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Squadpod Squadpod Book Club The Squadpod Year In Review

Squadpod Recommends: 22 of 22

Happy New Year’s Eve! One of my favourie parts of this community is the Squadpod, the group of wonderful bloggers I am a part of. 2022 has been a brilliant year for us and we’ve been fortunate to help promote lots of fantastic books this year including All About Evie, Nobody But Us, The Dictator’s Wife, Meredith Alone and Bad Fruit. The cake blast for All About Evie was a higlight of 2022 for me and I am delighted that I overcame my fears to take part in interviews with authors such as Freya Berry and Ellen Alpsten.

Once again we have put together our lists of favourite reads of the year. It’s an even more diverse list than last year and I loved seeing the different books we enjoyed, as well as the ones that many of us picked as a favourite. Here are our individual lists. Keep reading to the end to find out our Squadpod Book of the Year and ultimate recommendations for 2022.

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Becca at Becca Kate Blogs

  • The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont
  • The Maid by Nita Prose
  • Three Hours by Rosamund Lupton
  • The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola
  • A Fatal Crossing by Tom Hindle
  • One Night on the Island by Josie Silver
  • Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner
  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
  • The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
  • Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
  • Welcome To Your Life by Bethany Rutter
  • That Green-Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan
  • The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
  • Meredith Alone by Claire Alexander
  • Do No Harm by Jack Jordan
  • All About Evie by Matson Taylor
  • Hello, Stranger by Rachel Marks
  • The Girl on the 88 Bus by Freya Sampson
  • Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
  • It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
  • Tell Me Everything by Laura Kay

Book of the year: The Maid by Nita Prose

Beth at Beth’s Booketlist

  • One Night on the Island by Josie Silver
  • One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry
  • Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan
  • It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
  • The Sight of You Holly Miller
  • The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazewood
  • Me by Elton John
  • Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
  • Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
  • Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
  • Meet Me Under the Misteltoe by Jenny Bayliss
  • The Island Home by Libby Page
  • Beyond the Wand by Tom Felton
  • The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
  • In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado
  • Still Me by Jojo Moyes
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry
  • The Ballad of Never After by Stephanie Garber
  • Aristotle and Dante Dive into the Waters of the Wrold by Benjamin Alire Sanez
  • The Woman They Could Not Silence by Kate Moore

Book of the year: One Night on the Island by Josie Silver

Cara at Welsh Book Lover

  • When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins
  • The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
  • Do No Harm by Jack Jordan
  • Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover
  • The Maid by Nita Prose
  • The Castaway by Lucy Clarke
  • Nobody But Us by Laure van Rensburg
  • Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins
  • Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
  • The Soulmate Equation by Christina Lauren
  • The Retreat by Sarah Pearse
  • Bad Fruit by Ella King
  • November 9 by Colleen Hoover
  • The Housemaid by Sarah A. Denzil
  • The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
  • Beach Read by Emily Henry
  • The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins
  • The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
  • The Cove by Alice Clarke-Platts
  • The Couple by Helly Acton
  • A Stranger in the House by Shari Lapena
  • The Glass House by Eve Chase

Book of the year: When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

Ceri at Ceri’s Lil Blog

  • Meredith Alone by Claire Alexander
  • Open Water by Caleb Azumah Nelson
  • The Attic Child by Lola Jaye
  • The Unravelling by Polly Crosby
  • When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins
  • Welcome To The Real World by Carole Matthews
  • The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker
  • The Bay by Allie Reynolds
  • Oh I Do Like To Be by Rachel Canwell
  • The Set Up by Lizzy Dent
  • You Only Live Once by Maxine Morrey
  • The Murder List by Jackie Kabler
  • The Killer’s Family by Miranda Smith
  • A Wedding at Hedgehod Hollow by Jessica Redland
  • What Next? by Shari Low
  • Greenwich Park by Katherine Faulkner
  • Locked Away Life by Drew Davies
  • Psychopaths Anonymous by Will Carver
  • The Gingerbread Cafe by Anita Faulkner
  • The Christmas Bookshop by Jenny Colgan
  • Wendy’s Winter Gift by Debbie Viggiano

Book of the year: Meredith Alone by Claire Alexander

Chloe from Reviews by Chloe

  • The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh
  • Just Got Real by Jane Fallon
  • Do No Harm by Jack Jordan
  • The Girls Who Disappeared by Clare Douglas
  • Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
  • A Terrible Kindness by Jo Browning Wroe
  • Two Nights in Lisbon by Chris Pavone
  • The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell
  • The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola
  • The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes
  • The Wedding Party by Tammy Cohen
  • The Promise by Lucy Diamond
  • Sparring Partners by John Grisham
  • After the Rain by Lucy Dillon
  • A White Christmas on Winter Street by Sue Moorcroft
  • The Murder at Fleet House by Lucinda Riley
  • Take Your Breath Away by Linwood Barclay
  • The Curfew by T.M. Logan
  • Insomnia by Sarah Pinborough
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
  • Merrily Ever After by Cathy Bramley
  • Breathless by Amy McCulloch

Book of the year: Do No Harm by Jack Jordan

Claire at Secret World of a Book

  • The Burning Chambers and City of Tears Series by Kate Mosse
  • Elektra by Jennifer Saint
  • Off Target by Eve Smith
  • Small Angels by Lauren Owen
  • The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargreaves
  • Wisewood by Stephanie Wrobel
  • Argo by Mark Knowles
  • Arcadian Days by John Spurling
  • Stone Blind by Natalie Haynes
  • The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper
  • Summer Fever by Kate Riordan
  • Uraveller by Frances Hardinge
  • The Sea Women by Chloe Timms
  • Widdershins and Sunwise series by Helen Steadman
  • Love and Other Human Errors by Bethany Clift
  • Black Mamba by William Friend
  • The Ruins by Phoebe Wynne
  • The Whispering Muse by Laura Purcell
  • The Ghost Woods by C.J. Cooke
  • The Butcher by Laura Kat Young
  • House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

Book of the year: Black Mamba by William Friend

Clare at The Fallen Librarian Reviews

  • Love and Other Human Errors by Bethany Clift
  • Little Sister by Gytha Lodge
  • Young Women by Jessica Moor
  • A Little Hope by Ethan Joella
  • The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn
  • The Kitchen Front by Jennifer Ryan
  • The Library by Bella Osborne
  • Home by Penny Parks
  • Fledgeling by Hannah Bourne-Taylor
  • The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams
  • Meredith Alone by Claire Alexander
  • The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs
  • Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Mosse
  • The Very Secret Societ of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna
  • The Keeper of the Stories by Sally Page
  • Notes on an Execution by Danya Kukafka
  • The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy
  • The People on Platform 5 by Clare Pooley
  • More Than You’ll Ever Know by Katie Guiterrez
  • Opal Country by Chris Hammer
  • Daughter of the Moon Goddess/Heart of the Sun Warrior by Sue Lyn Tan
  • Heart of Earth & Blood/House of Sky & Breath by Sarah J. Maas

Book of the year: Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Mosse

Ellie at Elspells

  • I, Mona Lisa by Natasha Solomon
  • Great Circle by Maggie Shipstead
  • This One Sky Day by Leone Ross
  • Wahala by Nikki May
  • A Net For Small Fishes by Lucy Jago
  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton by Sara Collins
  • The Marsh House by Zoe Somerville
  • Nobody But Us by Laure van Rensburg
  • When I Sing, Mountains Dance by Irene Solà translated by Mara Feye Lethem
  • How Much of These Hills Is Gold by C Pam Zhang
  • That Green-Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan
  • Love and Other Dramas by Ronali Collins
  • All About Evie by Matson Taylor
  • The Promise by Damon Galgut
  • The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper
  • The Heart of Redness by Zakes Md
  • The Dust Never Settles by Karina Lickorish Quinn
  • 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak 
  • Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  • Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu
  • The Dance Tree by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Book of the Year: Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu

Emma at Emma’s Biblio Treasures

  • Wahala by Nikki May
  • The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs
  • Nasty Little Cuts by Tina Baker
  • Keep It In The Family by John Marrs
  • Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  • The No-Show by Beth O’Leary
  • Nobody But Us by Laure van Rensburg
  • Elektra by Jennifer Saint
  • Book Lovers by Emily Henry
  • Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
  • The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper
  • Do No Harm by Jack Jordan
  • Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney
  • Isaac and the Egg by Bobby Palmer
  • The Last Girl To Die by Helen Fields
  • Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atikinson
  • All About Evie by Matson Taylor
  • The Pain Tourist by Paul Cleave
  • End of Story by Louise Swanson
  • Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boyland
  • The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

Book of the year: End of Story by Louise Swanson

Hayley at The Lotus Readers Blog

  • The Maid by Nita Prose
  • The Last Girl To Die by Helen Fields
  • Black Hearts by Doug Johnstone
  • Meredith Alone by Claire Alexander
  • The Blackhouse by Carole Johnstone
  • The Sea Women by Chloe Timms
  • That Green-Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan
  • The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn
  • Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
  • The Flames by Sophie Haydock
  • Take My Hand by Dolen Perkins-Valdez
  • Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu
  • Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Blackburn
  • The Theatre of Marvells by Lianne Dillsworth
  • The Marsh House by Zoe Somerville
  • The Unravelling by Polly Crosby
  • The Dazzle of the Light by Georgina Clarke
  • The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly
  • House of Fortune by Jessie Burton
  • All About Evie by Matson Taylor
  • Demon by Matt Wesolowski
  • Caged Little Birds by Lucy Banks

Hayley at Shelf Lyfe

  • Now She Is Witch by Kirsty Logan
  • Unraveller by Frances Hardinge
  • The Witches of Vardø by Anya Bergman
  • Cunning Women by Elizabeth Lee
  • Becoming Ted by Matt Cain
  • Entangled Lifeby Merlin Sheldrake
  • The Book of Gothel by Mary McMyne
  • The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper
  • Sistersong by Lucy Holland
  • A Little Hope by Ethan Joella
  • The Beauty of Impossible Things by Rachel Donohue
  •  The Green Indian Problem – Jade Leaf Willetts
  • Perimenopause Power by Maisie Hill
  • Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth
  • The Dictator’s Wife by Freya Berry
  • Duma Key by Stephen King
  •  Spooky Ambiguous – featuring Penny Ayers, Michael Bartlett, Patrick Booth, Amaris Chase, Holly Anne Crawford, Ivor Daniel, Amanda Jane Davies, Daphne Denley, J. J. Drover, Harriet Hitchen, Rebecca McDowall, Jane Phillips, Angela Reddaway, Joe Robson, Margaret Royall, with illustrations by Lorna Gray
  • Salmacis by Elizabeth Train-Brown
  • Welcome to St Hell by Lewis Hancox
  • The Marsh House by Zoe Somerville
  • Women and Love by Miriam Burke
  • The Little Library Parties by Kate Young

Book of the year: Now She Is Witch by Kirsty Logan

Jackie at Jackie’s Reading Corner

Due to ill health Jackie didn’t complete a full list, but mentioned the following three books:

  • The Coffin Club by Jacqueline Sutherland
  • All About Evie by Matson Taylor
  • The Loyal Friend by A. A. Chaudhuri

Book of the year: The Coffin Club by Jacqueline Sutherland

Jen at Travels Along My Bookshelf

  • Violetta by Isabelle Allende
  • One Night on the Island by Josie Silver
  • The Flames by Sophie Haydock
  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  • Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan
  • Nobody But Us by Laure van Rensburg
  • The Midnight House by Amanda Gerard
  • The People on Platform 5 by Clare Pooley
  • The Girl on the 88 Bus by Freya Sampson
  • The Bay by Allie Reynolds
  • Meredith Alone by Clare Alexander
  • On The Scent by Paola Totaro & Robert Wainwright
  • All About Evie by Matson Taylor
  • Love and Other Human Errors by Bethany Clift
  • Starling by Kristen Cram
  • Thunderstone by Nancy Campbell
  • Tess of The D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  • The Last Girl To Die by Helen Fields
  • Essex Dogs by Dan Jones
  • The Hastening Storm by CF Barrington
  • Bourneville by Jonathan Coe
  • The Whalebone Theatre by Joanna Quinn

Book of the year: Starling by Kristin Cram

Karen at Book Blogging Bureau

  • Love and Other Human Errors by Bethany Clift
  • The Retreat by Sarah Pearse
  • Caged Little Birds by Lucy Banks
  • Bad Fruit by Ella King
  • Isaac and the Egg by Bobby Palmer
  • Reasons To Go Outside by Esme King
  • The Summer Fair by Heidi Swain
  • Nobody But Us by Laure van Rensburg
  • The People on Platform 5 by Clare Pooley
  • A Tidy Ending by Joanna Cannon
  • The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper
  • The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs
  • Stepping Up by Sarah Turner
  • A Murder Before Evensong by Rev Richard Coles
  • Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? by Lizzie Damilola Taylor
  • Essex Dogs by Dan Jones
  • The Dead of Winter by Nicola Upson
  • Reputation by Sarah Vaughan
  • The House at Helgyen by Victoria Hawthorne
  • Spring Tides at The Starfish Cafe by Jessica Redland
  • The Other Guest by Helen Cooper
  • The Key in the Lock by Beth Underwood

Book of the year: The Language of Food by Annabel Abbs

Kate at Rutherford Reads

  • Good Husbands by Cate Ray
  • Hello, Stranger by Rachel Marks
  • We Are Not Like Them by Jo Piazza and Christine Pride
  • The People Before by Charlotte Northedge
  • One Last Gift by Emily Stone
  • The Blame Game by Sandie Jones
  • The Bay by Allie Reynolds
  • The Other Guest by Helen Cooper
  • Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney
  • The Party House by Lin Anderson
  • The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh
  • Such A Good Mother by Helen Monks Tar
  • The Reunion by Polly Phillips
  • The Girl Who Left by Jenny Blackburn
  • Sun Damage by Sabine Durant
  • The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh
  • One of the Girls by Lucy Clarke
  • Tell Me Your Lies by Kate Ruby
  • Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins
  • Remember Me by Charity Norman
  • The Golden Couple by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
  • Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister

Book of the year: Good Husbands by Cate Ray

Kirsty at Kirsty’s Book Buying Addiction

  • Seven Exes by Lucy Vine
  • Preloved by Lauren Bravo
  • My (extra) Ordinary Life by Rebecca Ryan
  • The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
  • The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn
  • Cornish Clouds and Silver Lining Skies by Ali McNamara 
  • The Little Bookshop of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans 
  • Healing Hearts at Bumblebee Barn by Jessica Redland 
  • Never Gonna Happen by Heidi Stephens
  • The Cornish Midwife by Jo Bartlett
  • The Summer Fair by Heidi Swain
  • Last Time We Met by Emily Houghton
  • We Just Clicked by Anna Bell
  • Talk Bookish To Me by Kate Bromely
  • The Girl on the 88 Bus by Freya Sampson
  • Peony Practice by Christie Barlow
  • The Blossom Tree of Dreams by Holly Martin 
  • Sunny Skies and Summer Kisses by Eliza J Scott
  • Just Got Real by Jane Fallon
  • Summer Kisses at Mermaid Point by Sarah Bennett 
  • The Key To My Heart by Lia Louis 
  • The Cornish Cream Tea Bookshop by Cresside Mclaughlin

Book of the year: Seven Exes by Lucy Vine

Sue at Brown Flopsy’s Book Burrow

  • The Unravelling by Polly Crosby
  • Wahala by Nikki May
  • The Dictator’s Wife by Freya Berry
  • Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu
  • The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen
  • A Little Hope by Ethan Joella
  • The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper
  • The Birdcage by Eve Chase
  • The Midnight House by Amanda Gerard
  • The French House by Jacquie Bloese
  • All About Evie by Matson Taylor
  • Love and Other Human Errors by Bethany Clift
  • Housebreaking by Colleen Hubbard
  • A Hundred Million Years and a Day by Jean Baptiste Andrea
  • Double or Nothing by Kim Sherwood
  • Christmas Eve at Cranberry Cross by Kate Forster
  • The Poison Machine by Robert J LLoyd
  • The Weather Woman by Sally Gardner
  • Every Shade of Happy by Phyllida Shrimpton
  • The Measure by Nikki Erlick
  • Opal Country by Chris Hammer

Book of the year: Love and Other Human Errors by Bethany Clift

Vikkie at Little Miss Book Lover

*Vikkie read over 300 books this year so has listed her 31 favourites as 22 was too small of a number after reading that many books.

  • Suicide Thursday by Will Carver
  • Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins
  • All the Wicked Games by Lauren North
  • If They Knew by Sophie Flynn
  • My Big Fat Fabulous Christmas by Lyndsey Gallagher
  • Someone Like You by Rachel Dove
  • Santa Maybe by Mary Jayne Baker
  • Love Untold by Ruth Jones
  • The Pain Tourist by Paul Cleave
  • Keep It In The Family by John Marrs
  • Running Scared by Manda Sue Heller
  • Genesis by Chris Carter
  • Just Got Real by Jane Fallon
  • The Family Remains by Lisa Jewell
  • The Dictator’s Wife by Freya Berry
  • The Serial Killer’s Girl by LH Stacey
  • Your Word or Mine by Lia Middleton
  • My Husband’s Killer by Laura Marshall
  • The Botanist by M.W. Craven
  • My Other Husband by Dorothy Koomson
  • Wrong Place Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
  • That Green-Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan
  • Nobody But Us by Laure van Rensburg
  • The Loyal Friend by A. A. Chaudhuri
  • Hello, Stranger by Rachel Marks
  • The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh
  • All For You by Louise Jensen
  • Open Your Eyes by Heather Fitt

Books of the year: Suicide Thursday by Will Carver and Into the Dark by Fiona Cummins

Zoe at Zoe’s Book Nook

  • Hare House by Sally Hinchcliffe
  • When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins
  • The Gosling Girl by Jacqueline Roy
  • The Love Songs of W E B Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers
  • The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper
  • I, Mona Lisa by Natasha Solomons
  • Booth by Karen J Fowler
  • The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
  • The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi 
  • The Carnival Of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge 
  • Don’t Put Yourself On Toast by Freddy Taylor
  • After Dark by Jayne Cowie
  • Wrong Place, Wrong Time by Gillian McAllister
  • That Green-Eyed Girl by Julie Owen Moylan
  • Wahala by Nikki May
  • The Secrets of Rochester Place by Iris Costello
  • Peach Blossom Spring by Melissa Fu
  • The Sanctuary by Emma Haughton
  • The Prisoner by B. A. Paris
  • The Gifts by Liz Hayder
  • Babel by RF Kuang
  • A Magic Steeped In Poison by Judy I Lin

Books of the year: Babel by RF Kuang and The Love Songs of W E B Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers

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Squadpod Books of the Year and Recommendations

After putting together the books featured on everyone’s lists and tallying the books, we have two books of the year: All About Evie by Matson Taylor and The House with the Golden Door by Elodie Harper.

Next up is our stack of ultimate recommendations. There were so many books that got two or three votes this year so I only counted books that got four votes or more. Even so, there are so many in the stack that I couldn’t hold it this year! So, here are the 10 books that make up our Squadpod Recommendations for 2022:

I am so happy to see that half of the books in this stack are debuts and that the Squadpod promoted and championed five of the books featured.

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What were your favourite reads of 2022? Have we inspired you to pick up any of our favourites? Let me know in the comments below. And don’t forget to follow the Squadpod on our social chanels to keep up with all the exciting things we have coming in 2023:

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
Book Features book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Squadpod Squadpod Recommends

REVIEW: Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior

Publsihed: March 19th, 2020
Publisher: Bantam Press
Genre: Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, New Adult Ficiton, Women’s Fiction, Pensioners on the Pages
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today I’m resharing my review for this heartwarming story. I’m taking part in the Squadpod Advent Calendar Challenge this month and today’s prompt is a ‘Book with a character you’d like to meet’. I couldn’t think of anyone who I would like to meet more than the delightful Veronica McCreedy. I read this back in March 2020 and it has stayed with me ever since. It really is the perfect book to read to lift your spirits. And I dare anyone not to fall in love with Veronica.

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SYNOPSIS:

A Richard & Judy Book Club and BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.
A truly feel-good book club read – a #1 bestseller in ebook and audio!

‘This year’s Eleanor Oliphant . . . Funny, bittersweet and wholly original.’ Daily Express

Veronica McCreedy is about to have the journey of a lifetime . . .

Veronica McCreedy lives in a mansion by the sea. She loves a nice cup of Darjeeling tea whilst watching a good wildlife documentary. And she’s never seen without her ruby-red lipstick.

Although these days Veronica is rarely seen by anyone because, at 85, her days are spent mostly at home, alone.

She can be found either collecting litter from the beach (‘people who litter the countryside should be shot’), trying to locate her glasses (‘someone must have moved them’) or shouting instructions to her assistant, Eileen (‘Eileen, door!’).

Veronica doesn’t have family or friends nearby. Not that she knows about, anyway . . . And she has no idea where she’s going to leave her considerable wealth when she dies.

But today . . . today Veronica is going to make a decision that will change all of this.

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MY REVIEW:

Oh how I loved this absolute gem of a book. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming, it had me transfixed. I got lost in the pages and totally immersed in Veronica’s story. 

Veronica McCreedy is an eccentric, feisty, cantankerous, witty and unstoppable old lady. I just couldn’t help but love her and she quickly found a place in my heart. Her bad-tempered idiosyncrasies became endearing and I was sure she had a heart of gold hidden behind it all. When a locked wooden box containing her teenage diaries is found, Veronica’s poignant story is slowly unveiled and we finally learn what lies underneath those brusque layers she uses to protect herself. 

Running parallel to Veronica’s story is her daring adventure to Antarctica to see the Adélie penguins. She became obsessed with them after watching a nature programme and decided she wanted to leave her vast wealth to the research programme. But she needs to make sure they are worthy of it, so she books a trip to see the penguins for herself; refusing to heed to frantic warnings of her assistant Eileen and the trio of scientists that it is too dangerous. I adored this part of the story – the different sides we see to Veronica’s personality, her blossoming friendship with young scientist Terry, and the adorable rescued chick, Pip. I found myself in awe of Eileen’s spriteliness and determination, overcoming her age and the bracing conditions to have the adventure of a lifetime. 

But behind the cuteness of this storyline is a serious commentary on climate change and our responsibility to save the environment and a number of earth’s most beloved species that are facing extinction in the near future.  It is peppered with blog posts by Terry which are informative as well as entertaining. The author has clearly done her research and I know a lot more about climate change and penguins after reading this book. 

The story is narrated by two very distinct voices and is filled with a rich, colourful and fascinating cast of characters. The cutest of these is without a doubt little Pip, and I now blame the author for the fact I really want a pet penguin! The investment, hard work and love that the author has put into this book is evident in the exquisite writing and attention to detail. I savoured every word, devouring this book while also trying to make it last as I dreaded parting with Veronica and the penguins.

Away with the Penguins is without a doubt the most delightful, joyous and uplifting book I’ve read so far this year, if not in a long time, and I have no doubt it will have a place in my top reads of the year. A lush blend of characters and storylines that is immersive and reaches into your soul and serves as a great reminder that it is never too late to have an adventure, try new things or make changes in your life. Whatever your reading preferences, I highly recommend this book. Just make sure to have lots of tissues and be prepared to fall in love.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From Hazel’s website:
Hazel is an enthusiastic and experienced harp-player based in Somerset and Exmoor. Her repertoire spans many styles of music and includes singing with harp accompaniment.  

Hazel is also an author. Her three bestselling novels, published by Penguin Random House, are described as ‘quirky’, ‘lyrical’ and ‘life-affirming’. AWAY WITH THE PENGUINS (USA title = HOW THE PENGUINS SAVED VERONICA) is a Richard and Judy and a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstons | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

REVIEW: Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

Publisher: November 15th, 2022
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Literary Fiction, Saga, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day Mad Honey! Thank you to Eleni at Hodder & Stoughton for my gifted proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Olivia fled her abusive marriage to return to her hometown and take over the family beekeeping business when her son Asher was six. Now, impossibly, her baby is six feet tall and in his last year of high school, a kind, good-looking, popular ice hockey star with a tiny sprite of a new girlfriend.

Lily also knows what it feels like to start over – when she and her mother relocated to New Hampshire it was all about a fresh start. She and Asher couldn’t help falling for each other, and Lily feels happy for the first time. But can she trust him completely?

Then Olivia gets a phone call – Lily is dead, and Asher is arrested on a charge of murder. As the case against him unfolds, she realises he has hidden more than he’s shared with her. And Olivia knows firsthand that the secrets we keep reflect the past we want to leave behind ­­- and that we rarely know the people we love well as we think we do.

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MY REIVEW:

“If you want to understand something, you first need to accept the fact of your own ignorance. And then, you need to talk to people who know more than you do, people who have not just thought about the facts, but lived them.”

First of all, can we take a moment to appreciate the gorgeous cover of this book. Even if I wasn’t a fan of the author, this would be one I’d pick up for the cover alone. Thankfully, what’s between the pages is as mesmerising as what’s on the outside. Mad Honey is a contemporary masterpiece. Complex, layered, and thought-provoking, this is a book that will consume you from the first page until the last and then linger long after reading. There are shocking revelations and, as we’ve come to expect from Ms. Picoult, the story examines some controversial and difficult subjects that are told with sensitivity and compassion, while never shying away from harrowing or painful truths.

Jodi Picoult has been my favourite author ever since I read My Sister’s Keeper almost twenty years ago. Her books are auto-buys for me without even reading the synopsis, but I have to say that this one had me very intrigued because it is co-written with an author I’ve never read. And it’s perfect. Not only does Ms. Picoult once again showcase her ability to illuminate ordinary lives and reveal the secrets that are hidden behind people’s unassuming exteriors, but this is complimented by Ms. Finney Boylan. The duo have crafted a narrative so seamless that it is impossible to know where one ends and the other begins. The prose is at times poetic, others stark or heartrending, and at other times joyous or funny, taking us through every emotion alongside their pitch-perfect characters. And in an added bonus for long-term Picoult fans, this book also features an appearance from a much-loved character, lawyer Jordan McAffee, who has appeared in a number of Jodi’s previous novels.

“You tell yourself this wouldn’t happen in your hometown.
You tell yourself this isn’t anyone you know.
Until it does, and it is.”

Not only is this a story told by dual authors, but it is one of dual timelines and dual narrators: Olivia tells us the story in the present, while Lily narrates past events. The two stories are expertly interwoven to take you through the events following Lily’s death while also slowly revealing what really happened in the months leading up to that fateful day in a masterfully choreographed narrative. The authors transport us into their psyche, making us feel everything they do. There is a real sense of isolation that radiates from both narrators, their personal anguish and trauma making them feel there is no one who understands what they are living. It is tortured and heartbreaking, but oh-so real, with an overwhelming grief that feels cavernous. But it isn’t all doom and gloom. We also feel their joy, which is particularly well portrayed in Lily as we are reminded of how it feels to experience the heady, all-consuming feeling of falling in love, the excitement of discovering each other and the apprehension of opening up your whole self to them.

But what I loved most about Olivia and Lily is how authentic and recognisable they both are. These women could be your family, friend or neighbour; making the story really hit home as you realise these things could happen to anyone. Even you. In fact, one of the things that made this story so hard to read for me was how much I saw myself in Olivia and my eldest child in Asher. Like Olivia I fled an abusive marriage and then raised my son alone for many years, giving us a strong and unbreakable bond. My son is also the same age as Asher is in the current timeline, making it impossible not to bring his face into my mind as I read every word.

“These people, who do not really see me, have no idea what they are missing.”

Powerful, moving and astutely observed, Mad Honey is, quite simply, phenomenal. Not only is this one of my favourite books this year, but it is also one of my favourite Jodi Picoult books ever. It has also helped me discover a new author whose back catalogue I now plan to explore. 

READ IT NOW!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

DM for Trigger Warnings

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MEET THE AUTHORS:

Jodi Picoult is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight novels, including Wish You Were Here, The Book of Two Ways, A Spark of Light, Small Great Things, Leaving Time, and My Sister’s Keeper, and, with daughter Samantha van Leer, two young adult novels, Between the Lines and Off the Page. Picoult lives in New Hampshire.

Her next novel, Mad Honey, is co-written with Jennifer Finney Boylan.

Jennifer Finney Boylan is the author of sixteen books, including GOOD BOY: My Life in Seven Dogs. Since 2008 she has been a contributing opinion writer for op/ed page of the New York Times; her column appears on alternate Wednesdays. A member of the board of trustees of PEN America, Jenny was also the chair of the board of GLAAD for many years. She is currently the Anna Quindlen Writer in Residence and Professor of English at Barnard College of Columbia University.

Jenny is a well known advocate for human rights. She has appeared five times on the Oprah Winfrey Show and has also been a guest or a commentator on Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and The Today Show. She is also a member of the faculty of the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference of Middlebury College as well as Sirenland, in Positano, Italy.

She lives in Maine with her wife Deirdre. They have two children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

REVIEW: End of Story by Louise Swanson

Published: March 23rd, 2023
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Dystopian Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Get ready to meet your new favourite thriller author! End of Story is a heart-pounding masterpiece you won’t want to miss. Thank you to Louise Swanson and Hodder & Stoughton for my gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Too much imagination can be a dangerous thing

It has been five years since writing fiction was banned by the government.

Fern Dostoy is a criminal. Officially, she has retrained in a new job outside of the arts but she still scrawls in a secret notepad in an effort to capture what her life has become: her work on a banned phone line, reading bedtime stories to sleep-starved children; Hunter, the young boy who calls her and has captured her heart; and the dreaded visits from government officials.

But as Fern begins to learn more about Hunter, doubts begin to surface. What are they both hiding?

And who can be trusted?

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MY REVIEW:

If you tell a story well enough, it’s true. 

I knew Lousie Swanson was a master storyteller and anything she writes is on my auto-buy list.  So when she announced End of Story it immediately became my most anticipated book of 2023.  I decided to pick it up last night after struggling to read all week thinking her books are always compelling.  I knew it would be good, but I was unprepared for the sheer tour de force I was about to read.  So addictive it had me on the edge of my seat from the first lines, I devoured it in just a couple of hours; staying up until 3am to finish as it was impossible to put it down and sleep without a conclusion. 

Exquisitely written, this is one of those books that has to be experienced.  You need to pick it up and allow the author to take you on the ride.  And what a ride it is!  Set in 2035, the story is told by Fern, a former author living in a nightmarish future where fiction is banned.  But she is determined to tell her story and begins keeping a secret diary where she not only talks about her innermost feelings and current life, but how fiction came to be outlawed and her own part in that story.  She is a fantastic character who I immediately felt connected to and enjoyed reading, seeing how her story unfolded piece by piece. 

Darkly sinister and suspenseful, this is a book filled to the brim with fear and tension. But it is also a complex, layered and moving story that has so much more depth than you expect.  An inventive and clever story that is like nothing I’ve ever read.  Ms Swanson has outdone herself with this one.  It is easily my book of the year and I feel sure that anyone who reads it will be adding her to their auto-buy lists.  

If I could give this more than five stars I would.  An absolute tour-de-force, End of Story is a heart-pounding masterpiece.  A work of art.  And you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.  Add it to your 2023 lists now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louise Swanson’s debut End of Story arrives in March 2023. She wrote the book during the final lockdown of 2020, following a family tragedy, finding refuge in the fiction she created. The themes of the book – grief, isolation, love of the arts, the power of storytelling – came from a very real place. Swanson, a mother of two who lives in East Yorkshire with her husband, regularly blogs, talks at events, and is a huge advocate of openly discussing mental health and suicide.

She also writes as Louise Beech. Beech’s eight books have won the Best magazine Book of the Year 2019, shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year, longlisted for the Polari Prize, and been a Clare Mackintosh Book Club Pick. Her memoir, Daffodils, was released in audiobook in 2022.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Keep It In The Family by John Marrs

Published: October 18th, 2022
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Literary Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this chilling novel. Thank you to FMcM for the invitation to take part and my copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

In this chilling novel from bestselling author John Marrs, a young couple’s house hides terrible secrets―and not all of them are confined to the past.

Mia and Finn are busy turning a derelict house into their dream home when Mia unexpectedly falls pregnant. But just when they think the house is ready, Mia discovers a chilling message scored into a skirting board: I WILL SAVE THEM FROM THE ATTIC. Following the clue up into the eaves, the couple make a gruesome discovery: their dream home was once a house of horrors.

In the wake of their traumatic discovery, the baby arrives and Mia can’t shake her fixation with the monstrous crimes that happened right above them. Haunted by the terrible things she saw and desperate to find answers, her obsession pulls her ever further from her husband.

Secrecy shrouds the mystery of the attic, but when shards of a dark truth start to emerge, Mia realises the danger is terrifyingly present. She is prepared to do anything to protect her family―but is it already too late?

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MY REVIEW:

“You feel the last bit of breath leaving their body. You’re looking into their eyes. A person in that situation is God.”

– Ted Bundy

When a book opens with a quote from a notorious, sadistic serial killer you know it’s going to be a wild ride.  From the first page I had shivers down my spine and was on the edge of my seat, full of anticipation at the promise of such a chilling tale.  

Mia and Finn’s new house is a dilapidated two-storey detached Victorian house on an ordinary street.  It’s a house you’d never really notice but for the young couple this house is a promise of a better future.  But what they don’t yet know is that it is also a place harbouring dark secrets.  Secrets that the person who is quietly watching them knows.  The truth finally begins to emerge after the couple make a gruesome attic in the attic that haunts Mia and leaves her desperate to uncover the truth of what happened in the house.  But someone else will do anything to keep it from being uncovered.  The only question is, which of them will succeed?

“He isn’t the first to be caught in their web and he won’t be the last. Most of them beg for mercy but they are all wasting their time. There will be no change of heart because there never is. No one under this roof believes in compassion. Empathy is an alien emotion here. “

OMG!  What the f#@% did I just read?!  Deliciously dark, marvellously menacing and totally twisted, I am slightly terrified of John Marrs after reading this; though I would love to peek inside his mind to know how he came up with what is his darkest book yet.  I’ve been a big fan of Marrs’ books since I first read The One upon its release in 2017, and with every book he just gets better.  He truly is the king of the twisted psychological thriller.  Everything about his books makes my thriller-loving heart sing as he holds me hostage, my heart pounding as I read with baited breath as he drops clues like breadcrumbs to build the suspense.  Every time you think all the twists have been revealed and you have it all figured out he will pull the rug from under you and turn the world upside down.  It’s a never-ending maze of secrets, lies and murder.  Twist after twist that makes your jaw drop and your head spin.  And I can’t get enough of it. 

This story makes even the most messed-up and crazy family you know seem sane. By giving each of them a voice we are able to really get inside their minds and discover who they are. I felt most drawn to Mia, my heart going out to her in particular after the events at the end of part one.  I also really enjoyed the play on the traditional awful mother-in-law trope. Debbie is detestable for so many reasons and I admit I was team Mia from the start. 

But it is the mystery narrator who I felt was most powerfully written.  Though they are clearly a killer with a warped moral code, they are utterly fascinating. Through flashbacks to their childhood we learn that they are a creation of their horrific experiences, my heart breaking for what they endured and witnessed.  Writing a one-dimensional villain is easy, but it takes true talent such as that possessed by Marrs to craft such a mesmerising yet chilling portrayal of a disturbed individual who is both repulsive yet sympathetic. 

“To some, I’m a saviour, but to others, I’m a monster. I know what my work has been about, all the souls I’ve saved from torment. It’s part of the bargain that I can never share my role with the world. There’d be no hope of them understanding. Blinkered as they are, I could only be a monster. “

But who was our mysterious villain?  I enjoyed trying to piece the clues together to work out the answer but the clever red herrings left by the author led me to also suspect the innocent at times.  Even when I’d guessed correctly I discovered there were yet more crazy antics to come as this person toyed with their victims further and prolonged their torment with glee.  When and how would it end?  I had no idea.  But I don’t think I could have guessed what was in store even with infinite opportunities.  

Keep It In The Family is my new favourite John Marrs book.  And I think it will be yours too after you read this dark, sinister and mind-blowing tale.  Just buckle yourself in and enjoy the ride.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

John Marrs is an author and former journalist based in London and Northamptonshire. After spending his career interviewing celebrities from the worlds of television, film and music for numerous national newspapers and magazines, he is now a full-time author. His books include No1 bestseller and Netflix series The One, The Passengers, award winning What Lies Between Us and The Good Samaritan.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

********

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Wife Next Door by Rona Halsall

Published: October 12th, 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the unsettling and unexpected The Wife Next Door. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

It was meant to be the perfect break-up…

Just because it’s over between us, doesn’t mean we can’t be friends. My ex-husband and I still care for each other a lot, and we are determined to put our sweet little boy, Toby first.

Now we’ve moved into houses right next door to each other, with each of our new partners and their children. We’ve even knocked down the garden fence, so Toby can easily run between our homes.

But it seems not everyone is happy about this big, blended stepfamily. I try to ignore the viciously-worded note in the ‘new home’ card, the red pen scrawled through my divorce paperwork, and the day I find myself locked into my house, all the keys suddenly missing…

But I can’t pretend it’s all in my head when a false accusation is made against me that could destroy my life – and Toby’s – forever.

Someone doesn’t like what’s happening under these two neighbouring roofs.

What they don’t know is that they’re messing with the wrong person. And that hell hath no fury like the wife next door…

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MY REVIEW:

Jess and her ex-husband Rob are determined not to let their break-up stop them from being friends.  In an attempt to put their son, Toby, first they move into new homes next door to each other with their new partners and their children and try to create the perfect blended family.

But it seems someone isn’t happy about the new arrangements: there are threatening messages, strange incidents and malicious accusations.  Jess’s family are concerned she’s paranoid but she’s sure someone is out to get her and tear their new blended family apart…

Taut, tense and filled with surprising twists, this is another first-class domestic thriller from Rona Halsall.  Rona was one of the first authors whose books I reviewed and has become a must-read author for me.  So much so that I don’t even read the synopsis before requesting her books or applying for the blog tour.  She can be relied upon to deliver an intriguing, gripping and entertaining read filled with revelations I never saw coming.  The Wife Next Door certainly lived up to those expectations, keeping me guessing up until the jaw-dropping finale.

Protagonist Jess was a great character.  Halsall puts the reader in her shoes and makes us feel everything she does.  I felt pretty sure she wasn’t paranoid but also couldn’t decide who could be behind what was happening.  My heart went out to her as things spiralled out of control and I helplessly watched her life fall apart.  Would she be able to prove her innocence? Or would Halsall deliver one of her sensational twists to reveal she isn’t who I thought?  

Unsettling, claustrophobic and totally riveting, this is a must-read for any thriller lover.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rona is the author of Best Selling psychological thrillers published by Bookouture. She loves a puzzle to solve, so now she writes them… her challenge is to find domestic storylines with twists that keep her readers guessing right to the end.

She has been a bit of a nomad during her adult life, moving around the north of England. Then she settled in Snowdonia, North Wales where she brought up her family while working as a business mentor. She now lives on the Isle of Man with her husband and two dogs.

She is an outdoorsy person and loves stomping up a mountain, walking the coastal paths and exploring the wonderful glens and beaches on the Island while she’s plotting her next book. She has three children and two step-children who are all grown up and leading varied and interesting lives, which provides plenty of ideas for new stories.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Waterstones

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REVIEW: Do No Harm by Jack Jordan

Published: May 26th 2022
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Medical Thriller, Medical Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Police Procedural

I’m finally getting around to sharing my review for this nerve-shredding thriller. Thank you to The Likely Suspects and Simon and Schuster UK for the gifted proof copies of this book.

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SYNOPSIS:

MY CHILD HAS BEEN TAKEN.
AND I’VE BEEN GIVEN A CHOICE . . .
KILL A PATIENT ON THE OPERATING TABLE
OR LOSE MY SON FOREVER.


The man lies on the table in front of me.
As a surgeon, it’s my job to save him.
As a mother, I know I must kill him.
You might think that I’m a monster.
But there really is only one choice.
I must get away with murder.
Or I will never see my son again.

I’VE SAVED MANY LIVES.
WOULD YOU TRUST ME WITH YOURS?

DON’T MISS THE HEART-STOPPING THRILLER OF 2022
#DONOHARM

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MY REVIEW:

“Either I abide by my oath, and kill my son. 
Or I save Zack, and kill an innocent man.” 

Renowned cardiothoracic surgeon Anna Jones is being forced to make a horrendous choice: the life of her patient or the life of her son.  Eight-year-old Zack has been abducted and the kidnappers will only give him back if she kills a prestigious patient on the operating table and gets away with it.  As parents we always say we’d do anything for our children.  But does that include murder?

“We are all so blind, thinking that we know who we truly are. It is only pain like this that reveals what we are really capable of.” 

Do No Harm is a book that just screams ‘read me’. I mean, look at that cover!  And this nerve-shredding thriller was everything I hoped and more.  The premise is every parent’s worst nightmare, blurring the lines of morality as the author examines the question of just how far a parent would go to save their child.  It is an impossible dilemma, where whatever you choose you will lose, and the paralysing suspense and outright dread is omnipresent, making you feel everything Anna does.  It is unbearably tense at times, particularly in the operating room, as you are kept on a knife-edge, waiting to see what Anna will do and if Zack can be saved.  

I have long been a fan of Jack Jordan and will automatically read and buy anything he writes.  His magnificent storytelling, perfect plotting and sizzling suspense always blow me away, and he is a must-read author for any thriller lover.  But with Do No Harm Jordan has taken things to another level, crafting a dynamic thriller that is now one of my favourites of all time. It would make a fantastic movie or TV show so I hope someone snaps it up soon.  The hype is real and this is going to be huge.

“I never used to think of myself as an angry person, but these men have clawed a rabid animal out of me. I want to kill them, slowly, painstakingly, until they are begging for their mothers.”

One of my favourite things about this book is that it’s so intricate and multilayered.  As well as the moral dilemma there is a strong theme of motherhood woven into this book.  Through each of the three narrators we explore different stages of motherhood and opposing arguments to the dilemma, making you confront the many shades of grey and exposing the motivations and biases of each of the characters.  Each of them are deeply flawed and I liked that Jordan wasn’t scared to make even Anna unlikeable at times, instead focusing on making the characters complex, nuanced and layered.  And while they are all richly drawn and compelling, Anna is the one that stood out strongest to me.  I loved the dichotomy of her character: a Doctor who has taken the Hippocratic Oath and vowed to do no harm but also a mother who will do anything to keep her child safe.  It is the kind of agonising choice that you would never want to be faced with but is so fascinating to read.  

Nail-bitingly intense, and bingeable, Do No Harm is an absolute must-read.  Just make sure that when you pick it up you’ve got nothing else to do as it will hold you captive from the first page until the last. 

READ IT NOW. 

Rating: 💉💉💉💉💉

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jack Jordan is the global number one bestselling author of Anything for Her (2015), My Girl (2016), A Woman Scorned (2018), Before Her Eyes (2018) and Night by Night (2019).

His latest thriller Do No Harm has been coined the thriller of the summer for 2022, described as “relentlessly tense” by Sunday Times Bestseller Lesley Kara, and “Chilling and perfectly paced” by New York Times Bestseller Sarah Pearse.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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book reviews

REVIEW: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Published: July 3rd, 2014
Publisher: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for The Miniaturist, the mesmerising debut by Jessie Burton. Thank you to BookBreak UK for organising the rereadalong and Picador for the gifted copy of the book.

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THE HOUSE OF FORTUNE PRE-ORDER COMPETITION

Pan Macmillan is offering three lucky winners the chance to win their own copy of the signed print, a unique piece of jewellery, and access to a book tour event. All entrants need to do is pre-order a copy of The House of Fortune and submit proof of purchase here.

Pre-order the book here*

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SYNOPSIS:

The phenomenal Number One Bestseller

Winner of the Specsavers National Book Award 2014

Waterstones Book of the Year 2014

Selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club 2015

There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed . . .

On an autumn day in 1686, eighteen-year-old Nella Oortman knocks at the door of a grand house in the wealthiest quarter of Amsterdam. She has come from the country to begin a new life as the wife of illustrious merchant trader Johannes Brandt, but instead she is met by his sharp-tongued sister, Marin. Only later does Johannes appear and present her with an extraordinary wedding gift: a cabinet-sized replica of their home. It is to be furnished by an elusive miniaturist, whose tiny creations mirror their real-life counterparts in unexpected ways . . .

Nella is at first mystified by the closed world of the Brandt household, but as she uncovers its secrets she realizes the escalating dangers that await them all. Does the miniaturist hold their fate in her hands? And will she be the key to their salvation or the architect of their downfall?

Beautiful, intoxicating and filled with heart-pounding suspense, Jessie Burton’s magnificent debut novel The Miniaturist is a story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth.

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MY REVIEW:

“There is nothing hidden that will not be revealed…”

An absolute masterpiece of historical fiction, The Miniaturist instantly became one of my favourite books when I read it back in 2015.  It’s follow up, The House of Fortune, is my most anticipated book of the year and I have been counting down to its release for many months. So when Bookbreak UK offered me the chance to take part in a re-readalong of this extraordinary story along with other bookstagrammers, I jumped at the chance to step back into Nella’s world. 

18-year-old Nella arrives in Amsterdam to live with her new husband, Johannes.  But the merchant is often away and she finds herself left with his spiky sister, their two staff and her pet parakeet, Peebo, for company.  To cheer her up Johannes presents her with a cabinet-sized replica of their home, an unusual and extravagant wedding gift that she begins to furnish with the help of a local miniaturist.  But Nella soon discovers that her new home is one filled with secrets and finds herself embroiled deeper in Amsterdam’s dark underbelly.  And it seems the mysterious miniaturist knows their secrets.  Will she be their salvation or their undoing?

“There is a story here and it seems like Nella’s, but it isn’t hers to tell.  She spins my life, she thinks.  And I cannot see the consequences.” 

Atmospheric, claustrophobic, eerie and mesmerising, this book is why I fell in love with historical fiction. It instantly became one of my favourite books when I read it back in 2015 and I was just as besotted with it the second time around. Jessie Burton is a masterful storyteller and I am once again in awe that this is a debut novel. The lyrical, elegant prose pulls you in and evocative imagery transports you to 17th century Amsterdam so clearly that you lose yourself in Nella’s world.

The richly drawn characters are all so memorable that even after seven years and hundreds of other books since I’d last read them, I could clearly remember so many small details about them. Nella is an innocent young woman at the start of the book and we see her become increasingly isolated, disillusioned, anxious and unsettled. But she also gets much stronger and finds joy in things such as her friendship with their maid, Cordelia. But as much as I loved Nella, for me it was Marin who was most fascinating. Sharp, cynical and acerbic, she begins the story as a tragic yet hard character, but the layers are slowly peeled away to reveal the unexpected truth beneath her armour, making her a joy to read.

“Nella returns home and rushes upstairs to the cabinet, running her fingers over the miniaturist’s pieces.  They are charged with a different energy, laden with meaning she cannot penetrate, yet even more addictive in their mystery.  She’s chosen me, Nella thinks, glowing with this discovery, yearning to know more.”  

The miniaturist herself is an elusive character who exists in shadows; an almost phantom presence who you can never pin down.  Nella is so intrigued by her and desperately tries to learn more about this mysterious woman who seems to tell their secrets and stories through her tiny creations. But how she does this remains cryptic throughout the story.  Her mysterious and slightly sinister presence helps to provide the gothic elements that add the gothic elements that add darker and more compelling layers to the story.

A spellbinding and stylish modern classic that should be on everybody’s reading list, I can’t recommend The Miniaturist highly enough.  I loved every moment of being back with Nella and the others and am even more excited to dive into The House of Fortune soon to see what happens next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jessie Burton is the author of three novels, The MiniaturistThe Muse, and The Confession, all instant Sunday Times bestsellers. 

The Miniaturist and The Muse were Sunday Times no.1 bestsellers in both hardback and paperback, New York Times bestsellers, and Radio 4’s Book at BedtimeThe Miniaturist went on to sell over a million copies in its year of publication, was Christmas no.1 in the UK, National Book Awards Book of the Year, and Waterstones Book of the Year 2014.  In 2017 it was adapted as a two-part miniseries on BBC One, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Alex Hassell and Romola Garai, screened over Christmas, and now available on DVD and streaming services.

Her novels have been published in 40 languages.

Jessie’s first book for children, The Restless Girls, was published in September 2018, with Medusa​ to follow in 2021. ​Her story ‘Daphne and the Doughnuts’ appeared in The Book of Hopes, a collection of children’s stories published in 2020, from which all profits go to the NHS. 

As a non-fiction writer, she has written essays and reviews for The New York Times, Harpers Bazaar UK, The Wall Street JournalThe IndependentVogueElleRedGraziaLonely Planet Traveller and The SpectatorHarpers Bazaar US and Stylist have published her short stories. 

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon*| Bookshop.org*

*These are affiliate links

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REVIEW: Elektra by Jennifer Saint

Published: April 28th, 2022
Publisher: Wildfire
Genre: Greek Mythology, Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Fairy Tale
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to one of my most anticipated books of the year!

Thank you to Caitlin at Wildfire for the gifted ARC and gorgeous finished copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

An exciting and equally lyrical new retelling from Jennifer Saint, the Sunday Times bestselling author of ARIADNE

‘Saint’s immersive novel thrusts the reader straight into the heart of Greek mythology’ ipaper on Ariadne

The House of Atreus is cursed. A bloodline tainted by a generational cycle of violence and vengeance. This is the story of three women, their fates inextricably tied to this curse, and the fickle nature of men and gods.

Clytemnestra
The sister of Helen, wife of Agamemnon – her hopes of averting the curse are dashed when her sister is taken to Troy by the feckless Paris. Her husband raises a great army against them and determines to win, whatever the cost.

Cassandra
Princess of Troy, and cursed by Apollo to see the future but never to be believed when she speaks of it. She is powerless in her knowledge that the city will fall.

Elektra
The youngest daughter of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, Elektra is horrified by the bloodletting of her kin. But can she escape the curse, or is her own destiny also bound by violence?

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MY REVIEW:

Jennifer Saint has done it again.  Elektra was one of my most anticipated books of this year, but would it live up to the splendour of Ariadne, one of my favourite books of 2021?  The answer is yes!  Enthralling, powerful and mesmerising, Elektra is a glorious tapestry of a novel, a richly drawn portrayal of war and betrayal, of families torn apart by men’s lust for women, power and the so-called will of the gods, and of women trying to find agency in a man’s world.

This time the author retells the story of the Trojan War.  But instead of taking the obvious route of telling the story from Helen’s perspective she gives a voice to three other women: Elektra, Clytemnestra and Cassandra.  Elektra is the daughter of Agamenmon, a young girl who idolises her father and longs for his victorious return from Troy, Clytemnestra is Helen’s twin sister and wife of Agamenmon, a dutiful wife until a shocking act that leaves her devastated and plotting revenge, and Cassandra is a princess of Troy who is given the gift of visions by Apollo yet no one will believe her predictions or listen when she tries to tell them what lies in store for their city.  They are very different women whose fates are inextricably intertwined and share feelings of rage at their powerlessness in a world controlled by men.  Moving between their stories the author paints a vivid and illuminating picture of the Trojan War through the prism of these strong, fascinating and unforgettable women.  

Jennifer Saint is an author I could read every day and never get bored.  Her books are a masterclass in storytelling as she brings ancient Greece and its myths back to life in vivid technicolour with her lush and evocative prose.  You find yourself completely immersed in their world as the one around you completely falls away.  Her passion and knowledge of not only the myths, but the women themselves leaps from the pages and makes me want to read more; in fact, it was reading Ariadne that awakened my love of mythology.  

Lyrical, atmospheric and consuming, I couldn’t get enough of this book, devouring it quickly and feeling bereft when I’d finished.  Elektra is another masterpiece from the talented Jennifer Saint that I will be telling everyone to read.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jennifer Saint grew up reading Greek mythology and was always drawn to the untold stories hidden within the myths. After thirteen years as a high school English teacher, she wrote ARIADNE which tells the legend of Theseus and the Minotaur from the perspective of Ariadne – the woman who made it happen. Her second novel, ELEKTRA, explores the curse upon the House of Atreus, giving voice to three women who are caught up in its shadows: Clytemnestra, Cassandra and Elektra whose lives are shattered by the Trojan War and who seek to find justice at any cost. Jennifer Saint is now a full-time author, living in Yorkshire, England, with her husband and two children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

BOOK REVIEW: Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Published: April 5th 2022
Publisher: Doubleday
Genre: Historical Fiction, Humorous Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to the phenomenal Lessons in Chemistry. Today Elizabeth Zott is out in the world and I can’t wait for you to meet her. This is one of my favourite books this year and know it will be on my list of top books of 2022. This isn’t to be missed!

Thank you to Doubleday for the gifted ARC and finished copy in exchange for an honest review.

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SYNOPSIS:

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing.

But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute take a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel-prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with – of all things – her mind. True chemistry results.

Like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (‘combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride’) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

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MY REVIEW:

“Children. set the table.  Your mother needs a moment to herself.”

Well, I have been Zotted.  Witty, smart, vibrant and refreshing, I am in love with this heartwarming debut and its quirky heroine.  

Set in America during the 50s and 60s, Lessons in Chemistry tells the story of Elizabeth Zott, a woman like no one you’ve ever met.  She is an unusual woman for the times: a female research chemist, an unmarried woman living with her partner and then a single mother.  When we first meet her in 1961 Zott is a TV star, the famous host of Supper at Six, a show with unique concept where she not only combines cooking and chemistry, but uses her platform as a rallying cry to the housewives watching to reach their full potential and be appreciated for all they do.  The story then jumps back to 1952 and we follow Zott’s journey from no-nonsense scientist to inspirational feminist TV star in this powerful novel. 

“Elizabeth Zott was a woman with flawless skin and an unmistakable demeanor of someone who was not average and never would be.” 

There are some fabulous new literary heroines being written at the moment and I am here for it.  Zott stands out in this crowd as a feminist icon with timeless appeal; as relevant today as she is in the era she is created to inhabit.   Zott doesn’t see why women shouldn’t be equal to men, why she needs a husband or understand why others think it’s strange to have a laboratory instead of a kitchen.  She doesn’t underestimate women and talks to them like intelligent and capable beings, something that wasn’t the norm at the time.  She does things her own way and I adored this unconventional, determined, practical, straight-talking woman who is unapologetically herself.  
Zott’s passion for chemistry is all consuming.  Like it’s part of her DNA.  Though I’m clueless when it comes to science I still found her relatable, pulled in by her singular charm that makes her irresistible and unforgettable.  And while I’m not into science personally, I did love reading a female STEM character, especially one set in the 50s and 60s.  It is still a male dominated field where women are fighting for equality and Zott is an ideal icon to help challenge the sexism and misogyny of both the field and everyday life that women face to this day.  The book is set just before the sexual revolution of the sixties so Zott’s world is filled with the expectation that women are stupid, lesser thanand there to be used sexually by men in power.  I cheered as she challenged these expectations and rose beyond the expectations and limitations others held for her, refusing to acknowledge them herself.

“The reduction of women to something less than men, and the elevation of men to something more than women, is not biological: it’s cultural.  And it starts with two words: pink and blue.” 

But Zott isn’t the only great character in the book.  The author has filled the book with a cast of vivid and eccentric characters that are compelling and memorable, some likeable and others more nefarious. This includes Zott’s precocious daughter, Madeline, who might be even more intelligent and straight-talking than her mother, and their dog, Six Thirty, the most delightful dog ever written, who provides much of the comic relief and emotion of the story and stole my heart from his first appearance on the page. I dare any of you not to love him.

Lessons in Chemistry is a book for women who are authentically themselves, who challenge expectations and refuse to play dumb even when society tells them they should.  Zappy, zingy and zestful, this magnificent debut was a joy to read from beginning to end and I was sad to turn the final page.  The extraordinary Elizabeth Zott and her story will leave you with a warm glow in your heart and a smile on your face that lingers and I am hoping there will be more adventures from Zott, Mad and Six-Thirty, *crosses fingers*.

Read this book ASAP and be prepared to be Zotted.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

ABOUT

bjgbw copy.jpg

Bonnie Garmus is a copywriter and creative director who has worked widely in the fields of technology, medicine, and education. She’s an open-water swimmer, a rower, and mother to two pretty amazing daughters. Born in California and most recently from Seattle, she currently lives in London with her husband and her dog, 99.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx