Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: Guilty Women by Melanie Blake

Published: April 28th 2022
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Genre: Crime Thriller, Suspense, Humorous Fiction, Erotic Mystery Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sexy, salacious and spectacular novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins for the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

THE SENSATIONAL NEW THRILLER FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

Can they get away with murder?

 On a beautiful island off the English coast, four TV actresses gather.
Their fifth member is missing – and only they know why she was killed.
As the secret between them threatens to come out, tensions on set run high.
The women are determined that the show must go on – no matter what it costs.
But one of them is on the edge of telling the truth – and no show in the world could survive this scandal…   
 
All of the women have something to hide – but the question is, are they all guilty?

The cast of RUTHLESS WOMEN is back – but this time they’re in trouble…

********

MY REVIEW

We’re back in Falcon Bay for more blood, blackmail, backstabbing, Botox and bonking.   Two months on from the now infamous live Christmas Day episode that ended in tragedy, St Augustine’s Cove is just beginning to get back its serenity after the media circus that followed Madeline Kane’s death.  But one of the group is so filled with guilt over her part in the TV-executive’s death that she’s threatening to crack.  The others rally round to try and stop her from hitting self-destruct, but can they survive the scrutiny of a cut-throat reporter, an ex with an unquenchable thirst for revenge and the glare of the world’s media and get away with murder?

Sassy, sharp, saucy and spectacular, this is another winner from Melanie Blake, who has shown herself to be the new queen of the killer bonkbuster.  While this isn’t my usual kind of read, these delightfully over-the-top tomes of pure escapism have become auto-reads for me.  I love the feeling of nostalgia that comes from these books, like a throwback to the eighties heyday of Dynasty and Jackie Collins but with a modern-day twist, and how we are given a peek behind the curtain to see the darker truths that lurk behind the glitz and glamour of showbiz.  They are a guilty pleasure that I devour hungrily,  feeling bereft when I’m finished. 

Another allure for me is how the author has chosen to shine a spotlight on the mature woman.  Women of middle age and above have long been silenced and invisible, especially in the media, and I love seeing them given a voice at last.  The women in these books, whether heroine or villain, are powerhouses; beautiful, fierce, ambitious and utterly compelling.  They are the shining stars who propel both the plot and fictional show forward and write their own stories in a business dominated by men. Themes of sisterhood and female empowerment running through every page, particularly within the bond that our quintet of narrators share.  But they are also flawed and complex, making terrible decisions that I couldn’t condone yet the author still had me rooting for them every step of the way.  And then there’s the sex.  This is a spicy novel that not only embraces the sexuality of these women but celebrates it, reminding us that it isn’t just young women who are hot, vivacious sexual beings.  It is refreshing to see such representation of older women, particularly as a woman of that age myself.

An outrageous, lusty romp filled with adrenaline, Guilty Women is a hilarious and gripping read that had me completely hooked.  Highly recommended for some sizzling summer reading.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Steam: 🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Bestselling author Melanie Blake’s own real life Rags to Riches story reads like the plot of an outrageous drama…

At fifteen years old Melanie Blake was told by her high school career advisors that her decision to do work experience at a local record shop was an ‘embarrassment to the school and a clear example that she wouldn’t go far in life or her career’. They were wrong. By nineteen she was working at the BBC’s iconic Top of the Pops show and by twenty-seven she had built a reputation as one of the UK’s leading music and entertainment managers, with her own agency and roster of award-winning artists who had sold more than 100 million records. During this time she also built up an acting agency from scratch which quickly became the most successful independent boutique agency in the UK where she manages clients from some of the biggest internationally syndicated shows in the world.

Her roster have won Baftas, Emmys and pretty much every best actress award going and Melanie is one of the most successful female agents in the world. In the UK alone, over 25 million people a week currently tune in to watch the very stars Melanie represents in their globally syndicated shows. In 2018 after two decades at the top of her game, Melanie decided to manage a smaller client list and concentrate on her other passion, writing – first as a columnist for a national newspaper, then as a playwright and now as a best-selling novelist.

