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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The New Mother by Julia Crouch

Published: October 12th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this heart-pounding psychological thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Who would you trust with your precious family?

Wanted: full-time, live-in help for expectant mother. Must be organised, friendly and willing to do anything.

Rachel is determined to be the perfect mother. She has a birth plan, with a playlist and a bag ready by the door. She’s chosen a lovely light cream paint for the nursery, and in wide-eyed, innocent Abbie she’s found the perfect person to help her with her baby.

After all, every mother needs a bit of help, don’t they?

But Rachel needs a little more than most.

She still makes sure her bedroom door is locked before she goes to sleep. She still checks the cameras that are dotted throughout the house.

Rachel trusts Abbie. Even if Abbie’s smiles don’t always reach her eyes, and the stories she tells about her past don’t always add up, it doesn’t matter.

Because Rachel knows better than to trust herself…

From the bestselling author of Her Husband’s Lover, this is a truly gripping story about how far people will go to find a family. Filled with tension and twists to keep you glued to every page, it is perfect for fans of Ruth Ware, Shari LaPena and The Girl on the Train.

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MY REVIEW:

Social media influencer Rachel Rodrigues is about to have her first child, so she advertises on her page for live-in help; someone who will see to her needs as well as those of  her unborn child. Abbie James is Rachel’s biggest fan and can’t believe her luck when she lands the position. But her illusions are soon shattered when she discovers that Rachel’s picture-perfect, #authentic life is actually a carefully curated facade. As the anger and resentment grows, the dark secrets that both women are hiding are slowly revealed, the tension bubbling until it boils over in a heart-pounding finale that will leave you breathless.

Wow! What a ride! This was my first foray into Julia Crouch’s books but it won’t be my last. She had me hooked from the start, suspense and  mystery seeping from every page. The story is narrated by both Rachel and Abbie, who are richly drawn, compelling and unreliable. Rachel is the controlling, difficult and wayward influencer whose life isn’t quite what she sells online, while Abbie is the girl from a difficult background with dreams of a better life who sees Rachel as a kind of saviour. Both women airbrush the truth about themselves to be better liked or get ahead and I liked how they seem to switch roles in terms of who is the good guy or bad guy at different times in the story. 

Rachel’s job as an influencer is a big part of the story. The author not only uses this in the plot itself, but breaks up the story with sporadic ‘Instagram Posts’ that detail some of Rachel’s online content. I loved how these posts created a contrast with what was happening in the narrative, revealing the staged aspect of so-called real life on social media. The author uses Rachel’s influencer status to explore the more damaging aspects of this phenomenon, looking at the effect this can have on the mental and emotional wellbeing of both the poster and the consumer, and making you think about what you see and post online.

Taut, tense, twisty and unputdownable, I loved this gripping psychological thriller and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys this genre.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Julia started off as a theatre director and playwright. While her children were growing up, she swerved into graphic design. After writing and illustrating two children’s books for an MA, she discovered that her great love was writing prose. The picture books were deemed too dark for publication, so, to save the children, she turned instead to writing for adults. Her first book, Cuckoo, was published in 2011, and she has been writing what she calls her Domestic Noir novels ever since. She also writes for TV and teaches on the Crime Writing MA at the University of East Anglia. She has three grown up children and lives in Brighton with her husband and two cats, Keith and Sandra.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon| Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cooke

Published: September 30th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Gothic Fiction, Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Supernatural Fiction, Fairy Tale
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this gorgeously gothic novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins UK for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Upon the cliffs of a remote Scottish island, Lòn Haven, stands a lighthouse.

A lighthouse that has weathered more than storms.

Mysterious and terrible events have happened on this island. It started with a witch hunt. Now, centuries later, islanders are vanishing without explanation.

Coincidence? Or curse?

Liv Stay flees to the island with her three daughters, in search of a home. She doesn’t believe in witches, or dark omens, or hauntings. But within months, her daughter Luna will be the only one of them left.

Twenty years later, Luna is drawn back to the place her family vanished. As the last sister left, it’s up to her to find out the truth . . .

But what really happened at the lighthouse all those years ago?

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MY REVIEW:

“I wasn’t yet wise enough to be terrified.”

A cold, sparsely populated Scottish Island, a deserted and decrepit lighthouse, strange goings on and tales of witches, curses and wildlings. What could be more perfect to read during October?

Bursting with atmosphere, mythology and folklore, this chilling and mysterious tale had me in it’s grasp from beginning to end. There’s a sense of foreboding that pervades the pages; a haunting aura that lingers over every carefully crafted sentence. I devoured this book, unable to put it down despite the goosebumps that pricked my skin.

“The story of her past is not like other people’s, she thinks. Most people’s past can be viewed like cleaved water left in the wake of a boat. Hers? It’s a tangled weave of spider webs and nightmares, never to make sense.”

The story is told in dual timelines: 1998 when Liv Stay has moved to the isle of Lon Haven with her children Sapphire (Saffy), Luna and Clover after being commissioned to paint a mural in the Longing, and 2021 when a now twenty-nine-year-old Luna is pregnant with her first child and still searching for her mother and sisters, who went missing all those years ago. There are also flashbacks to the witch trials of 1662 in the form of a grimoire that young Saffy finds in the bothy and begins reading. The author seamlessly shifts between the three timelines, giving each a distinctive voice and perfectly capturing the different eras. While you know each timeline must be connected, the author keeps you guessing as to how, slowly and teasingly weaving the threads together until you see the full and intricate picture she has woven. The characters are all evocative and compelling, luring you into their stories so deeply that you can’t leave until you know all the secrets they keep locked inside.

“The Longing. The name conjures such terror, such complex memories.”

Gorgeously gothic, the author makes great use of places to help create an atmosphere that sends shivers down your spine. Lon Haven is a place that conjures feelings of claustrophobia and isolation. In the middle of nowhere, it is inhabited by strange residents who tell crazy tales and there is a feeling of fear whether anyone who goes there can make it out again. And then there’s the Longing, which casts a sinister shadow over the story from the start. An eerie, haunting place that is falling apart, we soon learn that it is a place the locals avoid thanks to a history that involves women accused of witchcraft, curses and death. Liv quickly notices strange occurrences happening there and begins to wonder about the tales Isla and others have told her about the Longing. Could they be true? Could it really be cursed? And if so, what does that mean for her and her daughters? 

Enthralling, immersive and filled with gothic menace, The Lighthouse Witches is the perfect read for spooky season.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

CJ Cooke, also known as Carolyn Jess-Cooke, grew up on a council estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the height of the Troubles. She started writing at the age of 7 and pestered publishers for many years with manuscripts typed on her grandparents’ old typewriter and cover notes written on pages ripped from school jotters. 

Since then, she has published 12 works in 23 languages and won numerous awards, including an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, a Tyrone Guthrie Prize, a K Blundell Award, and she has won a Northern Writer’s Award three times. In 2011, her debut novel, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, was published by Little, Brown. The novel was an international bestseller. Her second novel, The Boy Who Could See Demons (2012), is now a cult classic. Her sixth novel, The Lighthouse Witches, is published in September 2021, and her third poetry collection, We Have to Leave the Earth, is published in October 2021. CJ’s work is concerned with trauma, motherhood, grief, and social justice.

CJ holds a BA (Hons), MA, and PhD from Queen’s University, Belfast, and commenced her academic career in 2005 as a Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Sunderland. Shortly thereafter, she published four academic works in swift succession on Shakespearean Cinema and Film Sequels, before establishing her career as a poet, editor, and novelist. Now Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, CJ convenes the prestigious MLitt Creative Writing and researches ways that creative writing can help with trauma and mental health. She is also the founder and director of the Stay-at-Home! Literary Festival, which is dedicated to providing people with accessible, inclusive, and eco-friendly ways to access literature. She has four children and lives with her family in Glasgow, Scotland.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

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

It’s not the killing, that’s not the thing. Gotta watch, moniter, think, a lot, and – come the time – carve into the void. That’s it. Carve into the void. Find a way to make the universe shrink, to make it shrink till it’s condensed into the barrel of the gun or the point of the knife. That’s all. Don’t ask any questions, don’t be driven by anger, choose protocol, and proceed methodically.”

Today’s captivating first lines are taken from the international bestseller, The Anomaly by Hervé le Tellier., which is published in the UK on January 20th. I was fortunate to recently receive a copy along with some great book swag and I’m looking forward to diving into this one very soon.

SYNOPSIS:

WINNER OF THE PRIX GONCOURT. 1 MILLION COPIES SOLD. AN INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON.

What do you do if your life is no longer your own?

When flight Air France 006 enters a terrifying storm, the plane – inexplicably – duplicates. For every passenger on board that day, there are now two – a double with the same mind, body and memories.

Just one thing sets them apart. One plane leaves the storm in March. The other doesn’t land until June. For world leaders, the emergence of the June flight raises serious alarms. No science, faith, or protocol can explain this unprecedented event.

But for the passengers, a bigger question is at stake. What happens to them, now that their life is shared? What happens to those who land in June, when their March doubles make decisions that will change their lives forever?

And as the doubles prepare to meet, they have an extraordinary decision to make.

If there are two of them, and just one life – who gets to live it?

A runaway bestseller and winner of the 2020 Prix Goncourt, The Anomaly is a genre-defying, whip-smart novel that explores the very essence of who we are.

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How amazing does that sound? If I’ve tempted you, then you can pre-order your copy here*

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

*This is an affiliate link

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: What She Did by Carla Kovach

Published: September 20th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Crime Fiction
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this gripping thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Marissa lives alone in her tiny one-bed apartment. It’s quiet and safe; all she’s ever wanted. But when the police knock on her door with the news that her last remaining family member has died, she comes face to face with the family secret she has spent a lifetime running from.

A witness saw her car outside his house that day, but Marissa knows she’s innocent. She hasn’t seen her uncle in years and remembers going to bed in her own home that night. But she’s had blackouts before and can’t always trust her memory.

Days later, Marissa’s neighbour is found dead in his home, exactly like her uncle. It was no secret that Marissa didn’t get on with her neighbour, but she’d never want to see him hurt.

As you read, you’ll think you know where to draw the line between innocence and guilt. But blame is a dangerous thing, and nothing is ever what it seems…

Perfect for fans of C.L. Taylor, Teresa Driscoll and Lisa Jewell, What She Did is a dark and twisty crime thriller that will keep you up all night!

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MY REVIEW:

I am a big fan of Carla Kovach’s Gina Harte series so when I heard that she’d written her first standalone thriller, I was excited to read it. As much as I love a series I always enjoy getting to know fresh characters in a standalone and I was interested to see if this would have the same vibe as the series or feel totally different. 

What She Did is a taut, tense and gripping thriller that centres around a young woman named Marissa who has a tragic backstory full of loss, heartache and trauma.  When she was just  five-years-old she witnessed her mother’s murder while hiding under the bed. The killer was never caught and she is still haunted by that night and lives in fear that the killer will one day come back for her too. Sadly, that night was just the beginning of her nightmare, and when she went to live with her aunt and uncle she found not solace, but cruelty and abuse. These events, and other secrets she is hiding, still linger and have left her isolated, fearful and scared to trust. 

Now twenty-eight and living in an apartment and working towards her dream of owning the cottage that was special to her and her mother, Marissa’s life spirals out of control after her uncle is murdered. She can’t remember where she was or what she did the night it happened and, plagued by sleepwalking since childhood, she can’t trust her memory of events. Could she have killed him? When the neighbour she has been arguing with is also found dead just a few days later after a similar blackout, Marissa really begins to question what’s going on. She is sure she didn’t kill them. But how can she prove it when she can’t remember? And why does it seem like someone is out to frame her?

Carla Kovach has proven with this book that she can write any thriller and knock it out of the park. As much as I love the Gina Harte series and her team, this novel shows us that even with all new characters and a totally different storyline, she can keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. The story moves seamlessly between dual timelines using flashbacks to significant events in Marissa’s life. This was a vital tool in helping us to understand her paranoid and skittish behaviour, inability to trust and why she has almost no friends or family. I just wanted to reach into the book, put my arms around her, and comfort her, especially in the scenes when she is a young child; I wanted to protect her from witnessing her mother’s murder or rescue her from her vile aunt and uncle’s clutches. Her pain was palpable and my heart broke for her.

But Marissa is also an unreliable narrator and we are never quite sure what is true and what is paranoia. While I was rooting for her and wanted her to be innocent, part of me was never quite sure, and I really enjoyed that. I think it’s a talent to make a reader like a character while also making it possible that they have committed awful crimes, and Ms. Kovach pulled it off expertly. This unreliability also meant that we were never sure if she really is being followed or set up, so it made it hard to know what to make of some of the other characters and know if things were red herrings. I loved the tension this added and how it kept me on my toes. And when the truth was revealed I was totally blindsided by a scenario that I had never even contemplated. Bravo, Ms. Kovach. Bravo.

Captivating and twisty, What She Did is a first-rate psychological thriller from one of my favourite writers in the genre. Definitely one not to be missed.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones*| Amazon | Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo
*This is an affiliate link

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Extract

Blog Tour – Extract: Dark Things I Adore by Katie

Happy Publication Day to Dark Things I Adore. I’m delighted to be celebrating publication day with an exclusive extract from this haunting novel.

Thank you to Titan books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

Extract

Audra
FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2018

“That’s what I’m saying. My work should go there. Architecture of Radiance should go there.” I can hear the fight in him. The thinly veiled frustration. I’ve come to know his energies and emotions well over the many months we’ve been working together. “I’ve earned it. In all the years I’ve been here, I’ve never made it into the Polk Room at all, forget about the Warhol spot. I know there is precedent for faculty art being shown in the Polk Room. You can’t tell me there isn’t precedent.”
“There is precedent, yes, but faculty art hasn’t been hung in the Polk Room in more than ten years. It just isn’t done anymore. You know that, Max. I’ve been here a long time, but so have you. You know how it works.” She sounds tired. Like this is an argument they’ve had many times before. “Trust me,” she sighs, “nearly every one of your colleagues has asked for that coveted spot. None of them will get it. It’s not personal. We have the Warhol, those few Picasso sketches in there, and the new Amy Sherold—”
“I am the institute’s most renowned faculty member and artist,” Max steamrolls her, his voice echoing down the corridor. I press my fingers to my lips, amused by his pluck. “It’s my faculty picture you push to the front of our website during admissions season every year. It’s my paintings and awards and write-ups and reviews you feature in alumni newsletters. Not Okende or Grant or Fitzherbert.” I smirk.
He has got some name recognition, and they use that to maximum benefit around here, it’s true. But he’s not the only one. And, to be honest, most of his notoriety is two decades behind him—and everyone knows it. Even Max. Especially Max. He was short-listed for the Guggenheim’s Hugo Boss Award in 1995 and hasn’t let anyone forget about it since. Most of what he’s done since then have been…lesser versions of those evocative works. As one of my crueler classmates put it, Max is an artist somehow derivative of himself.
“Max—” Switzer hisses, their voices echoing into the vacant corridor. “Stop this. You’re overstepping. We have a full roster of dazzlingly talented and well-regarded faculty here at our school. This is not the Max Durant Institute for the Visual Arts. This is the Boston Institute—”
“May as well be the former, and you know it.” I have to cover my mouth to keep from laughing my astonishment out loud. My eyes dart around the empty, gaping maw of the pinned-back double doors. They must be just off to the side. I can imagine Max, hands on hips, defiant, glowering down at the petite, choppy-haired Switzer, who no doubt is giving him as weary a look as he is giving her a ferocious one. “I helped make this place what it is. I’ve been here fifteen years. Fifteen years.”
“Yeah, I know how long you’ve been here, my friend. I got you the job, if you’d care to remember.” She sighs. I can imagine her rubbing the bridge of her nose, trying to ward off a growing headache. I hear her starting to move toward the exit. I spring up lightly and jog down the hall a little, leaning into a dark alcove so I can watch them unseen. What a fun bit of theatre my Max is constructing. She breaks into the hall first, followed hotly by Max.
“What a fucked-up thing to say,” Max says. “You didn’t get me anything.”
“You know what I mean. I’ve been here for twenty-four years, Max. I was instrumental in getting you a position here—” Max starts to growl in protest. “Which I was happy to do because you are a credit to this institution,” she says firmly but quickly, trying to head off his anger. “But this institution is also a credit to you. None of us should ever forget that.”
Max runs his hand through his black hair. It’s flecked with gray and long enough to have a handsome, foppish part. He tries another tack. “Think of the renaissance this place has undergone during my tenure.”
“Without a doubt. But you did not do it alone.” It’s like she’s talking to a petulant child.
“But I’m why you manage to get your grubby little hands on Picassos and Warhols and Sherolds in the first place. The Polk Room has the exclusivity it has because of people like me who have worked to make this place a destination. Even you must see that!”
“My grubby little hands,” Switzer growls, her voice dropping to something more secretive, angrier. “Max,” she says with barely contained rage, “we have known each other for many years. Many, many years. You are, somehow, one of my best friends. And that is the only reason I am not going to formally reprimand you. But remember yourself, man. I am the president of this school. I am your boss. So you’d better chill the fuck out.” Switzer has her laptop pressed to her side under one arm and is pointing directly in Max’s face with her other hand.
Max’s jaw grinds. “If I don’t get the Warhol spot in the Polk Room in our own Boston Institute Gallery over the summer, there will be hell to pay. And you will pay it. You.” He points right at her.
“Is that a threat, Max?” Switzer stands a little taller against his increasingly out-of-control tone.
A wolfish smile curls onto his lips. “No, Dana. No, of course not.” His voice softens, almost seductive. An about-face. “I—” He takes a breath, shakes his head out. It relaxes his countenance, makes him handsome and almost gentle again. “I’m sorry I lost my cool.” He breathes in through his nose, puts his fists on his hips. “You’re right—we are good friends. Excellent friends. We go way back. Which is why I know you will do the right thing here—”
“Max…” she groans, rubbing her eyes.
“I just feel that after all this time,” he pushes on, “and after all I have meant to the school, my body of work should speak for itself. That if there were ever a time for this institution to make a gesture on my behalf, after all I have done to bring acclaim to this place, that time would be now. That gesture would be this.” The two painters and professors look at each other. Switzer softens minutely at Max’s deep-blue eyes. I know the power of those eyes, of what they can do. I barely remember to breathe. Max and I have discussed this very thing many times at this point—his work going in the Polk Room. I know what it would mean to him. A silence has fallen between them, and Switzer seems to be relenting. “It would cost you nothing,” he goes on gently. “Nothing but a little humility. Which I know for you is asking a lot.” His tone shifts sharply, venomous.
Oh, Max. So close.
“You know what, Max, Professor Durant, why don’t you go take a flying leap.” Switzer turns away from him and storms around the corner. She’s completely disappeared within seconds. I look at Professor Durant, astonished at what I have just so publicly witnessed. To talk to the president of the institute that way—even if they do consider themselves friends.
He looks pleased with himself. I study him in this secret moment, in this hidden frame in the film reel, and I see that he is relishing the small pain he has caused her. He made her fight him, soften, and then take a sucker punch. But then the bright glimmer of pleasure on his face drops away as quickly as it came. Something stormy moves in within seconds. The pleasure of the snipe is gone. He’s left only with his failure. With that empty wall in the Polk Room. He grabs the edge of a nearby table and violently lifts and slams its legs once, twice, three times into the floor. I jump at the noise as it echoes around the hall. He lets go, sucks in air sharply between his teeth, and pulls his hand up—it must be bleeding. He
sucks on the skin between his thumb and forefinger.
His eyes finally fall on me.
Max Durant sees me. He removes his hand from his mouth, and like a mask, slides the charming smile I have come to know so well back on his face. His brow loses its storm, his vague snarl clears. Seeing me brings him back to himself.
Oh, yes, Max sees me.
And I see him, too.

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If that has tempted you, here is more info to whet your appetite…

SYNOPSIS:

Three campfire secrets. Two witnesses. One dead in the trees. And the woman, thirty years later, bent on making the guilty finally pay.

1988. A group of outcasts gather at a small, prestigious arts camp nestled in the Maine woods. They’re the painters: bright, hopeful, teeming with potential. But secrets and dark ambitions rise like smoke from a campfire, and the truths they tell will come back to haunt them in ways more deadly than they dreamed.

2018. Esteemed art professor Max Durant arrives at his protégé’s remote home to view her graduate thesis collection. He knows Audra is beautiful and brilliant. He knows being invited into her private world is a rare gift. But he doesn’t know that Audra has engineered every aspect of their weekend together. Every detail, every conversation. Audra has woven the perfect web.

Only Audra knows what happened that summer in 1988. Max’s secret, and the dark things that followed. And even though it won’t be easy, Audra knows someone must pay.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Katie Lattari [Luh-tairy] holds degrees from the University of Maine and the University of Notre Dame. Her first novel, American Vaudeville, a small indie press work, was published in 2016 and had previously been a semi-finalist in Subito Press’s annual fiction contest in 2013.

Her short fiction has been published in such places as NOO Journal, The Bend, Stolen Island, Cabildo Quarterly, Pennsylvania English, The Writing Disorder, and more. Her short story “No Protections, Only Powers” was a finalist in the Neoverse Short Story Writing Competition and later anthologized in Threads: A Neoverse Anthology.

This coming September 14, 2021, her debut thriller Dark Things I Adore will be published by Sourcebooks Landmark.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Katie now lives in Bangor, Maine, with her husband Kevin, and their cat, Alex. 

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Trapped Wife by Samantha Hayes

Published: September 8th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this sensational thriller. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The rain hammers the glass outside. My husband has stoked the wood burner with a fresh supply of logs, and I’ve just put a joint of beef in the oven. It’s the most clichéd Sunday afternoon ever, and it’s the most heavenly one, too. Little do I know that days later, the ash in the fire will be all that remains of us…

My perfect life…

I thought I had it all – a dream job as a doctor in small town, a stunning home and a family I adore – but that illusion shattered the moment my husband Jeremy left on a work trip and vanished without a trace. Now my son and I are all alone in the world.

My missing husband…

My best friend thinks Jeremy had an accident up in the mountains, that I’ll never see him again and need to move on. I know he loves us too much to ever abandon us, but my head is still spinning with the texts I found on his phone before he left. Did I ever really know the man I married?

The night I can’t remember…

Everything changed the night of the medical conference weeks before Jeremy disappeared. I wrack my brains for answers, but my memory goes blank after my first drink. Ever since, I’ve felt like I’m being followed and can’t explain why panic thunders in my chest every time I see my newest patient. If he’s not local to the village, then why does he seem so familiar? And so dangerous?

As I piece together the shards of what really happened that fateful evening, only one thing can possibly be true: everyone is lying, even me…

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MY REVIEW:

Samantha Hay is the queen of misdirection, red herrings and curveballs. And her latest book, The Trapped Wife, is just as tense and twisty as her others. And that ending? I did NOT see it coming. Not one bit. After being so sure I had it figured out she totally blindsided, leaving me with my jaw on the floor trying to figure out how on earth she’d done it yet again.

Jennifer Miller is trying to piece her life back together after the recent death of her husband in a tragic accident. The golden couple seemed to have it all. But behind closed doors was a different story, one that Jen is still trying to conceal after Jeremy’s death. She hasn’t even confided these secrets in her best friend, especially the dark secret about the night she can’t really remember; the night that echoes in her memory through fleeting flashbacks. But then one of those secrets comes back to haunt her in person and Jen finds herself in a living nightmare. 

In a second timeline we meet a young, troubled boy full of dark thoughts. He forms a bond with a kindred spirit, creating a club where they fantasise about revenge on those who have hurt them. It’s all harmless fun, until one day when he decided to make the fantasies a reality. But just how are the two timelines connected? What could this troubled boy have to do with the respectable widow? I had so many suspicions and predictions, but were they right? 

Ms. Hayes is one of my auto-read thriller authors. When you pick up one of her books you know you’re getting a gripping thriller and, once again, she did not disappoint. Cleverly plotted, intricately woven, and full of crazy twists, the author has filled this book with emotion, yet there is a coldness that lingers over the pages. An emptiness that doesn’t only surround the loss of Jeremy, whose presence is always felt despite his death happening before the story begins. There is a pervading atmosphere of malice and foreboding; a powder keg just waiting for a spark. And when it did, it exploded many lives in the process. I tore through the pages, not wanting to put it down or even sleep. Though I eventually forced myself to sleep at 2am and finished it the next day.

The characters are brilliantly written and compelling. There’s an increasing sense of claustrophobia as Jen’s world closes in around her, her stress and anxiety rising as she tries to stop it from crumbling even more. Scott is such a fantastic villain that he sent shivers down my spine each time he was on the page, the feelings he gave Jen radiating from the pages into my own body. He oozes malevolence and I had no doubt he’d stop at nothing to get what he’d set his sights on. I really liked Rhonda, Jen’s best friend. She was a great character who went out of her way to help her friend, and I was shouting at the book for Jen to just confide the truth to her so they could work together to figure things out and escape his clutches.

But nothing, and no-one, is what they seem in this twisty story. There are secrets much darker than you imagine lurking in the shadows. Revelations that will make your head spin. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, and I’m still reeling from that final twist that hit out of the blue.

Fiendishly dark, surprising and suspenseful, The Trapped Wife is a must read for any thriller lover. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Hayes grew up in a creative family where her love of writing began as a child. Samantha has written eight thrillers in total, including the bestselling Until You’re Mine. The Independent said “fantastically written and very tense” while Good Housekeeping said “Her believable psychological thrillers are completely gripping.” Samantha’s books are published in 22 languages at the last count.

When not writing, Samantha loves to cook, go to the gym, see friends and drink nice wine. She is also studying for a degree in psychotherapy. She has three grown-up children and lives in Warwickshire.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon| Google Books| Apple Books| Kobo

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this breathtaking thriller. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

SOME LESSONS CAN BE DEADLY . . .

Teddy Crutcher won Teacher of the Year at the prestigious Belmont Academy. Everyone thinks he’s brilliant.
Only you know the truth.

They all smile when he tells us his wife couldn’t be more proud.
But no-one has seen her in a while.

They’re impressed when he doesn’t let anything distract him – even the tragic death of a school parent.
Even when the whispers start, saying it was murder.

You’re sure Teddy is hiding something about what happened that day.

You’re sure you can prove it.

But you didn’t stop to think that when it comes to catching a killer, there’s no place more dangerous than just one step behind . . .

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MY REVIEW:

Dark academia, deadly secrets and a dash of poison. A teacher who will do anything for his students. Entitled rich kids and their parents who will do whatever it takes to guarantee their success. But it’s all for your own good…

Samantha Downing is one of the freshest and most outstanding voices in thriller fiction today. So when I heard her latest book was dark academia and has been optioned by HBO Max and Robert Downey Jnr, I was there with bells on. As a huge fan of this author, my expectations were high, and she blew them out of the water.

Unnerving, atmospheric and intriguing, For Your Own Good is a Russian doll of a book; so many hidden layers, secrets, twists and turns just waiting to be revealed. And every time you think you have it figured out, you find something else nesting inside. Exquisitely written, cleverly crafted, and deftly told, Ms. Downing just gets better and better. She had me so transfixed that I couldn’t stop thinking about the book and felt desperate to get back to it when I wasn’t reading. 

The story is told from multiple points of view, taking us inside the minds of students and teachers at Belmont Academy, a private prep school full of entitled rich students under pressure to be the best of the best. Only the elite attend. And kids find themselves caught between demanding teachers and parents who will accept nothing but the best from them. It’s for them, they are told. For their futures. So they don’t complain or argue. They endure and survive. 

This is a book filled with deeply flawed characters. Even the most likeable ones are not always what they first appear to be; something darker lurking beneath the surface. They all have their masks they wear to make it through each day: whether it’s Teddy and his perfect teacher mode, Sonia telling herself that “today will be a good day” and talking herself down from her competitiveness, or Zach plastering on a smile and nodding in agreement with his parents or teachers while dying inside. They are all brilliantly written, the author once again using her skill of bringing characters to life to evoke a visceral reaction in the reader. 

Our main protagonist is Teddy Crutcher. Recently crowned Teacher of the Year, Teddy is a petty, bitter man with a superiority complex. He seems to dislike everyone, thinking the worst of them, and delights in doing anything possible to pull them down or take revenge over the smallest perceived slight. But he tells himself he’s helping them, making them better people and teaching them life lessons. And he’s willing to go to extraordinary lengths to do that. Including murder. Teddy is brilliantly written. He’s instantly unlikeable, though the true depths of his villainy are hidden behind a mask of professionalism  and delusion. Cold, callous and calculating, the truly frightening thing about him is that he is totally unapologetic of his actions, even proud of them, and sees himself as these people’s saviour. All while plotting their downfall and demise. 

Deliciously dark, devious and menacing, the tension rises with every shocking twist in this propulsive thriller. It will make your jaw hit the floor and leave you reeling. But the author balances that with moments of dark humour and emotion that enhance the charm of this book. If you love a well-written and atmospheric thriller, then this is for you. Read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Samantha Downing is the author of the bestselling My Lovely Wife, nominated for Edgar, ITW, Macavity, and CWA awards. Amazon Studios and Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films have partnered to produce a feature film based on the novel. Her second book, He Started It, was released in 2020 and became an instant international bestseller.

For Your Own Good was released on July 20, 2021. It has been optioned by Robert Downey Jr. and Greg Berlanti for HBO Max.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Next of Kin by Kia Abdullah

Published: September 2nd, 2021
Publisher: HQ
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Legal Thriller, Legal Story, Domestic Fiction, Political Thriller,
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this outstanding legal thriller. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

ON AN ORDINARY WORKING DAY…

Leila Syed receives a call that cleaves her life in two. Her brother-in-law’s voice is filled with panic. His son’s nursery has called to ask where little Max is.

YOUR WORST NIGHTMARE…

Leila was supposed to drop Max off that morning. But she forgot.

Racing to the carpark, she grasps the horror of what she has done.

IS ABOUT TO COME TRUE…

What follows is an explosive, high-profile trial that will tear the family apart. But as the case progresses it becomes clear there’s more to this incident than meets the eye…

A gripping, brave and tense courtroom drama, Next of Kin will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final, heart-stopping page.

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MY REVIEW:

Next of Kin examines a truly devastating tragedy: the accidental death of a child caused by his loving aunt. She claims she forgot he was in the back of the car but the prosecution says she left him there deliberately. Who is telling the truth?

Authors take note, because THIS is how you write a gripping legal thriller. Once again, Abdullah takes a shocking crime and puts a thought-provoking spin on things. This trope is proving to be her signature and forte; executed to perfection each time as she makes you ponder the grey areas of a crime, holds you hostage in breathless anticipation, and throws in some shocking twists. 

The book opens with a normal family get together that quickly gives way to crushing and heartbreaking scenes as three-year-old Max dies after being left in a hot car by his Aunt, Leila. As we learn his fate the pain and anguish is palpable. It is like  you can actually feel their hearts shattering. Tears stung my eyes and my heart ached as I read. The emotions continue to leap from the pages as the family try to deal with Max’s tragic death, Leila’s possible guilt, the impending court case, and an array of family secrets lurking in the shadows. 

Every facet of this book is spectacularly written. The story and characters are nuanced, compelling and full of depth. As with all this author’s books, this is a story that has many layers and deals with a multitude of topics, going beyond simply the crime that took place. At the heart of this book is a family who have been visited by tragedy many times. She explores the effect this has on mental health and how trauma and jealousy can affect our perception of people and events, often clouding our ability to see things clearly. She asks just how much someone can take before they break and examines the complicated threads that can both hold a family together and threaten to tear it apart. 

Another aspect of Ms. Abdullah’s books I admire, is how she uses them as a social commentary, focusing on a different issue in each one. In Next of Kin it is childless women. Leila isn’t a mother, and through this she explores how it feels to be a childless woman in our society. She shows how these women are scorned, viewed as cold and selfish and looked down upon. In Leila’s case, her childlessness is even used against her as a reason she’d want to kill her nephew, adding to the already pervading sense of injustice you feel on her behalf.

Sizzling with tension, this book will keep you on the edge of your seat right until the last page, the author slowly peeling away the layers to reveal the hidden truth. And just when I thought I’d got it all figured out… Holy twist, Batman! In comes a curve ball that hits like a bomb and blows everything I thought I knew into pieces. Days later I’m still reeling from the shock. 

Gritty, hard-hitting and addictive, this is one of the best legal thrillers I’ve ever read. Ms. Abdullah just keeps getting better and better and is now my go-to author recommendation in this genre, overtaking John Grisham, who I’ve been a huge fan of since my mid teens. If you haven’t read her books, then what are you waiting for? Do it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From the author’s website:
Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. Her novel Take It Back was named one of the best thrillers of the year by The Guardian and Telegraph and was selected for an industry-first audio serialisation by HarperCollins and The Pigeonhole. Her follow-up novel, Truth Be Told, is out now (Mar 2021, HarperCollins).

Kia has written for The New York TimesThe GuardianThe FTThe Telegraphthe BBC and The Times, and is the founder of Asian Booklist, a nonprofit that advocates for diversity in publishing. 

Born in Tower Hamlets in East London, Kia was raised in a family of eight children. As the most stubborn of six daughters, she constantly found herself in trouble for making choices that clashed with her parents’, a habit they came to accept when she became their first and only child to graduate from university – with a degree in Computer Science.

In 2007, Kia left her job in tech to pursue the one thing she had always wanted: a career as a writer, taking a 50% pay cut in the process. She worked as sub-editor and later features editor at Asian Woman Magazine where she interviewed British-Asian luminaries like Riz Ahmed, Meera Syal, Nitin Sawnhey and Anoushka Shankar. 

Kia went on to join global publisher Penguin Random House where she helped grow digital readership at Rough Guides to over a million users per month. In 2014, she quit her day job to found Atlas & Boots, an outdoor travel blog now read by 250,000 people a month. 

Today, she splits her time between London and the Yorkshire Dales town of Richmond, and spends her time writing, hiking, mentoring pupils from Tower Hamlets and visiting far-flung destinations for Atlas & Boots.

Kia loves to travel, hates to cook and periodically highlights that, in actual fact, she is one of nine children (one passed away), making her Seven of Nine… which is cool but only if you’re a Star Trek fan… which she is. But please don’t hold it against her.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Cover Reveal Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Cover Reveal: This Might Hurt by Stephanie Wrobel

Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for This Might Hurt, the second novel from Stephanie Wrobel, which is being published next Spring.

SYNOPSIS:

Welcome to Wisewood. Where we keep your secrets, if you keep ours.

High-flier Natalie Collins isn’t the worrying type.
Unlike her younger sister Kit – who can’t seem to settle on anything.
But when Kit insists on joining Wisewood, a self-help retreat on a secluded Maine island, Natalie has concerns.
Why does it forbid contact with the outside world? Is it a cult?

Then, after six months of silence, she receives a message:
We know what you did.
Would you like to come and tell your sister – or should we?

Who is digging into the Collins’ past? How did they discover Natalie’s secret?
She will have to go to Wisewood to find out. To learn if this place of healing has more sinister motives.
Can she rescue Kit? Or might Natalie be the one who needs saving?

Because Wisewood is far easier to get into than to leave . . .

This Might Hurt is a whipsmart thriller of sisters, secrets and sanctuary and what fear will do to those we love.

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I am so excited for this one and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. The book is published March 3rd, 2022 and you can pre-order it here*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

*This is an affiliate link

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Wolf Mile by C. F. Barrington

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Suspense, Historical Fiction, Fantasy Fiction, Adventure Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this thrilling first book in a new series. Thank you to C. F. Barrington and Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC. Apologies that this is a day late, but I had my dates mixed up.

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SYNOPSIS:

An action-packed adventure thriller, where modern-day recruits compete in an ancient, deadly game in the streets of Edinburgh.

Welcome to the Pantheon Games. Let the streets of Edinburgh run with blood . . .

The Games are the biggest underground event in the world, followed by millions online. New recruits must leave behind their twenty-first century lives and vie for dominance in a gruelling battle to the death armed only with ancient weapons – and their wits.

Tyler Maitland and Lana Cameron have their own reasons for signing up. Now they must risk their lives and join the ranks of seven ancient warrior teams that inhabit this illicit world. Their journey will be more extraordinary and horrifying than anything they could have dreamed, testing them to breaking point.

Let the Season begin.

This action-packed adventure thriller is perfect for fans of Pierce Brown’s Red RisingBattle Royale and The Running Man.

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MY REVIEW:

The streets of Edinburgh will be their fighting ground . . . and they will run with the blood of warriors.

The Wolf Mile is the first in an addictive new series. This is a book that’s out of my comfort zone but I was drawn to it as the synopsis reminded me of The Hunger Games, which I loved. And while it did take a little time for me to get into the story, I was soon on the edge of my seat, turning the pages furiously as I awaited Tyler and Lana’s fate. 

Expertly merging fantasy and reality, the author brings the city of Edinburgh to life with his vivid imagery. And with slow, comprehensive world-building he also brings the Pantheon to life, making these brutal games feel real. By the end, I truly believed there was an underground battle raging between these seven groups and was rooting for the Horde to emerge victorious. 

Tyler and Lana are great protagonists. They have rich backstories, are likeable and fascinating. I wanted them to succeed in every way and loved the twists and turns the story took us on as the author merged their real lives with that of Vahalla. The story is also filled with some great background characters, both hero and villain, who I’m hoping we learn more about in subsequent installments of the series. 

The Wolf Mile is a thrilling and compelling debut that even those who don’t usually read the genre, like me, will love. I could have cried in frustration when it ended as I was so immersed in the story and am relieved that the follow up has already been announced for October. I need to know what happens next!

 Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

C F Barrington spent twenty years intending to write a novel, but found life kept getting in the way. Instead, his career took him into major gift fundraising, leading teams in organisations as varied as Oxford University, the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

When his role as Head of Communications at Edinburgh Zoo meant a third year of fielding endless media enquiries about the possible birth of a baby panda, he finally retreated to a quiet desk beside the sea and discovered the inspiration for the Pantheon saga.

Raised in Hertfordshire and educated at Oxford, he now divides his time between running over the hills of the Lake District and dog walking on the beaches of Fife.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xxxx