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

BLOG TOUR: The Setup by Lizzy Dent

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

SHE HAS A PLAN . . .
FATE HAS OTHER IDEAS.
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There are two men in my life. But this is not a love triangle.



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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

“Fate always knows how to deliver.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

BLOG TOUR: Ginger and Me by Elissa Soave

Published: July 21st, 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Dark Comedy, Coming-of-Age Story, Urban Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this poignant, funny and affecting debut. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Wendy is lonely but coping.
All nineteen-year-old Wendy wants is to drive the 255 bus around Uddingston with her regulars on board, remember to buy milk when it runs out and just to be okay. After her mum died, there’s nobody to remind her to eat and what to do each day.

And Wendy is ready to step out of her comfort zone.
Each week she shows her social worker the progress she’s made, like the coasters she bought to spruce up the place, even if she forgets to make tea. And she even joins a writers’ group to share the stories she writes, like the one about a bullied boy who goes to Mars.

But everything changes when Wendy meets Ginger.
A teenager with flaming orange hair, Ginger’s so brave she’s wearing a coat that isn’t even waterproof. For the first time, Wendy has a real best friend. But as they begin the summer of their lives, Wendy wonders if things were simpler before. And that’s before she realizes just how much trouble Ginger is about to get them in…

An unforgettable debut novel from the winner of the Primadonna Prize 2019 which will stay with you long after the last page.

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MY REVIEW:

“Ginger and me were best friends that summer, she was the first best friend I’d ever had.  I wish we could have stayed that way forever.” 

Ginger and Me opens in Polmont Prison with narrator Wendy sure that she will be set free as soon as the mysterious reason she is there is cleared up.  When she’s sent back to prison to await her trial after the initial hearing she is shocked and confused. 
We then jump back to a year earlier.  Wendy is living a solitary life following the death of her mother.  She drives her bus and goes home, her only visitor is her support worker, Saanvi, who comes by weekly and encourages Wendy to step out of her comfort zone.  Following her advice, Wendy befriends Ginger, a teenager she meets on her bus, and joins a local writing group.  It’s the happiest she’s ever been and it is all about to spiral into tragedy…

“Things hadn’t gone exactly as planned but still, the bond between us was getting stronger with every meeting. It had taken me a long time to find my soulmate but now that I had, there was no way I was going to mess it up.” 

Heartfelt, moving and achingly real, Ginger and Me is an accomplished debut that explores loneliness, grief, friendship, obsession and self-discovery. It claimed my attention quickly, the author holding me in the palm of her hands as she wove her lingering tale.  Steadily paced with a suspenseful atmosphere that looms over every page, it is a cornucopia of heartbreak, tragedy and trauma with heart and humour woven in to help bring light to the darkness.  And while we know from how it begins that Wendy will end up in prison, we don’t know what led her there, keeping me guessing and adding to the tension which builds to a shocking climax.  And that ending!  I still have chills.

“She was charismatic and fun, that’s what people forget when they focus on what happened later. I mean, if you read a book and your favourite character did something terrible on the first page, they’d never get the chance to become your favourite character, would they? No, you have to get to know them a bit first, learn what they are and what it is you like about them. Later when they do things you can’t deal with, well, it’s too late because you’re committed to liking them regardless.”

The story is narrated by Wendy, who talks directly to the reader, creating an intimate connection.  She is a likeable, quirky and interesting character who is very literal, doesn’t see the world the way others do, and often misses what people mean or is really happening.  It gives her an innocence and vulnerability that made me feel protective of her and there were times her lack of self-awareness broke my heart or made me cringe.  I wished I could jump into the book and gently explain what was going on to help her avoid embarrassment and heartache.  Ginger and Diane are also compelling characters.  We only ever see them through Wendy’s eyes yet the author manages to create unique connections between them and the reader too.  I felt a particular affection and maternal instinct towards Ginger, who is a troubled and often melancholy teenager who has a terrible home life and much darker problems that Wendy doesn’t quite grasp.  I could see how she was desperate to be rescued but there was no one to save her.  Elissa Soave took me on an emotional journey alongside these characters that lingers long after turning that final page.  

