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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Squadpod Squadpod Book Club Squadpod Recommends Support Debuts

That Green-Eyed Girl by Julie Owen-Moylan

Published: May 12th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Mystery, Historical Mystery, Romance Novel, Lesbian Literature, LGBT Literature
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this outstanding debut. Thank you to Jen at Michael Joseph for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

1955: In an apartment on the Lower East Side, school teachers Dovie and Gillian live as lodgers. Dancing behind closed curtains, mixing cocktails for two, they guard their private lives fiercely. Until someone guesses the truth . . .

1975: Twenty years later in the same apartment, Ava Winters is keeping her own secret. Her mother has become erratic, haunted by something Ava doesn’t understand – until one sweltering July morning, she disappears.

Soon after her mother’s departure, Ava receives a parcel. Addressed simply to ‘Apartment 3B’, it contains a photo of a woman with the word ‘LIAR’ scrawled across it. Ava does not know what it means or who sent it. But if she can find out then perhaps she’ll discover the answers she is seeking – and meet the woman at the heart of it all . . .

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MY REVIEW:

That Green-Eyed Girl was not only the Squadpod Book Club pick for May, but one of my most anticipated debuts of 2022.  A dual timeslip novel, it moves between 1955 and 1975 to tell  an unforgettable story that deals with difficult topics such as homophobia, racism, mental illness and neglect alongside everyday issues such as teenage crushes.  

Atmospheric, immersive and utterly compelling, I am in awe that this is a debut.  Julie Owen Moylan is a skilled storyteller whose vivid prose brings the story and characters to life, transporting me to the streets of New York so clearly it was as if I could feel the oppressive summer heat on my skin, hear the noise from the traffic and smell the smoke in the jazz bars. She moves seamlessly between timelines as she slowly converges the two storylines, beginning the connection with the mysterious package and then intricately weaving them together until the full picture emerges.

The book is filled with richly drawn, fascinating characters, including our two narrators: Dovie in 1955 and Ava in 1975.  The author creates a strong connection between them and the reader, allowing us to explore their innermost thoughts, feelings and fears.  I had a particularly strong maternal connection to Ava and longed to jump into the book and be the parent she desperately needed and wanted.  Despite their many differences, Ava and Dovie are actually very similar.  Both are imprisoned in their own ways; caught in a web of shameful secrets and lies that hold them captive and paralysed by the fear of discovery.  An oppressive and claustrophobic air of anguish, humiliation and dread permeates each page, and there is a bite of loneliness and regret that runs through the story as societal values and expectations force Dovie and Ava to live these half-lives in order to conform.  It is heartbreaking, powerful and perfectly written. 

Hauntingly beautiful, poignant and bittersweet, this book was both nothing like I expected and everything I wanted.  It is a truly astonishing debut from an author I predict big things from in the future.  This is one not to be missed. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Julie Owen Moylan is a writer whose short stories and articles have appeared in New Welsh ReviewHorizon Literary Review, and The Voice of Women in Wales Anthology

She has also written and directed several short films as part of her MA in Film. Her graduation short film called ‘BabyCakes’ scooped Best Film awards at the Swansea Film Festival, Ffresh, and the Celtic Media Awards. She also has an MA in Creative Writing, and is an alumna of the Faber Academy’s Writing a Novel course. 

Her debut novel THAT GREEN-EYED GIRL will be published by Penguin Michael Joseph on May 12th 2022.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Squadpod Book Club Squadpod Recommends Support Debuts

REVIEW: Nobody But Us by Laure Van Rensburg

Published: April 14th 2022
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Romance Novel
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Nobody But Us was April’s SquadPod Book Club pick, and boy was it a good one! Unpredictable and totally crazy, this is a phenomenal debut that everyone needs to read.

Thank you to Michael Joseph for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

MEET 2022’S MOST DANGEROUS COUPLE . . .
________

Steven Harding is a handsome, well-respected professor.
Ellie Masterson is a wide-eyed young college student.

Together, they are driving south from New York, for their first holiday: three days in an isolated cabin, far from the city.

Ahead of them, the promise of long, dark nights – and the chance to explore one another’s bodies, away from disapproving eyes.

It should be a perfect, romantic trip for two.

EXCEPT THAT HE’S NOT WHO HE SAYS HE IS.

BUT THEN AGAIN, NEITHER IS SHE . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“Morning will cast a light on all this, shine on the craziness of the situation; this sham won’t survive sunrise, like all other evil it can only thrive in darkness.” 

What a wild ride!  This is a book that does exactly what it says on the tin and lives up to its tagline that calls Ellie and Steven ‘2022’s most f*cked up couple’.  This one took me quite some time to recover from after reading.  It’s that crazy.  I thought I knew what was in store but I had no idea just how messed up this was going to get…

The story opens with Ellie and Steven heading off on a three-day trip to celebrate their six month anniversary.  They both seem anxious and feel like everything rests on this weekend but the reader is in the dark as to what that is and why.  They quickly arrive at their destination: a remote cabin in the forest, surrounded by snow and with no cell phone reception.  Right then you would know this is going to be a getaway-gone-wrong even if you’d gone into this book blind.  Ominous and claustrophobic, there is an unbearable tension that wreaked havoc on my blood pressure as I tried to guess what would happen next.  But I could never have guessed what was coming if I’d had a hundred guesses.  It plays its cards extremely close to the vest so I won’t say anything more about the plot so you can discover the craziness for yourself. 

Stylish, sinister, scalpel-sharp and sophisticated, Laure Van Rensburg’s cunningly crafted debut is one you won’t forget.  She holds the reader in her vice-like grip, making it impossible to stop reading even when you want to turn away.  Ellie and Steven are richly drawn, memorable, unsavoury and unreliable characters, hiding their dysfunction behind a mask of normalcy that once removed will change everything you thought you knew. 

Unpredictable, darkly atmospheric and charged with adrenaline, Nobody But Us is the debut everyone is going to be talking about.  Laure Van Rensburg is a spectacular new talent that is one to watch and I for one can’t wait to read what she writes next.

READ THIS BOOK!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK and an Ink Academy alumna. Her stories have appeared in online magazines and anthologies such as Litro Magazine, Storgy Magazine, The Real Jazz Baby (2020 Best Anthology, Saboteur Awards 2020), and FIVE:2:ONE. She has also placed in competitions including 2018 & 2019 Bath Short Story Award.

Her debut novel, Nobody But Us, follows Ellie and Steven who take their first trip away together, but what starts as an idyllic weekend soon takes a darker turn, as it quickly becomes apparent that each of them harbour secrets – and that one of those secrets is deadly.

Nobody But Us (originally titled The Downfall) was shortlisted for the 2019 First Novel Prize, 2019 Novel London Competition and 2019 Flash 500 Novel Opening. It will be published by Michael Joseph in April 2022 and has sold in fourteen territories, including Germany, Italy, Norway and the United States.

Laure’s current work in progress, Eden Lost, was longlisted in 2019 Exeter Novel Prize and more recently shortlisted in the 2020 Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize.

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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

Categories
Squadpod Squadpod Recommends Year In Review

Squadpod Recommends: 21 Favourites of ’21

As many of you know, I’m part of a wonderful group of bloggers known as the Squadpod. Over the last eighteen months these women have become not only my friends but a much-needed support network and my chosen family. It started with books and became much more. This year we have expanded our group to go beyond our WhatsApp Chats and you can now follow us on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. We have started our Squadpod Book Club, organised blog tours and even cake blasts (the one for Evie Epworth was one of my favourite moments of 2021).

Last year, I shared a list of each of the Squadpod’s 20 Favourite books of 2020 so I’m doing it again. Though this year it is obviously our 21 favourite books of 2021. So, buckle up because there a quite a few of us. But please keep reading to the end so that you can find out what book the Squadpod recommends overall in 2021…

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Becca at Becca Kate Blogs

  • For When I’m Gone by Rebecca Ley
  • The Push by Ashley Audrain
  • Keeper by Jessica Moor
  • Shiver by Allie Reynolds
  • The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  • The Long, Long Afternoon by Inga Vesper
  • Everything Is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • Space Hopper by Helen Fisher
  • Dog Days by Ericka Walker
  • Lost Property by Helen Paris
  • The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  • The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
  • The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave
  • The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
  • The Island Home by Libby Page
  • Another Life by Jodie Chapman
  • The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain
  • The Pact by Sharon Bolton
  • The Ends of the Earth by Abbie Greaves
  • Never Saw Me Coming by Vera Kurian

BOOK OF THE YEAR: The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

Follow Becca on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog

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Beth at Beth’s Booketlist

  • The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley
  • Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • A Court of Silver Flames by Sarah J. Maas
  • The Last Library by Freya Sampson
  • Nightingale Point by Luan Goldie
  • The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
  • Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson
  • Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
  • The Arctic Curry Club by Dani Redd
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  • Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
  • Cinderella is Dead by Kalynn Bayron
  • The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
  • The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
  • Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zarfon
  • Chain of Iron by Cassandra Clare
  • The Switch by Beth O’Leary
  • The House in the Cerulean Sea by T. J. Klune
  • The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  • Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow
  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley

Follow Beth on Instagram

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Cara at Welsh Book Lover

  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
  • The Christmasaurus – Tom Fletcher
  • Johnny Be Good by Paige Toon
  • The Unhooneymooners by Christina Lauren
  • The Whisper Man by Alex North
  • Chasing Daisy by Paige Toon
  • Is This It? by Hannah Tovey
  • How To Kill Your Family by Bella Mackie
  • If I Can’t Have You by Charlotte Levin
  • The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  • Throttled by Lauren Asher
  • Girl A by Dan Scottow
  • The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
  • All My Lies by Sophie Flynn
  • People Like Her by Ellery Lloyd
  • It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover
  • Once Perfect Summer by Paige Toon
  • The Midnight Man by Caroline Mitchell
  • Our Stop by Laura Jane Williams
  • The Minute I Saw You by Paige Toon
  • The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

Follow Cara on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog

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Ceri at Ceri’s Lil Blog

  • Everything is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray
  • She’s Mine by A. A. Chaudhuri
  • The Post Box at the North Pole by Jaimie Admans
  • The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • All My Lies by Sophie Flynn
  • Shiver by Allie Reynolds
  • An Ordinary Life by Amanda Prowse
  • All You Need Is Love by Jessica Redland
  • Midnight Ladies Swimming Club by Faith Hogan
  • The Story of Our Secrets by Shari Low
  • The Islanders by S. V. Leonard
  • The New York Secret by Ella Carey
  • The Night We Met by Zoe Folbigg
  • The Queen’s Dressmaker by Meghan Masterson
  • Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks
  • Freckles by Cecelia Ahern
  • Lies Like Wildfire
  • The Little Duck Pond Cafe Series by Rosie Green
  • The Blood Brothers Series by Heather Atkinson
  • Our Little Cruelties by Liz Nugent

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Everything Is Beautiful by Eleanor Ray

Follow Ceri on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Chloe at Reviews by Chloe

  • Hostage by Clare Mackintosh
  • The Judge’s List by John Grisham
  • The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse
  • Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney
  • The Chalet by Catherine Cooper
  • Mrs England by Stacey Halls
  • Seven Lies by Elizabeth Kay
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • Exit by Belinda Bauer
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab
  • The Eighth Life by Nino Haratischvili, Translated by Charlotte Collins and Ruth Martin
  • Eight Detectives by Alex Pavesi
  • The Missing Sister by Lucinda Riley
  • The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton
  • The Heights by Louise Candlish
  • Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena
  • Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
  • That Night by Gillian McAllister
  • My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing
  • Yours Cheerfully by A. J. Pearce

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Hostage by Clare Macintosh

Follow Chloe on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Claire at Secret World of a Book

  • Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
  • Born of No Man by Franck Bouysse
  • Femilandia by Christina Dalcher
  • The Coven by Lizzie Fry
  • House of Hollow by Kristin Sotherland
  • Madame by Phoebe Wynne
  • We Go On Forever by Sarah Govett
  • Threadneedle by Cari Thomas
  • The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
  • The Women of Troy by Pat Barker
  • Pandora’s Jar by Natalie Haynes
  • Underbelly by Anna Whitehouse
  • Circe by Madeline Miller
  • The Hiding Place by Amanda Mason
  • We Are Not Like Them by Jo Piazza and Christine Pride
  • Elektra by Jennifer Saint
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  • Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  • The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cooke
  • Matrix by Lauren Groff

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Ariadne by Jennifer Saint.

Follow Claire on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Clare at The Fallen Librarian Reviews

  • The Push by Ashley Audrain
  • On Hampstead Heath by Marisa Cobbold
  • Trobairitz: The StoryTeller – Ceila Mickenfield
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift
  • The Lip by Charlie Carroll
  • The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
  • Madame Burova by Ruth Hogan
  • The Island Home by Libby Page
  • Yours Cheerfully by A. J. Pearce
  • The Nothing Man by Catherine Ryan Howard
  • White Spines by Nicholas Royal
  • The Visitors by Caroline Scott
  • The Cove by L. J. Ross
  • A Woman Made of Snow by Elizabeth Gifford
  • Afloat by Diane Couchman
  • PAH by Orla Owen
  • Girl A by Abigail Dean
  • Dear Reader – Cathy Rentzenbrink
  • The Girl, The Crow, The Writer & The Fighter – George Patterson
  • The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift.

Follow Clare on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Ellie at Elspells

  • Panenka by Ronan Hession
  • The Smallest Man by Frances Quinn
  • Kolollo Hill by Neema Shah
  • What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson
  • Sybelia Drive by Karin Cecile Davidson
  • Boys Don’t Cry by Fiona Scarlett
  • Mrs Death Misses Death by Salena Godden
  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • Havana Year Zero by Karla Suarez translated by Christina MacSweeney
  • Catch The Rabbit by Lana Bastasic
  • My Broken Language by Quiara Alegria Hudes
  • Still Life by Sarah Winman
  • Assembly by Natasha Brown
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  • Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
  • The Good Book by Iain Hood
  • Iron Annie by Luke Cassidy
  • Line by Niall Bourke
  • Somebody Loves You by Mona Arshi
  • Moonlight and the Pearler’s Daughter by Lizzie Pook

BOOK OF THE YEAR:  Iron Annie by Luke Cassidy 

Follow Ellie on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Emma at Emma’s Biblio Treasures

  • The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
  • Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • The Asylum by Karen Coles
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea
  • Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
  • This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech
  • The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten
  • Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bulbitz
  • Mrs England by Stacey Halls
  • The Beresford by Will Carver
  • The Last Library by Freya Sampson
  • The Hidden Child by Louise Fein
  • The Maid by Nita Prose
  • Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
  • The Imperfect Art of Caring by Jessica Ryn
  • A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington
  • Midnight in Everwood by M. A. Kuzniar

BOOK OF THE YEAR: This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

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Hayley at The Lotus Readers Blog

  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
  • The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
  • The Great Silence by Doug Johnstone
  • Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
  • Bad Apples by Will Dean
  • This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech
  • The Beresford by Will Carver
  • The Watchers by A.M. Shine
  • The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea
  • A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ni Ghriofa
  • The Shape of Darkness by Laura Purcell
  • The Spirit Engineer by A. J. West
  • The Lighthouse Witches by C. J. Cooke
  • The Return by Anita Frank
  • Circus of Wonders by Elizabeth Macneal
  • The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
  • Snow and the Works on the Northern Line by Ruth Thomas
  • The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
  • Cold as Hell by Lilja Sigurdardóttir 
  • The Unheard by Nicci French

BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Stranding by Kate Sawyer

Follow Hayley on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Hayley at Shelf Lyfe

  • House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland
  • Under the Rainbow by Celia Laskey
  • Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift
  • Botanical Curses and Poisons; The Shadow Lives of Plants – Fez Inkwright
  • Spirited by Julie Cohen
  • Assembly by Natasha Brown
  • The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain
  • Small: On Motherhood by Claire Lynch
  • The Harpy by Megan Hunter
  • Malice by Heather Walter
  • The Crossing – Manjeet Mann
  • Gold Fury by Keiren Westwood
  • The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  • The Charmed Wife – Olga Grushin
  • 100neHundred – Laura Besley
  • The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood
  • Together by Luke Adam Hawker
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • Cerebral Palsy: A Story – Ilana Estelle
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  •  A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts: A Collection of Deliciously Frightening Tales – Ying Chang Compestine

BOOK OF THE YEAR: The Harpy by Megan Hunter

Follow Hayley on Instagram and Twitter.

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Jackie at Jackie’s Reading Corner

  • Kololo Hill by Neema Shah
  • No Honour by Awais Khan
  • The Art of Death by David Fennell
  • Blackstoke by Rob Parker
  • The Stonebridge Mysteries(Series, all 5) by Chris McDonald
  • Dead Ground by M. W. Craven
  • The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward
  • True Crime Story by Joseph Knox
  • Cave Diver by Jake Avila
  • The Wolf Mile by C. F. Barrington
  • Dangerous Women by Hope Adams
  • Cunning Women by Elizabeth Lee
  • The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea
  • One Ordinary Day at a Time by Sarah J. Harris
  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
  • She’s Mine by A. A . Chaudhuri
  • Black Reed by Rod Reynolds
  • The Spirit Engineer by A. J. West
  • The Man Who Made Them Happy by John Lawrence
  • Facets of Death by Michael Stanley
  • The Appeal by Janice Hallett

BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Kololo Hill by Neema Shah and No Honour by Awais Khan.

You can follow Jackie on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog

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Jen at Travels Along My Bookshelf

  • Together by Luke Adam Hawker
  • Cecily by Annie Garthwaite
  • Diamonds At the Lost and Found by Sarah Aspinall
  • The Dead of Winter by Nicola Upson
  • When They Find Her by Lia Middleton
  • Under the Mistletoe by Sue Moorcroft
  • The Hollow by Agatha Christie
  • The Maid by Nita Prose
  • The Last Library by Freya Sampson
  • The Law of the Heart by Boris Starling
  • Snow Country by Sebastian Faulks
  • When I Ran Away by Ilona Bannister
  • The Spirit Engineer by A. J. West
  • The Prison Healer (series) Lynette Noni
  • All the Lonely People by Mike Gayle
  • The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain
  • The Stranding by Kate Sawyer
  • The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  • Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd Robinson
  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Elektra by Jennifer Saint

BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Law of the Heart by Boris Starling, Together by Luke Adam Hawker and War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy

Follow Jen on Instagram and Twitter

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Karen at Book Blogging Bureau

  • Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Appeal by Janice Hallett
  • The Smash Up by Ali Benjamin
  • The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jonasson 
  • A Girl Made of Air by Nydia Hetherington
  • Lullaby Beach by Stella Duffy
  • Leonard and Hungry by Paul Ronan Hession
  • The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
  • A Taste of Home by Heidi Swain
  • On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold 
  • The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin
  • The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean
  • A Single Rose by Muriel Barbery
  • Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz
  • The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry
  • The Fair Botanist by Sara Sheridan
  • Common Ground by Naomi Ishiguro 
  • Dear Reader by Cathy Retzenbrink 
  • The Lip by Charlie Carroll
  • The Good Neighbours by Nina Allen
  • Shiver by Allie Reynolds

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Follow Karen on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Kate at Rutherford Reads

  • Other Parents by Sarah Stovell
  • Psychopaths Anonymous by Will Carver
  • The Christmas Dress by Courtney Cole
  • The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
  • Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult
  • Freckles by Cecelia Ahern
  • The Appeal by Janice Hallett
  • For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing
  • Always in December by Emily Stone
  • The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker
  • Let That Be A Lesson by Ryan Wilson
  • My Best Friend’s Murder by Polly Phillips
  • Invite Me In by Emma Curtis
  • Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon
  • Both of You by Adele Parks
  • The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor
  • When They Find Her by Lia Middleton
  • The Lamplighters by Emma Stonex
  • The Promise by Lucy Diamond
  • The Downstairs Neighbour by Helen Cooper
  • The Pact by Sharon Bolton

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult

Follow Kate on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Kirsty at Kirsty’s Book Buying Addiction

  • Someone I Used To Know by Paige Toon
  • Before I Saw You by Emily Houghton
  • On A Night Like This by Lindsey Kelk
  • Walking On Sunshine by Giovanna Fletcher
  • The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst
  • The Telephone Box Library by Rachael Lucas
  • The Village Green Bookshop by Rachael Lucas
  • A Taste of Home by Heidi Swain
  • Underneath the Christmas Tree by Heidi Swain
  • And Now You’re Back by Jill Mansell
  • The Promise by Lucy Diamond
  • The Woman in the Middle by Milly Johnson
  • A Cosy Countryside Christmas by Eliza J Scott
  • The Merry Christmas Project by Cathy Bramley
  • My Kind of Happy by Cathy Bramley
  • The Party Crasher by Sophie Kinsella
  • The Best Is Yet To Come by Katy Collins
  • The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary
  • Until Next Weekend by Rachel Marks
  • The Summer Job by Lizzy Dent
  • Lost Property by Helen Paris

BOOK OF THE YEAR: Someone I Used To Know by Paige Toon.

Follow Kirsty on Twitter and her Blog

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Sue at Brown Flopsy’s Book Burrow

  • The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor
  • Last One at the Party by Bethany Clift
  • Rites of Spring – Anders de la Motte
  • On Hampstead Heath – Marika Cobbold
  • The Wolves of Leninsky Prospekt – Sarah Armstrong
  • Summer in the City by Fiona Collins
  • The Paper Palace by Miranda Cowley Heller
  • The Fair Botanists by Sara Sheridan
  • The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper
  • The Hidden Child by Louise Fein
  • The Impossible Truths of Love by Hannah Beckerman
  • Kings of a Dead World – Jamie Mollart
  • The Girl in the Maze by Cathy Heyward
  • The Arctic Curry Club by Dani Redd
  • Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • The Bone Shard Emperor by Andrea Stewart
  • Blasted Things – Lesley Glaister
  • Tsarina/The Tsarina’s Daughter by Ellen Alpsten
  • The Lip by Charlie Carroll
  • Space Hopper by Helen Fisher

BOOK OF THE YEAR: On Hampstead Heath by Marika Cobbold

Follow Sue on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Vikkie at Little Miss Book Lover

  • When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins
  • I Know What You’ve Done by Dorothy Koomson
  • Love and Other Mushy Stuff by Lyndsay Gallagher
  • Love at First Sight by Mary Jayne Baker
  • All My Lies by Sophie Flynn
  • Call Me Mummy by Tina Baker
  • The Last Thing To Burn by Will Dean
  • I Have Something To Tell You by Susan Lewis
  • The Opposite of Butterfly Hunting by Evanna Lynch
  • The Locksmith by Linda Calvey
  • Trust Me by TM Logan
  • The Art of Loving You by Amelia Henley
  • Worst Idea Ever by Jane Fallon
  • Three Weddings and a Proposal by Sheila O’Flanagan
  • When They Find Her by Lia Middleton
  • Look What You Made Me Do by Nikki Smith
  • That Night by Gillian McAllister
  • No Honor by Awais Khan
  • The Beresford by Will Carver
  • Isn’t It Bromantic by Lissa Kay Adams
  • Is This It? by Hannah Tovey

BOOK OF THE YEAR: When I Was Ten by Fiona Cummins

Follow Vikkie on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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Zoe at Zoe’s Book Nook

  • Still Life by Sarah Winman
  • Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff
  • Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
  • You and Me on Vacation by Emily Henry
  • The Upper World by Femi Fadugba
  • Assembly by Natasha Brown
  • Lean, Fall, Stand by John McGregor
  • Luster by Raven Leilani
  • The Haunting Season: Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights by Various
  • The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman
  • Fault Lines by Emily Itami
  • The Cat Who Saved Books by Sosuke Natsukawa 
  • Chasing the Boogeyman by Richard Chizmar
  • Cecily by Annie Garthwaite
  • 56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard
  • Girl, 11 by Amy Suiter Clarke
  • Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski
  • Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson
  • Dark and Shallow Lies by Ginny Myers Sain
  • Before the Ruins by Victoria Gosling
  • It’s Behind You by Kathryn Fox

BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Empire of the Vampire by Jay Kristoff and Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Follow Zoe on Instagram, Twitter and her Blog.

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One of my favourite parts of putting together the Squadpod’s lists of favourite books is seeing how diverse they are. And this year that was even more evident. We had a lot of books that appeared on two or three of our lists, but only seven that appeared on four or more lists. One was even on many of our lists last year and very nearly took the title of overall favourite. So, here’s our ultimate Squadpod Recommendations for 2021:

Some debut novels that just narrowly missed this list but were clearly loved by many in the Squadpod were Shiver, The Last Library, The Last House on Needless Street, The Summer Job, The Appeal, When They Find Her, The Lip, Assembly and All My Lies.

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Squadpod Book of the Year

We had a tie for Book of the Year, with The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot and The Wolf Den both appearing on six of the Squad’s lists.

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What do you think of our choices? Do you see books you’ve loved this year on our lists? Let me know in the comments. And don’t forget to follow us.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles! Wishing you all a Happy New Year ☺️Emma xxx

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

SquadPod Book Club Review: The Wolf Den by Elodie Harper

Published: May 13th, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Historical Fiction, Historical Romance, Greek Mythology
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Better late than never. I’m finally sharing my review for The Wolf Den, the magnificent story that was the first Squadpod Book Club read in the summer. Thank you to Head of Zeus for the gifted ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii’s brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den…

Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father’s death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii’s infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For now her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.

But Amara’s spirit is far from broken. By day, she walks the streets with the Wolf Den’s other women, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her?

Set in Pompeii’s lupanar, The Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy of novels reimagining the lives of women who have long been overlooked. Perfect for fans of Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls and Madeline Miller’s Circe.

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MY REVIEW:

Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii’s brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den…

The Wolf Den is an absolute masterpiece. Lush, atmospheric and mesmerising, it gives a voice to the voiceless women lost to the sands of history. Told by Amara, a young woman sold into slavery after her family fell into poverty and now forced to be one of the she-wolves at Pompeii’s infamous brothel, this is a story of friendship, jealousy, betrayal, revenge and survival.

I luxuriated in the exquisite storytelling of this book. This ancient tale is told with a modern voice, bringing the story to life in a way that is relatable and compelling. The evocative scene setting brought the story alive and transported me back to the doomed city of Pompeii as vividly as if I were walking the dusty streets myself. The brutality and precariousness of life at the time is vividly depicted through a broad spectrum of society, from the seedy to the opulent, reminding us your fortunes could change in an instant, taking you from freedom to slavery. Meticulously researched, the author’s vivid descriptions and attention to detail illustrates her passion for the history of Pompeii and to allow those who were silenced for centuries to finally have their voices heard.

“And you would, wouldn’t you? Tear them all apart.”

The characters are richly drawn, vivacious and charismatic. They have that spark that makes you care and root for them. There is a sisterhood shared by the she-wolves, each one ready to defend the other no matter what. This book was our first Squadpod Book Club read and Clare described the she-wolves as the ‘early Squadpod’, which I thought was perfect. Each of them possess strength, tenacity and vulnerability, as well as a sensuality and wiliness that they rely on to survive. As women and slaves they were especially powerless and I liked that we saw the hard choices they had to make and unpaletable things they are forced to do in order to survive.

“She gets better at pretending, but Amara is never satisfied. The desire to escape takes hold, its roots digging under her skin, breaking her apart.”

I loved Amara and thought she was a great choice for the narrator. Though she is now a slave, she is a doctor’s daughter and an educated woman, something that sets her apart from many of the other women. And while Felix may own her body, he doesn’t own her spirit, the embers of rage burning in her alongside an unquenchable determination. I liked her immediately and found her easy to root for, even when she was unlikable.

Sumptuous, enthralling and unflinching, The Wolf Den is a phenomenal start to an exciting new trilogy. The jaw-dropping ending left me desperate for more and counting down to the release of part two next May. A triumph of historical fiction that fans of the genre shouldn’t miss. Go read it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Elodie Harper is a journalist and prize-winning short story writer. Her story ‘Wild Swimming’ won the 2016 Bazaar of Bad Dreams short story competition, which was judged by Stephen King.

She is currently a reporter at ITV News Anglia, and before that worked as a producer for Channel 4 News. Her job as a journalist has seen her join one of the most secretive wings of the Church of Scientology and cover the far right hip hop scene in Berlin, as well as crime reporting in Norfolk where her first two novels were set – The Binding Song and The Death Knock.

Elodie studied Latin poetry both in the original and in translation as part of her English Literature degree at Oxford, instilling a lifelong interest in the ancient world. The Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy of novels about the lives of women in ancient Pompeii.

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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.

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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.

“She holds her hands up as if in prayer, steam evaporating from her skin. The water laps at her neck as she lies back into its warmth. Laughter and female voices surround her, a confusion of sound echoing off the stone. She filters it out, focusing on her fingers turning them, watching the water drip down, the steam rise. They could be anybody’s hands, she thinks, they could belong to anybody. But they belong to Felix.”

Today’s first lines are taken from The Wolf’s Den by Elodie Harper, the stunning debut that was published yesterday.

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SYNOPSIS:

Sold by her mother. Enslaved in Pompeii’s brothel. Determined to survive. Her name is Amara. Welcome to the Wolf Den…

Amara was once a beloved daughter, until her father’s death plunged her family into penury. Now she is a slave in Pompeii’s infamous brothel, owned by a man she despises. Sharp, clever and resourceful, Amara is forced to hide her talents. For now her only value lies in the desire she can stir in others.

But Amara’s spirit is far from broken. By day, she walks the streets with the Wolf Den’s other women, finding comfort in the laughter and dreams they share. For the streets of Pompeii are alive with opportunity. Out here, even the lowest slave can secure a reversal in fortune. Amara has learnt that everything in this city has its price. But how much is her freedom going to cost her?

Set in Pompeii’s lupanar, The Wolf Den is the first in a trilogy of novels reimagining the lives of women who have long been overlooked. Perfect for fans of Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls and Madeline Miller’s Circe.

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This is one of my most anticipated reads this year and I’m so excited to read it, particularly after attending last night’s Zoom event ‘Myths and Legends’ with the author. This book is also our first pick for the SquadPod Book Club, which starts next month. I can’t wait to finally read it alongside fellow book lovers. Click on the social media links below for more information and to join in.

Buy the book here*
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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx