Twisted by Steve Cavanagh – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book


1. The police are looking to charge me with murder.
2. No one knows who I am. Or how I did it.
3. If you think you’ve found me. I’m coming for you next.

After you’ve read this book, you’ll know: the truth is far more twisted…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I had read some of the Eddie Flynn series by this author and was looking forward to reading this stand-alone novel. I was amused to see Eddie mentioned, if only briefly.

There has been a lot of chat recently about publishers who constantly use the phrase ‘you won’t see the twist coming’ and more often than not the reader does. Or spends that much time anticipating it they stop enjoying the novel. Steve Cavanagh has used this and more to write a cracking novel that has so many twists I lost count. I’m not going to say if I spotted them or if they worked, it didn’t matter. This book is great entertainment.

It is difficult to review without discussing the characters or the plot because of the twists. But I can say that the female characters in particular are very strong, especially Deputy Bloch who was probably my favourite. She was an officer who could see things that many others would miss and knew immediately that what they had been told by Maria wasn’t strictly accurate. 

It is very different to the series, this is more black comedy, at times it was similar to Fargo. There is violence but most of what you read about concerns what each of the characters are planning. Some want revenge and the money. The police just want answers.

Behind Her Back by Jane Lythell – Review.

About The Book

n a TV station run by men, how do the women make themselves heard?

Liz Lyon is a television producer at StoryWorld, the UK’s favourite morning show. Her job is stressful and demanding, but she is determined to show her teenage daughter that women can succeed

Then a new female colleague joins the station. In this predatory climate of toxic masculinity Liz and Lori should be helping each other. But when Lori starts secretly building her power base with the bosses, Liz is desperate to know what’s going on behind her back

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I hadn’t read the previous book in the series but it didn’t take me long to get to know all the characters. It is different to what I usually read but sometimes a change is good and I’m glad that I took a chance on this book. 

Daytime TV, or shows like the one featured are not something I usually pay any attention to. I’ve always felt they were ego driven, with competitive presenters who weren’t as friendly as they appeared on camera and were just a little fake. I hadn’t given a minutes thought to where somebody sitting on a sofa showed how important they were. Luckily much of the novel concerned Liz who worked behind the scenes and was fully aware of everybody’s ego and coped well with any brattish behaviour.

There were a few of Liz’s colleagues I didn’t warm too, maybe because I hadn’t read the earlier book or maybe because they were just unlikeable. I liked reading about what happened behind the scenes, how a programme came together and the things that went wrong. Especially with a presenter who wouldn’t do as they were told. I imagine that the author has seen a lot of bad behaviour in her previous career.

I loved her relationship with daughter Flo, it felt real and I could sense her loneliness and frustration at having to deal with teenage angst on her own. If there are future books in the series I would love to see more about the two of them.

The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This is the second book in the Sam Shepard series, the previous being the wonderful OverKill. I enjoyed that book a lot but liked this one much more. Sam has moved with her friend to Dunedin and is a detective with the local force. She had a run in with her new boss before she started and he is determined to make her suffer. But, she has the backing from others in the team, he is one of those people who always needs someone to bully.

Sam is such a likeable character, I think one of the reasons I like her so much is because she is completely normal. She drinks, sometimes heavily, eats the wrong food, makes mistakes, has amusing dreams and she wears her heart on her sleeve. She has a great relationship with her father but a difficult one with her mother. Every time her mother featured with her ‘frosty nostril’ it made me smile. I could picture the scene so clearly.

Even though the main investigation concerns the murder of a university student, there is also a very sad investigation that involves a circus and a series of threats to Sam. But none of them dominate the story. It is Sam’s personality, the way she approaches each of the cases and her new position that the novel focuses on. And it works brilliantly. I hope that the rest of the series will be published by Orenda, I’m hooked. 

The Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe – Translated by Lilit Zekulin Thwaites – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

‘It wasn’t an extensive library. In fact, it consisted of eight books and some of them were in poor condition. But they were books. In this incredibly dark place, they were a reminder of less sombre times, when words rang out more loudly than machine guns…’

Fourteen-year-old Dita is one of the many imprisoned by the Nazis at Auschwitz. Taken, along with her mother and father, from the Terezín ghetto in Prague, Dita is adjusting to the constant terror that is life in the camp. When Jewish leader Freddy Hirsch asks Dita to take charge of the eight precious books the prisoners have managed to smuggle past the guards, she agrees. And so Dita becomes the secret librarian of Auschwitz, responsible for the safekeeping of the small collection of titles, as well as the ‘living books’ – prisoners of Auschwitz who know certain books so well, they too can be ‘borrowed’ to educate the children in the camp. 

But books are extremely dangerous. They make people think. And nowhere are they more dangerous than in Block 31 of Auschwitz, the children’s block, where the slightest transgression can result in execution, no matter how young the transgressor…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read books about Auschwitz before but never one that was based on the life of a survivor. I have never thought about how little water was given, how a potato peel was a luxury food, how there was no soap, and no books. The few books that Dita looked after were probably not ones many would be eager to read, but when you have nothing and want to think about something different to the predicament you are in they would be vital. I knew that I would like Dita when she reminded Freddy at the beginning of the novel that it was pointless trying to stop her reading one of the novels in her library because of what she witnessed on a daily basis.

It’s heart wrenching, I can’t remember the last time I was researching characters as I read, needing to know more about them. The books I have read before that are similar, now feel sanitised after reading this. Like the reader had been protected from what had occurred. The numbers quoted concerning the executions and the number of trains that arrived had me in tears many times.  Along with a brief scene towards the end of the novel when another well known victim was mentioned.

But, I was astonished how the prisoners managed to stay positive. There were references to the life they had before internment, but no bitterness. Just fear and a determination to see another day. Even the ones who knew they were going to the gas chambers stayed dignified and proud. 

The scenes that involved the children and the books will stay with me. I will never be able to listen to Ode To Joy or Alouette without thinking of this book. The passion of the teachers who would read to the children, especially the living books which were read from memory.

Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Stirring up secrets can be deadly … especially if they’re yours…
Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught.
Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after fourteen years. She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof.
Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the Play Misty for MeCall Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

My Review

Louise Beech has been my favourite author who doesn’t write crime fiction for a few years and with this novel she has made a successful transition into my favourite genre. But whilst this is a crime novel, with a huge amount of tension, she still managed to tug at my heart strings.

Stella is the star of local radio, but she decided to quit the job she loves. Before she leaves she wants to know the secrets that her listeners have. And in return she will reveal hers. 

Well, where to begin… The three people who feature in the novel all have a connection to the murdered woman and her unborn child who tragically died with her. The connection is revealed throughout the novel, but mainly during one chapter when secrets are revealed and this part of the novel broke my heart a little.

It’s dual narrative and dual time frame. At first it was difficult to have any sympathy for Elizabeth. I found her selfish and struggled with the way that she neglected Stella. But as I read, I realised that she was the one who suffered more. Stella had Sandra, the woman who raised her, Tom and her friends through work. She had her listeners who she felt she a had connection with. She was also somebody you wouldn’t mess with, I was cheering when she dealt with the school bully. Elizabeth had nobody.

I had never considered what it must be like for somebody who works in the radio. To talk to people but have no contact. To be surrounded by people but be alone. To pick a playlist. I found this fascinating, wondering how the playlist was picked. Were they favourite songs that had some meaning or were they just songs that were played as the book was being written? Whichever, the playlist that is playing throughout this book is a good one.

There is the crime in this novel, but not in the conventional way with a police investigation. This is all from the people who knew the victim or in the latter part of the novel from Bob Fracklehurst who regular readers of Louise’s books will know very well. 

There was more than one victim, most of Stella’s story  left me feeling sad. How she could touch so many people and not realise how much she had an impact on them. This became more evident when Bob appeared and you could see how she affected people. Even the ones she never really knew. 

In this novel there is a lot of tension, there isn’t as much violence as in other crime novels but it is gripping. It is about a crime but mainly it is  about the small group of people who are connected to it. Louise Beech has written another stunning novel, she has proved that she can write in different genres and is an author who has never failed to deliver.