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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

REVIEW: No Place To Run by Mark Edwards

Published: June 21st, 2022
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Thank you to Mark Edwards and Netgalley for the eBook ARC of this book.

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SYNOPSIS:

In this exhilarating thriller from four million copy bestselling author Mark Edwards, Aidan’s spent years looking for his sister. Will he ever find her?

Two years ago, on a trip to Seattle to visit her brother Aidan, fifteen-year-old Scarlett vanished into thin air. After years of false leads and dead ends, Aidan has almost given up hope. But then a woman sees a girl running for her life across a forest clearing in Northern California. She is convinced the girl is the missing Scarlett. But could it really be her?

Heading south, Aidan finds a fire-ravaged town covered in missing-teenager posters. The locals seem afraid, the police won’t answer any questions and it looks like another dead end―until a chance meeting with returned local Lana gives Aidan his first clue. But as they piece together what happened, Lana and Aidan make deadly enemies. Enemies willing to do anything to silence them.

Only one thing matters now: finding Scarlett―even if it kills him.

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MY REVIEW:

Scarlett Faith disappeared two years ago while visiting her older brother Aiden in Seattle.  He has been searching for her ever since, plagued by guilt that she vanished on his watch.  There has been nothing but false leads and dead ends, until a woman says she is sure she saw Scarlett fleeing a pursuer in a forest clearing in Northern California.  It seems fantastical, but could it be the lead Aiden has been waiting for?  

Deciding to follow the lead, Aiden heads to California and finds himself in a town ravaged by fire, covered in missing posters and filled with secrets they will do anything to keep. 

A new book by Mark Edwards is always an event for me and he can be relied upon to deliver an intriguing, suspenseful and twist-filled thriller where ordinary people find themselves in terrifying situations.  And he’s done it again, this time taking a very timely topic and merging it with something much more sinister that makes you think twice about who you trust and what you get involved in.  There is a lot of action but I will admit that it wasn’t my favourite of his books as I prefer his darker stories. 

The book is filled with a cast of fascinating and well developed characters.  There are siblings desperate for answers, naive young women, a mysterious woman with a mission, brutal security men and corrupt officials.  Aiden is at the centre of it all.  He is likeable and easy to root for; an innocent bystander who just wants to find his sister, he gets caught up in a web of dangerous secrets that makes him enemies who will do anything to silence him.  There are also some great villains who have that sadistic streak you commonly see in Edwards’ books.  Told from multiple points of view with flashbacks to the time leading up to Scarlett’s disappearance, it isn’t immediately clear how all of the different characters and threads are connected.  But Edwards slowly weaves them together until the full, surprising picture emerges. 

Menacing, tense and twisty, No Place To Run is an entertaining thriller that I’d recommend to those who like their thrillers on the quirky side.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Mark Edwards writes psychological thrillers in which scary things happen to ordinary people. He has sold more than three million copies of his books and topped the bestseller lists numerous times since his first solo novel was published in 2013.

His novels include What You Wish For, Because She Loves Me, Follow You Home, The Devil’s Work, The Lucky Ones, The Retreat, In Her Shadow, Here To Stay and The House Guest. He has also published two short sequels to The Magpies, A Murder of Magpies and Last of The Magpies, and six books co-authored with Louise Voss.

Many of his books have been translated into foreign languages including French, German, Italian, Spanish, Estonian, Thai, Lithuanian, Czech, Hungarian, Turkish and Russian. In 2019 Mark won The Cat and Mouse Award for Most Elusive Villain at the Dead Good Reader Awards for Last of the Magpies.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Guest House by Robin Morgan-Bentley

Published: June 23rd, 2022
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Medical Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Orion for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

KEEP YOUR FAMILY SAFE.
WHATEVER THE COST…

Jamie and Victoria are expecting their first baby.

With a few weeks to go, they head off for a final weekend break in a remote part of the North Pennines. The small and peaceful guesthouse is the ideal location to unwind together before becoming parents. Upon arrival, they are greeted by Barry and Fiona, the older couple who run the guesthouse. They cook them dinner and show them to their room before retreating to bed themselves.

The next morning, Jamie and Victoria wake to find the house deserted. Barry and Fiona are nowhere to be seen. All the doors are locked. Both their mobile phones and car keys have disappeared. Even though it’s a few weeks early, Victoria knows the contractions are starting.

The baby is coming, and there’s no way out.

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MY REVIEW:

“Every time, after each scan of the nursery, I find myself on the verge of surrender… My hand hovers over the nine.  Just press it three times, Jamie.  Take the risk.  Tell them what happened in the guest house.” 

The Guest House is a thriller that packs a punch from the start.  It opens with Jamie and Victoria enjoying a last weekend away in a remote guest house a few weeks before their longed for first baby arrives. But on their first night Victoria wakes up with labour pains and they find the guest house is deserted, the doors locked and their mobile phones and car keys missing.  Leaving us on tenterhooks, the story then jumps forward.  Jamie and Victoria are now home but we have no idea what happened that day at the guest house.  Is their baby ok?  Why is someone sending them anonymous veiled threats?  And what is the secret that they are so scared will be revealed?  

Robin Morgan-Bentley has done it again. Deceptively layered and complex, this perfectly executed psychological thriller takes you on a twist-filled rollercoaster ride that exceeded my already high expectations. It is deceptively layered and complex, a perfectly executed psychological thriller takes you on a twist-filled rollercoaster ride that I absolutely loved. The story moves between timelines as Jamie and Victoria tell their story piece by piece, slowly revealing the true horror of what happened that fateful day.  Drenched in atmosphere, sizzling with suspense and charged with adrenaline, the fear, heartache, guilt, regret and internal conflict leaps from the page and the scenes from the guest house are a ticking time bomb of sheer dread.  It is one of those books that you clear your schedule for and I devoured it in under a day. 

The characters are well written and intriguing, and I liked that both Jamie and Victoria narrated the story and that neither of them were what you’d typically expect.  Victoria isn’t the sweet, demure new mother that we typically see and I actually found her quite cold, hard to like and difficult to connect with.  On the other hand, Jamie is a very likeable, endearing character that I felt a strong connection with.  Another thing I liked about Jamie is the representation of disability.  As a disabled person it is great to see disability portrayed in such a realistic way, where it is simply part of his character and not a weakness or flaw.  It doesn’t stop him doing normal or even heroic things, in fact it makes him even more determined to protect his family.  I also liked that he was given the opportunity to address how other people’s perceptions and judgement make him feel, something I related to on a personal level.  We need more characters like Jamie in fiction so that those without experience of living with disability see us as we are, not simply a token character to be pitied or seen as a burden. 

Riveting, addictive and unbearably tense, this dark and twisted tale will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end. A must read for  any thriller lover. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Robin Morgan-Bentley was born and grew up in London. After studying Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University, he went on to work for Google before moving to Audible, where he has been working since 2014.

His debut thriller, The Wreckage, was nominated for the CWA Dagger John Creasey New Blood Award, the CrimeFest Specsavers Debut Crime Award and Capital Crime’s Debut Book of the Year Award. His next thriller, The Guest House, will be released in the UK in June 2022 and in the US in September 2022.

Robin lives in Buckinghamshire with his husband and son.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

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REVIEW: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Published: July 3rd, 2014
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for The Miniaturist, the mesmerising debut by Jessie Burton. Thank you to BookBreak UK for organising the rereadalong and Picador for the gifted copy of the book.

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THE HOUSE OF FORTUNE PRE-ORDER COMPETITION

Pan Macmillan is offering three lucky winners the chance to win their own copy of the signed print, a unique piece of jewellery, and access to a book tour event. All entrants need to do is pre-order a copy of The House of Fortune and submit proof of purchase here.

Pre-order the book here*

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SYNOPSIS:

The phenomenal Number One Bestseller

Winner of the Specsavers National Book Award 2014

Waterstones Book of the Year 2014

Selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club 2015

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, Jessie Burton’s magnificent debut novel The Miniaturist is a story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

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MY REVIEW:

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…”

An absolute masterpiece of historical fiction, The Miniaturist instantly became one of my favourite books when I read it back in 2015.  It’s follow up, The House of Fortune, is my most anticipated book of the year and I have been counting down to its release for many months. So when Bookbreak UK offered me the chance to take part in a re-readalong of this extraordinary story along with other bookstagrammers, I jumped at the chance to step back into Nella’s world. 

18-year-old Nella arrives in Amsterdam to live with her new husband, Johannes.  But the merchant is often away and she finds herself left with his spiky sister, their two staff and her pet parakeet, Peebo, for company.  To cheer her up Johannes presents her with a cabinet-sized replica of their home, an unusual and extravagant wedding gift that she begins to furnish with the help of a local miniaturist.  But Nella soon discovers that her new home is one filled with secrets and finds herself embroiled deeper in Amsterdam’s dark underbelly.  And it seems the mysterious miniaturist knows their secrets.  Will she be their salvation or their undoing?

“There is a story here and it seems like Nella’s, but it isn’t hers to tell.  She spins my life, she thinks.  And I cannot see the consequences.” 

Atmospheric, claustrophobic, eerie and mesmerising, this book is why I fell in love with historical fiction. It instantly became one of my favourite books when I read it back in 2015 and I was just as besotted with it the second time around. Jessie Burton is a masterful storyteller and I am once again in awe that this is a debut novel. The lyrical, elegant prose pulls you in and evocative imagery transports you to 17th century Amsterdam so clearly that you lose yourself in Nella’s world.

The richly drawn characters are all so memorable that even after seven years and hundreds of other books since I’d last read them, I could clearly remember so many small details about them. Nella is an innocent young woman at the start of the book and we see her become increasingly isolated, disillusioned, anxious and unsettled. But she also gets much stronger and finds joy in things such as her friendship with their maid, Cordelia. But as much as I loved Nella, for me it was Marin who was most fascinating. Sharp, cynical and acerbic, she begins the story as a tragic yet hard character, but the layers are slowly peeled away to reveal the unexpected truth beneath her armour, making her a joy to read.

“Nella returns home and rushes upstairs to the cabinet, running her fingers over the miniaturist’s pieces.  They are charged with a different energy, laden with meaning she cannot penetrate, yet even more addictive in their mystery.  She’s chosen me, Nella thinks, glowing with this discovery, yearning to know more.”  

The miniaturist herself is an elusive character who exists in shadows; an almost phantom presence who you can never pin down.  Nella is so intrigued by her and desperately tries to learn more about this mysterious woman who seems to tell their secrets and stories through her tiny creations. But how she does this remains cryptic throughout the story.  Her mysterious and slightly sinister presence helps to provide the gothic elements that add the gothic elements that add darker and more compelling layers to the story.

A spellbinding and stylish modern classic that should be on everybody’s reading list, I can’t recommend The Miniaturist highly enough.  I loved every moment of being back with Nella and the others and am even more excited to dive into The House of Fortune soon to see what happens next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jessie Burton is the author of three novels, The MiniaturistThe Muse, and The Confession, all instant Sunday Times bestsellers. 

The Miniaturist and The Muse were Sunday Times no.1 bestsellers in both hardback and paperback, New York Times bestsellers, and Radio 4’s Book at BedtimeThe Miniaturist went on to sell over a million copies in its year of publication, was Christmas no.1 in the UK, National Book Awards Book of the Year, and Waterstones Book of the Year 2014.  In 2017 it was adapted as a two-part miniseries on BBC One, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Alex Hassell and Romola Garai, screened over Christmas, and now available on DVD and streaming services.

Her novels have been published in 40 languages.

Jessie’s first book for children, The Restless Girls, was published in September 2018, with Medusa​ to follow in 2021. ​Her story ‘Daphne and the Doughnuts’ appeared in The Book of Hopes, a collection of children’s stories published in 2020, from which all profits go to the NHS. 

As a non-fiction writer, she has written essays and reviews for The New York Times, Harpers Bazaar UK, The Wall Street JournalThe IndependentVogueElleRedGraziaLonely Planet Traveller and The SpectatorHarpers Bazaar US and Stylist have published her short stories. 

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*

*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REIVEW: Madwoman by Louisa Treger

Published: June 9th 2022
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this outstanding and remarkable novel. Thank you Louisa Trager and Bloomsbury for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

In 1887 young Nellie Bly sets out for New York and a career in journalism, determined to make her way as a serious reporter, whatever that may take.

But life in the city is tougher than she imagined. Down to her last dime and desperate to prove her worth, she comes up with a dangerous plan: to fake insanity and have herself committed to the asylum that looms on Blackwell’s Island. There, she will work undercover to document – and expose – the wretched conditions faced by the patients.

But when the asylum door swings shut behind her, she finds herself in a place of horrors, governed by a harshness and cruelty she could never have imagined. Cold, isolated and starving, her days of terror reawaken the traumatic events of her childhood. She entered the asylum of her own free will – but will she ever get out?

An extraordinary portrait of a woman way ahead of her time, Madwoman is the story of a quest for the truth that changed the world.

‘Madwoman is one of the best, a magnificent portrayal of Nelly Bly in all her journalistic integrity and daring’ New York Journal of Books

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MY REVIEW:

“Welcome to Blackwell’s Island. Once you get in here, you’ll never get out.”

Madwoman is a powerful, haunting and remarkable story about an unforgettable young woman. It’s 1887 and 19-year-old Nelly Bly has come to New York to try and make her name as a journalist, something unheard of for women at the time. In order to secure her dream job she pitches a daring idea: faking insanity to get herself committed to the asylum on Blackwell’s Island to go undercover and unearth the truth behind the rumours of mistreatment and expose them once and for all. But Nelly is unprepared for the horrors that lay in store and begins to wonder if she will ever escape the living hell she put herself in.

I’d heard the name Nelly Bly but knew nothing more about the woman at the heart of this story. But as soon as I read the synopsis and saw the striking cover I knew I needed to read this book. I needed to know what kind of woman would willingly get herself committed to an asylum in the nineteenth century and just what did she experience while there?

“Nellie shivered and gritted her teeth. She was going to sleep with madwomen, eat with them, be considered one of them.  Anything could happen, anything at all.” 

Louisa Trager has crafted a mesmerising novel full of evocative imagery and prose that made me see and feel everything that was on the page as vividly as if I were experiencing it myself. She brings the characters and places to life so clearly that you’d believe they were right in front of you. She tears your heart apart and puts it back together as you laugh, cry, rage, despair and feel absolute terror.

But it isn’t just her prose and imagery that makes you feel all of this, it is the deep connection she forges between the reader and Nelly that makes this story so deeply moving. Nelly is a fascinating and compelling character. As a young girl she gives us glimpses of the trailblazer she will become and little Nelly – or Pinks as she is then known – is a fierce and outspoken tomboy who doesn’t fit in and wants much more than to just be somebody’s wife. It helps us understand her actions as an adult such as why she is so determined to be independent and has her sights set on succeeding in what was then considered a man’s profession. Ms. Trager really gets inside Nelly’s mind, body and soul, allowing the reader to walk in her shoes and making our emotions mirror hers.

“Looking into her eyes, Nellie saw that there was a grief only beheld in lunatic asylums, a grief so deep and black that its victim was submerged beyond reach, far more wretched than a criminal.”

I don’t think it will be a surprise that where this story shines brightest is in the darkest of places. Nelly’s time in the asylum is harrowing, heartbreaking and raw. Blackwells is a bleak, gloomy place. A place of horror, degradation, humiliation and fear. A place where those charged with looking after the patients either give inadequate care or delight in doling out the most cruel and inhumane treatments they can think of. This was a time where women could be deemed insane for simply falling in or out of love or having the wrong opinion, and once you were behind that locked door you were usually left to rot. It was a dangerous and terrifying time to be a woman. Especially if you rebelled against the oppressive patriarchal system. The atmosphere on every page during Nelly’s time in the asylum is harsh and unforgiving. You wonder how anyone can survive such torture. But there is humanity and true strength alongside all of the darkness that is truly moving. The women fighting to survive beside Nelly each day are memorable and compelling and I especially enjoyed her friendship with Sofia. I was completely lost in Nelly’s world during this section of the book, reading most furiously and consumed by all she was going through.

An extraordinary story that is one of my top books of the year, I can’t recommend Madwoman enough.

