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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

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: An Ocean Apart by Sarah Lee

Published: September 29th, 2022
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this marvellous novel. Thank you to Chloe at Pan Macmillan for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

It’s 1954 and, in Barbados, Ruby Haynes spots an advertisement for young women to train as nurses for the new National Health Service in Great Britain. Her sister, Connie, takes some persuading, but soon the sisters are on their way to a new country – and a whole new world of experiences.

As they start their training in Hertfordshire, they discover England isn’t quite the promised land; for every door that’s opened to them, the sisters find many slammed in their faces. And though the girls find friendships with their fellow nurses, Connie struggles with being so far from home, and keeping secret the daughter she has left behind in search of a better life for the both of them . . .

Inspired by real life stories of the Windrush Generation and her mother’s own experiences as a nurse coming to Britain from the Caribbean, Sarah Lee’s debut novel An Ocean Apart is a must for fans of Call the Midwife.

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MY REVIEW:

February 1954.  Sisters Connie and Ruby Hayes travel to the UK from Barbados to train as nurses for the newly formed National Health Services.  The sisters soon discover that England is not quite the promised land they were expecting and they face challenges they never expected.  

A story of friendship, love, hope and new beginnings, An Ocean Apart is a walk through a notable time in British history.  Inspired by her mother’s life and stories from the Windrush Generation, Sarah Lee tells the story of the women who left everything behind to become the foundation of our NHS.  Beautifully written and well researched, it is so evocative that I could taste the bland food and feel the cold English winter.  Lee doesn’t shy away from the difficult topics either, delivering an unflinching portrayal of intolerance, racism, PTSD and other important issues.

The story is narrated by Connie, Ruby and Billie, three strong, courageous and captivating women who were easy to root for, with Billie quickly becoming like a third Hayes sister.  Their stories really brought home the challenges and sacrifices of those who were the bedrock of our NHS.  I lost myself in their world and lived every emotion alongside them, so immersed in their stories that I could have kept reading about them forever and was bereft when the story ended.  There is also a cast of vivid and compelling background characters that help to tell this story.  The romantic liaisons and joyful friendships were a delight to read and the vile villain who subjected poor Ruby to such disgusting racism and bullying was brilliantly written.

Heartwarming, atmospheric and engaging, An Ocean Apart is a celebration of the NHS and the remarkable people who were part of its creation.  Perfect for fans of Call the Midwife, I would love to see this get its own TV adaptation and I’m hoping that Ms. Lee will turn this marvellous debut into a series so that I can return to these characters again and again.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Lee is a journalist and editor of 25 years, across news and features, and has written for regional and national newspapers as well as commissioned for women’s true life magazines. More recently, she has focused her attention on the world of travel, creating luxury blog. She also works with destinations and brands worldwide on storytelling marketing campaigns and conferences through her company, Captivate.

Her first book, AN OCEAN APART, is a saga about Windrush nurses, a topic to which she has a personal connection; her mother came to Britain from Barbados to work in the NHS, and many of the women she grew up around were Windrush nurses.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Published: September 15th, 2022
Publisher: Ultimo Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this truly original whodunit. Thank you to Tracy at Campulsive Reader Tours for the invitation to take part and Ultimo Press for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘And then there is a scream. Ragged and terrified. A beat of silence even after it stops, until we all seem to realise that the Reading Room Rules no longer apply.’

Hannah Tigone, bestselling Australian crime author, is crafting a new novel that begins in the Boston Public Library: four strangers; Winifred, Cain, Marigold and Whit are sitting at the same table when a bloodcurdling scream breaks the silence. A woman has been murdered. They are all suspects, and, as it turns out, each character has their own secrets and motivations – and one of them is a murderer.

While crafting this new thriller, Hannah shares each chapter with her biggest fan and aspirational novelist, Leo. But Leo seems to know a lot about violence, motive, and how exactly to kill someone. Perhaps he is not all that he seems…

The Woman in the Library is an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship – and shows that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

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MY REVIEW:

“And then there is a scream. Ragged and terrified. A beat of silence even after it stops, until we all seem to realise that the Reading Room rules no longer apply.”

Bestselling Australian crime writer Hannah Tigone is creating a new story set in the Boston Public Library.  It opens with four strangers sitting at a table when a bloodcurdling scream pierces the silence.  A woman has been murdered.  Finding themselves under suspicion, the four new friends embark on a quest to find out who killed the woman in the library.  But could one of them be the killer?

As she writes, Hannah shares each new chapter with fan and aspiring author Leo Johnson. But there are clues that Leo may not be all he seems…

Entertaining, addictive and suspenseful, The Woman in the Library was a heart-pounding rollercoaster ride.  Action-packed, shrewdly choreographed and twist-filled, I flew through it in under a day. Author Sunil Gentill tells the story in a truly unique way.  This is a story within a story and the chapters alternate between the murder mystery novel and letters critiquing her work.  It is a great concept and she executed it perfectly, the dual narratives working well in tandem and keeping the reader on tenterhooks as she builds things to a shocking crescendo.

Though she is elusive and never features in her own voice, Hannah lingers over every page of the book and I found myself quickly drawn into her fictional storyland with its fascinating characters, exhilarating tension and the compelling mystery that Freddie and her friends were trying to solve.  In the letters I got a creepy vibe from Leo early on and was intrigued by his character more than any other.  He’s quite the enigma as we know almost nothing about him as all he seems to discuss with Hannah is her work.  I loved how Gentill used this to heighten the tension in the novel and created a second mystery for the reader to unravel.  

Writing is a theme that is intrinsically woven into the heart of this book.  The cast of characters has many authors, aspiring authors and journalists and in addition to Hannah’s novel, we have Leo discussing his ‘opus’ and Freddie writing her novel and using her new friends for inspiration.   It was an interesting glimpse into not only the writing process but the kinds of challenges and dilemmas faced before a book makes it into our hands.

A clever multiple whodunit that had my nerves on edge, The Woman in the Library is a riveting read that has the vibe of an old-fashioned murder mystery.  Highly recommended. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sulari Gentill is an Australian author, also known under the pen name of S.D. Gentill. She initially studied astrophysics before becoming a corporate lawyer, but has since become a writer. She is the author of the award-winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries, a series of historical crime fiction novels set in the 1930s about Rowland Sinclair, the gentleman artist-cum-amateur-detective.

Website

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BUY THE BOOKS:

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 this tour.

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Nanny by Ruth Heald

Published: September 8th, 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Noir Fiction, Hardboiled
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting thriller. Thanks to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

As I clutched baby Chloe’s blanket, tears streamed down my face as I remembered what happened the night she disappeared. Looking up at the apartment block I once called home, my mind was crowded with memories. David’s words echoed in my head, telling me to get out and never come back. I understood why: our mistake had ruined everything.

When I accepted a job working as a nanny for David and Julie and their young children, I was excited to be making my own way in the world. I bonded with baby Chloe instantly and would have done anything for her. She had David’s thick, dark hair and smiling eyes. I fell in love with her and was excited for my future.

But when a terrible mistake led to Chloe disappearing, I was instantly blamed. With no evidence, I was let go and I returned home to rebuild my life.

Twenty years later and I am still haunted by what happened. I have a family of my own now and I’ve worked hard to be the best wife and mother I can be, but I’ve never forgotten the child who stole my heart.

Then a young woman arrives on my doorstep and the past secret that I have kept from my family comes hurtling into my present.

I try to tell myself that I am overreacting. But the woman in front of me looks so much like David. Who is she and why is she here? And if I welcome her in, will she want to be a part of my life, or destroy it?

A totally addictive psychological thriller that will have you reading late into the night. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, T.M. Logan and Shalini Boland.

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MY REVIEW:

When eighteen-year-old Hayley accepts a job as a nanny for British couple David and Julie while in Bangkok she can’t believe her luck and quickly bonds with baby Chloe and her sisters Emily and Eva.  But tensions soon rise between Hayley and the couple and when little Chloe disappears the same night that Hayley leaves, she is blamed and questioned by police.  With no evidence the police release her and she is free to rebuild her life.

Twenty years later Hayley is married with a young daughter of her own but is still haunted by what happened all those years ago and the secret she’s been keeping ever since.  A secret that is now at risk of being revealed.

Tense, twisty and unpredictable, The Nanny is a compelling thriller.  The story alternates between timelines as it tells the story of what happened in Bangkok and current events.  Hayley is an unreliable narrator and we are never quite sure what secrets she is keeping or if we can really trust her.  All the same, she was a likeable character who I enjoyed reading and felt a lot of sympathy for during her time in Bangkok.  There are some well-written background characters such as Johanna, who I liked but never fully trusted.  But it was Julie who was the best character for me.  A new mother isn’t your typical villain but Heald has created someone I truly despised and, quite frankly, needed telling where to get off.  

This is one of those books that really keeps you guessing for most of the book and just when I thought I’d got it all figured out, the rug was pulled from under me with another shocking twist that changed everything I thought I knew.  As the suspense builds to a heart-stopping climax, I was on the edge of my seat and reading in breathless anticipation.

A first-rate thriller filled with mystery and foreboding, The Nanny is a riveting page-turner from one of my must-read authors. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruth Heald is the bestselling author of psychological thrillers THE WEDDING, 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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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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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 TOUR: The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson

Published: September 1st, 2022
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Historical Fiction, War Story, Saga
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this extraordinary story. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Hodder & Stoughton for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

London, 1944.

Clara Button is no ordinary librarian. While the world remains at war, in East London Clara has created the country’s only underground library, built over the tracks in the disused Bethnal Green tube station. Down here a secret community thrives: with thousands of bunk beds, a nursery, a café and a theatre offering shelter, solace and escape from the bombs that fall above.

Along with her glamorous best friend and library assistant Ruby Munroe, Clara ensures the library is the beating heart of life underground. But as the war drags on, the women’s determination to remain strong in the face of adversity is tested to the limits when it seems it may come at the price of keeping those closest to them alive.

Based on true events, The Little Wartime Library is a gripping and heart-wrenching page-turner that remembers one of the greatest resistance stories of the war.

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MY REVIEW:

“History isn’t about dates and battlefields, leaders and royalty. It’s about ordinary people getting on with the business of living in spite of such unforgiving odds. And somehow in the process always managing to hold hard to hope.” 

London, 1944. In disused tube stations there is now a community of people living in makeshift shelters after being forced from their homes by Nazi bombs. The station at Bethnal Green is also home to something truly remarkable: the country’s only underground library, which was created by Librarian Clara after the one above ground was destroyed. Assisted by her best friend Ruby, Clara offers people an escape from the harsh realities of war through books and has created a thriving place of friendship and sanctuary for the residents. But there are some who don’t like what the library has become and Clara, Ruby and their patrons are forced to come together to battle other enemies close to home.

Based on an astonishing true story, this was an absolute gem of a book.  A moving tale about an unusual library and its patrons, it has heartbreak and joy in equal measure with strands of hope woven into the narrative.  I loved the addition of the quotes from library workers at the beginning of each chapter and the Author’s Note at the end is a must-read. 

“They were a community, albeit a strange one, living along the Central Line but going nowhere.” 

I had heard of people taking refuge in the underground stations during the Blitz, but before reading this book I had no idea that people lived there in communities or that one had a library built in.  How has this extraordinary story gone untold for so long?  Kate Thompson resurrects this unique neighbourhood, transporting the reader back in time so you feel as if you are walking among them.  They are a colourful cast of characters, so full of life and a contrast to the bleakness of their temporary home.  You can feel the bonds that they formed and the importance of the library as an escape for them.  It was a light in the darkest of times, and I felt as passionate as Clara and Ruby as they fought for the little library and its patrons. 

