Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Indie Reads’

  • Title: In The Absence of Miracles
  • Author: Michael J Malone
  • Publisher: Orenda Books
  • Publication Date: 19th September 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

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 Thoughts:

Michael J. Malone has the unique ability to take a dark and often less spoken about social issue and bring it right into the spotlight, and he does just this in his latest book.

Expertly taking the reader on an emotional and turbulent journey through the pages, Malone unravels a multilayered plot at the perfect pace, shocking and surprising the reader in equal measure.
With a plot so complex, it would be wrong of me to attempt to break it down or say much about it, and in all honestly, I’m not sure I could. Not without giving something away!
However, I will say that the plotting is fiendishly clever, and I had no idea it was heading down this particular route until I got to a certain passage … I then had to re-read it again, shocked at what I’d read, such is Malone’s way of ensuring difficult topics are laid out, bringing them to mainstream attention without sugar-coating or sensationalising them. And for this, I applaud Malone. His writing highlights topics that are not discussed enough or even at all. There is a powerful poignancy in his writing that never fails to move me.

The characters that Malone has created in this book are ones that I found I needed to get to know, I wanted to know about their pasts, find out more about what drove them to make the decisions they made and why they acted as they did. The clever use of multiple timelines explains many actions of the characters and gives readers an insight into a world they might never experience otherwise.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

  • Title: Blood Song
  • Author: Johana Gustawsson
  • Translator: David Warriner
  • Publisher: Orenda Books
  • Publication Date: 19th September 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

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 Thoughts:

There are a few authors that I always look forward to book news from, but Johana Gustawsson is a name that I will practically stalk on social media for updates. The simple reason is that her books are stunning.

For fans of Block 46 and Keeper, you are in for an amazing reading experience with Blood Song. With a dual timeline, readers are transported between 1938 Spain and 2016 Sweden, coupled a cast of characters who compel and captivate and a plot that completely blows you away.

Gustawsson has the ability to effortlessly beguile her readers, weaving a complex and compelling tale that draws on events from history. I must admit, my knowledge of Franco’s dictatorship was quite lacking, I had no comprehension of the atrocities committed under the guise of civil war, nor the conditions that met the imprisoned upon their arrival. The narrative surrounding this timeline is heartbreaking, and while there has been attempt to soften some of the more brutal aspects, there is no denying that it gives readers much to think about and I certainly cannot deny the impact it had upon me as I read. I felt that I was holding my breath, holding back tears, holding in screams.
The 2016 timeline contains its own atrocities, including the murder of Aliénor Lindbergh’s family. But this should not overshadow the investigation into the Swedish fertility clinics which made for frightening reading. The exploitation of people when they are so vulnerable and so desperate for a child is hard to read, but it is pitched perfectly to engage the reader.

And as the plot unfolded, I found myself wrapped up in the lives of the characters, feeling their pain, their frustrations and anguish. I always feel a sort of connection with Emily Roy and Alexis Castells, something in the way that these two characters have been crafted makes them so lifelike, the situations they are involved in become more than just words on a page, they play out like clips on a movie reel.

Up until now, Block 46 was a firm favourite for me, but I think that Blood Song has somehow managed to wedge itself a little more into my heart. Somehow this book has managed to fascinate and haunt my head in equal measure, it is a truly magnificent book.

Read Full Post »

  • Title: Forest Adventures: More than 80 ideas to reconnect with nature all year round
  • Authors: Claire Gillman & Sam Martin
  • Publisher: Modern Books
  • Publication Date: 9th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Gadget-free games, activities and adventures for the entire family.

Forest Adventures is jam-packed with Forest School-inspired activities you can do any time of the year, whatever the weather. With this book in hand, an adventure is surprisingly easy to come by, whether it’s birdwatching or building a sundial, making a compass or tracking wildlife. Whatever the season, the activities within are fun for the whole family and are sure to get you excited about all that nature has to offer.

My Thoughts:

With six sections, there’s bound to be an activity for everyone in this book, and a simple key makes it easier for you to gauge the difficulty of each and the time involved.

Flicking through the book with my daughter, we spotted lots of fun activities to try out, the artwork in the book sparking her interest where words didn’t. We quickly made a list of the things we’d like to try, baking brownies, making gingerbread people, making a bird feeder, beach art, learning about clouds to name a few. Plenty of laughter and fun was had as we tried out the various games and activities, and often we’d use the book as a basis and go on to expand on the ideas and have our own adventures. What started as a simple idea of beach art soon had us walking along the beach looking for stones to spell out our names and practice counting.

The only downside is that with it being summer, there’s a lack of snow for us to try out some of the cold weather inspired fun! But we will definitely be making snow shoes and ice art when the mercury plummets later in the year.

Getting outdoors and playing in the garden is wonderful and this book gave us some great inspiration, and it was quite fun handing the book to my daughter and letting her pick an activity from a section that she wanted to try out. It’s great for the summer holidays, for those days where you’ve nothing planned and the kids utter the dreaded “I’m bored”, or even a good book to keep in the caravan for ways to entertain the entire family by collecting leaves on a nature walk to make leaf rubbings or a nature picture. And the gadget free games section is perfect if the summer weather decides to stick around, get everyone out in to the garden to play frisbee or make their own kites and fly them!

Read Full Post »

I’m thrilled to welcome you to another Celebrating Indie Publishing and share a mini review of A Killing Sin which was published on 4th Jule 2019 by the fantastic Urbane Publications. This is a book that’s set to challenge readers and thrill them with some highly topical themes, and the publisher has informed me that it’s available on Amazon for a limited time at a bargain price!

  • Title: A Killing Sin
  • Author: K.H. Irvine
  • Publisher: Urbane Publications
  • Publication Date: 4th July 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Would you surrender your secrets to save a life?

London. It could be tomorrow. Amala Hackeem, lapsed Muslim tech entrepreneur and controversial comedian, dons a burqa and heads to the women’s group at the Tower Hamlets sharia community. What is she doing there?

Ella Russell, a struggling journalist leaves home in pursuit of the story of her life. Desperate for the truth, she is about to learn the true cost of the war on terror.

Millie Stephenson, a university professor and expert in radicalisation arrives at Downing Street to brief the Prime Minister and home secretary. Nervous and excited she finds herself at the centre of a nation taken hostage. And then it gets personal.

Friends since university, by the end of the day the lives of all three women are changed forever. They will discover if friendship truly can survive secrets and fear.

My Thoughts:

Do you ever hear about a book and then instantly feel the urge to find out more, need to read the book and discover what it’s all about? This was one of those books for me. I heard murmurings about it on Twitter when the publisher gave a preview of what was to be published throughout the year, and I knew that it would making it’s way onto my ever growing list of books to buy.

With a post Brexit London setting, the plot is very current and the themes are ones which will spark plenty of debate among readers. The characters are profoundly interesting, the depth of their personalities means that you connect with them, become invested in their lives and care about what befalls them. The writing is compelling and at times uncomfortable, the range of emotions that the reader goes through is extensive and I was very aware of my frustrations and sadness. But it’s a breathtaking rollercoaster that engrosses the reader, thrills them and then leaves them utterly shocked at what they’ve read. The style of writing is punchy and makes for an tense and pacy read, the short chapters convey the perfect level of realism and intensity as we witness how vital each minute of the day is for the three women.
It’s quite hard to put into words how much this book got under my skin without giving anything away, the author has taken great care and time on this book and it really shows in her writing. It’s compelling reading, and as I mentioned above it can be uncomfortable at times, even distressing but it’s also very informative.


Author Feature:

KH Irvine grew up in Scotland and now lives near London. The book was her 50th birthday gift to herself, believing you are never too old to try something new. Her work has taken her to board rooms, universities and governments all over the world and has included up close and personal access to special forces. A Killing Sin is her first book. The second follows on a few years later as Britain moves to civil unrest with the rise of the far right as the personal and political become intertwined.

What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?

