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Blog Tour: Her Perfect Bones (Rockwell and Decker Book 2) by Ellery Kane

Published: February 16th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Hardboiled, Romance
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Here is my review for the second installment in the Rockwell and Decker series. This tour stop is a little late due to illness. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

The girl’s body is curled up like a shell and almost completely buried in sand. Only her fingertips can be seen, reaching helplessly up towards an escape she will never find…

Seventeen-year-old Shelby Mayfield sits alone on a bus to Fog Harbor, California. Aside from a few items of clothing, all she has with her is twenty-two dollars, the ragdoll she’s kept since kindergarten, and the devastating secret she’s been hiding.

How long will it be before her family realizes she’s gone?

Can anyone see the fresh bruise on her cheek beneath the makeup?

Perhaps she was a fool to believe the person she is meeting in this remote little town could help her…

When a girl’s body is found hidden in a barrel in a woodland cabin, the local police are at a loss. The film from an old camera found looped around her neck is their only lead, but Criminal Psychologist Olivia Rockwell’s blood turns to ice when she recognizes the ragdoll in one of the girl’s last photographs. She used to own one just like it, and it can only mean one thing: if she doesn’t dig deep into the mind of a deadly killer from her past—her own father—more innocent lives will be in danger…

A totally gripping and utterly addictive crime thriller for readers who love Lisa Regan, Kendra Elliot and Melinda Leigh. But be warned: you’ll be sleeping with the lights on after you’ve raced through the pages in one sitting!

MY REVIEW:

When the mummified corpse of a pregnant teenage girl is found in a barrel it sets in motion a series of events that will uncover secrets hidden for almost four decades in the second installment of the Rockwell and Decker series. Meanwhile, there are shocking revelations about Olivia’s father and his past that are unveiled after he is found dead following his failed parole hearing. 

I enjoyed the first book in this series last year and was looking forward to discovering if the follow up lived up to its promise. I was not disappointed. Once again the author has crafted a gripping, fast-paced thriller full of surprising twists and kept me guessing right until the dramatic finale. 

One of the key points of any series is the protagonists and the author has got it spot on with Will Decker and Olivia Rockwell. They are likeable, compelling characters, and the murky side of both their families make for riveting backstories, subplots and supporting cast. One of the highlights of both books has been their sharp banter, chemistry and reluctance to admit how they feel about one another. The author has built on this in book two and I loved their progression both as individual characters and as a duo.  I’m really rooting for them to get it together soon. 

So if  you’re looking for an exciting and absorbing mystery that will keep you on your toes, then this book is for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Forensic psychologist by day, author by night, Ellery Kane has been writing professionally and creatively for as long as she can remember. Real life really is stranger than fiction, so Ellery’s writing is often inspired by her day job. Before writing the Rockwell and Decker series with Bookouture, Ellery published the Legacy series for young adult readers and the Doctors of Darkness series of psychological thrillers. She was previously selected as one of ten semi-finalists in the MasterClass James Patterson Co-Author Competition. A Texan at heart, Ellery currently resides in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Please take the time to read the reviews from the other bloggers on the tour.

Thanks for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Ruthless Women by Melanie Blake

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Romance, Erotic Literature, Saga
Format: Hardcover, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this wonderfully outrageous novel. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Ambition can be deadly

Broadcast to millions from its picturesque location off the coast of Jersey, Falcon Bay was once the world’s most popular soap opera. But with ratings at an all-time low, a new network owner, the malevolent Madeline Kane, arrives on the private island determined to do whatever it takes to get the show back to the number 1 slot.

Director Farrah, leading lady Catherine and producer Amanda are the driven, ambitious women who’ve been trying to hold the production together. But thanks to their handsome but corrupt boss, Jake Monroe, Farrah is losing episodes to male colleagues, seventy-year-old Catherine is terrified of losing the public’s adoration, and Amanda is battling her desire for a forbidden affair with a handsome new employee.

As Madeline’s pressure to revive the show intensifies, she unleashes a true battle of the sexes where the women will do anything to stay in the jobs they love and on the island they call home. Can they team up to bring down their rivals? Or will jealousy, betrayal and revenge rip their friendships apart? As the story reaches its shocking climax, one thing is for certain: only the most ruthless woman will survive…

MY REVIEW:

Sexy, sassy, sharp and spectacular, Ruthless Women is like reading an episode of Dynasty. Gloriously over the top, this reads like a throwback to the days of Jackie Collins. And I’m here for it. 

Falcon Bay was once the biggest soap opera in the world, but its popularity has nosedived and the show is struggling. Thanks to a buy out of the production company it has been offered a lifeline, and the new owners have big plans for the upcoming 40th anniversary on Christmas Day. But the directions they want to take are at odds with what those at the heart of the show know to be best. Both sides are sure they’re right and will stop at nothing to save the show their love. But at what cost?

In this wonderfully written novel the author offers us a glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous, of showbiz and all its trappings, pressures and perils. She draws you into the world of Falcon Bay, where the idyllic beauty of St. Augustine, and the glitz and glamour of show business are at odds with the murky, underhanded schemes that go on behind the scenes. Ambition, power, money and sex matter more than friendship, love or loyalty in this warped world. Deceit, jealousy and betrayal are rife, and the only thing you can rely upon is that everyone is out for themselves. Pulsing with drama and adrenaline, I couldn’t tear myself away and would have devoured this in one sitting if not for the pesky need to sleep.

One of the things that stands out most about this book is it’s messages of female empowerment. The author has filled her world with a powerhouse of fierce, strong and ruthless women. They are the ones who shine and propel the plot, and the fictional show, forward. They are complex, nuanced characters who are utterly compelling, even if they aren’t always likeable. These women have had enough of being written out of their own narratives and are determined to take back what is rightfully theirs. 

Now let’s talk about sex. This is the epitome of a bonkbuster. Heat sizzles from the pages as the women enthusiastically enjoy sex and there are plenty of raunchy scenes that made me glad I wasn’t reding this in public. I loved the representation of woman in their forties and above enjoying sex and having active sex lives. Even at seventy. I don’t think I’ve ever read such a racy book that focuses on a group of mature women and it was refreshing to see. 

While some will no doubt write this off as simply a bonkbuster, there is so much more to this novel. Beneath the surface this is a layered story full of depth and social commentary. Not only is there the theme of female empowerment, but the author also addresses the ‘old boys club’ mentality, sexism, misogyny and ageism that is still rife in the entertainment industry. She also examines how society looks at women. How it controls how women are perceived and what is deemed acceptable from us in terms of our appearances and the way we live our lives. It is a powerful reminder of how far we still have to go to reach true equality. 

Steamy, salacious, funny and outrageous, this is a highly entertaining read that you can get lost in. I would love to see this made into a movie or series and recommend it to everyone – so long as you don’t blush easily. With her sophomore novel, Melanie Blake has shown that the magic of The Thunder Girls was not merely a fluke and secured her place on my auto-buy list. I can’t wait to see what she writes next. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Best-selling author Melanie Blake’s own real life Rags to Bitches story reads like the plot of an outrageous drama…

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

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

Her first book The Thunder Girls became a Number 1 Best Seller in the summer of 2019 and the play she adapted from the novel broke box office records for a new work at the prestigious Lowry Theatre.

She still represents a high profile stable of some of the best known faces on British television but is also now enjoying success in her own right as a producer, author and playwright.

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Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

Thank you for reading. Until next time Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

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Book Features book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

In Five Years by Rebecca Searle

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Hardback
Genre: Romance, Domestic Fiction

Happy paperback publication day to one of my favourite books of 2020. I’m thrilled to have been asked to share my review again to celebrate the paperback release. Thank you Quercus for my gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Type-A Manhattan lawyer Dannie Kohan has been in possession of her meticulously crafted answer since she understood the question. On the day that she nails the most important job interview of her career and gets engaged to the perfect man, she’s well on her way to fulfilling her life goals.

That night Dannie falls asleep only to wake up in a different apartment with a different ring on her finger, and in the company of a very different man. The TV is on in the background, and she can just make out the date. It’s the same night – December 15th – but 2025, five years in the future.

It was just a dream, she tells herself when she wakes, but it felt so real… Determined to ignore the odd experience, she files it away in the back of her mind.

That is, until four and a half years later, when Dannie turns down a street and there, standing on the corner, is the man from her dream…

In Five Years is a love story, brimming with joy and heartbreak. But it is definitely not the love story you’re expecting

MY REVIEW:

True love doesn’t always look the way we expect. And that is certainly true in this unexpected and mesmerising love story. 

I am a wreck after finishing this book. I couldn’t put this book down and was utterly, obliviously lost in this beautiful, heartbreaking and lingering novel. I stayed up until the early hours, reading it in pretty much one sitting, as there was no chance of sleep until I knew what happened. 

In Five Years begins like a typical love story but through a number of clever twists it morphs into something I never saw coming; a story that is both devastating and uplifting. The author’s strong sense of place brings New York to life, transporting me into Dannie’s world and making the one around me disappear. With her wonderful characters and powerful and compassionate storytelling she reaches into your heart and soul. I went through a rainbow of emotions and cried many tears while reading. 

Dannie was a great character. She is a type-A personality who believes in living by numbers and has no doubts that her five-year plan will come to fruition. Even though she’s someone who’d drive me crazy in real life I quickly fell for her and my heart went out to her as her meticulously organised life began to spiral out of her control. But the character who really took my heart was Bella, Dannie’s best friend, who is illuminating, wild and kind-hearted . I adored their friendship and how their stark differences complemented each other. 

This is one of those books that if you give too much away then you ruin it. So I’m not going to say any more about the plot. What I will say is that the hype is real. This affecting and profound book is one of the best you’ll read. Ever. It is a stunning celebration of love, friendship and life. A story that reminds us we can’t plan and control everything. 

Now I really need someone to turn this into a movie. Reese, are you listening?

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Rebecca Serle is an author and television writer who lives in New York and Los Angeles. She is the author of six novels and codeveloped the hit TV adaptation of her YA series Famous in Love. She received her MFA from the New School in NYC. She loves Nancy Meyers films, bathrobes, and giving unsolicited relationship advice

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If I Could Say Goodbye by Emma Cooper

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fiction, Romance

Happy Publication Day to this gorgeous book. Thank you to Alara at Headline for the invitation to take part in the blog tour and my gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

A heart-warming and uplifting story about love, loss and finding the strength to say goodbye, from the author of The First Time I Saw You.

Perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes and Cecelia Ahern, If I Could Say Goodbye is sure to ‘break your heart but put it back together again’ (Katie Fforde)

Jennifer Jones’ life began when her little sister, Kerry, was born. So when her sister dies in a tragic accident, nothing seems to make sense any more.

Despite the support of her husband, Ed, and their wonderful children, Jen can’t comprehend why she is still here, while bright, spirited Kerry is not.

When Jen starts to lose herself in her memories of her sister, she doesn’t realise that the closer she feels to Kerry, the further she gets from her family.

Jen was never able to say goodbye to her sister. But what if she could?

Would you risk everything if you had the chance to say goodbye?

MY REVIEW:

If I Could Say Goodbye is a heartwarming exploration of grief, moving on and learning to live again after loss that also examines how mental health is affected by trauma, loss and guilt, this book was a surprising balm for my soul.

When Jen’s sister Kerry is killed after being hit by a car, she not only loses her sister, but her best friend too. The pair were inseparable. Her grief is further magnified by the guilt she feels as Kerry died after pushing her out of the way of the car. Jen feels she should have been the one to die that day and can’t come to terms with why she was spared instead of the sister she adored. As she descends deeper into her grief, those around her watch helplessly as they wonder if Jen will ever find the strength to let go, move on and live life without her sister by her side.

This was so beautifully written. Intricate, layered and moving, the overwhelming sense of loss is palpable, emanating from every page. But with exquisite skill, the author has laced the poignant prose with humour that lightens the heavy subject matter. The characters were relatable, likeable and richly drawn and the story took me on a journey I didn’t expect as Jen’s mental health began to deteriorate. I found I saw a lot of myself in Jen and could relate to her guilt over not doing more to save a loved one and her spiraling mental health that ultimately led to breakdown. The author captures perfectly the feeling of knowing you’re going over the edge and breaking but also being unable to stop it. But the character who broke me was Ed, for in him I saw my partner and for the first time truly felt like I understood how it was for him when I was at my lowest points. I felt like I was living every moment beside these characters and was completely absorbed and invested in their lives. 

Powerful, immersive, heart-wrenching and hopeful, this is one of those books that simply needs to be experienced. So, please read it. Just make sure you’ve got some tissues nearby when you do. I’m now off to buy Emma Cooper’s back catalogue…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Emma Cooper is a former teaching assistant, who lives in Shropshire, with her partner and four children. Her spare time consists of writing novels, drinking wine and watching box-sets with her partner of twenty-four years, who still makes her smile every day.

Her debut, The Songs of Us was snapped up in multiple pre-empts and auctions and is now being translated into seven different languages.

Emma has always wanted to be a writer – ever since her childhood, she’s been inventing characters (her favourite being her imaginary friend ‘Boot’) and is thrilled that she now gets to use this imagination to bring to life all of her creations.

The Songs of Us was inspired by Emma’s love of music and her ability to almost always embarrass herself, and her children, in the most mundane of situations. She was so fascinated by the idea of combining the two, that she began to write Melody’s story. Working full-time with a large family meant that Emma had to steal snippets of ‘spare’ time from her already chaotic and disorganised life; the majority of her novel was written during her lunchtime in a tiny school office. She never expected to fall so deeply in love with the King family and is overwhelmed that others feel the same.

She has three loves in life: reading, writing and her family…oh, and music, cheese, pizza, films – Maths is not one of her talents.

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The Wish List by Sophia Money-Coutts

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Published: August 6th, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Coming-of-Age Story

Today I’m sharing my review of The Wish List as part of Blogger Day. Thank you HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

‘You want me to write a list? Like a shopping list?’
Gwendolyn nodded. ‘Exactly. But for what you want from a man, not ASDA.’

Florence Fairfax isn’t lonely. She loves her job at the little bookshop in Chelsea and her beloved cat Marmalade keeps her company at night. She might have been single for quite a while – well, forever actually, if anyone’s asking – but she’s perfectly happy, thank you. And then Florence meets eccentric love coach Gwendolyn, and everything changes.

When Gwendolyn makes Florence write a wish list describing her perfect man, Florence refuses to take it seriously. Finding someone who likes cats, has the sexual athleticism of James Bond and can overlook her ‘counting’ habit? Impossible! Until, later that week, a handsome blond man asks for help in the bookshop…

Rory seems to fit the list perfectly. But is he ‘the one’, or simply too good to be true? Florence is about to find out that her criteria for Mr Right aren’t as important as she thought – and that perhaps she’s been looking for love in all the wrong places…

MY REVIEW:

“You want me to write a list? Like a shopping list?’

Gwendolyn nodded. ‘Exactly. But for what you want from a man, not ASDA.”

32-year-old Florence Fairfax has never had a boyfriend or been in love. But she’s sure it will happen one day. After all, even Hitler had a girlfriend. When her stepmother books her an appointment with a love coach Florence is mortified. But after the coach instructs her to write a wish list of what she wants in a man, she meets Rory, a handsome man who ticks everything on her list. But is he the right man for Florence? Is there such a thing as the perfect man? Or is love to be found in the place you didn’t expect, with the one who’s differences balance you out?

This was a funny, lighthearted and entertaining read. I loved the author’s last novel, so I couldn’t wait to read this one. Again the author has crafted a book that has that great mix of wit, romance and sauciness, making it an ideal book for summer.

Our protagonist, Florence, is unlucky-in-love but tells herself she’s fine without a man. But deep down she wants nothing more than to be loved and to be in love. I really liked her. She’s sweet, awkward, self-deprecating and a little weird. She keeps her life unvaried and ordered to avoid anything bad happening and doesn’t do well with change. When she meets Rory she must learn to navigate the nuances of a relationship while trying to find confidence in herself. I enjoyed her journey and was rooting for her to find a happy ending.

The author is great at writing entertaining characters and filled the story with a great cast of secondary characters. I particularly liked Ruby, Mia and Zach, but had mixed feelings about Rory. He was well written and the scenes with his snobby family and friends were perfectly cringey.

The thing that I loved most about this book was the humour. This is definitely a book I’d recommend picking up if you need a good laugh; I laughed out loud so many times and will never be able to hear the word cowabunga again without a smile and thinking of this book!

The Wish List is a quirky, fun, feel-good read with heart. It is predictable in places, but for me that was part of its charm. If you’re looking for a book to brighten a summer day, then this is the book for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sophia is a British journalist and author who spends most of her time writing at her kitchen table in West London and making 59 cups of tea a day. She has written two novels – The Plus One and What Happens Now? – and hopes to carry on writing books that make people laugh forever. Because we could all do with more of a laugh, these days, couldn’t we? Sometimes, if she’s not drinking lukewarm cups of tea in her leggings at home, she appears on radio and television talking about important topics such as Prince Harry’s wedding and the etiquette of the threesome.

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Book Feature: Idle Hands by Cassondra Windwalker

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Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: Agora Books
Format: Kindle, Audio
Genre: Romance

TW: Domestic Abuse

Today I’m featuring the beautifully written Idle Hands, as part of the blog tour. Thank you for Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

You can call me Ella. You generally assign me a whole host of other preposterous monikers. I think the least imaginative name I’ve heard is “the devil”, but I’ll answer to it if I must.

After making the courageous decision to leave her abusive husband, Perdie and her three young children start over and finally find the safety and love they deserve. But years later, when tragedy strikes, Perdie is left wondering if the choice she made to leave has led them to this moment.

If she were given the opportunity to take it all back and stay, would she?

In a frantic bid to protect her family, Perdie makes a deal with the devil to do just that. But in a world where the devil pulls the strings, can Perdie really change the past?

Brimming with enlightened observations and brilliant voice, Idle Hands is a haunting examination of grief, resilience, and what we’d give to spend another moment with the ones we love.

Cassondra Windwalker Author Photo (B&W)

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Cassondra Windwalker earned a BA of Letters at the University of Oklahoma. She parlayed that highly marketable degree into degrees in bookselling and law enforcement before pursuing her writing career full time. She criss-crossed the country and then settled into happy seclusion on the coast of Alaska with a zombie cat, a useless dog, and a devoted husband. Her poetry, short stories, and essays have been published in numerous literary journals.

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If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Mantle
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance

I’m thrilled to be closing the blog tour for this sensational debut. Thank you to Megan ed PR for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

What if the problem with your love life is you?

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.

You.

Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

MY REVIEW:

“If you love someone, never let them go.” 

If I Can’t Have You is a story of love, lies and obsession. This book wasn’t what I expected, but in a good way, with the biggest surprise being how much deeper and darker of an emotional journey it takes you on as the author examines the warped, murky side of love. Laced with dark humour the author has created a story that is riveting and compelling. 

Constance was a character I both loved and loathed. She was someone I could relate to in some ways and I found her likeable at times. But she would also do the most appalling things and act in ways that can only be called crazy, which made me want to reach into the book, shake her, and tell her he wasn’t worth it. But we slowly come to understand a little more about Constance’s fragile psyche and why she behaves the way she does thanks to her sessions with Dr Franco. My heart broke for her and this time I wanted to reach into the book not to shake her, but to hug her instead. As for Samuel, I hate that man with a passion! As his true colours are revealed it was clear he was not just a bit of a cad, but a cruel manipulator who views women as objects to use and discard, calling them crazy when they are hurt by his actions. But it wasn’t all crazy and dark characters and I loved the sweet friendship between Constance and Edward. It was a great dynamic and showed another side to Constance that I think helps the reader see her as a three dimensional person rather than just a crazy stalker. 

If I Can’t Have You was as addictive for me as Samuel was for Constance. Taut, twisty, layered and simply brilliant, this is an outstanding debut. I’m excited to see what Levin writes next. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Charlotte Levin author photo

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Charlotte Levin has been shortlisted for the Andrea Badenoch Award, part of the New Writers North Awards, and for the Mslexia Short Story Competition. Charlotte lives in Manchester and If I Can’t Have You is her first novel.

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Spirited by Julie Cohen

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Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this captivating novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Orion for tbr gifted copy.

SYNOPSIS:

A moving and gripping story about three women who keep unspeakable truths, from the Richard & Judy recommended bestselling author Julie Cohen.

‘Haunting, tender and true – this story cast a spell on me’ Kirsty Logan

Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her – and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . .

Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them – but Victorian society is no place for reckless women.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight.

Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom?

Driven by passionate, courageous female characters, SPIRITED is your next unforgettable read!

MY REVIEW:

“All stories are true or none. I find more beauty if they are all true.”

Viola and her new husband Jonah have moved to the south coast to begin their married life together. But instead of the closeness they once shared growing up, they seem to be growing further apart with each day. Henriette, a celebrated medium, arrives in town and is immediately drawn to Viola. With her encouragement, Viola starts to take photographs again and discovers an astonishing talent that sends shockwaves through society. Meanwhile, Jonah is grappling with a secret trauma from his time in India that he feels unable to share with his new wife.

The author explores themes of love, gender, sexuality, faith, prejudice and freedom in the victorian era in this wonderfully written story. Captivating, evocative, haunting and tender, I savoured every word. The extracts from books, newspapers and webpages gave the story an authentic feel and I found myself googling the characters to be sure I was reading fiction. This was my first time reading this author and I now understand why people rave about her books and can’t wait to read more of her work.

The characters are compelling, memorable and richly drawn and the author has created strong, fascinating female characters that go against the cultural norms of their societies to live the life they want for themselves, rather than the one they are told they should have. I liked Viola but it was Henriette, the fiesty, wiley and charming medium, who I loved most of all. Despite her duplicity, there is a sincerity to her that we slowly saw more of as the story went on, particularly around Viola, and it was this, along with her backstory, that endeared her to me.

Atmospheric, immersive and moving, Spirited is an imaginative piece of historical fiction that I highly recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Julie Cohen Author pic

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Julie Cohen grew up in the western mountains of Maine and studied English at Brown University and Cambridge University before pursuing a research degree in nineteenth century fairies. After a career as a secondary school English teacher, she became a novelist. Her award-winning novels have sold over a million copies worldwide. Dear Thing and Together were both selected for the Richard and Judy Book Club. Julie runs an oversubscribed literary consultancy which has helped many writers go on to be published. She is Vice President of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, founder of the RNA Rainbow Chapter for LGBTQ+ authors, and a Patron of literary charity ABC To Read

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Emma’s Anticipated Treasures – July 2020

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Another month, another round of anticipated books.

July is a month filled with great books and July 9th is rivaling February 6th for it’s bumper publication day spot; I could have easily added another four or five books out that day.

So here are the books out in July that I’m most excited about:

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Spirited by Julie Cohen
Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orion
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Historical Fiction, and as soon as I saw the cover and read the synopsis of this book I was dying to read it. I’ve been lucky enough to get a spot on the blog tour for this so look out for my review on July 16th.

SYNOPSIS:
Viola has an impossible talent. Searching for meaning in her grief, she uses her photography to feel closer to her late father, taking solace from the skills he taught her – and to keep her distance from her husband. But her pictures seem to capture things invisible to the eye . . .

Henriette is a celebrated spirit medium, carrying nothing but her secrets with her as she travels the country. When she meets Viola, a powerful connection is sparked between them – but Victorian society is no place for reckless women.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, invisible threads join Viola and Henriette to another woman who lives in secrecy, hiding her dangerous act of rebellion in plain sight.

Faith. Courage. Love. What will they risk for freedom?

Driven by passionate, courageous female characters, SPIRITED is your next unforgettable read!

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The Shadow Friend by Alex North

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Police Procedural

The Whisper Man was one of my favourite books of last year so when I heard the author had a second book coming out it became a must-read. This one sounds just as chilling as his last book and I can’t wait to read it.

SYNOPSIS:
The victim was his friend. So was the murderer.

Twenty-five years ago, troubled teenager Charlie Crabtree committed a shocking and unprovoked murder.

For Paul Adams, it’s a day he’ll never forget. He’s never forgiven himself for his part in what happened to his friend and classmate. He’s never gone back home.

But when his elderly mother has a fall, it’s finally time to stop running.

It’s not long before things start to go wrong. A copycat killer has struck, bringing back painful memories. Paul’s mother insists there’s something in the house.

And someone is following him.

Which reminds him of the most unsettling thing about that awful day twenty-five years ago.

It wasn’t just the murder.

It was the fact that afterwards, Charlie Crabtree was never seen again . . .

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The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Mystery, Science Fiction, Urban Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Orenda are one of my favourite publishers. I’ve loved everything I’ve read that they publish. When I heard about this earlier this year I instantly pre-ordered it and started the count down. Who would have thought it would become so timely by the time it was released. I’m on the blog tour for this one and my review will be published on June 18th.

SYNOPSIS:
Decades of spiraling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable, and a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms’ … hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything. Because Kate is not the only secret that her mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern Britain to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

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If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Mantle
Genre: Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Romance

I am so excited to be taking part in the blog tour for this debut thriller. Look out for my review on July 16th.

SYNOPSIS:
What if the problem with your love life is you?

If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin is an all-consuming novel about loneliness, obsession and how far we go for the ones we love.

Samuel, the day we met I knew I’d finally found what I’ve been waiting for.

You.

Happiness, at last.

Then you left me.

And now I am alone.

Everyone I love leaves in the end.

But not this time.

I’m not giving up on us.

I’m not giving up on you.

When you love someone, you never let them go.

That’s why for me, this is just beginning.

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How To Disappear by Gillian McAllister

Publisher: Michael Joseph
Published: July 9th, 2020
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller,  Legal Thriller

Over the last few years Gillian McAllister has become a must-read author for me and her latest book sounds like it could be her best yet.

SYNOPSIS:
You can run, you can hide, but can you disappear for good?

Lauren’s daughter Zara witnessed a terrible crime. But speaking up comes with a price, and when Zara’s identity is revealed online, it puts a target on her back.

The only choice is to disappear.

To keep Zara safe, Lauren will give up everything and everyone she loves, even her husband.

There will be no goodbyes. Their pasts will be rewritten. New names, new home, new lives.

The rules are strict for a reason. They are being hunted. One mistake – a text, an Instagram like – could bring their old lives crashing into the new.

They can never assume someone isn’t watching, waiting.

As Lauren will learn, disappearing is easy. Staying hidden is harder . . .

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Somebody’s Daughter by Carol Wyer (Detective Natalie Ward 7)

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural

The Detective Natalie Ward Series is one of my favourites and any new installment makes my most anticipated list that month. Keep an eye out for my review as part of the blog tour on July 11th.

SYNOPSIS:
One by one the girls disappeared…

When the frail body of a teenage girl is discovered strangled in a parking lot, shards of ice form in Detective Natalie Ward’s veins. As Natalie looks at the freckles scattered on her cheeks and the pale pink lips tinged with blue, she remembers that this innocent girl is somebody’s daughter…

The girl is identified as missing teenager Amelia Saunders, who has run away from home and her controlling father. Natalie’s heart sinks further when it becomes clear that Amelia has been working on the streets, manipulated by her violent new boyfriend Tommy.

A day later, another vulnerable girl is found strangled on a park bench. Like Amelia, Katie Bray was a runaway with connections to Tommy, and Natalie is determined to find him and track down the monster attacking these scared and lonely girls.

But when a wealthy young woman is found murdered the next morning, the word ‘guilty’ scrawled on her forehead, Natalie realises that the case is more complex than she first thought. Determined to establish a connection between her three victims, Natalie wastes no time in chasing down the evidence, tracing everyone who crossed their paths. Then, a key suspect’s body turns up in the canal, a mole in Natalie’s department leaks vital information and everything seems to be against her. Can Natalie stop this clever and manipulative killer before they strike again.

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All My Lies Are True by Dorothy Koomson (Ice Cream Girls 2)

Published: July 9th, 2020
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction

In May I took part in a readalong of The Ice Cream Girls with Tandem Collective. I loved the book so much that this one instantly went on my anticipated list for this month. You can imagine my excitement when I was offered the chance to take part in a readalong of the sequel. Keep an eye out for my posts on Instagram starting around June 25th.

SYNOPSIS:
Verity is telling lies…

And that’s why she’s about to be arrested for attempted murder.

Serena has been lying for years. . .
And that may have driven her daughter, Verity, to do something unthinkable…

Poppy’s lies have come back to haunt her . . .
So will her quest for the truth hurt everyone she loves?

Everyone lies.
But whose lies are going to end in tragedy?

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The Resident by David Jackson

Published: July 16th, 2020
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

This is another thriller I’m excited to be on the blog tour for. Look out for my review on publication day.

SYNOPSIS:
THERE’S A SERIAL KILLER ON THE RUN
AND HE’S HIDING IN YOUR HOUSE

Thomas Brogan is a serial killer. Having left a trail of bodies in his wake, and with the police hot on his heels, it seems like Thomas has nowhere left to hide. That is until he breaks into an abandoned house at the end of a terrace on a quiet street. And when he climbs up into the loft, he realises that the can drop down into all the other houses on the street through the shared attic space.

That’s when the real fun begins. Because the one thing that Thomas enjoys even more than killing, is playing games with his victims. And his new neighbours have more than enough dark secrets to make this game his best one yet…

Do you fear The Resident? Soon you’ll be dying to meet him.

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The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Published: Picador
Genre: Historical Fiction, Medical Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Room is one of my favourite books of all time and I’m a huge fan of historical and medical fiction, so I have high hopes for this novel.

SYNOPSIS:
In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city centre, where expectant mothers who have come down with an unfamiliar Flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders: Doctor Kathleen Lynn, on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work.

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this classic story of hope and survival against all odds.

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Precious You by Helen Monks Takhar

Published: July 23rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Ficiton

Ever since I first heard about this debut thriller last year I’ve been desperate to read it. I’m hoping to be on the blog tour for this one so keep an eye out for my review next month.

SYNOPSIS:

She’s got your job. She wants your life

When Katherine first meets her new intern Lily, she’s captivated. Young, beautiful and confident, Lily reminds Katherine of everything she once was – and it’s not long before she develops a dark fascination with her new colleague.

But is Lily as perfect as she seems, or does she have a sinister hidden agenda? As Katherine is drawn into an obsessive power struggle with the intern, a disturbing picture emerges of two women hiding dark secrets – and who are desperate enough to do anything to come out on top…

Breathlessly addictive and deeply unsettling, Precious You is a thriller like no other. Taut, terrifying and with shocking twists at every turn, it will keep you guessing until the very last page.

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The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

Published: July 28th, 2020
Publisher: Kensington Publishing
Genre: Historical Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

As soon as I read the synopsis of this novel I knew I had to read it. As with The Waiting Rooms and The Pull of the Stars it also feels like a particularly timely read right now.

SYNOPSIS:
Ellen Marie Wiseman, acclaimed author of What She Left Behind and The Life She Was Given, weaves the stories of two very different women into a page-turning novel as suspenseful as it is poignant, set amid one of history’s deadliest pandemics.

In the fall of 1918, thirteen-year-old German immigrant Pia Lange longs to be far from Philadelphia’s overcrowded streets and slums, and from the anti-German sentiment that compelled her father to enlist in the U.S. Army, hoping to prove his loyalty. But an even more urgent threat has arrived. Spanish influenza is spreading through the city. Soon, dead and dying are everywhere. With no food at home, Pia must venture out in search of supplies, leaving her infant twin brothers alone . . .

Since her baby died days ago, Bernice Groves has been lost in grief and bitterness. If doctors hadn’t been so busy tending to hordes of immigrants, perhaps they could have saved her son. When Bernice sees Pia leaving her tenement across the way, she is buoyed by a shocking, life-altering decision that leads her on a sinister mission: to transform the city’s orphans and immigrant children into what she feels are “true Americans.”

As Pia navigates the city’s somber neighborhoods, she cannot know that her brothers won’t be home when she returns. And it will be a long and arduous journey to learn what happened–even as Bernice plots to keep the truth hidden at any cost. Only with persistence, and the courage to face her own shame and fear, will Pia put the pieces together and find the strength to risk everything to see justice at last.

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The Butterfly Lampshade by Aimee Bender
Published July 30th, 2020
Publisher: Hutchinson
Genre: Literary Fiction

I’ll admit it was the cover that initially drew me to this book, but it was the synopsis that earned it’s place on this list. This one sounds like a powerful novel that will linger long after reading.

SYNOPSIS:
On the night her mother is taken to a mental hospital after a psychotic episode, eight year-old Francie is staying with her babysitter. Next to the couch on which she’s sleeping, there is a lamp that catches her eye, its shade adorned with butterflies. When she wakes, Francie sees a dead butterfly floating in a glass of water. She drinks it before the babysitter can see.

Twenty years later, Francie is compelled to make sense of that moment, and two other incidents – her discovery of a desiccated beetle from a school paper, and a bouquet of dried roses from some curtains. Her recall is exact: she is sure these things were real. But despite her certainty, she wrestles with the hold these memories have over her, and with what they say about her place in the world.

Told in lush, lilting prose, The Butterfly Lampshade is a heartfelt and heartbreaking examination of the sometimes overwhelming power of the material world, and of a broken love between mother and child.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

A Theatre For Dreamers by Polly Sampson

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Published: April 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for A Theatre For Dreamers. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Bloomsbury for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

1960. The world is dancing on the edge of revolution, and nowhere more so than on the Greek island of Hydra, where a circle of poets, painters and musicians live tangled lives, ruled by the writers Charmian Clift and George Johnston, troubled king and queen of bohemia. Forming within this circle is a triangle: its points the magnetic, destructive writer Axel Jensen, his dazzling wife Marianne Ihlen, and a young Canadian poet named Leonard Cohen.

Into their midst arrives teenage Erica, with little more than a bundle of blank notebooks and her grief for her mother. Settling on the periphery of this circle, she watches, entranced and disquieted, as a paradise unravels.

Burning with the heat and light of Greece, A Theatre for Dreamers is a spellbinding novel about utopian dreams and innocence lost – and the wars waged between men and women on the battlegrounds of genius.

MY REVIEW:

When she was eighteen-years-old Erica followed her first love to Hydra, an island inhabited by dreamers: writers, poets, painters and musicians who all came to create under the heat of the Greek sun. The novel tells the story of their lives on the island that summer; the trials and tribulations, romance, heartache and self-discovery, all through Erica’s eyes.

This captivating and evocative novel was pure escapism. Beautifully and elegantly written, the rich, vivid imagery transported me to the Greek Island of Hydra and the heady summer of 1960 so clearly that I could feel the sun on my skin and taste the salt on my tongue. The author brings to life a time of freedom, innocence and discovery when everything seemed so much simpler. After finishing I was left with a longing for that summer like I myself had lived it. 

The fantastic cast of characters leap from the page and it was only after reading the author’s notes that I realised that these are real people and the story is based in fact. It is clear that the author has extensively researched her characters and I found myself heading to google to learn more about them. I loved Erica. When she arrives on the island she is fleeing from the sadness of her mother’s death and her father’s tyranny and is in the throes of passionate first love. In this bohemian society she finds a home like she has never experienced before and I enjoyed watching her journey of self-discovery. Erica’s pain at her mother’s death and longing for her is a theme that runs throughout the book. She is searching for that mother figure she’s lost in Charmian but doesn’t really get back what she hoped for in return and it made me want to put my arms around her and mother her myself. 

A Theatre For Dreamers is an atmospheric, immersive and delightful novel. It offers an escape and enables you to visit the shores of a Greek Island during a time when we are all unable to go much further than our back gardens. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

Polly Samson Author pic

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Polly Samson is an English novelist, lyricist and journalist. She is married to musician David Gilmour, and has written the lyrics to many of Gilmour’s works, both as a solo artist and with the group Pink Floyd.

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