book reviews · Bookish

The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard (Review)

Ahoy! How is everyone doing? I’m a little worse for wear, but hanging in there. Books help! Though I’m sore from the dentist today… but in brighter news! Today I’m on another fantastic Orenda Books blog tour. Today I am on the tour for The Coral Bride by Roxanne Bouchard (Translated by David Warriner). Out now in both Kindle and Paperback formats. I received a copy of this book for free as part of the tour.

The Coral Bride is the sequel to We Were The Salt Of The Sea, book 2 in the Detective Moralès series, written by Roxanne Bouchard and translated to English by David Warriner.

Detective Moralès moved from Mexico to Canada several years prior. He took a job transfer and moved to Bonaventure in the Gaspé Peninsula. Awaiting his wife to join him… however, things didn’t go to plan and his son Sébastien turned up at his door instead with his own troubles, but unwilling to discuss them with his father.

Moralès wants to help his son, but gets assigned a new case. A missing fisher woman named Angel Roberts. A woman in a mans world.. or something. The industry is dominated by males and many are particularly thrilled to have her on their turf. When her lobster trawler is found but there is no sign of her, it’s down to Morales and his team to find her with the help of Fisheries officer Simone who provides a lot of insight on the fishing industry and is quite unlikable.

The author paints an absolutely picturesque image of the Gaspé, so much so you can almost smell the sea salt in the air. A beautiful backdrop while weaving threads of complicated family relationships both for Roberts and Moralès while he investigates her case and tries to make sense of his own life as he struggles with his relationship with his son.

The Coral Bride is charming and captivating. It’s beautifully written/translated and while a little lengthier at over 400 pages, it doesn’t feel it. It feels like a well paced journey with perfectly placed moments of intrigue throughout. It read perfectly well as a standalone and I really enjoyed it. This book has a significant… atmosphere about it. Even the choppiest waters have a weird serenity to them. It’s hard for me to really express it as it was just a feeling I experienced while reading and I can’t recapture it from just thinking back. You’ll have to give it a read and see if you experience it too.

book reviews · Bookish

Fallen Angels by Gunnar Staalesen (Review)

Phew, we’re almost at the end of the week. Back in to lockdown. It’s pretty stressful. A good excuse to pick up some new books! So how about Fallen Angels by Gunnar Staalesen (Translated by Don Bartlett). I’m really pleased to be on the Orenda tour for this latest piece of translated Nordic fiction. Did you know, there is even a statue of Varg Veum, the protaganist in Bergen, Norway where the books are set? Please be sure to check out the other stops on the tour and if it sounds like the kind of book you’ll enjoy, maybe you’d like to join for the virtual book launch! Details below. There’s also a way to get £3 off a signed copy at the end of the post. 😀

Fallen Angels (or Falne Engler in Norwegian) is the latest Nordic Noir translated work brought to us by the amazing Orenda Books and is the 18th installment overall in the Varg Veum series. It reads perfectly fine as a standalone which is good as not all of his prior works are available in English as far as I’m aware. One day I’ll read them in Norwegian. I was on the tour for the previous book Orenda brought to our lands and that combined with friends from Norway pushed me to learn the language! But anyway, let me tell you more about this book itself.

The death of a former classmate brings Varg together with his old friends. Friends may be a bit too strong of a word for some of them. One of these gents married Varg’s first love. This situation took Varg on a trip down memory lane, exploring his own past while feeling his age in the present. There is a lot of exploration and insight to Varg as a person and as a result, this book is quite the slow burn but it’s important that this is done for the plot to have the desired effect, in my opinion. I feel I have to note this as while I personally don’t mind it, I know some do and prefer a quicker build of the tensions and a bigger sense of urgency.

The action isn’t strictly said, but it’s obvious that is has a significant effect on Varg and it doesn’t feel like the focus of the book. It’s very much a foray in to the past with a murder thrown in for good measure. However, it lays a lot out, and while this book is in the 80’s, some of it is still relevant today. It feels very real and authentic and leaves a bad taste in the mouth with its believability. The characters are not a likeable bunch and their actions are oftentimes… well, unsavoury, but they’re very human and Staalesen doesn’t try to polish them and make them look like they’re better people than they are. I really enjoy that fact and find it only makes the tale more compelling. Are these people really who they seem? It’s quite an insight in to how dark human behaviours can be and left me feeling cautious and uneasy as I progressed through until I reached the conclusion alongside Varg (vague because.. spoilers!)

Fallen Angels is a well written, compelling read, and Don Bartlett did an excellent job with the translation of this work and keeping its heart. I feel like this book adds a lot to Varg’s character and while differently paced to the other works of Staalesen’s that I’ve read, it adds a lot of flavour – I half wish I had gotten to read it before his other works but then I wonder if I’d have picked up more if this was my first foray. I’m not sure! What I am sure of is that I enjoyed this read and was so excited to see another Gunnar Staalesen title brought to our shores!

About the Book

Exploring his own dark memories may be the only way to find a killer…

When Bergen PI Varg Veum finds himself at the funeral of a former classmate on a sleet-grey December afternoon, he’s unexpectedly reunited with his old friend Jakob – guitarist of the once-famous 1960s rock band The Harpers – and his estranged wife, Rebecca, Veum’s first love.

Their rekindled friendship is thrown into jeopardy by the discovery of a horrific murder, and Veum is forced to dig deep into his own adolescence and his darkest memories, to find a motive … and a killer.

Tense, vivid and deeply unsettling, Fallen Angels is the spellbinding, award-winning thriller that secured Gunnar Staalesen’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost crime writers.

book reviews · Bookish

The Night Lawyer by Alex Churchill (Review)

Phew. I can’t believe we are so far through the year already… I don’t know if the dreaded COVID has made it go faster or slower.. It’s sure given me more time for books though. Although I didn’t feel much like reading early on in the pandemic. What about you? Did it effect your desire to read?

Today I’m reviewing The Night Lawyer by Alex Churchill. Red Door kindly gifted me a copy of the book which you can pick up now in Paperback or Kindle format.

The Night Lawyer is a compelling and authentic feeling legal thriller. This makes sense as the author has a background in law and it really lends to how convincing of a character of Sophie Angel, the main protagonist is.

Sophie is assigned a case but upon visiting the ..not so gentle man in custody, she realises that she has represented him in the past. He made her feel uncomfortable and she decided she couldn’t be on his case. This man was delusional and she unwillingly and unknowingly fed that delusion which has serious repercussions later. Instead she is takes on the case of a young male accused of rape. This opens a whole can of worms in to Sophie exploring her own personal history and facing the chaos of the justice system.

I was really surprised by some things in this book; however sharing them with you would be spoilers, so you’ll have to find out for yourself. 😉 The story took a direction I wasn’t expecting and threw some curveballs at me. I was really pleasantly surprised. The second half of the book got pretty intense and a lot went on. The events from the first half all started to pull together and make sense.

All in all, it lead to a satisfying conclusion. It wasn’t too open ended, didn’t leave me with a million questions. I would absolutely recommend giving this one a read. It’s well written, well paced, the plot is solid and the later half of the book will consume you.

About the Book

Once a week, she’s the one who decides what the papers can and can’t say. During the day, she’s a barrister. She struggles for justice in a system that’s close to collapse, where she confronts the most dangerous aspects of humanity. Her life changes when a wealthy Russian offers her the biggest case of her career, a rape trial with a seemingly innocent client.

But is someone manipulating Sophie from the shadows? And is it someone from her childhood in Soviet Russia or is the danger much closer to home?

With her marriage under strain and haunted by nightmares from the past, Sophie must find the answer to these questions before it’s too late. This is a story about betrayal, trust, guilt and innocence, played out from the courtrooms of London to the darkest corners of Soviet era Moscow.

Bookish

I Can’t Sleep by J.E Rowney

Hello! Today I’m bringing you a spotlight on I Can’t Sleep by JE Rowney! Please check it out!

About the Book

“I can’t sleep. Not since June 16th, 2018.Not since what happened…”

Traumatised by the events of her past, exhausted by insomnia, Becky Braithwaite believes that a new start will help her to recover. She leaves home to fulfil her brother’s dreams, and honour the life he never had but she soon finds that escaping from the past is not as easy as she imagined.

Is her fatigued mind playing tricks on her, or is danger really lurking in the shadows?

This unputdownable psychological thriller will keep you turning the pages to find out the truth.

book reviews · Bookish

Betrayal by Lilja Sigurðardóttir (Review)

Good afternoon everyone! Had some technical gremlins so it’s later in the day than I would have liked with this one – I ended up having to re-write it! But I am pleased to be bringing you a review of Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardóttir, translated from Icelandic by Quentin Bates as part of another wonderful Orenda blog tour. Please be sure to check out the other awesome stops on the tour!

I received a copy of Betrayal for free for review purposes.

Betrayal is a standalone work of Icelandic Noir about corruption in politics as Úrsula, the newly promoted minister and former aid worker ends up unknowingly drawn in to a plot to benefit everyone aside from herself.

As soon as Úrsula is in office, she knows what she wants to get done in her year tenure at the ministry. Right off the bat, she makes a promise to a mother who is on tenterhooks about the progress of her daughters rape case, having no idea that there was far more to it than a police officer being the culprit as some of her colleagues attempt to hinder her at every juncture. She finds an unlikely acquaintance in Stella, whom shows Úrsula a place where she can smoke in private. A cleaner whom usually goes ignored.

I really liked the characters in Betrayal. Úrsula was so passionate and believable but also very human. Her driver, Gunnar who was very serious and clearly had far more to him than meets the eye – I’d have liked to have learned more about why he is the way he is. Stella. Rough around the edges. An alright sort whose done some bad things whom I couldn’t help but feel sympathetic towards.

Betrayal is well paced with short, punchy chapters that flip between the perspective of numerous characters as Úrsula works at the ministry to the best of her ability while receiving threats and tackling obstacles that are deliberately placed to hinder her. I felt really bad for Úrsula as it seemed she would not have an easy run. Often the point was made about having a woman as a minister and the portrayal of her in the media. It felt very believable. All in all, I really enjoyed Betrayal and following Úrsula on what turned out to be a very chaotic and short tenure as minister. I found it to be a compelling read.

About the Book

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 why has the death of her father in police custody so many years earlier reared its head again?

As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witch-like cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher…

Bookish

The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn (GIVEAWAY!)

Hey you lovely bunch. Can you believe it’s almost OCTOBER? Eeeek. This year has been such a weird one. Anywhoo! Today I am on the Orenda tour for The Seven Doors by Agnes Ravatn, translated from Norwegian (Nynorsk) by Rosie Hedger. It’s out now in both Kindle and Paperback formats. BUT! You can win an e-book copy for free! Read on for the details… Be sure to check out the other wonderful tour stops!

Sounds good, right? If you want to win your very own copy for free, just head over to my Twitter @LizzumsBB and follow myself and @OrendaBooks, then like and retweet this tweet to be in with a chance! Open until the 18th October 2020 to anywhere in the world. Thank you kindly to the folks at Orenda for letting me host this giveaway and for giving away a copy to one of you lovely lot!

About the Book

University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her difficult daughter are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.
 
When her daughter decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman living there disappears, leaving her son behind, the day after Nina and her daughter pay her a visit.
 
With few clues, the police enquiry soon grinds to a halt, but Nina has an inexplicable sense of guilt. Unable to rest, she begins her own investigation, but as she pulls on the threads of the case, it seems her discoveries may have very grave consequences for her and her family.
 
Exquisitely dark and immensely powerful, The Seven Doors is a sophisticated and deeply disturbing psychological thriller from one of Norway’s most distinguished voices.

book reviews · Bookish · Uncategorized

Siren Song by Rebecca McKinney (Review)

Hello you lovely lot! I hope everyone is staying safe and well. Today I am on a Love Books Group Blog Tour for Siren Song by Rebecca McKinney. It’s available now and for the duration of the tour, it will be a bargain 99p on Kindle! I received a copy for free as part of the tour.

Siren Song is the first in a future series, it’s book One in Harrison Jones and Amy Bell Mysteries and not the usual type of thing I read as this one is a little bit different. Siren Song has a touch of the supernatural, the occult, the psychic, whatever you would prefer to call it.

Harrison Jones is a University Professor by day… but he’s also a Psychic Investigator, even if he tells himself he is not. One day, he sees Amy Bell on a bridge, and I mean… he really sees her. Harrison, also known as Harri – or Indiana to Amy has the ability to see in to people, to see imprints of feelings, thoughts and memories left by people on objects and in the air where people have been. Some people are more open to be read and in that moment, Amy’s body was screaming out for something, someone, anything! …and thus, they met.

What they didn’t bank on, was becoming a detective duo, investigating a case of a missing singer. After the incident on the bridge, Amy decided she had to look Harri up. She found out he worked at the uni and visited him. She expressed how she felt when they met on that bridge – she FELT him read her; only, she didn’t know what that feeling was at the time. He explained his ability to her, but she thought is was a load of nonsense and left, only to convince herself later that actually, maybe it was true and real. Meanwhile, a lady was seeking his help to find her daughter.

After some stuff happened (sorry! you’ll need to read the book for that!), Harri decides to let Amy help with the case he ended up unable to say no to. Set in Scotland, a little detective work and some psychic power shenanigans sent them all the way to Greece and they uncovered far more than they anticipated.

This book had me hooked! It’s so well written, the characters are absolutely fascinating and it’s interesting to see how the psychic abilities are able to help with the case. Admittedly, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it at first, but it really pulled me in after a while and I found myself really enjoying it. When I got to the end, I remember thinking that I hope there would be another tale of these two – I was thrilled to find out that it’s the plan! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It may be about something “supernatural” but it doesn’t feel fluffed or flimsy. It added a really nice element to the story that added to my intrigue. I’m really glad I took a chance with this one.

About the Book

A man who glimpses other people’s inner worlds, and a woman who can foresee death. Can they trace a missing girl before the worst happens?

Harrison Jones is a university lecturer with a secret: he moonlights as a psychic detective. Amy Bell is a paramedic who has the uncanny knack of knowing things are going to happen before they do. From their first accidental meeting on an Edinburgh bridge, both of their lives are destined to change.

Harrison invites Amy to help him investigate the disappearance of a beautiful young singer. The search will lead them into the murky world of human trafficking, from Edinburgh to the streets of Athens, and into the darkest corners of the human mind…

book reviews · Bookish

A Song of Isolation by Michael J Malone (Review)

Hello! Today I am on the Orenda tour for A Song of Isolation by Michael J. Malone. I received a copy of this book for free as part of the tour. It is out on September 17th in Paperback format and available now in Kindle format. Please check out the other tour stops!

A Song of Isolation is a frustrating tale of greed. That’s what it boils down to in the end. Amelie once was the darling of the silver screen, however, an incident caused her to decide to give it all up. She was living a relatively normal life with her partner, Dave, when after Damaris, the next door neighbours child fell off her bike in the garden. Little did they know that this would turn their entire lives upside-down when Dave is accused of assaulting Damaris.

Tense and uneasy, this book takes you on a bit of a rollercoaster. We know a spade is a spade, but not everything is as it seems. The way the characters are written is incredibly important for a premise like this to be able to work and Michael J Malone really pulled it off. Right from the start, you get an impression about the main characters that will influence you later on. The characters develop well along side the story and the plot and as it unfolds, you can tell that something is not right. These are not the characters we know. Something is off.

Despite knowing something is right, nobody told the rest of the world as they’re easily influenced by the media and sent on a witch hunt against Dave and also Amelia who has chosen to stand by Dave when some serious accusations are thrown his way. They’re treated with nothing less than contempt and yet she stayed by his side until she was physically forced to leave, until another discovery led her to brave coming home. Little did she know, far more was waiting at home for her than she realised in time to come.

In the end, it all boils down to greed and a complete disregard for everyone else in order to get what one wants. This is tense and well paced, one of those books that carries you along and before you realise it, you’re over half way through and you’ve gotta see it through to the end. Or at least, that was the case for me. I felt angry and frustrated but also sympathetic to the cast of characters. I feel it important to note that this book is pretty dark, but not graphic, yet the tale still hits pretty hard. I had to take some time to process it once I had finished, rather than moving on to my next read. People can easily be led without them even realising it and some people will stop at nothing to achieve their own ends…

About the Book

Film star Amelie Hart is the darling of the silver screen, appearing on the front pages of every newspaper. But at the peak of her fame she throws it all away for a regular guy with an ordinary job. The gossip columns are aghast: what happened to the woman who turned heads wherever she went?

Any hope the furore will die down are crushed when Amelie’s boyfriend Dave is arrested on charges of child sexual abuse. Dave strongly asserts his innocence, and when Amelie refuses to denounce him, the press witch hunt quickly turns into physical violence, and she has to flee the country.

While Dave is locked up with the most depraved men in the country and Amelie is hiding on the continent, Damaris, the victim at the centre of the story, is isolated – a child trying to make sense of an adult world.

Breathtakingly brutal, dark and immensely moving, A Song of Isolation looks beneath the magpie glimmer of celebrity to uncover a sinister world dominated by greed and lies, and the unfathomable destruction of innocent lives … in an instant.

book reviews · Bookish

Leaves of Love by Lucy Aykroyd (Review)

Hey guys. Today I am on a Random Things tour for Leaves of Love by Lucy Aykroyd which came out in Kindle and Paperback formats a week ago. I received a copy of the book for free as part of the tour. Please be sure to check out the other tour stops!

Leaves of Love is a warm and insightful book from Lucy Aykroyd who is experienced as an end of life doula. She shares stories from those in her care and how she helped them as she was by their side in their final days. It’s beautiful and heartwarming and made me quite emotional. It’s not a long read, but it’s a precious and valuable one.

Lucy not only shares stories from those she cared for in their final days, but also offers helpful advice for both caring for those nearing the end of their journey, and what one can expect. She talks about little gestures that can mean the world to the person, how to help get through the tough days and more.

You can really feel Lucy’s compassion radiate from the pages of Leaves of Love. It makes the prospect of death seem a little less scary, for me, at least. It’s hard to know what to do or how to act when people are dying and this book feels like a blanket around the shoulders and the warm pat of reassurance. I wish I had this book a couple of years ago when the death of my grandfather was looming overhead. I think it’s one everyone should read, especially anyone who is preparing for the end of life for someone. Be it as a carer, loved one, family member etc. This is a valuable book for both the practical aspect and for the soul.

About the Book

Are you a carer or companion to someone who is ageing? Are you looking to enhance every moment of their lives to the end yet feel full of trepidation at the prospect? Leaves of Love is a simple yet essential guide for both layman and expert to keep by your side as you learn the beautiful and ancient art of accompanying another over these final transitions. Leaves of Love is laced with inspiring real-life stories that depict the rich gleanings to be found within ageing and the unexpected opportunities that can reveal themselves when we embrace the reality of our dying. These stories bring with them a tool bag of ideas and practical tips to empower the carer within all of us to value our own unique gifts and love as we have never loved before. With nature as our guide we learn how to be present when we visit a care home, what matters most as we sit with someone and how and what to expect when we are accompanying a dying person.

book reviews · Bookish

Ash Mountain by Helen FitzGerald (Review)

Happy Humpday everyone! Today I’m thrilled to be on another wonderful Orenda tour. This time for Ash Mountain by Helen FitzGerald which is released tomorrow – 20th August 2020 in it’s paperback format! It’s also available in Kindle and Audiobook formats. I received a copy of the book for free as part of the tour.

Ash Mountain is set in the astoundingly hot Australian summer and centers around Fran who has returned to the place she thought she had left behind so that she could provide care to her father. She tries to get used to life back at Ash Mountain with this new challenge to contend with, but it ends up being far more than she bargained for when forced to confront her past, the start of a romance and her daughter uncovers a dark secret. Thing’s are getting hot and intense on Ash Mountain… in more ways than one.

This book is not a very long one, but it sure packs a punch. It’s pacey and intense. It’s emotional, heart wrenching but also comedic. It’s vivid, it’s… it’s a LOT of things. It’s.. simply excellent. It explores loss and abuse, but also redemption, love and forgiveness. I feel like it would be really easy to spoil this book because it’s like a whirlwind. It’s complex, just like life truly is.

Ash Mountain has turned out to be one of my favourite reads this year. It’s one of those that lingers in the mind; the sort of book that you have to take a moment with once you put it down. It feels so authentic and convincing. Fran is so wonderfully human. The balance is just right. Many things are bleak but this book will still make you laugh. It’s one you can easily read from cover to cover. I didn’t want to tear my eyes away from the madness of Fran’s story for a single moment, lest I miss any of the action.

About the Book

Fran hates her hometown, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.

She returns home to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer. As past friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants

Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life and a woman and a land in crisis and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget