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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Dirt by Sarah Sultoon

Published: Janaury 19th, 2023
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Political Thriller, Political Fiction, War Story
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

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

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SYNOPSIS:

A compulsive, searing political thriller set on a kibbutz in Northern Israel, where the discovery of the body of an Israeli-Arab worker sets off a devastating chain of events…


‘A first-class political thriller’ Steve Cavanagh
 
‘A bitingly sharp, pacy thriller. Devilishly good. I inhaled it’ Freya Berry 
 
‘A powerful political thriller that brims with authentic detail. Clever, compulsive and achingly atmospheric’ Kia Abdullah 
 
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This is no utopia…

1996. Northern Israel. Lola leaves an unhappy home life in England for the fabled utopian life of a kibbutz, but this heavily guarded farming community on the Arab-Israeli border isn’t the idyll it seems, and tensions are festering.

Hundreds of miles away, in the Jerusalem offices of the International Tribune newspaper, all eyes are on Israel’s response to a spate of rocket attacks from Lebanon, until cub reporter Jonny Murphy gets a tip from a mysterious source that sends him straight into the danger zone.

When the body of an Arab worker is discovered in the dirt of the kibbutz chicken house, it triggers a series of events that puts Lola and the whole community in jeopardy, and Jonny begins to uncover a series of secrets that put everything at risk, as he begins to realise just how far some people will go to belong…

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MY REIVEW

“The body steamed gently in the heat as the birds pecked their way around it, the fetid smell of chicken feed mingling with the sulphurous whiff of smashed eggs. The pecking became indecorous as the hardest-working chicken, a champion amongst fowl, found an eyeball. Then another.”

When a thriller opens with lines like that you know you’re in for a great read. And Dirt did not disappoint. There is a sense of foreboding that hovers over the pages from the start, something ominous in the air that we are yet to discover. And there is a lot to discover in the complex, layered and twisty political thriller filled with secrets, tension and cover-ups.

1996 is a nostalgic year for me. I was 17-years-old and it was the year I felt I found a sense of freedom and adventure among my peers, so I instantly connected with Lola who is experiencing that on a much bigger scale in this story. Lola has left behind her unhappy home life in England for an adventure in Northern Israel alongside her Jewish best friend, Sam. The two are working as volunteers on a kibbutz, a fabled utopian farming community located on the Arab-Israeli border. There is a real sense of family living and working alongside these people every day. But when a body is found in the heavily guarded community all signs point to murder, and it seems Lola doesn’t know these people as well as she thought.

Meanwhile, our other narrator, Jonny, is hundreds of miles away in Jerusalem. Jonny has also come to the country to find himself, a quest to learn more about his heritage after his Jewish mother was disowned by her family for falling in love with his Irish father. A reporter for the International Tribune, a source alerts him to the body discovered on the kibbutz. Unable to resist the lure of a story, he travels there to investigate, not realising the dangerous chain of events he is about to ignite.

“You have no idea what you’ve stumbled into. Everyone thinks that it is simple – both sides hate the other and will fight to the death until one of them wins. Nothing’s ever that simple though is it?” 

Sarah Sultoon isn’t afraid to tackle a difficult subject. Her debut, The Source, was a hard-hitting read and this one is just as unflinching. Alongside her examination of the Arab-Israeli conflict is an exploration of identity that also touches on subjects such as prejudice and sexual assault. While there are occasional gruesome scenes, it is never graphic and she instead focuses on the emotions of the characters to tell her story, making the reader feel everything alongside Lola and Jonny. The writing is so evocative that I was transported and it was almost like I could feel the heat of the sun bearing down on me in the kibbutz or feel the terror as rockets flew overhead during an air raid. It gave me a real connection not only to the characters, but to the setting itself, something that is very important in this book.

A clever, intriguing and intricate thriller that I’d highly recommend.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xx

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

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

BOOK REVIEW: The Drift by C.J. Tudor

Published: January 19th, 2023
Publisher: Michael Joseph
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Horror Fiction, Suspense, Psychological Ficiton, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Crime Fiction
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Sunday Bibliophiles! Today I’m finally sharing my review of C.J. Tudor’s latest heart-pounding thriller. This is one you don’t want to miss! Thank you to C.J. Tudor for sending me a proof copy of this book and the delicious cookies.

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SYNOPSIS:

THE HEART-POUNDING NEW NOVEL FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE CHALK MAN AND RICHARD & JUDY PICK THE BURNING GIRLS

‘The wildest thriller of the year is three thrillers in one. Buckle up‘ LINWOOD BARCLAY

‘An exceptional thriller. Original, high-octane plot, jaw-dropping twists . . . A writer at the top of her game’ CLAIRE DOUGLAS

‘A truly terrifying, ice-cold chiller from the master of macabre. C.J. Tudor should be on everyone’s must-read list’ CHRIS WHITAKER
_________

Survival can be murder . . .

Hannah awakens to carnage, all mangled metal and shattered glass. Evacuated from a secluded boarding school during a snowstorm, her coach careered off the road, trapping her with a handful of survivors.

Meg awakens to a gentle rocking. She’s in a cable car stranded high above snowy mountains, with five strangers and no memory of how they got on board.

Carter is gazing out of the window of an isolated ski chalet that he and his companions call home. As their generator begins to waver in the storm, the threat of something lurking in the chalet’s depths looms larger.

Outside, the storm rages. Inside each group, a killer lurks.

But who?

And will anyone make it out alive? . . .

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MY REVIEW:

“They were trapped. With the dead. And if rescue didn’t come soon, they would be buried with them.”

There is something uniquely terrifying about the idea of being trapped in a place that is cut off from everything else. Add in a harsh, brutal, unrelenting snowstorm and it becomes even more dangerous. Then people begin to disappear or turn up dead. You realise that nowhere is safe and if the elements, thirst or starvation don’t kill you, then one of your fellow companions just might. All of a sudden that picturesque home or resort doesn’t look so inviting. The Drift is all of these things and more, making it exactly the kind of compelling claustrophobic thriller I love.

C. J. Tudor has done it again. Chilling, tense and twisty, this is one f****d-up rollercoaster ride that packs a punch from the first page. A prime example of an author at the top of her game, this Queen of sinister storytelling knows how to hold her reader hostage, making our hearts pound as she chills us to the bone. Expertly written and plotted, she holds the reader in her thrall and we are powerless to resist. It is why every book she releases is a must read for me. I don’t even read the synopsis anymore as I know I’m  a first-class thriller.

“Obviously, everyone here was hiding something. The only difference was the size of the secret and the depth of the lie. ” 

I was on the edge of my seat from those first grisly and ominous pages, reading in breathless anticipation as things spiralled out of control. A ticking timebomb of sheer dread, the overwhelming fear leaping from the pages as the characters fight to survive not only the brutal conditions, but someone who wants to silence them. Told from multiple points of view, there is also a sense of something dark lurking, watching and waiting to strike. A feeling of being hunted that only heightens the sense of danger and ramps up the tension. But who can they trust? Most of the characters are strangers thrown together in the worst of circumstances and they have no idea who is truthful and who is spinning a web of lies.

“The realization unfurled slowly in her stomach, like poisonous tentacles. 
No. No, no, no.” 

I loved unwrapping the layers one by one to see what they revealed, trying to piece to puzzle together. But there were still things I couldn’t work out, and I needed answers. As I sped toward the finale nothing could stop me from flying through the pages, not even sleep threatening to overtake me at 3am. But when that big reveal came I was unprepared, my jaw left on the floor as I tried to comprehend what I’d just learned. It’s been over a week since I finished the book and I’m still thinking about it.

Unsettling, eerie and unbearably tense, The Drift is a nerve-shredding masterpiece that you won’t want to put down. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

C. J. Tudor’s love of writing, especially the dark and macabre, started young. When her peers were reading Judy Blume, she was devouring Stephen King and James Herbert.
Over the years she has had a variety of jobs, including trainee reporter, radio scriptwriter, dog walker, voiceover artist, television presenter, copywriter and, now, author.
C. J. Tudor’s first novel, The Chalk Man, was a Sunday Times bestseller and sold in over forty countries. Her second novel, The Taking of Annie Thorne, was also a Sunday Times bestseller as was her third novel, The Other People. All three books are in development for TV. Her fourth novel, The Burning Girls, was a Richard and Judy Book Club selection and has been adapted for television by award-winning screenwriter Hans Rosenfeldt (creator of The Bridge and Marcella). It will debut on Paramount Plus in 2023. The Drift is her fifth novel and has also been optioned for the screen. C.J. Tudor is also the author of A Sliver of Darkness, a collection of short stories.
She lives in Sussex with her family.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon* | Berts Books |Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

*These links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Most Anticipated 2023

BLOG TOUR: The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels by Janice Hallett

Published: January 19th, 2023
Publisher: Viper
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Episolatry Novel, Police Procedural
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this tantalising and twisty tale. This was my favourie book of December 2022 and I’m so glad to finally be able to share my review with you all. Thank you to Viper for the invitation to take part and the proof copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

*** THE NEW MYSTERY PHENOMENON FROM THE BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF THE APPEAL AND THE TWYFORD CODE ***

‘The queen of tricksy crime’ – SUNDAY TIMES
‘An astonishing piece of work’ – IAN MOORE

Open the safe deposit box.
Inside you will find research material for a true crime book.
You must read the documents, then make a decision.
Will you destroy them? Or will you take them to the police?

Everyone knows the sad story of the Alperton Angels: the cult who brainwashed a teenage girl and convinced her that her newborn baby was the anti-Christ. Believing they had a divine mission to kill the infant, they were only stopped when the girl came to her senses and called the police. The Angels committed suicide rather than stand trial, while mother and baby disappeared into the care system.

Nearly two decades later, true-crime author Amanda Bailey is writing a book on the Angels. The Alperton baby has turned eighteen and can finally be interviewed; if Amanda can find them, it will be the true-crime scoop of the year, and will save her flagging career. But rival author Oliver Menzies is just as smart, better connected, and is also on the baby’s trail.

As Amanda and Oliver are forced to collaborate, they realise that what everyone thinks they know about the Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker and stranger than they’d ever imagined. And the story of the Alperton Angels is far from over.

From the bestselling author of The Appeal and The Twyford Code comes a stunning new mystery for fans of Richard Osman and S.J. Bennett. The devil is in the detail…

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MY REVIEW:

You have a key that opens a safe deposit box.
Inside is a bundle of documents, archived research material for a book that has just been published.
You must read it all and make a decision, either:
Replace all the documents and the box, then throw the key where it will never be found…
Or: take everything to the police. 

And so begins The Mysterious Case of the Alperton Angels. A tantalising, eerie and intriguing story of secrets, lies, delusion, mystery and  murder. 

True-crime author Amanda Bailey is asked to revisit the infamous case of the Alperton Angels, the cult who brainwashed a teenager into believing her baby was the anti-Christ and that God had charged them with sacrificing it in order to save humanity. The girl managed to save her baby, but the Angles sacrificed themselves rather than face trial for their crimes, and the case has been surrounded by whispers of conspiracy and cover-ups ever since.

With the surviving baby about to turn eighteen, the race is on to secure the first interview, and Amanda is determined to get that scoop. But she soon discovers discrepancies in the case and finds there is a wall of secrecy that surrounds the baby and it’s teenage parents, all three of which have not been seen since that night. It seems that everything people think they know about the Alperton Angels is wrong. The truth is something much darker, stranger and more sinister than anyone could ever imagine. And some people will do anything to prevent the truth from being revealed.

“There’s something about this case. It burrows insidiously into your mind, then sets about changing it.” 

I had been in a reading slump for a while when I picked this up, hoping that this might be the magic story to break the curse. And, boy, did it have the desired effect! Tantalising, eerie and intriguing, I couldn’t get enough of this book and devoured it quickly. It haunted my every thought and I’d be thinking about it even when forced to stop reading to do other things. I even dreamed about it when I slept! An absolute masterpiece, this was exactly what I needed to get me out of my slump.

Janice Hallett is a true innovator in crime fiction. She writes exclusively in mixed media, yet somehow you forget that you aren’t reading a traditionally written story. She makes it flow seamlessly and I completely lost myself in the world that she created.  A world that feels so real. I  am not ashamed to admit that I turned to google to check if this was based on a real case. It reads so authentically that it felt unfathomable that it could be purely a work of fiction. Ms. Hallett is a master storyteller who has created a story where nothing is as it seemed. The plot is an intricate maze of secrets, red herrings, duplexities and double crosses that I challenge anyone to predict. It is all so detailed and complex that it made my head spin, pulling me one way, then another, and then back again, like clothes spinning round a washing machine. I have no idea how she manages to come up with it, let alone how she keeps all those balls in the air and plots the clues perfectly. Yet it never feels confusing, which is a testament to her extraordinary skill as a writer.

Dark, curious and forbidding, you will not be able to stop reading this book until you have a resolution to your questions. And as the tension ramps up as you race to the finale, you will find yourself on the edge of your seat holding on for dear life as Ms. Hallett takes you on a wild and twisty ride. An absolute must-read for anyone who enjoys crime fiction. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Janice Hallett studied English at UCL, and spent several years as a magazine editor, winning two awards for journalism. After gaining an MA in Screenwriting at Royal Holloway, she co-wrote the feature film RetreatThe Appeal is inspired by her lifelong interest in amateur dramatics. Her second novel, The Twyford Code, will be published by Viper in 2022. When not indulging her passion for global adventure travel, she is based in West London.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: Only Girl Alive by Holly S. Roberts

Published: January 13th, 2023
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Police Procedural, Crime Fiction, Crime Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Happy Publication Day to this compelling thriller! Thank you to Noelle at Bookouture for the invitation to take part and gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

As day breaks over the Tanner family home, the house is deadly silent and the door is firmly closed. Upstairs, the whole family lie cold and lifeless in their beds. All with the same look of fear in their unblinking eyes…

Detective Eve Bennet takes a steadying breath as she enters the main bedroom of the Tanners’ modest home in the tight-knit town of Hilldale, Utah. Mrs Tanner’s high-collared nightgown and her long plaited blonde hair are soaked in blood. Next to her, Mr Tanner’s hands are clasped together in a final prayer.

Filled with dread, Eve forces herself towards the children’s rooms. But instead of two children, she only finds one. Where is the youngest daughter, Hannah? And why are there long scratches across the walls?

Eve tracks Hannah down to her uncle’s house nearby. But he won’t let her step foot in the house. Eve knows what it’s like to be held captive by a family member, and fears for Hannah’s safety. What is he terrified Hannah might reveal?

Back at the Tanner home, Eve makes a shocking discovery in the dust covered attic. Mr Tanner was hiding a dark secret from the rest of the community—the kind of secret someone would kill for.

Realizing another family could be in danger, Eve runs from the house and stumbles into the path of the one man she spent years trying to forget— and he won’t let her get away this time. Can Eve escape the evil that has haunted her whole life? And will she catch the killer before another innocent family is murdered?

Fans of Melinda Leigh, Kendra Elliot and Lisa Regan will be absolutely gripped by this explosive and totally unputdownable crime thriller from a USA Today bestselling author.

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MY REIVEW:

“The killer lightly inhaled and exhaled into the silence, awaiting God’s next command… Sinners waited for salvation in the next rooms”

The bodies of four members of the Tanner family are found lifeless in their beds. An entire family, wiped out as they slept. Or so it first appears. There is actually a survivor. One child that is still alive who may hold the key to solving this violent and unthinkable crime. But her uncle won’t allow the police to speak with her and the entire community seems determined to keep the ten-year-old hidden. What are they so scared she might reveal?
As Detective Eve Bennett and her team investigate, they make a shocking discovery in the attic of the Tanner’s home that leads to even darker revelations. Now they must race against the clock to catch the brutal killer before they strike again.

Did I need a new crime series on my already overflowing TBR? Not at all. But despite this, and the fact I’d sworn to cut right back on blog tours in the last few months leading up to my wedding, I was unable to resist reading Only Girl Alive and joining the blog tour. Noelle Holten, I blame you. But I also have to thank you, because this book had me hooked and I’ve found a fantastic new series to follow. 

“The evil that permeated this community was the history that she unsuccessfully tried to escape.”

Only Girl Alive introduces us to a new star in crime fiction. Detective Eve Bennett works for Utah’s special investigative squad, a unit committed to helping find justice for the victims of the polygamist sect of the Mormon Church. Her motives are personal as Eve was raised in the sect before escaping as a young teenager. Her fundamentalist past still haunts her, the trauma and indoctrination a daily battle she must wage. I really liked the author’s choice to give Eve a fundie background as it not only gives the reader an added insight into the community she is investigating, but also makes for complex dynamics and interesting plot points such as working against her own family when investigating crimes. She is a fascinating character who was a joy to read. I also really enjoyed the characters who made up Eve’s team. I loved their dynamic and how they handled the tricky obstacles they faced from the community as they investigated. The hint of blossoming romance was also fun to read and I’m hoping to see that develop in book two. 

There aren’t many fiction books that focus on fundamentalism so setting a new series around a fundie community is something that immediately makes it stand out from the crowd. And as someone who has long been interested in fundamentalism and its consequences, it made me even more invested in this book and its characters. The author skillfully portrays what it is like to live with such an indoctrinated mindset, something that is shown particularly well when we read the opening chapter, which is written from the killer’s point of view. This chapter chilled me to my core as it is clear that they are a deeply disturbed person who is so indoctrinated that they genuinely believe they are carrying out God’s judgement and helping their victims atone for their sins. Seriously creepy but sadly understandable with all they are taught.

“An evil corruption that twisted the hearts and minds of over ten thousand people waited to stop Eve’s team from discovering the truth. What secret were they willing to kill for? “

Holly S. Roberts’ biography tells us that she is a retired homicide detective, something that totally makes sense after reading this book. Exquisitely written, evocative and utterly compelling, it also includes lots of little details about the inner workings of investigating a crime that felt authentic. I now know why. As someone who reads a lot of thrillers, it isn’t often I can genuinely say that I did not see a twist coming. But that is what happened with this book. There are a lot of surprising revelations along the way, but the big reveal totally blindsided me. My jaw was on the floor and I suddenly had to question everything I thought I knew. How did I miss it?! Well played, Ms. Roberts. Well played. 

Tense, twisty and gripping, Only Girl Alive is a fantastic thriller from what promises to be an exciting new series. Thriller lovers, add this to your TBR now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

TW: Religious indoctrination, religious trauma, sexual abuse

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Holly Roberts began writing to alleviate stress in her day job, that of a homicide and sex crimes detective. Romance was her go to genre because she required a happy ending. She also touched on cozy mysteries and added six books to her forty book romance repertoire. Now that she’s retired and her mind at peace, she decided to delve into crime thrillers using her background and thirst for research to write the Eve Bennet series.

Holly has two movie/television options under her belt for her amazing life story. Part of the reason is Holly became a police officer at age 45 and led two high profile cases, one involving a serial killer. Now she enjoys the excitement of writing about crime while sitting at home with her two dogs, laptop, and a cup of hot tea close by.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon* | Apple | Audible US

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*These links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: So Pretty by Ronnie Turner

Published: January 19th, 2023
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Suspense, Gothic Fiction, Psychological Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this dark, hypnotic and unnerving debut. This was a fantastic start to my reading year and I’m thrilled to be sharing my review with you all today.
Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

A young man arrives in a small town, hoping to leave his past behind him, but everything changes when he takes a job in a peculiar old shop, and meets a lonely single mother … A chillingly hypnotic gothic thriller and a Mesmerising study of identity and obsession.
 
‘This chilling gothic tale explores the dark corners of identity … beautifully written and a real page-turner’ C J Cooke
 
‘Dark, lyrical and intriguing’ Fiona Cummins
 
‘Like Stephen King on crack … the most accomplished book I’ve read this year. Dark, gothic as hell, and genuinely scary, Turner has managed to portray loneliness, obsession, and monster-worship in one neat little package. I dare you to open it’ M W Craven
 
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Fear blisters through this town like a fever…

When Teddy Colne arrives in the small town of Rye, he believes he will be able to settle down and leave his past behind him. Little does he know that fear blisters through the streets like a fever. The locals tell him to stay away from an establishment known only as Berry & Vincent, that those who rub too closely to its proprietor risk a bad end. 

Despite their warnings, Teddy is desperate to understand why Rye has come to fear this one man, and to see what really hides behind the doors of his shop.

Ada moved to Rye with her young son to escape a damaged childhood and years of never fitting in, but she’s lonely, and ostracised by the community. Ada is ripe for affection and friendship, and everyone knows it.

As old secrets bleed out into this town, so too will a mystery about a family who vanished fifty years earlier, and a community living on a knife edge.

Teddy looks for answers, thinking he is safe, but some truths are better left undisturbed, and his past will find him here, just as it has always found him before. And before long, it will find Ada too.

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MY REVIEW:

‘It’s a curious box and a box of curiosities. We don’t go inside Berry & Vincent,’ they said. 
‘Why?’ 
Don’t go inside Berry & Vincent,’ they said. ‘There’s a devil inside that place.’

Teddy arrives in Rye hoping to make a fresh start and leave the ghosts of his past far behind. He answers an ad for an assistant at Berry & Vincent, a peculiar old shop that the residents avoid and refuse to even speak of. What is it they are so afraid of? And why do they keep telling Teddy to leave before it’s too late?
As Teddy tries to uncover the secrets of this strange place he meets single mother Ada, who has lived in Rye for two years but never managed to fit in. The pair bond over being outsiders and attempt to unravel the mystery of Berry & Vincent. But there is a darkness lurking and secrets that have been hidden for decades will soon be revealed.

Wow! This book needs to come with a warning label! Dark, haunting and malevolent, it chilled me to the bone, made my heart race and left my jaw on the floor. I finished reading it late last night, unable to go to bed until I had the answers to my many questions, and I’m still reeling, the adrenaline coursing through me even now. When you read this book, be prepared to be taken on one of the darkest, most twisted rides you’ve ever experienced. And be prepared to love every minute. 

“They were afraid. They were all afraid.” 

It is no secret that Orenda is not only my favourite indie publisher, but one of my favourite publishers overall. Anytime you read one of their books you know you’re guaranteed a magnificent story told by a skilled storyteller, so my hopes were high before even starting this book. But So Pretty took all of those expectations and blew them out of the water. Hypnotic and unnerving, it is cleverly choreographed, intricately layered and twisty, with the perfect balance of sinister suspense and edge-of-your-seat tension.  The imagery is evocative and chilling, making even the buildings feel alive with an evil that seeps into your pores as you read. There’s a sense of dread that pervades every page and I knew intrinsically that something was very wrong, though I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that no one would come out of this unscathed. I wanted to turn away and run. But I couldn’t. I was hooked.

Ronnie Turner may be a debut author, but she writes like a veteran beyond her years. A masterful sinister storyteller, she knows how to captivate her audience and blow their minds. I was putty in her hands as she took me down a rabbit hole of twists and turns, elevated the tension, and slowly revealed all the pieces so that the full, horrifying picture took shape. She is an author to watch and I can’t wait to see what she writes next. I’ll be first in line to buy it for sure!

“It takes twice as long to be mended than it does to be broken. If ever.”

Humans are the scariest of monsters, something that is explored throughout this book as it delves into the darkness that lurks inside the crevices of a twisted mind and illuminates the dark recesses of identity, and obsession. It is also a commentary on abuse, violence against women, and the lasting impact of trauma, showcasing how our pain can trickle down through generations to damage those we try to protect and reminding us that just because we know why someone acts a certain way, it doesn’t mean that it’s right or acceptable. The characters are all fractured, flawed, compelling, the author drawing you deeper inside their world and creating a bond between them and the reader. My heart ached for Teddy and Ada as they tried to escape the trauma of their pasts, and I rejoiced as they found friendship and solace from their lonely existence. But through it all I could never shake that growing disquiet. The sense of inherent darkness and danger coiled like a viper waiting to strike. And when it struck, it floored me completely and filled my heart with fear.

A buffet of dark delights, So Pretty is an unsettling, eerie and mesmerising gothic thriller. If you enjoy uncomfortable, claustrophobic and seriously creepy novels that will haunt your subconscious long after reading, then this one’s for you. An easy five stars, this was a phenomenal start to the reading year. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Ronnie Turner grew up in Cornwall, the youngest in a large family. At an early age, she discovered a love of literature. She now works as a Senior Waterstones Bookseller and barista. Ronnie lives in the South West with her family and three dogs. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and taking long walks on the coast.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

Please check out the reviews from the other bloggers that are taking part the blog tour.

*These purchase links are from affiliate links

Categories
book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

REVIEW: Their Silent Graves by Carla Kovach (Detective Gina Harte Book 7)

Published: September 17th, 2020
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Ficiton, Crime Ficiton, Police Procedural, Crime Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for the gifted ARC of this book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Dressed in garish Halloween costumes, two teenage girls run through a patch of dense woodland towards the outskirts of town. But before they can reach the safety of the streets beyond, they make a shocking discovery.

Following a piece of old rope, the girls find a large mound of freshly laid earth, undisturbed in the darkness of the trees. Clawing at the ground beneath them, they make contact with something solid. When they realise what they’ve discovered, the silence is broken by their piercing screams as they stare down at the shallow grave.

Without looking back, they run as fast as they can, failing to spot the person nearby watching their every move…

And when another grave is found just days later, it’s clear a serial killer is praying on the small town. But who is the killer watching now? And when will another grave be filled?

If you like Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, you’ll love this heart-racing thriller from bestselling author, Carla Kovach. With gripping suspense and a twist you won’t see coming, Their Silent Graves will have you hooked from page one.

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MY REVIEW:

Some lies won’t stay buried forever…

Two teenage girls on their way to a Halloween party are unprepared for the discovery they are about to make. While walking through the woods the girls come across a piece of old rope they follow to a large mound of freshly laid earth. Clawing at the ground, they uncover a shallow grave and run screaming for help. But they failed to notice the person lurking in the shadows who was watching their every move…

Detective Gina Harte and her team arrive to investigate and discover the body of a man sealed in a coffin. A few days later, another grave is found, and it is clear they are hunting a twisted serial killer. 

Racing to find the perpetrator before another grave is filled, Gina receives chilling messages from someone claiming to be the person they are looking for. Messages that threaten to reveal the secret she has kept hidden for decades. 

The Detective Gina Harte series is one of my favourite crime series, yet somehow I’d missed book seven. So when I was looking for a mood read thriller I could sink my teeth into, it seemed like the ideal time to finally put that right. And I’m glad I did. This book had everything I’ve come to expect from Carla Kovach: great writing, grim murder scenes, richly drawn characters, chilling villains, and morally complex dilemmas. It showcases her talent for crafting dark, disturbing, and twisty thrillers that are hard to predict or put down.

