book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures Squadpod Squadpod Recommends Squadpod Reviews

SQUADPOD REVIEWS: The Final Party by A.A. Chaudhuri

Published May 25th by Hera Books
Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Psychological Thriller, Crime Thriller, Domestic Fiction, Urban Fiction, Travel Literature, Coming-of-Age Story

Today I’m delighted to be opening the Squadpod Spotlight tour for The Final Party. Thank you to Hera books for my gifted eBook.




In a luxury villa set high in the hills above the glamorous town of Sorrento, southern Italy, three couples gather for the perfect 40th birthday celebration.


Before the week is out, one of them is dead.


Their perfect reunion quickly becomes the holiday from hell when one of the group starts receiving anonymous messages, threatening to expose a dark secret from their university days.

As old friendships are tested to the limit, it’s clear that what happens in the dark past won’t stay buried…

A heart-racing psychological thriller that will hook you from the very first page, with twist after twist that will make your jaw drop. Fans of B.A. Paris, My Husband’s Killer and Lucy Foley won’t be able to put this down. If you were hooked by The White Lotus or The Watcher, you’ll love this.



“Six friends had started the week on seemingly good terms, here for a rest and the perfect birthday celebration. 
But the perfect week in paradise has turned into the holiday from hell. 
Because one of them is dead. 
One of them is a killer. 
But which one of them here is guilty?” 

A multiple point of view and dual timeline novel, The Final Party takes place in Sorrento, Italy in August 2019. Six friends have got together for the fortieth birthday of one of their group, but tensions are high as four of the friends battle with their conscience over secrets they have been keeping for eighteen years. Secrets surrounding the night that another one of their group was attacked and left forever changed by her inability to remember who attacked her or why. What is it her friends know about that night? And which one of the group will end up dead before their celebrations are over?

A.A. Chaudhuri just gets better with each book. Tense, twisty and totally thrilling, she has delivered a first-rate thriller that will knock your socks off! This is suspense writing at its best; a seven-layer cake of a thriller where each slice holds something unexpected. And I couldn’t get enough. From the start there is a sense of something dark and sinister. Of overwhelming dread, long-held secrets and deception. And you can tell that these secrets have the power to blow up their lives if revealed. Chaudhuri expertly drip-feeds the reader little pieces of the puzzle before whipping the rug away from under us every time I thought I’d got things figured out. The uncertainty only heightened the tension and I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. 

When a multi-narrative thriller is done right it is one of my favourite tropes, and this is sheer perfection. The characters are a group of fractured, flawed and relatable people who, quite frankly, are a train-wreck. But they are compelling and I couldn’t help but feel totally invested in their twisted web of friendship, secrets and lies. It was soon apparent that each one of them holds different pieces of this puzzle and no-one has the full picture, not even the ones who think they do. They are eaten up by guilt, regret and the fear of exposure; of one of the secrets being revealed and triggering a domino effect that would see their lives explode in a fiery blaze of betrayal. I really felt for Padma, who is still so eaten up by not knowing the truth about the night that changed her life. Knowing that those closest to her have held the keys to answering her questions all along yet chose to keep her in the dark only compounds the devastation. But even in my wildest theories I didn’t suspect the true horror that was waiting to be uncovered.

Unpredictable, intricate and suspenseful, The Final Party is a nerve-shredding thriller you won’t be able to put down. This is one any self-respecting thriller-lover HAS to have on their TBR.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5



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 was published by Hera Books on 23rd June 2022 in paperback and ebook and on 26th June in audio with Saga Egmont. In June 2022 Alex signed a deal with Hera Books for three more psychological thrillers. The first of these, THE FINAL PARTY, will be published on May 25th 2023.

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



Waterstones | Amazon |


Thanks for reading Bibliophiles xxxx

*All purhcase links are affiliate links

Blog Tours book reviews

BLOG TOUR: The Blood Isles by C. F. Barrington (Pantheon Book 2)

Published: March 3rd 2022
Publisher: Head of Zeus
Genre: Suspense, Fantasy Fiction, Travel Literature, Adventure Fiction, Book Series, Fantasy Series
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audiobook

This is a few days late but I’m finally sharing my review for the suspenseful second book in the Pantheon trilogy. Thank you to Jade at Head of Zeus for the invitation to take part and the gifted ARC.



The second in an action-packed adventure thriller series, where modern-day recruits compete in an ancient fight to the death in the streets of Edinburgh.

New Season. New Rules. Same deadly game…

The Pantheon Games are the biggest underground event in the world, followed by millions online. New recruits must leave behind their twenty-first century lives and vie for dominance in a gruelling battle to the death armed only with ancient weapons – and their wits.

Last season’s new recruits Tyler and Lana have lived to fight another day, but now they face a series of even more lethal clashes before the Grand Battle that will end the Season.

It’s survival of the fittest, in the most brutal fashion imaginable. Lana must face the demons of her past, and Tyler has the mother of all targets on his back.

This action-packed adventure thriller is perfect for fans of Pierce Brown’s Red RisingBattle Royale and The Running Man.



“Battle is terror. The wait is worse.” 

The Pantheon Games are the world’s biggest underground events.  Bankrolled by the elite, they are watched by millions online as the chosen competitors embark on life or death battles armed with only ancient weapons.  
Tyler and Lana – now known as Punnr and Calder – are new recruits to Edinburgh’s Valhalla Horde and are gearing up for their first blood season.  It begins with the blood nights and culminates in the Grand Battle, a brutal war between Scotland’s two warring factions that is the most dangerous of Pantheon’s year.  Can the pair survive to fight another year?  Or will they fall.

In the second of C.F. Barrington’s Pantheon trilogy he again merges fantasy and reality to create a world that is believable and addictive.  The book opens with the stats of both Hordes and then succinctly catches you up on the events of book one with a section titled ‘What has come before’.  This was a brilliant idea to include as this is a complex and layered world filled with an array of characters.  I still found myself getting a little confused at times due to the huge amount of detail that is needed to explain Pantheon’s rules but it didn’t last long and I was soon back on tenterhooks as the riveting action occurred.  
In the background of the games is the ongoing search for Morgan, Tyler’s sister, who was part of Valahlla’s rival Horde.  This parallel storyline provides added tension and mystery to the story as well as increased risk to Tyler and the others who are trying to track Morgan down.  Some of those high up in Pantheon risk losing their position should she be found and reveal what she knows meaning Tyler and the others are fighting against not only their sworn enemies but those in their own ranks who will do anything to silence those who pose a threat to their position. 

There are a multitude of great characters from heroes you can root for to villains you love to hate.  I enjoyed being back with them, particularly the ones familiar from book one, and enjoyed seeing how they and their relationships developed in this instalment.  Tyler/Punnr is a great protagonist and I loved his friendship with Brante, his blossoming relationship with Lana/Calder, and the brotherly bond he shares with Oliver.  I was completely invested and worrying about Tyler would be affected should he lose any of these people just added to the tension.  I thought there was a good balance of character study and action, allowing the reader to feel a real connection with the many characters while also being full of suspense.  

The Blood Isles is an addictive and entertaining read that you will enjoy even if, like me, this isn’t your usual genre.  And that ending!  I thought my heart would beat out of my chest and am going to be counting down to book three after that climatic cliffhanger!

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰



C F Barrington spent twenty years intending to write a novel, but found life kept getting in the way. Instead, his career took him into major gift fundraising, leading teams in organisations as varied as Oxford University, the National Trust and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.



Waterstones* | Amazon* |*
*These are affiliate links


Thanks for reading Bibliophiles☺️ Emma xxx

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

Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Secret Life of Writers by Guillaume Musso

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

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



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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮



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

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

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



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


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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

Blog Tours Book Features

Extract: Under the Camelthorn Tree by Kate Nicholls

Published: August 6th, 2020
Publisher: W&N
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Biography, Autobiography, Travel Literature

Today I’m delighted to share with you an extract from this book as part of the blog tour to celebrate paperback publication. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and W&N for the extract.


Gomoti Camp, Botswana 2001
The distant chugging of a car struggling through deep sand aroused a certain nonchalant curiosity, most likely it would continue on towards the Gomoti River –nevertheless all ears in camp casually attuned to the engine.

I was concentrating on the barefoot boys high above me in the spreading branches of the camelthorn acacia tree. During the night, a funnel of wind had blown down the radio mast, and Pieter and the boys were reattaching the antenna. Relaxed andNfocused on their task, they were moving easily among the thick branches, while I imagined them lying in crumpled, lifeless heaps at my feet.

‘It’s not fair,’ grizzled seven-year-old Oakley, ‘I’m the best climber. Why aren’t I allowed to do that?’

‘Because you are my favourite child, and thus indispensable.’

‘I heard that, Mum,’ Angus laughed, wrapping his arm around a gnarled branch for support, before leaning out precariously to hand the rope up to Pieter who was reaching down from the branch above.

‘You concentrate on what you’re doing,’ I snapped. Watching my tousled blond boy dangling forty feet above me made my bones ache.

The tree was coming into flower, a smattering of soft, mimosa- yellow blossoms releasing an earthy sweetness. She was an old tree: she must have been producing seeds for many decades, for the elephants had learned her ways, and came from far and wide to feast on her grey-velvet seedpods. Usually, I shooed the huge animals out of our unfenced camp by shouting and banging a wooden spoon on a saucepan, but when the seeds ripened the beasts would gather under the wide umbrella of our tree and browse undeterred by my Betsey Trotwood vehemence. Four years ago Oakley had renamed the irresistible pods ‘elephant Smarties’, and annually we declared a pachyderm truce until the last crescent had been hoovered up.

Maisie was sitting cross-legged on the roof rack of the Land Rover, observing her older brothers and drawing the action in a notebook. It was a late-winter morning, and she had a blanket wrapped lightly around her thin shoulders, but the sun was moving up in a clear sky and soon she would be as warm as her sweaty siblings. Her animated, delicate face was already smeared with grey Kalahari sand, and when her dusty, unbrushed hair fell over her eyes she carelessly tied it back in an untidy knot in the nape of her neck. Briefly she tipped her head in response to a new sound –
the gears of the distant car had shifted down a tone.

‘They’ve turned into the palm scrub,’ she remarked, ‘are we expecting anyone,

‘Nope. It’s probably the wildlife department,’ I replied, looking up and briefly catching Pieter’s eye. Maybe there would be some news. Our life was precariously rooted – a thin slip of paper could puff us away. I had grown used to pinpricks of anxiety spiking my bloodstream – fear keeps you alive in the wild. But the fear of losing home sat in a deeper place – its movement through my body was whittling and wearing.

‘Whoever it is can’t drive,’ Travers commented wryly, lying out- stretched along a branch with the radio antenna dangling from a wire in his hand, ‘did you hear those gears grinding, Pete?’ I hadn’t got used to my sixteen-year-old son’s man voice, it still had the lilt of youth but the androgyny had gone.

‘Will all of you stop drivelling, and get that bloody antenna up? I can’t stand the tension,’ I barked, marching to the kitchen tent to put the kettle on. If my progeny were going to fall to their deaths I didn’t want to witness it, and whoever was coming to see us would need some sustenance. Bush etiquette was simple in the Okavango: help those in trouble, and offer food and drink to new arrivals.

Maybe the wildlife department was coming to tell us about a problem lion killing cattle on the other side of the buffalo fence, or maybe they’d found another poisoned lion. I looked at Sauvignon’s skull, bleached salt-white by the sun, lying on the sand beside the campfire. A month ago Pieter had found the female’s desiccated body beside a pool of water – her cubs’ carcasses scattered nearby – and all around lay dead vultures that had nibbled on the lions’ toxic flesh.


Born in London, into a theatrical family in 1954, Kate Nicholls has lived her life energised by her favourite quote.“An unexamined life is not worth living.”

She is insatiably curious and self-educated. She left home, and school, age sixteen to pursue a successful career in the theatre. Age twenty-one she had her first of six children. Now, she has five children, and three grandchildren: with another on the way. She gave up her acting career age thirty-nine to study biology.

In 1996 she moved to Botswana with her children and worked for an NGO Women Against Rape. Later she became co-principal researcher at the Okavango Lion Conservation Project– where for eleven years she studied lions–raising and home-schooling her children under a tree.

In 2010 she returned to the UK where she continued educating her youngest son and started her home-school business. Her children all graduated into top Universities in the USA and the UK. She moved to Rome, Italy in 2015 where she wrote her first book Under the Camelthorn Tree. 

Passionate about educational reform, and integrated learning, she continues her business devising bespoke programmes for individual students.

She is writing her second book.


Amazon| Waterstones| Hive|Apple Books| Kobo