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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Summer Fever by Kate Riordan

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Holiday Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this sizzling summer thriller. Thank you to Jen at Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Two couples. One sweltering Italian villa . . .

Nick and Laura are the hosts:
pretending their marriage isn’t on the rocks.

Madison and Bastian are the guests:
neither is remotely who they claim to be.

Under the scorching Mediterranean sun
no secret is safe.
No betrayal goes unnoticed.

Two couples. But will either survive the summer . . .

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MY REVIEW:

After the heartbreak of infertility takes them to breaking point, Laura and Nick decide to start again in Italy.  Luna Rossa promises to be that fresh start and when their first guests arrive it looks like things are finally looking up.  But Madison and Bastian aren’t who they claim to be, and all four of them are hiding secrets that threaten to turn this dream into a nightmare.

Sexy, sultry and suspenseful, Summer Fever is an edge-of-your seat thriller full of lust, secrets and betrayal.  Kate Riordan is a skilled storyteller who had me transfixed from the first page as she opened with an ominous and foreboding prologue that sets the scene for the rest of the book.

Told in two parts with sporadic flashbacks to the mysterious past love who broke Laura’s heart, I loved how the atmosphere crackled with a deliciously dark tension and overwhelming sense of dread that kept me on tenterhooks.  The flashbacks had that sense of haziness that only looking back on our past with rose-tinted glasses can bring and left me apprehensive about what was in store for Laura, who seemed to be hurtling back towards the fire that had already burned her.  I wanted to yell at her to stop but knew she would never have listened.  There was an air of inevitability that left you feeling powerless to do anything but wait and see just how bad the fallout would be when it came.

The dynamics between each of the four main characters are compelling and I liked how having Laura as our only narrator makes the others a bit of an enigma and you aren’t always sure what to make of them.  But one of my favourite things is how she transported me to the sweltering shores of Italy with such realism that I could almost feel the sun beating down on me and see the gorgeous view from Luna Rossa.  Italy has always been at the top of my bucket list and I felt like I got a virtual holiday there thanks to this book, albeit one with a lot of turmoil. 

Alluring, addictive and sizzling with tension, this is the perfect thriller to read in the sun with a glass of wine in hand.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate Riordan is a writer and journalist. She is an avid reader of Daphne du Maurier and Agatha Christie, both of whom have influenced her writing. She lives in the Cotswolds, where she writes full-time. Her previous novels include The Girl In The Photograph, The Shadow Hour, The Stranger and The Heatwave, which was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. Summer Fever is her fifth novel.

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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 Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Keep Her Sweet by Helen FitzGerald

Published: May 26th 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

When a middle-aged couple downsizes to the countryside for an easier life, their two daughters become isolated, argumentative and violent … A chilling, vicious and darkly funny psychological thriller from bestselling author Helen FitzGerald.
________________________________________ 

Desperate to enjoy their empty nest, Penny and Andeep downsize to the countryside, to forage, upcycle and fall in love again, only to be joined by their two twenty-something daughters, Asha and Camille.

Living on top of each other in a tiny house, with no way to make money, tensions simmer, and as Penny and Andeep focus increasingly on themselves, the girls become isolated, argumentative and violent.

When Asha injures Camille, a family therapist is called in, but she shrugs off the escalating violence between the sisters as a classic case of sibling rivalry … and the stress of the family move.

But this is not sibling rivalry. The sisters are in far too deep for that.

This is a murder, just waiting to happen…

Chilling, vicious and darkly funny, Keep Her Sweet is not just a tense, sinister psychological thriller, but also a startling look at sister relationships and the bonds they share … or shatter.

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MY REVIEW:

“Unhappy families always cheered her up.”

This intriguing first line sets the tone for this addictive portrayal of dark domesticity featuring one of the most messed-up families I’ve ever read.  

Penny and Andeep Maloney-Singh should have been enjoying their empty nest but their baby birds have come back to roost.  Tensions rise, tempers flare, violence escalates and the Maloney-Singhs become a family on fire and hire therapist Joy to help them douse the flames.  But even she underestimates just how broken they are, finding herself caught up in a tableau of misery that seems to be speeding towards a catastrophic outcome. 

What a ride!  When I started this book I thought I knew what to expect but instead found myself reading something even more sinister, savage and shocking that I anticipated.  The author explores topics such as sibling rivalry, unhappy marriage, bad parenting, mental health and religious fervour with nuance and humour.  The multiple points of view give us very different perspectives that not only add to the suspense but would make me question if what I was reading was as reliable as I first thought.  Would I get to the end and discover I’d been fooled from the start? 

The Maloney-Singhs are a dysfunctional, toxic and damaged family.  Their home and hearts are a cesspit of bitterness, rage, trauma and fear that rapidly escalates with fatal results.  They vacillate between being characters we can understand and ones we will never fathom, but they are utterly compelling and great to read.  My heart broke for Camille.  She seemed the most sane and normal of them all but seemed forgotten by her parents and was always on the receiving end of Asha’s vicious outbursts.  I wanted to scream at her parents to step in and help!  While very unlikeable, Asha made a great villain and I loved to hate her.  She added so much tension and suspense to the story and was that great combination of unbelievably crazy and totally believable. 

Darkly funny, chaotic, claustrophobic and unflinching, Keep Her Sweet is an intense  psychological thriller that will make you grateful for the family you have. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and adapted for a major BBC drama. Her 2019 dark-comedy thriller Worst Case Scenario was a Book of the Year in the Literary Review, Herald Scotland, Guardian and Daily Telegraph, shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and won the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia, and now lives in Glasgow with her husband. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | 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 par in the tour.

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Fall by Rachael Blok

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Police Procedural, Medical Thriller

It’s a little late due to health problems but welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Fall. Thank you to Sophie at Ransom PR for the invitation to take part and Head of Zeus for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The sins of the past echo in the present in the new literary thriller from crime-critic favourite, Rachael Blok.

The bigger the sin, the further the fall…

With Easter approaching, the verger of St Albans Cathedral was supposed to be readying the church. Instead he discovers a man lying dead, fallen from the famous 150-foot-high tower. Did he jump, or was he pushed?

For DCI Maarten Jansen, it’s a simple case of suspected suicide. Until a witness, Willow, prompts a deeper investigation into a long-buried past, involving a psychiatric hospital, a pregnant woman, and fifty years of silence. As Willow’s own family history entwines with the case, Jansen starts to wonder how everything is connected.

The Fall is a haunting literary thriller about loss, trauma, silence, and how our past shapes who we are.

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MY REVIEW:

“Secrets don’t stay buried forever. Even those cast in stone.”

After a long day of travel Willow Eliot finally arrives at St Albans ready to prepare for her exhibition.  But in the darkness she hears a scream and witnesses a body falling from the cathedral in the shadows.  Did he jump or was he pushed?  And are the fall of a young man who works at the cathedral a few days later and the disappearance of Willow’s twin sister connected or simply tragic coincidences? 

A story of sins, secrets and suspicion, this literary thriller hit all the right notes for me.  Taut, tense and intricately woven, it takes us on a twisty journey as past and present merge together and dark truths are slowly revealed.  This book was my introduction to Rachael Blok and I didn’t realise that it is the fourth instalment in a series until I had almost finished reading.  But that means I can tell  you it makes a great standalone as I never felt like I was missing out on anything or confused about what was going on.

Told in three parts from multiple points of view, I loved the very different voices the author chose in which to tell the story.  I found young Alice’s chapters were especially compelling and powerful, drawing into her tragic story.  Many of the characters are keeping secrets, some of them with the power to shatter entire lives, leaving us with a complex puzzle to solve that looks nothing like I thought it would.  

One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was that it is rich in history.  But it is an awful history that dates back to the psychiatric hospital, Hill Barnes, a bleak, grim place where people were sent when they didn’t know how to deal with them, often committed for what now seem like trivial reasons.  Behavioural issues, epilepsy, a wife disagreeing with her husband and being a young mother could all see you committed and subjected to barbaric treatments that did more harm than healing.  It is a potent reminder of how we used to treat mental health and those we didn’t understand.  

Dark, twisty and captivating, The Fall is a great read for anyone who enjoys a steadily paced thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rachael Blok is a best-selling author of the UK crime series set in the cathedral city of St Albans. Here, DCI Maarten Jansen struggles against his plain-speaking Dutch upbringing when faced with the seemingly polite world of the picturesque city. Under the Ice, The Scorched Earth and Into The Fire are out now. The Fall is coming April 2022.

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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.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BLOG TOUR: Quicksand of Memory by Michael J. Malone

Published: April 14th
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this powerful psychological thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Scarred by their pasts, Jenna and Luke fall in love, brimming with hope for a rosy future. But someone has been watching, with chilling plans for revenge … An emotive, twisty, disturbing new psychological thriller by the critically acclaimed author of A Suitable Lie and In the Absence of Miracles.

Jenna is trying to rebuild her life after a series of disastrous relationships.

Luke is struggling to provide a safe, loving home for his deceased partner’s young son, following a devastating tragedy.

When Jenna and Luke meet and fall in love, they are certain they can achieve the stability and happiness they both desperately need.

And yet, someone is watching.

Someone who has been scarred by past events.

Someone who will stop at nothing to get revenge…

Dark, unsettling and immensely moving, Quicksand of Memory is a chilling reminder that we are not only punished for our sins, but by them, and that memories left to blacken and sharpen over time are the perfect breeding ground for obsession, and murder…

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MY REVIEW:

“Just a hundred yards away, a hooded figure watched. Shadows obscured his face like they were part of his costume. His heartbeat thumped insistently in his neck, and his hands flexed in and out of fists, like lungs drawing in breath.”

Quicksand of Memory is another gripping thriller from Michael J. Malone.  Drenched in atmosphere, charged with adrenaline and sizzling with suspense, there are so many twists I thought I’d get book whiplash.  It’s a ticking time bomb of sheer dread as new couple Luke and Jenna find themselves in the crosshairs of someone with an unquenchable thirst for revenge.  Someone who is watching and waiting for the perfect time to strike…

“Guilt was an ever-present for Luke. It wrapped itself around his heart and mind, weighed down muscle and bone, and invaded his sleep. Every waking moment arrived to him through a filter of shame.” 

A redemption tale that packs a punch, this story will get under your skin and into your heart. A layered, nuanced and complex thriller full of misery, malevolence and misfortune, the richly drawn characters pull you in and there’s a profound sense of loss and sadness that permeates every page.  The story is told by multiple narrators, each of whom is fractured, flawed and trying to break free of the shackles of their past.  But can they ever really manage it?  Malone highlights the importance of positive support and role models in order for us to be able to transcend the negative parts of our lives and succeed in breaking free in the differing levels of success the characters have at overcoming their past.  As the spectres of their past continue to haunt them and the ripple effects continue to mark their lives in present, we see how positive support helps Luke and Jenna to move on and move forward while still feeling the trauma and guilt of their past while Jamie and Amanda, who have had no such support, are stuck in a cycle of anger and bitterness.  I enjoyed each perspective and felt the most empathy for Jamie, despite his terrible actions.  I felt like he truly was a victim of circumstance and he would be a better person with the right encouragement, help and support, whereas Amanda seemed rotten to her core and to delight in causing pain to others.  

“But now the spectre of Danny hung over them. Toxins flowing from his ever-strong memory, poisons that leached into Luke’s every vein, every muscle, tainting every thought, perception and action.”

Michael J. Malone is a talented storyteller who will take you through a range of emotions while reading and is the master of dark thrillers that also hold a deeper, more important message.  In this book he explores a number of harrowing and difficult topics such as dysfunctional families, neglect, trauma, drug use and violence.  He examines the correlation between poverty, violence and drug use and the lack of a father figure, and also asks what drives people to destruction and revenge.  He also poses the question of whether we truly have free will or are our lives  shaped by circumstances and events?

“He felt like there were two people living under his skin. The little boy who craved love and attention. And the one who wanted to set fire to the world.” 

Sinister, suspenseful and compelling, Quicksand of Memory is a powerful and thought-provoking thriller that you don’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The Bad Samaritan; and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit. Since then, he’s written two further thought-provoking, exquisitely written psychological thrillers In the Absence of Miracles and A Song of Isolation, cementing his position as a key proponent of Tartan Noir and an undeniable talent. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | 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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Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

AUDIOBOOK BLOG TOUR: Shattered Bones by Kate Bendelow, Narrated by Annabelle Indge

Published: April 1st 2022
Publisher: Isis Publishing
Genre: Mystery, Police Procedural
Format: Audiobook, Kindle, Paperback

Welcome to my delayed stop on the blog tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Danielle for the invitation to take part in the tour and to Isis Audio for the gifted audiobook.

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SYNOPSIS:

SOCO Maya Barton is called to a canal where a heavily decomposed male body has been discovered. A bank card belonging to Trevor Dawlish is found in the cadaver’s pocket, and the name matches that of a missing person. All seems straightforward – until Trevor’s wife phones the police to say that Trevor has returned home, leaving Maya and the team wondering who the unknown male is. 

When it’s revealed that the male was dead before he entered the water, Maya finds herself with a murder on her hands. But when another body is discovered, the case becomes further complicated. The hope is that facial reconstruction of the first victim will help solve the mystery – but it may lead Maya and her team down an even darker path.

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MY REVIEW:

When a heavily decomposed body is found in a canal and a bank card is found in the cadaver’s pocket belonging to Trevor Dawlish it looks like a pretty straightforward case for SOCO Maya Barton and her team.  But when Trevor’s wife calls saying he just assaulted her and then disappeared things get more complicated.  But the crazy twists in this case are only beginning…

This gripping audiobook packs a punch from the start with a rage-filled prologue that is immediately followed by a gruesome crime scene.  I was caught on the author’s hook and on the edge of my seat as I listened. 
While Shattered Bones is the second in Kate Bendelow’s Maya Barton trilogy, it was my introduction to both the series and the author.  Despite this I never struggled to keep up or understand what was happening, making this a great standalone or introduction to the series.  The story is skillfully written, the author’s history as a CSI shining through in the gritty, authentic feel and small details.

This story is a tangled web with many threads, some that I found hard to imagine how they wove together.  But as the investigation goes on they slowly begin to weave together and I saw the final picture take shape.  And it looked nothing like I’d imagined.  I love it when a thriller is hard to predict and this one really was, forcing me to reassess my predictions again and again.  

Maya is a great protagonist.  I found her likeable, interesting, witty and adept.  I loved her relationship with her mother Dominique and enjoyed the tension and emotion that their shared history added to the story.  I was very invested in this particular thread of the story and listened with my heart in my throat and even tears in my eyes at one point.  

Tense, twisty, unflinching and compelling, Shattered Bones was one of my favourite audiobooks yet and I look forward to the final part of this trilogy.  A must-listen for anyone who enjoys a really well-written thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

I am the author of The Real CSI: A Forensic Handbook for Crime Writers. I also deliver presentations on the same subject to crime writers. I hope you find The Real CSI a useful resource.

Bloodhound Books are the publishers behind the SOCO Maya Barton trilogy. It’s crime fiction with a twist, as the main protagonist is a scene of crime office rather than a detective. The first two books in the series are Definitely Dead and Shattered Bones and are perfect for you if you’re interested in forensics crime scene investigation.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon*
*This is an affiliate link

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

Categories
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.

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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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Nasty Little Cuts by Tina Baker

Published: February 24th 2022
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

I’m delighted to be opening the blog tour for this terrifically twisted thriller. Thank you to Viper Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

WHO WILL SURVIVE THE NIGHT?

A nightmare jolts Debs awake. She leaves the kids tucked up in their beds and goes downstairs. There’s a man in her kitchen, holding a knife. But it’s not an intruder. This is her husband Marc, the father of her children. A man she no longer recognises.

Once their differences were what drew them together, what turned them on. Him, the ex-army officer from a good family. Her, the fitness instructor who grew up over a pub. But now these differences grate to the point of drawing blood. Marc screams in his sleep. And Debs hardly knows the person she’s become, or why she lets him hurt her.

Neither of them is completely innocent. Neither is totally guilty. Marc is taller, stronger, and more vicious, haunted by a war he can’t forget. But he has no idea what Debs is capable of when her children’s lives are at stake…

A powerful exploration of a relationship built on passion, poisoned by secrets and violence. Perfect for readers of Blood Orange and Big Little Lies.

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MY REVIEW:

“What if the thing she’s most afraid of isn’t some threat lurking outside the safety of this cosy home, clawing at the doors, peering into her double-glazed windows, its breath frosting the panes? 

What if it’s right here in the kitchen beside her?” 

Debs wakes early Christmas Eve from a nightmare.  Quietly, she makes her way downstairs and discovers she has woken up to something even more terrifying than what haunts her dreams; her husband, Marc, standing in the kitchen holding a knife.  She no longer recognises the man she married and as fear courses through her, she wonders what he has planned.  Over the course of a few hours that cold morning, the couple’s problems in their marriage come to a head.  But will Debs and her children make it out alive?

Tina Baker has done it again!  Nasty Little Cuts jumps straight into the action, taking no prisoners with a twisted opening, heavy with foreshadowing.  There’s an unbearable sense of dread as Debs and Marc face off against one another in the kitchen,  the story unfolding slowly as it moves between that December morning and flashbacks to the past; small clues about their characters and relationship unveiling as the reader is kept on a knife edge wondering how Debs will escape.  

“Each word, a tiny snag, each shallow cut stings. A word, a look, a sigh. One after the other after the other, all in a row, like the teeth on a bread knife. Tiny, tiny serrations. Eventually, they could slice you in half.”

My love for Ms. Baker is no secret.  I adore her.  And I have been waiting with bated breath for this follow up ever since I finished her fantastic debut, Call Me Mummy.  Once again she has delivered a knock-out thriller that is complex, layered and nuanced.  It is a psychological puzzle that not only examines the characters in uncomfortabledetail, but explores topics such as depression, PTSD, infertility and the need for communication in relationships.  She breathes pain into the story that will make your heart break in two.  I loved the imagery she used to describe depression, anxiety and PTSD; the dark, haunting, overwhelming feelings that you can’t escape and eat you up from the inside.  It is so vivid and raw, helping those who might never have experienced these things really understand how it feels.  The writing is ebullient, sharp, funny and riveting, much like the lady herself, and she creates a tone that moves between deeply unsettling, heart-wrenchingly emotional and darkly amusing, keeping me hostage as I was unable to tear myself away. 

“For a long time now a syrupy blackness has seeped back into this vacuum inside him.” 

The characters are deeply flawed and achingly real.  Richly drawn and compelling, they are superbly written and jump from the pages.  Dolly is a vivacious, fun child and I couldn’t get enough of her.  I loved little Pat-Pat, who reminded me of my own son when he was young, right down to the ‘Duracell bunny’ comparison.  And while there are multiple narrators, Debs feels like the main character.  The true heart of the story.  And it is her I felt the strongest connection with.  Her terror during those hours in the kitchen is palpable, making my heart race as if I was in the room myself.  Marc is someone we see as the villain from the start, but I found my heart breaking for him as I learned of his past and the inner turmoil he was trying to keep locked inside.  It isn’t easy to make a character someone the reader can both loathe and feel sympathy for, but Ms. Baker shows her talent as an author when she manages to accomplish this with Marc. 

“Bruises fade. Another blooms internally.” 

This is a portrait of a failing marriage and we soon discover the idyllic, happy relationship they try to portray isn’t the truth. Theirs is a marriage filled with misery, misunderstanding, isolation, abuse and fear.  A toxic relationship that is slowly killing them both on the inside but neither knows how to fix.  They are both adrift and desperately trying to reach out and tell each other what they feel and need.  Only they never come out and say it, leading to a minefield of miscommunication and resentment.  It is devastating to watch as they destroy not only themselves, but each other, all building up to the morning that Debs finds Marc in the kitchen holding the knife.  They have reached their breaking point. 

Nasty Little Cuts is a pacy, punchy and gripping thriller.  A harrowing, brutal and tortured story that will make your heart pound and leave your nerves on edge.  I can’t recommend this book enough.  Go and read this as soon as possible.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Tina Baker, the daughter of a window cleaner and fairground traveller, worked as a journalist and broadcaster for thirty years and is probably best known as a television critic for the BBC and GMTV. After so many hours watching soaps gave her a widescreen bum, she got off it and won Celebrity Fit Club. She now avoids writing-induced DVT by working as a Fitness Instructor.

Call Me Mummy is Tina’s first novel, inspired by her own unsuccessful attempts to become a mother. Despite the grief of that, she’s not stolen a child – so far. But she does rescue cats, whether they want to be rescued or not.

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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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Uncategorised

BLOG TOUR: The Gifts by Liz Hyder

Published: February 17th 2022
Publisher: Manilla Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Historical Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mesmerising and magical tale. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Manilla Press for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Haunting, thrilling, wonderful. I loved it’ Stacey Halls

The luminous debut adult novel from the Waterstones Prize Winner, perfect for fans of The Mermaid and Mrs Hancock, The Essex Serpent and The Doll Factory

In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are . . .

October 1840. A young woman staggers alone through a forest in Shropshire as a huge pair of impossible wings rip themselves from her shoulders.

Meanwhile, when rumours of a ‘fallen angel’ cause a frenzy across London, a surgeon desperate for fame and fortune finds himself in the grip of a dangerous obsession, one that will place the women he seeks in the most terrible danger . . .

THE GIFTS is the astonishing debut adult novel from the lauded author of BEARMOUTH. A gripping and ambitious book told through five different perspectives and set against the luminous backdrop of nineteenth century London, it explores science, nature and religion, enlightenment, the role of women in society and the dark danger of ambition.

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MY REVIEW:

In an age defined by men, it will take something extraordinary to show four women who they truly are…

October, 1840. A scared young woman is fleeing from an unknown assailant, running for her life in a dark forest when the impossible happens: a huge pair of wings rip from her shoulders and she transforms into something extraordinary and impossible;  she becomes an angel.  
A man finds the corpse of a woman in the Thames. But she is no ordinary woman, wings sprouting from her shoulders like an angel.  The man seizes the opportunity and sells her to an ambitious surgeon who swears him to secrecy.  But rumours are soon rife about ‘the Angel of the Thames’, spreading through the city like wildfire, though most dismiss it as folly. As tales of more impossible beings spread through the city, the surgeon seeks out these extraordinary women to add to his collection, seeing an opportunity to make his fortune and live in infamy.  But he isn’t the only one on their trail, a would-be journalist is also seeking out these women, determined to find out the truth behind these rumours and further her writing career.

“It is an extraordinary story, he thinks, utterly fantastical and yet… could it really be that there is something to it?” 

The Gifts is an enthralling gothic fairy tale.  A story about girl power, self-belief and finding out who you really are set against a backdrop of the Victorian era with a little bit of magical realism woven into the narrative. Liz Hyder has crafted a novel that combines great storytelling, vivid imagery, compelling characters and authentic social history that lured me in from the first page and kept me guessing right until the last.  The short, punchy chapters give the story fluidity and the five narrators: Etta, Annie, Mary, Natalya and Edward, add their own unique voices to the story as it explores themes of patriarchy, religion, science, power and social class.

“It is her first day with wings. It is also her first day as a prisoner.” 

Told from multiple points of view, the varied cast of characters are richly drawn and entertaining.  The four female narrators are each in a dark place and feeling marginalised when we meet them and we follow as they try to find out who they are and what their place is in a patriarchal society that doesn’t want their voices to be heard.  It is a journey that will see these four strangers come together in the most unexpected of ways and I loved reading every one of them.  Even in their darkest hours they are quietly determined, fierce and strong, showing a resilience that carries them through.  Etta and Mary were women who pushed the envelope, going beyond what society tells them is acceptable for a woman to live the life they want, although they do this in very different ways.  
Natalya has a heartbreaking story but her strength still shines through as she refuses to give up time and time again.  Annie is a woman who has given up her dreams for herself to be a wife and then found herself infertile, longing for a child she seems unable to have.  My heart broke for her as I know that pain; though  I did laugh at the idea that reading causes blood to drain from the uterus and therefore stops a woman getting pregnant.
Though there were times I’d wish the author would allow them to push social boundaries and not rely on men even more, I did enjoy how each of these women were written. I particularly enjoyed watching Etta harnessing her rage into a power and using her intelligence to outwit the men who would try to hold her back or keep her captive. 

“He smiles to himself as his lips run over the words.  It will be outstanding, he thinks, and is greatly pleased – even overwhelmed – by his own magnificence.”

Though this is ultimately a story about women, it is Edward who is at the centre of the story.  He is a truly fantastic villain, so brilliantly written that he made me incandescent with rage.  I despised him.   Edward is a man possessed by ambition, religious fanaticism and delusion; a dangerous combination that sets him on a path that merges with the four women with catastrophic consequences.  After watching him mercilessly kill an animal early in the book I wasn’t surprised when he later showed no compassion towards ‘his angels’.  He sees these women as merely tools to aid his ascension to greatness, possessions given to him to use in any way he desires and gives no thought for them as human beings with autonomy or feelings.  He also sees his wife as an extension of himself, only there to further him socially, treating her with increasing disdain.  It was disturbing to watch as his mania grew and he became more paranoid, unable to be reasoned with and only caring about his notoriety and God’s so-called plan.  I was itching for him to meet his downfall.

“And perhaps the world is not ready for women such as us.  Not yet.” 

The Gifts is a mesmerising piece of historical and gothic fiction that will delight, enthral and enrage you.  The author weaves an illuminating tale that builds to a dramatic climax as the women finally discover their power.  I would recommend this book and can’t wait to read more by Ms. Hyder. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Liz Hyder is a writer, creative workshop leader and arts PR Consultant. Bearmouth, her debut for Young Adults, won the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize for Older Readers, the Branford Boase Award and was named Children’s Book of the Year in The Times. The Gifts, her debut book for grown-ups, is out in February 2022.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The House of Ashes by Stuart Neville

Published: February 3rd 2022
Publisher: Zaffre
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Gothic Fiction, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this unsettling gothic tale. Thanks to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Zaffre for the ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A house built on secrets
An old woman haunted by her past
A young woman fighting for her life

For Sara Keane, it was supposed to be a second chance.
A new country. A new house. A new beginning.

Then came the knock on the door.

Elderly Mary Jackson can’t understand why Sara and her husband are living in her home.
She remembers the fire. She remembers the house burning down. But she also remembers the children. The children who need her. The children she must protect.

‘The children will find you,’ she tells Sara, because Mary knows she needs help too. As Sara becomes obsessed with what happened in that house nearly sixty years ago, and the family wiped out in one bloody night, she begins to see things. Things that can’t be real.

In a story that spans six decades, the truth will not stay buried, and the ghosts of the past can never remain in the shadows . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“The children. They’ll find you… They’re hiding. Waiting for me. Waiting for you.”

A fire tears through The Ashes in the dead of night, forcing Mary to flee the only home she’s ever known and reducing it to a shell.  Sara and Damien Keene move in as it is being rebuilt, but strange occurrences leave Sara feeling uneasy.  Then one morning, an old woman turns up, her feet bloodied, demanding to know why Sara is in her house and where the children are.  Who is this woman?  And what children is she talking about?  Unsatisfied with her husband’s explanation, Sara is determined to discover what secrets he and the house is hiding.  The old woman is the key.  But can she get Mary to finally speak the secrets she’s been holding in for decades?

The House of Ashes is a dark, twisted and unsettling gothic novel that you don’t want to read in the dark.  From the first pages I had chills, reading on tenterhooks with an almost unbearable feeling of dread in my stomach.  It isn’t a book for the faint hearted; the author explores dark themes such as abuse that are written with both brutal honesty and heartwarming compassion.  It is in these themes that we see Mary and Sara’s lives mirror each other; both kept prisoner in The Ashes by men who terrify them.  And just as the house kept them captive, the book did the same to me, refusing to let me go until I’d read the final page and its story had been told. 

“People about the town would say she’s mad in the head. Some of the children would call her Scary Mary. And fair enough, she might be a wee bit touched, but who wouldn’t be after what she went through.” 

Told by multiple narrators, the story unfolds in the past and the present.  Sara and Mary are the main narrators and while Sara’s story mostly focuses on the present, Mary tells the story of her past.  She finally speaks the secrets she’s been silent about for sixty years, slowly revealing to the reader the dark secrets that the house holds within its walls and the true horror of that bloody night.  I had a real soft spot for all of the women but felt for Mary most.  She was a young girl who knew nothing but a life within the walls of The Ashes. A life of neglect, abuse and fear that made the house both her misery and her solace.  Seeing the story through her eyes was heartrending and I loved how the author managed to convey such childish innocence alongside her resignation to things no one should ever know.  

“Maybe you shouldn’t know too much about that place. Not if you’re going to live in it.” 

The Ashes is more than just a house. It is like another character that lives and breathes.  A sense of malevolence and foreboding radiating from this chilling place.  But the strange and unnerving occurrences aren’t merely there to torment it’s inhabitants, it is the past returning to try and warn those in the present.  Warnings they must heed in order to survive.  

Darkly atmospheric, harrowing and haunting, The House of Ashes is a chilling gothic tale.  Just make sure you read with the lights on!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Stuart Neville’s debut novel, THE TWELVE (published in the USA as THE GHOSTS OF BELFAST), won the Mystery/Thriller category of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and was picked as one of the top crime novels of 2009 by both the New York Times and the LA Times. He has been shortlisted for various awards, including the Barry, Macavity, Dilys awards, as well as the Irish Book Awards Crime Novel of the Year. He has since published three critically acclaimed sequels, COLLUSION, STOLEN SOULS and THE FINAL SILENCE.

His first four novels have each been longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and RATLINES was shortlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger.

Stuart’s novels have been translated into various languages, including German, Japanese, Polish, Swedish, Greek and more. The French edition of The Ghosts of Belfast, Les Fantômes de Belfast, won Le Prix Mystère de la Critique du Meilleur Roman Étranger and Grand Prix du Roman Noir Étranger.

His fourth novel, RATLINES, about Nazis harboured by the Irish state following WWII is currently in development for television.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx