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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Plague Letters by V. L. Valentine

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller

SYNOPSIS:

WHO WOULD MURDER THE DYING…

London, 1665. Hidden within the growing pile of corpses in his churchyard, Rector Symon Patrick discovers a victim of the pestilence unlike any he has seen before: a young woman with a shorn head, covered in burns, and with pieces of twine delicately tied around each wrist and ankle.

Desperate to discover the culprit, Symon joins a society of eccentric medical men who have gathered to find a cure for the plague. Someone is performing terrible experiments upon the dying, hiding their bodies amongst the hundreds that fill the death carts.

Only Penelope – a new and mysterious addition to Symon’s household – may have the skill to find the killer. Far more than what she appears, she is already on the hunt. But the dark presence that enters the houses of the sick will not stop, and has no mercy…

This hugely atmospheric and entertaining historical thriller will transport readers to the palaces and alleyways of seventeenth-century London. Perfect for fans of Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Andrew Taylor and C.J. Sansom.

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MY REVIEW:

Hear ye! Hear ye! The society for the prevention and cure of the plague is now in session. And they’re hunting for a killer. Could he be closer than they think?

London, 1655. The Bubonic Plague is spreading and the number of corpses piled in the churchyard grows each day. But the virus isn’t the only killer stalking the city. There is another threat hidden in their midst. One that lingers in the shadows hunting its prey just waiting for the perfect time to strike. Someone is murdering the dying; kidnapping those suffering from the plague and subjecting them to horrific experiments. 

Rector Symon Patrick is the one to first notice the strange marks on some of the dead in his parish. Together with Penelope, a mysterious young woman who recently joined his household, and a group of medical professionals calling themselves the plague society, he sets out to find the merciless killer.

A gripping whodunit with a sinister and supernatural twist, this is an outstanding debut. Valentine transports you back to a time of death and peril, taking you on a journey  through the filthy, pestilence-ridden streets of London. Her vast knowledge and research on this subject and time period is clearly shown in the societal, cultural and medical details she has woven into the story. The imagery is so vivid that you can almost smell the rot and decay in the air as the virus ravishes the population. 

It starts at a steady pace, slowly building up the mystery and tension. There is a creeping malice woven through the pages as the barbaric killer commits  gruesome acts of torture on already suffering victims. We know he is a cunning predator, so disturbed that he believes himself to be doing good, but everything else is a guessing game where we are almost as clueless as Symon and Penelope. Everyone is a suspect, and I had no one suspect in my mind even as we approached the big reveal. 

Most of the novel’s fascinating and memorable characters are based on real historical figures, adding to its air of authenticity. The protagonist, Symon, is a hapless sleuth who bumbles his way through the investigation. He isn’t even focused on his job as rector, instead more concerned with his complicated romance with a married woman. It is Penelope, the mysterious woman who has made herself a place in his household. Feisty, resilient and courageous, she was my favourite character. I loved how she was the total opposite of Symon and the driving force in the investigation, propelling things forward when he and the other members of the plague society would have just allowed things to happen. 

Atmospheric, haunting, compelling and darkly humorous, I lost myself in this book, relishing every word as I indulged my deep fascination with this time period and my love of historical and gothic mysteries. A delight for anyone who enjoys the genre, don’t miss this eerie tale. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

V.L. Valentine is a senior science editor at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., where she covers infectious disease outbreaks such as the coronavirus pandemic, Ebola and the Zika. She has a master’s in the history of medicine from University College London. Her non-fiction work has been published by NPR, The New York Times, The Smithsonian Channel and Science Magazine.

Twitter |

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Viper Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book. Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Lost Hours by Susan Lewis

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

SYNOPSIS:

A perfect marriage…

Golden couple Annie and David Crayce have it all. A loving marriage, three beautiful children and a thriving family business. Life couldn’t be better. Until the unthinkable happens…   

A perfect crime? 

A piece of damning DNA evidence has arisen, placing David as the prime suspect of a murder committed twenty-years ago. Annie is sure her David is innocent. But if he isn’t guilty, then either his father or brother must be. 

As the police investigate the cold case, so does Annie. Trawling through her old diaries, she begins desperately looking for answers. But it all comes down to a few lost hours she can’t solve.

And Annie begins to doubt the one person she thought she knew best… Her husband.

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MY REVIEW:

“The perfect family… until you scratch the surface and out come all the bugs.”

The Lost Hours is the story of a picture-perfect family who seem to have it all until a damning piece of DNA evidence shows there is a killer lurking among them. Is it David; the police’s prime suspect in the twenty-year-old case who swears his innocence? Or his father or brother; who also claim to know nothing about the death of the local teenager. The police and the family are all searching for answers in this compelling and emotional page-turner. 

This story is every family’s worst nightmare: DNA evidence proves that someone in your family is linked to a murder but everyone swears they are innocent, and you don’t want to believe that someone you love, that you thought you knew, could have murdered a 17-year-old girl and then kept it hidden for twenty years. Told by dual narrators in dual timelines, it moves seamlessly between them to tell the story as it unfolds in the present day while also detailing events leading up to and immediately after Karen’s murder. 

The author starts the story with the unearthing of Karen’s body not long after her disappearance and then jumps forward twenty years, immersing us in the world of the Cayce family. We get to know the family, and while they may be a little too perfect, a little too twee, and the children a little spoiled, I did like them. It is cleverly written, as allowing us to build this rapport with them before the shock of the DNA evidence leaves you with the same sense of disbelief Annie has that anyone in this family could be hiding such a dark secret. Combined with her evocative writing this makes it one of those books you really feel while reading; feeling all of the pain, confusion and torment that Annie and the others are going through. 

For me, it was this emotional side of the story that I found most compelling. Seeing the mystery from that angle and watching as the family’s perfect world crumbled around them was what got my blood pumping and had me on the edge of my seat. I didn’t really vibe with Natalie, the detective investigating the murder. I found her annoying and it felt like she was allowing her own past to influence her investigation. I could have happily read the book without her point of view and think this would have been a five star read for me if the second narrator had instead been the mysterious murderer rather than Natalie. 

The Lost Hours is a taut, twisty, atmospheric and heart-rending family drama with a mysterious twist that keeps you guessing. I would recommend this book, and this author, and look forward to reading more of her work in the future.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Susan Lewis is the internationally bestselling author of over forty books across the genres of family drama, thriller, suspense and crime, including One Minute Later, My Lies, Your Lies and Forgive Me. Susan’s novels have sold nearly three million copies in the UK alone. She is also the author of Just One More Day and One Day at a Time, the moving memoirs of her childhood in Bristol during the 1960s.

Susan has previously worked as a secretary in news and current affairs before training as a production assistant working on light entertainment and drama. She’s lived in Hollywood and the South of France, but now resides in Gloucestershire with husband James, two stepsons and dogs.

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Website |Instagram |Twitter |Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and to Harper Collins UK for the gifted copy of the book. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Tandem Readalong

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

Published: February 16th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:

With bits of BuffyGame Of Thrones and Outlander, this is a glorious series of total joy – Stylist

Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, richly imagined Court of Thorns and Roses series continues with the journey of Feyre’s fiery sister, Nesta

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger and slow to forgive. And since the war – since being made High Fae against her will – she’s struggled to forget the horrors she endured and find a place for herself within the strange and deadly Night Court.
The person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred, winged warrior who is there at Nesta’s every turn. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. And when they are forced to train in battle together, sparks become flame.
As the threat of war casts its shadow over them once again, Nesta and Cassian must fight monsters from within and without if they are to stand a chance of halting the enemies of their court. But the ultimate risk will be searching for acceptance – and healing – in each other’s arms.

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MY REIVEW:

“Immortality was not a serene youth.
It was fire.”

ACOSF was one of my most anticipated books of the year, so I was thrilled when Tandem Collective UK offered me the chance to take part in a readalong of the book. At over 700 pages it is an intimidating tome, and I admit that I found the first third of the story quite slow and difficult to get into. But once things got going it was addictive, and I flew through the pages quickly; holding on for dear life as Maas took me on a high-octane and emotional thrillride. 

“So Nesta had become a wolf. Armed herself with invisible teeth and claws, and learned to strike faster, deeper, more lethally . Had relished it. But when the time came to put away the wolf, she’d found it had devoured her, too.”

ACOSF stands out from the other books in the series as it shifts from telling Feyre’s story to that of her fiery sister, Nesta. I was initially hesitant about this as I’ve enjoyed Feyre’s story and love her as a character, while Nesta wasn’t someone who lit up the pages and drew me in. But after reading it I can say I’m glad the author gave us the chance to get to know Nesta as there is so much more beneath the feisty and sullen mask. She has a story that needs to be told; one that addresses mental health, trauma and PTSD.  I liked how Maas explored these issues not only through Nesta’s story, but also through the stories of other characters. There is a lot of discussion about the issues throughout the book and it will be hard for some to read. But as someone who lives with these issues, I found it to be sensitively written and liked that Mass highlighted things like the importance of facing your pain, self care, opening up to others, and celebrating the tiny steps that are huge accomplishments in your recovery.

