Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Girls Who Lie (Forbidden Iceland Book 2) by Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this gripping thriller.

Thank you Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.



When a depressed, alcoholic single mother disappears, everything suggests suicide, but when her body is found, Icelandic Detective Elma and her team are thrust into a perplexing, chilling investigation.


When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, everyone assumes that she’s taken her own life … until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?

Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to a shocking tragedy.

Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the number of suspects grows and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…

Breathtakingly chilling and tantalisingly twisty, Girls Who Lie is at once a startling, tense psychological thriller and a sophisticated police procedural, marking Eva Björg Ægisdottir as one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Book 1 in the series, The Creak on the Stairs, WON THE CWA JOHN CREASEY NEW BLOOD DAGGER



Seven months after her disappearance, the beaten body of single mother Marianna is found in a cave in the lava field. Detective Elma and her team are thrown into a difficult investigation where there are few clues and no real suspects. But as they slowly delve deeper into Marianna’s life, they discover that the case is much more complex than they anticipated and the clues begin to take them in a surprising direction. 

The story moves between the investigation into the murder and flashbacks to the life of an unknown single mother. It was these chapters that I enjoyed most of all because we get a deeper insight into her character than any other. But this is contrasted with the fact that her identity is a mystery, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the story. In these chapters we follow the young woman’s struggle to connect with her daughter and be a good mother. They were heart-rending, disturbing and affecting. Filled with raw emotion and uncomfortable truths. They highlighted the difficulties of motherhood we don’t always want to admit and the shades of gray we don’t always see when we paint someone as a ‘bad parent’. The author continues exploring these themes in the present day with the storyline of Marianna being a neglectful mother whose relationship with her daughter was so troubled that she wanted to live with foster parents. While hard to read at times, it is well written, sensitive and a thought-provoking commentary on motherhood and the problems that lie within social services.

This is the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series but my first time reading this author’s books. Despite that I never felt confused as the author quickly catches you up, enabling this to be read as a standalone or part of the series. I have already bought the first book in the series and plan to read any further books by this author after loving this one. Elma was a great protagonist who is likeable, relatable and has an interesting backstory. The author managed to hit that sweet spot of showing the reader Elma’s personal life and history without saturating the story, enabling us to feel a connection while still being able to focus on the case she’s trying to solve. The supporting and background characters are compelling and richly drawn which kept me hooked on the story and provided an abundance of suspects. 

A harrowing, complex and multilayered thriller with a twist that comes like a bolt out of the blue, Girls Who Lie is another amazing read from Orenda Books. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰



Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir studied for an MSc in Globalisation in Norway before returning to Iceland and deciding to write a novel – something she had wanted to do since she won a short-story competition at the age of fifteen. After nine months combining her writing with work as a stewardess and caring for her children, Eva finished The Creak on the Stairs. It was published in 2018, and became a bestseller in Iceland, going on to win the Blackbird Award, a prize set up by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson to encourage new Icelandic crime writers. The Creak on the Stairs was published in English by Orenda Books in 2020, and became a number-one bestseller in ebook in three countries, and shortlisted for the Capital Crime/Amazon Publishing Awards in two categories. Girls Who Lie, the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series, is published in 2021. Dubbed the ‘Icelandic Ruth Rendell’ by the British press, Eva lives in Reykjavík with her husband and three children and is currently working on the third book in the Forbidden Iceland series.



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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Fragile by Sarah Hilary


Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Gothic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this chilling thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Pan Macmillan for the eBook ARC.



Everything she touches breaks . . .

Nell Ballard is a runaway. A former foster child with a dark secret she is desperate to keep, all Nell wants is to find a place she can belong.

So when a job comes up at Starling Villas, home to the enigmatic Robin Wilder, she seizes the opportunity with both hands.

But her new lodgings may not be the safe haven that she was hoping for. Her employer lives by a set of rigid rules and she soon sees that he is hiding secrets of his own.

But is Nell’s arrival at the Villas really the coincidence it seems? After all, she knows more than most how fragile people can be – and how easy they can be to break . . .

Fragile is a dark, contemporary psychological thriller with a modern Gothic twist from an award-winning and critically acclaimed writer who has been compared to Ruth Rendell, P. D. James and Val McDermid. Rebecca meets The Handmaid’s Tale in Sarah Hilary’s standalone breakout novel.



“I might wish Meagan in my past, outclassed and outpaced, but she was out there – looking for me. Hunting me, because of what I’d done. Everything I’d done.”

Mysterious, sinister and full of foreboding, Fragile is a story where nothing is quite what it seems. After fleeing her foster home, when Nell finds employment at Starling Villas she hopes she’s found her safe haven. But she soon starts to wonder if her employer is all that he appears to be. But as Nell attempts to unravel the secrets of her new home, her past is catching up with her, threatening to shatter her fragile new-found safety.

Tense, eerie and compelling, this story crackles with suspense. It had me hooked, pulling me under like I was drowning, unable to break free from its hold and reach the surface. The author explores themes of secrets, darkness, shadows, jealousy and vengeance in every facet of the book, using it in both the plot and the characters themselves, skillfully weaving in hidden layers and surprising twists. Using flashbacks she offers the reader pieces of the puzzle, allowing us to try and put it all together. But I found this to be a perplexing tale that was hard to solve and was taken in by many of the perfectly placed red herrings.

“Lyle’s had been held up as an example of how to run a good foster home. Until Little Nell had decided to bring it all crashing down.”

The story is told by two narrators, Nell Ballard and her former foster mother Meagan Flack. Nell’s tough exterior hides a deep vulnerability and pain. Her childhood was far from happy and things didn’t improve when she arrived at her foster home aged eight. Her only real joy were two of the other foster children, but a tragedy that is shrouded in mystery and secrecy has tinged even that with heartache and left her feeling unworthy of happiness. But for all her faults I liked Nell and had a soft spot for her after all she’d been through. Meanwhile Meagan is an immediately unlikeable character. She is a woman consumed by hatred, lacking empathy or compassion. All she wants is revenge on the girl she calls Little Nell for bringing her carefully constructed house of cards crashing down. It broke my heart to think of this person being in charge of the care of such vulnerable and fractured children and the additional damage she will have caused them. 

The other characters were just as well-written, fascinating and full of mystery; particularly Nell’s employer Dr Robin Wilder and his wife Carolyn. The Wilders and their home, Starling Villas, have an ominous and unsettling air about them. Carolyn in particular struck me as a coiled viper just waiting for the right time to strike. There was something calculated, cold and conniving about her and, like Nell, I didn’t like or trust her from the start. Robin was more of an enigma, his true character hidden like the secrets in his boxes.

Chilling, menacing and deftly told, this was a fantastic psychological thriller with a gothic twist. And that ending! Wow. I still have goosebumps. Fans of the genre will love this one for sure. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰



Sarah Hilary’s new standalone Fragile is publishing on 10 June 2021. Mick Herron called it ‘a dark river of a book’ while Erin Kelly said, ‘Timeless, tense and tender, Fragile will worm its way deep into your heart.’

Sarah’s debut Someone Else’s Skin won the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year and was a World Book Night selection and a Richard & Judy Book Club pick. In the US, it was a Silver Falchion and Macavity Award finalist. No Other Darkness was shortlisted for a Barry Award. The sixth in her DI Marnie Rome series Never Be Broken is out now. 

Sarah is one of the Killer Women, a crime writing collective supporting diversity, innovation and inclusion in their industry. She is also part of the team responsible for the St Hilda’s Crime Fiction Weekend in Oxford.

As well as writing, Sarah teaches crime fiction, and mentors its rising stars. Her short stories have won the Cheshire Prize for Literature, the Fish Criminally Short Histories Prize, and the SENSE prize.



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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Forever Home by Sue Watson

Published: June 4th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Domestic Fiction
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audiobook

I’m a day late as I got mixed up, but here is my stop on the blog tour for the sizzling The Forever Home. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.



You thought you’d always be safe there… you were wrong.

Carly had thought they’d always live there. The beautiful Cornish cliffside house they’d taken on as a wreck, that Mark had obsessively re-designed and renovated – a project that had made him famous. It was where they’d raised their children, where they’d sat cosily on the sofa watching storms raging over the sea below. It was where they’d promised to keep each other’s secrets…

Until now. Because Mark has fallen in love. With someone he definitely shouldn’t have. Someone who isn’t Carly. And suddenly their family home doesn’t feel like so much of a safe haven.

Carly thinks forever should mean forever though: it’s her home and she’ll stay there. Even the dark family secrets it contains feel like they belong to her. But someone disagrees. And, as threats start to arrive at her front door, it becomes clear, someone will stop at nothing. Because someone wants to demolish every last thing that makes Carly feel safe. Forever.

An utterly unputdownable psychological thriller about what lies are hidden in the most beautiful homes. Perfect for fans of Date NightGone Girl and The Woman in the Window.



Mark and Carly Anderson are couple goals. Married for twenty-five years with two children, a beautiful house on the cliffs of Cornwall and a lucrative TV career, they and their lives are golden. Or so it seems. For all that glitters is not in fact gold, and behind the shimmering facade is a marriage full of secrets and betrayal that bubble over the surface when Mark’s scandalous affair is revealed. 

As Carly tries to put the shattered pieces of her life back together in the home she’s lived in all her life- the forever home – strange things  begin to occur.  Someone doesn’t think it should be hers. But how far will they go to take it from her?

Taut, tense and twisty, The Forever Home had me hooked. A story of secrets, betrayal and revenge, the author centres most of the action in and around the Anderson’s idyllic Cornwall home. The house reveals itself to be the perfect metaphor for the couple’s marriage: perfect and picturesque from a distance, but get up close and you find it is full of cracks and the foundations are crumbling slowly into the sea. 

Carly is the narrator of the story, not only taking us on her journey as she deals with the heartbreak and humiliation of her marriage ending, but also detailing the truth of their marriage. We learn the dark secrets they hid from the public, the lies she told to protect both their children and public image, and the ways she even deceived herself in order to be able to live that life. She is flawed but I liked her. And I think anyone who’s had to rebuild their life after a long marriage or relationship has ended will relate to her in some way. I was very intrigued about what her secret could be and loved how the author teased the reader with its existence, making you wonder if she’s the good person she appears to be. 

Mark is a fabulously unlikeable character. A man only concerned with himself, his career and his public persona, who’s narcissism and entitlement is fed by his fame and has taught him to expect to get his own way. As it became apparent that his world was also changing, I admit I enjoyed watching him flail as he desperately tried to keep control of his life.

The Forever Home is a gripping thriller that sizzles with suspense and I couldn’t put down. With perfectly timed jaw-dropping revelations, and twists and turns that kept me guessing, Watson had me on the edge of my seat. A fantastic read for anyone who loves a well-written psychological thriller.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰



Sue Watson was a journalist on national magazines and newspapers before becoming a TV producer with the BBC. 

Now a USA Today bestselling author, Sue explores the darker side of life, writing psychological thrillers with big twists.

Originally from Manchester, she now lives with her family in leafy Worcestershire where much of her day is spent writing – and procrastinating. Her hobby is eating cake while watching diet and exercise programmes from the sofa, a skill she’s perfected after many years of practice.



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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Don’t Come Looking by AJ Campbell

Published: April 17th, 2021
Publisher: Code Grey Publishing
Genre: Mystery, Thriller. Crime Fiction, Psychological Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle


A missing man. A desperate friend. A circle of deceit.

Would you refuse your friend’s desperate plea for help?

It’s eight years on from the dramatic events of Leave Well Alone, and Eva is now a detective constable on the brink of promotion. When her close friend Marc disappears, his wife Sasha is distraught, and Eva is baffled. Sasha and Marc were happy, the perfect couple, or so everybody thought.

Sasha begs Eva to help her find Marc. But he has appeared at the police station where Eva works and has made a statement. It’s on record – when his family report him missing, Marc doesn’t want to be found.

Eva is torn. She has a professional duty not to get involved, but Sasha and Marc have gone above and beyond over the years to help Eva and her husband Jim through their own troubled times.

Ultimately, friendship and loyalty override Eva’s professional integrity, and she is compelled to use her skills to delve into Marc’s life, even if it means going against Jim’s advice and breaking the police code of conduct. As each day passes, the drama unfolds, and the mystery deepens. What was Marc up to? What made him do the things he did in the months leading up to his disappearance? Things so out of character, Eva struggles to tell Sasha about them….

And then a disturbing discovery changes everything.

For lovers of domestic and psychological thrillers, and stories with a strong female lead, this one will keep you turning the pages.

Perfect for readers of Lisa Jewell, Shari Lapena, Clare Mackintosh, Rachel Abbotts and Adele Parks.


“Oh, how people weave webs of lies. Each one threaded so tightly around the next until the mess they’ve created becomes impossible to unravel.”

Don’t Come Looking is the second book in the Eva Barnes Series. I enjoyed book one, so when the author approached me to take part in the blog tour of her follow up I didn’t hesitate. 

This time Eva is trying to unravel an intricate and tangled web of secrets when her best friend’s husband walks out on his family. Before disappearing Marc goes to the local police station to tell them he’s leaving of his own volition and he doesn’t want to be found, so the police can’t investigate, and neither should Eva. But she can’t just stand by and watch her best friend crumble, so she quietly looks into Marc’s life, trying to get to the bottom of why a seemingly happy family man would one day walk out without a word to anyone. It soon becomes clear that Marc wasn’t the man they all thought he was and the deeper Eva delves into his life, the more messy and puzzling things get…

Gripping, mysterious, twisty and full of foreboding, AJ Campbell has crafted a psychological thriller even better than her first. Once again, her vivid and evocative writing had me hooked from the first page and I sped through the book quickly. Her characters are compelling and relatable; normal people put in extraordinary situations they can’t quite fathom. 

“That’s what depression does to you. You can’t think clearly… You’re confused all the time. Helpless… you feel powerless, and you can’t see anything positive. It’s painful – mentally, as well as physically, harrowing… You lose sight of what it feels like to be happy. “

What I’ve come to like most of all about Campbell’s books, is how she writes mental health. Her writing is a skillful amalgamation of education, sensitivity and entertainment as she highlights depression in middle aged men, something that isn’t talked about enough despite the fact that they have the highest rate of suicide in the UK and three quarters of adults who go missing are men. They are scary statistics. As is the fact that men are less likely to reach out for help and accept physiological therapies than women. I know men that age who’ve battled their mental health and sought help, but I have no doubt that this book will help those who haven’t or who need to reach out for help themselves. 

For me personally, I also appreciated her portrait of someone living with chronic pain and disability. Too often these characters are written as pill-popping drug addicts and two-dimensional characters, but Jim is a well rounded character full of nuance who just happens to also have pain and mobility issues. With accuracy she portrays the daily struggle of living with pain and the guilt and frustration it brings. It was the little details like him gritting his teeth as he silently dealt with the agonising pain and pushing through to still go out with the family because he didn’t want to let his kids down that resonated with me most of all. I felt truly seen. Thank you Amanda. 

I would highly recommend this, and the previous book, to anyone who enjoys psychological thrillers, particularly if you’re looking for well written ones without any gore. Ms. Campbell is now one of my auto-buy authors and I’m looking forward to reading book three.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰


AJ Campbell is the debut author of the bestselling novel Leave Well Alone, which readers describe as ‘a gripping story with a killer twist’. An alumna of the Faber Academy, AJ writes in the psychological suspense, thriller and mystery genres. Her latest novel Don’t Come Looking, although a standalone story, is a sequel to her debut and is due for release in April 2021.

The human mind and how different people react to each other and interact in society fascinates AJ. She draws inspiration for her novels from many facets of everyday life. Asking, ‘How can that have possibly happened?’ AJ loves to immerse herself in developing threads, plotting and letting her creative energy help her characters evolve.

Until the birth of her twins in 2005, which radically changed her life, AJ worked as an accountant in London. One of her twins was born with severe disabilities, as a result of which she had to give up work to care for him.  During this incredibly challenging (and rewarding) time, AJ began to draw on her love of the written word, partly for daily inspiration and partly for her own mental health. 

Reading or writing, AJ loves nothing more than settling down with a good book. She enjoys reading most genres, especially thought-provoking novels that beg the question – what would I have done in that situation?

AJ lives on the Essex / Hertfordshire border with her husband, two of her three sons, and her cocker spaniel, Max. She is a firm believer in daily exercise for mental health and enjoys walking Max in the local fields. AJ also loves cooking oriental food while sipping a good glass of white wine.

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Thank you to A. J. Campbell for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and the ARC of the book. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Review: The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Published: March 18th, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Gothic Fiction, Horror Fiction, Crime Fiction

Thank you to the wonderful Miranda at Viper Books for sending me a gorgeous gifted ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.



‘I haven’t read anything this exciting since Gone Girl’ STEPHEN KING

‘Believe the hype… a masterclass’ KIRAN MILLWOOD HARGRAVE

‘Books like this don’t come around too often’ JOANNE HARRIS

This is the story of a murderer. A stolen child. Revenge. This is the story of Ted, who lives with his daughter Lauren and his cat Olivia in an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet some of them are lies.

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, something lies buried. But it’s not what you think…


“Don’t let anyone find out what you are.” 

The Last House On Needless Street is a gothic masterpiece. It’s a few months since I read it and yet it still lingers vividly in my mind. Mysterious, unsettling and original, I was mesmerised from the start and completely enrapt by the eerie world the author had created. And the creepier it became, the deeper I fell; lured against my every instinct into the dark and twisted world of a murderer, his cat and the mystery of a missing child.

The story is told from multiple points of view: Ted, Dee, Lauren and Olivia the cat. Yes, the cat is a narrator in this book. Each is vividly drawn, fascinating and memorable, but they may or may not be reliable, adding to the mysterious atmosphere and leaving the reader never quite sure what is and isn’t real in this bizarre tale. 

It takes a talented author to write a story that is both horrifying and funny, something Ward has achieved with flourish with this book. She has crafted a tale unlike anything I’ve read before. One full of beautiful imagery and prose that belies the dark, murky, spine-chilling story it tells. She plays with your mind, cleverly lulling you into a false sense of security where you accept what you’re reading, while using it to mask an entirely different narrative that only becomes visible as you approach the finale. And when you see it, it changes every word you just read. It is a masterclass in storytelling, twists and plotting that blows my mind every time I think about it.

“… if you wait long enough, evil always shows up.” 

One of the things I loved most is how deeply Ward delves into the mind of the killer. I need more books like this! Don’t miss the Afterward for the full, fascinating insight into Ted’s mind. The amount of research that has gone into it is phenomenal and sent me down a fascinating and frightening rabbit hole. 

Striking, inventive and gloriously unhinged, this jaw-dropping thriller is one that doesn’t come around often. It is a truly spectacular and original novel that you won’t be able to shake. One that will haunt you, horrify you and surprise you. Someone needs to call Spielberg or Howard because this is a story that belongs on the big screen.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮



Catriona Ward was born in Washington, DC and grew up in the United States, Kenya, Madagascar, Yemen, and Morocco. She read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford and is a graduate of the Creative Writing MA at the University of East Anglia. Her next gothic thriller, The Last House on Needless Street, will be published March 2021 by Viper (Serpents Tail).

Ward’s second novel, Little Eve (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2018) won the 2019 Shirley Jackson Award and the August Derleth Prize for Best Horror Novel at the 2019 British Fantasy Awards, making her the only woman to have won the prize twice, and was a Guardian best book of 2018. Her debut Rawblood (W&N, 2015) won Best Horror Novel at the 2016 British Fantasy Awards, was shortlisted for the Author’s Club Best First Novel Award and a WHSmith Fresh Talent title. Her short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies. She lives in London and Devon.

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Cover Reveal Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Cover Reveal: Damage by Caitlin Wahrer

I’m delighted to be working with Michael Joseph to bring you the cover for Damage, their breakout debut of the summer.



TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.

JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of?

NICK went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the
man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.

Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. When the police get involved with this family in crisis, all the cracks will start to show…

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Dead Head by C. J. Skuse

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Dark Comedy, Psychological Thriller, Zine, Crime Fiction, Crime Series

Thank you to HQ for the gifted copy of this book.


Victim. Murderer. Serial Killer. What next?
The third darkly comic thriller in the highly addictive Sweetpea series featuring serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.

‘Bridget Jones meets American Psycho’ RED
Can a serial killer ever lose their taste for murder?

Since confessing to her bloody murder spree Rhiannon Lewis, the now-notorious Sweetpea killer, has been feeling out-of-sorts.

Having fled the UK on a cruise ship to start her new life, Rhiannon should be feeling happy. But it’s hard to turn over a new leaf when she’s stuck in an oversized floating tin can with the Gammonati and screaming kids. Especially when they remind her of Ivy – the baby she gave up for a life carrying on killing.

Rhiannon is all at sea. She’s lost her taste for blood but is it really gone for good? Maybe Rhiannon is realising that there’s more to life than death…

The third book in the critically-acclaimed series following Sweetpea and In Bloom featuring everyone’s favourite truly original girl-next-door serial killer Rhiannon Lewis.


“Is there such a thing as a ‘normal life’ for a serial killer?” 

It’s no secret that the Sweetpea series is one of my favourite series EVER. Or that this latest installment is one of my most anticipated books of 2021. I am not ashamed to admit that I squealed with excitement when HQ offered me a copy of Dead Head, or that I dived into it within days of its arrival. I had so many questions about what was next for Rhiannon. And what is next is a new side to Rhiannon. One that the woman herself doesn’t even recognise. 

Rhiannon is hiding out on a cruise ship after confessing to her murder spree and fleeing the UK. She is not only trying to conceal her identity to avoid prison, but also recover from the premature birth of her daughter.  Instead of feeling liberated, she is lost in malaise and can think of nothing except how much she misses her baby daughter, Ivy, who she was forced to leave behind. She has also lost her murderous appetite. Is it gone for good? Or could this be the beginning of a new Rhiannon?

Oh, how I’ve missed Rhiannon. Her coarse, dark, filthy humour, the twisted way she sees the world, how she says what’s on her mind without a care, and even her murderous ways. But I liked that in this installment we are given a more emotional and relatable Rhiannon. She is lost in malaise, missing her baby, and finds that her anger and desire to kill has dissipated. She feels untethered. Like she has lost the things that make her who she is. I thought this was a fantastic direction to take the character. After all, she might be a ruthless serial killer, but she’s still human, and few women wouldn’t be broken up at having to abandon their baby. But don’t get it twisted, she’s still got that hilarious inner monologue, dark wit and snarky personality that we first fell in love with. 

Darkly funny, compelling and sharply observed, Dead Head is a sensational installment in a truly unique series that you won’t forget. And though you need to read the previous books to keep up with events they are so brilliant that I would have recommended that you read them anyway. 

Once again, C. J. Skuse has knocked it out of the park. I loved being back in Rhiannon’s warped and crazy world and was left yearning for more. I truly hope this is not the last we see of Rhiannon.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5


C. J. Skuse is the author of the young adult novels Pretty Bad Things, Rockaholic, Dead Romantic (Chicken House) as well as Monster and The Deviants (Mira Inc) and the adult novels Sweetpea and In Bloom for HQ/Harper Collins.

Born in 1980 in Weston-super-Mare, England, C.J. has First Class degrees in Creative Writing and Writing for Young People. Aside from writing novels, C.J. is a Senior Lecturer in Writing for Children on the M.A. at Bath Spa University.

C.J. loves Masterchef, Gummy Bears and Sylvanian Families. She hates carnivals, hard-boiled eggs and coughing. The movies Titanic, My Best Friend’s Wedding and Ruby Sparks were all probably based on her ideas – she just didn’t get to write them down in time.

Before she dies, C.J. would like to go to Japan, try clay-pigeon shooting and have Tom Hardy present her with the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

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Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xx

Blog Tours book reviews

Bright Lies by A. A. Abbott

Published: November 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Perfect City Press
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Trigger Warning: Sexual and physical abuse

Today is my stop on the tour for Bright Lies. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to A. A. Abbott for the gifted copy of the book.


She’s learned too much, too young. Can she break free?

Emily’s dreams come true when her mother marries wealthy painter, David. Thanks to him, Emily’s artistic talents shine. Then he starts teaching her things a 14-year-old shouldn’t know. When Emily escapes from David’s luxury mansion, she’s penniless and forced to sleep in a rat-infested alley.

Bad boy Jack has turned his life around. Working as a DJ with ambitions to open a club, he rescues Emily from the streets when he sees a woman in trouble. He doesn’t know she’s still only 15 – and trapped in a dark web of secrets and lies.

David must find Emily and silence her. As he closes in, Jack faces the hardest choice of all. If he saves Emily, he’ll kiss goodbye to his future…

What would you sacrifice for love?


“I’m technically an adult now, but I had to grow up a long time ago.”

Bright Lies is a story of heartache, abuse, survival and hope. It’s a difficult book to read at times – particularly the grooming and abuse Emily suffers at the hands of her stepfather – but beneath the darkness is a sliver of light. We see that there is still kindness to be found even in the bleakest of times and to keep hope of better things to come.

“Who knows if you can stick a girl like Emily together again, after a man like that has broken her?”

At the heart of this book is fantastic characterisation. Emily and Jack were both very real characters that are likable characters and easy to get behind. It broke my heart the things they knew and had suffered that no one should, particularly at such a young age. I liked how protective Jack was of Emily as despite his flaws he’s one of the good ones. Without him her life after running away could have been even bleaker. That being said, I found reading about their life on the streets difficult as I have children of a similar age, and the idea of them being alone in the world, trying to survive, is unimaginable. My heart broke for them, and for Emily’s mum, who is an innocent victim in all of this too. I wanted to tell Emily to just talk to her mum and reassure her it would be ok. 

There are some vile characters in this book that are so well written they made my skin crawl. But none so much as David. The way he grooms and abuses Emily is practiced and all too familiar. I hated him and wanted to hurt him in every way possible for what he was doing. I just hope that books like this are able to serve as a warning and can help potential victims identify such behaviour from predators before it’s too late.  

Bright Lies is a compelling, thought-provoking and moving read.  I wasn’t sure what to make of the ending at first, but after a few days of pondering on it, I like the direction the author took and thought it was the right way to end Emily and Jack’s stories. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰


From the author’s website: Who doesn’t love a cracking crime story, full of twists?

I’m British crime thriller writer A.A. Abbott – known to friends as Helen – and I believe a good read is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

I write fast-paced suspense thrillers set in the British cities of London, Bristol and Birmingham. As a city girl, I’ve lived and worked in all of them. I also know the beautiful countryside of North Somerset well, and that’s where my latest story begins. By far my darkest book yet, psychological thriller ‘Bright Lies’ follows runaway teenager Emily from a country mansion to a city squat, as she flees the stepfather who’s gotten too close.

In contrast, the 5 book Trail series focuses on a vodka business – and what happens when the two families running it fall out with each other and with a London gangster. The Bride’s Trail leads from London to the secret tunnels below Birmingham’s historic Jewellery Quarter. The trail continues with a kidnap in the former Soviet Union in The Vodka Trail, an ill-starred venture with a marijuana farmer in The Grass Trail and a killer on the loose in The Revenge Trail. At the very end, The Final Trail serves up a heady cocktail of betrayal, revenge and reconciliation.

Like 10% of us, many of my family are dyslexic. While I’m not, I want my books to be enjoyed by readers with dyslexia and visual impairment too. That’s why I publish my thrillers in a LARGE PRINT dyslexia-friendly edition as well as the standard paperback and Kindle versions. Don’t forget, you can also adjust the font on your Kindle to suit your needs.

I like speaking to book groups, business networks and social circles, and reading my thrillers and short stories at live fiction events and on Zoom. If you’re a book blogger, litfest organiser, reviewer or simply adore books, I’d love to hear from you.

I’m a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Bristol Fiction Writers’ Group, and Birmingham’s New Street Authors.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton

Published: October 29th, 2020
Publisher: Viking
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this breathtaking novel. Thank you Ellie at Viking for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.



In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege.

Pupils and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news.

In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.


Ms. Lupton, you’ve broken me. This has got to be one of, if not the most, emotionally fraught books I’ve ever read. It has seeped into my soul.

From the first page we jump into the action as headteacher Matthew Marr is shot by a masked gunman stalking the halls of his school. The story then follows the stories of staff, students, parents and police, that play out simultaneously over the 108 minutes that the school is at their mercy. The writing is evocative, alluring, and almost lyrical; barely a word is wasted as you’re drawn into the living nightmare so vividly that I found myself actually holding my breath.

As a mother, this story is one of my worst nightmares; I can not begin to imagine the terror of having one of my children held hostage by gunmen, and pray I never have to. The author pulled me in, immersing me in the story and making me feel the characters’ terror. I saw myself in the frightened mother and the police woman, saw those who’ve taught my children in the teachers, and, most gut-wrenching of all, I saw my children in the students.

While at first glance this is a book about a school shooting, it is actually so much more. It is a multilayered novel that is also a statement on our political landscape and the hate culture being fostered by racists and extremists on both sides. The author also explores what drives them to commit such atrocities, asking how are they driven to violence, destruction and revenge? And how do they mask that hatred so the people around them never see it? She shows the harsh truths of these incidents, such as some people immediately pointing the finger of suspicion at the two refugee Muslim students and how, when the identities of the gunmen are revealed, they are seen as less than human and blame is put upon their parents for not doing their job right. She helps break down these stigmas and shows the beating heart behind those who some can be so quick to dehumanise. She also reminds us it is not only “bad” parents whose children commit evil acts and they are usually as shocked and distraught by what their child has done as everybody else.But this isn’t a maudlin book, it is also incredibly uplifting at times as we are shown examples of astounding bravery, selflessness and sacrifice despite their fear. The very best of humanity versus the very worst. A reminder that there is more good in the world than bad, and what extraordinary things we can do when pushed to our limits and those we love are in danger.

I included Three Hours in #EmmasAnticipatedTreasures back in January and it more than deserves not only it’s place there, but every bit of the hype it’s generating right now. I was left with a major book hangover after finishing this powerful masterpiece and cannot recommend it highly enough. Breathtaking, intense, harrowing, moving and exceptional, this is one not to be missed. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮


Rosamund Lupton is the author of four novels.

Rosamund Lupton graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. After reviewing books for the Literary Review and being invited to join the Royal Court Theatre, she won a television play competition and subsequently worked as a screen writer. Her debut novel Sister, was a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, has been translated into over thirty languages and has international sales of over 1.5 million copies. It was the fastest-selling debut of 2010 by a British author, and was winner of the Richard and Judy Best Debut Novel of 2011 Award and the Strand Magazine Critics First Novel Award. Film rights of Sister are currently under option.

Lupton’s critically acclaimed second novel Afterwards also went straight into the Sunday Times bestseller lists and was the No. 2 Sunday Times fiction bestseller of 2011. The Quality of Silence her third novel was a Sunday Times best seller and a Richard & Judy bookclub pick

Her new novel Three Hours is a Sunday Times top ten best seller and a best book of 2020 in the Sunday Times, the Times, Guardian, Telegraph, Stylist, Red & Good Housekeeping. It’s a Times and Sunday Times thriller of the month.

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Blog Tours book reviews

Under Your Skin by Rose McClelland

Published: April 27th, 2020
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Trigger Warnings: Domestic Abuse

Today is my stop on the tour for this dark thriller. Thank you to Emma at Damnpebbles Blog Tours for the invitation to take part and Rose McClelland for my gifted copy of the book.


When Kyle’s wife Hannah goes missing, the whole town is out in force to try to find her. One person knows where she is. One person is keeping a secret.

Detective Inspector Simon Peters and Detective Kerry Lawlor have been brought in to investigate the case, but Hannah has left no traces and Kyle has no clues.

Local Belfast resident, Julia Matthews, joins the #FindHannah campaign and becomes friendly with Kyle, sympathising with his tragedy. As Julia becomes more involved in the case than she bargained for, she begins to uncover more secrets than the Police ever could.

Julia was only trying to help but has she become drawn into a web of mystery that she can’t escape?


To o the outside world, Hannah and Kyle Greer are happily married. But when Kyle reports his wife missing, the disturbing truth beneath that shiny veneer is slowly revealed. A dark, twisted and affecting novel, Under Your Skin is an exploration of an abusive marriage and the secrets that hide behind closed doors.

At 272 pages this is a short book, but it’s the author’s gripping and atmospheric prose that made it one I devoured in just a few hours. It took me a little while to get used to the multiple narrators and how they each fit into the story, but once I did I was able to appreciate the varying perspectives that they brought to the story. All of those voices are female and the story ultimately is one of finding your inner strength and confidence. Each woman is written with authenticity. They are strong in their own way, yet filled with self-doubt and some are fractured and fragile. But they are all women you can imagine knowing and being friends with.

I loved Hannah’s chapters. Though at first I felt like the terror I was expecting from her was missing, I quickly understood and came to have a lot of empathy for her. For the first half of the book, her chapters focus on the past and tell the story of her relationship with Kyle. As the truth about what she’d endured unfolded I began to understand why she felt a kind of relief at her situation. The other character I felt drawn to was Julia. Julia is a bit of a mess. She’s isolating herself because of depression and gets involved in the search for Hannah to try and get out more like her therapist suggested, only to find herself caught up in Kyle’s twisted web.

I loathed Kyle. He was spectacularly written and I especially liked that the author didn’t give him a voice after the first chapter, instead making him someone we see only through the eyes of the other narrators. I think this was an inspired choice. It took some of his power and control away, something an abuser despises. And, though it’s fiction, I did get a kick out of the fact he never got to gaslight the reader and have the influence a man like him would want.

Complex, dark, disturbing and told with raw honesty, Under Your Skin is an absorbing thriller that examines the truth of domestic abuse with authenticity and sensitivity.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰


Her debut novel ‘The Break-Up Test’ received lovely reviews on Amazon including: “Rose McClelland’s voice reads like the younger sister of Marian Keyes with a more streetwise but vulnerable edge.”

She is delighted to see her second novel ‘How to Look Like You’ also published by Crooked Cat.

Rose wrote a short play which was directed by Rawlife Theatre Company and performed in The Black Box Theatre, Belfast. She writes book reviews for ‘Judging Covers’ and writes a mixture of theatre reviews and author interviews for her blog.

Rose has been writing creatively since her twenties. She started writing her first novel six years ago. Under Your Skin is her fourth book.

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