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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Death on a Winter’s Day (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery 8) by Verity Smith

Published: November 24th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Cozy Mystery, Sherlock Holmes Mystery
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the latest installment in this cosy mystery series. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBok ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Christmas at the castle with holly, handmade gifts, snowflakes and… is that a body under the tree? Someone call Lady Swift!

Winter, 1921Lady Eleanor Swift, amateur sleuth and reluctant lady of the manor, has been invited to spend Christmas in Scotland, at the beautiful castle of her dear friends Baron and Baroness Ashley. Even her favourite companion, master of mischief Gladstone the bulldog, is coming along to share a slice of turkey. As snow begins to fall outside, the rather mismatched group are cozy by the roaring fire, sharing a tipple over a plate of Mrs Trotman’s famous mince pies.

But after what was supposed to be a fun party game, Mr Eugene Randall is found dead at the feast. A somewhat unpopular business associate of the Baron’s from across the pond, it seems Mr Randall has certainly upset somebody. Was it what he said about Scottish whisky?

The killer must be in the castle… and when the Baron is arrested, Baroness Ashley begs Eleanor to investigate. Determined not to let her friend down, Eleanor sets about questioning the remaining partygoers.

All too swiftly, someone else is found dead, having apparently fallen from a high balcony. As if one murder wasn’t enough to put a twist in the tinsel! Eleanor knows she’s skating on thin ice now. And when she discovers a hidden document that points the finger of suspicion at the unlikeliest of suspects, she realises there’s more to the story. Can Eleanor catch the killer before it’s time for Christmas dinner?

The perfect cozy mystery to curl up with this winter! Fans of Agatha Christie, T.E. Kinsey and Lee Strauss are in for a festive treat.

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MY REVIEW:

Lady Eleanor Swift saves Christmas and solves a murder in the latest installment of this cosy mystery series.  Eleanor is in Scotland with her friends Baron and Baroness Ashley to celebrate the holidays when what should have been a fun game of Wink turns deadly.  It seems there is a murder in the castle; the ameutur sleuth has another mystery to solve.

This was another fun cosy mystery that I sped through quickly.  It was my first festive read this year and had all the perfect ingredients for the ideal Christmassy book to read by the fire. This series has become a real comfort read for me and always evokes a warm glow when reading.  Verity Bright never disappoints, creating an atmospheric and compelling story every time. 

I loved being back with the familiar characters, particularly Lady Eleanor and her butler Clifford, who can always be counted on to be by her side every step of the way as she investigates.  I love their witty banter, black humour  and the overall dynamic of their relationship.  I don’t think I’ll ever tire of reading their exploits and could enjoy them even if a murder wasn’t invovled as their characters are so entertaining.  

So if you’re looking for a lively and  lighthearted  whodunnit this winter, then this is for you. You don’t have to have read the previous books to enjoy it, but I do recommend them. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon*
*This is an affiliate link

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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
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Review: The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn

Published: November 25th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, Domestic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review of this heartwarming novel. Thank you to HQ for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

One small act can make a big difference

Violet Strong is strong by name but not by nature, or so she thinks. She listens but never talks about herself. She’s friendly but doesn’t have many real friends. She’s become good at keeping people at a distance ever since she left home at eighteen and never looked back.

But when Violet is forced to return home to care for her estranged mother, Glenys, she quickly finds out that life as a carer isn’t easy. Feeling overwhelmed, she’s forced to turn to the other local carers, including childhood friend, Adam, for help.

Although returning home still feels like a mistake, maybe it will help Violet right some wrongs. After all, she can’t keep running from her past forever, and in learning to look after others, perhaps Violet can start to finally love herself…

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MY REIVEW:

“Not everyone’s burdens are visible, lots are inside. Trapped. Unseen.”

Sometimes you pick up a book and it is exactly what you need.  That was the case when I decided to read this book on a whim at the weekend.  Uplifting, heartwarming and tender, this book warmed me from the inside like a bowl of porridge on a cold day. 

This is a story of friendship, community and forgiveness.  A story about loving yourself and how there is joy to be found in helping those around us.  The protagonist, Violet, is forced to move back home to care for the mother she’s not spoken to for 14 years, bringing her face to face with the people and place that she has been running from all that time.  The terrible mistake she made haunts her every minute of the day and has left her feeling that she is Bad News and better off alone.  Forced to face her demons, can Violet learn to forgive and love herself?  

I was a big fan of Jessica Ryn’s debut novel so I was highly anticipating this one.  She has a talent for enveloping important life lessons and social commentary in a heartwarming tale, executing it to perfection once more with this novel. Exquisitely written, it draws you into Violet’s world with descriptive, vivid imagery that makes the story leap from the page.  I was mesmerised. Ms. Ryn has solidified her place on my list of auto-buy authors with this book for sure. 

There is a compelling cast of characters who I loved; each one richly drawn and memorable.  I loved Violet and was thrilled that the author made her a book blogger as it immediately gave me a connection to her.  I enjoyed the many literary references throughout the book and how she finds solace in the pages of what she reads, something  I’m sure we can all relate to. She is a wonderful character and I was desperate to know what she could have possibly done that was worth such self-recrimination.  I also had a real soft spot for Tammy and enjoyed watching her blossom as the story went on. 

Charming, warm and affecting, this is a hug in book form that will give you all the feels.  The perfect read to snuggle under a blanket with this winter. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jessica Ryn is a former midwife and homeless resettlement worker. She has recently completed her MA in Creative Writing at CCCU, and her stories have been shortlisted for the Kimberly Chambers’ Kickstarter Award, Wordsmag and the Val Wood Prize for Creative Writing. When she’s not scribbling away, Jessica can be found meandering through the woods, reading stories that pull on the feel-strings and eating yoghurt-covered skittles. Jessica lives in Dover with her husband, two children and their high-spirited springer spaniel. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside is her debut novel and her second book, The Imperfect Art of Caring, will be published in November.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Published: November 25th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Literary Fiction, Saga
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the mesmerising, soulful and addictive Wish You Were Here. Thank you to Kate at Hodder and Stoughton for the invitation to take part and the gifted copies of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Diana O’Toole’s life is going perfectly to plan. At twenty-nine, she’s up for promotion to her dream job as an art specialist at Sotheby’s and she’s about to fly to the Galápagos where she’s convinced her surgeon boyfriend, Finn, is going to propose.

But then the virus hits New York City and Finn breaks the news: the hospital needs him, he has to stay. But you should still go, he insists. And reluctantly, she agrees.

Once she’s in the Galápagos, the world shuts down around her, leaving Diana stranded – albeit in paradise. Completely isolated, with only intermittent news from the outside world, Diana finds herself examining everything that has brought her to this point and wondering if there’s a better way to live.

But not everything is as it seems . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“Sometimes it feels like the whole world is holding its breath.  If we don’t gasp, soon, we will all pass out.” 

Wish You Were Here is a beautiful, heartfelt and absorbing story about resilience, hope and survival.  It explores the fear and trauma of the pandemic and the limitless potential of the human mind.  Moving between New York and the Galapagos, it follows Diana O’Toole as she goes on an unexpected journey of self-discovery after she finds herself stranded on Isabelle Island as the world shuts down. 

Jodi Picoult is my favourite author and can be relied upon to deliver a story I will get lost in.  She is a masterful storyteller who knows how to get right to my soul, but all the same I had some fears that it might be too soon for a book that focuses on the pandemic.  But while Picoult doesn’t shy away from the raw, unvarnished truth of covid and the effects of the pandemic, this is a story that focuses on finding beauty in the bleakest of times and hope when things seem hopeless. 

“The idea of being by yourself on a desert island has a romantic cachet to it, but the reality is less attractive.”

The story takes us back to the early days of the pandemic, vividly conveying the fear, uncertainty and confusion we all felt through Diana’s eyes. It brought back that terror at seeing how things escalated so quickly, that cheerful optimism that it would all be done within a matter of weeks, and the reality that it has changed every one of us forever. I liked that she offered us two very different experiences of the pandemic: Diana stranded alone in paradise, learning how to survive in a place she doesn’t know or speak the language, and Finn’s emails from the front lines in a New York hospital as he helplessly watches hundreds of patients die and works himself to the bone. Both characters are filled with fear, loneliness and desperation but in different ways, which Picoult expertly explores. But at its heart this is a story about self-reflection and self-discovery.  About how no matter the plans we make, life will happen, sometimes taking us in the most unexpected directions.  

