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book reviews Readalong Tandem Readalong

Shadow Sands (Kate Marshall 2) by Robert Bryndza

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio, Hardcover

Thank you to the Tandem Collective for my place on the readalong and Sphere for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE UNMISSABLE NEW THRILLER FROM THE INTERNATIONALLY BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE GIRL IN THE ICE AND NINE ELMS ROBERT BRYNDZA
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When Kate Marshall finds the body of a young man floating in the Shadow Sands reservoir, the authorities label it a tragic accident.

But the details don’t add up: why was he there in the middle of the night? If he was such a strong swimmer, how did he drown? As Kate and her assistant Tristan Harper follow the evidence, they make a far darker discovery . . .

This is only the latest victim in a series of bloody murders dating back decades. A mythic serial killer is said to hide in the rolling fog, abducting his victims like a phantom. And when another woman is taken, Kate and Tristan have a matter of days to save her from meeting the same fate.

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MY REVIEW:

“It had almost been a perfect summer. They had almost been a normal family again, but now there was a dead body.”

When you take your teenage son out diving in an attempt to bond you would expect the most traumatic thing you’d find would maybe be a dead fish, not a human body. But that is just what Kate Marshall and her son Jake find while diving together in the reservoir, and once again Kate and her assistant Tristan are drawn into an investigation that the police want her to forget. 

Simon Kendal was a strong swimmer who narrowly missed out on the Olympics. So how did he end up dead at the bottom of the reservoir? And why are the police so insistent that they drop it? Kate soon discovers that this is a case with a multitude of unanswered questions and inconsistencies, but she is unprepared for the dark secret they uncover. 

The second book in the Kate Marshall series is another triumph. After enjoying the first book I jumped at the chance to take part in this readalong with the Tandem Collective. Once again, Robert Bryndza delivers a dark and twisted read that is a thriller at its best. Absorbing, tense and chilling, this story has it all: a mythical serial killer that lurks in the rolling fog,  a desperate search for the latest victim, cover ups, and personal turmoil. The narration from the killer’s perspective adds mystery and suspense, offering us small clues to try and piece together. It’s a guessing game with an array of suspects that is full of surprising twists and turns. And all you can do is enjoy the ride.

The dynamic between Kate and Tristan is once again fantastic. They make a great team and I enjoyed seeing more of Tristan’s personal life and background in this installment, allowing us to get to know him better and building a fuller picture of him as a character. It makes him feel like more of an equal part of the team than in the first book, which I really liked. Kate’s complex history is already well known to us at this point, and it feels like she can’t catch a break. Like every time things start to go well, life has other ideas. I really felt for her as I know how hard it is to connect with your teenagers even when you don’t have the troubled and fractured history that she has with Jake, and while my ex isn’t on a level comparable with Kate’s, I do know the terror of your child wanting to connect with an estranged parent that you know is toxic and manipulative. And she’s going through all of this while investigating crimes and trying to rescue someone from a murderer’s clutches. 

Absorbing, darkly atmospheric, suspenseful and deftly told, I couldn’t put this down, and I flew through it in just a few hours instead of the planned five days of the readalong. Bryndza has created a must read series for anyone who enjoys this genre. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Robert Bryndza began his career training at the Guildford School of Acting. He spent six years as an actor, doing all kinds of strange jobs in between, which was the perfect training for being an author. He began to write during a long period of unemployment, first comedy sketches, a show which he took to the Edinburgh Festival, and then four romantic comedy novels which he self-published, and they became Amazon charts bestsellers selling over 250,000 copies.

His debut crime thriller The Girl in the Ice was the first book in his Detective Erika Foster series. It has sold over 1 million copies in the English language, and won the Dead Good Reader Award for best kick-ass female character at the 2016 Harrogate Crime Festival. Erika Foster has gone on to kick-ass in five further books; The Night Stalker, Dark Water, Last Breath, Cold Blood and Deadly Secrets. The series was twice nominated in Goodreads Choice Awards (Mystery and Thriller category) in 2016 for The Girl in the Ice, and in 2017 for Last Breath. Robert’s books have sold over 3 million copies in the English language, and have been translated into 29 languages.

Nine Elms, the first book in his new Kate Marshall private detective series was published late in 2019 and was an instant Amazon USA no.1 bestseller, an Amazon UK top 10 bestseller and topped bestselling charts around the world. The second book, Shadow Sands was published in November 2020.

Robert was born in Lowestoft, on the east coast of England. He studied at Aberystwyth University, and the Guildford School of Acting, and was an actor for several years, but didn’t find success until he took a play he’d written to the Edinburgh Festival. This led to the decision to change career and start writing. He self-published a bestselling series of romantic comedy novels, before switching to writing crime. Robert lives with his husband in Slovakia, and is lucky enough to write full-time.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – June 2021

I can’t quite believe that I’m doing my June wrap up and that we’re half way through the year already. One of the hardest things I had to do this month was to decide my list of favourite reads so far, so look out for that post coming soon. It was another great reading month for me and I read a total of 15 books. I enjoyed them all and most of them were four stars or above.

Threadneedle by Cari Thomas

Threadneedle was one of my most anticipated books this year. The first book in the exciting new Language of Magic Series, it is a story of secrets, lies and self-discovery interwoven with a hidden magical world. It is a magical and bewitching story that slowly hooks the reader in as the author introduces us to the characters and the hidden magical world around us. I loved the world building and following Anna on her journey and can’t wait to see what the author has in store for book two.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5
Read my review here
Buy the book*

One Last Time by Helga Flatland

Beautiful, moving and heartfelt, One Last Time is a portrait of an ordinary family dealing with the realities of terminal illness. This was my first foray into Helga Flatland’s books, and I was struck by the beauty, warmth and compassion with which she writes. She skillfully created a book centred around terminal illness that manages to be elegant, poignant and funny that I would highly recommend.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book

The Forever Home by Sue Watson

Taut tense and twisty, this gripping thriller that had me hooked. It was my first time reading this author and I enjoyed her compelling characters and how she kept me guessing. I will definitely be reading more of her books.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book*

The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

The Wolf Den was another of my most anticipated books this year and I was also excited as it was the first read with the SquadPod Book Club. It did not disappoint. I am yet to post my review as I am struggling to do the book justice. It is an absolute masterpiece. Lush, evocative and enthralling, I couldn’t get enough of Amara and the women who worked at the Wolf Den. It felt like I had been transported back in time and was walking on Pompeii’s dusty streets alongside them. And that ending. Omg! I am so relieved that this is a trilogy as I have to know what is next for Amara and the others.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Keep an eye out for my review soon
Buy the book*

Fragile by Sarah Hilary

Nothing was what it seemed in this mysterious and sinister thriller that had a chilling gothic twist. The suspense crackled on every page and the author had me in the palm of her hand. It was a perplexing tale full of red herrings that kept me guessing right until the end. Fans of the genre will love this book.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Everything Happens For A Reason by Katie Allen

I am still shook that this extraordinary novel is a debut. It seeped into my heart and soul and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. The author bravely draws on her own experiences of grief and losing a child to tell Rachel’s story, injecting an authenticity into the book that is searing. It took me through a kaleidoscope of emotions, including tears, but this book is far from depressing. Sharp, witty, sarcastic and full of dark humour, you will laugh as often as you cry. Maybe more. Everything Happens For A Reason is a powerful, moving and unforgettable story that everyone should read.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book

The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

This glorious debut was nothing like I was expecting. It was better. Captivating, imaginative and original, The Stranding is a richly imagined and evocative tale about the end of the world. It follows two survivors, Ruth and Nik, as they attempt to navigate this new existence alongside a complete stranger. An absolute triumph, this swept me away. This is a debut you don’t want to miss.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Murder at the Fair by Verity Bright

This was another witty, fun and compelling cozy mystery in the Lady Eleanor Swift series. I love the combination of historical fiction and mystery and even after just two books, this feels like putting on a cosy cardigan and sitting by the fire. Great as a standalone or part of the series.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

I’ve been listening to the fifth book in the Harry Potter series on audio for a few months now. I often listen at night as I fall asleep, which is why it’s taken so long to get through it. I love the Harry Potter films and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios was one of my favourite parts of our 2016 visit to Florida, but I’d never finished reading the books. I decided to start where I left off reading in audio as I knew that sitting down with one of the books is something I’m not as likely to do. I loved Stephen Fry’s narration and thought it was a fantastic adaptation that was entertaining and compelling. I’ve downloaded the next book in the series and am looking forward to listening to that next.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Buy the book*

Suspects by Lesley Pearse

Suspects is an ensemble piece told in the third person, all of the residents of the idyllic Willow Close narrate the story, slowly unveiling the secrets they are hiding behind their picture-perfect facades as the police try to solve the murder of thirteen-year-old Chloe Church, who lived on the close. This was an entertaining and steadily paced whodunnit I’d recommend for those who like their mysteries without gore.
Rating: ✮✮✮.5
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Shadow Sands by Robert Bryndza

I read Shadow Sands as part of a buddy read organised by the Tandem Collective and devoured this fast-paced and addictive thriller. I really enjoyed the first installment in this series, so I had high hopes for book two. Thankfully, the author delivered once again and I couldn’t put it down. My review will be posted soon, but I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys tense and twisty thrillers.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Buy the book*

The Beresford by Will Carver

Wow. Just wow. Will Carver is a twisted genius, and The Beresford is another outstanding and original novel from one of the most unique voices in Fiction and his best book yet. I’ve never read anything like this and it’s taking me some time to put into words what I thought of this book, so the full review will probably be up closer to publication day, which is July 22nd. What I can tell you, is that you need to read this book!
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Buy the book

One Child Alive by Ellery Kane

I didn’t need anther crime series when I read the first installment of the Rockwell and Decker series, but I’m so glad I started it. This is a compelling series with great characters, back stories and plots that are readable, tense and twisty. One Child Alive is an exciting, fast-paced thriller that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the genre.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰
Read my review here
Buy the book*

Truth or Dare by M. J. Arlidge

The DI Helen Grace series has been a favourite of mine ever since I read the first book and anything the author writes is a must read for me. Truth or Dare is the tenth book in the series and sees Helen under pressure like never before. Not only is there an unprecedented crime wave sweeping the city, but she’s facing mounting tension in her personal life and fighting for her career and reputation. Once again, M. J. Arlidge has written a dark and cunningly crafted novel that weaves multiple plot lines together in unexpected ways. An unmissable read for anyone who loves crime fiction.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book*

This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

This Is How We Are Human is a truly astonishing novel that explores the nuances and complexities of being human. Full of heart, warmth and wisdom, this beautiful story is one you will never forget. I really can’t say much in a short paragraph about this book, it needs so much more, so please go and read my full review. But I can tell you that this is a story that needed to be told and one that needs to be read. It is one I believe will help create more awareness and compassion for those who are neuro-diverse and I am so grateful to Ms Beech for writing it. It is quite simply one of the best books I have ever read. Go and read it.
Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮
Read my review here
Buy the book

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With so many five-star reads that made it onto my favourite books that were also some of my favourites this year, choosing a book of the month was no easy task. I had five contenders: The Wolf Den, The Beresford, The Stranding, Everything Happens For A Reason and This Is How We Are Human. After a lot of consideration, I narrowed it down to two and chose The Wolf Den and This Is How We Are Human as my books of the month.

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What did you read in June? Did we read any of the same books? Let me know in the comments below.

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Thanks for reading this month’s wrap up. See you next month😊 Emma xxx

Thank you to the publishers for my gifted proof copies and eBook ARCS.

*These are affiliate links

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Tandem Readalong

A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas

Published: February 16th, 2021
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fantasy Fiction, High Fantasy, Romantic Fantasy

SYNOPSIS:

With bits of BuffyGame Of Thrones and Outlander, this is a glorious series of total joy – Stylist

Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, richly imagined Court of Thorns and Roses series continues with the journey of Feyre’s fiery sister, Nesta

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger and slow to forgive. And since the war – since being made High Fae against her will – she’s struggled to forget the horrors she endured and find a place for herself within the strange and deadly Night Court.
The person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred, winged warrior who is there at Nesta’s every turn. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. And when they are forced to train in battle together, sparks become flame.
As the threat of war casts its shadow over them once again, Nesta and Cassian must fight monsters from within and without if they are to stand a chance of halting the enemies of their court. But the ultimate risk will be searching for acceptance – and healing – in each other’s arms.

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MY REIVEW:

“Immortality was not a serene youth.
It was fire.”

ACOSF was one of my most anticipated books of the year, so I was thrilled when Tandem Collective UK offered me the chance to take part in a readalong of the book. At over 700 pages it is an intimidating tome, and I admit that I found the first third of the story quite slow and difficult to get into. But once things got going it was addictive, and I flew through the pages quickly; holding on for dear life as Maas took me on a high-octane and emotional thrillride. 

“So Nesta had become a wolf. Armed herself with invisible teeth and claws, and learned to strike faster, deeper, more lethally . Had relished it. But when the time came to put away the wolf, she’d found it had devoured her, too.”

ACOSF stands out from the other books in the series as it shifts from telling Feyre’s story to that of her fiery sister, Nesta. I was initially hesitant about this as I’ve enjoyed Feyre’s story and love her as a character, while Nesta wasn’t someone who lit up the pages and drew me in. But after reading it I can say I’m glad the author gave us the chance to get to know Nesta as there is so much more beneath the feisty and sullen mask. She has a story that needs to be told; one that addresses mental health, trauma and PTSD.  I liked how Maas explored these issues not only through Nesta’s story, but also through the stories of other characters. There is a lot of discussion about the issues throughout the book and it will be hard for some to read. But as someone who lives with these issues, I found it to be sensitively written and liked that Mass highlighted things like the importance of facing your pain, self care, opening up to others, and celebrating the tiny steps that are huge accomplishments in your recovery.

“Perhaps in voicing those truths, they’d given them wings. And sent them soaring into the open sky above.”

Though the familiar faces from Night Court do feature in the book, Nesta spends most of the story away from them and has isolated herself on an emotional level too. This led the way for the introduction of Gwyn and Emerie, two new characters who I loved. They have also been through trauma and through their shared experiences they develop a truly special friendship and camaraderie. Watching as that blossomed and the women slowly began to recognise their inner strength, was probably my favourite part of the book. 

“Your power is a song, and one I’ve waited a very, very long time to hear, Nesta.”

There is no talking about this book without discussing the steam factor. I’ve been shipping Nessian for a while and was hoping for them to finally get together, and we all know there have been some hot scenes between Feyre and Rhys, but I was not prepared for the level of sizzle in this book. It’s so steamy that I would find myself blushing and feeling almost embarrassed to be caught reading it – and I was at home! I did enjoy the hilarious discussions with fellow bookstagrammers that it led to though. Maas has certainly moved away from young readers with the raunchy scenes in this book. So be warned.

“When you erupt, girl, make sure it is felt across worlds.”

Ms. Mass knows just how to keep the reader begging for more, ending the book with a heart-pounding finale that had me on the edge of my seat. It was an electrifying ending to a spectacular book and I can’t wait until the next installment. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

Steam Rating:🍆🍆🍆🍆🍆

TW: Mental health, sexual assault, trauma 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah J. Maas is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Throne of Glass series and A Court of Thorns and Roses series, as well as a USA Today and international bestselling author. Sarah wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just sixteen, and it has now sold in thirty-five languages. A New York native, Sarah currently lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and dog. Empire of Storms, the fifth Throne of Glass novel,is available now.

She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Hamilton College in 2008 with a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies.

Website | Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Bloomsbury UK for my gifted copy of the book and to Tandem Collective UK for the invitation to take part in the readalong.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday: A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Mass

“The black water nipping at her thrashing heels was freezing.
Not the bite of winter chill, or even the burn of solid ice, but something colder. Deeper.
The cold of the gaps between stars, the cold of a world before light.
The cold of hell – true hell, she realized as she buckled against the strong hands trying to shove her into the Cauldren.
True hell, because that was Elain lying on the stone floor with the red-haired, one-eyed Fae male hovering over her. Because those were pointed ears poking through her sister’s sodden golden-brown hair, and an immortal glow radiating from Elain’s fair skin.
True hell – worse than the inky depths mere inches from her toes.
Put her under, the hard-faced Fae king ordered.
And the sound of that voice, the voice of the male who had done this to Elain…
She knew she was going into the Cauldron. Knew she would lose this fight.”

Today’s first lines come from a book that is one of the most anticipated books in fiction this year. A Court of Silver Flames is the fifth installment in Sarah J. Mass’ epic A Court of Thornes and Roses series.

SYNOPSIS:

Sarah J. Maas’s sexy, richly imagined Court of Thorns and Roses series continues with the journey of Feyre’s fiery sister, Nesta

Nesta Archeron has always been prickly – proud, swift to anger and slow to forgive. And since the war – since being made High Fae against her will – she’s struggled to forget the horrors she endured and find a place for herself within the strange and deadly Night Court.
The person who ignites her temper more than any other is Cassian, the battle-scarred, winged warrior who is there at Nesta’s every turn. But her temper isn’t the only thing Cassian ignites. And when they are forced to train in battle together, sparks become flame.
As the threat of war casts its shadow over them once again, Nesta and Cassian must fight monsters from within and without if they are to stand a chance of halting the enemies of their court. But the ultimate risk will be searching for acceptance – and healing – in each other’s arms.

I was late to the party with these books and only discovered them last summer thanks to readalongs with the Tandem Collective. And it is thanks to them, and the wonderful people at Bloomsbury Publishing, that I will be reading ACOSF as part of a readalong with other bloggers starting on February 23rd.

Categories
book reviews Tandem Readalong

We Are All Birds of Uganda by Hafsa Zayyan

Published: January 21st, 2021
Publisher: Merky Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Thank you to Tandem Collective UK for the invitation to take part in the readalong and to Merky Books for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

‘You can’t stop birds from flying, can you, Sameer? They go where they will…’

1960s UGANDA. Hasan is struggling to run his family business following the sudden death of his wife. Just as he begins to see a way forward, a new regime seizes power, and a wave of rising prejudice threatens to sweep away everything he has built.

Present-day LONDON. Sameer, a young high-flying lawyer, senses an emptiness in what he thought was the life of his dreams. Called back to his family home by an unexpected tragedy, Sameer begins to find the missing pieces of himself not in his future plans, but in a past he never knew.
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Moving between two continents over a troubled century, We Are All Birds of Uganda is an immensely resonant novel that explores racial tensions, generational divides and what it means to belong.

It is the first work of fiction by Hafsa Zayyan, co-winner of the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize, and one of the most exciting young novelists of today.

MY REVIEW:

“In a way, I suppose, we are all birds of Uganda.” 

We Are All Birds of Uganda is a beautifully told story that follows Sameer, a twenty-something British lawyer whose family were amongst those expelled from Uganda under the rule of Idi Amin. The story moves between Sameer’s story in the present day and that of his grandfather, Hasan, who tells his story through a series of letters written to his late wife. 

There is no denying the beauty of this book; from the stunning cover to the exquisite prose and vivid imagery that bring the story to life. But this book is one that also covers issues darker than the dazzling colours on the cover would suggest. The author explores topics such as race, gender, privilege and oppression. Even addressing the rise of open and accepted racism in society today. But what is at the heart of this story is the search for one’s identity; to learn who you are in your heart and soul. I particularly enjoyed following Sameer’s journey of discovery as a young man torn between two cultures. The author has drawn on her own background as British woman with Nigerian and Pakistani roots to explore these subjects which lends it a sense of authenticity and sensitivity. 

The racial tensions of Uganda and expulsion of Asian minorities in the seventies is something I was vaguely aware of but actually knew very little about. I was shocked and appalled as Hasan writes what is happening in his adopted home; my heart breaking for him as he is forced to leave all he loved and in fear for his life. I took no pleasure in his journey from wealthy, privileged Asian who looks down on the black Ugandans to an impoverished immigrant in the UK who is treated with the disdain he himself reserved for others. I felt only shame in how some in my country treated those seeking a place of refuge in their time of need – I shame I still feel in some of those in my country today – and his fall from grace is a stark reminder that our fortune can change in a moment. 

Richly drawn, evocative, powerful and affecting, this is a wonderful debut from an author who is one to watch. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Hafsa Zayyan is a writer and dispute resolution lawyer based in London. She won the inaugural #Merky Books New Writers’ Prize in 2019. We Are All Birds of Uganda is her debut novel, inspired by the mixed background from which she hails. She studied Law at the University of Cambridge and holds a masters’ degree from the University of Oxford.

BUY THE BOOK:

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

Don’t forget to check out the reviews from other bloggers who took part in the readalong on Instagram.

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

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Year In Review

My 20 Favourites of 2020

I can’t quite believe that 2020 is over! It’s been a strange year and I think we’re all hoping that 2021 brings better things and that we can soon get back to a new normal.

It was my second full year of blogging and once again I read more than I had even hoped to. I had set my Goodreads challenge at 120 and managed to read 177. That’s 27 more than in 2019.

As you can probably imagine, reading so many books made putting together my favourite twenty books of the year a difficult task. That last spot in particular had four other books that I really wanted to include and it was a real struggle to know which should make the final spot.

Here is my list in the order that I read the books:

  1. Firewatching by Russ Thomas
  2. The Foundling by Stacey Halls
  3. Away with the Penguins by Hazel Prior
  4. Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell
  5. The Switch by Beth O’Leary
  6. What’s Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott
  7. What Lies Between Us by John Marrs
  8. Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten
  9. The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith
  10. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  11. The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  12. All The Lonely People by Mike Gayle
  13. A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
  14. Eudora Honeysett is Quite Well, Thank You by Annie Lyons
  15. The Meaning of Mariah Carey by Mariah Carey
  16. The Illustrated Child by Polly Crosby
  17. The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  18. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside by Jessica Ryn
  19. The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn
  20. The Last House On Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Out of the final twenty, sixteen are by new to me authors, nine of them debuts. I found that 2020 was a strong year in terms of fantastic debuts, with others such as The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, Pine, The Memory Wood, The Wreckage, The Holdout, If I Can’t Have You, Dear Child, The Missing Pieces of Nancy Moon, Shiver, The Push and The Thursday Murder Club standing out in particular.

So what almost made it? Contenders for this list included Three Hours, Pine, The Memory Wood, In Five Years, The Phone Box at the Edge of the World, If I Could Say Goodbye, The Push, Strangers, Dear Child, The Ice Cream Girls, All My Lies Are True and The Thursday Murder Club.

My favourite book of the year was not a difficult choice. Though there were many that were good enough to take the title, What’s Left Of Me Is Yours is the standout book of the year for me. I can honestly say that I’ve thought about this stunning debut every day since I read it in April. Do yourself a favour and read it if you haven’t already. I’m just hoping it’s not too long before I can read another book by the talented Stephanie Scott.

Did we have any of the same favourites? What was your book of the year? Let me know in the comments.

Keep an eye out for a post tomorrow with the top 20 lists of some other bloggers and which 2020 book we recommend most of all.

*Thank you to the tagged publishers for my #gifted ARCs.

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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – November 2020

Well that was a fast month!

The last month of 2020 is almost upon us and my mind is full of what to include in my favourite books of the year. But before that, there’s this month’s reading wrap up and a month of reading more books to do.

November has been a slower month for me as this time of year always brings with it the worsening of my chronic health conditions. I didn’t manage to read all the ones I’d started either and am in the middle of 3 others (one paperback, one kindle and one audio).

So, what did I manage to do? I read thirteen books, took part in thirteen blog tours, two readalongs and one watchalong. One of those readalongs was a bit different as we made cocktails using the new Peaky Blinders Cocktail Book. It was also fun taking part in the Shirley watchalong. It’s made me want to finally read Shirley Jackson’s books and more about her fascinating life.

Here is what I read in November:

  1. The Night Away ⭐⭐⭐. 5
  2. The One Before ⭐⭐⭐. 5
  3. The Diabolical Bones ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. One By One ⭐⭐⭐. 5
  5. The Package ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. The Company Daughters ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. Fallen Angels ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. How To Belong ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  9. Body Language ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  11. Her Sister’s Child ⭐⭐⭐. 5
  12. Dead Girl Walking ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  13. Bright Lies ⭐⭐⭐⭐

I read some great books this month. The Diabolical Bones and The Package were standout reads that were contenders for BOTM for a while. But when I read The Extraordinary Hope of Dawn Brightside there was no question that this would be my BOTM. EVERYONE needs to read this book! It is one of my favourites this year for sure. You can read the review for it, and the other books I’ve read this month, by clicking the link in their title in the list above.

In December I’m looking forward to a more relaxed month. I’ve only taken on three blog tours and will be doing more mood reading. I can’t wait!

Thank you to the tagged publishers who sent gifted copies.

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

Categories
Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – October 2020

I can’t quite believe we’re in the start of November and in just a few weeks we’ll putting together our best books of the year! But the clocks have gone back, the weather is cold and wet and October is over. This means it’s time for another wrap-up.

October was a fantastic month for me. I read a total of 19 books and discovered some that will have a place in my favourites of 2020. I took part in twenty-one blog tours, three readalongs and managed to squeeze in some much-needed mood reading at the end of the month. The latter was so refreshing and reinforced my decision to take on less blog tours next year.

So, let’s look at what I read this month:

  1. The Meaning of Mariah Carey ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. A Court of Frost and Starlight ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Ex-Boyfriend ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Where The Edge Is ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. Betrayal ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. Watch Her Vanish ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. When Life Gives You Mangoes ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. The Book of Two Ways (unrated)
  9. All Your Little Lies ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. The Princess and the Prick ⭐⭐⭐
  11. Gone Before ⭐⭐⭐💫
  12. Dangerous To Know ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  13. The Exiles ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  14. The Housewarming ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  15. Dead Perfect ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  16. The Nesting ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  17. The Illustrated Child ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  18. The Shape of Darkness ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  19. The Burning Girls ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Choosing a favourite has been tricky as the last three books I read in October were each outstanding enough to take the title. In addition, The Meaning of Mariah Carey was a sensational memoir that I had thought was a shoe-in for my favourite book all month. After some thought I have decided to give two books the title of BOTM: The Illustrated Child and The Burning Girls. In the end I just couldn’t choose between the two.

Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite read of October?

Categories
book reviews Tandem Readalong

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

Published: June 2nd, 2020
Publisher: Bloomsbury UK
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Fantasy Fiction

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

SYNOPSIS:

In this companion tale to the bestselling A Court of Thorns and Roses series, Feyre, Rhys and their friends are working to rebuild the Night Court and the vastly changed world beyond after the events of A Court of Wings and Ruin.
But Winter Solstice is finally near, and with it a hard-earned reprieve. Yet even the festive atmosphere can’t keep the shadows of the past from looming. As Feyre navigates her first Winter Solstice as High Lady, she finds that those dearest to her have more wounds than she anticipated – scars that will have a far-reaching impact on the future of their court.

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

MY REVIEW:

“It had been a long, brutal winter that had brought me so deep into the woods that day nearly two years ago. A long, brutal winter that had made me desperate enough to kill a wolf, that had eventually led me here—to this life, this… happiness.”

A Court of Frost and Starlight is a cosy yet fierce winter novella. This short, lighthearted read with bite was perfect after the much darker and longer ACOWAR. 

While there is tension and drama with Tamlin and the Illaryians, this is overall a book about family, both blood and that you choose for yourself. Fayre is settling into her role as High Lady of Night Court but is struggling with the destruction that was left behind following the war. She feels guilty that she couldn’t do more and protect those who died and we follow her journey of self-acceptance and forgiveness, as she finds a new purpose that she hopes will help her people. 

I really enjoyed this book but felt like it’s purpose was to set up the next installment by addressing things about the faerie way of life that hadn’t yet been examined but needed to be explained before book five. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

Website |Instagram |Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon |Waterstones |Hive |Google Books |Apple Books |Kobo

Categories
book reviews Tandem Readalong

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

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

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

SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

Contains mature content. Not suitable for younger readers.

MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

Website|Instagram|Twitter

BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon|Waterstones|Hive|Google Books|Apple Books|Kobo