Welcome to my book-blog. I spend as much time as I can within the pages of a book and hope you'll get some reading inspiration from my library. Catch me on Instagram as well as books.tea.and.me – I'm always looking for recommendations!
Long ago Miren O’Malley’s family prospered due to a deal struck with the mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. But for many years the family have been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren’s grandmother is determined to restore their glory, even at the price of Miren’s freedom.
A spellbinding tale of dark family secrets, magic and witches, and creatures of myth and the sea; of strong women and the men who seek to control them.
There’s a root of darkness in the setting and plot of All the Murmuring Bones – a tale based on an Irish cultivated land where magical creatures exist. That’s not to say this is a magical book; there’s a real sense of historical realism in the world as well but deepened with embedded folklore throughout the narrative, which I enjoyed.
Whilst for me the dark gothic fairy-tale vibe was not as expected – there’s certainly a darkness and creepy tone to the writing as we find out more about our central character, Miren, and follow her journey to discover the truth hidden behind the layers of mystery within her family.
A dark and challenging journey centres the novel; it’s presented in a slow and heavily detailed narrative that never rushes. A dash of murder and intrigue deepens the story and I enjoyed the battle for the survival of the bloodline, the ruthlessness of the journey at times and the bargains for survival with magical creatures.
There’re some fabulous settings – in particular atmospheric descriptions of the story’s key locations: Blackwater and Hob’s Head. The characters are a mix of surface with some depth – from my reading experience I wanted more development and depth as I found I wasn’t too connected at times, which did affect my personal reading experience – but that’s just me.
Overall, this is a great book for people who enjoy a darker story with morally questionable characters and enjoy folklore. Super story-telling and world building. There are some fabulous descriptions throughout the book and a great central character arc to follow as Miren has to adapt to her situation and environment.
Thanks so much to Titan Books for inviting me to chat about All the Murmuring Bones and to the author for the story!
When she was thirteen years old, Ada Howell lost not just her father, but the life she felt she was destined to lead. Now, at eighteen, Ada is given a second chance when her wealthy godmother gifts her with an extravagant art history trip to Italy. In the palazzos of Venice, the cathedrals of Florence and the villas of Rome, she finally finds herself among the kind of people she aspires to be: sophisticated, cultured, privileged. Ada does everything in her power to prove she is one of them. And when a member of the group dies in suspicious circumstances, she seizes the opportunity to permanently bind herself to this gilded set. But everything hidden must eventually surface, and when it does, Ada discovers she’s been keeping a far darker secret than she could ever have imagined…
‘The Favour’ includes a recreation and modernisation of the ‘Grand Tour’, which I’ve read about several times in other books; for those who are not aware, it’s a trip where privileged young men during the 17th and 18th centuries would travel throughout Europe, where Rome was often an ultimate destination. The aim was to finish an upper-class male’s education but often became synonymous with drinking, gaming and romantic escapades! These tours could take years, but in ‘The Favour’ our principle character has booked on a shorter, recreation of the tour: an art history trip to Italy. The lead, Ada Howell is experiencing great change in her life; she has recently moved away from her family home after the death of her father and feels very adrift. The opportunity to travel and explore Italy calls out to her and this is where we find the story begins to shift.
I enjoyed the detailed and atmospheric art history detail throughout the story and with themes of deception, connections, the other, friendship, obsession and desperation, this is certainly a layered novel. The characters are, for the most part, quite unlikeable and evoke questions of privilege and power.
I enjoyed the more sinister underscore and the clever build-up of tension and shade within the narrative. The misdirection and plotting were well executed and I loved the reading experience of uncertainty and considerable questioning. A book that hooks you in and pulls you along mercilessly into its clever close.
The author – Laura Vaughan
Laura Vaughan grew up in rural Wales and studied Art History in Italy and Classics at Bristol and Oxford. She got her first book deal aged twenty-two and went on to write eleven books for children and young adults. is her first novel for adults. She lives in South London with her husband and two children.
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?
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.
I’m really pleased to be chatting about FATAL ISLES, the first in the Doggerland series by Maria Adolfsson. Do keep scrolling for some bookish chat…
A remote island. A brutal murder. A secret hidden in the past . . .
In the middle of the North Sea, between the UK and Denmark, lies the beautiful and rugged island nation of Doggerland. Detective Inspector Karen Eiken Hornby has returned to the main island, Heimö, after many years in London and has worked hard to become one of the few female police officers in Doggerland.
So, when she wakes up in a hotel room next to her boss, Jounas Smeed, she knows she’s made a big mistake. But things are about to get worse: later that day, Jounas’s ex-wife is found brutally murdered. And Karen is the only one who can give him an alibi.
The news sends shockwaves through the tight-knit island community, and with no leads and no obvious motive for the murder, Karen struggles to find the killer in a race against time.
Soon she starts to suspect that the truth might lie in Doggerland’s history. And the deeper she digs, the clearer it becomes that even small islands can hide deadly secrets . . .
Firstly, what I enjoyed were the fabulous descriptions of Doggerland in this book. I loved the atmosphere it creates for the backdrop of the story and crime. It’s an engaging book from the start; there’s an easy opening narrative which serves to hook the readers into our protagonist’s, DI Karen Eiken Hornby, journey and challenges from the start. The investigation centres on the violent death of the ex-wife of the police forces head of CID and Hornby’s boss.
So, this investigation opens in an extremely complex way and the reader watches Hornby struggle with previous events and the current situation; this takes some juggling. There’s a strong cast of characters, both sympathetic and unsympathetic. There’s also an insight into how the police work, with all the expected dramas, back-stabbing, gossip with a constant underscore of male dominance.
It’s a carefully constructed and evenly paced crime novel. I liked the character of Karen Hornby and would happily continue reading this series. I also loved the setting and its community; a great location for secrets to hide in. I also didn’t realise Doggerland was an established series, so it’s great that more translations are, hopefully, coming.
A well-crafted atmospheric crime read that drags the reader into the lives and dramas of Doggerland.
I’m attempting to read and review all my NetGalley books this month and although ‘The Killing Kind’ is my most recent review copy, I can’t help but bump up any Jane Casey book to the top of the pile. Although it’s not a Maeve Kerrigan novel, (I’m a huge fan of this series) it’s a great thriller read. The second is the sequel to ‘Ground Sweet as Sugar’ by a lovely lady called Catherine C. Heywood whom I’m delighted to have connected with via Twitter and Instagram. Do keep scrolling for some bookish chat.
The Killing Kind by Jane Casey
This is a deftly plotted thriller from Jane Casey and comes highly recommended. The novel’s protagonist, Ingrid Lewis, is a London barrister and through one of her cases we are introduced to John Webster: a high functioning sociopath, who is a constant presence during the book. I had so many questions about him and he provides an additional thriller element of trust. There are two other male figures circling around Ingrid to mix up the drama and both add to the question of who can be trusted. Casey has certainly plotted with panache! There are so many layers and via a narrative of mixed time frames, emails and court documents the reader needs to work hard to make the connections and work out where the story is taking you; to find out who is hiding behind their lies. I must admit I had a strong suspicion about one of the culprits early on, so it was enjoyable tracking the clues to the dramatic conclusions and reveals. I’d certainly recommend this book to thriller fans – it’s intelligent, cleverly weaved and provides many doubts, twists and spins until the final reveal. Despite not being the wanted 2021 release of the next book in Casey’s fabulous Maeve Kerrigan series, I was content with this standalone whilst waiting. If you haven’t read any of the Maeve Kerrigan crime reads you are absolutely missing out. It’s an exceptional crime, thriller series and is highly recommended. ‘The Killing Kind’ gets a thumbs up from me. Addictive, satisfying and crafty.
The Virtues of Vice by Catherine C. Heywood
‘The Virtues of Vice’ continues the story began in ‘Ground as Sweet as Sugar’ (you’ll definitely need to read this before to understand what’s happening) and our lead characters Charlotte and James are battling with both current events and their feelings for each other. Life in the West Indies remains tough and there’s a balance to be found, not only in their personal lives but in the world around them. The drama certainly continues for Charlotte as she is punished for her part in crimes of the previous book. James is, as always, on her side, even when he perhaps shouldn’t be. Heywood’s characters have flaws and Charlotte certainly does; this can alienate her from the reader and we have to remember this fiction is set in a far-removed time to understand events and decisions. James and Charlotte’s relationship does dominate the book, but we also have dangers and manipulations to deal with. This is a world of strife, greed, desires, domination and despair. But it’s balanced by the positives: love, loyalty and friendship.
Heywood, as always provides a story that drags the reader into some wonderful escapism, romance and high drama. A book of consuming love, justice, power and revenge, where the end to all virtue is finally happiness.
I read and enjoyed Sam Blake’s Cathy Connolly series starting with Little Bones, so jumped at the chance to be a part of the blog tour for The Dark Room, as always thanks to Anne for the invite (always super communication and professionally organised blog tours). A final thanks to Corvus Books for the review copy. Please so keep scrolling for some bookish chat…
Rachel Lambert leaves London afraid for her personal safety and determined to uncover the truth behind the sudden death of a homeless man with links to a country house hotel called Hare’s Landing.
New York-based crime reporter Caroline Kelly’s career is threatened by a lawsuit and she needs some thinking space away from her job. But almost as soon as she arrives, Hare’s Landing begins to reveal its own stories – a 30-year-old missing person’s case and the mysterious death of the hotel’s former owner.
As Rachel and Caroline join forces, it becomes clear that their investigations are intertwined – and that there is nothing more dangerous than the truth…
This is my sort of mystery thriller read; a book dripping with ‘Rebecca vibes’ and saturated with a mystery tinged with the supernatural. I love a good puzzle and this book provides a few, despite still having questions at the end, it’s a satisfyingly welcome escape from our current covid-imprisoned world.
The protagonists are two women, seemingly worlds apart, who are on a course of convergence via a journey of personal reflection, a hunt for answers, the reawakening of the past and its buried secrets; this uncovering is going to bluntly impact their lives and futures. The setting, for the most part, is Hare’s Landing – a house in West Cork that has been containing secrets for many years. It’s now a guest house, where a rather ‘Mrs Danvers’ like employee overseas the guests as they arrive, and certainly keeps an eye on them!
The reader soon becomes hooked into the strange, supernatural occurrences and begins to build the secrets and events into a slow uncovering of the truth. There’s a nice friendship that develops between the two female leads as they join forces to find out they are being targeted. There’s the additional burden of a menacing intruder, a mysterious suicide of the past, a missing person’s investigation to add to the complex twists and turns the women find themselves embroiled in. The pace is steady until 60% in and then it moves swiftly to its conclusion.
A book of secrets, suspicions and murder set in a remote house where the past lives of the two protagonists become entwined in a supernatural edged mystery.
Sam Blake is a pseudonym for Vanessa Fox O’Loughlin, the founder of The Inkwell Group publishing consultancy and the hugely popular national writing resources website Writing.ie. She is Ireland’s leading literary scout and has assisted many award-winning and bestselling authors to publication. As Sam Blake, she has written four previous novels and has topped the Irish bestseller chart.
Cassie Raven believes the dead can talk. We just need to listen . . .
People think being a mortuary technician is a seriously weird job. They can’t understand why I choose to cut up dead bodies for a living. But they don’t know what I know:
The dead want to tell us what happened to them.
I’ve eviscerated thousands of bodies, but never someone I know before – someone who meant a lot to me; someone I loved.
The pathologist says that her death was an accident.
Her body is telling me differently.
Do check out the book chat about Body Language until Dec 6th and do keep scrolling for my bookish chat 🙂
Our protagonist is a mortuary technician who is so attuned to the dead she encounters in her job, that she can sense and ‘hear’ them. This supernatural element provides a different tone to what is a new mystery crime thriller series featuring Cassie Raven. Cassie is unconventional in the sense that she’s young, and a goth adorned with tattoos and piercings; she adds originality and freshness to a new investigative crime character. Cassie’s certainly had some ups and downs in her life, and she appears to the reader early in the book as someone with tenacity, compassion and drive to both her job and for the end of life care her job can offer.
There are, of course, descriptions of the mortuary world of autopsies, so if you are squeamish or might find memories of lost ones upsetting, then do read with caution. For me, there’s a great deal of respect embedded behind the narrative, and Cassie herself is a comforting figure, as she talks to, cares and respects for the people she deals with.
I enjoyed the character of Cassie, and she’s the main drive for pushing the narrative forward for me, rather than the investigations. I liked the slow development of her relationship with the newly transferred DS Flyte, from distrust and unease to a respectful bond with an additional developing warm and twinkle.
Body Language is a great supernaturally enhanced new crime series with a great modern protagonist at the helm. I look forward to seeing how Turner develops the series.
With thanks to Zaffre Books for the review copy and to Tracy at Compulsive Readers for the Blog Tour invite.
I was delighted to have been asked to join Marianne’s launch team for THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL, book one in the RIVERDELL SAGA. Marianne’s book and lots of bookish gifts arrived in the post; I met the other fabulous book launch team and began a journey of book chats, bookish activities and new bookish friendships.
I’m delighted to share my final review of THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL and also a couple of the lovely photographs I’ve designed along the journey, do keep an eye out for the lovely bookish candle from Wordsmith Candles.
And, of course, please keep scrolling for some bookish chat about THE DOORS OF RIVERDELL…
The book blurb
Isabelle Threlfall has always called Riverdell House, in the historic rural town of Ludlow, her home. But home has its complications. There’s her Aunt Elsa angling for commitment, cousin Hester to avoid and the failure of her long-term relationship to face. Working away seems the best solution but when Elsa’s eldest son dies and her two estranged grandchildren, Moth and Nat, arrive at Riverdell, Isabelle is called home to help.
Kit de Lavelle is hard on her heels. He’s waited fifteen years for Isabelle to ditch her childhood sweetheart and adore him instead but he’s about to discover that closing the doors to his own past is harder than expected.
As Moth and Isabelle form a close bond trading family secrets and avoiding their own, Elsa finds courage in her memories to face the truth she has hidden from them all. But as the future is decided will Moth and Isabelle still be able to call Riverdell their home?
Step behind the gleaming doors of Riverdell and into the troubled waters of the family.
My thoughts: The Doors of Riverdell by Marianne Rosen
The Doors of Riverdell is told via four narrative perspectives, one rooted in the past and three more individual voices of Kit, Isabelle and Moth, who are our guides to life at Riverdell and beyond in this first book of a four part saga. This is one of those books where concentration is required, as, like most first meetings, the reader needs to adjust to timeframes, characters, and connections as we ease into Rosen’s world. I love the concept of storytelling through the setting of a real character house; Riverdell is one of those buildings that is meticulously designed for the reader and the idea of home is an important aspect of the novel and for its characters.
What is clear from the onset is that the cast of characters are very human: flawed, contradictory, unsure, overconfident, sluggish, uncertain, and questionable. The focus of this first book is on three characters in particular, the adrift Isabelle, the brash Kit, and the conflicted Moth. I would also keep in mind that this book is a narrative that runs across four books, and therefore so do the character arcs; there’s a lot of development during this first book that may not be fulfilling for the reader by the closing lines of this part of the saga.
It is also worth noting there are sexual scenes interspersed throughout the novel, and at first, I admit I found these rather jarring and stylistically slightly disjointing. From the blurb and style of the book, I was not expecting the tone and nature of some of the sexual encounters, both described and implied. However, on reflection I began to see Rosen’s intentions behind them; she is trying to be true to her characters’ natures and their behaviours with one another: their sexualities are an inbuilt and intrinsically human part of that.
Nature and environment are strong factors in the narrative and I really enjoyed the sense of place and setting throughout. The organic qualities of the nature world served as an indelible link to those living at Riverdell and connected their pasts, present and futures in beautifully detailed descriptions. This ingrained sense of nature in the book is superb and the author’s love of Ludlow is rooted solidly throughout.
With themes of community, self, family, sexuality, identity, the past’s hold on our futures, home, and connections – The Doors of Riverdell is an exciting start to a new literary saga. If you enjoy family dramas, I can certainly recommend you walk through both the literal and metaphorical doors of Riverdell in this first book of Rosen’s four-part series.
Marianne Rosen was apprenticed to a master upholsterer for six years before setting up her own interior consultation business, specialising in grand houses and fabrics. Along the way, she gained a degree in Literature, became an English language teacher, a semi-professional dancer and taught cabaret. By the time she was 36, she had lived in 36 houses, carting her large collection of books around with her. That same year, she met her partner, a fourth-generation farmer who lives in the house he was born in. They live on an organic farm in a Grade 2 listed farmhouse on the Shropshire-Herefordshire border. Marianne is part of the Hay Writers’ Group and has performed her work at Hay Festival. She writes modern family sagas that explore the longing for home and the need to belong. When not writing she likes to take off in her old VW T4 to research what she might write next. Her debut novel, The Doors of Riverdell, is out on 25th November 2020.
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…
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.
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
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.
It’s lovely to be chatting about ‘Play the Red Queen’ by Juris Jurjevics, with thanks to Anne for the tour invite.
Vietnam, 1963. A female Viet Cong assassin is trawling the boulevards of Saigon, catching US Army officers off-guard with a single pistol shot, then riding off on the back of a scooter. Although the US military is not officially in combat, sixteen thousand American servicemen are stationed in Vietnam “advising” the military and government. Among them are Ellsworth Miser and Clovis Robeson, two army investigators who have been tasked with tracking down the daring killer.
Initially my interest was piqued for this book because I was about to teach a USA Vietnam unit at school and thought it would add nicely to the backdrop of my planning.
It’s Saigon during the 60s at a time of unrest and war; Jurjevics’ historical fiction novel is set in a backdrop of political unrest, brutality and social distraction and frames a story of an assassin, a lady of death: the Red Queen. The reader follows two military CID investigators tasked with the uncovering the Red Queen assassin before she strikes again. The task is far from simple and the challenges are seemingly unsurmountable at times creating narrative interest and drive for the reader.
I enjoyed the investigator aspect of the book, even if all the pieces didn’t fuse together completely for me; the backdrop is both a fascinating and terrible time of a country trapped through war and I found this quite fascinating. The writing was often immersive, and I enjoyed the atmosphere Jurjevics creates; there’s clearly a great deal of research behind the narrative of a torn and breaking land with it’s politically charged themes.
As I said at the start, I’m about to teach a USA Vietnam War unit at school, so I enjoyed the setting as a useful planning tool for my own study and understanding: with the added thriller read bonus of a hunt for an elusive assassin.
A carefully plotted thriller with injected realism; a deeply readable historical setting and a nail-biting plot to capture a shifty, highly trained assassin – this is a recommended read for those who enjoy historical settings and political thrillers.
The Blog Tour
Juris Jurjevics (1943-2018) was born in Latvia and grew up in Displaced Persons camps in Germany before emigrating to the United States. He served in Vietnam for fourteen months, nine days, and two hours, his original departure date delayed by the Tet Offensive. He wrote two other novels, Red Flags and The Trudeau Vector, which was published in ten other countries. Publisher and co-founder of the Soho Press, Jurjevics worked for decades in the book industry.