Liberation Square by Gareth Rubin -Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

It’s 1952 and Soviet troops control British streets after winning the Second World War. 

After the disastrous failure of D-Day, Britain is occupied by Nazi Germany, and only rescued by Russian soldiers arriving from the east and Americans from the west. The two superpowers divide the nation between them, a wall running through London like a scar. 

On the Soviet side of the wall, Jane Cawson calls into her husband’s medical practice, hoping to surprise him. But instead she detects the perfume worn by his former wife, Lorelei, star of propaganda films for the new Marxist regime. 

Jane rushes to confront them, but soon finds herself caught up in the glamorous actress’s death.

Her husband Nick is arrested for murder. Desperate to clear his name, Jane must risk the attention of the brutal secret police as she follows a trail of corruption right to the highest levels of the state. 

And she might find she never really knew her husband at all

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read alternate historical fiction before but never one as convincing or a fascinating as this. It takes place in London in 1952. It isn’t the London that I normally read about, there is a wall through the middle that separates the Soviet side from the rest of England. I spent some time looking at the map, comparing it to the London that I am aware of. The Royal family and Churchill are in the North. Jane lives on the Soviet side with her doctor husband Nick. 

When Nick’s first wife, Lorelei, is found dead and Nick is arrested Jane is determined to help. But fear of the security services, his unfriendly secretary and a feeling of being spied on by neighbours makes it very difficult. Whilst she doesn’t give up, she also finds out more than she thought she would. Things that suggest she has never really known him.

The murder investigation is an interesting one and even though  I really wanted to know if Nick was guilty or innocent, the more captivating part of the novel for me was how people had to live their lives. How propaganda was used, how people were judged by which radios stations they listened to and the fact that they could be reported for listening to the wrong one. The rations, the teddy boys, a feeling of not being able to trust anybody, National Security, and most of all the fear of anyone with power. 

The Island by Ragnar Jónasson Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Four friends visit the island. 

But only three return . . . 

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally desolate Westfjords. 

Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts? 

As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her. 

But who will crack first? And what secrets is the island hiding? 

Haunting, suspenseful and as chilling as an Icelandic winter, The Island follows one woman’s journey to find the truth hidden in the darkest shadows, and shine a light on her own dark past.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Island is the first book I have read in this series. I had wanted to read book one first but never had the time. 

It is a three book series and unusually they go back in time rather than forward. In book one Hulda is close to retirement, and her involvement in this book is 15 years earlier, just before she turns 50.  This book is set firstly in 1987, Hulda becomes involved in 1997 and there are suspicious deaths in each.

The book starts with a slightly creepy opening chapter. It was one where I couldn’t really work out why it unsettled me or who it concerned. I spent much of the novel trying to work out who the child was, and her connection to the main storyline. It was revealed towards the end and was more upsetting than I thought it would be. 

The group of friends are all connected to both deaths and I didn’t have a clue who was responsible. Hulda is convinced that what happened in 1987 wasn’t as straightforward as it seems. It is evident that she wasn’t a person to accept everything she is told, and had  always had her suspicions about one of the people concerned. And she wasn’t prepared to stay quiet.

It isn’t just the investigation that makes this novel so good to read. There is Hulda, the tragic events that destroyed her family and her attempts to trace her father. There is the Icelandic countryside that sounds fascinating and is somewhere I would love to visit. And there are the events from history that are mentioned briefly, execution for witchcraft. 

A Gift For Dying by M. J. Arlidge – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

With just one look, she knows how and when you will die . . . 

Nothing surprises Adam Brandt anymore. As a forensic psychologist, he’s seen and heard everything. 

That is, until he meets Kassie. 

Because she claims to have a terrible gift – with one look into your eyes, she can see when and how you will die.

Adam doesn’t believe her, obviously. 

But then a serial killer starts wreaking havoc across the city, and only Kassie seems to know where he’ll strike next.

Against all his intuition, Adam starts to believe her. 

He just doesn’t realise how dangerous this trust might be . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I had never read anything by this author before but was aware of the successful Helen Grace series so I jumped at the chance to read this new standalone novel.

Kassie is a loner. She has a difficult relationship with her mother, few friends, is rarely at school and she dabbles in drugs. She only has one person who understands her and she can’t help her due to her age and health. She is a person who if it was real life I would go out of may way to avoid. But she has a gift that nobody else would wish for and because of this gift I had a lot of sympathy for her. Both Adam and Gabrielle tried to help and gain insight from her but understandably struggled. Especially Adam who suffered terribly due to getting involved. Strangely, both of these two I didn’t have much liking for.

The murders committed are extremely violent, I can’t think of any that are as violent as the ones that take place in this novel. The details about the remains were similar to others but the actual act of murder made me happy that I read during the day. I did have my suspicions about the who the killer was and why they chose their victims but I was wrong in every way.

My favourite character was one who featured briefly, Kassie’s grandmother. When Kassie described something that occurred during her grandmother’s childhood that affected her for the rest of her life, it was the most chilling part of the novel. She also showed that nobody could understand Kassie better than her.

The Taking Of Annie Thorne by C. J. Tudor – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Then . . . 

One night, Annie went missing. Disappeared from her own bed. There were searches, appeals. Everyone thought the worst. And then, miraculously, after forty-eight hours, she came back. But she couldn’t, or wouldn’t, say what had happened to her.

Something happened to my sister. I can’t explain what. I just know that when she came back, she wasn’t the same. She wasn’t my Annie. 

I didn’t want to admit, even to myself, that sometimes I was scared to death of my own little sister.

Now. . . 

The email arrived in my inbox two months ago. I almost deleted it straight away, but then I clicked OPEN: 

I know what happened to your sister. It’s happening again . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I enjoyed reading C.J. Tudor’s first novel The Chalk Man last year and have often heard about author nerves regarding follow up novels. In my opinion, she has nothing to worry about. I devoured this novel. 

The Taking of Annie Thorne has everything I enjoy. A dual time frame novel where everything is slowly revealed, unofficial history which I have always loved, myths and legends, a spooky thread and some wonderful characters.

There are very few pleasant characters, even Joe Thorne had his faults. But his likeable traits made up for any faults he had. His devotion to Annie especially, was lovely to read. I think Annie was the character I could visualise the most. All the way through. The bullies in modern day are the children of the bullies from Joe’s school days. But another of the more appealing sides to him showed that he knew exactly how to handle them.

The story itself wasn’t what I expected it to be. It was a lot more sinister, I’m glad that I couldn’t experience the ‘odour’ that Joe could as I was reading. I felt nauseated just imagining it. Some of the characters took a while to show what they were really like. I was both surprised and shocked by what was revealed.

I have tried to find out if the Arnhill exists, I’ve not found it or anywhere it could be based on. I don’t usually look but the historical facts (or fiction) were fascinating and I wanted to know if any of the events did happen. Or if they were just imagination. 

Looking forward to book three.

The Glass Woman by Caroline Lea – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

1686, Iceland. 

An isolated, windswept land haunted by witch trials and steeped in the ancient sagas . . . 

Betrothed unexpectedly to Jón Eiríksson, Rósa is sent to join her new husband in the remote village of Stykkishólmur. Here, the villagers are wary of outsiders.

But Rósa harbours her own suspicions. Her husband buried his first wife alone in the dead of night. He will not speak of it. 

The villagers mistrust them both. Dark threats are whispered. There is an evil here – Rósa can feel it. Is it her husband, the villagers – or the land itself?

Alone and far from home, Rósa sees the darkness coming. 

She fears she will be its next victim . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read books set in Iceland before but never one set in the 1600s. I imagined it to be similar to one set at the same time in the UK, but I was wrong. I have never read a book like this before. 

There are many reasons, the snow is just one. The book takes place between October and December and the weather is pretty grim. I just can’t imagine anything like the conditions described. How you could cause damage to your skin by wiping away tears.

There are the sagas, the folklore, the superstition, the attitudes towards them by the more religious people. The threat of execution for those who believed in something different. The way of living and coping with extreme poverty and the ways in which some would use that to their advantage to get what they want.

I felt tense at times reading it, mainly because I couldn’t work out which way the novel would go. Was Rósa safe from Jon and Petur or would they do her harm? Would she be able to make friends in the community or would she be regarded with suspicion and resentment.

Most of the time it is about Rósa but there are increasing accounts from Jon and it is was these that gave insight into what happened with Anna, Petur and the way he dealt with the consequences.But it was Rosa’s story I preferred. I admired her will, her passion and her loyalty. And  I found what happened towards the end of the novel concerning what was in the loft one of the more moving parts of the novel. 

I loved this book, the claustrophobic atmosphere, all of the characters and the loyalty, emotion and stubborness shown by Rósa and her friend Katrin was remarkable.