Her first book The Thunder Girls became a Number 1 Best Seller in the summer of 2019 and the play she adapted from the novel broke box office records for a new work at the prestigious Lowry Theatre. She still represents a high profile stable of some of the best known faces on British television but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a producer, author and playwright.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Shadow Child by Rachel Hancox

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Century
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this emotional debut. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Century for the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS

Eighteen-year-old Emma has loving parents and a promising future ahead of her.

So why, one morning, does she leave home without a trace?

Her parents, Cath and Jim, are devastated. They have no idea why Emma left, where she is – or even whether she is still alive.

A year later, Cath and Jim are still tormented by the unanswered questions Emma left behind, and clinging desperately to the hope of finding her.

Meanwhile, tantalisingly close to home, Emma is also struggling with her new existence – and with the trauma that shattered her life.

For all of them, reconciliation seems an impossible dream. Does the way forward lie in facing up to the secrets of the past – secrets that have been hidden for years?

Secrets that have the power to heal them, or to destroy their family forever …

********

MY REVIEW:

Since the day their eighteen-year-old daughter, Emma, left home and never returned a year ago, Cath and Jim have been struggling to cope, unable to understand why their precious daughter would walk out of their life or even if she is still alive.  Every day they are caught between feelings of guilt, despair and helplessness, clinging to the hope that they will see her again one day soon.   
Cath begins to channel her maternal feelings into their tenants Lara and Nick, hoping to fill the void that threatens to break her.  But Lara and Nick are facing their own secret traumas that they are unable to even voice to one another, trying to live up to a version of themselves that isn’t real.   
Meanwhile, Emma is trying to adapt to her new life and struggling to deal with a traumatic event that shattered her entire world.   

The Shadow Child is a story about relationships, loss, trauma and hope.  A story filled with secrets that threaten to break hearts and shatter already fragile relationships.  The author explores difficult topics such as miscarriage and grief, writing with honesty and empathy.  She also asks if it is ever acceptable to keep secrets in a relationship and examines how those relationships can be affected when a secret is revealed. 

Cath, Jim, Lara, Nick and Emma each narrate their story, allowing us a glimpse into their psyche and the opportunity to connect with them on a deeper level.   Each of them are trying to find a way to live life while also trying to come to terms with trauma, grief and heartache.  The author also examines how  events in our childhood can shape who we become and the massive impact that seemingly insignificant events can have on our lives.   

Steadily paced, emotionally resonant and intriguing, The Shadow Child is a compelling debut about the complexities and nuances that make us human. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

*******

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rachel Hancox read Medicine and Social and Political Science at Cambridge, qualified as a doctor three months after getting married, and has juggled her family, her career and a passion for writing ever since. She worked in Paediatrics and Public Health for twenty years, writing short stories alongside NHS policy reports, and drafting novels during successive bouts of maternity leave. Rachel loves singing, cooking, gardening and pottery, and has five children, three dogs and a cat. As someone once said, she thrives on chaos. She lives in Oxford with her husband and youngest children.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

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

BLOG TOUR: Quicksand of Memory by Michael J. Malone

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

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

********

SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

And yet, someone is watching.

Someone who has been scarred by past events.

Someone who will stop at nothing to get revenge…

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

********

MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Women Sleuths, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins for the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Welcome to No.12 rue des Amants

A beautiful old apartment block, far from the glittering lights of the Eiffel Tower and the bustling banks of the Seine. Where nothing goes unseen, and everyone has a story to unlock.

The watchful concierge
The scorned lover
The prying journalist
The naïve student
The unwanted guest

There was a murder here last night.
A mystery lies behind the door of apartment three.

Who holds the key?

********

MY REVIEW:

“The gate clangs shut behind the girl. She thinks she’s staying in a normal apartment building. A place that follows ordinary rules. she has no idea what she has got herself into here” 

Welcome to No. 12 rue des Amants.
A beautiful apartment building in the heart of Paris whose residents are all hiding dark secrets.  Secrets one of them is willing to kill to keep.  But who holds the key to unlocking the mystery of Ben’s murder?  And can his sister, Jess, find it before they silence her too?

The Paris Apartment is a complex, tangled web full of crazy twists and turns that keeps you guessing.  It starts off with high levels of mystery as Jess arrives to stay with her brother, Ben, only to find his apartment empty and his wallet and keys left behind.  No one in the building wants to talk to her and they all seem to want her to leave, making her suspicious of what they might be hiding.  But despite their best efforts to conceal the truth of what happened that night, they slowly drop small clues that Jess pieces together to solve the cryptic puzzle of what happened to her brother.  The pace slowed a little in the middle but the dramatic finale was a worthy reward, my jaw hitting the floor when the full picture finally emerged. 

“It’s not her fault she made the mistake of coming to this place. That’s the worst part. She’s probably not even a bad person. 
But I know I am.”

Each of the residents narrate the story alongside Jess which heightens the tension for the reader and allows us a peek inside the minds of the strange, elusive characters living at No 12 rue des Amants.  Each character is richly drawn, flawed and nuanced, with Sophie standing out as a particularly strong character whose allure I found hard to resist.  I liked that just like the other Jess was a complex character with a past that’s  shrouded in mystery.  She was easy to root for and she was definitely the most likeable of all the characters.  
I was intrigued by how everyone in the building seems to blame Ben for things going wrong there; what could he possibly have done that was so bad?  As their secrets are slowly revealed we discover just how intricately woven the residents of this building are and begin to understand this strange, unnerving place. 

A cunningly crafted thriller that sizzles with suspense, this is another spectacular novel from Ms. Foley that I highly recommend. 

Rating ✮✮✮✮✰:

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Lucy Foley is the No.1 Sunday Times bestselling author of The Hunting Party and The Guest List, with two and a half million copies sold worldwide. Lucy’s thrillers have also hit the New York Times and the Irish Times bestseller lists, been shortlisted for the Crime & Thriller Book of the Year Award at the British Book Awards, selected as one of The Times and Sunday Times Crime Books of the Year, and The Guest List was a Reese’s Book Club choice. Lucy’s novels have been translated into multiple languages and her journalism has appeared in publications such as Sunday Times Style, Grazia, ES Magazine, Vogue US, Elle, Tatler, Marie Claire and more.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Reputation by Sarah Vaughan

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction, Legal Thriller, Political Thriller
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Simon & Schuster UK for the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

From the bestselling author of Anatomy of a Scandal, soon to be a major Netflix series…
Reputation: it takes a lifetime to build and just one moment to destroy.
‘Sarah Vaughan has done it again. Superb’ Shari Lapena

Emma Webster is a respectable MP.

Emma Webster is a devoted mother.

Emma Webster is innocent of the murder of a tabloid journalist.

Emma Webster is a liar.

#Reputation: The story you tell about yourself. And the lies others choose to believe…

********

MY REVIEW:

MP Emma Webster is riding high; her career is flourishing, she’s making changes to laws she’s passionate about, and she’s being interviewed and featured on the front cover of the Guardian Weekend magazine.  But then things start to fall apart and Emma soon finds her life is in tatters as she’s put on trial for a murder she says she didn’t commit.  But what is the truth?  Is Emma Webster a terrified woman who acted in self-defence, or is she a calculating killer erasing the threat to her reputation?

Tense, twisty and powerful, Reputation is a riveting blend of captivating whodunnit, gripping legal thriller and exploration of important social issues we face today.  This was my first time reading one of Sarah Vaughan’s books and my expectations were high after hearing high praise of her previous novels.  I was not disappointed.  From the opening pages there is a foreshadowing of something terrible occurring that turns Emma’s world upside down, adding an ominous atmosphere that looms over every word.  It had me on the edge of my seat as I waited for the full story to unfold, my heart pounding as it reached its dramatic crescendo.  While I did guess some of the twists, many of them surprised me, taking the plot and characters in directions I never saw coming.  Sharply written and intelligent, this is a thriller that keeps you guessing, makes you think and entertains you all in one fell swoop.  

The characters are compelling, flawed and relatable, with problems that are both recognisable and believable.  Emma was a great protagonist and I found her easy to root for at every step.  She is a nuanced character who is strong, fierce and capable but also scared and unsure.  I was never sure if she was guilty or not but could see how everything could have come together to create the perfect storm that led to murder.  But the character I was most drawn to was Flora, Emma’s fourteen-year-old daughter.  The author expertly puts the reader back into the psyche of a teenage girl as her isolation, fear and teenage angst leap from the page. I found her chapters heart-rending as a parent of teenagers; worrying what my children might be going through without me having any clue it’s happening.  It also transported me back to my own teenage years and that feeling of having nowhere to turn and being scared to talk to your parents when something is really wrong.  Emma and Flora’s experiences mirrored each other in many ways and I did enjoy seeing how it drew them closer together when they could have let it tear them further apart. 

Emma’s political career sees her being a voice for the voiceless as she fights against violence and threats towards women, particularly concentrating on the battle for new legislation around revenge porn.  It is a fight that makes her many enemies and she is subjected to the most vile threats and abuse every day.  Before reading this book I had no idea of the extent of the abuse that is part of the daily lives of women in the public eye, the fear they live with or the many safety measures they are forced to take each day.  I was shocked and appalled at what they are subjected to and can’t imagine needing water at public events in case acid is thrown in your face or being told to accept that threats of death and rape are part of the job you’ve chosen.  All of this leads into the other many timely and important themes explored in the book such as female empowerment and solidarity, how women are judged more harshly than their male counterparts, online bullying and the misogyny,  threats and violence that women endure and have grown to expect in their day to day lives.  Even the young aren’t immune, with pre-teens and teenagers using technology as a bullying tool.  While technology and social media can be a positive thing, when it’s used in this way it means that those who are targeted have no respite from the onslaught of abuse.  

Unsurprisingly, the topic of reputation is another theme that recurs throughout the book and the author explores the subject of our reputation versus our character.  Our reputations are built from the outside in but can be destroyed by those who don’t even know us in an instant.  Emma is someone who is very aware of her reputation and carefully cultivates it, particularly in relation to her job.  She has spent years building her reputation as a loving mother, no-nonsense MP and fierce warrior for female rights.  It’s who she is from the inside out.  So when it all comes crumbling down and her reputation is left in tatters, it shakes her to her core and Emma struggles with being portrayed as a person she doesn’t recognise.  It is her reputation, as well as her freedom, that she is fighting for in court.   

Bold, brilliant and intriguing, Reputation packs a punchThis is a book you need to read. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Vaughan read English at Oxford and went on to become a journalist. After training at the Press Association, she spent eleven years at the Guardian as a news reporter and political correspondent before leaving to freelance and write fiction. Anatomy of a Scandal, her 3rd novel and her first courtroom drama/psychological thriller, combined these experiences and became an instant international bestseller, and Sunday Times top five bestseller. Translated into 22 languages, it was also a kindle number 1 bestseller, shortlisted for awards in the UK, France and Sweden, and filmed as a six-part Netflix mini-series, starring Sienna Miller, Michelle Dockery, and Rupert Friend. It will be transmitted in spring 2022.

Little Disasters has also been optioned for the screen, was a Waterstone’s thriller of the month, WH Smith paperback of the month, Kindle bestseller, and has been published in the US and various other countries. She is currently working on her fifth novel

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Published: January 20th 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Suspense, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Today I’m delighted to bring you my stop on the blog tour for this powerful, piercing and unsettling novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Simon & Schuster UK for the ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

‘A tour de force of engaged storytelling. With heart-wrenching pathos, The Gosling Girl delineates the bleak aftermath for all concerned when one child kills another’ Peter Kalu

Monster?                    Murderer?

Child?                         Victim?

Michelle Cameron’s name is associated with the most abhorrent of crimes. A child who lured a younger child away from her parents and to her death, she is known as the black girl who murdered a little white girl; evil incarnate according to the media. As the book opens, she has done her time, and has been released as a young woman with a new identity to start her life again. 

When another shocking death occurs, Michelle is the first in the frame. Brought into the police station to answer questions around a suspicious death, it is only a matter of time until the press find out who she is now and where she lives and set about destroying her all over again.

********

MY REVIEW:

“She wants to know more.  She wants to know why.  She wants to figure out if Michelle Cameron really is the monster she’s made out to be.”

Humans are the scariest of monsters.  But are these monsters irredeemable? Should they be punished for one mistake, especially when that mistake was made when they were a child? These are some of the questions posed by The Gosling Girl, the gripping psychological thriller that tells the story of Michelle Cameron, a young woman fresh out of prison and trying to adjust to being free.  It is a life Michelle has never really known because at just 10 years old she became the most infamous and hated child in the country after murdering four-year-old Kerry Gosling.  And though she is out of prison, she will never really be free; forced to change her identity and living in fear of vigilantes discovering the truth and taking revenge into their own hands.  

What. A. Book.  Thought-provoking, poignant and totally riveting, this is a story that will linger long after you close it’s pages.   The author explores uncomfortable and difficult themes such as the nature of evil, childhood crime, institutional racism and psychological imprisonment versus physical imprisonment, forcing us to feel some uncomfortable emotions. The characters are richly drawn and compelling, the plot multilayered and intricately woven, and the writing nuanced and evocative, creating a connection between Michelle and the reader.  Jacqueline Roy is a powerful storyteller, her descriptions providing a sense of tension, unease, dread and desperation.  There is so much pain, trauma and helplessness in these words that it cuts you like a knife and bleeds from the pages. 

“She pictures the young woman who had sat opposite her on the sofa, unsure of herself, awkward, lacking communication skills. Traumatised, in all likelihood. She will take her under her wing, facilitate her in coming to terms with the terrible crime she committed and write about the process. Surely no one could object to that. “

This story is a piercing psychological portrait that goes deep inside Michelle’s psyche.  When we meet her she is overwhelmed and terrified of everything, having never made her own decisions, worked a job or lived in her own place.  She constantly lives in fear of being found out and doesn’t know if she can ever trust anyone.  The author vividly portrays her sense of isolation and fear, how she feels adrift without a soul in the world who cares for her or she can turn to, even her mother having turned her back on her once she was convicted.  I never expected that I would feel such sympathy and warmth towards a self-confessed child-killer, but the author enabled me to see beyond her abhorrent crime and look at Michelle as a real person, rather than one-dimensionally evil. 

Like Michelle, the story gives up its secrets slowly, keeping the reader guessing at the truth of what happened the day of the murder and Michelle’s childhood; small clues dropped like crumbs that make us wonder if she is guilty and what might have led to her committing such a crime. But is there anything that could make us understand a child killing another child?  Or is it always completely inexcusable, something only someone truly evil could do? By keeping the circumstances of what happened that day in the shadows and instead creating a bond between Michelle and the reader, the author allows us to see the grey areas that make this such a complex issue.  

Darkly atmospheric, disquieting, tortured and heartfelt, I can’t recommend this highly enough.  It is the perfect marriage of complex moral and social issues in a powerful and compelling psychological thriller that you’ll not be able to put down.  Read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jacqueline Roy is a dual-heritage author, born in London to a black Jamaican father and white British mother. After a love of art and stories was passed down to her by her family, she became increasingly aware of the absence of black figures in the books she devoured, and this fuelled her desire to write. In her teenage years she spent time in a psychiatric hospital, where she wrote as much as possible to retain a sense of identity; her novel The Fat Lady Sings is inspired by this experience of institutionalisation and the treatment of black people with regards to mental illness. She rediscovered a love of learning in her thirties after undertaking a Bachelors in English, and a Masters in Postcolonial Literatures. She then became a lecturer in English, specialising in Black Literature and Culture and Creative Writing at Manchester Metropolitan University, where she worked full time for many years, and was a tutor on The Manchester Writing School’s M.A. programme. She has written six books for children, and edited her late father’s novel No Black Sparrows, published posthumously. A second novel for adults will be published in 2022. She now lives in Manchester.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap-Up: January 2022

Welcome to the first monthly wrap up of 2022. It has been a slow month for me and I’ve only read 9 books, but quality is more important than quantity and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve read. I’ve also enjoyed having less pressure, being able to really savour books, and felt able to take a break from reading to rest when needed because of chronic illness flares a few times this month.

So, here is what I read in January:

Demon (Six Stories Book 6) by Matt Wesolowski

Published: January 20th, 2022
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fairy Tale, Horror Fiction, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Biographical Fiction

I started my reading year with Demon, the latest installment in one of my favourite series, the Six Stories Series by Matt Wesolowski. It follows Scott King who hosts a podcast called Six Stories that investigate crimes with an element of the strange and mysterious, looking at them six different ways as he tries to discover what really happened. In Demon Scott investigates a heinous crime: the brutal, senseless murder of a child by two other children, two boys mired in grief and trauma, in a rural Yorkshire village. Can he sift through the rumours and folklore and discover what really happened that summer day? Unsettling, dark, haunting and addictive, Demon has all of Wesolowski’s signature flair and style, ensuring this is a book you won’t forget.

You can read my review here
Buy the book

Wahala by Nikki May

Published: January 6th, 2022
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Contemporary Novel, Domestic Fiction, Urban Fiction, Political Fiction, Romance Novel

Wahala was one of my most anticipated debuts of the year and it did not disappoint. A story of friendship, family, identity, race and secrets it lives up to it’s name (Wahala is a Nigerian Pidgin word meaning trouble). The characters are flawed, fascinating and fabulous, the food makes you want to eat, and the author has filled the book with humour, chaos and tension that keeps you hooked. This is a book that everyone will be talking about and I can’t wait to binge on the series that is already in development.

You can read my review here
Buy the book*

The Unravelling by Polly Crosby

Published: January 6th, 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Magical Realism, Fairy Tale

The Unravelling is a beautiful novel. Polly Crosby is a masterful storyteller who expertly weaves intricate and mutlilayered stories that are impossible to put down. I had been eagerly anticipating this book ever since reading her debut at the end of 2019 and it was worth the wait. A story of grief, mystery and metamorphosis set on an isolated island, this hypnotic, haunting and atmospheric tale is one not to be missed.

You can read my review here
Buy the book*

The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown

Published: January 13th, 2022
Publisher: Viking
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Historical Fiction, Historical Thriller, Horror Thriller, Gothic Romance

Mesmerising, beguiling and darkly atmospheric, The Key in the Lock is gothic fiction at its finest. I quickly devoured this captivating story that follows Ivy Boscawen, a mother struggling to come to terms with the loss of her son who is also still haunted by events that took place three decades earlier. The evocative imagery sets an eerie, haunting scene and sent shivers down my spine, making this hard to read at night in places. The plot is clever and intricately woven, keeping you guessing right until the very end. It was my first time reading this author and I have now bumped her debut higher up my TBR.

You can read my review here
Buy the book*

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

Published: January 13th, 2022
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

Intriguing, mysterious and surprising, The Twyford Code is like nothing I’ve read before.  As a puzzle lover, I was intrigued by the idea of a book that contained a hidden code, and it’s no secret that I enjoy a good mystery. The author tells the story in a unique way, using transcriptions of audio files instead of traditional narration. Though I loved this novel way of narrating, it also won’t be for everyone and was tricky to read in places. An original mystery that stands out from the crowd, it is cleverly plotted and full of surprising twists, keeping me guessing from beginning to end.

You can read my review here
Buy the book*

All For You by Louise Jensen

Published: January 20th, 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction

Wow! What a rollercoaster ride! Crazy, heart-stopping and unputdownable, All For You has everything you could want in a thriller and more. Louise Jensen has knocked it out of the park with this one, crafting a story that is twisty and hard to predict. There’s heartache, trauma, secrets and mystery alongside an exploration of family dynamics, friendship, love, loss and tragedy. Expertly written, this jaw-dropping and addictive thriller is a must read for anyone who enjoys the genre.

You can read my review here
Buy the book*

The Guest Room by Rona Halsall

Published: January 31st. 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction

Rona Halsall is the queen of the twisty, morally complex thriller, and she’s delivered another knock-out with The Guest Room. This gripping tale will pull you in, mess with your mind and then spit you out when it’s done.  I thought I could predict where this was going but I was totally wrong, once again fooled by Ms. Halsall’s skillfully written red herrings. If you love thrillers and this author isn’t on your TBR, then you need ot change that now!

You can read my review on February 1st as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy

Published: January 20th, 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Suspense, Literary Fiction

The Gosling Girl is another debut that was on my list of most anticipated debuts this year. Thought-provoking, poignant and totally riveting, this is a story that will linger long after you close it’s pages. The author examines some heavy topics such as the nature of evil, childhood crime and racism in this powerful story, asking difficult questions and unnerving you with some of the emotions you will feel. It follows a young woman who is fresh out of prison and trying to adjust to life on the outside. It’s a life that she has never really known after being imprisoned aged just ten after murdering a four-year-old in one of the country’s most shocking murders. She has had to change her identity to prevent vigilante justice and lives in fear of people finding out who she really is. The Gosling Girl is a powerful and piercing novel that I think everyone should read.

You can read my review on February 3rd as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs

Published: February 3rd, 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance

It’s probably no surprise that the gorgeous cover of this book is what first made me want to pick it up, but I was delighted to discover that this is one of those times where what is on the inside is just as beautiful as what is on the outside. A story of food, poetry, strength, endurance and friendship, the author merges fact and fiction to tell the story of how Eliza Acton wrote what would become the greatest British cookbook of all time. Told in alternating chapters by Eliza and her assistant Ann Kirby, this spectacular and immersive novel made me fall in love. Read it now!

You can read my review on February 4th as part of the blog tour.
Buy the book*

******

Despite only reading nine books, it has been so hard to choose a book of the month. Five of the books could have taken the title with The Unravelling, The Key in the Lock, All For You, The Gosling Girl and The Language of Food all being contenders. After a lot of deliberation, I have decided that my book of the month is…

Ok, technically it’s books of the month. I just couldn’t choose between The Gosling Girl and The Language of Food, two spectacular books that I think will be in my top books of 2022.

********

Did we read any of the same books this month? Or are any of these on your TBR? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxxx

*These are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Demon (Six Stories Book 6) by Matt Wesolowski

Published: January 20th 2022
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fairy Tale, Horror Fiction, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Biographical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my first blog tour of 2022. And I’m delighted that it is for one of my favourite series that is published by one of my favourite publishers. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in this tour and to Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Scott King’s podcast investigates the 1995 cold case of a demon possession in a rural Yorkshire village, where a 12-year-old boy was murdered in cold blood by two children. Book six in the chilling, award-winning Six Stories series.

_______________________

In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act.

And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public’s ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

********

MY REVIEW:

“A horror. There’s no other word for it. Horror upon horror.”

Scott King is back with his Six Stories Podcast, a show that investigates old crimes from six different perspectives to try to get to the truth of what happened. He specialises in the strange and mysterious. Cases that are surrounded by rumours of the supernatural and the occult. This time it is the brutal, senseless murder of a child by other children, two outcast boys mired in trauma and grief, the Usslethwaite kilns with their magnetic pull and the strange folklore that surrounds them and rumours of witchcraft and demons. Can he unravel the truth of what happened that day in 1995?

What a way to start the year! Unsettling, dark and haunting, this atmospheric story had me hooked. The sixth book in the Six Stories series sees Podcaster Scott King is investigating the 1995 murder of twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons by two of his classmates. It was a brutal murder with no apparent motive that took place in a small North Yorkshire village where superstition and suspicion of those who are different was and is rife.

It is a disturbing case, and while there are inevitably stomach-churning and spine-chilling moments, this goes much deeper, humanising the boys that the media dubbed the ‘Demonic Duo’ and exploring what could have led two troubled boys to escalate from acting up in class and playing pranks to terrorising the village and savagely killing one of their peers. Through the interviews with six people with very different perspectives, news articles and letters from one of the boys to his late mother that he wrote in the months and days leading up to the crime, we get an insight into who these boys were and how they arrived at the moment where they killed another child without any apparent motive.

“The answer to this case lies somewhere in the strange hinterland between pity and condemnation. It’s a rocky and treacherous place to stand.”

The story also examines topics such as the lingering effects of the crime, offender rehabilitation, the bestowing of new identities and lifetime anonymity upon the most vilified offenders, vigilante justice and online commentary. It makes you think, stirs up uncomfortable emotions and makes you reflect on your own reactions to a crime such as this. When a crime seems particularly heinous and unforgivable, it is easy to demonise the perpetrators rather than taking a real look at the very human reasons this could have happened. We need to believe only real evil can do such a thing in order to separate ourselves from the people who commit such unspeakable acts.

For me, it conjured up memories of the tragic murder of James Bulger; the horror and disbelief that two children could commit such a terrible act, the outrage at what they did, and how the pair were immediately demonised with the entire country calling for justice. I don’t know if the Bulger case or its aftermath inspired this book, but I feel like it echoed a lot of what I remember happening in the media and my own conversations with people about the crime even to this day.

When I pick up one of Matt Wesolowski’s books I know what I’m getting, a book that is bold, mysterious, thought-provoking, eerie and addictive. Demon delivers all of those things and more in what I think is the best of his books I’ve read yet. But it isn’t for the faint hearted. In fact, the book opens with warnings about the content which I appreciated as it means readers can make an informed decision before deciding to proceed.

Expertly written, deftly told and filled with fascinating characters, Demon is a chilling tale you won’t forget.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

TW: Violence against children and animals.

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care.

‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017, ‘Changeling’ in 2018, ‘Beast’ in 2019 and ‘Deity’ in 2020.

‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio and the third book in the series, ‘Changeling’ was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Award for Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.

‘Beast’ won the Amazon publishing award for Best Independent voice in 2020.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda Books | Waterstones*| Amazon*
*There are affiliate links

********

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: Fall by West Camel

Published: December 9th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction, LGBT Literature, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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

********

SYNOPSIS:

Estranged brothers are reunited over plans to develop the tower block where they grew up, but the desolate estate becomes a stage for reliving the events of one life-changing summer, forty years earlier.

Twins Aaron and Clive have been estranged for forty years. Aaron still lives in the empty, crumbling tower block on the riverside in Deptford where they grew up. Clive is a successful property developer, determined to turn the tower into luxury flats.

But Aaron is blocking the plan and their petty squabble becomes something much greater when two ghosts from the past – twins Annette and Christine – appear in the tower. At once, the desolate estate becomes a stage on which the events of one scorching summer are relived – a summer that shattered their lives, and changed everything forever…

Grim, evocative and exquisitely rendered, Fall is a story of friendship and family – of perception, fear and prejudice, the events that punctuate our journeys into adulthood, and the indelible scars they leave – a triumph of a novel that will affect you long after the final page has been turned.

********

MY REVIEW:

Fall is a book that unfolds slowly.  Like a flower yet to bloom, its petals gradually unfurl to reveal its full glory: a beautiful yet broken tale of  trauma and pain. 

Twin brothers Aaron and Clive Goldsworthy have not spoken for 40 years.  Their lives have taken very different paths: Aaron lives in isolation at the rundown tower block where they were raised, while Clive is a successful businessman who owns the company wanting to redevelop it.  As they battle on opposite sides of the same fight, the story moves seamlessly between the present and the life-changing summer whose ripples are still felt today.

This was my first foray into West Camel’s writing.  Exquisitely told, this multilayered story is intricately woven and compelling, filled with characters that lure you in and make you care about them. A somber atmosphere pervades over every page and as each complex layer unfolds the pain pierces your heart.   The author explores subjects such as friendships, fractured and toxic family, prejudice and self-discovery, exploring how the events of our childhood and adolescence shape our entire lives, sometimes leaving scars that will never heal. 

This is definitely one of those books where it is best to go in kind of blind so I won’t say more about the plot.  But I will urge you to pick up this book and experience it for yourself. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing. He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch. He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda Books with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost-writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel (slipped into the Orenda Books submission pile under a false name), and it was shortlisted for the Polari First Novel Award and longlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker Prize. He lives in London and is currently working on his second novel.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Merry Christmas, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

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

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

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

********

SYNOPSIS:

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

–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

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

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

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

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

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

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

********

MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx