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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Plague Letters by V. L. Valentine

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Viper Books
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Historical Mystery, Thriller

SYNOPSIS:

WHO WOULD MURDER THE DYING…

London, 1665. Hidden within the growing pile of corpses in his churchyard, Rector Symon Patrick discovers a victim of the pestilence unlike any he has seen before: a young woman with a shorn head, covered in burns, and with pieces of twine delicately tied around each wrist and ankle.

Desperate to discover the culprit, Symon joins a society of eccentric medical men who have gathered to find a cure for the plague. Someone is performing terrible experiments upon the dying, hiding their bodies amongst the hundreds that fill the death carts.

Only Penelope – a new and mysterious addition to Symon’s household – may have the skill to find the killer. Far more than what she appears, she is already on the hunt. But the dark presence that enters the houses of the sick will not stop, and has no mercy…

This hugely atmospheric and entertaining historical thriller will transport readers to the palaces and alleyways of seventeenth-century London. Perfect for fans of Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Andrew Taylor and C.J. Sansom.

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MY REVIEW:

Hear ye! Hear ye! The society for the prevention and cure of the plague is now in session. And they’re hunting for a killer. Could he be closer than they think?

London, 1655. The Bubonic Plague is spreading and the number of corpses piled in the churchyard grows each day. But the virus isn’t the only killer stalking the city. There is another threat hidden in their midst. One that lingers in the shadows hunting its prey just waiting for the perfect time to strike. Someone is murdering the dying; kidnapping those suffering from the plague and subjecting them to horrific experiments. 

Rector Symon Patrick is the one to first notice the strange marks on some of the dead in his parish. Together with Penelope, a mysterious young woman who recently joined his household, and a group of medical professionals calling themselves the plague society, he sets out to find the merciless killer.

A gripping whodunit with a sinister and supernatural twist, this is an outstanding debut. Valentine transports you back to a time of death and peril, taking you on a journey  through the filthy, pestilence-ridden streets of London. Her vast knowledge and research on this subject and time period is clearly shown in the societal, cultural and medical details she has woven into the story. The imagery is so vivid that you can almost smell the rot and decay in the air as the virus ravishes the population. 

It starts at a steady pace, slowly building up the mystery and tension. There is a creeping malice woven through the pages as the barbaric killer commits  gruesome acts of torture on already suffering victims. We know he is a cunning predator, so disturbed that he believes himself to be doing good, but everything else is a guessing game where we are almost as clueless as Symon and Penelope. Everyone is a suspect, and I had no one suspect in my mind even as we approached the big reveal. 

Most of the novel’s fascinating and memorable characters are based on real historical figures, adding to its air of authenticity. The protagonist, Symon, is a hapless sleuth who bumbles his way through the investigation. He isn’t even focused on his job as rector, instead more concerned with his complicated romance with a married woman. It is Penelope, the mysterious woman who has made herself a place in his household. Feisty, resilient and courageous, she was my favourite character. I loved how she was the total opposite of Symon and the driving force in the investigation, propelling things forward when he and the other members of the plague society would have just allowed things to happen. 

Atmospheric, haunting, compelling and darkly humorous, I lost myself in this book, relishing every word as I indulged my deep fascination with this time period and my love of historical and gothic mysteries. A delight for anyone who enjoys the genre, don’t miss this eerie tale. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

V.L. Valentine is a senior science editor at National Public Radio in Washington, D.C., where she covers infectious disease outbreaks such as the coronavirus pandemic, Ebola and the Zika. She has a master’s in the history of medicine from University College London. Her non-fiction work has been published by NPR, The New York Times, The Smithsonian Channel and Science Magazine.

Twitter |

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Viper Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book. Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Book Features

Book Feature: What Beauty There Is by Cory Anderson

Published: April 8th, 2021
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

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Today I’m featuring What Beauty There Is, an unflinching debut that is receiving some fantastic reviews. Coincidentally, today is release day, so Happy Publication Day to Cory Anderson 🥳

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SYNOPSIS:

When everything you love is in danger, how long can you keep running to survive?

Life can be brutal

Winter in Idaho. The sky is dark. It is cold enough to crack bones.

Jack knew it

Jack Dahl has nothing left. Except his younger brother, Matty, who he’d die for. Their mother is gone, and their funds are quickly dwindling, Jack needs to make a choice: lose his brother to foster care, or find the drug money that sent his father to prison.

So did I.

Ava lives in isolation, a life of silence. For seventeen years her father, a merciless man, has controlled her fate. He has taught her to love no one.

Did I feel the flutter of wings when Jack and I met? Did I sense the coming tornado?

But now Ava wants to break the rules – to let Jack in and open her heart. Then she discovers that Jack and her father are stalking the same money, and suddenly Ava is faced with a terrible choice: remain silent or speak out and help the brothers survive.

Looking back, I think I did . . .

Perfect for fans of Patrick Ness, Meg Rosoff and Daniel Woodrell, What Beauty There Is an unforgettable debut novel that is as compulsive as it is beautiful, and unflinchingly explores the power of determination, survival and love.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Cory Anderson is a winner of the League of Utah Writers Young Adult Novel Award and Grand Prize in the Storymakers Conference First Chapter Contest. She lives in Farmington, Utah with her family. What Beauty There Is is her debut novel.

Website| Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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I love the UK cover, but check out its beautiful US counterpart:

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Thank you to The Write Reads for the invitation to take part in the tour and to Penguin UK for the gifted ARC.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Source by Sarah Sultoon

Published: April 15th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Political Fiction, Coming-of-Age Fiction

SYNOPSIS:

A young TV journalist is forced to revisit her harrowing past when she’s thrust into a sex-trafficking investigation in her hometown. A startling, searing debut thriller by award-winning CNN journalist Sarah Sultoon.
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1996. Essex.
 Thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Carly lives in a disenfranchised town dominated by a military base, struggling to care for her baby sister while her mum sleeps off another binge. When her squaddie brother brings food and treats, and offers an exclusive invitation to army parties, things start to look a little less bleak…

2006. London. Junior TV newsroom journalist Marie has spent six months exposing a gang of sex traffickers, but everything is derailed when New Scotland Yard announces the re-opening of Operation Andromeda, the notorious investigation into allegations of sex abuse at an army base a decade earlier…

As the lives of these two characters intertwine around a single, defining event, a series of utterly chilling experiences is revealed, sparking a nail-biting race to find the truth … and justice.

A riveting, searing and devastatingly dark thriller, The Source is also a story about survival, about hopes and dreams, about power, abuse and resilience … an immense, tense and thought-provoking debut that you will never, ever forget.

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MY REVIEW:

The Source is a story of survival and strength, of power, abuse and corruption, and of finally finding justice. It is a story of a cesspit of evil and the nefarious characters that can hide behind a mask of authority and respectability; and a story of the courage and resilience of those who were their prey. 

It is told in three parts and in two timelines: in 1996. 13-year-old Carly is living on an army base with her mum and baby sister. Her world is one of neglect and doing whatever it takes to survive. She begins partying with the squddies in the barracks, turning to drinking, drugs and sex to escape the realities of her life. But things take an even darker turn and Carly finds herself embroiled in something much bigger, scarier and more powerful than she anticipated.  

In 2006, journalist Marie is taking part in her first undercover case. But after she and her team successfully get the evidence they need to a expose sex trafficing case, the Met quashes their story by announcing new evidence in Operation Andromeda: the investigation into sexual abuse in the army a decade earlier. Moving seamlessly between the two narratives, the author weaves the two stories together as secrets are exposed and the fight for long-overdue justice continues. 

Sultoon writes unflinchingly but with sensitivity. While it is horrifically authentic, it is never graphic, focusing instead on the emotions of the characters to tell the story. I was particularly drawn to Carly and her little sister Kayleigh. They are so evocatively written that you can feel their pain as if it’s your own and I wanted to reach in and save them from the neglect and nightmare that was their life. 

Unsettling, raw and close to the bone, this isn’t an easy read. This is a book that will elicit strong emotions: heartbreak, shock, outrage, disgust. If I’m honest, I might not have picked it up if I’d known the subject matter ahead of time, and there was a point I wasn’t sure if I could keep reading, but having finished I’m glad I kept going. 

The Source is a fast-paced, eye-opening and compassionate exploration of some of the darkest aspects of our society by a talented author. A striking debut. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

TW: Sexual abuse, child abuse, eating disorders 

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer, whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if … 

Twitter

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in this tour and to Karen at Orenda Books for the eBook ARC. Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Book Features

Book Feature: The Drowned City (Daniel Pursglove 1) by K. J. Maitland

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Headline
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Historical Mystery, Thriller

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Today I’m featuring the first in a new historical fiction series set in the Jacobean era.

