Henry VIII The Heart & The Crown by Alison Weir – Blog Tour Review

About The Book

Six wives. One King. You know their stories. Now it’s time to hear his.

The magnificent new Tudor novel from the author of the Sunday Times-bestselling Six Tudor Queens series. 

A second son, not born to rule, becomes a man, and a king… 

In grand royal palaces, Prince Harry grows up dreaming of knights and chivalry – and the golden age of kings that awaits his older brother. But Arthur’s untimely death sees Harry crowned King Henry of England.

As his power and influence extends, so commences a lifelong battle between head and heart, love and duty. Henry rules by divine right, yet his prayers for a son go unanswered.

The great future of the Tudor dynasty depends on an heir. And the crown weighs heavy on a king with all but his one true desire. 


Alison Weir’s most ambitious Tudor novel yet reveals the captivating story of a man who was by turns brilliant, romantic, and ruthless: the king who changed England forever.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Tudor reign is my favourite period to read about and I have read quite a few novels about the wives of  Henry VIII but never any about him. I have also never read a book by Alison Weir and when I got the opportunity to read this novel I decided to start with this and then I could make my way through the other books. The length of the book was a little daunting but it couldn’t have been any shorter, there was so much to learn about this king. 

What was obvious immediately was how vain he was, obsessed with his appearance and his standing in Europe. Initially very little confidence with women but this didn’t last long and it became evident pretty quickly that he had little respect for anybody he desired. It was one of the many things I found intimidating about him. And a bit of  revulsion. once he had them in his grasp he had no respect for them, ruling by fear and only had contempt for their opinions, because being women they weren’t meant to have any. 

It wasn’t just his wives he wanted to control but also his court. If he felt unsupported he cast them aside or in many cases sent to the Tower and often executed. The way that this was mentioned, so often in a cursory way, showed how little he cared. Whoever was executed or banished, be it wife or life long friend, was just replaced. 

Sadly, many of his court were just like him. It was a hornet’s nest, full of envy and a willingness to sacrifice a life just to better themselves. Very few of them could be trusted. 

I found this a wonderful novel difficult at times to read because of the amount of characters, many who were known by their title rather than their name.  Rather than being off putting it had me looking on the internet to find more about them therefore adding to the amount of time it took me to read it. I’m really looking forward to reading more of this series of books, I certainly have a lot of reading, and researching to do. 

Bonnie and Stan by Anna Stuart – Review.

About The Book

After 50 years together Stan still adores his wife… so why is he dating again?

Bonnie and Stan are soulmates. They met during the Swinging Sixties, to the soundtrack of The Beatles and the Merseybeat scene. Now they’ve grown up and grown old together, had children and grandchildren. They are finally building their dream home, when disaster strikes.

Stan is running out of time, and can’t bear the thought of leaving Bonnie alone. Alongside his teenage granddaughter Greya, he forms a plan to find Bonnie a new love of her life. And she must never find out…

Bonnie & Stan is a poignant, surprising love story set during the Swinging Sixties and the present day. Ultimately feel-good and full of emotion, Bonnie & Stan will make your heart sing.

My Review

Every so often I need a break from crime fiction and Bonnie and Stan was a perfect choice. Being set in my favourite UK city, Liverpool, was only a small part of how much I enjoyed this novel. 

It takes place in modern times as well as in the 1960s. Bonnie and Stan feature in both but at first you are only aware of who Bonnie is. I could only guess at who Stan might be. In the 60s it is really only her who the story focuses on, in modern day that narrative switches to Stan as he comes to terms with his diagnosis.

Bonnie was a character I adored. I thought she was brave to go with her dream of being an architect, despite the constant ridicule she faced from her tutor and the other students. I wished we could see their reactions in the modern day after she had a very successful career, despite being a married woman with a family. I liked her love of the music scene, Liverpool life, and her dedication to the band. 

I also had a lot of appreciation for Stan,  I wasn’t entirely sure whether he was one of the band  but I spent a quite lot of the novel trying to work it out and if he wasn’t how did they meet. I loved seeing his relationship with his family, especially his grandchildren, his love for Bonnie, his friendship with Dave and his misguided attempts to help Bonnie deal with life after his death. It could have been heart wrenching but even though it was moving, it was handled with humour and understanding. And a little bit of frustration. 

I found this a lovely and refreshing novel, obviously sad because all the characters have to come to terms with Stan’s illness, but not overly so.  What is evident is how close Stan’s family were, his daughters didn’t initially seem close but they did put  differences behind them. And with Dave, the ladies man, there was some wonderful humour. 

Thirty Days of Darkness by Jenny Lund Madsen, translated by Megan. E. Turney – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Copenhagen author Hannah is the darling of the literary community and her novels have achieved massive critical acclaim. But nobody actually reads them, and frustrated by writer’s block, Hannah has the feeling that she’s doing something wrong.

When she expresses her contempt for genre fiction, Hanna is publicly challenged to write a crime novel in thirty days. Scared that she will lose face, she accepts, and her editor sends her to Húsafjöður – a quiet, tight-knit village in Iceland, filled with colorful local characters – for inspiration.

But two days after her arrival, the body of a fisherman’s young son is pulled from the water … and what begins as a search for plot material quickly turns into a messy and dangerous investigation that threatens to uncover secrets that put everything at risk … including Hannah…

Atmospheric, dramatic and full of nerve-jangling twists and turns, Thirty Days of Darkness is a darkly funny, unsettling debut Nordic Noir thriller that marks the start of a breath-taking new series.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. At the start of this wonderful quirky novel Hannah is at a book event where a well known crime author is due to appear before an audience of fans. Bitter, because she isn’t as successful, and extremely critical of his type of novel she ends up in a public dispute which results in her going to Iceland to write a crime novel within 30 days. But spending 30 days in darkness isn’t the only thing that she experiences. She finds death, fear, mistrust but also some unexpected friendships and she also started to like herself a lot more.

This original novel was one I enjoyed immensely. The death happens very early in the novel and even though Hannah knew little about the victim she found herself very close to his grieving friends and family. Too close, in some ways, she doesn’t see that her questions are unwelcome.

She decides that she needs to be the one who solves the mystery of the young man’s death.Struggling with the language barrier and not being anywhere near as good at solving crimes as she thought she was this made for very entertaining reading. Especially when she tried to combine her sleuthing with her writing. It soon became evident that she didn’t know how to police and writing a crime novel wasn’t as easy as she expected it to be. Her Inspector Clouseau style of investigation, her slight bafflement over the way she was actually seen by the locals rather than how she thought she was and her increasingly brilliant group of friends all made this book very entertaining to read.

Not a character I liked immediately but I soon grew to love her, I hope we get to meet Hannah and many of these characters again. Just wonderful.

Skin Deep by Antonia Lassa – translated by Jacky Collins – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When police arrest eccentric loner Émile Gassiat for the murder of a wealthy woman in a shabby seaside apartment in Biarritz, Inspector Canonne is certain he has put the killer behind bars.
Now he just needs to prove it.

But he hasn’t reckoned with the young man’s friends, who bring in lawyer-turned-investigator Larten to head for the desolate out-of-season south-west of France to dig deep into what really happened.
Larten’s hunt for the truth takes him back to the bustle of Paris as he seeks to demonstrate that the man in prison is innocent, despite all the evidence – and to uncover the true killer behind a series of bizarre murders.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I don’t read a lot of translated fiction, something which I tend to regret when I had the chance to read one such as this. There must be a lot of great novels what I’m missing out on. This novel was only short but it was packed with some fascinating and original characters, lies and murder. One of the things I enjoyed most were the characters. I wanted to know more about all of them. Original doesn’t even begin to cover the ones who feature here. Larten was definitely wanted to know more about, There was only a taster about his personality but it left me wanting to know more. I suspect that the reader has only seen a glimpse of him and there is a lot to discover.

The case itself was a little unusual. Whilst I didn’t think the only suspect, Émile, was the culprit he didn’t do that much to help himself. He was certainly loyal to his lady friends and didn’t seem to concerned about the situation that he was in. Larten had to work hard to persuade him that the only way he could prove his innocence was to reveal who they were and what they had provided for him. 

The detective only appeared for brief intervals, and these seemed to focus more on his marriage and dental issues rather than the investigation. He seemed to be quite happy to let Larten prove his suspect innocent rather than the police prove him guilty.

A slightly unusual novel, it was short but I would love to see these characters again. I hope there will be a follow up. 

Life Of Cyn by Caitlin Avery – Review

About The Book

Some say life begins at forty.

Cyn Mckinley hopes so since her former life is over. Home foreclosure, a cross-country move, and hidden drinking problem pretty much killed it. Being crushed by crippling anxiety doesn’t help.

When she discovers that her husband’s new boss is the monster who raped her in high school, she spirals further down. Struggling to process this revelation, she conceals it from her husband because they need his job. Instead, she numbs her pain with too much wine, drives drunk, and her husband threatens to divorce her. She reluctantly quits drinking, hoping that will save her marriage.

But clarity from sobriety brings something unexpected to Cyn – the need for justice or revenge. If only she can find a way to make the demon pay for the trauma he inflicted, and the ripples it sent through her life, then maybe she’ll find peace.

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I have to admit that this novel wasn’t  usually something I would read, I struggle reading something that is raw and full of pain. Something that you know happens from seeing the news and knowing that very little is done to help the victim. The #MeToo news was typical of that.

But I’m glad that I did, Cyn was a character I liked, and I had equal amounts of sympathy and respect for her. She knew that her reliance on alcohol was causing damage to her marriage and possible risk to her son but too much was happening around her for her to quit. Af first, when she outed her abuser, and many other victims came forward it seemed to help her but it soon started to overpower her and she relapsed again. Combined with her awful landlord, health problems within her family and ongoing marital problems it seemed like there would be no way out. But despite her issues Cyn was a strong woman with plenty of determination, in many ways much stronger than her husband Nick.

My opinions of Nick changed throughout the novel. I didn’t always feel that he gave enough support, even though I could appreciate that he was concerned about their son’s welfare. But I felt that he wasn’t as honest as Cyn, he also had issues but wasn’t able to address and acknowledge them the same way she did. The way he did try and cope was totally different to hers. Once he started to accept what had happened to him, throughout his childhood, he seemed to be more of a support.

This is an incredibly important novel, some of the storyline has only been discussed publicly because of recent events. I dread to think of what may still come to light with correct support.