Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland, when there is flash in the sky and something crashes into the car. That something turns about to be a highly valuable meteorite. With euro signs lighting up the eyes of the locals, the unexpected treasure is temporarily placed in a neighbourhood museum, under the watchful eye of a priest named Joel.

But Joel has a lot more on his mind than simply protecting the riches that have apparently rained down from heaven. His wife has just revealed that she is pregnant. Unfortunately Joel has strong reason to think the baby isn’t his. As Joel tries to fend off repeated and bungled attempts to steal the meteorite, he must also come to terms with his own situation, and discover who the father of the baby really is.

Transporting the reader to the culture, landscape and mores of northern Finland Little Siberia is both a crime novel and a hilarious, blacker-than-black comedy about faith and disbelief, love and death, and what to do when bolts from the blue – both literal and figurative – turn your life upside down.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Whenever I read a novel by Antti Tuomainen I can see it as a Coen Brothers movie. This latest book is a perfect example. The weather, which I just can’t imagine having to cope with and consider it normal. The relationships, where you can see the love and adoration but also the issues and the brilliantly and bizarrely accidents that result in the bad guys being killed. 

Joel, the lead character is just wonderful, struggling to cope with his wife’s pregnancy when he knows he can’t be the father he volunteers to look after the meteorite. Little realising that nearly everyone he knows is prepared to do anything to get their hands on it. The way he tried to work out who wanted it most and who had got his wife pregnant was gripping reading,

The setting was a convincing one, remote, sometimes unfriendly where everybody thinks they know about their neighbours but they don’t. How disappointment and disillusionment affected judgement in nearly every character. And like Joel I completely misunderstood at least one character. 

Brilliant.  


Violet by SJI Holliday – Review

About The Book

Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is also desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

My Review

With thanks to the author for the copy received. I see many thrillers described as psychological and often I’m disappointed. I’m happy to say that I wasn’t with Violet, my new favourite novel by this author. It had it all. Violet was an unreliable, unsettling and at times creepy narrator, and Carrie her new friend and travel companion has just become her new obsession.

But Carrie also has issues, and not just the ones that involve heavy drinking and drug taking. Most of what you learn about her is through her emails home to family and the best friend who couldn’t be with her. It is these that also show what she really thinks about Violet and also what occurred back home.

Everything about this novel works. The setting in countries that are completely different to the UK. The descriptions of the customs, some of which were really eerie. And the increasingly bizarre behaviour of Violet that had me wondering what she would do next.

It is very clever with characters that scared me at times, but strangely ones I could also feel sympathy for. As the story progressed there was insight into why they behaved like they did, especially with Violet.

As I read this novel I also enjoyed seeing daily photographs on the author’s website of her trip that inspired the novel.

In The Absence Of Miracles by Michael Malone – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A young man discovers a family secret that turns his world upside down in this dark, emotive, shocking psychological thriller by number-one bestselling author Michael J. Malone

John Docherty’s mother has just been taken into a nursing home following a massive stroke and she’s unlikely to be able to live independently again.

With no other option than to sell the family home, John sets about packing up everything in the house. In sifting through the detritus of his family’s past he’s forced to revisit, and revise his childhood.
For in a box, in the attic, he finds undeniable truth that he had a brother who disappeared when he himself was only a toddler. A brother no one ever mentioned. A brother he knew absolutely nothing about. A discovery that sets John on a journey from which he may never recover.

For sometimes in that space where memory should reside there is nothing but silence, smoke and ash. And in the absence of truth, in the absence of a miracle, we turn to prayer. And to violence.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Michael Malone is one of those authors who always manages to tug on your heartstrings whilst delivering something that is shocking and real. This novel is my favourite so far.

John is a teacher, successful at his job but less successful in his private life. He adores his partner but struggles to make that final commitment. He is also aware that he drinks too much. But his life is turned upside down with his discovery in his family home which he is preparing to sell to pay for his mother’s care. This discovery results in events long forgotten to be revealed and threaten all who he loves.

There are some fantastic characters in this novel. I liked John instantly and as events from the past were explained I understood and liked most of the others more. So much felt real. The emotions, guilt, betrayal, fear and even jealousy. All of them had to come to terms with the past and as they did they learned to trust and be honest with each other. The strength of each of them became evident in the final pages. A perfect closure.

Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson translated by David Warriner – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

The action swings from London to Sweden, and then back into the past, to Franco’s Spain, as Roy & Castells hunt a monstrous killer … in the lastest instalment of Johana Gustawsson’s award-winning series

Spain, 1938:
 The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Therese witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Therese gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016: A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and soon finds herself on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer. Little does she realise that this killer is about to change the life of her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells. Joining forces once again, Roy and Castells’ investigation takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule.

Terrifying, vivid and recounted at breakneck speed, Blood Song is not only a riveting thriller and an examination of corruption in the fertility industry, but a shocking reminder of the atrocities of Spain’s dictatorship, in the latest, stunning installment in the award-winning Roy & Castells series.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. When I read my first book by Johana Gustawsson it was one that contained facts that still upset me now. Her second book was just as good but didn’t have the same impact. Blood Song left me devastated by what I learned about the atrocities committed during Franco’s regime.

Once again she uses fact and fiction. It was the events concerning Teresa, Gordi and all her young friends that upset me. Much more than the fictional events in modern day. I find it very difficult to accept the levels of cruelty displayed but when reading the author notes and articles I found on google I felt it was an honest account. They were hard to read but when I saw how she combined the past and present I was stunned into silence, unable to think about anything apart from what I had just read.

It is powerful, it is a novel where none of the characters over shadow the story. It is a novel where I was left hoping that I would get to meet them all again, even Olofosson who I took a huge dislike to previously, I managed to have some sympathy for this time.

Just wonderful.

The Closer I Get by Paul Burston – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.

Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.

When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.

But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Closer I Get was a novel that I heard a lot about without really knowing it’s synopsis. That is, until I saw a link to an article in a newspaper article about what inspired the author to write it, which then inspired me to read the book as soon as I could.

Many people are on social media. Many post things that they wouldn’t say in real life, face to face. They get involved in disagreements that are best avoided, often using the hashtag. Some become stalkers. Evie is one of the few who do all of these things. There are probably many like her, a loner who had a terrible childhood and didn’t know how to be in the real world. There were moments where I could understand her pain but not how she dealt with it. After being served with a restraining order for her actions involving Tom they both have to rebuild the lives. But are things as they appear?

I found this story mesmerising. More so because neither of the two main characters were that likeable. I couldn’t work out if either of them were being honest and neither of them were nice to anybody they came into contact with. I did have sympathy for Tom initially but I also had misgivings when I could see the way he treated his friends and lovers. He was selfish and self obsessed and couldn’t see that his friend Emma may have needed him to be there for her, just like she was expected to be there for him. The only one who brought out his better side was his developing friendship with his elderly neighbour, Colin.

As well as the characters the author does a terrific job of describing the negative side to social media. One of the platforms in particular is shown at its worst and I’m probably not the only one who was left feeling ill at ease and reluctant to post anything at all.

Totally different to many of the novels that I read, I’m looking forward to my limited edition signed copy arriving soon.