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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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: Guilty Women by Melanie Blake

Published: April 28th 2022
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Genre: Crime Thriller, Suspense, Humorous Fiction, Erotic Mystery Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sexy, salacious and spectacular novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE SENSATIONAL NEW THRILLER FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

Can they get away with murder?

 On a beautiful island off the English coast, four TV actresses gather.
Their fifth member is missing – and only they know why she was killed.
As the secret between them threatens to come out, tensions on set run high.
The women are determined that the show must go on – no matter what it costs.
But one of them is on the edge of telling the truth – and no show in the world could survive this scandal…   
 
All of the women have something to hide – but the question is, are they all guilty?

The cast of RUTHLESS WOMEN is back – but this time they’re in trouble…

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MY REVIEW

We’re back in Falcon Bay for more blood, blackmail, backstabbing, Botox and bonking.   Two months on from the now infamous live Christmas Day episode that ended in tragedy, St Augustine’s Cove is just beginning to get back its serenity after the media circus that followed Madeline Kane’s death.  But one of the group is so filled with guilt over her part in the TV-executive’s death that she’s threatening to crack.  The others rally round to try and stop her from hitting self-destruct, but can they survive the scrutiny of a cut-throat reporter, an ex with an unquenchable thirst for revenge and the glare of the world’s media and get away with murder?

Sassy, sharp, saucy and spectacular, this is another winner from Melanie Blake, who has shown herself to be the new queen of the killer bonkbuster.  While this isn’t my usual kind of read, these delightfully over-the-top tomes of pure escapism have become auto-reads for me.  I love the feeling of nostalgia that comes from these books, like a throwback to the eighties heyday of Dynasty and Jackie Collins but with a modern-day twist, and how we are given a peek behind the curtain to see the darker truths that lurk behind the glitz and glamour of showbiz.  They are a guilty pleasure that I devour hungrily,  feeling bereft when I’m finished. 

Another allure for me is how the author has chosen to shine a spotlight on the mature woman.  Women of middle age and above have long been silenced and invisible, especially in the media, and I love seeing them given a voice at last.  The women in these books, whether heroine or villain, are powerhouses; beautiful, fierce, ambitious and utterly compelling.  They are the shining stars who propel both the plot and fictional show forward and write their own stories in a business dominated by men. Themes of sisterhood and female empowerment running through every page, particularly within the bond that our quintet of narrators share.  But they are also flawed and complex, making terrible decisions that I couldn’t condone yet the author still had me rooting for them every step of the way.  And then there’s the sex.  This is a spicy novel that not only embraces the sexuality of these women but celebrates it, reminding us that it isn’t just young women who are hot, vivacious sexual beings.  It is refreshing to see such representation of older women, particularly as a woman of that age myself.

An outrageous, lusty romp filled with adrenaline, Guilty Women is a hilarious and gripping read that had me completely hooked.  Highly recommended for some sizzling summer reading.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Bestselling author Melanie Blake’s own real life Rags to Riches story reads like the plot of an outrageous drama…

At fifteen years old Melanie Blake was told by her high school career advisors that her decision to do work experience at a local record shop was an ‘embarrassment to the school and a clear example that she wouldn’t go far in life or her career’. They were wrong. By nineteen she was working at the BBC’s iconic Top of the Pops show and by twenty-seven she had built a reputation as one of the UK’s leading music and entertainment managers, with her own agency and roster of award-winning artists who had sold more than 100 million records. During this time she also built up an acting agency from scratch which quickly became the most successful independent boutique agency in the UK where she manages clients from some of the biggest internationally syndicated shows in the world.

Her roster have won Baftas, Emmys and pretty much every best actress award going and Melanie is one of the most successful female agents in the world. In the UK alone, over 25 million people a week currently tune in to watch the very stars Melanie represents in their globally syndicated shows. In 2018 after two decades at the top of her game, Melanie decided to manage a smaller client list and concentrate on her other passion, writing – first as a columnist for a national newspaper, then as a playwright and now as a best-selling novelist.

Her first book The Thunder Girls became a Number 1 Best Seller in the summer of 2019 and the play she adapted from the novel broke box office records for a new work at the prestigious Lowry Theatre. She still represents a high profile stable of some of the best known faces on British television but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a producer, author and playwright.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Published: April 5th 2022
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Historical Fiction, Humorous Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to the phenomenal Lessons in Chemistry. Today Elizabeth Zott is out in the world and I can’t wait for you to meet her. This is one of my favourite books this year and know it will be on my list of top books of 2022. This isn’t to be missed!

Thank you to Doubleday for the gifted ARC and finished copy in exchange for an honest review.

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SYNOPSIS:

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.

Like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

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MY REVIEW:

“Children. set the table.  Your mother needs a moment to herself.”

Well, I have been Zotted.  Witty, smart, vibrant and refreshing, I am in love with this heartwarming debut and its quirky heroine.  

Set in America during the 50s and 60s, Lessons in Chemistry tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, a woman like no one you’ve ever met.  She is an unusual woman for the times: a female research chemist, an unmarried woman living with her partner and then a single mother.  When we first meet her in 1961 Zott is a TV star, the famous host of Supper at Six, a show with unique concept where she not only combines cooking and chemistry, but uses her platform as a rallying cry to the housewives watching to reach their full potential and be appreciated for all they do.  The story then jumps back to 1952 and we follow Zott’s journey from no-nonsense scientist to inspirational feminist TV star in this powerful novel. 

“Elizabeth Zott was a woman with flawless skin and an unmistakable demeanor of someone who was not average and never would be.” 

There are some fabulous new literary heroines being written at the moment and I am here for it.  Zott stands out in this crowd as a feminist icon with timeless appeal; as relevant today as she is in the era she is created to inhabit.   Zott doesn’t see why women shouldn’t be equal to men, why she needs a husband or understand why others think it’s strange to have a laboratory instead of a kitchen.  She doesn’t underestimate women and talks to them like intelligent and capable beings, something that wasn’t the norm at the time.  She does things her own way and I adored this unconventional, determined, practical, straight-talking woman who is unapologetically herself.  
Zott’s passion for chemistry is all consuming.  Like it’s part of her DNA.  Though I’m clueless when it comes to science I still found her relatable, pulled in by her singular charm that makes her irresistible and unforgettable.  And while I’m not into science personally, I did love reading a female STEM character, especially one set in the 50s and 60s.  It is still a male dominated field where women are fighting for equality and Zott is an ideal icon to help challenge the sexism and misogyny of both the field and everyday life that women face to this day.  The book is set just before the sexual revolution of the sixties so Zott’s world is filled with the expectation that women are stupid, lesser thanand there to be used sexually by men in power.  I cheered as she challenged these expectations and rose beyond the expectations and limitations others held for her, refusing to acknowledge them herself.

“The reduction of women to something less than men, and the elevation of men to something more than women, is not biological: it’s cultural.  And it starts with two words: pink and blue.” 

But Zott isn’t the only great character in the book.  The author has filled the book with a cast of vivid and eccentric characters that are compelling and memorable, some likeable and others more nefarious. This includes Zott’s precocious daughter, Madeline, who might be even more intelligent and straight-talking than her mother, and their dog, Six Thirty, the most delightful dog ever written, who provides much of the comic relief and emotion of the story and stole my heart from his first appearance on the page. I dare any of you not to love him.

Lessons in Chemistry is a book for women who are authentically themselves, who challenge expectations and refuse to play dumb even when society tells them they should.  Zappy, zingy and zestful, this magnificent debut was a joy to read from beginning to end and I was sad to turn the final page.  The extraordinary Elizabeth Zott and her story will leave you with a warm glow in your heart and a smile on your face that lingers and I am hoping there will be more adventures from Zott, Mad and Six-Thirty, *crosses fingers*.

Read this book ASAP and be prepared to be Zotted.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

ABOUT

bjgbw copy.jpg

Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked widely in the fields of technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open-water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Born in California and most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

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

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

READ THIS BOOK NOW!  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Em & Me by Beth Morrey

Published: February 3rd 2022
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this delightful and uplifting book. Thank you to Harper Collins for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A mother.
A daughter.
A secret waiting to be discovered.

For too long – since the sudden death of her mother as a teenager, since the birth of her daughter, Em, when she was just seventeen – Delphine has been unable to let go of the past, obsessed with protecting Em and clinging to a secret that could ruin everything. She’s been living life in safe shades of grey.

The day that Delphine finally stands up for herself is the day that changes everything.

Delphine begins to remember what it’s like to want more: rediscovering her singing voice, opening herself to friendship, and reviving not only her mother’s roots, but her mother’s memories. As her life begins to fill with colour, can she be brave for herself and for Em? And what would happen if she finally told the truth?

A big-hearted, hopeful novel about finding second chances – and taking them.

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MY REVIEW:

“Was it better to unlock your mind like that, with the possibility of it being shuttered again, or was it preferable to stay in darkness?  You could leave things exactly as they are or be bold enough to make a change, but I was wary of making that leap.”

When I picked up this book I was looking forward to something light.  A bit of uplit after some darker reads.  And this certainly delivered. Before the story even began I was in love thanks to the gorgeous letter to her readers from author Beth Morrey.  It put a big smile on my face and set an upbeat tone that carried through to the rest of the book.  As for the story itself, this was a balm for the soul that felt like getting a warm hug in book form.  I was besotted.  I was a big fan of Ms. Morrey’s charming debut, Saving Missy, but with Em & Me she took things to another level. Enthralling, captivating and addictive, I couldn’t put this down and was to the spot as I flew through the pages.  

“We danced from story to dying and song to story until my thirteenth birthday, when the music stopped, and the stories ended, and from then on it vest just silence, me sitting on my bed with my arms around my knees, my father in his chair, both of us talking to the shadows.”

Em & Me explores the impact of the choices we make in life.  Not just the defining and pivotal moments, but also the seemingly small choices we make in our lives every day and how the ripple effect of every choice shapes our lives for both good and bad.  As the story moves between the past and present Delphine reflects on her past, looking back at the significant events that shaped her life and the decisions she made that led her to where she is today. For Delphine, motherhood is the thing that has had the greatest impact on her life.  Becoming a mother at a young age meant shelving her dreams and the life she imagined for herself, while losing her own mother at such a young age meant a huge shift in her life and we see how this loss shaped her, her grief hovering over every page.  But this is also a story about second chances, reminding us that it is never too late to chase our dreams and steer our life into another direction if only we can be brave enough to take that step.  

“The only time I felt properly warm was deep in a book, escaping to another world where I wasn’t Delphine Jones.”

This is a love letter to books and literature.  To the importance of them in our lives and the joy they bring.  I loved that both Delphine and Em are book lovers and literature is one of their biggest forms of communication.  There is so much joy to be found in books and the author really portrays this, highlighting the way they make you feel and allowing the characters to be a conduit for everything she had said in her letter at the start of the book.  It was very relatable to this lifelong bookworm and added an extra layer of joy while reading.

Delphine is a very relatable and recognisable character.  When we meet her she is frustrated, disenchanted and worn down by the daily grind of a life she didn’t plan.  One where she feels stuck and unable to reach the dreams and ambitions she once had. She is a proud woman who doesn’t like to accept help from others and is practised in hiding the full, bleak truth of her life out of the fear of discovery.  Her daughter Em is a bright, ambitious young girl full of potential.  Delphine is determined she will soar where her own wings were clipped, willing to move heaven and earth to help her reach her dreams. 

“You never forget a good teacher. They stay with you, kindly ghosts at your shoulder reminding you you’re worth something.”

While Delphine and Em are the story’s central characters, there are a number of background characters who are vital to the book.  Delphine’s old English teacher, Miss. Challoner, who is now Em’s Headteacher, and Mrs. Gill, who is Em’s English teacher, are both central to their literary love.  Their encouragement and support helps them to dream and, for Delphine, they help her realise that these dreams are not completely out of reach like she believed.  My secondary school English teacher was an inspiration in my own life and someone who gave me so much support at the times I truly needed it.  I don’t think she ever knew just how much it meant and I have never forgotten her.  Miss Challoner and Mrs. Gill were my Mrs. Ball and it felt like my old teacher was back with me whenever these characters were on the page.  But the background character who stole the show is Letty, the old lady who Delphine is hired to talk with in French, her mother’s native tongue.  Letty is a cantankerous, no-nonsense kind of woman and I adored her.  Her interactions with Delphine were funny, heartwarming and entertaining.  What seems like a frustration to Delphine at the beginning, ends up being a gift that gives her back a link to her mother and is one of the pivotal instruments in helping her to realise it is never too late to change her life.  

“Sometimes you’ve got to put yourself out there. Even if it all goes tits-up.” 

Lyrically written with an intricately woven plot, great characterisation and perfectly paced Ms. Morey’s talent as a storyteller is on full display in this novel.  She delicately weaves in themes such as teenage angst, family drama, grief and motherhood that allow us to feel for and connect with the characters and allow us to explore their deepest, most emotional memories. 

Delightful, heartfelt, warm and uplifting, there is an understated brilliance to this book that makes it stay with you long after reading.  It has that winning combination of never wanting it to end and yet needing to inhale it whole.  I am jealous of those yet to read it as I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time.  READ IT NOW!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

I’m a TV producer by trade. For a long time, I worked in development where I created quizzes, documentary formats and reality shows.

I’ve been trying to write a novel since my early 20s, when I wrote a spin-off of Mary Poppins, called Sister Suffragette, which was all about Winifred Banks’ adventures when she wasn’t at home singing. It’s probably for the best that it’s still in a drawer somewhere.

The Love Story of Missy Carmichael is my first full-length novel, and I wrote it on maternity leave, inspired by the people I met while I was walking my dog in the park.

In my spare time I enjoy running, cooking curries, and reading the entire internet when I should be sleeping.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon*
*This is an affiliate link

Published in the US as Delphine Jones Takes a Chance on April 5th. Buy here

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes

Published: December 9th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Romance Novel, Humorous Fiction, Family Saga
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover

Welcome to my review of Rachel’s Holiday, which was published yesterday in a special 25th anniversary edition. Thank you to Rhiannon at FMcM for the invitation to take part in this tour and to Michael Joseph for the gifted book.

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SYNOPSIS:

A MUST-READ FOR FANS OLD AND NEW, THIS STUNNING 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION IS THE PERFECT WAY TO REDISCOVER THE 1.5 MILLION COPY, NO. 1 BESTSELLING PHENOMENON
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Meet Rachel Walsh.

She’s been living it up in New York City, spending her nights talking her way into glamorous parties before heading home in the early hours to her adoring boyfriend, Luke.

But her sensible older sister showing up and sending her off to actual rehab wasn’t quite part of her plan.

She’s only agreed to her incarceration because she’s heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, spa treatments and celebrities going cold turkey – plus it’s about time she had a holiday.

Saying goodbye to fun and freedom will be hard – and losing the man who might just be the love of her life will be even harder.

But will hitting rock bottom help Rachel learn to love herself, at last?

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MY REVIEW:

“How did I end up like this? Surely I was living in New York, young, independent, glamorous, successful? And not twenty-seven, unemployed, mistaken for a drug-addict, in a treatment centre in the back arse of nowhere with an empty valium bottle in my knickers?”

Before I start I have an admission. Even though I own a number of Marian Keyes books and have had them on my shelf for years, I had never read one of them until I picked up Rachel’s Holiday for this blog tour, runs to hide in the corner in shame. And now that I have experienced my first book by Ms. Keyes, I am so mad at myself for waiting so long to read them.

After being hospitalised following an accidental overdose, Rachel Walsh’s family bring her back to Ireland and send her off to rehab. But Rachel doesn’t mind. After all, the Cloisters is a place where celebrities go, and she’s looking forward to doing some celeb spotting while enjoying spa treatments. It will be like a much-needed holiday. Or so she thinks.

Uproarious, heartfelt, scathing and sexy, Rachel’s Holiday is an exploration of addiction and journey of self-discovery. Rachel is a deeply flawed and troubled character. In deep denial about her addiction, she is sure this is all a mistake and she is nothing like the others at the Cloisters. She is selfish, self-serving and lacks self-awareness, caring only how things affect her and nothing about the impact her actions have on others. She is the kind of person that would be a nightmare to have in your real life, but Ms. Keyes manages to make her someone that you care about and root for. As she tells her story she moves between rehab in rural Ireland and her life in New York, and it is soon apparent that the wild shenanigans that she finds hilarious are a smokescreen for the deep pain and self-loathing she feels. Everyone around her can see the truth, and I desperately wanted her to see clearly and accept the help she needed so she could begin to heal.

As I said earlier, this was my first foray into Marian Keyes’ books and I found that her overwhelming talent is evident on every page. I loved how she makes you laugh while telling the most heartbreaking stories and how she’s able to make a heroine you shouldn’t like into someone you can’t get enough of. It’s easy to see why this story is considered a modern classic and Ms. Keyes a national treasure. I’m sold. And I can’t wait to read more.

So if you’re looking for some uplit that is razor-sharp and thought-provoking while being wonderfully entertaining, then pick up this book.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Addiction

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Marian Keyes is one of the most successful Irish novelists of all time. Though she was brought up in a home where a lot of oral story-telling went on, it never occurred to her that she could write.

Instead she studied law and accountancy and finally started writing short stories in 1993 “out of the blue.” Though she had no intention of ever writing a novel (“It would take too long”) she sent her short stories to a publisher, with a letter saying she’d started work on a novel. The publishers replied, asking to see the novel, and once her panic had subsided, she began to write what subsequently became her first book Watermelon, published in 1995.

To date, the woman who said she’d never write a novel has published 13 of them: WatermelonLucy Sullivan is Getting MarriedRachel’s HolidayLast Chance SaloonSushi for BeginnersAngelsThe Other Side of the StoryAnybody Out ThereThis Charming ManThe Brightest Star in the Sky , The Mystery of Mercy CloseThe Woman Who Stole My Life, and The Break Her books have all been bestsellers around the world, with a total of over 30 million of her books sold to date in 33 languages. Anybody Out There won the British Book Awards award for popular fiction and the inaugural Melissa Nathan Prize for Comedy Romance. This Charming Man won the Irish Book Award for popular fiction. Marian’s latest book Grown Ups is publishing in hardback and eBook in February 2020.

The books deal variously with modern ailments, including addiction, depression, domestic violence, the glass ceiling and serious illness, but always written with compassion, humour and hope.

In 2009, Marian experienced the start of a major depressive episode, and had to stop any work. Eventually she found that baking cakes helped her survive; and in 2012, she published Saved by Cake, which combines recipes with autobiography.

As well as novels she has written short stories, and articles for various magazines and other publications. She has published three collections of her journalism, titled Under the Duvet  and Further Under the Duvet, now collected in one volume under the title Under the Duvet: Deluxe Edition, and donated all royalties from Irish sales to the Simon Community, a charity which works with the homeless. In 2016 Marian published a new collection of essays, Making It Up As I Go Along.

She was born in Limerick in 1963, and brought up in Cavan, Cork, Galway and Dublin; she spent her twenties in London, but is now living in Dún Laoghaire with her husband Tony. She includes among her hobbies reading, movies, shoes, handbags and feminism.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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*These are affiliate links

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Call of the Penguins by Hazel Prior

Published: November 11th, 2021
Publisher: Black Swan
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Adventure Fiction, Holiday Fiction, Pensioners in the Pages
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the tour for this delightful and uplifting book. Thank you to Anne at Random Things tours for the invitation to take part and to Black Swan for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Meet the heroine everyone’s talking about . . .

Fiercely resilient and impeccably dressed, Veronica McCreedy has lived an incredible 87 years. Most of them alone, in her huge house by the sea.

But Veronica has recently discovered a late-life love for family and friendship, adventure and wildlife.

More specifically, a love for penguins!

And so when she’s invited to co-present a wildlife documentary, far away in the southern hemisphere, she jumps at the chance.

Even though it will put her in the spotlight, just when she thought she would soon fade into the wings.

Perhaps it’s never too late to shine?

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MY REVIEW:

‘Penguins,’ I remind her, ‘are not only a source of endless entertainment; they are an example to us all.’

Hazel Prior has done it again. Call of the Penguins is another absolute gem of a book. Full of wit, warmth and wisdom, she reunites us with our unlikely heroine in this delightful sequel to one of my favourite books of last year.

Jumping straight in, the story picks up with Veronica McCreedy back at her house in Scotland by the sea. Her adventures in Antarctica with her beloved penguins are never far from her mind. So when she is offered the chance to venture to Australia and the Falklands to present a wildlife documentary on her favourite bird, she jumps at the chance. It seems the octogenarian’s adventures are not over yet.

My love of this book and it’s protagonist are no secret, so I was thrilled when I learned that Hazel Prior had written a follow up and immediately ordered the book. I couldn’t wait to be back with Veronica, although I admit to a little trepidation that I might not love this book as I did the first one. I need not have worried. Call of the Penguins is filled with the same heartwarming and heart-rending emotions of the first book as the author dives deeper into the lives of these now-familiar characters.

“I am fizzing with excitement like a bottle of vintage champagne.”

87-year-old Veronica McCreedy is the same intrepid, bold, sharp, feisty and determined woman from book one, only with less of the cantankerous protective layer she used to surround herself with. Instead, she is now surrounded by people she loves. And her memories of the penguins. And just like Veronica, the other characters in the book are a colourful, intriguing and richly drawn bunch. I had a particular soft spot for Daisy, a nine-year-old battling cancer.  Gutsy, ebullient and utterly compelling, Daisy reminded me a lot of Veronica. It was impossible not to love her, especially during her cute and comical interactions with the penguins. 

This is a story about family, self-discovery, self-reflection, unlocking hidden secrets and penguins. Lots of cute penguins. It is clear that not only does Ms. Prior adore these wobbly creatures, but also has a wide range of knowledge about them. This book is filled with even more penguin trivia, this time taking us to the southern hemisphere and featuring a variety of species. It even gave me a new favourite: the Little penguin. 

Once again the book also contains commentary on climate change, plastics and our responsibilities to change our habits in order to create a world that is safe for the birds and animals we love. Reading it certainly made me stop and think about my own part in this and left me with a desire to change some of my shopping habits. But it never preachy, instead expertly woven into the story so all you feel is the passion of the characters for this vital cause. I love how she educates while entertaining the reader and I’ve learned so much reading these books. 

Utterly addictive, joyous and uplifting, Veronica’s story reminds us all that it is never too late to have an adventure or to make the most of life. It is the perfect book to cosy up with under a blanket on a cold day and totally lose yourself in. After all, that’s what I did. So grab a blanket, hot chocolate and some biscuits, and go read this book.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hazel is an enthusiastic and experienced harp-player based in Somerset and Exmoor. Her repertoire spans many styles of music and includes singing with harp accompaniment.  

Hazel is also an author. Her two bestselling novels, published by Penguin Random House, are described as ‘quirky’, ‘lyrical’ and ‘life-affirming’. AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS (USA tile = HOW THE PENGUINS SAVED VERONICA) is a Richard and Judy and a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Walking On Sunshine by Giovanna Fletcher

Published: November 11th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction, Holiday Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Escape this winter with the heart-warming and uplifting new novel from the No 1 bestselling author, Giovanna Fletcher

In the darkness, we all need a little light . . .
________

After Mike loses Pia, his partner of seventeen years, their best friends Vicky and Zaza try to help pick up the pieces.

But though Pia’s gone, she left a plan. A list of loving instructions to help Mike and her friends come to terms with their loss.

And they’re each going to need it . . .

Just-engaged Zaza fears committing any further.
Exhausted mother and wife Vicky has lost sight of herself.
While Mike just feels all the colour has gone from his life.

When the list sends them trekking to Peru, where high mountains and sweltering rainforests push them to the brink, all they have to guide them is their faith in Pia and in themselves.

But will they learn that anything is possible when you’re walking on sunshine?

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MY REVIEW:

“Maybe we’re all meant to unravel every so often to take stock of where life has taken us and try to rebuild.”

Walking on Sunshine is a story of love, loss, hope and learning to live.

Narrated by Zaza, Vicky and Mike, the story explores the different ways we can be lost in life. Each of the characters feel like they are at a kind of crossroads, asking themselves, ‘Is this it?’ There are times we’ve all felt lost, trapped or in need of guidance. And though most of us don’t go trekking though the mountains and rainforests of Peru to find the answers, at the heart of the book is a story we can all relate to and find comfort in. For me, reading this book was also a kind of healing. I lost my dear friend of 25 years suddenly last year and found myself relating to the pain the characters all feel at losing a lifelong friend. But I also related to the joy they found in remembering her, the beauty in keeping her alive in their hearts, and their determination to make the most of every day after realising how short it can be. 

This was my first foray into Giovanna Fletcher’s books and she exceeded all my expectations. I had heard great things and after reading this book I can see why she garners so much praise. Wonderfully written, it is full of warmth and humour that injects lightness and joy into what would have otherwise been a melancholy tale. She has a new fan in this reader and I will be reading her back catalogue, particularly if I ever need a pick-me-up. 

Warm, witty and utterly delightful, I highly recommend this book. Just be warned that you will need tissues.

I’d like to end this review with a quote that I’m dedicating to my late friend, Faye: “The world isn’t the same without you in it, but it was made a better place because you were. Thank you.”

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Giovanna grew up in England, Essex with her Italian dad Mario, mum Kim, big sister Giorgina and little brother Mario, and spent most of her childhood talking to herself (it seems no one wanted to listen) or reading books.

At thirteen she left Essex behind to attend the full-time Sylvia Young Theatre School, where she met her husband Tom Fletcher. Following SYTS she completed an acting BA (hons) at Rose Bruford – since then she’s been acting, chaperoning mini actors and dabbling in a spot of freelance journalism for heat, Bliss and Recognise magazines. She currently writes a weekly blog for Hello! Online and posts weekly vlogs on her YouTube channel. Most importantly, she is also mum to two little boys called Buzz and Buddy.

Giovanna is a firm believer in the power of magpies and positive energy. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Last Library by Freya Sampson

Published: September 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this spectacular debut. I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The Last Library on its special day. Thank you Bonnie Zaffre for the invitation to take part and the gorgeous personalised proof copy.

*This book is known as The Last Chance Library in the US

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SYNOPSIS:

You can tell a lot about a person from the library books they borrow

Library assistant June knows a lot about the regulars at Chalcot Library, yet they know very little about her. When her mum – the beloved local librarian – passed away eight years ago, June stepped into her shoes. But despite their shared love of books, shy June has never felt she can live up to the village’s memory of her mum. Instead, she’s retreated into herself and her memories, surviving on Chinese takeaways-for-one and rereading their favourite books at home.

When the library is threatened with closure, a ragtag band of eccentric locals establish the Friends of Chalcot Library campaign. There’s gentlemanly pensioner Stanley, who visits the library for the computers and the crosswords, cantankerous Mrs B, who is yet to find a book she approves of, and teenager Chantal, who just wants a quiet place to study away from home. But can they compel reclusive June to join their cause?

If June wants to save the library, she finally has to make some changes to her life: opening up her heart to friendship, opportunities and maybe even more . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“Libraries are boats
And the books are life jackets.
Without them we’ll drown.”

The Last Library is a truly special book. A bibliophile’s dream and a hug in book form, it has secured a place in my favourite books of all time. Nostalgic, tender and witty, it is a love letter to libraries, literature and community. And when I finally closed it after reading the last sentence I did so with a big smile on my face and a warm glow inside despite feeling sad to say goodbye to the wonderful characters that I’d taken into my heart. 

The story follows a varied bunch of characters as they fight to save their beloved library from closure. It is an impassioned fight. They face an uphill battle, many bumps in the road, and the council attempts to thwart them at every step, but they refuse to give up, proving themselves a stronger adversary than many expected. 

“As a child she used to believe that each book had its own smell, specific to its story, and the smell of a library was the combined smell of thousands of different tales.”

This glorious debut begins with a letter from the author talking about her love for libraries and what inspired her to write this story. I thought this was a great way to open the book as it immediately establishes that a library is so much more than a room full of books; it is a solace, a refuge, and a place of community. It also sparked memories of the many happy hours I’ve spent in libraries over the years in my own reading journey, and those spent with my son as a baby, toddler and child, creating an atmosphere of nostalgia that carries through right until the last page. 

“Every inch of this room was steeped with memories, her mum’s DNA woven into the story rug and well-thumbed books. If the library was lost, June’s mum would be lost again too; and that was something June could never let happen.”

It is impossible not to take these quirky, funny and endearing characters into your heart. Librarian June is a lifelong bookworm. Her whole world is the library. She took over her role after her mother’s death eight years ago and, for her, the walls are filled with not only cherished memories, but her mother’s spirit. The idea of losing that is unimaginable to June. I liked June immediately; how she imagines lives for people and the way she finds solace in books. But I also felt sad for her. She lives a very lonely life, and one of the best parts of the book for me was watching this shy, socially awkward young woman slowly blossom and develop friendships outside of the pages of her books.

We get to know the others through June’s eyes, slowly discovering their secret lives, backstories and personalities as she does. They are an eclectic cast of characters who you’d never usually put together, but they are bonded by their shared love and need for the library. Each of them is wonderfully written, the author creating a rapport between them and the reader, and I’ll admit to having favourites. I loved the friendship between Stanley and June and had a real soft spot for his character. But the author was skilled at giving even the most spiky or ‘unlikeable’ characters a warmth that drew me to them, making it impossible not to love every one of them.

“Libraries are like a net, there to catch those of us in danger of falling through the cracks. That’s what we’re really fighting to protect.”

The Last Library is everything a book lover could want and more. It is a celebration of books and the power of stories, but also a story about community, kindness, friendship, loss and courage. A journey of self-discovery. One of the biggest aspects of the story is how libraries are so much more to a town or village than a room full of books and the author highlights the many ways they are there to help. It made my heart ache thinking of the closures we see in libraries today, especially as they were such a big part of my own childhood and that of my son. It made me determined to start using my local library again so that I can do my part to ensure they are still around for future generations. 

Charming, uplifting and hopeful, this is a book that will stay with me forever. One you don’t want to miss. I urge you to read it as soon as possible.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Freya Sampson works in TV as an executive producer. Her credits include two documentary series for the BBC about the British Royal Family, and a number of factual and entertainment series.

She studied History at Cambridge University and in 2018 was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize.

She lives in London with her husband, two young children and an antisocial cat. The Last Library is her debut novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Feature: Is This It? by Hannah Tovey

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Piatkus
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Romantic Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this fantastic and funny novel. Thank you so much to Hannah Tovey and Piatkus for my gifted copy.

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SYNOPSIS:

-Employed (you have frequent nightmares about your job)
Single and fabulous (swiping Tinder in your pyjamas while your best friend shops for engagement rings)
Thriving (surviving)

Ivy and Mia have been best friends since the fun, messy, hungover years of their twenties.

Ten years later, Mia has it all – the man, the house, the career. Ivy is skint, single, and scared that she isn’t a ‘hot mess’ any more – she’s a walking disaster.

But one night, Ivy switches her phone off, peels last night’s drunken pizza off the sofa, and makes a list. A list that changes everything . . .

The new Ivy has a proper job. She goes on fancy dates in wine bars. She’s starting to think: maybe ‘faking it till you make it’ is easy?

But then she meets Scott.

Curly-haired, sarcastic Scott.

Sh*t.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hannah Tovey is from South Wales and grew up in Hong Kong. She graduated from the Faber Academy in 2018, where she finished her debut novel, The Education of Ivy Edwards. Hannah lives in East London where she misses Llanelli beach, her mother and cockles. Her second novel, Is This It?, comes out July 2021.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx