The Serpent’s Mark by S. W. Perry – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Treason sleeps for no man…

London, 1591. Nicholas Shelby, physician and reluctant spy, returns to his old haunts on London’s lawless Bankside. But, when spymaster Robert Cecil asks him to investigate the dubious practices of a mysterious doctor from Switzerland, Nicholas is soon embroiled in a conspiracy that threatens not just the life of an innocent young patient, but the overthrow of Queen Elizabeth herself.

With fellow healer and mistress of the Jackdaw tavern, Bianca Merton, again at his side, Nicholas is drawn into a sinister world of zealots, charlatans and dangerous fanatics…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. The Serpent’s Mark is the second book in this Tudor crime series. It can be read as a stand-alone novel quite easily.

It is a novel that combines real life characters as well as fictional. As always, some names I am familiar with, some I spend time on the internet trying to find out more information. Even though there are courtiers and titled people in the novel most of it concerns ‘normal’ people. 

Anybody who is familiar with Tudor history will be aware of the turmoil created by religious beliefs at the time. How, whoever was on the throne dictated whether you were Catholic or Protestant. When this novel takes place Elizabeth I was queen and her Faith  was Protestant. Anybody who practised Catholicism faced execution so did so discreetly. The author creates a terrifying insight into how this must have been, it was here that we get to know more about Bianca, her childhood and the betrayal she felt over the way her father was abandoned by the one she thought was a friend.

As well as the religious storyline, and like the previous book, he shows developing medical beliefs. I found it fascinating, reading about how knowledge and understanding regarding science has changed over the years.

All my favourite characters from the last book featured and I have to add another to my list, Rose. I loved her sense of humour, her loyalty and the way she handled the men in her life. Especially Ned.  Nicolas was also a character I appreciated more, how he was starting to move on and acknowledge his feelings towards Bianca without feeling guilt.

Arcampora, the doctor who Nicolas has been asked to investigate, is one of the most terrifying characters I have ever met in any novel. Everything about him had me unsettled. I cringed when he appeared but was also desperate to learn what he would do next. 

A great follow up from an author who is now a favourite. 


A Modern Family by Helga Flatland – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. A Modern Family is a book that is different to many that I read. Neither crime or historical it is instead a look at how a family dynamic changes when  parents announce that they are divorcing after being married for forty years. Most of the novel focuses on Liv and Ellen but the last chapter concerns Håkon the youngest.

All of the children are adult and all react in different ways. Liv with so much fury that it threatens to break up her own family, Ellen wrapped up in her own medical problems is practically oblivious and Håkon, the only one out of the three who actually talks to both of their parents about their own feelings.

It wasn’t a novel where I could pick a favourite character or narrative. It was one where I could see every point of view and understand what each of them was going though. Even though both Liv and Ellen did sometimes appear selfish. Especially Liv, and at times I did have a bit of sympathy for her husband Olaf. 

Many could read this book and identify with what each of the characters were feeling. At times it’s political, both American and British politics were discussed with insight given into how each could affect Norway. But it doesn’t overpower this family drama of life after divorce. It’s beautifully written and one that I would definitely choose to watch if it was ever filmed.



Wolves At The Door by Gunnar Staalesen – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

One dark January night a car drives at high speed towards PI Varg Veum, and comes very close to killing him. Veum is certain this is no accident, following so soon after the deaths of two jailed men who were convicted for their participation in a case of child pornography and sexual assault … crimes that Veum himself once stood wrongly accused of committing.

While the guilty men were apparently killed accidentally, Varg suspects that there is something more sinister at play … and that he’s on the death list of someone still at large.

My Review


With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This is a book which you will appreciate more if you have read the earlier books in the series. Varg Veum is a character who you understand and like more if you are aware what has happened to him in the past.

He has struggled to move on after the charges of appalling crimes were dropped, both professionally and personally and he is shocked that two of the men he was charged with have died suddenly. He is also aware that somebody is following him and becomes more concerned when others he is close to are at risk.

He is a character who is completely different to many that I read about. He appears a lot more relaxed and slow to act than others but he isn’t one to give up when he doesn’t get answers straight away. Instead he persists, almost hovering in the wings until whoever he is questioning reveals their secrets, worries and anger.

What this author does so well is show what other characters other than Varg are going through. All of the characters who are connected to the historic crimes are affected by what happened. Not just the victims, the relatives and friends. It’s heart wrenching and real. One scene in particular, is very upsetting. Not because of graphic detail but the emotional distress that one character displays. And the complete lack of remorse shown by the one who should have prevented it. It is a scene where Varg shows his strengths, his expertise and caring nature whilst trying to help.

Never Be Broken by Sarah Hilary – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Children are dying on London’s streets. Frankie Reece, stabbed through the heart, outside a corner shop. Others recruited from care homes, picked up and exploited; passed like gifts between gangs. They are London’s lost. 
Then Raphaela Belsham is killed. She’s thirteen years old, her father is a man of influence, from a smart part of town. And she’s white. Suddenly, the establishment is taking notice.
DS Noah Jake is determined to handle Raphaela’s case and Frankie’s too. But he’s facing his own turmoil, and it’s becoming an obsession. DI Marnie Rome is worried, and she needs Noah on side. Because more children are disappearing, more are being killed by the day and the swelling tide of violence needs to be stemmed before it’s too late. 

NEVER BE BROKEN is a stunning, intelligent and gripping novel which explores how the act of witness alters us, and reveals what lies beneath the veneer of a glittering city.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. If you haven’t read the Marnie Rome series by Sarah Hilary then you should do. And in order, mainly because the lead characters have ongoing personal problems that won’t mean as much if you are not aware of the back story.

This latest book differs slightly to the rest, with much of the storyline concerning Noah. He is trying and failing to accept the events that happened in the previous novel and it is affecting his judgment. And with the violent deaths which have devastated two families in their local area he is struggling. 

There is too much about this novel that is real life news. When I first started to read it the city I live in was on lockdown and curfew controlled due to gun and knife crime. Something that is happening everywhere but especially in London. There is Grenfell which is visible from the area in which the book is set, one part of the novel is a chilling reminder of what happened there. There are unscrupulous landlords, untrustworthy people and drugs and how children are recruited into the drug culture. But the hardest part to read was the racial hatred and how people make assumptions because of skin colour. The way Noah coped with it was revealing, showing that it must be common.

It’s riveting, very realistic, heartbreaking and eye opening. I enjoyed knowing more about what Noah was feeling and seeing his conversations with his brother but I wish he could have a break.

Marnie does still feature, she is active in the case but is also aware that Noah is noticing more than her. She is feeling responsible for him and feels guilty over not being able to help. But she also has personal problems and I have a strong feeling that her decision won’t go the way she wants it to.

I can’t wait for the next book in the series. 

Turbulent Wake by Paul Hardisty – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Ethan Scofield returns to the place of his birth to bury his father. Hidden in one of the upstairs rooms of the old man’s house he finds a strange manuscript, a collection of stories that seems to cover the whole of his father’s turbulent life.

As his own life starts to unravel, Ethan works his way through the manuscript, trying to find answers to the mysteries that have plagued him since he was a child. What happened to his little brother? Why was his mother taken from him? And why, in the end, when there was no one else left, did his own father push him away?

Swinging from the coral cays of the Caribbean to the dangerous deserts of Yemen and the wild rivers of Africa, Turbulent Wake is a bewitching, powerful and deeply moving story of love and loss … of the indelible damage we do to those closest to us and, ultimately, of the power of redemption in a time of change.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read Paul Hardisty’s series of books that featured Claymore Straker and enjoyed them. Turbulent Wake is completely different and I loved every bit of it. It tells the story of a family that is estranged and full of regret for the things that went wrong. It was nothing like I thought it would be. 

Ethan returns home for his father’s funeral. They have had no contact for years, no explanation, they just have separate lives. Whilst he is there he finds a manuscript that was written by his father which tells the story of his life. His mistakes, his regrets and his hopes for the future. 

Warren, or War, is described as the young engineer throughout much of the book. You see him as a child, what he wants to be when he grows up, fear and his first love. You see him becoming a teenager and married man who wants to do the right thing, who tries to help but faces setbacks along the way.

The narrative features the manuscript but also Ethan’s reaction as he reads. He is more like his father than he imagined. Both have major family problems, have careers that are not what they expected and wish things could be different. As he reads he starts to see what understand what went wrong in his own life and ways of making it better. 

But it was the manuscript that I became anxious to read, wanting to know what happened in each stage of the young engineer’s life, his errors of judgement, and his attempts to make things right. It’s not all about family. It’s about the damage that humankind are causing in the world with greed and power. He describes war torn areas, communities, nature and habitat being destroyed by mankind. All of it is brutal and devastating to read. Especially toward the end when he is no longer young.

Heartbreaking, honest, wonderful. This novel needs to be read by many, so they can see what damage they cause.