blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Summer Villa – Melissa Hill*

Three women. One summer reunion. Secrets will be revealed…
Villa Dolce Vita, a rambling stone house on the Amalfi Coast, sits high above the Gulf of Naples amid dappled lemon groves and fragrant, tumbling bougainvillea. Kim, Colette and Annie all came to the villa in need of escape and in the process forged an unlikely friendship.
Now, years later, Kim has transformed the crumbling house into a luxury retreat and has invited her friends back for the summer to celebrate.But as friendships are rekindled under the Italian sun, secrets buried in the past will come to light, and not everyone is happy that the three friends are reuniting…

Each woman will have things to face up to if they are all to find true happiness and fully embrace the sweet life.

My thoughts:

This was a warm escapist novel about friendship, secrets and love. Moving between now and when the three women first met, slowly the story is revealed.

In the intervening years the women haven’t seen each other much and that has allowed secrets to flourish but a return to Italy will reveal them and test the bonds of friendship.

Considering I read this under the ongoing lockdown, I felt very envious of the characters getting away to Positano, and I really enjoyed this.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Who We Were – B.M. Carroll*

If you looked the other way, should you be punished?

Twenty years after they went their separate ways, friends and enemies are coming together for their school reunion. Katy, who is desperate to show that she’s no longer the shy wallflower. Annabel, who ruled the school until a spectacular fall from grace. Zach, popular and cruel, but who says he’s a changed man. And Robbie, always the victim, who never stood a chance.

As the reunion nears, a terrible event that binds the group together will resurface. Because someone is still holding a grudge, and will stop at nothing to reveal their darkest secrets…

My thoughts:

This was a juicy thriller, with people’s terrible secrets popping up all over, threatening the images they’ve chosen to present to the world.

High school for some is the high point of their lives – a sad fact, but often very true. For some of the characters in this story it’s also very much the case that they’re hanging onto who they used to be in the face of their disappointment at who they are now.

Cleverly plotted and suitably twisted, this book reminds you it’s not always a good idea to look back.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Creak on the Stairs – Eva Björg Ægisdottir*

The first in the electrifying new Forbidden Iceland series, The Creak on the Stairs is an exquisitely written, claustrophobic and chillingly atmospheric debut thriller by one of Iceland’s most exciting new talents.

When the body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area. Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her colleagues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day…

But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it’s too late.

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel.

Eva has wanted to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland. Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first novel.The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller.

Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.

My thoughts:

What starts as a fairly straightforward police procedural develops into a complex and knotty plot, moving back and forth between the present and thirty years before as the detectives attempt to unravel the mystery of who would want this apparently unassuming woman dead and why.

Small towns hold many secrets and people have long memories, some with more to lose than others. As Elma and her team travel back in time and try to extract information from some very tight lipped people, they discover a tragic history, the kind you never really let go of.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Saracen’s Mark – S.W. Perry*

The third instalment of The Jackdaw Mysteries. A tale of conspiracy, murder and espionage in Elizabethan London and dazzling Marrakesh.

Betrayal has many guises…

London, 1593: Five years on from the Armada and England is taking its first faltering steps towards a future as a global power. Nicholas Shelby – reluctant spy and maverick physician – and his companion Bianca Merton are settling into a life on Bankside. But in London there is always a plot afoot…

Robert Cecil, the Queen’s spymaster, once again recruits Nicholas to embark on a dangerous undercover mission that will take him to the back alleys of Marrakech in search of a missing informer. However, while Nicholas hunts for the truth across the seas, plague returns once more to London – ravaging the streets and threatening those dearest to him.

Can Bianca and Nicholas’ budding relationship weather the threats of pestilence and conspiracy? And will Nicholas survive the dangers of his mission in a hostile city to return safely home?

S. W. Perry was a journalist and broadcaster before retraining as an airline pilot. His debut novel, The Angel’s Mark, was listed for the CWA Historical Dagger and was a Walter Scott Prize Academy Recommended Read 2019. He lives in Worcestershire with his wife.

My thoughts:

This series just gets better and better. This time Nick is off to Marrakech on the service of the Cecils but closer to home conspiracy threatens Bianca and the Jackdaw crew and plague looms.

It was fascinating to read, especially the Marrakech episodes which remind me yet again of how backward a lot of Western thinking has been – if only we’d spent more time studying the advances of the Arab world than the Greco-Roman ones, maybe it wouldn’t have taken so long for women to become doctors and for hygiene to be recognised as vital to recovery.

Sorry, rant over.

Clever writing, a real sense of time and space (Bankside really comes alive), engaging characters and sophisticated plotting make this the best yet.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Secrets of Sunshine – Phaedra Patrick*

Mitchell Fisher has said a firm goodbye to romance. He relishes his job cutting off the padlocks that couples fasten to his hometown’s famous ‘love story’ bridge. Only his young daughter Poppy knows that behind his prickly veneer, Mitchell is deeply lonely – and he still grieves the loss of Poppy’s mother.

Then one hot summer’s day, everything changes when Mitchell bravely rescues a woman who falls from the bridge into the river. He’s surprised to feel an unexpected connection to her, but then she disappears. Desperate to find the mysterious woman, Mitchell teams up with her spirited sister Liza to see if she’s left any clues behind. There’s just one – a secret message on the padlock she left on love story bridge…

My thoughts:

This is a heartwarming slow burn love story. Mitchell is still all tangled up in his head with his late partner, mother of his daughter Poppy. His job in bridge maintenance means destroying other people’s love stories by removing their locks from the town’s bridges.

Mitchell is a good man, he dives into the river to save a woman, and then tries to help her sister find her. He’s made mistakes in the past and is determined to be a better man.

His relationship with Poppy is delightful, she’s the huge heart of this book, and the stumbling adventures her dad goes on are sweet and gentle.

This is a warm hug of a book and perfect for curling up with on the sofa.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in this blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Book Review: Bloodwitch – Susan Dennard

Aeduan has teamed up with the Threadwitch Iseult and the magical girl Owl to stop a bloodthirsty horde of raiders preparing to destroy a monastery that holds more than just faith. But to do so, he must confront his own father, and his past.

My thoughts:

And so we come to book three of the superb Witchlands series, I came to it a little late but I am fully on board.

And look, Blueberry the bat is on the cover, yay for giant friendly fruit bats.

I think this might be my favourite book in the series so far as it pulls all the Threads of the preceding narratives together (including book 2.5 Sightwitch).

We get a lot more Aeduan this time round and a lot more Iseult too, as the various plots start to come together headed towards betrayal on all sides and a huge battle against the Raider King, aka Aeduan’s dad.

I felt the characters were more fully realised in this book, no longer needing introduction or explanations of their powers and aims, allowing more room for the narrative and the interplay between them.

Owl is still probably my favourite character, although I do like cheeky prince Leopold and determined Vivia. It was also really good to get to grips with Aeduan’s story more, to see things from his perspective.

With the next book now announced, Witchshadow, due next February, which I am very excited for fyi, now is an excellent time to get caught up.

In UK paperback May 14th from Tor.

I was kindly gifted a copy of this book by the publisher with no obligation to review but all opinions remain my own.

books, reviews

Book Review: Making Wolf – Tade Thompson*

Meet Weston Kogi, a London supermarket store detective. He returns home to his West African home country for his aunt’s funeral. He sees his family, his ex-girlfriend Nana, his old school mate Church. Food is good, beer is plentiful, and telling people he works as a homicide detective seems like harmless hyperbole, until he wakes up in hell.

He is kidnapped and forced by two separate rebel factions to investigate the murder of a local hero, Papa Busi. The solution may tip a country on the brink into civil war.

Making Wolf is the outrageous, frightening, violent and sometimes surreal homecoming experience of a lifetime.

Tade Thompson is the author of Rosewater, a John W. Campbell Award finalist and winner of the 2017 NOMMO Award for Best Novel. His novella The Murders of Molly Southbourne has recently been optioned for screen adaptation. He also writes short stories, notably ‘The Apologists’ which was nominated for a British Science Fiction Association Award. Born in London to Yoruba parents, he lives and works on the south coast of England where he battles an addiction to books.

My thoughts:

I’d read Thompson’s award winning Rosewater, a strange, trippy novel and was curious to see what he’d do with the detective genre.

Making Wolf starts with a small lie told at a funeral and takes in a whole lot of chaos; political factions at war, poverty, murder, kidnap, you name it, Weston encounters it – all the things his aunt sent him out of the country to avoid.

Having been assigned a case he’s not exactly equipped for by both sides of a long running rebel feud, Weston soon finds himself up to his eyeballs in trouble but making some headway with the case, as long as he can stay alive.

Funny and wry, this is a clever take on the detective genre and I found myself rooting for Weston as the secret police, both rebel factions, various taxi drivers and his ex-girlfriend cause havoc around him.

West Africa is brought vividly to life, I could really picture the places Weston visited and the people he encountered, from the super obese inmate of the asylum to the Somalian pirates on a luxury yacht.

*I was kindly sent a copy of this book by the publisher with no requirement to post a review. All opinions remain my own.