It’s lovely to be a part of the #BlogTour for #TheCoralBride by Roxanne Bouchard @RBouchard72 and translated by David Warriner. With thanks to @OrendaBooks

THE CORAL BRIDE is the sequel to the critically acclaimed WE WERE THE SALT OF THE SEA featuring Detective Morales; in this book it seems that a seemingly straightforward search for a missing fisherwoman is anything but. I’m really happy to be a part of this Blog Tour, with thanks to Orenda Books and Anne for the tour invite. Please keep scrolling for some bookish chat about THE CORAL BRIDE.

An abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift…

The Blurb

When an abandoned lobster trawler is found adrift off the coast of Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula, DS Joaquin Moralès begins a straightforward search for the boat ’s missing captain, Angel Roberts – a woman in a male-dominated
world. But Moralès finds himself blocked at every turn – by his police colleagues, by fisheries bureaucrats, and by his grown-up son, who has turned up at his door with a host of his own personal problems.

When Angel’s body is finally discovered, it’s clear something very sinister is afoot, and Moralès and son are pulled into murky, dangerous waters, where old resentments run deep…

My thoughts…

‘The Coral Bride’ is the sequel to ‘We Were the Salt of the Sea’, (which I hadn’t realised) and like with many series books it certainly works well as a standalone. I’m definitely buying the first book to see what I missed and to find out more about the backstory of our central character: DS Joaquin Moralès. This book has all the elements of a good crime novel, and a carefully planned plot with a skillful drip feed of clues. However, it soon became clear that this was not only a crime read, but a glimpse into communities that live by and on the sea; it’s also a book about a woman who faces huge challenges working and living in a male dominated community of people who lives are wrapped up in the sea trade.

The constant presence of the sea as an integral part of, not only the investigation, but the lives of the key players and their communities and is beautifully written. It’s also a central and unforgettable character for the reader, and there’s some touching moments linking the ocean to our own lives and feelings. It also impacts the damaged and rebuilding relationship between a father and son. This is what I mean about the surprising layers in this book, and I absolutely loved the depth of the relationship we track with Joaquin and his son, Sebastien. The book takes its time to track their barriers, frustrations and longing, whilst the main mystery unfolds of a missing female boat owner and captain, Angel Roberts.

As the pace, mystery, and darkness develops the reader begins to understand the mind-set and communities that make their living on the sea. There’s a great cast of intriguing characters who are potential villains of the piece, and it’s great ‘watching’ DS Moralès work his way through the lies, grudges and suspicions as the darkness lurking under this community is slowly exposed.

A novel of the sea, of seafarers, grudges, feuds and manipulation told via a superb cast of characters, portrayed with grim detail, psychological damage, wit, humour, family loyalty and love: the shades in this novel are brilliant and it comes HIGHLY recommended from me!

The Author

Roxanne Bouchard

Over ten years ago, Roxanne Bouchard decided it was time she found her sea legs. So she learned to sail, first on the St Lawrence River, before taking to the open waters off the Gaspé Peninsula. The local fishermen soon invited her aboard to reel in their lobster nets, and Roxanne saw for herself that the sunrise over Bonaventure never lies. Her fifth novel (first translated into English) We Were the Salt of the Sea was published in 2018 to resounding critical acclaim, sure to be followed by its sequel, The Coral Bride. She lives in Quebec.

The Blog Tour

Please do check out more bookish chat about THE CORAL BRIDE from these super book bloggers…

Please buy from independents if you can XX

http://orendabooks.co.uk/


#Blogtour for THE ONCE AND FUTURE WITCHES by @AlixEHarrow with thanks to @orbitbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n

A perfect book for October; it’s half-term and I’ve been lucky to have read ‘The Once and Future Witches’ by a warm fire with my ‘familiar’ on my lap (AKA Mr. Willoughby, my cat, he’s nearly all black apart from his white ‘socks’ and face markings). This is certainly a perfect autumnal/Halloween read, do keep scrolling for more bookish chat…

There’s no such thing as witches, but there used to be…

The Blurb:

In 1893, there’s no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the three Eastwood sisters join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten ways that might turn the women’s movement into the witch’s movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote – and perhaps not even to live – the sisters must delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There’s no such thing as witches. But there will be.

My thoughts

Firstly, this book is creative; the lyrical and creative writing lifts from the pages and you can take time and savour the words. Harrow is also just as creative with her punctuation, and you get a real sense of crafting throughout. The structure and plot are meticulously planned and literary history, actual history and the female is reworked and re-represented in a mix of childhood rhymes, fairy tales and lore.

An evenly paced story, that allows the reader to indulge in good storytelling against a backdrop of more pertinent and relevant themes. Gender, race, and identity are woven into the threads of this story. On its surface is a story of three sisters, of how they became separated and how their witchcraft begins to define them. There is a great bond, although severely fractured, between these three women. I love their flawed but powerful characters, and how over time we begin to view each one differently. Harrow connects the female, and her repression over centuries into the current lives of the three Eastwood sisters. History is re-worked as a plot device to relay themes of repression, feminism, racism, women’s suffrage, patriarchy, and persecution.

The Eastwood Sisters are great characters; they are not perfect; they have let each other down and are rather downtrodden and lost at the start. They soon change their current situations and begin a battle to promote witchcraft in a town that would have them burned. Their power and determination become a strong reading hook, as they unite to battle inequality and subjection from a shadowy, evil nemesis.

A book of witchy spells, creative fairy tales and the power of words with powerful overriding themes. It is also a great adventure: a book of love and resilience in the face of powerful adversaries.

Full blog tour belong – do check out all the bookish chat about The Once and Future Witches:

Delighted to be a part of the #ThreeHoursNovel #paperback #blogtour with huge thanks to @EllieeHud @VikingBooksUK @PenguinUKBooks and of course, @Rosamundlupton

The blurb

In rural Somerset in the middle of a blizzard, the unthinkable happens: a school is under siege. Children and teachers barricade themselves into classrooms, the library, the theatre. The headmaster lies wounded in the library, unable to help his trapped students and staff. Outside, a police psychiatrist must identify the gunmen, while parents gather desperate for news. In three intense hours, all must find the courage to stand up to evil and save the people they love.

My thoughts…

Yet do I fear thy nature…

Phew! Thrilling, terrifying and the stuff of nightmares… but also deeply rooted in humanity, this is a narrative that hooks you from the opening page into a world of violence, fear and deep shock; when all too real terror strikes at the heart of a rural community.

I teach in a school, and the notion of ever being in such a situation is deeply traumatising; the construction of this novel pulls you in to a seemingly actual timeline and really does not let you go until the last page is turned.

The heart of this story is what humanity draws upon in the darkest of moments, of what lies with our hearts, our compassion, our resilience and is rooted in our communities, whether we know it or not.

I loved this book; it was a nail-biting experience from start to finish, but the beauty of the relationships and selfless behaviour under extreme pressures also kept emotional tears in my eyes, and turned a harrowing story of radicalisation, grief, loss and the willingness to sacrifice into something very special . A book that stays with you long after the closing page is turned.

Highly recommended.

The Author

Rosamund Lupton graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. After reviewing books for the Literary Reviews and being invited to join the Royal Court Theatre, she won a television play competition and subsequently worked as a screen writer. Her debut novel Sister, was a BBC Radio 4 Book at Bedtime, a Sunday Times and New York Times bestseller, has been translated into over thirty languages and has international sales of over 1.5 million copies. It was the fastest-selling debut of 2010 by a British author, and was winner of the Richard and Judy Best Debut Novel of 2011 Award and the Strand Magazine Critics First Novel Award. Film rights of Sister are currently under option.

Lupton’s critically acclaimed second novel Afterwards also went straight into the Sunday Times bestseller lists and was the No. 2 Sunday Times fiction bestseller of 2011. The Quality of Silence her third novel was a Sunday Times best seller and a Richard & Judy book club pick.

Delighted to be a part of the #blogtour for #TheNesting by @CJessCooke @HarperCollinsUK thanks to Anne, @RandomTTours

Wow, what an eye-catching cover! With thanks to the publisher and Anne for the tour invite, please keep scrolling for some bookish chat about THE NESTING…

It was like something out of a fairytale…

The grieving widower. The motherless daughters. A beautiful house in the woods. And a nanny come to save the day….

So what if Lexi isn’t telling the truth about who she is? Escaping to the remote snows of Norway was her lifeline. And all she wanted was to be a part of their lives.
But soon, isolated in that cold, creaking house in the middle of ancient, whispering woods, Lexi’s fairytale starts to turn into a nightmare.
With darkness creeping in from the outside, Lexi’s fears are deepening. Lexi knows she needs to protect the children in her care.


But protect them from what?

My thoughts…

Firstly, C.J. Cooke is a clever storyteller who’s not afraid to mix things up! What I loved most about THE NESTING is the many layers structured through the narrative and the landscape that’s as important as the characters and story. This book has been written with passion, and pulls together the author’s love of nature, Norway, folktales, and the gothic, in a story of love, loss, fragility and rebirth.

Seemingly a story of a young woman, displaced in the world, who finds a position as a nanny under dubious circumstances, but layered with so much more. I loved the character of Lexi/Sophie, her strength and resilience underscored a young, fragile, frightened girl trying to find her place, and her people. It’s her relationship with her new ‘charges’ that you quickly warm to as a reader, and find you are very much on her side. The children, Gaia and Coco are delightful characters, and the heart wrenching journey of deep loss through the little Gaia is beautifully written. But this book is also more than a story of the loss of a parent and its aftermath. It’s also a story of the otherworld and a deeply entrenched menace. The supernatural element works so well, with terrifying images of creatures from local folklore and the slow drip feed of horror elements is balanced well. The narrative switches from the ‘now’ to the ‘then’ as we slowly come to understand the events of the past and how they are beginning to shape the future. This is also a book with a sharp warning about meddling with nature, and you can really see the passion the author has for the beauty and importance of Norway’s natural world.

I found this book a compelling read, perfect for the autumn/winter season. Deeply emotional and intensely creepy. I am happy to recommend this book to readers seeking an emotive, nerve-wracking story pulled straight out of a fairy tale.

Drama, mystery, grief, and the supernatural combine in an intense story from C.J. Cooke that will demand you keep turning the pages.

The Blog Tour

Please check out more bookish chat from these super bloggers!

The Author

C.J. Cooke

C.J. Cooke is an acclaimed, award-winning poet, novelist and academic with numerous other publications under the name of Carolyn Jess-Cooke. Born in Belfast, she has a PhD in Literature from Queen’s University, Belfast, and is currently Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, where she researches creative writing interventions for mental health.
She also founded the Stay-At-Home Festival.

Please buy from independents if you can XX

My turn on the #blogtour for #Betrayal by @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks #Icelandnoir #thriller #newbook #bookchat

It’s my turn to chat about BETRAYAL by Lilja Sigurdardottir and published by Orenda Books, with thanks to Anne for the invite. This is an impressive Nordic Noir thriller set in the heart of Icelandic politics…

The Blurb

Burned out and traumatised by her horrifying experiences around the world, aid worker Úrsula has returned to Iceland. Unable to settle, she accepts a high-profile government role in which she hopes to make a difference again.
But on her first day in the post, Úrsula promises to help a mother seeking justice for her daughter, who had been raped by a policeman, and life in high office soon becomes much more harrowing than Úrsula could ever have imagined. A homeless man is stalking her – but is he hounding her, or warning her of some danger? And the death of her father in police custody so many years rears its head once again.
As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witchlike cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher…

My thoughts…

This is an impressive thriller set within the world of Icelandic politics, and its multi-layered narrative hooks you in via the split perspectives of our central characters, headed by Ursula, as she begins a new ministerial post. The story is built through rather short, sometimes choppy chapters; I really enjoyed the structure of the story-telling, and it dispersed what could have been a heavy read. This is no doubt a busy book, with layers from the past and present pulling together as you pick up the threads of all the characters lives and how they interconnect, as the theme of betrayal roots itself.

I always enjoy the sense of place many Nordic crime novels share, and this book is no exception. From the stilted and austere rooms of parliament, to homes and cityscapes netted with snow, this is a carefully crafted read.

I enjoyed the principal characters of Ursula, Stella and Gunnar. Gunnar in particular is endearing and well-drawn. It’s the complexities of Stella that are also engaging, and her position of a cleaner, is a clever play of this flawed and important character. I enjoyed her interaction and overall plotting with Ursula.

Ursula herself, is complex and has to deal with extremely challenging situations. Her past haunts her, and this builds fascinating layers, particularly as she deals with the issues of her new role. She remains constant as she battles the politics and misogynism around her.

A disconcerting and determined thriller set within the dangerous world of corruption and politics. Highly recommended.

The Blog Tour

The Author

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, including Snare, Trap and Cage, making up the Reykjavik Noir trilogy, which have hit bestseller lists worldwide. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

Orenda Books

Orenda Books is a small independent publishing company specialising in literary fiction with a heavy emphasis on crime/thrillers, and approximately half the list in translation. They’ve been twice shortlisted for the Nick Robinson Best Newcomer Award at the IPG awards, and publisher
and owner Karen Sullivan was a Bookseller Rising Star in 2016. In 2018, they were awarded a prestigious Creative Europe grant for their translated books programme.

Three authors, including Agnes Ravatn, Matt Wesolowski and Amanda Jennings have been WHSmith Fresh Talent picks, and Ravatn’s The Bird Tribunal was shortlisted for the Dublin Literary Award, won an English PEN Translation Award, and adapted for BBC Radio Four ’s Book at Bedtime. Six titles have been shortor long-listed for the CWA Daggers. Launched in 2014 with a mission to bring more international literature to the UK market, Orenda Books publishes a host of debuts, many of which have gone on to sell millions worldwide, and looks for fresh, exciting new voices that push the genre in new directions.

Bestselling authors include Ragnar Jonasson, Antti Tuomainen, Gunnar Staalesen, Michael J. Malone, Kjell Ola Dahl, Louise Beech, Johana Gustawsson, Lilja Sigurðardóttir and Sarah Stovell.


http://www.orendabooks.co.uk
@OrendaBooks

Delighted to be on the #BlogTour for #LittleBookofHope by @LouHallWriter @RandomTTours

It’s lovely to be a part of this blog tour chatting about the LITTLE BOOK OF HOPE by Louise Hall, with thanks to Anne for the invite. Please keep scrolling to find out more about my experience with this little pocket book with a big heart.

The Blurb

The past few months have made us realise that change is inevitable sometimes good but sometimes it can be cruel and makes your world go out of control. We might experience anxiety, low moods, night sweats, exhaustion or worse. We lose all hope and feel that there is nothing to look forward to.

Little Book of Hope helps you find your way back again through Reflections to guide you through the difficult times, together with: Family. Friends. Rest. Time – for yourself. Walk. Talk. Cry. Grieve. Meditate. Pray. Accept things. Patience.

Dedicated to all those around the world who have lost hard but loved much – that you may re-discover Hope and welcome the beautiful pleasure of joy back into your lives.

My thoughts…

It was a day when everything seemed to be coming at me from all directions. It was a day that tested my ability to cope, to keep going, to keep smiling. My divorce had just been finalised, my future needed building again, job insecurities burdened, and I began thinking of the need to find a new home for myself, my daughter, and my beloved pets. It was a day I was struggling with my health, inflammations, aches, pains, ulcers flaring from my Crohn’s. A day of struggle watching my parents dealing with my nan with dementia, and being unable to find an answer, of feeling helpless…and then the sudden loss of a friend of many years, taken so quickly. It all came at me at once whilst I was sitting in my car, a gasping sense of panic, extreme sadness and fear. After a few deep breaths, I got out and made my way home. On unlocking my door, I noticed a little parcel lay on my mat…

Being honest, I don’t believe in much, life has disillusioned me in so many ways, so whether just by coincidence, or cosmic intervention, or some would say divine intervention, I unwrapped and read a few pages of the LITTLE BOOK OF HOPE.

Everyone needs hope, in so many stages of our lives, and little books like these, I guess can be a comfort. I am a little cynical, but I think there’s always a time and place where something else is needed, and comfort can be sought. Louise Hall’s little pocket size book arrived at a time when I needed to sit down and think, and I suppose hope that things will get better. I know, they will. I know that with time, with support from family and friends, life will build again, and we can embrace a new start. This book is designed to dip in and out of, there are more religious sections, but not overwhelmingly so, therefore it worked for me. I didn’t read a few of the lines, I actually read it from start to finish. Not just because of this blog tour, but because I needed a lot of hope at that time. It made me cry, and I think that’s what I needed, to wash away the sadness, and to pick myself up again.

So, that’s my little story. As many of you know, books are for me a form of escapism. They allow me to escape, to live other lives, to visit other places, other worlds, to see life from so many different perspectives. This little book is all about YOU, and giving you that little pick up, when you need it. You can apply its words to so many situations, and it can give you the hope to hold on in there, or have patience, or to sit and reflect.

A pocketsize little book, that despite its small size holds inside the enormous capacity for hope, love, support, and care that you just might need, and a large dose of faith. For those times when life is tough, and perhaps a perfect little gift for others who may need it one day.

With thanks to Louise and Anne for the book and tour invite – and the rather cathartic blog post. Happy, more positive days and a better future are ahead. Little books like this can make a difference.

A thoughtful little book that offers you a time to pause, to take what’s needed and the hope to push forward.

The Blog Tour

The Author

Louise Hall is from Malahide, Co. Dublin. She has previously published two works of non-fiction, Medjugorje: What it Means to Me and Medjugorje and Me: A Collection of Stories from Across the World. Her fiction has been published in The Irish Times and been shortlisted for numerous competitions, such as the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Short Story Award, the Colm Tóibín International Short Story Competition and the Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards. Pilgrim is her debut novel.

Website: www.louisehall.ie

Twitter: @LouHallWriter

Instagram: @louisehallwriter

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Book-Hope-Louise-Hall/dp/1780364032/

Delighted to be on the #BlogTour today for #TheSevenDoors by Agnes Ravatn @OrendaBooks #NordicNoir #readers #bookreview #newbook

‘Unfolds in an austere style that perfectly captures the bleakly beautiful landscape of Norway’s far
north’
Irish Times

University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her adult daughter Ingeborg are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.
When Ingeborg decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman who rents it disappears, leaving behind her son, the day after Nina and Ingeborg pay her a visit.
With few clues, the police enquiry soon grinds to a halt, but Nina has an inexplicable sense of guilt. Unable to rest, she begins her own investigation, but as she pulls on the threads of the case, it seems her discoveries may have very grave consequences for her and her family.

My thoughts…

This was one of those books that once you start reading, you keep going until the end, despite the late hour. It’s not action packed or fast paced, it’s a very steady read, but completely absorbing. I have to admit there were some inferences that starting raising my curiosity fairly early on, and the ending proved that my ‘spidery’ senses were correct, so the outcome was not a surprise for me, but I loved watching the interactions of all the characters throughout: the network of lies, suspicions, greed, power-play, and manipulation provides great reading.

This is a layered psychological thriller with plenty of underlying drama. At the core is Nina, who is being displaced from her roots, and having to relocate as her house is going to be demolished. I really enjoyed her character, in particular her tenacity and drive to not give in. With themes of connection, roots and uprooting wrapped around the central mystery, there’s certainly a decent amount of background and depth to the narrative.

I loved the references to art, literature, and fairy-tales. The Bluebeard underscore was woven darkly and beautifully; the threaded allusion addition was very welcome, and I really enjoyed the insights it offers for readers, with the seven doors parallel.

Overall, a dark, layered allusion themed Nordic Noir that hooks you in until the closing lines.

The Author – Agnes Ravatn

Agnes Ravatn

Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her
literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she
has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections:
Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular Reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and
Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works,
Ravatn revealed a unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility.
Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), was an international
bestseller translated into fifteen languages, winning an English PEN Award,
shortlisting for the Dublin Literary Award, a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick and a BBC Book at Bedtime. It was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015. Agnes lives with her family in the Norwegian countryside.

Thanks to Anne for the tour invite and to Orenda Books for the review copy – wishing this book every success it deserves.

Please buy from independents if you can XX

An intriguing, magical fantasy debut #BlogTour #TheBoneShardDaughter by @AndreaGStewart with thanks to @orbitbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #readers #newbook #bookchat

It’s lovely to be chatting about THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER today for the Blog Tour – many thanks to Tracy for the invite, and Orbit for the review copy. I enjoy reading fantasy, so this appealed to me straight away, and I wasn’t disappointed…

The Blurb…

The Sukai Dynasty has ruled the Phoenix Empire for over a century, their mastery of bone shard magic powering the monstrous constructs that maintain law and order. But now the emperor’s rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the Emperor’s daughter, but a mysterious illness has stolen her childhood memories and her status as heir to the empire. Trapped in a palace of locked doors and old secrets, Lin vows to reclaim her birthright by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

But the mysteries behind such power are dark and deep, and wielding her family’s magic carries a great cost. When the revolution reaches the gates of the palace itself, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her throne – and save her people.

My thoughts…

THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER is certainly an eye-catching book, and the title an intriguing one. I enjoy reading fantasy novels, so was delighted to read this one as part of its Blog Tour.

Firstly, I’m not usually a fan of too many narrative perspectives, in this book we see the story through several eyes, written either in the first or third person. Lin and Jovis are connected via their first-person narratives, and I personally enjoyed the immediacy and drive of these sections. I really liked both Lin and Jovis. Jovis in particular is very endearing as he copes with what life throws at him, but also the thought and dedication to maintain the search for his missing wife is very emotive; I loved the snatches of memory built into the story as we piece together the past. Ah, and then there’s the adorable evolving relationship with Mephi – a magical horned cat/otter type creature. Loved every moment with Mephi! I also enjoyed the third person narrative pulling into the story the lives of Ranami and Phalue that explores the relationship between two social classes and pulls in the revolution theme.

Overall, meticulous planning and structural format creates a multi-layered perspective fantasy set in a creative island-based world ruled by a failing Emperor. There’re all the elements fantasy readers expect, and importantly the world is carefully crafted in detail, so the transference from reality is seamless. This is a book of layers with a thought out embedded magical system – I found Pullman’s Dark Material vibes made creepy with the creature constructs lurking and spying. The idea is menacing, and Frankenstein vibes underscore the reanimated creatures. It’s really creative and explores more modern themes of experimentation and exploitation.

With themes of identity, control, loss, the past, memory, and connection this is an impressive debut; I’m be looking forward to the second book in the Drowning Empire Trilogy.

The Blog Tour

Please buy from independents if you can XX

#BlogTour for #TheHeights by @Parker_Bilal @blackthornbks @RandomTTours

THE HEIGHTS is the second book in the Crane and Drake series from Parker Bilal. The first book in the series ‘The Divinities’ received great feedback, such as ‘terrific crime fiction rooted in geopolitics’ from the Sunday Times, and ‘told with a delicate elegance . . . it promises to be a fine series’ from the Daily Mail. For book chat about the newly published, THE HEIGHTS, please do keep scrolling. With thanks to the publisher for the review copy, and Anne for the tour invite.

The Blurb:

What starts with the gruesome discovery of a severed head on the Tube soon becomes personal for former DI Cal Drake. After one betrayal too many, Drake has abandoned the police force to become a private detective. He’s teamed up with enigmatic forensic pathologist Dr Rayhana Crane and it’s not long before the case leads them to the darkest corners of the nation’s capital and in dangerously close contact with an international crime circuit, a brutal local rivalry and a very personal quest for retribution. With the murder victim tied to Drake’s past, his new future is about to come under threat.

My thoughts…

This book begins after Cal Drake, a former Met DI, has left the police force, and begun work as a private detective, partnering with Dr. Rayhana Crane, a forensic psychologist. The story begins as this partnership starts to work together, and coinciding with the disturbing discovery of a severed head of a woman on a tube train. The plot develops and draws in Drake’s past during an undercover drugs operation, and a complex web of gangs, drugs, suspicion and plotting develops.

I really enjoyed the plot layers, and you have to keep focused as past and present collide in this well written crime thriller. Added into the mix is a seemingly Middle East connected abduction, that spirals into another connection, bringing both investigations on a similar tangent. The relationship between Drake and Crane adds a further dimension, and although suffers from mistrust, they make an interesting team. Both have layers, and I may have some missing gaps from not reading ‘The Divinities’, the first book in the series, but it didn’t seem to matter. There’s a lot of depth and complex detail in the book, which can slow the pace, but when it picks up it hurtles along!

It’s dark, intense, disturbing and complex. A decent crime thriller read.

The Author

Parker Bilal

Parker Bilal is the pseudonym of Jamal Mahjoub, the critically acclaimed literary novelist. He is the author of the Makana Investigations series, the third of which, The Ghost Runner, was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award. The Divinities, the first in his Crane and Drake London crime series, was published in 2019. Born in London, he has lived in a number of places, including the UK, Denmark, Spain and, currently, the Netherlands.


@Parker_Bilal | jamalmahjoub.com

Please buy from independents if you can XX

Delighted to be on the #BlogTour today for #TheYearOfTheWitching by @alexhwrites @penguinrandom @RandomTTours

I love a good yarn about witchcraft, so jumped at the chance to be a part of the blog tour for THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING, huge thanks to Anne for the invite. It’s a debut novel from Alexis Henderson whose lifelong love of ghost stories and all things witchcraft has resulted in a surprisingly detailed story, with complex themes and a defiant, political feminist drive.

Please keep scrolling for bookish chat about THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING

Four witches. Four warnings. Four plagues, and the first had come upon them…

The blurb:

Born on the fringes of Bethel, Immanuelle does her best to obey the Church and follow Holy Protocol. For it was in Bethel that the first Prophet pursued and killed four powerful witches, and so cleansed the land.
And then a chance encounter lures her into the Darkwood that surrounds Bethel.
It is a forbidden place, haunted by the spirits of the witches who bestow an extraordinary gift on Immanuelle. The diary of her dead mother . . .
Fascinated by and fearful of the secrets the diary reveals, Immanuelle begins to understand why her mother once consorted with witches. And as the truth about the Prophets, the Church and their history is revealed, so Immanuelle understands what must be done. For the real threat to Bethel is its own darkness.
Bethel must change. And that change will begin with her . . .

My thoughts…

Firstly, this is not simply a story of witchcraft, it’s a layered and detailed novel with Atwood vibes connecting the wider themes into the dominant patriarchal village of Bethal. I must admit I wasn’t expecting a YA book vibe, so once that was established, I was able to adjust to the overall plot, character types and their relationships.

Bethal is controlled strongly by religion, and the patriarchy that represents it. The rules over the villagers are stark, particularly so for the women. The darkness and the evil are not, as expected, ultimately caused by the witches, but it’s deeply rooted in the societal structures in place throughout Bethal. At the centre of this is the Prophet, who leads the villagers and is the top of the village’s hierarchy – he is also able to claim several wives, and both dominate and control them to his advantage. The reader cannot help but immediately question the morality and systemic patriarchy controlling this sheltered and alienated village.

So, where’s the witchcraft? It lies in the deep forest surrounding the town, and in its history. Our eyes are opened to this, through our central protagonist, Immanuelle, whose life changes after finding her dead mother’s diary; suddenly her perspective of the world shifts, and she begins to question how evil, and how much a threat the spirits of the witches in the wood are.

This is also a book about a quest, and the coming of age story of Immanuelle. She is drawn into the battle to stop four plagues descending on the village, a plague she unwittingly began. Her quest is to defeat the four plagues of Blood, Blight, Darkness and Slaughter, and along the way discover who is she, and where she truly belongs. Her bravery, passion, and morality to do what is right makes her a powerful female character; this is most definitely, and rightly, her story.

Certainly, a strong debut novel, with surprising thematic depth. A book that explores religion, patriarchy, feminism, fundamentalism, and politics as a young girl fights for the truth of her past and attempts to build a better future. With an abundance of darkness, witchery, and horror; this is a steadily paced and detailed book of a town plagued by witchcraft with a powerful thematic undercurrent.

The Author

Alexis Henderson is a speculative fiction writer with a penchant for dark fantasy, witchcraft, and cosmic horror. She grew up in one of America’s most haunted cities, Savannah, Georgia, which instilled in her a life-long love of ghost stories. When she doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, you can find her painting or watching horror movies with her feline familiar. Currently, Alexis resides in the sun-soaked marshland of Charleston, South Carolina.

Alexis Henderson

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