#BlogBlast #TheDisappearanceofStephanieMailer @maclehosepress @QuercusBooks with thanks to @Millsreid11 for the invite.

I’m delighted to be joining in with today’s blog blast for The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer – so keep scrolling for some book chat 🙂

Remember The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair?
• A huge bestseller in Europe on publication
• 250,000 copies were sold in the UK alone
• Sky Witness series starring Patrick Dempsey aired in Autumn 2018

A gripping new thriller with a killer twist from the author of The Truth of the Harry
Quebert Affair

THE BLURB
In the summer of 1994, the quiet seaside town of Orphea reels from the discovery of two brutal murders. Confounding their superiors, two young police officers, Jesse Rosenberg and Derek Scott crack the case and arrest the murderer, earning themselves handsome promotions and the lasting respect of their colleagues.
But twenty years later, just as he is on the point of taking early retirement, Rosenberg is approached by Stephanie Mailer, a journalist who believes he made a mistake back in 1994 and that the real murderer is still out there, perhaps ready to strike again. Before she can give any more details however, Stephanie Mailer mysteriously disappears without trace, and Rosenberg and Scott are forced to confront the awful possibility that her suspicions might have been proved horribly true.
What happened to Stephanie Mailer?
What did she know?
And what really happened in Orphea all those years ago?

MY THOUGHTS

I really enjoy the detailed and incredibly thorough narratives of Joel Dicker, and ‘The Disappearance of Stephanie Mailer’ is no exception to that depth in the storytelling – I am personally happy to read such detail, although I feel the pace dropped a little and some more stringent edits would have improved the reading experience; I think it’s probably lost some flow in the translation. However don’t let this put you off at all!

There’s always a slow unfurling of information and overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s a crime mystery that explores awful events in 1994, when a family is tragically killed. I was fascinated how events move to 2014 and Stephanie Mailer casts doubt upon the killers’ guilt for this crime. After she disappears it’s a puzzle uncovering the truth, so prepare for multiple perspectives and dual timelines. You’ll really need to sustain your concentration with this one and there are many red herrings along the way to shift through.


I’d definitely recommend this book to people who are seeking a slow-paced complex read. The intricate plot and abundance of details give the reader a great deal to shift through and the layers of investigation add nicely to the reveals. This is certainly a multi-faceted read with various sub-plots keeping the pace and interest moving. The reader is also given a satisfactory, complete conclusion. Do check it out.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR & TRANSLATOR

JOËL DICKER was born in Geneva in 1985, where he studied Law. The Truth about the Harry Quebert Affair was nominated for the Prix Goncourt and won the Grand Prix du Roman de l’Académie Française and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens. It has sold more than 3.6 million copies in 42 countries.
HOWARD CURTIS is an award-winning translator of Italian and French, including books by Fabio Geda, Gianrico Carofiglio, Jean-Claude Izzo and Giorgio Scerbanenco.

#BlogTour for #TheMaskof Mirrors by @ma_carrick with thanks to @orbitbooks and @Tr4cyF3nt0n

Nightmares are creeping through the city of dreams . . .

Praise for The Mask of Mirrors

‘Utterly captivating. Carrick spins an exciting web of mystery, magic, and political treachery in a richly drawn and innovative world.‘ S. A. Chakraborty, author of The City of Brass

‘Wonderfully immersive–I was unable to put it down.’ Andrea Stewart, author of The Bone Shard Daughter

‘I was utterly entranced by this glittering world filled with masked vigilantes, cunning conwomen, and dark magic. A sheer delight!’ Katy Rose Pool, author of There Will Come A Darkness

The Blurb

Nightmares are creeping through the city of dreams . . .

Renata Virdaux is a con artist who has come to the sparkling city of Nadezra — the city of dreams — with one goal: to trick her way into a noble house and secure her fortune and her sister’s future.

But as she’s drawn into the aristocratic world of House Traementis, she realises her masquerade is just one of many surrounding her. And as corrupted magic begins to weave its way through Nadezra, the poisonous feuds of its aristocrats and the shadowy dangers of its impoverished underbelly become tangled — with Ren at their heart.

My thoughts

The Mask of Mirrors is an epic, and I truly mean EPIC opening to the series. There’s over 700 pages of tightly packed writing to devour, so this is not for the faint-hearted; it’s a layered fantasy novel with a multitude of characters to enjoy and puzzle out, and at the heart of it all is Renata Virdaux, who is immersed in pulling off a detailed con to secure a fortune for herself and those she holds dear. This is a long book, as there’s an epic journey for our principal character to go on and a world of new people to meet and manipulate. But it soon becomes clear that there are many players with their own endgames to play.

Now, a word of advice, there’s a dramatis personae and a glossary at the back of the book – this is really useful, but I didn’t find it until halfway through the book. I really enjoyed the lead character of Renata, AKA Ren, as our central protagonist and through her perspective we see a fully rounded fantasy city of nightmares and nobility, politics and power, with a dash of Zorro into the mix. Despite Ren’s dualistic and duplicitous nature, she comes over strongly to the reader as a fighter; her resilience to better her situation and those she cares about is commendable. I enjoyed her wit and dedication to win, but the strength of heart as well. There are several other characters who are great to get to know and add layers to the multi-faceted world Carrick creates. From cousins and culprits to captains to cons, the intrigue, deceptions and quests build in both pace and plotting through this detailed novel.

The world of this novel has a vibrancy that pulsates from the pages; its scope is vast, and, with relief, the authors do not overload the reader, they craft a gradual understanding of the politics, communities, economies and systems, magical and otherwise to be revealed and understood. It’s the events and actions of the characters that show the reader how this world operates.

If you’re looking for a new fantasy series with depth then do consider ‘The Mask of Mirrors’.

The Authors

M. A. Carrick is the pseudonym for Marie Brennan (author of The Memoirs of Lady Trent) and Alyc Helms (author of The Adventures of Mr. Mystic), yes, we pulled a fantasy version of James S. A. Corey because, why not?! With masked vigilantes, noble intrigue, and charming criminals, this is a dark, romantic, action-packed fantasy, perfect for readers of V. E. Schwab (A Darker Shade of Magic), Scott Lynch (The Lies of Locke Lamora) and even The Princess Bride.


#BlogTour for #ChildrenoftheValley #CastleFreeman @Duckbooks @RandomTTours

I’m really pleased to be sharing an extract from Children of the Valley a ‘fast-paced, sharply observed novel of rural suspense’, by award-wining writer Castle Freeman.

The Blurb

Sheriff Lucian Wing goes to the aid of a pair of young runaways, Duncan and Pamela, who have fled to his backwoods county jurisdiction in Vermont. The girl’s powerful stepfather New York has set a smoothly menacing lawyer and well-armed thugs on their trail.


At the same time Wing must deal with his wayward wife’s chronic infidelity; the snobbery of Pamela’s cosmopolitan mother; the dubious assistance of a demented World War Two enthusiast – and the climactic, chaotic onset of a prodigious specimen of the local wildlife.


Amidst it all, can Wing bring Duncan and Pamela to safety?

The Extract

1


The De-Escalation of Rhumba


Nine – no, ten – vehicles were parked in front of Krugers’, on the grass, in the road, around back in the lane: two deputies, four Staties, including a command car, two ambulances, the Cardiff Fire Department’s second-best pumper, and a line truck from the telephone company. The first to arrive had been here for half an hour. Nothing had happened, nothing had changed. So now they were waiting. They were waiting for something to move. They were waiting for me.
I left my truck in the road and walked to them, keeping the cruisers between the house and me. A small house, needed a coat of paint. Needed a coat of paint and a rich owner; wasn’t going to get either one. We called the place Krugers’. It had been Krugers’ at one time. I didn’t know whose it was now; it was rented out. Storey-and-a-half, so hard to see what’s going on upstairs. Not good. Tiny yards in front and behind, then woods all around. So no near neighbours. Good.
Dwight Farrabaugh, the state police captain in charge of this action, and the Cardiff fire chief were standing behind the pumper in the road. Normally, an officer of the grade of captain wouldn’t turn out for what looked like another no-frills domestic dispute, but in this case firearms were reported to be involved, and so were minor children.
Guns and kids get everybody wound up – everybody, including the press. Therefore, Dwight had favoured us with his presence this morning.
Wingate was there, too. Evidently he had busted out of the old-folks’ home and hitched a ride to the action with the chief. I joined them.
‘Well, if it ain’t The Chill,’ said Farrabaugh. ‘Where the hell have you been?’
‘Goofing off,’ I said. ‘Like you. Hello, Chief. Where’s the new rig?’ Cardiff Fire had recently purchased a new pumper. Usually, the volunteers were eager to take it to calls to show it off to the townspeople, who had dug deep to pay for it; but today it had been left at the station.
‘Don’t want no holes in my brand new truck,’ said the fire chief. ‘Specially not on account of a piece of shit like Rhumba.’
‘Good idea,’ I said. ‘Thought you’d retired,’ I said to Wingate. Wingate shrugged. ‘Like you see,’ he said.
I looked around. I could see the three Staties just inside the woods. They were watching the house with binoculars. The deputies would be doing the same on the other side. ‘So?’ I asked. ‘What have we got? Rhumba again, I guess?’
‘The very same,’ said Dwight.
‘Rhumba and who else?’ I asked.
‘The missus. Three of her kids, maybe more. Three we know of: two little, one medium.’
‘They’re upstairs?’
Dwight nodded.
‘We’ve got eyes?’
‘Sure. Missus has a shiner on her as big as a golf ball. She’s scroonched into a corner. Kids are under the bed.’
‘Smart kids,’ I said. ‘And Rhumba?’
‘Downstairs. He’s shoved a big old couch against the front door. He’s behind it or near it. He moves around.’
‘Back door?’ I asked.
‘Kitchen. We can be through it and in there in ten seconds. ’Course, that’s going in with weight.’
‘Right,’ I said. ‘Let’s just take it slow for now. Okay?’
‘Here you go again,’ said Dwight.
‘Just for now,’ I said.
‘Now means not long, right?’
‘Of course,’ I said. ‘Equipment?’
‘Shotgun,’ said Dwight.
‘He says,’ said Wingate.
‘You’ve seen it?’ I asked.
‘Negative,’ said Dwight. ‘He had one last time. If you recall.’
‘I recall,’ I said. ‘We’ve got sound?’
‘Over there,’ said Dwight, and he pointed to the telephone company’s truck.
‘Well, then,’ I said.


I sat in the cab of the line truck waiting for Rhumba’s connection to patch through and drinking lukewarm coffee from a paper cup. Somehow Wingate had found a coffee pot. Forty years in law enforcement, you may not always get your man, but you always get your coffee. Wingate sat in the cab beside me, listening for the call.
‘Hello?’ Rhumba’s voice came in.
‘Earl?’ I said. ‘Earl, this is Lucian Wing. How are you doing in there?’
‘Fuck you,’ said Rhumba. He didn’t like you to use his real name.
‘Okay, Rhumba,’ I said. ‘Who have you got with you?’
‘All of them,’ said Rhumba. ‘The slut, the brats, the whole nine yards.’
‘Three kids, then?’ I looked at Wingate. He drank his coffee.
‘You’re asking me?’ said Rhumba. ‘You got your assholes falling out of the trees, here, spying around. You tell me who I’ve got.’
‘We see three kids.’
‘Ha-ha, then,’ said Rhumba. ‘There’s four. Four and the whore. Ha-ha.’
‘Good one,’ I said. ‘What are you going to do?’
‘What do you think?’ Rhumba seemed to clear his throat.
‘Rhumba?’ I pushed him.
Rhumba made a little sound, might have been a cough, might have been a sob. ‘I’m going to kill them all,’ he said.
‘Okay,’ I said. ‘Okay, Rhumba. Ten-four. You’re coming through loud and clear. But nobody’s in a hurry, here, right? Let’s slow it down. Let’s take a breath.’
‘You take a breath,’ said Rhumba. ‘I’ve told you: this time, I’m doing it.’
‘I know you don’t want the kids hurt,’ I said.
‘You’ve got no fucking idea what I do or don’t want,’ said Rhumba. ‘You say you do, but you don’t. You don’t know.’
‘You’re right,’ I said. ‘I don’t know.’
‘I’ve had enough with this thing,’ Rhumba went on. ‘I have fucking had enough.’
‘I know you have, Rhumba,’ I said. ‘We all know you have. What you’ve put up with? Anybody would have snapped.’
‘I’m snapping now,’ said Rhumba. ‘I am fucking snapping.’
‘I know you are, Rhumba. We all know you are… Uhh … Hang on a second.’
I turned to Wingate. I covered the phone with my hand. ‘He ain’t drunk,’ I said. ‘Don’t sound it, anyhow.’
‘No,’ said Wingate.
‘I wish I knew if he’s really got something in there, like the other time,’ I said.
‘I wish you knew, too, sheriff,’ said Wingate. ‘Young Dwight will be getting restless. Pretty soon, time to guess and go.’
‘Guess and go,’ I said.
‘My guess?’ said Wingate. ‘He’s got nothing.’
‘How do you know?’
‘I don’t know. I knew, it wouldn’t be a guess.’
‘Well,’ I said, ‘I’ve got to go someplace with him.’
‘Try a new deck,’ said Wingate.
‘I could do that,’ I said. ‘But would it work?’
‘One way to find out.’
‘Earl?’ I said into the phone. ‘You there, Earl?’
‘Fuck you,’ said Rhumba.
‘We’ve been talking, out here, trying to recall. That place?’
‘Place? What place?’
‘Your place, there. Where you’re at. You rent, right?’
‘Say what?’
‘Your place. Your house. Where you live. You rent it, right? From – is it still Krugers?’
‘What are you talking about?’ Rhumba asked. ‘Did you hear me? I said – I said I’m going to kill them all. I’ve had enough, and I’m going to do it.’
‘I got that, Earl,’ I said. ‘But I’m asking you about your house. Are you renters? Who’s your landlord? Is it still Krugers?’
‘No,’ said Rhumba. ‘The landlord’s Brown.’
‘Brown?’ I asked him. ‘Is that the same Brown had the camp up on Diamond? His brother was killed in Vietnam? Wendell Brown?’
‘Who? What?’
‘Your landlord, Earl,’ I said. ‘Help me out, here, can’t you? Wasn’t he the one whose brother was killed? They had that camp. Brad McKinnon got a ten-pointer up there years ago?’
‘That’s right,’ said Rhumba. ‘My dad was there. Said it was the god damnedest buck he ever saw. But his name’s not Wendell. It’s Wayne.’
‘Who is?’ I asked him.
‘The guy that had the camp, where McKinnon—’
‘What camp?’
‘The camp we’ve been talking about,’ Rhumba said. ‘The camp on Diamond.’
‘Oh,’ I said. ‘That camp.’
‘What other camp is there?’
‘Quite a few.’
‘Fuck you, Lucian,’ said Rhumba.
‘I was just asking,’ I said. ‘Just trying to get us clear. You know me: I like things clear.’
‘Lucian?’ Rhumba asked.
‘Yes, Earl.’
‘This is a pretty fucked-up situation, here, you know it?’
‘I know.’
‘Sometimes,’ Rhumba said. ‘Things get pretty fucked up.’
‘They do,’ I said. ‘Listen: you ready to step out here? See what we can do? Talk a little, here? You don’t feel right, you can always go back inside. No funny stuff.’
‘Just fucked up,’ said Rhumba. ‘Hang on a minute, Lucian.’ The phone clicked off. We could hear bumping and scraping from inside the house as Rhumba moved his barricade couch out of the way of the front door. Wingate dumped the remains of his coffee out the window of the telephone company’s truck. ‘Done deal,’ he said. ‘I saw it, too, you know. That buck. That was a hell of an animal. Where are you headed now?’
‘Back to the office, I guess,’ I said.
‘Drop me at the place?’ Wingate asked me.


‘The Chill Rides Again,’ said Dwight Farrabaugh. ‘Another satisfied customer.’
Rhumba sat in the back of one of the Staties’ cruisers being interviewed. Two deputies had gone over the house: no shotgun. No other firearms. Good. A couple from the state’s Department of Children and Families were talking to Mrs. Rhumba and the kids. Four kids, as Rhumba had said. All of them apparently okay. Good, again.
Dwight was wrapping up. He slapped me on the back. ‘Thanks, Lucian,’ he said. ‘I don’t know how you do it.’
‘Natural gift for improvisation,’ I said.
‘Natural gift for bullshit, more like,’ said Dwight. He turned to his command car, ready to be on his way.
Well, he’s more right than wrong, Dwight, ain’t he? But the bullshit ain’t the main thing. The bullshit is a means to an end. The end is boredom, and the end is impatience. The end is fatigue. People backed right up to the wall, like Rhumba, expend a lot of energy. They tire quickly. They want above all for something to happen, anything. They’ve climbed up to the top of the flagpole, and now they don’t know what’s next. They don’t know where to go. All they know is, they want action.
They want decision. They want an event. My job is to see they don’t get one. Instead, they get the bullshit. They get irrelevance. They get talk. The talk wanders around from no-place to no-place and back again. Pretty soon, your subject is so bored, so dazed by the storm of bullshit, that, to stop it, he climbs down from the flagpole. He goes quietly. It’s a method. It ain’t exciting, but it often works, and, when it works, everybody walks away.
De-escalation is what scholars of law enforcement call the method. Dwight Farrabaugh and others call it chilling. Wingate don’t call it anything, but it was Wingate who taught the method to me. He’s still teaching it, as you can see, and, although I’m glad to have his advice, I’ll admit sometimes I wish he’d leave off. Wingate was sheriff of our county forty years. He hired me for a deputy, and I took over for him when he retired ten–twelve years ago. Pretty soon, I learned Wingate had his own ideas on retirement. Retirement was a state of mind, not a fact, and it was a state of mind Wingate was never in. Wingate has retired more times than Frank Sinatra. The more he retires, the more he comes back. And who’s going to tell him he can’t? If Frank Sinatra shows up in Las Vegas and says he’d like to sing a couple of the old favourites, is Las Vegas going to tell him to go away? Frank built Las Vegas. Frank owned Las Vegas. He’ll sing if he damned wants to. Same with Wingate in our valley. Now, inability to retire may be the only way Wingate’s like Frank Sinatra, I guess. I can’t think of any others. But, then, I don’t know Frank. Maybe there’s more.
I left Wingate at the entrance to Steep Mountain House. He got down out of the truck and stood for a minute with his hand on the door.
‘How’s Clementine?’ Wingate asked me.
‘Tip-top,’ I said. ‘Never better.’
‘Uh-huh,’ said Wingate. ‘Well, keep your spoon clean, young fellow. Good job on Rhumba. We’ll see you.’ He turned and walked toward the building. He went slowly, and I saw he was using his cane today. Wingate’s not a kid.

The Author

Castle Freeman is the author of seven novels, including the critically acclaimed Go With Me, which has been made into a film starring Anthony Hopkins, as well as two short-story collections. He has lived in rural Vermont since 1975.

#BlogTour for #TheChalet by @catherinecooper @fictionpubteam @HarperCollinsUK @RandomTTours

Huge thanks to Anne for the tour invite and to the publisher for the review copy. Do keep scrolling for some bookish chat about THE CHALET…

Four guests. One luxury getaway. And one perfect MURDER…

The Blurb

French Alps, 1998
Two young men ski into a blizzard… but only one returns.

20 years later
Four people connected to the missing man find themselves in that same resort. Each has a secret. Two may have blood on their hands. One is a killer-in-waiting.

Someone knows what really happened that day.

And somebody will pay.

My thoughts…

Don’t you just love a twisty, pacey, perfectly plotted chiller thriller? The Chalet certainly ramps up the tension as the reader is pulled into a 20-year old mystery; soon dark secrets begin to become exposed and, like snow thawing: it cannot stay hidden forever.

This story of revenge told via multiple perspectives, and a dual timeline, is a great narrative mystery thriller. The hooks, twists and turns work incredibly well as the reader works to discover how the various plot threads and timelines will come together.

I really enjoyed this character driven thriller; there’s a great setting for the backdrop. It’s about the complexities within relationships and old injustices needing reparation. I have never wanted to go skiing, and after reading this absolutely nothing has changed.

A recommended read if you’re looking for a tense thriller with depth, and it’s a great book for the escapism that’s definitely needed this year.

An atmospheric Alps setting for a story of mismatched couples, secrets, relationship dramas, murder, and revenge.

The Blog Tour

The Author

Catherine Cooper

Catherine Cooper is a journalist specialising in travel, hotels, and skiing who writes regularly for the Telegraph and the Guardian among others. She lives near the Pyrenees in the South of France with her husband and
two teenage children, and is a keen skier. The Chalet is her debut novel.


http://www.catherinecooperauthor.com
@catherinecooper
@catherinecooperjournalist

Please do buy from independents if you can XX

#BlogTour for #TheCityofAngels by #KennethBromberg – published by @flametreepress with thanks to Anne @RandomTTours

Last year, I read Kenneth Bromberg’s debut novel American Dreams, so was really pleased to join the blog tour to celebrate his latest release The City of Angels. Please do keep scrolling to find out more about this murder mystery thriller, set in 1920s America.

FLAME TREE PRESS is the new fiction imprint of Flame Tree Publishing.
Launched in 2018 the list brings together brilliant new authors and the more established; the award winners, and exciting, original voices.

The Blurb

The year is 1924.

Sam Lacy, tough as nails robbery/homicide detective follows his own unique code of conduct within the racist and corrupt Los Angeles Police Department. Edward Bixby, a brilliant man fascinated by anything scientific, assists with the forensic aspects of Sam’s investigations but his work must stay on the down low since the LAPD would never hire a black man for anything as important as detective work.

Sam’s sister, Susan, widowed mother and sharpshooter, is the most important person in his life. And Lonny, Sam’s handsome, cynical partner, sports a caviler attitude that hides a troubled past. Together they must solve the murder of Sam’s old flame and deal with a ruthless and powerful predator who victimizes vulnerable young Chinese immigrants. Their story takes place in the movie capital of the world, a city that attracts hustlers, wide-eyed innocents and cold-hearted killers; a City of Angels.

My thoughts…

Bromberg’s City of Angels opens like a movie, I was cast back into films such as LA Confidential, The Big Sleep and The Untouchables as our protagonist is introduced to the reader via a hotbed of corruption and bribery. Sam Lacey is a homicide detective and he’s a tough one; he’s certainly not afraid to come down heavy, we see this from the onset, but he’s soon caught up with a formidable adversary and a crime scene that’s personal.

This is a multi-perspective read; the events of the prologue soon lead to murder and Lacey is hurtled into a homicide that is more connected to him than he would like. He’s a determined character and uses his strength of opinion to want a controversial person investigating the case: Edward Bixby, an intelligent and thorough forensic expert, who cannot live to his potential due to the controlling racism of the time. Bromberg layers the narrative voices, and Bixby story draws in the horrific racism of the Southern states and adds depth to both the character and time-period.

The female is represented by Susan, Sam’s sister; she is very important to Sam and this relationship also shows exploitation and abuse of the system. Of Velma, a black America whose skin colour is perceived as a ‘free-ride’ for the unscrupulous. It is also introduced via woman who are trying to cut a break in Hollywood but find the reality is actually brutal and degrading.

This is a deep, layered novel with themes of abuse, racism, drugs, corruption and the fight for justice, no matter if you need to severely blur the lines: our Angels are not afraid to put away their wings for a while to get the job done.

With thanks to Flame Tree Press and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to read City of Angels.

The Blog Tour

Please do check out these other bloggers and their thoughts on City of Angels

The Author

Kenneth Bromberg

Kenneth Bromberg grew up in the beach cities of Southern California with a passion for tennis, American history, and literature. His first novel, American Dreams, is based upon stories told by his grandmother, who
emigrated from a small Jewish village near Kiev in the first years of the 20th century.

#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.

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