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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Published: January 20th 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Suspense, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Today I’m delighted to bring you my stop on the blog tour for this powerful, piercing and unsettling novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Simon & Schuster UK for the ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘A tour de force of engaged storytelling. With heart-wrenching pathos, The Gosling Girl delineates the bleak aftermath for all concerned when one child kills another’ Peter Kalu

Monster?                    Murderer?

Child?                         Victim?

Michelle Cameron’s name is associated with the most abhorrent of crimes. A child who lured a younger child away from her parents and to her death, she is known as the black girl who murdered a little white girl; evil incarnate according to the media. As the book opens, she has done her time, and has been released as a young woman with a new identity to start her life again. 

When another shocking death occurs, Michelle is the first in the frame. Brought into the police station to answer questions around a suspicious death, it is only a matter of time until the press find out who she is now and where she lives and set about destroying her all over again.

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MY REVIEW:

“She wants to know more.  She wants to know why.  She wants to figure out if Michelle Cameron really is the monster she’s made out to be.”

Humans are the scariest of monsters.  But are these monsters irredeemable? Should they be punished for one mistake, especially when that mistake was made when they were a child? These are some of the questions posed by The Gosling Girl, the gripping psychological thriller that tells the story of Michelle Cameron, a young woman fresh out of prison and trying to adjust to being free.  It is a life Michelle has never really known because at just 10 years old she became the most infamous and hated child in the country after murdering four-year-old Kerry Gosling.  And though she is out of prison, she will never really be free; forced to change her identity and living in fear of vigilantes discovering the truth and taking revenge into their own hands.  

What. A. Book.  Thought-provoking, poignant and totally riveting, this is a story that will linger long after you close it’s pages.   The author explores uncomfortable and difficult themes such as the nature of evil, childhood crime, institutional racism and psychological imprisonment versus physical imprisonment, forcing us to feel some uncomfortable emotions. The characters are richly drawn and compelling, the plot multilayered and intricately woven, and the writing nuanced and evocative, creating a connection between Michelle and the reader.  Jacqueline Roy is a powerful storyteller, her descriptions providing a sense of tension, unease, dread and desperation.  There is so much pain, trauma and helplessness in these words that it cuts you like a knife and bleeds from the pages. 

“She pictures the young woman who had sat opposite her on the sofa, unsure of herself, awkward, lacking communication skills. Traumatised, in all likelihood. She will take her under her wing, facilitate her in coming to terms with the terrible crime she committed and write about the process. Surely no one could object to that. “

This story is a piercing psychological portrait that goes deep inside Michelle’s psyche.  When we meet her she is overwhelmed and terrified of everything, having never made her own decisions, worked a job or lived in her own place.  She constantly lives in fear of being found out and doesn’t know if she can ever trust anyone.  The author vividly portrays her sense of isolation and fear, how she feels adrift without a soul in the world who cares for her or she can turn to, even her mother having turned her back on her once she was convicted.  I never expected that I would feel such sympathy and warmth towards a self-confessed child-killer, but the author enabled me to see beyond her abhorrent crime and look at Michelle as a real person, rather than one-dimensionally evil. 

Like Michelle, the story gives up its secrets slowly, keeping the reader guessing at the truth of what happened the day of the murder and Michelle’s childhood; small clues dropped like crumbs that make us wonder if she is guilty and what might have led to her committing such a crime. But is there anything that could make us understand a child killing another child?  Or is it always completely inexcusable, something only someone truly evil could do? By keeping the circumstances of what happened that day in the shadows and instead creating a bond between Michelle and the reader, the author allows us to see the grey areas that make this such a complex issue.  

Darkly atmospheric, disquieting, tortured and heartfelt, I can’t recommend this highly enough.  It is the perfect marriage of complex moral and social issues in a powerful and compelling psychological thriller that you’ll not be able to put down.  Read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jacqueline Roy is a dual-heritage author, born in London to a black Jamaican father and white British mother. After a love of art and stories was passed down to her by her family, she became increasingly aware of the absence of black figures in the books she devoured, and this fuelled her desire to write. In her teenage years she spent time in a psychiatric hospital, where she wrote as much as possible to retain a sense of identity; her novel The Fat Lady Sings is inspired by this experience of institutionalisation and the treatment of black people with regards to mental illness. She rediscovered a love of learning in her thirties after undertaking a Bachelors in English, and a Masters in Postcolonial Literatures. She then became a lecturer in English, specialising in Black Literature and Culture and Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, where she worked full time for many years, and was a tutor on The Manchester Writing School’s M.A. programme. She has written six books for children, and edited her late father’s novel No Black Sparrows, published posthumously. A second novel for adults will be published in 2022. She now lives in Manchester.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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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: The Guest Room by Rona Halsall

Published: January 31st 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Format: Kindle

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

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SYNOPSIS:

You think you’re safe in your home. You’re wrong.

Steph used to think her life was perfect. A happy marriage, two wonderful kids, and a home she felt safe in and called her own. But now her husband has walked out after thirty years, her daughter Bea is married and lives miles away, and Steph’s estranged son hasn’t made contact in years. Home doesn’t feel like the safe haven it once did.

When she begins to hear noises in the night, at first she thinks she’s imagining things. But then she finds open windows she knows she left closed, and a strange smell in the kitchen – and she knows none of it feels right.

Then her front window is smashed, and a young man named Noah helps her fix it. He’s fallen on hard times and Steph impulsively offers him a place to stay. He reminds her of her missing son, and as a mother she finds herself wanting to help him. Also, if he is there, she won’t be home alone.

Before long Noah is living in Bea’s old bedroom, paying rent, and getting his life back on track. Steph’s ex-husband and Bea are furious. But Steph feels secure at last, and that’s what matters.

Until the strange things start happening once more.

And Steph realises that someone is out to scare her…

Someone who will stop at nothing to make her never, ever feel safe again.

The most twisty and unputdownable thriller of the year – perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, Mark Edwards and Gone Girl.

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MY REVIEW:

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Rona Halsall is the queen of the twisty, morally complex thriller. And she’s delivered another knock-out with her latest offering, The Guest Room, a gripping tale that will pull you in, mess with your mind and then spit you out when it’s done.  I thought I knew what was happening and where it was heading, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.  My jaw hit the floor when Halsall pulled the rug from under me and turned everything I thought I knew on its head in a spectacular finale that I’m still reeling from. 

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  Let’s go back to the beginning…

Steph is trying to put her broken life back together and embrace a new beginning after being left by her husband of thirty years.  But her new beginnings don’t mean acquiescing to her ex and agreeing to sell her home, which is her comfort and safety as well as the place where all her precious memories are held.  Although lately it hasn’t felt so safe with all the strange happenings and break-ins that have occurred.  She decides to take in a lodger, offering shelter to a young homeless man named Noah, much to the anger of her ex and their daughter.  But Noah makes her feel safer.  Or at least he does at first.  Soon strange things begin to happen again and Steph is certain that this is personal.  Someone is out to get her.  But who is it and what do they want? 

As with all of Ms. Halsall’s books, this is well written and evocative, Steph’s fear, loneliness and isolation leaping from the page and giving me chills as she is terrorised in her own home.  I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next and trying to figure out who she could trust.  Was her ex-husband really trying to force her out of their home?  Or is someone else behind it all?  I had my suspicions.  And they were completely wrong.  I don’t think I would have guessed where this was going if I’d had an infinite number of guesses. 