Powerful, poignant and immersive, this heartwarming page-turner is a story everyone should read.  An inspiring story of friendship, resilience and hope, it is a reminder that truth is often stranger and more compelling than fiction.  I would love to see this adapted for the big screen so that more people can discover this extraordinary tale. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate Thompson was born in London in 1974, and worked as a journalist for twenty years on women’s magazines and national newspapers. She now lives in Sunbury with her husband, two sons and a Lurcher called Ted. After ghost writing five memoirs, Kate moved into fiction. Kate’s first non-fiction social history documenting the forgotten histories of East End matriarchy, The Stepney Doorstep Society, was published in 2018 by Penguin. Her seventh novel, The Little Wartime Library is to be published by Hodder & Stoughton in the spring of 2022.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon |Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxxxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Squadpod Squadpod Book Club Squadpod Recommends

REVIEW: Bad Fruit by Ella King

Published: August 18th, 2022
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review of this dark and disturbing debut. Thank you to Harper Collins UK for the gifted copy.

This was the Squadpod Book Club August pick. Tune into our Twitter account at 7.30pm on August 30th for a live chat with the author.

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SYNOPSIS:

LILY IS A GOOD DAUGHTER

Every evening she pours Mama a glass of perfectly spoilt orange juice. She arranges the teddy bears on Mama’s quilt, she puts on her matching pink clothes. Anything to help put out the fire of Mama’s rage.

MAMA IS A GOOD LIAR

But Mama is becoming unpredictable, dangerous. And as she starts to unravel, so do the memories that Lily has kept locked away for so long.
She only wanted to be good, to help piece Mama back together. But as home truths creep out of the shadows, Lily must recast everything: what if her house isn’t a home – but a prison? What if Mama isn’t a protector – but a monster . . .

Gripping and devastating, from a voice that cuts as sharp as a knife, this is an unforgettable story about a family gone bad.

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MY REVIEW:

“Her power falls over the small space. Everyone is thrown into confusion, no one knows whether to look at her or not, to stop talking or continue. They are all in her thrall.”

Eighteen-year-old Lily does everything to please her mother; she carries out her every whim, makes her spoiled juice every night and even dyes her hair and paints her face to look more like the good Chinese daughter she wants.  But it is never enough.  Mama still finds fault with what she does and leaves Lily feeling bereft.  All she wants is to feel loved.  
As long-hidden truths begin to emerge and Lily slowly unlocks the mysteries surrounding Mama, she thinks she’s finally found the way to be the perfect daughter and win Mama’s approval.  But as things become clearer, Lily wonders if Mama is not actually her protector, but a monster….

Wow! What a crazy ride!  Disturbing, dark and twisted, Bad Fruit is a hard-hitting portrayal of a dysfunctional family that also explores themes of identity and self-discovery.  Author Ella King has crafted a multi-layered story filled with richly drawn and nuanced characters that explores difficult topics and asks hard questions.  King had me hooked, but there were also times I had to put the book down and breathe before picking it up again.

At the heart of this book is the mother/daughter relationship.  King strips bare the complexities of both this relationship and toxic families with such realism that it could be hard to read..  My heart ached for Lily.  Subservient to her mother and forced to act as a go-between for her mother and her siblings, her life is pretty bleak.  She tries to escape by locking herself away in her attic bedroom or riding her bike, but she can never escape what’s inside her head.  Her pain and desperation for love and acceptance bled from every page and I wanted to reach into the book and hug her.  

Then there is Mama.  Cruel, callous, cold, scathing and vengeful, she holds her whole family hostage with her emotions.  The author captured the essence of a toxic person so vividly in her that I would shiver every time she came onto the page and felt every bit of Lily’s apprehension and fear.  

Harrowing, unflinching and deeply human, Bad Fruit is a powerful debut from an author to watch.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ella King is a British-Singaporean novelist living in Greenwich, UK. She read Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University, is a graduate of Faber Academy’s novel-writing program, and is an award-winning writer, coming 3rd in the Aurora Prize for Short Fiction 2019 and winning the Blue Pencil Pitch Prize 2019. She’s worked as a corporate lawyer in London and for anti-human trafficking and domestic violence charities. Bad Fruit is her debut novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: So Happy For You by Celia Laskey

Published: August 4th, 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Literary Fiction, Lesbian Literature, Satire
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this hilarious, addictive and outrageous novel. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted hardback.

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SYNOPSIS:

Bridesmaids meets Black Mirror in the most twisted and entertaining thriller of 2022.

Robin and Ellie have been best friends since childhood. They’ve been through everything together, from Robin coming out to the death of Ellie’s dad. But when Ellie asks Robin to be her maid of honour, Robin is reluctant.

It’s not that Robin isn’t happy for Ellie, she just hates everything about weddings and marriage – plus the guy Ellie’s engaged to. There’s also the matter of the crazy (not to mention dangerous) wedding rituals that couples are resorting to in the hope of securing a lifetime of happiness.

Despite her misgivings, Robin finally says yes. But as the wedding day approaches, she gets the feeling that everyone in the bridal party is out to get her. And it seems Ellie is willing to do anything for the perfect day. After all, marriage is about sacrifice…

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MY REVIEW:

“If you want to know the story of how my best friend and I ended up trying to kill each other, I should probably start with the night she asked me to be her maid of honor.”

Opening with such an ominous and foreboding first line, So Happy For You packs a punch from the start, letting you know that you are about to embark on one of the craziest rides you’ve ever had.  I am the first to admit that a book about a crazy bride and a best friend who hates weddings might not seem the ideal read when in the middle of planning my own wedding but I loved this book.  Unique, outrageous and wickedly funny, it had me hooked.  I liked that while the ending is established immediately there is still a big air of mystery as we have no idea how they get to the point of trying to kill each other or what the outcome is, keeping me guessing until the final page.

“It kind of feels like we’re at the beginning of a darkly comic horror movie.” 

Celia Laskey is a skilled storyteller who has crafted a sinister literary thriller with some deeply vulnerable moments intricately woven in.  She brings up interesting and timely topics such as feminism, abortion, homosexuality marriage and friendship, exploring them with sensitivity but never shying away from their harsh truths.  As the blurb suggests, it is marriage that she delves deepest into, examining the assumption that all women want to be wives and mothers and picking it apart piece by piece: the societal pressure, the sinister side of the institution and the history behind the familiar customs, something I found both fascinating and thought-provoking.

 “Years later I would remember this moment and ask myself if Ellie really knew the reason she wanted me as her maid of honor, or if she didn’t decide until later.”  

The story is told in the past tense directly to the reader and moves between the events leading up to the wedding and flashbacks that tell the story of Robin and Ellie’s friendship. It is set in an undated future that is so believable it is terrifying.  In this reality the government offer incentives for getting married – even organising monthly blind-dates, women are viewed as ‘leftovers’ by the age of twenty-seven and ‘rotten’ by thirty-five, and abortion is severly restricted.  Then there’s the wedding charms.  These really disturbed me and the lengths some couples would go to in order to try and secure future happiness was frightening.  I may want my own wedding to go off without a hitch but I can honestly say I’d never even contemplate such extremes, something I’m sure my guests will be happy to hear!

“Friends didn’t even feel like the right word. It felt like our DNA was tied together in a mess of knots so complete that we wouldn’t be able to untangle it even if we made it our life’s work. At that point in our friendship, it didn’t occur to me that the knots would loosen due to forces beyond our control. “

Robin and Ellie have a very intense but toxic friendship.  While neither are really likeable, I did find Robin easy to root for.  Witty, cynical, inquisitive and tenacious, she is more vulnerable than she admits and struggles to balance standing up for what she believes with supporting her best friend’s life choices.  Our view of Ellie is biased and she is offered up as the traditional villain and I enjoyed seeing our view of her change as Robin began to understand her more.  I liked how the author explored the intricacies of friendship through their relationship, asking what it is that makes a good friend, how far we are willing to go for them, and what we are prepared to forgive.

Addictive, unflinching and charged with tension, So Happy For You is a hilarious romp that would be perfect for the big screen.  It was unlike anything I’ve ever read and I can’t wait to read more from Ms. Laskey.  Highly recommended, just keep it away from any bridezillas  😉

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Celia Laskey is the author of So Happy for You and Under the Rainbow, a finalist for the 2020 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her other work has appeared in Guernica, The Minnesota Review, Day One, and elsewhere. She has an MFA from the University of New Mexico and currently lives in Los Angeles with her wife and their dog Whiskey.

She enjoys gossiping about closeted celebrities, dissecting Taylor Swift lyrics, singing the praises of probiotics and diva cups, learning the names of plants via an app on her phone, rewatching Mad Men for the 43728th time, and picking up her holds from the library.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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

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

BLOG TOUR: The Setup by Lizzy Dent

Published: June 9th, 2022
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Holiday Fiction, New Adult Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this funny, heartwarming and uplifting rom-com. Thank you to Ellie at Viking for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

SHE HAS A PLAN . . .
FATE HAS OTHER IDEAS.
—————–

There are two men in my life. But this is not a love triangle.



Mara Williams reads her horoscope every day – but she wasn’t expecting to be in a whole other country when destiny finally found her. Just as a fortune teller reveals that her true love is about to arrive, a gorgeous stranger literally walks into her life. And now Mara is determined to bring them together again . . . Surely even fate needs a nudge in the right direction sometimes?

But while Mara is getting ready for ‘the one’, the universe intervenes. Her new flatmate Ash is funny, and kind, and sexy as hell . . . There was no predicting this: it’s as if her destiny just arrived on her doorstep.

So will Mara put her destiny in fate’s hands – or finally trust herself to reach for the stars?

*An edgy, hilarious rom-com from the author of The Summer Job. For fans of Beth O’Leary, Starstruck and New Girl.*

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MY REVIEW:

“Fate always knows how to deliver.” 

Lizzy Dent has done it again!  Charming, witty and uplifting, The Setup is a fabulous summer read that has cemented her place as one of my Queens of rom-com.  

Alone in Budapest after her best friend Charlie dropped out of their girls trip at the last minute, Mara decides to go visit a fortune teller.  She tells her that she will meet the love of her life imminently, a prediction that seems to come true when the very man she described literally walks through the door shortly after.  But life is never simple and it seems that the universe has another plan, one that includes Mara’s sexy new flatmate, Ash.  Will Mara follow fate or finally trust herself to choose what she wants? 

I became an instant fan of Lizzy Dent when I read her debut, The Summer Job, last year and was excitedly anticipating this follow up.  I had the pleasure of meeting Lizzy recently at The Book Party and she is every bit as charismatic, funny and delightful in person as she appears online, something she also brings to her books. I love how she cleverly plays with the familiar romance tropes, making them feel fresh and entertaining and injecting them with laugh-out-loud humour and valuable life lessons.  I couldn’t put it down, reading the first ¾ of the book in one sitting and staying up until almost 2am without realising the time. And that ending! It couldn’t have been more perfect.

“I’ve never understood how people can know themselves so well that they know exactly where they’re going and what to do to get there. How to make clear decisions that truly come from just them. It’s a mystery to me.”

Mara is a wonderful character.  Quirky, shy, awkward but totally endearing, she is someone I loved from the start.  A horoscope enthusiast, she is so invested in the idea of fate and destiny that she doesn’t trust her own instincts or feelings and won’t make even the smallest of decisions without consulting what her horoscope says.  I particularly loved her system for choosing which movie to watch.  It certainly saves the many hours of flicking through the choices and trying to make a selection that is familiar to us all.  Mara is also a lonely character, her shyness leaving her with only one real friend who she feels like she’s drifted apart from lately, so I enjoyed watching her create new friendships as she tries to improve herself, especially with Samira.  I also really liked her relationship with Ash which, though predictable, felt very real and natural.  I was rooting for them and definitely Team Ash over Team Joe.  When she would waver I wanted to shake her and tell her to forget a dream and go for what was right in front of her.  But would she?

Funny, heartwarming and sweet, The Setup is a feel-good romance that should be on everyone’s tbr. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Lizzy Dent (mis)spent her early twenties working in Scotland in hospitality. After years travelling the world making Music TV for MTV and Channel 4, and creating digital content for Cartoon Network, the BBC and ITV, she wrote three Young Adult novels as Rebecca Denton published in the UK. This is her debut adult novel. She lives between London, Austria, and New Zealand with her young family.

Website

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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: The Phone Call by A. J. Campbell

Published: June 26th, 2022
Publisher: Code Grey Publishers
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Today is also my stop on the tour for The Phone Call. Thank you to A. J. Campbell for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Sometimes the guilty are innocent

Joey Clarke was just fifteen when his dad died, leaving him to raise his much younger siblings as his mum dealt with the trauma of bereavement and her failing health. Ten years on, Joey’s only pleasure is spending time with his friend Becca, the love of his life. It’s the one escape from his dead-end job, his ever-increasing debts, and the fear that enforcement agents will knock on his front door any day.

So when a phone call brings Joey the chance to ease the burdens of his life, he grabs the opportunity, even though he knows things are not entirely as they should be. He justifies it to himself as a way to get back on his feet. But when he finds himself party to a crime involving Becca, he panics.

As Joey tries to find a way out, he becomes further embroiled in a web of secrets, lies, and deceit. At risk of losing everything and everyone he holds dear, Joey must consider the unthinkable.

A psychological suspense thriller, full of twists and turns, perfect for readers of Lisa Jewell, Frieda McFadden, Shari Lapena, Adele Parks, Miranda Rijks, Jackie Kabler, Lucy Foley, Sally Hepworth, and Daniel Hurst.

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MY REVIEW:

Joey Clarke receives a phone call from a friend that offers the chance to make some easy money.  With the bills piling up and debt collectors about to knock on his door he feels he has little other option but to take the opportunity.  

All he has to do is deliver two packages.  The first delivery goes fine, but when he goes to deliver the second package things go wrong and he finds himself an accessory to a shocking crime.  Even worse, the crime is linked to people he knows.  Should he confess or keep quiet and hope his secret is never discovered?

A tangled web of secrets, lies and desperation that simmers with suspense, The Phone Call is a tense and twisty psychological thriller.  I’ve read all of A. J. Campbell’s books and this one had the most intense atmosphere yet as Joey’s desperation and despair leap from the page.  He is drowning in hopelessness with no life raft to save him, though I wished I could throw him one.  It was painful to read as he struggles to bear the part he played in what happens and wrestles with his conscience while trying to decide what he should do.  It feels like an impossible dilemma, particularly when combined with the threats of what would happen to him and his family if he dared to go to the police hanging over him.  Campbell has a skill for writing characters who are relatable and real, something that shines in this book as they pull you in and make you feel for them.  The combination of this with familiar life struggles, drama and sinister secrets, raise the tension and make this a book that will have you on the edge of your seat. 

On the subject of characters, I want to take this opportunity to thank the author.  Joey’s mum has Fibromyalgia, a condition I also live with.  To see someone with this condition written in a realistic way that doesn’t contain the usual cliches about painkiller addiction, hypochondria or laziness was refreshing.  This is the kind of representation of chronic illness we need in literature and it was wonderful to see. 

Fast-paced, suspenseful and twisty, this intense thriller is a quick and compelling read that I’d recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

AJ CAMPBELL is the author of the Amazon bestselling debut novel Leave Well Alone. She writes in the psychological suspense genre and promises stories full of twists, turns and torment. Her fourth book The Phone Call was released in July 2022. AJ draws inspiration for her novels from seemingly unbelievable situations in which ordinary people find themselves. She creates compelling characters that resonate with her readers. AJ lives in the UK on the Essex / Hertfordshire border with her husband, sons, and cocker spaniel, Max. A dog lover, Netflix junkie, wine and Asian food enthusiast, either reading or writing, AJ enjoys nothing more than getting stuck into a twisty book!

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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 Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Published: July 7th, 2022
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Horror Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this unexpected, darkly atmospheric thriller. Thank you to Ollie at Hodder & Stoughton for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

The master of genre-bending suspense is back with a brand new edge-of-your-seat thriller.

Recently widowed actress Casey Fletcher has escaped to her family’s lake house for peace and quiet. She’s been happily losing herself in her thoughts and several bottles of bourbon, until the glamorous couple across the lake catch her attention. They look so perfect – just like Casey and her husband used to be.
But is anyone what they seem?

Casey has a detective sat at her kitchen table.

She has a man bound and gagged upstairs.

Casey will uncover dark truths so life-changing that nothing will ever be the same again.

International bestselling sensation Riley Sager is back with his most ambitious thriller yet. With his trademark blend of sharp characters, psychological suspense and gasp-worthy twists, The House Across the Lake will shock readers from the first page to the last.

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MY REVIEW:

“The last thought I have before spiralling into unconsciousness is a memory of the sound that woke me up. With it comes recognition. 
I now know what I heard. 
It was a scream.” 

Wow. What on earth did I just read?  Riveting, unexpected and surprising, this was a wild and crazy ride that I couldn’t put down.  Punchy, sharp and oozing with foreboding, the writing is compelling.  Moving between dual timelines, I loved how we would get a short, sharp and ominous ‘Now’ section that ended on a cliffhanger before jumping to a longer ‘Before’ section, notching up the tension and leaving us on the edge of our seats.  

This was my second time reading a Riley Sager book but I was an instant fan and couldn’t wait to read more. This book had a different feel to his last book, more of a traditional thriller.  While I was enjoying it, it seemed predictable and I thought I had it all figured out.  Then, bam!  With one twist he takes the story from zero to sixty, turning everything on its head and changing everything you thought you knew.  It instantly became all the more tantalising and I couldn’t read fast enough.  One of my favourite things about thrillers is when an author shocks you with something completely unexpected and seemingly out of left field but when you look back you can see the clues carefully hidden on the pages, which in this case are small hints of the paranormal.  In the hands of another author it could have been a ridiculous turn, and I think it will be a bit of a marmite book because of this, but I thought Sager pulled it off expertly and made the unbelievable feel possible.

“The lake is darker than a coffin with the lid shut.

That’s what Marnie used to say, back when we were children and she was constantly trying to scare me. It’s an exaggeration, to be sure. But not by much. Lake Greene’s water is dark, even with the light trickling through it.
A coffin with the lid cracked. “

I love an unreliable narrator and Casey certainly fits that bill  Flawed and tortured, she’s drinking herself into oblivion each day to numb the pain of her husband’s death and being back at the place that haunts her, where his death happened, is far from helping.  She craves an escape, and alcohol offers that.  I liked her and enjoyed her drunken and paranoid musings, even though she obviously needed to get sober and stop watching and obsessing over the Royces.  The other characters are equally as compelling and unreliable, leaving the reader constantly second guessing themselves and adding to the suspense. 

Atmospheric, unnerving, twisty and completely over the top, this is perfect for anyone who enjoys a thriller that is a little bit different.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Riley Sager is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, most recently Home Before Dark and Survive the Night. His first novel, Final Girls, has been published in 30 countries and won the ITW Thriller Award for Best Hardcover Novel. His latest book, The House Across the Lake, will be published in 2022 by Dutton Books.

A native of Pennsylvania, he now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links