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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Readalong Tandem Readalong

The Maid by Nita Prose

Published: January 20th, 2022
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this phenomenal debut. Thank you to the Tandem Collective UK for selecting me as a VIP for this readalong and to them and Harper Collins for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

POLISHED TO PERFECTION, THE HOTLY-ANTICIPATED DEBUT, COMING JANUARY 2022
RIGHTS SOLD IN 29 TERRITORIES

*Film rights snapped up by Universal, with Florence Pugh set to star as the title character*

I am your maid.
I know about your secrets. Your dirty laundry.
But what do you know about me?

Molly the maid is all alone in the world. A nobody. She’s used to being invisible in her job at the Regency Grand Hotel, plumping pillows and wiping away the grime, dust and secrets of the guests passing through. She’s just a maid – why should anyone take notice?
 
But Molly is thrown into the spotlight when she discovers an infamous guest, Mr Black, very dead in his bed. This isn’t a mess that can be easily cleaned up. And as Molly becomes embroiled in the hunt for the truth, following the clues whispering in the hallways of the Regency Grand, she discovers a power she never knew was there. She’s just a maid – but what can she see that others overlook?

Escapist, charming and introducing a truly original heroine, The Maid is a story about how everyone deserves to be seen. And how the truth isn’t always black and white – it’s found in the dirtier, grey areas in between . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“I am your maid. I know so much about you. But when it comes down to it: what is it that you know about me?”

Molly loves her job as  a maid at the luxurious Regency Grand Hotel. She enjoys blending into the background and takes pride in her work cleaning up the messes that guests leave behind. But when she stumbles across the infamous Mr. Black dead in his bed it seems she has finally found a mess she can’t easily wipe away. Finding herself embroiled in the murder investigation, Molly’s whole world changes and, suddenly, everyone can see her.  Could Molly really hold the key to solving Mr. Black’s murder? 

This book! A murder mystery that was also a balm for my soul, it was like nothing I’ve ever read before and I loved every single thing about it.  I just know this is going to be HUGE when it’s released next year.

First of all, how on earth is this a debut?  The writing is exquisite, with evocative imagery that brought the world the author had created to life in vivid technicolour.  The opulent splendor of The Regency Grand made me think of the Emerald City from my favourite book, endearing me even more to this fictional place.  I devoured this book, unable to get enough as I lived every moment alongside Molly.  Nita Prose is an exciting new talent and I will be buying anything else she writes without hesitation.

“It’s easier than you’d ever think- existing in plain sight while remaining largely invisible.”

I adored Molly.  Quirky, naive and endearing, it was impossible not to love her.  She knows she’s different, that she doesn’t perceive things in the same way others do and that her love of order makes her seem strange, and we feel her pain at knowing that. She’s always struggled to navigate the world, but it is even harder without her beloved Gran who’s always guided and interpreted things for her.  Molly’s loneliness and naivete make her the perfect candidate for others to take advantage, which they do, and I dreaded the inevitable moment when she learned of their duplicity.  But, like those around her, I underestimated Molly and sat back in awe as she took us all by surprise when she found her power and strength in her darkest moment.  The world would be a better place if we were all a little more Molly. 

One of the unexpected parts of the story for me was how emotional it would feel.  Molly is all alone in the world after losing her Gran and the author makes us feel this deeply. The book is filled with Molly’s memories of her Gran and the quotes of sayings or advice she would give, making her as much of a presence for the reader as she was for Molly. The quotes from Gran were one of my favourite things about the book and having lost my own Nan just a few months ago, it made me feel an even stronger connection to Molly.

“It seems everyone’s an ameteur sleuth. They all believe they can waltz right into the hotel and solve the mystery of Mr. Black’s untimely demise.”

Another aspect I enjoyed was the shift in tone that takes place, making it almost feel like it is split into two parts.  The first part has a more chilled vibe, filled with lots of gorgeous imagery and heartrending moments as Molly talks about her loneliness in the world.  But after finding Mr. Black things switch up and the excitement and tension rises, keeping me on the edge of my seat and reading in breathless anticipation. 

Heartwarming, addictive, tense and twisty, The Maid is a phenomenal debut that is not to be missed.  Everyone is going to be talking about this book.  I was thrilled to find out the rights have already been bought and can’t wait to see it on the big screen. 

Go and read this book!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Nita Prose is a longtime editor, serving many bestselling authors and their books. She lives in Toronto, Canada, in a house that is only moderately clean.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

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book reviews

Book Review: Her Perfect Family by Teresa Driscoll

Published: November 1st, 2021
Publisher: Amazon Publishing UK
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

I’m delighted to share my review for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Amazon Publishing for the copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

A gripping psychological thriller from the bestselling author of I Am Watching You. The perfect family? Or the perfect lie?

It’s their daughter’s graduation and Rachel and Ed Hartley are expecting it to be one of their family’s happiest days. But when she stumbles and falls on stage during the ceremony, a beautiful moment turns to chaos: Gemma has been shot, and just like that, she’s fighting for her life.

PI Matthew Hill is one of the first on the scene. A cryptic message Gemma received earlier in the day suggests someone close to her was about to be exposed. But who? As Matthew starts to investigate, he finds more and more layers obscuring the truth. He even begins to suspect the Hartleys are hiding something big―from him and from each other.

While Gemma lies in hospital in a coma, her would-be killer is still out there. Can Matthew unravel the family’s secrets before the attacker strikes again?

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MY REVIEW:

Have you ever hidden a dark secret to try and protect those you love?

In Her Perfect Family, the latest gripping thriller from Teresa Driscoll, that is exactly what the characters have done. And you will ask yourself if it is ever okay to do so again and again as their dark secrets and the consequences of keeping them are revealed. Gemma Hartley is in a coma after being shot at her university graduation. No one seems to have any idea who would do this or why. But as PI Matthew Hill investigates he uncovers secrets that the Hartley family have been keeping, even from each other. Secrets that could hold the key to this whole mystery. But can he unravel the whole truth before the attacker strikes again?

I’m a big fan of Teresa Driscoll’s previous books as she can always be relied upon to write a riveting thriller. Once again she has delivered, crafting a fast-paced psychological thriller that sizzles with suspense and foreboding. The intricately woven plot is rich with dark secrets, lies and obsession, the truth hidden beneath layers of painful secrets, some of which have been kept hidden for decades. But the truth is always revealed, as they say, and that is certainly the case in this book as the investigation into Gemma’s shooting reveals that things aren’t what they seem for any of the Hartley family, the story getting curiouser and curiouser the more we know. And when all of the pieces were put together to unveil the final picture, it looked nothing like I expected, leaving my jaw on the floor as even my wildest guesses were proven wrong.

The story is told from multiple points of view which allows us to really get to know these vivid, deeply flawed characters. We learn their secrets before anyone else does and see their heartache, fear, guilt, regret and inner turmoil laid bare. It was great to be back with familiar characters, particularly PI Matthew Hill, who is one of my favourite crime series protagonists. If I ever needed a PI then he would certainly be the man I’d want to call and I enjoyed being back with him and DI Melanie Sanders as they try to piece together this twisty puzzle. I also liked that even though she is in a coma Gemma is still a very present character and that the author did this not only through flashbacks, but also with the chapters told by her while in a coma. These chapters were beautifully written, with a dream-like quality that felt so authentic. Her confusion and frustration was evocatively written, leaping from the pages and breaking my heart with how desperately she wanted to return to her life and her family while having no idea how to. These chapters not only connected me to Gemma, but her recovery, making me root for her to regain consciousness in a way I wouldn’t have done without them.

One of my favourite tropes in thrillers is when the mysterious perpetrator is one of the narrators and I was happy to see it in this book. I liked getting to know them from the inside while still wondering who they were, searching their monologues for clues that might reveal their identity. I feel like it heightens the suspense and gives you an insight into what makes them tick, even if it is quite dark and disturbing. I liked that there were a few suspects in this case, so although I had my suspicions, I was never completely sure. I don’t mind admitting that the author had me totally fooled and I never once suspected the actual perpetrator, leaving me shook when we got to the big reveal.

Tense, twisty and addictive, this superb psychological thriller is one not to be missed. Though I highly recommend Ms. Driscoll’s previous books, you can read this as a standalone too.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Teresa Driscoll is a former BBC TV news presenter whose psychological thrillers have sold more than two million copies across the world.

Her first thriller I Am Watching You hit Kindle Number 1 in the UK, USA and Australia and has sold more than a million copies in English alone.

Teresa writes women’s fiction as well as thrillers and her work has been optioned for film and sold for translation in more than 20 territories.

For decades Teresa was a journalist working across newspapers, magazines and television. Covering crime for so long, she was deeply moved by the haunting impact on the relatives, the friends and the witnesses and it is those ripples she explores now in her darker fiction.

Teresa lives in glorious Devon with her family and blogs regularly about her “writing life” at her website.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Readalong Tandem Readalong

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride and Jo Piazza

Published: October 14th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Thriller, Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

I read this book as part of a readalong organised by Tandem Collective UK. Thank you to them for the invitation to take part and be a VIP host, and to HQ for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE MOST IMPORTANT NOVEL YOU’LL READ THIS YEAR

Not every story is black and white.

Riley and Jen have been best friends since they were children, and they thought their bond was unbreakable. It never mattered to them that Riley is black and Jen is white. And then Jen’s husband, a Philadelphia police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed black teenager and everything changes in an instant.

This one act could destroy more than just Riley and Jen’s friendship. As their community takes sides, so must Jen and Riley, and for the first time in their lives the lifelong friends find themselves on opposing sides.

But can anyone win a fight like this?

We Are Not Like Them is about friendship and love. It’s about prejudice and betrayal. It’s about standing up for what you believe in, no matter the cost.

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MY REVIEW:

“When the bullets hit him, first his arm, then his stomach, it doesn’t feel like he’d always imagined it would. Because of course as a Black boy growing up in this neighbourhood, he’d imagined it.”

Wow. Just, wow. It’s been a few weeks since I read this phenomenal debut and I’m still thinking about it every day. I also still have no idea how to review it. The topic feels too big, too important to reduce to a review. But I will do my best. 

Lifelong friends Riley and Jen have never cared that one of them is Black and the other white. But after unarmed Black teenager Justin Dwyer is shot by two white police officers they find their friendship tested in ways they never imagined. They are both embroiled in the story and find themselves on opposing sides for the first time in their lives. Can their friendship withstand such a test? 

“At the end of the day, I’m afraid that Jen won’t get it. Maybe I’ve always been afraid.”

The story is narrated by Riley and Jen in alternating chapters, offering the reader an insight into how both women are affected in the aftermath of the shooting. Riley’s job as a news reporter and Jen’s position as the wife of one of the officers involved in the shooting immediately place them on opposing sides immediately. But then race becomes part of the discussion and adds more layers and nuance to this already complex story. 

I felt so conflicted reading this book. So many questions swam through my mind as I read and I found myself full of emotions I never expected. I didn’t know who to root for or where my allegiance should lay. I felt deeply sorry for both Jen and Riley, who are both great characters and saw both sides of their opposing arguments.  A big part of the problem between them is down to assumption and miscommunication, which left me feeling frustrated as so much of the pain they caused each other could have been avoided. I also had some sympathy for Kevin, who is clearly torn apart by what happened, though my ultimate sympathy lay with the young boy he shot and his devastated mother, who I would have liked to see more of in the book. 

“It kills me to think how some people want so badly to believe racism is buried beneath layers and layers of history, “ancient history”, they say. But it’s not. It’s like an umpire brushing the thinnest layer of dirt off the home plate: it’s right there. Only too often the trauma, the toll of it, remains unknown generation after generation. Like how Gigi kept her own awful secret, presumably to protect us from the ugly truth, and I’ve kept my own secrets, haunted by a similar shame.”

As a white woman I am aware I occupy a position of privilege and see the world through the lens of my own experiences. I love reading books like this one as they open my eyes to things that I might not have considered and help me to understand prejudice on a deeper level.  And that is part of the beauty of this book; whatever your race, gender or beliefs, there are things to learn from it. I was fortunate to read this as part of a readalong with other bloggers and during the chats about the book I enjoyed hearing their insights and views on the book as there were things some of them saw that I had missed or never considered. This enabled me to look at things from a perspective I’d otherwise never have had, something which I am grateful for. 

“He wants to tell them his name. If they know his name he’ll be less alone. Worse than the pain or even the fear is that he’s never felt so alone in his life.”

Bold, brave and thought-provoking, this made me feel ALL the feelings. It opens  as it means to go on, with a chapter that is so searing, raw and heartbreaking that I will never forget it. It is an unsettling but important read. A story about humanity, compassion, privilege, race and justice that reminds us not everything is black and white, and that the truth lies in the shades of grey. Exquisitely written with vivid characterisation, you can see the care that has been taken over every word on the page and I would love to have been a fly on the wall to see how the two authors co-wrote the book. 

A powerful, honest and heart-rending debut, We Are Not Like Them is a story that lingers long after closing that final page. A book that demands to be read and discussed. And one that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHORS:

Christine Pride is a writer, editor and 15-year publishing veteran. She has held editorial posts at various imprints, including Doubleday, Broadway, Crown, Hyperion, and, most recently, as a Senior Editor at Simon and Schuster. Christine has edited and published a range of bestselling books, with a special emphasis on inspirational stories and memoirs. We Are Not Like Them, written with Jo Piazza, is her first book. She lives in New York City. 

Jo Piazza is an award-winning reporter and editor who has written for the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New York Daily News, New York Magazine, Glamour, Marie Claire, Elle and Salon. She has appeared on CNN, NPR, Fox News, the BBC and MSNBC. Her novel, The Knockoff, with Lucy Sykes became an instant international bestseller and has been translated into more than seven languages.

Jo received a Masters in Journalism from Columbia, a Masters in Religious Studies from NYU and a Bachelors in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the author of the critically acclaimed If Nuns Ruled the World and Celebrity Inc: How Famous People Make Money.

She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and their giant dog.

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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

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Girl in the Maze by Cathy Hayward

Published: October 28th, 2021 in eBook
November 25th, 2021 in paperback
Publisher: Agora Books
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
Format: Kindle, Paperback

Welcome to my review of this enthralling debut. Thank you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Traversing three generations of women torn apart by family trauma, The Girl in the Maze explores the complex relationship and challenges involved in both mothering and being mothered.

‘I would caution you against delving into the past. The past is often best left exactly where it is.’

Emma Bowen has never had a close relationship with her mother, barely speaking with her in the last years of her life. But after her mother’s death, Emma finds something that might just explain the distance between them.

Discovering letters between her mother and grandmother, it seems to Emma that her mother has always been difficult.

As she searches for answers about her own childhood, Emma is drawn into the mystery of her mother’s enigmatic life. The more she finds, the more lost she feels, but Emma is determined to uncover her mother’s past, and the secrets held within it, whatever the cost.

An enthralling story of three women, generations apart, linked by one terrible tragedy.

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MY REVIEW:

“Some secrets were probably better left untold.” 

The Girl in the Maze is a moving and beautifully told debut that explores generational trauma, family secrets, motherhood, and the complexities of mother and daughter relationships. The pretty, floral cover belies the heart-rending story between its pages as the author shows us the darkest moments of the lives of three women from one family, examining not only how it affects their lives, but the lives of the generations that follow. 

The story seamlessly shifts between timelines and multiple narrators as secrets that have been hidden for decades are unveiled. As the one at the centre of the secrets you would expect Margaret would be one of the narrators, but instead the author opts to tell the story through other members of her family: her daughter, Emma, her mother, Betty, and her step-father, Jack.  At first I didn’t understand this choice, but as I got further into the book I realised what a brilliant decision it was. By giving a voice to everyone except Margaret she remains an enigma. A puzzle for both Emma and the reader to decipher. 

The characters are richly drawn and fascinating, pulling you in and making you care about their story. Emma is a great character and my heart broke for her as I read about the difficult relationship between her and her mother, something that made me even more thankful for the strong bond I have with my own mother.  I felt for her as she struggled to deal with both the grief of Margaret’s death and over the relationship with her that she craved but would never have. But the woman I took deepest into my heart was Betty. That powerful opening chapter hit me right in the feels and created an empathetic bond with Betty that coloured my view of her for the rest of the book. I didn’t see how Margaret could dislike this loving mother who went against not only society, but also her own mother, to keep and raise her daughter. Both of these things helped shape my view of Margaret as the villain, but as the story went on I began to see that there was so much more beneath the surface; hidden layers that peeled away to reveal heartbreaking secrets. This was a reminder of the layers we all have in our characters, that there can be so much more to a person than we know, and that there are sometimes reasons why people behave the way they do. 

“I read an article once about family dysfunction. It described it as rolling down from generation to generation like a fire in the woods, taking down everything in its path. It said that you need one person in one generation to have the courage to face the flames. And that person will be the one to bring peace to their ancestors and spare the children who follow them, and their children.”

One thing I particularly loved about this book is how the author uses the painting referenced in the book’s title as a symbol of so many things. Throughout the book we see it as a representation of Emma’s quest to untangle the mysteries her mother left behind, slowly finding her way out of the maze with each clue she solves. But as we learn more about Margaret the painting begins to take on new meaning; also representing the traumas the women experienced. It was an interesting layer to the narrative that added that little something extra to the storytelling.  

Cathy Hayward is an exciting new talent. She tackles difficult subjects with sensitivity and compassion and writes like her words are the roses amongst the thorns; something beautiful even when what she is writing about is dark, bleak and painful. I was captivated by the story and the characters she created and can’t wait to read what she writes next. 

Powerful, emotive and intriguing, The Girl in the Maze is an enthralling debut that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Trigger Warnings: abortion, miscarriage, rape, adoption

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Cathy Hayward trained as a journalist and edited a variety of trade publications, several of which were so niche they were featured on Have I Got News for You. She then moved into the world of PR and set up an award-winning communications agency. Devastated and inspired in equal measure by the death of her parents in quick succession, Cathy completed The Creative Writing Programme with New Writing South out of which emerged her debut novel The Girl in the Maze about the experience of mothering and being mothered. It won Agora Books’ Lost the Plot Work in Progress Prize 2020 and was longlisted for the Grindstone Literary Prize 2020.

When she’s not writing (or reading) in her local library, Cathy loves pottering in second-hand bookshops, hiking and wild camping. She lives in Brighton – sandwiched between the Downs and the sea – with her husband, three children, and two rescue cats – one of whom thinks he’s a dog.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*| Amazon|
*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 Rebel Suffragette by Beverley Adams

Published: September 23rd, 2021
Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
Genre: Biography
Format: Hardcover

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for this wonderful book. Thank you to Pen and Sword Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

The suffragette movement swept the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Led by the Pankhurst’s, the focus of the movement was in London with demonstrations and rallies taking place across the capital. But this was a nationwide movement with a strong northern influence with Edith Rigby being an ardent supporter. Edith was a controversial figure, not only was she was the first woman to own and ride a bicycle in her home town but she was founder of a school for girls and young women. Edith followed the example of Emmeline Pankhurst and her supporters and founded the Preston branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union. She was found guilty of arson and an attempted bomb attack in Liverpool following which she was incarcerated and endured hunger strike forming part of the ‘Cat and Mouse’ system with the government. During a political rally with Winston Churchill Edith threw a black pudding at a MP.

There are many tales to tell in the life of Edith Rigby, she was charismatic, passionate, ruthless and thoroughly unpredictable. She was someone who rejected the accepted notion of what a woman of her class should be the way she dressed and the way she ran her household but she was independent in mind and spirit and always had courage in her own convictions. As a suffragette, she was just as effective and brave as the Pankhurst women. This is the story of a life of a lesser known suffragette. This is Edith’s story.

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MY REVIEW:

“Edith was just one of these special women that made it possible for women today to vote, they all stood up to be counted and faced their enemy head on. They were game changers; they were suffragettes.”

I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in this blog tour and so proud of my fellow blogger Beverley Adams for writing this wonderful book. The Rebel Suffragette shines a spotlight on one of the lesser known suffragettes, Edith Rigby I knew nothing about Edith before reading this book. In fact, I hadn’t even heard of her. But my interest was piqued by this little-known northern suffragette who had captured the imagination of a fellow book blogger. 

The suffragette movement swept the country in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Led by Emmeline and Christabel Pankhurst, the fight to secure votes for women featured rallies and demonstrations that often descended into vandalism and violence as a way to draw attention to their cause. 

Edith was a staunch socialist who believed in equality for women and the social classes. Though she was wealthy she treated her household staff like family and caused outrage in her neighbourhood by being seen to do her own household chores. She was a feisty, charismatic, spirited and determined woman who was an independent, controversial and unpredictable figure from a young age. She was both ruthless and brave in her fight for equality, founding the Preston branch of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and taking part in rallies and demonstrations. She even threw black pudding at an MP during a political rally with Winston Churchill and was incarcerated for arson and an attempted bomb attack in Liverpool. 

I loved getting to know Edith and learning more about the movement that allowed me to have the rights that I enjoy today. The book is well written and informative but never feels overwhelming. And at just 138 pages this is a quick read you will devour in no time. Fascinating, compelling and poignant, this book is a great reminder of what the ladies of the suffragette movement endured and the debt we owe them for fighting for our rights. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Beverley Adams is an author and book blogger from Preston, Lancashire. The Rebel Suffragette is her first book.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The New Mother by Julia Crouch

Published: October 12th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Who would you trust with your precious family?

Wanted: full-time, live-in help for expectant mother. Must be organised, friendly and willing to do anything.

Rachel is determined to be the perfect mother. She has a birth plan, with a playlist and a bag ready by the door. She’s chosen a lovely light cream paint for the nursery, and in wide-eyed, innocent Abbie she’s found the perfect person to help her with her baby.

After all, every mother needs a bit of help, don’t they?

But Rachel needs a little more than most.

She still makes sure her bedroom door is locked before she goes to sleep. She still checks the cameras that are dotted throughout the house.

Rachel trusts Abbie. Even if Abbie’s smiles don’t always reach her eyes, and the stories she tells about her past don’t always add up, it doesn’t matter.

Because Rachel knows better than to trust herself…

From the bestselling author of Her Husband’s Lover, this is a truly gripping story about how far people will go to find a family. Filled with tension and twists to keep you glued to every page, it is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, Shari LaPena and The Girl on the Train.

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MY REVIEW:

Social media influencer Rachel Rodrigues is about to have her first child, so she advertises on her page for live-in help; someone who will see to her needs as well as those of  her unborn child. Abbie James is Rachel’s biggest fan and can’t believe her luck when she lands the position. But her illusions are soon shattered when she discovers that Rachel’s picture-perfect, #authentic life is actually a carefully curated facade. As the anger and resentment grows, the dark secrets that both women are hiding are slowly revealed, the tension bubbling until it boils over in a heart-pounding finale that will leave you breathless.

Wow! What a ride! This was my first foray into Julia Crouch’s books but it won’t be my last. She had me hooked from the start, suspense and  mystery seeping from every page. The story is narrated by both Rachel and Abbie, who are richly drawn, compelling and unreliable. Rachel is the controlling, difficult and wayward influencer whose life isn’t quite what she sells online, while Abbie is the girl from a difficult background with dreams of a better life who sees Rachel as a kind of saviour. Both women airbrush the truth about themselves to be better liked or get ahead and I liked how they seem to switch roles in terms of who is the good guy or bad guy at different times in the story. 

Rachel’s job as an influencer is a big part of the story. The author not only uses this in the plot itself, but breaks up the story with sporadic ‘Instagram Posts’ that detail some of Rachel’s online content. I loved how these posts created a contrast with what was happening in the narrative, revealing the staged aspect of so-called real life on social media. The author uses Rachel’s influencer status to explore the more damaging aspects of this phenomenon, looking at the effect this can have on the mental and emotional wellbeing of both the poster and the consumer, and making you think about what you see and post online.

Taut, tense, twisty and unputdownable, I loved this gripping psychological thriller and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Julia started off as a theatre director and playwright. While her children were growing up, she swerved into graphic design. After writing and illustrating two children’s books for an MA, she discovered that her great love was writing prose. The picture books were deemed too dark for publication, so, to save the children, she turned instead to writing for adults. Her first book, Cuckoo, was published in 2011, and she has been writing what she calls her Domestic Noir novels ever since. She also writes for TV and teaches on the Crime Writing MA at the University of East Anglia. She has three grown up children and lives in Brighton with her husband and two cats, Keith and Sandra.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon| Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

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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: Lemon by Kwon Yeo-sun (Translated by Janet Hong)

Published: October 14th, 2021
Publisher: Apollo
Genre: Literary Crime Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Thriller, Translated Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this intriguing and thought-provoking novel. Thank you to Jade at Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.

Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.

Told at different points in time from the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates, Lemon is a piercing psychological portrait that takes the shape of a crime novel and is a must-read novel of 2021.

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MY REVIEW:

“And so began the revenge of the yellow angel. Lemon, I muttered. Like a chant of revenge, I muttered: Lemon, lemon, lemon.”

Set in Korea, Lemon examines the murder of nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on in July 2002 and the impact it had on those left behind. Told by a trio of narrators, the story begins with the interrogation of one of the two boys suspected of her murder, and then follows chronologically to the present day as her sister searches for the truth of what happened that summer night. 

The story unfolds from three different perspectives: the victim’s sister, Da-on, and two of her classmates and each has a unique voice that makes them easy to distinguish from one another. But it is Da-on whose voice is the loudest of them all. Hae-on was the beautiful older sister and when she was killed Da-on was left feeling even more inadequate in comparison. To try and fill the void of her sister’s absence Da-on resorted to extreme measures, including extensive plastic surgery, to try and emulate her sister. But it didn’t work and she is still left struggling to move on. Over the years she becomes increasingly focused on Han Manu, one of the boys suspected of Hae-on’s murder, and embarks on an obsessive search for answers and revenge. It would be impossible not to feel for Da-on, her pain so vivid and raw that it makes you want to weep. And while I didn’t always agree with her actions, I did understand them. 

An intriguing and compelling read, there is a dark, haunting atmosphere that pervades each page. Beautifully written, I loved how the author used different writing styles for the different narrators yet still manages to make it all blend together and flow seamlessly. I particularly loved the chapter titled ‘Rope’ as it just felt so unique, so different to anything else I’ve read. But I have to confess that I have been left with mixed feelings about this one and think it will be a bit of a marmite book. I was all set to give this a five star rating but then it ended in such a sudden and ambiguous way. I was left feeling stunned, like I must have missed something as surely that couldn’t be it. I’ve been pondering on it ever since I finished and I still feel the same way. While I think this is a great book that is worth reading, I would caution anyone who reads it to be prepared for a cryptic climax that will make you think about what you just read. 

While it is a short read at just 148 pages, this is a book packed with emotion that examines a variety of topics. Not only does it look at the impact of Hae-on’s death on those still living over the years, but it also looks at how families were torn apart and lives ruined by suspicion. It also explores how a desire for justice can lead to a quest for vengeance and asks if healing is ever really served by doing so. Is it better to sometimes leave things without closure than cause further hurt and pain by focusing on the past?

A thought-provoking and fascinating read, Lemon is a striking and reflective story that will linger long after that final page. 

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kwon Yeo-sun was born in Andong, North Gyeongsang Province of South Korea in 1965. Kwon enjoyed a brilliant literary debut in 1996 when her novel Niche of Green was awarded the Sangsang Literary Award. At the time, novels that reflected on the period of the democratization movement in South Korea, were prevalent.

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MEET THE TRANSLATOR:

Janet Hong is a writer and translator based in Vancouver, Canada. She received the 2018 TA First Translation Prize for her translation of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale, which was also a finalist for both the 2018 PEN Translation Prize and the 2018 National Translation Award. She has translated Ha Seong-nan’s Flowers of Mold, Ancco’s Bad Friends, and Keum Suk Gendry-Kim’s Grass.

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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
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Review: The Midnight Man by Caroline Mitchell

Published: October 13th, 2021
Publisher: Embla Books
Genre: Horror Fiction, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to this chilling thriller. Thank you Embla Books for the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

From number one bestselling author Caroline Mitchell, comes the first chilling Slayton thriller for fans of C. J. Tudor and Stephen King.

If you open your door to the Midnight Man, hide with a candle wherever you can. Try not to scream as he draws near, because one of you won’t be leaving here…

On Halloween night in Slayton, five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game. They write their names on a piece of paper and prick their fingers to soak it in blood. At exactly midnight they knock on the door twenty-two times – they have invited the Midnight Man in.

It was supposed to be a game, but only four girls come home.

Detective Sarah Noble has just returned to the force, and no one knows more about Blackhall Manor than her. It’s a case that will take Sarah back to everything she’s been running from, and shake her to the core.

Will she be ready to meet the Midnight Man?

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MY REVIEW:

“If you tell, you’ll go to hell.”

Five girls go to Blackhall Manor to play the Midnight Game on Halloween night. Only four of them return. Detective Sarah Noble is called in to investigate and finds herself immersed in the folklore, rumours and suspicions that have haunted Blackhall Manor ever since that Halloween Night in 1994. Is she ready to meet the Midnight Man? And can she stop him claiming more victims?

Tense, eerie, atmospheric and addictive, The Midnight Man is perfect for the spooky season. The story takes lots of unexpected twists and turns and was actually quite different to what I was expecting. But I loved the direction the author took instead, keeping me guessing the whole time with her multilayered and intricately woven tale. Expertly written, she held me hostage from beginning to end. I couldn’t stop reading and inhaled it like it was oxygen. It was my first foray into Caroline Mitchell’s books and I can’t wait to read more from her, including returning to the community she created for this novel.

Told by multiple narrators, this book is bursting with great characters who are richly drawn and memorable. Sometimes having a lot of narrators can be confusing or take away from the atmosphere of a book, but Ms. Mitchell does it so well that they add to the mystery and suspense. Each one is so compelling that you don’t question why she needed to give them a voice and I loved getting to know them all.

One of my favourite tropes is when the antagonist is a narrator, so I loved the elusive Midnight Man’s chapters in this book; his murderous intentions chillingly laid bare while his victims remained unaware. It cranked up the tension and had me looking for clues as to his identity in every sentence. I liked Sarah and thought the author represented the effects of trauma and PTSD really well through her character. She was easy to connect with and a great choice for the main protagonist. But it was Elliott, the sweet young psychic boy, who was my favourite of all the characters. He stole my heart, and any scene he was in. I challenge anyone who reads this book not to fall in love with him.

Blackhall Manor was also like a character in it’s own right. Eerily looming behind the gates and casting a shadow over all of Slayton since the murders that occured on Halloween 1994. Talk of it being haunted, rumours of the Midnight Man and kids playing the midnight game all play into the atmosphere that surrounds the dilapidated house. But what was the truth? I loved how the author was able to keep me guessing right up until the big reveal and surprised me despite all my hypotheses. 

So if you’re looking for a book that will send shivers down your spine and make your heart race then this is for you. Just make sure you read it with the lights on. 

Are YOU ready to meet the Midnight Man?

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

New York Times, USA Today, Washington Post and International #1 Bestselling Author. Shortlisted by the International Thriller Awards for best ebook 2017 and the Killer Nashville Best Police Procedural 2018. Over 1.3 million books sold.

Caroline originates from Ireland and now lives with her family in a village on the coast of Essex. A former police detective, she has worked in CID and specialised in roles dealing with vulnerable victims, high-risk victims of domestic abuse, and serious sexual offences. She now writes full time.

Caroline writes psychological and crime thrillers. Her stand alone thriller Silent Victim reached No.1 in the Amazon charts in the UK, USA and Australia and was the winner of the Reader’s Favourite Awards in the psychological thriller category. It has been described as ‘brilliantly gripping and deliciously creepy’.

The first in her Amy Winter series, Truth And Lies, has been optioned for TV.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cooke

Published: September 30th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Fairy Tale
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this gorgeously gothic novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins UK for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse.

A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms.

Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation.

Coincidence? Or curse?

Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left.

Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . .

But what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?

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MY REVIEW:

“I wasn’t yet wise enough to be terrified.”

A cold, sparsely populated Scottish Island, a deserted and decrepit lighthouse, strange goings on and tales of witches, curses and wildlings. What could be more perfect to read during October?

Bursting with atmosphere, mythology and folklore, this chilling and mysterious tale had me in it’s grasp from beginning to end. There’s a sense of foreboding that pervades the pages; a haunting aura that lingers over every carefully crafted sentence. I devoured this book, unable to put it down despite the goosebumps that pricked my skin.

“The story of her past is not like other people’s, she thinks. Most people’s past can be viewed like cleaved water left in the wake of a boat. Hers? It’s a tangled weave of spider webs and nightmares, never to make sense.”

The story is told in dual timelines: 1998 when Liv Stay has moved to the isle of Lon Haven with her children Sapphire (Saffy), Luna and Clover after being commissioned to paint a mural in the Longing, and 2021 when a now twenty-nine-year-old Luna is pregnant with her first child and still searching for her mother and sisters, who went missing all those years ago. There are also flashbacks to the witch trials of 1662 in the form of a grimoire that young Saffy finds in the bothy and begins reading. The author seamlessly shifts between the three timelines, giving each a distinctive voice and perfectly capturing the different eras. While you know each timeline must be connected, the author keeps you guessing as to how, slowly and teasingly weaving the threads together until you see the full and intricate picture she has woven. The characters are all evocative and compelling, luring you into their stories so deeply that you can’t leave until you know all the secrets they keep locked inside.

“The Longing. The name conjures such terror, such complex memories.”

Gorgeously gothic, the author makes great use of places to help create an atmosphere that sends shivers down your spine. Lon Haven is a place that conjures feelings of claustrophobia and isolation. In the middle of nowhere, it is inhabited by strange residents who tell crazy tales and there is a feeling of fear whether anyone who goes there can make it out again. And then there’s the Longing, which casts a sinister shadow over the story from the start. An eerie, haunting place that is falling apart, we soon learn that it is a place the locals avoid thanks to a history that involves women accused of witchcraft, curses and death. Liv quickly notices strange occurrences happening there and begins to wonder about the tales Isla and others have told her about the Longing. Could they be true? Could it really be cursed? And if so, what does that mean for her and her daughters? 

Enthralling, immersive and filled with gothic menace, The Lighthouse Witches is the perfect read for spooky season.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

CJ Cooke, also known as Carolyn Jess-Cooke, grew up on a council estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the height of the Troubles. She started writing at the age of 7 and pestered publishers for many years with manuscripts typed on her grandparents’ old typewriter and cover notes written on pages ripped from school jotters. 

Since then, she has published 12 works in 23 languages and won numerous awards, including an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, a Tyrone Guthrie Prize, a K Blundell Award, and she has won a Northern Writer’s Award three times. In 2011, her debut novel, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, was published by Little, Brown. The novel was an international bestseller. Her second novel, The Boy Who Could See Demons (2012), is now a cult classic. Her sixth novel, The Lighthouse Witches, is published in September 2021, and her third poetry collection, We Have to Leave the Earth, is published in October 2021. CJ’s work is concerned with trauma, motherhood, grief, and social justice.

CJ holds a BA (Hons), MA, and PhD from Queen’s University, Belfast, and commenced her academic career in 2005 as a Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Sunderland. Shortly thereafter, she published four academic works in swift succession on Shakespearean Cinema and Film Sequels, before establishing her career as a poet, editor, and novelist. Now Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, CJ convenes the prestigious MLitt Creative Writing and researches ways that creative writing can help with trauma and mental health. She is also the founder and director of the Stay-at-Home! Literary Festival, which is dedicated to providing people with accessible, inclusive, and eco-friendly ways to access literature. She has four children and lives with her family in Glasgow, Scotland.

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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 Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Cheltenham Literature Festival

Today I’m taking part in a blog tour that’s a little bit different. I was contacted by Midas PR asking if I would like to take part in a tour to celebrate the return of Cheltenham Literature Festival. They sent me a surprise book from an author who was appearing at the event, which I’m featuring today along with some information about the festival itself.

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I was thrilled to discover that the book I’ve been sent is Murder Isn’t Easy by Carla Valentine as this is one of my most anticipated October releases. I was so excited when I found out and can’t wait to read this fascinating book.

SYNOPSIS:

While other children were devouring the works of Enid Blyton and Beatrix Potter, Carla Valentine was poring through the pages of Agatha Christie novels. It was this early fascination that led to her job as a pathology technician, trained in forensics and working in mortuaries.

Nearly every Agatha Christie story involves one – or, more commonly, several – dead bodies, and for a young Carla, a curious child already fascinated with biology, these stories and these bodies were perfect puzzles.

Of course, Agatha herself didn’t talk of ‘forensics’ in the way we use it now, but in each tale she writes of twists and turns with her expert weave of human observation, ingenuity and genuine science of the era. Through the medium of the ‘whodunnit’, Agatha Christie was a pioneer of forensic science, and in Murder Isn’t Easy Carla illuminates all of the knowledge of one of our most beloved authors.

Published October 21st by Sphere books

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From Amazon UK: I’m a qualified Anatomical Pathology Technologist (Mortuary Technician) who assisted pathologists with autopsies for almost 10 years. I’m now the technical curator of a Pathology Museum, author and broadcaster and after I finish my Masters Degree I hope to write more books!

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BUY THE BOOK

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

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ABOUT CHELTENHAM LITERATURE FESTIVAL

*Taken from the website*
Cheltenham Literature Festival is the world’s first literature festival, leading the way in celebrating the written and spoken word, presenting the best new voices in fiction and poetry alongside literary greats and high-profile speakers, while inspiring over 9,000 school children with a love of books through its Literature for Schools programme. 

Cheltenham Literature Festival is part of  Cheltenham Festivals – a charity delivering a pioneering year-round educational programme culminating in four internationally-acclaimed Jazz, Science, Music and Literature Festivals. Cheltenham Festivals creates experiences that bring joy, spark curiosity, connect communities and inspire change.

The Festival has an accompanying year-round programme of education and talent development outreach including its flagship Reading Teachers = Reading Pupils project which has rolled out nationally, enabling teachers and their pupils to rediscover the joy of reading. The other programmes include: the award-winning Beyond Words, a creative writing project working with vulnerable young people unable to access mainstream education in Gloucestershire, Words That Burn, a national human rights poetry project created in partnership with Amnesty International and Write Now, a unique mentoring, workshop and networking project that nurtures young people’s creative writing abilities.

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The festival is taking place both in person and online in 2021. Events take place 8th-17th October.

You can book tickets to watch online here and find tickets for in-person events here.

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx