Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Fragile by Sarah Hilary

In

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Gothic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this chilling thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Pan Macmillan for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

Fragile is a dark, contemporary psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist from an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer who has been compared to Ruth Rendell, P. D. James and Val McDermid. Rebecca meets The Handmaid’s Tale in Sarah Hilary’s standalone breakout novel.

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MY REVIEW:

“I might wish Meagan in my past, outclassed and outpaced, but she was out there – looking for me. Hunting me, because of what I’d done. Everything I’d done.”

Mysterious, sinister and full of foreboding, Fragile is a story where nothing is quite what it seems. After fleeing her foster home, when Nell finds employment at Starling Villas she hopes she’s found her safe haven. But she soon starts to wonder if her employer is all that he appears to be. But as Nell attempts to unravel the secrets of her new home, her past is catching up with her, threatening to shatter her fragile new-found safety.

Tense, eerie and compelling, this story crackles with suspense. It had me hooked, pulling me under like I was drowning, unable to break free from its hold and reach the surface. The author explores themes of secrets, darkness, shadows, jealousy and vengeance in every facet of the book, using it in both the plot and the characters themselves, skillfully weaving in hidden layers and surprising twists. Using flashbacks she offers the reader pieces of the puzzle, allowing us to try and put it all together. But I found this to be a perplexing tale that was hard to solve and was taken in by many of the perfectly placed red herrings.

“Lyle’s had been held up as an example of how to run a good foster home. Until Little Nell had decided to bring it all crashing down.”

The story is told by two narrators, Nell Ballard and her former foster mother Meagan Flack. Nell’s tough exterior hides a deep vulnerability and pain. Her childhood was far from happy and things didn’t improve when she arrived at her foster home aged eight. Her only real joy were two of the other foster children, but a tragedy that is shrouded in mystery and secrecy has tinged even that with heartache and left her feeling unworthy of happiness. But for all her faults I liked Nell and had a soft spot for her after all she’d been through. Meanwhile Meagan is an immediately unlikeable character. She is a woman consumed by hatred, lacking empathy or compassion. All she wants is revenge on the girl she calls Little Nell for bringing her carefully constructed house of cards crashing down. It broke my heart to think of this person being in charge of the care of such vulnerable and fractured children and the additional damage she will have caused them. 

The other characters were just as well-written, fascinating and full of mystery; particularly Nell’s employer Dr Robin Wilder and his wife Carolyn. The Wilders and their home, Starling Villas, have an ominous and unsettling air about them. Carolyn in particular struck me as a coiled viper just waiting for the right time to strike. There was something calculated, cold and conniving about her and, like Nell, I didn’t like or trust her from the start. Robin was more of an enigma, his true character hidden like the secrets in his boxes.

Chilling, menacing and deftly told, this was a fantastic psychological thriller with a gothic twist. And that ending! Wow. I still have goosebumps. Fans of the genre will love this one for sure. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Hilary’s new standalone Fragile is publishing on 10 June 2021. Mick Herron called it ‘a dark river of a book’ while Erin Kelly said, ‘Timeless, tense and tender, Fragile will worm its way deep into your heart.’

Sarah’s debut Someone Else’s Skin won the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year and was a World Book Night selection and a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. In the US, it was a Silver Falchion and Macavity Award finalist. No Other Darkness was shortlisted for a Barry Award. The sixth in her DI Marnie Rome series Never Be Broken is out now. 

Sarah is one of the Killer Women, a crime writing collective supporting diversity, innovation and inclusion in their industry. She is also part of the team responsible for the St Hilda’s Crime Fiction Weekend in Oxford.

As well as writing, Sarah teaches crime fiction, and mentors its rising stars. Her short stories have won the Cheshire Prize for Literature, the Fish Criminally Short Histories Prize, and the SENSE prize.

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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
Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

Welcome to First Lines Friday where I share the first lines from one of the books on my shelves to try and tempt you to add it to yours.

“Edward Fosca was a murderer.
This was a fact. This wasn’t something Mariana knew just on an intellectual level, as an idea. Her body knew it. She felt it in her bones, along with her blood, and deep within every cell.
Edward Fosca was guilty.”

Today’s gripping first lines are taken from The Maidens, the new novel by Alex Michaelades that was published yesterday. I don’t know about you, but those lines make me want to abandon my TBR and pick up this book. In fact, if I didn’t have blog tour commitments that is exactly what I’d be doing.

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SYNOPSIS:

We all keep secrets. Even from ourselves.

St Christopher’s College, Cambridge, is a closed world to most.

For Mariana Andros – a group therapist struggling through her private grief – it’s where she met her late husband. For her niece, Zoe, it’s the tragic scene of her best friend’s murder.

As memory and mystery entangle Mariana, she finds a society full of secrets, which has been shocked to its core by the murder of one of its own.

Because behind its idyllic beauty is a web of jealousy and rage which emanates from an exclusive set of students known only as The Maidens. A group under the sinister influence of the enigmatic professor Edward Fosca.

A man who seems to know more than anyone about the murders – and the victims. And the man who will become the prime suspect in Mariana’s investigation – an obsession which will unravel everything…

The Maidens is a story of love, and of grief – of what makes us who we are, and what makes us kill.

