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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: So Pretty by Ronnie Turner

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

“They were afraid. They were all afraid.” 

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

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

*These purchase links are from affiliate links

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

Emma’s Anticipated Treasures, Most Anticipated 2023: The Debuts

2023 is shaping up to be an incredible year for books and there are an abundance of exciting debuts on the horizon. So, I’ve put together my list of the ones I’m most looking forward to and created my list of most anticipated debuts for 2023.

The Witches of Vardo by Anya Bergman

SYNOPSIS:
‘A passionate indictment of the patriarchy … a vibrant exaltation of the resilience of women … In The Witches of Vardø, Anya Bergman summons a historic witch trial with breathtaking detail and immediacy’ Hannah Kent

They will have justice. They will show their power. They will not burn.

Norway, 1662. A dangerous time to be a woman, when even dancing can lead to accusations of witchcraft. After recently widowed Zigri’s affair with the local merchant is discovered, she is sent to the fortress at Vardø to be tried as a witch.

Zigri’s daughter Ingeborg sets off into the wilderness to try to bring her mother back home. Accompanying her on this quest is Maren – herself the daughter of a witch – whose wild nature and unconquerable spirit gives Ingeborg the courage to venture into the unknown, and to risk all she has to save her family.

Also captive in the fortress is Anna Rhodius, once the King of Denmark’s mistress, who has been sent in disgrace to the island of Vardø. What will she do – and who will she betray – to return to her privileged life at court?

These Witches of Vardø are stronger than even the King. In an age weighted against them, they refuse to be victims. They will have their justice. All they need do is show their power.

Published January 5th by Manilla Press.
Pre-order here*

The Circus Train by Amita Parikh

SYNOPSIS:
THE MAGICAL INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

Brought together by magic.

Torn apart by war.

_________

Europe, 1938. Even as the daughter of the extraordinary headlining illusionist, Lena Papadopoulos has never quite found her place within the World of Wonders – a travelling circus that traverses the continent in a luxury steam engine. Brilliant and curious, Lena yearns for the real-world magic of science and medicine, despite the limitations she feels in her wheelchair. But when a young French orphan, Alexandre, comes aboard the circus train, Lena’s life is infused with magic and wonder for the first time.

But outside the bright lights of the circus, darkness is descending on Europe. War is about to shatter Lena’s world, and take away everything she holds dear. And to recover what she has lost, Lena will have to believe in the impossible.

A must-read for fans of Water for Elephants, The Circus Train will take readers on a heart-wrenching two-decade journey across a continent in which great beauty and unimaginable horror live side by side.

Published January 12th by Sphere
Buy here*

Really Good, Actually by Monica Heisey

SYNOPSIS:
One of the most hotly anticipated, hilarious and addictive debut novels of 2023, from Schitt’s Creek screenwriter and electric new voice in fiction, Monica Heisey.

I feel like when you get a divorce everyone’s wondering how you ruined it all, what made you so unbearable to be with. If your husband dies, at least people feel bad for you.

Maggie’s marriage has ended just 608 days after it started, but she’s fine – she’s doing really good, actually. Sure, she’s alone for the first time in her life, can’t afford her rent and her obscure PhD is going nowhere . . . but at the age of twenty-nine, Maggie is determined to embrace her new status as a Surprisingly Young Divorcée™.

Soon she’s taking up ‘sadness hobbies’ and getting back out there, sex-wise, oversharing in the group chat and drinking with her high-intensity new divorced friend Amy. As Maggie throws herself headlong into the chaos of her first year of divorce, she finds herself questioning everything, including: Why do we still get married? Did I fail before I even got started? How many Night Burgers until I’m happy?

Laugh-out-loud funny, razor sharp and painfully relatable, Really Good, Actually is an irresistible debut novel about the uncertainties of modern love, friendship and happiness from a stunning new voice in fiction, Monica Heisey.

Published January 17th by Fourth Estate
Buy here*

So Pretty by Ronnie Turner

SYNOPSIS:
A young man arrives in a small town, hoping to leave his past behind him, but everything changes when he takes a job in a peculiar old shop, and meets a lonely single mother… A chillingly hypnotic modern-gothic thriller and a mesmerising study of identity and obsession.
 
When Teddy Colne arrives in the small town of Rye, he believes he will be able to settle down and leave his past behind him. Little does he know that fear blisters through the streets like a fever. The locals tell him to stay away from an establishment known only as Berry & Vincent, that those who rub too closely to its proprietor risk a bad end. 
 
Despite their warnings, Teddy is desperate to understand why Rye has come to fear this one man, and to see what really hides behind the doors of his shop.
 
Ada moved to Rye with her young son to escape a damaged childhood and years of never fitting in, but she’s lonely, and ostracised by the community. Ada is ripe for affection and friendship, and everyone knows it. 
 
As old secrets bleed out into this town, so too will a mystery about a family who vanished fifty years earlier, and a community living on a knife edge. 
 
Teddy looks for answers, thinking he is safe, but some truths are better left undisturbed, and his past will find him here, just as it has always found him before. And before long, it will find Ada too.

Published January 19th by Orenda Books
Pre-order here

The Clositers by Katy Hays

SYNOPSIS:
The Secret History meets Ninth House in this sinister, atmospheric novel . . . the discovery of a mysterious deck of tarot cards lays bare shocking secrets within a close-knit circle of researchers at New York’s famed Met Cloisters museum.

**********

Ann Stilwell arrives in New York City, hoping to spend her summer working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Instead, she is assigned to The Cloisters, a gothic museum and garden renowned for its medieval and Renaissance collections.

There she is drawn into a small circle of charismatic but enigmatic researchers, each with their own secrets and desires, including the museum’s curator, Patrick Roland, who is convinced that the history of Tarot holds the key to unlocking contemporary fortune telling.

Relieved to have left her troubled past behind and eager for the approval of her new colleagues, Ann is only too happy to indulge some of Patrick’s more outlandish theories. But when Ann discovers a mysterious, once-thought lost deck of 15th-century Italian tarot cards she suddenly finds herself at the centre of a dangerous game of power, toxic friendship and ambition.

And as the game being played within the Cloisters spirals out of control, Ann must decide whether she is truly able to defy the cards and shape her own future . . .

Bringing together the modern and the arcane, The Cloisters is a rich, thrillingly-told tale of obsession and the ruthless pursuit of power.

Published January 19th by Bantam Press
Buy here*

Amazing Grace Adams by Fran Littlewood

SYNOPSIS:
‘Sometimes I have so much rage it scares me . . .’
________

Grace Adams is one bad day away from saving her life.

One hot summer day, stuck in traffic on her way to pick up the cake for her daughter’s sixteenth birthday party, Grace Adams snaps.

She doesn’t scream or break something or cry. She simply abandons her car and walks away.

But not from her life – towards it. To the daughter who won’t live with her anymore and has banned her from the party. To the husband divorcing her. Towards the terrible thing that has blown their family apart . . .

Today she’ll show her daughter that no matter how far we fall we can always get back up again. Because Grace Adams was amazing. Her husband and daughter once thought so. They and the world might have forgotten. But Grace is about to remind them …

Amazing Grace Adams tells the story of a life, a marriage, a family, set against a single north-London day. A rollercoaster ride of redemption and discovery, it’s a powerful celebration of womanhood.

Published January 19th by Michael Joseph
Buy here*

River Sing Me Home by Eleanor Shearer

SYNOPSIS:
Powerful, moving and redemptive, RIVER SING ME HOME tells of a mother’s desperate search to find her stolen children and her freedom.

—————————-

We whisper the names of the ones we love like the words of a song. That was the taste of freedom to us, those names on our lips.

Mary Grace, Micah, Thomas Augustus, Cherry Jane and Mercy. These are the names of her children. The five who survived, only to be sold to other plantations. The faces Rachel cannot forget. It’s 1834, and the law says her people are now free. But for Rachel freedom means finding her children, even if the truth is more than she can bear. With fear snapping at her heels, Rachel keeps moving. From sunrise to sunset, through the cane fields of Barbados to the forests of British Guiana and on to Trinidad, to the dangerous river and the open sea. Only once she knows their stories can she rest. Only then can she finally find home.

Published January 19th by Headline
Buy here*

For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain by Victoria MacKenzie

SYNOPSIS:
An astounding debut, both epic and intimate, about grief, trauma, revelation, and the hidden lives of women – by a major new talent

‘The best first novel I’ve read in years … So full and so vivid; it is amazing’ RODDY DOYLE
‘Moving and unexpected … I tore through this’ JULIA ARMFIELD

In the year of 1413, two women meet for the first time in the city of Norwich.

Margery has left her fourteen children and husband behind to make her journey. Her visions of Christ – which have long alienated her from her family and neighbours, and incurred her husband’s abuse – have placed her in danger with the men of the Church, who have begun to hound her as a heretic.

Julian, an anchoress, has not left Norwich, nor the cell to which she has been confined, for twenty-­three years. She has told no one of her own visions – and knows that time is running out for her to do so.

The two women have stories to tell one another. Stories about girlhood, motherhood, sickness, loss, doubt and belief; revelations more the powerful than the world is ready to hear. Their meeting will change everything.

Sensual, vivid and humane, For Thy Great Pain Have Mercy On My Little Pain cracks history open to reveal the lives of two extraordinary women.

Published January 19th by Bloomsbury Publishing
Pre-order here*

Godkiller by Hanah Kaner

SYNOPSIS:
You are not welcome here, godkiller

Kissen’s family were killed by zealots of a fire god. Now, she makes a living killing gods, and enjoys it. That is until she finds a god she cannot kill: Skedi, a god of white lies, has somehow bound himself to a young noble, and they are both on the run from unknown assassins.

Joined by a disillusioned knight on a secret quest, they must travel to the ruined city of Blenraden, where the last of the wild gods reside, to each beg a favour.

