#TheBookofLongings by @suemonkkidd

Ana is born in Galilee at a time when women are seen as possessions, only leaving their fathers’ homes to marry.

Ana longs to control her destiny. Taught to read despite her mother’s misgivings, she wants to be a writer and to find her own voice. A voice that will speak for the silenced women around her.

Betrothed to an elderly widower, Ana almost despairs. But an encounter with a charismatic young carpenter in Nazareth awakens new longings in her, and a different future opens up.

Yet this is not a simple love story. Ana’s journey will bring both joy and tragedy, but it will also be enriched by the female friendships she makes along the way.

The Book of Longings is an exquisite tale of dreams and desire, and of the power of women to change the world.

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I am Ana.

SEPPHORIS, 16-17 CE

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(@TinderPress, 18 March 2021, 434 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 27 March via @RandomTTours)

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I’ve only read a couple of books by the author and really enjoyed them so I had high hopes for this. The book appealed to me because it’s set during biblical times. I read a book recently set during the same era and thought it was great so I want to read other fiction set around the same time. I find something oddly appealing about the era. I’m not religious and I must admit I was a little put off when I realised she married Jesus. Thankfully, the author does a brilliant job of bringing the story and characters to life. The story of Jesus and his crucifixion is familiar one yet the author does a brilliant job of bringing it to life and making it a human story. I cried a lot reading this book.  

#BestServedCold by @davidgatward

When a tragic farm accident turns out to be foul play, DCI Harry Grimm finds himself up against a murderer years in the making and out for revenge.

With the local community in self-imposed lock down, and the body count quickly climbing, Harry and his team are in a race against time to stop a killer as invisible as they are brutally effective.

But with some threatening to take the law into their own hands, and the wounds of his own past once again starting to bleed, DCI Harry Grimm is about to take a trip into Hell.

And beyond.

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JOHN ‘BEEF’ CHAPSTICK HAD THE TEMPER OF A BULL WITH A SORE HEAD AND THE BUILD AND FACE to match.

CHAPTER ONE

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(Weirdstone Publishing, 16 October 2020, 267 pages, ebook, copy from the author and voluntarily reviewed)

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This is my first time reading the author. I really enjoyed Best Served Cold. I’m reading three books in the DCI Grimm series for a blog tour so look forward to finding out more about Grimm, his cases and what kind of person he is. As you can probably tell from the title, the driving force behind the book is revenge, though the reason for the revenge is not revealed until much later in the book. I felt great sympathy for the killer when their revealed along with their motivations. They aren’t a psychopath killing for pleasure; they believe they are seeking justice for something terrible that happened thirty years before. I could relate to their motivations. I’d recommend this.

#InDarknessShadowsBreathe by @Cat_Cavendish

You’re next…

Carol and Nessa are strangers but not for much longer.

In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive.

They are in the hands of an entity that knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions – bending and twisting time itself – and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.

Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?

The answer lies deep in the darkness…

***

Dr Oliver Franklyn washed the young woman’s blood off his hands staining the water a vivid scarlet.

PROLOGUE

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(@flametreepress, 19 January 2021, 240 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 22 January 2021 via @RandomTTours)

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I’d never heard of the author before. I was looking forward to reading this book because I’ve read other horror fiction from the publisher and it tends to be pretty decent. This was an even read for me. I really liked some aspects, but the book fell a little short in some areas. I liked the creepy, gothic atmosphere created in the book. This is very well done. I enjoyed the first part which focuses on Carol’s story, but this felt rushed at times. I was settling into her voice and her experience when it was time to get into Nessa’s head. Nessa’s story is the best part of the book, the author gets into her stride here and it was a pleasure to read. If only his had applied to the first chunk. I got to know her a lot more. I was also impressed by the author’s research into Cancer treatment and how this is conveyed in the book without bogging the book down. The author’s writing style is easy to get into as well.

#TotheDark by @ChrisNickson2

Winter is about to take a chilling twist…

Thief-taker Simon Westow is drawn into a deadly puzzle when the melting snow reveals a dark secret in this gripping historical mystery, perfect for fans of Anne Perry and Charles Finch.

Leeds, 1822. The city is in the grip of winter, but the chill deepens for thief-taker Simon Westow and his young assistant, Jane, when the body of Laurence Poole, a petty local thief, emerges from the melting snow by the river at Flay Cross Mill.

A coded notebook found in Laurence’s room mentions Charlie Harker, the most notorious fence in Leeds who’s now running for his life, and the mysterious words: To the dark. What was Laurence hiding that caused his death? Simon’s hunt for the truth pits him against some dangerous, powerful enemies who’ll happily kill him in a heartbeat – if they can.

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She sensed him there, behind her in the fog.

LEEDS, NOVEMBER 1822

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(@severnhouse, 31 December 2020, 224 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 20 January 2021 via @RandomTTours)

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This is my first time reading the author. I had a great time reading To the Dark so it won’t be my last. There are other books featuring Simon Westow for me to catch up on and another two series’ for me to read. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction this year, far more than in previous years. To the Dark is among the best I’ve read. The book tackles some grisly subject matter including murder, betrayal and corruption, making it a gripping and compelling read. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the book is the relationship between Simon and Jane, they work well together and I enjoyed the comradeship, friendship and the clashes between them. Simon is in danger when he uncovers a corruption at the core of the city, something certain people with go to extreme lengths to bury forever. Jane also realises she’s not infallible or as tough as she looks when she’s betrayed by Martha, a young street urchin she takes under her wing. I enjoyed the way things play out. I’d highly recommend this.

#Trobairitz by @CMicklefield

Book One of the Trobairitz trilogy. Set in Languedoc, feisty truck driver, Weed never gives her personal details to other drivers. She avoids the intimacy of real friendship. Instead, she entertains the truckers by telling the story of ex-courtesan, seventy-six-year-old Catherine Joubert and the mysterious hold she has over young mayor, Henri-Claude Noilly and his grandfather.

In her private life, it’s so long since Weed had any fun with a man she wonders if all her bits still work but Jimi, one of the other drivers sets her senses tingling. A natural disaster at Christmas sees Weed and Jimi working together to deliver vital supplies but will Weed be able to separate fact from fiction in time to save her love life?

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THEY CALL ME TROBAIRITZ.

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(Independently Published, 25 November 2014, 303 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 19 January 2021 via @RandomTTours)

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This is my first time reading the author so wasn’t sure what to expect. The book sounded like something a little different to get lost in. I really enjoyed this book. I was pulled into Weed’s life and her story from the opening lines. I loved the setting, a small town in France. The author does a brilliant job of bringing it to life, I could feel, hear, taste and smell everything, and my senses were fully engaged. The book is well-written, engaging and absorbing. The unique thing about this book is that Weed tells stories to the other truck drivers and often multiple stories wind through the book simultaneously which held my attention and made me want to read on. I didn’t want the book to end as I was enjoying myself so much. This is the first of three books. I will check out the other two.

#ReturntotheIsland by @KateHewitt1

What would her life look like without her beloved island in it? Where would she go? Ellen had come back here—to the place she felt she belonged—thinking she would stay here. But was it home… or just a place to hide?

1918, Canada: The First World War is over and those who have been fighting in Europe are heading for home, forever changed. Amongst the lost, the damaged and the broken, is former nurse Ellen Copley; who finds herself returning—not to her house in Glasgow, but to her childhood home on Amherst Island.

There, she feels sure, in the warm embrace of the McCafferty family, with her beloved Aunt Rose and her cousins, she will feel safe and loved. She will be able to escape the ghosts of the past and her loss and find peace.

But the island is a changed place too. The war has affected life the world over, and Aunt Rose is struggling to keep their small farmstead going. The family’s only hope is asking their neighbours, the Lymans, to help. But Jed Lyman is a broken man, both physically and emotionally, and his once-adoring brother Lucas is now more distant than ever.

And as Ellen fights to save the farm, she has to ask: what makes somewhere a home? And—when help comes from an unexpected place—she wonders, has the man she’s destined to love been waiting for her out there all along?

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‘No matter how you look at it, the numbers don’t add up’. Sighing, Rose McCafferty rose from the kitchen table and went to fill the kettle.

CHAPTER 1

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(@Bookouture, 15 January 2021, 336 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 15 January 2021)

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I’ve loved the previous two books in this series and couldn’t wait to see how it all turned out for Ellen Copley. Return to the Island is every bit as good as I hoped. Ellen is much changed from the young girl she was in The Orphan’s Island. In this book, she’s struggling to decide what she wants after WWI in a world much changed. The island is in her heart, but can she live there forever? Should she take up the job teaching at Glasgow School of Art? And what about her heart, who does it belong to? It’s been a long time since I felt so engaged to a book and character as I have with this trilogy. I cried buckets reading this as Ellen grows and learns some painful lessons. This is a dazzling book.

#TheDarkRoom by @samblakebooks

Hare’s Landing, West Cork. A house full of mystery…

Rachel Lambert leaves London afraid for her personal safety and determined to uncover the truth behind the sudden death of a homeless man with links to a country house hotel called Hare’s Landing.

New York-based crime reporter Caroline Kelly’s career is threatened by a lawsuit and she needs some thinking space away from her job. But almost as soon as she arrives, Hare’s Landing begins to reveal its own stories – a 30-year-old missing person’s case and the mysterious death of the hotel’s former owner.

As Rachel and Caroline join forces, it becomes clear that their investigations are intertwined – and that there is nothing more dangerous than the truth…

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ALFIE’S HAND SHOOK as he slipped the letter into the mouth of the postbox, his bitten nails black against the cream of the envelope.

PROLOGUE

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(@AtlanticBooks, 7 January 2021, 304 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 15 January 2021 via @RandomTTours)

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I thought this was a corker of a thriller. I liked the fact Rachel and Caroline go to Hare’s Landing for different reasons but end up not just becoming friends but realising their investigations are linked and end up working together to find out what happened to Alfie, the homeless man and a woman who’s supposed to have killed herself thirty years before. The two different story threads gradually come together, and the women and the police find more and more clues that point to links between the murder, disappearance and Rachel’s experiences in London involving her houseboat being broken into and her boyfriend being involved in a hit and run. This is the kind of thriller I love, when there’s so much happening and so many threads and you don’t quite know what’s going on, what the links are and where it will all lead. I was gripped.

#TheGermanGirl by @lilygrahambooks

‘Our parents were taken. And if we go home, the Nazis will take us too…’

Hamburg 1938. Fifteen-year-old Asta is hurrying home from school with her twin brother Jurgen. The mood in the city is tense – synagogues have been smashed with sledgehammers, and Asta is too frightened to laugh as she used to.

But when she and Jurgen are stopped in the street by a friend, her world implodes further. Her Jewish parents have been dragged into the streets by German soldiers and if she and Jurgen return to their house, they will be taken too.

Heartbroken at the loss of her parents, Asta knows they must flee. With her beloved brother, she must make the perilous journey across Germany and into Denmark to reach their only surviving relative, her aunt Trine, a woman they barely know.

Jammed into a truck with other refugees, Asta prays for a miracle to save herself and Jurgen. Crossing the border is a crime punishable by death, and what she and Jurgen must embark on a dangerous crossing on foot, through the snowy forest dividing Germany and Denmark. And when barking dogs and armed soldiers find Jurgen and Asta escapes, she must hold on to hope no matter what. One day she will find her twin, the other half of herself. Whatever the price she has to pay…

A gripping and poignant read that will break your heart and give you hope. Fans of Fiona Valpy, Kristin Hannah and Catherine Hokin will be gripped by the story of a brave brother and sister seeking safety during one of the darkest times in our history.

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The snow came early that year, settling around the forest like an old bear ready for its cave.

1, NORTHERN SWEDEN, 1995

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(@Bookouture, 12 January 2021, 336 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 13 January 2021)

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I thought this was a fantastic book. I’ve read a lot of historical fiction this year but none that focus on the plight of the Nazi’s during WWII, so this was new territory for me. This reminds me a lot of the books by one of my favourite writers, Ella Carey so I felt right at home. This is a gripping, fast paced book. I was sucked right into Asta and Jurgen’s world from the start, rooting for them as their world’s fell apart and they realised just how dangerous their world had suddenly become. The historical research seemed spot on to me. There is a wrap-around story set in the present when an ancestor of the twins discovers her family’s darkest secret but only a few chapters are set during this timeline. Asta and Jurgen’s story is very much the driving force of the book. I cried buckets reading this. I really loved it.

#PerFineOunce by #PeterVollmer

The nukes are missing and there is only one man for the job.

Commander Geoffrey Peace, an ex-submarine commander and now a trained agent in MI6, is sent undercover to the picturesque Southern tip of Africa shortly after Nelson Mandela’s release and the unbanning of the African National Congress. Posing as Lord Digby Brentwood, Peace must infiltrate a group of ultra-right-wing Afrikaners in a country undergoing great political change.

The hard-right Afrikaner movement in South Africa, with prominent Afrikaner gold-mining industrialist Anton Van Rhyn as one of its leaders, refuses to forfeit its supremacy in the new democratic South Africa. To that end, they hijack gold bullion shipments to finance their insurrection and sabotage the decommissioning of South Africa’s nuclear arsenal, while retaining a number of warheads for themselves.

Not only must he find and disarm the nukes, but he must salvage the shipment of gold that lies buried in the ocean on the Skeleton Coast of Namibia. Peace prefers to work alone, but this time the Vice Admiral has paired him with covert MI6 agent Cherry Boxx. Together they will traverse deserts and snow-covered mountains and save a country from a threat it did not realise was right on its doorstep.

Now all Peace has to do is keep them both alive…

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I remain in awe of those who have control in fulfilling their aspirations – this usually from a young age and already evident during the senior school years.

PROLOGUE

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(@lume_books, 23 July 2020, 336 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 13 January 2021 via @RandomTTours)

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I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I’ve never read any James Bond books and spy thrillers tend to leave me cold. Still, the blurb and the story of how the book came into being intrigued me and I decided to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this. It’s well written and fast paced and the characters are all spot on. I enjoyed the fact the book is mostly set in South Africa, the author does an impressive job of bringing the country, people and culture to vivid life.

#Winterkill by @ragnarjo

When the body of a nineteen-year-old girl is found on the main street of Siglufjörður, Police Inspector Ari Thór battles a violent Icelandic storm in an increasingly dangerous hunt for her killer … The chilling, claustrophobic finale to the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

Easter weekend is approaching, and snow is gently falling in Siglufjörður, the northernmost town in Iceland, as crowds of tourists arrive to visit the majestic ski slopes.

Ari Thór Arason is now a police inspector, but he’s separated from his girlfriend, who lives in Sweden with their three-year-old son. A family reunion is planned for the holiday, but a violent blizzard is threatening and there is an unsettling chill in the air.

Three days before Easter, a nineteen-year-old local girl falls to her death from the balcony of a house on the main street. A perplexing entry in her diary suggests that this may not be an accident, and when an old man in a local nursing home writes ‘She was murdered’ again and again on the wall of his room, there is every suggestion that something more sinister lies at the heart of her death…

As the extreme weather closes in, cutting the power and access to Siglufjörður, Ari Thór must piece together the puzzle to reveal a horrible truth … one that will leave no one unscathed.

Chilling, claustrophobic and disturbing, Winterkill marks the startling conclusion to the million-copy bestselling Dark Iceland series and cements Ragnar Jónasson as one of the most exciting authors in crime fiction. 

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‘Police, Inspector Ari Thor Arason, speaking’.

HOLY, THURSDAY 1

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(@OrendaBooks, 10 December 2020, 209 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 11 January 2021 via @OrendaBooks)

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I haven’t read many books in the series and I feel quite sad this is the final book. I will need to read the rest. I’m a big fan of Scandi crime books and the like, they’re always much grittier and more intense than similar titles. Winterkill is no exception. I loved the setting of the book, remote, isolated, winter storm, the perfect atmosphere for the sinister events that take place. Ari is a great character and I look forward to getting to know him better as I read the rest of the series. Winterkill is a gripping read, the kind of thriller I like, with twists and turns, misdirection, more than one suspect and so many possibilities. I was gripped from start to finish.

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