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This is one of my most anticipated books of 2021, so I am really excited to pick this up, hopefully later this month. Is The Maidens on your TBR? Let me know in the comments?

Buy the book here*
*This is an affiliate link

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Thank you to Orion for the gorgeous finished copy of the book.

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Forever Home by Sue Watson

Published: June 4th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Domestic Fiction
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audiobook

I’m a day late as I got mixed up, but here is my stop on the blog tour for the sizzling The Forever Home. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

You thought you’d always be safe there… you were wrong.

Carly had thought they’d always live there. The beautiful Cornish cliffside house they’d taken on as a wreck, that Mark had obsessively re-designed and renovated – a project that had made him famous. It was where they’d raised their children, where they’d sat cosily on the sofa watching storms raging over the sea below. It was where they’d promised to keep each other’s secrets…

Until now. Because Mark has fallen in love. With someone he definitely shouldn’t have. Someone who isn’t Carly. And suddenly their family home doesn’t feel like so much of a safe haven.

Carly thinks forever should mean forever though: it’s her home and she’ll stay there. Even the dark family secrets it contains feel like they belong to her. But someone disagrees. And, as threats start to arrive at her front door, it becomes clear, someone will stop at nothing. Because someone wants to demolish every last thing that makes Carly feel safe. Forever.

An utterly unputdownable psychological thriller about what lies are hidden in the most beautiful homes. Perfect for fans of Date NightGone Girl and The Woman in the Window.

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MY REVIEW:

Mark and Carly Anderson are couple goals. Married for twenty-five years with two children, a beautiful house on the cliffs of Cornwall and a lucrative TV career, they and their lives are golden. Or so it seems. For all that glitters is not in fact gold, and behind the shimmering facade is a marriage full of secrets and betrayal that bubble over the surface when Mark’s scandalous affair is revealed. 

As Carly tries to put the shattered pieces of her life back together in the home she’s lived in all her life- the forever home – strange things  begin to occur.  Someone doesn’t think it should be hers. But how far will they go to take it from her?

Taut, tense and twisty, The Forever Home had me hooked. A story of secrets, betrayal and revenge, the author centres most of the action in and around the Anderson’s idyllic Cornwall home. The house reveals itself to be the perfect metaphor for the couple’s marriage: perfect and picturesque from a distance, but get up close and you find it is full of cracks and the foundations are crumbling slowly into the sea. 

Carly is the narrator of the story, not only taking us on her journey as she deals with the heartbreak and humiliation of her marriage ending, but also detailing the truth of their marriage. We learn the dark secrets they hid from the public, the lies she told to protect both their children and public image, and the ways she even deceived herself in order to be able to live that life. She is flawed but I liked her. And I think anyone who’s had to rebuild their life after a long marriage or relationship has ended will relate to her in some way. I was very intrigued about what her secret could be and loved how the author teased the reader with its existence, making you wonder if she’s the good person she appears to be. 

Mark is a fabulously unlikeable character. A man only concerned with himself, his career and his public persona, who’s narcissism and entitlement is fed by his fame and has taught him to expect to get his own way. As it became apparent that his world was also changing, I admit I enjoyed watching him flail as he desperately tried to keep control of his life.

The Forever Home is a gripping thriller that sizzles with suspense and I couldn’t put down. With perfectly timed jaw-dropping revelations, and twists and turns that kept me guessing, Watson had me on the edge of my seat. A fantastic read for anyone who loves a well-written psychological thriller.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sue Watson was a journalist on national magazines and newspapers before becoming a TV producer with the BBC. 

Now a USA Today bestselling author, Sue explores the darker side of life, writing psychological thrillers with big twists.

Originally from Manchester, she now lives with her family in leafy Worcestershire where much of her day is spent writing – and procrastinating. Her hobby is eating cake while watching diet and exercise programmes from the sofa, a skill she’s perfected after many years of practice.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon* | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo
*This is an affiliate link

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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: One Last Time by Helga Flatland

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Translated Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Anne’s diagnosis of terminal cancer shines a spotlight onto fractured relationships with her daughter and granddaughter, with surprising, heartwarming results. A moving, warmly funny novel by the Norwegian Anne Tyler.

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Anne’s life is rushing to an unexpected and untimely end. But her diagnosis of terminal cancer isn’t just a shock for her and for her daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia it shines a spotlight onto their fractured and uncomfortable relationships.

On a spur-of-the moment trip to France the three generations of women reveal harboured secrets, long-held frustrations and suppressed desires, and learn humbling and heart-warming lessons about how life should be lived when death is so close.

With all of Helga Flatland’s trademark humour, razor-sharp wit and deep empathy, One Last Time examines the great dramas that can be found in ordinary lives, asks the questions that matter to us all and ultimately celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, in an exquisite, enchantingly beautiful novel that urges us to treasure and rethink … everything.

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MY REVIEW:

Beautiful, moving and heartfelt, One Last Time is a portrait of an ordinary family, their fractured relationships and terminal illness. 

This was my first foray into Helga Flatland’s books and, as when I pick up any Orenda publication, I had high hopes. I was rewarded with a stylish and atmospheric novel full of heart, warmth and humour. 

The characters are achingly real and draw you in, making you care about them and their splintered relationships. They could be any family. Your family even. That familiarity makes it all the more potent when you read as their lives are turned upside down after Anne’s diagnosis. You can feel Anne’s struggle as she grapples with being sick for the first time in her life, her frustration as her health declines, and her pain as she comes face to face with her own mortality. We see the complexities that can exist in familial relationships, both sides of the story being shown as both Anne and Sigrid tell their story and recollect their difficult past. The author never takes sides, giving voice to both women’s pain, frustration and regret. 

It takes skill to make a book centered around terminal illness something beautiful, elegant and funny, but Flatland pulls it off with aplomb. She avoids it feeling morose, instead making the story poignant and emotionally resonant. One Last Time is a truly absorbing and thought-provoking novel that I highly recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Helga Flatland is one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize. She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies. A Modern Family marked Helga’s first English publication when it was released in 2019, achieving exceptional critical acclaim and sales, and leading to Helga being dubbed the ‘Norwegian Anne Tyler’. One Last Time is her second book to be translated into English (by Rosie Hedger), and published in 2021.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | 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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Published: May 27th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy, Horror Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Fantasy Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this enchanting tale. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Voyager UK for the gorgeous proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

Within the boroughs of London, nestled among its streets, hides another city, filled with magic.

‘Magic and love. Love and magic. They destroy everything in the end …’

Anna’s Aunt has always warned her of the dangers of magic. Its twists. Its knots. Its deadly consequences.

Now Anna counts down the days to the ceremony that will bind her magic forever.

Until she meets Effie and Attis.

They open her eyes to a London she never knew existed. A shop that sells memories. A secret library where the librarian feeds off words. A club where revellers lose themselves in a haze of spells.

But as she is swept deeper into this world, Anna begins to wonder if her Aunt was right all along.

Is her magic a gift … or a curse?

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MY REVIEW:

“Goddess of Silence and Secrets: Seal our mouths, so we can’t speak. Pierce our eyes, so we can’t seek. Knot our hearts, so we can’t feel. Bind our spells; to you we kneel. What is forgotten, can’t be known. What isn’t planted, can’t be sown. Lock the door and turn the key. We bear our magic silently. – The Binders’ Blessing”

This first installment in the new Language of Magic series tells the story of Anna, an orphaned fifteen-year-old who lives with her Aunt, Vivienne. They are witches, but Aunt believes magic to be dangerous and deadly, and has brought Anna up to fear her powers. When she turns sixteen Anna will undergo the Knotting ceremony and become a Binder like her Aunt, no longer able to use her magic. But when her late mother’s best friend Selene moves back to London with her teenage daughter Effie and Attis, a family friend, Anna’s eyes are opened to a world she’s never known. 

Meanwhile, a group of six women are found hanged at Big Ben, sending her Aunt and the Binders into a frenzy. As Anna begins to question the things she has been told about both magic and her past, she starts to wonder if there could be a future out there for her that doesn’t include having her magic bound. 

“Whispers divide, in secrets we thrive.”

Before we talk about the book we need to talk about the cover. Both the proof and the finished version are so beautiful that it is impossible to resist their allure. But what about what’s inside? 

Threadneedle is a story of secrets, lies and self-discovery interwoven with a hidden magical world. It opens with an eerie and macabre scene that gives the book an air of ominous foreboding and mystery. After that, things slow down a little as the author sets the scene for the reader. But when I got to about a fifth of the way through, the pace picked up and the story was soon sizzling with tension, twists and mischief.

Magic had beckoned its hand and she had followed. It was a beginning — the door was ever so slightly ajar.” 

Anna is a very sheltered character. She has been controlled and mistreated by her Aunt all her life, even believing it is wrong to have friends. The author immerses the reader in the indoctrination Anna has been subjected to by starting each chapter with a quote from The Book of the Binders and the teachings are woven into every thread of the story, omnipresent and impossible to escape, enabling you to understand Anna’s feelings of fear and powerlessness. When the outgoing and spirited Effie and Attis come into her life, they are initially unwelcome and a danger to her protected bubble. But once Effie has identified Rowan and Miranda as witches and the four of them come together, things slowly change. For the first time in her life Anna has friends, feels happy, and is making some of her own choices; though she is still terrified of the consequences should her Aunt find out. I enjoyed watching Anna’s journey as she grappled with the lies she’s been told, began to break free of her Aunt’s control and finally blossomed into her own person. 

Aunt Vivienne is a truly vile character. She is so well-written that I despised her and wished for her downfall. In fact she was so evil that I felt like if you unzipped her a demon would emerge. The women of the Binders have an equally malevolent and sinister vibe and together they would send shivers down my spine as they subjected poor Anna to yet more trauma. 

“This was magic without bounds, without rules, magic fed by something else entirely.” 

The magical world that the author has created is so believable that I accepted it without hesitation. I could imagine all of these secret, mystical places hidden in London and the witches moving amongst ordinary humans without detection. There is so much potential in this world and the characters for her future books and I’m excited to see where she takes it. 

A magical, mysterious and bewitching story full of serpentine twists, Threadneedle is an enthralling story that I would highly recommend. I can’t wait to read more of this exciting new series. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Cari Thomas grew up in the Wye Valley area of Wales and, after studying English Literature & Creative Writing at Warwick University and Magazine Journalism at the Cardiff School of Journalism, moved to London. She worked as a journalist and at a creative agency, before finally doing what she’d always wanted to do: quit her job and write a book about magic.

The result is Threadneedle, her debut novel and the first in her Language of Magic series. Be introduced to a world of wild, ancient witchcraft hidden within today’s London; where libraries made of books breathe dusty pages beneath the city, where witch clubs serve up magical cocktails and vintage shops sell memories. A world where magic gleams light and very, very dark.

Cari now lives in Bristol with her husband and son. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Bookshop.org* | Amazon* | Google 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
Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

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

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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MEET THE NARRATOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Line Friday

First Lines Friday

Welcome to First Lines Friday where I share the first lines from one of the books on my shelves to try and tempt you to add it to yours.

London, 1931.
There is a boy outside her daughter’s window.
Wendy feels it, like a trickle of starlight whispering in through a gap, a change in the very pressure and composition of the air. She knows, as sure as her own blood and bones, and the knowledge sends her running. Her hairbrush clatters to the floor in her wake, her bare feet fly over carpeted runners and slap wooden floorboards, past her husband’s room and to her daughter’s door.
It is not just any boy. it’s the boy, Peter.”

Today’s exhilarating first lines are taken from Wendy, Darling by A. C. Wise. I received this gorgeous finished copy yesterday and am so excited to start reading, particularly after those opening lines.

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SYNOPSIS:

A lush, feminist re-imagining on what happened to Wendy after Neverland, for fans of Circe and The Mere Wife.

For those that lived there, Neverland was a children’s paradise. No rules, no adults, only endless adventure and enchanted forests – all led by the charismatic boy who would never grow old.

But Wendy Darling grew up. She left Neverland and became a woman, a mother, a patient, and a survivor. Because Neverland isn’t as perfect as she remembers. There’s darkness at the heart of the island, and now Peter Pan has returned to claim a new Wendy for his lost boys…

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As soon as I heard about this one I knew I had to read it. I can’t wait to take a whole new look at this familiar and timeless story.

Thank you Titan Books for my gifted copy. Out June 1st, you can buy it here*
*this is an affiliate link

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

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – June 2021

How are we almost half way through the year already? Crazy! June is almost upon us and it’s a great month for books. A few of these are ones that are part of my most anticipated books of the year, and I’m really excited to finally own and read them soon.


The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Published: June 1st, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Genre: Literary Fiction, Suspense

SYNOPSIS:
‘The year’s most buzzed-about debut’ 

Twenty-six-year-old editorial assistant Nella Rogers is tired of being the only Black employee at Wagner Books. Fed up with the isolation and the micro-aggressions, she’s thrilled when Hazel starts working in the cubicle beside hers. They’ve only just started comparing natural hair care regimens, though, when a string of uncomfortable events cause Nella to become Public Enemy Number One and Hazel, the Office Darling.

Then the notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk: LEAVE WAGNER. NOW.

It’s hard to believe Hazel is behind these hostile messages. But as Nella starts to spiral and obsess over the sinister forces at play, she soon realises that there is a lot more at stake than her career.

A whip-smart and dynamic thriller and sly social commentary, The Other Black Girl will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last twist.

Buy here*


The Cookbook of Common Prayer by Francesca Haig

Published: June 3rd, 2021
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
When Gill and Gabe’s elder son drowns overseas, they decide they must hide the truth from their desperately unwell teenaged daughter. But as Gill begins to send letters from her dead son to his sister, the increasingly elaborate lie threatens to prove more dangerous than the truth.

A novel about family, food, grief, and hope, this gripping, lyrical story moves between Tasmania and London, exploring the many ways that a family can break down – and the unexpected ways that it can be put back together.

Buy here*


The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

Published: June 8th, 2021
Publisher: Del Rey
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Jewish Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
In her forest-veiled pagan village, Évike is the only woman without power, making her an outcast clearly abandoned by the gods. When soldiers arrive from the Holy Order of Woodsmen to claim a pagan girl for the king’s blood sacrifice, Évike is betrayed by her fellow villagers and surrendered.

But when monsters attack the Woodsmen and their captive en route, slaughtering everyone but Évike and the cold, one-eyed captain, they have no choice but to rely on each other. Except he’s no ordinary Woodsman – he’s the disgraced prince, Gáspár Bárány, whose father needs pagan magic to consolidate his power. Gáspár fears that his cruelly zealous brother plans to seize the throne and instigate a violent reign that would damn the pagans and the Yehuli alike. As the son of a reviled foreign queen, Gáspár understands what it’s like to be an outcast, and he and Évike make a tenuous pact to stop his brother.

As their mission takes them from the bitter northern tundra to the smog-choked capital, their mutual loathing slowly turns to affection, bound by a shared history of alienation and oppression. However, trust can easily turn to betrayal, and as Évike reconnects with her estranged father and discovers her own hidden magic, she and Gáspár need to decide whose side they’re on, and what they’re willing to give up for a nation that never cared for them at all.

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Mrs England by Stacey Halls

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
From the bestselling author of The Familiars and The Foundling comes Stacey Halls’s most compelling and ambitious novel to date.

‘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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The Maidens by Alex Michelades

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller

SYNOPSIS:
From the author of the global #1 bestselling debut The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding literary thriller which weaves together Greek mythology, psychology, and murder…

St Christopher’s College, Cambridge, is a closed world to most.

For Mariana Andros – a group therapist struggling through her private grief – it’s where she met her late husband. For her niece, Zoe, it’s the tragic scene of her best friend’s murder.As memory and mystery entangle Mariana, she finds a society full of secrets, which has been shocked to its core by the murder of one of its own.

Because behind its idyllic beauty is a web of jealousy and rage which emanates from an exclusive set of students known only as The Maidens. A group under the sinister influence of the enigmatic professor Edward Fosca.A man who seems to know more than anyone about the murders – and the victims. And the man who will become the prime suspect in Mariana’s investigation – an obsession which will unravel everything…

The Maidens is a story of love, and of grief – of what makes us who we are, and what makes us kill.

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The Good Neighbours by Nina Allan

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Riverrun
Genre: Fairy Tale

SYNOPSIS:
Cath is a photographer hoping to go freelance, working in a record shop to pay the rent and eking out her time with her manager Steve. He thinks her photography is detective work, drawing attention to things that would otherwise pass unseen and maybe he’s right . . .

Starting work on her new project – photographing murder houses – she returns to the island where she grew up for the first time since she left for Glasgow when she was just eighteen. The Isle of Bute is embedded in her identity, the draughty house that overlooked the bay, the feeling of being nowhere, the memory of her childhood friend Shirley Craigie and the devastating familicide of her family by the father, John Craigie.

Arriving at the Craigie house, Cath finds that it’s occupied by Financial Analyst Alice Rahman. Her bid to escape the city lifestyle, the anxiety she felt in that world, led her to leave London and settle on the island. The strangeness of the situation brings them closer, leading them to reinvestigate the Craigie murder. Now, within the walls of the Craigie house, Cath can uncover the nefarious truths and curious nature of John Craigie: his hidden obsession with the work of Richard Dadd and the local myths of the fairy folk.

The Good Neighbours is an enquiry into the unknowability of the past and our attempts to make events fit our need to interpret them; the fallibility of recollection; the power of myths in shaping human narratives. Nina Allan skilfully weaves the imagined and the real to create a magically haunting story of memory, obsession and the liminal spaces that our minds frequent to escape trauma.

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Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Mystery, Humorous Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
When Rachel’s baby is stillborn, she becomes obsessed with the idea that saving a stranger s life months earlier is to blame. An unforgettable, heart-wrenching, warm and funny debut.

Mum-to-be Rachel did everything right, but it all went wrong. Her son, Luke, was stillborn and she finds herself on maternity leave without a baby, trying to make sense of her loss.

When a misguided well-wisher tells her that ‘everything happens for a reason’, she becomes obsessed with finding that reason, driven by grief and convinced that she is somehow to blame. She remembers that on the day she discovered her pregnancy, she’d stopped a man from jumping in front of a train, and she s now certain that saving his life cost her the life of her son.

Desperate to find him, she enlists an unlikely ally in Lola, an Underground worker, and Lola’s seven-year-old daughter, Josephine, and eventually tracks him down, with completely unexpected results…

Both a heart-wrenchingly poignant portrait of grief and a gloriously uplifting and disarmingly funny story of a young woman’s determination, Everything Happens for a Reason is a bittersweet, life- affirming read and, quite simply, unforgettable.

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This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Urban Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
When the mother of an autistic young man hires a call girl to make him happy, three lives collide in unexpected and moving ways … changing everything. A devastatingly beautiful, rich and thought-provoking novel that will warm and break your heart…

Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely.

Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy … she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants.

Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.

When these three lives collide – intertwine in unexpected ways – everything changes. For everyone.

A topical and moving drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family … to survive … This Is How We Are Human is a searching, rich and thought-provoking novel with an emotional core that will warm and break your heart.

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Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

Fragile is a dark, contemporary psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist from an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer who has been compared to Ruth Rendell, P. D. James and Val McDermid. Rebecca meets The Handmaid’s Tale in Sarah Hilary’s standalone breakout novel.

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Unwell Women by Elionor Cleghorn

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: W&N
Genre: History, Society and Culture, Gender Studies

SYNOPSIS:
‘We are taught that medicine is the art of solving our body’s mysteries. And as a science, we expect medicine to uphold the principles of evidence and impartiality. We want our doctors to listen to us and care for us as people, but we also need their assessments of our pain and fevers, aches and exhaustion to be free of any prejudice about who we are, our gender, or the colour of our skin. But medicine carries the burden of its own troubling history. The history of medicine, of illness, is a history of people, of their bodies and their lives, not just physicians, surgeons, clinicians and researchers. And medical progress has always reflected the realities of a changing world, and the meanings of being human.’

In Unwell Women Elinor Cleghorn unpacks the roots of the perpetual misunderstanding, mystification and misdiagnosis of women’s bodies, and traces the journey from the ‘wandering womb’ of ancient Greece, the rise of witch trials in Medieval Europe, through the dawn of Hysteria, to modern day understandings of autoimmune diseases, the menopause and conditions like endometriosis. Packed with character studies of women who have suffered, challenged and rewritten medical orthodoxy – and drawing on her own experience of un-diagnosed Lupus disease – this is a ground-breaking and timely exposé of the medical world and woman’s place within it.

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The Mad Women’s Ball by Victoria Mas

Published: June 17th, 2021
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Historical Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
The Salpêtrière asylum, 1885. All of Paris is in thrall to Doctor Charcot and his displays of hypnotism on women who have been deemed mad or hysterical, outcasts from society. But the truth is much more complicated – for these women are often simply inconvenient, unwanted wives or strong-willed daughters. Once a year a grand ball is held at the hospital. For the Parisian elite, the Mad Women’s Ball is the highlight of the social season; for the women themselves, it is a rare moment of hope.

Geneviève is a senior nurse. After the childhood death of her sister, she has shunned religion and placed her faith in Doctor Charcot and his new science. But everything begins to change when she meets Eugénie, the 19-year-old daughter of a bourgeois family. Because Eugénie has a secret, and she needs Geneviève’s help. Their fates will collide on the night of the Mad Women’s Ball…

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Animal by Lisa Taddeo

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Circus
Genre: Literary Fiction, Romantic Suspense

SYNOPSIS:
I drove myself out of New York City where a man shot himself in front of me. He was a gluttonous man and when his blood came out it looked like the blood of a pig.

That’s a cruel thing to think, I know. He did it in a restaurant where I was having dinner with another man, another married man.

Do you see how this is going? But I wasn’t always that way.

I am depraved. I hope you like me.

MEET JOAN: SUMMER 2021

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False Witness by Karin Slaughter

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

SYNOPSIS:
They thought they’d got away with it … they 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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Hostage by Clare Mackintosh

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Adventure Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
You can save hundreds of lives.
Or the one that matters most . . .

The atmosphere on board the first non-stop flight from London to Sydney is electric. Celebrities are rumoured to be among the passengers in business class, and the world is watching the landmark journey.

Flight attendant Mina is trying to focus on the passengers, instead of her troubled five-year-old daughter back at home – or the cataclysmic problems in her marriage.

But soon after the plane takes off, Mina receives a chilling anonymous note. Someone wants to make sure the plane never reaches its destination. They’re demanding her cooperation . . . and they know exactly how to get it.

It’s twenty hours to landing.
A lot can happen in twenty hours . . .

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Truth Or Dare by M. J. Arlidge

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Hardboiled, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:
DO YOU WANT TO PLAY THE GAME?

A crimewave sweeps through the city and no-one is safe. An arson at the docks. A carjacking gone wrong. A murder in a country park. What connects all these crimes without causes, which leave no clues?

Detective Inspector Helen Grace faces the rising tide of cases which threatens to drown the city. But each crime is just a piece of a puzzle which is falling into place.

And when it becomes clear just how twisted and ingenious this web of crime is, D.I. Grace will realise that it may be impossible to stop it . . .

THE BEST BOOK YET FROM THE MASTER OF THE KILLER THRILLER.

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The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

Published: June 24th, 2021
Published: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Domestic Fiction, Dystopian Fiction, Science Fiction, Saga

SYNOPSIS:
HER WORLD FELL TO PIECES.

FROM THE BONES SHE BUILT A NEW LIFE.

Ruth lives in the heart of the city. Working, drinking, falling in love: the rhythm of her vivid and complicated life is set against a background hum of darkening news reports from which she deliberately turns away.

When a new romance becomes claustrophobic, Ruth chooses to leave behind the failing relationship, but also her beloved friends and family, and travels to the other side of the world in pursuit of her dream life working with whales in New Zealand.

But when Ruth arrives, the news cycle she has been ignoring for so long is now the new reality. Far from home and with no real hope of survival, she finds herself climbing into the mouth of a beached whale alongside a stranger. When she emerges, it is to a landscape that bears no relation to the world they knew before.

When all has been razed to the ground, what does it mean to build a life?

The Stranding is a story about the hope that can remain even when the world is changed beyond recognition.

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The Island Home by Libby Page

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Lorna’s world is small but safe.

She loves her daughter, and the two of them is all that matters. But after nearly twenty years, she and Ella are suddenly leaving London for the Isle of Kip, the tiny remote Scottish island where Lorna grew up.

Alice’s world is tiny but full.

She loves the community on Kip, her yoga classes drawing women across the tiny island together. Now Lorna’s arrival might help their family finally mend itself – even if forgiveness means returning to the past…

So with two decades, hundreds of miles and a lifetime’s worth of secrets between Lorna and the island, can coming home mean starting again?

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Yours Cheerfully by AJ Pearce

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction, Humorous Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story

SYNOPSIS:
From the author of Sunday Times Bestseller, Dear Mrs Bird, comes a much hoped-for follow up, Yours Cheerfully. Charming, heart-warming and hilarious, Yours Cheerfully is just the tonic we’ve all been waiting for.

London, September, 1941.

Following the departure of the formidable Editor, Henrietta Bird, from Woman’s Friend magazine, things are looking up for Emmeline Lake as she takes on the challenge of becoming a young wartime advice columnist. Her relationship with boyfriend Charles is blossoming, while Emmy’s best friend Bunty, is still reeling from the very worst of the Blitz, but bravely looking to the future. Together, the friends are determined to Make a Go of It.

When the Ministry of Information calls on Britain’s women’s magazines to help recruit desperately needed female workers to the war effort, Emmy is thrilled to be asked to step up and help. But when she and Bunty meet a young woman who shows them the very real challenges that women war workers face, Emmy must tackle a life-changing dilemma between doing her duty, and standing by her friends.

Every bit as funny, heartwarming, and touching as AJ Pearce’s debut, Dear Mrs BirdYours Cheerfully is a celebration of friendship, a testament to the strength of women and the importance of lifting each other up, even in the most challenging times.

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The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Hutchinson
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
‘So that was all it took,’ I thought. ‘That was all it took for me to feel like I had all the power in the world. One morning, one moment, one yellow-haired boy. It wasn’t so much after all.’

Chrissie knows how to steal sweets from the shop without getting caught, the best hiding place for hide-and-seek, the perfect wall for handstands.

Now she has a new secret. It gives her a fizzing, sherbet feeling in her belly. She doesn’t get to feel power like this at home, where food is scarce and attention scarcer.

Fifteen years later, Julia is trying to mother her five-year-old daughter, Molly. She is always worried – about affording food and school shoes, about what the other mothers think of her. Most of all she worries that the social services are about to take Molly away.

That’s when the phone calls begin, which Julia is too afraid to answer, because it’s clear the caller knows the truth about what happened all those years ago.

And it’s time to face the truth: is forgiveness and redemption ever possible for someone who has killed?

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Ruby Falls by Deborah Goodrich Royce

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Post Hill Press
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction

SYNOPSIS:
Named one of the most riveting books of Spring 2021 by Veranda Magazine!

Like the chilling psychological thriller The Silent Patient, Deborah Goodrich Royce’s Ruby Falls is a nail-biting tale of a fragile young actress, the new husband she barely knows, and her growing suspicion that the secrets he harbors may eclipse her own.

On a brilliantly sunny July day, six-year-old Ruby is abandoned by her father in the suffocating dark of a Tennessee cave. Twenty years later, transformed into soap opera star Eleanor Russell, she is fired under dubious circumstances. Fleeing to Europe, she marries a glamorous stranger named Orlando Montague and keeps her past closely hidden.

Together, Eleanor and Orlando start afresh in LA. Setting up house in a storybook cottage in the Hollywood Hills, Eleanor is cast in a dream role—the lead in a remake of Rebecca. As she immerses herself in that eerie gothic tale, Orlando’s personality changes, ghosts of her past re-emerge, and Eleanor fears she is not the only person in her marriage with a secret.

In this thrilling and twisty homage to Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca, the story ricochets through the streets of Los Angeles, a dangerous marriage to an exotic stranger, and the mind of a young woman whose past may not release her.

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

Published: June 29th, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural

SYNOPSIS:
DI Kate Young can’t trust anybody. Not even herself.

In the bleak countryside around Blithfield Reservoir, a serial murderer and rapist is leaving a trail of bloodshed. His savage calling card: the word ‘MINE’ carved into each of his victims.

DI Kate Young struggles to get the case moving―even when one of the team’s own investigators is found dead in a dumpster. But Kate is battling her own demons. Obsessed with exposing Superintendent John Dickson and convinced there’s a conspiracy running deep in the force, she no longer knows who to trust. Kate’s crusade has already cost her dearly. What will she lose next?

When her stepsister spills a long-buried secret, Kate realises she’s found the missing link―now she must prove it before the killer strikes again. With enemies closing in on all sides, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to bring them down. But time is running out, and Kate’s past has pushed her to the very edge. Can she stop herself from falling?

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

The July Girls by Phoebe Locke

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Published: June 25th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this gripping thriller . Thank you to Antonia at Headline for the invitation to take part and my gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Every year, on the same night in July, a woman is taken from the streets of London; snatched by a killer who moves through the city like a ghost.

Addie has a secret. On the morning of her tenth birthday, four bombs were detonated across the capital. That night her dad came home covered in blood. She thought he was hurt in the attacks – but then her sister Jessie found a missing woman’s purse hidden in his room.

Jessie says they mustn’t tell. She says there’s nothing to worry about. But when she takes a job looking after the woman’s baby daughter, Addie starts to realise that her big sister doesn’t always tell her the whole story. And that the secrets they’re keeping may start costing lives . . .

MY REVIEW:

“There is a moment with each of them. A look in their eyes when they know it’s over. He likes to watch that realisation finally dawn, see them accept that there is no escape. The feeling of it is electric.”

“Soon he begins to look forward to the day when he can take the next.”

 

Every year, on the same night in July, a killer takes a woman from the streets of London. He is invisible, moving through the city in the shadows. On the same night one year, Addie’s father comes home covered in blood. At first she assumes the blood is from being caught up in the bombs that exploded in the city that morning, but when she and her older sister find a missing woman’s purse hidden behind his bed, she begins to wonder what really happened.

Mysterious and compelling, this had me hooked from beginning to end. The story is told from the perspective of Addie, following her and older sister Jessie over the course of twelve years as they navigate life under the shadow of their father’s suspected involvement in a series of murders. 

I loved how this book was written. From the start there was an unsettling feeling and throughout the book I got a sense of something else lurking beneath the surface, something with the potential to shatter everything we thought we knew. These feelings were only heightened as the story went on and I read with baited breath, wondering if my suspicions would be proved right or it was a clever ploy by the author to throw me off track. The best part of the writing for me was the author’s inclusion of real events that shook London, such as the 7/7 bombings and the shooting of Mark Duggan, along with the extracts from a book about the case, that gave the novel a true crime feel that was so authentic I often forgot I was reading a work of fiction. I also loved the menacing voice of the killer that is included in short, sporadic chapters. Each time we would hear from his perspective the hairs on the back of my neck would stand on end and I would get chills; exactly what you want when you read the voice of evil. 

Addie was a compelling and sympathetic protagonist. As the life of her dysfunctional family became increasingly shrouded in secrets and lies, we see her barely holding on by a thread. As she desperately tries to uncover the truth, becoming increasingly haunted and anxious, even developing OCD tendencies. Her relationship with Jessie, which should be her solace, is also riddled with secrets and lies, leaving her feeling unmoored and lost. The author made me feel like I was right there beside her every step of the way and as eager as she was to learn the truth about her family and the murders.

Tense, twisty and engaging, this had me on the edge of my seat and guessing right until the final pages. The July Girls is a fantastic thriller that will leave you breathless.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Phoebe Locke is a full-time writer, part-time doer of odd jobs. These jobs have included Christmas Elf, cocktail waitress, and childminder. Her first novel (written as Nicci Cloke), Someday Find Me, was published in 2012 and her second, Lay Me Down, in 2015. She has also written three novels for young adults: Follow Me Back (2016), Close Your Eyes (2017) and Toxic (2018).

She lives and writes in Cambridgeshire, and her debut psychological thriller is The Tall Man.

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Blog Tours book reviews

Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly

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Photo Credit: Agora Books

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Agora Books
Format: Kindle, Paperback
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse

Welcome to my spot on the blog tour for this compelling debut. Thank  you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the novel.

SYNOPSIS:

Over a decade ago, Heidi was the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her younger sister missing, and her best friend dead. But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her friends and family and no recollection of the crime.

Now, it’s all starting to come back.

As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in.

When the truth is worse than fiction, is the past worth reliving?

An addictive thriller about a case gone cold and the dangers lurking on our doorsteps, Monstrous Souls will have you gripped to the very end.

MY REVIEW:

“It had been a policewoman who had eventually discovered them – not on an illicit camp-out as they had assumed, but a devastating scene of death.” 

At thirteen-years-old Heidi was the lone survivor of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her little sister missing and her best friend dead. She has no memories of that day or her life leading up to it. Now, just over a decade later, small fragments of memories are beginning to reappear. As Heidi tries to put the pieces of her past together she finds herself in danger from those who want to keep the truth about that night hidden. But she is determined to find out what happened. Whatever the cost.

“I don’t like the way the memories come, like a letter bomb on the doormat. I don’t like the way they are tagged to feelings of grief and rage and self-recrimination. I am never prepared.”

Monstrous Souls is a pacy, gripping and layered thriller that was hard to put down. The story moves between the dual timelines and multiple narrators as we are given glimpses of events leading up to the night Heidi was attacked and follow her fifteen years later as she begins to regain her memories. As terrible truths are slowly unveiled it is soon clear that there is much more to the events of that night than anyone first imagined.

In this novel the author doesn’t shy away from the exploration of deep and difficult subject matters. She examines our psychology, the things we hide from the world, our deepest secrets and fears, and the effects they have on our actions and relationships with others. She also tackles the difficult subject of abuse with sensitivity, avoiding graphic descriptions while still managing to convey the full horror and depravity. She also shines a light on the reasons victims stay quiet, the guilt they feel and the long-lasting effects of abuse exploring if there are fates that can be worse than death.

“I don’t want to think about these places, about this other life she has to endure… what I have seen in the photograph seeps through me like a toxin.” 

For me the characters are a vital part of any book and the characters this author created were authentic and compelling. I found Heidi to be a very sympathetic and likeable character with an interesting character arc as her memories returned. We witness a seemingly fragile woman emerge into someone with great strength. In the flashbacks we witness the usual teenage angst and squabbles with her best friend become something much more serious when Nina confides in her. Heidi is filled with turmoil as she’s torn between the solace and security of her home and wanting to help her friend escape her private hell. We watch her anguish over how to help and if she should betray her friend’s confidence to do so. Nina is definitely the character I had a soft spot for. Between her awful homelife, the horrors she endures and the knowledge that she is brutally murdered so young, I desperately wished I could save her. Her sorrow, anguish and desolation lept from the page and left me heartbroken.

While I enjoyed all the different perspectives, the mysterious and sinister person stalking Heidi provides some of the best narration of the whole book and his story arc was probably the most nuanced of them all. When his identity was revealed I learned that all my predictions were wrong and my jaw hit the floor.

Monstrous Souls is a sensational, twisty and riveting debut that will have you hooked from start to finish.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Rebecca Kelly Author Photo

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Kelly was brought up with books but denied the pleasure of a television. Although she hated this at the time, she now considers it to have contributed to a life-long passion for reading and writing.

After a misspent education, Rebecca had a variety of jobs. She’s spent the last years raising her children but has lately returned to her first love – writing.

Rebecca lives in the UK with her husband and youngest son and an over-enthusiastic black Labrador, who gives her writing tips.

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