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Emma's Anticipated Treasures First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

1. Monsters
I have known monsters and I have known men. I have stood in their long shadows, propped them up with my own two hands, reached for the inscrutable faces in the dark. They are harder to set apart than you know. Than you will ever know.”

Today’s chilling first lines are taken from Damage, the startling debut from Caitlin Wahrer, that was released this month. This is one of my most highly anticipated debuts this year and I’m even more excited to start it soon after reading these first lines.

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SYNOPSIS:

Sometimes, the true story is the hardest to believe.

TONY has always looked out for his younger brother, Nick. So when Nick is badly hurt and it looks like he was the victim of sexual assault, Tony’s anger flares.

JULIA is alarmed by her husband Tony’s obsession with Nick’s case. She’s always known Tony has a temper. But does she really know what he’s capable of?

NICK went out for a drink. After that, everything’s a blank. When he woke up he found himself in a world of confusion and pain, and the man who hurt him doesn’t deny doing it. But he says the whole thing was consensual.

Three ordinary people; one life-shattering event. And when the police get involved, this family in crisis might be capable of anything . . .

Set to ignite debate and as gripping as your favourite box-set, Damage is a compulsive drama from an extraordinary new writer.

You can buy the book here*

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Is this on your tbr? Let me know in the comments.

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

*This is an affiliate link

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Face at the Window by Ruby Speechley

Published: July 28th, 2021
Publisher: Hera Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Fiction, Noir Fiction, Urban Fiction, Domestic Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Kindle

Today is my stop on the blog tour for this tense and twisty thriller. Thank you to Sarah at Books on the Bright Side for the invitation to take part and Hera Books for the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

They’re in your house.

They want your life.

And now, they have your baby.

To the world, I’m @HappyWife. Online, people only see my picture-perfect home, my handsome husband, Nick, and my beautiful baby, Thomas.

They don’t see the real Gemma Adams. They don’t see my past, the dark secrets I’m hiding in my marriage. They don’t see the fear I live in every single day.

But I know someone is watching me. And now, they’ve taken Thomas.

I just don’t know why.

But I’m going to stop at nothing to get my baby back.

Even if it destroys everything I’ve got to find him.

A compelling thriller, packed with suspense – fans of K.L. Slater and Lisa Jewell won’t be able to put it down.

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MY REVIEW:

“A few nice photos of your house and they think they know you, that you must be living the perfect life. If only they knew.”

TW: Domestic abuse

Gemma and her husband Nick seem to have the ideal life: a happy marriage, picture-perfect home and a beautiful newborn baby. But behind the shiny image they portray to the outside world is something much darker. A life where Gemma lives in fear of saying or doing the wrong thing and Nick has all the control. 

Scarlett and her lover Cole are soulmates. As soon as his divorce is finalised they are going to be together properly. Forever. At least that’s what he’s promised her. So when he suddenly ends their relationship Scarlett is shocked, and determined to win back her man. But as she starts to think that he has in fact lied to her, her thoughts instead turn to revenge. Leading her to take drastic and shocking action to make him pay for what he did. 

This is one of those books that’s a bit like an iceberg: what you see at first is only a part of what is actually going on beneath the surface. Taut, tense and twisty, the author shifts seamlessly between timelines to slowly unveil the layers in the story, weaving them together to craft a complex and intricate thriller. And while there were some things that were easy to predict, there were so many unanswered questions, unexpected revelations and misdirection that it kept you on your toes and avoided feeling predictable. 

Gemma and Scarlett felt like they could be any young woman you know.  They are close in age but their lives couldn’t be more different, a contrast that is compelling. Gemma in particular was very likeable and reading her felt like I could have been reading about myself many years ago. I just wanted to help her break free of Nick’s grasp. Scarlett had her charms, but she also did a lot of messed up things in the name of revenge that disturbed me. But while the author doesn’t make excuses for her, she does show the reader her motivations, helping us to understand her behaviour. I found myself often empathising with her, even if I didn’t agree with what she was doing. Then there’s Nick; a vile, abusive man who made my stomach churn and blood boil. The author got the mix of charm and viciousness down to perfection so you could understand both how Gemma fell in love with him and why she was so scared. 

The author explores the topic of domestic violence and coercive control in a multitude of ways throughout this book. She looks at how people find themselves in these kinds of relationships, what it is like to live in a relationship dominated by escalating abuse and control, and the aftermath of abuse and what that means for those who survived. As a domestic abuse survivor I appreciated the honesty and sensitivity with which she wrote. It is clear that she has done her research and was so realistic that it did bring back memories of my own experience. But it is also a book that educates and makes you think, helping those who don’t have any experience of these kinds of situations to understand how easily anyone can find themselves trapped in that kind of life. I also liked that she showed the many facets of abuse and control and appreciated her note at the end with places to go to for help for those who need it. 

Unnerving, explosive and affecting, this was a gripping thriller that I’d recommend to fans of the genre. 

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruby Speechley is the author of four psychological thrillers published by Hera Books. She loves writing about domestic situations with plenty of twists and secrets.

She was born in Portugal but has lived in the UK since she was three months old. She now lives in Cheshire with her husband and two of her three children and two dogs. She has an older son and grandson.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Secret Life of Writers by Guillaume Musso

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: W&N
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Suspense, Travel Literature
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this absolute masterpiece. Thank you to Alex Layt at Orion for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPISIS:

In 1999, after publishing three cult novels, celebrated author Nathan Fawles announces the end of his writing career and withdraws to Beaumont, a wild and beautiful island off the Mediterranean coast.

Autumn 2018. As Fawles’ novels continue to captivate readers, Mathilde Monney, a young Swiss journalist, arrives on the island, determined to unlock the writer’s secrets and secure his first interview in twenty years.

That same day, a woman’s body is discovered on the beach and the island is cordoned off by the authorities.

And so, begins a dangerous face off between Mathilde and Nathan, in which the line between truth and fiction becomes increasingly blurred…

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MY REIVEW:

“I knew that fate had set me on a path towards a story that someone had to tell. A true story, more compelling than any work of fiction, and one which I sensed had only just begun.”

Books, murder and mystery. What more could I want in a novel? As soon as I read the synopsis I knew this was a book I HAD to read. It’s almost like it was written for me. And it was perfect. An absolute masterpiece that was so mesmerising and addictive that I never wanted it to end. 

The Secret Life of Writers reads like a book within a book. It starts when Raphael arrives on the Isle of Beaumont hoping to solve the ‘mystery of Nathan Fawles’, the reclusive writer who has isolated himself on the island since suddenly retiring from writing at the peak of his career almost twenty years before. But after the brutal murder of a young woman, the story widens to include a murder investigation and another mystery involving the incredible journey of a lost camera and and unspeakable secret that Fawles is hiding and journalist Mathilde claims to know. 

“A noose tightened around my chest. I was shaking all over. When I opened the freezer, I couldn’t hold back a scream. The inside had been repainted. With blood.” 

Guillaume Musso is known as the ‘French suspense king’, and after reading this book, I can see why. This novel is a masterclass in storytelling. Expertly written with a dash of finesse, it is hypnotic, and I was under its spell from the first pages. Every word is infused with an air of mystery, and there is a palpable tension that makes your heart race. Perfectly plotted, it is more intricate and complex than it first appears, and every time you think you’ve figured out what’s going on Musso throws in another curveball. He’s so good that you don’t see it coming; expertly luring you into that false sense of security where you think you know what’s next and then pulls the rug from under you. 

Told with breathtakingly beautiful imagery and prose, I found myself wanting to annotate almost every other sentence. The author not only does he bring the characters to life, but the place too. His descriptions of the Isle of Beaumont are so evocative that I felt like I could see the Provincial main square, the turquoise water and the colourful houses glinting in the sun. It felt real, just as the story felt like I was reading a true crime novel rather than a work of fiction.

“Books not only break walls down, they build them up too. More often than you’d think, they wound, and shatter, and kill. Books may dazzle and shine, but all that glitters is not gold. “

The characters are richly drawn and compelling. I loved how Nathan and Mathilde are both enigmatic characters and yet Raphael is more open. With Nathan especially you never know if you can trust what he’s telling you, and I enjoyed being kept guessing and the surprises this threw my way.  I loved how each of them were writers and the observations the author made about books, reading and writing. He captured so many of my own feelings about the topics which, along with having my favourite subject woven into the plot, made me feel like he had written this just for me. 

As the book is translated, I feel I need to also thank the translator for doing such a superb job of making it possible for those of us who don’t speak French to read this phenomenal novel. I can only imagine the amount of time and effort it took. Thank you. 

Sharp, stylish, intense, and utterly mind-blowing, this fast-paced thriller is so twisty it will make your head spin. So just hold on tight and enjoy the ride. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

From one novel to the next, Guillaume Musso has formed a unique bond with his readers. Born in 1974 in Antibes on the French Riviera, he fell in love with literature at an early age, spending all his free time devouring books at the public library where his mother worked. A short story competition organized by his French teacher led him to discover the joys of writing, and he has never stopped since then.

