The Bird Tribunal by Agnes Ravatn- Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

TV presenter Allis Hagtorn leaves her partner and her job to take voluntary exile in a remote house on an isolated fjord. But her new job as housekeeper and gardener is not all that it seems, and her silent, surly employer, 44-year-old Sigurd Bagge, is not the old man she expected. As they await the return of his wife from her travels, their silent, uneasy encounters develop into a chilling, obsessive relationship, and it becomes clear that atonement for past sins may not be enough.

Haunting, consuming and powerful, The Bird Tribunal is a taut, exquisitely written psychological thriller that builds to a shocking, dramatic crescendo that will leave you breathless

My Review

The Bird Tribunal is a beautifully written novel that concerns Allis a former reporter who goes into hiding after a very public embarrassing incident and the man who she goes to work for.
The level of claustrophobia builds rapidly. The house where they live is very isolated and for the majority of the novel they are the only two characters. The only other character of any significance is a hostile shopkeeper who gives the impression of knowing more about the pair of them without revealing exactly what.
The blurb states that the book is all about an obsessive relationship and my feeling the further I read that three of the characters were equally obsessed with each other. But Allis is also aware and wary that she never really knows what Sigurd is up to. Birds play a part, Allis’s care of them but there are also more sinister events concerning them. Norse Mythology is also discussed, something that I know nothing about but found fascinating.
For much of the novel nothing appears to happen but it is all written in preparation for the finale when the truth is finally revealed in a shocking but poetic way.
A slightly different novel for me, it is a slow building novel but being short it works well. Therefore, it is another book published by Orenda that I would not  hesitate to recommend.

With thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received and the opportunity to participate in the blog tour.

Only Daughter by Anna Snoekstra- Blog Tour Review.

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Today I am delighted to take part in the blog tour for Only Daughter that was released yesterday.

About the Book

In this chilling psychological thriller, one woman’s dark past becomes another’s deadly future.

In 2003, sixteen-year-old Rebecca Winter disappeared.

She’d been enjoying her teenage summer break: working at a fast food restaurant, crushing on an older boy and shoplifting with her best friend. Mysteriously ominous things began to happen―blood in the bed, periods of blackouts, a feeling of being watched―though Bec remained oblivious of what was to come.

Eleven years later she is replaced.

A young woman, desperate after being arrested, claims to be the decade-missing Bec.

Soon the imposter is living Bec’s life. Sleeping in her bed. Hugging her mother and father. Learning her best friends’ names. Playing with her twin brothers.

But Bec’s welcoming family and enthusiastic friends are not quite as they seem. As the imposter dodges the detective investigating her case, she begins to delve into the life of the real Bec Winter―and soon realizes that whoever took Bec is still at large, and that she is in imminent danger.

My Review

Only Daughter was a much more sinister novel than I expected
The story takes place in two different times, when Bec disappears in 2003 and in 2014 when a woman claiming to be her is arrested for shoplifting. Each chapter shows a little more from each woman’s story and the danger that they are in.
The story concerning the younger Bec is particularly intriguing. She has a good relationship with her best friend but often feels invisible at home. She is excited about her coming birthday, hoping that Luke her work colleague will ask her to go out on a date. But she is also unsettled by certain things, a feeling of being watched and a fear that the bush fires are too close.
You have no idea of the woman who is impersonating Bec’s real identity, not even her name or the reasons why she is hiding. She refuses to help the police with their enquiries about the abduction or see hypnotists etc, knowing that she won’t be able to fool them.
I enjoyed this novel. As with a lot of books that are set over a couple of different times or individual’s accounts it always switched at a crucial point. There was a threat present through all of the novel especially when the shocking truth about what happened in 2003 was revealed. Definitely a chilling storyline that I did find quite upsetting.
I did like both Becs. The younger one was a mixed up teen who wanted to keep everybody happy, especially her younger brothers. The older one knew that what she was doing was wrong but she wanted to be a good daughter/ sister to the family she claimed was hers. I thought the ending was great, especially after what was revealed towards the end.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received and for the opportunity to take part in the blog tour.

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Standstill by J. A.Marley – Guest post and Review

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Today, it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog John Marley, author of Standstill that is published tomorrow. 

 Creativity…with an emphasis on the Tea

Since I started to tell people that I was writing my book, Standstill, one question I have been continually asked is “How do you even start to write a book?”
Good question. How do you write a book? For years I, like most people, didn’t have the first clue.
And now I do. What happens is you sit down and you write. Now I am not being glib or patronizing here, but this is the truth for me. I literally sat down and started to write. And before I knew it I was creating a crime thriller about a master thief, crooked coppers, a determined detective and a huge robbery that would shake London to the core.
That’s how I started to write a book.
There are whole industries dedicated to answering this question. Books, courses, techniques, disciplines and yes, now, there are even apps that you can download on your phone or tablet to help you write your book.
Every author, when asked, will give you a different answer. They can only ever tell you what worked for them. I am always intrigued and amazed by the myriad discussions at author events about technique, tips on how to create character, some writers even using Excel spreadsheets to track the machinations of their protagonists and their personal quirks and interactions.
I just had an idea and I started to splurge it out.
It was for me that straightforward. Now, I’m not claiming I wrote one draft and handed it in. God, no. By splurging, writing in an emergent manner, I created all sorts of cul de sacs for myself. But after several different versions, I got there. The book as you can now read and enjoy evolved through 5 distinct manuscripts but the basic plot, hook and main characters pretty much stayed the same.
But the most amazing part of the process for me was also the most inconvenient one. It was largely written in bursts between the hours of about 4am and 8am.
And there was a simple reason for this.
My characters would wake me up.
I’m not kidding. They would start rummaging around in my head just at that point that the rest of the world was snug as a bug in a rug in their deepest sleeps. Not for me…oh no. I had to be suddenly awake having had a lightning thought about how to pull off the robbery at the centre of the plot. I was being cajoled out of my bed by Danny Felix, my master thief, demanding that I further the plot, help him become a fully rounded character. It was no use just keeping a notepad by my bed, as I could never decipher my sleep addled handwriting the next day, plus my Mrs didn’t particularly like the light going on and me mumbling to myself in the wee small hours when it developed into an almost regular thing.
Ideas on how to get me out of plot problems or secondary characters who have key roles to play in how the story works would feel it was okay to waltz around behind my eyelids, tugging them open and leaving me restless and unable to nod back off until they had their wicked way and got themselves out of my head and onto my laptop screen.
And this is where the tea in creativity of my blog post title comes in. If it hadn’t been for the restorative powers of a mug of tea, Standstill might never have made it to being listed on Amazon here: here
So I’d be prodded awake at some ungodly hour and my habit was to pull on some jimjams, go downstairs, put the kettle on and make tea. After the first few sips I would then start to type. I am fairly sure that I will never make any money from my books because by the time I have paid for all the tea bags needed to fuel my creative endeavours, there will be no dosh left over! If only authors could get commercial sponsorship deals! PG Tips would be first on my hit list.
So there you have it. That is how I wrote my debut novel. It was a right royal pain in the ass…and I have to say I’m very proud of it all. Because I got there. I wrote a crime thriller.
I hope you will enjoy reading it. And may I suggest you do so with a nice cup of tea.
Standstill by J.A. Marley is published 15th September by Avocado Books, price £6.99 in paperback original. Pre-order Standstill in eBook now, for just £1.99.

About the Book

One man’s chaos is another man’s comfort zone…
When young, ambitious thief, Danny Felix, is dragged out of bed by a psychotic cop in an early morning raid, he could hardly imagine he was about to be plunged into the robbery of a lifetime.
Corruption and coercion follow the very bent Detective Inspector Harkness everywhere he goes and now he has Danny by the proverbial balls.
But even the deadliest criminals leave a trail, one that dedicated Flying Squad officer Christine Chance is getting closer to, while trying her best to be mother to a seriously ill daughter.
Can Danny escape Harkness with his life intact? Can he avoid detection by Chance?
And most importantly does he have what it takes to use the teeming streets of modern day London to pull off the theft of the 21st Century?
Danny thinks he can…but there will be bloodshed..

My Review

The first thing that stood out about Standstill was how refreshing it was. Danny Felix is a thief who is forced by a crooked police officer into carrying out a very large robbery. One that will bring London to a standstill. Harkness, the corrupt cop is a nasty piece of work. He is violent and a bully who won’t take no for an answer. Christine Chance is a member of the flying squad, her team have recently solved a series of cases and she is starting to get suspicious about their luck. She also has a seriously ill daughter.
I liked Danny, he constantly tried to show Harkness that he would do things his way and he was the boss but Harkness always seemed to be one step ahead and knew exactly how to show Danny how things really were. I struggled slightly with Christine, the part that involved her work I was fine with but I found the storyline concerning her daughter difficult to read.
The way that London was brought to a standstill was unexpected. It only covered a couple of chapters but it was a part of the novel that had a lingering effect on me.
A great debut novel, with some laughs, some shocks and a unique storyline.
With thanks to John Marley for the guest post and Sophie for the novel received for review.

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Blackout by Ragnar Jónasson

 

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Today I am delighted to participate in the blog tour for Ragnar Jónasson’s latest novel Blackout.

About the Book

On the shores of a tranquil fjord in Northern Iceland, a man is brutally beaten to death on a bright summer’s night. As the 24-hour light of the arctic summer is transformed into darkness by an ash cloud from a recent volcanic eruption, a young reporter leaves Reykjavik to investigate on her own, unaware that an innocent person’s life hangs in the balance. Ari Thor Arason and his colleagues on the tiny police force in Siglufjordur struggle with an increasingly perplexing case, while their own serious personal problems push them to the limit. What secrets does the dead man harbour, and what is the young reporter hiding? As silent, unspoken horrors from the past threaten them all, and the darkness deepens, it’s a race against time to find the killer before someone else dies… Dark, terrifying and complex, Blackout is an exceptional, atmospheric thriller from one of Iceland s finest crime writers.

My Review

Blackout is the third novel to be published by Orenda. The second book to be published, Nightblind was set a few years after the events in Snowblind the first one. I was eager to find out what had happened in the years between and this novel answers a few of those questions, being set soon after the first book.
Ari Thór is now a bit more settled and enjoying life more in the little town of Siglufjordur although he deeply regrets the break up with Kristín. Tómas is missing his wife who has moved away and Hlyner is haunted by events that happened when he was younger. It is the personal issues that affect all three that have been resolved with the publication of this book.
Throughout the novel the volcanic eruption that caused havoc over much of Europe is present. When a man who is working in the area is murdered Ari Thór and Tomas are helping in the investigation. At the same time a TV journalist is also conducting her own investigation into the death. There are mixed reports into the character of the dead man, some say he was a saint but there are also those who say he was somebody who couldn’t be trusted. Both the police and the journalist are keen to get answers.
Like the previous books, the murder is the main storyline but what goes on in the background is also very important. The story concerning Hlyner was quite upsetting and I did have some sympathy for him. The truth concerning Elias was also dark and sadly very believable. I would have liked to know more concerning this storyline, hopefully there will be more revealed in the next novel.
The characters who feature in the series are all strong and I love getting to know them. It’s not all about Ari Thor, but more about a close knit community. Some are nice people, some not but all feel real.
Thanks to Karen Sullivan for the copy received. I am thrilled that I have each of Ragnar’s books as signed limited edition hardbacks and I’m looking forward to adding to them.