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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Squadpod Book Club Uncategorised

SQUADPOD BOOK CLUB REVIEW: Caged Little Birds by Lucy Banks

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

Website

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BUY THE BOOKS:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Nanny by Ruth Heald

Published: September 8th, 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Psychological Fiction, Noir Fiction, Hardboiled
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this riveting thriller. Thanks to Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

As I clutched baby Chloe’s blanket, tears streamed down my face as I remembered what happened the night she disappeared. Looking up at the apartment block I once called home, my mind was crowded with memories. David’s words echoed in my head, telling me to get out and never come back. I understood why: our mistake had ruined everything.

When I accepted a job working as a nanny for David and Julie and their young children, I was excited to be making my own way in the world. I bonded with baby Chloe instantly and would have done anything for her. She had David’s thick, dark hair and smiling eyes. I fell in love with her and was excited for my future.

But when a terrible mistake led to Chloe disappearing, I was instantly blamed. With no evidence, I was let go and I returned home to rebuild my life.

Twenty years later and I am still haunted by what happened. I have a family of my own now and I’ve worked hard to be the best wife and mother I can be, but I’ve never forgotten the child who stole my heart.

Then a young woman arrives on my doorstep and the past secret that I have kept from my family comes hurtling into my present.

I try to tell myself that I am overreacting. But the woman in front of me looks so much like David. Who is she and why is she here? And if I welcome her in, will she want to be a part of my life, or destroy it?

A totally addictive psychological thriller that will have you reading late into the night. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell, T.M. Logan and Shalini Boland.

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MY REVIEW:

When eighteen-year-old Hayley accepts a job as a nanny for British couple David and Julie while in Bangkok she can’t believe her luck and quickly bonds with baby Chloe and her sisters Emily and Eva.  But tensions soon rise between Hayley and the couple and when little Chloe disappears the same night that Hayley leaves, she is blamed and questioned by police.  With no evidence the police release her and she is free to rebuild her life.

Twenty years later Hayley is married with a young daughter of her own but is still haunted by what happened all those years ago and the secret she’s been keeping ever since.  A secret that is now at risk of being revealed.

Tense, twisty and unpredictable, The Nanny is a compelling thriller.  The story alternates between timelines as it tells the story of what happened in Bangkok and current events.  Hayley is an unreliable narrator and we are never quite sure what secrets she is keeping or if we can really trust her.  All the same, she was a likeable character who I enjoyed reading and felt a lot of sympathy for during her time in Bangkok.  There are some well-written background characters such as Johanna, who I liked but never fully trusted.  But it was Julie who was the best character for me.  A new mother isn’t your typical villain but Heald has created someone I truly despised and, quite frankly, needed telling where to get off.  

This is one of those books that really keeps you guessing for most of the book and just when I thought I’d got it all figured out, the rug was pulled from under me with another shocking twist that changed everything I thought I knew.  As the suspense builds to a heart-stopping climax, I was on the edge of my seat and reading in breathless anticipation.

A first-rate thriller filled with mystery and foreboding, The Nanny is a riveting page-turner from one of my must-read authors. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ruth Heald is the bestselling author of psychological thrillers THE WEDDING, 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:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

*All links are affiliate links

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022 Readalong

REVIEW: Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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MY REIVEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

Daisy Darker is her fifth novel.

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Last Girl To Die by Helen Fields

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles ☺️ Emma xx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

REVIEW: Triflers Need Not Apply by Camilla Bruce

Published: August 5th, 2021
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Historical Fiction, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Biographical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover, Audiobook

Today I’m sharing my review for this brutal and brilliant novel. Thank you Michael Joseph for the gifted copy and Ceri for asking me to buddy read this one with her.

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SYNOPSIS:

You’ve never met a woman as dangerous as Bella Sorensen . . .

THE FASCINATING REIMAGINING OF THE LIFE AND TIMES OF HISTORY’S ORIGINAL FEMALE SERIAL KILLER
________

1900, Chicago.

Bella Sorenson knows that the world is made for men.

They control everything: jobs, property, money. Marriage makes women like her their slaves.

But now Bella is fighting back.


Because she’s angry. She’s bloodthirsty. She’s willing to kill to get what she wants – starting with her husband.

And then her next husband. And the next one . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“They thought that was it, then-that I was safe and would not bite. That I would take my lesson and learn from it, be humble and meek and know my place… They never expected me to hold a grudge…”

Bella Sorenson was the original female serial killer.  As a big true crime junkie I had heard her name but knew little about her or her crimes and knew this was a book for me.  It had been languishing on my shelves ever since I received an ARC last year so I was delighted to finally get around to reading it as part of a buddy read with my lovely blogger friend Ceri. 

Brutal, bold and brilliant, author Camilla Bruce seamlessly blends fact with fiction to reimagine Bella’s story.  It is a dark character study of the life and psyche of the woman behind the sensational headlines while never making excuses for her crimes or shying away from the grim facts.  In the must-read author’s note at the end Bruce explains that the aim of this book was to try to understand what drove Bella to commit her crimes and I think she has achieved that, helping us see the nuances of her character, bond with her and even feel some sympathy for her.  She claimed my attention instantly and kept me hooked until the final page, taking me on a journey that spans multiple decades and two continents.  And while it is well researched and mindful of attention to detail, the author never allows it to become bogged down by them, instead being driven by the story and characters.

“She had been swallowed up by something else,  something dark with terrible jaws – like a wolf.” 

Bella is a terrifying character.  She is a woman fuelled by spite, anger and contempt with an unquenchable thirst for revenge.  I both loved and loathed this ruthless and remorseless killer who fails to understand why she shouldn’t hurt those she feels have wronged her.  And knowing she was a real person, that she existed and committed these crimes rather than being simply a creation of an author’s twisted imagination, made her all the more fearsome.  But despite all of this, Bruce manages to humanise her by exploring the pivotal moments of trauma in her life she can’t escape; the things that haunt her and helped shape her into a merciless killer. And while I never condoned her actions, I did have a lot of sympathy for some of the things she had endured. 

But Bella isn’t our only narrator.  Her older sister, Nellie, also shares her perspective.  She is the voice of empathy and a morally complex character whose dilemmas raise both tension and emotion.  I really enjoyed how Nellie provided another side to everything that happened, moved the story forward, and helped to create nuance in the story that would have otherwise been missing.  There was also a cast of compelling and richly drawn background characters who leapt from the pages and helped bring the whole tragic tale to life in vivid technicolour.

“I would rise, if only to spite.”

Captivating, suspenseful, devilishly dark and dripping with malice, Triflers Need Not Apply is a phenomenal story that thriller lovers and crime junkies will love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Camilla Bruce is a Norwegian writer of speculative and historical fiction. She has a master’s degree in comparative literature and has co-run a small press that published dark fairy tales. Camilla currently lives in Trondheim with her son and cat.

https://camillabruce.com/

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxx

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2022

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

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles Emma xxx

*All links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews

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

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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


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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxx

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

All purchase links are affiliate links.

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

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

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

She has your back.

And may stab you in it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

Read it now. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Website

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊Emma xxxx

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Daves Next Door by Will Carver

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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A disillusioned nurse suddenly learns how to care.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

Orenda | Waterstones* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles 😊 Emma xxxx

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

*These links are affiliate links