“Perhaps in voicing those truths, they’d given them wings. And sent them soaring into the open sky above.”

Though the familiar faces from Night Court do feature in the book, Nesta spends most of the story away from them and has isolated herself on an emotional level too. This led the way for the introduction of Gwyn and Emerie, two new characters who I loved. They have also been through trauma and through their shared experiences they develop a truly special friendship and camaraderie. Watching as that blossomed and the women slowly began to recognise their inner strength, was probably my favourite part of the book. 

“Your power is a song, and one I’ve waited a very, very long time to hear, Nesta.”

There is no talking about this book without discussing the steam factor. I’ve been shipping Nessian for a while and was hoping for them to finally get together, and we all know there have been some hot scenes between Feyre and Rhys, but I was not prepared for the level of sizzle in this book. It’s so steamy that I would find myself blushing and feeling almost embarrassed to be caught reading it – and I was at home! I did enjoy the hilarious discussions with fellow bookstagrammers that it led to though. Maas has certainly moved away from young readers with the raunchy scenes in this book. So be warned.

“When you erupt, girl, make sure it is felt across worlds.”

Ms. Mass knows just how to keep the reader begging for more, ending the book with a heart-pounding finale that had me on the edge of my seat. It was an electrifying ending to a spectacular book and I can’t wait until the next installment. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Steam Rating:🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆

TW: Mental health, sexual assault, trauma 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, as well as a USA Today and international bestselling author. Sarah wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in thirty-five languages. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. Empire of Storms, the fifth Throne of Glass novel,is available now.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Bloomsbury UK for my gifted copy of the book and to Tandem Collective UK for the invitation to take part in the readalong.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Last Goodbye by Fiona Lucas

Published: March 18th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this beautiful novel. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

How can you ever move on, if you can’t let go?

‘A gorgeous book about second-chances, brimming with love and overflowing with hope’ Milly Johnson

A beautiful and poignant story of love, loss and finding hope where you least expect it, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Cecelia Ahern.

Anna’s world was shattered three years ago when her husband Spencer was killed in a tragic accident. Her friends and family think it’s time she moved on, but how can she when she’s lost her soulmate?

On New Year’s Eve, Anna calls Spencer’s old phone just to hear his voicemail greeting. But to her surprise someone picks up. Brody answers and is the first person who truly understands what Anna is going through. As they begin to speak regularly, Anna finds herself opening up and slowly she discovers how to smile again, how to laugh, even how to hope.

But Brody hasn’t been entirely honest with Anna. Will his secret threaten everything, just as it seems she might find the courage to love again?

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MY REVIEW:

“That’s the funny thing about the future, isn’t it? We have all these plans, some small, some grand, but things don’t always work out the way we expect them to.” 

The Last Goodbye is a story about love, loss and letting go. A story about finding joy in life, finding your strength and learning to dream again. Beautiful, heartbreaking, hopeful and uplifting, it is a story that will make you thankful for those you love and treasure all you have. 

The author addresses the many different facets of grief in this story and writes with an honesty and sensitivity that really makes you feel what the character does. She explores questions such as how do you start again, rebuild your life and your future without the person who was supposed to be there beside you? And how can you hope and dream again when your hopes and dreams were shattered in an instant? She also explores the idea that there is an acceptable time limit on grief and how you can’t move on until  you are ready. And how moving on looks different for everyone. 

An aspect of the book that particularly resonated with me was Lucas’ examination of anxiety, panic attacks and agoraphobia. Once again they are written with sensitivity and honesty and, as someone who has, and still does, experience these things, she has perfectly described how they make you feel. It was so vivid that I  could almost feel my own heart racing alongside theirs. 

I really liked Anna and Brody. They are great characters that I warmed to quickly. I was rooting for them and felt invested in their fate, both individually and as a couple. I liked their relationship, how they found solace in this stranger at the other end of the phone, how they inspired each other and helped each other find parts of themselves they thought were lost forever. Obviously, I was desperate to know what the mysterious Brody’s secret was. I had some ideas but didn’t get it right and thought the author did a wonderful job of making him so enigmatic, slowly unveiling parts of him to Anna and the reader at the same time. It had me on tenterhooks and made it impossible to put the book down. I needed answers! 

Tender, affecting, bittersweet and poignant, if you’re looking for a wonderful story that will give you all the feels, then this is the one for you.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Fiona Lucas is an award-winning author of contemporary women’s fiction. She has written heart-warming love stories and feel-good women’s fiction as Fiona Harper for more than a decade. Fiona lives in London with her husband and two daughters.

Website | Instagram | Twitter |Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers on the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles! Until next time, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Mystery by the Sea (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery Book 5) by Verity Bright

Published: March 11th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Cozy Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Historical Fiction

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

SYNOPSIS:

A magnificent seaside hotel, striped deckchairs, strawberry ice cream… and a rather familiar dead body? Lady Swift is on the case!

Spring, 1921Lady Eleanor Swift, explorer extraordinaire and accidental sleuth, hasn’t had a vacation since she arrived in England a year ago. Being an amateur detective can be a rather tiring business and she is determined to escape any more murder and mysteries. So she books into the Grand Hotel in the fashionable resort of Brighton for some fresh air, fish and chips and, of course, a dip in the ocean.

Eleanor is enjoying her view of the waves and trying to find her bathing suit when calamity strikes: a guest has been found dead at her beautiful hotel. The distraught manager, who can’t afford a scandal, asks Eleanor to solve the case as swiftly as possible. Thank goodness she has her partner in crime – Gladstone the bulldog – to help her sniff out the dastardly culprit.

But when Eleanor enters the dead man’s room, she receives a shock big enough to make her forget even the finest ice cream sundae. The body is that of her husband, who supposedly died six years ago on the other side of the world. Has he been alive all these years? Why does he have a copy of their wedding photograph with a cryptic message written on the back? If Eleanor can keep herself safe long enough to find her husband’s killer, she might discover that everything is not quite as it seems beside the seaside…

A warm and witty whodunnit! Fans of Agatha Christie, T E Kinsey and L.B. Hathaway will be utterly charmed by this addictive and absolutely gripping page-turner.

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MY REVIEW:

Brighton, March 1921. Lady Eleanor Swift is off on her first holiday since arriving back in England a year ago. The explorer extraordinaire and accidental sleuth is looking forward to some down time after the unexpected misadventures of recent months. But, before she’s even booked into her hotel, she is confronted by a dead body and yet another mystery waiting to be solved. The body belongs to Hilary, her husband who supposedly died six years ago. Can Eleanor decipher the few clues left behind to discover how he died twice and catch his killer?

Mystery by the Sea is a fun frolic that was like being in a time capsule; the author taking you back to a time when a trip to the English seaside meant striped deck chairs, donkey rides and a Punch and Judy show alongside the sea breeze, sandcastles and fish and chips. She brings it all to life so vividly that I felt like I was there walking along the breezy promenade, paddling in the sea and chasing a killer alongside the characters.

It is the fifth installment in the Lady Eleanor series but despite this it is easy to read as a standalone.  I can vouch for that as it was my first time reading this series.  Despite being an established series I never felt lost, quickly caught up on past events and soon felt like the characters and their relationships were familiar. 

Lady Eleanor is a dazzling heroine who I absolutely loved.  Outgoing, vibrant, daring and fiercely intelligent, she is a breath of fresh air and was a joy to read.  She and her butler, Clifford, make a compelling and entertaining duo who I could happily read again and again. I loved their witty banter and how their differences complement each other. Eleanor may dazzle alone, but she is even more glorious with him. The background characters are just as richly drawn; the female staff may not feature as heavily in the story but make a memorable impression and I can’t wait to see more of her blossoming relationship with DCI Hugh Seldon.

This book was just the tonic I needed on a difficult day.  Lively, charming, sharp and authentic, this glorious whodunnit lifted my spirits and left me yearning for more.  I didn’t need yet another series to add to my already bulging list, but I found one.  And I can’t wait to enjoy more of Lady Eleanor’s exploits. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon* (this is an affiliate link)

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Please read the reviews from other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Blog Tour: Saving Missy by Beth Morrey

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Ficiton, Pensioners in the Pages
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Hardcover

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the paperback release of Saving Missy. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part.

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SYNOPSIS:

Seventy-nine is too late for a second chance. Isn’t it?

Missy Carmichael is prickly, stubborn – and terribly lonely. Until a chance encounter in the park with two very different women opens the door to something new. Something wonderful.