Mesmerising, soulful and thought-provoking, Wish You Were Here is an absolute masterpiece. Ms. Picoult has outdone herself, creating one of her best and most moving stories to date.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jodi Picoult is the author of twenty five internationally bestselling novels, including MY SISTER’S KEEPER, HOUSE RULES and SMALL GREAT THINGS, and has also co-written two YA books with her daughter Samantha van Leer, BETWEEN THE LINES and OFF THE PAGE. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and three children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Dead Mercy (Maggie Jamieson Book 5) by Noelle Holten

Published: November 19th, 2021
Publisher: One More Chapter
Genre: Police Procedural, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Crime Fiction, Hardboiled, Crime Series
Format: Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this dark and twisty thriller. Thank you to Sarah at Books on the Bright Side Publicity for the invitation to take part and to One More Chapter for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A brutal murder…

When a burned body is found with its teeth missing, DC Maggie Jamieson discovers that the victim may be the husband of one of her probation colleagues.

A dark history…

As the body count rises, the team becomes increasingly baffled by how the victims could possibly be connected until a clue leads them to a historical case that was never prosecuted.

A terrible secret…

In order to catch the killer, Maggie must piece together what happened all those years ago before it’s too late.

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MY REVIEW:

“At least amongst the dead we knew we were safe…” 

Dead Mercy packs a punch from the start with a brutal murder where the victim is tortured and burned alive.  A dark and disturbing story of secrets and revenge, we follow Maggie and her team as they investigate, uncovering a historic child abuse case and hunting a killer dispensing his own version of justice. As the killer plays a cat and mouse game with the team, can they find him before he completes his deadly plan?

The fifth installment in Noelle Holten’s Maggie Jamieson series is another tense, twisty and compelling thriller.  Ms. Holten is adept at crafting sinister and unnerving characters and stories that are also moving and addictive.  She knows how to hold the reader in the palm of her hand from beginning to end and make them come back for more.   And while she writes honestly, there is also compassion, walking a fine line as she finds some understanding even for those with minds warped by their trauma, as is this case with the killer in this book.  She just gets better and better.

While I love returning to familiar characters and enjoy Maggie as a protagonist, the star of the show this time around has to be the killer.  He is a fascinating character, full of pain, anguish, sorrow and desperation.  A man let down as a child by those who were supposed to protect him, he decides to take matters into his own hands. Ms. Holten takes us inside his mind so we can see his turmoil and brokenness and empathise with how he got to this point.  

Hard-hitting, menacing and suspenseful, this has everything I could ask for in a thriller. Sharply-written and enthralling, this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a darker kind of psychological thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog. Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Psychopaths Anonymous (Detective Pace 4) by Will Carver

Published: November 25th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this deliciously dark and twisted thriller. Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Orenda Books for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

When AA meetings make her want to drink more, alcoholic murderess Maeve sets up a group for psychopaths … The dark, unpredictable, electrifyingly original new thriller from critically acclaimed author Will Carver.

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Maeve has everything. A high-powered job, a beautiful home, a string of uncomplicated one-night encounters. She’s also an addict: A functioning alcoholic with a dependence on sex and an insatiable appetite for killing men. 

When she can’t find a support group to share her obsession, she creates her own. And Psychopaths Anonymous is born. Friends of Maeve. 

Now in a serious relationship, Maeve wants to keep the group a secret. But not everyone in the group adheres to the rules, and when a reckless member raises suspicions with the police, Maeve’s drinking spirals out of control. 

She needs to stop killing. She needs to close the group. 

But Maeve can’t seem to quit the things that are bad for her, including her new man…

A scathing, violent and darkly funny book about love, connection, obsessions and sex – and the aspects of human nature we’d prefer to hide – Psychopaths Anonymous is also an electrifyingly original, unpredictable thriller that challenges virtually everything.

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MY REVIEW:

“I don’t have to kill… It’s not a necessity.
But I do enjoy it.”

Psychopaths Anonymous is another deliciously dark and sinister offering from the incomparable Will Carver.  Not for the weak of heart, this twisted thriller is a character study of the psychopathic mind and a reminder that humans are the scariest of monsters.  

The story follows Maeve, a self-confessed psychopath, as she attends AA meetings to feed on the misery of others and kills for kicks.  Frustrated with the rules of AA, she sets up her own group for like minded people:  Psychopaths Anonymous.  But when someone betrays the secrets of the group Maeve is forced to take deadly action. 

Told in Will’s singular style, you can expect gruesome scenes, black humour and scathing social commentary, with religion and God facing particular critique this time around.  Filled with malice, murder and mayhem, this book is as addictive as his others and I flew through it quickly.  It does differ from the other books in the series though as there is no narration from Detective Pace and he is barely featured in the book.  It gives this story a slightly different vibe from the others and makes it work even more as a standalone or introduction to the series.

Maeve is a brilliant but terrifying creation.  A psychopath with an unquenchable desire for alcohol, sex and murder who also loves reality TV, she is a fascinating and compelling character.  She embraces her psychopathy and enjoys being free of the constraints of conscience, guilt and regret.  Mr. Carver did a great job of humanising her despite her murderous ways, and even though she’s messed up, I loved her.  She is that blend of charisma and crazy that is impossible to resist and up there with my other favourite serial killing character, Rhiannon from Sweetepa.

Bold, gritty, macabre and intoxicating, Will Carver has knocked it out of the park yet again and you need to go read it.   You will be horrorstuck, you will be sickened, and you will laugh.  You shouldn’t love this book, but you will. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for both the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2020 and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books| Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon*| Kobo| Google Books| Apple Books
*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 Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Lost by Simon Beckett

Published: November 25th, 2021
Publisher: Trapeze Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Medical Thriller, Hardboiled, Police Procedurals, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this heart-pounding thriller. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Trapeze Books for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A MISSING CHILD

Ten years ago, the disappearance of firearms police officer Jonah Colley’s young son almost destroyed him.

A GRUESOME DISCOVERY

A plea for help from an old friend leads Jonah to Slaughter Quay, and the discovery of four bodies. Brutally attacked and left for dead, he is the only survivor.

A SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH

Under suspicion himself, he uncovers a network of secrets and lies about the people he thought he knew – forcing him to question what really happened all those years ago…

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MY REVIEW:

Do I need yet another crime series to read? No. Have I found one? Hell yes!

When I signed up for the blog tour for this highly anticipated thriller I had no idea it was the first in a new series. But after inhaling this taut, tense and unflinching book I was ecstatic to learn that it is only the beginning, and Jonah Colley will be back for more adventures.

The story packs a punch from the start, opening with the discovery of four bodies and Jonah fighting for his life against an unknown assailant at the aptly named Slaughter Quay. The only survivor, he is immediately under suspicion. The suspicion increases after the police find a possible connection at the scene to the disappearance of Jonah’s son, Theo, ten years earlier. Desperate to prove his innocence, Jonah begins his own investigation, hoping to both clear his name and discover what really happened to Theo all those years ago.

The word unputdownable can be thrown around a little too easily, but this one really was. I had to force myself to put it down at 2am when my eyes could no longer stay open and then read straight through until I’d reached the conclusion when I picked it up the next day. I was addicted. I needed answers. And when I got them they made my jaw drop.

Jonah is a great protagonist. Flawed but likeable, he is easy to root for with a tragic yet compelling backstory that piqued my interest from the start. The events surrounding the disappearance of his son are told in flashbacks that are utterly heartbreaking. It is every parent’s worst nightmare, his guilt, pain and anguish tearing my own heart in two. And the hits kept coming for Jonah, a conveyor belt of bad luck and betrayal that doesn’t seem like it will end as his investigation uncovers a twisted web of secrets and lies by those he thought he knew.

The other characters are all equally compelling, the author bringing to life Gavin and Theo from beyond the grave through a combination of flashbacks and Jonah’s memories. Each of the characters are flawed, fractured and fallible. And no one is blameless in this story. I loved this as flawed characters are much more fun to read, especially when written with such skill.

This was my first Simon Beckett book but it will not be my last. Multilayered, flawlessly plotted and sizzling with suspense that builds to a heart-pounding crescendo. I read on tenterhooks, the many twists and turns almost making me dizzy, and was totally blindsided by the big reveal.

Gritty, dark, sinister and addictive, this is a must-read for anyone who enjoys a well-written, twisty thriller. Just make sure you have lots of time free because you aren’t going to want to put this one down.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Simon Beckett is the No.1 International Bestselling author of the David Hunter series. His books have been translated into 29 languages, appeared in the Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller lists and sold over 10 million copies worldwide. A former freelance journalist who has written for The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Independent on Sunday and The Observer, the inspiration for the first David Hunter novel came after a visit to the world-renowned Body Farm in Tennessee introduced him to the work of forensic anthropologists.

As well as co-winning the Ripper Award in 2018/19, the largest European crime prize, Simon has won the Raymond Chandler Society’s ‘Marlowe’ Award and been short-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger, CWA Dagger in the Library and Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year.

In addition to the six David Hunter titles, the most recent of which is The Scent of Death, he has written five standalone novels, one of which, Where There’s Smoke, was adapted into a major ITV two-part drama.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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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

Blog Tour: Call of the Penguins by Hazel Prior

Published: November 11th, 2021
Publisher: Black Swan
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Adventure Fiction, Holiday Fiction, Pensioners in the Pages
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the tour for this delightful and uplifting book. Thank you to Anne at Random Things tours for the invitation to take part and to Black Swan for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Meet the heroine everyone’s talking about . . .

Fiercely resilient and impeccably dressed, Veronica McCreedy has lived an incredible 87 years. Most of them alone, in her huge house by the sea.

But Veronica has recently discovered a late-life love for family and friendship, adventure and wildlife.

More specifically, a love for penguins!

And so when she’s invited to co-present a wildlife documentary, far away in the southern hemisphere, she jumps at the chance.

Even though it will put her in the spotlight, just when she thought she would soon fade into the wings.

Perhaps it’s never too late to shine?

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MY REVIEW:

‘Penguins,’ I remind her, ‘are not only a source of endless entertainment; they are an example to us all.’

Hazel Prior has done it again. Call of the Penguins is another absolute gem of a book. Full of wit, warmth and wisdom, she reunites us with our unlikely heroine in this delightful sequel to one of my favourite books of last year.

Jumping straight in, the story picks up with Veronica McCreedy back at her house in Scotland by the sea. Her adventures in Antarctica with her beloved penguins are never far from her mind. So when she is offered the chance to venture to Australia and the Falklands to present a wildlife documentary on her favourite bird, she jumps at the chance. It seems the octogenarian’s adventures are not over yet.

My love of this book and it’s protagonist are no secret, so I was thrilled when I learned that Hazel Prior had written a follow up and immediately ordered the book. I couldn’t wait to be back with Veronica, although I admit to a little trepidation that I might not love this book as I did the first one. I need not have worried. Call of the Penguins is filled with the same heartwarming and heart-rending emotions of the first book as the author dives deeper into the lives of these now-familiar characters.

“I am fizzing with excitement like a bottle of vintage champagne.”

87-year-old Veronica McCreedy is the same intrepid, bold, sharp, feisty and determined woman from book one, only with less of the cantankerous protective layer she used to surround herself with. Instead, she is now surrounded by people she loves. And her memories of the penguins. And just like Veronica, the other characters in the book are a colourful, intriguing and richly drawn bunch. I had a particular soft spot for Daisy, a nine-year-old battling cancer.  Gutsy, ebullient and utterly compelling, Daisy reminded me a lot of Veronica. It was impossible not to love her, especially during her cute and comical interactions with the penguins. 

This is a story about family, self-discovery, self-reflection, unlocking hidden secrets and penguins. Lots of cute penguins. It is clear that not only does Ms. Prior adore these wobbly creatures, but also has a wide range of knowledge about them. This book is filled with even more penguin trivia, this time taking us to the southern hemisphere and featuring a variety of species. It even gave me a new favourite: the Little penguin. 

Once again the book also contains commentary on climate change, plastics and our responsibilities to change our habits in order to create a world that is safe for the birds and animals we love. Reading it certainly made me stop and think about my own part in this and left me with a desire to change some of my shopping habits. But it never preachy, instead expertly woven into the story so all you feel is the passion of the characters for this vital cause. I love how she educates while entertaining the reader and I’ve learned so much reading these books. 

Utterly addictive, joyous and uplifting, Veronica’s story reminds us all that it is never too late to have an adventure or to make the most of life. It is the perfect book to cosy up with under a blanket on a cold day and totally lose yourself in. After all, that’s what I did. So grab a blanket, hot chocolate and some biscuits, and go read this book.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hazel is an enthusiastic and experienced harp-player based in Somerset and Exmoor. Her repertoire spans many styles of music and includes singing with harp accompaniment.  

Hazel is also an author. Her two bestselling novels, published by Penguin Random House, are described as ‘quirky’, ‘lyrical’ and ‘life-affirming’. AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS (USA tile = HOW THE PENGUINS SAVED VERONICA) is a Richard and Judy and a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Walking On Sunshine by Giovanna Fletcher

Published: November 11th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction, Holiday Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this beautiful novel. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Escape this winter with the heart-warming and uplifting new novel from the No 1 bestselling author, Giovanna Fletcher

In the darkness, we all need a little light . . .
________

After Mike loses Pia, his partner of seventeen years, their best friends Vicky and Zaza try to help pick up the pieces.

But though Pia’s gone, she left a plan. A list of loving instructions to help Mike and her friends come to terms with their loss.

And they’re each going to need it . . .

Just-engaged Zaza fears committing any further.
Exhausted mother and wife Vicky has lost sight of herself.
While Mike just feels all the colour has gone from his life.

When the list sends them trekking to Peru, where high mountains and sweltering rainforests push them to the brink, all they have to guide them is their faith in Pia and in themselves.

But will they learn that anything is possible when you’re walking on sunshine?

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MY REVIEW:

“Maybe we’re all meant to unravel every so often to take stock of where life has taken us and try to rebuild.”

Walking on Sunshine is a story of love, loss, hope and learning to live.

Narrated by Zaza, Vicky and Mike, the story explores the different ways we can be lost in life. Each of the characters feel like they are at a kind of crossroads, asking themselves, ‘Is this it?’ There are times we’ve all felt lost, trapped or in need of guidance. And though most of us don’t go trekking though the mountains and rainforests of Peru to find the answers, at the heart of the book is a story we can all relate to and find comfort in. For me, reading this book was also a kind of healing. I lost my dear friend of 25 years suddenly last year and found myself relating to the pain the characters all feel at losing a lifelong friend. But I also related to the joy they found in remembering her, the beauty in keeping her alive in their hearts, and their determination to make the most of every day after realising how short it can be. 

This was my first foray into Giovanna Fletcher’s books and she exceeded all my expectations. I had heard great things and after reading this book I can see why she garners so much praise. Wonderfully written, it is full of warmth and humour that injects lightness and joy into what would have otherwise been a melancholy tale. She has a new fan in this reader and I will be reading her back catalogue, particularly if I ever need a pick-me-up. 

Warm, witty and utterly delightful, I highly recommend this book. Just be warned that you will need tissues.

I’d like to end this review with a quote that I’m dedicating to my late friend, Faye: “The world isn’t the same without you in it, but it was made a better place because you were. Thank you.”

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Giovanna grew up in England, Essex with her Italian dad Mario, mum Kim, big sister Giorgina and little brother Mario, and spent most of her childhood talking to herself (it seems no one wanted to listen) or reading books.

At thirteen she left Essex behind to attend the full-time Sylvia Young Theatre School, where she met her husband Tom Fletcher. Following SYTS she completed an acting BA (hons) at Rose Bruford – since then she’s been acting, chaperoning mini actors and dabbling in a spot of freelance journalism for heat, Bliss and Recognise magazines. She currently writes a weekly blog for Hello! Online and posts weekly vlogs on her YouTube channel. Most importantly, she is also mum to two little boys called Buzz and Buddy.

Giovanna is a firm believer in the power of magpies and positive energy. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Red Monarch by Bella Ellis (Bronte Mysteries Book 3)

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Published: November 18th, 2021
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Mystery, Books Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the mesmerising and addictive The Red Monarch. Thank you to Steven at Hodder Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The Brontë sisters’ first poetry collection has just been published, potentially marking an end to their careers as amateur detectors, when Anne receives a letter from her former pupil Lydia Robinson.

Lydia has eloped with a young actor, Harry Roxby, and following her disinheritance, the couple been living in poverty in London. Harry has become embroiled with a criminal gang and is in terrible danger after allegedly losing something very valuable that he was meant to deliver to their leader. The desperate and heavily pregnant Lydia has a week to return what her husband supposedly stole, or he will be killed. She knows there are few people who she can turn to in this time of need, but the sisters agree to help Lydia, beginning a race against time to save Harry’s life.

In doing so, our intrepid sisters come face to face with a terrifying adversary whom even the toughest of the slum-dwellers are afraid of . . . The Red Monarch.

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MY REVIEW:

“I am a bad man, Miss Bronte —the worst of them —but the Red Monarch is the devil himself.” 

The Bronte Mysteries and the escapades of the feisty and determined Bronte sisters are now a highlight of my autumn. The third book in this series, The Red Monarch, is another addictive, enthralling and witty novel that follows Charlotte, Emily and Anne in their alternative existence as lady detectors.

This time they have come to London to help Lydia Roxby, one of Anne’s former pupils, who was awoken a few nights ago by a gang of vicious thugs who took her husband Harry and demanded that she find and return their lost jewel within seven days or they would both be killed. With little to go on, it looks like an impossible task. But they soon make alliances with a couple of locals that lead them to the gang they are looking for. 

But they aren’t the only ones they need to fear. The sisters soon discover there is a much greater terror that looms over London: the Red Monarch. A man so evil that even the thugs fear him. A man whose name they dare not speak. Can the sisters find this illusive devil and save Harry and Lydia before it’s too late?

“As it happens, my sisters and I have found that even though we are but weak and feeble women, we can do most things that must be done entirely ourselves without the slightest bit of aid from any gentleman.”

Bella Ellis has done it again. As soon as I began reading I was enveloped in a sense of comfort that felt like a warm hug, the familiar writing, place and characters making me feel like I was coming home. Luscious prose and evocative imagery come together to create an atmospheric and vivid read that transports me back in time and makes me feel like I am there beside them as they do their detecting. It is so well written that I find myself completely caught up in the story and forgetting that they weren’t actually lady detectors. Though I wish they had been. 

The Brontes are the embodiment of the Yorkshire Moors so it was fascinating to see them out of their comfort zone and in the bleak, grimy streets of London this time around. I enjoyed seeing how they reacted to a different environment and being away from people who know them. It’s easy for us to forget how isolated even the most educated and well-read people would have been in somewhere such as Haworth at that time and how frightening a place like London would have been. We are so used to knowing about the most far flung corners of the world and seeing its wonders online or on TV that it is hard to imagine the impact travelling must have had on people back then. 

“Sir, if decent people never take a stand against encroaching dark, then soon the entire world will live in constant terror.” 

These three ladies now hold a piece of my heart and I feel like this series has given me a greater appreciation for who they really were and the ways they broke the mould. Though their escapades are fiction, their characters and other events in their lives are based in fact, allowing us to really get to the heart of who they are. Without this series I don’t think I’d have that knowledge or the passion it has sparked for them in my bookish heart. So I am forever thankful to Ms. Ellis for her genius in creating this series.

An addictive and mesmerising mystery, this was a joy to read from beginning to end. I just wish I didn’t have to wait a year for the next installment.  And, as I’ve said before, it is just crying out to be adapted for TV. BBC and Netflix: where are you? 

If you haven’t tried this series yet, then you are missing out.  What are you waiting for? Read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Bella Ellis is the Bronte inspired pen name for the award winning, Sunday Times bestselling author Rowan Coleman. A Bronte devotee for most of her life, Rowan is the author of fourteen novels including The Memory Book, The Summer of Impossible Things and The Girl at the Window.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Quiet People by Paul Cleave

Published: November 25th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mind-blowing thriller. I’m still shook! Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Suspicion is cast on two successful crime writers, when their seven-year-old son goes missing. Are they trying to show that they can commit the perfect crime? A mesmerisingly twisty, dark thriller from number-one bestselling author Paul Cleave…

Cameron and Lisa Murdoch are successful New Zealand crime writers, happily married and topping bestseller lists worldwide. They have been on the promotional circuit for years, joking that no one knows how to get away with crime like they do. After all, they write about it for a living.

So when their challenging seven-year-old son Zach disappears, the police and the public naturally wonder if they have finally decided to prove what they have been saying all this time… 

Are they trying to show how they can commit the perfect crime?

Electrifying, taut and immaculately plotted, The Quiet People is a chilling, tantalisingly twisted thriller that will keep you gripped and guessing to the last explosive page.

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MY REVIEW:

“I know how it looks but we didn’t do this. Somebody is doing this to us.”

Holy twist Batman! The Quiet People is a psychological thriller on steroids. Deliciously dark, crazy and twisted, this one had me glued to my kindle from start to finish.  You think you know the answers, but you have no idea…

Husband and wife crime-writing duo Cameron and Lisa Murdoch find themselves in the midst of every parent’s worst nightmare when their seven-year-old son, Zach goes missing. And to compound their grief/turmoil, they find that their job also makes them the police’s prime suspects, embroiling them in a fight to not only find their son, but clear their names. 

I am still reeling from this book, and doubt I’ll recover any time soon. So twisty it made me dizzy, this is a clever book rich with details, twists and something sinister. It takes you to some unsettling places, a pervading dread lingering over each page that tells you no one is coming out of this story unscathed. The plot is intricately woven, the threads slowly unravelling with each twist. And there are A LOT of them. Each time I thought I had it figured out, BOOM! I’m hit with another shocking twist that turns the world on its axis and makes me re-evaluate everything I think I know. So buckle up and hold on tight, because this high-octane thrill ride is a bumpy one. 

“Zach doesn’t answer, but Mr What If does. Mr What If is the voice in my imagination who comes out to play when I’m working. It’s the voice that sends my characters down paths I’m not expecting, who can take any everyday situation and turn it on it’s head.”

Cameron was a brilliant protagonist. You think he’s reliable, but there is always that tiny sliver of doubt in the back of your mind, adding to the tension. But his pain, grief, regret, anger and desperation is achingly real, his emotions leaping from the page. And I felt helpless, unable to do anything but watch as the Murdoch’s lives unravelled before my eyes. Lisa is more of a mystery and we see little of her, but all the same I was rooting for them, especially in the face of such vicious hatred and attacks from the general public where they’ve been tried before there’s any real evidence of their guilt. 

One of my favourite parts of the book was Mr What If, the voice in Cameron’s head that tells him where to send his characters, that always lingers, whispering in his ear.  I really enjoyed the concept and how when the tone got darker and things began to spiral even further out of control, it was Mr What If at the helm, encouraging Cameron with his intoxicating words. It’s a devil on his shoulder that he doesn’t want to shake. 

This twisty psychological puzzle is suspense at its best. It was my first foray into Paul Cleave’s books and I am an instant fan. With assured writing, great characterisation, a captivating plot and heaps of tension he has crafted a nail-biting and unputdownable thriller that will blow your mind. 

READ. IT. NOW. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Paul is Christchurch born and raised, and other than a couple of years when he was living in London and bouncing around Europe a little, he’s always lived there. Paul wanted to write horror, and it was a few years in when he realised that crime – real life crime – is horror. When he made that connection, he turned to writing dark crime fiction, writing first The Killing Hour, and then The Cleaner, in his mid-twenties. Not long after that Paul sold his house and lived with his parents so he could write full time – a gamble that paid off a few years later when Random House signed him up. From that point on he’s written his dark tales set in his home city, introducing Joe Middleton – the Christchurch Carver, and Melissa, and Theodore Tate, and Schroder, and Jerry Gray, among others to the world.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx