book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

REVIEW: Their Silent Graves by Carla Kovach (Detective Gina Harte Book 7)

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Ficiton, Crime Ficiton, Police Procedural, Crime Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for the gifted ARC of this book.



Dressed in garish Halloween costumes, two teenage girls run through a patch of dense woodland towards the outskirts of town. But before they can reach the safety of the streets beyond, they make a shocking discovery.

Following a piece of old rope, the girls find a large mound of freshly laid earth, undisturbed in the darkness of the trees. Clawing at the ground beneath them, they make contact with something solid. When they realise what they’ve discovered, the silence is broken by their piercing screams as they stare down at the shallow grave.

Without looking back, they run as fast as they can, failing to spot the person nearby watching their every move…

And when another grave is found just days later, it’s clear a serial killer is praying on the small town. But who is the killer watching now? And when will another grave be filled?

If you like Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, you’ll love this heart-racing thriller from bestselling author, Carla Kovach. With gripping suspense and a twist you won’t see coming, Their Silent Graves will have you hooked from page one.



Some lies won’t stay buried forever…

Two teenage girls on their way to a Halloween party are unprepared for the discovery they are about to make. While walking through the woods the girls come across a piece of old rope they follow to a large mound of freshly laid earth. Clawing at the ground, they uncover a shallow grave and run screaming for help. But they failed to notice the person lurking in the shadows who was watching their every move…

Detective Gina Harte and her team arrive to investigate and discover the body of a man sealed in a coffin. A few days later, another grave is found, and it is clear they are hunting a twisted serial killer. 

Racing to find the perpetrator before another grave is filled, Gina receives chilling messages from someone claiming to be the person they are looking for. Messages that threaten to reveal the secret she has kept hidden for decades. 

The Detective Gina Harte series is one of my favourite crime series, yet somehow I’d missed book seven. So when I was looking for a mood read thriller I could sink my teeth into, it seemed like the ideal time to finally put that right. And I’m glad I did. This book had everything I’ve come to expect from Carla Kovach: great writing, grim murder scenes, richly drawn characters, chilling villains, and morally complex dilemmas. It showcases her talent for crafting dark, disturbing, and twisty thrillers that are hard to predict or put down.

One of the aspects I particularly enjoyed in this instalment was wondering if Gina’s secrets would be revealed. I loved the heightened tension it created as I questioned not only this, but just how she might be connected to the killer. And speaking of the killer, this one was really hard to figure out! I am usually good at figuring out twists and who a perpetrator is, but this time I really had no set suspect in my mind until right before the big reveal. And even then I was wrong! Their identity was a genuine surprise that made my jaw drop. Well played, Ms. Kovach. 

Chilling, ominous and addictive, Their Silent Graves is a pacy page-turner all thriller lovers won’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰



Carla started writing more seriously ten years ago after having flirted with musical theatre and occasional writing in her youth.

Since then she has written & produced several stage plays, has four self-published books, has acted in several independent films and is currently in the final stages of production of her feature horror film, Penny for the Guy.

She now writes full time as well as co-owning a film, photography & video production company located in the heart of Redditch town centre



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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

Review: A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Quercus
Genre: Fairy Tale, Folklore, Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Magical Realism
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook


A lyrical and atmospheric homage to the strange and extraordinary, perfect for fans of Angela Carter and Erin Morgenstern.

This is the story of The Greatest Funambulist Who Ever Lived…

Born into a post-war circus family, our nameless star was unwanted and forgotten, abandoned in the shadows of the big top. Until the bright light of Serendipity Wilson threw her into focus.

Now an adult, haunted by an incident in which a child was lost from the circus, our narrator, a tightrope artiste, weaves together her spellbinding tales of circus legends, earthy magic and folklore, all in the hope of finding the child… But will her story be enough to bring the pair together again?

Beautiful and intoxicating, A Girl Made of Air brings the circus to life in all of its grime and glory; Marina, Manu, Serendipity Wilson, Fausto, Big Gen and Mouse will live long in the hearts of readers. As will this story of loss and reconciliation, of storytelling and truth.



“Up until this moment I have lived in sepia, my muddy life devoid of meaning.  That is how it always feels, until I see her, once again, bathed in colour and light.”

A Girl Made of Air is one of those rare literary gems where what is on the inside is just as beautiful as the dazzling cover on the outside.  It is genuinely one of the most beautiful and captivating stories I have ever read.  A truly mesmerising and magical debut, it weaves an enthralling tale that is poignant, sad and dark, yet also filled with hope, colour and wonder. It tells the story of a nameless and unwanted protagonist, following her from the days as a neglected child living in a circus in England then all the way to New York, where she found fame as the greatest Funambulist of all time. 

In a book filled with larger than life characters, our protagonist at first feels so small and insignificant.  She is born into a life of poverty and neglect; the unwanted child of Marina, a mermaid-esque character who swims with crocodiles, and Manu, a lion tamer.  She spends her earliest years invisible, silent and unloved, keeping to the shadows and scrounging for scraps of food.  But when she’s seven years old she is taken in by Serendipity Wilson, a flame-haired woman who dazzles all who meet her, and for the first time our protagonist experiences real kindness and love.  Now nicknamed Mouse, Serendipity Wilson takes her under her wing and teaches her the art of walking the wire, introducing her to the art that becomes her passion and sees her become the star of the show, performing in the big top and then taking her talent to Coney Island in New York.  But there is an underlying heartache that mars any happiness she finds, the rejection and hatred of her mother casting a shadow that never fades, no matter how brightly she shines.  

“What happens to all the lost memories; the moments of silent thought, the complicity of long-gone lovers, when our minds are so far gone our still breathing bodies may as well be thrown into some dark oubliette? What happens to a life once lived?”

I am still in awe that this is a debut novel.  Nydia Hetherington merges Manx folklore, fairy tales, circus freaks and fiction in this phenomenal tale of the strange and the extraordinary.  She takes us behind the shimmering spectacle of the circus, pulling back the curtain to reveal the truth of life in the grubby, bleak encampment.  The author’s descriptions are so vivid that I could see and smell the dirt, mud and animals; a rotten stench that the performers can never escape.  It is a depressing insight into the poverty they live in despite their incredible talents.   But it is also breathtakingly beautiful and intoxicating, the lyrical and evocative prose transporting you to the world the author created and bringing it to life as clearly as if you’re watching it on a movie screen.   

“My words are a labyrinth into which we can wander.  As I write these tales, I can follow each path, each fallen leaf, in the hope they might take me to the person I seek.”

There were many elements of the writing that I loved, including the author’s use of storytelling throughout the book, both in how she has Mouse narrate the story as she transcribes her memories that she scribbled down in notebooks and journals over the years and as she tells us the Manx Folklore that Serendipity Wilson would tell Mouse.  I also enjoyed how contrasts play such a big part of the story, whether that is in the characters and places which are flamboyant and colourful yet shabby and somber, or in the writing itself which manages to be both magical and full of misery.  Ms. Hetherington is clearly a born storyteller and writer whose attention to detail is evident on every page.  I never wanted it to end and savoured every word.  

Spellbinding, luminous and kaleidoscopic, A Girl Made of Air was a joy to read from beginning to end.  It is a book that lingers long after reading, where I’ll catch myself thinking about it at random moments. My only frustration is that I allowed it to languish on my shelf unread for so long.  So if you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so as soon as possible.  And be prepared to fall in love.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮



From Leeds — although born on Merseyside and spending the first few years of life on the Isle of Man — Nydia Hetherington moved to London in her early twenties to embark on an acting career. Later she moved to Paris where she created her own theatre company. When she returned to London a decade later, she completed a creative writing degree at Birkbeck, graduating with first class honours.



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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Merry Christmas! Emma xxxx

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Love Orange by Natasha Randall

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: Riverrun
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Humor, Satire, Psychological Fiction, Humorous Fiction

Thank you to Riverrun for my gifted copy of the book and invitation to the readalong.


A disturbing portrait of a modern American family.

An extraordinary debut novel by Natasha Randall, exposing the seam of secrets within an American family, from beneath the plastic surfaces of their new ‘smart’ home. Love Orange charts the gentle absurdities of their lives, and the devastating consequences of casual choices.

While Hank struggles with his lack of professional success, his wife Jenny, feeling stuck and beset by an urge to do good, becomes ensnared in a dangerous correspondence with a prison inmate called John. Letter by letter, John pinches Jenny awake from the “marshmallow numbness” of her life. The children, meanwhile, unwittingly disturb the foundations of their home life with forays into the dark net and strange geological experiments.

Jenny’s bid for freedom takes a sour turn when she becomes the go-between for John and his wife, and develops an unnatural obsession for the orange glue that seals his letters…

Love Orange throws open the blinds of American life, showing a family facing up to the modern age, from the ascendancy of technology, the predicaments of masculinity, the pathologising of children, the epidemic of opioid addiction and the tyranny of the WhatsApp Gods. The first novel by the acclaimed translator is a comic cocktail, an exuberant skewering of contemporary anxieties and prejudices.


Jenny Tinkley lives with her husband Hank and their two sons, Jessie and Luke, in a quiet suburban town. They’re a picture-perfect family living in the picture-perfect smart home. But behind the glossy, perfect sheen there are cracks: Jenny feels bored and stuck in her life, Hank is frustrated by his lack of professional success and their children are each facing their own worries and challenges.

To try and escape the monotony, Jenny begins a correspondence with a prison inmate named John. She finds excitement in their letters, but things start to unravel when Jenny agrees to become a go-between for John and his wife and develops a strange obsession with the orange glue that seals his letters.

The characters are the driving force of this story. They are compelling, relatable, and instantly familiar as someone who could be your neighbour. Jenny is a typical suburban mum. I found her relatable but did struggle to warm to her, particularly as the story went on and her actions became increasingly selfish as she spiralled into addiction. I hated Hank. He was misogynistic, toxic, controlling, and just generally awful. I thought the author did a great job of writing him and managing to evoke such strong feelings of dislike in not only me, but every other reader I’ve spoken to. For me, it was the kids that drew me to them most of all. My heart broke for them and the things they went through. I think one complaint I have about the book was that I would have liked the children to have featured more.

I also liked how the smart house was like another character. Jenny sees the house as spying on her and controlling their lives. She gets a kick from outwitting it and managing to do things unnoticed. She even tells Hank to ask the house if he has any questions at one point. I would hate to live in a house like theirs and can understand why she felt the way she did. Sometimes you can have too much technology.

I did have two issues with the book that I would like to address. The first one was how the therapist told the family that Luke wasn’t autistic because he showed a high level of empathy. This perpetuates the false narrative that autistic people aren’t empathetic which is completely wrong. While they can struggle with processing and expressing emotion, people with autism are often highly empathetic, my own son included. Second of all was how it portrayed everyone who takes pain pills as addicts. While I liked that the book raised the issue of opiate addiction, I did feel like the portrayal spiraled into harmful stereotypes. My biggest issue was with the following quote:

“The thing about pain pills is that they take away pain. Any kind of pain. It gets so that people can’t even get out of bed for the pain that life becomes… compared to the high.”

As someone who uses opiates for chronic pain, the idea that we all become addicted and care only about the high is harmful, offensive and factually incorrect. I don’t get high. Pain medication is the ONLY reason I can get out of bed and live a life that has a sliver of normality. Dependency to help ease pain is not addiction, and while some people do unfortunately spiral into an addiction, I personally know many more who are languishing in agony with no life because they’ve been tarred with the same brush as an addict and denied any relief from their chronic and debilitating pain. For me the quote above is like saying all people who drink alcohol do so to get drunk and become alcoholics. But these are personal feelings and I don’t think everyone reading will feel the same way. So I encourage you to read for yourself.

But I don’t want this to come across as sounding like I didn’t like the book, because I did. Love Orange is an absorbing and addictive debut novel that explores family, secrets and addiction in modern society. It is beautifully written, immediately draws you into the the Tinkley’s world. I also really liked the quirky humour that runs through the story. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments that made this a joy to read.

I read the book as part of a readalong organised by the publisher and really enjoyed the chats where I got to see the different things others noticed and the varied ways we can interpret the same book.

A beautifully written look at a fractured family and life in suburban America, I would recommend this novel and can’t wait to read more from the author in the future.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮


Natasha Randall is a writer and translator, living in London. Her writing and critical work has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, The Moscow Times, BookForum, The New York Times, Strad magazine, HALI magazine and on National Public Radio (USA). She is a contributing editor to the New York-based literary magazine A Public Space. Her debut novel Love Orange will be released by riverrun (Quercus, Hachette) in September 2020.

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book reviews Tandem Readalong

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

Published: May 2nd, 2017
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fantasy Fiction

I read this book as part of a readlong with Tandem Collective UK. Thank you to them for the invitation and Bloomsbury UK for the gifted copy of the book.


Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s manoeuvrings and the invading king threatening to bring her land to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit – and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well.

As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords and hunt for allies in unexpected places. And her heart will face the ultimate test as she and her mate are forced to question whether they can truly trust each other.

Sarah J. Maas is a global #1 bestselling author. Her books have sold more than nine million copies and been translated into 37 languages. Discover the sweeping romantic fantasy for yourself.

Contains mature content. Not suitable for younger readers.


“To the stars who listen—and the dreams that are answered.” 

Fayre is now back in Spring Court. She has returned under the guise of going back to Tamlin but is in fact still Lady of the Night Court and biding her time before taking revenge for how he and others betrayed Prythian in the war with King Hybern. As war looms once more, her relationship with Rhysand is tested and they must decide who among the High Lords they can trust to be on their side. 

I loved how fierce, determined and strong Fayre was in this book. She stands up to Tamlin, refusing to let him twist and rewrite their narrative, even when he shreds her dignity with lewd words and savage lies. Back when I read book one, I could never understand why people loved Rhysand and hated Tamlin; now I’m totally the same. Tamlin is a vile, abusive, controlling snake and I got almost as much pleasure out of Fayre’s revenge as she did. 

I enjoyed seeing more of the other courts and how Fayre’s sisters handled their unexpected and unwanted transition to immortality. I found myself worrying about the fate of the characters and wondered if the author would take a leaf out of George R. R. Martin’s book and kill off a much-loved main character. It is quite a dark book in many ways, addressing abuse, coercive control, trauma, PTSD and consent.

This was my favourite yet in the series. Action-packed, emotional and gripping, it kept me on the edge of my seat and broke my heart. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮


Sarah J. Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series, as well as the A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

Sarah lives in Bucks County, PA, and over the years, she has developed an unhealthy appreciation for Disney movies and bad pop music. She adores fairy tales and ballet, drinks too much tea, and watches an ungodly amount of TV. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found exploring the historic and beautiful Pennsylvania countryside with her husband and canine companion.



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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Where The Edge Is by Grainne Murphy

Published: September 15th, 2020
Publisher: Legend Press
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Saga

Welcome to my stop on the tour for four this fantastic debut. Thank you to Legend Press for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.


As a sleepy town in rural Ireland starts to wake, a road subsides, trapping an early-morning bus and five passengers inside. Rescue teams struggle and as two are eventually saved, the bus falls deeper into the hole.

Under the watchful eyes of the media, the lives of three people are teetering on the edge. And for those on the outside, from Nina, the reporter covering the story, to rescue liaison, Tim, and Richie, the driver pulled from the wreckage, each are made to look at themselves under the glare of the spotlight.

When their world crumbles beneath their feet, they are forced to choose between what they cling to and what they must let go of.


Poignant and powerful, this immersive character study follows a group of strangers in the aftermath of a bus crash in a rural Irish town. It starts as an ordinary morning, but then the road collapses and a bus falls into it, trapping six passengers. As firefighters try to find the safest way to free them we follow three of the passengers, the driver and passenger who managed to escape, a journalist and her firefighter ex-husband. The author gives us a window into their lives and innermost thoughts, examining topics such as grief, mental health, identity, race, religion, homelessness and how our society judges, even if in the midst of a tragedy.

While I enjoyed this book, it was a very different book than I imagined, in part because I feel the synopsis is misleading. It reads like this will be a tense book that has you on the edge of your seat but is instead a steadily paced story that uses the bus crash as the catalyst that brings the characters together and focuses on deeper issues. Moving between multiple points of view, we are offered some contrasting and varying views on life and the world, with each person dealing with their part in the story in very different ways.

There is a former couple still dealing with the loss of their baby daughter and the end of their marriage, an immigrant struggling to fit in and find her place in the cultures of either her birth or adopted home, the bus driver who doesn’t feel worthy of his hero title, a disabled young woman dreaming of her future but also scared, wondering when rescue will come, a young woman trying to find her place in the world and battling against a toxic parent, and a teenage boy dealing with all the trauma that time brings. They are an eclectic and wonderfully written group of characters who make for fascinating reading. The background cast enhance the main characters and are just as well written, adding drama and tension to the story.

This is a fantastic debut novel. The author’s talent is evident in her intelligent and moving prose, the way she offers just the right amount of humour, offering much-needed splashes of light amongst the overall darker tone of the story, and her keen observations. I’m excited to see what she writes next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰


Gráinne’s debut novel Where the Edge Is will be published by Legend Press in September 2020, with The Ghostlights to follow in 2021.

Gráinne’s stories are about family and identity, about staring life down and choosing the kind of person you want to be. Earlier novels were shortlisted for the Caledonia Novel Award 2019, the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair 2019, the Luke Bitmead Bursary 2016 and the Virginia Prize for Fiction 2014.

In short fiction, her story Further West placed third in the Zoetrope All-Story Contest 2018, with other stories appearing in Nivalis 2015 (Full of Grace), Irish Literary Review Issue 5 (Frank & Alfie) and RiPPLE 2016 (The Agatha Christie Bookclub).

Gráinne’s several lives to date include stints in forensic research, human resources, training, volunteering and editing. No matter what she did, it always came back to words. After spending several years struggling to eavesdrop in Belgian cafes, she now lives and writes in a gloriously rainy corner of West Cork.

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Blog Tours book reviews

The Ex-Boyfriend by Rona Halsall

Published: September 30th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Paperback , Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Fiction

It’s a little late, but here is my review for the outstanding new thriller from Rona Halsall. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.


He promised to love her until her dying day…

When Becca’s first love shows up on her social media feed, she can’t help but smile fondly. Once upon a time Connor was the love of her life, and though it was over ten years ago, he’s always held a place in her heart.

Then he sends her a message. He sounds happy – still kind and funny, still living across the world in Australia. But he wants to know everything about her life now. How can Becca tell him the truth? About her workaholic husband, her stressful job, and the challenges of caring for her elderly father and her longed-for, adorable but exhausting three-year-old daughter Mia?

Becca hesitates, knowing she shouldn’t even reply. But Connor lives on the other side of the world. Just how dangerous can becoming friends again be?

It feels harmless. Until Mia gets sick – in a way that no one can explain. And it starts to become clear – someone will do absolutely anything to make sure Becca never escapes her past…

A completely unputdownable psychological thriller – perfect for fans of My Lovely WifeThe Girl on the Train, and The Woman at the Window.


“How well do you know the ones you love?”

Gripping, dark, sinister and atmospheric, this is another outstanding thriller from Rona Halsall. 

The story opens with a worried Becca waiting for news about her three-year-old daughter Mia at the hospital. For weeks she’s been telling everyone there’s something wrong, but no one would believe her. Who is making little Mia sick? Could Becca really be guilty?  And what does the reappearance of her ex-boyfriend Connor have to do with it all? 

This book had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. The characters and plot felt frighteningly real. Though Becca is an unreliable narrator who makes some bad decisions, it was impossible not to feel sympathy for what she was going through. Her pain, heartache and torture at the thought of someone harming her daughter was palpable, but there was always the nagging question in the back of your mind of whether we could really trust her. I had that doubt in my mind right until the reveal, though my gut was saying she didn’t hurt Mia. I’m not going to tell you if I was right because I don’t do spoilers.  

Ms Halsall has become a must-read author for me and I have loved every one of her books. She sucks you in quickly and is a master at drip feeding the reader little pieces of the puzzle, keeping us on tenterhooks as we try to piece them together. And this book was no exception, keeping me guessing right up until the big reveal. Boy was my jaw on the floor! 

The Ex-Boyfriend is a chilling, clever and suspenseful novel. It’s perfect for those who like a well-written thriller that is more psychological than gory and will make you question just how well you know those you love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰


Rona lives on the Isle of Man with her husband, two dogs and three guinea pigs. She has been a bookworm since she was a child and now she’s actually creating stories of her own, which still feels like a dream come true.

She is an outdoorsy person and loves stomping up a mountain, walking the coastal paths and exploring the wonderful beaches on the Island while she’s plotting how to kill off her next victim. She also makes sure she deletes her Google history on a regular basis, because… well, you can’t be too careful when you spend your life researching new and ingenious ways for people to die.

She has three children and two step-children who are now grown up and leading varied and interesting lives, which provides plenty of ideas for new stories!

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – September 2020

The weather has cooled and the nights are drawing in. Summer is officially over and autumn has arrived. Another month is also over, which means it’s time for another wrap up.

It’s been a fantastic month. I’ve read 17 books in total, which includes one audiobook, and I’m part way through two other audiobooks. I’ve read some outstanding books and discovered some new authors I’ll definitely read again.

I also took part in 14 blog tours, 4 readalongs and the Tasting Notes Book Club. I was excited to take part in my first author Q&As. The first was a private Zoom with Cecelia Ahern and other bloggers, and the other was my first over Instagram Live. Courtesy of One More Chapter I took part in a Q&A with Annie Lyons. I’m so grateful to have these opportunities and still can’t believe I’m able to talk with authors I’ve loved for years.

So lets get back to what I’ve read this month:

  1. After The Silence ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. Truth Be Told ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. A Ruined Girl ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Heatstroke ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. Under Your Skin ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. To Cook A Bear ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. A Song of Isolation ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. A Court of Wings and Ruin ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. If I Could Say Goodbye ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. Pizza Girl ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  11. The Thursday Murder Club ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  12. The Philosopher Queens ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. In Black and White ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  14. Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  15. Mother Loves Me ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  16. Dead Woman Crossing ⭐⭐⭐
  17. Love Orange ⭐⭐⭐⭐

With so many great books, it’s not easy to choose a favourite. But Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You was such a standout read that it ended up making the choice easy. I loved it so much that it is even a contender for book of the year.

If you want to read my reviews for what I read in September, then click on the title and it will take you to my review (unless it’s one of the ones I’ve not written yet lol).

Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite book in September? Let me know in the comments.

*Thank you to the publushers for my gifted copies of the books.

Blog Tours book reviews

Mother Loves Me by Abby Davies

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Adventure Fiction

I’m thrilled to share my review as part of the tour for this spine-tingling debut. Thank you to Jennifer at Harper Collins for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.


The creepiest debut thriller you will read this year!

One little girl.
Mirabelle’s mother loves her. She’s her ‘little doll’. Mother dresses her, paints her face, and plaits her hair. But as Mirabelle grows, the dresses no longer fit quite as well, the face paint no longer looks quite so pretty. And Mother isn’t happy.
Two little girls.
On Mirabelle’s 13th birthday, Mother arrives home with a present – a new sister, 5-year-old Clarabelle, who Mother has rescued from the outside world.
But Mother only needs one.
As it dawns on Mirabelle that there is a new ‘little doll’ in her house, she also realises that her life isn’t what she thought it was. And that dolls often end up on the scrap heap…


Mother Loves Me is a darkly atmospheric, claustrophobic and sinister debut that sent shivers down my spine. From the opening pages there’s prevailing unease malevolence that hangs in the air, making me read with a breathless anticipation.

Thirteen-year-old Mirabelle’s mother paints her face and dresses her like the doll she has nicknamed her, the windows are boarded up, the doors locked and the young girl has never left the house.

When Mother returns home with another little girl hidden in a bag and tells Mirabelle this is her new sister Clarabelle, she begins to question things she’d always believed, wonders if there are things Mother might be hiding; sparking a series of events that will turn her world upside down.

This is exactly the kind of twisted read I love. The book I’d just finished was one I loved so much that I was worried I’d struggle to read this, but, thankfully, this was so creepily addictive I couldn’t get enough. The author’s prose is beautiful, eerie and immersive, pulling me into Mirabelle’s small world with such vividness that I could see the story playing in my head as I read.

The characters are richly drawn and felt so real, despite their absurd situation. Mirabelle is a great narrator. The author perfectly captured her childish innocence, inquisitiveness and obedience and her fledgling desire for independence. We meet her at an age where she would have both that desperation to please desire to rebel against Mother, which combined with the jealousy that arises upon having to share her mother with Clarabelle, creates a perfect storm that the author mines to perfection.

Mother is one of the most sinister characters I’ve read for a while. She was clearly unhinged, the author capturing every shade of her evil and madness and made it leap from the page, chilling me to my core. I was terrified for both girls in her “care”. Over the course of the story we do learn what happened to make her this way, but I liked that the author didn’t let that make her a sympathetic character, despite Mirabelle’s desire to feel that way about her. It felt right that she remained an abhorrent, evil figure no matter what had happened in her past.

So, if you like a book that sizzles with tension, sends shivers down your spine, and has you on the edge of your seat, then this is the book for you. It’s as good as any chilling horror film and I would love to see it on screen.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰


After acquiring a degree in English Literature, Abby taught English in state and private schools, and earned a Creative Writing MA in 2013. She wrote a great deal throughout her twenties and early thirties. To stay motivated, she told herself that even if it took her until 80 to get her work out to readers, she’d do it.

Abby lives in Wiltshire with her husband and daughter. MOTHER LOVES ME is her debut novel.



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Blog Tours book reviews Support Debuts

In Black and White by Alexandra Wilson

Published: August 13th, 2020
Publisher: Endeavor
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Biography, Autobiography

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


Alexandra Wilson was a teenager when her dear family friend Ayo was stabbed on his way home from football. Ayo’s death changed Alexandra. She felt compelled to enter the legal profession in search of answers.

As a junior criminal and family law barrister, Alexandra finds herself navigating a world and a set of rules designed by a privileged few. A world in which fellow barristers sigh with relief when a racist judge retires: ‘I’ve got a black kid today and he would have had no hope’.

In her debut book, In Black and White, Alexandra re-creates the tense courtroom scenes, the heart-breaking meetings with teenage clients, and the moments of frustration and triumph that make up a young barrister’s life.

Alexandra shows us how it feels to defend someone who hates the colour of your skin, or someone you suspect is guilty. We see what it is like for children coerced into county line drug deals and the damage that can be caused when we criminalise teenagers.

Alexandra’s account of what she has witnessed as a young mixed-race barrister is in equal parts shocking, compelling, confounding and powerful.


“It was watching moments like these that made me realise how important diversity is in the legal profession. I wanted to be able to give people a voice and be instrumental in changing the path of their lives.”

In Black and White is a sensational debut that tells the author’s own story; charting her journey to become a barrister.

Bold, intelligent, thorough-provoking, affecting and inspiring, Ms. Wilson draws the reader in quickly, beginning her story with her cousin’s tragic murder when they were both just seventeen. This event was a major turning point in her life and is what set her on her path to a career as a barrister. We then follow each step, from her first interest in the law, her early days in pupillage, to finally qualifying as a fully-fledged barrister. 

As both a woman and person of mixed heritage, she finds herself facing obstacles of multiple kinds of discrimination along the way and examines a range of issues faced not only by her, but by people in all facets of the criminal justice system.  The writing is fantastic, the story as compelling as any courtroom drama. But it’s all real. She holds the reader in her thrall, educating them  without getting overly academic, using her own experiences and observations alongside the facts and figures. 

Ms. Wilson is a remarkable woman who has overcome so much. Her warmth, compassion, strength and tenacity shine from every page. She often talks about not being sure if she’s the right fit for the Bar, but it is clear that she is exactly what it needs. Our justice system needs understanding, empathy, diversity and people who believe in justice and equality for all. Ms. Wilson ticks all of those boxes and is someone who can not only make great changes herself, but inspire others to do the same. 

This powerful story is essential reading for anyone who cares about equality and diversity. It is a reminder of the reality of sexism, classism, racism and misogyny facing those in our legal system every day. And a reminder that through our own actions we can affect change in the places it is needed, one step at a time. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰


Alexandra Wilson is a junior barrister. She grew up in Essex and is the eldest of four children. Her mother is White British, her father is Black British and her paternal grandparents were born in Jamaica and came to England as part of the Windrush generation.

Alexandra studied at the University of Oxford and was awarded two prestigious scholarships, enabling her to research the impact of police shootings in the US on young people’s attitudes to the police. She went on to study for a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and her Master of Laws at BPP University in London. Alexandra was awarded the first Queen’s scholarship by the Honourable Society of the Middle Temple, a scholarship awarded to students showing exceptional promise in a career at the Bar.

Alongside her paid family and criminal law work, Alexandra helps to facilitate access to justice by providing legal representation for disenfranchised minorities and others on a pro-bono basis.



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Blog Tours book reviews

The Philosopher Queens by Rebecca Buxton and Lisa Whiting

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: Unbound
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Biography

Today is my stop on the tour for this fascinating book. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Unbound for the gifted copy.


Where are the women philosophers? The answer is right here.

The history of philosophy has not done women justice: you ve probably heard the names Plato, Kant, Nietzsche and Locke but what about Hypatia, Arendt, Oluwole and Young?

The Philosopher Queens is a long-awaited book about the lives and works of women in philosophy by women in philosophy. This collection brings to centre stage twenty prominent women whose ideas have had a profound but for the most part uncredited impact on the world.

You ll learn about Ban Zhao, the first woman historian in ancient Chinese history; Angela Davis, perhaps the most iconic symbol of the American Black Power Movement; Azizah Y. al-Hibri, known for examining the intersection of Islamic law and gender equality; and many more.

For anyone who has wondered where the women philosophers are, or anyone curious about the history of ideas it’s time to meet the philosopher queens.


The Philosopher Queens is a beautifully illustrated non-fiction book that introduces the reader to the forgotten female voices of philosophy. A subject long dominated by the works of men, the author’s of this book decided it was time to bring those forgotten voices into the light for all to hear and finally give them the credit for their contributions they deserve.

The book is written as a series of essays that each focus on a different woman. The essay outlines the key points of her ideas and influence on philosophy, as well as personal details such as her upbringing, education, personal life and character. At the end of the book there is information about where you can read more about them should you wish to further explore their ideas. For me, it was the personal details combined with the stunning portrait of each woman that accompanies each essay, that brought each woman to life and made them leap from the pages in vivid technicolour.

I am not a philosopher. I’ve never studied it, and know very little about the subject. But I found this to be a fascinating read that educated me without feeling too heavy or academic. It surprised me to see some familiar names in this book, like George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans, to give her non-pen name), Iris Murdoch and Angela Davis, and I will certainly look at them, and their impact on our society, differently after reading this book.

If you’re looking for something different that you can pick up and read a little of when you have some time here or there, something educational or a book about amazing women and their ideas, then this is a book for you. It is in an important book that I hope will come to be studied in schools and universities for many years to come so that the future generations never forget the Philosopher Queens.



Rebecca Buxton is a PhD student in International Development at the University of Oxford, specialising in philosophy, ethics and forced migration. Rebecca previously studied Philosophy at King’s College London. When she’s not working on her PhD she writes as a Community Fellow for Refugees Deeply, a news organisation specialising in forced displacement. In her spare time Rebecca likes to visit her one-eyed goldendoodle, Duffy, back at home in Worthing.

Lisa Whiting is currently studying for an MSc in Government, Policy and Politics following her undergraduate degree in philosophy. She studies whilst working as a policy professional focused on the intersection of policy and ethics with a particular interest in data ethics. In her spare time, she listens to podcasts, watches documentaries and tries to keep her house plants alive.

Rebecca’s Twitter|Lisa’s Twitter


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