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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: W&N
Genre: Humour, Domestic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my review of Olympus, Texas. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and W&N for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

When March Briscoe returns to East Texas two years after he was caught having an affair with his brother’s wife, the Briscoe family becomes once again the talk of the small town of Olympus. His mother, June, hardly welcomes him back with open arms: her husband’s own past affairs have made her tired of being the long-suffering spouse. Is it, perhaps, time for a change?

But within days of March’s arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of alliances are shattered. In the end, the ties that hold the Briscoes together might be exactly what drag them all down.

An expansive tour de force, Olympus, Texas combines the archetypes of Greek and Roman mythology with the psychological complexity of a messy family. After all, at some point, we all wonder: what good is this destructive force we call love?

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MY REVIEW:

“Our reactions to most things are much muddier than we admit. Yours don’t have to be all good or evil. They just are what they are.” 

A steadily paced family saga that takes place over six days, Olympus, Texas overflows with tension, drama and emotion. It follows the Briscoe family, who are not only the wealthiest family of their smalltown, but possibly it’s most dysfunctional; their complex history woven into smalltown lore.

The Briscoes are a fractious, fractured and warring family. A labyrinthine entanglement of love, lies, pain, deception and regret. A family full of deep wounds they don’t know how to heal. Elegantly written, the author makes the emotions leap from the page and immerses you in their lives as she tells the story in the present day with flashbacks that explain their history in greater detail. These chapters have titles that begin with ‘The Origin of…’, offering a deeper glimpse into their family dynamics. It helped me understand their behaviours and sympathise with their perspectives.

The characters are richly drawn, nuanced and compelling, the author experly evoking feelings of sympathy and making me root for them, while also making me dislike them and even making me angry. No one is all good or all bad in this story, it is about the shades of grey that are much more uncomfortable to see. I felt like this was most evident in March, who is seen as the black sheep of the family. A role he partly deserves from his own bad choices and behaviour. But we also see the pain raging inside him, how he wants to be better but just doesn’t know how to change.

A fascinating and thought-provoking read, Olympus, Texas is an atmospheric, tense, engaging and emotional debut that explores family, flaws and forgiveness. I would definitely recommend adding this to your tbr.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

STACEY SWANN holds an M.F.A. from Texas State University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. Her fiction has appeared in Epoch, Memorious, Versal, and other journals, and she is a contributing editor of American Short Fiction. She is a native Texan.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Blog Tour: Cecily by Annie Garthwaite

Published: August 12th, 2021
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction, Political Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

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

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Rebellion?’
The word is a spark. They can start a fire with it, or smother it in their fingertips.
She chooses to start a fire.

You are born high, but marry a traitor’s son. You bear him twelve children, carry his cause and bury his past.

You play the game, against enemies who wish you ashes. Slowly, you rise.

You are Cecily.

But when the king who governs you proves unfit, what then?

Loyalty or treason – death may follow both. The board is set. Time to make your first move.

Told through the eyes of its greatest unknown protagonist, this astonishing debut plunges you into the closed bedchambers and bloody battlefields of the first days of the Wars of the Roses, a war as women fight it.

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MY REVIEW:

‘Rebellion?’
The word is a spark. They could light a fire with it, or smother it now in their fingertips.
She chooses to start a fire.

Cecily was my 100th read of the year and one of my most anticipated books. I was drawn to it not only by the synopsis, but by its striking cover. But lying beneath that bright, luring jacket, is a dark, grim and savage story. The author pulls you in immediately, opening the book with the burning at the stake of Joan of Arc, a shocking and atmospheric scene that feels like it’s setting the tone for what is to come.

This is the story of the Wars of the Roses through the eyes of the women who fought from the shadows. It was a brutal time. A time where power is won by blood and playing the game well is the difference between life and death. A cutthroat and ruthless time when your best friend today could be your enemy tomorrow. It is meticulously researched and beautifully written, transporting you back to a time when women were often forgotten and discounted, when they had to use the voices of men to be heard. And without taking away from those things, I feel I must mention that it took me a while to really get into this book. There were times my concentration wandered and the story felt too heavy, disjointed or hard to follow. I found it a little too bogged down in politics and would have liked more emotion and insight into what makes the characters tick. I had to put it down for a few days and come back to it, and when I did I finally got to a place where it felt like Cecily finally came alive, and it was then that I really started to enjoy the book.

“Women have no swords, brother. We do our work by talking.”

Cecily is a forgotten heroine that I am glad is finally having her story told. Feisty, strong, determined and intelligent, she is a force to be reckoned with. Born at a time when women are denied a voice or any real power, she is able to become a woman of influence in politics from the sidelines. A lot of this is down to the relationship she has with her husband, Richard. Their marriage is strong, loving and respectful, and it is clear he values her opinion. Other women gain power through marrying a weak man, which is what her enemy, Marguerite, does. The two women were undoubtedly similar in many ways, but while Marguerite comes off as unlikeable and venomous, Cecily appears resolute and caring. I enjoyed their bitter feud and how both women got stronger as time went on while the men appeared to wither.

I love how many books there have been recently that have taken a familiar story from history and told it from the woman’s perspective, illuminating voices that were silenced and finally revealing to the world the true strength these women possessed and how instrumental the moments that shaped our world today. I can’t help but wonder how many more of these forgotten heroines are out there, still waiting for their chance to shine. 

A familiar story with a feminist edge, Ceicily is a powerful debut and brilliant historical read. You will never look at the Wars of the Roses the same again. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Annie Garthwaite grew up in a working class community in the north-east of England. 

A schoolgirl interest in medieval history became a lifelong obsession with Cecily Neville, so, at age fifty-five, she enrolled on the Warwick Writing MA programme. Her extraordinary debut novel Cecily is the result. During a thirty-year international business career she frequently found herself the only woman at the table, where she gained valuable insights into how a woman like Cecily might have operated. 

Today she lives with her partner – and far too many animals – on the side of a green Shropshire hill close to the Yorkist stronghold of Ludlow.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: General Fiction, Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sizzling summer romance. Thank you to Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gorgeous ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE SCORCHING HOT RICHARD & JUDY LOVE AFFAIR THAT WILL LEAVE YOU OBSESSED!

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EVERYONE IN THE WORLD KNOWS HIS NAME . . .BUT IT’S YOU HE WANTS.

To the media, Hayes Campbell is the enigmatic front-man of a record-breaking boyband.

To his fans, he’s the boy of their dreams.

To his label, he’s gold-dust.

And to Solène Marchand, he’s the pretty face that’s plastered over her teenage daughter’s bedroom wall.

Until a chance meeting throws Hayes and Solène together . . .

The attraction is instant. The chemistry is electric. The affair is Solène’s secret.

But can it really stay that way forever?

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MY REVIEW:

“I was just making sure it was you, and not the idea of you.”

Sexy and seductive, The Idea of You is the perfect book to binge-read this summer. I devoured it in just a few hours, unable to turn away from this compelling bonkbuster. 

I think all teenage and tween girls daydream about dating their favourite celebrity. But in this sizzling summer romance, it is the tween’s mother who is caught up in a steamy May/December romance with the lead singer of her daughter’s favourite group. Solene was reluctant to even go to the concert, let alone date Hayes Campbell, frontman of boyband August Moon. She is almost twice his age and, determined not to be a cliché, tries to resist their instant chemistry. But it is futile and she is soon caught up in  a secret romance. 

“Love, she said, was not always perfect, and not exactly how you expected it to be. But when it descended upon you, there was no controlling it.”

On the surface, Hayes and Solene have nothing in common and it seems like this could and will be nothing but a passing physical relationship. Combined with the world of celebrity and social media this felt like a very modern love story while also being pure escapism for both the reader and the characters themselves. But as time went on, their love story felt authentic. It felt real. I believed it, adored it and was rooting for it. I wanted them to overcome all the obstacles in their way and find happiness with each other. 

Robinne Lee is no stranger to the world of showbiz. And it shows. The story screams of someone who knows that world intimately, offering us  a glimpse into the glitz and glamour. But she is also not afraid to show us the darker side of celebrity. The things that are overwhelming and terrifying. It is a fascinating and thought-provoking look at a world that we usually only get to see the shiny, perfect and alluring side of. I enjoyed how she explores the price of fame through the characters and asks when is it too much to pay? The scariest parts for me were the crazy fans. I have never understood how some people can do such extreme and aggressive things in the name of ‘love’ for a celebrity, and while none of it surprised me, the idea that people can be treated in such a way simply because they fell in love with a famous person is appalling. I think the internet and social media has made it harder for celebrities and those associated with them. There’s less privacy these days and people are much braver hiding behind a keyboard than they would be in real life. It made me glad I’m not a part of that world. 

“I realised in that moment that my life as I knew it was over.”

The psychology of Hayes and Solene’s relationship was fascinating. Solene is torn between her desires and her responsibilities and her heart and her head. She feels terrible guilt over their age difference and the pain it will cause her daughter when she finds out. But she can’t stay away from him. Hayes longs to be seen for who he really is, rather than as Hayes Campbell, rock star, and how he sometimes struggles to know who he can trust because of his fame. Then there is Isabelle,  twelve-years-old and convinced she is in love with the band members, this relationship will break her heart. Each perspective is written with such sensitivity and realism that it leaps from the page. You can’t help but feel for them all. 

The author also explores themes of ageism and sexism throughout the story. She looks at how society and the world of show business view women as they age. How they can find themselves feeling invisible and unimportant. She also addresses the sexism that occurs in May/December romances and how an older man with a younger woman barely causes people to blink an eye, yet there is so much criticism of an older woman with a younger man. 

Sharp, sassy and salacious, this is as addictive as any tabloid magazine. This dazzling and funny debut is the perfect summer bonkbuster to get lost in. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
Steam Rating: 🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

The Idea of You is actor, writer, and producer ROBINNE LEE’s debut novel. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, Robinne was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. Robinne has numerous acting credits in both television and film, most notably opposite Will Smith in both Hitch and Seven Pounds and as Ros Bailey in Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Published: July 29th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Horror Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this chilling story. Thank you to Niamh at Hodder for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

What was it like? Living in that house.

Maggie Holt is used to such questions. Twenty-five years ago, she and her parents, Ewan and Jess, moved into a rambling Victorian estate called Baneberry Hall. They spent three weeks there before fleeing in the dead of night, an ordeal Ewan later recounted in a memoir called House of Horrors. His tale of ghostly happenings and encounters with malevolent spirits became a worldwide phenomenon.

Now, Maggie has inherited Baneberry Hall after her father’s death. She was too young to remember any of the events mentioned in her father’s book. But she doesn’t believe a word of it. Ghosts, after all, don’t exist.

But when she returns to Baneberry Hall to prepare it for sale, her homecoming is anything but warm. People from the pages of her father’s book lurk in the shadows, and locals aren’t thrilled that their small town has been made infamous. Even more unnerving is Baneberry Hall itself – a place that hints of dark deeds and unexplained happenings.

As the days pass, Maggie begins to believe that what her father wrote was more fact than fiction. That, either way, someone – or something – doesn’t want her here. And that she might be in danger all over again . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“Every house has a story.
Ours is a ghost story.
It is also a lie.
And now another person has died within these walls, it’s finally time to tell the truth.”

Home Before Dark is a chilling, nerve-shredding novel. From the start there is an air of menace and foreboding, something eerie that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. This is not a book to read at night; you need the sun shining or all of the lights on. Even with doing that I still found myself imagining Mister Shadow under my bed or Mrs Pennyface creeping out of my wardrobe. *Shudders*

Maggie Holt is an interior designer. She looks for the story each house has to tell and attempts to coax it out. And no house has a story that needs to be discovered more than Baneberry Hall, the rambling Victorian Estate that she and her parents lived in twenty-five years ago. A house they fled in the night after just twenty days that are now infamous, thanks to the book her father wrote about the ghostly events that occurred there. Maggie has always believed his story to be an elaborate hoax. So after inheriting the house she decides to go in search of answers. But is she really prepared for what she’ll find?

Riley Sager is an author who has been on my radar ever since I joined bookstagram. I have a few of his books but never got around to reading them, so when the opportunity arose to take part in the blog tour for his latest book, I jumped at the chance. To say I was excited was an understatement. I had high hopes and expectations after hearing so much praise for his books. And not only did Mr. Sager live up to them, he surpassed them. A clever and skillfully written tale infused with terrifying things that go bump in the night, Sager has a deliciously warped mind and I’m here for it. He also knows just how to lure you in and keep you hooked, making it impossible to stop reading even when I was terrified. 

“For us, Baneberry Hall is a house of horrors. One that none of us may dare enter again.”

The story moves between Maggie’s narrative in the present day and extracts from her father’s book, House of Horrors. The Book, as Maggie refers to it, has been a shadow that loomed over her entire life. It has brought her family wealth and fame, but at a cost, also cursing her to live her life unable to trust potential friends or lovers for fear they want to get close because of it. Maggie is a great protagonist. Someone who isn’t always likeable but always feels real. I liked that she had a healthy dose of reality and thought her not buying into the story her parents had sold offered a fascinating perspective, especially when mixed with the guilt she felt at doubting the parents she loved.

I liked the author’s decision to tell earlier events through extracts from the book rather than flashbacks. This helped me to see it as a story that may or may not be true, just as Maggie did, rather than simply accepting what Ewan said as fact. But I found that while my view of Ewan had already been coloured by Maggie’s assertions that it was all a hoax, the book also felt real, especially as more and more strange things began happening in the present day. I found myself wondering if he might have been telling the truth while also searching for what reason he could have to lie. Like Maggie, I needed answers. 

Creeping, sinister and twisty, I was on the edge of my seat from start to finish and did not see that ending coming at all. A spine-chilling thriller that I would highly recommend, just make sure you read it with the light on!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Riley Sager is the pseudonym of a former journalist, editor and graphic designer.

Now a full-time writer, Riley is the author of FINAL GIRLS, an international bestseller that’s been published in 25 languages, and the instant New York Times bestsellers THE LAST TIME I LIED, LOCK EVERY DOOR and HOME BEFORE DARK. His latest book, SURVIVE THE NIGHT, will be available June 29 from Dutton Books.

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: That Night by Gillian McAllister

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sensational thriller. Thank you Penguin UK for the invitation to take part in the tour and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

What would you do to protect your family?

ANYTHING.

During a family holiday in Italy, you get an urgent call from your sister.

There’s been an accident: she hit a man with her car and he’s dead.

She’s overcome with terror – fearing years in a foreign jail away from her child.

She asks for your help. It wasn’t her fault, not really. She’d cover for you, so will you do the same for her?

But when the police come calling, the lies start. And you each begin to doubt your trust in one another.

What really happened that night?

Who is lying to who?

And who will be the first to crack? . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“In the glare of the headlights, Frannie lifts up her hands. Red drips run down her wrists. Her stomach is streaked with blood. It’s dried, burgundy, the colour of red wine. She is a terrible tableau.”

What would you do to protect your family? That is the question at the heart of this sensational thriller.

Cathy and Joe wake in the early hours to an urgent call from their sister, Frannie. There’s been an accident and a man is dead. She begs them to help her. To cover up the crime. Can they keep their secrets without falling apart? And is Frannie telling the truth about what happened that night?

“It was written in the invisible stars, he thinks, looking upwards. From that night in Verona. It was always going to end here.”

Wow! Just, wow! Claustrophobic, intense and twisty, this had me hooked from the first pages. Combining family drama with a seductive psychological thriller, it jumps straight into the action and I couldn’t put it down, turning the pages until I could no longer keep my eyes open. And there is so much more to this story than meets the eye. Complex, intricate and multilayered, the author slowly peels away the layers to unveil the surprising picture lurking beneath. 

“It’s as though a trapdoor to hell has been opened up in me. It’s hard to describe unless you’ve been through it. Trauma.”

This was a fascinating exploration of family and trauma. Cathy, Joe and Frannie are extremely close. The siblings work together, live in three adjoining cottages and co-own a holiday home in Italy. And it is while in Verona that the tragedy strikes. They have always been there for each other, so Cathy and Joe don’t feel able to say no when Frannie begs them to help her. But the lies soon pile up and things begin to spin out of control, testing the siblings’ relationships and threatening to tear them apart. The author uses the three siblings to show the very different ways people can respond to trauma and the strain it puts on even the closest relationships. 

“I feel like I’m in a nightmare.”

I have been a fan of Gillian McAllister ever since first reading one of her books three years ago, and love how skillfully plotted, paced and written her books are. All her books are character driven with a suspenseful edge, but this was her best yet and felt like it packed an even stronger punch. If you’re a thriller fan, then don’t miss this book. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Gillian McAllister is the Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling author of Everything But The Truth, Anything You Do Say, No Further Questions, The Evidence Against You and How To Disappear.

Her latest release is That Night, available now and selected for the Richard & Judy summer book club 2021.

All of her novels are standalone and can be read in any order. She is published in ten countries around the world. The Good Sister is her US debut, released by Penguin USA, and is the American title for No Further Questions. The Choice is her second American release which is the US title for Anything You Do Say.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

1. Monsters
I have known monsters and I have known men. I have stood in their long shadows, propped them up with my own two hands, reached for the inscrutable faces in the dark. They are harder to set apart than you know. Than you will ever know.”

Today’s chilling first lines are taken from Damage, the startling debut from Caitlin Wahrer, that was released this month. This is one of my most highly anticipated debuts this year and I’m even more excited to start it soon after reading these first lines.

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SYNOPSIS:

Sometimes, the true story is the hardest to believe.

TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.

JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of?

NICK went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.

Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. And when the police get involved, this family in crisis might be capable of anything . . .

Set to ignite debate and as gripping as your favourite box-set, Damage is a compulsive drama from an extraordinary new writer.

You can buy the book here*

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Is this on your tbr? Let me know in the comments.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. See you next week for more first lines xxx

*This is an affiliate link

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Face at the Window by Ruby Speechley

Published: July 28th, 2021
Publisher: Hera Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Noir Fiction, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Kindle

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Sarah at Books on the Bright Side for the invitation to take part and Hera Books for the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

They’re in your house.

They want your life.

And now, they have your baby.

To the world, I’m @HappyWife. Online, people only see my picture-perfect home, my handsome husband, Nick, and my beautiful baby, Thomas.

They don’t see the real Gemma Adams. They don’t see my past, the dark secrets I’m hiding in my marriage. They don’t see the fear I live in every single day.

But I know someone is watching me. And now, they’ve taken Thomas.

I just don’t know why.

But I’m going to stop at nothing to get my baby back.

Even if it destroys everything I’ve got to find him.

A compelling thriller, packed with suspense – fans of K.L. Slater and Lisa Jewell won’t be able to put it down.

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MY REVIEW:

“A few nice photos of your house and they think they know you, that you must be living the perfect life. If only they knew.”

TW: Domestic abuse

Gemma and her husband Nick seem to have the ideal life: a happy marriage, picture-perfect home and a beautiful newborn baby. But behind the shiny image they portray to the outside world is something much darker. A life where Gemma lives in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and Nick has all the control. 

Scarlett and her lover Cole are soulmates. As soon as his divorce is finalised they are going to be together properly. Forever. At least that’s what he’s promised her. So when he suddenly ends their relationship Scarlett is shocked, and determined to win back her man. But as she starts to think that he has in fact lied to her, her thoughts instead turn to revenge. Leading her to take drastic and shocking action to make him pay for what he did. 

This is one of those books that’s a bit like an iceberg: what you see at first is only a part of what is actually going on beneath the surface. Taut, tense and twisty, the author shifts seamlessly between timelines to slowly unveil the layers in the story, weaving them together to craft a complex and intricate thriller. And while there were some things that were easy to predict, there were so many unanswered questions, unexpected revelations and misdirection that it kept you on your toes and avoided feeling predictable. 

Gemma and Scarlett felt like they could be any young woman you know.  They are close in age but their lives couldn’t be more different, a contrast that is compelling. Gemma in particular was very likeable and reading her felt like I could have been reading about myself many years ago. I just wanted to help her break free of Nick’s grasp. Scarlett had her charms, but she also did a lot of messed up things in the name of revenge that disturbed me. But while the author doesn’t make excuses for her, she does show the reader her motivations, helping us to understand her behaviour. I found myself often empathising with her, even if I didn’t agree with what she was doing. Then there’s Nick; a vile, abusive man who made my stomach churn and blood boil. The author got the mix of charm and viciousness down to perfection so you could understand both how Gemma fell in love with him and why she was so scared. 

The author explores the topic of domestic violence and coercive control in a multitude of ways throughout this book. She looks at how people find themselves in these kinds of relationships, what it is like to live in a relationship dominated by escalating abuse and control, and the aftermath of abuse and what that means for those who survived. As a domestic abuse survivor I appreciated the honesty and sensitivity with which she wrote. It is clear that she has done her research and was so realistic that it did bring back memories of my own experience. But it is also a book that educates and makes you think, helping those who don’t have any experience of these kinds of situations to understand how easily anyone can find themselves trapped in that kind of life. I also liked that she showed the many facets of abuse and control and appreciated her note at the end with places to go to for help for those who need it. 

Unnerving, explosive and affecting, this was a gripping thriller that I’d recommend to fans of the genre. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruby Speechley is the author of four psychological thrillers published by Hera Books. She loves writing about domestic situations with plenty of twists and secrets.

She was born in Portugal but has lived in the UK since she was three months old. She now lives in Cheshire with her husband and two of her three children and two dogs. She has an older son and grandson.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Book Features Q&A

Q&A with Tim Ewins, Author of We Were Animals

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour celebrating the paperback publication of We Are Animals. This is our first official Squadpod On Tour and I’m excited to bring you a Q&A with Tim today.

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Q: What inspired the idea for We Are Animals?

I don’t really know what the idea for We Are Animals was. I just wanted to write a book, and my idea about writing a book about how to write a book fell apart pretty quickly, because I didn’t know how to write a book. Also, I’m pretty sure it’s already been written by much smarter people. I think We Are Animals started as a collage, with parts from my old travel blog and small facts about my relationship with my wife scattered around a very loose plot.

Q: Can you tell us a bit about the book?

I can! I can tell you a bit about the book in the style of an author: It’s a book about fate and love, but I wouldn’t say it’s a romance novel. I like the idea of it being uplit fiction, because at every stage of writing I wanted to reflect the goodness in people and in nature. And I can tell you a bit about the book in a very literal sense: It’s about a bloke on a beach that meets a kid on a beach and tells that kid his life story. They both get drunk and watch a cow dance to dance music.

Q: Who is your favourite character in the book?

I think probably Hylad’s partner, Michael. Michael is only a small character, and when he’s introduced, he comes across as quite grumpy and a little unlikeable, but as the plot goes on, we watch him put his whole life on hold to help and support Hylad. He’s the rock that keeps Hylad going. I think Michael is what every partner should be to their significant other. Also, I do quite like that dancing cow.

Q: What was your favourite scene to write?

There are a lot of mini-stories in We Are Animals which explain some of the smaller character’s backstories. They were always the most fun parts to write, and there was a certain pleasure in making these seemingly unconnected stories become relevant to the main plot several chapters later. There is one particular backstory which stands out though. I really enjoyed writing about the lives of Ebba and Olivia. The section only lasts a few pages, but I remember writing it and feeling so sad because their story is really quite tragic. That scene came out so quickly that I felt like I was reading it rather than writing it.

Q: What was the hardest thing about writing the book?

Time. Sometimes, even just writing a sentence, it’s hard to find the time to fi

Q: Are there any hidden ‘Easter Eggs’ in the book, e.g. that only people who know you would get?

Absolutely! The boat Moondance has the same name as my dad’s fishing boat. My mate and I used to work in a box factory. I literally know Shakey – I go for a drink with him every week, and I met Manjan a while back in Malaysia. The reason Ladyjan isn’t typically Swedish looking is because Ladyjan looks exactly like my wife (and she’s from Whitby)… the list really
does go on. The guy who I used to work with in the box factory read We Are Animals recently and he told me after that finding the little easter eggs was his favourite part of the book (which, on reflection, may have been an insult).

Q: What was your journey to publication like?

I have a spreadsheet full of rejection and a list of the reasons why publishers and agents don’t want to work with me, so I think probably quite normal. Working with Eye and Lightning Books (my publisher) has been amazing though. They really care about all the books they publish, so I went from no-one reading my novel to a group of people taking the time to go through it with a fine-tooth comb and working with me to get it perfect. I don’t think I could have asked for anything more. When it came out it was on e-only format and now, a year later, it’ll be out in paperback, so I’ve been lucky enough to ride two waves!

Q: What’s the best thing about being a published author?

It is just so nice that people are reading the book. When I was writing, I never really knew if anyone would read it (other than my mum), but the fact that strangers are reading it now is beyond what I could ever have dreamed of.

Q: What kind of books do you like reading? Any current favourites?

I like anything a bit cute or surreal. I love Andrew Kaufman and Jonas Jonassan. I’ve recently been reading Ronan Hession’s books (Leonard and Hungry Paul, and Panenka) and I think I’ve found my new favourite author in him (he also makes nice music to write to under the name Mumblin’ Deaf Ro, so that’s a double win). I’m on a real reading streak at the moment so I could list a million books here that I’ve loved recently; The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn, Perfect on Paper by Gillian Harvey, Whatever You Are Is Beautiful by Richard Blandford, Marrow Jam by Susan A King. Honestly, the list could go on and on.

Q: When do you find time to write? Do you have a ‘writing routine’?

I made a joke earlier about time, which I can only apologise for, but it really is one of the hardest parts of writing for me (and plot, that’s hard too). I work a full-time job and have a toddler, so my writing routine has always consisted of writing an hour in my lunch breaks at work, writing on the bus to and from work and occasionally whilst watching Love Island. We Are Animals was written entirely on an iPad. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite follow one series of Love Island as closely as I’d have liked to, but I hear they’re all on Netflix now anyway, so…

Q: What are you working on at the moment?

I’m waiting to get some edits back on my second novel, which I cannot wait to share. The story is very close to me. The main character is based on my Nan, and again, it’s about fate and love, but I wouldn’t say it’s a romance novel. Maybe after that I’ll try to write a book about how to write a book…

We Are Animals is out now.

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You can get 30% off your copy of the book using the code above until 8th August here

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SYNOPSIS:

A cow looks out to sea, dreaming of a life that involves grass.

Jan is also looking out to sea. He’s in Goa, dreaming of the passport-thief who stole his heart (and his passport) forty-six years ago. Back then, fate kept bringing them together, but lately it seems to have given up.

Jan has not. In his long search he has accidentally held a whole town at imaginary gunpoint in Soviet Russia, stalked the proprietors of an international illegal lamp-trafficking scam and done his very best to avoid any kind of work involving the packing of fish. Now he thinks if he just waits, if he just does nothing at all, maybe fate will find it easier to reunite them.

His story spans fifty-four years, ten countries, two imperfect criminals (and one rather perfect one), twenty-two different animals and an annoying teenager who just…

Will…

Not…

Leave.

But maybe an annoying teenager is exactly what Jan needs to help him find the missing thief?

Featuring a menagerie of creatures, each with its own story to tell, We Are Animals is a quirky, heart-warming tale of lost love, unlikely friendships and the certainty of fate (or lack thereof).

For the first time in her life the cow noticed the sun setting, and it was glorious.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Tim Ewins had an eight-year stand-up career alongside his accidental career in finance, before turning to writing fiction.

He has previously written for DNA Mumbai, had two short stories highly commended and published in Michael Terence Short Story Anthologies, and had a very brief acting stint (he’s in the film Bronson, somewhere in the background).

He lives with his wife, son and dog in Bristol. We Are Animals is his first novel.

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Don’t miss the Cake and Cocktail blast on August 3rd and check the hashtags to read reviews from the Squadpod Ladies.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Secret Life of Writers by Guillaume Musso

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: W&N
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Travel Literature
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this absolute masterpiece. Thank you to Alex Layt at Orion for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPISIS:

In 1999, after publishing three cult novels, celebrated author Nathan Fawles announces the end of his writing career and withdraws to Beaumont, a wild and beautiful island off the Mediterranean coast.

Autumn 2018. As Fawles’ novels continue to captivate readers, Mathilde Monney, a young Swiss journalist, arrives on the island, determined to unlock the writer’s secrets and secure his first interview in twenty years.

That same day, a woman’s body is discovered on the beach and the island is cordoned off by the authorities.

And so, begins a dangerous face off between Mathilde and Nathan, in which the line between truth and fiction becomes increasingly blurred…

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MY REIVEW:

“I knew that fate had set me on a path towards a story that someone had to tell. A true story, more compelling than any work of fiction, and one which I sensed had only just begun.”

Books, murder and mystery. What more could I want in a novel? As soon as I read the synopsis I knew this was a book I HAD to read. It’s almost like it was written for me. And it was perfect. An absolute masterpiece that was so mesmerising and addictive that I never wanted it to end. 

The Secret Life of Writers reads like a book within a book. It starts when Raphael arrives on the Isle of Beaumont hoping to solve the ‘mystery of Nathan Fawles’, the reclusive writer who has isolated himself on the island since suddenly retiring from writing at the peak of his career almost twenty years before. But after the brutal murder of a young woman, the story widens to include a murder investigation and another mystery involving the incredible journey of a lost camera and and unspeakable secret that Fawles is hiding and journalist Mathilde claims to know. 

“A noose tightened around my chest. I was shaking all over. When I opened the freezer, I couldn’t hold back a scream. The inside had been repainted. With blood.” 

Guillaume Musso is known as the ‘French suspense king’, and after reading this book, I can see why. This novel is a masterclass in storytelling. Expertly written with a dash of finesse, it is hypnotic, and I was under its spell from the first pages. Every word is infused with an air of mystery, and there is a palpable tension that makes your heart race. Perfectly plotted, it is more intricate and complex than it first appears, and every time you think you’ve figured out what’s going on Musso throws in another curveball. He’s so good that you don’t see it coming; expertly luring you into that false sense of security where you think you know what’s next and then pulls the rug from under you. 

Told with breathtakingly beautiful imagery and prose, I found myself wanting to annotate almost every other sentence. The author not only does he bring the characters to life, but the place too. His descriptions of the Isle of Beaumont are so evocative that I felt like I could see the Provincial main square, the turquoise water and the colourful houses glinting in the sun. It felt real, just as the story felt like I was reading a true crime novel rather than a work of fiction.

“Books not only break walls down, they build them up too. More often than you’d think, they wound, and shatter, and kill. Books may dazzle and shine, but all that glitters is not gold. “

The characters are richly drawn and compelling. I loved how Nathan and Mathilde are both enigmatic characters and yet Raphael is more open. With Nathan especially you never know if you can trust what he’s telling you, and I enjoyed being kept guessing and the surprises this threw my way.  I loved how each of them were writers and the observations the author made about books, reading and writing. He captured so many of my own feelings about the topics which, along with having my favourite subject woven into the plot, made me feel like he had written this just for me. 

As the book is translated, I feel I need to also thank the translator for doing such a superb job of making it possible for those of us who don’t speak French to read this phenomenal novel. I can only imagine the amount of time and effort it took. Thank you. 

Sharp, stylish, intense, and utterly mind-blowing, this fast-paced thriller is so twisty it will make your head spin. So just hold on tight and enjoy the ride. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From one novel to the next, Guillaume Musso has formed a unique bond with his readers. Born in 1974 in Antibes on the French Riviera, he fell in love with literature at an early age, spending all his free time devouring books at the public library where his mother worked. A short story competition organized by his French teacher led him to discover the joys of writing, and he has never stopped since then.

His studies, his extended trips to the United States, his encounters… All have contributed to enriching his imagination and his writing projects. A graduate in social economics, he became a teacher in the East and then the South of France. He published his first novel, Skidamarink, in 2001, but his next book Et Après…, is the one that truly won the public over. This story of love and suspense with supernatural undertones marked the beginning of a dazzling and unwavering success.

Translated into forty languages and adapted many times for film, each book of his is as hugely successful as the next in both France and around the world. The release of a new novel by Guillaume Musso has become, for his readers, an eagerly awaited rendezvous.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Woman in the Water by Kelly Heard

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Gothic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

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

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SYNOPSIS:

How do I keep my family safe, when I don’t know why we’re in danger?

When I get the call, the promise I made to myself to never return to Brightwater is shattered in an instant. The police tell me that my sister Holly slipped and drowned near the old boardwalk, that she was found floating in the dark water of the lake. I am now all my little nieces have left and I need to come home right away, to care for them.

But I know Holly would never have gone out on the water by choice.

As I approach the sign to Brightwater, painful memories start to flood back—of former friends, of my first heartbreak, of dangerous secrets I’d rather forget. Because deep down I know Holly’s death wasn’t an accident. It was a warning. A warning directly aimed at me and those I care about.

I always thought it was just me and Holly who knew what happened all those years ago. But it is clear someone else knows. And they want to make us pay.

But what if the little girls are next? I know I have to protect them. But there are secrets out there in the water. And every one of them could tear our family apart…

An absolutely gripping, twisty psychological thrillerthat will keep you turning the pages late into the night. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the TrainThe Woman in the Window and The Silent Patient.

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MY REVIEW:

Felicity Wheeler returns to her hometown after her sister Holly is found drowned in the swamp. The death is ruled an accident but Felicity knows her sister would never be out on that water, especially in a storm. Not after what happened all those years ago. Returning to take care of her nieces, Felicity begins to investigate her sister’s death. But there is someone who doesn’t want her to find out the truth. Someone who will stop at nothing to keep their secrets hidden. 

The Woman in the Water is a story full of secrets and suspicion. A story about a fractured family, tragic death and search for answers. Told in dual timelines we follow as Felicity returns to a hometown full of painful memories to fulfill her sister’s wishes and try to find out what really happened to her the night she died. It is well written, with some beautiful imagery and prose, and there is a ghostly atmosphere at times that I loved, though I would have liked even more. I did find it predictable in places, but the author leaves  you with enough doubt and questions to keep you turning the pages and invested in the story. 

I liked Felicity. She is flawed, layered and relatable. Before Holly’s death she hadn’t been home since leaving under a cloud of rumour and scandal. In the flashbacks the author slowly unveils the traumatic and life-changing events that broke the sisters’ relationship and led to Felicity leaving home so young. The author acutely conveys the torment and pain it causes Felicity to face her past and be back in her hometown. 

Dark, tense and twisty, this was a quick and entertaining read that fans of the genre will enjoy. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kelly Heard is a novelist from Afton, Virginia. She published poetry in literary magazines before signing her debut novel, Before You Go, with Bookouture.

Kelly prefers writing to most other pastimes, but you’ll occasionally find her in the garden, hiking, or exploring antique shops.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

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