Pursued by demons, and in the midst of burgeoning civil war, they will all face a reckoning – something is rotting at the heart of their world, and only they can be the ones to stop it.

Published January 19th by Harper Voyager UK
Pre-order here*

Home by Cailean Steed

SYNOPSIS:
Someone has broken into Zoe’s flat. A man she thought she’d never have to see again.
They call him the Hand of God.

He knows about her job in the cafe, her life in Dublin, her ex-girlfriend, even the knife she’s hidden under the mattress.

She thought she’d left him far behind, along with the cult of the Children and their isolated compound Home – but now he’s found her, and Zoe realises she must go back with him if she’s to rescue the sister who helped her escape originally. But returning to Home means going back to the enforced worship and strict gender roles Zoe has long since moved beyond; back to the abuse and indoctrination she’s fought desperately to overcome…

Going back will make her question everything she believed about her past – but could also risk her hard-won freedom. Can she break free a second time?

Published January 19th by Raven Books
Pre-order here*

In the Blink of an Eye by Jo Callaghan

SYNOPSIS:
‘THE MOST ORIGINAL CRIME NOVEL YOU’LL READ THIS YEAR’ CLARE MACKINTOSH 
‘THIS HAS TO BE A STRONG CONTENDER FOR CRIME DEBUT OF THE YEAR’ T. M. LOGAN
In the UK, someone is reported missing every 90 seconds.
Just gone. Vanished. In the blink of an eye. 


DCS Kat Frank knows all about loss. A widowed single mother, Kat is a cop who trusts her instincts. Picked to lead a pilot programme that has her paired with AIDE (Artificially Intelligent Detective Entity) Lock, Kat’s instincts come up against Lock’s logic. But when the two missing person’s cold cases they are reviewing suddenly become active, Lock is the only one who can help Kat when the case gets personal. 

AI versus human experience. 
Logic versus instinct.
With lives on the line can the pair work together before someone else becomes another statistic? 

In the Blink of an Eye is a dazzling debut from an exciting new voice and asks us what we think it means to be human

Published January 19th by Simon & Schuster
Pre-order here*

Weyward by Emilia Hart

SYNOPSIS:
THEY TRIED TO CAGE US.

BUT A WEYWARD WOMAN BELONGS TO THE WILD.

WE CANNOT BE TAMED.
________________________________________________________

KATE, 2019
Kate flees London – and her abusive partner – for Cumbria and Weyward Cottage, inherited from her great-aunt. There, a secret lurks in the bones of the house, hidden ever since the witch-hunts of the 17th century.

VIOLET, 1942
Violet is more interested in collecting insects and climbing trees than in becoming a proper young lady. Until a chain of shocking events changes her life forever.

ALTHA, 1619
Altha is on trial for witchcraft, accused of killing a local man. Known for her uncanny connection with nature and animals, she is a threat that must be eliminated…

UNIQUE. ORIGINAL. UNFORGETTABLE.
Discover the power of being Weyward in 2023’s biggest debut

Published Februrary 2nd by The Borough Press
Buy here*

Clara & Olivia by Lucy Ashe

SYNOPSIS:
“Surely you would like to be immortalised in art, fixed forever in perfection?”

Sadler’s Wells, 1933.

I would kill to dance like her.

Disciplined and dedicated, Olivia is the perfect ballerina. But no matter how hard she works, she can never match identical twin Clara’s charm. 

I would kill to be with her.

As rehearsals intensify for the ballet Coppélia, the girls feel increasingly like they are being watched. And, as infatuation turns to obsession, everything begins to unravel.

Published February 2nd by Magpie
Buy here*

The Heroines by Laura Shepperson

SYNOPSIS:
In Athens, crowds flock to witness the most shocking trial of the ancient world. The royal family is mired in scandal. Phaedra, young bride of King Theseus, has accused her stepson, Hippolytus of rape.

He’s a prince, a talented horseman, a promising young man with his whole life ahead of him. She’s a young and neglected wife, the youngest in a long line of Cretan women with less than savoury reputations.

The men of Athens must determine the truth. Who is guilty, and who is innocent?

But the women know truth is a slippery thing. After all, this is the age of heroes and the age of monsters. There are two sides to every story, and theirs has gone unheard.

Until now.

Published February 9th by Sphere
Buy here*

The Silence Project by Carole Hailey

SYNOPSIS:
Monster. Martyr. Mother.

On Emilia Morris’s thirteenth birthday, her mother Rachel moves into a tent at the bottom of their garden. From that day on, she never says another word. Inspired by her vow of silence, other women join her and together they build the Community. Eight years later, Rachel and thousands of her followers around the world burn themselves to death.

In the aftermath of what comes to be known as the Event, the Community’s global influence quickly grows. As a result, the whole world has an opinion about Rachel – whether they see her as a callous monster or a heroic martyr – but Emilia has never voiced hers publicly. Until now.

When she publishes her own account of her mother’s life in a memoir called The Silence Project, Emilia also decides to reveal just how sinister the Community has become. In the process, she steps out of Rachel’s shadow once and for all, so that her own voice may finally be heard.

Published February 9th by Corvus
Buy here*

Dazzling by Chikodili Emelumadu

SYNOPSIS:
Soon you will become the thing all other beasts fear.

Treasure and her mother lost everything when Treasure’s daddy died. Haggling for scraps in the market, Treasure meets a spirit who promises to bring her father back – but she has to do something for him first.

Ozoemena has an itch in the middle of her back that can’t be scratched. An itch that speaks to her patrilineal destiny, to defend her people by becoming a leopard. Her father impressed upon her what an honour this was before he vanished, but it’s one she couldn’t want less.

But as the two girls reckon with their burgeoning wildness and the legacy of their fathers’ decisions, Ozoemena’s fellow students at her new boarding school start to vanish. Treasure and Ozoemena will face terrible choices as each must ask herself: in a world that always says ‘no’ to women, what must two young girls sacrifice to get what is theirs?

Published February 16th by Wildfire
Buy here*

House in the Pines by Ana Reyes

SYNOPSIS:
This is the story of a house.

The cabin lies deep in the woods, where the trees are so dense it’s easy to miss. On the outside it might look like it’s crumbling, crawling with weeds, but on the inside it’s warm and cosy. A fire crackles in the fireplace. Dinner simmers on the stove.

Maya once saw this cabin as an idyllic place, like a cottage from a fairy tale, but now she knows the danger that lurks beneath. The summer she visited the cabin was the summer her best friend Aubrey died.

Now, another woman from Maya’s hometown has died in the same strange, unexplained way, and Maya believes only she can save the next innocent girl.

Guided by her fractured memory and a mysterious, unfinished book by her late father, Maya returns home to face the house in the pines and the man who waits there – the man she’s tried so hard to forget . . .

Published: February 16th by Constable
Buy here*

Maame by Jessica George

SYNOPSIS:
*THE MOST POWERFUL DEBUT OF 2023*

Maame (ma-meh) has many meanings in Twi, but in my case, it means woman.

Meet Maddie.

All her life, she’s been told who she is. To her Ghanaian parents, she’s Maame: the one who takes care of the family. Her mum’s stand-in. The primary carer for her father, who suffers from Parkinson’s. She’s the responsible sister, the quiet friend. The one who keeps the peace – and the secrets.

It’s time for her to speak up.

Maddie knows what kind of woman she wants to be. One who wears a bright yellow suit, dates men who definitely aren’t on her mum’s list of prospective husbands, and stands up to her boss’s microaggressions. Someone who doesn’t have to google all her life choices. Who demands a seat at the table.

But will it take losing everything to find her voice?

Unique, unfiltered and unforgettable, Maame is a deeply moving, achingly funny debut about finally finding where you belong.

Published February 16th by Hodder & Stoughton
Buy here*

The Garnett Girls by Georgina Moore

SYNOPSIS:
A brilliant debut and powerful tale of sisterhood and home, set on the beautiful beaches of the Isle of Wight…

‘Love makes you do things you never thought you were capable of.’

Forbidden, passionate and all-encompassing, Margo and Richard’s love affair was the stuff of legend– but, ultimately, doomed.

When Richard walked out, Margo locked herself away, leaving her three daughters, Rachel, Imogen and Sasha, to run wild.

Years later, charismatic Margo entertains lovers and friends in her cottage on the Isle of Wight, refusing to ever speak of Richard and her painful past. But her silence is keeping each of the Garnett girls from finding true happiness.

Rachel is desperate to return to London, but is held hostage by responsibility for Sandcove, their beloved but crumbling family home.

Dreamy Imogen feels the pressure to marry her kind, considerate fiancé, even when life is taking an unexpected turn.

And wild, passionate Sasha, trapped between her fractured family and controlling husband, is weighed down by a secret that could shake the family to its core…

The Garnett Girls, the captivating debut from Georgina Moore, asks whether children can ever be free of the mistakes of their parents.

Published February 16th by HQ
Buy here*

Lady MacBethad by Isabelle Schuler

SYNOPSIS:
Power. History. Love. Hate. Vengeance.

She will be Queen. Whatever it takes…


Daughter of an ousted king, descendant of ancient druids, as a child it is prophesied that one day Gruoch will be queen of Alba.

When she is betrothed to Duncan, heir elect, this appears to confirm the prophecy. She leaves behind her home, her family and her close friend MacBethad, and travels to the royal seat at Scone to embrace her new position.

But nothing is as Gruoch anticipates. Duncan’s court is filled with sly words and unfriendly faces, women desperate to usurp her position, and others whose motives are shrouded in mystery. As her coronation approaches, a deadly turn of events forces Gruoch to flee Duncan and the capital, finding herself alone, vulnerable and at the mercy of an old enemy. Her hope of becoming Queen all but lost, Gruoch does what she must to survive, vowing that one day she will fulfill her destiny and take up the future owed to her. Whatever it may take.

A suspenseful, sweeping historical epic, Lady MacBethad is the origin story of the woman who inspired one of Shakespeare’s most iconic characters

Published March 2nd by Raven Books
Buy here*

Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati

SYNOPSIS:
As for queens, they are either hated or forgotten. She already knows which option suits her best . . .

Perfect for fans of ARIADNE and THE SONG OF ACHILLES, pre-order this extraordinary retelling of history’s most infamous heroine.
_______

Mother. Monarch. Murderer. Magnificent.

You are born to a king, but marry a tyrant. You stand helplessly as he sacrifices your child to placate the gods. You watch him wage war on a foreign shore and comfort yourself with violent thoughts of your own.

You play the part, fooling enemies who deny you justice. Slowly, you plot.

You are Clytemnestra.

But when the husband who owns you returns in triumph, what then?

Acceptance or vengeance – infamy follows both. So you bide your time and wait, until you might force the gods’ hands and take revenge. Until you rise. For you understood something that the others don’t. If power isn’t given to you, you have to take it for yourself.

A blazing novel set in the world of Ancient Greece and told through the eyes of its greatest heroine, this is a thrilling tale of power and prophecies, of hatred, love, and of an unforgettable Queen who fiercely dealt out death to those who wronged her.

Published March 2nd by Michael Joseph.
Pre-order here*

Mother’s Day by Abigail Burdess

SYNOPSIS:
She gave you life. What if she wants it back?
Perfect for fans of MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER, MAGPIE and HOW TO KILL YOUR FAMILY.

The last thing Anna needs is a baby. Abandoned, adopted and living hand to mouth, she never dreamt of having a real family.

But when she meets her birth mother, everything changes – because the same day, she learns she’s going to be a mother too.

Marlene is eccentric, generous with her considerable fortune and overjoyed to become a grandmother. Anna’s living the dream. But is it her dream, or someone else’s?

Now she will have to decide what she’s willing to sacrifice for a real family – her future, her freedom, even her unborn child.

Published March 2nd by Wildfire
Buy here*

All the Little Bird-Hearts by Viktoria Lloyd-Barlow

SYNOPSIS:
I lived for and loved a bird-heart that summer; I only knew it afterwards.

Sunday Forrester lives with her sixteen-year-old daughter, Dolly, in the house she grew up in. She does things more carefully than most people. On quiet days, she must eat only white foods. Her etiquette handbook guides her through confusing social situations, and to escape, she turns to her treasury of Sicilian folklore. The one thing very much out of her control is Dolly – her clever, headstrong daughter, now on the cusp of leaving home.

Into this carefully ordered world step Vita and Rollo, a couple who move in next door, disarm Sunday with their charm, and proceed to deliciously break just about every rule in Sunday’s book. Soon they are in and out of each others’ homes, and Sunday feels loved and accepted like never before. But beneath Vita and Rollo’s polish lies something else, something darker. For Sunday has precisely what Vita has always wanted for herself: a daughter of her own.

Published March 2nd by Tinder Press.
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No Life For A Lady by Hannah Dolby

SYNOPSIS:
The most joyful book of 2023!

Violet Hamilton is a woman who knows her own mind. Which, in 1896, can make things a little complicated…

At 28, Violet’s father is beginning to worry she will never find a husband. But every suitor he presents, Violet finds a new and inventive means of rebuffing.

Because Violet does not want to marry. She wants to work, and make her own way in the world. But more than anything, she wants to find her mother Lily, who disappeared from Hastings Pier 10 years earlier.

Finding the missing is no job for a lady, but when Violet hires a seaside detective to help, she sets off a chain of events that will put more than just her reputation at risk.

Can Violet solve the mystery of Lily Hamilton’s vanishing before it’s too late?

A delightfully quirky and clever book club read, perfect for fans of Dear Mrs BirdThe Maid and Lessons in Chemistry.

Published March 2nd by Aria.
Pre-order here*

The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

SYNOPSIS:
The dark, atmospheric, feminist offspring of Squid GameThe Hunting Party and Misery

A book deal to die for.

Five attendees are selected for a month-long writing retreat at the remote estate of Roza Vallo, the controversial high priestess of feminist horror. Alex, a struggling writer, is thrilled.

Upon arrival, they discover they must complete an entire novel from scratch, and the best one will receive a seven-figure publishing deal. Alex’s long-extinguished dream now seems within reach.

But then the women begin to die.

Trapped, terrified yet still desperately writing, it is clear there is more than a publishing deal at stake at Blackbriar Estate. Alex must confront her own demons – and finish her novel – to save herself.

This unhinged, propulsive, claustrophobic closed-door thriller will pull you in and spit you out…

Published March 2nd by Magpie.
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Lies We Sing to the Sea by Sarah Underwood

SYNOPSIS:
A fantasy romance, by dazzling new talent Sarah Underwood, inspired by Greek mythology and the tale of Penelope’s twelve hanged maids.

In the cursed kingdom of Ithaca, each spring brings the hanging of twelve maidens, a gift to the vengeful Poseidon. But when Leto awakens from her death on the shore of a long-forgotten island, its enigmatic keeper Melantho tells her that there’s only one way the curse can be broken. Leto must kill the last prince of Ithaca . . .

In Lies We Sing to the Sea, debut author Sarah Underwood delivers a thrilling and breathtaking tale that will enthral readers from the very first page as they are transported to the cursed shores of Ithaca.

A reclamation of a story from thousands of years ago, Lies We Sing to the Sea is about love and fate, grief and sacrifice, and, ultimately, the power we must find within.

Published March 16th by Electric Monkey
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Her by Mira V Shah

SYNOPSIS:
YOU WANT TO BE JUST LIKE HER. BUT DO YOU REALLY KNOW HER?

Rani has always felt like an outsider. First growing up among her white, wealthy peers. And now next to her successful, child-free friends. From the tiny rented flat she lives in with her family, she imagines being the kind of woman who owns the beautiful house across the street.

Then Natalie moves in. With her expensive clothes, adoring husband and high-powered job, she has everything Rani wants, and Rani can’t help but be drawn to her new neighbour.

But as the two women strike up a friendship and begin open up, Rani wonders – is Natalie’s perfect-seeming life too good to be true?

Published March 23rd by Hodder & Stoughton
Pre-order here*

The Secrets of Hartwood Hall by Katie Lumsden

SYNOPSIS:
It’s 1852 and Margaret Lennox, a young widow, is offered a position as governess at Hartwood Hall. She quickly accepts, hoping this isolated country house will allow her to leave her past behind.

Cut off from the village, Margaret soon starts to feel there’s something odd about her new home, despite her growing fondness for her bright, affectionate pupil, Louis. There are strange figures in the dark, tensions between servants and an abandoned east wing. Even stranger is the local gossip surrounding Mrs Eversham, Louis’s widowed mother, who is deeply distrusted in the village.

Margaret finds distraction in a forbidden relationship with the gardener, Paul. But despite his efforts to reassure her, Margaret is certain that everyone here has something hide. And as Margaret’s own past threatens to catch up with her, she must learn to trust her instincts before it’s too late…

The Secrets of Hartwood Hall is a chilling gothic mystery, and an authentic and atmospheric love letter to Victorian fiction.

Published Marhch 30th by Michael Joseph
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Dirty Laundry by Disha Bose

SYNOPSIS:
A deliciously scandalous story about the dark side of suburbia, DIRTY LAUNDRY bristles with lies, desire and the secrets that can make or break a marriage.

————-

Ciara, Lauren and Mishti are three mothers, friends, wives. But, underneath the perfectly managed routines of their lives, they are not the women you expect – and neither are the secrets they keep. We all have our dirty laundry to air, but when their carefully curated world is threatened, the devastation goes beyond scandal – it leads to murder . . .

Thoroughly entertaining and suspenseful, DIRTY LAUNDRY tackles the impossibility of who we fall in love with and the innate urge to create better versions of ourselves in our children.

Published March 30th by Viking.
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Crow Moon by Suzy Aspley

SYNOPSIS:
First in a series: A Martha Strangeways Investigation
 
An investigative reporter gives up her job when her young twins are killed in a fire, but when she stumbles across the body of a missing teenager, she’s thrust into a chilling investigation that will leave no one unscathed…
 
Strathban, Scotland. A village steeped in folklore and impenetrable mists and a horrifying mystery…
 
Martha Strangeways is struggling to find purpose in her life, after giving up her career as an investigative reporter when her young twins died in a house fire. Overwhelmed by guilt and grief, she carries their teeth in a matchbox wherever she goes…
 
But her life changes when she stumbles across the body of a missing teenager – a tragedy that turns even more sinister when a poem about crows is discovered inked onto his back… 
 
When another teenager goes missing in the remote landscape, Martha is drawn into the investigation, teaming up with DI Derek Summers, as malevolent rumours begin to spread and paranoia grows. 
 
As darkness descends on the village of Strathban, it soon becomes clear that no one is safe, including Martha…
 
Both a nerve-shattering, enthralling and atmospheric thriller and a moving tale of grief and psychological damage, Crow Moon is a staggeringly accomplished debut and the start of an addictive, unforgettable series.

Published April 13th by Orenda Books
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Go As A River by Shelley Read

SYNOPSIS:
A MESMERIZING READ FOR FANS OF WHERE THE CRAWDADS SINGGREAT CIRCLE AND THE PAPER PALACE
____________________

I’ve come to understand how the exceptional lurks beneath the ordinary like the deep and mysterious world beneath the sea.


On a cool autumn morning, Torie Nash heads into her village pulling a rickety wagon filled with late-season peaches. As she nears an intersection, a mysterious drifter with grimy thumbs and smudged cheeks stops to ask her the way.

She could turn left or cross over. But she does not. ‘Go as a river,’ he tells her.

So begins a mezmerising story that unfolds over a tumultuous lifetime as Torie begins to absorb and follow his words.

Gathering all the pieces of her small and extraordinary life, spinning through the eddies of desire, heartbreak and betrayal, she will arrive at a single rocky decision that will change her life for ever.

Published April 13th by Doubleday.
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The Grief Nurse by Angie Spoto

SYNOPSIS:
Imagine you could be rid of your sadness, your anxiety, your heartache, your fear.

Imagine you could take those feelings from others and turn them into something beautiful.

Lynx is a Grief Nurse. Kept by the Asters, a wealthy, influential family, to ensure they’re never troubled by negative emotions, she knows no other life.

When news arrives that the Asters’ eldest son is dead, Lynx does what she can to alleviate their Sorrow. As guests flock to the Asters’ private island for the wake, bringing their own secrets, lies and grief, tensions rise.

Then the bodies start to pile up.

With romance, intrigue and spectacular gothic world-building, this spellbinding debut novel is immersive and unforgettable.

Published April 13th by Sandstone Press
Pre-order here*

Love & Other Scams by PJ Ellis

SYNOPSIS:
There’s no thrill like breaking the rules…

******

Cat has a dangerously dwindling bank balance. She also has:

· a month before her landlord kicks her out
· a surprise wedding invitation from rich mean girl, Louisa
· a secret talent for con artistry

A priceless jewel the size of a cocktail olive is glinting on Louisa’s finger.

And when Cat meets her ideal plus one, Jake – who’s gifted at hustling and posing as the perfect boyfriend – this wedding becomes a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. After all,

How hard can a diamond heist be?

******

THE MOST RIOTOUSLY ESCAPIST NOVEL OF 2023

PERFECT FOR FANS OF HOW TO KILL YOUR FAMILYCRAZY RICH ASIANS AND PORTRAIT OF A THIEF

Published April 13th by HarperNorth
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Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson

SYNOPSIS:
This unputdownable debut follows three women in an old Brooklyn Heights clan: one who was born with money, one who married into it, and one who wants to give it all away.

Darley, the eldest daughter in the well-connected, carefully guarded Stockton family, has never had to worry about money. She followed her heart, trading her job and her inheritance for motherhood, sacrificing more of herself than she ever intended. Sasha, Darley’s new sister-in-law, has come from more humble origins, and her hesitancy about signing a pre-nup has everyone worried about her intentions. And Georgiana, the baby of the family, has fallen in love with someone she can’t (and really shouldn’t) have, and must confront the kind of person she wants to be.

Rife with the indulgent pleasures of life among New York’s one-percenters, Pineapple Street is a smart, escapist novel that sparkles with wit. Full of recognisable, loveable – if fallible – characters, it’s about the peculiar unknowability of someone else’s family, the miles between the haves and have-nots, and the insanity of first love – all wrapped in a story that is a sheer delight.

Published April 13th by Hutchinson Heinemann
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The Consultant by Im Seong-Sun

SYNOPSIS:
Sometimes work can be murder…

The Consultant is very good at his job. He creates simple, elegant, effective solutions for. restructuring. Nothing obvious or messy. Certainly nothing anyone would ever suspect as murder.

The ‘natural deaths’ he plans have always gone well: a medicine replaced here, a mechanism jammed there. His performance reviews are excellent. And it’s not as though he knows these people.

Until his next ‘customer’ turns out to be someone he not only knows but cares about, and for the first time, he begins to question the role he plays in the vast, anonymous Company. And as he slowly begins to understand the real scope of their work, he realises just how easy it would be for the Company to arrange one more perfect murder…

But how far will he go to escape The Company? And how far will they go to stop him?

The electrifying first novel from award-winning Korean thriller-writer Im Seong-Sun – now in English for the first time – combines the tension of the best crime fiction with searing social criticism to present a searing take-down of global corporate life.

Published April 13th by Raven
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Death of a Bookseller by Alice Slater

SYNOPSIS:
A BOOKSHOP. A TRUE CRIME CASE. A DEADLY FRIENDSHIP.

Roach – bookseller, loner and true crime obsessive – is not interested in making friends. She has all the company she needs in her serial killer books, murder podcasts and her pet snail, Bleep.

That is, until Laura joins the bookshop.

Smelling of roses, with her cute literary tote bags and beautiful poetry, she’s everyone’s new favourite bookseller. But beneath the shiny veneer, Roach senses a darkness within Laura, the same darkness Roach possesses.

As Roach’s curiosity blooms into morbid obsession, it becomes clear that she is prepared to infiltrate Laura’s life at any cost.

Published April 27th by Hodder & Stoughton
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The Maiden by Kate Foster

SYNOPSIS:
Inspired by a real-life case and winner of the Bloody Scotland Pitch Perfect Award, Kate Foster’s The Maiden is a remarkable story witha feminist revisionist twist, giving a voice to women otherwise silenced by history.

“In the end, it did not matter what I said at my trial. No one believed me.”

Edinburgh, October 1679. Lady Christian Nimmo is arrested and charged with the murder of her lover, James Forrester. News of her imprisonment and subsequent trial is splashed across the broadsides, with headlines that leave little room for doubt: Adulteress. Whore. Murderess.

Only a year before, Christian was leading a life of privilege and respectability. So, what led her to risk everything for an affair? And does that make her guilty of murder? She wasn’t the only woman in Forrester’s life, and certainly not the only one who might have had cause to wish him dead . . .

Published April 27th by Mantle
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The Daughters of Madurai by Rajasree Variyar

SYNOPSIS:
‘A girl is a burdern A girl is a curse.’

Madurai, 1992. A young mother in a poor family, Janani is told she is useless if she can’t produce a son – or worse, bears daughters. They let her keep her first baby girl, but the rest are taken away as soon as they are born – murdered before they have a chance to live. The fate of her children has never been in her hands. But Janani can’t forget the daughters she was never allowed to love.

Sydney, 2019. Nila has a secret, one she’s been keeping from her parents for far too long. Before she can say anything, her grandfather in India falls ill and she agrees to join her parents on a trip to Madurai – the first in over ten years. Growing up in Australia, Nila knows very little about where she or her family came from, or who they left behind. What she’s about to learn will change her forever…

Perfect for fans of Christy Lefteri and Delia Owens, The Daughters of Madurai is a moving and powerful debut from an unforgettable new voice.

Published April 27th by Orion
Pre-order here*

Orphia and Eurydicius by Elyse John

SYNOPSIS:
A stunning, enthralling story about unconventional love, the power of creativity and the courage of women who struggle to make their voices heard – for fans of Jennifer Saint, Madeline Miller and Pat Barker.

Their love transcends every boundary. Can it cheat death?

Orphia dreams of something more than the warrior crafts she’s been forced to learn. Hidden away on a far-flung island, her blood sings with poetry and her words can move flowers to bloom and forests to grow … but her father, the sun god Apollo, has forbidden her this art.

A chance meeting with a young shield-maker, Eurydicius, gives her the courage to use her voice. After wielding all her gifts to defeat one final champion, Orphia draws the scrutiny of the gods. Performing her poetry, she wins the protection of the goddesses of the arts: the powerful Muses, who welcome her to their sanctuary on Mount Parnassus. Orphia learns to hone her talents, crafting words of magic infused with history, love and tragedy.

When Eurydicius joins her, Orphia struggles with her desire for fame and her budding love. As her bond with the gentle shield-maker grows, she joins the Argonauts on their quest for the Golden Fleece. Facing dragons, sirens and ruthless warriors on the voyage, Orphia earns unparalleled fame, but she longs to return to Eurydicius.

Yet she has a darker journey to make – one which will see her fight for her love with all the power of her poetry.

Published May 3rd by Harper Collins Australia
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The Dive by Sara Ochs

SYNOPSIS:
Escape to paradise.
Scuba diving instructor Cass leads her students out for their first dive off the beautiful coast of Koh Sang, Thailand’s world-famous party island. It’s supposed to be a life-changing experience, but things quickly spiral out of control…

Leave your secrets behind.
By the time she gets back to the shore, one of her students is dead, another badly injured, and she knows that her idyllic life is about to be smashed to pieces on the rocks.

But don’t get lost for ever…
Someone has discovered Cass’s secret, and on an island as remote as this, accidents happen. Plenty of backpackers choose to stay here for ever – but some are never heard from again…

Published May 11th by Bantam Press
Pre-order here*

Fyneshade by Kate Griffin

SYNOPSIS:
I have come to Fyneshade to take up a position as governess. Many would find much to fear in its dark and crumbling corridors, its unseen master and silent servants. But not I. For they have far more to fear from me…

On the day of her grandmother’s funeral, Marta discovers that she is to be sent away from the only home she has ever known. Away from her aunt who despises her, and the man she has been forbidden to marry. She is to be governess at Fyneshade, her charge the young daughter of the owner, Sir William Pritchard.

All is not well at Fyneshade. Sir William is mysteriously absent, and his son and heir Vaughan Pritchard is forbidden to enter the house. Marta finds herself drawn to him, despite the warnings of the housekeeper, Mrs Petrie, that Vaughan is a danger to all around him. But Marta is no innocent to be preyed upon. Guided by the dark gift taught to her by her grandmother, she has made her own plans. It will take more than a family riven by murderous secrets to stop her…

Perfect for readers of Laura Purcell, Jessie Burton and Stacey Halls, Fyneshade is a dark and twisted gothic novel unlike any you’ve read before…

Published May 18th by Viper Books
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The Girls of Summer by Katie Bishop

SYNOPSIS:
Destined to be THE dark book-club debut of 2023. A compulsive and timely exploration of the complicated nature of memory and trauma, power and consent, victimhood and shame.

**********

Rachel has loved Alistair since she was seventeen.

Even though she hasn’t seen him for sixteen years and she’s now married to someone else.

Even though she was a teenager when they met.

Even though he is almost twenty years older than her.

Now in her thirties, Rachel has never been able to forget their golden summer together on a remote, sun-trapped Greek island. But as dark and deeply suppressed memories rise to the surface, Rachel begins to understand that Alistair – and the enigmatic, wealthy man he worked for – controlled much more than she ever realized.