One of the aspects I particularly enjoyed in this instalment was wondering if Gina’s secrets would be revealed. I loved the heightened tension it created as I questioned not only this, but just how she might be connected to the killer. And speaking of the killer, this one was really hard to figure out! I am usually good at figuring out twists and who a perpetrator is, but this time I really had no set suspect in my mind until right before the big reveal. And even then I was wrong! Their identity was a genuine surprise that made my jaw drop. Well played, Ms. Kovach. 

Chilling, ominous and addictive, Their Silent Graves is a pacy page-turner all thriller lovers won’t want to miss.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carla started writing more seriously ten years ago after having flirted with musical theatre and occasional writing in her youth.

Since then she has written & produced several stage plays, has four self-published books, has acted in several independent films and is currently in the final stages of production of her feature horror film, Penny for the Guy.

She now writes full time as well as co-owning a film, photography & video production company located in the heart of Redditch town centre

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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BLOG TOUR: Behind Closed Doors by Carol Wyer

Published: December 6th, 2022
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Genre: Suspense, Psycholgocial Thriller
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my review for this heart-stopping thriller. Thank you to Zoe at Zooloo’s Book Tours for the invitation to take part, and Carol Wyer for the gifted copy of the book.

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SYNOPSIS:

Two kidnappings, thirty years apart. Can Stacey face her own dark past in order to save her stepdaughter?

When Stacey’s ex-husband turns up on her doorstep begging her to help save his kidnapped thirteen-year-old daughter, Lyra, the terror is all too familiar. Stacey’s own violent kidnapping thirty years ago was never solved, and while a severe case of amnesia spares her from recalling the specific horrors, she remembers enough…

Stacey knows her father never paid the ransom―she has the missing pinkie finger to prove it. She knows she was only saved because of an anonymous tip-off to the police. And she knows her captor was never apprehended.

Lyra’s kidnappers have made it clear the police must not get involved. But Stacey can’t shake the eerie similarities between the two cases, and she’ll use whatever she can, from her journalistic powers to her shady contacts, to save Lyra from the same nightmare. Desperate to find any link between Lyra’s abduction and her own, Stacey forces herself to revisit her forgotten, traumatic past for clues.

But can she make sense of the terrible secrets she unearths in time to save Lyra? And if she does, is she ready to face her own tormentor?

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MY REVIEW:

“Stacey couldn’t shake the ominous feeling surrounding her. The hair. The dingy room. The scissors. This had to be an echo of her past.”

When Stacey’s ex-husband, Jack, turns up on her doorstep one afternoon, Stacey O’Hara is unprepared for the nightmare she’s about to be plunged into. Her thirteen-year-old stepdaughter, Lyra, has been kidnapped, and he wants Stacey’s help to rescue her from a terror she is all too familiar with after her own violent kidnapping thirty years ago. 

As they race against the clock to save Lyra, Stacey can’t shake the strange similarities with her own abduction that keep cropping up. Could the two be linked? Forced to face the past she’s run from for decades, can Stacey make sense of the secrets she’s unearthed before it is too late?

“The room was dimly lit by a small lamp. Shadows, like demons, danced on the wall.” 

Wow! This book certainly packs a punch, grabbing me from the forbidding opening pages. I didn’t want to put this book down! It showcases why Carol Wyer has become one of my favourite thriller authors, her ability to hypnotise the reader and keep them guessing as she weaves her tangled web of dark secrets keeping me on the edge of my seat as I read. As the secrets are slowly revealed, the intricate puzzle begins to come together. But would it look like I imagined? Or something completely different?

“A hazy vision floated from the recesses of her mind. She saw herself as a terrified teenager, tied to a chair, a hood over her head. Her heartbeat increased. She didn’t want to remember.” 

I loved that this book was essentially two mysteries in one as we uncover the truth not only about Lyra’s abduction, but Stacey’s too. While Lyra is never on the page as anything other than a character being discussed, her presence is felt over every sentence, along with the urgency to save her. And while trying to do so, Stacey begins to discover things she never knew about her abduction thirty years ago. Because of her profound dissociative amnesia Stacey has never processed the trauma of being abducted. The memories were buried so deep that she can’t reach them. But after Lyra’s abduction, she is assailed by flashes of the long-repressed memories that she isn’t always sure she can trust. It is so evocatively written that we feel every bit of her confusion, torment and fear as she faces the truth of her abduction for the first time while desperately trying to rescue Lyra. She is a likeable protagonist and was easy to root for, unlike her ex-husband, Jack. 

In Jack we see Wyer’s skill for writing morally dubious and complex characters that you aren’t sure you can trust. Did I dislike and suspect him because he reminded me of my own abusive ex-husband? Or was he really involved in this somehow? I could never make up my mind but also couldn’t shake my suspicions of him no matter how much Stacey was adamant he wasn’t involved. 

Dripping with suspense, charged with adrenalin and fraught with malice, Behind Closed Doors is a heart-pounding thriller that fans of the genre will love. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

USA Today bestselling author and winner of The People’s Book Prize Award, Carol Wyer’s crime novels have sold over one million copies and been translated into nine languages.

A move from humour to the ‘dark side’ in 2017, saw the introduction of popular DI Robyn Carter in Little Girl Lost and proved that Carol had found her true niche.

February 2021 saw the release of the first in the much-anticipated new series, featuring DI Kate Young. An Eye For An Eye was chosen as a Kindle First Reads and became the #1 bestselling book on Amazon UK and Amazon Australia.

Carol 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. She’s also been interviewed on numerous radio shows discussing ”Irritable Male Syndrome’ and ‘Ageing Disgracefully’ and on BBC Breakfast television.

She currently lives on a windy hill in rural Staffordshire with her husband Mr. Grumpy… who is very, very grumpy. When she is not plotting devious murders, she can be found performing her comedy routine, Smile While You Still Have Teeth.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon | Bookshop.org

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Her Deadly Promise by Carla Kovach (Detective Gina Harte Book 12)

Published: December 2nd, 2022
Publisher: Bookouture
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Noir Fiction, Crime Fiction, Crime Series, Police Procedural
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Today is my stop on the blog tour for Her Deadly Promise, the latest compelling thriller in the fantastic Detective Gina Harte series. Thank you to Noelle at Bookouture for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Four-year-old Kayden has been sitting alone on the little patch of tired grass outside his house for hours. His cheeks are wet with tears as he waits for his mother’s warm embrace. But she’ll never arrive to pick up her darling boy. She’ll never be seen again…

Church Road is a quiet corner of suburbia where happy families play in the local park and neighbours smile as they pass in the street. But behind the bright red door of number 8 lies the body of Billie Reeves, a young mum who just took her last breath.

Serena is Billie’s sister. When she found out her boyfriend had been obsessively calling Billie, she’d all but cut her from her life. But not before vowing she would make Billie pay for ruining her relationship…

Shaun is Billie’s ex-boyfriend. He left her the moment she fell pregnant. When he turned up at Billie’s door, demanding to see Kayden, she refused to take the risk of him hurting her precious son. He’ll do whatever it takes to get his little boy back…

Nadia is Billie’s best friend. Their kids attended the same school and Billie often opened up to Nadia about her struggles as a single mother. She knows Billie’s deepest, darkest secret. She promised never to tell, but that was before the argument…

When police investigate the quiet little street, they discover everyone was whispering about Billie’s late-night callers. What was going on behind the closed door of Billie’s small home? And if someone was prepared to kill her, what do they know, and who will be next?

Fans of Angela Marsons, Cara Hunter and Clare Mackintosh, will love Her Deadly Promise – a completely gripping crime thriller that will have you hooked from the very first page!

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MY REVIEW:

“One thing I don’t know is how it all ends, but I know it’s not going to be pretty. It’s going to be explosive.”

Four-year-old Kayden has been playing outside in his garden for hours. His mother, Billie, told him not to come in the house until she tells him to, so he’s waiting for her to call him. But she never will. Because while Kayden was playing someone brutally murdered his mother in their home. 

Detective Gina Harte and her team are called in to investigate the shocking crime. Who could commit such a savage act? As they delve deeper, they discover that things are not as simple as they seem and that this is a case filled with dark secrets that could hold the key to cracking the case. They just have to unravel them first. 

The twelfth book in the Detective Gina Harte series is another gripping thriller. Infused with mystery and a sense of imminent danger, I was on the edge of my seat as I tried to figure out the secrets each of the characters were hiding. It had a dark and ominous atmosphere, like there was something evil lurking in the shadows, waiting to pounce. And I couldn’t get enough. 

While I enjoy a good standalone thriller, there is something to be said about coming back to characters you know and love. It’s like catching up with an old friend and I’ve come to care about Gina and her team. Gina herself is one of my favourite crime protagonists, and it was hard to see her going through such a hard time in this book. But in addition to the regular characters, each instalment in a series requires new characters and Ms. Kovach manages to create fascinating new characters who draw us in and tug on our heartstrings or enrage us again and again. And while we know one of them is our killer, the mask they wear is so convincing that it can be hard to see their true face. This was particularly true in this story and my jaw was left on the floor at the big reveal. 

Carla Kovach is one of my auto-buy authors thanks to this series. Her books are always well written, morally complex, darkly thrilling, and filled with compelling characters. I also enjoy how she weaves important issues such as domestic violence, mental health, and, in this book, the cost of living crisis into her stories, giving them greater depth and making the reader think. I also like that her books are often hard to predict, keeping me on my toes as I read. But this time she had something truly tantalising in store with the book’s final line. How can you do that to me?! I need the next book now! I’m going to be thinking about what it could mean until book thirteen.

Suspenseful, captivating and twisty, this is perfect for anyone who enjoys a multilayered thriller. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Carla Kovach is a USA Today bestselling author from the UK and is published by Bookouture, Sphere and Boekerij. Her DI Gina Harte series has been translated into Dutch.

As well as novels, she has also written stage and screenplays.

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones | Amazon

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*All purchase links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: The Pain Tourist by Paul Cleave

Published: November 10th, 2022
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Thriller, Psychological Thriller, Medical Thriller, Police Procedural
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Pain Tourist. I’m so excited to finally share my review for this jaw-dropping thriller. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Book for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

A young man wakes from a coma to find himself targeted by the men who killed his parents, while someone is impersonating a notorious New Zealand serial killer … the latest chilling, nerve-shredding, twisty thriller from the author of The Quiet People…
 
‘Paul Cleave is an automatic must-read for me’ Lee Child
 
‘You can’t be a true fan of crime fiction if you’re not reading Cleave’s books’ Tom Wood

‘Uses words as lethal weapons’ New York Times

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James Garrett was critically injured when he was shot following his parents’ execution, and no one expected him to waken from a deep, traumatic coma. When he does, nine years later, Detective Inspector Rebecca Kent is tasked with closing the case that her now retired colleague, Theodore Tate, failed to solve all those years ago.
 
But between that, and hunting for Copy Joe – a murderer on a spree, who’s imitating Christchurch’s most notorious serial killer – she’s going to need Tate’s help … especially when they learn that James has lived out another life in his nine-year coma, and there are things he couldn’t possibly know, including the fact that Copy Joe isn’t the only serial killer in town…

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MY REVIEW:

“Pain tourists are who we get when the podcasts and true-crime novels and the documentaries aren’t enough. They wonder what it’s like being either killer or victim. They slake that curiosity by visiting places where the terrible things happened, and the next you know they’re going from ‘how did this happen?’ to ‘how can I make this happen?’ ” 

It’s been a few months since I read this book and I still can’t stop thinking about it.  A heart-pounding, jaw-dropping thrill ride that will blow your mind, this book is like nothing I’ve ever read before.  It is one of those books where you think you know where it’s going but you really have no clue, the many twists and turns giving me book whiplash. Complex and layered, author Paul Cleave slowly weaves the many threads together so that the full picture begins to take shape. And it looks nothing like you imagined. And that finale… I was holding my breath in anticipation and did NOT expect the turns it took. 

I was a big fan of Cleave’s last book, The Quiet People, and I feel like he gets better every time. Exquisitely written with gorgeous and evocative imagery, this book really showcases just how damn good he is. An ensemble cast thriller with multiple threads, it manages to avoid getting confusing. Each character is brilliantly written, compelling and memorable, and it felt like there were no real background characters. But it was James and the mysterious killer whose points of view I found most enthralling. The concept of James living an entire life in ‘coma world’ was genius, and the anguish and confusion he felt upon waking was heartbreaking. I loved how the author brought James’ coma world to life for the reader, making it feel as real to us as it did him. As for the killer, well, what can I say except that I’m a sucker for an insight into a dark and twisted mind. 

Imaginative, tense and moving, The Pain Tourist is an absolute triumph. It is one of those books you never want to end but you are also desperate for answers. One of my favourite books this year, if you haven’t read this author yet then do it now!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Paul is an award winning author who often divides his time between his home city of Christchurch, New Zealand, where most of his novels are set, and Europe. He’s won the New Zealand Ngaio Marsh Award three times, the Saint-Maur book festival’s crime novel of the year award in France, and has been shortlisted for the Edgar and the Barry in the US and the Ned Kelly in Australia. HIs books have been translated into over twenty languages. He’s thrown his Frisbee in over forty countries, plays tennis badly, golf even worse, and has two cats – which is often two too many. The critically acclaimed The Quiet People was published in 2021, with The Pain Tourist to follow in 2022.

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BUY THE BOOK

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*These links are affiliate links

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

BLOG TOUR: Suicide Thursday by Will Carver

Published: November 24th, 2022|
Publisher: Orenda Books
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Hardboiled, Noir Ficiton, Crime Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Suicide Thursday. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted proof.

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SYNOPSIS:

A disenchanted man struggles to get beyond the first chapter of the books he’s writing, and to separate fact from fiction in his own life. His friend’s suicide changes everything … The mind-blowing, heart-rending new thriller from cult bestselling author Will Carver.
 
‘One of the most exciting authors in Britain’ Daily Express

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Eli Hagin can’t finish anything. 
 
He hates his job, but can’t seem to quit. He doesn’t want to be with his girlfriend, but doesn’t know how end things with her, either. Eli wants to write a novel, but he’s never taken a story beyond the first chapter. 
 
Eli also has trouble separating reality from fiction. 
 
When his best friend kills himself, Eli is motivated, for the first time in his life, to finally end something himself, just as Mike did…
 
Except sessions with his therapist suggest that Eli’s most recent ‘first chapters’ are not as fictitious as he had intended … and a series of text messages that Mike received before his death point to something much, much darker…

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MY REVIEW:

“Suicide is a beginning for those left behind.”

Bold, uncompromising and unique, Suicide Thursday is another thought-proovoking novel from the incomparable Will Carver. 

Aspiring writer Eli Hagin can’t finish things. He can’t get past the opening chapter of his book, can’t end his relationship, and can’t leave the job he hates. But when his best friend takes his own life Eli finds himself feeling motivated to finally finish something. But not everything is as it seems and fact begins to merge with fiction as the truth behind Mike’s suicide is revealed…

This is one of those books that haunts your subconscious long after reading and I have not stopped thinking about it. Will Carver is a master of his craft, holding us in the palm of his hand from beginning to end as he explores a multitude of social and moral topics in this genre-blending tale. I am a proud member of the #CarverCult and I will pick up his books without even looking at the synopsis. They are like nothing else you will ever read, but you know you are getting a story that is meticulously written, twisty, sinister and atmospheric. 

The story is told by multiple narrators using mixed media as it moves between the days leading up to Sucide Thursday and the heartrending aftermath. This is a story filled with flawed, unreliable and unlikable characters. Eli is particularly abhorrent; selfish, acerbic and unfeeling. I couldn’t decide if he was simply a terrible person or if there were elements of neurodiversity that affected his perception of the world. There was nothing that could excuse him deciding Mike had killed himself as a message to him rather than an expression of his own desperation though and I really hated him at times. But he was great to read. 

As someone who has lost friends to suicide and struggled with mental health, I was a little apprehensive about how I’d feel reading this book. But while this is undoubtedly hard to read, Carver skillfully and realistically conveys the psychological and emotional torment of depression and suicidal thoughts, and the complex layers of the particular kind of grief that comes with losing a loved one in this way. Carver is also an author with a knifelike awareness of the human condition who gets to the heart of why people behave like they do. 

Disturbing, moving and darkly funny, Suicide Thursday is a compelling and audacious novel that stays with you. Highly recommended.

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* | Amazon* | Bookshop.org*

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxx

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

*These purchase links are affiliate links