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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Published: April 5th 2022
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Historical Fiction, Humorous Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to the phenomenal Lessons in Chemistry. Today Elizabeth Zott is out in the world and I can’t wait for you to meet her. This is one of my favourite books this year and know it will be on my list of top books of 2022. This isn’t to be missed!

Thank you to Doubleday for the gifted ARC and finished copy in exchange for an honest review.

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SYNOPSIS:

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.

Like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

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MY REVIEW:

“Children. set the table.  Your mother needs a moment to herself.”

Well, I have been Zotted.  Witty, smart, vibrant and refreshing, I am in love with this heartwarming debut and its quirky heroine.  

Set in America during the 50s and 60s, Lessons in Chemistry tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, a woman like no one you’ve ever met.  She is an unusual woman for the times: a female research chemist, an unmarried woman living with her partner and then a single mother.  When we first meet her in 1961 Zott is a TV star, the famous host of Supper at Six, a show with unique concept where she not only combines cooking and chemistry, but uses her platform as a rallying cry to the housewives watching to reach their full potential and be appreciated for all they do.  The story then jumps back to 1952 and we follow Zott’s journey from no-nonsense scientist to inspirational feminist TV star in this powerful novel. 

“Elizabeth Zott was a woman with flawless skin and an unmistakable demeanor of someone who was not average and never would be.” 

There are some fabulous new literary heroines being written at the moment and I am here for it.  Zott stands out in this crowd as a feminist icon with timeless appeal; as relevant today as she is in the era she is created to inhabit.   Zott doesn’t see why women shouldn’t be equal to men, why she needs a husband or understand why others think it’s strange to have a laboratory instead of a kitchen.  She doesn’t underestimate women and talks to them like intelligent and capable beings, something that wasn’t the norm at the time.  She does things her own way and I adored this unconventional, determined, practical, straight-talking woman who is unapologetically herself.  
Zott’s passion for chemistry is all consuming.  Like it’s part of her DNA.  Though I’m clueless when it comes to science I still found her relatable, pulled in by her singular charm that makes her irresistible and unforgettable.  And while I’m not into science personally, I did love reading a female STEM character, especially one set in the 50s and 60s.  It is still a male dominated field where women are fighting for equality and Zott is an ideal icon to help challenge the sexism and misogyny of both the field and everyday life that women face to this day.  The book is set just before the sexual revolution of the sixties so Zott’s world is filled with the expectation that women are stupid, lesser thanand there to be used sexually by men in power.  I cheered as she challenged these expectations and rose beyond the expectations and limitations others held for her, refusing to acknowledge them herself.

“The reduction of women to something less than men, and the elevation of men to something more than women, is not biological: it’s cultural.  And it starts with two words: pink and blue.” 

But Zott isn’t the only great character in the book.  The author has filled the book with a cast of vivid and eccentric characters that are compelling and memorable, some likeable and others more nefarious. This includes Zott’s precocious daughter, Madeline, who might be even more intelligent and straight-talking than her mother, and their dog, Six Thirty, the most delightful dog ever written, who provides much of the comic relief and emotion of the story and stole my heart from his first appearance on the page. I dare any of you not to love him.

Lessons in Chemistry is a book for women who are authentically themselves, who challenge expectations and refuse to play dumb even when society tells them they should.  Zappy, zingy and zestful, this magnificent debut was a joy to read from beginning to end and I was sad to turn the final page.  The extraordinary Elizabeth Zott and her story will leave you with a warm glow in your heart and a smile on your face that lingers and I am hoping there will be more adventures from Zott, Mad and Six-Thirty, *crosses fingers*.

Read this book ASAP and be prepared to be Zotted.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

ABOUT

bjgbw copy.jpg

Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked widely in the fields of technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open-water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Born in California and most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

Published: March 31st 2022
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Contemporary Literature, Romance Novel, Humorous Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Yinka wants to find love. Her mum wants to find it for her.

She also has too many aunties who frequently pray for her delivery from singledom, a preference for chicken and chips over traditional Nigerian food, and a bum she’s sure is far too small as a result. Oh, and the fact that she’s a thirty-one-year-old South-Londoner who doesn’t believe in sex before marriage is a bit of an obstacle too…

When her cousin gets engaged, Yinka commences ‘Operation Find A Date for Rachel’s Wedding’. Armed with a totally flawless, incredibly specific plan, will Yinka find herself a huzband?

What if the thing she really needs to find is herself?

MARIE CLAIRE ‘BEST BOOKS OF 2022’ AND FEBRUARY PICK FOR MALALA’S LITERATI BOOKCLUB

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MY REVIEW:

Let me just start by saying that everyone needs to read this book! Funny, heartwarming and addictive, Yina Where is Your Huzband? is feel-good fiction at its absolute best.  This delightful debut is a balm for the soul and I inhaled it quickly, too hooked to put it down for long and unable to stop thinking about it whenever it wasn’t in my hands.  Lizzie Damilola Blackburn is a magnificent storyteller and I am an instant fan. I will pre-ordering anything she writes in future without hesitation. 

The story centres around thirty-one year old Yinka.  Yinka wants to find love but her interfering mum and aunties want to find it for her.  They do this by attempting to set her up with any bachelor they come across that they deem suitable and publicly praying for God to deliver her from the curse of singledom.  They see her love for chicken and chips over traditional Nigerian food as an obstacle and think she’s already over the hill.  
When her cousin announces her engagement Yinka decides it’s time to take matters into her own hands and launches Operation Wedding Date.  Will she find love in time for the wedding?  Or does she need to find herself first?

Yinka is a single-woman’s heroine for the modern age.  A kind of spiritual, 21st Century Bridget Jones.  And I absolutely adored her.  She was easy to relate to and root for and I was cheering for her every step of the way as she tries to navigate not only societal and cultural expectations of who she is and what her life should look like, but the expectations of her well meaning, but interfering, family.  I also loved the author’s realistic portrayal of complex family dynamics and friendships and the effect they can have on our behaviours.  
Just like Yinka, the other characters are fascinating, vibrant, memorable and leap from the pages.  There is also a chaos and craziness to both the characters and the story that is part of their charm.  It also helps to convey to the reader the feelings of mounting pressure that Yinka experiences, making my own heart pound with stress at times. 

Yinka Where Is Your Huzband? was everything I’d hoped for and more.  I never wanted it to end and actually hugged the book to my chest after reading.  It is a story not only about the search for love, but also a journey of self-discovery and learning to love ourselves. 
Yinka and her story are perfect for the big screen and I truly hope to see them there soon.  Does anyone have Reese Witherspoon’s number?

READ THIS BOOK NOW!  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Lizzie Damilola Blackburn is a British-Nigerian writer, born in Peckham, who wants to tell the stories that she and her friends have longed for but never seen – romcoms ‘where Cinderella is Black and no-one bats an eyelid’. In 2019 she won the Literary Consultancy Pen Factor Writing Competition with the early draft of Yinka, Where is your Huzband?, which she had been writing alongside juggling her job at Carers UK. She has been at the receiving end of the question in the title of her novel many times, and now lives with her husband in Milton Keynes.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Blood Isles by C. F. Barrington (Pantheon Book 2)

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Suspense, Fantasy Fiction, Travel Literature, Adventure Fiction, Book Series, Fantasy Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

This is a few days late but I’m finally sharing my review for the suspenseful second book in the Pantheon trilogy. Thank you to Jade at Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The second in an action-packed adventure thriller series, where modern-day recruits compete in an ancient fight to the death in the streets of Edinburgh.

New Season. New Rules. Same deadly game…

The Pantheon Games are the biggest underground event in the world, followed by millions online. New recruits must leave behind their twenty-first century lives and vie for dominance in a gruelling battle to the death armed only with ancient weapons – and their wits.

Last season’s new recruits Tyler and Lana have lived to fight another day, but now they face a series of even more lethal clashes before the Grand Battle that will end the Season.

It’s survival of the fittest, in the most brutal fashion imaginable. Lana must face the demons of her past, and Tyler has the mother of all targets on his back.

This action-packed adventure thriller is perfect for fans of Pierce Brown’s Red RisingBattle Royale and The Running Man.

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MY REVIEW:

“Battle is terror. The wait is worse.” 

The Pantheon Games are the world’s biggest underground events.  Bankrolled by the elite, they are watched by millions online as the chosen competitors embark on life or death battles armed with only ancient weapons.  
Tyler and Lana – now known as Punnr and Calder – are new recruits to Edinburgh’s Valhalla Horde and are gearing up for their first blood season.  It begins with the blood nights and culminates in the Grand Battle, a brutal war between Scotland’s two warring factions that is the most dangerous of Pantheon’s year.  Can the pair survive to fight another year?  Or will they fall.

In the second of C.F. Barrington’s Pantheon trilogy he again merges fantasy and reality to create a world that is believable and addictive.  The book opens with the stats of both Hordes and then succinctly catches you up on the events of book one with a section titled ‘What has come before’.  This was a brilliant idea to include as this is a complex and layered world filled with an array of characters.  I still found myself getting a little confused at times due to the huge amount of detail that is needed to explain Pantheon’s rules but it didn’t last long and I was soon back on tenterhooks as the riveting action occurred.  
In the background of the games is the ongoing search for Morgan, Tyler’s sister, who was part of Valahlla’s rival Horde.  This parallel storyline provides added tension and mystery to the story as well as increased risk to Tyler and the others who are trying to track Morgan down.  Some of those high up in Pantheon risk losing their position should she be found and reveal what she knows meaning Tyler and the others are fighting against not only their sworn enemies but those in their own ranks who will do anything to silence those who pose a threat to their position. 

There are a multitude of great characters from heroes you can root for to villains you love to hate.  I enjoyed being back with them, particularly the ones familiar from book one, and enjoyed seeing how they and their relationships developed in this instalment.  Tyler/Punnr is a great protagonist and I loved his friendship with Brante, his blossoming relationship with Lana/Calder, and the brotherly bond he shares with Oliver.  I was completely invested and worrying about Tyler would be affected should he lose any of these people just added to the tension.  I thought there was a good balance of character study and action, allowing the reader to feel a real connection with the many characters while also being full of suspense.  

The Blood Isles is an addictive and entertaining read that you will enjoy even if, like me, this isn’t your usual genre.  And that ending!  I thought my heart would beat out of my chest and am going to be counting down to book three after that climatic cliffhanger!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

C F Barrington spent twenty years intending to write a novel, but found life kept getting in the way. Instead, his career took him into major gift fundraising, leading teams in organisations as varied as Oxford University, the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles☺️ Emma xxx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Women Sleuths, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Welcome to No.12 rue des Amants

A beautiful old apartment block, far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower and the bustling banks of the Seine. Where nothing goes unseen, and everyone has a story to unlock.

The watchful concierge
The scorned lover
The prying journalist
The naïve student
The unwanted guest

There was a murder here last night.
A mystery lies behind the door of apartment three.

Who holds the key?

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MY REVIEW:

“The gate clangs shut behind the girl. She thinks she’s staying in a normal apartment building. A place that follows ordinary rules. she has no idea what she has got herself into here” 

Welcome to No. 12 rue des Amants.
A beautiful apartment building in the heart of Paris whose residents are all hiding dark secrets.  Secrets one of them is willing to kill to keep.  But who holds the key to unlocking the mystery of Ben’s murder?  And can his sister, Jess, find it before they silence her too?

The Paris Apartment is a complex, tangled web full of crazy twists and turns that keeps you guessing.  It starts off with high levels of mystery as Jess arrives to stay with her brother, Ben, only to find his apartment empty and his wallet and keys left behind.  No one in the building wants to talk to her and they all seem to want her to leave, making her suspicious of what they might be hiding.  But despite their best efforts to conceal the truth of what happened that night, they slowly drop small clues that Jess pieces together to solve the cryptic puzzle of what happened to her brother.  The pace slowed a little in the middle but the dramatic finale was a worthy reward, my jaw hitting the floor when the full picture finally emerged. 

“It’s not her fault she made the mistake of coming to this place. That’s the worst part. She’s probably not even a bad person. 
But I know I am.”

Each of the residents narrate the story alongside Jess which heightens the tension for the reader and allows us a peek inside the minds of the strange, elusive characters living at No 12 rue des Amants.  Each character is richly drawn, flawed and nuanced, with Sophie standing out as a particularly strong character whose allure I found hard to resist.  I liked that just like the other Jess was a complex character with a past that’s  shrouded in mystery.  She was easy to root for and she was definitely the most likeable of all the characters.  
I was intrigued by how everyone in the building seems to blame Ben for things going wrong there; what could he possibly have done that was so bad?  As their secrets are slowly revealed we discover just how intricately woven the residents of this building are and begin to understand this strange, unnerving place. 

A cunningly crafted thriller that sizzles with suspense, this is another spectacular novel from Ms. Foley that I highly recommend. 

Rating ✮✮✮✮✰:

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Lucy Foley is the No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party and The Guest List, with two and a half million copies sold worldwide. Lucy’s thrillers have also hit the New York Times and the Irish Times bestseller lists, been shortlisted for the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year Award at the British Book Awards, selected as one of The Times and Sunday Times Crime Books of the Year, and The Guest List was a Reese’s Book Club choice. Lucy’s novels have been translated into multiple languages and her journalism has appeared in publications such as Sunday Times Style, Grazia, ES Magazine, Vogue US, Elle, Tatler, Marie Claire and more.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

REVIEW: Keep It In The Family by John Marrs

Published: October 25th, 2022
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Literary Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Thank you to John Marrs for sending me this early copy of the book to review.

SYNOPSIS:

In this chilling novel from bestselling author John Marrs, a young couple’s house hides terrible secrets―and not all of them are confined to the past.

Mia and Finn are busy turning a derelict house into their dream home when Mia unexpectedly falls pregnant. But just when they think the house is ready, Mia discovers a chilling message scored into a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. Following the clue up into the eaves, the couple make a gruesome discovery: their dream home was once a house of horrors.

In the wake of their traumatic discovery, the baby arrives and Mia can’t shake her fixation with the monstrous crimes that happened right above them. Haunted by the terrible things she saw and desperate to find answers, her obsession pulls her ever further from her husband.

Secrecy shrouds the mystery of the attic, but when shards of a dark truth start to emerge, Mia realises the danger is terrifyingly present. She is prepared to do anything to protect her family―but is it already too late?

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MY REVIEW:

“You feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You’re looking into their eyes. A person in that situation is God.”

Ted Bundy

When a book opens with a quote from a notorious, sadistic serial killer you know it’s going to be a wild ride.  From the first page I had shivers down my spine and was on the edge of my seat, full of anticipation at the promise of such a chilling tale.  

Mia and Finn’s new house is a dilapidated two-storey detached Victorian house on an ordinary street.  It’s a house you’d never really notice but for the young couple this house is a promise of a better future.  But what they don’t yet know is that it is also a place harbouring dark secrets.  Secrets that the person who is quietly watching them knows.  The truth finally begins to emerge after the couple make a gruesome attic in the attic that haunts Mia and leaves her desperate to uncover the truth of what happened in the house.  But someone else will do anything to keep it from being uncovered.  The only question is, which of them will succeed?

“He isn’t the first to be caught in their web and he won’t be the last. Most of them beg for mercy but they are all wasting their time. There will be no change of heart because there never is. No one under this roof believes in compassion. Empathy is an alien emotion here. “

OMG!  What the f#@% did I just read?!  Deliciously dark, marvellously menacing and totally twisted, I am slightly terrified of John Marrs after reading this; though I would love to peek inside his mind to know how he came up with what is his darkest book yet.  I’ve been a big fan of Marrs’ books since I first read The One upon its release in 2017, and with every book he just gets better.  He truly is the king of the twisted psychological thriller.  Everything about his books makes my thriller-loving heart sing as he holds me hostage, my heart pounding as I read with baited breath as he drops clues like breadcrumbs to build the suspense.  Every time you think all the twists have been revealed and you have it all figured out he will pull the rug from under you and turn the world upside down.  It’s a never-ending maze of secrets, lies and murder.  Twist after twist that makes your jaw drop and your head spin.  And I can’t get enough of it. 

This story makes even the most messed-up and crazy family you know seem sane. By giving each of them a voice we are able to really get inside their minds and discover who they are. I felt most drawn to Mia, my heart going out to her in particular after the events at the end of part one.  I also really enjoyed the play on the traditional awful mother-in-law trope. Debbie is detestable for so many reasons and I admit I was team Mia from the start. 
But it is the mystery narrator who I felt was most powerfully written.  Though they are clearly a killer with a warped moral code, they are utterly fascinating. Through flashbacks to their childhood we learn that they are a creation of their horrific experiences, my heart breaking for what they endured and witnessed.  Writing a one-dimensional villain is easy, but it takes true talent such as that possessed by Marrs to craft such a mesmerising yet chilling portrayal of a disturbed individual who is both repulsive yet sympathetic. 

“To some, I’m a saviour, but to others, I’m a monster. I know what my work has been about, all the souls I’ve saved from torment. It’s part of the bargain that I can never share my role with the world. There’d be no hope of them understanding. Blinkered as they are, I could only be a monster. “

But who was our mysterious villain?  I enjoyed trying to piece the clues together to work out the answer but the clever red herrings left by the author led me to also suspect the innocent at times.  Even when I’d guessed correctly I discovered there were yet more crazy antics to come as this person toyed with their victims further and prolonged their torment with glee.  When and how would it end?  I had no idea.  But I don’t think I could have guessed what was in store even with infinite opportunities.  

Keep It In The Family is my new favourite John Marrs book.  And I think it will be yours too after you read this dark, sinister and mind-blowing tale.  Just buckle yourself in and enjoy the ride.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

John Marrs is an author and former journalist based in London and Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. His books include No1 bestseller and Netflix series The One, The Passengers, award winning What Lies Between Us and The Good Samaritan.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon*
*This is an affiliate link

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: One Girl Missing by Carla Kovach (Detective Gina Harte Book 11)

Published: March 9th 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Noir Fiction, Crime Series
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Five-year-old Cally waits in her pretty pink bedroom for the sound of the front door opening and her mother’s sweet voice in the hall. But when the doorbell finally rings, and Cally creeps out of bed to peer through the banister, a large man in uniform is all she sees. Her mother is missing…

Teacher Annabel Braddock was last seen drinking at the local pub with her best friend, Jennifer. Witnesses saw tears running down her cheeks, and friends say she was having problems with a colleague at work, and that her marriage had broken down.

But as the two women hugged goodbye, neither noticed the car speeding towards them. As the dust settled, Jennifer lay unconscious on the ground and Annabel was nowhere to be seen. She’d never abandon her little girl, so did someone snatch her?

As family crowd around Jennifer’s hospital bed, hoping she’ll wake up, police visit Annabel’s home and her inconsolable daughter, Cally, tells them she had seen a man outside staring into her room as she climbed into bed that evening. Was it her childish imagination, or had someone been watching Annabel’s home?

When Jennifer finally opens her eyes and tells the police what happened that night, it’s clear there are plenty of people with a reason to harm Annabel. With an unpredictable husband, a colleague who denies harassing her and a neighbour who seems to know her every move, could she be in imminent danger? As the hours turn to days, will little Cally ever see her precious mother again? Or will she be next?

If you love fast-paced, gripping crime thrillers that keep you up all night, you’ll be completely addicted to One Girl Missing. Perfect for fans of Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh.

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MY REVIEW:

Best friends Annabel and Jennifer are hugging each other goodbye at the end of a girls night out when a car speeds towards them.  Jennifer is left unconscious on the ground and Annabel is nowhere to be seen, only her bag and spots of her blood left behind.  Detective Gina Harte and her team are called in and as they investigate it soon becomes clear that there are multiple people who might want to harm Annabel.  But can they figure it out and find Annabel before it’s too late?

The eleventh instalment in Carla Kovach’s Gina Harte series is another compelling thriller. There are numerous suspects in this case, each with a valid motive, and they are all on the run: a cheating husband, his young girlfriend who was also the family childminder, an angry father, a teenage pupil with a crush, a colleague she was rumoured to be seeing and a friendly neighbour.  But who took Annabel?  I was sure it was each of them at one point or another and even wondered if some of them were working together.  It is a tangled web of suspicion that is full of so many twists and turns I thought I’d get book whiplash!  But was my final choice the real culprit?  Or had Ms. Kovach duped me again with her red herrings? 

One of the things I love most about reading a series is coming back to the familiar, much-loved characters and I was glad to be back with Gina and her team.  Gina is dealing with emotional turmoil after seeing  Briggs out with another woman.  Is this the end of her relationship?  And the whole team face heartache as they wait to learn if one of their own will survive, Jacob being particularly tortured as he hopes the love of his life pulls through.  
The new characters were well written as always.  I felt a real bond with Annabel and could feel her terror as she’s held captive and wonders if she will ever see her young daughter, Cally, again.  And it was Cally, along with teenage student Omar, who went right to my heart in this book.  They were such great characters who it was impossible not to feel for.  I was rooting for them, especially as young Omar takes it upon himself to save Annabel himself in order to keep her secrets.  

Dark, suspenseful, gripping and action-packed, One Girl Missing is another riveting thriller from Ms. Kovach.  Fans of this genre will love not only this book, but the whole series and I recommend them both highly.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carla started writing more seriously ten years ago after having flirted with musical theatre and occasional writing in her youth.

Since then she has written & produced several stage plays, has four self-published books, has acted in several independent films and is currently in the final stages of production of her feature horror film, Penny for the Guy.

She now writes full time as well as co-owning a film, photography & video production company located in the heart of Redditch town centre.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Marsh House by Zoe Somerville

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: Apollo
Genre: Historical Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Historical Romance, Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising and haunting tale. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Part ghost story, part novel of suspense The Marsh House is the haunting second novel from the author of The Night of the Flood where two women, separated by decades, are drawn together by one, mysterious house on the North Norfolk coast.

December, 1962. Desperate to create a happy Christmas for her young daughter, Franny, after a disastrous year, Malorie rents a remote house on the Norfolk coast. But once there, the strained silence between them feels louder than ever. As Malorie digs for decorations in the attic, she comes across the notebooks of the teenaged Rosemary, who lived in the house thirty years before. Trapped inside by a blizzard, and with long days and nights ahead of her, Malorie begins to read. Though she knows she needs to focus on the present, she finds herself inexorably drawn into the past…

July, 1931. Rosemary lives in the Marsh House with her austere father, surrounded by unspoken truths and rumours. So when the glamorous Lafferty family moves to the village, she succumbs easily to their charm. Dazzled by the beautiful Hilda and her dashing brother, Franklin, Rosemary fails to see the danger that lurks beneath their bright façades…

As Malorie reads Rosemary’s diary, past and present begin to merge in this moving story of mothers and daughters, family obligation and deeply buried secrets.

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MY REVIEW:

“No-one had lived in the house for years afore they arrived last winter. Not since all that fuss in thirty-four… I weren’t surprised to see her though.  Oh, no, it was her all right. We’d been waiting for her.”

OMG. This book! I expected it to be good after hearing so much praise for Zoe Somerville’s debut novel, but I was unprepared for the chilling gothic masterpiece that lurked between these pages.  I inhaled this book in one sitting, staying up until 3am in a desperate need for answers.  It was totally worth it and I have no doubt that this will make it into my top books of the year when December rolls around.

December 1962.  Malorie has rented a remote house on the Norfolk coast hoping to create a magical and memorable Christmas for her daughter Franny after a difficult year.  Known as The Marsh House, its eerie atmosphere looms over them from the moment they cross the threshold.  While looking for Christmas decorations in the attic they come across an old suitcase filled with papers and notebooks.  Upon closer inspection, Malorie discovers that the notebooks are the diaries of Rosemary Wright, a teenage girl who lived at the house thirty years earlier.  Curiosity taking over, Malorie begins to read and becomes fixated on the mysterious past of this young girl.  But what secrets are waiting to be uncovered inside Rosemary’s diaries?

“I knew she’d found something and what she’d be looking for.  She wanted evidence.  Proof.  Facts.  As if it would all be there for her and she could lay it all out and it would make sense.  But it’s never as simple as that.  The graves are elsewhere.  The bones are dust.  It’s not graves that tell you a history, a story of a life. That’s much harder to find, but if you know where to look, you can find it.  It will reveal itself.”

The Marsh House is literary gothic fiction at its best.  The perfect combination of lyrical prose, page turning plot, chilling atmosphere and gripping tension, this haunting tale had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end.  Creepily claustrophobic and almost dreamlike in places, there is a sense of the otherworldly about it.  The snow storm adds to the sense of isolation and increases the fear when strange and inexplicable occurrences begin to make Marlorie question her own sanity.  
Zoe Somerivlle is a gifted storyteller and the style of this book was spot on for me.  I loved the short, cryptic chapters from an unknown narrator who is watching Malorie and Franny and Rosemary’s diary was an inspired choice that brought Rosemary alive and allowed us to connect with her.  Just like Malorie I was enthralled and desperate to know what happened next in her story.   The story moves between the two timelines smoothly, punctuated by the short chapters from the mysterious narrator that sent shivers down my spine each time they appeared.  There was no chance of me putting this book down until I had all the answers. 

Malorie and Rosemary are great narrators who capture the imagination and hold you in the palm of their hand as the story unfolds.  They are fascinating, flawed and real, a whole world of heartbreak, fear, regret and guilt to be found in these women.  And their internal conflict and pain is told so vividly that I could feel it in my own soul.  From the start we know Malorie believes there to be a connection between her father and Marsh House so I spent the book looking for clues and trying to guess how he might be connected.  I had my theories, one of which was correct, but what I loved is how the author creates just enough doubt to make you second guess and not feel sure until the moment just before the big reveal, adding to the mystery and suspense.  

“There was something rotten that had been hiding in front of her and it was revealing itself.”

Mesmerising, chilling and immersive, this is a clear your schedule and read it in one sitting kind of book.  An easy five stars from me, I can’t recommend it highly enough.  I will be reading Zoe’s first book as soon as possible and am excited to watch this talented author’s star undoubtedly rise. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Zoë Somerville is originally from Norfolk, but has settled with her husband and children in the West Country. She works as an English teacher. Zoë began her debut novel, The Night of the Flood on the Bath Spa Creative Writing MA in 2016. It was published in September 2020. Her second novel, The Marsh House, a ghost story and mystery is published in March 2022. She is currently writing her third novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Adventure Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this magnificent and haunting gothic mystery. Thank you to Alex at Orion for the invitation to take part and ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Paris, 1750.

In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city’s celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.

Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker’s experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.

For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker’s intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.

And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles…

A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.

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MY REVIEW:

“She knew then that the clockmaker might not be simply strange. He might well be something much worse.”

Paris, 1750.  Madeleine Casteel arrives at the home of Doctor Maximillian Reinhart, a clockmaker who is the talk of the city thanks to his strange and unique creations.  She has been tasked with spying on Reinhart’s every move in exchange for her own freedom.  But Madeleine soon finds that she may have stumbled upon a secret much darker than she imagined.  A secret that may go to the heart of Versailles and put her life in danger.

“She was tired of being told she was worth less than nothing by men who did nothing themselves.”

Macabre, haunting and suspenseful, this twisted gothic tale was everything I could have hoped for and more.  A story cloaked in the syrupy blackness of a sinister mystery, this is a much darker tale than I expected.  A story of a maid, a clockmaker, a King, a Courtesan and missing children.  It has something for everyone: true crime mixed with historical fiction, a dash of mystery and a sprinkle of feminism.  The addition of French language amongst the prose was a coupe de genie that perfected this magnificent and original tale.  

My love for historical fiction is no secret and one of my favourite things about it is how much I learn while being entertained.  I know relatively little about the time and place this story is set in but the author’s meticulous research and evocative imagery transported me back to the bleak streets of 18th Century Paris so vividly that I could see the buildings leaning into one another, and the beggars in the shadows, hear the horses as they pulled their carriages full of passengers and smell the filth.  It was a time of corruption when humanity was forsaken in favour of wealth and power.  Men would use their position to control women, a theme that runs throughout the story as we see our three female narrators at the mercy of men with power no matter their position in society and feel powerless to change it.  

“Those things he makes, whatever it is he calls them – look at them closely. They’re impossible things, made with dark magic.” 

I love when a talented author takes an outlandish idea and runs with it successfully, which is what Anna Mazzola has done with this book.  Automata is a fascinating topic and through King Louis IV’s obsession with death, automata and reanimation and the fictitious Doctor Reinhart, the author explores how these astounding yet bizarre creations were both revered and feared, their ability to seemingly defy the laws of nature leading to whispers of witchcraft and black magic.  Combined with the mention of how children are quietly vanishing from the streets of Paris that is slowly dripped into the story this creates a chilling air of suspicion, menace and fear that hovers over every page.

Richly drawn, exquisitely told and intricately woven, The Clockwork Girl kept me guessing until the final pages, giving up its twisted secrets slowly, my heart racing in breathless anticipation as I read.  A spellbinding and unique story that I would highly recommend.

Rating:  ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Anna is a writer of historical thrillers and Gothic fiction. Her novels explore the impact of crime and injustice.

Her debut novel, The Unseeing, is based on the life of a real woman called Sarah Gale who was convicted of aiding a murder in London in 1837. It won an Edgar Allan Poe Award in the US and was nominated for the Historical Writers’ Association’s Debut Crown in the UK.

Her second novel, The Story Keeper, is out now. It follows a folklorist’s assistant as she searches out dark fairytales and stolen girls on the Isle of Skye in 1857. The Story Keeper  was nominated for the Highland Book Prize.

Her third novel, The Clockwork Girl, set in Paris in 1750 and based partly on the story of the vanishing children of Paris, will be published by Orion in March 2022. She is currently working on her fourth novel, a ghost story set in Fascist Italy.

As well as novels, Anna writes short stories. She is an accomplished public speaker and regularly speaks at and chairs literary events.

Anna is also a human rights and criminal justice solicitor, working with victims of crime. She lives in Camberwell, South London, with her family, a snake, a lizard and a cat.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*
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Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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BLOG TOUR: The Baby Shower by S. E. Lynes

Publisher: March 1st 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
Format: Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

She doesn’t know I’m there, watching her in the mirror. She slides her hand under her blouse. And then I see something impossible. She isn’t pregnant…

She bursts into my life like a storm, and nothing is the same again. She seems so perfect, with her lilting laugh and her beautiful face. One by one, I watch as my friends fall under her spell.

Only I seem to suspect something. Only I see that her smiles don’t reach her cold, furious eyes. And when I’m accused of things I didn’t do, when my home is vandalized, I know she’s behind it. But she only lets her mask slip when no one is looking, so if I say anything, I’ll look crazy.

So when the baby shower comes around I’m there, sitting on a velvet sofa in a posh hotel room, surrounded by balloons. We share gifts, we pour small glasses of champagne, and she beams, her bump just visible under her bright red shirt.

But that afternoon, I finally learn the unbelievable truth.

There is no baby…

A stunningly twisty story of toxic female friendships, guilt and lies from S.E. Lynes, author of the no.1 bestseller The Housewarming. If you like Lisa Jewell, Gillian Flynn and Paula Hawkins, you’ll be glued to The Baby Shower.

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MY REVIEW:

WHAT. A. BOOK!   S.E. Lynes has proven herself to be the psychological thriller master with this tense, mind-blowing and crazy book.  It was so addictive that I read half of it in one sitting and would have read the whole thing if it hadn’t have been 2am and my eyes were betraying me. 

It begins with a woman waking up in hospital after a car accident.  Though in pain she is full of rage towards another woman who she needs to find before the woman finds her.  Only one of them can leave the hospital alive and she’s determined it will be her.  I was full of questions: who is this other woman?  What did she do?  And why does one of them have to die?  From there the story moves between timelines, shifting from the hospital to events leading up to the crash, telling a story of lies, betrayal and toxic female friendship that will have you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end.

The story is told by multiple narrators but it was Jane who resonated most with me.  Over the course of the story we see her whole world get turned upside down and it all begins when Lexie Lane is brought into her close friendship group by Jane’s best friend, Sophie.  Sophie thinks Lexie is golden and doesn’t see the callous and spiteful things she does to push her and Jane apart, instead choosing to believe her lies and turn away from the person she’s been closest to for years.  Jane’s heartache through all of this is palpable.  She is shocked that her best friend doesn’t believe her and that another grown woman seems intent on wrecking her life for no apparent reason.  You feel her internal struggle to believe it is even happening herself and her pain as she wonders why.  Her heartache is compounded by her early menopause and infertility, especially in the face of Sophie and Lexie’s pregnancies.  Having been through infertility myself, I know that pain of longing for something so much that it hurts and being happy yet also jealous when it happens for those you love.  It is powerfully but sensitively written and really pulls you close to Jane while wondering what on earth Sophie is thinking. 

Lexie is a fantastic villain who is brilliantly written.  She is friendly and charming when she chooses, a facade that masks her true character, which is sly, calculating, cruel and manipulative.  The game she’s playing is so obvious to the reader and I immediately sided with Jane, yet I could also see why Sophie liked her and found it hard to believe she was doing such terrible things.  But I think it ultimately says more about Sophie when she refused to listen to Jane’s side of things than it did about Lexie.  After all, you can’t turn a true friend against someone with lies.  I think this will resonate with so many of us as I think most of us have unfortunately experienced these toxic kinds of female friendships at some point in our lives and will recognise someone we knew in Lexie’s character.  

Brimming with tension and foreboding, The Baby Shower is a compelling, twisty and surprising psychological thriller that will make you feel all the feelings.  Trust me when I tell you this is a book not to be missed. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Former BBC Producer, S.E. Lynes is the Amazon best selling author of ‘intelligent and haunting’, ‘beautifully written’ psychological thrillers, VALENTINA, MOTHER, THE PACT, THE PROPOSAL, THE WOMEN, THE LIES WE HIDE, CAN YOU SEE HER? and her latest novel, THE HOUSEWARMING, available for pre-order NOW.

After completing her MA, Lynes taught creative writing at Richmond Adult Community College for over ten years. She now combines writing, mentoring and lecturing.

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Check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG BLAST: One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Published: March 1st 2022
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to this beautiful and unique story. Thank you to Quercus books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The heartbreaking new novel from the author of the international bestseller In Five Years

When Katy’s mother dies, she is left reeling. Carol wasn’t just Katy’s mum, but her best friend and first phone call. She had all the answers and now, when Katy needs her the most, she is gone. To make matters worse, the mother-daughter trip of a lifetime looms: two weeks in Positano, the magical town where Carol spent the summer before she met Katy’s father. Katy has been waiting years for Carol to take her, and now she is faced with embarking on the adventure alone.

But as soon as she steps foot on the Amalfi Coast, Katy begins to feel her mother’s spirit. Buoyed by the stunning waters, beautiful cliffsides, delightful residents, and – of course – delectable food, Katy feels herself coming back to life.

And then Carol appears, healthy and sun-tanned… and thirty years old. Katy doesn’t understand what is happening, or how – all she can focus on is that somehow, impossibly, she has her mother back. Over the course of one Italian summer, Katy gets to know Carol, not as her mother, but as the young woman who came before.

But can we ever truly know our parents? Soon Katy must reconcile the mother who knew everything with the young woman who does not yet have a clue.

Rebecca Serle’s next great love story is here, and this time it’s between a mother and daughter. With her signature ‘heartbreaking and poignant’ (Glamour) prose, Serle has crafted a transcendent novel about how we move on after loss, and how the people we love never truly leave us.

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MY REVIEW:

“She had all the answers. I, on the other hand, have none of them, and now I no longer have her.”

Katy is grieving the death of her mother, Carol, who wasn’t just her mother but also her best friend, confidante and guide.  Before Carol died they had booked a mother-daughter trip of a lifetime to Positano on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, a place full of meaning to Carol after spending the summer there before she met Katy’s father.  Trying to come to terms with her loss and find her way in the world without her mother, Katy decides to take the trip alone.  In Positano Katy can feel her mother’s spirit and enjoys discovering the places her mother once inhabited.  But then things take a strange turn when Carol appears, thirty years old and full of life.  It’s impossible.  A miracle.  It’s a chance for Katy to not only have her mother back, but get to know her as a woman.  This will be a summer she’ll never forget. 

First of all, let me warn you that this book will make you want to book the next plane to Italy and explore the Amalfi Coast for yourself.  Beautiful and transportive, I could almost feel the sun on my skin and see the terra-cotta houses nestled into the hillside.  I have found myself dreaming of Positano since reading this and it is now added to my travel bucket list.  Also, be prepared for the food descriptions which made my mouth water and my stomach rumble.  Nothing I had in my snack cupboard seemed good enough after reading about the delicious food Katy was enjoying. 

I fell in love with Rebecca Serle’s writing after reading In Five Years and was highly anticipating this book.  And while the former remains my favourite, with this book she once again shows her talent as a storyteller with a flare for evocative imagery, great characters, beautiful prose and a dash of the unexpected.  This is a book that requires you to suspend your disbelief a little when Carol suddenly seems to return from the dead thirty years younger, and I’ll admit to struggling with that at first, but once I got past that initial strangeness and my own expectations of reading the same book again, I was able to again immerse myself in the story being told.

One Italian Summer is a story of family, love, loss and self-discovery.  A story that reminds us to cherish those we love.  Katy’s deep grief is woven through every page and I found my own heart breaking along with hers.  I loved how the author explores the theme of our own identity in relation to grief, asking who we are when we lose that person close to us; are we still a daughter, a mother, a friend? Through Katy and Carol the author explores the complexities of mother-daughter relationships and how we often don’t take the time to get to know the person beyond that role.  This story is a great reminder that we need to take the time to really get to know the whole person when it comes to those we love. 

Poignant, unique and beautifully told, this is a quick read that I’d recommend to those who enjoy their stories with a touch of magical realism. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives in New York and Los Angeles. Serle developed the hit TV adaptation of her YA series Famous in Love, and is also the author of The Dinner List, and YA novels The Edge of Falling and When You Were Mine. She received her MFA from the New School in NYC. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️Emma xxx