Rachel has never once considered herself a victim – until now.

Published May 25th by Bantam Press
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Psyche and Eros by Luna McNamara

SYNOPSIS:
A stunning, exciting and hotly-anticipated feminist retelling of one of the greatest love stories in Greek mythology!

The greatest love story ever told…

Born into an era of heroes, a prophecy claims that Psyche – Princess of Mycenae – will defeat a monster feared even by the gods themselves. Rebelling against society’s traditions, she spends her youth mastering blade and bow, preparing to fulfil her destiny.

But she is soon caught up in powers beyond her control, when the jealous Aphrodite sends the God of Desire, Eros, to deliver a fatal love-curse. The last thing Eros wants is to become involved in the chaos of the mortal world, but when he is pricked by the very arrow intended for Psyche, he is doomed to love a woman who will be torn from him the moment their eyes meet.

Thrown together by fate, headstrong Psyche and world-weary Eros will face challenges greater than they could have ever imagined. And as the Trojan War begins and the whole of the heavens try to keep them apart, will they find their way back to each other… before it’s too late?

Published May 25th by Orion.
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Savage Beasts by Rani Selvarajah

SYNOPSIS:
A propulsive retelling of the Greek myth, Medea, like you’ve never seen her before.

A woman wronged will shake an empire

Calcutta, 1757.

Bengal is on the brink of war. The East India Company, led by the fearsome Sir Peter Chilcott, are advancing and nobody is safe. Meena, the Nawab’s neglected and abused daughter, finds herself falling under the spell of James Chilcott, nephew of Sir Peter, who claims he wants to betray the company . . . for a price.

Caught between friend and foe, Meena and James escape Calcutta, their hands stained in blood and pockets filled with gold. In Ceylon, they’re cleansed of their sins by Meena’s beloved aunt Kiran, before the young lovers set sail for the Dutch controlled Cape of Good Hope, with the promise of a new life.

Yet past resentments and present betrayals begin to pile up as they struggle to overcome their differences. And as Meena yet again finds herself in a foreign land without anyone to turn to, she is forced to find out what she is willing to sacrifice when love turns to hate.

The perfect read for fans of The Song of Achilles, Ariadne and Pandora

Published May 25th by One More Chapter
Pre-order here*

The Miniscule Mansion of Myra Malone by Audrey Burges

SYNOPSIS:
Audrey Burges The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone is a charming and magical debut novel, with a love story at its heart, woven across multiple periods and perspectives, about a mystical dolls’ house.

Once upon a time there was a house . . .

From her attic in the Arizona mountains, thirty-four-year-old recluse Myra Malone blogs about a miniature mansion – a dolls’ house – which captivates thousands of readers worldwide. Myra herself is tethered to the Mansion by a strange magic she can’t understand – there are rooms that appear and disappear overnight, music that plays in its corridors.

Across the country, Alex Rakes, the thirty-four-year-old heir of a furniture business, encounters two Mansion fans trying to recreate a room. Alex is shocked to recognize his own bedroom in minute scale. The Mansion is his family’s home, handed down from the grandmother who disappeared mysteriously when Alex was a child. Searching for answers, Alex begins corresponding with Myra. Together, the two unwind the lonely paths of their twin worlds – big and small – and trace the stories that entwine them, setting the stage for a meeting rooted in loss, but defined by love.

Published June 1st by Pan Macmillan
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The Interpreter by Brooke Robinson

SYNOPSIS:
INNOCENT OR GUILTY. IT’S ALL A MATTER OF INTERPRETATION…

A clever, compulsive thriller for readers of Louise Candlish, Harriet Tyce and Sarah Vaughn, Launching 2023

A childhood spent moving around the world left Revelle Lee with an unusual gift – the ability to fluently speak 11 languages. Now, Revelle spends her days translating for witnesses, victims, and the accused across London crime scenes and courtrooms. It’s a stressful job, though not as stressful as the process she is currently going through to adopt little boy, Elliot. She is determined to be the mother to him that she never had, and to make up for her own past mistakes.

But when it seems a murderer will go free, Revelle puts the adoption and her job at risk, deliberately mis-translating the alibi to ensure he is found guilty. No one can ever find out that she interfered or she will lose her son and her livelihood.

The problem is someone already knows what she’s done… and they want justice of their own.

IF YOU LIKED THE SILENT PATIENT, YOU’LL LOVE THE INTERPRETER

Published June 8th by Harvill Secker
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The Burnings by Naomi Kelsey

SYNOPSIS:
Nothing scares men like witchcraft . . .

1589. Scottish housemaid Geillis and Danish courtier Margareta lead opposite lives, but they both know one thing: when a man cries “witch”, no woman is safe.

Yet when the marriage of King James VI and Princess Anna of Denmark brings Geillis and Margareta together, everything they supposed about good, evil, men, and women, is cast in a strange and brilliant new light.

For the first time in history, could black magic – or rumours of it – be a very real tool for women’s political gain?

As the North Berwick witch trials whip Scotland – and her king – into a frenzy of paranoia, the clock is ticking. Can Margareta and Geillis keep each other safe? And once the burnings are over, in whose hands will power truly lie?

Inspired by the incredible true story that set 16th-century Scotland and Denmark alight, The Burnings is 2023’s most bewitching debut novel, by a multi-awardwinning new star of historical fiction.

Published June 8th by Harper North
Pre-order here*

Speak of the Devil by Rose Wilding

SYNOPSIS:
All of us knew him. One of us killed him…

Seven women stand in shock in a seedy hotel room; a man’s severed head sits in the centre of the floor. Each of the women – the wife, the teenager, the ex, the journalist, the colleague, the friend, and the woman who raised him – has a very good reason to have done it, yet each swears she did not. In order to protect each other, they must figure out who is responsible, all while staying one step ahead of the police.

Against the ticking clock of a murder investigation, each woman’s secret is brought to light as the connections between them converge to reveal a killer.

A dark and nuanced portrait of love, loyalty, and manipulation, Speak of the Devil explores the roles in which women are cast in the lives of terrible men…and the fallout when they refuse to stay silent for one moment longer.

Published June 22nd by Baskerville
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The Other Side of Mrs Wood by Lucy Barker

SYNOPSIS:
The irresistible historical comedy about two rival mediums in Victorian London

Mrs Wood is London’s most celebrated medium. She’s managed to survive decades in the competitive world of contacting the Other Side, has avoided the dreaded slips that revealed others as frauds and is still hosting packed-out séances for Victorian high society.

Yet, some of her patrons have recently cancelled their appointments. There are reports of American mediums nearly materialising full spirits and audiences are no longer satisfied with the knocking on tables and candle theatrics of years gone by. And then, at one of Mrs Wood’s routine gatherings, she hears something terrifying – faint, but unmistakable: a yawn.

Mrs Wood needs to spice up her brand. She decides to take on Emmie, a young protégé, to join her show. But is Emmie Finch the naïve ingenue she seems to be? Or does she pose more of a threat to Mrs Wood’s reign and, more horrifyingly, her reputation than Mrs Wood could ever have imagined?

Published June 22md by Fourth Estate
Pre-order here*

The Housekeepers by Alex Hay

SYNOPSIS:
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITED TO THE MOST AUDACIOUS LAUNCH OF 2023…



Mayfair, 1905. The grandest house on Park Lane has just dismissed its housekeeper.

All manner of treasures lie behind the pillared doors – and scandalous secrets too. With the event of the season looming, nothing must go wrong.

But what no one knows is that Mrs King will be back at Park Lane on the night of the ball. She has an audacious plan in mind… and knows just who to recruit to help her clean up.

Housekeeper. Sewing maid. Kitchen girl. Thief.

Never underestimate the women downstairs.

IT’S YOUR HOUSE. BUT IT’S THEIR RULES.

Dazzling, stylish and wildly entertaining, The Housekeepers lets loose an outlandish alliance of women you’ll never forget.

Published July 6th by Headline
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House Woman by Adorah Nworah

SYNOPSIS:
My name is Ikemefuna Nwosu, and I am your wife.

One day in Lagos, young dancer Ikemefuna is put on a plane to Houston to meet her new husband, Nna. Promises are made to her – about her education, about the man she will marry, about her freedom.

None of them are kept.

A few months later, self-professed feminist Nna finds a beautiful woman cooking in his parents’ kitchen. They tell him Ikemefuna is his wife, there to give them the grandson they’ve been waiting for. She appears obedient, malleable.

But she is no ordinary wife.

In the Texas heat, patience runs on short supply and the atmosphere in the house becomes increasingly strained, increasingly violent. Desperation makes people do strange things…

Unpredictable and unsettling, HOUSE WOMAN is a delicious thriller you will never be able to forget.

Published July 6th by The Borough Press
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The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer

SYNOPSIS:
THERE IS POWER IN SILENCE

East Anglia, 1645. Martha Hallybread, a midwife, healer and servant, has lived peacefully for more than four decades in her beloved Cleftwater. Everyone in the village knows Martha, but no one has ever heard her speak.

One bright morning, Martha becomes a silent witness to a witch hunt, led by sinister new arrival Silas Makepeace. As a trusted member of the community, she is enlisted to search the bodies of the accused women for evidence. But whilst she wants to help her friends, she also harbours a dark secret that could cost her own freedom.

In desperation, Martha revives a wax witching doll that she inherited from her mother, in the hope that it will bring protection. But the doll’s true powers are unknowable, the tide is turning, and time is running out . . .

A spellbinding and intoxicating novel inspired by true events, The Witching Tide is a magnificent debut from a writer to watch.

Published July 6th by Phoenix
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My Murder by Katie Williams

SYNOPSIS:
SOMETIMES THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN SOLVE YOUR MURDER IS YOU.

‘Completely absorbing. A smart, speculative twist on domestic suspense.’ – Ashley Audrain, bestselling author of The Push

Lou has been murdered.


She was the fifth victim of the serial killer Edward Early. A young wife and new mother, Lou’s death outraged a public breathlessly following the story of the serial murders.

Lou has been cloned.

Along with Early’s other four victims, Lou has been brought back to life by the government-funded replication commission. The women gather at a weekly support group, helping each other to navigate a society obsessed with their very existence.

Lou has been lied to.

But when Lou agrees to help fellow murder victim Fern secure a visit with Edward Early, a shocking revelation causes Lou to investigate the events around her death and question everything she thought she knew about her murder.

Can she finally uncover the truth?

Published July 6th by Wildfire
Pre-order here*

The List by Yomi Adegoke

SYNOPSIS:
From award-winning journalist and bestselling co-author of Slay in Your Lane, Yomi Adegoke, comes The List, a sensational, page-turning debut novel about secrets, lies and our lives online.

Ola Olajide, a high-profile journalist at Womxxxn magazine, is marrying the love of her life in one month’s time. Young, beautiful, successful – she and her fiancé Michael are the ‘couple goals’ of their social networks and seem to have it all.

That is, until one morning when they both wake up to the same message:

‘Oh my god, have you seen The List?’

Compulsively page-turning, wildly entertaining and piercing with fearless insight, The List is perfect for fans of Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid and Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy YouThe List by Yomi Adegoke is set to be the most hotly debated debut novel of 2023.

Published July 6th by Fourth Estate
Pre-order here*

Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Torzs

SYNOPSIS:
Some books should never be opened.

A spellbinding, edge-of your seat thriller, Ink Blood Sister Scribe follows a family tasked with guarding a trove of magical but deadly books, and the shadowy organisation that will do anything to get them back . . . even murder.
____________

Joanna Kalotay lives alone in the woods of Vermont, the sole protector of a collection of rare books; books that will allow someone to walk through walls or turn water into wine. Books of magic.

Her estranged older sister Esther moves between countries and jobs, constantly changing, never staying anywhere longer than a year, desperate to avoid the deadly magic that killed her mother. Currently working on a research base in Antarctica, she has found love and perhaps a sort of happiness.

But when she finds spots of blood on the mirrors in the research base, she knows someone is coming for her, and that Joanna and her collection are in danger.

If they are to survive, she and Joanna must unravel the secrets their parents kept hidden from them – secrets that span centuries and continents, and could cost them their lives …

Published July 6th by Century
Pre-order here*

You’d Look Better as a Ghost by Joanna Wallace

SYNOPSIS:
I have a gift. I see people as ghosts before they die.
Of course, it helps that I’m the one killing them.

The night after her father’s funeral, Claire meets Lucas in a bar. Lucas doesn’t know it, but it’s not a chance meeting. One thoughtless mistyped email has put him in the crosshairs of an extremely put-out serial killer. But before they make eye contact, before Claire lets him buy her a drink, even before she takes him home and carves him up into little pieces, something about that night is very wrong. Because someone is watching Claire. Someone who is about to discover her murderous little hobby.

The thing is, it’s not sensible to tangle with a part-time serial killer, even one who is distracted by attending a weekly bereavement support group and trying to get her art career off the ground. Let the games begin…

Dexter meets Killing Eve in this superb thriller, perfect for fans of How To Kill Your Family and My Sister the Serial Killer.

Published September 7th by Viper
Pre-order here*

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What do you think of my choices? Are any of these on your TBR for 2023? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Call of Cassandra Rose by Sophia Spiers

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Self harm, mental health, domestic abuse 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones| Amazon

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

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Blog Tour: The Butcher and the Wren by Alaina Urquhart

Published: September 13th, 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Medical Thriller, Police Procedural, Horror Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the deliciously dark, menacing and eerie The Butcher and the Wren. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE CHILLING SERIAL KILLER THRILLER FROM THE CO-HOST OF CHART-TOPPING PODCAST MORBID

WREN WAS NEVER AFRAID OF THE DARK. UNTIL SHE LEARNED THAT SOME MONSTERS ARE REAL . . .
_________

In deep Louisiana, a serial killer with a taste for medical experimentation is completing his most ambitious project yet. The media call him ‘The Butcher’ – and, so far, he’s proved impossible to catch.

With her encyclopaedic knowledge of humanity’s darkest minds, and years of experience examining their victims, forensic pathologist Dr Wren Muller is the best there is. The longer the Butcher’s killing spree continues, the more determined she is to bring him to justice.

And yet, he continues to elude her.

As body after body piles up on Wren’s examination table, her obsession grows. Pressure to put an end to the slaughter mounts. And her enemy becomes more brazen.

How far is Wren willing to go to draw the Butcher into the light . . .?

An addictive read with straight-from-the-morgue details only an autopsy technician could provide, The Butcher and the Wren promises to ensnare all who enter.

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MY REVIEW:

Wren was never afraid of the dark.  Until she learned that some monsters are real…

The Butcher and the Wren is a dark, menacing and forbidding game of cat and mouse that will send shivers down your spine.  This is one of those books best read in the daytime because if you read it in the dark you will never close your eyes…

Forensic pathologist Dr Wren Muller is determined to bring the killer known as ‘The Bayou Butcher’ to justice.  But as the body count rises, she fears she is no closer to finding the brutal murderer with a penchant for experimenting on his victims.  Then one day she notices a clue that changes the game completely.  Now she knows who he is and she is willing to do whatever it takes to stop him. 

“Catch me if you can.” 

Alaina Urquhart wields a scalpel as sharp as her protagonist in this outstanding debut.  Intricately woven, tightly plotted, fast-paced and unbearably tense, it oozed fear from its every pore and had me on the edge of my seat with my heart racing.  Darkly atmospheric and cleverly written, the author uses the power of suggestion to make your imagination go wild, conjuring imagery more horrifying than graphic descriptions could ever portray, though there are some gruesome moments too.  I devoured it quickly, unable to turn away even though I desperately wanted to. 

 “The feeling in this place is dark and ominous, saturated with the evil that has touched it for so long.”

Not only has Urquhart written a chilling story, but she’s created a truly terrifying villain.  Jeremy is particularly frightening because he seems like he could be anyone you know.  He is completely sane and aware of his actions, meticulously plans his every move, and seems so normal that his victims willingly accompany  him to their doom.  He’s the monster that lurks in the shadows or under your bed while also being the person sitting next to you on the bus or who chats to you at a bar.  He is what we don’t want to believe evil is made of.  

Ominous, suspenseful and filled with jaw-dropping twists that will take you by surprise, this is a must-read for any thriller lover.  Urquhart is my new favourite sinister storyteller and I can’t wait to read what she writes next.  Hopefully it will include Wren as I’d love to see her featured in a series. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon*| Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*These purchase links are affiliate links

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BLOG TOUR: An Ocean Apart by Sarah Lee

Published: September 29th, 2022
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Historical Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this marvellous novel. Thank you to Chloe at Pan Macmillan for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

It’s 1954 and, in Barbados, Ruby Haynes spots an advertisement for young women to train as nurses for the new National Health Service in Great Britain. Her sister, Connie, takes some persuading, but soon the sisters are on their way to a new country – and a whole new world of experiences.

As they start their training in Hertfordshire, they discover England isn’t quite the promised land; for every door that’s opened to them, the sisters find many slammed in their faces. And though the girls find friendships with their fellow nurses, Connie struggles with being so far from home, and keeping secret the daughter she has left behind in search of a better life for the both of them . . .

Inspired by real life stories of the Windrush Generation and her mother’s own experiences as a nurse coming to Britain from the Caribbean, Sarah Lee’s debut novel An Ocean Apart is a must for fans of Call the Midwife.

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MY REVIEW:

February 1954.  Sisters Connie and Ruby Hayes travel to the UK from Barbados to train as nurses for the newly formed National Health Services.  The sisters soon discover that England is not quite the promised land they were expecting and they face challenges they never expected.  

A story of friendship, love, hope and new beginnings, An Ocean Apart is a walk through a notable time in British history.  Inspired by her mother’s life and stories from the Windrush Generation, Sarah Lee tells the story of the women who left everything behind to become the foundation of our NHS.  Beautifully written and well researched, it is so evocative that I could taste the bland food and feel the cold English winter.  Lee doesn’t shy away from the difficult topics either, delivering an unflinching portrayal of intolerance, racism, PTSD and other important issues.

The story is narrated by Connie, Ruby and Billie, three strong, courageous and captivating women who were easy to root for, with Billie quickly becoming like a third Hayes sister.  Their stories really brought home the challenges and sacrifices of those who were the bedrock of our NHS.  I lost myself in their world and lived every emotion alongside them, so immersed in their stories that I could have kept reading about them forever and was bereft when the story ended.  There is also a cast of vivid and compelling background characters that help to tell this story.  The romantic liaisons and joyful friendships were a delight to read and the vile villain who subjected poor Ruby to such disgusting racism and bullying was brilliantly written.

Heartwarming, atmospheric and engaging, An Ocean Apart is a celebration of the NHS and the remarkable people who were part of its creation.  Perfect for fans of Call the Midwife, I would love to see this get its own TV adaptation and I’m hoping that Ms. Lee will turn this marvellous debut into a series so that I can return to these characters again and again.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Lee is a journalist and editor of 25 years, across news and features, and has written for regional and national newspapers as well as commissioned for women’s true life magazines. More recently, she has focused her attention on the world of travel, creating luxury blog. She also works with destinations and brands worldwide on storytelling marketing campaigns and conferences through her company, Captivate.

Her first book, AN OCEAN APART, is a saga about Windrush nurses, a topic to which she has a personal connection; her mother came to Britain from Barbados to work in the NHS, and many of the women she grew up around were Windrush nurses.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxxx

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

*All links are affiliate links

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BLOG TOUR: All That’s Left Unsaid by Tracey Lien

Published: September 15th, 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this remarkable debut. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

They claim they saw nothing. She knows they’re lying.
1996 – Cabramatta, Sydney

‘Just let him go.’

Those are words Ky Tran will forever regret. The words she spoke when her parents called to ask if they should let her younger brother Denny out to celebrate his high school graduation with friends. That night, Denny – optimistic, guileless Denny – is brutally murdered inside a busy restaurant in the Sydney suburb of Cabramatta, a refugee enclave facing violent crime, and an indifferent police force.

Returning home for the funeral, Ky learns that the police are stumped by her brother’s case. Even though several people were present at Denny’s murder, each bystander claims to have seen nothing, and they are all staying silent.

Determined to uncover the truth, Ky tracks down and questions the witnesses herself. But what she learns goes beyond what happened that fateful night. The silence has always been there, threaded through the generations, and Ky begins to expose the complex traumas weighing on those present the night Denny died. As she peels back the layers of the place that shaped her, she must confront more than the reasons her brother is dead. And once those truths have finally been spoken, how can any of them move on?

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MY REVIEW:

Cabramatta, Sydney. 1996.  Seventeen-year-old Denny Tran is brutally murdered while celebrating his high school graduation with his friends.  Everyone in the busy restaurant claims to have seen nothing, their fear of retribution holding the truth hostage.  Denny’s older sister Ky refuses to accept their denials or the police force’s indifference and embarks on her own quest to find out what happened to her brother.  But is she ready for what she will learn?

This is a truly remarkable debut.  Harrowing, moving and powerful, this is the story of the aftermath of a tragedy.  A tragedy shrouded in such secrecy that the truth is almost impossible to find.  This isn’t a book you simply read but one where you live every grief-laden word, the loss and heartbreak so raw that it almost makes you weep.  Though marketed as crime and mystery fiction, the novel has more of a  literary vibe as while Denny’s murder and the mystery surrounding it are part of the essence of the book, the other topics felt more prominent in the narrative than the crime itself.  I personally loved this but am aware that some hard-core thriller lovers might struggle with a more literary novel.

Exploring themes such as grief, family dynamics and cultural and societal divides alongside darker topics such as racism and prejudice, author Tracey Lien examines the Vietnamese community and how immigration to Australia affected the generations.  I knew nothing about many of the topics covered in this book before reading and enjoyed being educated while I read as I think it is important to read books that expand our knowledge of the world and other cultures. 

As Denny’s family try to come to terms with his death, they also struggle to fathom how this all-round good kid ended up the victim of such a vicious crime.  His older sister, Ky, is our main character.  Ky is feeling overwhelming guilt as she is the one who convinced her strict mother to allow Denny to attend the celebration the night he was killed and her heartache and torment is palpable. We also see how she struggles with the different way in which her Vietnamese parents grieve his loss, a cultural divide that leaves her feeling even more alone. It is just one example of the divide between immigrants and their children, who are more immersed in Australian society than their elders, and how it affects their understanding of each other.  
The other characters are equally as compelling and I especially liked that the author ensured that Denny felt as real as any other character thanks to the flashbacks that are peppered throughout the narrative.  His life is one that was extinguished far too soon and I mourned him, the tragedy, horror and devastating impact of his murder lingering over every page.

Complex, memorable and heart-shattering, All That’s Left Unsaid is a book I’d highly recommend.  An emotional journey that I couldn’t put down, this outstanding debut highlights Tracey Lien as an author to watch and I can’t wait to see what she writes next.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Tracey Lien was born and raised in southwestern Sydney, Australia. She earned her MFA at the University of Kansas and was previously a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. All That’s Left Unsaid is her first novel.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Squadpod Squadpod Book Club Squadpod Recommends

REVIEW: Bad Fruit by Ella King

Published: August 18th, 2022
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review of this dark and disturbing debut. Thank you to Harper Collins UK for the gifted copy.

This was the Squadpod Book Club August pick. Tune into our Twitter account at 7.30pm on August 30th for a live chat with the author.

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SYNOPSIS:

LILY IS A GOOD DAUGHTER

Every evening she pours Mama a glass of perfectly spoilt orange juice. She arranges the teddy bears on Mama’s quilt, she puts on her matching pink clothes. Anything to help put out the fire of Mama’s rage.

MAMA IS A GOOD LIAR

But Mama is becoming unpredictable, dangerous. And as she starts to unravel, so do the memories that Lily has kept locked away for so long.
She only wanted to be good, to help piece Mama back together. But as home truths creep out of the shadows, Lily must recast everything: what if her house isn’t a home – but a prison? What if Mama isn’t a protector – but a monster . . .

Gripping and devastating, from a voice that cuts as sharp as a knife, this is an unforgettable story about a family gone bad.

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MY REVIEW:

“Her power falls over the small space. Everyone is thrown into confusion, no one knows whether to look at her or not, to stop talking or continue. They are all in her thrall.”

Eighteen-year-old Lily does everything to please her mother; she carries out her every whim, makes her spoiled juice every night and even dyes her hair and paints her face to look more like the good Chinese daughter she wants.  But it is never enough.  Mama still finds fault with what she does and leaves Lily feeling bereft.  All she wants is to feel loved.  
As long-hidden truths begin to emerge and Lily slowly unlocks the mysteries surrounding Mama, she thinks she’s finally found the way to be the perfect daughter and win Mama’s approval.  But as things become clearer, Lily wonders if Mama is not actually her protector, but a monster….

Wow! What a crazy ride!  Disturbing, dark and twisted, Bad Fruit is a hard-hitting portrayal of a dysfunctional family that also explores themes of identity and self-discovery.  Author Ella King has crafted a multi-layered story filled with richly drawn and nuanced characters that explores difficult topics and asks hard questions.  King had me hooked, but there were also times I had to put the book down and breathe before picking it up again.

At the heart of this book is the mother/daughter relationship.  King strips bare the complexities of both this relationship and toxic families with such realism that it could be hard to read..  My heart ached for Lily.  Subservient to her mother and forced to act as a go-between for her mother and her siblings, her life is pretty bleak.  She tries to escape by locking herself away in her attic bedroom or riding her bike, but she can never escape what’s inside her head.  Her pain and desperation for love and acceptance bled from every page and I wanted to reach into the book and hug her.  

Then there is Mama.  Cruel, callous, cold, scathing and vengeful, she holds her whole family hostage with her emotions.  The author captured the essence of a toxic person so vividly in her that I would shiver every time she came onto the page and felt every bit of Lily’s apprehension and fear.  

Harrowing, unflinching and deeply human, Bad Fruit is a powerful debut from an author to watch.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ella King is a British-Singaporean novelist living in Greenwich, UK. She read Philosophy and Theology at Oxford University, is a graduate of Faber Academy’s novel-writing program, and is an award-winning writer, coming 3rd in the Aurora Prize for Short Fiction 2019 and winning the Blue Pencil Pitch Prize 2019. She’s worked as a corporate lawyer in London and for anti-human trafficking and domestic violence charities. Bad Fruit is her debut novel.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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BLOG TOUR: Isaac and the Egg by Bobby Palmer

Published: August 18th, 2022
Publisher: Headline
Genre: Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this extraordinary debut. Thank you to Headline for the invitation to take part in the tour and my gifted copies of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

This is the story of Isaac and the Egg, the most talked-about book of the year.



Isaac stands alone on a bridge and screams.

Something screams back.

And that, like everything which follows, is unforgettable.


This is a book about a lot of things – grief, hope, friendship, love. It’s also about what you’d do if you stumbled into the woods at dawn, found something extraordinary there, and decided to take it home.

It’s a tale that might seem familiar. But how it speaks to you will depend on how you’ve lived until now.

Sometimes, to get out of the woods, you have to go into them. Isaac and the Egg is one of the most hopeful, honest and wildly imaginative novels you will ever read.

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MY REVIEW:

“Reality is fragile.  All it takes is a gentle tap to break its shell.” 

Oh, my heart. 

I finished this book last night and I’m still at a loss for words.  This is a story that needs to be experienced.  You will laugh, cry, your heart will break and then it will mend.  There are times you will wonder what on earth you are reading.  But I urge you to keep going because the reward is truly spectacular.  A balm for the soul that will fill your heart with hope. 

This extraordinary debut takes you on an emotional journey alongside Isaac Addy,  a grieving man who feels he has nothing left to live for.  The story opens with him standing alone on a bridge.  He screams out into the void and, to his shock, something screams back.  What follows is a truly original story that will linger long after reading.

Author Bobby Palmer paints a picture with prose that is achingly real and raw. It is meticulously written, each word carefully chosen to convey the devastating chasm of grief so evocatively that I felt my own heart break and cried real tears, yet Palmer manages to turn the ashes of grief into a beautiful and hopeful story that everyone will be talking about.  

Atmospheric, luminous, hypnotic and dreamlike, Isaac and the Egg is without a doubt one of my top reads of the year.  This accomplished debut needs to be on every reader’s TBR.  And as for Bobby Palmer? Watch out world, a new literary star has arrived!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Bobby Palmer is a freelance journalist who writes for publications including GQ, Men’s Health, Time Out and Cosmopolitan. Isaac and the Egg is his first novel.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Are you planning on reading this book? Let me know in the comments.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

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

*All links are affiliate links

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BLOG TOUR: The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean

Published: August 18th, 2022
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, Fairy Tale, Horror Fiction, Contemporary Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day Sunyi Dean! I am delighted to be sharing my review for this darkly delicious debut on its book birthday. Thank you to Sasha at Pride Book Tours for the invitation to take part in the tour and to Sunyi Dean and Harper Voyager UK for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

A gorgeous new fantasy horror – a book about stories and fairy tales with family and love at its dark heart…

Perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clarke, and Let the Right One In

Hidden across England and Scotland live six old Book Eater families.

The last of their lines, they exist on the fringes of society and subsist on a diet of stories and legends.

Children are rare and their numbers have dwindled, so when Devon Fairweather’s second child is born a dreaded Mind Eater – a perversion of her own kind, who consumes not stories but the minds and souls of humans – she flees before he can be turned into a weapon for the family… or worse.

Living among humans and finding prey for her son, Devon seeks a cure for his hunger. But time is running out – for her family want her back, and with every soul her son consumes he loses a little more of himself…

This is a story of escape, a savage mother’s devotion and a queer love that will electrify readers looking for something beguiling, thrilling, strange and new.

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MY REVIEW:

“We consume written knowledge, her aunts and uncles had said so many times. We consume and store and collect all forms of paper flesh as the Collector created us to do, clothed as we are in the skin of human-kind.  But we do not read, and we cannot write. “

Wow.  Just, wow.  

The Book Eaters is a darkly delicious debut that you will get lost in.  This was a highly anticipated book for me from the moment I saw the magnificent cover and read the synopsis, but I was unprepared for just how special it would be or how I would fall deeper in love with every page.  I luxuriated in it, wanting to devour it quickly but choosing instead to take my time and savour every word as I never wanted it to end.  It is truly something special and I think I may have found my favourite book of the year so far.

The story explores a secret society hidden within the human world.  They wear our skin as their disguise but feast on books, are forbidden to read and cannot write.  They live in seclusion among one of the Six Families throughout the UK but their numbers are rapidly dwindling as daughters are extremely rare. 
Devon Fairweather no longer lives with her kind.  Instead she is hiding among humans in order to protect her five-year-old son, Cai who is a mind-eater – a rare genetic mutation that means he must feast on the brains and souls of humans to survive.  The Families would turn him into a weapon, so she must hide him while also searching the country for the one thing that can cure his hunger. But time is running out. Will she be able to find the cure before it’s too late?

“Like the other Families, the Fairweathers had libraries with a flavor all their own: vintage books stitched from carefully aged leather — the darker the better—with textured, embossed covers.”

This book is like nothing I’ve ever read before.  Sinister, atmospheric, hypnotic and ambitious, this is a clever twist on the usual fantasy novel.  There are characters who aren’t human and feast on books, a lesbian herione, asexual best friend, and even though they live in a patriarchal society, girls are highly desired and valued while boys are expendable.  There are even creative spins on the usual princesses, knights and dragons we see in fantasy books.  It is all so bizarre yet totally believable and I didn’t question it for one moment.  

Sunyi Dean is an exceptional talent who has crafted a story that is like a work of art.  From the first lines she draws you into the rich world she has created, the cinematic imagery bringing everything to life in vivid technicolour and immersing you in the story with her pitch perfect writing.  Before I’d even finished the first chapter I was utterly captivated and enthralled.  It is a book that fuels the imagination, almost as if I was devouring the book as hungrily as one of the book eaters to digest and experience every perfectly-written word.  I was also impressed that despite all of the world building and backstories that were told, the book never lost momentum or tension for a moment, keeping my heart racing until the very last page.  

“There were so many things to remember when she was out and around humans. Feigning cold was one of them…. having to feign a fear she never felt, but which should have ruled her.  Solitary human women walked with caution in the night. 
In short, Devon had to act like prey, and not like the predator she had become. “

The story is told over five acts that move smoothly between past and present.  It is narrated by Devon, who was easy to like and root for.  Despite not being human, I felt an immediate bond with her and loved everything about this strong, complex and tenacious rebel.  But I think it is her ferocity as a mother that I loved most of all.  In a society where mothers are separated from their children after a few years, Devon refuses to accept this from the start and risks everything to be a more traditional mother.  She proves just how far she’s willing to go for her children when she goes on the run with Cai instead of simply accepting the fate the Families have for him.  Cai should be a terrifying and abominable creation who turns our stomachs yet Ms. Dean manages to humanise him so that all we see is an innocent child who is forced to do terrible things to survive.  I found myself feeling more sadness for him than his victims, which surprised me and is a testament to Ms. Dean’s skills as an author.   

An astonishing and imaginative debut, The Book Eaters has everything the bibliophile fantasy-lover could want and more.  It made my mind come alive and I will never be able to look at my book collection the same way again.  I am hoping that the author turns this into a series as I am hungry for more stories from these characters, especially after that sensational ending.  

Sink your teeth into this moreish read ASAP.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮ 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sunyi Dean (sun-yee deen) is an autistic author of fantasy fiction. Originally born in the States and raised in Hong Kong, she now lives in Yorkshire with her children. When not reading, running, falling over in yoga, or rolling d20s, she sometimes escapes the city to wildswim in lonely dales.

Her short stories have featured in The Best of British Scifi Anthology, Prole, FFO, Tor Dot Com, etc., and her debut novel, THE BOOK EATERS, will be published 2 Aug 2022 by Tor (USA), and 18 Aug 2022 by Harper Voyager (UK). Available at all good bookstores, in ebook, hardback, and audio.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Are you planning to read this book? Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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

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Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Support Debuts

BLOG TOUR: Ginger and Me by Elissa Soave

Published: July 21st, 2022
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Dark Comedy, Coming-of-Age Story, Urban Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this poignant, funny and affecting debut. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Wendy is lonely but coping.
All nineteen-year-old Wendy wants is to drive the 255 bus around Uddingston with her regulars on board, remember to buy milk when it runs out and just to be okay. After her mum died, there’s nobody to remind her to eat and what to do each day.

And Wendy is ready to step out of her comfort zone.
Each week she shows her social worker the progress she’s made, like the coasters she bought to spruce up the place, even if she forgets to make tea. And she even joins a writers’ group to share the stories she writes, like the one about a bullied boy who goes to Mars.

But everything changes when Wendy meets Ginger.
A teenager with flaming orange hair, Ginger’s so brave she’s wearing a coat that isn’t even waterproof. For the first time, Wendy has a real best friend. But as they begin the summer of their lives, Wendy wonders if things were simpler before. And that’s before she realizes just how much trouble Ginger is about to get them in…

An unforgettable debut novel from the winner of the Primadonna Prize 2019 which will stay with you long after the last page.

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MY REVIEW:

“Ginger and me were best friends that summer, she was the first best friend I’d ever had.  I wish we could have stayed that way forever.” 

Ginger and Me opens in Polmont Prison with narrator Wendy sure that she will be set free as soon as the mysterious reason she is there is cleared up.  When she’s sent back to prison to await her trial after the initial hearing she is shocked and confused. 
We then jump back to a year earlier.  Wendy is living a solitary life following the death of her mother.  She drives her bus and goes home, her only visitor is her support worker, Saanvi, who comes by weekly and encourages Wendy to step out of her comfort zone.  Following her advice, Wendy befriends Ginger, a teenager she meets on her bus, and joins a local writing group.  It’s the happiest she’s ever been and it is all about to spiral into tragedy…

“Things hadn’t gone exactly as planned but still, the bond between us was getting stronger with every meeting. It had taken me a long time to find my soulmate but now that I had, there was no way I was going to mess it up.” 

Heartfelt, moving and achingly real, Ginger and Me is an accomplished debut that explores loneliness, grief, friendship, obsession and self-discovery. It claimed my attention quickly, the author holding me in the palm of her hands as she wove her lingering tale.  Steadily paced with a suspenseful atmosphere that looms over every page, it is a cornucopia of heartbreak, tragedy and trauma with heart and humour woven in to help bring light to the darkness.  And while we know from how it begins that Wendy will end up in prison, we don’t know what led her there, keeping me guessing and adding to the tension which builds to a shocking climax.  And that ending!  I still have chills.

“She was charismatic and fun, that’s what people forget when they focus on what happened later. I mean, if you read a book and your favourite character did something terrible on the first page, they’d never get the chance to become your favourite character, would they? No, you have to get to know them a bit first, learn what they are and what it is you like about them. Later when they do things you can’t deal with, well, it’s too late because you’re committed to liking them regardless.”

The story is narrated by Wendy, who talks directly to the reader, creating an intimate connection.  She is a likeable, quirky and interesting character who is very literal, doesn’t see the world the way others do, and often misses what people mean or is really happening.  It gives her an innocence and vulnerability that made me feel protective of her and there were times her lack of self-awareness broke my heart or made me cringe.  I wished I could jump into the book and gently explain what was going on to help her avoid embarrassment and heartache.  Ginger and Diane are also compelling characters.  We only ever see them through Wendy’s eyes yet the author manages to create unique connections between them and the reader too.  I felt a particular affection and maternal instinct towards Ginger, who is a troubled and often melancholy teenager who has a terrible home life and much darker problems that Wendy doesn’t quite grasp.  I could see how she was desperate to be rescued but there was no one to save her.  Elissa Soave took me on an emotional journey alongside these characters that lingers long after turning that final page.  

“I think if you read books, it calms you down. And it makes you realise there’s a place for everybody, no matter how weird.  It’s like, there’s a whole world out there and no one can stop you from entering, it’s open to anyone who wants to be part of it, even me. “

As a bibliophile, I love a book about books or characters who love books, so the fact that this book had both of those things made me so happy.  felt a deeper connection to Wendy because of her love of books and could understand some of her feelings towards Diane as I know that feeling when an author seems to be writing what you’re thinking.  All of the references to literature made this an even greater joy to read and made my bookish heart sing. 

Funny, dark and poignant, Ginger and Me is a memorable debut you need on your TBR.  

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

TW: Sexual abuse, death of a parent

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Elissa Soave is a Scottish writer. She won the Primadonna Prize 2019 and her debut novel, Ginger and Me, will be published by HQ Stories (HarperCollins) on 21 July 2022.

Elissa’s fiction is set in the domestic but often dangerous world of ordinary people. Her characters tend to be alienated, damaged, and often angry, but their perspective on the world and the way in which they deal with their problems will reassure readers of the resilience of the human spirit.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links