Someone Who Isn’t Me by Danuta Kot – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When everyone hides the truth, who do you turn to?

Becca’s had a hard time of it, but she has finally got her life together. She has a nice little flat, a steady job pulling pints, and she’s even seeing someone new: Andy, who keeps his private life to himself but is always good for a laugh. And then Andy vanishes. When his body turns up on isolated Sunk Island, Becca learns Andy wasn’t just another punter. He was a police officer, deep undercover, investigating a drugs ring that he believed operated out of Becca’s pub.

Staggered by the betrayal, Becca turns to the only person she thinks she can trust: her foster mum, Kay. But Kay has problems of her own. She’s just moved into a short-term let in the hopes of finding some peace and quiet. But peace and quiet are hard to come by on Sunk Island . . .

Before long, both women are drawn into a terrifying world of drugs, money and death.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I hadn’t realised when I started reading this book that it was a sequel to Life Ruins. Luckily it was easy to read as a stand-alone, I followed the characters and storyline very easily. And I struggled to put it down once I started to read, this is an extremely gripping storyline.

There are three female narrators, two of them Becca and Kay were connected from the previous novel. The third, Dinah, is a detective who was helping to investigate the murder of the one of their own. She was probably the only member of the police who featured that I had any liking for. Hammond and Curwen only seemed to be concerned with their own careers and had no compassion for victims or witnesses. The one thing all these women had in common is that none of them judged others and they were willing to listen to those who were in danger or less fortunate than themselves. I noticed it with Kay very early in the novel but as it progressed I saw it a lot more in Becca. Her willingness to help a young boy and a kitten that she finds near her home. In this novel there were plenty who would be ignored by those who had more comfort.

The setting was outstanding. Grim, often wet, remote and much of it on the poverty line, a true reflection of British Northern towns. But like Kay I could also see beauty and peace in certain areas. 

I would love to meet these characters again, I want to see what could happen to them in the future. Not just Becca and Kay, there are a few whose life I want to see change.

The Drowned City by K. J. Maitland – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

1606. A year to the day that men were executed for conspiring to blow up Parliament, a towering wave devastates the Bristol Channel. Some proclaim God’s vengeance. Others seek to take advantage.

In London, Daniel Pursglove lies in prison waiting to die. But Charles FitzAlan, close adviser to King James I, has a job in mind that will free a man of Daniel’s skill from the horrors of Newgate. If he succeeds.

For Bristol is a hotbed of Catholic spies, and where better for the lone conspirator who evaded arrest, one Spero Pettingar, to gather allies than in the chaos of a drowned city? Daniel journeys there to investigate FitzAlan’s lead, but soon finds himself at the heart of a dark Jesuit conspiracy – and in pursuit of a killer.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I  enjoy reading historical fiction and always feel I’m in for a treat when the book I’m reading sends me to look for further information on the internet. In this novel that occurred after reading the prologue. I’d had no idea that Bristol was flooded in the 17th century.

Apart from the witch trials I don’t know that much about the reign of James I but I was aware of Robert Cecil. The author has brilliantly described both and neither come across as very nice people. But they both only appear briefly and most of this novel concerns the people of Bristol. A city that is struggling to cope with the aftermath of the floods, the superstitions and the horrifying religious attitudes at the time. This was one of the more convincing accounts that I have read and I fully believe that events such as the ones described occurred.

There were so many characters I was fascinated by. Daniel, Rachael, Myles and Mistress Crugge were just a few of the them. All different, all passionate and all determined to survive. And at times it seemed that Bristol also had its own character. It isn’t somewhere I know, but time and time again I was looking for buildings, streets and local history on the internet.

It was also a book that made me slightly nauseous. The accounts of what the flood left behind, the food the survivors were forced to eat, the relish in which the many executions were described all made this novel very life like. 

I can’t wait to read more, this book had me glued to the sofa.

The Distant Dead by Heather Young – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A body burns in the high desert hills. A boy walks into a fire station, pale with the shock of a grisly discovery. A middle school teacher worries when her colleague is late for work. When the body is identified as local math teacher Adam Merkel, a small Nevada town is rocked to its core by a brutal and calculated murder.

In the seven months he worked at Lovelock’s middle school, the quiet and seemingly unremarkable Adam Merkel had formed a bond with just one of his students: Sal Prentiss, a lonely sixth grader who lives with his uncles on a desolate ranch in the hills. It is Sal who finds Adam’s body, charred almost beyond recognition, half a mile from his uncles’ compound.

Nora Wheaton, the school’s social studies teacher, sensed a kindred spirit in Adam – another soul bound to Lovelock by guilt and duty. After his death, she delves into his past for clues to who killed him. Yet, the truth about Adam’s murder may lie closer to home. For Sal’s grief seems shaded with fear, and Nora suspects he knows more than he’s telling about his favourite teacher’s death.

This unforgettable thriller brings a small American town to vivid life, filled with complex, troubled characters wrestling with the weight of the past, the promise of the future and the bitter freedom that forgiveness can bring.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Even though I read a lot of crime fiction I’ve never read anything like The Distant Dead. Initially I didn’t see the connection between the tale of the young boy from thousands of years ago and modern day but it does appear later in the novel when you see the passion that Sal, Nora and her father had for local history.

The drama starts almost immediately when the burned body of the school’s Maths teacher Adam is found by Sal one of his pupils. Most of the narrative  fluctuates between Nora and Sal and shows how they felt about Adam’s death. I found it quite sad that both of them seemed to be his only friends. That sadness increased when it was revealed why he had settled there and what happened to him in the past.

But Adam wasn’t the only one who’d experienced tragedy, both Nora and Sal had suffered life changing events. I felt a lot of sympathy for all of them. All three of them coped in different ways and Nora and Sal’s life touched me in equal measures. The relationships that they both had with their surviving family felt real, Nora’s bitterness but loyalty and Sal’s neediness combined with fear. I didn’t connect to Adam the same way, the barrier he put in place also had an effect on me. 

Most of the investigation seemed to be done by Nora, despite her not being a member of the police. She was a teacher, a friend to Adam and was willing to be there for Sal. She seemed to be the only one who wanted to know what had led to Adam’s death.  I found myself fascinated by her character, her love for her father despite what he did and the way she gave up on her dreams and stayed in her home town. 

Sal was a character I adored. The loss of his Mum, the fear of his uncles and his attempts to understand the passion that Adam felt for maths. I also had a lot of appreciation for his desire to be accepted by the popular children in his class and for his stories that showed him the way to be in real life. 

The ending was completely unexpected but worked well, I really had no idea who was responsible for Adam’s death. I just felt a slight sense of relief which is impossible to explain. 

I found this to be a crime novel that was also about loss, acceptance and friendship.

The Dare by Lesley Kara – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

As a child, it was just a game. As an adult, it was a living nightmare.

‘This time it’s different. She’s gone too far now. 
She really has.’

When teenage friends Lizzie and Alice decide to head off for a walk in the countryside, they are blissfully unaware that this will be their final day together – and that only Lizzie will come back alive.

Lizzie has no memory of what happened in the moments before Alice died, she only knows that it must have been a tragic accident. But as she tries to cope with her grief, she is shocked to find herself alienated from Alice’s friends and relatives. They are convinced she somehow had a part to play in her friend’s death. 

Twelve years later, unpacking boxes in the new home she shares with her fiancé, Lizzie is horrified to find long-buried memories suddenly surfacing. Is the trauma of the accident finally catching up with her, or could someone be trying to threaten her new-found happiness?

Twelve years is a long time to wait, when you’re planning the perfect revenge . . .

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Dare is a dual time frame novel that is full of intrigue and twists. I have read a few reviews where the reader guessed at what was occurring but I can honestly say I never had a clue!

In her teens Lizzie suffered the trauma of her friend being killed whilst on their walk. As well with coping with her loss she has to deal with accusations from her Alice’s sister and school ‘friends’ that she hadn’t had a seizure as she claimed and was really responsible for Alice’s death.

Years later and in a steady relationship she has come to terms with Alice’s death and is making plans for the future. But she is dismayed when an unwelcome face from her past brings a lot of doubts and concern and she understandably feels ill at ease. Is this unwelcome friend genuine or are they a threat?

Most of this novel takes place in the present time and it was this part of the novel that I preferred. Older Lizzie has learned to live with her illness and is making plans for her future, younger Lizzie was very unhappy and struggling. Even before Alice’s death she never seemed to have the confidence to relax and make friends. 

I enjoyed this novel for its intrigue but also for its insights into how it feels to have epilepsy. Alice’s daily struggle felt like a real one, adapting to the changes in her life and feeling strong enough to make career and family plans. And of course how she felt stable enough to cope with the past coming back to haunt her. 

The Dare is a great novel that I read very quickly. 

The Last Snow by Stina Jackson – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

What secrets are hidden within the walls of a desolate farmhouse in a forgotten corner of Lapland?

Early spring has its icy grip on Ödesmark, a small village in northernmost Sweden, abandoned by many of its inhabitants. But Liv Björnlund never left. She lives in a derelict house together with her teenage son, Simon, and her ageing father, Vidar. They make for a peculiar family, and Liv knows that they are cause for gossip among their few remaining neighbours.

Just why has Liv stayed by her domineering father’s side all these years? And is it true that Vidar is sitting on a small fortune? His questionable business decisions have made him many enemies over the years, and in Ödesmark everyone knows everyone, and no one ever forgets.

Now someone wants back what is rightfully theirs. And they will stop at nothing to get it, no matter who stands in their way…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I always find that there is a feeling of claustrophobia with books that are set in locations such as The Last Snow. In this book that area is a remote area of Lapland called Ödesmark. It is where Liv has lived all her life with her father Vidar and her son Simon. They do seem to have a strange relationship, not that friendly to each other,  but you do see a caring side at times. When Simon massages his grandfathers hands and even though it could also be called controlling, the way Vidar always took Liv to work. And it becomes evident that this meant a lot to him later in the book.

Liam is determined to stay clean and out of trouble, he wants to provide a safe and stable environment for his daughter. But his brother Gabriel has other ideas and is prepared and capable of doing anything to get his own way.

The novel is captivating, the flashbacks to Liv’s childhood and her teenage years provide a lot of insight into why her family life is the way it was. The attitude of the locals to all of the family, the suspicion and the bitterness and gossip all provide a lot of tension. The only character  who showed Liv and Liam any warmth was their boss who seemed to go with his instinct rather than listen to rumour. Most of the antagonism was connected to money that Vidar was rumoured to have.

It’s one of those novels where you do struggle to like the characters. Often unfriendly and angry but Liv did seem to be more approachable in the second half of the novel. And I did have a lot of sympathy for Liam and wanted him to achieve his dream. 

I’m looking forward to reading more by this  author.