The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby – Review.

A few months ago I took part in the blog tour for this book. I am re-sharing my review today because until the 10th November the kindle edition is only 99p. Too good to miss.

About The Book

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2019 HWA DEBUT CROWN

To believe in her future, she must uncover her past…

Birmingham, 1885.

Born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her.

Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood. Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment. But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?

With the power and intrigue of Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions and Sarah Schmidt’s See What I Have Done, Carolyn Kirby’s stunning debut takes the reader on a heart-breaking journey through Victorian Birmingham and questions where we first learn violence: from our scars or from our hearts.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read a lot of historical fiction but I don’t think I’ve ever read one where the lead character affected me quite like Cora did. She was a character who I wasn’t sure about at the beginning, I had a combination of dislike and fear but gradually that changed and I wanted her to be accepted, find happiness and some answers and I adored her.

She was a character who despite her very hard life thought of others. Her loyalty to a few of the characters in this novel wouldn’t have been entertained by many in her situation. One of them, much older than the other was somebody whose life story I would have loved to know.

It’s not only the characters, it’s also the setting. I had no idea there was a bullring in Birmingham in the 1880s. I googled it whilst reading and was very surprised by the results. It felt different to read an English historical novel that wasn’t set in and around London and given more time I would like to know which, if any of the other locations were real. 

The more scientific sides of the novel were also interesting, how people who were mentally ill were treated and that there were some who worked in the profession who were more understanding than others. How experiments were carried out to try and find answers to human behaviour, regardless of whether their methods were immoral. The photography storyline was another that I spent time looking at. Composite photography was something that I had heard of but didn’t know much about.

Thank you Carolyn Kirby to opening my eyes to a lot of things, this book was a reminder that you can learn a lot by reading. 

No Place Of Refuge by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Giveaway..

About The Book

Amid a global crisis, one woman searches for justice…

The Syrian refugee crisis just became personal for Inspector Esa Khattak and Sergeant Rachel Getty.

NGO worker Audrey Clare, sister of Khattak’s childhood friend, is missing.

In her wake, a French Interpol Agent and a young Syrian man are found dead at the Greek refugee camp where she worked.

Khattak and Getty travel to Greece to trace Audrey’s last movements in a desperate attempt to find her. In doing so, they learn that her work in Greece had strayed well beyond the remit of her NGO…

Had Audrey been on the edge of exposing a dangerous secret at the heart of the refugee crisis – one that ultimately put a target on her own back?

Giveaway

Today I am thrilled that I can offer a giveaway. The Khattak and Getty series is a favourite of mine and this book is one I am eager to read. All you have to do to win a copy is either share this post or RT my pinned tweet and I will draw a winner using a random number generator at 5pm on Tuesday 17th September. I will pass on the winner details to the publisher, no information will be kept by myself.

The Conviction of Cora Burns by Carolyn Kirby – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Birmingham, 1885.

Born in a gaol and raised in a workhouse, Cora Burns has always struggled to control the violence inside her.

Haunted by memories of a terrible crime, she seeks a new life working as a servant in the house of scientist Thomas Jerwood. Here, Cora befriends a young girl, Violet, who seems to be the subject of a living experiment. But is Jerwood also secretly studying Cora…?

With the power and intrigue of Laura Purcell’s The Silent Companions and Sarah Schmidt’s See What I Have Done, Carolyn Kirby’s stunning debut takes the reader on a heart-breaking journey through Victorian Birmingham and questions where we first learn violence: from our scars or from our hearts.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read a lot of historical fiction but I don’t think I’ve ever read one where the lead character affected me quite like Cora did. She was a character who I wasn’t sure about at the beginning, I had a combination of dislike and fear but gradually that changed and I wanted her to be accepted, find happiness and some answers and I adored her.

She was a character who despite her very hard life thought of others. Her loyalty to a few of the characters in this novel wouldn’t have been entertained by many in her situation. One of them, much older than the other was somebody whose life story I would have loved to know.

It’s not only the characters, it’s also the setting. I had no idea there was a bullring in Birmingham in the 1880s. I googled it whilst reading and was very surprised by the results. It felt different to read an English historical novel that wasn’t set in and around London and given more time I would like to know which, if any of the other locations were real. 

The more scientific sides of the novel were also interesting, how people who were mentally ill were treated and that there were some who worked in the profession who were more understanding than others. How experiments were carried out to try and find answers to human behaviour, regardless of whether their methods were immoral. The photography storyline was another that I spent time looking at. Composite photography was something that I had heard of but didn’t know much about.

Thank you Carolyn Kirby to opening my eyes to a lot of things, this book was a reminder that you can learn a lot by reading. 

Fade To Grey by John Lincoln – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Gethin Grey is the man you call when there’s nowhere else to turn. His Last Resort Legals team investigates miscarriages of justice. But Gethin is running out of options himself: his gambling is out of control, his marriage is falling apart and there’s no money left to pay the wages… 

Izma M was sent down years ago for the brutal murder of a young woman. In jail he’s written a bestseller and become a cult hero, and now the charismatic fading-film-star Amelia Laverne wants to bankroll Gethin to prove Izma’s innocence. For Gethin – low on luck and cash – the job is heaven sent. But is Izma M really as blameless as his fans believe?

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Fade to Grey is potentially the start of a new series to feature the Last Resorts Agency. The people who work there are Gethin, Lee and Bex. Gethin is a character who has some major problems. His marriage is on the rocks and he is a gambler. Initially I wasn’t that keen on his character and preferred the two women, especially Lee. But when I got to know him more, and understood him I mellowed. I don’t understand anything about the attraction of gambling but I did like his playlist. I liked the descriptions of his family life, particularly his home which sounded lovely.

The story was an interesting one and different to other novels I have read lately. I have read novels before where a convict has possibly been wrongly charged but it’s the characters who made this feel fresh.  The well known actress whose appearance was something of a shock to the team, Gethin’s father, the judge, who he had a strange relationship with, his daughter, Hattie who was definitely a Daddy’s girl, Lee with her straight forward approach and Bex with her other career as a tribute act.

I hope this does become a series I would like to get to know the team more, I want to know more about the close knit team.

Among The Ruins by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The murder of renowned political filmmaker, Zahra Sobhani, brings Esa Khattak’s cultural holiday in Iran to a sudden halt.

Dissidents are being silenced and Khattak’s mere presence in Iran is a risk. Yet when asked to unofficially investigate the activist’s death, he cannot resist. Soon, he finds himself embroiled in Iran’s tumultuous politics and under surveillance by the government.

When the trail leads back to Zahra’s family in Canada, Khattak calls upon his partner, Detective Rachel Getty, for help. As Khattak gets caught up in the fate of Iran’s political prisoners, Rachel sees through to the heart of the matter: Zahra’s murder may not have been quite what it seemed.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Among The Ruins is the third book to feature Khattak and Rachel. It does take place in Canada but unlike the others it also takes place in Iran. 

Their working relationship is one I really admire and enjoy reading. They are both loyal to each other, they have a good friendship but also respect each others privacy. You get to know their private life, a lot less this time with Khattak but it was good to see more of Zach, Rachel’s brother.

I have to admit that Iran is a country I know little about. I wasn’t aware of the beautiful buildings, the parks and the strength of its people. Many of who had to stay  quiet about their beliefs and actions. All I knew was what is portrayed  in the media. 

There are some very short chapters in this novel that showed the more dubious side of what happens there. These chapters will be ones I will thinking about for quite a while. There was also mention of drawings, one in particular left me chilled with its description.

Whilst Khattak was investigating in Iran, Rachel was trying to help from Canada. The author demonstrates the difference in attitudes, how hard it is to visualise what happens in a country where it can be dangerous to speak when you live in a free world. I found this much easier to read. I feel this is because I know so little about Iran, I struggled to understand the situation initially. This is no reflection on the novel just my failing. I did find it easier to understand the more I read. The latter parts of the novel were extremely sad, they left me wondering what I would do if I was in the same situation. I can honestly say, I don’t know.