I really liked Steph and felt an immediate kinship with her, having also found myself adrift after the end of a marriage at one time.  I really felt for her as she grappled with all of her new decisions and responsibilities while trying to come to terms with a new life that she never wanted.  I could understand why she was holding onto her home at all costs; it’s her anchor, her familiarity, and a way to stand up to the man who walked out and took away the life she loved.  My heart went out to her as she wondered if she is paranoid, imagining things or over sensitive when things begin to happen and then doesn’t know who to trust as she becomes sure someone is out to get her.  Where do you turn when you don’t know who is after you?  

Compelling, tense and utterly riveting, The Guest Room is an outstanding thriller.  And Rona Halsall is an author all thriller fans should be reading.  Don’t miss this book.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rona is the author of bestselling psychological thrillers published by Bookouture. Her challenge in writing is to find domestic storylines with twists that her readers will never guess.

She was born in Nottingham, grew up near Blackpool and went to college in Leeds. She then moved to Snowdonia, North Wales where she brought up her family while working as a business mentor. She now lives on the Isle of Man with her husband, two dogs and two guinea pigs.

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon
*This is an affiliate link

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap-Up: January 2022

Welcome to the first monthly wrap up of 2022. It has been a slow month for me and I’ve only read 9 books, but quality is more important than quantity and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read. I’ve also enjoyed having less pressure, being able to really savour books, and felt able to take a break from reading to rest when needed because of chronic illness flares a few times this month.

So, here is what I read in January:

Demon (Six Stories Book 6) by Matt Wesolowski

Published: January 20th, 2022
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fairy Tale, Horror Fiction, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Biographical Fiction

I started my reading year with Demon, the latest installment in one of my favourite series, the Six Stories Series by Matt Wesolowski. It follows Scott King who hosts a podcast called Six Stories that investigate crimes with an element of the strange and mysterious, looking at them six different ways as he tries to discover what really happened. In Demon Scott investigates a heinous crime: the brutal, senseless murder of a child by two other children, two boys mired in grief and trauma, in a rural Yorkshire village. Can he sift through the rumours and folklore and discover what really happened that summer day? Unsettling, dark, haunting and addictive, Demon has all of Wesolowski’s signature flair and style, ensuring this is a book you won’t forget.

You can read my review here
Buy the book

Wahala by Nikki May

Published: January 6th, 2022
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Contemporary Novel, Domestic Fiction, Urban Fiction, Political Fiction, Romance Novel

Wahala was one of my most anticipated debuts of the year and it did not disappoint. A story of friendship, family, identity, race and secrets it lives up to it’s name (Wahala is a Nigerian Pidgin word meaning trouble). The characters are flawed, fascinating and fabulous, the food makes you want to eat, and the author has filled the book with humour, chaos and tension that keeps you hooked. This is a book that everyone will be talking about and I can’t wait to binge on the series that is already in development.

You can read my review here
Buy the book*

The Unravelling by Polly Crosby

Published: January 6th, 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Magical Realism, Fairy Tale

The Unravelling is a beautiful novel. Polly Crosby is a masterful storyteller who expertly weaves intricate and mutlilayered stories that are impossible to put down. I had been eagerly anticipating this book ever since reading her debut at the end of 2019 and it was worth the wait. A story of grief, mystery and metamorphosis set on an isolated island, this hypnotic, haunting and atmospheric tale is one not to be missed.

You can read my review here
Buy the book*

The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown

Published: January 13th, 2022
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller, Horror Thriller, Gothic Romance

Mesmerising, beguiling and darkly atmospheric, The Key in the Lock is gothic fiction at its finest. I quickly devoured this captivating story that follows Ivy Boscawen, a mother struggling to come to terms with the loss of her son who is also still haunted by events that took place three decades earlier. The evocative imagery sets an eerie, haunting scene and sent shivers down my spine, making this hard to read at night in places. The plot is clever and intricately woven, keeping you guessing right until the very end. It was my first time reading this author and I have now bumped her debut higher up my TBR.

You can read my review here
Buy the book*

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

Published: January 13th, 2022
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

Intriguing, mysterious and surprising, The Twyford Code is like nothing I’ve read before.  As a puzzle lover, I was intrigued by the idea of a book that contained a hidden code, and it’s no secret that I enjoy a good mystery. The author tells the story in a unique way, using transcriptions of audio files instead of traditional narration. Though I loved this novel way of narrating, it also won’t be for everyone and was tricky to read in places. An original mystery that stands out from the crowd, it is cleverly plotted and full of surprising twists, keeping me guessing from beginning to end.

You can read my review here
Buy the book*

All For You by Louise Jensen

Published: January 20th, 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction

Wow! What a rollercoaster ride! Crazy, heart-stopping and unputdownable, All For You has everything you could want in a thriller and more. Louise Jensen has knocked it out of the park with this one, crafting a story that is twisty and hard to predict. There’s heartache, trauma, secrets and mystery alongside an exploration of family dynamics, friendship, love, loss and tragedy. Expertly written, this jaw-dropping and addictive thriller is a must read for anyone who enjoys the genre.

You can read my review here
Buy the book*

The Guest Room by Rona Halsall

Published: January 31st. 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction

Rona Halsall is the queen of the twisty, morally complex thriller, and she’s delivered another knock-out with The Guest Room. This gripping tale will pull you in, mess with your mind and then spit you out when it’s done.  I thought I could predict where this was going but I was totally wrong, once again fooled by Ms. Halsall’s skillfully written red herrings. If you love thrillers and this author isn’t on your TBR, then you need ot change that now!

You can read my review on February 1st as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Published: January 20th, 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Suspense, Literary Fiction

The Gosling Girl is another debut that was on my list of most anticipated debuts this year. Thought-provoking, poignant and totally riveting, this is a story that will linger long after you close it’s pages. The author examines some heavy topics such as the nature of evil, childhood crime and racism in this powerful story, asking difficult questions and unnerving you with some of the emotions you will feel. It follows a young woman who is fresh out of prison and trying to adjust to life on the outside. It’s a life that she has never really known after being imprisoned aged just ten after murdering a four-year-old in one of the country’s most shocking murders. She has had to change her identity to prevent vigilante justice and lives in fear of people finding out who she really is. The Gosling Girl is a powerful and piercing novel that I think everyone should read.

You can read my review on February 3rd as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs

Published: February 3rd, 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

It’s probably no surprise that the gorgeous cover of this book is what first made me want to pick it up, but I was delighted to discover that this is one of those times where what is on the inside is just as beautiful as what is on the outside. A story of food, poetry, strength, endurance and friendship, the author merges fact and fiction to tell the story of how Eliza Acton wrote what would become the greatest British cookbook of all time. Told in alternating chapters by Eliza and her assistant Ann Kirby, this spectacular and immersive novel made me fall in love. Read it now!

You can read my review on February 4th as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

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Despite only reading nine books, it has been so hard to choose a book of the month. Five of the books could have taken the title with The Unravelling, The Key in the Lock, All For You, The Gosling Girl and The Language of Food all being contenders. After a lot of deliberation, I have decided that my book of the month is…

Ok, technically it’s books of the month. I just couldn’t choose between The Gosling Girl and The Language of Food, two spectacular books that I think will be in my top books of 2022.

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Did we read any of the same books this month? Or are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxxx

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

BLOG TOUR: The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

Published: January 13th 2022
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this intriguing mystery. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour and Viper for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

It’s time to solve the murder of the century…

Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to solving a puzzle, and that a message in secret code ran through all Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today?

Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to Miss Iles, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it…

Perfect for fans of Richard Osman, Alex Pavesi and S.J. Bennett, The Twyford Code will keep you up puzzling late into the night.