His studies, his extended trips to the United States, his encounters… All have contributed to enriching his imagination and his writing projects. A graduate in social economics, he became a teacher in the East and then the South of France. He published his first novel, Skidamarink, in 2001, but his next book Et Après…, is the one that truly won the public over. This story of love and suspense with supernatural undertones marked the beginning of a dazzling and unwavering success.

Translated into forty languages and adapted many times for film, each book of his is as hugely successful as the next in both France and around the world. The release of a new novel by Guillaume Musso has become, for his readers, an eagerly awaited rendezvous.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Audio Books Blog Tours book reviews

Audio Blog Tour: Mr. Todd’s Reckoning by Iain Maitland

Published: August 1st, 2021
Publisher: Isis Audio
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Format: Audio, Paperback, Kindle

I’m delighted to be opening the blog tour for the chilling Mr. Todd’s Reckoning. Thank you to Isis Audio for the gifted audiobook.

SYNOPSIS:

Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath. The father: Mr Todd is at his wits’ end. He’s been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home…with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry. The son: Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he’s getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where. The unholy spirit: In the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he’ll kill again.

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MY REVIEW:

“I do only what has to be done. What I have to do.” 

An ordinary man on an ordinary street is hiding grim secrets in this dark and sinister thriller.  

The story is told in the form of Mr. Todd’s diary entries, which he has been advised to keep to fill his day and to work through his feelings after a difficult time in his life. At first he seems like a man down on his luck who’s frustrated at where he has ended up in life and feels like he doesn’t deserve what has happened to him. It is a slow-burner and I admit I found it hard to get into at first. But a blogger whose opinion I trust had rated it as one of her favourite books this year so I decided to persist. I am thankful I did as things began to pick up and I soon found myself completely immersed in this story full of secrets that I was desperate to unlock.

“I think it is time now… that I write about what I’ve kept hidden deep inside me for a while.” 

The protagonist lives with his adult son, Adrian, who I think is neuro-diverse but his father views as weird and annoying. He spends a lot of time worrying what he is up to and that he’s getting into trouble again. It is here that the first seeds of suspicion and something ominous appear as we worry that Adrian is hiding a terrible secret as his father tries desperately to unravel it. But it soon becomes clear that is in fact Mr. Todd who has the secret, and we begin to see the first glimpses of the real man lurking beneath his harmless façade. 

“Although I have ended lives, I do not consider myself a bad sort of chap.”

Malcolm Todd is a chilling creation who is so realistic that it sent shivers down my spine. He is a miserable, bitter, angry and judgmental man who thinks he’s more intelligent and better than everyone else. He also has a real sense of entitlement about everything in life. He’s one of those people where things are always someone else’s fault and anything he did wrong he was forced to do or had no other choice. He made me so angry, but it was these awful things about him that made him so compelling as I find the damaged and twisted psyche of these kinds of people fascinating. He was brilliantly written and I can understand the comparisons to Norman Bates as he definitely gave me that vibe too. 

Claustrophobic, menacing and unnerving, this subtle and slithering psychological thriller will leave you wondering just who and what is lurking behind your neighbours’ doors…

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

You can purchase the book here

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Iain Maitland is the author of Sweet William and Mr Todd’s Reckoning, both published by Contraband, an imprint of Saraband. Mr Todd’s Reckoning has been optioned for TV by AbbottVision. His next book, The Scribbler, the first in the Gayther & Carrie detective series, is published by Contraband in May 2020.

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MEET THE NARRATOR:

Michael Simkins trained at RADA. He has appeared in more than 70 plays, stage highlights include A View from the Bridge at the National Theatre as well as musicals Chicago and Mamma Mia. He also directed Alan Ayckbourn’s Absent Friends at the Greenwich Theatre. He has made countless TV appearances – recent credits include Foyle’s War and My Family – as well as turns on the silver screen in such films as Mike Leigh’s Topsy-Turvy. He has worked with luminaries as diverse as Anthony Perkins, John Malkovich, Michael Gambon and Buster Merryfield. He lives with his actress wife Julia in London.

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: Girls Who Lie (Forbidden Iceland Book 2) by Eva Bjorg Aegisdottir

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Happy Publication Day to this gripping thriller.

Thank you Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda for the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPIS:

When a depressed, alcoholic single mother disappears, everything suggests suicide, but when her body is found, Icelandic Detective Elma and her team are thrust into a perplexing, chilling investigation.

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When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, everyone assumes that she’s taken her own life … until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?

Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to a shocking tragedy.

Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the number of suspects grows and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…

Breathtakingly chilling and tantalisingly twisty, Girls Who Lie is at once a startling, tense psychological thriller and a sophisticated police procedural, marking Eva Björg Ægisdottir as one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.
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Book 1 in the series, The Creak on the Stairs, WON THE CWA JOHN CREASEY NEW BLOOD DAGGER

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MY REIVEW:

Seven months after her disappearance, the beaten body of single mother Marianna is found in a cave in the lava field. Detective Elma and her team are thrown into a difficult investigation where there are few clues and no real suspects. But as they slowly delve deeper into Marianna’s life, they discover that the case is much more complex than they anticipated and the clues begin to take them in a surprising direction. 

The story moves between the investigation into the murder and flashbacks to the life of an unknown single mother. It was these chapters that I enjoyed most of all because we get a deeper insight into her character than any other. But this is contrasted with the fact that her identity is a mystery, adding an extra layer of intrigue to the story. In these chapters we follow the young woman’s struggle to connect with her daughter and be a good mother. They were heart-rending, disturbing and affecting. Filled with raw emotion and uncomfortable truths. They highlighted the difficulties of motherhood we don’t always want to admit and the shades of gray we don’t always see when we paint someone as a ‘bad parent’. The author continues exploring these themes in the present day with the storyline of Marianna being a neglectful mother whose relationship with her daughter was so troubled that she wanted to live with foster parents. While hard to read at times, it is well written, sensitive and a thought-provoking commentary on motherhood and the problems that lie within social services.

This is the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series but my first time reading this author’s books. Despite that I never felt confused as the author quickly catches you up, enabling this to be read as a standalone or part of the series. I have already bought the first book in the series and plan to read any further books by this author after loving this one. Elma was a great protagonist who is likeable, relatable and has an interesting backstory. The author managed to hit that sweet spot of showing the reader Elma’s personal life and history without saturating the story, enabling us to feel a connection while still being able to focus on the case she’s trying to solve. The supporting and background characters are compelling and richly drawn which kept me hooked on the story and provided an abundance of suspects. 

A harrowing, complex and multilayered thriller with a twist that comes like a bolt out of the blue, Girls Who Lie is another amazing read from Orenda Books. I would highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys crime fiction. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir studied for an MSc in Globalisation in Norway before returning to Iceland and deciding to write a novel – something she had wanted to do since she won a short-story competition at the age of fifteen. After nine months combining her writing with work as a stewardess and caring for her children, Eva finished The Creak on the Stairs. It was published in 2018, and became a bestseller in Iceland, going on to win the Blackbird Award, a prize set up by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson to encourage new Icelandic crime writers. The Creak on the Stairs was published in English by Orenda Books in 2020, and became a number-one bestseller in ebook in three countries, and shortlisted for the Capital Crime/Amazon Publishing Awards in two categories. Girls Who Lie, the second book in the Forbidden Iceland series, is published in 2021. Dubbed the ‘Icelandic Ruth Rendell’ by the British press, Eva lives in Reykjavík with her husband and three children and is currently working on the third book in the Forbidden Iceland series.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Review: The Beresford by Will Carver

Published: July 22nd, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Happy almost-publication day to this outstanding and original book. Thank you to Karen at Orenda for the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Everything stays the same for the tenants of The Beresford, a grand old apartment building just outside the city … until the doorbell rings… Will Carver returns with an eerie, deliciously and uncomfortably dark standalone thriller.
 
Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.
 
There’s a routine at The Beresford.
 
For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building.
 
Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate, Sythe, no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. 
 
In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.
 
And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door.
 
Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…
 
Eerie, dark, superbly twisted and majestically plotted, The Beresford is the stunning standalone thriller from one of crime fiction’s most exciting names.

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MY REVIEW:

“The Beresford was old. It was grand. It evolved with the people who inhabited its rooms and apartments. It was dark and elephantine and it breathed with its people. Paint peeled and there were cracks in places. It was bricks and mortar and plaster and wood. And it was alive.”

Will Carver has done it again! The Beresford is another outstanding and original novel from one of the most unique voices in fiction. The striking, eerie and trippy cover matches what’s between it’s pages: a strange, sinister and twisted tale that is both gloriously absurd and totally plausible. 

The story opens with a murder. Sixty seconds later the doorbell rings. Thus begins a dark chain of events that many of those involved won’t survive, propelling the reader straight into the action, not letting go until the final page. I devoured this book, unable to put it down once I’d started. I was hypnotised by the dark, claustrophobic and haunting world of The Beresford and its doomed residents. 

“We all go a little mad sometimes.”

His characters are ordinary and familiar but also quirky, richly drawn and compelling. Abe Schwartz is an unassuming and unremarkable geek who is lonely and aches to be loved. You can’t help but feel for him despite knowing that beneath his façade of normality is a deeply disturbed individual hiding a dark secret. It’s this juxtaposition that makes him so fascinating and frightening. He really could be anyone and you would never expect him to be a killer. 

Blair Conroy is trying to escape her small town life and has come in search of the excitement of the city. It is she who Abe greets just seconds after committing murder, not realising she may have just sealed her fate. I liked Blair and could relate to her in many ways. I even liked her blossoming relationship with Abe and was rooting for her not to end up in the same position as the previous resident. 

Then we have Mrs. May, the lady who oversees everything that happens at The Beresford. She is a bit of an enigma, a complex character with many layers that are slowly peeled away as the story progresses. Deeply religious, she has suffered a lot of trauma and seems to genuinely care for her tenants. But she also seems terrified of the house itself. Just what does she know? And what power does this place have over her? I enjoyed trying to figure out this mysterious lady and her secrets and found her surprisingly likeable. 

“The Beresford was a halfway house for the disenchanted and disenfranchised, whose focus was to become. To be. To discover and make their impact. The inhabitants were not necessarily the outsiders, but were certainly the ones found on the periphery. The wallflowers at society’s ball.”

The house is a character in itself that feels as if it lives and breathes as much as any of the human characters. It oozes malevolence and foreboding and is hiding secrets so dark and terrifying they will send shivers down your spine. It is a place that changes those who live there, feasting on them from the inside before moving onto another unsuspecting victim.

Will Carver has quickly become one of my favourite authors. His distinctive style is like nothing else out there and when you pick up his books they are instantly recognisable as his. With his sharp, choppy prose that is both tongue in cheek and deadly serious, his bold topics, scathing and unapologetic social commentary and dark humour he creates an atmosphere of mystery and foreboding, a chill that runs through your veins and builds the tension and dread till you are on the edge of your seat with your heart pounding. 

The Beresford is one of my favourite books so far this year and my favourite book by the author to date, so it was an easy five stars from me. A seductive and unsettling read that you will love while also questioning why. When it’s over you will wonder what on earth you just read and find it impossible to forget. 

Just remember: DON’T RING THE DOORBELL.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Before You Knew My Name by Jacqueline Bublitz

Published: July 15th, 2021
Publisher: Sphere
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this phenomenal debut. Thank you to Frankie at Little Brown Book Group for the invitation to take part and the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

This is not just another novel about a dead girl.

When she arrived in New York on her 18th birthday carrying nothing but $600 cash and a stolen camera, Alice was looking for a fresh start. Now, just one month later, she is the city’s latest Jane Doe, an unidentified murder victim.

Ruby Jones is also trying to start over; she travelled halfway around the world only to find herself lonelier than ever. Until she finds Alice Lee’s body by the Hudson River.

From this first, devastating encounter, the two women form an unbreakable bond. Alice is sure that Ruby is the key to solving the mystery of her life – and death. And Ruby – struggling to forget what she saw that morning – finds herself unable to let Alice go. Not until she is given the ending she deserves.

Before You Knew My Name doesn’t ask whodunnit. Instead, this powerful, hopeful novel asks: Who was she? And what did she leave behind? The answers might surprise you.

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MY REVIEW:

“If I tell you my story. If I let you know what happened to me. Maybe you’ll see who I was. Who I am. Maybe you’ll like the truth of me better, and maybe you’ll wish this for every dead girl from now on. The chance to speak for herself, to be known for more than her ending.”

We are all familiar with the brutal crimes often committed against women and the sadly common stories that accompany them. In this startling debut, Jacqueline Bublitz takes those stories and gives them a twist. Instead of asking whodunnit, she asks who was the victim? What is her story? And what can we learn from her?

Narrated by Alice Lee, the eighteen-year-old girl who moves to New York for a new start and ends up dead just a few weeks later, the story is told directly to the reader as she hovers between this life and the next. She needs us to see her. Remember her. To focus on who she was and how she lived, rather than how she died. This style of narration reminded me of The Lovely Bones, which is one of my favourite books of all time. But while it echoed Susie Salmon, Alice was unique, standing out as an original, bold and memorable voice. Having Alice tell her story directly to the reader also helped me to connect with her and see her as a real person rather than just a dead body. It gives you a sense of her character, feelings, thoughts, dreams and fears. It compounds the tragedy of what happened to her as you grieve for the loss of a life that was just beginning.

“Though we come from very different places, Ruby Jones and I might as well be the same person when it comes to how we landed here in New York City.”

But it isn’t just the story of the victim that the author illuminates in this book. She also shines a light on another familiar person whose voice is rarely heard in these cases: the person who finds the body. We don’t usually know who they are or how the grim discovery reverberates through their life. Bulbitz examines these questions and more, telling the story of Ruby Jones,  a thirty-six-year-old Australian who moved to New York for a fresh start. After finding Alice’s brutalised and broken body in the park on that stormy day she is shaken, traumatised and determined to find out the name and the story of Jane Doe. 

“You may be gone but your legacy isn’t finished.”

Breathtaking beautiful, hypnotic and mesmerising, Before You Knew My Name is one of those books that goes right to your soul. I was captivated from the first page. It is a story about new beginnings and self-discovery; full of intrigue, promise and hope. But it is also a tragic story of a life extinguished before it has even really begun. This may be a story told by a dead girl, but the author’s masterful storytelling and melodic prose breathe life into every word. I lived every moment alongside Alice and Ruby, feeling a strong bond to these two compelling, fractured yet strong women. They were great characters that I enjoyed reading and I particularly loved how the author entwined their stories. I also loved how the evocative imagery made New York leap from the page like I was watching the story in technicolour on a movie screen. Alice’s feelings about the city were infectious and I found myself falling in love with it too.  the city just as Alice did.

“There is no name to be spoken, but I am recognised by each of the women present, clasped around their lifted hands, heavy on their hearts. I am their fears, and their lucky escapes, their anger, and their wariness. I am their caution and their yesterdays, the shadow version of themselves all those nights they have spent looking over their shoulders, or twisting keys between fingers.”

Timely, brave and thought-provoking, this book feels all the more pertinent with the Sarah Everard case fresh in our minds. The author explores the things that as women we have to be aware of each day, the threat we face from the men who lurk in the shadows waiting to strike. She talks about how we feel we have to smile and act a certain way, say the right things, dampen the threat, and how the onus is put on us instead of society asking those men to change. I feel like the tides are turning now though, and that this book will help ignite much-needed discussion.

“I’m ready to tell you a little more now. Stay with me as we take that closer look. But don’t you believe a single thing he said about me.”

Atmospheric, powerful, enthralling and unflinching, the answers unfold slowly in this novel. Alice is unable to speak her secrets at first, the horror of what she suffered affecting her even after she’s left this earth. The reader learns the truth almost in sync with Ruby, keeping me guessing right up until the big reveal. 

Before You Knew My Name is a phenomenal debut that stands out amongst the many mystery and thriller books I’ve read over the years. Jacqueline Bublitz is an extraordinary talent and an author to watch. I for one will be reading anything she writes. 

READ IT NOW!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

TW: Sexual assault, PTSD

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Jacqueline ‘Rock’ Bublitz is a writer, feminist, and arachnophobe, who lives between Melbourne, Australia and her hometown on the west coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

She wrote her debut novel Before You Knew My Name after spending a summer in New York, where she hung around morgues and the dark corners of city parks (and the human psyche) far too often.

She is now working on her second novel, where she continues to explore the grand themes of love, loss and connection.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: A Cut For A Cut (Detective Kate Young 2) by Carol Wyer

Published: June 29th, 2021
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Carol Wyer’s latest sensational thriller. Thank you to Emma at Damppebbles Blog Tours for the invitation to take part and to Carol for the gifted signed copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

DI Kate Young can’t trust anybody. Not even herself.

In the bleak countryside around Blithfield Reservoir, a serial murderer and rapist is leaving a trail of bloodshed. His savage calling card: the word ‘MINE’ carved into each of his victims.

DI Kate Young struggles to get the case moving―even when one of the team’s own investigators is found dead in a dumpster. But Kate is battling her own demons. Obsessed with exposing Superintendent John Dickson and convinced there’s a conspiracy running deep in the force, she no longer knows who to trust. Kate’s crusade has already cost her dearly. What will she lose next?

When her stepsister spills a long-buried secret, Kate realises she’s found the missing link―now she must prove it before the killer strikes again. With enemies closing in on all sides, she’s prepared to do whatever it takes to bring them down. But time is running out, and Kate’s past has pushed her to the very edge. Can she stop herself from falling?

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MY REVIEW:

“You’re mine, forever.”

All the stars for the latest exciting and addictive thriller from the lady who has rightly been referred to as the Queen of Crime. I personally think that the Kate Young series is Wyer’s best series yet, and I am loving these darker, gritter books.

In the series’ second installment, Kate and her team are trying to find a cold, calculated and controlled killer who stalks his victims before brutally attacking them and branding them by carving the word ‘MINE’ into their back. As the attacks escalate, the clock is ticking and the team races to find this twisted killer before he can claim another victim. But clues are in short supply until Kate’s stepsister Tilly provides the link they’ve been missing. Can they find him before it’s too late?

Propelling you straight into the action, I was hooked from the first pages. Compulsive, suspenseful and unsettling, danger is woven into every page. There is an undercurrent fear as the killer stalks his victims. This ruthless predator who enjoys their anguish and pain could be anyone, and Wyer had me coming up with some wild theories about his identity and suspecting almost every male character. Adding to the sense of mistrust is Kate’s secret investigation into the death of her husband and corruption within the force.

Ms. Wyer is skilled at writing characters who are both relatable and totally unique. They have something different about them, and Kate Young is a perfect example. She helps this series stand out from the glut of other crime series out there because she is original, fresh and compelling. No other protagonist I know of has conversations with their dead husband as if he’s still living. But while she is a little kooky, she is also intelligent, fierce, determined and fractured, making the reader care about her and respect her outlook and decisions, something else that is vital in a protagonist and police detective.

But what I think I love most about Carol is her villains. She has written some brilliantly mencacing antagonists, with this one being another to add to that list. This man is a terrifying creation; a man who is deeply disturbed and unhinged, yet is able to hide it all behind a mask of normality that allows him to walk amongst others unnoticed, those around him unaware they are in the presence of a monster. His chapters were chilling, ominous and searing, the hatred and vengeance seeping from every word.

Wonderfully dark, sinister and exhilarating, A Cut For A Cut is perfect for anyone who loves crime fiction, police procedurals or TV shows such as Line of Duty. This is one not to be missed.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

A former teacher and linguist, Carol began writing full-time in 2009 and enjoyed much success with several comedies and humorous non-fiction books, one of which, Grumpy Old Menopause won her the People’s Book Prize Award in 2015. 

January 2017, saw her move into police procedurals withLittle Girl Lost, the first in the DI Robyn Carter series, that featured in USA Today Top 150 best selling books and became the #2 best-selling book on Amazon. The books, set in Staffordshire where Carol has lived for over 30 years, earned her acclaim as a crime writer and in 2018, a new team lead by DI Natalie Ward was introduced to her readers.

Carol’s crime novels have since sold over half a million copies and been translated worldwide.

As well as writing crime, Kindle top 5 best-seller Carol also still writes comedies because as the ex-stand-up comedian claims, “Laughter is the best medicine”.

Carol has been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television. She has had articles published in national magazines ‘Woman’s Weekly’ featured in ‘Take A Break’, ‘Choice’, ‘Yours’ and ‘Woman’s Own’ magazines and the Huffington Post.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Rule by David Jackson

Published: July 1st, 2021
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Thriller, Mystery
Format: Hardcover, Kindle Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Rule. Thank you to Viper for the invitation to take part and the eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

MY DAD SAYS BAD THINGS
HAPPEN WHEN I BREAK IT…

Daniel is looking forward to his birthday. He wants pie and chips, a big chocolate cake, and a comic book starring his favourite superhero. And as long as he follows The Rule, nothing bad will happen.

Daniel will be twenty-three next week. And he has no idea that he’s about to kill a stranger.

Daniel’s parents know that their beloved and vulnerable son will be taken away. They know that Daniel didn’t mean to hurt anyone, he just doesn’t know his own strength. They dispose of the body. Isn’t that what any loving parent would do? But as forces on both sides of the law begin to close in on them, they realise they have no option but to finish what they started. Even if it means that others will have to die…

Because they’ll do anything to protect Daniel. Even murder.

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MY REVIEW:

“The Rule was that Daniel should avoid physical contact with others as much as possible. It was a tough decree to enforce, but it was the safest option.”

Twenty-two-year-old Daniel has the mind of a child but the body of an exceptionally strong man. Because of that, he lives by The Rule. But during a chance encounter on his way home one afternoon, Daniel breaks The Rule in order to protect his beloved father, Scott and accidentally kills Joey Cobb, a local drug-dealer. Panic takes over, and Scott goes to extraordinary lengths to protect his vulnerable son. But when Joey’s body is found, chaos ensues as the clues draw the police and, more dangerous characters, closer to discovering the truth…

This is a story about family, love, and the lengths a parent will go to in order to protect their child. Daniel is a great character. I really liked him and it is impossible not to feel affection for him. When we meet him he is excited about enjoying chippy chips and his favourite cake for his upcoming twenty-third birthday and loves to escape into his favourite comic books. He is a gentle young man who has no idea of his own strength, which is why his parents created The Rule. Daniel is also very close to his father, Scott, and their bond is a real driving force in the story as it is at the heart of the actions of both men on the night of the accident. 

There is a duality that runs through the characters, a theme of them being both incredibly strong and deeply vulnerable, albeit in different ways. For instance, Daniel is a gentle giant, physically strong but also vulnerable because of his learning difficulty, while Hannah is a strong and determined woman struggling with a heartbreaking personal tragedy that seeps into all facets of her life. I really liked this contrast and how the author explored it in each of the narrators. But it all felt a bit one-dimensional. I think this was partly because there were so many narrators and that if the author had focused on fewer of them then I could have felt that depth, connection and investment that was missing. 

A readable thriller filled with some intriguing characters and unexpected twists, The Rule is great for anyone looking for a quick read. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✰✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

David Jackson is the author of eight crime novels, including the bestseller Cry Baby. When not murdering fictional people, David spends his days as a university academic in his home city of Liverpool.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx


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Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: False Witness by Karin Slaughter

Published: June 24th, 2021
Publisher: Harper Collins UK
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this deliciously dark thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Harper Collins UK for the proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

You thought no one saw you. You were wrong.

Leigh and her sister Callie are not bad people – but one night, more than two decades ago, they did something terrible. And the result was a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, devastated by violence.

Years later, Leigh has pushed that night from her mind and become a successful lawyer – but when she is forced to take on a new client against her will, her world begins to spiral out of control.

Because the client knows the truth about what happened twenty-three years ago. He knows what Leigh and Callie did. And unless they stop him, he’s going to tear their lives apart …

Just because you didn’t see the witness … doesn’t mean he wasn’t there.

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MY REVIEW:

When Leigh goes to meet her latest client, the successful defense lawyer is shocked to be confronted by a face from her past. A face that takes her back to that awful night twenty-three years ago when she and her sister Callie did something terrible. Something he knows they did and is determined to make them pay for….

A new Karin Slaughter book is always something to look forward to. When you pick up one of her books you know you’re getting a dark, twisted and first-class thriller that packs a punch. And her latest book certainly lives up to that expectation, giving you everything you could want in a psychological thriller and more. 

Gritty, sinister and unsettling, this isn’t a book for the faint hearted. It visits the darkest corners of human tragedy and depravity, ripples of evil flowing through every page. Brilliantly written, the author drips clues about the past and present, slowly unveiling the true horror of what Leigh and Callie are facing. It is a fuse threatening to ignite their entire lives. Despite their mistakes, you can’t help but feel for them and be in their corner, especially after meeting Andrew, a man who puts the psycho in psychological thriller. It is a complex and intricately woven story bathed in menace and fear that you won’t be able to put down.

But this is also a thriller with depth, the author addressing topics such as sexual assault, rape, trauma, neglect and drug addiction. It is clear she has done in depth research into these subjects and writes them with raw honesty, but also sensitivity and compassion. With Callie’s injury, chronic pain and addiction she even goes into the science of each issue, which helps the reader gain a greater understanding and empathy for her and others like her. And as someone struck by life-long pain and illness as a teen, I felt like she authentically captured the feeling of having your healthy life and its potential snatched away suddenly at such a young age.

The characters are troubled, fractured and compelling. Narrators Leigh and Callie are both flawed in their own ways, but are sympathetically portrayed. They perfectly highlight how two people can go through the same experiences and react very differently: while Leigh is very controlled and appears, at least on the face of things, to have risen from the ashes of her tragic beginnings, Callie took the path of searching for a way to escape her reality, eventually spiraling into addiction and is still living in a pit of despair. Their different characters are perfectly portrayed in their strikingly different voices, with Callie’s voice more stark, caustic and full of profanity than Leigh’s, fitting her perfectly. But they also both have a strength and determination that shines through all of the darkness and bad decisions and share a bond that no-one can break, not even themselves. 

While I found it easy to like and root for Leigh and Callie, the same can’t be said for some of the other characters. Their ‘mother’ Phil is awful and my heart broke for the toxic, neglectful home life they suffered. And then there’s Andrew. Andrew is a vile, twisted psychopath that made my stomach turn. Ruthless, cold hearted and calculated, he is merciless in his revenge, and enjoys decimating the lives of others. He is a terrifying creation, all the more so because he is so real. 

Strong, sharp, heart-pounding and propulsive, this is a searing and sinister thriller that will take you through every emotion. Fast-paced, intense and addictive, thrillers don’t get better than this.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

Tw: Sexual assault, rape, addiction and drug use

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MEET THE AUTHOR:


Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her 21 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated COP TOWN and the instant NYT bestselling stand-alone novels PRETTY GIRLS, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, and PIECES OF HER. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project–a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. Her stand-alone novel PIECES OF HER is in development with Netflix, starring Toni Collette, and the Grant County and Will Trent series are in development for television.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

********

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx