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!
FATE PULLED THEM APART BUT NOT BEFORE THEY MADE A PROMISE.
TEN CHRISTMASES LATER, WILL THEIR WISH COME TRUE? . . .
As Norah battles through the bustling December crowds, she hears the notes of a song that transports her back to the most romantic week of her life.
After meeting on a blissful holiday, but knowing they had to part, a boy named Andrew made her a promise:
If they are both single on Christmas Eve in ten years’ time, they will meet under the clock on Grafton Street, Dublin.
Norah has no idea if he will remember, but she has nothing to lose.
So, hoping for a Christmas miracle, she heads to Dublin. To that clock. And, maybe, to Andrew.
But it wouldn’t be Christmas without a few surprises . . .
Ah, what a charming Winter read for all those romantics out there. ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’ is a heartwarming little book that comforts and entertains delightfully; a perfect light-hearted seasonal read. It’s a story of timings, Fate, friendships, family relationships and music.
The book jumps about from place to place as our characters live and grow, from Italy to Dublin, America and London. I enjoyed following the character of Noah, who stood out for me. I loved how the story was transported to the reader via music and the memories unraveled the past relationship for the reader.
It’s a book that utilises the romance and seasonal pleasures of Christmas time and I really have a yearning to visit Dublin now and experience the hustle, bustle and sounds of the streets, music and communities.
I would recommend this book for readers looking for a romantic, light Christmas read.
When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy’s death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.
Haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant – both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years.
Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?
As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost…
I really enjoy books like ‘The Shadowing’, firstly because of the historical setting (we have a sinister workhouse to unpick); secondly, the gothic atmosphere, and thirdly the author is clearly a great storyteller.
Our protagonist is Hester, who is introduced to the reader whilst suffering in the throes of a nightmare wrapped around by mensural pain; we soon learn she is living under the patriarchy of her father. What’s also soon clear, is that Hester has visions of the departed, of shadows and spirits: the dead. Her long-long sister Mercy appears and Hester knows that bad news is approaching. The story develops quickly and the family receive a letter that Mercy has indeed died at a place called the Southwell Union Workhouse, and she has died a pauper.
This book’s central mystery involves what actually happened to Mercy, how she ended up in a workhouse and dying a pauper. Hester becomes obsessed with finding out the truth and this is the hook of the narrative. I really enjoyed the historical setting coming alive, as Hester battles relentlessly to find out the truth and put her sister’s shadow to rest.
There’s a great, creepy atmosphere at Southwell, and I was reminded of Daphine Du Maurier’s world of shady characters, foreboding inns, untrustworthy characters, and ghostly, gothic undertones. It’s a world where, Hester, our strong – albeit a little naïve lead character fights to stand up for her sister and those trying to stop her. I also enjoyed the addition of Matthew, a grouchy, dismissive landlord of a coaching inn, who develops and become a more central part of the narrative; he also provides the dash of romance, and I do mean dash.
I thoroughly enjoyed ‘The Shadowing’ and would highly recommend it.
Thank you to Sandstone Press for the blog tour invite for ‘The Wolf in the Woods’; this is my first read by Dan Brotzel and the superb cover design sealed the deal. For more information about the tour and author, please do keep scrolling.
“Oh God. Here you go again, hanging over me, invading my sleep with your morning breath. As my eyes flicker open, you hang over me for a long moment, nuzzling my neck and furtively assessing my reaction. I feel your arms tremble. When you get no response, you slide off with a disgusted grunt. Even though I’m half asleep, I sense the guilt seeking rays emanating from your half-turned back. I roll over and away.”
The Wolf in the Woods
Colleen and Andrew haven’t had sex in eleven weeks and three days [not that anyone’s counting]. Their marriage is in crisis, they’re drinking too much and both have secrets they’re afraid to share. A teetotal week in a remote cottage could solve all their problems. But with the promised beach nowhere in sight, a broken-down car and a sinister landlord, they may not find it so easy to rekindle their romance. In this dark and funny novel, tensions build and tempers fray.
“But you just can’t let me be, can you? The pointed buzzing of an electric toothbrush, the pedantic click of a wardrobe door, a coat-hanger’s righteous jangle – your busy-busy faffing is just enough to break my spell. I am conscious, and there’s no escaping it. No escaping you.
Today I think. Let it be today that I find a way.
‘Come on!” you say. ‘We should have left by now!’
And I think: Next week.
The Wolf in the Woods
The story opens in the middle of a relationship, the mindset of both husband and wife being pealed back for the reader via their own narratives. The separate bedrooms, the routines, the secrets, desires and the predictabilities. There are several tonal shifts as the reader begins to build a picture of who Colleen and Andrew are, whilst being set off-kilter by the man ‘sat at the window’ reminiscent of ‘Mr Punch’ or ‘those creepy horror-film clowns’. There’s the shop assistant who avoids conversation about ‘Red Barn Cottage’ and the person who’s ‘still at it then’. The reader becomes aware that maybe there’s more to this book than a narrative of a marriage at odds.
What follows is certainly a story of a long term relationship, but Brotzel adds suspense using the fairytale in the woods setting and the irony of the welcome pack from the cottage owners saying ‘we’re watching out for you’ and ‘Just knock on the big red door!’ It’s not long until we meet Wolf, who pops by with advice and seems to know a few details about the couple that he shouldn’t; then we meet Mrs Wolf, or Hildy and it’s even more uncomfortable with her inappropriate references to the young children and the glimpse of her ‘flogging her spouse’ with a ‘leather strap’.
There’s some great hooks throughout, particularly why Andrew failed Colleen ‘when it mattered most’, the backdrop of reading books about serial killers, Nazi references, dangers, alcoholism and desires.
This is an unusual and creative book about problems within a marriage set upon a backdrop of perceived menace; I enjoyed its outlandish style and the dark humour.
THE BLOG TOUR
Dan Brotzel’s short stories have won awards and been published widely, with Hotel Du Jack, his first full-length collection, published in 2019. He is also co-author of a comic novel-in-emails about an eccentric writers’ group, Work in Progress (Unbound). The Wolf in the Woods is his debut novel. Dan lives in London with his partner Eve and their three children.
‘A Master of Djinn‘ is the debut novel from P Djeli Clark and set in an alternative Cairo in the early 20th century combining magic and police procedural. If you’d like to know more about this new fantasy novel then please keep scrolling…
Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer.
So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world 50 years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage.
Alongside her Ministry colleagues and her clever girlfriend Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city – or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems….
Firstly, I loved the setting – an alternative Cairo, Steampunk style, with a Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities investigation driving the plot structure. Clark can certainly world build and this was the shining success of the novel. I wasn’t aware of P. Djeli Clark as an author before reading ‘A Master of Djinn’, however he has a back catalogue of short stories before this debut full-length novel, starting with ‘A Dead Djinn in Cairo’ in his ‘Dead Djinn Universe’ series.
What’s impressive about this novel is the world that Clark creates; it’s created with authorial craft and a huge dash of panache. The Djinn have supported Egypt in the removal of the British and the country is now a magical world of Ministries, underground nightclubs, mythical creatures and a dash of added political strife. It’s a truly fleshed out and ‘alive’ world, and our protagonist at the centre is Fatma. Fatma is generally an interesting construct, despite her inability to control and effectively lead an investigation into the murders of a secret brotherhood. This was a little frustrating, as she missed several leads and misconstrued clear information – although this did give the character more layers, flaws and some complexities. Most characters are not overly three-dimensional, they seem more constructs of the world and the plot. The plot is perhaps, the weakest part of the novel – for me. With a sharper protagonist and an edited, reviewed plot this novel would have shined more brightly. Please don’t take that as a reason not to read this book; there’s so much I loved and the final quarter of the book picked up dramatically and totally hurtled me to the final pages. Clark takes his time to describe and set the scene – this is the brilliance of the author’s creativity and I loved the steampunk throughout.
‘A Master of Djinn’ is a witty, supernatural murder mystery where a mismatched detective duo are pitched against a dastardly villainy; it’s set in a brilliant steampunk world enhanced with Ifrit, Djinns and gods ending with a dash of cinematic styling.
Phenderson Djéli Clark is the award winning and Hugo, Nebula, Sturgeon, and World Fantasy nominated author of the novellas Ring Shout, The Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His stories have appeared in online venues such as Tor.com, Daily Science Fiction, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Apex, Lightspeed, Fireside Fiction, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in print anthologies including, Griots, Hidden Youth and Clockwork Cairo. He is a founding member of FIYAH Literary Magazine and an infrequent reviewer at Strange Horizons. You can read his ramblings on SFF, history, & diversity at his aptly named blog, The Disgruntled Haradrim. His debut full length novel a Master of Djinn will be published by Tor.com in May 2021.
It’s lovely to be sharing an extract from GOOD NEIGHBOURS by Sarah Langan to celebrate its July publication. Please do scroll down to find out more about this brilliant new release…
Named as Goodreads One of the Most Anticipated Mysteries and Thrillers of 2021 Welcome to Maple Street, a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, its residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusion of safety in a rapidly changing world. But when the Wilde family moves in, they trigger their neighbours’ worst fears. Arlo and Gertie and their weird kids don’t fit with the way Maple Street sees itself. As tensions mount, a sinkhole opens in a nearby park, and neighbourhood Queen Bee Rhea’s daughter Shelly falls inside. The search for Shelly brings a shocking accusation against the Wildes. Suddenly, it is one mother’s word against the other’s in a court of public opinion that can end only in blood.
A RIVERTING AND RUTHLESS PORTRAYAL OF SUBURBIA, GOOD NEIGHBOURS EXCAVATES THE PERILS AND BETRAYALS OF MOTHERHOOD AND FRIENDSHIPS AND THE DANGEROUS CLASH BETWEEN SOCIAL HIERARCHY, CHILDHOOD TRAUMA, AND FEAR.
When her oldest left for Cornell University last year, she’d taken it hard. She’d been happy for Gretchen, but her brilliant future had made Rhea’s seem that much more dim. What was left, once all the kids were gone away, and she was left with a thirty-year-old dissertation and Fritz Sr., Captain Earwax Extraordinaire? She’d wanted to break her life, just to escape it. Drive her car into the Atlantic Ocean. Take a dump on her boss’s desk. Straddle her clueless husband, who’d never once taken her dancing, and shout: Who cleans their ears with a washcloth? It’s disgusting! She’d wanted to fashion a slingshot and make a target range of Maple Street, just to set herself free of these small, stupid people and their small, stupid worlds.
It would have happened. She’d been close to breaking, to losing everything. But just like when Fritz moved into her apartment complex: fate intervened. The Wildes moved next door. Rhea couldn’t explain what happened the day she first saw Gertie, except that it was magic. Another outsider. A beautiful misfit. Gertie’d been so impressed by Rhea. You’re so smart and warm, she’d said the first day they’d met. You’re such a success. Rhea’d known then, that if there was anyone on Maple Street to whom she could reveal her true feelings, it was this na f. One way or another, Gertie Wilde would be her salvation.
Rhea had courted Gertie with dinner invitations, park barbeques, and introductions to neighbors. Made their children play together, so that the Rat Pack accepted the new kids on the block. It wasn’t easy to turn local sentiment in Gertie’s favor. The woman’s house wasn’t ever clean or neat. A pinworm outbreak coincided with their arrival, which couldn’t have been a coincidence. The whole block was itching for weeks.
Worse, her foulmouthed kids ran wild. Larry was a hypersensitive nutbar who carried a doll and walked in circles. Then there was Julia. When they first moved in, she stole a pack of Parliaments from her dad and showed the rest of the kids how to smoke. When her parents caught her, they made her go with them door to door, explaining what had happened to all the Rat Pack parents. Rhea had felt sorry for crying, confused Julia. Why make a kid go through all that? A simple e-mail authored by Gertie stating the facts of the event would have sufficed—if that!
It’s never a good idea to admit guilt in the suburbs. It’s too concrete. You say the words I’m sorry, and people hold on to it and don’t let go. It’s far better to pave over with vagaries. Obfuscate guilt wherever it exists.
The sight of all the Wildes in their doorways had added more melodrama than necessary. The neighbors, feeling the social pressure to react, to prove their fitness as parents, matched that melodrama. Dumb Linda took her twins to the doctor to check for lung damage. The Hestias wondered if they should report the Wildes to Child Protective Services. The Walshes enrolled Charlie in a health course called Our Bodies: Our Responsibility. Cat Hestia had stood in that doorway and cried, explaining that she wasn’t mad at Julia, just disappointed. Because she’d hoped this day would never come. Toxic cigarettes! They have arsenic!
None of them seemed to understand that this had nothing to do with smoking. Julia had stolen those cigarettes to win the Rat Pack over. A bid toward friendship. She’d misjudged her audience. This wasn’t deep Brooklyn. Cool for these kids meant gifted programs and Suzuki lessons. The only people who smoked Parliaments anymore were ex-cons, hookers, and apparently, the new neighbors in 116. What she’d misapprehended, and what the Wilde parents had also missed, was that it wasn’t the health hazards that bothered the people of Maple Street. If that were the case, they wouldn’t be Slip ’N Sliding right now. It was the fact that smoking is so totally low class.
Despite all that, Rhea had stuck by Gertie Wilde until, one by one, the rest of Maple Street capitulated. It was nice, doing something for someone else, especially someone as beautiful as Gertie. There’s a kind of reflective glow, when you have a friend like that. When you stand close, you can see yourself in their perfect eyes.
At least once a month, they’d drunk wine on Rhea’s enclosed porch, cracking jokes about poop, the wacky stuff kids say!, and helpless husbands whose moods turn crabby unless they get their weekly blowies. This latter part, Rhea just pretended. She accepted Fritz’s infrequent appeals for missionary-style sex, but even in their dating days, their mouths had rarely played a part, not even to kiss.
Rhea’s attentions were rewarded. Eventually, Gertie let down her guard. Tears in her eyes, voice low, she’d confessed the thing that haunted her most: The first, I was just thirteen. He ran the pageant and my stepmom said I had to, so I could win rent money. He told me he loved me after, but I knew it wasn’t true. After that, I never said no. I kept thinking every time was a new chance to make the first time right. I’d turn it around and make one of them love me. Be nice to me and take care of me. So I wouldn’t have to live with my stepmom. But that never happened. Not until Arlo. I’m so grateful to him.
When she finished her confession, Gertie’d visibly deflated, her burden lightened. Rhea had understood then why people need friends. They need to be seen and known, and accepted nonetheless. Oh, how she’d craved that unburdening. How she’d feared it, too.
They built so much trust between them that one night, amidst the distant catcalls of children gone savage, Rhea took a sloppy risk, and told her own truth: Fritz boom-booms me. It hurts and I’ve never once liked it … Do you like it? I never expected this to be my life. Did you expect this, Gertie? Do you like it? I can tell that you don’t. I wanted to be your friend from the second I saw you. I’m not beautiful like you, but I’m special on the inside. I know about black holes. I can tell you want to run away. I do, too. We can give each other courage … Shelly can’t keep her hair neat. It goads me. I’d like to talk about it with you, because I know you like Shelly. I know you like me. I know you won’t judge. Sometimes I imagine I’m a giant. I squeeze my whole family into pulp. I wish them dead just so I can be free. I can’t leave them. I’m their mother. I’m not allowed to leave them. So I hate them. Isn’t that awful? God, aren’t I a monster?
She stopped talking once she’d noticed Gertie’s teary-eyed horror. “Don’t talk like that. You’ll break your own house.”
There’d been more words after that. Pleasantries and a changed subject. Rhea didn’t remember. The event compressed into murk and sank down inside her, a smeared oblivion of rage.
Soon after that night, Gertie announced her pregnancy. The doctor told her she had to stop drinking front-porch Malbec, so they hung out a lot less. She got busier with work and the kids and she’d played it off like coincidence, but Rhea had known the truth: she’d shown her true self, and Gertie wanted no part of it.
Retaliation was necessary.
Sarah Langan got her MFA in creative writing from Columbia University, and also received her Master’s in Environmental Health Science/Toxicology from New York University. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and daughters. She’s received three Bram Stoker awards, and her work has often been included in best-of-the year lists and anthologies. She’s a founding board member of the Shirley Jackson Awards, and works in both film and prose.
PRAISE FOR GOOD NEIGHBOURS:
“One of the creepiest, most unnerving deconstructions of American suburbia I’ve ever read. Langan cuts to the heart of upper middle class lives like a skilled surgeon.” – NPR
“A modern-day Crucible, Good Neighbours brilliantly explores the ease with which a careless word can wreak havoc and the terrifying power of mob mentality. Langan deftly unveils the psychology behind her character’s actions with blistering prose and spot-on descriptions. She is a writer to watch!” – Liv Constantine, bestselling author of ‘The Last Mrs Parrish’
Firstly, I have taken my eye of the ball, AKA my diary and COMPLETELY messed up. So, with sincere apologies to all – here’s my EMBARRASSINGLY late blog post for the fabulously dark and addictive THE BERESFORD. Please do keep scrolling for some bookish chat…
Just outside the city – any city, every city – is a grand, spacious but affordable apartment building called The Beresford.
There’s a routine at The Beresford.
For Mrs May, every day’s the same: a cup of cold, black coffee in the morning, pruning roses, checking on her tenants, wine, prayer and an afternoon nap. She never leaves the building. Abe Schwartz also lives at The Beresford. His housemate Smythe no longer does. Because Abe just killed him. In exactly sixty seconds, Blair Conroy will ring the doorbell to her new home and Abe will answer the door. They will become friends. Perhaps lovers.
And, when the time comes for one of them to die, as is always the case at The Beresford, there will be sixty seconds to move the body before the next unknowing soul arrives at the door. Because nothing changes at The Beresford, until the doorbell rings…
I loved the concept behind this novel after receiving the blurb – leaving your soul at the door? I’m in! The Beresford title has a tantalising pull to it too, so I jumped at the chance to join the blog tour.
Oh, Oh Oh Mrs May, you old devil you! A key player in THE BERESFORD is its caretaker, Mrs May. Seemingly fragile, a woman of routine, taking afternoon naps (ah, bless her) and taking care of her roses. She is also responsible for the tenants who reside at The Beresford, and believe me, there’s going to be quite a few to keep track of. However, firstly we must consider Abe, the first resident we are hooked onto – unfortunately we don’t get to meet Sythe, his housemate; he’s just killed him as the novel opens and so the tone of the novel is set… and the doorbell comes alive to mark the changing of residents. Carver again subverts form and structure, who we believe to be a central character is challenged and squashed throwing our expectations into disorientation until a pattern emerges. I did worry this formula would become a little benign and predictable as new characters emerged and the doorbell kept ringing – there are elements of this – but I think that’s the point; Carver’s capable authorial crafting controls and builds the narrative into a horror-fuelled climax.
Carver’s Beresford is without doubt a compelling concept. The reader is always thrust off-kilter by the narrative jumps and twists, although a seemingly expected pattern emerges, but as soon as you adjust, Carver promptly sends another swing ball your way. There’s no doubt this book is dark; the horror tone is played with through injected humour and character development. It’s a question of wants, needs, desires, escapism and society. It’s also a question of how far we can go to obtain what we want and feel we have the right to. It’s bold, direct and dark. It’s also an unabashed and crafted comment on humanity.
If you get a moment, do take a walk to The Beresford and just ring the doorbell… I’m sure you’ll be fine.
Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, and lives in Reading with his two children.
Will’s latest title published by Orenda Books, Hinton Hollow Death Trip was longlisted for the Not the Booker Prize, while Nothing Important Happened Today was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year and for the Goldsboro Books Glass Bell. Good Samaritans was a book of the year in Guardian, Telegraph and Daily Express, and hit number one on the eBook charts.
I’m delighted to be joining the MIMIC Audio Tour for Orion Books. I’m a huge fan of Cole’s RAGDOLL trilogy, so jumped at the chance to listen to the audiobook of Mimic. It’s read beautifully by Owusu, who captures the nuances of the storytelling well and injects Cole’s narrative humour with style. Thanks to all!
Audiobook read by Jude Owusu
In life she was his muse . . .
In death she’ll be his masterpiece.
1989: DS Benjamin Chambers and DC Adam Winters are on the trail of a serial killer with a twisted passion for recreating the world’s greatest works of art through the bodies of his victims. After Chambers nearly loses his life, the case goes cold due to lack of evidence. The killer lies dormant, his collection unfinished.
2006: DS Marshall has excelled through the ranks of the Metropolitan Police Service, despite being haunted by the case that defined her teenage years. Having obtained new evidence, she joins Chambers and Winters to reopen the case. However, their resurrected investigation brings about a fresh reign of terror, the team treading a fine line between delivering justice and becoming vigilantes in their pursuit of a monster far more dangerous and intelligent than any of them had anticipated…
As I said earlier, I loved the RAGDOLL series, each book was contrasting in style and I really engaged with this variation and creativity. Daniel Coles books are always fun to read, despite taking you into dark places, minds and events. The thrillers are carefully plotted with both dramatic and creative deaths and crimes – so be warned, this isn’t for the faint of heart.
I listened to the audiobook which was skillfully narrated by Jude Owoso and despite a more leisurely pace to the opening, events and pace build steadily and suddenly you’re hooked in and turning the pages at a pace.
There’s a great and slightly unusual character driven team working on the central investigation: DS Ben Chambers, PC Adam Winters and the modern newbie DC Jordan Marshall. The crime investigation initially begins in 1989 shifting to the reopening in 2006 and I enjoyed the changes of both the investigation, the development and changes of the 1989 investigators.
A part of Cole’s books that add to their charm, even though it’s rather macabre at times, is the humour, which I’ve also really enjoyed in previous Cole books – so please expect a chuckle along the way, if dark humour works for you? I think it comes across really well in the audiobook, perhaps much better than the physical book – this is of course helped along by the skillful narration of Owoso.
I don’t usually listen to audiobooks first, I tend to save them for favourite reads, purely because of my attention span. However, I did get hooked into MIMIC. I wasn’t as involved as I was with the RAGDOLL reads but that’s my personal reader response, not a criticism. Cole writes great books.
With the theme of art, specifically Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ sculpture opening this crime mystery, Cole has created an intelligent cold case crime at the heart of this thriller. The reader follows the team as they hunt the perpetrator of the sick crimes that haunt them, to find closure on the case and to seek justice.
A gruesome crime thriller based on recreating famous works of art in the most macabre way. An intelligent, absorbing and addictive listen.
Daniel Cole has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer and most recently for the RNLI, driven by an intrinsic need to save people or perhaps just a guilty conscience about the number of characters he kills off in his writing. He currently lives in sunny Bournemouth and can usually be found down the beach when he ought to be writing. Daniel’s debut novel Ragdoll was a Sunday Times bestseller and has been published in over thirty-five countries.
It’s a pleasure to be a part of the Blog Tour for Bea Green’s crime thriller novel, ‘Stealing the Spanish Princess’. Firstly, an apology, as my review is not ready to post. It’s the first time I’ve failed to get my review complete for blog tour day and for that I am awfully sorry. For now, please check out the blurb and some of the fabulous bloggers who have posted their reviews already; my review will be up very soon.
In this captivating and dazzling art crime mystery, eccentric detective Richard Langley hunts for a 16th-century masterpiece by the artist El Greco. The thief stole the priceless painting from an apartment in Kensington, London, and in the process knifed to death a Russian woman.
DCI Richard Langley from Scotland Yard’s Art and Antiquities Unit joins colleagues from Homicide as they pursue a trail that leads them to St Petersburg and then to Madrid. Following closely in their footsteps is a maverick private investigator hired by the painting’s owner. Knowing how hard it is to sell on stolen artworks of that calibre, Richard wonders what the motive behind its theft might be.
The answer, when it comes, takes everyone by surprise.
The Blog Tour
Bea Green has had a somewhat roving life as the daughter of a British diplomat. Her mother is Spanish and growing up Bea spent every summer at her grandfather’s olive tree farm in Andalusia. This olive tree farm was the inspiration for her contemporary romance book, La Finca.
Bea studied Art throughout school and then did Art History for two of her four years at St Andrews University, where she met her husband. She graduated with an MA in English Literature.
Her interest in art was fostered by her father and her Spanish grandmother. Her Spanish grandmother accompanied her to many of Madrid’s art galleries and several of El Prado’s paintings are fondly remembered in Bea’s art crime book, Stealing the Spanish Princess.
Stealing the Spanish Princess was inspired by a Spanish painting, Lady in a Fur Wrap, at Pollok House, Glasgow. When Bea wrote Stealing the Spanish Princess there was a huge debate among art experts about the painting, with some claiming it was painted by El Greco. Some experts thought the painting was of Princess Catalina Micaela, daughter of the Spanish King, Philip II.
Bea Green has lived in Edinburgh since leaving St Andrews University, with her Glaswegian husband and two daughters. She also maintains close links with her family in Spain.
Lucia’s fingers found her own. She gazed at Caro as if from a distance. Her lips parted, her words a whisper: ‘He knows.’
Daughters of Night
London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly-paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thief-taker, Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.
But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous than she can know . . .
My thoughts – Daughters of Night
The contours of this novel are meticulous and the atmosphere produced by Shepherd-Robinson’s narrative pulls the reader into the past. I loved the history that this novel draws upon as its visual background and plot; the sex trade of this period is fascinating and drives the story of a brutal murder in Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. Featuring characters from the writer’s debut novel Blood & Sugar (a highly recommended read), and, in particular, Caroline Corsham who finds herself embroiled in a terrible crime; this by no means inhibits the reading of this book and it works beautifully as a standalone. What I love about this book is the depth to the story, which is, at its core a murder mystery, but it’s so well researched with themes of: the female in Georgian London, art, representation, poverty, moneylenders, politics, sex and desire and power. It’s a great dip into the society of this period, matched with a riveting and meticulously planned investigation. A feast of flawed characters, hypocrisy. morality and sins. Loved it!
The Chalet by Catherine Cooper
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 and 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; 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.
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!