“I think if you read books, it calms you down. And it makes you realise there’s a place for everybody, no matter how weird.  It’s like, there’s a whole world out there and no one can stop you from entering, it’s open to anyone who wants to be part of it, even me. “

As a bibliophile, I love a book about books or characters who love books, so the fact that this book had both of those things made me so happy.  felt a deeper connection to Wendy because of her love of books and could understand some of her feelings towards Diane as I know that feeling when an author seems to be writing what you’re thinking.  All of the references to literature made this an even greater joy to read and made my bookish heart sing. 

Funny, dark and poignant, Ginger and Me is a memorable debut you need on your TBR.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

TW: Sexual abuse, death of a parent

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Elissa Soave is a Scottish writer. She won the Primadonna Prize 2019 and her debut novel, Ginger and Me, will be published by HQ Stories (HarperCollins) on 21 July 2022.

Elissa’s fiction is set in the domestic but often dangerous world of ordinary people. Her characters tend to be alienated, damaged, and often angry, but their perspective on the world and the way in which they deal with their problems will reassure readers of the resilience of the human spirit.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Daves Next Door by Will Carver

Published: July 21st, 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Urban Fiction, Political Fiction, Religious Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this atmospheric and compelling novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The lives of five strangers collide on a London train carriage, as they become involved in an incident that will change them all forever. A shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original new thriller from Will Carver…

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A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care.

An injured young sportsman wakes up find that he can see only in black and white.

A desperate old widower takes too many pills and believes that two angels have arrived to usher him through purgatory.

Two agoraphobic men called Dave share the symptoms of a brain tumour, and frequently waken their neighbour with their ongoing rows.

Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.

Like the suicide bomber, riding the Circle Line, day after day, waiting for the right time to detonate, waiting for answers to his questions: Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train?

Shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original, Will Carver’s The Daves Next Door is an explosive existential thriller and a piercing examination of what it means to be human … or not. 

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MY REVIEW:

“Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.”

Five strangers’ lives collide on a carriage on the London Underground during a shocking event.  But was it fate?  Did they have the power to change what would happen to them?  

Told from multiple points of view over three parts, The Daves Next Door is a sinister, scathing and stylish social commentary that explores the question of fate versus choice and asks if there are such things as good and evil.  It makes you question the way you think, examining our prejudices and apathy, potentially changing the way you see the world around you.

“Is there such a thing as destiny? Is the path laid out?  The story already written?” 

The characters are familiar, flawed and fascinating.  They could be our neighbour or the person next to us on the bus.  Each of them are richly drawn and complex, allowing us to find compassion for the villain and dislike for the hero in places.  The many threads of the story appear unconnected at first but are slowly woven together, keeping the reader guessing at every step.  It takes a lot of talent to make a story that opens with references to how it all ends still feel unpredictable, but Carver pulls it off expertly. 

Will Carver is a tour-de-force in fiction. His singular style is instantly recognisable, the quirky, intelligent, playful and affecting prose pulling you into the world he created and holding you captive from beginning to end. His original and visionary style make his books absolute must reads. 

Fierce, intelligent, atmospheric and unapologetic, The Daves Next Door is a must-read.  Add it to your TBR now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for both the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2020 and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

*These links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Phone Call by A. J. Campbell

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Sometimes the guilty are innocent

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Listen To Me by Tess Gerritsen (Rizzoli & Isles 13)

Published: July 7th, 2022
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Hardboiled, Crime Series
Format: Kindle, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the latest in the Rizzoli and Isles series. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Bantam Press for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Rizzoli & Isles return, in the nail-biting new thriller from Sunday Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen.

The murder of Sofia Suarez is both gruesome and seemingly senseless. Why would anyone target a respected nurse who was well-liked by her friends and her neighbours? As Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles investigate the baffling case, they discover that Sofia was guarding a dangerous secret — a secret that may have led the killer straight to her door.

Meanwhile, Jane’s watchful mother Angela Rizzoli is conducting an investigation of her own. She may be a grandmother, not a police detective, but she’s savvy enough to know there’s something very strange, perhaps even dangerous, about the new neighbours across the street. The problem is, no one believes her, not even her own daughter.

Immersed in the hunt for Sofia’s killer, Jane and Maura are too busy to pay attention to Angela’s fears. With no one listening to her, and danger mounting in her neighbourhood, Angela just may be forced to take action on her own…

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MY REVIEW:

“Maura could dissect a body, examine its tissues all the way down to the cellular level, but what the dead knew and saw and felt as the lights blinked out would remain a mystery.” 

Rizzoli and Isles has been one of my favourite crime series’, and Tess Gerritsen one of my favourite authors, since I borrowed The Surgeon from the library almost twenty years ago.  So when I heard that Rizzoli and Isles were back after a five year break I was thrilled.  I couldn’t wait to not only be back with the familiar characters, but also immerse myself in Gerritsen’s darkly atmospheric words.  It did not disappoint, reminding me of why she is known as the Queen of Crime.

In the thirteenth instalment in the series Detective Jane Rizzoli and Forensic Pathologist Maura Isles are investigating the gruesome murder of Sofia Suarez.  There are no immediate motives for the crime, but when Rizzoli discovers that Suarez was guarding a dangerous secret, everything changes.

Meanwhile Rizzoli’s mother Angela is busy keeping a watchful eye on her neighbours when she notices something strange about the new couple across the street.  Her daughter and the police department dismiss her as a busybody, but Angela is sure there is something sinister going on and begins her own ameteur investigation, little realising the danger she is walking into…

“That was the burden of working in homicide; you are always too late to change the victim’s fate.” 

Gerritsen has knocked it out of the park yet again.  Sharply written, cleverly crafted and perfectly paced, this is suspense at its best.  You can feel yourself in the hands of a masterful storyteller as Gerritsen expertly takes the everyday and merges it with the macabre. I was on tenterhooks as she intricately wove the threads together until the full, shocking picture emerged.  

Despite an absence of a number of years I found it easy to step back into Rizzoli and Isles’ world, the characters feeling like old friends.  I’ve always loved how she fills this series with such strong, nuanced and familiar female characters that are richly drawn and easy to like.  I particularly enjoyed Angela Rizzoli’s character in this story and liked how Gerritsen used her to highlight how older women are often invisible and easily dismissed. I felt for Angela as her concerns were pushed aside yet she felt so sure there was something wrong. It was great to see her shine after spending so long as more of a background character. 

If you’re a fan of dark, tense, twisty and gripping thrillers then this should be on your TBR.  While having read the other books in the series is recommended because they are so good, it isn’t necessary and you could also enjoy it as a standalone. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Internationally bestselling author Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, “Adrift”, which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess’s first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008; UK title: Keeping the Dead), Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place), The Silent Girl (2011), Last To Die (2012), Die Again (2014), Playing With Fire (2015), and I Know A Secret (2017). Her books have been published in forty countries, and more than 30 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-3 bestsellers in the United States and number one bestsellers abroad. She has won both the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon). Critics around the world have praised her novels as “Pulse-pounding fun” (Philadelphia Inquirer), “Scary and brilliant” (Toronto Globe and Mail), and “Polished, riveting prose” (Chicago Tribune). Publisher Weekly has dubbed her the “medical suspense queen”.

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the TNT television series “Rizzoli & Isles” starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

Casey has a detective sat at her kitchen table.

She has a man bound and gagged upstairs.

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Halfways by Nilopar Uddin

Published: July 7th, 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this powerful and striking debut. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

A breathtaking debut novel from an exciting new voice in fiction – coming July 2022!

Nasrin and Sabrina are two sisters, who on the face of things live successful and enviable lives in London and New York. When their father, Shamsur suddenly dies, they rush to be with their mother at the family home and restaurant in Wales, and reluctantly step back into the stifling world of their childhood.

When Shamsur’s will is read, a devastating secret is revealed that challenges all that people thought and loved about him. It also profoundly changes the lives and identities of the sisters, and creates an irreparable family rift…

Moving between London, Wales, New York and Bangladesh, this is an epic family drama that spans over four decades. A story of mothers and daughters, of fathers and daughters, of sisterhood, it is a tale that explores belonging, family and what makes forgiveness and redemption possible.

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MY REVIEW:

When their father, Shamsur dies suddenly, sisters Nassrin and Sabrina return home to Wales to be with their mother and reluctantly step back into the stifling traditional ways, creating a clash of culture as old meets new.  The tension rises when Shamsur’s will is read and the revelation of a long-held secret sends shockwaves through the family, tearing them apart and creating a rift that seems beyond repair…

An absorbing debut that is as beautiful on the inside as its striking cover, The Halfways is a kaleidoscopic family saga.  Melodic, lyrical, vibrant and evocative, it is a glorious tapestry of a novel.  Nilopar Uddin is a gifted storyteller who has crafted an atmospheric, layered, enthralling story filled with humanity.  As she explores the many facets of family, culture, identity, belonging and forgiveness, Uddin leads you through the story gently, like a tranquil stroll on a summer’s day.  It feels light, yet bursting with imagery and emotion, dreamlike, with a stylish and cinematic edge that feels like you’re seeing the story vivid technicolour.  This isn’t a book you simply read, but one that you step into.

The story is told by multiple narrators over four decades, taking us between London, New York, Wales and Bangladesh. Moving fluidly between narrators, places and timelines, the vignettes from the past offer us a glimpse into the history of this complex family, slowly revealing who they are and what secrets they have been keeping.  The chorus of richly drawn, flawed, yet very different, characters draw you into their lives, allowing us to step into their shoes and feel everything that they do: their heartache, grief, struggles, inner turmoil and betrayal.  

Tender, moving and heartfelt, The Halfways is a captivating and lingering debut from exciting new talent.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Nilopar Uddin was born in Shropshire to Sylheti parents who, like the fictional family in The Halfways, owned and ran an Indian restaurant in Wales. Every summer her family would travel for their holidays to Bangladesh to visit extended family, and this affection for the country has continued into adulthood.

Nilopar has had a successful career as a financial services lawyer practising in both London and New York, a city that she fell in love with. She now lives in London with her husband and two daughters. She has an MA in Creative Writing from City University where she first started working on The Halfways.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

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

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Social Media Blast

SOCIAL MEDIA BLAST: The Ruins by Phoebe Wynne

Published: July 7th, 2022
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Suspense, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to this atmospheric and compelling novel. Thank you to Quercus for the invitation to take part in this social media blast and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Amidst the glamour of the French Riviera lies the crumbling façade of Chateau de Sètes, a small slice of France still held by the British aristocracy. But this long since abandoned chateau is now up for sale, and two people are desperate to get their hands on it despite its terrible history.

Summer, 1985: Ruby has stayed at the chateau with her family every summer of her twelve years. It was her favourite place to be, away from the strictures of her formal childhood, but this year uninvited guests have descended, and everything is about to change…

As the intense August heat cloaks the chateau, the adults within start to lose sight of themselves. Old disputes are thrown back and forth, tempers rise, morals loosen, and darkness begins to creep around them all. Ruby and her two young friends soon discover it is best not to be seen or heard as the summer spirals down to one fateful night and an incident that can never be undone…

Summer, 2010: One of the three young girls, now grown and newly widowed, returns to the chateau, and in her fight to free herself from its grip, she uncovers what truly happened that long, dark summer.

With riveting psychological complexity, The Ruins captures the glittering allure of the Mediterranean, and the dark shadows that wait beneath the surface.

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MY REVIEW:

“She pictured three girls bound tightly together in the back seat of the car, holding each other. Their hot breath, clammy palms, and her overshadowing fear of the man at the front, the man driving. “

The Ruins is a story about family, secrets, legacy and trauma that explores the events of a long, dark summer that can’t be forgotten.  Behind the idyll of a beautiful chateau in the French Riviera and the scorching heat of the summer sun are dark shadows, cracks in the bright façade, and things hurtle towards that fateful night that can never be undone…

The book opens with a note from the author warning the reader of what we are about to read and offering those who would rather stay away from the dark but timely subject matter on these pages.  I think this was a good move as it serves as both a content warning and sets the tone for what’s to come.  Then comes the prologue with all of its ominous intrigue and the scene is set for this hauntingly atmospheric novel that I couldn’t put down. 

“When was it, she asked herself, that her youthful joy turned sour, when this strange exterior rose up and crystallised around her? She knew exactly. It was that summer.”

Though I have her debut on my shelves, this was my first time reading one of Phoebe Wynne’s books.  Her writing is alluring, immersive and almost dreamlike, making me feel like there was a haze that lingered over every word as I read.  The subject she examines in this story is a timely but difficult one that feels all too human and familiar.  Wynne writes with understanding, sensitivity and honesty, making it hard to read in places but never gratuitous.  I also liked how she wove Greek Mythology into the story.  Wynne cleverly uses them as an analogy of what is happening that summer and as someone who loves the myths it made the story all the more enjoyable to read.

“All the stories from that summer had haunted her – all those women, tossed about for the desire and ambition of their male counterparts. Those had seemed to repeat themselves through her life, like some infectious, cruel joke.”

This layered and nuanced story is composed of dual timelines that are expertly plotted and paced to keep you guessing.  As the events of the summer of 1985 slowly unfold we move between timelines, jumping forward to 2010 when one of the young girls has returned to France to confront the trauma that has haunted her all these years.  There is an air of foreboding and mystery in this timeline that adds a sinister tension to the past narrative as we try to guess what happened all those years ago. The author seamlessly weaves the narratives together, making them collide in unexpected ways.  And that ending!  A punch-to-the-gut finale that made me gasp out loud in shock and horror. 

“Mrs Cosgrove woke up agitated; she had dreamed about the château again. That grand house perched by the water, tinged with sunlight and heat. The memory of it was permanently lodged in her mind, like an azure blue aneurysm, sharp and painful with every blink.”

There is a cast of vividly drawn and recognisable characters, of which the adults are hideous, possessing few redeeming qualities and displaying monstrous behaviour that is a stark contrast to the innocence of the young girls.  Our young protagonist, Ruby, lives in a time when children are expected to blindly obey their elders and be seen and not heard and the adults’ abhorrent behaviour is protected by this, as well as a culture of secrets, shame, propriety and obedience.  The fear, isolation and claustrophobia that the girls feel is palpable and it is impossible not to feel horrified at the lack of parental care given to these children and how terribly each of them was failed by the adults they trusted. I wanted to leap into the book and rescue each of them from their nightmare.  

Unnerving, tense and compelling, The Ruins is an important and thought-provoking novel that I highly recommend.  I now intend to prioritise Ms. Wynne’s debut which is screaming at me from my shelves even louder after reading this.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Sexual abuse

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Phoebe Wynne studied Classics at Royal Holloway, University of London and Education at King’s College, London. She worked in education for eight years, teaching Classics in the south of England as well as English Language and Literature in Paris, France. Phoebe left the classroom to focus on her writing; she went on to hone her craft in writing classes in Los Angeles and in London. Phoebe has dual British and French nationality and spends her time between England and France. ‘MADAM’ is her debut novel.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

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BLOG TOUR: Dark Objects by Simon Toyne

Published: July 7th, 2022
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Police Procedural
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the compelling thriller Dark Objects. Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins UK for the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Count to three,’ her mother told her, the last words she would ever speak.

An Impossible Crime Scene
A wealthy woman is found brutally murdered in the locked fortress of her London mansion. Surrounding her are four mysterious objects, including a book on forensics by Dr Laughton Rees.
 
An Inescapable Past
As a teenager, Laughton’s life was destroyed after witnessing her mother’s brutal murder. Now a mother herself and forensic analyst, she is an expert on how to read crime scenes – but never works live cases.
 
An Uncatchable Killer
Pressured by the lead detective to help with the investigation, Laughton begins to realise that the objects left by the body are not just about the victim, they’re also about her. Her childhood was destroyed by one killer. Now she must catch another before her daughter’s is destroyed too.

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MY REVIEW:

“A murder is like a slow explosion. 
It starts off small, a single act of violence. 
But very soon the consequences of this singular act start to spread, like ripples on a pond, ever widening until they can stretch as far as the horizon all around.” 

When cleaner Celia Barnes arrives at the Miller’s London Mansion it seems like any other work day.  Then she sees the blood on the walls and finds the body of Kate Miller, splayed out like a crucifixion with four strange objects positioned around her.  DCI Tannerhill Khan is called in to investigate and links are soon made to forensic analyst Laughton Rees.  Laughton never works live cases but Tannerhill tries to convince her to help with the investigation.  When further links to her traumatic past are discovered and it seems that she and her daughter are in danger, Laughton must decide how far she’s willing to go to protect them from a killer. 

I love a dark, sinister, twist-filled thriller, so as soon as I read the synopsis for this book I knew I had to read it.  It was my first time reading any of Simon Toyne’s books and it did not disappoint.  Cunningly crafted, fast-paced and brimming with tension, this well-written thriller had my heart racing from the first chapter and I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  Tonye kept me guessing as he intricately wove things together, ensuring all of the twisty threads collide in surprising ways. 

“She feels sick, like the darkest chapter of her life is re-emerging from the place she buried it, that death and danger are being brought to her door and, yet again, her father is the cause of it.” 

The story is told from multiple points of view using mixed media.  Not only do we get characters narrating the story but also included are extracts from news articles, snippets of WhatsApp conversations and extracts from Laughton Rees book, How To Process a Murder, which was left at the feet of Kate Miller’s body.  The author has filled the story with a mix of flawed, shady and very real characters who are fascinating to read.  Some are easy to like while others I couldn’t stand but with each one Tonye makes you feel all of their emotions and confront the shades of grey that motivate their actions.  The parts narrated by the killer are also some of the most chilling and nerve-shredding pages I’ve ever read and I liked that he crafted a complex killer, someone who is violent, rage-filled, frenzied and chaotic yet calm and ordered enough to create something so elaborately staged.  It not only made the story more interesting but is a masterclass in thriller writing. 

A suspenseful, intelligent and compelling thriller that packs a punch, I’d recommend this to anyone who enjoys a darker thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Simon Toyne is the international bestselling author of Dark Objects, the Sanctus trilogy and the Solomon Creed series. He wrote Sanctus after quitting his job as a TV executive and it became the biggest selling debut thriller of 2011 in the UK. His books have been translated into 29 languages and published in over 50 countries.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Review: Mrs England by Stacey Halls

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Historical Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Mystery
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

I am finally getting around to sharing my review of this spectacular novel. Thank you to Manilla press for the gifted ARC and Jenna at Tasting Notes Book Club for hosting a fantastic readalong and chat.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Something’s not right here.’
I was aware of Mr Booth’s eyes on me, and he seemed to hold his breath. ‘What do you mean?’
‘In the house. With the family.’

West Yorkshire, 1904. When newly graduated nurse Ruby May takes a position looking after the children of Charles and Lilian England, a wealthy couple from a powerful dynasty of mill owners, she hopes it will be the fresh start she needs. But as she adapts to life at the isolated Hardcastle House, it becomes clear there’s something not quite right about the beautiful, mysterious Mrs England.

Distant and withdrawn, Lilian shows little interest in her children or charming husband, and is far from the ‘angel of the house’ Ruby was expecting. As the warm, vivacious Charles welcomes Ruby into the family, a series of strange events forces her to question everything she thought she knew. Ostracised by the servants and feeling increasingly uneasy, Ruby must face her demons in order to prevent history from repeating itself. After all, there’s no such thing as the perfect family – and she should know.

Simmering with slow-burning menace, Mrs England is a portrait of an Edwardian marriage, weaving an enthralling story of men and women, power and control, courage, truth and the very darkest deception. Set against the atmospheric West Yorkshire landscape, Stacey Halls’ third novel proves her one of the most exciting and compelling new storytellers of our times.

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MY REVIEW:

“I just have a feeling that… That something’s not right here.” 

My love for Stacey Halls is no secret and her debut novel, The Familiars, remains one of my favourite books of all time.  So I had high expectations when this, her third book, was released in June.  She did not disappoint and though it has taken me a long time to get around to sharing this review, Mrs England is one of my favourite books of 2021. 

Atmospheric and eerie, this slow-burning novel sent shivers down my spine.  Though I read it at the height of summer, there is an iciness to it that I felt deep in my bones.  Ms. Halls has said that she immersed herself in the landscape in which she set the novel, living there in complete isolation during the winter of early 2020.  This has certainly shone through in her vivid imagery of the bleak, desolate landscape, and evocative descriptions of the isolation and menace that pervades the halls of Hardcastle House.  Merged with unexpected twists and an air of mystery and foreboding, it comes together to create an irresistible read that I couldn’t put down. 

“I knew about secrets, and I knew, too, how one led to another. I was a fool for thinking she’d have no more.”

As with her previous books, Ms. Halls has taken inspiration from real life and crafted an exquisite work of her own imagination around it.  I won’t tell you about the event that inspired this book as it would spoil one of the biggest twists, but she talks about it in the author’s notes and I loved how it was woven into the story.  In this book she also explores coercive control with an honesty and sensitivity that I appreciated as a survivor of such abuse.  It is clear that she has taken care to research it at length and really helps the reader understand the ways in which both the abusers and those who are abused behave, as well as the ripple effect it has on those around them.

“It was as though I’d stumbled into an upside-down world, where the master has taken the place of the mistress.” 

Ruby May is a fascinating narrator.  Born into an impoverished background, she gained a scholarship to the Norland Institute where she trained as one of it’s prestigious Nurses.  She is clearly still cleaved to her family, not only sending half her wages home, but forced to never be too far away thanks to an invisible chain of guilt forged thanks to mysterious circumstances that are slowly revealed.  Then there is Mrs. Lilian England herself, the antithesis of the stereotypical mistress of the house.  She is an enigma, rarely emerging from her room, and cold and distant to her children.  The strange way in which the whole England household is run perplexes Ruby and because we see the story through her eyes, we are also suspicious of Lilian.  But we soon learn that things aren’t quite what they seem in the England home and I found my view of some of the characters shifted as the truth about this mysterious family unfurled. 

Haunting, evocative, suspenseful and compelling, Stacey Halls has once again shown why she is one of my favourite authors.  Mrs England is a must read for anyone who enjoys well-written historical fiction with a twist.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Stacey Halls was born in Lancashire and worked as a journalist before her debut The Familiars was published in 2019. The Familiars was the bestselling debut hardback novel of that year, won a Betty Trask Award and was shortlisted for the British Book Awards’ Debut Book of the Year. The Foundling, her second novel, was also a Sunday Times top ten bestseller. Mrs England is her third novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles☺️ Emma xxx