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** My thanks to the wonderful Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Two days before Christmas, a young woman is found dead beneath the cliffs of the deserted village of Kálfshamarvík. Did she jump, or did something more sinister take place beneath the lighthouse and the abandoned old house on the remote rocky outcrop? With winter closing in and the snow falling relentlessly, Ari Thór Arason discovers that the victim’s mother and young sister also lost their lives in this same spot, twenty-five years earlier. As the dark history and its secrets of the village are unveiled, and the death toll begins to rise, the Siglufjordur detectives must race against the clock to find the killer, before another tragedy takes place. Dark, chilling and complex, Whiteout is a haunting, atmospheric and stunningly plotted thriller from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.

My Thoughts & Review:

For fans of Ragnar Jónasson’s Dark Iceland series a huge sigh of relief can be breathed, the next instalment has landed!

Whiteout sees readers reunited with Ari Thór who is investigating the case of a young woman found dead at the bottom of the cliffs in Kálfshamarvík, a deserted village.  He and Tómas have their work cut out for them with a tight time frame to solve this one, but when they discover that the young woman’s mother and young sister died at the same spot some years ago the investigation becomes as dark and chilling as an Icelandic winter.
The plot also has a wonderful strand relating to the personal lives of Ari, Tómas and Ari’s girlfriend Kristen.  Kristen is heavily pregnant and ends up agreeing to join Ari and Tómas on their trip to Kálfshamarvík, using the time to research her family history.

If you are new to the Dark Island series, I would thoroughly recommend going back and reading the books in order, this will build up a better picture of Ari Thór and give you a wonderful grounding of the skill of Ragnar Jónasson.  He incorporates the eeriness of the setting perfectly into the plot of his novels leaving a reader feeling chilled and wrapped up in the darkness.  I love the way that this feels more like an old fashioned investigation story, relying on intuition and investigative techniques, and it feels like an exercise in mental capabilities trying to puzzle the mystery together with Ari.

There is so much more to this novel than I first expected and I truly am glad.  The character development was superb, it was good to see more about the personalities and  felt that I learned more about Ari and Kristen in Whiteout.  The other characters in this were equally interesting in their own way, some that readers can empathise with and feel invested in, but equally there were ones that you could not help but loathe.

As always, the wonderful scenery that is described in Ragnar’s books really sets the scene and tone for the novel.  I’ve never been to Iceland, and only ever googled images but from what I’ve read in the series it feels like I’ve trudged through the snow, battled biting winds and been lost in the dark of Iceland on several occasions.  The imagery that the writing conjures is so powerful and intense.  The narrative holds your attention perfectly and draws you in slowly making this a superb read!

A thank you to Quentin Bates for this wonderful translation, it’s always a joy when you see him listed as the translator of a book as you know that he will have ensured that the English version of a book will read as though it were the original.

 

You can buy a copy of Whiteout via:

Orenda Books eBookstore
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

About the Author

Ragnar_Photo_TwoRagnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 18 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

Follow Ragnar on Twitter and his website.

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CWA HB AW.indd

 

** My thanks to the wonderful Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books and Anne Cater for my copy of this book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

Crime spreads across the globe in this new collection of short stories from the Crime Writer’s Association, as a conspiracy of prominent crime authors take you on a world mystery tour.

Highlights of the trip include a treacherous cruise to French Polynesia, a horrifying trek in South Africa, a murderous train-ride across Ukraine and a vengeful killing in Mumbai. But back home in the UK, life isn’t so easy either. Dead bodies turn up on the backstreets of Glasgow, crime writers turn words into deeds at literary events, and Lady Luck seems to guide the fate of a Twickenham hood.

Showcasing the range, breadth and vitality of the contemporary crime-fiction genre, these twenty-eight chilling and unputdownable stories will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

Contributions from:
Ann Cleeves, C.L. Taylor, Susi Holliday, Martin Edwards, Anna Mazzola, Carol Anne Davis, Cath Staincliffe, Chris Simms, Christine Poulson, Ed James, Gordon Brown, J.M. Hewitt, Judith Cutler, Julia Crouch, Kate Ellis, Kate Rhodes, Martine Bailey, Michael Stanley, Maxim Jakubowski, Paul Charles, Paul Gitsham, Peter Lovesey, Ragnar Jónasson, Sarah Rayne, Shawn Reilly Simmons, Vaseem Khan, William Ryan and William Burton McCormick

 

My Thoughts & Review:

For those of you who read this blog on a regular basis (you are much appreciated and I cannot thank you enough for stopping by), you will notice that I review the odd short story here and there, but never crimes ones.  The reason for this is that I like my crime reads to be meatier, to be more fleshed out and like to get carried away with the story.  But I decided it was time to step out of my comfort zone and see what I was missing out on.  Reading through the list of contributing authors for this anthology, it’s like a who’s who of the brilliant and best out there and with a few names that I am a huge fan of, how could Orenda Books do me wrong?

Like many readers, when I first picked this book up I instantly wondered how this would be best read…should I just start with the first tale by Ann Cleaves and work my way through?  Should I pick out stories that jumped out immediately and read them first?  Decisions, decisions…..
In the end, I went for the option of picking my favourite authors and honing in on their pieces first.  The first tale that I read was by William Ryan, who wrote one of my favourite novels The Constant Soldier, the piece that he has written is very different from his usual style of writing and I LOVED IT!  There’s so much detail and tension packed into a few pages, the story crackles and fizzes with excitement, it oozes suspense and had me desperate to see it expanded into a full length novel to find out more about the characters, especially Angela!
Fans of Anna Mazzola are in for a real treat, she manages to pack in some of the most tense and foreboding writing into just a few pages that will leave readers gasping.  From there I quickly raced to find the piece written by Ragnar Jónasson and was not disappointed.  Each and every one of the stories in this book is excellent, all different and all utterly fantastic!  Like a child in a sweetshop, I jumped from one spot to another, deciding to read stories as they jumped out to me, and it was the perfect book to pick up in between those pesky housework chores.  Do an load of ironing, reward yourself with a cuppa and a story or two….worked for me!

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely, in a heartbeat!  If there are authors that you’re not sure about whether you might like their style of writing then this is a great book for you.  I admit that previous to this, I had not read anything by one or two of the authors listed (their books are in my ever growing “to be read” pile, but other things keep sneaking in front of them), so it was nice to get a feel for their writing and it has meant that there’s a book snuck it’s way closer to the top as I really enjoyed what I found.  I won’t mention names (certain bloggers will chastise me for my glaring omission in crime fiction).

In short, this is a cornucopia of talented writers, writing some of their best ideas and sharing them with us very lucky readers!

 

You can buy a copy of CWA Anthology of Short Stories via:

Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository
Blackwell’s

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SNARE new front cover

** My thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my copy of this wonderful book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world.

As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies.

Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

My Thoughts & Review:

When you pick up any book in the Scandi Noir genre you’re instantly looking for something that will blow you away, something that will chill you to your core (more the weather conditions than the plot but if the plot is good enough, it can certainly have that impression on you), but most of all you’re hoping for an exceptionally written book that leaves you with an intense book hangover.  Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir is all of the above, and then some!

Readers first meet the main character Sonja as she is smuggling drugs into Iceland at the “request” of the criminal underworld.  Following a heartbreaking and messy divorce, she lost custody of her son, she has sunk to drug smuggling to try and survive.
Sonja’s efforts in bringing the cocaine into the country are under scrutiny of customs officials, and one in particular is sure that she’s up to something.  Bragi is close to retirement and after his wife going into a care home, his job is all he has left and he’s determined to prove his worth.

And if drug smuggling with a cat and mouse chase wasn’t enough for readers, there is a deliciously thrilling thread of financial crime running through the plot that involves another character linked to Sonja.
At the heart of this book is the story line of a desperate mother who will do anything to win her son back, the problem being that she needs to outwit those around her who have a vested interested in her in order to gain her freedom.

Lilja Sigurdardóttir has created a very powerful book, with a plot that will stay with readers long after they’ve finished reading.  It is a book that readers will struggle to put down, and if they do manage to, the book will only call out to them tauntingly to be picked back up.
Sometimes when you read a book you can imagine a scene play out, or you can see the setting because of the language used by the writer, but in the case of this book, you really do feel like the whole thing plays out like a movie in your mind.  There’s just something so fantastic about the writing.

Characterisation in this is perfect, I could not help but feel connected to the different characters and their tales and despite wanting to dislike Sonja for her drug smuggling, I felt that I sympathised with her in a way.  And boy did I feel my heart thundering when she was passing through customs, she may have appeared cool and collected but I was a nervous wreck on her behalf – astounding writing!!

An excellent addition to the Scandi Noir genre, packed with tension, suspense and a crime story that gets under your skin!

I also think that credit and appreciation should go to Quentin Bates for his wonderful translation.

 

You can buy a copy of Snare via:

Orenda eBookstore
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

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Hello and welcome along to another post to Celebrate Indie Publishing, today I am delighted to share a book from the wonderful Orenda Books, today’s fantastic book featured is In Her Wake by Amanda Jennings.


 

Description:

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A perfect life … until she discovered it wasn’t her own.

A tragic family event reveals devastating news that rips apart Bella’s comfortable existence. Embarking on a personal journey to uncover the truth, she faces a series of traumatic discoveries that take her to the ruggedly beautiful Cornish coast, where hidden truths, past betrayals and a 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.

Chilling, complex and profoundly moving, In Her Wake is a gripping psychological thriller that questions the nature of family – and reminds us that sometimes the most shocking crimes are committed closest to home.

 

My Thoughts & Review:

In Her Wake is one of those books that seems to have haunted me since I finished it some weeks ago, so much so that it’s been almost impossible to find the right words to review it.  It’s exquisitely written and so wonderfully plotted with some incredibly emotive moments deftly woven through it.

The reader first encounters Bella as she travels back to the home of her parents in preparation for her mother’s funeral.  It’s fair to say that her emotional state at that point makes her incredibly fragile, but yet, she has startling moments of clarity in her mind that give the reader hope that all is not lost.  Following the tragic events in the once family home, Bella makes a break for freedom, sets out on a journey of self discovery that takes her to the Cornish coast.
One of the things I found most spectacular about this book is that despite being in the middle of one of the most emotionally charged, Bella manages to put one foot infront of the other and live.  In the midst of such grief and tragedy, there is a sense of hope radiating slowly from the pages of In Her Wake and it’s ever so subtle.

Without giving too much away about the plot, I think this such a hauntingly beautiful book, so clever and sharp, yet there is a rawness to the situations that some characters have experienced.  There are points in the plot that I found myself thinking “what would I do in that situation?”, or “how would I cope if faced with that knowledge?”, and genuinely felt that I went on an emotional rollercoaster whilst reading this.
Initially I found that I didn’t understand Bella, or her mother Elaine.  But given that the narration is primarily from the perspective of Bella we only see Elaine through the eyes of a child who lacks the whole picture.  That’s not to say that her opinions are skewed, but once you have read the book and reflect back, you begin to realise more about Elaine than was first apparent.

The descriptive qualities of the writing are superb, I felt St. Ives come alive from the pages, I could smell the sea, I could feel the sand beneath my feet and could see the exquisite details inside the church.  When a book can transport you so easily, you know it’s a good one!

When people tell you that this is a book that left them breathless it’s wise not to ignore them, and I’m just sad that I waited so long to read this one!

 

You can buy a copy of In Her Wake via:

Orenda Books eBookstore (publisher)
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

** My thanks to Orenda Books for taking part in Celebrating Indie Publishing **

My copy of In Her Wake was purchased via Amazon UK


 

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The Man Who Died new front (1)

** My thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my copy of this wonderful book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour **

 

Description:

A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.

My Thoughts & Review:

Having read The Mine by Antti Tuomainen last year and thoroughly loved it, I was ecstatic to discover that he’d been writing The Man Who Died, it sounded so incredibly intriguing and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy (and pre-ordered it from Amazon as soon as the link was available!).

The poisoning idea behind the plot of this book was tantalisingly clever and ensured my attention was grabbed from the outset.  Who would want to poison our protagonist Jakko, what toxins had he been exposed to and just how was this done?  Would he discover who was behind it all in time?  These were just some of the things running through my head when I started reading this book, and I soon started trying to guess the who, the what and the why.  As usual there are no spoilers here and I will avoid speaking about the plot too much because I hate spoilers.

Jakko Kaunismaa is a character I took a liking to quickly, his dark sense of humour appealed to me, his list making struck a chord with me and he really came alive through the wonderful writing in this book.  I felt that the more I read about him, the more invested I became.  His paranoia and the spectrum of emotions he went through seemed so real and believable, and I think this in turn made him quite a relatable character as well as very interesting.  His determination to get to the bottom of the mystery behind who had poisoned him leads him to discoveries about those around him that he would never have previously imagined.
Masterfully Tuomainen merrily leads the reader down some wonderfully mysterious paths, littered with red herrings and clever misdirection that whilst clears up some mysteries, it leaves others devilishly cryptic.  The dark humour that is interwoven throughout just makes this a delight to read and hard to forget.

The translation to English by David Hackston has been done so incredibly well, none of Tuomainen’s subtleties have been lost and this reads very comfortably as if it had originally been written in English.

An excellent thriller which will have readers gripped, it is a book that stands out as being brilliantly different from the norm and is a fantastic example of why Tuomainen is the King of Helsinki Noir!

You can buy a copy of The Man Who Died via:

Orenda eBookstore
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

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Hello and welcome to another Friday post to “Celebrate Indie Publishing” and this time you lucky souls I have TWO books to feature!  They will be in separate posts because each book deserves to be in the spotlight on it’s own.
The book being featured here is the magnificent Maria in the Moon by the wonderful and disgustingly talented Louise Beech, it is published on 30 September 2017 by Orenda Books.


Book Feature:

Description:

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Long ago my beloved Nanny Eve chose my name. Then one day she stopped calling me it. I try now to remember why, but I just can’t.’
Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.
With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges … and changes everything.
Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide…

 

My Thoughts & Review:

Louise Beech has the rare ability in her writing to render a reader utterly speechless and overcome with emotion.  In each of her books I have found there have been (numerous) moments where I can no longer see the page in front of me for the tears threatening to spill from my eyes and yet I can’t bear to part with the book for even a second to grab a tissue or blink furiously to rid myself of the pesky waterworks.  Each of her books is special, but Maria in the Moon somehow manages to be that little bit extra special.

In this book we meet Catherine, who until the age of nine was known by her family as Catherine-Maria.  She has no idea why they stopped calling her by her full Christian name, or indeed no memory of her ninth year.
Following devastating flooding in 2007, Catherine loses her home and feels drawn to volunteering at Flood Crisis, outside the call centre she finds that her memories begin to return.
Catherine’s story is one that deserves your full attention and appreciation, there are aspects that make for uncomfortable reading, there are moments when you will find that emotions threaten to get the better of you, but it is a rewarding read.
I don’t want to say too much about the plot and potentially ruin the book for others so I will leave my thoughts on the plot here.

As a character, Catherine is so perfectly created.  Her enduring fight to survive really makes her stand out and endears her to readers.  She has battled so long and hard over the years, and has grown a shell of sorts to protect her.  A surly attitude coupled with dark humour are her defence mechanisms, but underneath it all there is a soft, sensitive and caring person so deserving of a good life.  Such a complex character that became so uncomplicated the more I read, and by the end of the book I felt as though Catherine had become my friend, she’s certainly taken a place in my heart.

As I mentioned above, there are some aspects of Maria in the Moon that are of a difficult nature, ones that could cause some discomfort for readers, but I do believe that Louise Beech has written these with great care to ensure sensitivity and empathy.

For me, some of the most awe inspiring writing came from the depiction of the flooding in Hull in 2007.  Beech managed to vividly capture the desolation, the panic, the distress caused by it all.  I could feel the emotions of those affected by the floods, the emotions were just so powerful.

This has got to be one of the most powerful books I’ve had the privilege to read this year, it’s such a poignant and moving read that Beech has managed to sneak dark humour into to make it a beautiful book that NEEDS to be in the hands of every reader.

You can buy a copy of Maria in the Moon via:

Orenda eBookstore
Amazon UK
Wordery
Book Depository

 

Maria in the Moon - Blog Tour Poster

 

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** My thanks to Karen Sullivan and Anne Cater for my copy of this wonderful book and for inviting me to be part of the blog tour ***

 

Description:

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who appears to have been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, he finds that Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman … A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

My Thoughts & Review:

For anyone not familiar with the superb writing of Michael J Malone I would thoroughly recommend acquainting yourself with one of his books as soon as possible, a skilled author with the ability to make readers shiver and feel the coldness that flows from the pages of his books.

With writing that is almost poetic in nature, this is beautifully written book that keeps readers guessing throughout.

Ran McGhie is an interesting character that I could not help but feel for him.  His life has been far from easy or straightforward and the way that Malone captures the subtle nuances of Ran are spectacularly spellbinding.  As Ran’s life begins to take on some major changes, Malone cleverly but subtly charts the slow descent into something not being right (I won’t call it madness, that seems to abrasive a word to use, but at the same time perhaps this character does become a little “off kilter” and lean towards a form of madness….I’ll let you decide).  Inheriting a huge house in a wealthy part of town would probably be a dream come true for most people, and here Ran is no different.  Initially he is awed by the library and the books that his great uncle has bestowed upon him, but soon he feels a haunting presence and begins to question what happens around him.
I am loathe to say more about the plot, I hate spoilers and think that readers experience the full impact of the plot on their own.

This has all the hallmarks of a great read, it’s creepy and leaves the reader questioning whether that was just a shadow they caught out of the corner of their eye…but it also makes you feel a little uncomfortable as you slowly follow Ran into the darkness of uncertainty.  With the mental health issues that the protagonist suffers being incorporated into the plot, it becomes almost impossible to be certain whether Ran is suffering from delusions linked to his condition or whether these events are actually happening.
On top of all this, the descriptions of Newton Hall are utterly spectacular and I think that Malone has really outdone himself here.  I could feel the looming menace that lurked within the house, I was aware of a feeling of claustrophobia while Ran was in the house, although there was splendour and beauty it was also a place of unknown danger and mystery.

There’s a feeling of safety with a book published by Orenda Books, each book has made an impression on Karen Sullivan and in turn she and her team have lavished love and attention on each page of a manuscript  before delivering a book to readers that will wow and delight.  When I initially saw this book being dubbed a “modern day horror story with a twist” I was a little hesitant, I don’t read many horror stories, they just don’t do anything for me.  But I had faith in the publisher and the friends who recommended this book to me and I was not disappointed.

You can buy a copy of “House of Spines” via:

Amazon
Wordery
Orenda eBookstore

 

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