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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: No Honour by Awais Khan

Published: August 19th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda Books
Format: Mystery, Suspense, Urban Fiction, Political Fiction, Religious Fiction, Adventure Fiction
Genre: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

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

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SYNOPSIS:

A young woman defies convention in a small Pakistani village, with devastating results for her and her family. A stunning, immense beautiful novel about courage, family and the meaning of love, when everything seems lost…

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In sixteen-year-old Abida’s small Pakistani village, there are age-old rules to live by, and her family’s honour to protect. And, yet, her spirit is defiant and she yearns to make a home with the man she loves.

When the unthinkable happens, Abida faces the same fate as other young girls who have chosen unacceptable alliances – certain, public death. Fired by a fierce determination to resist everything she knows to be wrong about the society into which she was born, and aided by her devoted father, Jamil, who puts his own life on the line to help her, she escapes to Lahore and then disappears.

Jamil goes to Lahore in search of Abida – a city where the prejudices that dominate their village take on a new and horrifying form – and father and daughter are caught in a world from which they may never escape.

Moving from the depths of rural Pakistan, riddled with poverty and religious fervour, to the dangerous streets of over-populated Lahore, No Honour is a story of family, of the indomitable spirit of love in its many forms … a story of courage and resilience, when all seems lost, and the inextinguishable fire that lights one young woman’s battle for change.

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MY REVIEW:

“Love or honour.”

Wow. Just, wow. I flew through this mesmerising and powerful novel in one sitting, staying up well past my bedtime and unable to stop reading as the story took up home in my heart and soul. 

No Honour opens with a shocking and horrifying scene that propels you head first into the heartbreaking themes on its pages. For this is not simply a story of love, it is a portrait of lives lived in poverty under the constant threat of prejudice, strict age-old rules, honour killings and misogyny. 

Set in a small village in Pakistan, we follow the story of Jamil and his sixteen-year-old daughter, Abdia. Abdia is a girl full of spirit who longs to live a life that makes her happy. She resists the rules set for her and rebels against them. When she falls pregnant out of wedlock, the village sentences her to death. But Jamil protects his daughter and helps her escape to the city, where she then disappears. As we follow Abdia’s story, we see that each time she seems to have escaped and finds a new place to rest her head, there are new horrors she must endure. You begin to wonder if she will ever find freedom or happiness in this place where men make the rules and women pay the price.

The story is beautifully written, containing both honesty and compassion. The characters are richly crafted and compelling, each one feeling so real as they leap from the pages. It was impossible not to feel drawn towards Abdia and Jamil. They are characters who will stay with me forever, holding a place in my heart after reading their story. I loved Abida’s fierce and determined spirit, even in the face of insurmountable torture and pain, and Jamil’s bold strength and refusal to give up on his daughter, even when it looked like there was no way to win. 

Powerful, brave, harrowing and yet hopeful, No Honour is an absolute masterpiece. An addictive and phenomenal story that you won’t forget. Everyone needs to read this book. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Awais Khan is a graduate of the University of Western Ontario and Durham University. He has studied creative writing with Faber Academy. His debut novel, In the Company of Strangers, was published to much critical acclaim and he regularly appears on TV and Radio. Awais also teaches a popular online creative writing course to aspiring writers around the world. He is currently working on his third book. When not working, he has his nose buried in a book. He lives in Lahore.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: She’s Mine by A. A. Chaudhuri

Published: August 18th, 2021
Publisher: Hera Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Crime Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Domestic Fiction, Urban Fiction
Format: Paperback, Kindle

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this mind-blowing thriller. Thank you to Hera Books for the ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

Her missing daughter was just the start of the nightmare

Twenty years ago, Christine Donovan took a call she should have ignored while shopping. In those few seconds while her back was turned, her toddler, Heidi, was kidnapped. She’s never been seen again.

Despite having two other children with husband Greg, Christine remains guilt-stricken that her neglect caused her child to be stolen, while haunted by a secret that consumes her.

Just as she takes measures to finally heal, a note is posted through her door, with the words she has always longed to hear: Heidi isn’t dead.

Christine might finally get the answers she craves – but what she doesn’t know is that finding her daughter will uncover dark secrets close to home.

In seeking the truth, Christine might destroy everything that she loves … so how far is she willing to go to find Heidi?

With a truly jaw-dropping end twist, She’s Mine is a dark, scandalous, and gripping read from a major new talent in psychological thriller writing. For fans of Harriet Tyce, C.L. Taylor and Apple Tree Yard.

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MY REVIEW:

Secrets. Lies. Deceit. Vengeance. A mother’s worst nightmare come true. These are the things at the heart of this twisty psychological thriller. Like an iceberg, there is much more to this story than at first appears; layers hidden beneath the surface that slowly reveal themselves to the reader. Intricately woven and expertly plotted, the author skillfully crafts a hall of smoke and mirrors where nothing is quite what it seems and each time you think you have it figured out, that things couldn’t get any more dark, sinister or shocking, Chaudhuri pulls the rug from under you and leaves your jaw on the floor. 

Utterly mind-blowing and addictive, this is exactly the kind of dark and twisted thriller that sings to me. A story oozing with atmosphere that has tension leaping from the pages. It takes you on a wild ride, your heart pounding as you immerse yourself in this convoluted game of revenge. My mind was full of so many theories and suspicions, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough, unable to turn away as things spiraled more and more out of control. But would I be proven correct or be blindsided by the truth? I couldn’t wait to find out. 

The author tells the story from multiple points of view and various timelines, seamlessly shifting between them and creating a connection between the reader and each character. It offered us a glimpse of the fuller picture. An insight into the character’s true selves. What they really think and feel. The things they kept secret from those closest to them. It allows us to explore their deepest, darkest memories, dreams and fantasies in a way that wouldn’t have been possible if we’d only had one or two points of view. 

What I think I loved most about this story is the complex, fractured and unlikeable characters. No one is completely innocent. And no one is completely guilty. A miasma of despair surrounding them.  It is a hard feat to pull off writing so many unlikeable characters while also making them compelling, but Chaudhuri does so with finesse, managing to add sympathetic qualities to even the most detestable characters. A great example of this is Chrissy. As the mother of the missing child you would traditionally expect her to be a very likeable, sympathetic character. But she’s not. She repeatedly makes bad choices and is a selfish woman who made me frustrated and angry most of the time. 

She’s Mine is a dark, devious, warped and suspenseful psychological thriller that quite honestly blew my mind.  And that ending: Wow! It was impossible to predict, my jaw was on the floor when the kidnapper was unmasked and the truth was revealed. This is by far one of the best thrillers I’ve read in a long time. If you like this genre then READ THIS BOOK. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

A. A. Chaudhuri is a former City lawyer. After gaining a degree in History at University College London, she later trained as a solicitor and worked for several major London law firms before leaving law to pursue her passion for writing. She is the author of The Scribe and The Abduction, books 1 and 2 of her Kramer & Carver legal thriller series featuring the feisty Maddy Kramer, also published in audio. Her first psychological thriller with Hera Books, She’s Mine, will be published in 18th August 2021. Represented by Annette Crossland of A for Authors Literary Agency, she lives in Surrey with her family, and loves films, all things Italian and a good margarita!

#1 Amazon Australia Amateur Sleuth Mysteries (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Canada Women Sleuth Mysteries; (Aug ’19) top 10 Amazon UK Legal crime thrillers (Aug ’19); #1 Amazon Australia Legal Thrillers (November ’19)

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BUY THE BOOK:

Waterstones* | Amazon | Apple Books | Kobo
*This is an affiliate link

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews

Blog Tour: The Face at the Window by Ruby Speechley

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

They’re in your house.

They want your life.

And now, they have your baby.

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

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

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

I just don’t know why.

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

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

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

TW: Domestic abuse

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rating: ✮✮✮.5

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

Amazon | Google Books | Apple Books | Kobo

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Book Review: The Beresford by Will Carver

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

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

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SYNOPSIS:

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

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MY REVIEW:

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

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

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

“We all go a little mad sometimes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just remember: DON’T RING THE DOORBELL.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

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

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours Book Features Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: This Is How We Are Human by Louise Beech

Published: June 10th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Genre: Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this truly remarkable and unforgettable novel. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted eBook ARC.

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SYNOPSIS:

When the mother of an autistic young man hires a call girl to make him happy, three lives collide in unexpected and moving ways … changing everything. A devastatingly beautiful, rich and thought-provoking novel that will warm and break your heart…

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Sebastian James Murphy is twenty years, six months and two days old. He loves swimming, fried eggs and Billy Ocean. Sebastian is autistic. And lonely.

Veronica wants her son Sebastian to be happy … she wants the world to accept him for who he is. She is also thinking about paying a professional to give him what he desperately wants.

Violetta is a high-class escort, who steps out into the night thinking only of money. Of her nursing degree. Paying for her dad’s care. Getting through the dark.

When these three lives collide – intertwine in unexpected ways – everything changes. For everyone.

A topical and moving drama about a mother’s love for her son, about getting it wrong when we think we know what’s best, about the lengths we go to care for family … to survive … This Is How We Are Human is a searching, rich and thought-provoking novel with an emotional core that will warm and break your heart.

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MY REVIEW:

“This is how we are human. We learn from one another.” 

This Is How We Are Human is a truly astonishing novel from the incomparable Louise Beech. I need to begin this review by saying that nothing I write will do justice to this work of art. This is a story about the nuances and complexities of being human. A story full of heart, warmth and wisdom that is beautifully crafted and achingly real. It is unflinchingly honest, not shying away from the awkward, difficult or embarrassing topics and questions, instead putting them at the heart of the story and exploring them in detail. I found myself stopping frequently to discuss things with my partner, read him excerpts or laugh hysterically. The author has crafted something magnificent and special that has gone right to my soul and will stay there forever.

For a story like this you need great characters. And these are ones I will not forget. Sebastian, Veronica and Isabelle are compelling, multilayered, richly drawn and real . They each narrate their own chapters, offering three unique perspectives and getting to the heart of their stories while also allowing the reader to follow on their journeys of self-discovery. You can imagine them being you, your family or your friends. And that is what pulls you in, makes you connect to them, feel with them and fully invest in their story. And while I loved them all, Sebastian was truly the star. 

“Everyone thinks autistic people can’t understand expressions, but we have to look at the strangest ones anyone can make and, and then work out what they mean. That is called irony, you know.

It is impossible not to fall in love with Sebastian. He is just the most wonderful young man; so wise and full of kindness, honesty and love. He is hilarious but also made my heart break. But what I loved most about him was that while autism is obviously part of him, it isn’t who he is. He is a nuanced character who is as individual as anyone else. He isn’t a bunch of traits or symptoms, but a human being with his own thoughts, feelings and dreams. 

I am the mother of a son with autism. He is now sixteen and beginning to face similar challenges to those Sebastian faces in the book, though my son doesn’t struggle as much with social interaction and cues as Sebastian does. I am often frustrated by the clichés we see in stories featuring autism so I was a little apprehensive about how it would be represented, but I trust both Louise and Orenda, so I had faith it would be well written. And what is vividly clear from the start is not just the depth of research and commitment to authenticity Louise has taken to represent people with autism and the things they and their families go through, but also the compassion, empathy and sensitivity with which it is written. This reads like she’s lived it, though I know from her interviews she hasn’t. At the end of the book there is a note from the author about her research and it is a must read. She truly went above and beyond in her commitment to accurately represent autism. Louise, thank you. 

“The small print tells us all the things we don’t really want to know, the things we should know.”

I was already a fan of her work after reading the fantastic I Am Dust last year. I loved it’s haunting gothic vibes and her exceptional storytelling. I knew from other people and interviews that Louise doesn’t really have a genre, she creates them; simply writing from her heart and brilliant imagination to give the reader something different each time. So I was excited to read another of her books, though I had a feeling this would be emotional (spoiler: I wasn’t wrong). But she also makes it side-splittingly funny, which stops the book from feeling heavy or overwhelming. And that ending; sheer perfection *chef’s kiss*. 

This Is How We Are Human is a masterpiece. Enthralling, thought-provoking, powerful and heart-rending, I could have read this book forever. I loved the characters and story so much that I felt bereft when I had to leave them behind. I can always count on Orenda to publish quality fiction and this story is yet another example of why I will always recommend their books. 

Louise Beech has given a voice to a story that needed to be told and characters who needed to be heard. I believe this book will help create more awareness, compassion and understanding of autism and help people with the condition to be seen for who they are, not the condition they were born with. Thank you Louise for writing it. And thank you Karen for publishing it. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was a Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition,
as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles😊 Emma xxx

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Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: The Cat and the City by Nick Bradley

Published: May 6th, 2021
Publisher: Atlantic Books
Genre: Urban Fiction, Historical Fiction
Format: Paperback, Hardcover, Kindle, Audio

SYNOPSIS:

In Tokyo – one of the world’s largest megacities – a stray cat is wending her way through the back alleys. And, with each detour, she brushes up against the seemingly disparate lives of the city-dwellers, connecting them in unexpected ways.

But the city is changing. As it does, it pushes her to the margins where she chances upon a series of apparent strangers – from a homeless man squatting in an abandoned hotel, to a shut-in hermit afraid to leave his house, to a convenience store worker searching for love. The cat orbits Tokyo’s denizens, drawing them ever closer.

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MY REVIEW:

This delightful book was not at all what I was expecting. I thought it was going to be a book from the cat’s perspective about it’s life and experiences in Tokyo, but instead found myself reading a collection of short stories featuring different narrators set throughout the city that each feature appearances from the same stray calico cat.

While they appear at first to be connected only by the cat, the author skillfully interweaves the stories and characters, intricately connecting them to craft a rich and vivid tapestry of Tokyo and it’s residents. The book is filled with a cast of fantastic and captivating characters. The most memorable ones for me were Flo, an American woman working as a translator, and Kensuke, a young boy being bullied at school for being half Korean. My only complaint is that we don’t see enough of the cat. While I liked reading about the residents of Tokyo, I would have liked a chapter from his perspective or more of him in their stories.

You are taken through a rainbow of emotions as the author fills the stories with heartbreak, hope, humour and tenderness. He takes you on an adventure of the best and worst that this city has to offer, touching on subjects such as the moral standards in Japanese culture, sexuality, homelessness and loneliness, expertly blending them in amongst the lighthearted aspects of the stories such as cute cat cafes, Street Fighter and manga comics. 

Moving, original, immersive and evocative, this striking debut brings Tokyo to life. Wonderfully written and surprising, I devoured it in just a few hours. I would highly recommend this book, especially if you’re looking for something a little different. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

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MEET THE AUTHOR:

Nick Bradley was born in Germany in 1982 and grew up in Bath. After graduating with a master’s degree in English literature, he went to Japan for “just one year” and returned to England ten years later to attend the Creative Writing MA at UEA, graduating in 2016.

He has worked in a variety of jobs, including: Japanese teacher, English teacher, video game translator, travel writer, and photographer. He speaks Japanese fluently, and recently completed a PhD funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation in Creative & Critical Writing at UEA, focussing on the figure of the cat in Japanese literature.

The Cat and The City is his first novel

His favourite Street Fighter II character is Ken.

He lives in Norwich. (Aha).

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BUY THE BOOK:

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

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Thank you to Lisa at TLC Tours for the invitation to take part in this blog tour and to Atlantic Books for my gifted copy of the book.

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Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

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First Lines Friday

First Lines Friday

Welcome to First Lines Friday where I share the first lines from one of the books on my shelves to try and tempt you to add it to yours. And this week is a little different. If you like the sound of the book then head over to my Instagram or Twitter to enter my giveaways.

“Try to imagine two more different couples than these. You can’t. They are as opposite as it gets. Oil and water. Salt and sugar. Always and never. Lost and found.”

Today’s first lines are taken from Because of You by Dawn French. Released in paperback yesterday, this moving book was part of the Women’s Prize for Fiction longlist.

SYNOPSIS:

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock . . . midnight.

The old millennium turns into the new.

In the same hospital, two very different women give birth to two very similar daughters.

Hope leaves with a beautiful baby girl.

Anna leaves with empty arms.

Seventeen years later, the gods who keep watch over broken-hearted mothers wreak mighty revenge, and the truth starts rolling, terrible and deep, toward them all.

The power of mother-love will be tested to its limits.

Perhaps beyond . . .

Because of You
 is the remarkably poignant story perfect for every Dawn French fan, told with her signature humour, warmth and so much love.

******

I’ve seen some great reviews for this one and has been selected as one of Richard and Judy’s Book Club picks for Spring.

You can buy the book here*
*This is an affiliate link

*********

Thank you to Kealey at FMCM Associates for opportunity to host this giveaway.

Thanks for reading Bibliophiles, Emma xxx

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews Emma's Anticipated Treasures

Blog Tour: Deity by Matt Wesolowski

Published: February 18th, 2021
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Horror Fiction, Coming-of-Age Story, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction

I’m a little late posting this due to ill health, but here is my review for the fifth installment in Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories series. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and to Karen at Orenda Books for the gifted ebook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

A shamed pop star
A devastating fire
Six witnesses
Six stories
Which one is true?

When pop megastar Zach Crystal dies in a fire at his remote mansion, his mysterious demise rips open the bitter divide between those who adored his music and his endless charity work, and those who viewed him as a despicable predator, who manipulated and abused young and vulnerable girls.

Online journalist, Scott King, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the accusations of sexual abuse and murder that were levelled at Crystal before he died. But as Scott begins to ask questions and rake over old graves, some startling inconsistencies emerge: Was the fire at Crystal’s remote home really an accident? Are reports of a haunting really true? Why was he never officially charged?

Dark, chillingly topical and deeply thought-provoking, Deity is both an explosive thriller and a startling look at how heroes can fall from grace and why we turn a blind eye to even the most heinous of crimes…

MY REVIEW:

“This journey feels like it’s just begun — pulling apart a myth bit by bit to see what lies within.”

The fifth installment in Matt Wesolwski’s Six Stories series offers what we’ve come to expect: an eerie, mysterious and exhilarating novel exploring a fictional cold case over six episodes of the fictional podcast. This time presenter Scott King is trying to get answers about the life of music superstar Zach Crystal, a controversial, enigmatic and eccentric figure who perished in a fire in 2019.

As always, we jump straight into the action, with a chilling and sinister opening that will leave you both desperate for more and terrified to turn the page. I don’t want to talk too much about the details of the plot as the beauty of these stories is the journey of discovery, the mystery and surprises that unfold. What I will say is that once again Wesolwski has knocked it out of the park.

Wesolowski’s books are always highly anticipated in the blogging and book community; and for good reason. You will never read anything else like it. He has a style that is instantly recognisable as his and has crafted a series that is compelling, memorable and unique. Wesolowski isn’t a man afraid of taking risks or writing about the dark side. And his books aren’t for the faint hearted. They will send shivers down your spine, make you question the world around you and see monsters where there were none before. He is a genius. And I am yet to meet anyone who has read his books that doesn’t agree. I was late to discover this series and I’m still playing catch-up with the earlier books. But what is so good about them is while you will want to, and should, read every one, you can dip in at any point as each one is about a completely new case with all new characters bar the presenter.

Hypnotic, thrilling, innovative and simply brilliant, Deity is an unmissable book by one of the greatest voices in fiction.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮.5

Trigger Warnings: sexual abuse

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care.

‘Six Stories’ was published by Orenda Books in the spring of 2016 with follow-up ‘Hydra’ published in the winter of 2017, ‘Changeling’ in 2018, ‘Beast’ in 2019 and ‘Deity’ in 2020.

‘Six Stories’ has been optioned by a major Hollywood studio and the third book in the series, ‘Changeling’ was longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, 2019 Amazon Publishing Readers’ Award for Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.
‘Beast’ won the Amazon publishing award for Best Independent voice in 2020.

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BUY THE BOOK:

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*Links to Bookshop.org, Waterstones and Amazon are affiliate links

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

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

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Victoria Park by Gemma Reeves

Published: January 7th, 2021
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Urban Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this wonderful debut. Thank you to Allen & Unwin for the gifted ARC and Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part.

SYNOPSIS:

Mona and Wolfie have lived on Victoria Park for over fifty years. Now, on the eve of their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary, they must decide how to navigate Mona’s declining health. Bookended by the touching exploration of their love, Victoria Park follows the disparate lives of twelve people over the course of a single year. Told from their multiple perspectives in episodes which capture feelings of alienation and connection, the lingering memory of an acid attack in the park sends ripples of unease through the community. By the end of the novel, their carefully interwoven tales create a rich tapestry of resilience, love and loss.

With sharply observed insight into contemporary urban life, and characters we take to our hearts, Gemma Reeves has written a moving, uplifting debut which reflects those universal experiences that connect us all.

MY REVIEW:

Victoria Park is a difficult book to review as it is just so different to anything I’ve read. It takes place over the course of a year, focusing on a different character each month and is more like a collection of short stories than a novel. Though it took me a little while to get into the flow of the book as I rarely read short stories, I really liked this fresh and unique approach and thought that the author executed it well. 

We are only given a small glimpse into each character’s life as the author tells their stories via individual chapters. But we also see them a little through the eyes of other characters as she has chosen to focus these stories on a group of people whose lives are interwoven. She created a richly drawn community full of a compelling cast of varied characters. I had a soft spot for Wolfie and Mona in particular as they are such wonderful characters. I adored their love story and Wolfie’s devotion to Mona despite the challenges and was thrilled every time they were on the page. 

The author also uses the book to subtly examine many themes such as family, friendship, love, isolation, alienation and adjusting to change. There are some powerful and emotional moments that mostly occur during times the characters are quietly reflecting on their lives. 

Absorbing, funny and delightful, the book has an air of calm that made it a refreshing and relaxing read. I would highly recommend this remarkable debut.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Gemma Reeves is a writer and teacher who lives and works in London. She graduated with distinction from the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and holds an MA in Twentieth Century Literature from Goldsmiths.

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Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone (The Skelfs 2)

2020-08-05-14-06-40

Published: August 20th, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Psychological Fiction, Urban Fiction, Lesbian Literature

Welcome to my slightly late stop on the blog tour. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part and Orenda for the ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

Running private investigator and funeral home businesses means trouble is never far away, and the Skelf women take on their most perplexing, chilling cases yet in book two of this darkly funny, devastatingly tense and addictive new series!

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral that matriarch Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves sucked into an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Following three women as they deal with the dead, help the living and find out who they are in the process, The Big Chill follows A Dark Matter, book one in the Skelfs series, which reboots the classic PI novel while asking the big existential questions, all with a big dose of pitch-black humour.

MY REVIEW:

The Big Chill is the second book in the Skelfs Series, which follows the Skelf women – Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah – as they work together running the family funeral home and private investigation company. I haven’t read the first book but the author quickly catches you up on the traumatic and life-changing events that occurred.

The story jumps straight into the action with a car chase interrupting a funeral that leaves the unidentified driver dead. The family matriarch, Dorothy, can’t let it go and is determined to find out who he was and lay him to rest. But this isn’t their only investigation, with others running simultaneously, as well as the funeral business always keeping them busy.

This was a complex and layered novel, with lots of drama, tension and things bubbling beneath the surface. I loved the fascinating mix of three generations working together in dual roles that is an unusual pairing. It’s a brilliant basis for a series, so different from anything else I’ve read.

The characters are well-written, compelling and full of depth. They are each trying to come to terms with the distressing and painful events of book one, and are still haunted and trying to make sense of it all. In the three women, the author shows how trauma and PTSD can affect people in different ways in a very real and relatable way that hit home with me a number of times. The background characters were also fully drawn with interesting storylines and back stories of their own. I’m very eager to read more about Archie and his unusual condition.

If you’re looking for something different that will hold your attention and make you come back for more, this is the book for you. I’ll definitely be reading book one and look forward to seeing what’s next for the Skelf women.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✫

Doug Johnstone Author Pic

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which was longlisted for the McIlcanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irivine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions, and has been an arts and journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh.

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The Big Chill BT Poster