Missy was used to her small, solitary existence, listening to her footsteps echoing around the empty house, the tick-tick-tick of the watching clock. After all, she had made her life her way.

Now another life is beckoning to Missy – if she’s brave enough…

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MY REVIEW:

“So the day ended as miserably as it began. But I still felt it somewhere — that spark. The beginning of something. Or the end. Who knows?” 

Saving Missy is a story exploring loneliness, human connection, letting go and learning to live again. When we meet Missy she is rattling around her big house all alone and has no real connections with anyone other than her emails and skype calls to her son and grandson in Australia. After fainting in the park she is taken under the wing of Sylvie and Angela, two vivacious women who, much to Missy’s surprise, seem to want to be her friend. The pair open up a new world to Missy full of exciting opportunities, friendship and happiness that she isn’t sure she deserves after the things she’s done. Can Missy let go of the past and embrace life?

I first encountered Missy when I read a sampler of the story before its release in early 2020. I quickly fell in love with Missy and the world the author had created and have been frustrated at not being able to find the time to finish reading it ever since. So when the opportunity to take part in the blog tour for the paperback release arose I jumped at the chance, eager to finally enjoy the rest of Missy’s story. And I’m so glad I did. 

“The first photo summed me up, mostly, but the second had exposed my other self, the tiny part of me that could laugh like that. I wanted to poke my way into that part… and open it up so that it overwhelmed the stiffness and self-consciousness and all the other weaknesses I despised. To be that relaxed, animated woman, put her on display and leave the other stuffed away.”

Missy Carmichael is a wonderful protagonist. She is a cantankerous old lady who, despite her hard, bristly and defensive exterior, was someone I soon had a soft spot for. She is deeply flawed, awkward, lonely and worries constantly what others think. She has also spent most of her life not saying the things she desperately wanted to and seems to have lived her life for others, mostly her husband Leo who she is now lost without. She has no real relationship with her daughter Melanie since a fight the year before and her adored son Alistair and grandson Arthur live in Australia, something she is deeply bitter about. While her resentment towards her eldest child and daughter in law was hard to stomach at times it made her a more real character. I also liked that she often recognised her flaws, even if she doesn’t always try to change them.

A vital part of understanding Missy comes from the flashbacks that are woven into the narrative. These flashbacks show the reader important moments in her life that have shaped her and help us to understand the different facets of her character. It is in these chapters that the author brings Leo to life, albeit from Missy’s perspective. It is impossible to not be shaped by a relationship that spanned almost six decades so I think this was a critical part of the story that really opened our eyes to why Missy is the woman we meet in the present day.

“The idea that these vibrant, diverting women wanted to spend time with me was as gratifying as the gift of the dog bed. I’d never really had female friends before.”

The supporting cast of characters are just as riveting and richly drawn as Missy and I particularly loved the dynamics of her friendship with Sylvie and Angela. As she slowly allowed them into her heart and home I enjoyed seeing her experience female friendship for the first time in her life and the impact it had on her. We began to see a softer side to her, particularly in her interactions with her adopted dog Bobby and Otis, Angela’s four-year-old son. The author took Missy on a compelling adventure and it was amazing to see the bravery and joy she showed in the latter parts of the story. It is a reminder of how important human connection is in life, that it is never too late to grab life by the horns or to change and make amends for your mistakes. 

Charming, thought-provoking, wistful and uplifting, Saving Missy is a wonderful debut. I got lost in its pages as the author took me on an unforgettable journey. In our current climate its message of the importance of human connection couldn’t be more timely and is a great reminder to reach out to others in any way we can. Everyone should read this book. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

I’m a TV producer by trade. For a long time I worked at RDF Television, where I helped create The Secret Life of Four Year Olds series on Channel 4 and devised 100 Year Old Drivers for ITV.

I’ve been trying to write a novel since my early 20s, when I wrote a spin-off from 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.

Saving Missy 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, admiring my dog every day and Christmas once a year.

Website | Instagram | Twitter |Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

********

Thank you for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: While Paris Slept by Ruth Druart

Published: March 4th, 2021
Publisher: Headline Review
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this remarkable debut. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Headline Review for the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

On a platform in occupied Paris, a mother whispers goodbye.
It is the end.
But also the beginning.

Santa Cruz 1953. Jean-Luc thought he had left it all behind. The scar on his face a small price to pay for surviving the horrors of Nazi occupation. Now, he has a new life in California, a family. He never expected the past to come knocking on his door.

Paris 1944. A young woman’s future is torn away in a heartbeat. Herded on to a train bound for Auschwitz, in an act of desperation she entrusts her most precious possession to a stranger. All she has left now is hope.

On a darkened platform two destinies become entangled. Their choice will change the future in ways neither could have imagined.

Beginning on an ordinary day and ending on an extraordinary one, WHILE PARIS SLEPT is an unforgettable read.

MY REIVEW:

Santa Cruz, 1953. Jean-Luc and Charlotte Beauchamp are living the American dream with their son Sam after fleeing Nazi occupation almost a decade ago. They have put the past behind them. Until the day a knock at their door resurfaces the everything they have tried to forget and the secret they have tried to bury since that fateful day at a Paris train station in 1944.

This book called out to me the moment I saw the cover. I love historical fiction and one of my favourite time periods is World War Two, so this was right up my street. Moving between dual timelines and multiple narrators, we are transported to Nazi-occupied France, the horrors of Auschwitz and post-war France and America to tell this story of love, loss, survival and forgiveness. 

Druart highlights the torment faced by those living under German occupation; their fear palpable as they go about their days starved from rationing, terrified of being taken away for the smallest violation and fearing for the lives of those that have vanished in an instant. She also examines the dilemma and guilt that haunts them: do they say nothing and survive? Or stand up for what is right and risk their lives? A similar question torments the Jews as they try to decide if they should comply with Nazi orders, whether it be to wear a star on their clothing or to do what they are told in the camps, even at the expense of the lives of others around them. Survival is a basic human instinct and the anguish radiates from the pages. 

Druart also looks at the PTSD experienced by survivors after the war and how they struggle with disbelief at what was done to them, wrestle with feeling like they should have done more or question why they were the ones to survive. There is also a profound sense of loss running through the story that takes many forms. Everyone has lost something because of the war. They have been altered by their experiences and the shape of their lives has changed because of them. It makes for difficult reading at time but conveys the true horror of war and its aftermath. 

But what is at the heart of this story is love. More specifically, it’s the love of a parent for their child. Samuel is the light in the darkness and the reason to survive for both couples. By asking someone to protect him when they were being taken to Auschwitz, Sarah put her son before herself and Samuel became the one thing keeping her and David going during their days in hell. For nine years they searched, missing their child and wondering if he was alive. Meanwhile Jean-Luc and Charlotte risked their lives to save this little boy. A stranger’s child. They trekked through France, over the Pyrenees and through Europe before finally entering America knowing they could be arrested and killed if they were discovered. Love for this child is at the core of their existence for both couples. Druart asks if the actions of the Beauchamps and the Laffittes were right, even if they were made from a place of love. She doesn’t judge, simply examines the effects of these decisions on everyone involved and invites the reader to decide for themselves.

While I felt for both couples, the person who I felt for most of all was young Samuel. This boy broke my heart. It was utterly heartbreaking to read as he was ripped from the only home and family he’s ever known, drugged, and taken to a foreign country where he didn’t speak the language to live with people he’s never met. They may be his biological parents but they are strangers to him. All of his emotional attachment and safety rests with the people he’s taken from and told he must never again have contact with. I just wanted to reach into the book and hug him. It is clear that everyone involved wanted what is best for him, but there are no winners in the tug-of-war for this child. Especially not him. 

Atmospheric, poignant, powerful and heartrending, While Paris Slept is a remarkable piece of historical fiction with a cinematic quality that makes it feel perfect for the big screen. Beautifully written and well researched, I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the genre or the time period. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruth Druart grew up on the Isle of Wight, moving away at the age of eighteen to study psychology at Leicester University. She has lived in Paris since 1993, where she has followed a career in teaching. She has recently taken a sabbatical, so that she can follow her dream of writing full-time.

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Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

Audio Blog Tour: The Abduction (Kramer & Carver #2) by A. A. Chaudhuri

Published: March 1st, 2021
Publisher: Lume Books
Format: Audio, Kindle, Paperback
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Today I’m thrilled to be closing the audiobook blog tour for The Abduction. Thank you to Lume Books and A. A. Chaudhuri for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

The gripping sequel to Amazon bestselling thriller, The Scribe.

Kramer and Carver are back…

Madeline Kramer has finally got her life back on track at top City law firm Sullivan, Blake, Monroe. But when two armed, masked men burst into a conference room one lunchtime, kidnapping a trainee and a partner, Maddy’s life is plunged into disarray once more—particularly when charismatic DCI Jake Carver, who caught a heartless killer when they last met and with whom Maddy shared a mutual chemistry, is called to the scene.