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louisa Treger has worked as a classical violinist. She studied at the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and worked as a freelance orchestral player and teacher. Treger subsequently turned to literature, gaining a First Class degree and a Ph.D. in English at University College London, where she focused on early 20th century women’s writing and was awarded the West Scholarship and the Rosa Morison Scholarship “for distinguished work in the study of English Language and Literature.” The Lodger was published in 2014, The Dragon Lady in 2019 and she is currently working on her third novel.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

*These are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Cat & Mouse by M. J. Arlidge (DI Helen Grace Book 11)

Published: June 9th, 2022
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Cat & Mouse, the latest gripping thriller from M. J. Arlidge. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Orion for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

When you think you’re safe,
When you think you’re all alone,
That’s when he’ll come for you…

A silent killer stalks the city, targeting those home alone at night, playing a deadly game of cat and mouse with the victims.

As panic spreads, Detective Inspector Helen Grace leads the investigation, but is herself a hunted woman, her every step shadowed by a ruthless psychopath bent on revenge.

As she tracks the murderer, Grace begins to suspect there is a truly shocking home truth that connects these brutal crimes. But what she will find is something more twisted than she could ever suspect…

Check the windows, lock the doors – this is a twisted page-turner that will prey on your darkest fears, in the way only M.J. Arlidge can.

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MY REVIEW:

“He had led them a merry dance so far, spreading terror and bloodshed in his wake….”

A brutal killer stalks Southampton, creeping into houses and slaughtering victims at their most vulnerable.  There is no apparent motive, few clues and DI Helen Grace and her team are under pressure to stop the mysterious killer quickly.  

We’re back for the latest instalment in one of my favourite crime series.  It’s always exciting for me to be back with these characters and M.J. Arlidge can always be counted upon to write a tense, twisty and tantilising thriller that has me hooked.  But this time around the stakes seemed higher than ever for the team, particularly Helen, who finds herself in a battle for her job, reputation, liberty and life.  It seemed like there was no end to this rollercoaster as the pressure mounted, the suspense sizzled and I questioned if this could be the end for these characters.  I read on tenterhooks, desperate not only for answers to the crimes, but to the dilemmas facing these much loved characters.

This is a series that isn’t afraid to explore the darkest sides of humanity or feature gruesome, bloody crime scenes that make your skin crawl.  The mysterious killer in this book was truly the work of nightmares: someone methodical, measured and organised who stalks your home and breaks in while you sleep before brutally bludgeoning you in a senseless crime with no apparent motive  The chapters told from his perspective were especially chilling as we get a glimpse inside the depraved mind of the person who Southampton’s residents fear and my nerves were shredded as I read.  

Sinister, dark and compelling, M. J. Arlidge has delivered another outstanding thriller that shows why his books are auto-buys for me.  An absolute must read for any fans of crime fiction.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

M. J. Arlidge has worked in television for the last twenty years, specializing in high-end drama production, including prime-time crime serials Silent Witness, Torn, The Little House and, most recently, the hit ITV show Innocent. In 2015 his audiobook exclusive Six Degrees of Assassination was a number-one bestseller. His debut thriller, Eeny Meeny, was the UK’s bestselling crime debut of 2014. It was followed by the bestselling Pop Goes the Weasel, The Doll’s House, Liar Liar, Little Boy Blue, Hide and Seek and Love Me Not. Down to the Woods is the eighth DI Helen Grace thriller. In 2019 he published a standalone thriller, A Gift for Dying.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Midwife of Auschwitz by Anna Stuart

Published: May 31st, 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Historical Fiction, Religious Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this heart-wrenching, poignant and remarkable book. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Auschwitz, 1943: As I held the tiny baby in my arms, my fingers traced the black tattoo etched across her little thigh. And I prayed that one day this set of numbers, identical to her mother’s, would have the power to reunite a family torn apart by war…

Inspired by an incredible true story, this poignant novel tells of one woman’s fight for love, life and hope during a time of unimaginable darkness.

Ana Kaminski is pushed through the iron gates of Auschwitz beside her frightened young friend Ester Pasternak. As they reach the front of the line, Ana steps forward and quietly declares herself a midwife – and Ester her assistant. Their arms are tattooed and they’re ordered to the maternity hut. Holding an innocent new-born baby, Ana knows the fate of so many are in her hands, and vows to do everything she can to save them.

When two guards in their chilling SS uniforms march in and snatch a blond-haired baby from its mother it’s almost too much for Ana to bear. Consoling the distraught woman, Ana realises amidst the terrible heartache there is a glimmer of hope. The guards are taking the healthiest babies and placing them with German families, so they will survive. And there are whispers the war is nearly over… Ana and Ester begin to secretly tattoo little ones with their mother’s numbers, praying one day they might be reunited.

Then, early one morning, Ana notices the small bump under Ester’s thin striped clothing…

An absolutely heart-breaking and page-turning WW2 novel of one woman’s bravery and determination to bring life and hope into a broken world. Fans of The Tattooist of Auschwitz, The Alice Network and The Nightingale will be gripped.

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MY REVIEW:

Auschwitz, 1943: As I held the tiny baby in my arms, my fingers traced the black tattoo etched across her little thigh.  And I prayed that one day this set of numbers, identical to her mother’s, would have the power to reunite a family torn apart by war…

Heart-wrenching, harrowing, haunting and hopeful, The Midwife of Auschwitz is a story of love, strength and courage.  Based on an incredible true story, we follow two women as they fight to survive one of the darkest times in our history.  Opening the day Germany invades Poland we follow Ester, a young Jewish girl, and Ana, a Catholic midwife, as their worlds are turned upside down and even Ester’s wedding day isn’t safe from the wrath of the Gestapo. They are uprooted from their homes and later, in a cruel twist of fate, find themselves on the same transport to Auschwitz where they serve as midwives in a place where even the newest lives are far from sacred. 

“The invaders had taken their city and now they were going to divide its people. Some fool man had decided that the baby Ana had brought into the world eighteen years ago, naked and innocent, was in some way less valuable than any other and was out to eliminate her and her kin from the earth. This was surely not just war, but the end of civilisation. “

Anna Stuart is a skilled storyteller.  She takes us inside the hearts and minds of Ana and Ester, their sorrow, pain, terror and rage so palpable I was moved to tears.  Her evocative imagery makes the barbaric inhumanity of Auschwitz and the Ghetto feel so vivid that I could almost feel the lice crawling on my skin.  The Holocaust is a brutal, raw and heartbreaking subject, but Ms. Stuart also writes with compassion, allowing us to also see the characters’ resilience, their acts of kindness, and how they held onto humanity whenever they could.  Ana and Ester are true heroines who are written so evocatively that I could feel everything they did.  Their sorrow, pain, terror and rage leaps from the pages and they teach us about bravery again and again as they stand up against evil, risking their lives in the process. It is impossible not to be moved by the way some were so determined to bring hope to others even when everything around them seemed helpless.

“This is war and it isn’t all fought on battlefields.”

Powerful, poignant and moving, this remarkable story is one I’ll never forget.  While it isn’t an easy read, it is an incredibly important one that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Anna Stuart lives in Derbyshire with her campervan-mad husband, two hungry teenagers and a slightly loopy dog. She was hooked on books from the moment she first opened one in her cot so is thrilled to now have several of her own to her name. Having studied English literature at Cambridge university, she took an enjoyable temporary trip into the ‘real world’ as a factory planner, before returning to her first love and becoming an author. History has also always fascinated her. Living in an old house with a stone fireplace, she often wonders who sat around it before her and is intrigued by how actively the past is woven into the present, something she likes to explore in her novels. Anna loves the way that writing lets her ‘try on’ so many different lives, but her favourite part of the job is undoubtedly hearing from readers.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon*
*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

Categories
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

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Cover Reveal Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Cover Reveal: The Guest House by Robin Morgan-Bentley

Happy Friday Bibliophiles! Today I’m thrilled to have the honour of taking part in the cover reveal for The House Guest, the new book from Robin Morgan-Bentley.

SYNOPSIS:

THEY HAVE YOUR CHILD.
THEY WILL KEEP HIM SAFE.
SO LONG AS YOU DO WHAT THEY SAY…

Jamie and Victoria are expecting their first baby.

With a few weeks to go, they head off for a final weekend break in a remote part of the North Pennines. The small and peaceful guesthouse is the ideal location to unwind together before becoming parents. Upon arrival, they are greeted by Barry and Fiona, the older couple who run the guesthouse. They cook them dinner and show them to their room before retreating to bed themselves.

The next morning, Jamie and Victoria wake to find the house deserted. Barry and Fiona are nowhere to be seen. All the doors are locked. Both their mobile phones and car keys have disappeared. Even though it’s a few weeks early, Victoria knows the contractions are starting.

The baby is coming, and there’s no way out.

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How amazing does that sound? And I just love the eerie cover. I was a big fan of Robin’s debut novel, The Wreckage, so I’m excited to read this one.

The Guest House is out June 23rd 2022. You can pre-order it here*

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Robin Morgan-Bentley was born and grew up in London. After studying Modern and Medieval Languages at Cambridge University, he went on to work for Google before moving to Audible, where he has been working since 2014. His debut thriller, The Wreckage, was nominated for the CWA Dagger John Creasey New Blood Award, the CrimeFest Specsavers Debut Crime Award and Capital Crime’s Debut Book of the Year Award. Robin lives in Buckinghamshire with his husband and son.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

*This is an affiliate link

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Review: The Beresford by Will Carver

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Happy almost-publication day to this outstanding and original book. Thank you to Karen at Orenda for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Everything stays the same for the tenants of The Beresford, a grand old apartment building just outside the city … until the doorbell rings… Will Carver returns with an eerie, deliciously and uncomfortably dark standalone thriller.
 
Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.
 
There’s a routine at The Beresford.
 
For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.
 
Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. 
 
In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.
 
And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.
 
Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…
 
Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.

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MY REVIEW:

“The Beresford was old. It was grand. It evolved with the people who inhabited its rooms and apartments. It was dark and elephantine and it breathed with its people. Paint peeled and there were cracks in places. It was bricks and mortar and plaster and wood. And it was alive.”

Will Carver has done it again! The Beresford is another outstanding and original novel from one of the most unique voices in fiction. The striking, eerie and trippy cover matches what’s between it’s pages: a strange, sinister and twisted tale that is both gloriously absurd and totally plausible. 

The story opens with a murder. Sixty seconds later the doorbell rings. Thus begins a dark chain of events that many of those involved won’t survive, propelling the reader straight into the action, not letting go until the final page. I devoured this book, unable to put it down once I’d started. I was hypnotised by the dark, claustrophobic and haunting world of The Beresford and its doomed residents. 

“We all go a little mad sometimes.”

His characters are ordinary and familiar but also quirky, richly drawn and compelling. Abe Schwartz is an unassuming and unremarkable geek who is lonely and aches to be loved. You can’t help but feel for him despite knowing that beneath his façade of normality is a deeply disturbed individual hiding a dark secret. It’s this juxtaposition that makes him so fascinating and frightening. He really could be anyone and you would never expect him to be a killer. 

Blair Conroy is trying to escape her small town life and has come in search of the excitement of the city. It is she who Abe greets just seconds after committing murder, not realising she may have just sealed her fate. I liked Blair and could relate to her in many ways. I even liked her blossoming relationship with Abe and was rooting for her not to end up in the same position as the previous resident. 

Then we have Mrs. May, the lady who oversees everything that happens at The Beresford. She is a bit of an enigma, a complex character with many layers that are slowly peeled away as the story progresses. Deeply religious, she has suffered a lot of trauma and seems to genuinely care for her tenants. But she also seems terrified of the house itself. Just what does she know? And what power does this place have over her? I enjoyed trying to figure out this mysterious lady and her secrets and found her surprisingly likeable. 

“The Beresford was a halfway house for the disenchanted and disenfranchised, whose focus was to become. To be. To discover and make their impact. The inhabitants were not necessarily the outsiders, but were certainly the ones found on the periphery. The wallflowers at society’s ball.”

The house is a character in itself that feels as if it lives and breathes as much as any of the human characters. It oozes malevolence and foreboding and is hiding secrets so dark and terrifying they will send shivers down your spine. It is a place that changes those who live there, feasting on them from the inside before moving onto another unsuspecting victim.

Will Carver has quickly become one of my favourite authors. His distinctive style is like nothing else out there and when you pick up his books they are instantly recognisable as his. With his sharp, choppy prose that is both tongue in cheek and deadly serious, his bold topics, scathing and unapologetic social commentary and dark humour he creates an atmosphere of mystery and foreboding, a chill that runs through your veins and builds the tension and dread till you are on the edge of your seat with your heart pounding. 

The Beresford is one of my favourite books so far this year and my favourite book by the author to date, so it was an easy five stars from me. A seductive and unsettling read that you will love while also questioning why. When it’s over you will wonder what on earth you just read and find it impossible to forget. 

Just remember: DON’T RING THE DOORBELL.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: False Witness by Karin Slaughter

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this deliciously dark thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins UK for the proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

You thought no one saw you. You were wrong.

Leigh and her sister Callie are not bad people – but one night, more than two decades ago, they did something terrible. And the result was a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, devastated by violence.

Years later, Leigh has pushed that night from her mind and become a successful lawyer – but when she is forced to take on a new client against her will, her world begins to spiral out of control.

Because the client knows the truth about what happened twenty-three years ago. He knows what Leigh and Callie did. And unless they stop him, he’s going to tear their lives apart …

Just because you didn’t see the witness … doesn’t mean he wasn’t there.

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MY REVIEW:

When Leigh goes to meet her latest client, the successful defense lawyer is shocked to be confronted by a face from her past. A face that takes her back to that awful night twenty-three years ago when she and her sister Callie did something terrible. Something he knows they did and is determined to make them pay for….

A new Karin Slaughter book is always something to look forward to. When you pick up one of her books you know you’re getting a dark, twisted and first-class thriller that packs a punch. And her latest book certainly lives up to that expectation, giving you everything you could want in a psychological thriller and more. 

Gritty, sinister and unsettling, this isn’t a book for the faint hearted. It visits the darkest corners of human tragedy and depravity, ripples of evil flowing through every page. Brilliantly written, the author drips clues about the past and present, slowly unveiling the true horror of what Leigh and Callie are facing. It is a fuse threatening to ignite their entire lives. Despite their mistakes, you can’t help but feel for them and be in their corner, especially after meeting Andrew, a man who puts the psycho in psychological thriller. It is a complex and intricately woven story bathed in menace and fear that you won’t be able to put down.

But this is also a thriller with depth, the author addressing topics such as sexual assault, rape, trauma, neglect and drug addiction. It is clear she has done in depth research into these subjects and writes them with raw honesty, but also sensitivity and compassion. With Callie’s injury, chronic pain and addiction she even goes into the science of each issue, which helps the reader gain a greater understanding and empathy for her and others like her. And as someone struck by life-long pain and illness as a teen, I felt like she authentically captured the feeling of having your healthy life and its potential snatched away suddenly at such a young age.

The characters are troubled, fractured and compelling. Narrators Leigh and Callie are both flawed in their own ways, but are sympathetically portrayed. They perfectly highlight how two people can go through the same experiences and react very differently: while Leigh is very controlled and appears, at least on the face of things, to have risen from the ashes of her tragic beginnings, Callie took the path of searching for a way to escape her reality, eventually spiraling into addiction and is still living in a pit of despair. Their different characters are perfectly portrayed in their strikingly different voices, with Callie’s voice more stark, caustic and full of profanity than Leigh’s, fitting her perfectly. But they also both have a strength and determination that shines through all of the darkness and bad decisions and share a bond that no-one can break, not even themselves. 

While I found it easy to like and root for Leigh and Callie, the same can’t be said for some of the other characters. Their ‘mother’ Phil is awful and my heart broke for the toxic, neglectful home life they suffered. And then there’s Andrew. Andrew is a vile, twisted psychopath that made my stomach turn. Ruthless, cold hearted and calculated, he is merciless in his revenge, and enjoys decimating the lives of others. He is a terrifying creation, all the more so because he is so real. 

Strong, sharp, heart-pounding and propulsive, this is a searing and sinister thriller that will take you through every emotion. Fast-paced, intense and addictive, thrillers don’t get better than this.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Tw: Sexual assault, rape, addiction and drug use

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MEET THE AUTHOR:


Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her 21 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated COP TOWN and the instant NYT bestselling stand-alone novels PRETTY GIRLS, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, and PIECES OF HER. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project–a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. Her stand-alone novel PIECES OF HER is in development with Netflix, starring Toni Collette, and the Grant County and Will Trent series are in development for television.

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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