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MY REVIEW:

Disgraced children’s author Edith Twyford has long been rumoured to have hidden secret codes in her many books.  When 14-year-old Steve Smith finds a copy of one of her famous books full of annotations he is intrigued and takes it to his English teacher, Miss Iles, who is convinced it is the key to solving the secret puzzle that runs through Twyford’s books.  But when Miss Isles disappears during a class field trip she leaves Steve and his classmates with a second mystery to solve.  One that has haunted him for forty years and he now believes is tied to the Twyford Code.  

Intriguing, mysterious and surprising, The Twyford Code is like nothing I’ve read before.  The author tells the story in a unique way, using transcriptions of audio files instead of traditional narration.  They were recorded on an old iPhone 4 by Steve Smith, and are imperfect because of faults in the transcribing technology and how Steve talks.  This makes them tricky to read at first and meant it took me a while to get into the flow of the book.  I liked the original way of formatting the book and how the author uses it as a plot point but it did make it difficult to read at times and may put some people off.  I   think I would have enjoyed the story more if the audio files had been combined with more traditional narration so that I could have a break from decoding what Steve was actually saying.  

One positive aspect of the audio files is that we truly get to know Steve through his distinct voice.  In Steve, the author created a character who feels both familiar and mysterious at the same time.  Fresh out of prison, there is no denying the very troubled past of this character, but he has a charm that means you just can’t help but like him.  In the recordings he not only shares his investigation into the Twyford Code and disappearance of Miss Iles, but also discusses his troubled past, his time in prison, his determination to make a better life for himself and the love and pride he feels for his son, who he has only just connected with.  I couldn’t help but root for him and want him to succeed in solving the mysteries.

I love puzzles so I was really excited about the puzzle-solving aspect of the story.  But unfortunately these were the kind of puzzles that I’m not very good at so I decided to just enjoy the story instead of trying to figure things out.  The whole story was cleverly plotted and I was genuinely surprised by some of the twists the author had in store and the truth that was waiting to be revealed.

While there were a lot of things I enjoyed about this book, I have to admit that it was a bit of a mixed bag for me and I was left feeling unsure how I felt about it at the end.  But I encourage people to read this book for themselves as overall The Twyford Code is an original, intelligent and surprising mystery that stands out from the crowd.

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Janice Hallett is a former magazine editor, award-winning journalist and government communications writer. She wrote articles and speeches for, among others, the Cabinet Office, Home Office and Department for International Development. Her enthusiasm for travel has taken her around the world several times, from Madagascar to the Galapagos, Guatemala to Zimbabwe, Japan, Russia and South Korea. A playwright and screenwriter, she penned the feminist Shakespearean stage comedy NetherBard and co-wrote the feature film Retreat, a psychological thriller starring Cillian Murphy, Thandiwe Newton and Jamie Bell. The Appeal is her first novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon*
*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: All For You by Louise Jensen

Published: January 20th 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this crazy, heart-stopping thriller. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and to Louise Jensen for my signed copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

MEET THE WALSH FAMILY

Lucy: Loving mother. Devoted wife. And falling to pieces.
Aidan: Dedicated father. Faithful husband. And in too deep.
Connor:Hardworking son. Loyal friend. But can never tell the truth.

Everyone in this family is hiding something, but one secret will turn out to be the deadliest of all . . .

Can this family ever recover when the truth finally comes out?

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MY REIVEW:

“The hands of the clock tick out their warning as they march from the present into the future. More than anything I wish I could wind them back and step into the past. Rewrite history. Keep us safe.”

Wow! What a rollercoaster ride this was!  All For You has everything you could want in a thriller and more.  Heart-pounding, tense and unputdownable it gets its hooks into you at the start and doesn’t let go.  And I suggest you simply hold on and enjoy the ride. 

I knew Louise Jensen wrote a good psychological thriller, but this time she really knocked it out of the park. Fast-paced and vividly written, this book was crazy!  In the best way.  Cleverly and intricately plotted, this is a layered, complex and nuanced story with so much beneath the surface waiting to be revealed.  You feel the foreboding, mystery and dark secrets looming from the first page and the pain and torment flow from every pore as the author explores the dynamics of family life, friendships, love, loss and tragedy, as well as the reality of living with someone with a chronic and potentially fatal illness alongside the mystery.  I was desperate to know what this family was hiding and why they thought someone would want revenge.  I loved how hard this was to predict and how the slight shift in part two brought something new and surprising to the story that ramps up the tension you already feel, leaving me flying through the remaining pages to discover the truth.  

“Suddenly, he knew what madness looked like.  He was staring it straight in the eyes.” 

I love a well-written multiple pov story and this one pulls it off flawlessly.  The narrators are richly drawn and intriguing characters.  They are all hiding something, making them unreliable narrators, and I soon began to wonder if they are keeping the same secret or if there were multiple skeleton’s hidden in this family’s closet.  The author writes them all so skillfully, really getting inside the tortured souls of this family and bringing them to life.  

This book blew me away and I’m still reeling from the cascade of shocking revelations that came as we approached the finale.  Jaw-dropping and addictive, this is a must read for thriller fans.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louise Jensen has sold over a million English language copies of her International No. 1 psychological thrillers ‘The Sister’, ‘The Gift’, ‘The Surrogate’, ‘The Date’, ‘The Family’ & ‘The Stolen Sisters’. Her novels have also been translated into twenty-five languages, as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestseller’s List. Louise’s seventh thriller, ‘All For You’, will be published in Autumn 2020 by Harper Collins.

Louise has been nominated for multiple awards including Goodreads Debut Author Of The Year, The Guardians ‘Not The Booker Prize’, best polish thriller of 2018 and she has also been listed for two CWA Dagger awards. All of Louise’s thrillers are currently under option for TV & film.

Louise also has a penchant for exploring the intricacies of relationships through writing heart-breaking, high-concept love stories under the pen name Amelia Henley. ‘The Life We Almost Had’ was an international best seller. her latest release ‘The Art of Loving You’ is out now.

Louise lives with her husband, children, madcap dog and a rather naughty cat in Northamptonshire. She loves to hear from readers and writers.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

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

BLOG TOUR: The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown

Published: January 13th 2022
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller, Horror Thriller, Gothic Romance
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising and beguiling piece of gothic fiction. Thank you to Ellie at Viking for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of this book.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE PAGE-TURNING NEW NOVEL FROM THE AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR OF THE WITCHFINDER’S SISTER

__________________________________

I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire. Smoke unravelling from an upper window, and the terrace bathed in a hectic orange light . . . Now I see that the decision I made at Polneath was the only decision of my life. Everything marred in that one dark minute.

By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose death decades ago haunts her still.

For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

But once you open a door to the past, can you ever truly close it again?

From the award-winning author of The Witchfinder’s Sister comes a captivating story of burning secrets and buried shame, and of the loyalty and love that rises from the ashes.

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MY REVIEW:

“I still dream, every night, of Ponleath on fire…”

This is gothic fiction at its finest. Hauntingly beautiful, darkly atmospheric and beguiling, I was captivated from the first page.  A story of secrets, loss and lies filled with mystery and suspense that sends shivers down your spine.  

Moving between dual timelines we follow Ivy Boscawen as she struggles to come to terms with the loss of her son during the Great War, telling the story of her search for the truth about his death, the intense guilt she feels, and how she is still tormented by events that took place thirty years before.  Ivy confesses the secrets she’s kept hidden for decades that still haunt her dreams each night, finally revealing the truth of what happened at Ponleath all those years ago. 

This is an easy five stars from me.  It is my first foray into Beth Underwood’s books and I am kicking myself for allowing her previous book to languish on my shelf unread for so long.  Exquisitely written and intricately plotted, the evocative imagery sets an eerie scene and I felt like I could hear the ghosts whispering their secrets, waiting for their chance to finally be heard.  I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish, my heart aching for these characters, particularly young William Tremain and all he must have gone through on that terrifying night. 

Ivy was a great narrator.  She is a fascinating character and I instantly felt an  emotional connection to her over the death of her only child.  But what could she have done that made not only his death, but marriage to a man she never wanted, to be with the price she deserved to pay for her transgressions?  I never figured it out, the many twists and turns taking me by surprise as she finally lays the spirits of her past to rest with her confessions.  In fact, I found myself so caught up in the story itself I almost forgot there was a mystery surrounding something she’d done as well as the one surrounding who was behind the fire that December night.  What did Ivy know that no one else did? 

Clever, absorbing and utterly mesmerising, The Key in the Lock is an accomplished piece of gothic fiction that keeps you guessing until the very end. Read it now. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing.

The Witchfinder’s Sister is her first novel, and is out with Viking in the UK and Ballantine in the US in Spring 2017. The book is based on the life of the 1640s witch finder Matthew Hopkins, whom she first came across while reading a book about seventeenth-century midwifery. As you do.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*
*These are affiliate links

********

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 Most Anticipated 2022

BLOG TOUR: The Unravelling by Polly Crosby

Published: January 6th 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Magical Realism, Fairy Tale
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising and haunting novel. Apologies that I am posting late due to illness. Thank you to HQ for the gifted copy of the book and the invitation to take part.

********

SYNOPSIS:

A darkly beautiful dual-timeline novel with a captivating mystery, for fans of Diane Setterfield, Kate Morton, Kate Mosse and Kiran Millwood Hargrave

’Like a surreal cabinet of curiosities – haunting, eerie, evocative’ Bridget Collins, Sunday Times bestselling author of The Binding

When Tartelin Brown accepts a job with the reclusive Marianne Stourbridge, she finds herself on a wild island with a mysterious history.

Tartelin is tasked with hunting butterflies for Marianne’s research. But she quickly uncovers something far more intriguing than the curious creatures that inhabit the landscape.

Because the island and Marianne share a remarkable history, and what happened all those years ago has left its scars, and some terrible secrets.

As Tartelin pieces together Marianne’s connection to the island, she must confront her own reasons for being there. Can the two women finally face up to the painful memories that bind them so tightly to the past?

Atmospheric and deeply emotional, The Unravelling is the captivating novel from the author of The Illustrated Child.

********

MY REVIEW:

“There’s something about this place that I can’t quite get a grip on. It’s as if it’s trying to tell me something, but I don’t know the language.” 

The Unravelling is a story of mystery, grief and metamorphosis set on an isolated island where decades-old secrets are rooted in its very fabric.  Told in dual timelines, this mesmerising story is woven together by gossamer threads that slowly unfurl to reveal the mystery of this peculiar island, its mysterious matriarch and a strange summer many years earlier.

“That night my sleep is velvet blue, dark and dreamless, and when I wake in the morning I forget where I am.”

Polly Crosby is a masterful storyteller who is skilled at crafting intricate and multilayered stories that have so much hidden beneath the surface.  This one has trauma, grief and pain woven into every facet of the narrative, while beautiful, immersive and hypnotic prose pulls you into the world the author has created so completely that everything else falls away.  With evocative imagery she crafts an original landscape that feels vividly real, transporting you to this dark, cryptic place and holding you captive as you try to decipher what is real and what is imagination.  With this book Ms. Crosby has confirmed she is no one-hit wonder and secured her place on my list of favourite and auto-buy authors.

“She is right. This place is tangled up with secrets. Not just the island itself: I sense Miss Stourbridge holds secrets here too.” 

The story centres around two women: Marianne and Tartelin.  Marianne is a cantankerous, secretive old woman who has recently returned to the island owned by her family to study mutation of the local butterflies.  She has hired Tartelin, a young woman trying to come to terms with the recent death of her mother, as her assistant.  From the start Tartelin is intrigued by Marianne and eager to know more about her.  But Marianne is a closed book, unwilling to form any kind of bond or share stories with her only companion or tell her what it is that she is searching for.  They are fascinating and compelling characters, but while I took to Tartelin immediately, it took me a while to warm to Marianne, her spiky shell making it hard to see who she really is underneath.  But as the dual timelines gave us a glimpse into who they both were, and as Tartelin managed to persuade her to reveal more of her heartbreaking story, I grew to not only care about her but admire how strong she was after surviving all she’d been through.

“When I first arrived on Duhhalund, I was disappointed that it wasn’t the beautiful island I hoped for, but now I can see its strange beauty everywhere I look.  It is a wild beauty, a secret beauty that twists and burrows inside me until sometimes I can’t separate myself from it. I’ve never felt like this about a place before. It’s an exhilarating feeling. “

Ms. Crosby has created such a strong and spectacular sense of place in this book that Duhholund feels like a character in itself.  Claustrophobic and isolated, it is a place shrouded in shadows and secrets.  It is a wild place, taken over by nature, without electricity, covered in ruins and inhabited by strange creatures.  It is as if the island is alive, its sinister beauty a living, breathing thing you can feel.  There is a power to it, something almost mythical, the menace and foreboding lingering over every page as you read. 

“The pull of it. Magnetic. As if it wants me to search out its secrets.” 

Haunting, atmospheric and alluring, The Unravelling is like stepping into a cabinet of curiosities.  A magnificent historical mystery that is not to be missed.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

After a whirlwind of a year which saw Polly receive writing scholarships from both Curtis Brown Creative and The University of East Anglia’s MA in Creative Writing, she went on to be runner up in the Bridport Prize’s Peggy Chapman Andrews Award for a First Novel. Read Polly’s piece for the Bridport Prize’s blog here.

Polly’s novel was snapped up by HarperCollins HQ in the UK and Commonwealth in a 48 hour pre-empt, and a few days later by HarperCollins Park Row Books in North America.

Polly grew up on the Suffolk coast, and now lives in the heart of Norfolk with her husband and son, and her very loud and much loved rescue Oriental cat, Dali.

The Illustrated Child is her first novel. Her second novel, The Unravelling, is out on 6th January ‘22.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon*
*These are affiliate links

********

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 Most Anticipated 2022

BLOG TOUR: Wahala by Nikki May

Published: January 6th 2022
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Contemporary Novel, Domestic Fiction, Urban Fiction, Political Fiction, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

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

********

SYNOPSIS:

SEX AND THE CITY with a killer edge for fans of QUEENIE, EXPECTATION and MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER

SOON TO BE A MAJOR BBC TV SERIAL

————

Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London.
They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English.
Not all of them choose to see it that way.

Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her urban vibe yet again.

When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them.

Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself.

Explosive, hilarious and wildly entertaining, this razor-sharp tale of love, race and family will have you laughing, crying and gasping in horror. Fearlessly political about class, colourism and clothes, the spellbinding Wahala is for anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.

PICKED AS ONE OF STYLIST MAGAZINE’S ‘FICTION BOOKS YOU CAN’T MISS OF 2022’

********

MY REVIEW:

Wahala is a Nigerian Pidgin word meaning ‘trouble’, and there is trouble aplenty in this exciting debut. 

A story of friendship, family, identity, race and secrets, Wahala is narrated by three friends: Ronke, Simi and Boo.  Now living in London, the trio met at university in Bristol and bonded over being of Nigerian and English descent.  Their shared dual heritage made them outsiders and created a connection that they thought was unbreakable.  But when Isobel, a childhood friend of Simi from Lagos, comes into their lives, cracks in their friendships soon begin to appear and  soon all four women are forced to confront their darkest secrets and deepest vulnerabilities.  Will their friendships survive?

Wow!  What a sensational debut.  This book has a great vibe from the start and is full of humour, warmth, chaos and tension, it pulled me in immediately and didn’t let go until the final page.  Nikki May brings her characters and their world to life in vivid technicolour, educating the reader on life in Nigeria and exploring how it feels to be mixed race while also making you laugh and feel entertained.  And the food.  I was so happy to find there are recipes for some of the traditional Nigerian cuisine that is mentioned as it made my mouth water and stomach rumble reading about it. 

A book like this is nothing without great characters and Ms. May has created an enthralling group of flawed, fascinating and fabulous women.  Ronke is a dentist who just wants to find Mr. Right and have babies.  She loves cooking, especially Nigerian food, and seems to be the heart of the group.  Simi is the glamorous one, at least until Isobel arrives.  She likes the finer things in life and cares about what others think of her, always keen to project a picture perfect image of her life even if it’s falling apart at the seams.  Boo is unsatisfied with her life and feels like the grass is always greener.  She loves her husband and child but feels stifled by them and wants something more.  And then there’s Isobel, newly divorced, vivacious and exuding confidence.  I liked her at first but it didn’t take long for me to realise that this woman was a sniper from the side.  I could see her calculating to come between these three friends but couldn’t figure out why or what she wanted.  And I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure it out.  They were all such fun to read and I loved how the author portrays many facets of womanhood and female friendship through these women. There is something that we can all relate to in some way.  

Entertaining and explosive, Wahala is the debut that everyone is going to be talking about.  I was thrilled to learn that it has already been picked up for TV because it is utterly bingeable.  Read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Born in Bristol, raised in Lagos, I’m proud to be Anglo-Nigerian. I ran a successful ad agency before turning to writing and now live in Dorset with my husband, two standard schnauzers, and way too many books.

My debut novel WAHALA was inspired by a long (and loud) lunch with friends. It will be published around the world in January 2022 and is being adapted into a major BBC TV drama.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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: Demon (Six Stories Book 6) by Matt Wesolowski

Published: January 20th 2022
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fairy Tale, Horror Fiction, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Biographical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my first blog tour of 2022. And I’m delighted that it is for one of my favourite series that is published by one of my favourite publishers. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in this tour and to Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Scott King’s podcast investigates the 1995 cold case of a demon possession in a rural Yorkshire village, where a 12-year-old boy was murdered in cold blood by two children. Book six in the chilling, award-winning Six Stories series.

_______________________

In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act.

And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public’s ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

********

MY REVIEW:

“A horror. There’s no other word for it. Horror upon horror.”

Scott King is back with his Six Stories Podcast, a show that investigates old crimes from six different perspectives to try to get to the truth of what happened. He specialises in the strange and mysterious. Cases that are surrounded by rumours of the supernatural and the occult. This time it is the brutal, senseless murder of a child by other children, two outcast boys mired in trauma and grief, the Usslethwaite kilns with their magnetic pull and the strange folklore that surrounds them and rumours of witchcraft and demons. Can he unravel the truth of what happened that day in 1995?

What a way to start the year! Unsettling, dark and haunting, this atmospheric story had me hooked. The sixth book in the Six Stories series sees Podcaster Scott King is investigating the 1995 murder of twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons by two of his classmates. It was a brutal murder with no apparent motive that took place in a small North Yorkshire village where superstition and suspicion of those who are different was and is rife.

It is a disturbing case, and while there are inevitably stomach-churning and spine-chilling moments, this goes much deeper, humanising the boys that the media dubbed the ‘Demonic Duo’ and exploring what could have led two troubled boys to escalate from acting up in class and playing pranks to terrorising the village and savagely killing one of their peers. Through the interviews with six people with very different perspectives, news articles and letters from one of the boys to his late mother that he wrote in the months and days leading up to the crime, we get an insight into who these boys were and how they arrived at the moment where they killed another child without any apparent motive.

“The answer to this case lies somewhere in the strange hinterland between pity and condemnation. It’s a rocky and treacherous place to stand.”

The story also examines topics such as the lingering effects of the crime, offender rehabilitation, the bestowing of new identities and lifetime anonymity upon the most vilified offenders, vigilante justice and online commentary. It makes you think, stirs up uncomfortable emotions and makes you reflect on your own reactions to a crime such as this. When a crime seems particularly heinous and unforgivable, it is easy to demonise the perpetrators rather than taking a real look at the very human reasons this could have happened. We need to believe only real evil can do such a thing in order to separate ourselves from the people who commit such unspeakable acts.

For me, it conjured up memories of the tragic murder of James Bulger; the horror and disbelief that two children could commit such a terrible act, the outrage at what they did, and how the pair were immediately demonised with the entire country calling for justice. I don’t know if the Bulger case or its aftermath inspired this book, but I feel like it echoed a lot of what I remember happening in the media and my own conversations with people about the crime even to this day.

When I pick up one of Matt Wesolowski’s books I know what I’m getting, a book that is bold, mysterious, thought-provoking, eerie and addictive. Demon delivers all of those things and more in what I think is the best of his books I’ve read yet. But it isn’t for the faint hearted. In fact, the book opens with warnings about the content which I appreciated as it means readers can make an informed decision before deciding to proceed.

Expertly written, deftly told and filled with fascinating characters, Demon is a chilling tale you won’t forget.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

TW: Violence against children and animals.

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care.

‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017, ‘Changeling’ in 2018, ‘Beast’ in 2019 and ‘Deity’ in 2020.

‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio and the third book in the series, ‘Changeling’ was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Award for Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.

‘Beast’ won the Amazon publishing award for Best Independent voice in 2020.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | Waterstones*| Amazon*
*There are affiliate links

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – January 2022

It’s the start of a new year and with all the Most Anticipated of 2022 lists I’m late sharing my first Emma’s Anticipated Treasures of 2022 and what January releases I’m most excited about.

January is a great month for new books. The 20th is particularly full of new releases that I’m excited for and it was tricky getting this list down to ‘just’ 26 books.

So without further ado, here are the books I’m looking forward to most that are released this month:

The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman

Published: January 4th
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Fantasy Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Four siblings. A country in ruin. One quest to save them all.

Vira is desperate to get out of her mother’s shadow and establish her legacy as a revered queen of Ashoka. But with the country’s only quarry running out of magic – a precious resource that has kept Ashoka safe from conflict – she can barely protect her citizens from the looming threat of war. And if her enemies discover this, they’ll stop at nothing to seize the last of the magic.

Vira’s only hope is to find a mysterious object of legend: the Ivory Key, rumoured to unlock a new source of magic. But in order to infiltrate enemy territory and retrieve it, she must reunite with her siblings, torn apart by broken relationships and the different paths their lives have taken. Each of them has something to gain from finding the Ivory Key – and even more to lose if they fail. Ronak plans to sell it to the highest bidder in exchange for escape from his impending political and unwanted marriage. Kaleb, falsely accused of assassinating the former maharani, needs it to clear his name. And Riya, the runaway sibling who cut all family ties, wants the Key to prove her loyalty to the rebels who took her in.

They must work together to survive the treacherous journey. But with each sibling harbouring secrets and their own conflicting agendas, the very thing that brought them together could tear apart their family – and their world – for good.

First in a duology from an incredible new talent, this Indian-inspired fantasy debut is epic, fierce and magnetically addictive, taking you on a thrilling journey where magic, a prized resource, is the only thing between peace and war.

Buy here*

The Unravelling by Polly Crosby

Published: January 6th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale, Magical Realism, Fantasy Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A darkly beautiful dual-timeline novel with a captivating mystery, for fans of Diane Setterfield, Kate Morton, Kate Mosse and Kiran Millwood Hargrave

When Tartelin Brown accepts a job with the reclusive Marianne Stourbridge, she finds herself on a wild island with a mysterious history.

Tartelin is tasked with hunting butterflies for Marianne’s research. But she quickly uncovers something far more intriguing than the curious creatures that inhabit the landscape.

Because the island and Marianne share a remarkable history, and what happened all those years ago has left its scars, and some terrible secrets.

As Tartelin pieces together Marianne’s connection to the island, she must confront her own reasons for being there. Can the two women finally face up to the painful memories that bind them so tightly to the past?

Atmospheric and deeply emotional, The Unravelling is the captivating novel from the author of The Illustrated Child

Buy here*

Wahala by Nikki May

Published: January 6th
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
SEX AND THE CITY with a killer edge for fans of QUEENIE, EXPECTATION and MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER

SOON TO BE A MAJOR BBC TV SERIAL
————

Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London.
They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English.
Not all of them choose to see it that way.

Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her urban vibe yet again.

When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them.

Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself.

Explosive, hilarious and wildly entertaining, this razor-sharp tale of love, race and family will have you laughing, crying and gasping in horror. Fearlessly political about class, colourism and clothes, the spellbinding Wahala is for anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.

Buy here*

The Winter Guest by W. C. Ryan

Published: January 6th
Publisher: Zaffre
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Ghost Story, Historical Mystery, War Story

SYNOPSIS:
A gripping, unsettling mystery with a classic feel, for fans of Agatha Christie

The drive leads past the gate house and through the trees towards the big house, visible through the winter-bared branches. Its windows stare down at Harkin and the sea beyond . . .

January 1921. Though the Great War is over, in Ireland a new, civil war is raging. The once-grand Kilcolgan House, a crumbling bastion shrouded in sea-mist, lies half empty and filled with ghosts – both real and imagined – the Prendevilles, the noble family within, co-existing only as the balance of their secrets is kept.

Then, when an IRA ambush goes terribly wrong, Maud Prendeville, eldest daughter of Lord Kilcolgan, is killed, leaving the family reeling. Yet the IRA column insist they left her alive, that someone else must have been responsible for her terrible fate. Captain Tom Harkin, an IRA intelligence officer and Maud’s former fiancé, is sent to investigate, becoming an unwelcome guest in this strange, gloomy household.

Working undercover, Harkin must delve into the house’s secrets – and discover where, in this fractured, embattled town, each family member’s allegiances truly lie. But Harkin too is haunted by the ghosts of the past and by his terrible experiences on the battlefields. Can he find out the truth about Maud’s death before the past – and his strange, unnerving surroundings – overwhelm him?

A haunting, atmospheric mystery set against the raw Irish landscape in a country divided, The Winter Guest is the perfect chilling read.

Buy here*

Anything Could Happen by Lucy Diamond

Published: January 6th
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Romance Novel

SYNOPSIS:
Your big secret is out. What next?

For Lara and her daughter Eliza, it has always been just the two of them. But when Eliza turns eighteen and wants to connect with her father, Lara is forced to admit a secret that she has been keeping from her daughter her whole life.

Eliza needs answers – and so does Lara. Their journey to the truth will take them on a road trip across England and eventually to New York, where it all began. Dreams might have been broken and opportunities missed, but there are still surprises in store…

Anything Could Happen is a warm, wise, funny and uplifting novel about love, second chances and the unexpected and extraordinary paths life can take us down.

Buy here*

To Paradise by Hanya Yanagihara

Published: January 11th
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Historical Ficftion, Dystopian Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
From the author of the modern classic A Little Life, a bold, brilliant novel spanning three centuries and three different versions of the American experiment, about lovers, family, loss and the elusive promise of utopia.

To Paradise becomes unputdownable . . . Amidst the worst travails and political pressures, the primacy of human bonds is irreducible, a truth that lies at the heart of this frightening and very beautiful novel.’ –Literary Review

‘To Paradise is a transcendent, visionary novel of stunning scope and depth. A novel so layered, so rich, so relevant, so full of the joys and terrors – the pure mystery – of human life, is not only rare, it’s revolutionary.’ – Michael Cunningham

In an alternate version of 1893 America, New York is part of the Free States, where people may live and love whomever they please (or so it seems). The fragile young scion of a distinguished family resists betrothal to a worthy suitor, drawn to a charming music teacher of no means. In a 1993 Manhattan besieged by the AIDS epidemic, a young Hawaiian man lives with his much older, wealthier partner, hiding his troubled childhood and the fate of his father. And in 2093, in a world riven by plagues and governed by totalitarian rule, a powerful scientist’s damaged granddaughter tries to navigate life without him – and solve the mystery of her husband’s disappearances.

These three sections are joined in an enthralling and ingenious symphony, as recurring notes and themes deepen and enrich one another: A townhouse in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village; illness, and treatments that come at a terrible cost; wealth and squalor; the weak and the strong; race; the definition of family, and of nationhood; the dangerous righteousness of the powerful, and of revolutionaries; the longing to find a place in an earthly paradise, and the gradual realization that it can’t exist. What unites not just the characters, but these Americas, are their reckonings with the qualities that make us human: Fear. Love. Shame. Need. Loneliness.

To Paradise is a findesiecle novel of marvellous literary effect, but above all it is a work of emotional genius. The great power of this remarkable novel is driven by Yanagihara’s understanding of the aching desire to protect those we love – partners, lovers, children, friends, family and even our fellow citizens – and the pain that ensues when we cannot.

Buy here*

The Paris Library by Kerri Maher

Published: January 11th
Publisher: Headline Review
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romance Novel, Lesbian Literature, Biographical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
INSPIRED BY THE WOMAN WHO FOUNDED SHAKESPEARE AND COMPANY

The captivating story of a trailblazing young woman who fought against incredible odds to bring one of the most important books of the twentieth century to the world. For readers of The Paris Library and The Paris Wife.

PARIS, 1919.

Young, bookish Sylvia Beach knows there is no greater city in the world than Paris. But when she opens an English-language bookshop on the bohemian Left Bank, Sylvia can’t yet know she is making history.

Many leading writers of the day, from Ernest Hemingway to Gertrude Stein, consider Shakespeare and Company a second home. Here some of the most profound literary friendships blossom – and none more so than between James Joyce and Sylvia herself.

When Joyce’s controversial novel Ulysses is banned, Sylvia determines to publish it through Shakespeare and Company. But the success and notoriety of publishing the most infamous book of the century comes at deep personal cost as Sylvia risks ruin, reputation and her heart in the name of the life-changing power of books…

Buy here*

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

Published: January 13th
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
It’s time to solve the murder of the century…

Forty years ago, Steven Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. Wanting to know more, he took it to his English teacher Miss Iles, not realising the chain of events that he was setting in motion. Miss Iles became convinced that the book was the key to solving a puzzle, and that a message in secret code ran through all Twyford’s novels. Then Miss Iles disappeared on a class field trip, and Steven has no memory of what happened to her.

Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Steven decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. Was Miss Iles murdered? Was she deluded? Or was she right about the code? And is it still in use today?

Desperate to recover his memories and find out what really happened to Miss Iles, Steven revisits the people and places of his childhood. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code has great power, and he isn’t the only one trying to solve it…

Perfect for fans of Richard Osman, Alex Pavesi and S.J. Bennett, The Twyford Code will keep you up puzzling late into the night.

Buy here*

The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown

Published: January 13th
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller, Gothic Romance, Horror Fiction, Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire. Smoke unravelling from an upper window, and the terrace bathed in a hectic orange light . . . Now I see that the decision I made at Polneath was the only decision of my life. Everything marred in that one dark minute.

By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose death decades ago haunts her still.

For Ivy is sure that there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the Great House, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

But once you open a door to the past, can you ever truly close it again?

From the award-winning author of The Witchfinder’s Sister comes a captivating story of burning secrets and buried shame, and of the loyalty and love that rises from the ashes.

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In the Seeing Hands of Others by Nat Ogle

Published: January 13th
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Legal Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A ground-breaking debut novel that combines the investigatory pleasures of a legal drama with a provocative and literary exploration of the limits of empathy

‘I loved this highly original and compelling story’ Cathy Rentzenbrink

You are about to enter a novel formed of documents and evidence. Here is the blog of a nurse on a dialysis ward attempting to live in the aftermath of bringing a rape trial to court in which the defendant was exonerated. Here are the transcripts of the police interviews with her, and the accused, the emails and texts between them submitted for trial; his journal, his conversations on 4chan, his drama scripts, him, him, him. How will the nurse, Corina, ever get him out of her head?

This is a highly original debut novel that will win plaudits for its inventiveness at the same time as it compels the reader with the pleasures of suspense and family drama. Provocative, blackly funny and moving, it announces a new voice unlike any other.

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The Maid by Nita Prose

Published: January 20th
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
I am your maid.
I know about your secrets. Your dirty laundry.
But what do you know about me?

Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests passing through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?
 
But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And as Molly becomes embroiled in the hunt for the truth, following the clues whispering in the hallways of the Regency Grand, she discovers a power she never knew was there. She’s just a maid – but what can she see that others overlook?

Escapist, charming and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how everyone deserves to be seen. And how the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s found in the dirtier, grey areas in between . . .

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Daughter of the Moon Goddess (The Celestial Kingdom Duology Book 1) by Sue Lynn Tan

Published: January 20th
Publisher: Harper Voyager UK
Genre: Fairy Tale, High Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:
A captivating debut fantasy inspired by the legend of the Chinese moon goddess.

A young woman’s quest to free her mother pits her against the most powerful immortal in the realm, setting her on a dangerous path where those she loves are not the only ones at risk…

Growing up on the moon, Xingyin is accustomed to solitude, unaware that she is being hidden from the powerful Celestial Emperor who exiled her mother for stealing his elixir of immortality. But when her magic flares and her existence is discovered, Xingyin is forced to flee her home, leaving her mother behind.

Alone, powerless, and afraid, she makes her way to the Celestial Kingdom, a land of wonder and secrets. Disguising her identity, she seizes an opportunity to train in the Crown Prince’s service, learning to master archery and magic, despite the passion which flames between her and the emperor’s son.

To save her mother, Xingyin embarks on a perilous quest, confronting legendary creatures and vicious enemies, across the earth and skies.

But when treachery looms and forbidden magic threatens the kingdom, she must challenge the ruthless Celestial Emperor for her dream —striking a dangerous bargain, where she is torn between losing all she loves or plunging the realm into chaos.

Daughter of the Moon Goddess begins an enchanting, romantic duology which weaves ancient Chinese mythology into a sweeping adventure of immortals and magic, of loss and sacrifice — where love vies with honour, dreams are fraught with betrayal, and hope emerges triumphant.

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The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont

Published: January 20th
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS;
In 1926, Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days. Only I know the truth of her disappearance.
I’m no Hercule Poirot.
I’m her husband’s mistress.

Agatha Christie’s world is one of glamorous society parties, country house weekends, and growing literary fame.

Nan O’Dea’s world is something very different. Her attempts to escape a tough London upbringing during the Great War led to a life in Ireland marred by a hidden tragedy.

After fighting her way back to England, she’s set her sights on Agatha. Because Agatha Christie has something Nan wants. And it’s not just her husband.

Despite their differences, the two women will become the most unlikely of allies. And during the mysterious eleven days that Agatha goes missing, they will unravel a dark secret that only Nan holds the key to . . .

The Christie Affair is a stunning novel which reimagines the unexplained eleven-day disappearance of Agatha Christie in 1926 that captivated the world.

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Demon (Six Stories 6) by Matt Wesolowski

Published: January 20th
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Fairy Tale, Coming-of-Age Story, Biographical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Scott King’s podcast investigates the 1995 cold case of a demon possession in a rural Yorkshire village, where a 12-year-old boy was murdered in cold blood by two children. Book six in the chilling, award-winning Six Stories series.

______________

In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act.

And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public’s ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

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A Fatal Crossing by Tom Hindle

Published: January 20th
Publisher: Century
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense

SYNOPSIS:
November 1924. The Endeavour sets sail to New York with 2,000 passengers – and a killer – on board . . .

When an elderly gentleman is found dead at the foot of a staircase, ship’s officer Timothy Birch is ready to declare it a tragic accident. But James Temple, a strong-minded Scotland Yard inspector, is certain there is more to this misfortune than meets the eye.

Birch agrees to investigate, and the trail quickly leads to the theft of a priceless painting. Its very existence is known only to its owner . . . and the dead man.

With just days remaining until they reach New York, and even Temple’s purpose on board the Endeavour proving increasingly suspicious, Birch’s search for the culprit is fraught with danger.

And all the while, the passengers continue to roam the ship with a killer in their midst . . .

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I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness by Claire Vaye Watkins

Published: January 20th
Publisher: Riverrun
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
A darkly funny, soul-rending novel of love in an epoch of collapse-one woman’s furious revisiting of family, marriage, work, sex, and motherhood.

Since my baby was born, I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things. a) As much as I ever did. b) Not quite as much now. c) Not so much now. d) Not at all. Leaving behind her husband and their baby daughter, a writer gets on a flight for a speaking engagement in Reno, not carrying much besides a breast pump and a spiraling case of postpartum depression. Her temporary escape from domestic duties and an opportunity to reconnect with old friends mutates into an extended romp away from the confines of marriage and motherhood, and a seemingly bottomless descent into the past. Deep in the Mojave Desert where she grew up, she meets her ghosts at every turn: the first love whose self-destruction still haunts her; her father, a member of the most famous cult in American history; her mother, whose native spark gutters with every passing year. She can’t go back in time to make any of it right, but what exactly is her way forward? Alone in the wilderness, at last she begins to make herself at home in the world.

Bold, tender, and often hilarious, I Love You but I’ve Chosen Darkness reaffirms Watkins as one of the single writers of our time.

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Her Perfect Twin by Sarah Bonner

Published: January 20th
Publisher: Hodder Sudio
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
HER PERFECT TWIN. YOUR NEW OBSESSION.

When Megan discovers photographs of her estranged identical twin sister on her husband’s phone, she wants answers.

Leah already has everything Megan has ever wanted. Fame, fortune, freedom to do what she wants. And when Megan confronts Leah, an argument turns to murder.

The only way Megan can get away with killing her twin is to become her.

But then lockdown hits. How can she continue living two lives? And what happens if someone else knows her secret too?

HER PERFECT TWIN IS THE MOST ADDICTIVE, TWISTY THRILLER YOU’LL READ IN 2022. DON’T MISS THIS WILD RIDE OF A NOVEL.

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All For You by Louise Jensen

Published: January 20th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
MEET THE WALSH FAMILY

Lucy: Loving mother. Devoted wife. And falling to pieces.
Aidan: Dedicated father. Faithful husband. And in too deep.
Connor:Hardworking son. Loyal friend. But can never tell the truth.

Everyone in this family is hiding something, but one secret will turn out to be the deadliest of all . . .

Can this family ever recover when the truth finally comes out?

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Other Parents by Sarah Stovell

Published: January 20th
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Suspense, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction, LGBT Literature

SYNOPSIS:
They all have opinions.
They all have secrets.

In a small town like West Burntridge, it should be impossible to keep a secret.

Rachel Saunders knows gossip is the price you pay for a rural lifestyle and outstanding schools. The latest town scandal is her divorce – and the fact that her new girlfriend has moved into the family home.

Laura Spence lives in a poky bedsit on the wrong side of town. She and her son Max don’t really belong, and his violent tantrums are threatening to expose the very thing she’s trying to hide.

When the local school introduces a new inclusive curriculum, Rachel and Laura find themselves on opposite sides of a fearsome debate.

But the problem with having your nose in everyone else’s business is that you often miss what is happening in your own home.

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The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlain

Published: January 20th
Publisher: Review
Genre: Domestic Fiction, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
1965. A young white female student becomes involved in the fight for civil rights in North Carolina, falling in love with one of her fellow activists, a Black man, in a time and place where an interracial relationship must be hidden from family, friends and especially the reemerging Ku Klux Klan. As tensions rise in the town, she realises not everyone is who they appear to be.

2010. A recently widowed architect moves into the home she and her late husband designed, heartbroken that he will never cross the threshold. But when disturbing things begin to happen, it’s clear that someone is sending her a warning. Who is trying to frighten her away, and why?

Decades later, past and present are set to collide in the last house on the street…

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The Anomaly by Herve le Tellier

Published: January 20th
Published: Penguin
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Science Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
THE NO. 1 INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

WINNER OF THE 2020 PRIX GONCOURT. 1 MILLION COPIES SOLD. AN INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON.

_______

What do you do if your life is no longer your own?

When flight Air France 006 enters a terrifying storm, the plane – inexplicably – duplicates. For every passenger on board that day, there are now two – a double with the same mind, body and memories.

Just one thing sets them apart. One plane leaves the storm in March. The other doesn’t land until June. For world leaders, the emergence of the June flight raises serious alarms. No science, faith, or protocol can explain this unprecedented event.

But for the passengers, a bigger question is at stake. What happens to them, now that their life is shared? What happens to those who land in June, when their March doubles make decisions that will change their lives forever?

And as the doubles prepare to meet, they have an extraordinary decision to make.

If there are two of them, and just one life . . . who gets to live it?

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The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Published: January 20th
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Suspense, Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
‘A tour de force of engaged storytelling. With heart-wrenching pathos, The Gosling Girl delineates the bleak aftermath for all concerned when one child kills another’ Peter Kalu

Monster?                    Murderer?

Child?                         Victim?

Michelle Cameron’s name is associated with the most abhorrent of crimes. A child who lured a younger child away from her parents and to her death, she is known as the black girl who murdered a little white girl; evil incarnate according to the media. As the book opens, she has done her time, and has been released as a young woman with a new identity to start her life again. 

When another shocking death occurs, Michelle is the first in the frame. Brought into the police station to answer questions around a suspicious death, it is only a matter of time until the press find out who she is now and where she lives and set about destroying her all over again.

Natalie Tyler is the officer brought in to investigate the murder. A black detective constable, she has been ostracised from her family and often feels she is in the wrong job. But when she meets Michelle, she feels a complicated need to protect her, whatever she might have done.

The Gosling Girl is a moving, powerful account of systemic, institutional and internalised racism, and of how the marginalised fight back. It delves into the psychological after-effects of a crime committed in childhood, exploring intersections between race and class as Michelle’s story is co-opted and controlled by those around her. Jacqueline writes with a cool restraint and The Gosling Girl is a raw and powerful novel that will stay with the reader long after they have turned the last page.

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A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe

Published: January 20th
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

SYNOPSIS:
When we go through something impossible, someone, or something, will help us, if we let them . . .

It is October 1966 and William Lavery is having the night of his life at his first black-tie do. But, as the evening unfolds, news hits of a landslide at a coal mine. It has buried a school: Aberfan.

William decides he must act, so he stands and volunteers to attend. It will be his first job as an embalmer, and it will be one he never forgets.

His work that night will force him to think about the little boy he was, and the losses he has worked so hard to forget. But compassion can have surprising consequences, because – as William discovers – giving so much to others can sometimes help us heal ourselves

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Violeta by Isabel Allende

Published: January 25th
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
One extraordinary woman.
One hundred years of history.
One unforgettable story.

Violeta comes into the world on a stormy day in 1920, the first daughter in a family of five boisterous sons. From the start, her life is marked by extraordinary events, for the ripples of the Great War are still being felt, even as the Spanish flu arrives on the shores of her South American homeland almost at the moment of her birth.

Through her father’s prescience, the family will come through that crisis unscathed, only to face a new one as the Great Depression transforms the genteel city life she has known. Her family loses all and is forced to retreat to a wild and beautiful but remote part of the country. There, she will come of age, and her first suitor will come calling.

In a letter to someone she loves above all others, Violeta recounts devastating heartbreak and passionate affairs, times of both poverty and wealth, terrible loss and immense joy, and a life shaped by some of the most important events of history: the fight for women’s rights, the rise and fall of tyrants and, ultimately, not one but two pandemics. Through the eyes of a woman whose unforgettable passion, determination, and sense of humour will carry her through a lifetime of upheaval, Isabel Allende once more brings us an epic that is both fiercely inspiring and deeply emotional.

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Pandora by Susan Stokes-Chapman

Published: January 27th
Publisher: Harvill Secker
Genre: Historical Fiction, Greek Mythology

SYNOPSIS:
‘Weaves together Ancient Greek myth with suspenseful mystery and beguiling romance…utterly irresistible’ Jennifer Saint, author of Ariadne

A pure pleasure of a novel set in Georgian London, where the discovery of a mysterious ancient Greek vase sets in motion conspiracies, revelations and romance.

Perfect for readers who loved The Binding and The Essex Serpent.

London, 1799. Dora Blake is an aspiring jewellery artist who lives with her uncle in what used to be her parents’ famed shop of antiquities. When a mysterious Greek vase is delivered, Dora is intrigued by her uncle’s suspicious behaviour and enlists the help of Edward Lawrence, a young antiquarian scholar. Edward sees the ancient vase as key to unlocking his academic future. Dora sees it as a chance to restore the shop to its former glory, and to escape her nefarious uncle.

But what Edward discovers about the vase has Dora questioning everything she has believed about her life, her family, and the world as she knows it. As Dora uncovers the truth she starts to realise that some mysteries are buried, and some doors are locked, for a reason.

Gorgeously atmospheric and deliciously page-turning, Pandora is a story of secrets and deception, love and fulfilment, fate and hope.

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The Couple at the Table by Sophie Hannah

Published: January 27th
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
You’re on your honeymoon at an exclusive couples-only resort.

You receive a note warning you to ‘Beware of the couple at the table nearest to yours’. At dinner that night, five other couples are present, and none of their tables is any nearer or further away than any of the others. It’s as if someone has set the scene in order to make the warning note meaningless – but why would anyone do that?

You have no idea.

You also don’t know that you’re about to be murdered, or that once you’re dead, all the evidence will suggest that no one there that night could possibly have committed the crime.

So who might be trying to warn you? And who might be about to commit the perfect impossible murder?

Buy here*

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How amazing do these sound? I’m fortunate to have already read The Maid and will be a VIP host during Tandem’s 100-strong readalong. It’s going to be a big hit! I am also on the blog tours for a number of these books. So keep an eye out for those reviews.

Are any of these on your tbr? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles☺️ Emma xxx

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