The most favourite thing is where I write which is the very north coast of Northern Ireland. When I get stuck I walk on the beach in the (usually) howling gale until my mind clears and I find the answer. Helped by the fact that I have to walk past a little old fashioned bakery specialising in the wonderfully Irish ‘tray bakes’.

What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?

The least favourite thing is passing it to someone else to read and the anticipation of their response. It is not just like handing over a baby but being stripped naked at the same time! In the early days I wrote like I dance – like no one was watching but then, thankfully, found most people were kinder about my writing than my dancing.

If you could have written any book what would it be and why?

That is very hard. I would opt for either a Thousand Splendid Suns or To Kill a Mocking Bird. Probably the same reason for both but if pushed to go for one I would have to go for Atticus Finch and Scout. They are probing, compassionate, complex characters with right on their side in a context that is just the opposite. We can’t be anything but empathetic as Scout tries to make sense of a world around her that often makes no sense. A bit like the world now.

How do you spend your time when you’re not writing?

I work full time. I have two daughters who are 20 and 23. I travel a lot both for work and pleasure and still have a fair few places on my bucket list. I read, watch films, visit the theatre and spend a lot of time eating and drinking. I try to swim and go to the gym and I love just kicking back with nothing to do but that doesn’t happen too often.

Do you have a set routine for writing?  Rituals you have to observe? I.e. specific pen, silence, day or night etc.

I go to our house in Ireland and spend the first day in total indulgence – a walk, a box set and a nap before getting up early the next morning. For a frenzied week or so at a time I write in 2-3 hour bursts, starting at 8 and then be completely done in by about 4 o’clock. When I decided to start the book, which was a 50th birthday present to myself, the song I loved at the time was Hozier, Take Me to Church and I like to play that through my headphones on the beach. Every day. It reminds me that the Irish (even though I am not) punch well above their weight in literature, spoken word and song and I hope to get some of that in the sea air.

What’s on the horizon? 

Book number 2 is a few years further on from a Killing Sin and is about the rise of the Alt Right. There is a tit for tat war on the streets of the UK and we have normalised some pretty appalling views. Two characters return Millie and Alex plus some new ones. Again, it meshes the personal and the political in a female led thriller. Number 3 I have in mind to call 11 Days – maybe apocryphal but that’s how long it can take any one of us to fall through the net and end up on the streets, I want to write it backwards from day 11 to day 1 so its hard to guess who it is that is begging for money in the prologue.

Finally, if you could impart one pearl of wisdom to your readers, what would it be?

Fiction is one of the greatest ways of understanding others and I would like A Killing Sin to thrill, make your heart beat faster but also maybe make you think about what might drive you to commit an act of terror.

Can you tell me a little about your latest book?  How would you describe it and why should we go read it?

It is shocking, not because it’s unimaginable, but because it might just come true. State surveillance, home-grown terror, shady politics and a race against time. At face value, a breath-taking, pulse-racing thriller. Beneath, a thought-provoking novel that questions what lies ahead for a tolerant, democratic Britain. 

A quick summary:

Amala Hackeem, lapsed Muslim tech entrepreneur and controversial comedian, dons a burqa and heads to the women’s group at the Tower Hamlets sharia community. What is she doing there?

Ella Russell, a struggling journalist leaves home in pursuit of the story of her life. Desperate for the truth. She is about to learn truth is the first victim in the war on terror.

Millie Stephenson, a university professor and expert in radicalisation arrives at Downing Street to brief the prime minister and home secretary. Nervous and excited she finds herself at the centre of a nation taken hostage. And then it gets personal.

Friends since university, by the end of the day and all three women’s lives are changed forever. They are about to find out if friendship is stronger than fear.

And who is Nusayabah? The damaged and strategically brilliant terrorist holding the nation hostage.

She strikes at the centre of power,  the establishment and the lives of the three friends.

For her it’s personal. But who is she?

How can she know so much?

How far will she go?

Can they find her before it’s too late?

A Killing Sin delivers the strong, believable female characters so often missing in top tier thriller writing. I hope it is an audacious first novel, gripping from start to finish, full of hairpin twists and turns and surprisingly thought-provoking insight.

My thanks to the author for joining me today and sharing a little about herself and her writing process. It’s hugely impressive that this book was a 50th birthday present to herself, and I’m so glad that she could share it with us! Looking forward to books two and three, and if they’re anything like this one, then I know that I will love them!

Read Full Post »

  • Title: Death of an Angel
  • Author: Derek Farrell
  • Publisher: Fahrenheit Press
  • Publication Date: 27th February 2019

Copy received from publisher and tour organiser for review purposes.

Description:

A woman is found dead in a London street – the evidence suggests she plummeted to her death from a nearby tower block – but did she fall or was she pushed? And why does she have Danny Bird’s name written on the back of her hand?

So begins this 4th magnificent outing for Danny and the gang from The Marq.

In the frame for a murder he didn’t commit, London’s self-proclaimed Sherlock Homo has no choice but to don his metaphorical deerstalker one more time to prove his innocence and uncover the truth about the tragic death of Cathy Byrne. 

With the indomitably louche Lady Caz by his side, Danny plunges headlong into a complex investigation while at the same time trying to be a dutiful son to his increasingly secretive parents, and still find the time to juggle his frustratingly moribund love-life.

My Thoughts:

I was only too happy to catch up with my favourite bar manager/amateur sleuth, Danny Bird in Death of an Angel. Having followed this series since the beginning, Death of a Diva, the Danny Bird books have gone from strength to strength. The characters have developed in ways that I would not have imagined and I’m thrilled to see how their stories have unfolded.

Death of an Angel is different from the previous books, there’s something about the plot that sets it apart from the others in the series, and it’s a fascinating and enjoyable read.
With a strong focus on families and relationships, Derek Farrell gives readers more than a story about crime. The link between family members is a driving force behind many events throughout the plot, the dynamic between characters shows the varied connections that exist and the lengths that people will go to to try and protect those they care about.

So, Danny and Caz are back, doing what they do best … getting caught up in situations that would have most “normal” people panicking, but somehow they always manage to keep things together and get out of awkward moments. Caz, a somewhat delightful yet dipsomaniacal member of the aristocracy, always has a bottle of something in that capacious bag of hers to help her in those situations. I say somewhat delightful because this character is one who causes much hilarity with her sarcasm and cynicism, and smock. But I have a feeling that behind her bluster is a genuinely soft heart, especially when it comes to certain people.
The case that the pair become involved with has some incredibly murky connections, and ones they have to be wary of. But nonetheless, they tackle each obstacle as it appears, uncovering dangerous corruption and ruthless killers. Clever plotting makes this quite a thrilling read, often I found myself trying to guess ahead at how things would all link together, or who was the killer and what their motive was but I was led astray by red herrings.

Characterisation is one of the key things in the books of this series, each of the main characters feels so real and easy to connect with. Readers cannot help but feel some pull towards the lives of these fictitious creations, such is the ability of Farrell to create a realistic cast. Danny’s family have become so real that I think of them with fondness.

A thrilling and clever read that gives the reader much to think about, whilst supplying many laughter inducing moments and plenty to keep them guessing!

Read Full Post »

Hard to believe that we’re half way through the year already, and as we’ve hit this milestone, I figured that it might be a good time to round up some of the great indie books that I’ve featured so far and some of the great authors who have given their time to take part in author interviews or written guest posts for us to read.

Links to each of the Friday features are below, or alternatively if you want to use the search function at the top of the page, just type in the name of the book or author to bring up the relevant page.

Feature Links:
Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech (book feature)
The Twitches Meet a Puppy by Hayley Scott (book feature)
Fractured Winter by Alison Baillie (book feature)
Inborn by Thomas Enger (book feature)
Roz White (author feature)
Beton Rouge by Simone Buchholz (book feature)
The Courier by Kjell Old Dahl (book feature)
The Red Light Zone by Jeff Zycinski (book feature)
A Letter From Sarah by Dan Proops (book and author feature)
The Silver Moon Storybook by Elaine Gunn (book feature)
Runaway by Claire MacLeary (book feature)
Sunwise by Helen Steadman (book feature)
The Lives Before Us by Juliet Conlin (book feature)
The Red Gene by Barbara Lamplugh (book and author feature)
Death at The Plague Museum by Lesley Kelly (book feature)
Heleen Kist (author feature)
White Gold by David Barker (book feature)
Sonny and Me by Ross Sayers (book and author feature)
Claire MacLeary (author feature)
A History of Magic and Witchcraft: Sabbats, Satan and Superstitions in the West by Frances Timbers (book feature)
The Killer Across The Table by John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker (book feature)
Maggie Christensen (author feature)

