The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson #HiddenIceland #TheDarkness #review

Today I m delighted to be sharing my review for The Darkness by Ragnar Jonasson. This is a book from my own TBR and it is the first in the Hidden Iceland trilogy. Keep an eye out as I have also read the 2nd book, The Island and my review for that will be ready soon.

Anyway, how about we have a look at this very unusual set out trilogy, starting with The Darkness…

At sixty-four, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykjavik Police is about to take on her last case before she retires: A young woman, an asylum seeker from Russia, found murdered on the seaweed covered rocks of the Vatnsleysuströnd in Iceland.

When Hulda starts to ask questions it isn’t long before she realizes that no one can be trusted, and that no one is telling the whole truth. Spanning Reykjavik, the Icelandic highlands and the cold, isolated fjords, The Darkness is a thrilling new crime thriller from one of the biggest new names in Scandi noir.

This was such a great book and I was easily drawn into it. The story revolves around Hulda Hermannsdottir, she has a year to go before she retires from her job as a Detective Inspector with the Reykjavik Police.

Oh my god… what a slap in the face for Hulda, the treatment she received was so unfair and unjust and even now it makes my blood boil. Her decision to take on a cold case gave her so much more than she bargained for. I think I should explain this is going to be a bit of a random and vague-ish review beacause I don’t want to give anything away and spoil it for other readers…

This was such a fabulous read and one that appealed to me so much as I got to know Hulda. She is a bit of a loner, workaholic and I really warmed to her character. Her treatment by the police department is one of those that play on the “boys clique” within the workplace. Even though it made me angry it also worked to Hulda’s advantage… to a point… as it gave her a great case to look into. It is not however straight forward and she makes several waves.

During her investigations I got to learn about Hulda, her life, her family and what made her who she is. I got to know her story and discovered a lot more than meets the eye. She is tenacious and doesn’t like to leave loose ends.

The plot and the story for this book is absolutely brilliant. Told over three days and therefore in three sections, with quick and snappy sub chapters that keep the story moving along at a wonderful pace. The descriptions are atmospheric and add an eerie presence to the stark landscape. It has in someways a resemblance to Hulda’s character, cold, lonely and unforgiving. By the time I got to the end of the story I was stunned… well… wow…never saw that one…OMFG…

This is a brilliant book that I just absolutely adored. Atmospheric, chilling, tense and very addictive reading and a must for those who love Icelandic Noir, murder, mystery, crime, suspense… yeah just buy the book, the  2nd book, ‘The Island’ is just as awesome. As for the 3rd one ‘The Mist’ gotto wait until March 2020… I already have that on pre-order 🙂

And just in case you wanted to know if I would recommend it…. I Abos-flamin-lute-ly and most definitely would I recommend this book 🙂

Purchase link – Amazon UK

Image taken from Goodreads

Ragnar Jonasson is author of the award winning and international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

His debut Snowblind, first in the Dark Iceland series, went to number one in the Amazon Kindle charts shortly after publication. The book was also a no. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in Australia. Snowblind has been a paperback bestseller in France. 

Nightblind won the Dead Good Reader Award 2016 for Most Captivating Crime in Translation.

Snowblind was called a “classically crafted whodunit” by THE NEW YORK TIMES, and it was selected by The Independent as one of the best crime novels of 2015 in the UK.

Rights to the Dark Iceland series have been sold to UK, USA, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Australia, Poland, Turkey, South Korea, Japan, Morocco, Portugal, Croatia, Armenia and Iceland.

Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

He is also the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir.

From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic.

Ragnar has also had short stories published internationally, including in the distinguished Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in the US, the first stories by an Icelandic author in that magazine.

He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik.

Visit Ragnar on – Twitter Website

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂

The Cornish Lady by Nicola Pryce @NPryce_Author @rararesources #Giveaway (Open Int) #review

I am delighted to be bringing you my review for The Cornish Lady by Nicola Pryce as part of the Blog Tour with Rachel’s Random Resources. My huge thanks to Rachel for the invite and to Nicola for my e-copy of the book.

This is the 2nd book I have read by this author and it is the 4th in the Cornish Saga series. The books can be read as a stand alone, and I will be reading the rest. Let’s have a look and see what The Cornish Lady is all about…

Cornwall:1796

Educated, beautiful and the daughter of a prosperous merchant, Angelica Lilly has been invited to spend the summer in high society. Her father’s wealth is opening doors, and attracting marriage proposals, but Angelica still feels like an imposter among the aristocrats of Cornwall.

When her brother returns home, ill and under the influence of a dangerous man, Angelica’s loyalties are tested to the limit. Her one hope lies with coachman Henry Trevelyan, a softly spoken, educated man with kind eyes. But when Henry seemingly betrays Angelica, she has no one to turn to. Who is Henry, and what does he want? And can Angelica save her brother from a terrible plot that threatens to ruin her entire family?

Purchase Links: UK US

This is set in the Truro and Falmouth area of Cornwall in the mid 1790’s. The main character is Angelica Lilly. The background of her, her brother and other members of her family and their friends are gradually revealed over the course of the story.

Angelica interacts with various people along the way, from all walks of life and with the same ease, though she thinks she is an impostor in the more aristocratic of houses. Despite her lack of confidence she is well thought of and often invited to visit the lavish estates of her friends who hold her as an equal.

Now you may think that Angelica will be very lady like, well that’s not always the case. She is not adverse to a spot of tree scaling or climbing out of a window, or in for that matter. She is a bit of a tomboy at heart and has an awareness of things of importance going on not only in the are but also around the world. She understands and holds intelligent, well supported conversations of the topics concerning others at the time.

Various characters are introduced during the story and I found them very memorable for various reasons, some good some bad and I’ll let you decide for yourself. Lords, ladies, gardeners, actors, guards, apothecaries, and old friends are all mix together in the book.

The plot revolves around a few things, some of the main ones for me were discovering exactly who Henry Trevelyan is. What Angelica’s brother had got himself caught up in. There are many other things going on and they flowed seamlessly into one another making for a hugely enjoyable read. Add into this prisoners and a bid for freedom, love and confusion, some devious plots and you have grounds for a really good story.

I really enjoyed the historical aspect of this story, various items of the time have been woven in and the pace really does suit. I really enjoy the inclusions of those all important sights, sounds and smells, though maybe not all the smells… added to that the mannerisms, costumes, foods and leisure activities and just about everything was just spot o for me. It was very easy to visualise the settings, but I do have a slight advantage in that I can see Pendennis Castle and Falmouth from my house. It’s only 9 ish miles as the crow flies, a whole lot longer by road.

This is another compelling read and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. It is a historical fiction / romance that has so many interesting sides to it and it is one I would highly recommend.

If you fancy reading a copy why not enter the Giveaway below and see if you can win your very own.

Giveaway to Win a signed copy of The Cornish Lady, a box of Cornish Fudge and some bookmarks (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

Enter by clicking Here Good Luck xx

Nicola Pryce came to writing after a career in nursing. She has an Open University degree in Humanities and is a qualified adult literacy support volunteer. She is lives in the Blackdown Hills in Somerset and when she isn’t writing she’s probably gardening or scrubbing the decks. She and her husband love sailing and for the last twenty years they have sailed in and out of the romantic harbours of the south coast of Cornwall in search of adventure: it is there where she sets her books.

The Cornish Lady is her fourth book: The others are Pengelly’s Daughter, The Captain’s Girl, and The Cornish Dressmaker.

Nicola is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Historical Writers Association.


Social Media Links – Twitter Website Pintrest Goodreads Facebook

Finally, before you go. Why not check out the reviews from the other Fabulous Book Bloggers on the Blog Tour…

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx

The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon @orionbooks #NetGalley #review

I have followed this series from the very first book The Shadow of the Wind that was first published in 2001. The series is best read in order, but the author has stated that they can be read in any order, this final book does, however, wrap all the previous ones together.

I would like to thank Orion Publishing Group for accepting my request to review this book via NetGalley. As always my opinions are very much my own.

The Shadow of the Wind

The Angel’s Game

The Prisoner of Heaven

The Labyrinth of Spirits.

So let’s see what The Labyrinth of the Spirits is all about…

The long-awaited new novel from the author of the global bestseller and modern classic, The Shadow of the Wind.

As a child, Daniel Sempere discovered among the passageways of the Cemetery of Forgotten Books an extraordinary novel that would change the course of his life. Now a young man in the Barcelona of the late 1950s, Daniel runs the Sempere & Sons bookshop and enjoys a seemingly fulfilling life with his loving wife and son. Yet the mystery surrounding the death of his mother continues to plague his soul despite the moving efforts of his wife Bea and his faithful friend Fermín to save him.

Just when Daniel believes he is close to solving this enigma, a conspiracy more sinister than he could have imagined spreads its tentacles from the hellish regime. That is when Alicia Gris appears, a soul born out of the nightmare of the war. She is the one who will lead Daniel to the edge of the abyss and reveal the secret history of his family, although at a terrifying price.

The Labyrinth of the Spirits is an electrifying tale of passion, intrigue and adventure. Within its haunting pages Carlos Ruiz Zafón masterfully weaves together plots and subplots in an intricate and intensely imagined homage to books, the art of storytelling and that magical bridge between literature and our lives.

So this is the 4th book in The Cemetary of Forgotten Books series. It is an 800+ page book that I very easily found myself disappearing into. It pieces together the remaining pieces of past puzzles and wrapping them up.

This book has a darker feel to it than previous books, but it is a few years since I last read them. It didn’t take me long to remember certain characters and of course, remember how this author can wrap me up in his words.

Its roots are in Spain and I found myself once again drawn into the maze-like streets and atmosphere of Barcelona. An era of unrest and uncertainty as this is the time of Franco, Spanish Civil War, and nationalist airstrikes. The main characters are Daniel, the rather dramatic Fermin and our heroine Alicia Gris, there are many more other characters that have important roles to play but I will leave you to discover them yourself.

Alicia is trying to complete an assignment, at the end she hopes to be free of her role and start a new life. She is trying to discover the whereabouts of Mauricio Valls, not easy and definitely dangerous. In her investigations, she meets various other characters and the depth of the plot really does start to stand out.

The whereabouts of a mysterious author, Victor Mataix, the secrets of the Sempere family, the Cemetary of Forgotten Books, murder, kidnapping and a whole host of deception, tricks, and foul play are just the tip of the iceberg within the pages

The story itself is laid out in four interlocking stories that lead the reader through the labyrinth that is the story. Each section is intricately woven and leads from plot to plot. I found it easy to follow and though it has a great depth I found myself able to enjoy it a huge amount.

The thing about this book is the fact that it is essentially a multi-genre one. It has murder, mystery, history, suspense and thriller qualities. With everything going on in this book it may come across as being complex, but I found it flowed beautifully. With so many different plots and themes, I am really struggling to find the words to describe how amazing this book, in fact, the whole series has been. So I am going to break it down into basic words that immediately spring to mind when I think about this book…atmospheric, bewitching, heartbreaking, cryptic, dark, mysterious, complex, twisted, beautiful, historical, literary, fabulous, compelling, intriguing, and bloody brilliant…I think that sort of sums it up.

This is a book and a series I would absolutely highly recommend.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Image taken from the Author’s goodreads page.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón is a Spanish novelist. Born in Barcelona in 1964, he has lived in Los Ángeles, United States, since 1994, and works as a scriptwriter aside from writing novels.

His first novel, El príncipe de la niebla (The Prince of Mist, 1993), earned the Edebé literary prize for young adult fiction. He is also the author of three more young-adult novels, El palacio de la medianoche (1994), Las luces de septiembre (1995) and Marina (1999).

In 2001 he published the novel La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind), his first ‘adult’ novel, which has sold millions of copies worldwide. Since its publication, La sombra del viento has garnered critical acclaim around the world and has won numerous international awards. Ruiz Zafón’s works have been published in more than 40 countries and have been translated into more than 30 languages. 

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

Dear Rosie Hughes by Melanie Hudson @HarperImpulse #NetGalley #review

Today I have my review for the fabulous Dear Rosie Hughes. I have to say a massive Thank You to the wonderful folks at Harper Impulse and Killer Reads for asking if I would like to read this book via NetGalley. An absolutely wonderful read from start to finish.

Let’s have a look and see what it is all about…

The best friendships are worth fighting for…

It’s been fifteen years since Aggie’s friendship with Rosie Hughes ended abruptly. But now she’s heard from the village rumor mill that Rosie is off to war, she knows her best friend needs her more than ever – despite what’s happened between them in the past.

As Rosie faces a desert full of danger and Aggie falls further from the path to love she’ so wants, the two friends write each other letters.

The comfort in their shared words is an anchor to the life they knew before…and the only constant in a world as increasingly unpredictable as the wind.

The synopsis hints at the story, a story of friendship that has drifted and has now been reignited. The whole story is told in a series of emails, letters, and messages. They tell the lives of the characters involved.

I picked this book up only meaning to read a few chapters… I read the lot in one go it was that good. The friends are Aggie and Rosie. They reach out to each other across the miles and rekindle a friendship that ended abruptly. They discuss their lives and loves, experiences and settle misunderstandings.

The story as I have said is a series of messages, letters and each is time and date marked, I saw these as unconventional chapter headings. The author has created such a wonderful story that just enveloped me and with such a distinctive style. When I started I wasn’t sure how this would reach me on an emotional level… how wrong was I! It touched my heart in a huge way, and even now as I sit here typing I can feel that lump in my throat and tears at the edges of my eyes and I read the book several days ago. This is a book that is obviously going to stay with me for a long time, it is a very special book.

As the story made its way, I found that Aggie and Rosie still had a strong, if somewhat tentative at the beginning friendship after a 15-year break. It is one of those situations where I felt that even though they had been apart for many years they were able to pick up where they left off. Yes, they had drifted apart, almost like they had hit pause and were just waiting for the moment when they both needed each other and play could be pressed and all would resume again.

This is a story that made me smile, snigger and sob buckets. It ticked so many boxes without me realising it, I was absolutely absorbed and hooked by this beautiful story. It is one that I would highly and abso-flamin-lutely recommend.

At the time of writing up my post Dear Rosie Hughes is available for only 99p, it will be one of the best 99p you will spend. Here is the link for Amazon UK to download your copy –HERE

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx

The Reach Of Shadows by Tony J Forder @TonyJForder #review

I am absolutely delighted to be bringing you my review of the 4th DI Bliss book, The Reach Of Shadows by Tony J Forder. I am a big fan of this author, I eagerly await the next book and one that I would automatically buy without reading the synopsis.

I was delighted to be chosen as a winner for a signed copy of this latest book in the series. I had already got this one on pre-order but waited until I had the actual paperback in my hand before reading it.

So let’s see what this latest book is all about…

Discover a bestselling crime series that will have you gripped from the explosive start to the heart-pounding conclusion.

Recovering from injuries sustained in a road collision, DI Bliss is taken directly from hospital to a fresh crime scene and ordered to investigate the vicious stabbing and murder of Jade Coleman.

When Bliss realises the victim had reported being stalked, and that two of his own team had been drafted in to take her statement, he is given the unenviable task of interviewing both of his detectives.

Increasingly it appears that the stalker may be their killer. However, several other people soon become part of the team’s suspect list.

Bliss also finds himself being questioned about his own past and has to battle to defend himself whilst continuing to investigate the murder.

Soon more questions arise.

Why would anybody target Jade Coleman?

Why are the team unable to identify the victim’s close female friend?

And why did Jade recently leave her job without any explanation?

With his work cut out, and his team under pressure, can Bliss solve the case before more victims show up?

Or will the shadows of his own past reach out and drag him under before he can succeed?

As this is the 4th in the DI Bliss and DC Chandler series I would say you really should read the previous books, though it could be read as a stand-alone. This series has gradually developed in terms of the characters and their own individual storylines. This book not only deals with a current investigation for the Peterborough based team it also delves into Bliss’s past, in fact delves, doesn’t even come close to it…

Bliss and Chandler are a great pair of characters and the author really does like to put the middle-aged DI through the wringer. Bliss is battered and bruised after a collision with a car, I have to say the banter that he received from his colleagues made me chuckle… sorry Bliss, but it did. Chandler is younger and really does look to Bliss for advice and I love that she is not averse to dishing out her own where he is concerned, especially when his personal life and past is called into question.

There are several other officers in this cast, they are making their mark in their own way, and while they are not in the forefront they do have their parts to play. Little snippets are gradually coming out about them, and also the build-up of respect and more importantly trust is ever increasing. I really do like Bliss and his “old timer” ways.

The investigation into the murder victim previously being in touch with the police is something that adds to the case. The “what if we could have prevented it” and also the “who can we blame” is present. It also has the whole team stumped as they have very little to go on with this somewhat of a lone woman, with very few friends to give valuable information to help the investigation move forward.

While this is going on there is another investigation, one that has its roots in the past of Bliss. It is an area of his past that he really does not want to get into again and to be honest I don’t blame him for wanting it left alone. But it does beggar the question…Does someone have it in for him? The answer…well Read the book and discover for yourself!

As this series goes on I get to know more and more about its 2 main characters. They have their own story to tell, they have been mentioned in the past and I now know more. By the end of the story, I felt as if the characters had actually got a chance to move forward, this is such a vague thing to say but I don’t want to give anything away. There have both had part of themselves hidden in the shadows and now they are starting to see some light, I do wonder how long this will last though…

This is a police procedural, murder mystery book. It has a pace that really suits the story, it is not fast paced, blood and guts flying type, it is slower as the head-scratching and information gathering sort as pieces of the puzzle are put together. I like how it is woven around the personal side of the main characters and I feel that both sides complement each other and I liked both of the stories equally.

So would I recommend? Oh yes absolutely!

Would I advise anyone who has not read the series to get it now? Damn, right I would!

In fact, here there are links below to all of Tony’s books. Happy reading folks!

Also available in the bestselling DI Bliss Series:

Bad to the Bone

The Scent of Guilt

If Fear Wins

The Reach Of Shadows

Or buy the 1st three-book set – (correct at time of writing ) 99p

Other books

Degrees of Darkness

Scream Blue Murder

Cold Winter Sun

Tony J Forder is the author of the critically acclaimed and best-selling crime thriller series featuring detectives Jimmy Bliss and Penny Chandler. The first three books, Bad to the Bone, The Scent of Guilt, If Fear Wins and The Reach of Shadows.

Tony’s dark, psychological crime thriller, Degrees of Darkness, featuring ex-detective Frank Rogers, was also published by Bloodhound Books. This is a stand-alone novel, and delves into the mind of a serial-killer.

Scream Blue Murder was published in November 2017, and received praise from many, including fellow authors Mason Cross, Matt Hilton and Anita Waller. The sequel, Cold Winter Sun, will be published on 1 November 2018.

Tony is now a full-time writer and lives with his wife in Peterborough, UK.

Visit Tony on – Twitter Website Facebook

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be fabulous 🙂 xx

Marked For Death by Tony Kent @TonyKent_Writes #review

I was lucky enough to win a proof copy of this book August last year on TBC, and yep I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner.

Marked For Death is the second book in the series by Tony Kent. In my usual style, I have still got the first book Killer Intent to read, it is now sat glaring at me from my TBR. I bought Killer Intent before I had even got through the first few chapters of Marked For Death, that gives you an indication as to how much I enjoyed reading it.

Now let’s see what Marked For Death is all about…

A thrilling follow-up to one of 2018’s hottest debuts, Killer Intent

When London’s legal establishment is shaken to its foundation by the grisly crucifixion of a retired Lord Chief Justice, Detective Chief Inspector Joelle Levy is tasked with finding his killer. With fifty years of potential enemies to choose from, only the identical murder of former solicitor Adam Blunt offers a ray of hope: what is it that connects these victims who met such a gruesome end?

Assigned to the story from the start, news reporter Sarah Truman sets out to investigate on her own, not suspecting that the trail will lead straight back to her own front door and her fiancé Michael Devlin. A criminal barrister determined to prove the innocence of his own client, Michael is at first oblivious to the return of the murderous figure from his past – until tragedy strikes closer to home.

Struggling with his grief and guilt, and now caught up in a madman’s terrible quest for revenge, Michael must race to bring the killer to justice – before it’s too late.

I am not one for reading the synopsis immediately before I start reading a book or the author bio for that matter, I usually leave it till the end. For some reason, I decided to read both beforehand. It made me wonder how much of the authors’ experiences would show in his story and also how would they come across to me as a reader. He is a Barrister, Ex-Boxer and Crime Writer, well that’s an impressive resume! Well, I immediately felt that the author had an advantage, the legal stuff (stuff is not very technical I know!) had extra details, not that I am knowledgable in this area, but they had that extra something to them. The boxing details again showed themselves and added the air of someone who really knows what they are talking about. The writing well if I say I loved this book I think that will give a pretty good indication of how much I enjoyed it. I think 3 out of 3 is pretty spot on.

Right to the story itself then… this is a thriller that is fast paced, it has brilliant courtroom scenes, an intense investigation and if that is not enough, there are friendships and relationships that intersperse and link the various different characters.

The characters themselves are brilliant and it did not take me long to become familiar with them, they have interesting traits that make them stand out from each other. Many come across as strong and have their own determined presence, they really suit and complement this style of story. A weaker character just wouldn’t cut it in this powerful cast.

The plot or I should say plots are carefully entwined and full of surprise. They are clever and twist their way through the story, full of red herrings and blind alleys. I loved that I could keep up with all these without feeling confused or lost and it left me to thoroughly enjoy this intense story. The courtroom scenes I really enjoyed, especially while witnesses where being interrogated, sorry questioned, especially when those cocky, so sure of themselves ones, got so tangled up they fell flat on their faces.

The police investigation that is part of the story is also linked in with a news reporter. The pressure that DCI Levy is under to solve the case is evident and believe me when I say she is not a woman to be messed with, I really liked her tenacity and principles, but she is a woman with a past and would love to get to know her a bit more.

I have to give mention to the bad guy, Oh he is a real nasty piece of work and such a cleverly put together character.

So, a mix of courtroom drama, police investigations, thriller, crime and full of action from start to finish. For me, this was an absolutely brilliant read with so many aspects that hit the mark for me. It is one I would Highly Recommend.

Photo Credit – taken from the authors Goodreads Page.

Tony Kent’s first novel, KILLER INTENT, was one of the ‘must reads’ of 2018. It was selected for the Zoe Ball Book Club and is now to be adapted for television, directed by the award-winning filmmaker Duncan Jones.

Tony Kent grew up in a close-knit Irish family in London and studied law in Scotland.

A top-ranking barrister, Tony’s case history includes prosecuting and defending many high-profile, nationally reported trials.

Before his legal career, Tony boxed internationally as a heavyweight and won a host of national amateur titles.

Tony’s love of crime thrillers was inspired by powerhouse writers like Lee Child, Robert Ludlum, John Grisham, David Baldacci and Frederick Forsyth.

Follow or visit Tony on FacebookTwitterWebsite

Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be great 🙂 xx

The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul #MeAndMyBooks #NetGalley #review

Today I am sharing my review for a fabulous book, The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul. I would like to thank the publisher Headline for accepting my request to read an e-copy of this book.

A Russian princess. An extraordinary sacrifice. A captivating secret….

From the number one best-selling author of The Secret Wife, The Lost Daughter is a sweeping, moving story of the tenacity of love and the power of forgiveness. Spectacular, enthralling and romantic, Gill Paul’s latest novel will stay with you forever.

1918. With the country they once ruled turned against them, the future of the Romanov family hangs in the balance. When middle daughter Maria captures the attention of two of the guards, it will lead to the ultimate choice between right and wrong….

Fifty-five years later…

‘I didn’t want to kill her’. With these cryptic words Val’s father dies, leaving her to unravel a mystery which unites two families who have faced unspeakable tragedy and perhaps to finally offer an explanation which has been long overdue. 

I am going to start by saying that this is a stunning historical fiction read that has been sat on my digital TBR for far too long. I really wish I had picked it up sooner.

It has two timelines, one in 1918 and the other in the 1970s. I was curious how these two would eventually link up as they also span two different continents. A story of tragedy, love, betrayal, and heartbreak amongst the turmoil of 1918 Russia, and in the 70s a daughter trying to discover the meaning behind her fathers’ mysterious ramblings.

What an absolutely fabulous read, full of emotion and completely addictive. From the start, I noticed the details that showed the evidence of a well-researched book. I was immediately transported with the authors take on the story of the Romanov family. Maria is one of Tsar Nicholas II daughters. At 19 Maria is taken from the opulent lifestyle. Russia is in a period of transition, a period of turmoil and suffering that many experienced for many years to come.

In the 70s I met Val, she is confused with her father. He has dementia and is dying, but she wonders if his mysterious conversations have anything to do with his past. They are troubled words and she finds herself unable to leave them alone. She sets out to discover the truth and also finds herself making decisions about her own future.

There is something about the history of the Romanovs and Russian history of this era that really does pique my interest. It may seem a morbid thing to be interested in, but my interest lies in the social class and structure of the time. A time in history that is tragic as people of all classes are persecuted, depending on who is in power. But it is the human resilience and inventiveness of trying to stay alive, rather than bowing down to an authority that would rather you were dead than oppose them. The Author has done an amazing job of mixing fact with fiction to give a glimpse into Russian life at the time.

The story between the two times was one that had me hooked. I found the characters were very easy to follow and recognisable. The alternating timelines were again very easy to keep up with. I found a story that was heartbreaking and hopeful. Heartbreaking because of what had happened, but hopeful towards the possibility of a better future. It had a dramatic and at times tense atmosphere to the reading, I found myself constantly wondering and worrying about the fate of some of the characters. I was totally caught up and mesmerised by the whole story.

The story of Val is a gradual one, she slowly starts to unravel a decades-old mystery that has kept its grip on her father. Her story really did compliment that of Maria. I was unsure how they would link, but when I started to see little things coming together I was even more compelled to read. By the end of the story I was a bit of an emotional wreck… enter the box of tissues…I found the concluding chapters brought everything together beautifully and completely, although I was gutted to have finished the story.

This was an absolutely wonderful read, it has an amazing balance of human endurance to overcome heartwrenching odds. In case you have not guessed it yet, I absolutely adored this story and it is one I would Highly Recommend. Also, it has left me wanting to read more by this author.

Image and Bio taken from the Author’s Page at Amazon UK

Gill Paul is an author of historical fiction, specialising in relatively recent history. Her new novel, The Lost Daughter, is about Maria, the third of the Romanov daughters, who befriended the guards in Ekaterinburg, and a Sydney woman called Val Scott, who is trapped in an abusive marriage. 

Gill’s other novels include Another Woman’s Husband, about links between Wallis Simpson and Princess Diana, and The Secret Wife, about the romance between cavalry officer Dmitri Malama and Grand Duchess Tatiana, the second Romanov daughter, who first met in 1914. Women and Children First is about a young steward who works on the Titanic. The Affair was set in Rome in 1961–62 as Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton fell in love while making Cleopatra. And No Place for a Lady is about two Victorian sisters who travel out to the Crimean War of 1854–56 and face challenges beyond anything they could have imagined.

Gill also writes historical non-fiction, including A History of Medicine in 50 Objects, and a series of Love Stories, each containing fourteen tales of real-life couples: how they met, why they fell for each other, and what happened in the end. Published around the world, this series includes Royal Love Stories, World War I Love Stories and Titanic Love Stories.

Gill was born in Glasgow and grew up there, apart from an eventful year at school in the US when she was ten. She studied Medicine at Glasgow University, then English Literature and History (she was a student for a long time), before moving to London to work in publishing. She started her own company producing books for publishers, along the way editing such luminaries as Griff Rhys Jones, John Suchet, John Julius Norwich, Ray Mears and Eartha Kitt. She also writes on health, nutrition and relationships.

Gill swims year-round in an open-air pond – “It’s good for you so long as it doesn’t kill you”– and is a devotee of Pilates. She also particularly enjoys travelling on what she calls “research trips” and attempting to match-make for friends.

Purchase Link – Amazon UK

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Out Of The Silence by Owen Mullen @OwenMullen6 @Bloodhoundbook #review

Today I am delighted to be sharing my review for Out Of The Silence by Owen Mullen as part of the Blog Blitz with Emma at Bloodhound Books. My huge thanks to Emma for the invite to the tour and also to the Publisher and Author for my e-copy.

Let’s see what the book is about…

Synopsis:

Star investigative reporter Ralph Buchanan’s glory days are behind him. His newspaper has banished him to Pakistan, not knowing the greatest moment of his long career is waiting for him there.

When Simone Jasnin asks him to help expose a grave injustice, he finds himself embroiled in a harrowing tale that began in a dusty settlement in rural Punjab, setting in motion a chain of events that will change the lives of everyone involved.

Seven years later in the city of Lahore, members of a prominent family are being brutally murdered one by one. The only clue is a hand-carved wooden bangle left at the scene of each crime.

As the list of suspects grows and the tension mounts, Ralph realises the answers might be closer to home than he ever thought possible.

Solving the mystery will put him back on top but at what cost?

Only when the smoke clears will the killing stop and honour be satisfied…

My Thoughts:

The story of disgraced Investigative Reporter Ralph Buchanan and how he discovers the story of Afra. Afra is a young girl who has left her village to live in Lahore. This story is harrowing and heartbreaking and ultimately leads to murder. But why?

OH WOW! Not sorry for shouting! I read this book in one sitting and I literally shut the world out as I was completely overwhelmed by what I was reading. This is going to be such a hard one to review as the synopsis only hinted at what I was in store for me. It gives a glimpse and that is all. So I am going to be vague and give nothing much away.

Yes, this is a murder, mystery story but that doesn’t even come close to explaining what else is included within the cover. It is about Pakistan’s culture and how the plight of some have to deal with in their daily lives. An unjust world existence with no support of any kind. When pushed to the edge by harrowing, heartbreaking and unwarranted treatment, does murder become justifiable?

This is a stunningly beautiful story as well as one that was hard to read at times. So many different layers and characters that had their story to tell. They are wrapped up and intertwined with each other and not necessarily aware of the existence of the other. The author has done an amazing job of highlighting an important issue and dealing with it in a balanced way. I did warn you this was going to be vague…

If you want a story that has heart, soul, humanity, resistance, and determination then you really should pick this book to read. It is emotional and heartbreaking from the very first page right to the very last. It had me in tears by the time I got to the end. It is one I would Highly Recommend.

About the Author:

Owen Mullen is a McIlvanney Crime Book Of The Year long-listed novelist.

Owen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; he still loves to perform on occasion. His passion for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home in the Greek Islands where In Harm’s Way and the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series’ were created and written. His latest novel Out Of The Silence is a truly compelling thriller set in Pakistan. 

Social Media Links: WebsiteYou TubeTwitterFacebookInstagramGoodreadsBookBub

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Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye with Rebecca Mascull @RebeccaMascull @HQStories #review of #MissMarley

I am absolutely delighted to be sharing my review for Miss Marley by Vanessa Lafaye and Rebecca Mascull. I was over the moon to be sent a copy by Joe Thomas HQ Stories. A wonderful cover for a wonderful book.

Synopsis:

Before A Christmas Carol there was… Miss Marley

A seasonal tale of kindness and goodwill

Orphans Clara and Jacob Marley live by their wits, scavenging for scraps in the poorest alleyways of London, in the shadow of the workhouse. Every night, Jake promises his little sister ‘tomorrow will be better’ and when the chance to escape poverty comes their way, he seizes it despite the terrible price.

And so Jacob Marley is set on a path that leads to his infamous partnership with Ebenezer Scrooge. As Jacob builds a fortress of wealth to keep the world out, only Clara can warn him of the hideous fate that awaits him if he refuses to let love and kindness into his heart…

In Miss Marley, Vanessa Lafaye weaves a spellbinding Dickensian tale of ghosts, goodwill, and hope – a perfect prequel to A Christmas Carol.

My Thoughts:

Have you ever wondered about Jacob Marley, how he became the ghost in A Christmas Carol? What did he do in life to deserve such a penance? I always have. So when the chance to read Miss Marley came along I jumped at it. Set as a prequel to A Christmas Carol, the author has invented a sister for Jacob, Miss Clara Belle Marley. Jacob’s story is told from her perspective.

As a reader I have always associated Christmas with Dickens, A Christmas Carol is one of those books that is synonymous with the festive season and has been the basis for many offshoots in the form of film, musical, and theatre. Miss Marley is a welcome addition and is the perfect book to accompany the Dickens classic. Dickens has some mighty big footsteps and I was a little wary as to how this book would fair. I have to say here and now it faired very well indeed and it complimented those footsteps completely for me.

From the outset I was transported and completely immersed into Dickensian London, slums, rough neighbourhoods, dank sewer lined streets and the notorious poverty. This was here I was introduced to two youngsters, Jacob and Clara. I followed them as they struggled to find food to eat, a roof and warmth to keep themselves healthy and safe. The story tells of a chance event that was to provide the start of a new life. A life that would see them rise from the gutters and to meet Ebenezer Scrooge. 

There are a few references to A Christmas Carol and these were perfect for setting the scene, the feel and introducing characters that follow in Dickens book. By the time I had finished reading Miss Marley, I found my reading appetite definitely whetted and was eager to continue into the book we all know.

You may notice that there are two authors mentioned for this book, I wasn’t really aware of this until I got to the end and read the afterword. The first author is Vanessa Lafaye, she wrote the vast majority of this book. Unfortunately, she lost her battle with cancer before it’s completion. Rebecca Mascull then took on the role of finishing the final few chapters. The friendship, discussions and the love these two authors shared for Dickens really does show and I had no idea where one author left off and the other picked up. It wasn’t until I read the afterword that I discovered this revelation. It was a seamless transition between the two and an ending that I believe Vanessa would approve of (in my opinion). 

This is a novella that is an absolute must-read not only for fans of Dickens and A Christmas Carol but also for those that have not turned the pages of a Dickens before. It would be the perfect introduction to the style and feel of this great author. Everything about this book was absolutely perfect and spot on and it will be one that I will read again for the festive season years to come. This book gets an absolutely highly recommended from me.

About the Authors:

Vanessa Lafaye was born in Florida and studied in North Carolina. She moved to the UK in 1999 (having been deported once). She is the author of two previous novels, her first book Summertime, was chosen for Richard and Judy in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Historical Writers Award. Vanessa passed away in February 2018.

Rebecca Mascull is the author of three historical novels and also writes saga fiction under the pen-name Mollie Walton. Visit her websites for more information: https://molliewalton.co.uk/ & https://rebeccamascull.co.uk/

She is currently hard at work on her next trilogy of historical fiction, with the first novel slated for publication in spring 2019 to be published by Bonnier Zaffre as The Ironbridge Saga. These will be published under the name of Mollie Walton and the first book in the series is set in the dangerous world of the iron industry: THE DAUGHTERS OF IRONBRIDGE.
Her first novel THE VISITORS (2014) tells the story of Adeliza Golding, a deaf-blind child living on her father’s hop farm in Victorian Kent. Her second novel SONG OF THE SEA MAID (2015) is set in the C18th and concerns an orphan girl who becomes a scientist and makes a remarkable discovery. Her third novel, THE WILD AIR (2017) is about a shy Edwardian girl who learns to fly and becomes a celebrated aviatrix but the shadow of war is looming. All are published by Hodder & Stoughton.

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The Lingering by SJI Holliday @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks @annecater #BookReview

The Lingering front FINAL

I am delighted to be sharing my review today for The Lingering by SJI Holliday as part of the Blog Tour with Anne at Random Things Tours and also Orenda Books. A huge thank you to Anne for the invite and to Orenda for my copy.

Synopsis:

Married couple Jack and Ali Gardiner move to a self-sufficient commune in the English Fens, desperate for fresh start. The local village is known for the witches who once resided there and Rosalind House, where the commune has been established, is a former psychiatric home, with a disturbing history

When Jack and Ali arrive, a chain of unexpected and unexplained events is set off, and it becomes clear that they are not all that they seem. As the residents become twitchy, and the villagers suspicious, events from the past come back to haunt them, and someone is seeking retribution…

At once an unnerving locked-room mystery, a chilling thriller and a dark and superbly wrought ghost story, The Lingering is an exceptionally plotted, terrifying and tantalisingly twisted novel by one of the most exciting authors in the genre.

Purchase your own copy from Amazon UK

My thoughts:

Ali and Jack arrive at Rosalind House, a former psychiatric facility and now a commune for those wanting a fresh, slower paced, quiet and calmer lifestyle. Things at Rosalind is idyllic sounding until the arrival of the newcomers. In an atmospheric setting with an unsettling past history, this is a story with a good deal of psychological suspense.

I have seen some wonderful reviews for this book and, as you can imagine, I was eager to read this book. Things seem okay as I joined Ali and Jack, there is a sense of their apprehension at leaving their old lives behind. I felt that their hope for their new fresh start was tinged with scepticism as they meet the other residents. I did wonder why two professionals would choose such an isolated and complete change to their lifestyle. By the end of the book, I could completely understand why and my wonderings were definitely laid to rest.

From the start, this book developed into a story with a mystery. This mystery gradually grew and evolved as the suspense and that gnawing, haunting feeling grew. What I didn’t expect was the many “bloody ‘ell” and ” Oh! That’s good” that left my mouth along the way. This is a story that turned my initial perceptions of some of the characters on its head, I love this when an author keeps me on my toes like this.

The story is told from the perspective of mainly Ali and Angela. Angela is a fellow resident along with another chapter contributor Smeaton. Scattered through the book are diary entries, these I absolutely loved as they gave an insight into the House when it was still in use as a psychiatric facility. It gave a chilling glimpse into the treatments and problems from days gone past.

These quick chapters gave me a chance to really get to know the characters, their motives… yes there are motives, there are also disasters and chilling turns of event that made for wonderful and addictive reading.

A story that had such an idyllic and simplistic sounding lifestyle change that turns into something very sinister. A disturbing, haunting, psychological, suspense-filled mystery,

A brilliant read and one I would highly recommend.

About the Author:

Susi author photo.jpg

S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a pharmaceutical statistician by day and a crime and horror fan by night. Her short stories have been published in many places and she was shortlisted for the inaugural CWA Margery Allingham prize with her story ‘Home from Home’, which was published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine in spring 2017. She is the bestselling author of the creepy and claustrophobic Banktoun trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly) featuring the much-loved Sergeant Davie Gray, and has dabbled in festive crime with the critically acclaimed The Deaths of December. Her latest psychological thriller is modern gothic with more than a hint of the supernatural, which she loved writing due to her fascination and fear of ghosts. She is proud to be one of The Slice Girls has been described by David Mark as ‘Dark as a smoker’s lung.’ She divides her time between Edinburgh and London and you will find her at crime-fiction events in the UK and abroad.

Follow Susi on Twitter or her Website

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Many thanks for reading my post, a like or share would be amazing 🙂 xx