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

BLOG TOUR: Wahala by Nikki May

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

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour and to Doubleday for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

SEX AND THE CITY with a killer edge for fans of QUEENIE, EXPECTATION and MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER

SOON TO BE A MAJOR BBC TV SERIAL

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Ronke, Simi, Boo are three mixed-race friends living in London.
They have the gift of two cultures, Nigerian and English.
Not all of them choose to see it that way.

Everyday racism has never held them back, but now in their thirties, they question their future. Ronke wants a husband (he must be Nigerian); Boo enjoys (correction: endures) stay-at-home motherhood; while Simi, full of fashion career dreams, rolls her eyes as her boss refers to her urban vibe yet again.

When Isobel, a lethally glamorous friend from their past arrives in town, she is determined to fix their futures for them.

Cracks in their friendship begin to appear, and it is soon obvious Isobel is not sorting but wrecking. When she is driven to a terrible act, the women are forced to reckon with a crime in their past that may just have repeated itself.

Explosive, hilarious and wildly entertaining, this razor-sharp tale of love, race and family will have you laughing, crying and gasping in horror. Fearlessly political about class, colourism and clothes, the spellbinding Wahala is for anyone who has ever cherished friendship, in all its forms.

PICKED AS ONE OF STYLIST MAGAZINE’S ‘FICTION BOOKS YOU CAN’T MISS OF 2022’

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MY REVIEW:

Wahala is a Nigerian Pidgin word meaning ‘trouble’, and there is trouble aplenty in this exciting debut. 

A story of friendship, family, identity, race and secrets, Wahala is narrated by three friends: Ronke, Simi and Boo.  Now living in London, the trio met at university in Bristol and bonded over being of Nigerian and English descent.  Their shared dual heritage made them outsiders and created a connection that they thought was unbreakable.  But when Isobel, a childhood friend of Simi from Lagos, comes into their lives, cracks in their friendships soon begin to appear and  soon all four women are forced to confront their darkest secrets and deepest vulnerabilities.  Will their friendships survive?

Wow!  What a sensational debut.  This book has a great vibe from the start and is full of humour, warmth, chaos and tension, it pulled me in immediately and didn’t let go until the final page.  Nikki May brings her characters and their world to life in vivid technicolour, educating the reader on life in Nigeria and exploring how it feels to be mixed race while also making you laugh and feel entertained.  And the food.  I was so happy to find there are recipes for some of the traditional Nigerian cuisine that is mentioned as it made my mouth water and stomach rumble reading about it. 

A book like this is nothing without great characters and Ms. May has created an enthralling group of flawed, fascinating and fabulous women.  Ronke is a dentist who just wants to find Mr. Right and have babies.  She loves cooking, especially Nigerian food, and seems to be the heart of the group.  Simi is the glamorous one, at least until Isobel arrives.  She likes the finer things in life and cares about what others think of her, always keen to project a picture perfect image of her life even if it’s falling apart at the seams.  Boo is unsatisfied with her life and feels like the grass is always greener.  She loves her husband and child but feels stifled by them and wants something more.  And then there’s Isobel, newly divorced, vivacious and exuding confidence.  I liked her at first but it didn’t take long for me to realise that this woman was a sniper from the side.  I could see her calculating to come between these three friends but couldn’t figure out why or what she wanted.  And I was on the edge of my seat trying to figure it out.  They were all such fun to read and I loved how the author portrays many facets of womanhood and female friendship through these women. There is something that we can all relate to in some way.  

Entertaining and explosive, Wahala is the debut that everyone is going to be talking about.  I was thrilled to learn that it has already been picked up for TV because it is utterly bingeable.  Read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Born in Bristol, raised in Lagos, I’m proud to be Anglo-Nigerian. I ran a successful ad agency before turning to writing and now live in Dorset with my husband, two standard schnauzers, and way too many books.

My debut novel WAHALA was inspired by a long (and loud) lunch with friends. It will be published around the world in January 2022 and is being adapted into a major BBC TV drama.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes

Published: December 9th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Romance Novel, Humorous Fiction, Family Saga
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook, Hardcover

Welcome to my review of Rachel’s Holiday, which was published yesterday in a special 25th anniversary edition. Thank you to Rhiannon at FMcM for the invitation to take part in this tour and to Michael Joseph for the gifted book.

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SYNOPSIS:

A MUST-READ FOR FANS OLD AND NEW, THIS STUNNING 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION IS THE PERFECT WAY TO REDISCOVER THE 1.5 MILLION COPY, NO. 1 BESTSELLING PHENOMENON
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Meet Rachel Walsh.

She’s been living it up in New York City, spending her nights talking her way into glamorous parties before heading home in the early hours to her adoring boyfriend, Luke.

But her sensible older sister showing up and sending her off to actual rehab wasn’t quite part of her plan.

She’s only agreed to her incarceration because she’s heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, spa treatments and celebrities going cold turkey – plus it’s about time she had a holiday.

Saying goodbye to fun and freedom will be hard – and losing the man who might just be the love of her life will be even harder.

But will hitting rock bottom help Rachel learn to love herself, at last?

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MY REVIEW:

“How did I end up like this? Surely I was living in New York, young, independent, glamorous, successful? And not twenty-seven, unemployed, mistaken for a drug-addict, in a treatment centre in the back arse of nowhere with an empty valium bottle in my knickers?”

Before I start I have an admission. Even though I own a number of Marian Keyes books and have had them on my shelf for years, I had never read one of them until I picked up Rachel’s Holiday for this blog tour, runs to hide in the corner in shame. And now that I have experienced my first book by Ms. Keyes, I am so mad at myself for waiting so long to read them.

After being hospitalised following an accidental overdose, Rachel Walsh’s family bring her back to Ireland and send her off to rehab. But Rachel doesn’t mind. After all, the Cloisters is a place where celebrities go, and she’s looking forward to doing some celeb spotting while enjoying spa treatments. It will be like a much-needed holiday. Or so she thinks.

Uproarious, heartfelt, scathing and sexy, Rachel’s Holiday is an exploration of addiction and journey of self-discovery. Rachel is a deeply flawed and troubled character. In deep denial about her addiction, she is sure this is all a mistake and she is nothing like the others at the Cloisters. She is selfish, self-serving and lacks self-awareness, caring only how things affect her and nothing about the impact her actions have on others. She is the kind of person that would be a nightmare to have in your real life, but Ms. Keyes manages to make her someone that you care about and root for. As she tells her story she moves between rehab in rural Ireland and her life in New York, and it is soon apparent that the wild shenanigans that she finds hilarious are a smokescreen for the deep pain and self-loathing she feels. Everyone around her can see the truth, and I desperately wanted her to see clearly and accept the help she needed so she could begin to heal.

As I said earlier, this was my first foray into Marian Keyes’ books and I found that her overwhelming talent is evident on every page. I loved how she makes you laugh while telling the most heartbreaking stories and how she’s able to make a heroine you shouldn’t like into someone you can’t get enough of. It’s easy to see why this story is considered a modern classic and Ms. Keyes a national treasure. I’m sold. And I can’t wait to read more.

So if you’re looking for some uplit that is razor-sharp and thought-provoking while being wonderfully entertaining, then pick up this book.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Addiction

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Marian Keyes is one of the most successful Irish novelists of all time. Though she was brought up in a home where a lot of oral story-telling went on, it never occurred to her that she could write.

Instead she studied law and accountancy and finally started writing short stories in 1993 “out of the blue.” Though she had no intention of ever writing a novel (“It would take too long”) she sent her short stories to a publisher, with a letter saying she’d started work on a novel. The publishers replied, asking to see the novel, and once her panic had subsided, she began to write what subsequently became her first book Watermelon, published in 1995.

To date, the woman who said she’d never write a novel has published 13 of them: WatermelonLucy Sullivan is Getting MarriedRachel’s HolidayLast Chance SaloonSushi for BeginnersAngelsThe Other Side of the StoryAnybody Out ThereThis Charming ManThe Brightest Star in the Sky , The Mystery of Mercy CloseThe Woman Who Stole My Life, and The Break Her books have all been bestsellers around the world, with a total of over 30 million of her books sold to date in 33 languages. Anybody Out There won the British Book Awards award for popular fiction and the inaugural Melissa Nathan Prize for Comedy Romance. This Charming Man won the Irish Book Award for popular fiction. Marian’s latest book Grown Ups is publishing in hardback and eBook in February 2020.

The books deal variously with modern ailments, including addiction, depression, domestic violence, the glass ceiling and serious illness, but always written with compassion, humour and hope.

In 2009, Marian experienced the start of a major depressive episode, and had to stop any work. Eventually she found that baking cakes helped her survive; and in 2012, she published Saved by Cake, which combines recipes with autobiography.

As well as novels she has written short stories, and articles for various magazines and other publications. She has published three collections of her journalism, titled Under the Duvet  and Further Under the Duvet, now collected in one volume under the title Under the Duvet: Deluxe Edition, and donated all royalties from Irish sales to the Simon Community, a charity which works with the homeless. In 2016 Marian published a new collection of essays, Making It Up As I Go Along.

She was born in Limerick in 1963, and brought up in Cavan, Cork, Galway and Dublin; she spent her twenties in London, but is now living in Dún Laoghaire with her husband Tony. She includes among her hobbies reading, movies, shoes, handbags and feminism.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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Book Features Cover Reveal Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Cover Reveal: Four Aunties and a Wedding by Jesse Sutanto

Happy Friday Bibliophiles! Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in an exciting cover reveal in collaboration with HQ.

Prepare for the return of Meddy and her meddling aunties in #FourAunties and a Wedding, the hilarious sequel to Jesse Sutano’s #DialAForAunties! They vow to make it a day to remember… 👰🏻

SYNOPSIS:

They vow to make it a day to remember…

After Meddy Chan and her aunties got away with literal murder, she’s hoping for a quieter life. She’s happily coupled up with love of her Nathan, and excited to plan her dream wedding. She just needs to keep her family from interfering too much.

Meddy has dreamt of her wedding day but with the Chans involved, this is going to be a wedding day you’ll never forget…

Four Aunties and a Wedding is published March 3rd 2022. RSVP here.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jesse Q. Sutanto is the author of adult, YA, and children’s middle grade books. She has a master’s degree in creative writing from Oxford University, though she hasn’t found a way of saying that without sounding obnoxious. The film rights to her women’s fiction, Dial A for Aunties, was bought by Netflix in a competitive bidding war. Her adult books include Dial A for Aunties and its sequel, Four Aunties and a Wedding. Her YA books include The Obsession, The New Girl, and her upcoming romcom, Well, That Was Unexpected. Her MG books include Theo Tan and the Fox Spirit and an untitled sequel. 

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Shadowing by Rhiannon Ward

Published: September 16th, 2021
Publisher: Trapeze
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Historical Fantasy, Gothic Fiction, Thriller, Ghost Story, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this haunting gothic mystery. Thank you to Tracy at Compulsive Readers Tours for the invitation to take part and Trapeze for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy’s death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.

Haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant – both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years.

Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?

As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost…

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MY REVIEW:

“The shadowing had returned.” 

The Shadowing is an atmospheric and absorbing historical gothic mystery overflowing with menace. A story laced with secrets, spirits and sinister happenings, I was drawn in from the first pages right and couldn’t put it down. My mind was full of questions that I needed answers to as desperately as the characters did. And I genuinely had no idea what they were going to be. 

Hester Goodwin lives in Bristol with her wealthy family in a strict Quaker home. Three years ago, her sister Mercy disappeared and none of them have heard from her since, until the day they receive a letter informing them that Mercy has died in Southwell Workhouse in Nottinghamshire. But how did her sister end up in such a place? And how did she die? Searching for answers, Hester travels to Southwell to try and answer their questions, little knowing that she is stepping into a much deeper and darker mystery than she ever imagined. One that involves spectres, missing children and cover ups. 

I’ve been wanting to read Rhiannon Ward’s books since her debut last year so I jumped at the chance when the opportunity to take part in this blog tour arose. My expectations were high and I’m happy to say that she exceeded them with this magnificent novel. Eloquently and evocatively written, it wrenches you out of your own reality and into the one the author created, making you feel like you can feel a ghostly spirit behind you or that you are walking the dank corridors of the workhouse. As the secrets are slowly revealed and Hester brings the women’s plights to light I got goosebumps from the emotion and tension. Their fear was so palpable that I could feel it’s cold claws raking their way down my spine. I was very glad to be reading in the daytime at that point! But, for me, one of the best things about this book is that it genuinely surprised me. I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers, so it isn’t often I’m stumped by an author. But Ward had me at a loss, suspicious of everyone and no real idea who was behind it all, and my jaw hit the floor when it was time for the big reveal. 

“Don’t let the angelmaker take my baby. She wants it for her own end. If I see her, it’s already too late. Do you understand?” 

The characters are all richly drawn and compelling, vividly brought to life by the author in such a way that you feel like they are in the room with you. I found Hester to be especially likeable and easy to root for, her naivete giving her an innocent charm that gave her an extra sweetness alongside her courage and determination. The journey to Southwell is a big deal for a woman of her age and standing, and she is both excited and full of trepidation at her task. Her fears only deepen when she arrives at Southwell Workhouse, a gloomy, bleak and eerie place where frightened women tell her stories of ‘the pale lady’ or ‘the angelmaker’, a ghostly figure who takes women’s babies.  Instead of answers about Mercy, she’s left with even more questions about what happened to her beloved sister and vows to keep digging until she uncovers the truth, unaware of just how much danger she’s putting herself in. 

But the pale lady isn’t the only ghostly part of the story. There are also the shadowings, visions of spirits who appear to Hester that she has experienced since childhood. Her father tried to beat them out of her but they return shortly before she learns of her sister Mercy’s death. She is too terrified of further punishments to mention them, and keenly aware that others, not just her father, will see them as the work of the Devil or Witchcraft. So she keeps them to herself, afraid of the consequences of discovery. 

Captivating, dark and haunting, The Shadowing is a sensational gothic mystery with an eerie charm that lingers over every page. Perfect for the cold nights heading our way, this is ideal for reading with a cosy blanket and warm drink by the fire. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rhiannon Ward. As Sarah Ward, I’m the author of the DC Childs crime series set in the Derbyshire Peak District. I’m also the writer of Doctor Who audio dramas for Big Finish.

My gothic thriller, The Quickening, was published by Trapeze as Rhiannon Ward and The Shadowing is coming in September 2021.

Throughout COVID-19, I’ve been talking about all things bookish either online or, more recently, in person. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Hidden Child by Louise Fein

Published: September 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Novel, Domestic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this extraordinary piece of historical fiction. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and the gifted limited edition proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

From the outside, Eleanor and Edward Hamilton have the perfect life, but they’re harbouring a secret that threatens to fracture their entire world.

London, 1929.

Eleanor Hamilton is a dutiful mother, a caring sister and an adoring wife to a celebrated war hero. Her husband, Edward, is a pioneer in the eugenics movement. The Hamiltons are on the social rise, and it looks as though their future is bright.

When Mabel, their young daughter, begins to develop debilitating seizures, they have to face an uncomfortable truth: Mabel has epilepsy – one of the ‘undesirable’ conditions that Edward campaigns against.

Forced to hide their daughter away so as to not jeopardise Edward’s life’s work, the couple must confront the truth of their past – and the secrets that have been buried.

Will Eleanor and Edward be able to fight for their family? Or will the truth destroy them?

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MY REVIEW:

A perfect family is fractured and torn apart when illness invades their lives and not only tests their strength, but makes them question their core beliefs and values in this extraordinary piece of historical fiction. 

Powerful, moving, thought-provoking and illuminating, this book will leave you a different person to the one who began reading. It will break your heart, make you question humanity, and then give you back your hope. Exquisitely crafted, the story is written with heart and compassion, somehow finding beauty in the most ugly of subjects. I won’t pretend this isn’t hard to read in places; characters talk about ideals that are reprehensible, make plans that sickened me and spoke vile words about some of the most vulnerable members of our society, and that is hard to digest. But these things are taken from history. And it is important to remember, recognise and learn from them. It is also a reminder that these things aren’t black and white, but nuanced, and that the best stories and lessons in life are sometimes found in the shades of grey. 

The Hidden Child explores a part of British history that has been swept under the rug for decades. When we think of eugenics most of us will think of it in the context of Nazi Germany and the horrors of the Holocaust. But through this story, which begins eleven years before the start of WW2, the author strips bare the walls of secrecy to highlight our own country’s history with the Eugenics Movement. Something I was completely ignorant of before reading this book. I had no idea that the movement was born in England at the end of the nineteenth century, or how widespread it was in the beginning of the 1900s. It felt particularly poignant for me to be reading this on September 3rd, the 82nd anniversary of the beginning of WW2. To read as characters, some of whom were real people in history, discussing these ideas like they were saving the human race was stomach-churning and sobering. This was ableism at its peak and was terrifying to read, particularly as someone who would have then been dismissed as an ‘undesirable’. The so-called treatments Mabel is subjected to are barbaric and were the hardest scenes for me to read. It made me so grateful for how far we have come in our treatment of epilepsy and mental illness in the past hundred years and serves as a potent reminder that it is not solely monsters who are responsible for the most awful and shocking times in history, but ordinary, and often admired, people too. 

Edward and Eleanor Hamilton lived a charmed life. They are a wealthy, well respected couple with everything going for them. But this begins to fall apart when their five-year-old daughter Mabel begins to suffer fits. Staunch supporters of the Eugenics Movement, this, and her subsequent Epilepsy diagnosis, rocks their world. How can their perfect, healthy daughter be one of the ‘undesirables’ they campaign against? Instinctively, they hide Mabel away and keep her condition secret. This unfolding nightmare takes them on a harrowing and heart-wrenching journey of self discovery. One filled with privilege, moral superiority, uncomfortable truths, reprehensible actions and regret. As they battle her condition and try to keep their lives from falling apart, they find themselves questioning everything they thought they knew to be true. Could what they believed about those who are ‘defective’ be wrong? 

Despite their awful beliefs, it is impossible not to feel empathy for this couple. For me, this is a real testimony to the skill of the author’s writing, as she manages to convey both disgust at their beliefs and some of their actions, and empathy as they watch their daughter suffer and attempt to make sense of what is happening. You feel their utter disbelief and devastation at her diagnosis, their heartbreak as they do what they believe is right. Through their backstories we come to understand how they were drawn to eugenics, though Edward’s past is shrouded in shadows that take much longer to come to light. And by giving them both a voice, the author allows the reader a glimpse into the thoughts and feelings they keep to themselves, revealing a fuller picture and giving us a greater understanding of them.

There is an increasing sense of claustrophobia as the secrets , isolation and fear close in around not only Eleanor and Edward, but young Mabel too.  We never get the story from her perspective, instead the author takes a much more striking, and creative route, giving a voice and persona to the illness itself. This was my favourite element of the book. As someone with multiple chronic illnesses, I related to this on a very personal level. Illnesses do feel like they have their own personalities and unique voices that only you can hear. The author eloquently conveys this through Epilepsy’s enlightening and evocative chapters. It was a powerful and moving master stroke that really makes the book stand out. 

This was my first foray into reading this author’s books and has immediately secured her a place on my must-read list and that of authors I recommend everybody read. The book is meticulously researched and brimming with emotion. I couldn’t put it down. A masterful storyteller, she has merged her own personal knowledge and experience with fiction and historical fact to create a book that is simply breathtaking.

Affecting, immersive, atmospheric and compelling, The Hidden Child is an absolute triumph. A story of love, loss, hope and redemption, it is a  reminder that we must stand up against prejudice and those who promote it. Everyone needs to read this book, including the unmissable author’s note at the end. I would love to see this book added to school reading lists so that the next generation can heed its warnings and learn the lessons on its pages.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louise writes twentieth century historical fiction, based around unheard voices, or from unusual perspectives.

Her debut novel, PEOPLE LIKE US (entitled DAUGHTER OF THE REICH in the US/Canada edition) and first published in 2020 into 13 territories, is set in 1930’s Leipzig, seen through the eyes of a young girl, Hetty, brainwashed into believing the Nazi dream, until that is, she encounters Walter, a Jew. The book was shortlisted for the RSL Christopher Bland Prize 2021 and the RNA Historical Novel of the Year Award, 2021.

Louise’s second novel, THE HIDDEN CHILD, will be published in the UK in September 2021 and the US and Canada in October 2021, and is the story of Edward and Eleanor, firm believers in the widely held pseudo-science of Eugenics, who firmly believe in genetic superiority. Their world is shattered, however, when their young daughter, Mabel, develops debilitating seizures.

Louise lives in Surrey with her husband, children, two naughty cats and small dog Bonnie, who is the best writing companion she could ask for. Always at her side when she writes and listens most patiently when Louise needs to talk through a tricky plot problem. She is currently working on her third novel. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Last Library by Freya Sampson

Published: September 2nd, 2021
Publisher: Bonnier Zaffre
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Humorous Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this spectacular debut. I’m thrilled to be sharing my review for The Last Library on its special day. Thank you Bonnie Zaffre for the invitation to take part and the gorgeous personalised proof copy.

*This book is known as The Last Chance Library in the US

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SYNOPSIS:

You can tell a lot about a person from the library books they borrow

Library assistant June knows a lot about the regulars at Chalcot Library, yet they know very little about her. When her mum – the beloved local librarian – passed away eight years ago, June stepped into her shoes. But despite their shared love of books, shy June has never felt she can live up to the village’s memory of her mum. Instead, she’s retreated into herself and her memories, surviving on Chinese takeaways-for-one and rereading their favourite books at home.

When the library is threatened with closure, a ragtag band of eccentric locals establish the Friends of Chalcot Library campaign. There’s gentlemanly pensioner Stanley, who visits the library for the computers and the crosswords, cantankerous Mrs B, who is yet to find a book she approves of, and teenager Chantal, who just wants a quiet place to study away from home. But can they compel reclusive June to join their cause?

If June wants to save the library, she finally has to make some changes to her life: opening up her heart to friendship, opportunities and maybe even more . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“Libraries are boats
And the books are life jackets.
Without them we’ll drown.”

The Last Library is a truly special book. A bibliophile’s dream and a hug in book form, it has secured a place in my favourite books of all time. Nostalgic, tender and witty, it is a love letter to libraries, literature and community. And when I finally closed it after reading the last sentence I did so with a big smile on my face and a warm glow inside despite feeling sad to say goodbye to the wonderful characters that I’d taken into my heart. 

The story follows a varied bunch of characters as they fight to save their beloved library from closure. It is an impassioned fight. They face an uphill battle, many bumps in the road, and the council attempts to thwart them at every step, but they refuse to give up, proving themselves a stronger adversary than many expected. 

“As a child she used to believe that each book had its own smell, specific to its story, and the smell of a library was the combined smell of thousands of different tales.”

This glorious debut begins with a letter from the author talking about her love for libraries and what inspired her to write this story. I thought this was a great way to open the book as it immediately establishes that a library is so much more than a room full of books; it is a solace, a refuge, and a place of community. It also sparked memories of the many happy hours I’ve spent in libraries over the years in my own reading journey, and those spent with my son as a baby, toddler and child, creating an atmosphere of nostalgia that carries through right until the last page. 

“Every inch of this room was steeped with memories, her mum’s DNA woven into the story rug and well-thumbed books. If the library was lost, June’s mum would be lost again too; and that was something June could never let happen.”

It is impossible not to take these quirky, funny and endearing characters into your heart. Librarian June is a lifelong bookworm. Her whole world is the library. She took over her role after her mother’s death eight years ago and, for her, the walls are filled with not only cherished memories, but her mother’s spirit. The idea of losing that is unimaginable to June. I liked June immediately; how she imagines lives for people and the way she finds solace in books. But I also felt sad for her. She lives a very lonely life, and one of the best parts of the book for me was watching this shy, socially awkward young woman slowly blossom and develop friendships outside of the pages of her books.

We get to know the others through June’s eyes, slowly discovering their secret lives, backstories and personalities as she does. They are an eclectic cast of characters who you’d never usually put together, but they are bonded by their shared love and need for the library. Each of them is wonderfully written, the author creating a rapport between them and the reader, and I’ll admit to having favourites. I loved the friendship between Stanley and June and had a real soft spot for his character. But the author was skilled at giving even the most spiky or ‘unlikeable’ characters a warmth that drew me to them, making it impossible not to love every one of them.

“Libraries are like a net, there to catch those of us in danger of falling through the cracks. That’s what we’re really fighting to protect.”

The Last Library is everything a book lover could want and more. It is a celebration of books and the power of stories, but also a story about community, kindness, friendship, loss and courage. A journey of self-discovery. One of the biggest aspects of the story is how libraries are so much more to a town or village than a room full of books and the author highlights the many ways they are there to help. It made my heart ache thinking of the closures we see in libraries today, especially as they were such a big part of my own childhood and that of my son. It made me determined to start using my local library again so that I can do my part to ensure they are still around for future generations. 

Charming, uplifting and hopeful, this is a book that will stay with me forever. One you don’t want to miss. I urge you to read it as soon as possible.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Freya Sampson works in TV as an executive producer. Her credits include two documentary series for the BBC about the British Royal Family, and a number of factual and entertainment series.

She studied History at Cambridge University and in 2018 was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize.

She lives in London with her husband, two young children and an antisocial cat. The Last Library is her debut novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

Published: July 8th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: General Fiction, Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sizzling summer romance. Thank you to Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gorgeous ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE SCORCHING HOT RICHARD & JUDY LOVE AFFAIR THAT WILL LEAVE YOU OBSESSED!

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EVERYONE IN THE WORLD KNOWS HIS NAME . . .BUT IT’S YOU HE WANTS.

To the media, Hayes Campbell is the enigmatic front-man of a record-breaking boyband.

To his fans, he’s the boy of their dreams.

To his label, he’s gold-dust.

And to Solène Marchand, he’s the pretty face that’s plastered over her teenage daughter’s bedroom wall.

Until a chance meeting throws Hayes and Solène together . . .

The attraction is instant. The chemistry is electric. The affair is Solène’s secret.

But can it really stay that way forever?

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MY REVIEW:

“I was just making sure it was you, and not the idea of you.”

Sexy and seductive, The Idea of You is the perfect book to binge-read this summer. I devoured it in just a few hours, unable to turn away from this compelling bonkbuster. 

I think all teenage and tween girls daydream about dating their favourite celebrity. But in this sizzling summer romance, it is the tween’s mother who is caught up in a steamy May/December romance with the lead singer of her daughter’s favourite group. Solene was reluctant to even go to the concert, let alone date Hayes Campbell, frontman of boyband August Moon. She is almost twice his age and, determined not to be a cliché, tries to resist their instant chemistry. But it is futile and she is soon caught up in  a secret romance. 

“Love, she said, was not always perfect, and not exactly how you expected it to be. But when it descended upon you, there was no controlling it.”

On the surface, Hayes and Solene have nothing in common and it seems like this could and will be nothing but a passing physical relationship. Combined with the world of celebrity and social media this felt like a very modern love story while also being pure escapism for both the reader and the characters themselves. But as time went on, their love story felt authentic. It felt real. I believed it, adored it and was rooting for it. I wanted them to overcome all the obstacles in their way and find happiness with each other. 

Robinne Lee is no stranger to the world of showbiz. And it shows. The story screams of someone who knows that world intimately, offering us  a glimpse into the glitz and glamour. But she is also not afraid to show us the darker side of celebrity. The things that are overwhelming and terrifying. It is a fascinating and thought-provoking look at a world that we usually only get to see the shiny, perfect and alluring side of. I enjoyed how she explores the price of fame through the characters and asks when is it too much to pay? The scariest parts for me were the crazy fans. I have never understood how some people can do such extreme and aggressive things in the name of ‘love’ for a celebrity, and while none of it surprised me, the idea that people can be treated in such a way simply because they fell in love with a famous person is appalling. I think the internet and social media has made it harder for celebrities and those associated with them. There’s less privacy these days and people are much braver hiding behind a keyboard than they would be in real life. It made me glad I’m not a part of that world. 

“I realised in that moment that my life as I knew it was over.”

The psychology of Hayes and Solene’s relationship was fascinating. Solene is torn between her desires and her responsibilities and her heart and her head. She feels terrible guilt over their age difference and the pain it will cause her daughter when she finds out. But she can’t stay away from him. Hayes longs to be seen for who he really is, rather than as Hayes Campbell, rock star, and how he sometimes struggles to know who he can trust because of his fame. Then there is Isabelle,  twelve-years-old and convinced she is in love with the band members, this relationship will break her heart. Each perspective is written with such sensitivity and realism that it leaps from the page. You can’t help but feel for them all. 

The author also explores themes of ageism and sexism throughout the story. She looks at how society and the world of show business view women as they age. How they can find themselves feeling invisible and unimportant. She also addresses the sexism that occurs in May/December romances and how an older man with a younger woman barely causes people to blink an eye, yet there is so much criticism of an older woman with a younger man. 

Sharp, sassy and salacious, this is as addictive as any tabloid magazine. This dazzling and funny debut is the perfect summer bonkbuster to get lost in. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
Steam Rating: 🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

The Idea of You is actor, writer, and producer ROBINNE LEE’s debut novel. A graduate of Yale University and Columbia Law School, Robinne was born and raised in Westchester County, New York. Robinne has numerous acting credits in both television and film, most notably opposite Will Smith in both Hitch and Seven Pounds and as Ros Bailey in Fifty Shades Darker and Fifty Shades Freed. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Penguin UK
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Novel, Humorous Fiction, Domestic Fiction, New Adult Fiction, Holiday Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this fun summer romance that is published tomorrow. Thank you to Penguin UK for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

TWO FRIENDS
TEN SUMMER TRIPS

THEIR LAST CHANCE TO FALL IN LOVE

12 SUMMERS AGO: Poppy and Alex meet. They hate each other, and are pretty confident they’ll never speak again.

11 SUMMERS AGO: They’re forced to share a ride home from college and by the end of it a friendship is formed. And a pact: every year, one vacation together.

10 SUMMERS AGO: Alex discovers his fear of flying on the way to Vancouver.
Poppy holds his hand the whole way.

7 SUMMERS AGO: They get far too drunk and narrowly avoid getting matching tattoos in New Orleans.

2 SUMMERS AGO: It all goes wrong.

THIS SUMMER: Poppy asks Alex to join her on one last trip. A trip that will determine the rest of their lives.

You and Me on Vacation is a New York Times bestselling love story for fans of When Harry Met Sally and One Day. Get ready to travel the world, snort with laughter and – most of all – lose your heart to Poppy and Alex.

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MY REVIEW:

“It’s fascinating. How much of love is who you are with someone.”

You and Me on Vacation is a warm, witty, slow-burning romance that is perfect to read on a hot summer’s day. 

The story follows the familiar best friends to lovers trope, exploring the trepidation, fear and complications that can arise when you fall in love with your closest friend. While it was often predictable, this wasn’t a bad thing, and the author injected some additional mystery and tension with the inclusion of an unknown event two years earlier that had led to them not speaking since. I liked this as it made the book  more than a simple ‘will they or won’t they’ story and I felt like their tentative steps to rebuilding their friendship made me root for them from the start. There were times it felt like it was a little too drawn out, but the author soon picked up the pace and it was an entertaining read overall. 

I liked Poppy and Alex both individually and as a pair. They had a great dynamic and the spark was clear even before Poppy admitted her feelings. There were some great background characters too and I enjoyed how the author wrote little descriptions when introducing a new character that gives the reader an instant picture of what they are like. 

Being centred around a travel writer and the vacations she takes with her best friend gave this book a vibe of pure escapism and I loved being able to travel to the various destinations from my back garden during a pandemic. But the current situation also made the book feel wistful and it felt like I was reading about another life. It really made me miss the days where we could just hop on a plane and go somewhere new without a second thought. *Sigh* 

If you’re looking for a book to escape with and a good way to wile away a few hours in the sun, then this entertaining romance is the book for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Emily Henry is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation and Beach Read, as well as several young adult novels. She lives and writes in the Cincinnati and the part of Kentucky just beneath it.

Her books have been featured in Buzzfeed, Oprah Magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The New York Times, The Skimm, Shondaland, Betches, Bustle, and more.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Romance Novel, Contemporary Romance, Suspense, Domestic Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my review of this gorgeous novel. Thank you HQ for the eBook ARC and invitation to take part.

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SYNOPSIS:

They were so in love . . .
And then life changed forever . . .
Will they find happiness again?
 
Libby and Jack are the happiest they’ve ever been. Thanks to their dear friend, eighty-year-old Sid, they’ve just bought their first house together, and it’s the beginning of the life they’ve always dreamed of.

But the universe has other plans for Libby and Jack and a devastating twist of fate shatters their world.
 
All of a sudden life is looking very different, and unlikely though it seems, might Sid be the one person who can help Libby and Jack move forward when what they loved the most has been lost?
 
The Art of Loving You is a beautiful love story for our times. Romantic and uplifting, it will break your heart and then put it back together again. Perfect for fans of Rebecca Serle, Josie Silver and Sophie Cousens.

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MY REIVEW:

“The butterfly effect. The delicate flutter of wings. The tiniest change leading to chaos, catastrophe, an ordered life falling apart.”

The Art of Loving You is a different kind of love story. An exploration of love, grief and the afterlife, it looks at what we do with the love we have for someone when they are suddenly gone and asks how we find new meaning when life feels meaningless. 

It is narrated by Libby, who has been left heartbroken and adrift after the sudden death of her soulmate Jack. But it isn’t only grief that she is struggling with, Libby is also finding it hard to trust people and the world around her. She is stuck in a tortuous roller-coaster that she can’t seem to get off. Family and friends rally around and do their best, but nothing helps. All she wants is the one thing she can’t have: Jack. 

Skillfully written, every page is coated in pain, but there is a hopefulness that creeps in and some funny moments that lighten the mood. But the writing device I enjoyed most of all was how Libby would insert snippets of things that are yet to happen or be revealed, referencing her ignorant bliss before something rocked her world. This happens mostly at the end of a chapter, a cunning ploy by the author to make the book impossible to put down that totally worked on this reader. That devilish hint of foreboding that kept me on the edge of my seat and made me think I’d read just one more chapter; and then another, and another. Before I knew it I’d flown through half the book. Well written and well played, Ms. Henley. 

“Enjoy the beer and skittles days.”

There are some wonderful and fascinating characters in the book and I really liked both Libby and Jack, but the one who stole my heart was Sid. Delightful, funny and wise, he brightened up every scene he was in and I could have happily read an entire book just about him. I loved his relationship with Jack and Libby and I feel like I need to write his words of wisdom in a notebook. He is a character that I won’t forget and I think will make an impact on everyone who reads this book. 

Uplifting, emotional, heartbreaking and hopeful, The Art of Loving You is an hopelessly romantic tearjerker that also manages to be funny and real. A truly beautiful and captivating story that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Amelia Henley is a hopeless romantic who has a penchant for exploring the intricacies of relationships through writing heart-breaking, high-concept love stories.

Amelia also writes psychological thrillers under her real name, Louise Jensen. As Louise Jensen she has sold over a million copies of her global number one bestsellers. Her stories have been translated into twenty-five languages and optioned for TV as well as featuring on the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestsellers list. Louise’s books have been nominated for multiple awards.

‘The Life We Almost Had’ is the first story she’s written as Amelia Henley and is out now, published by HQ, Harper Collins. ‘The Art of Loving You’ publishes this July.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

Welcome to First Lines Friday, where I share the first lines from one of the books on my shelves to try and tempt you to add it to yours. 

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“You can tell a lot about a person from the library books they borrow.”

Today’s first line is taken from The Last Library by Freya Sampson, which is published on September 2nd. I love the sound of this one and was so excited to receive this gorgeous personalised proof earlier this week.

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SYNOPSIS:

Library assistant June knows a lot about the regulars at Chalcot Library, yet they know very little about her. When her mum – the beloved local librarian – passed away eight years ago, June stepped into her shoes. But despite their shared love of books, shy June has never felt she can live up to the village’s memory of her mum. Instead, she’s retreated into herself and her memories, surviving on Chinese takeaways-for-one and rereading their favourite books at home.

When the library is threatened with closure, a ragtag band of eccentric locals establish the Friends of Chalcot Library campaign. There’s gentlemanly pensioner Stanley, who visits the library for the computers and the crosswords, cantankerous Mrs B, who is yet to find a book she approves of, and teenager Chantal, who just wants a quiet place to study away from home. But can they compel reclusive June to join their cause?

If June wants to save the library, she finally has to make some changes to her life: opening up her heart to friendship, opportunities and maybe even more . . .

You can pre-order the book here*

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Do you agree that you can tell a lot about someone from the books they read? Let me know in the comments.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. See you next week for more first lines xxx

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