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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Squadpod Book Club Uncategorised

SQUADPOD BOOK CLUB REVIEW: Caged Little Birds by Lucy Banks

Published: September 15th, 2022
Publisher: Sandstone Press
Genre: Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review of this superbly sinister novel. Thank you to Sandstone Press for the copy of the book, which is the Squadpod Book Club September pick.

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SYNOPSIS:

The public think Ava’s a monster. Ava thinks she’s blameless.

In prison, they called her Butcher Bird – but Ava’s not in prison any more. Released after 25 years to a new identity and a new home, Ava finally has the quiet life she’s always wanted.

But someone knows who she is. The lies she’s told are about to unravel.

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MY REVIEW:

“He thinks he knows me, that he’s got it all figured out. But really he’s only seeing the tip of what lies above the surface. The rest is hidden, and it will always stay that way.” 

Ava is trying to adjust to life again after spending twenty-five years in prison.  But that isn’t all that’s new, she also has a new identity to protect her from the public who see her as a monster.  Ava thinks they’ve got her wrong and what happens wasn’t her fault.  But there’s someone who’s sure it was and they want to see her pay.  Is her new life about to fall apart?

Dark, harrowing and haunting, this twisted tale is an intimate look inside a fractured mind.  There is an immediate sense of unease and an eerie atmosphere that lingers over the pages.  Ava’s long sentence and ominous nickname – Butcher Bird – hint at a terrible crime but she believes herself to be blameless.  A mere victim of happenstance and other people’s actions. But her subconscious seems to know what she can’t admit to herself and she is haunted by the spectre of those she’s accused of harming.  It is exquisitely written, each word infused with heartache, grief and trauma that pulls at your heartstrings even when you doubt that you should be feeling any kind of empathy for Ava.  The author drops small breadcrumbs that help the reader piece the puzzle together, slowly revealing the full, awful truth of Ava and her crime.  It sent chills down my spine as things built to a shocking and unexpected climax.

Ava is one of the most chilling and unsettling characters I’ve read. Spectacularly written, she is unlikeable and unreliable yet utterly compelling, and there is something about her that makes it impossible not to feel some sympathy for her.  She also seems pretty harmless and pathetic, if not a bit arrogant, and I found myself wondering if she wasn’t as bad as everyone seems to think, yet there was that little voice just stopping me from believing what she said.  As time goes on we begin to see Ava come apart; she is increasingly paranoid and her inner monologue reveals the true darkness harbouring within her that she tries to hide.  

Superbly sinister and tantalisingly twisty, Caged Little Birds is an unnerving thriller that you won’t be able to put down.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Originally from Hertfordshire, Lucy Banks moved to Devon, where she promptly fell in love with the landscape and lifestyle. Author of the Dr Ribero’s Agency of the Supernatural series, and winner of several literary awards and competitions, she lives with her husband, two children, and extremely boisterous cat.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Sandstone Press | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Join us on Twitter tonight for a chat with the author.

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

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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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

Published: September 15th, 2022
Publisher: Ultimo Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this truly original whodunit. Thank you to Tracy at Campulsive Reader Tours for the invitation to take part and Ultimo Press for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘And then there is a scream. Ragged and terrified. A beat of silence even after it stops, until we all seem to realise that the Reading Room Rules no longer apply.’

Hannah Tigone, bestselling Australian crime author, is crafting a new novel that begins in the Boston Public Library: four strangers; Winifred, Cain, Marigold and Whit are sitting at the same table when a bloodcurdling scream breaks the silence. A woman has been murdered. They are all suspects, and, as it turns out, each character has their own secrets and motivations – and one of them is a murderer.

While crafting this new thriller, Hannah shares each chapter with her biggest fan and aspirational novelist, Leo. But Leo seems to know a lot about violence, motive, and how exactly to kill someone. Perhaps he is not all that he seems…

The Woman in the Library is an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship – and shows that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all.

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MY REVIEW:

“And then there is a scream. Ragged and terrified. A beat of silence even after it stops, until we all seem to realise that the Reading Room rules no longer apply.”

Bestselling Australian crime writer Hannah Tigone is creating a new story set in the Boston Public Library.  It opens with four strangers sitting at a table when a bloodcurdling scream pierces the silence.  A woman has been murdered.  Finding themselves under suspicion, the four new friends embark on a quest to find out who killed the woman in the library.  But could one of them be the killer?

As she writes, Hannah shares each new chapter with fan and aspiring author Leo Johnson. But there are clues that Leo may not be all he seems…

Entertaining, addictive and suspenseful, The Woman in the Library was a heart-pounding rollercoaster ride.  Action-packed, shrewdly choreographed and twist-filled, I flew through it in under a day. Author Sunil Gentill tells the story in a truly unique way.  This is a story within a story and the chapters alternate between the murder mystery novel and letters critiquing her work.  It is a great concept and she executed it perfectly, the dual narratives working well in tandem and keeping the reader on tenterhooks as she builds things to a shocking crescendo.

Though she is elusive and never features in her own voice, Hannah lingers over every page of the book and I found myself quickly drawn into her fictional storyland with its fascinating characters, exhilarating tension and the compelling mystery that Freddie and her friends were trying to solve.  In the letters I got a creepy vibe from Leo early on and was intrigued by his character more than any other.  He’s quite the enigma as we know almost nothing about him as all he seems to discuss with Hannah is her work.  I loved how Gentill used this to heighten the tension in the novel and created a second mystery for the reader to unravel.  

Writing is a theme that is intrinsically woven into the heart of this book.  The cast of characters has many authors, aspiring authors and journalists and in addition to Hannah’s novel, we have Leo discussing his ‘opus’ and Freddie writing her novel and using her new friends for inspiration.   It was an interesting glimpse into not only the writing process but the kinds of challenges and dilemmas faced before a book makes it into our hands.

A clever multiple whodunit that had my nerves on edge, The Woman in the Library is a riveting read that has the vibe of an old-fashioned murder mystery.  Highly recommended. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sulari Gentill is an Australian author, also known under the pen name of S.D. Gentill. She initially studied astrophysics before becoming a corporate lawyer, but has since become a writer. She is the author of the award-winning Rowland Sinclair Mysteries, a series of historical crime fiction novels set in the 1930s about Rowland Sinclair, the gentleman artist-cum-amateur-detective.

Website

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BUY THE BOOKS:

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 this tour.

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Readalong

REVIEW: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

Published: August 18th, 2022
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Gothic Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Today I’m sharing my review for the atmospheric and consuming Daisy Darker. Thank you to BookBreak UK and Pan Macmillan for the gifted ARC and for organising the readalong.

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SYNOPSIS:

Daisy Darker is an all-consuming tale of psychological suspense with a spectacular twist from the internationally bestselling author Alice Feeney.

Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as dark can be, when one of them died all of them lied and pretended not to see . . .

Daisy Darker is arriving at her grandmother’s house for her eightieth birthday. It is Halloween, and Seaglass – the crumbling Cornish house perched upon its own tiny private island – is at one with the granite rocks it sits on. The Darker family haven’t all been in the same place for over a decade, and when the tide comes in they’ll be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours. When the tide goes back out, nothing will ever be the same again, because one of them is a killer . . .

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MY REIVEW:

“Daisy Darker’s family were as dark as can be. 
When one of them died, all of them lied and pretended not to see…”

Daisy Darker arrives at Seaglass, her grandmother’s house on a private island on the Cornish coast, to celebrate her eightieth birthday.  They are soon joined by the rest of the Darker family and Daisy is feeling apprehensive about seeing her whole family for the first time in a decade.  As the tide comes in and isolates them on the island for eight hours, one of them is found dead.  With a killer in their midst and no means of escape, how many of them will survive the night…

What. A. Book!  Sinister, spooky and utterly brilliant, this was not only one of my favourite reads of last month, but one of my favourite of all time. I love a claustrophobic and creepy novel and there is nothing better for those vibes than a dysfunctional family full of dark secrets that are trapped in an old house with no means of escape or contacting the outside world.  It adds an air of mystery and foreboding that hovers over the story from the first pages and sets the scene for what is to come.  As the bodies pile up the terror rises and you could cut the tension with a knife.  A cloud of suspicion hangs over everyone, including Daisy, and you have no idea who to trust. 

The Darker family are a cast of complex, unlikeable and unreliable characters.  They are a minefield of toxicity and dysfunction, the extent of which is unravelled slowly through flashbacks.   I could understand why Daisy hadn’t seen them in so long and was dreading spending time with them.  But Nana was different; an ebullient and caring character who totally stole the show and was my favourite family member. I could understand why Daisy loved her and cherished their relationship.  Narrator Daisy seems to be a quite timid character who doesn’t give us any obvious reasons not to trust her yet there was just something that felt off about her from the start.  This gave the book a magnetic quality I couldn’t resist as I love when you have an unreliable narrator or a character who you have no idea if they are friend or foe.

Alice Feeney can always be relied upon to deliver a first-class psychological thriller.  But this time she really outdid herself, expertly messing with our minds as she delivered twist after twist.  A ticking time bomb of lies, misdirection and sheer dread, I was on the edge of my seat and it wreaked havoc on my blood pressure.  But there was also an old-fashioned murder mystery feel to the story that I loved and made it easy to imagine this being adapted for the screen.  

Atmospheric, unnerving and consuming, Daisy Darker is a jaw-dropping masterpiece of a thriller that will linger long after reading.  Just make sure you have a block of free time available before picking it up, because once you start you won’t be putting it down until you’ve read the last page. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Alice Feeney is a New York Times bestselling author and journalist. Her debut novel, Sometimes I Lie, was an international bestseller and has been translated into over twenty languages. His & Hers is being adapted for screen by Jessica Chastain’s Freckle Films. Rock Paper Scissors is her fourth novel and is also being made into a TV series for Netflix by the producer of The Crown.

Alice was a BBC Journalist for fifteen years, and now lives in the British countryside with her family.

Daisy Darker is her fifth novel.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Last Girl To Die by Helen Fields

Published: September 1st, 2022
Publisher: Avon
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this astonishing and unsettling thriller. Thank you to Olivia at Avon for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

In search of a new life, seventeen-year-old Adriana Clark’s family moves to the ancient, ocean-battered Isle of Mull, far off the coast of Scotland. Then she goes missing. Faced with hostile locals and indifferent police, her desperate parents turn to private investigator Sadie Levesque.

Sadie is the best at what she does. But when she finds Adriana’s body in a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head, she knows she’s dealing with something she’s never encountered before.

The deeper she digs into the island’s secrets, the closer danger creeps – and the more urgent her quest to find the killer grows. Because what if Adriana is not the last girl to die?

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MY REVIEW:

All the stars for this truly astonishing and mesmerising novel!  Merging mythology, folklore and superstition with suspicion, mystery and murder in an isolated, claustrophobic and forbidding setting, The Last Girl To Die is a tantalising and unforgettable read.

Set on the Isle of Mull, the story follows Sadie Levesque, a Canadian private investigator and teenage tracking specialist, who has been hired to find missing 17-year-old Adriana Clark.  After days of searching she finds poor Adriana’s body inside a cliffside cave, a seaweed crown carefully arranged on her head in a macabre twist.  Faced with an island of people who distrust outsiders and closely guard their secrets, finding the killer is not going to be easy.  Or without danger.  And the more she uncovers, the more those with secrets will do anything to keep them hidden…

I have been a fan of Helen Fields ever since reading her debut novel and I don’t even read the blurb before adding her books to my TBR anymore.  She always delivers a well written, suspenseful, gritty and visceral thriller filled with compelling characters, but with this book she took things to another level. Sadie is my favourite of her standalone protagonists and I enjoyed the decision to move away from traditional crime fiction by including supernatural and mythological elements as I love a witchy read.  I didn’t want to put this book down and found myself thinking about it every minute I wasn’t reading.  

From the start there is a sense that there is more to this island than they want to tell, a sense of chilling foreboding that you can’t shake. As the ancient folklore and rituals are slowly introduced we understand this place and its people a little more but I found my sense of horror grew with each new shocking twist and surprising revelation. Fields captured the atmosphere of a secluded island perfectly and I felt like I was walking on Mull alongside Sadie, and the animosity, distrust and menace radiating from the pages and cast of characters bringing it to life in vivid technicolour.

Gripping, unpredictable and breathtakingly brilliant, this is Fields’ best book yet.  If you like nerve-shredding thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat and the unsettling aura of the supernatural, then this is for you. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Helen Fields is the author of best-selling crime, thriller and historical fiction books Perfect Remains, Perfect Prey, Perfect Death, Perfect Silence, Perfect Crime, Perfect Kill, These Lost and Broken Things & Degrees of Guilt written as HS Chandler. A former barrister and film producer, her books have been translated into more than 20 languages. 

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xx

Please check out the reviews from the 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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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

REVIEW: The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh (DC Morgan 1)

Published: August 4th, 2022
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Series
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this sensational start to a new series by one of my favourite authors. Thank you Sphere for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

INTRODUCING DC FFION MORGAN, IN THE UNMISSABLE NEW SERIES FROM #1 BESTSELLER CLARE MACKINTOSH

‘Superb, with echoes of Agatha Christie‘ PATRICIA CORNWELL
‘A dark delight of a murder mystery’ JANICE HALLETT
‘Detectives Leo and Ffion make a storming debut‘ BELINDA BAUER
‘Mackintosh is just getting better and better‘ PETER JAMES

On New Year’s Eve, Rhys Lloyd has a house full of guests.

His lakeside holiday homes are a success, and he’s generously invited the village to drink champagne with their wealthy new neighbours. This will be the party to end all parties.

But not everyone is there to celebrate. By midnight, Rhys will be floating dead in the freezing waters of the lake.

On New Year’s Day, DC Ffion Morgan has a village full of suspects.

The tiny community is her home, so the suspects are her neighbours, friends and family – and Ffion has her own secrets to protect.

With a lie uncovered at every turn, soon the question isn’t who wanted Rhys dead . . . but who finally killed him.

In a village with this many secrets, a murder is just the beginning.

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MY REVIEW:

“Is anyone at The Shore who they appear to be?” 

Do I need to start a new crime series?  No.  Was I going to the moment I knew Clare Mackintosh had written one?  Of course!  

The Last Party introduces us to DC Ffion Morgan, a spiky detective who lives in Cwm Coed, North Wales.  I loved Ffion.  She isn’t always likeable but there is something about her that makes her compelling to read.  We know from early on that she has secrets and I loved how that made me question if I could trust her, even making me wonder if she could be our perpetrator a few times.  By the end of the book I felt a real bond with her character and am excited to see what’s next for her as the series continues.  For this investigation, Ffion is paired with English detective Leo Brady, something neither one is thrilled about.  I loved their dynamic and found Leo to be a likeable and fascinating character in his own right, so I’m hoping he will be back for book two.

The case that brings Ffion and Leo together is the murder of local celebrity Rhys Lloyd, whose body is found floating in the lake during the traditional New Year’s Day swim. Rhys is a deplorable character who gave me the heebie-jeebies from the beginning.  He is a man with more enemies than friends and I could understand why someone would want him dead.  In fact, I had more sympathy for whoever might have killed him than the victim himself, which tells you a lot.  But it isn’t that simple as the suspects are the other residents, an array of richly drawn background characters who also happen to be Ffion’s family and friends.  And this small town is a place filled with secrets, including those being kept by Ffion herself.  These added layers and complexities created moral dilemmas that helped us learn more about Ffion’s as both a person and a detective.  Would she do whatever it takes to catch the killer or would she sacrifice justice in order to protect herself and those she loves?  

Tense, twisty, claustrophobic and surprising, The Last Party is a great example of why Clare Mackintosh needs to be on everyone’s TBR.  She is a master of her craft, carefully constructing the many threads so that they collide into a finale that made my jaw drop.  I need book two now! 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

With more than two million copies of her books sold worldwide, number one bestseller Clare Mackintosh is the multi-award-winning author of I Let You Go, which was a Sunday Times bestseller and the fastest-selling title by a new crime writer in 2015. It also won the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year in 2016.

Both Clare’s second and third novels, I See You and Let Me Lie, were number one Sunday Times bestsellers. All three of her books were selected for the Richard & Judy Book Club. Clare’s latest novel, After the End, was published in June 2019 and spent seven weeks in the Sunday Times hardback bestseller chart.

Clare’s thriller, Hostage, was published in June 2021, and her latest thriller, The Last Party, which is the first in a new crime series, is published in August 2022.

Together, Clare’s books have been published in more than forty countries. Clare is patron of the Silver Star Society, a charity based at the John Radcliffe hospital in Oxford, which supports parents experiencing high-risk or difficult pregnancies. She lives in North Wales with her husband and their three children.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Will you be adding this to your list? Let me know in the comments.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: From the Ashes by Deborah Masson (DI Eve Hunter Book 3)

Published: August 18th, 2022
Publisher: Transworld
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Series, Urban Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this heart-pounding thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Transworld for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2022 McILVANNEY PRIZE FOR BEST SCOTTISH CRIME NOVEL OF THE YEAR

As the house burns, the hunt for a killer begins…


In the dead of night someone starts a fire in a home for underprivileged children in Aberdeen. The flames spread quickly, and one person doesn’t make it out alive.

But the victim wasn’t found in their bedroom; they were discovered locked inside a secret basement underground. As DI Eve Hunter and her team search the blackened ruins, the case takes them into even darker territory.

Soon Eve unearths a horrific discovery at the heart of the property – one that turns the whole investigation on its head. Everyone in this home has something to hide, but who has a secret worth killing for?

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MY REVIEW:

“It was the sound. That’s what drew him in. The seconds of silence watching as the flame caught; orange-tinged yellow sparkling before growing and picking up speed – the poor bastards inside unaware of the nightmare headed their way.”

The flames start to lick at the building as he silently watches in the dark.  As the residents of Wellwood Children’s Home begin to emerge, coughing from the smoke, he vanishes quickly to avoid detection. But not everyone made it out alive.  Eleven-year-old Lucas Fyfe’s body is found in the basement and the evidence points to someone deliberately putting him there. But who would want to hurt him?  And was it the same person who started the fire?

DI Eve Hunter and her team are back in another gripping thriller that had my heart pounding and my head swimming with unanswered questions.  I was on the edge of my seat as author Deborah Masson took me on a twist-filled rollercoaster ride that built to a jaw-dropping finale.  But this book is so much more than a simple thriller.  Not only are there shady characters, unreliable witnesses and dark secrets, but Masson has woven in moments that are moving, heartbreaking and poignant, bringing tears to my eyes as I was reminded of how callous and cruel some humans can be towards others. 

“The ghosts were swarming now, trying to tell her their stories. Wanting her to help them be heard.” 

The story is told by multiple narrators in dual timelines.  Each of the narrators reveal pieces of the story that we slowly piece together to create the full picture.  But it was the mystery narrator and the chapters that discussed the history of Wellwood that were the most compelling.  This place that should be a sanctuary of safety for the children sent to live there is slowly revealed to be something else entirely as the dark, horrific secrets that have been hidden for decades are finally brought to light.

Tense, twisty and addictive, From the Ashes is a dark and riveting thriller that I highly recommend. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Deborah Masson was born and bred in Aberdeen, Scotland. Always restless and fighting against being a responsible adult, she worked in several jobs including secretarial, marketing, reporting for the city’s freebie newspaper and a stint as a postie – to name but a few.

Through it all, she always read crime fiction and, when motherhood finally settled her into being an adult (maybe even a responsible one) she turned her hand to writing what she loved. Deborah started with short stories and flash fiction whilst her daughter napped and, when she later welcomed her son into the world, she decided to challenge her writing further through online courses with Professional Writing Academy and Faber Academy. Her debut novel, Hold Your Tongue, is the result of those courses.

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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 this tour.

All purchase links are affiliate links.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Loyal Friend by A. A. Chaudhuri

Published: June 23rd, 2022
Publisher: Hera Books
Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Urban Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

I’m finally getting around to posting my review for this tense and twisty thriller after my stop on the tour was delayed by Covid. Thank you to Danielle at The Reading Closet Tours for the invitation to take part and Hera Books for the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

She has your back.

And may stab you in it.

Wealthy, pampered Susan is living the perfect life in leafy Kingston. She’ll never let anyone see the darkness she’s concealing behind the diamonds and rosé.

Grace is new to the group, seemingly the perfect wife and mum. Yet no one knows the truth of what’s happening behind closed doors.

Loner Natalie hides the pain of her childhood behind a carefully ordered life. But how long can the past stay hidden?

Three unlikely friends, brought together for a weekly class run by beautiful, friendly, instructor, Jade.

But when Jade goes missing in mysterious circumstances, the group starts to unravel. And as their darkest secrets come to light, it seems that no one can be trusted. Even their closest friends…

A heart-in-your-mouth thriller that builds twist after twist, culminating in an unforgettable ending. This shocking, tense and gripping read will delight fans of T.M. Logan, B.A. Paris and Big Little Lies.

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MY REVIEW:

“It was never meant to go this far.  All I wanted was for her to be taught a lesson.”

Friendly fitness instructor Jade’s weekly class brings together an unlikely group of friends: wealthy Susan whose picture perfect life is hiding a much darker truth, newcomer Grace whose image of the perfect wife and mum belies what is really happening behind closed doors, and loner Natalie who is trying to control the trauma from her childhood with a carefully structured life.  When Jade fails to turn up to class one day the group begins to unravel and their dark secrets begin to surface.  Can any of them be trusted?  And could one of them really have had a hand in Jade’s disappearance?

Shocking, surprising and suspenseful, The Loyal Friend is another dark and twisty thriller from A. A. Chaudhuri, who has proven herself to be a must-read addition to any thriller lover’s list.  It is a dark maze of twists and turns that will make your head spin.  Fast-paced, tense and exquisitely written, Chaudhur teases us by slowly revealing fragments of the many secrets being kept, keeping us on the edge of our seat as we desperately wait for the next piece to be revealed.  

The varied cast of characters are all compelling and well written.  Natalie was a very sympathetic character who was easy to root for, Grace also sparked sympathy, though her character was much more complex and layered.  But the one I enjoyed reading most was the villain of the group, Susan.  She is so unlikeable from the start and I loved her for it.  She is unapologetic about who she is and though she is someone you’d hate to know in real life, she makes a very entertaining fictional character.  Each of them is a suspect, filled with fear and acting suspiciously as they try to avoid the glare of the police.  What are they hiding?  I had my ideas and felt like one of them had to be involved in Jade’s disappearance, but I was never quite sure which of my two suspects it was, which raised the tension and kept me on tenterhooks from start to finish.  

Heart-pounding and unpredictable, The Loyal Friend is a high-octane psychological thriller that keeps you guessing.  And that ending!  I am still thinking about it weeks after finishing the book. 

Read it now. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

A.A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer, turned thriller writer, who lives in Surrey with her family.

Once a highly ranked British junior tennis player, competing in the national championships and a member of the national squad, she went on to tour the women’s professional satellite circuit as a teenager and achieved a world ranking of 650.

After returning to full-time education, she gained a BA Honours 2:1 in History at University College London, and a commendation in both the Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course at the London College of Law, before training as a solicitor at City firm Norton Rose and then practising as a commercial litigator at two other City firms, Kendall Freeman and Travers Smith.

She left law in 2008 to pursue her passion for writing and in 2010 passed the NCTJ fast-track newspaper journalism course, in respect of which she was awarded The Oxford University Press Public Affairs Award for the most outstanding public affairs central government paper.

In 2013 and 2014 she self-published two women’s fiction novels under the name Alexandra Sage: Love & Limoncello and the sequel Love & Loss. Love & Limoncello has sold more than ten thousand copies to date, reaching number 53 in the Amazon Kindle Bestsellers List in October 2014.

The Scribe and The Abduction, published by  Lume Books in July and December 2019, are her first crime book series, plunging readers into London’s glamorous legal world and featuring series’ heroine, Maddy Kramer, fiction’s first female City lawyer amateur sleuth, who teams up with charismatic DCI Jake Carver to solve a gruesome series of murders and a puzzling abduction.

Both books have hit the bestsellers lists in the UK, Australia and Canada, with bestseller tags in Australia and Canada.

THE SCRIBE and THE ABDUCTION were published as audio books by Isis Audio on 1st  January and 1st March 2021, both read by David Thorpe.

She has also contributed an original short story THE ENCOUNTER to crime anthology GIVEN IN EVIDENCE published by LUME BOOKS in May 2020, has written many articles and short stories for The Crime Writers’ Association.

In February 2021, Alex signed a two-book contract for two standalone psychological thrillers with Hera Books, the first entitled She’s Mine was published on 18th August 2021 in eBook and 26th August in paperback. The Loyal Friend will be published 23rd June 2022.

Besides being an avid reader, she enjoys fitness, films, anything Italian and a good margarita!

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Daves Next Door by Will Carver

Published: July 21st, 2022
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Urban Fiction, Political Fiction, Religious Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this atmospheric and compelling novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

The lives of five strangers collide on a London train carriage, as they become involved in an incident that will change them all forever. A shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original new thriller from Will Carver…

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A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care.

An injured young sportsman wakes up find that he can see only in black and white.

A desperate old widower takes too many pills and believes that two angels have arrived to usher him through purgatory.

Two agoraphobic men called Dave share the symptoms of a brain tumour, and frequently waken their neighbour with their ongoing rows.

Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.

Like the suicide bomber, riding the Circle Line, day after day, waiting for the right time to detonate, waiting for answers to his questions: Am I God? Am I dead? Will I blow up this train?

Shocking, intensely emotive and wildly original, Will Carver’s The Daves Next Door is an explosive existential thriller and a piercing examination of what it means to be human … or not. 

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MY REVIEW:

“Separate lives, running in parallel, destined to collide and then explode.”

Five strangers’ lives collide on a carriage on the London Underground during a shocking event.  But was it fate?  Did they have the power to change what would happen to them?  

Told from multiple points of view over three parts, The Daves Next Door is a sinister, scathing and stylish social commentary that explores the question of fate versus choice and asks if there are such things as good and evil.  It makes you question the way you think, examining our prejudices and apathy, potentially changing the way you see the world around you.

“Is there such a thing as destiny? Is the path laid out?  The story already written?” 

The characters are familiar, flawed and fascinating.  They could be our neighbour or the person next to us on the bus.  Each of them are richly drawn and complex, allowing us to find compassion for the villain and dislike for the hero in places.  The many threads of the story appear unconnected at first but are slowly woven together, keeping the reader guessing at every step.  It takes a lot of talent to make a story that opens with references to how it all ends still feel unpredictable, but Carver pulls it off expertly. 

Will Carver is a tour-de-force in fiction. His singular style is instantly recognisable, the quirky, intelligent, playful and affecting prose pulling you into the world he created and holding you captive from beginning to end. His original and visionary style make his books absolute must reads. 

Fierce, intelligent, atmospheric and unapologetic, The Daves Next Door is a must-read.  Add it to your TBR now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series and the critically acclaimed, mind-blowingly original Detective Pace series that includes Good Samaritans (2018), Nothing Important Happened Today (2019) and Hinton Hollow Death Trip (2020), all of which were ebook bestsellers and selected as books of the year in the mainstream international press. Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for both the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell Award 2020 and the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award. Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for Guardian‘s Not the Booker Prize. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his children.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda | 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.

*These links are affiliate links