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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.

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SYNOPIS:

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.

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

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MY REIVEW:

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: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda | Waterstones* | Bookshop.org* | Amazon | 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

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – June 2021

I can’t quite believe that I’m doing my June wrap up and that we’re half way through the year already. One of the hardest things I had to do this month was to decide my list of favourite reads so far, so look out for that post coming soon. It was another great reading month for me and I read a total of 15 books. I enjoyed them all and most of them were four stars or above.

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Threadneedle was one of my most anticipated books this year. The first book in the exciting new Language of Magic Series, it is a story of secrets, lies and self-discovery interwoven with a hidden magical world. It is a magical and bewitching story that slowly hooks the reader in as the author introduces us to the characters and the hidden magical world around us. I loved the world building and following Anna on her journey and can’t wait to see what the author has in store for book two.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
Read my review here
Buy the book*

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

Beautiful, moving and heartfelt, One Last Time is a portrait of an ordinary family dealing with the realities of terminal illness. This was my first foray into Helga Flatland’s books, and I was struck by the beauty, warmth and compassion with which she writes. She skillfully created a book centred around terminal illness that manages to be elegant, poignant and funny that I would highly recommend.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book

The Forever Home by Sue Watson

Taut tense and twisty, this gripping thriller that had me hooked. It was my first time reading this author and I enjoyed her compelling characters and how she kept me guessing. I will definitely be reading more of her books.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book*

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

The Wolf Den was another of my most anticipated books this year and I was also excited as it was the first read with the SquadPod Book Club. It did not disappoint. I am yet to post my review as I am struggling to do the book justice. It is an absolute masterpiece. Lush, evocative and enthralling, I couldn’t get enough of Amara and the women who worked at the Wolf Den. It felt like I had been transported back in time and was walking on Pompeii’s dusty streets alongside them. And that ending. Omg! I am so relieved that this is a trilogy as I have to know what is next for Amara and the others.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Keep an eye out for my review soon
Buy the book*

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Nothing was what it seemed in this mysterious and sinister thriller that had a chilling gothic twist. The suspense crackled on every page and the author had me in the palm of her hand. It was a perplexing tale full of red herrings that kept me guessing right until the end. Fans of the genre will love this book.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen

I am still shook that this extraordinary novel is a debut. It seeped into my heart and soul and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The author bravely draws on her own experiences of grief and losing a child to tell Rachel’s story, injecting an authenticity into the book that is searing. It took me through a kaleidoscope of emotions, including tears, but this book is far from depressing. Sharp, witty, sarcastic and full of dark humour, you will laugh as often as you cry. Maybe more. Everything Happens For A Reason is a powerful, moving and unforgettable story that everyone should read.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book

The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

This glorious debut was nothing like I was expecting. It was better. Captivating, imaginative and original, The Stranding is a richly imagined and evocative tale about the end of the world. It follows two survivors, Ruth and Nik, as they attempt to navigate this new existence alongside a complete stranger. An absolute triumph, this swept me away. This is a debut you don’t want to miss.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Murder at the Fair by Verity Bright

This was another witty, fun and compelling cozy mystery in the Lady Eleanor Swift series. I love the combination of historical fiction and mystery and even after just two books, this feels like putting on a cosy cardigan and sitting by the fire. Great as a standalone or part of the series.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

I’ve been listening to the fifth book in the Harry Potter series on audio for a few months now. I often listen at night as I fall asleep, which is why it’s taken so long to get through it. I love the Harry Potter films and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios was one of my favourite parts of our 2016 visit to Florida, but I’d never finished reading the books. I decided to start where I left off reading in audio as I knew that sitting down with one of the books is something I’m not as likely to do. I loved Stephen Fry’s narration and thought it was a fantastic adaptation that was entertaining and compelling. I’ve downloaded the next book in the series and am looking forward to listening to that next.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Buy the book*

Suspects by Lesley Pearse

Suspects is an ensemble piece told in the third person, all of the residents of the idyllic Willow Close narrate the story, slowly unveiling the secrets they are hiding behind their picture-perfect facades as the police try to solve the murder of thirteen-year-old Chloe Church, who lived on the close. This was an entertaining and steadily paced whodunnit I’d recommend for those who like their mysteries without gore.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

I read Shadow Sands as part of a buddy read organised by the Tandem Collective and devoured this fast-paced and addictive thriller. I really enjoyed the first installment in this series, so I had high hopes for book two. Thankfully, the author delivered once again and I couldn’t put it down. My review will be posted soon, but I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys tense and twisty thrillers.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Buy the book*

The Beresford by Will Carver

Wow. Just wow. Will Carver is a twisted genius, and The Beresford is another outstanding and original novel from one of the most unique voices in Fiction and his best book yet. I’ve never read anything like this and it’s taking me some time to put into words what I thought of this book, so the full review will probably be up closer to publication day, which is July 22nd. What I can tell you, is that you need to read this book!
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Buy the book

One Child Alive by Ellery Kane

I didn’t need anther crime series when I read the first installment of the Rockwell and Decker series, but I’m so glad I started it. This is a compelling series with great characters, back stories and plots that are readable, tense and twisty. One Child Alive is an exciting, fast-paced thriller that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the genre.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Truth or Dare by M. J. Arlidge

The DI Helen Grace series has been a favourite of mine ever since I read the first book and anything the author writes is a must read for me. Truth or Dare is the tenth book in the series and sees Helen under pressure like never before. Not only is there an unprecedented crime wave sweeping the city, but she’s facing mounting tension in her personal life and fighting for her career and reputation. Once again, M. J. Arlidge has written a dark and cunningly crafted novel that weaves multiple plot lines together in unexpected ways. An unmissable read for anyone who loves crime fiction.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book*

This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

This Is How We Are Human is a truly astonishing novel that explores the nuances and complexities of being human. Full of heart, warmth and wisdom, this beautiful story is one you will never forget. I really can’t say much in a short paragraph about this book, it needs so much more, so please go and read my full review. But I can tell you that this is a story that needed to be told and one that needs to be read. It is one I believe will help create more awareness and compassion for those who are neuro-diverse and I am so grateful to Ms Beech for writing it. It is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. Go and read it.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book

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With so many five-star reads that made it onto my favourite books that were also some of my favourites this year, choosing a book of the month was no easy task. I had five contenders: The Wolf Den, The Beresford, The Stranding, Everything Happens For A Reason and This Is How We Are Human. After a lot of consideration, I narrowed it down to two and chose The Wolf Den and This Is How We Are Human as my books of the month.

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What did you read in June? Did we read any of the same books? Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. See you next month😊 Emma xxx

Thank you to the publishers for my gifted proof copies and eBook ARCS.

*These are affiliate links

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Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this truly remarkable and unforgettable novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

When the mother of an autistic young man hires a call girl to make him happy, three lives collide in unexpected and moving ways … changing everything. A devastatingly beautiful, rich and thought-provoking novel that will warm and break your heart…

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Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely.

Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy … she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants.

Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.

When these three lives collide – intertwine in unexpected ways – everything changes. For everyone.

A topical and moving drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family … to survive … This Is How We Are Human is a searching, rich and thought-provoking novel with an emotional core that will warm and break your heart.

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MY REVIEW:

“This is how we are human. We learn from one another.” 

This Is How We Are Human is a truly astonishing novel from the incomparable Louise Beech. I need to begin this review by saying that nothing I write will do justice to this work of art. This is a story about the nuances and complexities of being human. A story full of heart, warmth and wisdom that is beautifully crafted and achingly real. It is unflinchingly honest, not shying away from the awkward, difficult or embarrassing topics and questions, instead putting them at the heart of the story and exploring them in detail. I found myself stopping frequently to discuss things with my partner, read him excerpts or laugh hysterically. The author has crafted something magnificent and special that has gone right to my soul and will stay there forever.

For a story like this you need great characters. And these are ones I will not forget. Sebastian, Veronica and Isabelle are compelling, multilayered, richly drawn and real . They each narrate their own chapters, offering three unique perspectives and getting to the heart of their stories while also allowing the reader to follow on their journeys of self-discovery. You can imagine them being you, your family or your friends. And that is what pulls you in, makes you connect to them, feel with them and fully invest in their story. And while I loved them all, Sebastian was truly the star. 

“Everyone thinks autistic people can’t understand expressions, but we have to look at the strangest ones anyone can make and, and then work out what they mean. That is called irony, you know.

It is impossible not to fall in love with Sebastian. He is just the most wonderful young man; so wise and full of kindness, honesty and love. He is hilarious but also made my heart break. But what I loved most about him was that while autism is obviously part of him, it isn’t who he is. He is a nuanced character who is as individual as anyone else. He isn’t a bunch of traits or symptoms, but a human being with his own thoughts, feelings and dreams. 

I am the mother of a son with autism. He is now sixteen and beginning to face similar challenges to those Sebastian faces in the book, though my son doesn’t struggle as much with social interaction and cues as Sebastian does. I am often frustrated by the clichés we see in stories featuring autism so I was a little apprehensive about how it would be represented, but I trust both Louise and Orenda, so I had faith it would be well written. And what is vividly clear from the start is not just the depth of research and commitment to authenticity Louise has taken to represent people with autism and the things they and their families go through, but also the compassion, empathy and sensitivity with which it is written. This reads like she’s lived it, though I know from her interviews she hasn’t. At the end of the book there is a note from the author about her research and it is a must read. She truly went above and beyond in her commitment to accurately represent autism. Louise, thank you. 

“The small print tells us all the things we don’t really want to know, the things we should know.”

I was already a fan of her work after reading the fantastic I Am Dust last year. I loved it’s haunting gothic vibes and her exceptional storytelling. I knew from other people and interviews that Louise doesn’t really have a genre, she creates them; simply writing from her heart and brilliant imagination to give the reader something different each time. So I was excited to read another of her books, though I had a feeling this would be emotional (spoiler: I wasn’t wrong). But she also makes it side-splittingly funny, which stops the book from feeling heavy or overwhelming. And that ending; sheer perfection *chef’s kiss*. 

This Is How We Are Human is a masterpiece. Enthralling, thought-provoking, powerful and heart-rending, I could have read this book forever. I loved the characters and story so much that I felt bereft when I had to leave them behind. I can always count on Orenda to publish quality fiction and this story is yet another example of why I will always recommend their books. 

Louise Beech has given a voice to a story that needed to be told and characters who needed to be heard. I believe this book will help create more awareness, compassion and understanding of autism and help people with the condition to be seen for who they are, not the condition they were born with. Thank you Louise for writing it. And thank you Karen for publishing it. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition,
as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Fragile by Sarah Hilary

In

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.

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SYNOPSIS:

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.

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MY REVIEW:

“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: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: One Last Time by Helga Flatland

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Translated Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

Anne’s diagnosis of terminal cancer shines a spotlight onto fractured relationships with her daughter and granddaughter, with surprising, heartwarming results. A moving, warmly funny novel by the Norwegian Anne Tyler.

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Anne’s life is rushing to an unexpected and untimely end. But her diagnosis of terminal cancer isn’t just a shock for her and for her daughter Sigrid and granddaughter Mia it shines a spotlight onto their fractured and uncomfortable relationships.

On a spur-of-the moment trip to France the three generations of women reveal harboured secrets, long-held frustrations and suppressed desires, and learn humbling and heart-warming lessons about how life should be lived when death is so close.

With all of Helga Flatland’s trademark humour, razor-sharp wit and deep empathy, One Last Time examines the great dramas that can be found in ordinary lives, asks the questions that matter to us all and ultimately celebrates the resilience of the human spirit, in an exquisite, enchantingly beautiful novel that urges us to treasure and rethink … everything.

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MY REVIEW:

Beautiful, moving and heartfelt, One Last Time is a portrait of an ordinary family, their fractured relationships and terminal illness. 

This was my first foray into Helga Flatland’s books and, as when I pick up any Orenda publication, I had high hopes. I was rewarded with a stylish and atmospheric novel full of heart, warmth and humour. 

The characters are achingly real and draw you in, making you care about them and their splintered relationships. They could be any family. Your family even. That familiarity makes it all the more potent when you read as their lives are turned upside down after Anne’s diagnosis. You can feel Anne’s struggle as she grapples with being sick for the first time in her life, her frustration as her health declines, and her pain as she comes face to face with her own mortality. We see the complexities that can exist in familial relationships, both sides of the story being shown as both Anne and Sigrid tell their story and recollect their difficult past. The author never takes sides, giving voice to both women’s pain, frustration and regret. 

It takes skill to make a book centered around terminal illness something beautiful, elegant and funny, but Flatland pulls it off with aplomb. She avoids it feeling morose, instead making the story poignant and emotionally resonant. One Last Time is a truly absorbing and thought-provoking novel that I highly recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Helga Flatland is one of Norway’s most awarded and widely read authors. Born in Telemark, Norway, in 1984, she made her literary debut in 2010 with the novel Stay If You Can, Leave If You Must, for which she was awarded the Tarjei Vesaas’ First Book Prize. She has written four novels and a children’s book and has won several other literary awards. Her fifth novel, A Modern Family, was published to wide acclaim in Norway in August 2017, and was a number-one bestseller. The rights have subsequently been sold across Europe and the novel has sold more than 100,000 copies. A Modern Family marked Helga’s first English publication when it was released in 2019, achieving exceptional critical acclaim and sales, and leading to Helga being dubbed the ‘Norwegian Anne Tyler’. One Last Time is her second book to be translated into English (by Rosie Hedger), and published in 2021.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Legal Crime by Samiksha Bhattacharjee

Published: February 15th, 2021
Publisher: The Conrad Press
Genre: Young Adult, Coming-of-Age Fiction, Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Legal Crime. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to The Conrad Press for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

This exciting and captivating page-turner transports you into the fascinating story of sixteen-year-old aspiring singer Fiona Watson who runs away from her family, oblivious to the dangers outside her shielded comfort zone. As she journeys through her new world, leaving her past behind and determined to find a new identity, she uncovers surprising secrets buried deep within her long ago…

How do her new friends link to her past? What secrets are they hiding behind their misleading smiles? How much of herself has she really left behind? And how will she cope when she realises that she has made a huge mistake… one that could ruin her forever?

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MY REVIEW:

In the early hours of her sixteenth birthday, Fiona runs away from home. Why she’s leaving isn’t clear at first, but things are revealed as the story goes on. With the help of a group of new friends, she starts to carve out a new identity for herself and chase her dreams. But being young and naïve, she is unaware and unprepared for the dangers and struggles that await her away from home. And as her new friends’ secrets are unveiled, she begins to wonder if she has made a big mistake…

I think it is important to know before reading this book that it is not just young adult fiction, but the author is just thirteen years old. When viewed through that lens, it is a good book. But I also feel like it makes it a little tricky to review this book objectively as I look at the world very differently as a woman in my forties to how a thirteen-year-old does. 

Writing any book is a remarkable achievement for anyone, particularly a young person. This book has the bare bones of a great book but suffers without the nuance and experience of a more mature author. The narration was sometimes a little confusing, the writing a bit clumsy and the pace a bit choppy for my liking, but all of that could be my more mature perspective of a book written by, and for, young adults. 

But being young also has its advantages and the author authentically conveys the frustration, pain, angst and naivete of being a teenager. She took me back to that time where every small problem felt like the end of the world and I was so sure I knew so much more than I did. A time where our friends are the most important people in our world and it seems our parents are only out to get in our way. But as the story goes on, she shows how a teenager learns the importance of the right friends, family, and how to forgive yourself for your mistakes. 

Legal Crime’s themes of identity, self-discovery and peer pressure will resonate with young readers. Quirky and imaginative, I think the author has the potential to be a great writer with a little more maturity and experience and I am sure we will see more from her in the future. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Samiksha Bhattacharjee is a thirteen-year-old British author living with her parents and younger brother. She started writing ‘Legal Crime’ when she was seven, and hopes to inspire other children to start creative writing too. She also enjoys acting, singing, drawing and talking (a lot).

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: You Had It Coming by B.M. Carroll

Published: May 13th, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part, and to Viper Books for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

WOULD YOU SAVE THE MAN
WHO DESTROYED YOUR LIFE?

When paramedic Megan Lowe is called to the scene of an attempted murder, all she can do is try to save the victim. But as the man is lifted onto a stretcher, she realises she knows him. She despises him. Why should she save his life when he destroyed hers?

Jess Foster is on her way home when she receives a text from Megan. Once best friends, the two women haven’t been close for years, not since the night when they were just the teenage girls whom no-one believed; whose reputations were ruined. All Jess can think is, you had it coming.

Now Megan and Jess are at the centre of a murder investigation. But what secrets are they hiding? Can they trust one another? And who really is the victim?

Perfect for fans of C.L. Taylor, Lucy Foley and Lisa Hall, You Had It Coming is a thrilling tale of suspense and dark secrets.

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MY REVIEW:

Taut, tense and twisty, You Had It Coming is a story of injustice, murder and vengeance. At the epicentre of it all is what really happened to two teenage girls on the night of a party twelve years ago. Two girls whose worlds were destroyed when they weren’t believed. Were Megan and Jess telling the truth? Did William Newton build his reputation at their cost? Or did he save two innocent young men from injustice? These questions and more are examined in this readable page-turner. 

The author addresses several difficult subjects in the story. She does this with honesty, but also sensitivity, never being graphic or sensational. She focuses instead on the emotion, the long-lasting effects of what happened that night and how trauma ripples through your life long after the event has occurred, seeping into every facet of your world. There is also a tempo of malevolence and foreboding that runs through the pages as she sprinkles crumbs of suggestion that hints at their possible guilt at random intervals in the story. It is cleverly done, and the effect is that even when I was 80% of the way through the book, I had lots of suspicions but no clear idea who the culprit was or what was going to happen next. Carroll had me on the edge of my seat, my heart racing as I quickly turned the pages to reach the finale and unveil the truth. 

She filled the book with a cast of fractured, troubled, but compelling, characters. The three narrators: Megan, Jess and Bridget – the detective in charge of the murder investigation – are great choices that each offer a unique perspective and insights. While Megan and Jess were both victims of the same crime twelve years ago, their backgrounds and the way it has impacted their lives since, are very different. Just as their reactions to Newton’s death and the murder investigation are different. I liked the uncertainty that having two of them added to the story and found it interesting to read as they get to know each other again all these years later. 

The narrator I liked best was Bridget. This wasn’t because she was the one investigating the murder, but because of the perspectives the author explored through her character. Bridget has a teenage son and daughter, and through her family and perspective as a mother rather than a police officer, the author explores the nuances of consent, rape and sexual assault. I particularly liked how the author had her address these issues directly with her children. As the mother of two teenage boys myself, I am keenly aware of how vital it is to have these conversations and make sure they understand consent and the dangers of those blurred lines for both men and women. 

Gripping, suspenseful, thought-provoking and emotionally-charged, I highly recommend this fantastic thriller.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Sexual assault, rape.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ber Carroll (also known as B.M Carroll) was born in Blarney, a small but famous village in Ireland. The middle child of six, she often retreated from the chaos of family life by immersing herself in books. She has fond memories of the mobile library bus that used to pull up outside their house in Blarney and the dozen or so books she would borrow at a time, some quite inappropriate for her age.

Ber moved to Sydney in 1995 with her boyfriend (now husband) Rob. She got a job as a finance manager in the IT industry and began to climb the corporate ladder. The exciting and dynamic work environment captured her imagination and inspired her first novel. When Executive Affair was published, Ber flatly denied it was in any way auto-biographical. She now admits that the novel did have a lot of her in it, and suspects that half the people who purchased the book were her ex colleagues, to see if they were in it too. Ber gave up her finance career when she realised that she couldn’t hold down a demanding job, be mum to two small children and write books to contractual deadline. She now writes fulltime, but says that she misses getting dressed up for work and being around people who listen to what she has to say, unlike her kids!

Ber is the author of ten novels, including Just Business, High Potential, The Better Woman, Less Than Perfect, Worlds Apart and Once Lost. Her most recent novels The Missing Pieces of Sophie McCarthy, Who We Were, and You Had It Coming (May/June 2021) are published under B.M. Carroll.

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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 xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Wildfire
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fairy Tale

SYNOPSIS:

A mesmerising retelling of the ancient Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. Perfect for fans of CIRCE, A SONG OF ACHILLES, and THE SILENCE OF THE GIRLS.

As Princesses of Crete and daughters of the fearsome King Minos, Ariadne and her sister Phaedra grow up hearing the hoofbeats and bellows of the Minotaur echo from the Labyrinth beneath the palace. The Minotaur – Minos’s greatest shame and Ariadne’s brother – demands blood every year.

When Theseus, Prince of Athens, arrives in Crete as a sacrifice to the beast, Ariadne falls in love with him. But helping Theseus kill the monster means betraying her family and country, and Ariadne knows only too well that in a world ruled by mercurial gods – drawing their attention can cost you everything.

In a world where women are nothing more than the pawns of powerful men, will Ariadne’s decision to betray Crete for Theseus ensure her happy ending? Or will she find herself sacrificed for her lover’s ambition?

ARIADNE gives a voice to the forgotten women of one of the most famous Greek myths, and speaks to their strength in the face of angry, petulant Gods. Beautifully written and completely immersive, this is an exceptional debut novel.

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MY REVIEW:

“I am Ariadne, Princess of Crete, though my story takes us a long way from the rocky shores of my home.”

Ariadne is quite simply a masterpiece. Lush and evocative, it is a rich tapestry that brings to life many of the famous Greek myths through a new lens; telling them from the perspective of the women. Narrated by Ariadne and her sister, Phaedra, we follow the sisters from their childhood days as Princesses of Crete, a time of innocence when they acquiesce to the life and duties expected of them, and watch their metamorphosis as their naivete evaporates and they grow into tenacious, feisty and formidable women.  

I knew very little about Greek mythology and recognised snippets of the myths retold in this book but I had never heard the story of Theseus, Ariadne and the Minotaur. I was hooked; totally obsessed and savouring every word as I luxuriated in this book. Illuminating, captivating and educational, this was a revelatory experience for me and left me desperate to learn more about the subject. 

“What I did not know was that I had hit upon a truth of womanhood: however blameless a life we led, the passions and the greed of men could bring us to ruin, and there was nothing we could do.”

A commentary on womanhood, female agency and what it is like to live in a man’s world, the author gives a voice to the forgotten women who were merely pawns. These women were forced to endure pain and punishment for the whims of men and gods, something Ariadne learns from a young age. The author explores myths such as Medusa and the Minotaur to show how it is the women who are punished by the gods, not the wrongdoer. The rage that burns in the women is anger I recognise at the injustice of female punishment for a man’s crimes. It feels very timely, especially with the ongoing discussions surrounding the #metoo movement and our culture of victim blaming. 

“No longer was my world one of brave heroes; I was learning all too swiftly the women’s pain that throbbed unspoken through the tales of their feats.”

An accomplished and spectacular debut from an exciting new talent, this book is exquisitely and meticulously written. The author vividly paints the world of gods and mortals as she sweeps you away to the golden shores of Naxos and Crete. The depth of her research is palpable and makes it all feel unquestioningly real as we are immersed in this mesmerising world. 

Luminous, atmospheric, breathtaking and unforgettable, when I finished this book I was lost for words and felt bereft at leaving the characters behind. A truly phenomenal story that everyone needs to read, even if you’ve never been interested in Greek mythology before. READ IT NOW!

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✯

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Saint grew up reading Greek mythology and was always drawn to the untold stories hidden within the myths. After thirteen years as a high school English teacher, she wrote ARIADNE which tells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur from the perspective of Ariadne – the woman who made it happen. Jennifer Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.

Instagram | Twitter

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BUY THE BOOK

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

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Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and to Wildfire for my gifted ARC. 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 Bone Code by Kathy Reichs

Published: April 29th, 2021
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Series

SYNOPSIS:

THE NEW EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT THRILLER IN THE NUMBER ONE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING TEMPERANCE BRENNAN SERIES

‘I await the next Kathy Reichs’ thriller with the same anticipation I have for the new Lee Child or Patricia Cornwell’ JAMES PATTERSON

‘Over the course of twenty books, Kathy Reichs and Tempe Brennan have thrilled readers with pacey, mazey tales . . . We readers are truly grateful’ IAN RANKINNO CRIME CAN STAY HIDDEN FOREVER

When a hurricane hits the Carolinas it uncovers two bodies, sharing uncanny similarities with a cold case in Quebec that has haunted Temperance Brennan for fifteen years.

At the same time, a rare bacterium that can eat human flesh is discovered in Charleston. Panic erupts and people test themselves for a genetic mutation that leaves them vulnerable.

With support from her long time partner Andrew Ryan, in a search that soon proves dangerous, Temperance discovers the startling connection between the victims of both murder cases – and that both the murders and the disease outbreak have a common cause . . .

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MY REVIEW:

When Hurricane Inara hits the Carolinas it unearths two bodies that bear a striking similarity to a cold case from her past that has haunted Temperance Brennan for fifteen years. Could they be connected? 

Meanwhile, there is a new pandemic in Charleston; a rare, flesh-eating bacteria that is passed from animals to humans is spreading through the population at an alarming rate and causing panic among its residents. 

As Temperance and her partner investigate, they find surprising links between not only the two murder cases, but also to the outbreak. And as they get closer to the truth, it becomes clear that someone will do anything to stop them…

The Bone Code is the twentieth installment in the infamous Temperance Brennan series. I haven’t read this series in probably close to a decade and I was excited to get back into it, but apprehensive about how easy it would be to do so. I needn’t have worried. Reichs catches up the reader with finesse, making those who’ve not read for years feel like you’ve never been away and making it easy for others to pick this up as a first foray into the series. 

You’re guaranteed a fascinating case when you pick up one of Reichs’ books and this one was no exception. Granted, some of the talk about vaccines went over my head, but she does a great job of explaining complex medical and scientific jargon to those of us with no experience in the field. Unlike many books out at the moment, Reichs opts to mention Covid-19 in this book. But she takes a positive approach, consigning it to history and setting the book at a time when the virus has been conquered, mentioning it in the past tense. Obviously this is fiction, but it gave me a sense of comfort all the same to imagine myself in a world where the threat is overcome and we are living normal lives again. 

Twisty, taut and tense, reading this was a great reminder of just how good Reichs is. I loved being back with Tempe. She is a fantastic character and I’d forgotten just how much I enjoy her and how fascinating I find the work she does. Intelligently and sharply written, I love how she expertly weaves together all of the intricate threads slowly in striking and unexpected ways. Addictive and consuming, I inhaled this book in under a day, unable to put it down once I’d started reading. It has definitely made me want to go back and read more of the books I’ve missed.

A darkly atmospheric thriller with a kick, this is one not to be missed. Even if you’ve never read Ms. Reichs before, I suggest you pick this up and find out for yourself why she, and Tempe, are some of the biggest names in crime fiction. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kathy Reichs’s first novel Déjà Dead catapulted her to fame when it became a New York Times bestseller and won the 1997 Ellis Award for Best First Novel. Her other Temperance Brennan books include Death du Jour, Deadly Decisions, Fatal Voyage, Grave Secrets, Bare Bones, Monday Mourning, Cross Bones, Break No Bones, Bones to Ashes, Devil Bones, 206 Bones, Spider Bones, Flash and Bones, Bones Are Forever, Bones of the Lost, Bones Never Lie, Speaking in Bones and the Temperance Brennan short story collection, The Bone Collection.   In addition, Kathy co-authored the Virals young adult series with her son, Brendan Reichs. The best-selling titles are: Virals, Seizure, Code, ExposureTerminal, and the novella collection Trace Evidence. The series follows the adventures of Temperance Brennan’s great niece, Tory Brennan.  Dr. Reichs’ latest novel, Two Nights, was released July 11 and features Sunday Night, a tough-talking, scarred heroine.  Dr. Reichs was also a producer of the hit Fox TV series, Bones, which is based on her work and her novels.

From teaching FBI agents how to detect and recover human remains, to separating and identifying commingled body parts in her Montreal lab, as a forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs has brought her own dramatic work experience to her mesmerizing forensic thrillers. For years she consulted to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in North Carolina and to the Laboratoire de Sciences Judiciaires et de Médecine Légale for the province of Québec. Dr. Reichs has traveled to Rwanda to testify at the UN Tribunal on Genocide, and helped exhume a mass grave in Guatemala. As part of her work at JPAC (Formerly CILHI) she aided in the identification of war dead from World War II, Korea, and Southeast Asia. Dr. Reichs also assisted in the recovery of remains at the World Trade Center following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Dr. Reichs is one of only 100 forensic anthropologists ever certified by the American Board of Forensic Anthropology. She served on the Board of Directors and as Vice President of both the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and the American Board of Forensic Anthropology, and is currently a member of the National Police Services Advisory Council in Canada. She is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Dr. Reichs is a native of Chicago, where she received her Ph.D. at Northwestern. She now divides her time between Charlotte, NC and Montreal, Québec.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in this tour and to Simon & Schuster UK for the ARC. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours

Blog Tour: Books on the Hill – Open Dyslexia Project

Today I’m taking part in a blog tour that’s a little different. It isn’t a book review, extract or interview with an author, but an informative post about an exciting initiative to make reading more accessible to readers with dyslexia.

Books on the Hill are a new publisher dedicated to helping those with dyslexia and who have trouble reading. The following is taken from their website:

THE PITCH

We at Books on the Hill would like to share our new diversity project: ‘Open Dyslexic.’

We have created a new publisher BOTH Press to do this. We are passionate about helping people who have dyslexia, or have any difficulty reading, to access good fiction. We aim to make good quality fiction accessable to those not cureently provided for by today’s traditional mass book market. Furthermore we wanted to create a tool for our fellow booksellers to help those customers who deal with dyslexia and have difficulty reading. We are working with talented and award winning authors to publish titles of dyslexic friendly books for adults. I am a bookseller, and passionate about books and reading. But this was not always the case. I am dyslexic myself and could not read until 13, and so now I am passionate about helping anyone who has difficulty reading.

THE PROJECT

This project is very important to me, as not only did I find it difficult to read, but my sister and many of my friends are also dyslexic. One of the most satisfying things of being a bookseller is helping children finding books they want, especially so when they were scared of reading due to their dyslexia. Since we started the project, Books on the Hill have had many adult customers with dyslexia come in shop asking for something accessible to read. For example, one customer asked if we stock well known novels in a dyslexic friendly format. Unfortunately we had to say no, as they just don’t exist. We explained what we are trying to achieve by printing our own and she replied:

“I have been reading (children dyslexic) books but they are a bit childish so I am really happy I have found your company!! Thanks so much again and thank you for making such a helpful and inclusive brand – it means a lot.”

THE RESEARCH:

Dyslexia is a learning difference that primarily affects reading and writing skills. The NHS estimates that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK have some form of dyslexia, while other dyslexic organisations believe 1 in 5 and more than 2 million people in the UK are severely affected. Dyslexia does not stop someone from achieving. There are many people who are successful and dyslexic. Famous actors such as Orlando Bloom; Entrepreneurs like Theo Paphitis, and many more, including myself. All of who believe dyslexia has helped them to be where they are now. Dyslexia, as I can attest to, does not go away. You don’t grow out of it.

We are very aware that every dyslexic reader is different so we’re keen to get feedback on our formatting. If you’re a dyslexic reader, we’d love to hear your thoughts.*
*There is a link on the site where you can download a PDF of different fonts and spacings and then send them feedback.

THE TEAM:

Books on the Hill is Alistair Sims. He is the manager and commander-in-chief of the bookshop (though his partner, Chloe, and his mother, Joanne, who set up the bookshop with him, may disagree with this description). Alistair is dyslexic and has a PhD in history and archeology. He could not read until he was 13 and is passionate about helping anyone who has difficulty reading. He is the driving force behind BOTH Press and has been involved in every step in this project, from finding award winning authors to contribute, the cover design, and the road to publication, including setting up for the distribution.

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For more information on those who have collaborated with Alistair on this fantastic project, on the project itself, to download the PDF or order books, head to their website here.

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Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in this tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😃 Until next time, Emma xxx