Read Full Post »

Today I am thrilled to welcome Maggie Christensen to join me to share a piece that she’s written about her life, her writing and the connections in her stories.


After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA, her native Scotland or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast.

Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them – heartwarming tales of second chances.

From her native Glasgow, Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia, where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of over thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!

She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where she selects and delivers books to the housebound. Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks.

When I emigrated from Scotland to Australia in my mid-twenties, lured by ads to Come and Teach in the Sun, featuring a man wearing swimming trunks and a gown and mortarboard, I had no idea that, fifty years later, I would be writing novels set in my native land.

When, as I neared retirement, I did begin writing fiction, I set my first novels in Australia where I lived and in Florence, Oregon where my mother-in-law lived and where we often visited. For some reason, it didn’t occur to me to set my books in Scotland.

However, I was often asked at book launches and book signings why I didn’t set any books in Scotland, and there was a story an aunt often told me of her ill-fated romance which I knew would make a good novel, if only I could find the right way to tell it.

So, when I was writing Broken Threads, which is set in Sydney, I introduced Bel, a secondary character who had an aging aunt in Scotland with the idea that – maybe – I would find a way to write my aunt’s story.

After several false starts, two years later, Bel’s story became my first Scottish novel, The Good Sister, with my aunt’s story fictionalised into that of Bel’s old Aunt Isobel. The story takes place in Glasgow, set mostly in the same street and in a house similar to one in which I lived as a student. But while I lived in a tiny bedsitter, Isobel MacDonald owns the entire house.

The Good Sister is the only historical novel I’ve written so far. It is set across two timeframes – contemporary and WW2 – which entailed a lot of research. I really enjoyed delving into the past for this story, searching the Internet, talking to older members of my family, and rummaging through old photographs of my parents and their generation.

As I wrote The Good Sister, I found many places of my childhood and teenage years came alive for me again. Much of my research took me back to the Scotland of my youth. Even words and phrases I hadn’t heard for years came back into my mind as I wrote.

I loved writing this book as I became totally involved in the lives of Bel and Matt who feature in the contemporary part of the book. I’d never intended this to be anything but a standalone book. But Bel and Matt took hold of me, and I began to wonder what the future held for them once Bel returned home to Sydney. This led to the sequel Isobel’ Promise which is set in both Scotland – on Loch Lomond where Matt lives – and in Australia – in Sydney where Bel lives.

Isobel’s Promise took me back to Scotland again, to the beautiful Loch Lomond where Matt lives, to the Glasgow of my student days – Byres Road, the pubs, now much gentrified, and into the heart of the city whose renaissance I had first researched while writing The Good Sister.

Bel and Matt became part of me – they were like good friends – so I continued to write their story. A Single Woman picks up the story of Alasdair, Matt’s son-in-law and takes place two years after Isobel’s Promise.

In A Single Woman, Bel and Matt are relegated to secondary characters along with Alasdair’s children Robbie and Fiona. Twelve-year-old Fiona is in a wheelchair and has proven to be popular with my readers.

The main characters in A Single Woman are Alasdair MacLeod and Isla Cameron –one reviewer described it as the thoughtful and touching story of the developing relationship between two rather damaged people (Put it in Writing)

The name Isla Cameron had been in my mind for some time – I had a picture of this tall, slim, dark woman who led a very insular life with a touch of mystery about her– but I didn’t know what her story would be. When I decided to write Alasdair’s story, I realised She was the perfect foil for him, and A Single Woman became her book.

I really enjoyed the trip down memory lane while writing this one. Isla lives in the same part of Glasgow I did as a student and in my early years as a teacher, so it was fun to revisit my old haunts – and to discover how much they’d changed since I lived there.

During my research I discovered some delightful nuggets of information. I was thrilled to discover The Willow Tearooms. They are based on the original Mrs Craddock tearooms from the early 1900’s in which the waitresses were called Mrs Craddock’s young ladies. The tearooms were inspired by the designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh and one of their offerings is Hendrick’s Ginn n Tea which, of course, Isla and her friend had to indulge in.

I also discovered a number of speciality ice cream shops and thanks to my cousin’s daughter – who has teenagers – led my teenage characters to enjoy ice cream churros from what is labelled as the UK’s first ice cream and churro bar.

While I’ll never go back to Scotland to live, I may set more books there. It’s too tempting a prospect to once again steep myself in the countryside I still love and to bring back memories that I’d all but forgotten. While Scotland may be a world away from where I live on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, I can open my computer and be there in a flash – enjoy the scenery, hear the dialect, and visit all my favourite places with my characters.

A huge thank you to Maggie for joining me today, it’s a huge privilege to welcome indie authors to The Quiet Knitter blog to speak about their books, their writing habits and find out what their next project might be about.

To find out more about Maggie and her books, check out her social media links!

Website  http://maggiechristensenauthor.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/maggiechristensenauthor

Twitter   https://twitter.com/MaggieChriste33

Instagram  https://www.instagram.com/maggiechriste33

Goodreads  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8120020.Maggie_Christensen

Amazon Author Page  https://amzn.to/2Lt8fkL

Buy link for A Single Woman  books2read.com/ASingleWoman

Read Full Post »

  • Title: Code Name: Lise
  • Author: Larry Loftis
  • Publisher: Mirror Books
  • Publication Date: 9th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing.

Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission.

It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill. As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them.

They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and on to concentration camps in Germany, where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.

This is portrait of true courage, patriotism and love amidst unimaginable horrors and degradation.

My Thoughts:

When I first heard about this book I was instantly intrigued, Odette Sansom was a name I had heard of in passing but wasn’t the most familiar with her tale, something I was only too pleased to clear up by reading this book.

In Code Name: Lise, the reader meets a young Odette in France and learns about her early life. We also learn about the sort of person she was, determined, tenacious and above all one that never gave up in the face of a challenge. As she gets older, she meets a man and falls in love, moves to England and life is going well for her, until the outbreak of World War II. Feeling guilt at being in the relative safety of rural Somerset, she immediately jumps at the chance to do her bit by supplying photographs of various locations in France to aid in the war effort, which leads to her becoming an SOE agent.

Odette’s first mission is in occupied France, but her journey to France gets off to an incredibly shaky start. The missions that Odette and the team complete are fraught with tension and make for utterly thrilling reading. The danger of agents being captured and killed was something Odette was very aware of, as was the threat of agents around them having being turned into double agents by the enemy. Fearing cover has been blown, Odette and her commanding officer, Peter Churchill flee for safety. But soon they are caught up by the cunning skills of German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher. Interspersed with the tale of Odette and Peter, is information about Hugo Bleicher, his life to this point and what he faced to get to where he was.

Life as a prisoner of the Nazis and SS wasn’t easy for Odette, but through it all, she never lost her spirit or determination to survive. The treatment she received was horrendous, the physical torture methods used were brutal but the psychological torture was something else, often leaving the prisoners questioning reality and their grasp on sanity. But reading through these awful details, my admiration for this character grew. Seeing what Odette endured and how she survived, I felt levels of emotion bubbling up and realised that I was holding in tears, screams of frustration and anguish and the feeling of utter helplessness.

Code Name: Lise is a truly remarkable tale, poignant and yet empowering, and combined with the writing of Larry Loftis, this reads as a thriller. It’s explosive, it’s gripping and the sort of read that gets under your skin.

Read Full Post »

Celebrating Indie Publishing has a review of a book that I found impossible to put down. This was a read that I found equal parts fascinating and harrowing, but I needed to keep reading, I needed to find out how the cases being discussed unfolded, in the words of the author.

  • Title: The Killer Across The Table
  • Authors: John E. Douglas & Mark Olshaker
  • Publisher: William Collins
  • Publication Date: 16th May 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

In The Killer Across the Table, legendary FBI criminal profiler and number one bestselling author John Douglas delves deep into the lives and crimes of four of the most disturbing and complex predatory killers he’s encountered, offering never-before-revealed details about his profiling process and divulging the strategies used to crack some of his most challenging cases.

Former Special Agent John Douglas has sat across the table from many of the world’s most notorious killers – including Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, ‘Coed Killer’ Edmund Kemper, ‘Son of Sam Killer’ David Berkowitz and ‘BTK Strangler’ Dennis Rader, and has also been instrumental in the exoneration of Amanda Knox and the West Memphis Three. He has gone on to become a legend in the world of criminal investigative analysis, and his work has inspired TV shows and films such as Mindhunter, Criminal Minds and The Silence of the Lambs.

In this riveting work of true crime, Douglas spotlights four very different criminals he’s confronted over the course of his career, and explains how they helped him to put together the puzzle of how psychopaths and predators think. Taking us inside the interrogation room and demonstrating the unique techniques he uses to understand the workings of the most terrifying and incomprehensible minds, The Killer Across the Table is an unputdownable journey into the darkest reaches of criminal profiling and behavioural science from a man who knows serial killers better than anyone else. As Douglas says:

‘If you want to understand the artist, look at his art.’
If you want to understand what makes a murderer, start here.

My Thoughts:

For fans of Mindhunter and behavioural science programmes, this is a book that you will want to add to your reading list.
This book takes an in-depth look at four serial killers and their paths towards becoming some of the most notorious killers in America. The way that Douglas gets people to open up to him is something incredibly fascinating to witness, indeed the snippets of previous cases he has worked on with the likes of Ted Bundy and Charles Manson provide another layer of insight that demonstrates the psychology of interrogation techniques and the human brain in those being interrogated. These conversations becoming the basis for some training material that the FBI would use to identify certain individuals in the future. His ability to keep his own emotions hidden at the revelations he heard took nerves and I was amazed that he could hold them back in light of the severity of the murders.

Breaking the book down into four sections, each serial killer is presented with detail and a professional detachment by Douglas. The cases are harrowing and not the easiest to read in some instances, but the exploration of the killer in each instance is exceptionally well detailed, giving readers a glimpse into their journey to the point of the interview with Douglas. Being able to follow the narrative through the thoughts of whether each individual is a case of nature versus nurture, whether there was key factor that triggered their killing sprees, if the killer knew their victims or picked strangers, makes this quite a disturbing but engrossing read.

Read Full Post »

  • Title: A History of Magic and Witchcraft: Sabbats, Satan and Superstitions in the West
  • Author: Frances Timbers
  • Publisher: Pen and Sword Books
  • Publication Date: 3rd April 2019

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.


Description:

Broomsticks and cauldrons, familiars and spells: magic and witchcraft conjure vivid pictures in our modern imaginations. The history of magic and witchcraft offers a window into the past, illuminating the lives of ordinary people and shining a light on the fascinating pop culture of the pre-modern world.

Blowing away folkloric cobwebs, this enlightening new history dispels many of the misconceptions rooted in superstition and myth that surround witchcraft and magic today. Historian Frances Timbers brings together elements of Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, Christianity, popular culture, and gender beliefs that evolved throughout the middle ages and early modern period and contributed to the construction and eventual persecution of the figure of the witch. While demonologists were developing the new concept of Devil worship and the witches’ sabbat, elite men were actually attempting to practise ceremonial magic. In the twentieth century, elements of ceremonial magic and practices of cunning folk were combined with the culturally-constructed idea of a sect of witches to give birth first to modern Wicca in England and then to other neopagan movements in North America.

Witchcraft is a metaphor for oppression in an age in which persecution is an everyday occurrence somewhere in the world. Fanaticism, intolerance, prejudice, authoritarianism, and religious and political ideologies are never attractive. Beware the witch hunter!

My Thoughts:

The study of witchcraft is something that I find fascinating, especially the origins of the ideas behind myth and fable that have evolved over many years to form the images we know now, and so when I saw this book I was delighted to build upon the knowledge that I already possessed.

With an engaging level of detail, A History of Magic and Witchcraft explores the many different ideas of witchcraft, the practices, the acceptance of information that has long been considered the truth about this such as witch trials and the subsequent executions, but also the subjugation of the masses through the fear of witch-hunts. It is also interesting to discover that Frances Timbers has, through so much research, found out that in some areas the percentage of men executed outnumbered that of the women. An exploration through the various ages and interpretations of witches give readers a glimpse into the ever changing mindsets and terminologies prevalent at the times as well as practices.

I particularly enjoyed reading chapter seven, The Tree of Life and Death, Persecution through Prosecution. In this chapter there are details of how prosecutions were held in the various parts of Britain, France and The Holy Roman Empire (“present day Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Belgium, Alsace, Lorraine, northern Italy, and parts of Poland and the Czech Republic all came under the jurisdiction of the Holy Roman Emperor”). The history of the Scotland was a section that I found intriguing and found myself taking notes to look up certain things later for more research.
The role of the Inquisitions is also discussed in this chapter, as are the methods used to extract information from the witches whilst they were in gaol.

Torture was used as a means to extract information from the accused, and the author does caution readers “the extreme violence directed towards witches needs to be viewed in context. Certainly, torture is sadistic, but it was not particularly misogynistic. Authorities were torturing witches not women. And torture was not reserved just for suspects of witchcraft.” Therefore highlighting that during this time period that the examination methods used were not thought of as outlandish. The tools and methods used are detailed in this section, as are the punishments meted out, with note about how it differed between the different locations. Witches in England were hanged and not burned at the stake, unless she was guilty of killing her husband by witchcraft “which was considered petty treason”. However on the Continent and in Scotland, witches were burned at the stake, although interestingly if they confessed they were shown a form of mercy and garrotted before the fire was lit, the obstinately uncooperative were burned alive in public as a deterrent to others. Death was not the only punishment for witchcraft, excommunication from the church was seen as the damaging spiritually, but there was also penance, either privately or publicly.

For readers looking to do further reading or build upon the information here, the author has included a hefty reading list which covers each of the sections with in the book, and I will definitely be adding a few of these to my bookshelf! If you’re looking for something that’s different from other books out there about magic and witchcraft, then I would highly recommend this. It gives the reader lots to think about and asks then to really consider what they already knew, reassess what they already know and view it with fresh eyes after reading some of the information in this book.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

The Auld (Woolly) Alliance

When a Scottish Knitwear and Toy Designer and a French Compulsive Knitter Meet...

Put it in Writing

The Blog & Website of Anne Stormont Author: Writing, Reading, Reflecting

bibliobeth

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.” - Cicero

Not Another Book Blogger

Reading, Writing, Drinking Tea

BookBum

A friendly space for all mystery, crime & thriller lovers

Broadbean's Books

Welcome to my blog where I share my thoughts on books.

Audio Killed the Bookmark

Two Girls Who Love To Read Spreading the Love For All Things Bookish! 💕📚🎧

Me and My Books

Books, book reviews and bookish news.

The Beardy Book Blogger

Reading and Reviewing Books - May Contain Beard: "From Tiny Book Blog Buds Shall Mighty Book Blogs Grow" - TBBB

Book lovers' booklist

Book news and reviews

Rosepoint Publishing

Book Blogger, Book Reviewer, Book Promotion

Crime Thriller Fella

Crime reviews, news, mayhem, all the usual

juliapalooza.com

Books, bakes and bunnies

A Knight's Reads

All things bookish

Letter Twenty

it's all about the tea

On The Shelf Books

A bookblog for readers

Gem's Quiet Corner

Welcome to my little corner. Grab a cup of tea (or hot drink of preference), find your happy place and join me to talk all things books...

Creating Perfection ~ Freelance Fiction Editor

Delicately balancing the voice of the author with the needs of the reader