#BlogTour for #FatalIsles by @AdolfssonMia with thanks to @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders @ZaffreBooks

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…

Beautiful places can hide deadly secrets…

The Blurb

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 . . .

My thoughts…

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.

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

Nightmares are creeping through the city of dreams . . .

Praise for The Mask of Mirrors

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

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

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

The Blurb

Nightmares are creeping through the city of dreams . . .

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

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

My thoughts

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

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

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

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

The Authors

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


#BlogTour #BodyLanguage by @AnyaLipska @ZaffreBooks #CompulsiveReaders @Tr4cyF3nt0n

When the dead speak, she listens…

Book Blurb

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.

Blog Tour

Do check out the book chat about Body Language until Dec 6th and do keep scrolling for my bookish chat 🙂

My thoughts…

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.

#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.

Blog Tour for ‘SOOT’ @danvyleta and published by @orionbooks #CompulsiveReaders

Wishing ‘Soot’ every success on its blog tour and with the publication. I’m really pleased to be contributing today with some content into the characters of the novel, and the world they inhabit. With thanks! Check out the tour list below for other fabulous contributions from the book loving community.

Book Blurb

Welcome to a world where every desire is visible, rising from the body as a plume of Smoke. A world where bodies speak to one another and infect each other with desire, anger, greed. It is 1909 and this world stands on a precipice – some celebrate this constant whisper of skin to skin, and some seek to silence it forever.

Enter Eleanor, a young woman with a strange power over Smoke and niece of the Lord Protector of England. Running from her uncle and home, she finds shelter in a New York theatre troupe.

Then Nil, a thief hiding behind a self-effacing name. He’s an orphan snatched from a jungle-home and suspects that a clue to his origins may lie hidden in the vaults of the mighty, newly-risen East India Company.

And finally Thomas, one of the three people to release Smoke into the world. On a clandestine mission to India, he hopes to uncover the origins of Smoke and lay to rest his doubts about what he helped to unleash.

In a story that crosses continents – from India to England’s Minetowns – these three seek to control the power of Smoke. As their destinies entwine, a cataclysmic confrontation looms: the Smoke will either bind them together or forever rend the world.

I. The Story


Imagine a symphony made up of distinct themes and melodies.
It starts with a young woman, Eleanor, afraid that the long reach of her uncle will at last discover her in her Canadian exile and summon her home. She has a ‘talent’—a special relationship to the Smoke—that she fears others will want to put to use. Then she meets a playwright, a master of the new art of Smoke Theatre, and he offers her shelter within his troupe.
Then there is Nil—No-One, Nothing—a thief and confidence man, getting by on his wits. His latest mark is the New York City branch of the mighty East India Company, a trading corporation that controls the Indian Raj and is one of the dominant economic powers in this world after the ‘Second Smoke’, for they hold a monopoly on the only substance that can supress the Smoke. Nil is an orphan who does not know where he was stolen from when still a young child. He suspects that somewhere in the Company vaults slumbers the truth of who he is.
And then there is Thomas, hero of Smoke, who has travelled to India to learn what really happened in the revolution he helped to start ten years ago. He meets the Singhs, a local couple who themselves are revolutionaries of sorts, dreaming of freedom from Company rule. Will what Thomas finds lay to rest his guilt and doubts about what he helped to unleash?
These three melodies soon begin to intertwine, tying together events in North American and on the Indian subcontinent, and leading back to Britain, that sundered, Gale-haunted ‘Isle of the Smoke’, where the Smoke-affirming North of Minetowns and the Smoke-denying South under the stewardship of its Lord Protector are fighting over the country’s future.

About Dan Vyleta

Dan Vyleta is the author of four previous novels: Pavel & I, which gathered international acclaim and was translated into eight languages, The Quiet Twin, which was shortlisted for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, The Crooked Maid, which was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and winner of the J.L. Segal Award, and the critically-acclaimed Smoke.

His is the son of Czech refugees who emigrated to Germany in the late 1960s. After growing up in Germany, Dan left to attend university in the US, where he completed a PhD in History at King’s College, London.

He lives in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Praise for Dan Vyleta

‘For once both comparisons (with Harry Potter and Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights) are apt . . . this is a novel that stays in the imagination long after it has been read’

  • The Guardian

‘It’s detailed, multi-layered and feels authentic – and might just win over historical fiction fans too’

  • The Pool

‘Mr. Vyleta writes with intricacy and imagination and skillful pacing’

  • New York Times

‘Vice is made visual in Vyleta’s sprawling, ambitious novel, a Dickensian tale tinged with fantasy’

  • Entertainment Weekly

‘One of the most original and enthralling books I have read in a long time.’

  • Shelf Awareness

#blogtour ‘Never Look Back’ by A.L. Gaylin

It’s lovely being on the blog tour for ‘Never Look Back’ with Compulsive Readers – thanks to Tracy and Orion Books.

She was the most brutal killer of our time. And she may have been my mother…

Blurb

When Robin Diamond is contacted by true crime podcast producer Quentin Garrison, she assumes it’s a business matter.

It’s not.

Quentin’s podcast focuses on a series of murders in the 1970s committed by a teen couple and Quentin has reason to believe Robin’s mother may be intimately connected with the killings.

Robin thinks Quentin’s claim is absurd. But is it?

Robin knows her mother better than anyone. Or does she?

My thoughts

This story is told via a split narrative of letters to ‘my future child, Aurora Grace’ from Alice Cooper throughout the year of 1976 and the central dual perspectives of Quentin and Robin with some supporting points of view as the story develops. Quentin being a true crime podcast producer, and Robin, whose mother Quentin suspects could be one half of the infamous Inland Empire Killers. The significant issue here, is both the Inland Empire Killers both died in a fire.

I was thoroughly fascinated reading this book; the inclusion of the letter form worked brilliantly and told the events of the story from a completely different time-frame perspective. It’s gripping, addictive and thoroughly entertaining.

This is one of those great reads, that steadily lays trails of information and points of view for the reader to piece together. I really enjoyed the diverse group of characters who are all caught up in some awful events and the steady climb to the big reveal.

A highly recommended character driven, compulsive psychological crime thriller. Read it! I’m certainly going to be working my way through Gaylin’s back-list. Huge thanks to the author and publishing team for inviting me to join in the chat about ‘Never Look Back’.

About the author
Alison Gaylin is the award-winning author of ‘Hide Your Eyes’ and its sequel, ‘You Kill Me’; the standalones ‘Trashed’, ‘Heartless’, ‘What Remains Of Me’ and ‘If I Die Tonight’; and the ‘Brenna Spector’ series: ‘And She Was, Into the Dark’, and ‘Stay with Me’. A graduate of Northwestern University and of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, she lives with her husband and daughter in Woodstock, New York

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