'Dreamland' by Nancy Bilyeau

I read ‘Dreamland’ with the Pigeonhole reading community and loved the entire journey; there’s something extra special about shared reading. We also had the author join us, always a treat, and the additional bonus on Nancy’s Bilyeau’s photographs from research and modern day Coney Island.

The Blurb:

The year is 1911 when twenty-year-old heiress Peggy Batternberg is invited to spend the summer in America’s Playground.

The invitation to Coney Island is unwelcome. Despite hailing from one of America’s richest families, Peggy would much rather spend the summer working at the Moonrise Bookstore than keeping up appearances with New York City socialites and her snobbish, controlling family.

But soon it transpires that the hedonism of Coney Island affords Peggy the freedom she has been yearning for, and it’s not long before she finds herself in love with a troubled pier-side artist of humble means, whom the Batternberg patriarchs would surely disapprove of.

Disapprove they may, but hidden behind their pomposity lurks a web of deceit, betrayal, and deadly secrets. And as bodies begin to mount up amidst the sweltering clamor of Coney Island, it seems the powerful Batternbergs can get away with anything… even murder.

Extravagant, intoxicating, and thumping with suspense, bestselling Nancy Bilyeau’s magnificent Dreamland is a story of corruption, class, and dangerous obsession.

My thoughts:

This is a novel that explores excessive elitist lifestyles, of people living in privileged bubbles where wealth monopolises their lives but also sucks out their humanity.

Our perspective is through the eyes of one of the privileged class, Peggy, a young daughter from the wealthy Batternberg family – but Peggy is a protagonist who fights against the claustrophobic and restrictive life of a woman in an elite class. Peggy is very modern and desires independence and freedom from the controlling and watchful eyes of her domineering family.

Counteracting this is the world of Coney Island and its working class, liberal community. Both are set side by side on the coastline and the contrast couldn’t be sharper. I loved the backdrop and historical detail in the story.

There’s a lot going on in ‘Dreamland’, there’s the story of a young woman’s fight for independence; the story of the wealthy elite’s battle in a changing world to keep their archaic and blindness to reality and, the inner corruption and brutality this world creates wrapped up in a brilliantly crafted murder mystery read.

I found myself immersed Bilyeau’s deliciously vivid prose and into Peggy’s world; following her journey to leave the privileges of her class and make something of herself and into a dangerous path through Coney Island and Dreamland. This book is an adventure and a murder mystery; it’s about first love, loss, addiction, power, corruption, and the battle for independence.

Thoroughly recommended read for those who enjoy historical fiction and mystery genres.

'The Snowdonia Killings' by Simon McCleave – mini review.

A small town murder. A big city detective.

The Blurb:

Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter lives with the pain of her partner’s mysterious and unsolved disappearance. About to hit fifty, the veteran police officer trades in the crime-ridden streets of London for a more peaceful life in rural North Wales. But Ruth has barely settled into her new position in North Wales Police, when the body of a brutally murdered woman is discovered…with strange symbols carved into her skin. Teaming up with an obstinate deputy, Ruth struggles to eliminate anyone from a long line of suspects. When another slain victim is discovered with the same cryptic markings, she’s forced to re-think the investigation.

Has Ruth got what it takes to solve the case before the murderer attacks again?

‘The Snowdonia Killings’ is the first book in the DI Ruth Hunter Crime Thriller series and set against the majestic backdrop of Snowdonia, a timeless land of Arthurian legend, folklore and myth.

My thoughts…

This is a character driven crime novel, predominantly set in the Snowdonia region, and it’s the author’s debut. It’s the story of Ruth, AKA Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter, who transfers at the start of the novel from London’s Metropolitan Police to the contrasting world of Wales and the desire for a more peaceful life. However, she is soon heading up the disturbing murder of a local school deputy and she finds not all is peaceful in the valleys and mountains of Wales.

It seems clear that there’s a long character arc in place for our lead detective; there’s also a tragic journey she is on with her private life that is haunting her daily one. It’s the development of the character threads that are really important in book series; McCleave has constructed protagonists with great potential in Ruth, and also in the character of Nick, her Detective Sergeant. Nick is, initially, the reader’s challenge – he’s a frustrating read at times because he’s battling with alcoholism. What’s important is Nick’s POV enables a glimpse into the world of an alcoholic and how much it’s ingrained into the person, rather than a choice. By the mid-point of the novel, I really was rooting for him, and loved the banter between himself and Ruth. They evolve into a great duo, and I’m certainly interested in following their development beyond this book.

The landscape is also becoming a character, and you can tell how fascinated and loved it is by the author. I enjoyed the descriptions of the natural world, this adds a depth to the writing and an understanding for the reader of the communities living there. We also get little snippets of stories and myths from the surrounding areas, which build the backdrop. I would prefer these to be blended into the storytelling more, rather than having the slight feel of inserts, but this is a minor thought.

The central crime and mystery was tightly plotted, there’re enough suspects to drive the narrative and whodunit genre forward; this is the book’s strength.

There are also several more books on the way for DI Ruth Hunter, so this could grow into an interesting series… for a first debut novel, there’s a lot of potential for the series and the writer’s development.

A huge thank you to Simon for asking me to read his book in exchange for an honest review; it’s been a pleasure.

The Author

Simon McCleave was born in South London. When leaving University, he worked in television and film development. He was a Script Editor at the BBC, a producer at Channel 4 before working as a Story Analyst in Los Angeles. He worked on films such as ‘The Full Monty’ and television series such as ‘Our Friends In The North’.

Simon then became a script writer for television and film. He wrote on series such as Silent Witness, Murder In Suburbia, Teachers, Attachments, The Bill, Eastenders and many more. His film, ‘Out of the Game’ for Channel 4 was critically acclaimed – ‘An unflinching portrayal of male friendship.’ (Time Out)

‘The Snowdonia Killings’ is his first novel.

Simon lives in North Wales with his wife and two children.

Simon can be contacted at simonmccleave.com and contact @simonmccleave.com.

'The End of Magic' by Mark Stay and 'The Foundling' by Stacey Halls – reading with the PigeonholeHQ community

I really enjoy reading with the Pigeonhole community – I guess that might sound rather strange, but it’s nothing to do with pigeons. It’s a book reading club. I read on my app, but you can use your desktop computer. So, in a nutshell, it’s like a digital book group, sharing a book and chatting in the margins with other readers. Another great aspect of this, is the author often joins in, adding images and documents. Check it out at http://www.thepigeonhole.com

Two recent reads are the above two books: ‘The Foundling’ and ‘The End of Magic’. Both of them very different, but incredibly good fun to read.

‘The End of Magic’

Blurb:

Sander Bree is a royal mage. Steeped in privilege, he lives a cushy life advising the king on matters of court and politics, yet still complains that he’s stuck in a rut.

Rosheen Katell is a freelance mage and, with Anzu her griffin, she’s worked hard to build a reputation as a trustworthy truth seer. She never lies, never kills. 

The source of their power is the Lapis Moon in orbit above. Very soon, that magic will be gone, changing their lives and their world forever. Sander must keep a promise that would have been difficult enough with magic, but is a suicide mission without it. Rosheen is forced to side with a murderous warlord, and her once-solid principles are tested and found wanting. Both will be set against one another in a war unlike anything the world has seen before, in this sweeping fantasy of magic’s ending.

My thoughts…

Mark Stay’s ‘The End of Magic’ is a hugely enjoyable magical romp with conflicted characters; mythical and magical creatures; a truly villainous villain and the battle to save magic in a rich and creative fantasy world. What makes this book a joy is the wit and humour which laces the story together; it’s also a twisty interpretation of the genre. Our ‘heroes’ are certainly flawed but we find ourselves connecting with them despite this. At the heart of this story, is how a catastrophic natural event changes everyone’s fates and offers each character choices and ultimately redemptive paths, if they so choose. Blood thirsty, battle fuelled and with an epic disaster to face, this is a great read!

If you like a darkly witty spin to your fantasy reading then I’d highly recommend ‘The End of Magic’.

‘The Foundling’ by Stacey Halls

Blurb:

London, 1754. Six years after leaving her illegitimate daughter Clara at London’s Foundling Hospital, Bess Bright returns to reclaim the child she has never known. Dreading the worst – that Clara has died in care – the last thing she expects to hear is that her daughter has already been reclaimed – by her. Her life is turned upside down as she tries to find out who has taken her little girl – and why.

Less than a mile from Bess’ lodgings in the city, in a quiet, gloomy townhouse on the edge of London, a young widow has not left the house in a decade. When her close friend – an ambitious young doctor at the Foundling Hospital – persuades her to hire a nursemaid for her daughter, she is hesitant to welcome someone new into her home and her life. But her past is threatening to catch up with her and tear her carefully constructed world apart.

My thoughts:

I really enjoyed Stacey Halls first novel, ‘The Familiars’, so I was very excited to read ‘The Foundling’, particularly so when it appeared on the Pigeonhole Book Club.

I was captivated from the opening pages. I’ve been interested in the Foundling Hospital since I visited the museum in London quite a few years ago now. If you’re not aware of it, the Hospital was founded by Thomas Coram in 1739 to help care for babies at risk of being abandoned. At that time, it was estimated that a thousand babies a year were being abandoned – Halls novel begins with a young mother taking her baby to the hospital to be cared for until she could reclaim her. Sadly, many babies were never reclaimed, but our protagonist never forgets her baby and works tirelessly to raise the funds to collect her child. However, a twist in the tale causes more suffering and builds the story of Bess Bright, born to poverty but with a good heart and determination to do right by her child in a harsh and cruel world.

Part historical drama, part mystery, this is a very moving and dramatic story inspired by a mother, who is forced to abandon their child, in an attempt to give their child a future. This novel also addresses the flawed way the mothers would leave tokens behind for their babies, so they could be identified and matched upon re-claiming. In the London Foundlings Museum you can see some of the tokens on display; it’s truly heartbreaking. These tokens were often pieces of material cut from the babies clothes, half being kept in the hospital records and the other given to the mother. In the novel, Bess Bright leaves half of an engraved heart with her baby and this becomes the novels central mystery. This is also the story of another woman, the widow Alexandra, trapped by circumstance and trauma; when her world collides with Bess’s, the story begins in earnest.

I would highly recommend ‘The Foundling’, it’s a beautifully written story that tugs at your heartstrings throughout. It’s a story of two women, born into different worlds, of different tragedies but both connected by their journeys. The story is told via alternating first-person points of view, so you are able to piece together the story and also understand both the women and their different perspectives. Hall balances the darkness and the light enough to provide the right balance for the reader.

Beautifully written, compelling and heart-wrenching. Highly recommended read.

So, if you fancy an online reading group, then do take a look at The Pigeonhole.

A look at some of my favourite books of 2019

Overall, I read 203 books in 2019, not as many as 2018 but I’m still really happy with that, particularly as I set a goal of 80. The sad thing is, I have about 200 still on my TBR and 2020 is looking like another good year for publishing…so the lure of adding to my bookshelves will be undeniable and irresistible. Thank you to all the publishers and publicists who have sent me books to read and chat about; I’ve loved being a part of the lovely blogging community this year and look forward to another year of talking books in 2020.

When I talk about books, I am very conscious of the subjectivity of the reader. I strongly believe that each story calls to different people for different reasons. I won’t review a book negatively just because I don’t agree with some subject matter, or how it’s handled, or the meandering pace etc. I think every book has value for someone and every writer has put their heart and soul onto the pages, and that is no easy task. I will always respond to a book that hasn’t worked for me, by highlighting the story, themes, setting and characters, to inform others who might be interested. I see very negative, quite angry reviews that have caused other people not to read that particular book, and I find this sad. It’s like the movies isn’t it, a bad critical review by no means will suggest you won’t like it. Kindness, thoughtfulness and care with our words is always the way forward. For me, particularly as I have gotten older is… I just simply enjoy a good story. I like to jump into my imagination and bring the words on the page to life. A story calls to different people for different reasons, and I don’t care if you’re 50 years old and love YA books… just enjoy and read away! So, let’s chat about some of my favourite stories.

In no particular order, and for no particular reason, other than doing a damn good job of being my escape from reality: my most memorable reads of 2019.

A double whammy from my favourite crime series by Jane Casey. ‘Cruel Acts‘ was published this year and I was incredibly lucky to receive an arc of ‘The Cutting Place‘ before it’s 2020 publication. If you haven’t read any Casey, her Maeve Kerrigan series featuring DI Josh Derwent is a must if you enjoy character driven crime books. I thought ‘Cruel Acts’ was brilliant for plotting and character developments, but ‘The Cutting Place’ topped it! Absolutely loved this one. I’m a great fan of book series with long-term relationship plotting and the central duo of Kerrigan and Derwent is a huge focus in the latest read; I was glued to the pages until the final word. I’m looking forward to the audio book release next year, as the narrator, Caroline Lennon, is brilliant. Highly recommended. Begin with ‘The Burning’ and see the writing go from strength to strength. 5 stars reads.

Laura Purcell’s gothic novels ‘The Silent Companions‘, ‘The Corset‘ and ‘Bone China‘ were all firm favourites. I do enjoy gothic fiction and it’s great to not have to draw from my classic collection.

M.W.Craven’s Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw series, starting with ‘The Puppet Show‘ and following with ‘Black Summer‘. Smartly and intricately plotted crime reads with a cracking crime solving team.

Dark Matter‘ by Michelle Paver – I loved this incredibly well-written ghost story about a man embarking on an Arctic Expedition that soon becomes a nightmare. There’s recently been a BBC Radio 4 reading, which is well worth a listen.

Perfect Kill‘ by Helen Fields – I’ve been reading these books from the beginning, so it’s great to return to loved characters and this is also a great crime read in itself. Highly recommended series.

Broken Souls‘ by Patricia Gibney is the D.I. Lottie Parker series; this is book seven in the series. Always enjoyable crime reads with plenty of family and relationships drama.

Tracy Chevalier’s ‘A Single Thread‘ was a surprise favourite, and I found it an very moving account of Violet Speedwell, and her endurance to find a place for herself as one of the many surplus women left after the war.

Platform Seven‘ by Louise Doughty was another unexpected winner for me. I loved this supernatural mystery read about loss, abuse and redemption.

Jennifer Donnelly’s The Tea Rose Trilogy – my favourite of the three is ‘The Winter Rose‘ featuring Sid and India, two characters pushed to the extreme and are drawn to each other constantly despite terrible hardships. Great historical fiction.

Katie Welsh’s Sarah Gilchrist books, ‘The Wages of Sin‘ and ‘The Unquiet Heart‘ were also firm favourites. I discovered these books by chance and I really loved the historical setting and the ease of the story-telling.

Spin the Dawn‘ by Elizabeth Lim, was one of my favourite YA fantasy reads this year. The first in the Blood of Stars series and a magical fantasy centred around Chinese culture and pulling on the Mulan idea. Fun.

The Museum of Broken Promises‘ by Elizabeth Buchan was a beautiful story of Laure, the owner of a very different museum. We are taken into the past to uncover what happened to her in 1980s Prague, with the awful backdrop of the Cold War.

It was also great to read the final book in the Fawkes and Baxter series by Daniel Cole, ‘Endgame‘. This series began back in 2017 with ‘Ragdoll‘, the gruesome case of a body found stitched together from six different victims. The middle book in the series being ‘Hangman‘.

Ambrose Parry (a writing duo) published their second novel featuring Dr. Will Raven, called ‘The Art of Dying‘. These are great books, set in mid 1800s Edinburgh. Enjoyable, atmospheric historical crime reads.

We Hunt the Flame‘ was another top YA fantasy read by Hafsah Faizal and is the first book in the Sands of Arawiya series. Rich, immersive language and inspired by ancient Arabia, this is an epic adventure read.

Georgina Clarke’s ‘Death and the Harlot‘ and ‘The Corpse Played Dead‘ were great – really good stories, set in 1759 and featuring Lizzie Hardwicke a prostitute who gets drawn into crime solving to save herself.

Pamela Ford’s ‘To Ride a White Horse‘ was another of those books that just tells a great story. Lovely Sunday afternoon read with a cup of tea in hand.

I loved Naomi Novik’s ‘Uprooted‘ a fantasy book about a young girl who joins forces with the Dragon, a Wizard to protect her land from an evil, enchanted forest. Thrilling and magical.

The Murder of Harriet Monckton‘ by Elizabeth Haynes comes highly recommended for those who enjoy piecing together events surrounding the murder of a young woman. The novel is told via potential guilty parties and is based on a real murder.

Daisy Jones and the Six‘ by Taylor Jenkins Reid was great – I loved the interview style of this book and piecing together the actual events and feelings in this story of a rock band and one Daisy Jones!

Deanna Raybourn’s Veronica Speedwell series comes highly recommended if you like witty historical investigative fun, with a dash of slow-burn romance. The series begins with ‘A Curious Beginning‘ and this year I read the recent release ‘A Dangerous Collaboration‘. Pure ‘over the top’ entertainment.

Elly Griffiths is another of my go-to authors and her Ruth Galloway books always are good, solid enjoyable reads, this year the 11th in the series came out, ‘The Stone Circle‘.

I loved ‘Where the Crawdad’s Sing‘ by Delia Owens for its wonderful world of the marshes and for the Marsh Girl that lived there. You also get a crime and a court-room drama, but it’s the natural world of the novel that stars for me.

Katherine Arden’s ‘The Winternight Trilogy‘ was a winner for me, I loved this Russian folklore inspired series of books, beginning with ‘The Bear and the Nightingale‘ – all these books are enchanting adventures and I loved each one. Perfect for a cold winter night by the fire.

Not a physical book, but the ‘West Cork‘ podcast was also a highlight; this is a podcast series that explores the investigation of the actual murder of Sophie Toscan du Plantier in Ireland, back in 1996. A brutal crime that is still being investigated today. This podcast is a fascinating and additive insight into the events, the investigation and the suspects.

Well that’s it for books that drew me into their worlds for 2019. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2020! Happy New Year! May it be healthy and happy! Leigh X

Blog Tour – BLACK SUMMER by M.W. Craven.

Winner of the 2019 CWA Gold Dagger Award

Blurb

Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath…He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.

So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.

Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?

My Thoughts

What a deliciously creepy and utterly brilliant opening! Huge applause to M.W. Craven – you hooked me in with style! An utterly grotesque style… but it certainly does the job and creates an extremely tense and repulsive moment for the readers to start to unpick. It was even worse when I googled the Ortolan Bunting and found out the dish is actually true!!! I was truly horrified! To understand what I am referring to it’s best to order the book and read it yourself…so off you go, get it ordered!

There are other reasons to order this book, Craven’s plotting and pace is exceptional. The crime solving duo of Washington Poe (what a name!) and Tilly Bradshaw (you can’t help but adore her), make this book extra special. Oh, and if you don’t already know, this is the second book featuring Poe and Bradshaw; the first book is ‘The Puppet Show’ which I would also highly recommended reading.

The hook and central conundrum in ‘Black Summer’ is how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time. It is soon apparent that Poe and Bradshaw are embroiled in a twisted, dangerous game that might defeat them both and even destroy Poe’s life. Craven is the ‘King of Plotting’ and I love the journey he takes the reader on, inserting inventive clues with great subtly, and dropping dastardly clever red herrings. It’s smart and pulls in all the devices required of this genre and more.

I’m not saying anything else about the actual plot; I don’t want to spoil anything at all, (the book blurb is enough) you really need to pick this book up. It’s inventive, character driven, complex, tense with delightful touches of humour to lighten the darkness of the crimes, and balance the character relationships.

I loved it and am lucky to also have one of the Goldsboro first 250 editions! Thank you to Beth, at Little Brown, for also sending me the paperback, I can re-read the book without fear of spilling my tea on those precious first edition pages. Thank you to Mike for getting in touch so I could be a part of this blog tour and for the most marvellous storytelling!

Inventive, dark, witty and addictive – if you haven’t met Poe and Bradshaw yet… what are you waiting for?

Author

A brand new voice in British crime fiction, M.W.Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle. He joined the army at Sixteen, leaving ten years later to complete a social work degree. Seventeen years after taking up a probation officer role in Cumbria, at the rank of assistant chief officer, he became a full time author.

The first in the Washington Poe series, The Puppet Show, won the 2019 CWA Gold Dagger, has sold in numerous foreign territories and has been optioned for TV by Studio Lambert. M.W.Craven has been shortlisted for the Goldsboro Glass Bell Award, an Amazon Reader Award and a Cumbria Life Award. He is also the author of the Avison Fluke novels, Born in a Burial Ground (shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger) and Body Breaker.

SHADOW by James Swallow and published by @ZaffreBooks #CompulsiveReaders #blogtour

Published 12th December by Zaffre

Blurb

A ruthless far-right terrorist is broken out of captivity.

A mysterious scientist with a terrible secret is abducted.

A lethal contagion threatens millions of lives across Europe and the Middle East.

Ex-M16 officer Marc Dane faces a deadly race-against-time to stop a devastating attack before a new kind of weapon is unleashed…

My thoughts

This is the fourth book in the Marc Dane action thriller series. It’s my first read of this series… although that really didn’t seem to matter at all.

This book doesn’t mess about, and you are hurtled into an action packed opening, swiftly moving between two high pressured and dangerous situations. It’s a relief (and great plotting) to calm down as we are introduced to people on a smuggler’s ship and the plot develops and deepens; it’s not long before the tension and action creeps back. I don’t read that many action thrillers, but I was drawn easily into the story. The central characters of the book series were introduced well and with enough background information to easily pick up who these people are and what has lead them to this point. Marc Dane, our lead and Ex-M16 officer, and Lucy Keyes, Ex Delta Force and now a private contractor with Dane, are brought into a kidnapping case and are soon off on a dangerous mission.

‘Shadow’ is an action thriller novel that is driven, well-researched with engaging lead characters that work aplenty to hook the reader into a dramatic plot of kidnapping, terrorism and mass destruction as a new threat is uncovered. Thank goodness Marc Dane has at least 9 lives; he’s literally leaping constantly into dangerous situations! Keyes is not much better, so they’re quite a pair. It’s one of those novels where you need to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the ride. I had a great time reading this. Dane’s character make-up is along the lucky lines of characters like Bond, Bourne, Reacher and Ryan and it’s dramatic action fun. I think the difference here with some lighter reads, is the book is very well researched, I found it easy enough to pick up unfamiliar subject areas of the military, technology, digital and terrorism. The world building and descriptions of the landscapes were also really atmospheric and detailed. The scene on the Icelandic tundra made me turn my heating up!

If you are looking for an incredibly pacy, very well-written action thriller read, that is tense, full of drama with non-stop action moments – then join Marc Dane and Lucy Keyes in ‘Swallow’.

Author

James Swallow is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author and script writer with over 750,000 books currently in print around the world. He was nominated for a BAFTA for his writing on the acclaimed video game DEUS EX: HUMAN REVOLUTION. His new novel and Marc Dane thriller Rogue is coming in May 2020.

Follow James on Twitter @jmswallow

Previous books in the Marc Dane series: Nomad, Exile and Ghost.

November Mini Reading Wrap-Up

An enjoyable month of reading some of my long awaited TBR books and some new 2020 releases. Favourites from this month are ‘His Bloody Project’, ‘The Silent Companions’, ‘Black Summer’ and ‘The Night Circus’. As always, some brief summaries and ratings below.

In December, I’m anticipating a quiet reading month for a few reasons, including spending more time with family and friends as Christmas approaches, more work to get finished so I can relax over the Christmas break and the main reason… I have a TV. It’s been quite a few years since we’ve had a TV in our front room. I’m enjoying a honeymoon period… so my reading is sure to suffer. But I doubt for long.

I’m back soon with two blog tours next week, looking forward to chatting books again soon!

‘His Bloody Project’ by Graeme Macrae Burnet – five stars. Loved this story of a brutal triple murder in the Scottish Highlands, it’s written as a memoir and searches for the truth. Fascinating.

‘The Silent Companions’ by Laura Purcell. Loved this gothic thriller – all the creepy period vibes you want from this kind of book, locked rooms, old diaries and the most disturbing painted wooden figures lurking beyond every turn of the page. 5 stars.

‘Vengeful’ by VE Schwab is the sequel to ‘Vicious’. 4 YA stars, this continues the supernatural battle between past friends and now adversaries Victor and Eli – lots more supernatural occurrences and a formidable enemy emerges for them both. Enjoyable dramatic supernatural fun.

‘The Hunting Party’ by Lucy Foley ticks most of the thriller genre requirements. A great premise and collection of characters, for me there were some pacing issues but the final half picked up and I raced towards the ending and my answers. 4 stars.

‘Black Summer’ by M.W. Craven – this is the second in the Washington Poe and Tilly Bradshaw character series, the first being ‘The Puppet Show’ which I loved. I’m on the blog tour for this book in a week so more then, but for now, I loved it! 5 stars.

‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern – this book has been on my shelf for years, and the publication of Morgenstern’s second novel ‘The Starless Sea’ spurred me on to finally read it. I’ve seen some very mixed reviews for this book, I am definitely on the loved it team. Gorgeous, rich language, an enchanting circus and fascinating group of characters. 5 stars.

‘The Beautiful’ by Renee Adhieh is a YA fantasy novel about a young girl running away from a traumatic experience, who arrives in 1872 New Orleans in an attempt to escape. The city and its inhabitants have other ideas. I quite enjoyed this for the sheer storytelling fun. 3.5 YA stars, nearly 4.

‘The Queen of Nothing’ by Holly Black – this is the final book in the ‘Folk of the Air’ series. Overall, a fun ending to the story (or shall I say a very cheesy ending), it felt shorter and less developed that I think the final book should have been. I would have liked a little more time spent on some developments; there was also an abrupt and dismissive end to one of the important characters and another character seemed to add oddly – I think her overall story arc needed more care. However, for most readers I think the main reason to read and enjoy this series was the relationship between Cardan (I still can’t cope with the tail – lol) and Jude… so just about 4 YA stars for this.

‘The Keeper’ by Jessica Moor is a 2020 thriller release. It centres around a women’s refuge and, what seems to be, a suicide. There’s a police investigation, an insight into the refuge and a journey into the past; this is a disturbing story of male power and control with twists. 4 stars.

‘The Guest List’ by Lucy Foley is another 2020 release from the writer of the successful ‘ The Hunting Party. This book has a very similar style to her first book, and some coincidences too many for me, however there’re lots of positives about it as well. Full review will follow before publication. Just reaches 4 thriller stars.

‘The Forbidden Promise’ by Lorna Cook. This is published in March 2020 and is about two women decades apart, one in 1940 and the other in 2020. Both centre around their experiences at Invermoray House in Scotland. I really enjoyed this, a great way to spend Sunday afternoon. 4 stars.

‘The Widow of Pale Harbour’ by Hester Fox is more romance than thriller and it was okay. You get a isolated and mysterious widow; small town gossip and hatred; a new minister with secrets of his own and a murder. 3 stars.

‘The Memory Wood’ by Sam Lloyd. This is a Feb 2020 release and despite finding this a difficult read (child abuse and abduction themes) it was enjoyable. A book that plays with your perceptions; a clever, challenging thriller read. 4.5 stars.

‘I Will Miss You Tomorrow’ by Heine Bakkeid with thanks to Bloomsbury Raven.

A Thorkild Aske Mystery

I was really happy to be invited on this tour, and to chat about this new book. Thank you Ella! ‘I Will Miss You Tomorrow‘ is written by Heine Bakkeid and translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce.

Blurb

The first in a new Norwegian crime series featuring disgraced ex-Chief Inspector Thorkild Aske, a damaged man with a complicated past.

Fresh out of prison and a stint in a psychiatric hospital, disgraced ex-policeman Thorkild Aske only wants to lose himself in drugged dreams of his beloved Frei. Wild, unknowable Frei. The woman he loved. The woman he has lost forever.

Yet when Frei’s young cousin goes missing off the Norwegian coast and Thorkild is called in by the family to help find him, dead or alive, Thorkild cannot refuse. He owes them this.

Tormented by his past, Thorkild soon finds himself deep in treacherous waters. He’s lost his reputation – will he now lose his life?

My thoughts…

I Will Miss You Tomorrow‘ is a Norwegian crime thriller that is the first in a new mystery series named after the story’s lead, Thorkild Aske. Our protagonist is compelling, flawed, complex and troubled. The book is dark, full of apprehension, anxiety and despair. For me, it reads like both a psychological study and an action crime thriller, with a side order of the supernatural. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The setting is bleak; a frozen, unforgiving environment that cages and controls its inhabitants. The landscape is a fabulous character, and I loved the oppressive environment that added constant challenges and barriers. The author puts into this cold coastline an incredibly troubled man: Thorkild Aske, who is an ex-Chief Inspector, and he is currently ostracised, conflicted, addicted to his medication and living ‘like a spectre from the underworld’; he’s also a man being haunted. His immense battle for redemption was the main narrative hook for me.

Over the course of the novel, we find out more about Aske’s past and why he is in this position. The story soon reveals that he isn’t going to find peace anytime soon, as everything starts to spiral out of control for him after agreeing, albeit reluctantly, to help find a young man who has disappeared. The local police are dismissing the disappearance as a diving accident, but the young man’s desperate mother demands help, and the story begins in earnest. I’m not going to reveal any more plot, as I don’t want to spoil any of the author’s timely reveals… but expect a deviously constructed crime, betrayal, hatred, murder and corruption wrapped around a new exciting protagonist on a path of self-destruction but desperately crying out for atonement.

I certainly enjoyed this book, it’s dark and has many layers, moments of the supernatural, and a well plotted central crime. It’s dramatic, pushes the boundaries of the genre for drama’s sake and succeeds. It’s intense, creepy and full of atmospheric descriptions of a bleak, brutal and remote coastline that becomes a threatening character. There’s also the human story of a man pushed to extreme limits and his fight to find justice and battle his grief and personal despair. A fascinating layered new protagonist and I’d happily read the next book in this new exciting Nordic Noir.

Highly recommended. Bleak, dramatic and intense. Thorkild Aske and his troubled soul provide a brilliant new complex lead in a tightly plotted Nordic Noir read.

This book is translated from the Norwegian by Anne Bruce, the below author photograph is by Harriet M. Olsen.

Heine Bakkeid

Have a look at all the other bookish chat about ‘I Will Miss You Tomorrow’ on the below blog tour:

‘October Mini Reading Wrap-Up’

October was a good reading month, 16 books read and here’s my brief thoughts on them:

The Six‘ by Luca Veste – an enjoyable thriller that has a central puzzle to solve, and a murder mystery plot that breaks up a group of friends who are endeavouring to find out the dangerous truth. 4 stars.

Soon‘ by Lois Murphy – I enjoyed this creepy, ghostly tale built around an isolated town threatened by a deadly mist each night. 4 stars.

The Mercies‘ by Kiran Millwood Hargrave – I really enjoyed this Norwegian crucible story, set in a bleak Norwegian island in 1617. 4 stars.

The Royal Wedding‘ by Melanie Summers – easy, funny light-hearted romance read. 3.5 stars.

All the Rage‘ by Cara Hunter – Tips into 5 stars, and the best of the series so far; it’s the fourth book in the D.I. Adam Fawley series, and this time the team face quite a puzzle to solve!

Perfect Kill‘ by Helen Fields – I really enjoy this DI Callanach series set in Edinburgh. I think these books are best read in series order, as there’s a lot of relationship developments to follow. This plot centres around human trafficking, a particularly brutal sex trade and kidnapping. Violent and brutal throughout. 5 stars.

The Body in the Garden‘ by Katharine Schellman – a light-hearted period murder mystery with a female ‘Sherlock’, it was okay. 3 stars.

Vengeance of Hope‘ by PJ Berman – a privately published epic fantasy novel and the first of a series. Heavy and detailed – great for fantasy lovers. 4 stars.

Sherlock Holmes and The Christmas Demon‘ by James Lovegrove – a beautifully bound book and a great read. This would make a great Christmas gift for a bibliophile. 4.5 stars.

Serpent & Dove‘ by Shelby Mahurin – a YA fantasy read, well executed and generally a fun read. 4 YA stars. First in a series.

Zemindar‘ by Valerie Fitzgerald – an epic novel set in India before, during and after the Indian Mutiny of 1857. I really enjoyed this. 5 stars for the sheer scale of the story-telling.

The Crown Agent‘ by Stephen O’Rourke – a debut novel and the first in a series about a new unconventional spy; a pacey historical adventure. 4 stars.

Unnatural Causes‘ by Richard Shepherd – 5 stars. A fascinating and absorbing read about the life of a forensic pathologist – from the Hungerford Massacre, to Princess Diana to 9/11. Hard reading at times but compelling.

Safe House‘ by Jo Jakeman – a psychological thriller puzzle read, enjoyable. 4 stars.

Dark Matter‘ by Michelle Paver – what a great read; not much happens (in a good way) but it’s absorbing and creepy. Always a fan of Paver’s writing style. 4.5 stars.

I Will Miss You Tomorrow‘ by Heine Bakkeid – I’m on a blog for this later in the month. It’s the first in a new Norwegian crime series about a damaged and tormented police detective, as he begins to search for a missing man. I enjoyed it.

‘Safe House’ by Jo Jakeman.

I’m really pleased to be on the blog tour for ‘Safe House’ – this is a twisty new psychological thriller by Jo Jakeman, her second book following her debut novel ‘Sticks and Stones’. Huge thanks to Mia for asking me to join the tour.

Blurb

The morning after a terrible storm, a woman turns up in a remote Cornish village. She calls herself Charlie, but it’s a name she’s only had for a few days. She keeps herself to herself, reluctant to integrate with the locals. Because Charlie has a secret.

Charlie was in prison for providing a false alibi for a murderer. But Lee Fisher wasn’t a murderer to her; he was the man she loved. Convinced of his innocence, Charlie said she was with him the night a young woman was killed. This sacrifice cost her everything.

And now she has a chance to start again. But someone is watching her, waiting for her, wondering if she’s really paid the price for what she did.

My thoughts

‘Safe House’ is a thriller read that explores the idea of guilt and revenge; it centres on a young woman who, through flaws in her character and a controlling situation, has made a bad decision by providing a false alibi to a murderer, enabling him to kill again. The novel explores the reasons for this decision, the personal cost to her and if she can ever leave the past behind and start again.

I really enjoyed the narrative puzzle to the writing, from an unnerving prologue, to the past and voices of the present, which eventually pull together. I quickly became obsessed with turning the pages to see where the story was taking me. After a relocation to the tiny seaside community of Penderrion in a rather dilapidated house, Charlie tries to rebuild her life. But with all thriller plots, it soon becomes apparent that this is not going to be easy; threat, fear and echoes of the past soon invade her privacy and threaten her life.

I enjoyed the mix of characters in the village and trying to work out who Charlie could trust, there’s a few red herrings along the way, but I think you are drawn to a particular person quite early in the novel. I enjoyed the creepy isolated setting of the house but there’re also some lovely heart-warming relationships developing which add nice depth. This is a mix of pacey and sedate reading; the ending all happened rather quickly, for me, but all the loose ends are nicely tied up.

‘Safe House’ is a well-crafted thriller that twists and turns rapidly as we slowly uncover the danger and the reasons for it. Tension and turmoil in abundance with enough layers to keep you guessing! An enjoyable atmospheric thriller read.

Look out for more fab blogs about ‘Safe House’ on the below tour poster.

Click on the below link to purchase – there’s a fabulous 99p Kindle offer throughout November 2019: