#BlogTour for #TheLostDiaryof Venice by @MargauxDeroux and published by @orionbooks @TrapezeBooks – with thanks to Alex for the tour invite :-)

A secret diary. A forbidden love. A centuries old mystery to solve.

The Book Blurb

When a rare sixteenth-century manuscript lands on her desk courtesy of William, a struggling painter, shy book restorer Rose makes a startling discovery: it is a palimpsest. Beneath the text is a different document, one that’s been written over. What they discover is the secret diary of William’s ancestor, Giovanni Lomazzo, a Venetian painter who has just been commissioned by Venice’s most powerful admiral to paint a portrait of his favourite courtesan… it is a diary of forbidden love, dangerous political plots, and secrets that could destroy everyone involved.

Together, Rose and William work to solve the mystery of what happened to the secret lovers. As feelings develop between Rose and William, their own experience begins to mirror the affair that they’re uncovering, and each set of lovers is forced to confront the reality of their romance.

A richly detailed and sweeping page-turner, Margaux’s sumptuous portrait of late Renaissance Italy will have you falling headlong into history, slipping in and out of the shadows along the canals of Venice.

A secret diary. A forbidden love. A centuries old mystery to solve.

My thoughts…

I do enjoy historical fiction, so was delighted to read The Lost Diary of Venice for its BLOG TOUR. This is a book of layers that moves from modern day back into the past to Renaissance Italy of the 1500s. There’s a meandering pace to the narrative; this is not a negative. It gives the reader time to savour the richness of the historical detail that clearly comes from a labour of love and superb historical research. I enjoyed the historical writing more than the modern day setting, but both are linked really well as we learn about obsession, needs, desires, love and longing.

The historical plot is rooted in actual history, a tale of artists, courtesans, spies, anti-Semitism and war. I loved the character and journey of Giovanni, an artist who is beginning to lose his sight; it is his reawakening under the care of the alluring, layered character of Chiara that really hold this book together.

There’s a great deal of character development and plotting that works so well in this book, even the villain of the piece is given a reason for his behaviour, of how trauma and pain has molded him into the cruel, detached bigot he has become at this point in the story.

In the modern day world, the past is awakened by the discovery of Giovanni’s diary and through this two people, who are feeling rather lost, connect with each other. It’s another layer from the author and the reader questions the connections we form in relationships, and how time alters our feelings and sometimes we lose a sense of what we had, or have lost. Can these things be regained? Or should we disconnect and find something more ‘real’ and ‘true’ in new experiences. I enjoyed the question of ‘what is real’ in these situations.

It’s a recommended read from me, so do consider The Lost Diary of Venice if you enjoy layered historical fiction with romance, war, culture, mystery and art – lovely escapism for 2020!

The Blog Tour

#TheDoorsofRiverdell by #MarianneRosen #BookLaunch

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…

Even the most beautiful home can’t guarantee happiness…

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.

Wordsmith Candle’s fabulous Pride & Prejudice inspired ROSE GARDEN scented bookish candle – it’s an absolute delight.

https://wordsmithcandles.com/

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.

The Author

Marianne Rosen

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.

Click on the HOME link to enter Marianne Rosen’s website…

#PlaytheRedQueen by #JurisJurjevics with thanks to @noexitpress and Anne @RandomTTours for the tour invite :-)

It’s lovely to be chatting about ‘Play the Red Queen’ by Juris Jurjevics, with thanks to Anne for the tour invite.

Book blurb

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.

My thoughts…

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

The Author

Juris Jurjevics

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.

#HowtoBelong by @SarahEFranklin #BlogTour @ZaffreBooks with thanks to @Tr4cyF3nt0n

It’s lovely to be a part of the blog tour to celebrate Sarah Franklin’s How to Belong, please do keep scrolling for some bookish chat…

The kind of book that gives you hope and courage…

Blurb

Jo grew up in the Forest of Dean, but she was always the one destined to leave for a bigger, brighter future. When her parents retire from their butcher’s shop, she returns to her beloved community to save the family legacy, hoping also to save herself. But things are more complex than the rose-tinted version of life which sustained Jo from afar.

Tessa is a farrier, shoeing horses two miles and half a generation away from Jo, further into the forest. Tessa’s experience of the community couldn’t be more different. Now she too has returned, in flight from a life she could have led, nursing a secret and a past filled with guilt and shame.

Compelled through circumstance to live together, these two women will be forced to confront their sense of identity, and reconsider the meaning of home.

My thoughts…

Firstly, I love the natural simplicity of the cover design for How to Belong. I love nature and the idea of a forest setting really appealed to me. I was not let down by Franklin; her writing is so vivid, the senses leap from the pages and the richness of the descriptive detail creates the perfect setting backdrop for a book of insightful observations of human behaviour, of challenges, disillusionment, trauma, hardships, defiance and illness.

I enjoyed the relationship between the two central, contrasting women (Jo and Tessa) and the sense of realism to the writing of their characters. Their friendship becomes a narrative drive for the reader and a revelation for the characters when building their futures. All this is explored in a slow paced, explorative way with a strong personal spirit behind the writing.

A story of community, of human nature and the depth of our interactions: of difference and connections. I thought this was a beautifully written book; a story of women, of place and the communities that frame them.

A sensitively and beautifully written story that I’d very happily recommend for readers looking for a reflective novel with both strength and hope at its heart.

#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.

#BoneHarvest #JamesBrogden published by @TitanBooks is released tomorrow! #newbook #readers – here’s some book chat! Thanks to @Sarah_Mather_15 for bringing the book to my attention :-)

The blurb

PREPARE FOR THE SACRIFICE OF THE FIRST FLESH…


Struggling with the effects of early-onset dementia, Dennie Keeling now
leads a quiet life. Her husband is dead, her children are grown, and her
best friend, Sarah, was convicted of murdering her abusive husband. After
Sarah’s tragic death in prison, Dennie has found solace in her allotment,
and all she wants is to be left to tend it in peace.

Life remains quiet for twelve years, until three strangers take on a nearby
plot and Dennie starts to notice unnatural things. Shadowy figures prowl
at night; plants flower well before their time. And then Sarah appears,
bringing dire warnings and vanishing after daubing symbols on the
walls in Dennie’s own blood. Dennie soon realises that she is face to face
with an ancient evil – but with her dementia steadily growing worse, who
is going to believe her?

My thoughts

Bone Harvest is an original and creative take on the horror novel structure. It’s a layered and reveal style narrative that opens up to the reader early on (keep reading as the book changes direction and pace; this is a book of two interconnecting halves). I really enjoyed the style of writing and began to read this book differently to others of the same genre. It’s really interesting knowing many of the answers and watching our protagonist come closer to the web.

I really enjoyed the setting; I love rural England and used to have an allotment (which I miss), so the backdrop worked really well for me, it’s great how it’s rooted in the ordinary rather than building grandeur or being overly gothic: this also builds great tension in the second, more driven part of the narrative.

Also, worthy of note is the disabilities of the principle character – she’s not a typical player in a horror novel, her limitations and onset of dementia draw in some wider themes of vulnerability, loss and the challenges of difference. I thought this layer was really interesting, and made the supernatural element deeper. This works really well after the opening stages of the novel coming from the antagonist’s perspectives, and increases her vulnerability.

An excellent modern horror book layered with themes of vulnerability, loss, mythology, evil and murder.

Oh, there’s also a dog – love Viggo!!

#BlogTour for A PRINCESS BY CHRISTMAS by Julia London @MillsandBoon

This is my first Mills & Boon book and blog tour, really pleased to be trying something new. Keep scrolling for some bookish chat…

Book Blurb

A Secret. A Lie. A Revolution.


Hollis Honeycutt has written her London gazette since the death of her husband—featuring fashion plates, marriage advice, and the latest gossip in and around Mayfair. But now she feels her gazette should have more meaning, cover topics of more consequence than the latest curl cream.
The opportunity presents itself when Hollis overhears rumours of a potential coup in the Kingdom of Wesloria, a coup linked to the highest level of government in London. During her investigation Hollis spies a man with no business lurking around peace talks, and determines to expose him for the traitor he most certainly must be.

When Weslorian Marek Brendan was fifteen he was shocked to discover his heritage was not what he believed—he was whisked away from the Weslorian palace when he was born because there was fear that corrupt forces would try and kidnap him. Now he is determined to stop these corrupt forces staging a coup in his home country. Except for the beautiful woman whose questions are putting his own investigation at risk. Yet soon Marek realises that pretty Hollis can help him. But when he confides his suspicions, Hollis’s loyalties are tested and she must choose between her loyalties to her family, or her heart . . .

A secret. A Lie. A Revolution…

My thoughts

I don’t think this was the best choice for my first Mills & Boon, that’s not to criticise the book – it’s mainly because it is actually a part of the series and there are lots of back stories to catch up on. The author is very dedicated in filling in the reader with the relationships that have formed in the previous books, ‘The Princess Plan’ and ‘A Royal Kiss and Tell’, but I found this detracted from the new plot and ‘couple in the making’: Hollis Honeycutt and Marek Brendan. So, I’d highly recommend reading the series in order.

That said, this book offers the romance reader a politically charged book where two fictitious warring nations are under threat – again if you’ve read the first two books, you’ll be much better placed to work out what’s happening. With threats of a coup and corruption lurking, we meet Hollis and Marek who are our to-be-matched couple.

Hollis is energetic, intelligent and passionate about what she does and gets involved in; she also writes a ‘Gazette of Fashion and Domesticity for Ladies’ and extracts from this head each chapter. Marek on the other hand, is reserved, quiet and contemplative. So, the two form an ‘opposites’ attract relationship. There’re several ups and downs, which are expected of this genre, and lots of antics, but they are all grounded by the political revolution storyline.

Overall, this is a fun ups and downs romance with the guaranteed HAPPY EVER AFTER!

Many thanks to the publisher for inviting me on the blog tour!

Blog tour – do check out these other fabulous bloggers chatting about ‘A Princess by Christmas’

Please buy from independents if you can XX

#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 #blogtour for #TheNesting by @CJessCooke @HarperCollinsUK thanks to Anne, @RandomTTours

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

It was like something out of a fairytale…

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

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


But protect them from what?

My thoughts…

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

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

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

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

The Blog Tour

Please check out more bookish chat from these super bloggers!

The Author

C.J. Cooke

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

Please buy from independents if you can XX

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

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

The Blurb

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

My thoughts…

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

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

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

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

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

The Blog Tour

The Author

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

Orenda Books

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

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

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


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