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SYNOPSIS:

Gunpowder and treason changed England forever. But the tides are turning and revenge runs deep in this compelling historical thriller for fans of C.J. Sansom, Andrew Taylor’s Ashes of London, Kate Mosse and Blood Sugar.

1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.

In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.

For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.

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If this sounds like a book you’d enjoy, then head over to my Instagram page where I’m giving away a proof copy of this book.

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Karen Maitland is an historical novelist, lecturer and teacher of Creative Writing, with over twenty books to her name, including the much-loved Company of Liars. She grew up in Malta, which inspired her passion for history, and travelled and worked all over the world before settling in the United Kingdom. She has a doctorate in psycholinguistics, and now lives on the edge of Dartmoor in Devon.

Website | Twitter

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Headline for the gifted ARC. Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Review: The Asylum by Karen Coles

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Welbeck Publishing Group
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Historical Fiction, Gothic Fiction, Suspense, Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Historical Mystery, Romance

SYNOPSIS:

1906: Being a woman is dangerous, being different is deadly.

Maud Lovell has been at Angelton Lunatic Asylum for five years. She is not sure how she came to be there and knows nothing beyond its four walls. She is hysterical, distressed, untrustworthy. Badly unstable and prone to violence. Or so she has been told.

When a new doctor arrives, keen to experiment with the revolutionary practice of medical hypnosis, Maud’s lack of history makes her the perfect case study. But as Doctor Dimmond delves deeper into the past, it becomes clear that confinement and high doses are there to keep her silent.

When Maud finally remembers what has been done to her, and by whom, her mind turns to her past and to revenge.

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Maud has been locked in the darkness of Angelton Lunatic Asylum for five years. She doesn’t remember how she got here or what caused her madness. The only thing she remembers is the man in the marsh, an eerie and ghoulish figure that haunts her nightmares. But is he real or a figment of her imagination?

When Dr Dimmond says he wants to help her by exploring her unconscious it seems like someone is finally on Maud’s side. But as the hypnosis awakens her memories, Maud begins to wonder if some things were better off buried and forgotten after all…

WHAT. A. BOOK! It’s no secret that I love historical and gothic fiction, so this book had everything I could want and more. Claustrophobic, haunting and addictive, I couldn’t put this one down. It is exquisitely written, a creeping malice seeping from every page as the author transports you to the bleak, shadowy rooms of the asylum and the anguished recesses of Maud’s mind. 

The depth of Coles’ research is clear in her striking imagery, the descriptions of the practices asylum staff use to treat patients, and in her thought-provoking exploration of topics such as the mistreatment of women and mental health, and the effects of psychological and physical imprisonment. The sense of dread, desperation and sheer helplessness are palpable, coming together to create an atmosphere that has you on the edge of your seat and your heart pounding as you wait for the secrets buried in Maud’s memory to be unlocked. 

Maud is an unreliable narrator. While there is a suspicion early on that she might not be as mad as some of the doctors would like her to think she is, even she doesn’t trust what she tells herself. Reality shifts and cracks around her, echoes of memory stir and haunt her nightmares and hallucinations. She is an enigma to the reader, and herself. A woman fighting to be heard in a place where they want her to be silent.. She is an unlikely heroine, but shows herself to be much braver and stronger than anyone could have imagined at the start of the story. 

The Asylum is a menacing, evocative, lingering and intricately woven novel. An example of storytelling and mystery at its finest, it is one fans of historical and gothic fiction won’t want to miss. Go read this book! 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Karen was born in Taplow, Berkshire UK to rather nomadic parents. Countryside walks with her father instilled in her a lifelong love of nature, particularly wild plants, insects and amphibians. Karen is a painter and sculptor. As a child she was a voracious reader of fairy tales, myths and legends, and this led to a fascination with dark, Gothic literature. She now lives in Wales, not far from a town which once had three Victorian asylums. Their history inspired the writing of her novel, The Asylum.

Instagram | Twitter

The pictures above were part of the author’s inspiration when writing The Asylum. They are taken from the author’s Instagram page where she talks about each one in relation to Maud and the book.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Welbeck Publishing for the gifted ARC.

Thanks for reading Bibliphiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Girls from Alexandria by Carol Cooper

Published: April 1st, 2021
Publisher: Agora Books
Format: Kindle (Paperback published April 29th)
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Mystery, Historical Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the tour for this evocative novel. Thank you to Peyton at Agora Books for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

‘A compelling, multi-layered read – equal parts funny, frank and sinister’ – Fiona Valpy, author of The Dressmaker’s Gift

Memories are fragile when you are seventy years old. I can’t afford to lose any more of them, not when remembering the past might help with the here and now.

Nadia needs help. Help getting out of her hospital bed. Help taking her pills. One thing she doesn’t need help with is remembering her sister. But she does need help finding her.

Alone and abandoned in a London hospital, 70-year-old Nadia is facing the rest of her life spent in a care home unless she can contact her sister Simone… who’s been missing for 50 years.

Despite being told she’s ‘confused’ and not quite understanding how wi-fi works, Nadia is determined to find Simone. So with only cryptic postcards and her own jumbled memories to go on, Nadia must race against her own fading faculties and find her sister before she herself is forgotten.

Set against the lush and glamorous backdrop of 20th century Alexandria, Carol Cooper’s third novel is equal parts contemporary mystery and historical fiction: a re-coming of age story about family, identity, and homeland.

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MY REVIEW:

Seventy-year-old Nadia is in a London hospital and not quite sure what’s going on. Her memory isn’t what it used to be, and she keeps getting confused and misremembering. But one thing she’s sure of is that she needs to find her sister Simone, who she hasn’t seen in fifty years. The problem is, no one else believes Simone exists. Well, no one except the lovely nurse Deidre, who tries to help her find her sister before it’s too late.

The author opens the book talking about how her inspiration for the story came from her own memories of growing up in Alexandria and you can really feel that authenticity radiating from the pages. The author offers the reader not only an insight into the cultural and political landscape of Egypt, but also an authentic perspective on how it feels to grow up in Alexandria, its multiculturalism and verve oozing from the pages. It is a fascinating, educational and thought-provoking read, the author touching on a variety of subjects such as family, identity, loss, loneliness and female empowerment. 

Nadia is a character I won’t soon forget. It is impossible not to feel for her lying in hospital distressed, confused and alone. But there is so much more to her.  She is a nuanced, funny, compelling and feisty character who is determined to find her sister by solving the brief, cryptic messages she wrote on decades-old postcards; even learning how to use the internet to search for answers. I enjoyed following her through timelines, countries and cultures as she revisited old memories and searched them for any small clue that might lead her to her beloved sister. 

I will admit that it took me a little while to get into the rhythm of this story. The huge shift between the bleak British hospital where Nadia languishes alone and confused and the striking, sunny backdrop of Alexandria was difficult to follow at first, particularly as the flashbacks don’t follow a chronological order. But once I did I was engrossed, lost in Nadia’s story and fully invested in her search for Simone. 

This novel is unlike anything else I’ve read. Merging historical fiction, mystery and coming-of-age fiction,, the author has crafted a multilayered, evocative and affecting story that will linger long after reading. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carol graduated in medicine from Cambridge University. She then spent time in different hospital specialities, including orthopaedic surgery and rheumatology, before entering general practice when her first son was born.

Carol’s journalism and broadcasting developed in tandem with GP work, and she is now well-known as a media medic. She writes for The Sun newspaper and other titles, and broadcasts on TV and radio on topical health issues.

Many of Carol’s non-fiction books are on child health and parenting, such as the much-loved guide Twins & Multiple Births, and the titles combine her professional expertise and her personal experience as a mother. As co-author of the book General Practice at a Glance, Carol won a British Medical Association book award in 2013. A companion volume, General Practice Cases at a Glance, appeared later.

Carol’s frivolous side has never been far from the surface. She became a columnist for Punch magazine and her articles can still be read in dentists’ waiting rooms. Her contemporary novels One Night at the Jacaranda and Hampstead Fever are also infused with a sharp wit. Her next novel, The Girls from Alexandriais due to be published in April 2021.

At Imperial College, London, Carol teaches medical students consultation skills, clinical reasoning, and medicine in the media. 

Carol is a Fellow of Newnham College, Cambridge, a trustee of Action on Pre-Eclampsia, an ambassador for Lucy Air Ambulance for Children, and honorary consultant in family medicine for the Twins Trust (formerly Tamba). She was elected President of the Guild of Health Writers in 2014.

Website | Instagram | Twitter

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon*| Waterstones*| Bookshop.org*

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Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

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

“The girls, Selkie Holm, Orkney, November 1942.
Of all the ways to die, drowning must be the most peaceful. Water above, sounds cushioned, womb-dark. Drowning is a return to something before the knife-blade of living. It is the death we would choose, if the choice was ours to make.”

What eerie and evocative first lines! They are from a book I have been anticipating ever since the author announced it last year. It even featured on my list of the 21 books I was most anticipating in 2021 and, more recently, my most anticipated books out in April. And that book is…

The Metal Heart by Caroline Lea, which is published by Michael Joseph on April 29th.

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SYNOPSIS:

The sky is clear, star-stamped and silvered by the waxing gibbous moon.

No planes have flown over the islands tonight; no bombs have fallen for over a year.
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Orkney, 1940. Five hundred Italian prisoners-of-war arrive to fortify these remote and windswept islands. Resentful islanders are fearful of the enemy in their midst, but not orphaned twin sisters Dorothy and Constance. Already outcasts, they volunteer to nurse all prisoners who are injured or fall sick.

Soon Dorothy befriends Cesare, an artists swept up by the machine of war and almost broken by the horrors he has witnessed. She is entranced by his plan to build an Italian chapel from war scrap and sea debris, and something beautiful begins to blossom.

But Con, scarred from a betrayal in her past, is afraid for her sister; she knows that people are not always what they seem.

Soon, trust frays between the islanders and outsiders, and between the sisters – their hearts torn by rival claims of duty and desire. A storm is coming…

In the tradition of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Metal Heart is a hauntingly rich Second World War love story about courage, brutality, freedom and beauty and the essence of what makes us human during the darkest of times.

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How amazing does that sound? I absolutely loved the author’s debut novel, The Glass Woman, when I read it in 2019 and immediately pre-ordered this one when it was announced. If you also want to pre-order, you can do so here*.

I will be sharing my review for this one on April 20th as part of the blog tour. Thank you to Michael Joseph for the gifted ARC.

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

*This is an affiliate link

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Mystery by the Sea (A Lady Eleanor Swift Mystery Book 5) by Verity Bright

Published: March 11th, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Paperback, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Cozy Fiction, Cozy Mystery, Historical Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this entertaining cozy mystery. Thank you to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

A magnificent seaside hotel, striped deckchairs, strawberry ice cream… and a rather familiar dead body? Lady Swift is on the case!

Spring, 1921Lady Eleanor Swift, explorer extraordinaire and accidental sleuth, hasn’t had a vacation since she arrived in England a year ago. Being an amateur detective can be a rather tiring business and she is determined to escape any more murder and mysteries. So she books into the Grand Hotel in the fashionable resort of Brighton for some fresh air, fish and chips and, of course, a dip in the ocean.

Eleanor is enjoying her view of the waves and trying to find her bathing suit when calamity strikes: a guest has been found dead at her beautiful hotel. The distraught manager, who can’t afford a scandal, asks Eleanor to solve the case as swiftly as possible. Thank goodness she has her partner in crime – Gladstone the bulldog – to help her sniff out the dastardly culprit.

But when Eleanor enters the dead man’s room, she receives a shock big enough to make her forget even the finest ice cream sundae. The body is that of her husband, who supposedly died six years ago on the other side of the world. Has he been alive all these years? Why does he have a copy of their wedding photograph with a cryptic message written on the back? If Eleanor can keep herself safe long enough to find her husband’s killer, she might discover that everything is not quite as it seems beside the seaside…

A warm and witty whodunnit! Fans of Agatha Christie, T E Kinsey and L.B. Hathaway will be utterly charmed by this addictive and absolutely gripping page-turner.

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MY REVIEW:

Brighton, March 1921. Lady Eleanor Swift is off on her first holiday since arriving back in England a year ago. The explorer extraordinaire and accidental sleuth is looking forward to some down time after the unexpected misadventures of recent months. But, before she’s even booked into her hotel, she is confronted by a dead body and yet another mystery waiting to be solved. The body belongs to Hilary, her husband who supposedly died six years ago. Can Eleanor decipher the few clues left behind to discover how he died twice and catch his killer?

Mystery by the Sea is a fun frolic that was like being in a time capsule; the author taking you back to a time when a trip to the English seaside meant striped deck chairs, donkey rides and a Punch and Judy show alongside the sea breeze, sandcastles and fish and chips. She brings it all to life so vividly that I felt like I was there walking along the breezy promenade, paddling in the sea and chasing a killer alongside the characters.

It is the fifth installment in the Lady Eleanor series but despite this it is easy to read as a standalone.  I can vouch for that as it was my first time reading this series.  Despite being an established series I never felt lost, quickly caught up on past events and soon felt like the characters and their relationships were familiar. 

Lady Eleanor is a dazzling heroine who I absolutely loved.  Outgoing, vibrant, daring and fiercely intelligent, she is a breath of fresh air and was a joy to read.  She and her butler, Clifford, make a compelling and entertaining duo who I could happily read again and again. I loved their witty banter and how their differences complement each other. Eleanor may dazzle alone, but she is even more glorious with him. The background characters are just as richly drawn; the female staff may not feature as heavily in the story but make a memorable impression and I can’t wait to see more of her blossoming relationship with DCI Hugh Seldon.

This book was just the tonic I needed on a difficult day.  Lively, charming, sharp and authentic, this glorious whodunnit lifted my spirits and left me yearning for more.  I didn’t need yet another series to add to my already bulging list, but I found one.  And I can’t wait to enjoy more of Lady Eleanor’s exploits. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Verity Bright is the pseudonym for a husband-and-wife writing partnership that has spanned a quarter of a century. Starting out writing high-end travel articles and books, they published everything from self-improvement to humour, before embarking on their first historical mystery.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon* (this is an affiliate link)

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Please read the reviews from other bloggers taking part in the tour.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles. Until next time, Emma xxxx

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Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

Audio Blog Tour: The Abduction (Kramer & Carver #2) by A. A. Chaudhuri

Published: March 1st, 2021
Publisher: Lume Books
Format: Audio, Kindle, Paperback
Genre: Thriller, Mystery

Today I’m thrilled to be closing the audiobook blog tour for The Abduction. Thank you to Lume Books and A. A. Chaudhuri for the gifted copy of the book.

SYNOPSIS:

The gripping sequel to Amazon bestselling thriller, The Scribe.

Kramer and Carver are back…

Madeline Kramer has finally got her life back on track at top City law firm Sullivan, Blake, Monroe. But when two armed, masked men burst into a conference room one lunchtime, kidnapping a trainee and a partner, Maddy’s life is plunged into disarray once more—particularly when charismatic DCI Jake Carver, who caught a heartless killer when they last met and with whom Maddy shared a mutual chemistry, is called to the scene.

Things become more complicated when a disturbing video reveals two more trainees have been taken. What initially appears as a random kidnapping for mercenary gain soon evolves into something far more complex, the horrifying events of thirty years ago motivating the abductors and having colossal implications for those in the present…

Against a backdrop of sleaze, sex, lies and murder in The Abduction, Maddy and Carver must work together to unravel the truth, and ensure that no crimes—past or present—are left unpunished.

MY REVIEW:

The Abduction is the thrilling second installment in the Kramer & Carver series. I was delighted to be asked to review this book for an audiobook tour, something I’ve never done before.

The series follows lawyer Madeline Kramer and DCI Jake Carver. In this installment, the story opens with kidnappers storming the offices of Sullivan, Blake, Monroe, the top City law firm where Madeline now works, and abducting three trainees and a senior partner. As DCI Carver investigates, he discovers that the kidnappings are linked to dark, terrifying events thirty years ago and that this is a fight for justice both in the past and present.

I’ve not yet read the first book in this series but the author succinctly catches you up and never leaves you feeling out of the loop. The protagonists and supporting cast of characters are fascinating and richly drawn with compelling, intricate backstories that entwine them far deeper than we first imagine. The combination of the great writing and narration made it feel like they were in the room with you, transporting you into their world and the dark, twisted secrets of the staff at Sullivan, Blake, Monroe.

I liked Kramer and Carver and found them to be interesting and compelling protagonists. They were a great investigative team and I enjoyed the chemistry that sizzled between them. Though they tried to fight it, I was rooting for them to give in to how they felt for each other.

I enjoyed listening to this gripping, action-packed thriller. While it did take me a little while to warm to the narrator, I soon found myself hooked by the story and enjoying his riveting narration.

The Abduction is a multilayered, pacy and twisty story of decades old secrets, sex, lies, power, greed and vengeance that will have you on the edge of your seat. I will be reading the first book in this series and am looking forward to book three.

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

A. A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer. Once a highly ranked British junior tennis player, she went on to gain a degree in History at University College London, then trained as a solicitor and worked for several major London law firms before leaving law to pursue her passion for writing. In addition to books featuring the feisty Maddy Kramer, she has written four stand-alone novels, including racy thriller, Illicit Retainers, and political thriller, The Darker Side of White, yet to be published. She lives in Surrey with her family.

Amazon bestselling crime writer pub’d by Endeavour Media, rep’d A for Authors Literary Agency: #1 Amazon Australia Amateur Sleuth Mysteries (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Canada Women Sleuth Mysteries; (Aug ’19) top 10 Amazon UK Legal crime thrillers (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Australia Legal Thrillers (November ’19)

Website |Instagram | Twitter | Facebook

BUY THE BOOK:
Amazon*| Waterstones*
*These are affiliate links

Please check out the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Wedding by Ruth Heald

Published: March 3rd, 2021
Publisher: Bookouture
Format: Kindle, Audio, Paperback
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Thriller

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

SYNOPSIS:

Just four words were printed in the card. He doesn’t love you.

I’ve been dreaming about this day – marrying Adam, my childhood sweetheart, who I’ve loved for eighteen years.

I didn’t realise the perfect day would turn into the perfect nightmare.

I was so excited to send out the wedding invitations, carefully writing everyone’s names on thick cream paper in beautiful cursive script.

I had no idea I was inviting someone to destroy our marriage.

I couldn’t wait to say ‘I do’ surrounded by loved ones clinking champagne glasses.

I couldn’t imagine that one of them would try to hurt me.

It was meant to be the first day of the rest of our lives.

I never thought it would be the end of my life as I knew it.

We were meant to share our vows, to toast our future. But when the truth comes out, shocking the onlooking guests and ripping my heart out, is a happy ever after possible?

A completely gripping and totally addictive read that will get your blood pressure rising and send shivers down your spine. Fans of Date NightThe Sister-in-Law and The Girl on the Train will devour this twisty, dark and gasp-worthy page-turner in one swift gulp!

MY REVIEW:

“And then it hits me. I’m going to die here… On my wedding day. All because of her.”

Husband and wife-to-be Adam and Lauren narrate this story that takes place in the months and weeks leading up to their wedding day. The childhood sweethearts have been anticipating this moment for years. Eighteen years to be exact; ever since those first sparks flew between on a holiday to Thailand that we see in flashbacks from Adam’s perspective. 

But someone doesn’t want the couple to get their happily-ever-after and begins to try to sabotage both their wedding and their life together. Could till death do us part come sooner than they expect?

This is another first rate thriller from Ruth Heald, who has now secured a place on my must-read authors list. I devoured this book in just a few hours, the author holding me in the palm of her hands as she took me on one hell of a wild ride. I loved the darkly atmospheric world she crafted; the whisper of menace that hovered in the shadows sending shivers down my spine and making it impossible to stop reading. As the author slowly unveiled jaw-dropping twists that turn everything you thought you knew on its head, the story shifts to a much more nuanced and intricate thriller than it first appeared to be. I found this utterly addictive and it ensured I kept reading until ridiculous o’clock. I was totally invested and there was no way I could sleep without knowing who was behind all of this and what would happen to Lauren and Adam. 

Enthralling, taut, twisty and suspenseful, this packs a punch from the first pages and doesn’t let go. A spectacular and electrifying thriller that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys the genre.

Rating: ✯✯✯✯✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruth Heald is the bestselling author of psychological thrillers I KNOW YOUR SECRET, THE MOTHER’S MISTAKE and THE WOMAN UPSTAIRS, and the relationship drama 27: SIX FRIENDS, ONE YEAR.

Ruth studied Economics at Oxford University and then worked in an eclectic mix of sectors from nuclear decommissioning to management consulting. She worked at the BBC for nine years before leaving to write full time. Ruth is fascinated by psychology and finding out what drives people to violence, destruction and revenge. She’s married with two children and her novels explore our greatest fears in otherwise ordinary, domestic lives.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon* | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo
*These are affiliate links

Please read the reviews from other bloggers on the tour.

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