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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – July 2021

Another month has flown by and it’s time for another wrap up.

July was a great reading month. I read 16 books, took part in one book club readalong and 18 blog tours. Below is a quick summary of what I read this month:

False Witness by Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is one of my favourite crime writers and book she releases is on my must-read list. I was particularly excited about reading False Witness as it was a standalone, and it’s been a while since I read one of those from her. It did not disappoint. Once again she delivered a first-class thriller that was dark, twisted and sinister. Thrillers don’t get better than this.
Rating:  ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

A Cut For A Cut (Kate Young 2) by Carol Wyer

Carol is another of my go-to crime authors. Her newest series is her darkest yet, and I’m loving it. A Cut For A Cut sees Kate Young once again embroiled in an investigation when she and her son find the body of a young man while diving. It had my totally hooked from the start and didn’t let go. If you are looking for an exhilarating and propulsive thriller, then this is for you.
Rating:  ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Rule by David Jackson

The Rule is a readable thriller about family, love, and the lengths a parent will go to to protect their child. I really liked Daniel, the young man at the centre of the story, and the themes of duality the author used throughout.
Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten

One of my most anticipated books of the year, I luxuriated in every word of this absolute masterpiece. The second book in her Romanov series follows Tsarevna Elizabeth, daughter of Peter the Great. She is a fascinating historical figure and I loved expanding my knowledge of an era that has long fascinated me. Dazzling, captivating and truly magnificent, this is a joy for history and literature lovers alike. I’m now counting down to book three!
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

Just as the tagline says, this is not another novel about a dead girl. In her startling debut, Jacqueline Bublitz has taken the familiar narratives we see in psychological thrillers and given them an original twist. Instead of asking whodunnit, she asks who was the victim? What was her story? And what can we learn from her? She also asks who was the person who discovered the victims broken body? And how did that discovery after them?

Breathtakingly beautiful, hypnotic, mesmerising and unflinching, this book went right to my soul. I’m still thinking about it almost a month after reading. It stands out not only amongst the mystery and thriller books I’ve read this year, but all the ones I’ve ever read. This is a must-read for thriller lovers and the author is a talent to watch.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Songbirds by Christy Lefteri

Songbirds is a beautiful story that gives a voice to the voiceless. In this harrowing and heartbreaking tale, the author explores the world of transient and migrant workers, shining a light on their experiences and the institutionalised racism they face. She also highlights how this racism runs so deep that the authorities won’t search for them if they go missing, claiming they must have just moved on instead. A richly drawn novel full of memorable characters, beautiful imagery and exquisite storytelling, this is a story that needs to be read.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Painting by Alison Booth

The Painting is a simple yet enlightening story. A portrait of totalitarianism, immigration, family and self-discovery, it tells the story of Anika, a Hungarian immigrant living in Australia after being forced to flee her oppressively homeland. One of the few possessions she brought with her was a valuable painting. After it is stolen in what appears to be a targeted robbery, Anika is forced to confront uncomfortable questions about her family’s past. This book surprised me as it took a different, but fascinating, turn to what I was expecting. A captivating and moving story that I would recommend.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Mr Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland

An ordinary man on an ordinary street is hiding grim secrets in this dark and sinister thriller. I listened to this book as part of the audiobook blog tour and it chilled me to the bone. I had struggled to get into it at first, but am so glad I stuck with it as this was a gripping and unnerving psychological thriller that I couldn’t stop listening to.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley

The Art of Loving You is an exploration of love, grief and the afterlife. It looks at how we find meaning in life when it seems to have become meaningless and what we do with the love we have for someone when they die. Heartbreaking yet hopeful, it follows Libby, who is left devastated after the sudden death of her soulmate Jack. Full of wonderful characters and some truly tender and beautiful moments, I couldn’t put this down.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Mrs England by Stacey Halls

Mrs England with the Tasting Notes Book Club for July. I am a huge fan of Stacey Halls so I was excited for this book and the online book club meeting. Wonderfully written, atmospheric and compelling, this is one of those books that is even better after you’ve thought about it for a few days and realised that things weren’t what they first appeared. For me, one of the best things about reading a book with others is the way you can read the same book yet see things so differently. This was the best Tasting Notes Book Club yet and I enjoyed the book even more after hearing about it from the author and exploring it with others in greater detail. This is an ideal read for anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Review to come
Buy the book here*

You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

This warm, witty, slow-burning romance was the perfect summer read to get lost in. Poppy and Alex were fun to read and had a great dynamic. But my favourite thing about the book is the escapism it offered. I loved being able to live vicariously through the characters and travel to different countries from my back garden during a pandemic.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

Girls Who Lie (Forbidden Iceland Book 2) by Eva Björg Aegisdottir

Girls Who Lie is the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series, but was the first one I’ve read. The author quickly catches you up and it was easy to keep up with the characters making it easy to read even without the first book. A harrowing, complex and multilayered thriller, this was another amazing read from Orenda Books. I will definitely be reading the first book in the series and any further installments. Perfect for crime fiction fans.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Read my review here
buy the book here*

The Woman in the Water by Kelly Heard

The Woman in the Water is a story about a fractured family, tragic death and search for answers. Though it was predictable in places, the author leaves you with enough doubt and unanswered questions that you keep turning the pages, needing to know more. A dark, tense and twisty read that fans of the genre will enjoy.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5

Read my review here
Buy the book here

The Secret Life of Writers by Guillaume Musso

Books, murder and mystery. What more could I want? Utterly mesmerising and addictive, I devoured this book. Perfectly plotted, intricately woven and full of tension, this is a masterclass in storytelling. The Secret Life of Writers is a stylish, sharp and suspenseful thriller that is so twisty it will make your head spin. After reading it I understand why Guillaume Musso is known as the French suspense king.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

The Face at the Window by Ruby Speechley

This is one of those books that’s a bit like an iceberg: what you see at first is only a part of what is actually going on. The author slowly unveils the truth, weaving together the layers to create a complex and intricate thriller. Themes of domestic violence and coercive control are explored in various ways through out the book and it is clear it is well researched. Unnerving and affecting, I would recommend this to fans of the genre.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5

Read my review here
Buy the book here*

That Night by Gillian McAllister

Wow! Just, wow! I have been a fan of Gillian McAllister since the first time I read one of her books, but this is her best one yet. Taut, tense and twisty, this riveting thriller had me hooked. A multilayered and complex story, there is so much more to it than meets the eye. Jaw-dropping and unexpected revelations pulled the rug from under me repeatedly and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. That Night is a must read for anyone who enjoys an intelligent, sharp and sensational thriller.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Review to follow
Buy the book here*

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I swear that it’s getting harder and harder to choose a favourite each month, as there are just so many high-quality books being written. It was really difficult to choose this month and after getting it down to two, I just couldn’t pick between them. Therefore, my books of the month for July are The Tsarina’s Daughter and Before You Knew My Name.

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What did you read this month? Did we read any of the same books?

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Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. See you next month Emma xxx

Thank you to the publishers for my gifted proof copies and eBook ARCS.

*These are affiliate links

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Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

Audio Blog Tour: Mr. Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland

Published: August 1st, 2021
Publisher: Isis Audio
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Format: Audio, Paperback, Kindle

I’m delighted to be opening the blog tour for the chilling Mr. Todd’s Reckoning. Thank you to Isis Audio for the gifted audiobook.

SYNOPSIS:

Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath. The father: Mr Todd is at his wits’ end. He’s been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home…with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry. The son: Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he’s getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where. The unholy spirit: In the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he’ll kill again.

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MY REVIEW:

“I do only what has to be done. What I have to do.” 

An ordinary man on an ordinary street is hiding grim secrets in this dark and sinister thriller.  

The story is told in the form of Mr. Todd’s diary entries, which he has been advised to keep to fill his day and to work through his feelings after a difficult time in his life. At first he seems like a man down on his luck who’s frustrated at where he has ended up in life and feels like he doesn’t deserve what has happened to him. It is a slow-burner and I admit I found it hard to get into at first. But a blogger whose opinion I trust had rated it as one of her favourite books this year so I decided to persist. I am thankful I did as things began to pick up and I soon found myself completely immersed in this story full of secrets that I was desperate to unlock.

“I think it is time now… that I write about what I’ve kept hidden deep inside me for a while.” 

The protagonist lives with his adult son, Adrian, who I think is neuro-diverse but his father views as weird and annoying. He spends a lot of time worrying what he is up to and that he’s getting into trouble again. It is here that the first seeds of suspicion and something ominous appear as we worry that Adrian is hiding a terrible secret as his father tries desperately to unravel it. But it soon becomes clear that is in fact Mr. Todd who has the secret, and we begin to see the first glimpses of the real man lurking beneath his harmless façade. 

“Although I have ended lives, I do not consider myself a bad sort of chap.”

Malcolm Todd is a chilling creation who is so realistic that it sent shivers down my spine. He is a miserable, bitter, angry and judgmental man who thinks he’s more intelligent and better than everyone else. He also has a real sense of entitlement about everything in life. He’s one of those people where things are always someone else’s fault and anything he did wrong he was forced to do or had no other choice. He made me so angry, but it was these awful things about him that made him so compelling as I find the damaged and twisted psyche of these kinds of people fascinating. He was brilliantly written and I can understand the comparisons to Norman Bates as he definitely gave me that vibe too. 

Claustrophobic, menacing and unnerving, this subtle and slithering psychological thriller will leave you wondering just who and what is lurking behind your neighbours’ doors…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

You can purchase the book here

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Iain Maitland is the author of Sweet William and Mr Todd’s Reckoning, both published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband. Mr Todd’s Reckoning has been optioned for TV by AbbottVision. His next book, The Scribbler, the first in the Gayther & Carrie detective series, is published by Contraband in May 2020.

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MEET THE NARRATOR:

Michael Simkins trained at RADA. He has appeared in more than 70 plays, stage highlights include A View from the Bridge at the National Theatre as well as musicals Chicago and Mamma Mia. He also directed Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends at the Greenwich Theatre. He has made countless TV appearances – recent credits include Foyle’s War and My Family – as well as turns on the silver screen in such films as Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy. He has worked with luminaries as diverse as Anthony Perkins, John Malkovich, Michael Gambon and Buster Merryfield. He lives with his actress wife Julia in London.

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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
Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Strange Tricks (The Essex Witch Museum Mysteries) by Syd Moore

Published: June 3rd, 2021
Publisher: Isis Audio
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Contemporary Fantasy
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Strange Tricks. Thank you to Danielle for the offer to take part, and to Isis Audio for the audiobook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Rosie Strange is back in the latest of the fabulously creepy Essex Witch Museum Mysteries

Secretly Rosie Strange has always thought herself a little bit more interesting than most people – the legacy her family has bequeathed her is definitely so, she’s long believed. But then life takes a peculiar turn when the Strange legacy turns out not just to be the Essex Witch Museum, but perhaps some otherworldly gifts that Rosie finds difficult to fathom. Meanwhile Sam Stone, Rosie’s curator, is oddly distracted as breadcrumb clues into what happened to his missing younger brother and other abducted boys from the past are poised to lead him and Rosie deep into a dark wood where there lurks something far scarier than Hansel and Gretel’s witch…

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MY REVIEW:

Witty, entertaining, mysterious and slightly sinister, Strange Tricks is my favourite audiobook experience yet. From it’s eerie opening chapter until the final sentence, this had me hooked. The combination of the vivid imagery, brilliant writing and fabulous narration was spectacular, bringing the characters and story to life so powerfully that it felt like they were in the room with me. 

While this was a mostly comedic and lighthearted story, there were some darker, more sinister elements too. The author writes these as skillfully as the rest of the story, literally giving me chills as she describes the shocking, macabre and depraved sights that Rosie is confronted with. Let me say that I’m glad I was listening in daylight. 

Rosie is one of the most fun, fabulous, bubbly, charismatic and feisty characters I’ve read. I loved her immediately and she is the sort of woman I’d love to be friends with. She had me in stitches with her overactive imagination and hilarious and saucy quips and is a fantastic protagonist who gripps and entertains the reader, making it impossible to stop reading or listening. The background characters were just as richly drawn, creating a great cast I enjoyed following. I liked the romantic tension between Rosie and Sam, and the added mystery surrounding the death of her mother, Celeste, when she was a baby. I liked that the author included flashbacks in the form of extracts from Celeste’s diary, allowing us to build an image of who she was and learn more about her at the same time Rosie did and I’m looking forward to seeing where this element of the story goes in future installments. 

If you’re looking for a first-rate mystery that is full of humour, heart and will also give you the heebie-jeebies, Strange Tricks is the book for you. Charming, tense and addictive, I couldn’t get enough of Rosie and will be buying and listening to the other books as soon as possible.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Before embarking on a career in education, Syd worked extensively in the publishing industry, fronting Channel 4’s book programme, Pulp. She was the founding editor of Level 4, an arts and culture magazine, and is co-creator of Super Strumps, the game that reclaims female stereotypes. Syd has also been a go go dancer, backing singer, subbuteo maker, children’s entertainer and performance poet, She now works for Metal Culture, an arts organisation, promoting arts and cultural events and developing literature programmes. Syd is an out and proud Essex Girl and is lucky enough to live in that county where she spends her free time excavating old myths and listening out for things that go bump in the night.

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MEET THE NARRATOR:

After graduating from Bristol University and joining The Bristol Old Vic Julia Barrie has worked extensively in Theatre; in rep, touring both nationally and internationally, as a member of the RSC, at the Old Vic and Royal Court and in the West End at The Duke of York’s and the Theatre Royal Haymarket. For BBC Radio she recorded Anthony Shaffer’s Widow’s Weeds and her TV and film credits include Prisoners’ Wives, The Commander, Doctors, Close Relations, Our Friends in the North, Out of Bounds, Ghost in the Machine and Five Greedy Bankers.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | 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 xxx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – May 2021

May has been a fantastic reading month for me. I’ve read 16 books, which is by best monthly total so far this year! But most importantly, I’ve enjoyed reading them and some have been real stand-outs that will likely be on my list of favourite books of 2021 at the end of the year.

Here’s a quick summary of what I read with links to the reviews (unless they are yet to be published):

Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

I had been excited about Ariadne for months and was so happy to finally read the book. An absolute masterpiece, Ariadne brings to life many of the familiar Greek myths through a new lens. This time it’s the women telling the story. And boy do they have a story to tell. Lush, evocative and unforgettable, this book lingers long after reading and has sparked a new obsession for me with Greek mythology. Jennifer Saint has just announced her second book, Elektra, and I’m already counting down to its release.
Read my review here.

The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

Beth O’Leary is one of my auto-buy authors and her books always lift my spirits. The Road Trip is another entertaining and readable story about love friendship, betrayal and forgiveness.
Review coming soon.

The Other Emily by Dean Koontz

A gripping page-turner that had me guessing from start to finish, The Other Emily was an eerie thriller filled with twists and turns. It was my first time reading Dean Koontz and I can see why everyone raves about his books.
Read my review here

The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley

The Cat and the City was a delightful and refreshing read that wasn’t what I expected, but in a good way. This collection of experiences about life in Tokyo was a moving, original, captivating and evocative read that I devoured quickly. One I’d highly recommend if you’re looking for something a bit different.
Read my review here

Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon

Why has it taken me so long to read Jane Fallon’s books? An entertaining, twisty and sharply observed look at female friendships, jealousy, vengeance and betrayal, this made me an instant fan.
Read my review here

Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks

Until Next Weekend is a story about love, loss and moving on. Wonderfully written, this warm, tender and funny story was a joy to read. While it has a very lighthearted feel, the author skillfully weaves in some deep and difficult subjects in a way that is both honest and sensitively written. This author is two for two on fantastic books that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend and is now an auto-buy author for me.
Read my review here

The Whole Truth by Cara Hunter

I have a new crime series to catch up on! The Whole Truth lives up to its advertised ‘impossible to predict’ tagline and had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. Cara Hunter twists a familiar story on its head, exploring what happens when a male student accuses a female teacher of abuse in this gripping thriller. This is a must-read for any fans of crime fiction and I can’t wait to read more.
Read my review here

You Had It Coming by BM Carroll

You Had It Coming is another tense, twisty and compelling thriller that expertly tackles a difficult subject. As a mother of teenage boys, I’m glad to see more books tackling the issue of consent and the dangers for both sexes that those blurred lines can bring. Thought-provoking and emotionally charged, I would highly recommend this fantastic thriller.
Read my review here

Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan~

Madame Burova is the story of two women, a lifetime of secrets and identity. Full of vibrant, quirky and memorable characters that leap from the screen, and evocative imagery that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into the 1970s, I enjoyed this funny, mysterious and uplifting story.
Review coming soon.

Legal Crime by Samiksha Bhattacharjee

This book is quite the accomplishment, having been written by a thirteen-year-old author. While it suffers a little for the the author’s lack of maturity, it is a good book and I’m sure that with maturity the author will become an even better writer.
Read my review here

The Hollows by Mark Edwards

My love for Mark Edwards is an open secret at this point, and every book he releases is eagerly anticipated. I was particularly excited for The Hollows as it merges two of my favourite genres: true crime and psychological thriller. Sinister, suspenseful and utterly spectacular, this might be my favourite yet. Keep an eye out for my review nearer to it’s release on July 8th.

The Baby is Mine by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Darkly funny, claustrophobic and readable, this quick read is the first book I’ve read set during the pandemic. It is perfect for anyone looking for a quick and entertaining read.
Read my review here

The Pact by Sharon Bolton

Wow! Just, wow! The Pact was my standout thriller in a month filled with amazing thrillers. So that tells you something. This was an absolute tour-de-force, a breathtaking rollercoaster ride that I devoured quickly. If you are a fan of thrillers than you need to read this book!
Read my review here

The Couple by Helly Acton

This was a fun twist on the usual romance story. Set in a world where being single is the norm, and those who are in a relationship are looked down upon, I couldn’t get enough of this warm, funny, uplifting and emotional story. A perfect book to lose yourself in.
Read my review here

Shadows Over the Spanish Sun by Caroline Montague

A truly beautiful saga of family, love, loss, secrets and betrayal, Shadows Over the Spanish Sun, this book transported me to the stunning vistas of Spain. The perfect book to read in my garden on a sunny day, this is historical fiction at it’s finest; filled with wonderful characters, lush imagery and educating me about a subject I knew nothing about.
Read my review here

Strange Tricks: An Essex Witch Museum Mystery by Syd Moore

I loved this witty cozy mystery so much that I’m planning to read the rest of the series. Great writing, brilliant characters and fabulous narration have made this one of my best audiobook experiences yet. I absolutely love Rosie, the protagonist, and can’t wait to listen to more of her adventures.
Review to follow on June 1st.

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Despite having read so many great books this month, deciding my book of the month was easy. There is one book that stood out even more than any other and deserves a standing ovation for it’s sheer luminous beauty both inside and out: Ariadne. It is so phenomenal that it isn’t only my BOTM, but my favourite book so far this year, and I have no doubt that whatever I read in the next seven months, this will be on my list of favourite books of 2021. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

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What books have you read this month? Did we read any of the same books? Let me know in the comments.

As always, thank you to the publishers for my gifted copies of the books.

Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. See you next month😊 Emma xxx