Things become more complicated when a disturbing video reveals two more trainees have been taken. What initially appears as a random kidnapping for mercenary gain soon evolves into something far more complex, the horrifying events of thirty years ago motivating the abductors and having colossal implications for those in the present…

Against a backdrop of sleaze, sex, lies and murder in The Abduction, Maddy and Carver must work together to unravel the truth, and ensure that no crimes—past or present—are left unpunished.

MY REVIEW:

The Abduction is the thrilling second installment in the Kramer & Carver series. I was delighted to be asked to review this book for an audiobook tour, something I’ve never done before.

The series follows lawyer Madeline Kramer and DCI Jake Carver. In this installment, the story opens with kidnappers storming the offices of Sullivan, Blake, Monroe, the top City law firm where Madeline now works, and abducting three trainees and a senior partner. As DCI Carver investigates, he discovers that the kidnappings are linked to dark, terrifying events thirty years ago and that this is a fight for justice both in the past and present.

I’ve not yet read the first book in this series but the author succinctly catches you up and never leaves you feeling out of the loop. The protagonists and supporting cast of characters are fascinating and richly drawn with compelling, intricate backstories that entwine them far deeper than we first imagine. The combination of the great writing and narration made it feel like they were in the room with you, transporting you into their world and the dark, twisted secrets of the staff at Sullivan, Blake, Monroe.

I liked Kramer and Carver and found them to be interesting and compelling protagonists. They were a great investigative team and I enjoyed the chemistry that sizzled between them. Though they tried to fight it, I was rooting for them to give in to how they felt for each other.

I enjoyed listening to this gripping, action-packed thriller. While it did take me a little while to warm to the narrator, I soon found myself hooked by the story and enjoying his riveting narration.

The Abduction is a multilayered, pacy and twisty story of decades old secrets, sex, lies, power, greed and vengeance that will have you on the edge of your seat. I will be reading the first book in this series and am looking forward to book three.

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

A. A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer. Once a highly ranked British junior tennis player, she went on to gain a degree in History at University College London, then trained as a solicitor and worked for several major London law firms before leaving law to pursue her passion for writing. In addition to books featuring the feisty Maddy Kramer, she has written four stand-alone novels, including racy thriller, Illicit Retainers, and political thriller, The Darker Side of White, yet to be published. She lives in Surrey with her family.

Amazon bestselling crime writer pub’d by Endeavour Media, rep’d A for Authors Literary Agency: #1 Amazon Australia Amateur Sleuth Mysteries (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Canada Women Sleuth Mysteries; (Aug ’19) top 10 Amazon UK Legal crime thrillers (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Australia Legal Thrillers (November ’19)

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BUY THE BOOK:
Amazon*| Waterstones*
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Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

Thank you for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Wedding by Ruth Heald

Published: March 3rd, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Audio, Paperback
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

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

SYNOPSIS:

Just four words were printed in the card. He doesn’t love you.

I’ve been dreaming about this day – marrying Adam, my childhood sweetheart, who I’ve loved for eighteen years.

I didn’t realise the perfect day would turn into the perfect nightmare.

I was so excited to send out the wedding invitations, carefully writing everyone’s names on thick cream paper in beautiful cursive script.

I had no idea I was inviting someone to destroy our marriage.

I couldn’t wait to say ‘I do’ surrounded by loved ones clinking champagne glasses.

I couldn’t imagine that one of them would try to hurt me.

It was meant to be the first day of the rest of our lives.

I never thought it would be the end of my life as I knew it.

We were meant to share our vows, to toast our future. But when the truth comes out, shocking the onlooking guests and ripping my heart out, is a happy ever after possible?

A completely gripping and totally addictive read that will get your blood pressure rising and send shivers down your spine. Fans of Date NightThe Sister-in-Law and The Girl on the Train will devour this twisty, dark and gasp-worthy page-turner in one swift gulp!

MY REVIEW:

“And then it hits me. I’m going to die here… On my wedding day. All because of her.”

Husband and wife-to-be Adam and Lauren narrate this story that takes place in the months and weeks leading up to their wedding day. The childhood sweethearts have been anticipating this moment for years. Eighteen years to be exact; ever since those first sparks flew between on a holiday to Thailand that we see in flashbacks from Adam’s perspective. 

But someone doesn’t want the couple to get their happily-ever-after and begins to try to sabotage both their wedding and their life together. Could till death do us part come sooner than they expect?

This is another first rate thriller from Ruth Heald, who has now secured a place on my must-read authors list. I devoured this book in just a few hours, the author holding me in the palm of her hands as she took me on one hell of a wild ride. I loved the darkly atmospheric world she crafted; the whisper of menace that hovered in the shadows sending shivers down my spine and making it impossible to stop reading. As the author slowly unveiled jaw-dropping twists that turn everything you thought you knew on its head, the story shifts to a much more nuanced and intricate thriller than it first appeared to be. I found this utterly addictive and it ensured I kept reading until ridiculous o’clock. I was totally invested and there was no way I could sleep without knowing who was behind all of this and what would happen to Lauren and Adam. 

Enthralling, taut, twisty and suspenseful, this packs a punch from the first pages and doesn’t let go. A spectacular and electrifying thriller that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the genre.

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruth Heald is the bestselling author of psychological thrillers I KNOW YOUR SECRET, THE MOTHER’S MISTAKE and THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS, and the relationship drama 27: SIX FRIENDS, ONE YEAR.

Ruth studied Economics at Oxford University and then worked in an eclectic mix of sectors from nuclear decommissioning to management consulting. She worked at the BBC for nine years before leaving to write full time. Ruth is fascinated by psychology and finding out what drives people to violence, destruction and revenge. She’s married with two children and her novels explore our greatest fears in otherwise ordinary, domestic lives.

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Please read the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Broken Ones (Detective Gina Harte Book 8) by Carla Kovach

Published: March 1st, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series

Welcome to my stop on the tour for The Broken Ones. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Amber applies a dash of red lipstick and checks herself out in the mirror before heading out on a date. ‘Don’t wait up!’ she calls to her housemates as she leaves. But Amber never returns home that night. Amber Slater is never seen again.

The last person to see Amber was her housemate. He remembers everything she was wearing that night. He watched her leave. He listened to every word of her phone conversation with her friend before she left. He knows more about Amber’s movements than anyone.

At university, she is well-liked by her fellow students and teachers. Her tutor’s voice shakes when he is questioned by the police. Some say he and Amber were very close. Too close. Some say his wife had just found out about their relationship.

The manager at the restaurant where Amber was supposed to eat that night says she didn’t show up. Yet the chef at the restaurant is overly chatty about her. He wasn’t working that night. He wasn’t answering his phone. Nobody knows where he was when Amber went missing.

Rumours begin to circulate about Amber, it seems that everyone has a story to tell. But when the young girl’s lifeless body is found in a local park, with her blue lips glued shut, the gossip suddenly goes quiet. As the police trace the last few hours of Amber’s life, it seems that the girl simply vanished on her way to catch her bus. And when another woman goes missing in the dead of night, it’s a race against time to find her before she too is silenced forever.

MY REVIEW:

“She’s out there and if she won’t come willingly, I will take her and I will transform her, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly.”

Detective Gina Harte and her team are back. This time they are investigating the kidnapping and murder of Amber Slater after her body was found in a local park with her lips glued shut. As they interview those who knew her they begin to suspect the killer might have used a dating app to target and track his victim. And when he snatches another young girl, the team finds themselves up against the clock in a race to find their culprit before he can silence her too forever.  

This series was one of my first new discoveries after joining NetGalley and Bookstagram and I always look forward to coming back to these books. It’s like catching up with an old friend, just with a side order of murder. And after a week of being unable to read due to illness, this book was just what I needed to get my mojo back.

One of my favourite things is when a thriller tells you the story from the killer’s point of view and, once again, the author has done this perfectly; crafting a disturbing, sinister and eerie antagonist who I would definitely want to avoid on the street. Reading as he hunted for his perfect woman and then stalked her, all while she was completely unaware that he was about to pounce, made the suspense soar. I liked that the author toyed with us and brought Gina and her team into the fray as potential victims. The tension couldn’t have been higher and I was on the edge of my seat hoping that she wouldn’t kill off a much-loved character. 

The author keeps the reader on their toes through an abundance of suspects, curve balls and red herrings that make it impossible to predict what will happen next and who is behind the kidnappings. The scenes from the adductor and his victim’s perspective ramped up the tension and Gina’s frustration and fear was palpable as she worried they wouldn’t identify the culprit in time to save his latest victim.

Captivating, addictive and sizzling with tension, this crime series shows no signs of slowing down. Carla knocks it out of the park with every book and I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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.

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:

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

Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx