Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Dirt by Sarah Sultoon

Published: Janaury 19th, 2023
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Political Thriller, Political Fiction, War Story
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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

********

SYNOPSIS:

A compulsive, searing political thriller set on a kibbutz in Northern Israel, where the discovery of the body of an Israeli-Arab worker sets off a devastating chain of events…


‘A first-class political thriller’ Steve Cavanagh
 
‘A bitingly sharp, pacy thriller. Devilishly good. I inhaled it’ Freya Berry 
 
‘A powerful political thriller that brims with authentic detail. Clever, compulsive and achingly atmospheric’ Kia Abdullah 
 
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––

This is no utopia…

1996. Northern Israel. Lola leaves an unhappy home life in England for the fabled utopian life of a kibbutz, but this heavily guarded farming community on the Arab-Israeli border isn’t the idyll it seems, and tensions are festering.

Hundreds of miles away, in the Jerusalem offices of the International Tribune newspaper, all eyes are on Israel’s response to a spate of rocket attacks from Lebanon, until cub reporter Jonny Murphy gets a tip from a mysterious source that sends him straight into the danger zone.

When the body of an Arab worker is discovered in the dirt of the kibbutz chicken house, it triggers a series of events that puts Lola and the whole community in jeopardy, and Jonny begins to uncover a series of secrets that put everything at risk, as he begins to realise just how far some people will go to belong…

********

MY REIVEW

“The body steamed gently in the heat as the birds pecked their way around it, the fetid smell of chicken feed mingling with the sulphurous whiff of smashed eggs. The pecking became indecorous as the hardest-working chicken, a champion amongst fowl, found an eyeball. Then another.”

When a thriller opens with lines like that you know you’re in for a great read. And Dirt did not disappoint. There is a sense of foreboding that hovers over the pages from the start, something ominous in the air that we are yet to discover. And there is a lot to discover in the complex, layered and twisty political thriller filled with secrets, tension and cover-ups.

1996 is a nostalgic year for me. I was 17-years-old and it was the year I felt I found a sense of freedom and adventure among my peers, so I instantly connected with Lola who is experiencing that on a much bigger scale in this story. Lola has left behind her unhappy home life in England for an adventure in Northern Israel alongside her Jewish best friend, Sam. The two are working as volunteers on a kibbutz, a fabled utopian farming community located on the Arab-Israeli border. There is a real sense of family living and working alongside these people every day. But when a body is found in the heavily guarded community all signs point to murder, and it seems Lola doesn’t know these people as well as she thought.

Meanwhile, our other narrator, Jonny, is hundreds of miles away in Jerusalem. Jonny has also come to the country to find himself, a quest to learn more about his heritage after his Jewish mother was disowned by her family for falling in love with his Irish father. A reporter for the International Tribune, a source alerts him to the body discovered on the kibbutz. Unable to resist the lure of a story, he travels there to investigate, not realising the dangerous chain of events he is about to ignite.

“You have no idea what you’ve stumbled into. Everyone thinks that it is simple – both sides hate the other and will fight to the death until one of them wins. Nothing’s ever that simple though is it?” 

Sarah Sultoon isn’t afraid to tackle a difficult subject. Her debut, The Source, was a hard-hitting read and this one is just as unflinching. Alongside her examination of the Arab-Israeli conflict is an exploration of identity that also touches on subjects such as prejudice and sexual assault. While there are occasional gruesome scenes, it is never graphic and she instead focuses on the emotions of the characters to tell her story, making the reader feel everything alongside Lola and Jonny. The writing is so evocative that I was transported and it was almost like I could feel the heat of the sun bearing down on me in the kibbutz or feel the terror as rockets flew overhead during an air raid. It gave me a real connection not only to the characters, but to the setting itself, something that is very important in this book.

A clever, intriguing and intricate thriller that I’d highly recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer, whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if… Sarah lives in London with her family, and she’s currently working on her second thriller

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xx

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: So Pretty by Ronnie Turner

Published: January 19th, 2023
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Gothic Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this dark, hypnotic and unnerving debut. This was a fantastic start to my reading year and I’m thrilled to be sharing my review with you all today.
Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda for the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

A young man arrives in a small town, hoping to leave his past behind him, but everything changes when he takes a job in a peculiar old shop, and meets a lonely single mother … A chillingly hypnotic gothic thriller and a Mesmerising study of identity and obsession.
 
‘This chilling gothic tale explores the dark corners of identity … beautifully written and a real page-turner’ C J Cooke
 
‘Dark, lyrical and intriguing’ Fiona Cummins
 
‘Like Stephen King on crack … the most accomplished book I’ve read this year. Dark, gothic as hell, and genuinely scary, Turner has managed to portray loneliness, obsession, and monster-worship in one neat little package. I dare you to open it’ M W Craven
 
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––
 
Fear blisters through this town like a fever…

When Teddy Colne arrives in the small town of Rye, he believes he will be able to settle down and leave his past behind him. Little does he know that fear blisters through the streets like a fever. The locals tell him to stay away from an establishment known only as Berry & Vincent, that those who rub too closely to its proprietor risk a bad end. 

Despite their warnings, Teddy is desperate to understand why Rye has come to fear this one man, and to see what really hides behind the doors of his shop.

Ada moved to Rye with her young son to escape a damaged childhood and years of never fitting in, but she’s lonely, and ostracised by the community. Ada is ripe for affection and friendship, and everyone knows it.

As old secrets bleed out into this town, so too will a mystery about a family who vanished fifty years earlier, and a community living on a knife edge.

Teddy looks for answers, thinking he is safe, but some truths are better left undisturbed, and his past will find him here, just as it has always found him before. And before long, it will find Ada too.

********

MY REVIEW:

‘It’s a curious box and a box of curiosities. We don’t go inside Berry & Vincent,’ they said. 
‘Why?’ 
Don’t go inside Berry & Vincent,’ they said. ‘There’s a devil inside that place.’

Teddy arrives in Rye hoping to make a fresh start and leave the ghosts of his past far behind. He answers an ad for an assistant at Berry & Vincent, a peculiar old shop that the residents avoid and refuse to even speak of. What is it they are so afraid of? And why do they keep telling Teddy to leave before it’s too late?
As Teddy tries to uncover the secrets of this strange place he meets single mother Ada, who has lived in Rye for two years but never managed to fit in. The pair bond over being outsiders and attempt to unravel the mystery of Berry & Vincent. But there is a darkness lurking and secrets that have been hidden for decades will soon be revealed.

Wow! This book needs to come with a warning label! Dark, haunting and malevolent, it chilled me to the bone, made my heart race and left my jaw on the floor. I finished reading it late last night, unable to go to bed until I had the answers to my many questions, and I’m still reeling, the adrenaline coursing through me even now. When you read this book, be prepared to be taken on one of the darkest, most twisted rides you’ve ever experienced. And be prepared to love every minute. 

“They were afraid. They were all afraid.” 

It is no secret that Orenda is not only my favourite indie publisher, but one of my favourite publishers overall. Anytime you read one of their books you know you’re guaranteed a magnificent story told by a skilled storyteller, so my hopes were high before even starting this book. But So Pretty took all of those expectations and blew them out of the water. Hypnotic and unnerving, it is cleverly choreographed, intricately layered and twisty, with the perfect balance of sinister suspense and edge-of-your-seat tension.  The imagery is evocative and chilling, making even the buildings feel alive with an evil that seeps into your pores as you read. There’s a sense of dread that pervades every page and I knew intrinsically that something was very wrong, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that no one would come out of this unscathed. I wanted to turn away and run. But I couldn’t. I was hooked.

Ronnie Turner may be a debut author, but she writes like a veteran beyond her years. A masterful sinister storyteller, she knows how to captivate her audience and blow their minds. I was putty in her hands as she took me down a rabbit hole of twists and turns, elevated the tension, and slowly revealed all the pieces so that the full, horrifying picture took shape. She is an author to watch and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. I’ll be first in line to buy it for sure!

“It takes twice as long to be mended than it does to be broken. If ever.”

Humans are the scariest of monsters, something that is explored throughout this book as it delves into the darkness that lurks inside the crevices of a twisted mind and illuminates the dark recesses of identity, and obsession. It is also a commentary on abuse, violence against women, and the lasting impact of trauma, showcasing how our pain can trickle down through generations to damage those we try to protect and reminding us that just because we know why someone acts a certain way, it doesn’t mean that it’s right or acceptable. The characters are all fractured, flawed, compelling, the author drawing you deeper inside their world and creating a bond between them and the reader. My heart ached for Teddy and Ada as they tried to escape the trauma of their pasts, and I rejoiced as they found friendship and solace from their lonely existence. But through it all I could never shake that growing disquiet. The sense of inherent darkness and danger coiled like a viper waiting to strike. And when it struck, it floored me completely and filled my heart with fear.

A buffet of dark delights, So Pretty is an unsettling, eerie and mesmerising gothic thriller. If you enjoy uncomfortable, claustrophobic and seriously creepy novels that will haunt your subconscious long after reading, then this one’s for you. An easy five stars, this was a phenomenal start to the reading year. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature. She now works as a Senior Waterstones Bookseller and barista. Ronnie lives in the South West with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and taking long walks on the coast.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers that are taking part the blog tour.

*These purchase links are from affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Suicide Thursday by Will Carver

Published: November 24th, 2022|
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Hardboiled, Noir Ficiton, Crime Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Suicide Thursday. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted proof.

********

SYNOPSIS:

A disenchanted man struggles to get beyond the first chapter of the books he’s writing, and to separate fact from fiction in his own life. His friend’s suicide changes everything … The mind-blowing, heart-rending new thriller from cult bestselling author Will Carver.
 
‘One of the most exciting authors in Britain’ Daily Express

_________________________________________
 
Eli Hagin can’t finish anything. 
 
He hates his job, but can’t seem to quit. He doesn’t want to be with his girlfriend, but doesn’t know how end things with her, either. Eli wants to write a novel, but he’s never taken a story beyond the first chapter. 
 
Eli also has trouble separating reality from fiction. 
 
When his best friend kills himself, Eli is motivated, for the first time in his life, to finally end something himself, just as Mike did…
 
Except sessions with his therapist suggest that Eli’s most recent ‘first chapters’ are not as fictitious as he had intended … and a series of text messages that Mike received before his death point to something much, much darker…

********

MY REVIEW:

“Suicide is a beginning for those left behind.”

Bold, uncompromising and unique, Suicide Thursday is another thought-proovoking novel from the incomparable Will Carver. 

Aspiring writer Eli Hagin can’t finish things. He can’t get past the opening chapter of his book, can’t end his relationship, and can’t leave the job he hates. But when his best friend takes his own life Eli finds himself feeling motivated to finally finish something. But not everything is as it seems and fact begins to merge with fiction as the truth behind Mike’s suicide is revealed…

This is one of those books that haunts your subconscious long after reading and I have not stopped thinking about it. Will Carver is a master of his craft, holding us in the palm of his hand from beginning to end as he explores a multitude of social and moral topics in this genre-blending tale. I am a proud member of the #CarverCult and I will pick up his books without even looking at the synopsis. They are like nothing else you will ever read, but you know you are getting a story that is meticulously written, twisty, sinister and atmospheric. 

The story is told by multiple narrators using mixed media as it moves between the days leading up to Sucide Thursday and the heartrending aftermath. This is a story filled with flawed, unreliable and unlikable characters. Eli is particularly abhorrent; selfish, acerbic and unfeeling. I couldn’t decide if he was simply a terrible person or if there were elements of neurodiversity that affected his perception of the world. There was nothing that could excuse him deciding Mike had killed himself as a message to him rather than an expression of his own desperation though and I really hated him at times. But he was great to read. 

As someone who has lost friends to suicide and struggled with mental health, I was a little apprehensive about how I’d feel reading this book. But while this is undoubtedly hard to read, Carver skillfully and realistically conveys the psychological and emotional torment of depression and suicidal thoughts, and the complex layers of the particular kind of grief that comes with losing a loved one in this way. Carver is also an author with a knifelike awareness of the human condition who gets to the heart of why people behave like they do. 

Disturbing, moving and darkly funny, Suicide Thursday is a compelling and audacious novel that stays with you. Highly recommended.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

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 | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*These purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Call of Cassandra Rose by Sophia Spiers

Published: October 13th, 2022
Publisher: Lume Books
Genre: Suspense, Mystery, Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Call of Cassandra Rose, a sinister, unnerving and addictive debut. Thank you to Anne from Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Sophia Spiers for the gifted signed ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Annabelle seems to have it all. The perfect house, a successful husband, a darling son. But Annabelle is troubled. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, failing at motherhood, and at odds with her new privileged lifestyle, Annabelle begins to self-harm, a habit resurrected from her traumatic past. When she meets the alluring and charismatic hypnotherapist Cassandra Rose, she is offered a way out. Through hypnosis, Annabelle is encouraged to unearth her painful repressed memories and face her childhood demons. But as the boundaries between her hypnotic trance and reality begin to dissolve, Annabelle becomes increasingly vulnerable to much darker forces. Filled with twists and suspense, The Call of Cassandra Rose is a chilling thriller that examines how trauma shapes our lives and asks whether we can ever really escape our pasts.

********

MY REVIEW:

“From the moment she had pulled me out of hypnosis, and I’d opened my eyes, I knew I wanted more. I was hooked. 
She’d done the impossible: she’d helped me to escape.” 

Sinister, dark and unnerving, The Call of Cassandra Rose is a compelling debut that oozes an anxious tension from start to finish.  Hard to predict, it keeps you on your toes with its jaw-dropping twists and turns that hit like bolts out of the blue. New author Sophia Spiers shows that she is a talent to watch as she tackles difficult subjects such as mental health, self-harm, abuse and trauma.  Skillfully and sensitively written, it is also achingly real and so hard to read at times that I had to put it aside and take a break before coming back to it.  

In the story’s narrator, Annabelle, Spiers perfectly captures how it feels to be in the grip of the black hole of anxiety and depression,  the fear, isolation and self-doubt of domestic abuse, the power of trauma and the overwhelming battle to fight the urge to self-harm. Annabelle is wracked with guilt, insecurities and is often naive.  Her world a claustrophobic state of terror that is suffocating and you can feel her increasing desperation to uncover the truth of the buried trauma that plagues her subconscious. She was someone I liked, empathised with and felt a strong connection to.  Someone I wished I could reach into the book and save. 

The eponymous Cassandra Rose is the antithesis to Annabelle.  Magnetic, alluring and enigmatic, the hypnotherapist appears like a much-needed saviour.  Annabelle sees her as her only hope of getting better and believes she’s piecing her back together like no one else can.  But from the start there was something about Cassandra Rose I didn’t trust and I was just waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I certainly never imagined what was to come and was left reading in breathless anticipation as Spiers took me on a crazy ride that left me speechless.. 

Atmospheric, harrowing and addictive, this unique debut left me wondering what the hell I’d just read.  I’m still not sure.  But I would highly recommend you read it and try to find out for yourself. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Self harm, mental health, domestic abuse 

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sophia, a Londoner of proud Italian and Greek heritage, studied Film and TV at university. In her twenties she worked in TV and post-production before turning her attention to her true passion: writing. In 2019, she graduated from Faber Academy’s Writing A Novel course and has completed her debut novel, The Call of Cassandra Rose. Sophia lives in North London with her husband, two children, two cats and dog named Ripley.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones| Amazon

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Maids of Biddenden by GD Harper

Published: May 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Ginger Cat
Genre: Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this extraordinary tale, The Maids of Biddenden. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Ginger Cat for the gifted copy of the book.

********

MY REVIEW:

‘There is no me; there is no you.
There is only us.’

The Maids of Biddenden is inspired by the real-life story of conjoined twins Mary and Eliza Chulkhurst, born in 1100 into a wealthy family from a small Kent village.

Joined at the hip, the sisters overcome fear and hostility to grow into gifted and much-loved women – one a talented musician and song-writer, the other a caring healer and grower of medicinal plants. Entangled in the struggles for power and influence of the great Kent nobles of the time, they achieve much in their lifetimes and leave behind a legacy in Biddenden that survives to this day.

********

MY REVIEW:

“Bishop Gundulf had told her of the abbey’s dark secret. And, since then, the thought of it has accompanied her ever waking moment. Today she would see it in the flesh. It. She. They? What was best? Soon she would know.”

Two young ladies.  Two minds.  But one body.  Meet Eliza and Mary Chulkhurst, the Maids of Biddenden.  

This fascinating novel is inspired by the real-life story of conjoined twins born in a small Kentish village in 1100.  Born joined at the hip, the sisters were not expected to survive and were taken to the local abbey to live out their short lives.  But these remarkable girls overcame expectations and flourished, living to 34 years of age and leaving behind a legacy that remains to this day.

Until I received the invitation to this blog tour I had never heard of the Maids of Biddenden but I was immediately intrigued.  How would people of the twelfth century react to conjoined twins?  And what kind of life were they able to live?  Author GD Harper answers these questions and more, skillfully and evocatively bringing Eliza and Mary’s story to life.  

“We were observers of each other’s world and it was wonderful these worlds were different. God ordained that our bodies were bound together, but not our minds. Our minds soared off in different ways, giving us a degree of freedom from each other.”

I was enthralled by these extraordinary women and lost myself in their story.  When we first meet them they are just six-years-old and live hidden from view at the abbey, knowing nothing of the outside world.  We follow them as they return to live with their family, discover the world outside the abbey’s walls and the prejudice of people who have never before seen conjoined twins.  They face unique struggles which we watch them overcome to achieve things that nobody ever expected: Eliza becoming a talented musician and song-writer and Mary becoming a great and renowned healer.  Harper provides insight into the Maids’ innermost thoughts and dreams, allowing the reader to really connect with and feel for them.  What struck me most about Eliza and Mary was not only their strength, but their individuality, something many didn’t see, expecting them to be the same person in mind as well as body.  But they couldn’t be more different from one another, something that poses its own set of challenges that they conquer with the same tenacity as every other obstacle in their path.  

Captivating, uplifting and moving, this is a story that will stay with you long after reading.  A book I would highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

GD Harper is a past winner of a Wishing Shelf Red Ribbon Book Award, and was shortlisted for the Lightship Prize for first-time authors and longlisted for the Page Turner Book Award and the UK Novel Writing Award.

His first historical novel, ‘The Maids of Biddenden’, has already been shortlisted for the 2021 Impress Award, longlisted for the 2021 Exeter Novel Prize, the 2021 Cheshire Novel Prize and the Flash 500 Novel Award, and was a 2021 Page Turner Writer Award finalist.

********

BUY THE BOOK

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Moose Paradox by Antti Toumainen (The Rabbit Factor Trilogy Book 2)

Published: October 27th, 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Hardboiled, Police Procedurals, Book Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobooks

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the hilarious and original The Moose Paradox. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda for the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

Insurance mathematician Henri has his life under control, when a man from the past appears and a shady trio take over the adventure park’s equipment supply company … Things are messier than ever in the absurdly funny, heart-stoppingly tense second instalment in Antti Tuomainen’s bestselling series…

**Soon to be a major motion picture starring Steve Carell**

_________________________________________

Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen has finally restored order both to his life and to YouMeFun, the adventure park he now owns, when a man from the past appears – and turns everything upside down again. More problems arise when the park’s equipment supplier is taken over by a shady trio, with confusing demands. Why won’t Toy of Finland Ltd sell the new Moose Chute to Henri when he needs it as the park’s main attraction? 

Meanwhile, Henri’s relationship with artist Laura has reached breaking point, and, in order to survive this new chaotic world, he must push every calculation to its limits, before it’s too late…

Absurdly funny, heart-stoppingly poignant and full of nail-biting suspense, The Moose Paradox is the second instalment in the critically acclaimed, pitch-perfect Rabbit Factor Trilogy and things are messier than ever…

********

MY REVIEW:

We are back at the YouMeFun Adventure Park for the second instalment in Antti Tuomainen’s Rabbit Factor series and Henri’s life is messier than ever.  Starting as it means to go on, we leap head-first into the action and don’t pause for breath as we are taken on a tense roller-coaster ride of crazy antics involving a serious insurance mathematician, unsavoury characters and theme park equipment.

He’s done it again.  Hilarious, bizarre, clever and original, Antti Tuomainen has created another riveting page-turner that I couldn’t put down. I devoured it quickly, Tuomainen’s singular style captivating me completely.  Brilliantly written, tense and pacy, he didn’t miss a beat as he succinctly catches the reader up on events from book one while the madness is still going on around the characters.  It is far-fetched and absurd, yet you totally believe it and he had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish.  

Henri is one of the most eccentric yet endearing characters I’ve ever read and I challenge anyone not to fall in love with him.  He’s straight-laced, rational, makes sense of the world through numbers and mathematics and finds social etiquette and the actions of others confusing and strange.  You will laugh, you will cringe, and your heart will go out to him.  But what I enjoyed most about this book is that he really came into his own.  It was great to watch him fall in love, read between the lines, understand how to interact with others and show that he is much more astute and capable than he’s given credit for.  I think Steve Carrell is the perfect actor for this character and I can’t wait to see him play Henri when the adaptation comes to our screens soon.

Quirky, original, funny and entertaining, The Moose Paradox is a book you simply have to read. It is one of those books where it’s best to know little about the book before reading but I will say that it is important to read the first book, The Rabbit Factor, before this one in order to make sense of what’s happening.  And because it’s absolutely brilliant. 

So go and read The Rabbit Factor and The Moose Paradox now!  Meanwhile, I will not-so-patiently wait for book three…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award. The Finnish press labelled The Healer – the story of a writer desperately searching for his missing wife in a post-apocalyptic Helsinki – ‘unputdownable’. Two years later, in 2013, they crowned Tuomainen ‘The King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland (2018) was an immense success, with The Times calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’, and Little Siberia (2019) was shortlisted for the Capital Crime/Amazon Publishing Readers Awards, the Last Laugh Award and the CWA International Dagger, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel. The Rabbit Factor is the first book in Antti’s first-ever series.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*These purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson

Published: September 27th, 2022
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Historical Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

I’m thrilled to be opening the blog tour for this spectacular novel. A huge thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Doubleday books for the gifted ARC.

********

SYNOPSIS:

1926, and in a country still recovering from the Great War, London has become the focus for a delirious new nightlife. In the clubs of Soho, peers of the realm rub shoulders with starlets, foreign dignitaries with gangsters, and girls sell dances for a shilling a time.

The notorious queen of this glittering world is Nellie Coker, ruthless but also ambitious to advance her six children, including the enigmatic eldest, Niven whose character has been forged in the crucible of the Somme. But success breeds enemies, and Nellie’s empire faces threats from without and within. For beneath the dazzle of Soho’s gaiety, there is a dark underbelly, a world in which it is all too easy to become lost.

With her unique Dickensian flair, Kate Atkinson brings together a glittering cast of characters in a truly mesmeric novel that captures the uncertainty and mutability of life; of a world in which nothing is quite as it seems.

********

MY REVIEW:

“There was a reckoning coming for Nellie.  Could she outrun it?” 

Shrines of Gaiety is a fictional insight into the seedy underbelly hiding beneath the glittering nightlife of 1920s London.  It follows Nellie Coker, the scene’s undisputed queen, who has built an empire for herself and her children.  At her clubs aristocrats, royals, stars and foreighn dignitaries mingle with gangsters and pay a shilling at a time to dance with girls. But success comes at a price and Nellie’s enemies are now plotting her downfall and she must fight to keep what she built. Can Nellie triumph once again or will her enemies finally succeed?

What. A. Book.  Mesmerising and exuberant, it is not only a work of art on the outside but between its pages too.  But this is a book where the beauty lives alongside the darkness.  For behind the dancing, drinking, respectability, sparkle and splendour is a cesspit of morality; an intricate and tangled web of deception, lies, debauchery, drugs, murder and sex trafficing.  A gritty and menacing underworld that is actually behind the glittering nightlife patrons enjoy.

“The delinquent Coker empire was a house of cards that Frobisher aimed to topple. The filthy, glittering underbelly of London was converged in its nightclubs, and particularly the Amethyst, the gaudy jewel at the heart of Soho’s nightlife.” 

An example of historical fiction at its finest, Kate Atkinson has once again shown why she is a must-read for any fan of the genre.  A masterclass in storytelling, this exquisitely crafted novel had me transfixed as the roaring twenties, glamorous nightlife and seedy underworld were brought to life in vivid technicolour.  It was impossible to put down and I devoured in just two sittings as Nellie’s world consumed me and the real world surrounding me fell away.

Nellie Coker is an ambitious, strong, powerful, ruthless and notorious character who demands loyalty and is fiercely protective of her family and what she’s built.  She is someone you can’t help having a soft spot for despite the fact that she is actually quite unlikeable.  She has that spark that draws you to her and makes you want to be in her orbit even if you know she’s someone you should stay away from.  It was easy to see why she was so successful. 

“Girls like Freda are meant for the Nellie Coker’s of this world. She devours them.”

But Nellie is not our only narrator and this is a saga told by an ensemble cast of richly drawn and charismatic characters such as Nellie’s six children, spiky Chief Inspector John Frobisher, former librarian Gwendolen Kelling and young Freda Murgatroyd.  Gwendolen was my favourite character while Freda brought out my maternal side as I worried about the vulnerable young runaway falling victim to the nefarious people waiting to pounce on naive young girls. There was also an array of compelling background characters that were equally as well written. 

Dazzling, evocative and consuming, this glorious romp is one of my favourite books this year.  If you enjoy historical fiction then this is an absolute must-read.  Highly recommended.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate Atkinson is an international bestselling novelist, as well as playwright and short story writer. She is the author of Life After Life; Transcription; Behind the Scenes at the Museum, a Whitbread Book of the Year winner; the story collection Not the End of the World; and five novels in the Jackson Brodie crime series, which was adapted into the BBC TV show Case Histories.

Website

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Little Wartime Library by Kate Thompson

Published: September 1st, 2022
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Historical Fiction, War Story, Saga
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this extraordinary story. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Hodder & Stoughton for the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

London, 1944.

Clara Button is no ordinary librarian. While the world remains at war, in East London Clara has created the country’s only underground library, built over the tracks in the disused Bethnal Green tube station. Down here a secret community thrives: with thousands of bunk beds, a nursery, a café and a theatre offering shelter, solace and escape from the bombs that fall above.

Along with her glamorous best friend and library assistant Ruby Munroe, Clara ensures the library is the beating heart of life underground. But as the war drags on, the women’s determination to remain strong in the face of adversity is tested to the limits when it seems it may come at the price of keeping those closest to them alive.

Based on true events, The Little Wartime Library is a gripping and heart-wrenching page-turner that remembers one of the greatest resistance stories of the war.

********

MY REVIEW:

“History isn’t about dates and battlefields, leaders and royalty. It’s about ordinary people getting on with the business of living in spite of such unforgiving odds. And somehow in the process always managing to hold hard to hope.” 

London, 1944. In disused tube stations there is now a community of people living in makeshift shelters after being forced from their homes by Nazi bombs. The station at Bethnal Green is also home to something truly remarkable: the country’s only underground library, which was created by Librarian Clara after the one above ground was destroyed. Assisted by her best friend Ruby, Clara offers people an escape from the harsh realities of war through books and has created a thriving place of friendship and sanctuary for the residents. But there are some who don’t like what the library has become and Clara, Ruby and their patrons are forced to come together to battle other enemies close to home.

Based on an astonishing true story, this was an absolute gem of a book.  A moving tale about an unusual library and its patrons, it has heartbreak and joy in equal measure with strands of hope woven into the narrative.  I loved the addition of the quotes from library workers at the beginning of each chapter and the Author’s Note at the end is a must-read. 

“They were a community, albeit a strange one, living along the Central Line but going nowhere.” 

I had heard of people taking refuge in the underground stations during the Blitz, but before reading this book I had no idea that people lived there in communities or that one had a library built in.  How has this extraordinary story gone untold for so long?  Kate Thompson resurrects this unique neighbourhood, transporting the reader back in time so you feel as if you are walking among them.  They are a colourful cast of characters, so full of life and a contrast to the bleakness of their temporary home.  You can feel the bonds that they formed and the importance of the library as an escape for them.  It was a light in the darkest of times, and I felt as passionate as Clara and Ruby as they fought for the little library and its patrons. 

Powerful, poignant and immersive, this heartwarming page-turner is a story everyone should read.  An inspiring story of friendship, resilience and hope, it is a reminder that truth is often stranger and more compelling than fiction.  I would love to see this adapted for the big screen so that more people can discover this extraordinary tale. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰ 

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Kate Thompson was born in London in 1974, and worked as a journalist for twenty years on women’s magazines and national newspapers. She now lives in Sunbury with her husband, two sons and a Lurcher called Ted. After ghost writing five memoirs, Kate moved into fiction. Kate’s first non-fiction social history documenting the forgotten histories of East End matriarchy, The Stepney Doorstep Society, was published in 2018 by Penguin. Her seventh novel, The Little Wartime Library is to be published by Hodder & Stoughton in the spring of 2022.

Website

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon |Bookshop.org

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxxxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: From the Ashes by Deborah Masson (DI Eve Hunter Book 3)

Published: August 18th, 2022
Publisher: Transworld
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Series, Urban Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this heart-pounding thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Transworld for the gifted copy of the book.

********

SYNOPSIS:

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2022 McILVANNEY PRIZE FOR BEST SCOTTISH CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR

As the house burns, the hunt for a killer begins…


In the dead of night someone starts a fire in a home for underprivileged children in Aberdeen. The flames spread quickly, and one person doesn’t make it out alive.

But the victim wasn’t found in their bedroom; they were discovered locked inside a secret basement underground. As DI Eve Hunter and her team search the blackened ruins, the case takes them into even darker territory.

Soon Eve unearths a horrific discovery at the heart of the property – one that turns the whole investigation on its head. Everyone in this home has something to hide, but who has a secret worth killing for?

********

MY REVIEW:

“It was the sound. That’s what drew him in. The seconds of silence watching as the flame caught; orange-tinged yellow sparkling before growing and picking up speed – the poor bastards inside unaware of the nightmare headed their way.”

The flames start to lick at the building as he silently watches in the dark.  As the residents of Wellwood Children’s Home begin to emerge, coughing from the smoke, he vanishes quickly to avoid detection. But not everyone made it out alive.  Eleven-year-old Lucas Fyfe’s body is found in the basement and the evidence points to someone deliberately putting him there. But who would want to hurt him?  And was it the same person who started the fire?

DI Eve Hunter and her team are back in another gripping thriller that had my heart pounding and my head swimming with unanswered questions.  I was on the edge of my seat as author Deborah Masson took me on a twist-filled rollercoaster ride that built to a jaw-dropping finale.  But this book is so much more than a simple thriller.  Not only are there shady characters, unreliable witnesses and dark secrets, but Masson has woven in moments that are moving, heartbreaking and poignant, bringing tears to my eyes as I was reminded of how callous and cruel some humans can be towards others. 

“The ghosts were swarming now, trying to tell her their stories. Wanting her to help them be heard.” 

The story is told by multiple narrators in dual timelines.  Each of the narrators reveal pieces of the story that we slowly piece together to create the full picture.  But it was the mystery narrator and the chapters that discussed the history of Wellwood that were the most compelling.  This place that should be a sanctuary of safety for the children sent to live there is slowly revealed to be something else entirely as the dark, horrific secrets that have been hidden for decades are finally brought to light.

Tense, twisty and addictive, From the Ashes is a dark and riveting thriller that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

********

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Deborah Masson was born and bred in Aberdeen, Scotland. Always restless and fighting against being a responsible adult, she worked in several jobs including secretarial, marketing, reporting for the city’s freebie newspaper and a stint as a postie – to name but a few.

Through it all, she always read crime fiction and, when motherhood finally settled her into being an adult (maybe even a responsible one) she turned her hand to writing what she loved. Deborah started with short stories and flash fiction whilst her daughter napped and, when she later welcomed her son into the world, she decided to challenge her writing further through online courses with Professional Writing Academy and Faber Academy. Her debut novel, Hold Your Tongue, is the result of those courses.

********

BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

All purchase links are affiliate links.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Daves Next Door by Will Carver

Published: July 21st, 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Urban Fiction, Political Fiction, Religious Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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

********

SYNOPSIS:

The lives of five strangers collide on a London train carriage, as they become involved in an incident that will change them all forever. A shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original new thriller from Will Carver…

_______________________________________________________

A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care.

An injured young sportsman wakes up find that he can see only in black and white.

A desperate old widower takes too many pills and believes that two angels have arrived to usher him through purgatory.

Two agoraphobic men called Dave share the symptoms of a brain tumour, and frequently waken their neighbour with their ongoing rows.

Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.

Like the suicide bomber, riding the Circle Line, day after day, waiting for the right time to detonate, waiting for answers to his questions: Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train?

Shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original, Will Carver’s The Daves Next Door is an explosive existential thriller and a piercing examination of what it means to be human … or not. 

********

MY REVIEW:

“Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.”

Five strangers’ lives collide on a carriage on the London Underground during a shocking event.  But was it fate?  Did they have the power to change what would happen to them?  

Told from multiple points of view over three parts, The Daves Next Door is a sinister, scathing and stylish social commentary that explores the question of fate versus choice and asks if there are such things as good and evil.  It makes you question the way you think, examining our prejudices and apathy, potentially changing the way you see the world around you.

“Is there such a thing as destiny? Is the path laid out?  The story already written?” 

The characters are familiar, flawed and fascinating.  They could be our neighbour or the person next to us on the bus.  Each of them are richly drawn and complex, allowing us to find compassion for the villain and dislike for the hero in places.  The many threads of the story appear unconnected at first but are slowly woven together, keeping the reader guessing at every step.  It takes a lot of talent to make a story that opens with references to how it all ends still feel unpredictable, but Carver pulls it off expertly. 

Will Carver is a tour-de-force in fiction. His singular style is instantly recognisable, the quirky, intelligent, playful and affecting prose pulling you into the world he created and holding you captive from beginning to end. His original and visionary style make his books absolute must reads. 

Fierce, intelligent, atmospheric and unapologetic, The Daves Next Door is a must-read.  Add it to your TBR now!

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 | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

*These links are affiliate links