterion New Writing script development programme at the Criterion Theatre, London, giving free opportunities in script development to a diverse community of writers, actors and directors.

Since 2015, he has written and produced 25 plays and musicals, often in collaboration. Over the same period, with Lou Doye, Doye Mosse Productions has created and financed an incredible range of traditional, VR and augmented reality story-telling experiences.

During the coronavirus lockdowns, he wrote two-and-a-half novels, of which THE COMING DARKNESS will be the first to be published.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purhcase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Weather Woman by Sally Gardner

Published: November 10th, 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasty Fiction, Historical Romance, Supernatural Fiction, Regency Romance, Historical Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the enchanting and orignal, The Weather Woman. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The rich and atmospheric new novel from prize-winning author Sally Gardner, set in the 18th century between the two great Frost Fairs.

Neva Friezland is born into a world of trickery and illusion, where fortunes can be won and lost on the turn of a card.

She is also born with an extraordinary gift. She can predict the weather. In Regency England, where the proper goal for a gentlewoman is marriage and only God knows the weather, this is dangerous. It is also potentially very lucrative.

In order to debate with the men of science and move about freely, Neva adopts a sophisticated male disguise. She foretells the weather from inside an automaton created by her brilliant clockmaker father.

But what will happen when the disguised Neva falls in love with a charismatic young man?

It can be very dangerous to be ahead of your time. Especially as a woman.

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MY REVIEW:

“To see things differently is a gift, Neva. It makes you unique.”

I’m delighted to be opening the tour of The Weather Woman, the story of an extraordinary young woman trying to find her place in a world that has none for those who don’t fit the mould.  

Set in the early 1800s, it centres around a young woman named Neva with an unusual gift. She can predict the weather. But this is Regency England, a place where women are to be seen and not heard.  There is no place for an intelligent and educated woman with a unique talent in the male-dominated world of science. So she adopts a male persona and disguise in order to debate with them, and her father creates an automatron called the Weather Woman as the public face for Neva to make her predictions. But while she is happy to be making predictions and enjoys the freedom her disguises bring, it leaves her feeling even more of an outsider and fearing she will never find her place in the world.  

“I don’t fit the square, I’m too irregular; I’m too angular for the curves. This age is not made for me.” 

The story inside these pages is as lush as its gorgeous cover. Sally Gardner is a skilled storyteller, painting pictures with words as she weaves magical realism into historical fiction and mixes in an irresistible love story. The result is an atmospheric and beautifully descriptive tale that has an almost fairytale quality. The characters are richly drawn and compelling, with Neva being particularly memorable, and there are multiple threads that cleverly tangle together in some unexpected ways. I was captivated from the start, though there was a point I felt the story lost a little momentum and my mind started to wander, but it soon picked up and I lost myself in its pages once again. 

Enchanting, original, and filled with wonder, I’d recommend this book, especially if you enjoy stories with a magical twist.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From Sallly’s website:
I was born in Birmingham, near the Cadbury’s chocolate factory, and I grew up in Gray’s Inn, central London, in Raymond Buildings. My family (my parents, my younger brother and I) lived there because both my parents were lawyers. When I was around age five they separated and later divorced.

I was badly bullied at school because I was different from other children. I had trouble tying my shoes, and coordinating my clothes, and I had no idea what C-A-T spelled once the teacher took away the picture. My brain was said to be a sieve rather than a sponge – I was the child who lost the information rather than retained it.

​I stayed in kindergarten until I was really too old to be there and finally was asked to leave the school. This became a pattern that repeated itself throughout my learning years.

​At eleven I was told I was word-blind. This was before anyone mentioned the un-sayable, un-teachable, un-spellable word dyslexia, which, hey-ho, even to this day I can’t spell!

​I eventually ended up in a school for maladjusted children because there was no other school that would take me. I suppose this was the equivalent of what now would be a school for kids with ASBOs. I had been classified as “unteachable” but at the age of fourteen, when everyone had given up hope, I learned to read.

​The first book I read was “Wuthering Heights” and after that no one could stop me. My mother, bless her cotton socks, said that if I got five O-levels I could go to art school, and much to my teachers’ chagrin, I did just that. At art school I shot from the bottom to the top like a little rocket.

​I left Central St. Martin’s Art School with a First Class Honours degree and then went to Newcastle University Theatre, where I worked as a theatre designer. One of the first shows I worked on was The Good Woman of Szechuan by Bertolt Brecht which transferred to the Royal Court Theatre.

​After that I spent 15 years in the theatre, but gave up working as a set designer because I found my dyslexia to be a problem when drawing up technical plans for the sets. Instead I concentrated on costumes.

​Ironically, when I went into writing, where I assumed my dyslexia would be a true disability, it turned out to be the start of something amazing. I was more than blessed to meet an editor, Judith Elliot, who was to play an important part in my journey to being a writer.

I strongly believe that dyslexia is like a Rubik’s Cube: it takes time to work out how to deal with it but once you do, it can be the most wonderful gift.

​The problem with dyslexia for many young people – and I can identify with this – is that their confidence is so damaged by the negativity of their teachers and their peers that it takes a very strong character to come out of the educational system smiling.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Call of Cassandra Rose by Sophia Spiers

Published: October 13th, 2022
Publisher: Lume Books
Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Call of Cassandra Rose, a sinister, unnerving and addictive debut. Thank you to Anne from Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Sophia Spiers for the gifted signed ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Annabelle seems to have it all. The perfect house, a successful husband, a darling son. But Annabelle is troubled. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, failing at motherhood, and at odds with her new privileged lifestyle, Annabelle begins to self-harm, a habit resurrected from her traumatic past. When she meets the alluring and charismatic hypnotherapist Cassandra Rose, she is offered a way out. Through hypnosis, Annabelle is encouraged to unearth her painful repressed memories and face her childhood demons. But as the boundaries between her hypnotic trance and reality begin to dissolve, Annabelle becomes increasingly vulnerable to much darker forces. Filled with twists and suspense, The Call of Cassandra Rose is a chilling thriller that examines how trauma shapes our lives and asks whether we can ever really escape our pasts.

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MY REVIEW:

“From the moment she had pulled me out of hypnosis, and I’d opened my eyes, I knew I wanted more. I was hooked. 
She’d done the impossible: she’d helped me to escape.” 

Sinister, dark and unnerving, The Call of Cassandra Rose is a compelling debut that oozes an anxious tension from start to finish.  Hard to predict, it keeps you on your toes with its jaw-dropping twists and turns that hit like bolts out of the blue. New author Sophia Spiers shows that she is a talent to watch as she tackles difficult subjects such as mental health, self-harm, abuse and trauma.  Skillfully and sensitively written, it is also achingly real and so hard to read at times that I had to put it aside and take a break before coming back to it.  

In the story’s narrator, Annabelle, Spiers perfectly captures how it feels to be in the grip of the black hole of anxiety and depression,  the fear, isolation and self-doubt of domestic abuse, the power of trauma and the overwhelming battle to fight the urge to self-harm. Annabelle is wracked with guilt, insecurities and is often naive.  Her world a claustrophobic state of terror that is suffocating and you can feel her increasing desperation to uncover the truth of the buried trauma that plagues her subconscious. She was someone I liked, empathised with and felt a strong connection to.  Someone I wished I could reach into the book and save. 

The eponymous Cassandra Rose is the antithesis to Annabelle.  Magnetic, alluring and enigmatic, the hypnotherapist appears like a much-needed saviour.  Annabelle sees her as her only hope of getting better and believes she’s piecing her back together like no one else can.  But from the start there was something about Cassandra Rose I didn’t trust and I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I certainly never imagined what was to come and was left reading in breathless anticipation as Spiers took me on a crazy ride that left me speechless.. 

Atmospheric, harrowing and addictive, this unique debut left me wondering what the hell I’d just read.  I’m still not sure.  But I would highly recommend you read it and try to find out for yourself. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Self harm, mental health, domestic abuse 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sophia, a Londoner of proud Italian and Greek heritage, studied Film and TV at university. In her twenties she worked in TV and post-production before turning her attention to her true passion: writing. In 2019, she graduated from Faber Academy’s Writing A Novel course and has completed her debut novel, The Call of Cassandra Rose. Sophia lives in North London with her husband, two children, two cats and dog named Ripley.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones| Amazon

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

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BLOG TOUR: The Wife Next Door by Rona Halsall

Published: October 12th, 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the unsettling and unexpected The Wife Next Door. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

It was meant to be the perfect break-up…

Just because it’s over between us, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. My ex-husband and I still care for each other a lot, and we are determined to put our sweet little boy, Toby first.

Now we’ve moved into houses right next door to each other, with each of our new partners and their children. We’ve even knocked down the garden fence, so Toby can easily run between our homes.

But it seems not everyone is happy about this big, blended stepfamily. I try to ignore the viciously-worded note in the ‘new home’ card, the red pen scrawled through my divorce paperwork, and the day I find myself locked into my house, all the keys suddenly missing…

But I can’t pretend it’s all in my head when a false accusation is made against me that could destroy my life – and Toby’s – forever.

Someone doesn’t like what’s happening under these two neighbouring roofs.

What they don’t know is that they’re messing with the wrong person. And that hell hath no fury like the wife next door…

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MY REVIEW:

Jess and her ex-husband Rob are determined not to let their break-up stop them from being friends.  In an attempt to put their son, Toby, first they move into new homes next door to each other with their new partners and their children and try to create the perfect blended family.

But it seems someone isn’t happy about the new arrangements: there are threatening messages, strange incidents and malicious accusations.  Jess’s family are concerned she’s paranoid but she’s sure someone is out to get her and tear their new blended family apart…

Taut, tense and filled with surprising twists, this is another first-class domestic thriller from Rona Halsall.  Rona was one of the first authors whose books I reviewed and has become a must-read author for me.  So much so that I don’t even read the synopsis before requesting her books or applying for the blog tour.  She can be relied upon to deliver an intriguing, gripping and entertaining read filled with revelations I never saw coming.  The Wife Next Door certainly lived up to those expectations, keeping me guessing up until the jaw-dropping finale.

Protagonist Jess was a great character.  Halsall puts the reader in her shoes and makes us feel everything she does.  I felt pretty sure she wasn’t paranoid but also couldn’t decide who could be behind what was happening.  My heart went out to her as things spiralled out of control and I helplessly watched her life fall apart.  Would she be able to prove her innocence? Or would Halsall deliver one of her sensational twists to reveal she isn’t who I thought?  

Unsettling, claustrophobic and totally riveting, this is a must-read for any thriller lover.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rona is the author of Best Selling psychological thrillers published by Bookouture. She loves a puzzle to solve, so now she writes them… her challenge is to find domestic storylines with twists that keep her readers guessing right to the end.

She has been a bit of a nomad during her adult life, moving around the north of England. Then she settled in Snowdonia, North Wales where she brought up her family while working as a business mentor. She now lives on the Isle of Man with her husband and two dogs.

She is an outdoorsy person and loves stomping up a mountain, walking the coastal paths and exploring the wonderful glens and beaches on the Island while she’s plotting her next book. She has three children and two step-children who are all grown up and leading varied and interesting lives, which provides plenty of ideas for new stories.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Waterstones

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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

BLOG TOUR: The Maids of Biddenden by GD Harper

Published: May 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Ginger Cat
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this extraordinary tale, The Maids of Biddenden. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Ginger Cat for the gifted copy of the book.

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MY REVIEW:

‘There is no me; there is no you.
There is only us.’

The Maids of Biddenden is inspired by the real-life story of conjoined twins Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, born in 1100 into a wealthy family from a small Kent village.

Joined at the hip, the sisters overcome fear and hostility to grow into gifted and much-loved women – one a talented musician and song-writer, the other a caring healer and grower of medicinal plants. Entangled in the struggles for power and influence of the great Kent nobles of the time, they achieve much in their lifetimes and leave behind a legacy in Biddenden that survives to this day.

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MY REVIEW:

“Bishop Gundulf had told her of the abbey’s dark secret. And, since then, the thought of it has accompanied her ever waking moment. Today she would see it in the flesh. It. She. They? What was best? Soon she would know.”

Two young ladies.  Two minds.  But one body.  Meet Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst, the Maids of Biddenden.  

This fascinating novel is inspired by the real-life story of conjoined twins born in a small Kentish village in 1100.  Born joined at the hip, the sisters were not expected to survive and were taken to the local abbey to live out their short lives.  But these remarkable girls overcame expectations and flourished, living to 34 years of age and leaving behind a legacy that remains to this day.

Until I received the invitation to this blog tour I had never heard of the Maids of Biddenden but I was immediately intrigued.  How would people of the twelfth century react to conjoined twins?  And what kind of life were they able to live?  Author GD Harper answers these questions and more, skillfully and evocatively bringing Eliza and Mary’s story to life.  

“We were observers of each other’s world and it was wonderful these worlds were different. God ordained that our bodies were bound together, but not our minds. Our minds soared off in different ways, giving us a degree of freedom from each other.”

I was enthralled by these extraordinary women and lost myself in their story.  When we first meet them they are just six-years-old and live hidden from view at the abbey, knowing nothing of the outside world.  We follow them as they return to live with their family, discover the world outside the abbey’s walls and the prejudice of people who have never before seen conjoined twins.  They face unique struggles which we watch them overcome to achieve things that nobody ever expected: Eliza becoming a talented musician and song-writer and Mary becoming a great and renowned healer.  Harper provides insight into the Maids’ innermost thoughts and dreams, allowing the reader to really connect with and feel for them.  What struck me most about Eliza and Mary was not only their strength, but their individuality, something many didn’t see, expecting them to be the same person in mind as well as body.  But they couldn’t be more different from one another, something that poses its own set of challenges that they conquer with the same tenacity as every other obstacle in their path.  

Captivating, uplifting and moving, this is a story that will stay with you long after reading.  A book I would highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

GD Harper is a past winner of a Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Lightship Prize for first-time authors and longlisted for the Page Turner Book Award and the UK Novel Writing Award.

His first historical novel, ‘The Maids of Biddenden’, has already been shortlisted for the 2021 Impress Award, longlisted for the 2021 Exeter Novel Prize, the 2021 Cheshire Novel Prize and the Flash 500 Novel Award, and was a 2021 Page Turner Writer Award finalist.

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BUY THE BOOK

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: Mika In Real Life by Emiko Jean

Published: September 8th, 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Literary Fiction, Humorous Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the moving and heartfelt Mika in Real Life. Thank you to Jen at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

AT 35, MIKA SUZUKI IS STRUGGLING.

She’s been fired (again). Her last relationship went up in flames. Her mother is perpetually disappointed in her.

And now, she’s had a phone call from sixteen-year-old Penny Calvin: the baby she reluctantly placed for adoption when she was just a teenager herself.

Penny has questions – and Mika is desperate to meet her girl. But she barely feels like she can take care of herself . . .

Is she ready to show Penny who Mika Suzuki really is?

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MY REVIEW:

“All these moments live in me still. You live in me still. Half of my breaths, a quarter of each heartbeat, are yours. I guess that’s what happens when you have children — they take a piece of you.”

Mika in Real Life was a hidden gem that took me by surprise.  The story opens with a letter from Mika to her daughter and then jumps back to the day Mika receives Penny’s first phone call seven months earlier.  What follows is a heartfelt, funny and insightful tale of self discovery that explores the powerful bond between a parent and child.  By the third page I already felt broken and I was unprepared for the emotional journey this takes you on, going through a rainbow of emotions over the next 375 pages.

Wonderfully written and compelling, Emiko Jean perfectly captures the essence of the parent and child bond; the intensity, fear, sacrifice, constant change, grief and inadequacy you feel as a part of your heart walks around outside your body.  As a mother myself, I felt so much of this story on a visceral level.  It was like my own heart and soul was wide open for all to see.  She also examines how the reality never quite measures up to the fantasy and expectations we have and how parenthood is the epitome of learning the art of letting go, something that really hit home with me as the mother of two eighteen-year-olds going through that stage of spreading their wings.

“It was a kind of beautiful agony having a child. Feeling their emotions as well as your own.”

Mika is one of those characters you cannot help falling in love with.  She is a mess, has no idea what she’s doing or who she is and makes some huge mistakes, but that is part of her charm and what makes her so relatable.  I was rooting for her at every step and enjoyed reading as she found herself while getting to know Penny.  It is so easy for us to get caught up in where we thought we should be in life and compare ourselves to others and Mika is a great reminder why that isn’t healthy and why we should celebrate what we have rather than chastising ourselves for what we don’t have or didn’t accomplish. 
The book is also filled with great background characters.  I loved Penny and thought the author did a fantastic job of really capturing both how it feels to be a teenager and how it feels to parent one.  I also had a real soft spot for Thomas and enjoyed seeing a positive but realistic representation of a single father.  

Moving, witty and layered, this delightful book is one that will linger long after turning the final page.  Highly recommended.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

When Emiko is not writing, she is reading. Most of her friends are imaginary. Before she became a writer she was an entomologist (fancy name for bug catcher), a candle maker, a florist, and most recently a teacher. She lives in Washington with her husband and children (unruly twins). She loves the rain.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstone | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links