Sealskin by Su Bristow – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

What happens when magic collides with reality? Donald is a young fisherman, eking out a lonely living on the west coast of Scotland. One night he witnesses something miraculous …and makes a terrible mistake. His action changes lives – not only his own, but those of his family and the entire tightly knit community in which they live. Can he ever atone for the wrong he has done, and can love grow when its foundation is violence? Based on the legend of the selkies – seals who can transform into people – Sealskin is a magical story, evoking the harsh beauty of the landscape, the resilience of its people, both human and animal, and the triumph of hope over fear and prejudice. With exquisite grace, Exeter Novel Prize-winner Su Bristow transports us to a different world, subtly and beautifully exploring what it means to be an outsider, and our innate capacity for forgiveness and acceptance. Rich with myth and magic, Sealskin is, nonetheless, a very human story, as relevant to our world as to the timeless place in which it is set. And it is, quite simply, unforgettable.

My Review

Donald is very much a loner until he sees Mairhi on the beach. He is fixated, not only is she beautiful she is also a selkie. After he has made it impossible for her to return to the sea he takes her to his home and his mother tells him what needs to be done. From that moment, his life changes completely.
I absolutely adored this novel. I didn’t get into it immediately but from the moment they met the priest I was hooked. The way everything was described – a community full of hard working fishermen and their mainly strong women living in a remote area at the mercy of the weather. Most of whom she touched, including this reader, she entranced. By her simplicity, faith and innocence she gave courage to the ones that needed it and humility to the rest. The ones who were not as nice were terrified by the images that Mairhi could reveal and how that contributed to making that person realise what they were and what they had to lose. Donald was the main beneficiary. I felt that she forgave him and she helped him change from an object of ridicule into a person to look up to.
The story, combined with the setting and having no sense of when it was set in time made for an unforgettable and mesmerising read that had me lost for words when I finished. A gorgeous, heartbreaking book, the only thing missing was a soundtrack to listen to as I read.

With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received and for the chance to participate in the blog tour. You can also see a review at damppebbles where one of my favourite bloggers Emma has a guest post.

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Burned and Broken by Mark Hardie.

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About the Book

A vulnerable young woman, fresh out of the care system, is trying to discover the truth behind the sudden death of her best friend.
The charred body of a policeman – currently the subject of an internal investigation – is found in the burnt-out-shell of his car on the Southend seafront.
To DS Frank Pearson and DC Catherine Russell of the Essex Police Major Investigation Team, the two events seem unconnected. But as they dig deeper into their colleague’s murder, dark secrets begin to emerge.
Can Pearson and Russell solve both cases, before more lives are destroyed?

My Review

A police officer is found dead in a burnt-out car. He is being investigated after an accusation of violence and suspected expenses fiddling. His former partner, Cat Russell is questioned throughout about her knowledge and possible involvement. Pearson is the older cop. His marriage is in tatters and his health is questionable. Together they are trying to get answers about Carragher’s death and whether he was a dirty cop. Both officers had their problems. Russell had no family support and struggled at times with attitude of fellow officers who resented her having a university degree. Pearson is concerned about his ex-wife but more so about his health problem.
Donna has recently been released from the care system that didn’t give much in the way of care. She is grieving over a recently deceased friend who she ‘sees’ in visits along with other people who have died who she has had contact with.
I liked this debut novel, I loved the way that the author set out his scenes. It’s not something I have come across before and I thought it worked well. It was like reading a TV script. I liked the partnership of Pearson and Russell, and the relationship that they had with their superior officer Roberts. Much of the novel focuses on Donna and her friend Malc and the reader finds out most of what happened to Carragher before the police do. Again, I thought this was done well, along with a twist at the end.
I am pleased that there will be another book published soon, this could be another series to get interested in.
With thanks to Clara Diaz at Little and Brown for the copy received.

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Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb.

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About the Book

Lori Anderson is as tough as they come, managing to keep her career as a fearless Florida bounty hunter separate from her role as single mother to nine-year-old Dakota, who suffers from leukaemia. But when the hospital bills start to rack up, she has no choice but to take her daughter along on a job that will make her a fast buck. And that’s when things start to go wrong. The fugitive she’s assigned to haul back to court is none other than JT, Lori’s former mentor – the man who taught her everything she knows … the man who also knows the secrets of her murky past.

Not only is JT fighting a child exploitation racket operating out of one of Florida’s biggest theme parks, Winter Wonderland, a place where ‘bad things never happen’, but he’s also mixed up with the powerful Miami Mob. With two fearsome foes on their tails, just three days to get JT back to Florida, and her daughter to protect, Lori has her work cut out for her. When they’re ambushed at a gas station, the stakes go from high to stratospheric, and things become personal.

Breathtakingly fast-paced, both hard-boiled and heart-breaking, Deep Down Dead is a simply stunning debut from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction.

My Review

Deep Down Dead is a brilliant fast-paced novel. Lori has no other option than to take her daughter Dakota with her on her latest job. It’s one that she would prefer not to do but she is desperate to pay for Dakota’s medical treatment. The man she has to bring in she knows very well.
I loved this novel. I have to admit I had felt slightly dubious about reading it. I don’t really like reading novels that have a sick child in but I had no need to worry. There were no details other than the financial situation that she needed to resolve.
Lori is everything I like in a heroine, she is sassy, independent and very loyal. I had a feeling that Dakota would be just like her. JT is a loner with a heart. This becomes more evident when he reveals why he ended up being a fugitive.
The storyline could have  been quite harrowing, but one of the reasons I like this novel so much is that it isn’t gratuitous. You are aware what has been happening at the theme parks and there are some violent scenes but nothing that I felt uncomfortable reading. I was smiling to myself reading the description of the theme park. It is something I have never been to and if they are anything like portrayed I won’t be visiting anytime soon.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received for review.

 

Steph Broadribb will be appearing at February First Monday at Goldsboro Books on Feb 6th. detail can be found here

The Mine by Antti Tuomainen Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

A hitman. A journalist. A family torn apart. Can he uncover the truth before it’s too late? In the dead of winter, investigative reporter Janne Vuori sets out to uncover the truth about a mining company, whose illegal activities have created an environmental disaster in a small town in Northern Finland. When the company’s executives begin to die in a string of mysterious accidents, and Janne’s personal life starts to unravel, past meets present in a catastrophic series of events that could cost him his life. A traumatic story of family, a study in corruption, and a shocking reminder that secrets from the past can return to haunt us, with deadly results … The Mine is a gripping, beautifully written, terrifying and explosive thriller by the King of Helsinki Noir.

My Review

I have read a few Nordic novels this year and this one is slightly different to the rest. It’s not a detective novel but tells the story of a journalist who is trying to uncover the truth about a mine in the Northern Finland. His account is portrayed alongside that of an assassin who is on a killing spree. Both stories are connected but it is not clear at first how and why.
The me, the investigation into the mine wasn’t as captivating as Janne’s personal life. It was like he pressed the self -destruct button. How his own childhood, not having his father present was influencing his own role as a father. He knows that he was risking his own family life by following the story but he couldn’t stop himself, getting the story of his life and the fame that went with it, or doing a job that he will hate but having the family life he craved.
The assassin’s story was chilling, the level of violence was sharp when inserted into a story that was mainly quiet. It’s a novel where all the characters are believable even if some were not particularly likeable. The isolation and loneliness that the characters experienced were all very convincing. Remote villages, completely cut off from the cities. Some scenes were quite cold, not just because of the weather with its eye watering amounts of snow but also attitudes with the need to keep the truth about the mine quiet. The ending was a little unexpected, but after digesting it for a few days I think it worked very well.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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The Exiled by Kati Hiekkapelto – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Murder. Corruption. Dark secrets. A titanic wave of refugees. Can Anna solve a terrifying case that’s become personal? Anna Fekete returns to the Balkan village of her birth for a relaxing summer holiday. But when her purse is stolen and the thief is found dead on the banks of the river, Anna is pulled into a murder case. Her investigation leads straight to her own family, to closely guarded secrets concealing a horrendous travesty of justice that threatens them all. As layer after layer of corruption, deceit and guilt are revealed, Anna is caught up in the refugee crisis spreading like wildfire across Europe. How long will it take before everything explodes? Chilling, taut and relevant, The Exiled is an electrifying, unputdownable thriller from one of Finland’s most celebrated crime writers.

My Review

The Exiled is the third book in the series to feature Anna Fekete. You could easily read this book and follow the story, it is slightly different to the earlier books. Anna has returned home to Serbia for a well-deserved holiday. However, when she is robbed shortly after arriving and then the thief is found dead her desire to get to the truth takes over.
One of the more welcome sides to this novel was the absence of Esko. But racism is still present and she feels increasingly disillusioned with her home country and people that she has always considered friends. She feels more than ever how different her life now is in Finland.
It’s very topical, the refugee crisis affects much of Europe and I hadn’t realized that this area was one of those that was struggling with people trying to get a better life. At times it was hard to read, seeing how one small act of kindness could make such a huge difference to somebody’s day. As always it is about power, greed and politics. Anna won’t back down, ignoring those who tell her she needs too and when she discovers that the thief has the same surname as somebody who tore her family’s life apart years earlier she is determined to get answers. When she refuses to stop looking into the crime she is in increasing danger from people connected to the case in present day but also from people who could hold the answers to her father’s death.
The epilogue was one that left me struggling how to feel. Chilled and a strange sense of relief is the only way I can describe it.
With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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