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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

BLOG TOUR: The Ugly Truth by L.C. North

Published: March 16th, 2023
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Episoltary Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for the darkly voyeuristic The Ugly Truth. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part, and Bantam press for the proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘A whip-smart and ingenious thriller that homes in on our toxic addiction to celebrity’ Lesley Kara, bestselling author of THE RUMOUR

Melanie Lange has disappeared.

Her father, Sir Peter Lange, says she is a danger to herself and has been admitted to a private mental health clinic.

Her ex-husband, Finn, and best friend, Nell, say she has been kidnapped.

The media will say whichever gets them the most views.

But whose side are you on?
#SaveMelanie
#HelpPeter

Told via interviews, transcripts and diary entries, The Ugly Truth is a shocking and addictive thriller about fame, power and the truth behind the headlines.

‘#FreeBritney meets The Appeal in this addictively unique thriller. Get ready to be utterly hooked’ Jack Jordan, author of Do No Harm

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MY REVIEW

“My father is keeping me prisoner. I don’t think I’ll ever be free again. ” 

Melanie Lange has not been seen in public since the day before her 33rd birthday. The next day, the influencer, businesswoman and former modeposted a video to her YouTube channel saying she was taking a break from public life. She hasn’t been seen since. 

Six months later videos surface of Melanie claiming she’s being kept prisoner by her father and begging for help. They spark an online movement to save her. But while many believe her claims, there are just as many others who believe her father, business tycoon Sir Peter Lange, who says she’s safe in a private mental health clinic.

It’s time to find out which team you are on.

#SaveMelanie or #HelpPeter

Addictive, unique and darkly voyeuristic, The Ugly Truth is a topical thriller exploring the toxic side of celebrity and social media. Soaked in salacious gossip, sensational headlines, it keeps you guessing right up until its metaphoric punch-to-the-gut finale. So buckle up and hold on tight, because you’re in for one hell of a ride!

I’d heard a lot of great things about L.C. North’s books, but this was my first time reading one. Now I’m wondering what took me so long?! Fast-paced, skillfully written and scalpel sharp,  this character-laden epistolary novel had me hooked from start to finish. North perfectly portrays the poisoned chalice of modern celebrity in this thought-provoking thriller; exploring our growing obsession with every facet of celebrities’ lives, our harsh judgement of their every move, and the toll of media harassment. She also explores topics such as trauma, grief, anxiety and depression, examining the toll the pressure of the spotlight puts on those illuminated by it. It really makes you wonder if the price of fame and fortune is too high. It feels part #FreeBritney and part ‘I Am Paris’, adding to the authentic and familiar vibe you get as you’re reading. 

The story is told from multiple points of view, seamlessly moving between the different voices, formats and timelines. This immerses you in the story and creates an atmosphere that makes the reader feel like you are part of the action, rather than just reading a book. The multiple narrators also help to add confusion about who is telling the truth, who you can trust, who the good guys are, and who are the villains. I found my thoughts on this vacillated throughout the book and I really enjoyed the tension this extra uncertainty brought to the story. The characters are all messy as hell, unsympathetic and not that likeable, but fun and compelling to read. And while Melanie is the centre of the storyline, she feels quite enigmatic, being seen mostly through the eyes of the other characters. There is no denying her glamour and allure, but she feels ‘other’, lost, and out of reach. Though I was desperate to know the truth of what had happened to her, I only found myself connecting and relating with her as she became more human than ‘celebrity’. I think there’s a lesson in that…

Jaw-dropping, original and totally bingeable, this cautionary tale is a must for every thriller lover’s TBR. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

L.C. North studied psychology at university before pursuing a career in Public Relations. Her first book club thriller – The Ugly Truth – combines her love of psychology and her fascination with the celebrities in the public eye. L.C. North is currently working on her second novel, and when she’s not writing, she co-hosts the crime thriller podcast, In Suspense. L.C. North lives on the Suffolk borders with her family. L.C. North is the pen name of Lauren North.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023 Support Debuts

BLOG TOUR: All the Little Bird-Hearts by Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow

Published: March 2nd, 2023
Publisher: Tinder Press
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the extraordinary All The Little Bird-Hearts. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to tkae part and to Tinder Press for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Glorious. Unforgettable’ Melissa Harrison
‘Funny, lyrical, deft and devastating’ Amy Sackville
‘A distinct and poetic new voice’ Clare Pollard

I lived for and loved a bird-heart that summer; I only knew it afterwards.

Sunday Forrester lives with her sixteen-year-old daughter, Dolly, in the house she grew up in. She does things more carefully than most people. On quiet days, she must eat only white foods. Her etiquette handbook guides her through confusing social situations, and to escape, she turns to her treasury of Sicilian folklore. The one thing very much out of her control is Dolly – her clever, headstrong daughter, now on the cusp of leaving home.

Into this carefully ordered world step Vita and Rollo, a couple who move in next door, disarm Sunday with their charm, and proceed to deliciously break just about every rule in Sunday’s book. Soon they are in and out of each others’ homes, and Sunday feels loved and accepted like never before. But beneath Vita and Rollo’s polish lies something else, something darker. For Sunday has precisely what Vita has always wanted for herself: a daughter of her own.

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MY REVIEW:

“I lived for and loved a bird-heart that summer, I only knew it afterwards.”

An enthralling and beautifully crafted debut, this book stole my heart. Filled with joy, anguish, judgement, honesty, and love, this is a story about being an outsider,  and about overcoming the difficulties life throws at us. Lyrical and poetic, it is so exquisitely written that I lost myself in the prose and could have highlighted every word. Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow is a phenomenal new talent and definitely one to watch. I still can’t believe this is a debut novel  and am very excited to see what she writes next. 

“I still believed, then, that my way of not seeing only made me strange and unpopular; I did not know, then, that it blinded me to all the fires that were not in the fields.”

And while the writing is a huge part of the beauty of this book, what makes it extraordinary for me is the protagonist, Sunday Forrester. Sunday is the outsider. The oddity. The one who is always misunderstood. But inside she is kind, loving, genuine and funny; the sort of person we should aspire to be. Sunday also has autism. And she takes centre stage in the book, telling her own story in the first person; her acerbic, eye-opening and witty observations permeating the narrative. This puts the reader inside her head, offering us a unique insight into how it feels to see the world differently and giving us the chance to experience what it’s like to navigate a world you don’t really understand. I laughed with her, cried with her, felt her joy, and felt her pain. She has taught me so much about humanity and acceptance and is now one of my favourite protagonists. 

“I do not expect to know another Vita. She was a person-shaped precious stone, something mined and brought up to the surface to live among the pebbles, a shiny reminder of our comparative dullness. Where I am pale and insubstantial, Vita was dark and deliberately formed, as real as a piece of marble.” 

The other characters were also brilliantly written. I loved watching the friendship between Sunday and Vita grow, how Vita opened Sunday up to things she had never experienced, and how she was the yin to her yang. We know from the start that something went wrong between them and a sense of darkness and foreboding hovers over the pages. Yet I couldn’t quite decide how things would play out and was kept guessing right up until the end, creating a tension you can’t escape. 

“I existed already in a form of maternal grieving, a refusal to accept that I had somehow lost my greatest love while still living alongside her.”

I also enjoyed how the author explores the complexities of the mother/daughter relationship throughout the book through many of the characters. But it is most evident in the relationships between Sunday and her mother, and Sunday and her daughter, Dolly. Sunday’s love for Dolly is all-consuming. She doesn’t understand her, but loves her fiercely and is incredibly proud of her headstrong only child. At 16, Dolly is full of teenage disdain for her mother and Sunday is left trying to navigate this new dynamic to their relationship. As a mother of two teenagers, I could relate to this, as well as to the pain Sunday felt at having lost her child in some way already, even though she was still there. But Sunday isn’t a good mother by example. Sadly her own mother never shows her any love and is often cruel and dismissive. She sees her as strange and wrong because of her autism. Sunday’s pain at this rejection leaped from the pages in heartbreaking clarity, as did her determination to ensure Dolly never feels the same rejection and pain she did. This made me love her character all the more.

“I do not envy other people’s ability to adapt; I find it alarming. Their minds are like caught fish, shining and struggling and engaged in a perpetual and pointless circular motion. Those like me swim on, unaffected by the change in currents around them.”

Illuminating, magnificent, heartbreaking and hopeful, All The Little Bird-Hearts is an unforgettable debut. It will stay with me for a long time and I cherish the new understanding it has given me. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow left school without any qualifications. When her youngest children started school she began studying too, and earned first-class undergraduate and postgraduate degrees followed by a PhD. Her first book, All the Little Bird-Hearts, will be published in 2023 and she is currently writing her second novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

BLOG TOUR: If I Let You Go by Charlotte Levin

Published: March 2nd, 2023
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Domestic Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for If I Let You Go. Thank you to Chloe at Pan Macmillan for the invitation to take part, and to Bookbreak for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Simultaneously tragic and uplifting. And I have to say at times funny. Charlotte Levin is SUCH a clever writer . . . A magnificent read.’ – Ruth Jones, author of Love Untold

A gripping, darkly comic tale of searing loss, coercive control and the consequences of taking the wrong path.


Every morning Janet Brown goes to work cleaning offices. It calms her, cleanliness, neatness. All the things she’s unable to do with her soul can be achieved with a damp cloth and a splash of bleach. However, the guilt she still carries about a devastating loss that happened eleven years ago, cannot be erased.

Then, Janet finds herself involved in a train crash and, recognising the chance to do what she couldn’t all those years ago, she makes a decision. As news spreads of Janet’s actions, her story inspires everyone around her, and for the first time her life has purpose and the future is filled with hope.

But Janet’s story isn’t quite what it seems, and as events spiral out of control, she soon discovers that coming clean isn’t an option. Because if Janet washes away the lies, what long-buried truths will she finally have to face.

If I Let You Go by Charlotte Levin is a deeply moving and gripping portrayal of a woman coming to terms with loss.

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MY REVIEW:

“That’s what she does. Smile through it all. And it’s exhausting.”

Moving, heartrending and achingly real, If I Let You Go packs an emotional punch. It is one of those books where it is best to go in blind and just enjoy watching the story unfold. Charlotte Levin has written a compelling tale enmeshed in drama and heartache that has some great moments of dark humour to lighten the mood. I was transfixed and inhaled it in just a few hours. 

Narrator Janet’s world is a bleak place filled with grief, guilt, despair and dysfunction. She lives in prison with bars made of blame and coercive control, her husband cruelly and methodically chipping away at her daily to make her a shadow of the person she once was. She dreams of freedom, but also believes she doesn’t deserve it because her daughter Claire’s death was her fault. She is very real and I liked how the author lets the reader into her innermost thoughts and feelings, allowing her to confide her darkest secrets so that we understand her rather than judge. I loved that she was morally complex, reminding us that even the nicest people with the best of intentions can make terrible choices.. The background characters are just as well written, with Colin making my skin crawl every time he was on the page. As an abuse survivor reading this story was like stepping back into the life I broke free from and I appreciate the authentic way in which it was written. It made me feel all the more invested in the story and I was rooting for Janet to finally find the strength to leave.

A deeply human story that manages to be both heartbreaking and hopeful, I highly recommend adding this one to your TBR.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Charlotte Levin has been shortlisted for the Andrea Badenoch Award, part of the New Writers North Awards, and for the Mslexia Short Story Competition. IF I CAN’T HAVE YOU is her debut novel, and IF I LET YOU GO is out in March 2023. Charlotte lives in Manchester with her cat Opal Moon and kittens Leonard and Walter.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

REVIEW: The Institution by Helen Fields

Published: March 2nd, 2023
Publisher: Avon Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Hardboiled, Pscyhological Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this unflinching locked-room thriller. Thank you to Avon Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

They’re locked up for your safety.
Now, you’re locked in with them.

Dr Connie Woolwine has five days to catch a killer.

On a locked ward in the world’s highest-security prison hospital, a scream shatters the night. The next morning, a nurse’s body is found and her daughter has been taken. A ransom must be paid, and the clock is ticking.

Forensic profiler Dr Connie Woolwine is renowned for her ability to get inside the mind of a murderer. Now, she must go deep undercover among the most deranged and dangerous men on earth and use her unique skills to find the girl – before it’s too late.

But as the walls close in around her, can Connie get the killer before The Institution gets her?

A claustrophobic, haunting crime thriller that will keep you up at night, perfect for those who couldn’t put down The Sanatorium and Amy McCulloch’s Breathless.

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MY REIVEW:

“The people inside these walls are broken. All of them. It’s bad enough being here against your will. Imagine having so little to live for that of all the places in the world, you would choose to spend the precious years allocated to you in this godforsaken place. “

She’s done it again! A crime fiction powerhouse, Helen Fields can always be relied upon to write sinister, never-shredding stories that leave you breathless. And with The Institution she has done exactly that. This chilling masterpiece certainly packs a punch. The prose is brutal poetry, every word gleaming with malice, and there’s an undercurrent of danger and foreboding running through the pages that made dread crawl up my spine as I read. I couldn’t put it down and devoured the story whole. The many twists, turns, and red herrings left me unable to catch my breath and, as I approached the finale, the threads began to tangle together at breakneck speed. And that ending! I did not see it coming. Bravo, Ms. Fields. Bravo. 

“She turned as she walked, looking around, uncharacteristically spooked. Not that it was ghosts she feared. The killers she was profiling were so much worse than the spectres of myths and legends. Ghosts were simple in comparison.” 

How do you find a killer when you’re surrounded by them? That’s the dilemma facing Dr Connie Woolwine in this dark, twisty and unnerving thriller. Dropped inside of a nightmare, Connie is sent to The Institute, a high-security prison, to investigate the death of Tara, one of the nurses who works there. Tara has been found brutally slain, her unborn daughter ripped from her womb in the attack, and there is a ransom demand for her safe return. With one life already extinguished and another whose clock is ticking down to death, the forensic profiler goes deep undercover to try and find the killer. 

A dark, forbidding and eerie fortress, The Institute houses the criminally insane. It is a cesspit of evil where the worst of society are sent to live out the rest of their days. The saying ‘humans are the scariest of monsters’ has never been more apt, and the humans inside these walls are truly terrifying.  Violent, disturbed, depraved, repugnant and mercurial, you would be crazy yourself if you weren’t scared of these men. And it is amongst them that Connie must live and work, going undercover to find a killer. But when a frightful storm cuts them off from the rest of the world, the only person who knows her real identity is stranded elsewhere, leaving Connie even more vulnerable. 

“Don’t believe anything they tell you. Remember; the truth can be witnessed, but it can never be told.” 

Helen Fields delves deep into the darkness that lurks inside the crevices of a twisted mind in this cast of richly drawn, compelling and completely unreliable characters. Even our protagonist can’t be trusted, the PTSD from her traumatic time in a psychiatric hospital giving her nightmares and making her see and hear things that even she isn’t sure are real. I was delighted to see Connie at the heart of another book after loving her character so much in The Shadow Man. Fierce, tenacious, intelligent and unorthodox, that quirky side is what has endeared her to me so much from the start. I enjoyed how we explored her intricately layered backstory more this time around, and how it intertwines to complicate the investigation in ways she hoped to avoid. Her trauma was powerfully and evocatively written, making my heart race as everything spiralled more and more out of control. I desperately hoped she was going to make it out of this okay and that we get to see more of her in the future.

Deliciously creepy, unflinching and addictive, The Institution gives you everything you could want from a first-class locked-room thriller. It’s Ms. Fields’ best book yet so make sure to add it to your TBR.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

An international and Amazon #1 best-selling author, Helen is a former criminal and family law barrister. Every book in the Callanach series has claimed an Amazon #1 bestseller flag. ‘Perfect Kill’ was longlisted for the Crime Writers Association Ian Fleming Steel Dagger in 2020, and others have been longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, Scottish crime novel of the year. Helen also writes as HS Chandler, and has released legal thriller ‘Degrees of Guilt’. In 2020 Perfect Remains was shortlisted for the Bronze Bat, Dutch debut crime novel of the year. In 2022, Helen was nominated for Best Crime Novel and Best Author in the Netherlands. Now translated into more than 20 languages, and also selling in the USA, Canada & Australasia, Helen’s books have won global recognition. She has written standalone novels, The Last Girl To Die, These Lost & Broken Things and The Shadow Man. Her first UK hardback, The Institution, comes out in March 2022. She regularly commutes between West Sussex, USA and Scotland. She lives with her husband and three children. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Beautiful Shining People by Michael Grothaus

Published: March 16th, 2023
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Speculative Fiction, Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Apologies for the delay, but today I’m finally sharing my review for the mesmerising and unforgettable Beautiful Shining People. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda books for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

A damaged teenager meets an enigmatic waitress in a tiny Tokyo café, sparking an epic journey across Japan that will change everything, forever…
 
‘A fascinating exploration of what it means to be human in a world where everything can be faked, and an alarming projection into a not-too-distant and all-too-plausible future … wonderful, insightful and thoughtful’ James Oswald
 
‘Totally engrossing from the start  – the story, characters and settings will linger in your imagination long after you’re finished … truly wonderful’ Jonathan Whitelaw
 
‘Exquisite world-building, this book had me invested from the very first page. Vivid plot and irresistible characters and a real tug at the soul … you’ll drown in it’ Lisa Bradley
 
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This world is anything but ordinary, and it’s about to change forever…

It’s our world, but decades into the future…
 
An ordinary world, where cars drive themselves, drones glide across the sky, and robots work in burger shops. There are two superpowers and a digital Cold War, but all conflicts are safely oceans away. People get up, work, and have dinner. Everything is as it should be…

Except for seventeen-year-old John, a tech prodigy from a damaged family, who hides a deeply personal secret. But everything starts to change for him when he enters a tiny café on a cold Tokyo night. A café run by a disgraced sumo wrestler, where a peculiar dog with a spherical head lives, alongside its owner, enigmatic waitress Neotnia…

But Neotnia hides a secret of her own – a secret that will turn John’s unhappy life upside down. A secret that will take them from the neon streets of Tokyo to Hiroshima’s tragic past to the snowy mountains of Nagano.

A secret that reveals that this world is anything ordinary – and it’s about to change forever…

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MY REVIEW:

“Before, I thought I understood the world. At least where it was heading. But now? Now, what do I know?” 

Tokyo, many years into the future. 17-year-old John, a tech prodigy, enters a small cafe late at night and meets Neotina, a beautiful and enigmatic waitress. The spark is instant and they slowly begin to get to know each other. But they are each hiding a shameful secret, one they try to hide from the world and are terrified of being discovered. But it is what Neotina is hiding that will turn their worlds upside down and change things forever…

This book is a masterpiece. Mesmerising, dreamlike, and unforgettable, it took my breath away. A story about those who never fit in—the alienated outsiders who want to belong. It’s about the search for purpose, pain, suffering, and the shadows that live within all of us, and what it is that makes us human. 

“Let people misjudge you – condemn you, even. Smile at them, then carry on with your life. Their faults weaken only them.”

Speculative and dystopian fiction is my least favourite genre, yet I was utterly blown away by this book. I lost myself in these pages, unable to stop reading yet also tried to savour every exquisite word. I loved how eclectic the vibe of this story was. It starts out calm and chilled but with a twist of anguish from the secret shame John is hiding, then the air fills with the flush of first love as he and Neotina get closer, before moving into an atmosphere that crackles with danger as shocking revelations change their entire world. Each shift in tension and pace was smooth and seamless, holding me hostage in the author’s web of words.

The characters in the book are a motley crew of outsiders who were likeable and very entertaining to read. Our narrator, John, is an American teenage coding genius hiding a secret shame he wants to fix. Like all teenagers, he just wants to be like everyone else, and he thinks if he fixes what’s wrong with him he’ll finally be ‘normal’. John’s voice perfectly captures the insecurity of those teenage years. That time where, more than ever, the opinion and acceptance of our peers matters so much and we want to fit in rather than stand out. These feelings are also explored in Neotina, the charismatic Japanese waitress he meets. Their relationship perfectly captures the innocence, joy, confusion and fear of falling in love for the first time. But we soon learn that these aren’t any other young people in love. There’s something extraordinary that sets them apart. Stealing the show on many occasions were Goeido, a former Sumo who owns the cafe where Notina works, and his dog, Inu, who has the craziest haircut and a strange story of his own. And then there is Joe, a character who appears briefly but makes a huge impact. 

“My shadow is deep, and its ingredients are many. It’s rich in loneliness. Isolation. Alienation. Loathing.” 

This may have been my first book by Michael Grothaus, but it will not be my last. Not only is his writing and characterisation exquisite, but transported me to the world he had created. A world that is fictional, yet believable, future. I can imagine everything he wrote coming true and it felt like a glimpse into the world that my grandchildren or great-grandchildren will know. But at the same time it was totally familiar, and it was only when I read a line about self-driving cars or bots serving you in a restaurant that I’d remember this is set in the future. I also loved how detailed the research was and I learned a lot about Japanese culture while reading the book. But what I think I enjoyed most is how he keeps the reader guessing. He had me on the edge of my seat with no idea where things were headed, even halfway through the book. But what I did know is that wherever this led, it was going to be spectacular. And then there is that twist. Wow. I sat there in awe, trying to make myself believe what I’d just read and wondering how I didn’t see it. The clues were all there in hindsight and I totally missed them, feeling as floored and  as the character did when all was revealed.

Moving, powerful and enthralling, Beautiful Shining People is a phenomenal story that will stay with you. I have no doubt that this is going to be one of my books of the year and highly recommend it to everyone, even if the genre doesn’t seem like your thing. Just try it. I know I’m so glad that I did.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Michael Grothaus is a novelist and author. Born in  Saint Louis, Missouri. He spent his twenties in Chicago where he earned his degree in filmmaking from Columbia and got his start in journalism writing for Screen. After working for institutions including The Art Institute of Chicago, Twentieth Century Fox, and Apple he earned his postgraduate degree with distinction in creative writing from the University of London. His writing has appeared in Fast Company, VICE, The Guardian, Litro Magazine, The Irish Times, Screen, Quartz, and others. His debut novel, EPIPHANY JONES, a story about sex trafficking among the Hollywood elite, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger Award and named one of the 25 “Most Irresistible Hollywood Novels” by Entertainment Weekly.

His first non-fiction book is TRUST NO ONE: INSIDE THE WORLD OF DEEPFAKES. The book examines the human impact that artificially generated video will have on individuals and society in the years to come. His next novel is BEAUTIFUL SHINING PEOPLE, a speculative story set in Tokyo that explores how the things that cast us as outsiders can be the very things that draw us together, and examines whether there is an inherent meaning in the world to come, or if we must create our own.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading bibliophiles xxxx

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

*These purchase links are affiliate links

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BLOG TOUR: One Enchanted Evening by Katie Fforde

Published: March 2nd, 2023
Publisher: Century
Genre: Romance Novel, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Romantic Comedy
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the utterly delightful One Enchanted Evening. Thank you to EdPR for the invitation to take part and to Century for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Step into the world of Katie Fforde where love, romance and the happiest of happy endings are just around the corner. The new novel by the number one bestselling author and queen of feel-good romance.
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Ever since she can remember, Meg has wanted to be a professional cook.

But it’s 1966, and in restaurant kitchens all over England it is still a man’s world.

Then she gets a call from her mother who is running a small hotel in Dorset.

There’s an important banqueting event coming up. She needs help and she needs it now!

When Meg arrives, the hotel seems stuck in the past. But she loves a challenge, and sets to work.

Then Justin, the son of the hotel owner, appears, determined to take over the running of the kitchen.

Infuriated, Meg is determined to keep cooking – and soon sparks between them begin to fly.

Will their differences be a recipe for disaster? After all, the course of true love never did run smooth…

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MY REVIEW:

It’s 1966 and professional kitchens are still a man’s world. But all Meg has ever wanted is to be a chef. So when she gets a call from her mother asking her to help with an important banquet coming up at the hotel she’s running, Meg jumps at the chance. 

Nightingale Woods Hotel is quaint and charming, but stuck firmly in the past and in need of some TLC. When Meg meets the owner’s son, Justin, it is clear that he has already consigned the hotel to the rubbish heap. Always up for a challenge, Meg sets to work updating the hotel, determined to modernise and attract new customers while proving Justin wrong. But she gets more than she bargained for when sparks begin to fly between them. Is this a recipe for disaster or has she found her happily ever after?

If you’re looking for an uplifting, feel-good read, then One Enchanted Evening is the book for you. A joy to read from start to finish, I was transported from the grey February skies of Sheffield to the summer sun of Dorset. I’m also a sucker for any book that has a good enemies-to-lovers romance, and this one certainly delivered with the bumpy road to love between Meg and Justin. 

I liked Meg immediately. She’s a protagonist and it was easy to root for both her and her crusade to save Nightingale Woods Hotel. I was totally invested in the outcome of her endeavours and it was heartbreaking to think that this charming and quirky little country haven might be sold. I was also rooting for Meg’s happy ending to include not only saving the hotel she’d grown to love, but the man she loves too. Like he did with Meg, Justin took a while to grow on me as a character. And while their love story was predictable in places, it was no less compelling, with me shouting at them to get their act together and admit they were in love already! 

This book also has a fantastic cast of background characters. I loved the sweet mother/daughter relationship between Meg and Louise and the friendship between Meg and her trio of old school friends. It was obvious that these characters have appeared in Ms. Fforde’s books before, but they soon felt like they were old friends of mine too. But my favourite character in this book was Ambrosine. Oh, I loved this sweet old lady. When her back story was finally revealed I loved her even more and would happily read an entire book about her life during the war (hint hint).

While I’d obviously heard the name Katie Fford, I must admit that this was my first time reading one of her books. Why did I wait so long? I have already bought some of her backlist books, including one of the books featuring Meg and her friends, and will be adding her future releases to my TBR. 

Captivating, heartwarming and utterly delightful, One Enchanted Evening was a pleasure to read. Highly recommended.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From her Amazon author page:
I live in the beautiful Cotswold countryside with my family, and I’m a country girl at heart.

I first started writing when my mother gave me a writing kit for Christmas, and once I started I just couldn’t stop. Living Dangerously was my first novel and since then, I haven’t looked back.

Ideas for books are everywhere, and I’m constantly inspired by the people and places around me. From watching TV (yes, it is research) to overhearing conversations, I love how my writing gives me the chance to taste other people’s lives and try all the jobs I’ve never had.

Each of my books explores a different profession or background and my research has helped me bring these to life. I’ve been a porter in an auction house, tried my hand at pottery, refurbished furniture, delved behind the scenes of a dating website, and I’ve even been on a Ray Mears survival course.

I love being a writer; to me there isn’t a more satisfying and pleasing thing to do. I particularly enjoy writing love stories. I believe falling in love is the best thing in the world, and I want all my characters to experience it, and my readers to share their stories.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour, particularly the Squadpod Ladies who are posting today.

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BLOG TOUR: A Good House For Children by Kate Collins

Published: March 2nd, 2023
Publisher: Serpent’s Tail
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Horror Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this chilling debut novel. Thank you to Serpent’s Tail for the gifted copy and the chance to take part in the tour.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘In her beautifully written debut, Kate Collins gives the haunted house novel a refreshing renovation, while retaining a deliciously chilling atmosphere that fans of Shirley Jackson will love. I was entranced’ Francine Toon, author of Pine

The perfect place to destroy a family…


The Reeve stands on the edge of the Dorset cliffs, awaiting its next inhabitants. Despite Orla’s misgivings, her husband insists this house will be the perfect place to raise their two children.

In 1976, Lydia moves to Dorset as a nanny for a family grieving their patriarch. She soon starts to hear and feel things that cannot be real, but her bereaved employer does not listen when Lydia tells her something is wrong.

Separated by forty years, both Lydia and Orla realise that the longer they stay at the Reeve, the more deadly certain their need to keep the children safe from whatever lurks inside it…

Nothing is quite what it seems at the Reeve, and with its pervasive atmosphere of claustrophobia and dread, Kate Collins’ gothic creation will chill you to the core.

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MY REVIEW:

“Her children would devour her, if they could; they would eat her up and make her live inside of them forever. The house wanted them to live inside of it forever.
She had become a mother to a monstrous child. The Reeve had spoken to her, whispered, and she had listened.

Unsettling, eerie, and atmospheric, A Good House For Children is a chilling Gothic story that will leave you sleeping with the lights on. 

On the edge of cliffs in Dorset the house stands waiting for a new family to inhabit it. But no one stays for long at The Reeve and there are whispers in the local village of ghostly figures and curses. Following two families forty years apart, can they protect their loved ones from the darkness that lurks in this strange home, or will it claim them forever?

“It’s not somewhere you’d want to keep a family, is all… It’s a bad house. It’s a bad place… It’s not safe. It’s not right.” 

This is definitely not a book to read right before bed! In her accomplished debut, author Kate Collins has created a gothic mystery that will chill you to your core. Narrated by artist Orla in 2017, and nanny Lydia in 1976, the writing is exquisite, almost poetic at times, and filled with evocative descriptions that bring the story and characters to life. A rich tapestry of a novel, Ms. Collins toys with the reader, making you wonder if this truly is a ghost story or simply a case of isolation messing with the women’s minds. But as I tried to rationalise what was happening, she slowly built the tension to an unbearable fever pitch, and the strange and chilling moments were no longer able to be rationalised. I was now as convinced as Orla and Lydia that this house was haunted, and was screaming at them to run as far away from the house as they could and burn it to the ground before anyone else got caught in its clutches. 

Intricately woven, vivid and compelling, it had me on the edge of my seat as it moved seamlessly between timelines and narrators. All of the characters felt real and relatable, building a real connection between them and the reader. Orla and Lydia each had their own distinct voice and were very easy to like and root for. But for me it was the children, particularly little Philip and Sam, who stole the show and a piece of my heart. 

“She felt the weight of the house at her back, the whole house, waiting for her to turn so that it might embrace and swallow her – as though it were a living animal, ready to bite.”

But this is also a book where the biggest character is not a person, but the house itself. The author mentions in her authors note that ‘reeve’ is an old Dorset word for ‘unravel’, making it the perfect name for this house. Haunting and forbidding, it seems  to call to families who are already troubled in some way. Families looking for a fresh start or healing. It has a sinister atmosphere before anything has happened, but soon the families become aware of strange events as the house begins to interact with its inhabitants, playing with what they see, hear, think and feel. It quite literally haunts them, the house feeling alive and like there is something evil dwelling in it. An inescapable sense of claustrophobia and fear lingers over every page and as things begin to unravel and I was on tenterhooks waiting to find out if the families would escape or fall victim to this terrible place. For despite what the title claims, The Reeve is NOT a good house for children…

A stunning yet nerve-shredding gothic tale, A Good House For Children is perfect for those who enjoy a twisty and unnerving story. A gripping debut from an exciting new voice in the genre, it will haunt you long after reading. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate is a writer of long-form and short fiction. From West Cork, Ireland, she now lives and works in Oxfordshire.

Her short fiction has been longlisted for the Bath Short Story Award 2021, and her debut novel, A GOOD HOUSE FOR CHILDREN, will be published by Serpent’s Tail in the UK in March 2023, and by Mariner Books (Harper Collins) in the US in Summer 2023.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*These links are affiliate links

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REVIEW: No Life for a Lady by Hannah Dolby

Published: Mach 2nd, 2023
Publisher: Aria
Genre: Satire, Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Historical Mystery, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for No Life For A Lady. Thank you to the Tandem Collective for my place on the VIP readalong and Head of Zeus for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

The most joyful book of 2023!

Violet Hamilton is a woman who knows her own mind. Which, in 1896, can make things a little complicated…

At 28, Violet’s father is beginning to worry she will never find a husband. But every suitor he presents, Violet finds a new and inventive means of rebuffing.

Because Violet does not want to marry. She wants to work, and make her own way in the world. But more than anything, she wants to find her mother Lily, who disappeared from Hastings Pier 10 years earlier.

Finding the missing is no job for a lady, but when Violet hires a seaside detective to help, she sets off a chain of events that will put more than just her reputation at risk.

Can Violet solve the mystery of Lily Hamilton’s vanishing before it’s too late?

A delightfully quirky and clever book club read, perfect for fans of Dear Mrs BirdThe Maid and Lessons in Chemistry.

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MY REVIEW:

“Detective work is no life for a lady.”

A joyous romp with lashings of humour, No Life For A Lady is an original and uplifting debut. It follows Violet, a delightful new heroine who I absolutely adored. She isn’t your typical Victorian woman, going against social conventions by not wanting to get married and pursuing a career instead. But more than anything else, what Violet wants is to find her mother, Lily, who vanished 10 years ago. But there is no such thing as a lady detective, so Violet hires a professional to help, sparking a chain of events that risk not only Violet’s reputation, but unearths shocking secrets that some people will do anything to keep hidden. 

I’m a big fan of historical fiction, mysteries and uplift, so this was the perfect mix of genres for me. It was an absolute joy to read and I couldn’t get enough of Violet and her antics. The mystery unravels slowly, with some twists and surprises along the way, but what I particularly liked was that this is also the story of Violet’s journey of self-discovery, author Hannah Dolby weaving the two storylines together so they are inextricably linked. I loved how Dolby injected so much heart, humour and joy into the book, making a story that could have been very dark into one that radiates fun and hopefulness. 

Violet is a great protagonist. Inquisitive, tenacious and full of charisma, she was easy to like and root for, though I would sometimes cringe at her naivete that is a product of both her sheltered upbringing and the times they lived in. Violet lives in a time where autonomy for women is still an alien concept and there strict moral and societal codes she is expected to adhere to. But Violet rails against this, wanting to make her own way in life and pursue a career, rather than making marriage her priority and only goal in life. At 28 she is deemed pretty much over the hill and the idea she might not actually want a husband is unthinkable to most. She is a new favourite heroine of mine and I can’t imagine anyone not loving her. 

Funny, quirky and addictive, this marvellous debut is one you all need on your TBR. I’m hoping Ms. Dolby will turn this into a series so I can return to Violet and her antics again and again. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hannah’s first job was in the circus and she has aimed to keep life as interesting since. She trained as a journalist in Hastings and has worked in PR for many years, promoting museums, galleries, palaces, gardens and even Dolly the sheep.

She completed the Curtis Brown selective three-month novel writing course, and she won runner-up in the Comedy Women in Print Awards for this novel with the price of a place on an MA in Comedy Writing at the University of Falmouth. She lives in London and her debut novel, No Life for a Lady, will be published in Spring 2023.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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REVIEW: End of Story by Louise Swanson

Published: March 23rd, 2023
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Dystopian Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Get ready to meet your new favourite thriller author! End of Story is a heart-pounding masterpiece you won’t want to miss. Thank you to Louise Swanson and Hodder & Stoughton for my gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Too much imagination can be a dangerous thing

It has been five years since writing fiction was banned by the government.

Fern Dostoy is a criminal. Officially, she has retrained in a new job outside of the arts but she still scrawls in a secret notepad in an effort to capture what her life has become: her work on a banned phone line, reading bedtime stories to sleep-starved children; Hunter, the young boy who calls her and has captured her heart; and the dreaded visits from government officials.

But as Fern begins to learn more about Hunter, doubts begin to surface. What are they both hiding?

And who can be trusted?

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MY REVIEW:

If you tell a story well enough, it’s true. 

I knew Lousie Swanson was a master storyteller and anything she writes is on my auto-buy list.  So when she announced End of Story it immediately became my most anticipated book of 2023.  I decided to pick it up last night after struggling to read all week thinking her books are always compelling.  I knew it would be good, but I was unprepared for the sheer tour de force I was about to read.  So addictive it had me on the edge of my seat from the first lines, I devoured it in just a couple of hours; staying up until 3am to finish as it was impossible to put it down and sleep without a conclusion. 

Exquisitely written, this is one of those books that has to be experienced.  You need to pick it up and allow the author to take you on the ride.  And what a ride it is!  Set in 2035, the story is told by Fern, a former author living in a nightmarish future where fiction is banned.  But she is determined to tell her story and begins keeping a secret diary where she not only talks about her innermost feelings and current life, but how fiction came to be outlawed and her own part in that story.  She is a fantastic character who I immediately felt connected to and enjoyed reading, seeing how her story unfolded piece by piece. 

Darkly sinister and suspenseful, this is a book filled to the brim with fear and tension. But it is also a complex, layered and moving story that has so much more depth than you expect.  An inventive and clever story that is like nothing I’ve ever read.  Ms Swanson has outdone herself with this one.  It is easily my book of the year and I feel sure that anyone who reads it will be adding her to their auto-buy lists.  

If I could give this more than five stars I would.  An absolute tour-de-force, End of Story is a heart-pounding masterpiece.  A work of art.  And you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.  Add it to your 2023 lists now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louise Swanson’s debut End of Story arrives in March 2023. She wrote the book during the final lockdown of 2020, following a family tragedy, finding refuge in the fiction she created. The themes of the book – grief, isolation, love of the arts, the power of storytelling – came from a very real place. Swanson, a mother of two who lives in East Yorkshire with her husband, regularly blogs, talks at events, and is a huge advocate of openly discussing mental health and suicide.

She also writes as Louise Beech. Beech’s eight books have won the Best magazine Book of the Year 2019, shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year, longlisted for the Polari Prize, and been a Clare Mackintosh Book Club Pick. Her memoir, Daffodils, was released in audiobook in 2022.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links