I received a copy of this book from Harper Fiction in return for an honest review.
The first book in this historical fiction trilogy set in WW2 is an emotional and sensory delight. Cleverly created characters draw the reader into their tumultuous lives in occupied France. The story focuses on three sisters living in an idyllic setting in Dordogne, France, which is blighted by enemy occupation and the ravages of war. Hélène, the eldest, a nurse and surrogate mother to the younger women. Elise, the rebel whose courage leads to impulsive acts that may have far-reaching repercussions and Florence, the youngest, a dichotomy of practicality and dreamer.
The beautifully described setting is evocative of the place and time. Intricate world-building and historical details bring the characters and setting to authentic and vibrant life. The plot reflects the dangers and deprivations of war in an immersive way. Empathy is the reader’s paramount emotion, as the sisters and the community try to maintain hope and humanity in dire circumstances. Emotive and thought-provoking, it resonates.
Fifteen years ago, Rolf was destined for the gutter.
His luck has changed. Now a cellist with the Salzburg City Orchestra, he has his dream job and dizzying prospects.
All because of her.
Smart, sexy, well connected and crazy about him, Leonor is his fantasy woman. She made him and he’ll never forget it.
Neither will she.
She chooses Rolf’s diet, his friends, his decisions and career path. She knows best. When does a champion turn controller?
While he submits to domination at home, he struggles at work. The maestro is determined to break down and rebuild his new cellist. Clash after clash shatter Rolf’s confidence until he doubts everything about himself.
Then a rumour reaches his ear. Has he misjudged his new friends? Is something more sinister pulling the orchestra’s strings?
Regardless of the drama behind the scenes, the show must go on. It’s the only way to escape his past.
A classic artist, Rolf presents the best side of himself, hiding the pain of imperfection. A strategy with devastating results.
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher in return for an honest review.
Set mainly in Salzburg, focusing on a professional orchestra. Relationships, both personal and professional, control and power are the predominant themes in this story. The setting is vividlydescribed, and the reader gets a good sense of place through the sensory imagery. The vivacity extends to the characters, some of who are unlikeable. Unreliable protagonists mean that it’s hard to decipher lies from the truth. The dynamics within the orchestra are fascinatingly described. This book focuses on issues of control and is disturbing reading.
It has originality and a rawness that will appeal to many readers.
As an English teacher, actor, director and cultural trainer, I’ve lived and worked all over Europe. Now I’m a full-time author, publisher and audiobook narrator.
A boisterous, big-hearted, thoroughly modern family sagaset in Texas, in which marriages struggle, rivalries flare andsecrets explode.
When March Briscoe returns to East Texas two years after he was caught having an affair with his brother’s wife, the Briscoe family becomes once again the talk of the small town of Olympus. His mother, June, hardly welcomes him back with open arms. Her husband’s own past affairs have made her tired of being the long-suffering spouse. Is it, perhaps, time for a change?
But within days of March’s arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of alliances are shattered. In the end, the ties that hold them together might be exactly what drag them all down.
Olympus, Texas combines the archetypes of Greek and Roman mythology with the psychological complexity of a messy family. After all, at some point, we all wonder: what good is this destructive force we call love?
A big-hearted debut with technicolour characters, plenty of Texas swagger, a powder keg of a plot, Olympus, Texas is filled with all the ingredients of a great American novel: big family, dark secrets, adultery, betrayal, messy relationships, rage, grace, shocking revelations, addiction, pain and redemption. Perfect for fans of Meg Wolitzer’s The Uncoupling, Curtis Sittenfeld’s Eligible andClaire Lombardo’s The Most Fun We Ever Had.
I received a copy of this book from W&N Books in return for an honest review.
The story draws the reader into the Briscoe family’s life and the surrounding community, of Olympus Texas, with the first few pages of vivid description and vibrant characterisation. From the outset, it’s clear they are not a happy family, but despite this bound by powerfulemotions.
The parallels with mythological characters give the story added depth and interest. The family members are driven, and in most cases, unbending. Their behaviour mirrors the attitudes of the gods they represent.
The quotes, and chapters that explore the event that define the characters, are particularly illuminating. Whilst many of the characters are unlikeable, the story is addictive and compelling. The relatively fast pacing holds the reader’s interest.
This is an original blend of family drama and ancient mythology in a setting that complements both.
Stacey Swann holds an MFA from Texas State University and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. She is a native Texan. Olympus, Texas is her first novel and will be published in the USA by Doubleday Books in May 2021.
Two women raised as sisters. Bound by a secret that could tear them apart . . .
Since childhood, Jen and South African-born Kemi have lived like sisters in the McFadden family home in Edinburgh, brought together by a shared family history which stretches back generations. The ties that bind them are strong and complicated.
Solam Rhoyi is from South Africa’s black political elite. Handsome and charismatic, he meets both Kemi and Jen on a trip to London and sweeps them off their feet. Kemi, captivated by Solam and wanting to discover more about her past, travels to South Africa for the first time. Jen, seeking an escape from her father’s overbearing presence, decides to go with her.
In Johannesburg, it becomes clear that Solam is looking for the perfect wife to facilitate his soaring political ambitions. And as the real story behind Jen and Kemi’s connection threatens to emerge, Solam’s choice will have devastating consequences for them both…
I received a copy of this book from Pan Macmillan via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
This is a compelling and complex, mainly historical saga that spans continents and cultures. At its core is the sisterly bond between two women who grew up together despite having different birthplaces, cultural identities and families. The story begins in Southern Rhodesia in 1921 and concludes in 2010 in Cape Town. Short chapters and parts propel the reader through family history and political change until we reach the time when the sisterly bond is tested and family secrets revealed.
Well researched historical details and realistically crafted characters make this an absorbing read. It does move through time quickly, but the story’s focus is on the sisters and how their bond is tested. Solam is a pivotal character who represents South Africa’s changing political climate. His political ambition makes him manipulative and ruthless, especially in his interactions with the soul sisters.
This book takes the reader on an emotional journey filled with betrayal, love and secrets. It explores culture, family, identity and political change with rich sensory imagery and believable characters that bring the story to vibrant life.
Lesley Lokko is a Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic and novelist, formerly Dean of Architecture at City College of New York, who has lived and worked on four continents. Lesley’s bestselling novels include Soul Sisters, Sundowners, Rich Girl, Poor Girl and A Private Affair. Her novels have been translated into sixteen languages and are captivating stories about powerful people, exploring themes of racial and cultural identity.
I received a copy of this book from Tinder Press in return for an honest review.
Reading the blurb for this story evoked a whole series of images in my mind, which compelled me to read the book. The reader is introduced into Pru’s life when she buys the black dress, and then the reasons for her purchase are revealed intimately and insightfully from the main protagonist.
The writing style is full of sensory imagery, which makes it an easy read. Pru is a conflicted but fascinating character. She appears transparent in her revelations but is really an unreliable narrator. What comes across strongly in this story is her loneliness and how it defines her. Whilst she enjoys a series of adventures, many of which end badly, her need for companionship and identity motivates her.
Sophisticated humour and wit make this an engaging read, but it’s the underlying sadness that resonates.
At once a startling, tense psychological thriller, and a sophisticated and twisty police procedural from a rising star in Icelandic literature
When single mother Maríanna disappears from her home, leaving an apologetic note on the kitchen table, it is assumed that she’s taken her own life – until her body is found on the Grábrók lava fields seven months later, clearly the victim of murder. Her neglected fifteen-year-old daughter Hekla has been placed in foster care, but is her perfect new life hiding something sinister?
Fifteen years earlier, a desperate new mother lies in a maternity ward, unable to look at her own child, the start of an odd and broken relationship that leads to tragedy.
Police officer Elma and her colleagues take on the case, which becomes increasingly complex, as the list of suspects grows ever longer and new light is shed on Maríanna’s past – and the childhood of a girl who never was like the others…
I received a copy of this book from Orenda Books in return for an honest review.
The second in the Forbidden Iceland series is a multi-layered plot with clever twists and believably crafted characters. Chilling, compelling and complex, it keeps the reader engaged. An absorbing balance of psychological suspense and police procedural, the Icelandic setting reflects the story’s noir ethos. The reader gets to know the investigation team and what motivates them. This is an emotional, poignant and thought-provoking story.
Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva Björg Ægisdóttir studied for an MSc in globalisation in Norway before returning to Iceland and deciding to write a novel – something she had wanted to do since she won a short-story competition at the age of fifteen.
After nine months combining her writing with work as a stewardess and caring for her children, Eva finished The Creak on the Stairs. It was published in 2018, and became a bestseller in Iceland. It also went on to win the Blackbird Award, a prize set up by Yrsa Sigurðardóttir and Ragnar Jónasson to encourage new Icelandic crime writers. It was published in English by Orenda Books in 2020.
Eva lives in Reykjavík with her husband and three children and is currently working on the third book in the Forbidden Iceland series.
I received a copy of this book from the author and Farrago Books in return for an honest review.
This is an originally styled cosy mystery set in rural France with an unexciting Englishman and a mysterious French woman as the amateur sleuths. The writing is full of sensory imagery, which makes the reading experience enjoyable. It’s easy to imagine the characters and settings. It would translate well to television.
Richard is eccentric and innately humorous. Valerie is glamorous and secretive, and they form an unlikely but mutually beneficial crime-fighting alliance. Whilst the plot is simple, the characters’ dialogue and the vividly described action make this enjoyable.
Ian Moore is a leading stand-up comedian, known for his sharp, entertaining punditry. A TV/radio regular, he stars in Dave’s satirical TV show Unspun and Channel 5’s topical comedy Big Mouths. He is also the author of two memoirs on life in France. À la Mod and C’est Modnifique.Ian lives in the Loire and commutes back to the UK every week. In his spare time, he makes mean chutneys and jams.
I received a copy of this book from Honno Press and the author in return for an honest review.
Using the setting, some notable characters and style of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, this is a classical mystery story investigating the death of Mr Collins.
The lyrical writing style is engaging, and the characters vividly portrayed. The main protagonists’ are constable Archer and magistrate Sir John Bright, the investigation team, but Jane Austen’s characters have delightful cameos which add depth to the well thought out plot. The vulnerability of the servants and their indebtedness to their employers is explored in an insightful way reminiscent of Austens’ acute observations on gender, social class and society.
The mystery is cleverly plotted with comprehensive interviews of the numerous suspects, full of historical details that give an excellent sense of place and time. This is an enjoyable Jane Austen style murder mystery.
Annette Purdey Pugh grew up in Flintshire and graduated in English from Lancaster University. In a varied career, she has worked as a medical librarian, an optical assistant, and a milkwoman, bottling and delivering milk for almost twenty years to customers in Ceredigion. A writer from childhood, she has won awards for her short stories and poetry at the National Eisteddfod of Wales but was inspired to take up her pen more regularly following an Open University course in CreativeWriting.
A Murder at Rosings is her first novel, and has its roots in a lifelong love of Jane Austen. She still lives on the family farm in West Wales with her husband and three hundred sheep.
Dr Harrison Lane is everything you wouldn’t expect from a man with a psychology doctorate. For victims, he’s everything they need.
As Head of the Metropolitan Police’s Ritualistic Behavioural Crime Unit, Dr Harrison Lane knows his Voodoo from his Aum Shinrikyo and a Satanist from a Shaman.
Harrison had an unusual childhood, raised by a bohemian mother and one of the native American Shadow Wolves – the elite tracking squad that works with US Drug enforcers. After his mother’s murder, he dedicated his life to finding those who hide behind spiritualism and religion to do evil.
Following the discovery of a missing boy’s body in what looks like a Satanic killing, Harrison is called in to help detectives. When a second boy is snatched, it becomes a race against time to save him, and sees Harrison come face-to-face with some dark secrets from his own childhood.
Preacher Boy is the first book in a gripping new crime mystery series from Amazon Top 20 bestselling author, Gwyn GB.
I received a copy of this book from the author in return for and honest review.
This is a compelling and well-plotted detective mystery with psychological suspense and police procedural elements that make it an addictive read.
Dr Harrison Lane has a mysterious and unusual past which facilitates his role as head of theMetropolitan Police’s Ritualistic Behavioural Crimes Unit. Some consider him a little strange and lacking in social skills, but his undoubted profiling knowledge and insight into the criminal mind draw respect from all who work with him.
The discovery of a young boy’s body and a subsequent abduction involves Harrison in a crime where the clock is ticking to save the young victim. He is a likeable character who empathises with the victims and puts his safety at risk for the sake of the victims. The police team dynamic is realistic and adds to the authenticity. The investigation is logical and immerses the reader in the story.
An intense and satisfying conclusion, which leaves clues to Harrison’s past to be answered at a later date.
An exciting crime mystery with an engaging protagonist.
Gwyn is an Amazon Top 20 bestselling author. She’s a former UK national TV newscaster and presenter, and journalist for national newspapers and magazines. Gwyn became a journalist because all she wanted to do was write and has finally realised her dream of being a full-time fiction author. Born in the UK, Gwyn now lives in the Channel Islands with her family, including a rescue dog and 17-year-old goldfish.
Gwyn launched her debut novel, Islands as Gwyn Garfield-Bennett in 2016, the romantic suspense book rose quickly into the Amazon top 20. Her first crime mystery series, featuring DI Falle, launched with Lonely Hearts in 2017.
It’s truffle season and in the hills around Bologna the hunt is on for the legendary Boscuri White, the golden nugget of Italian gastronomy. But when an American truffle ‘supertaster’ goes missing, English detective Daniel Leicester discovers not all truffles are created equal. Did the missing supertaster bite off more than he could chew?
As he goes on the hunt for Ryan Lee, Daniel discovers the secrets behind ‘Food City’, from the immigrant kitchen staff to the full scale of a multi-million Euro business. After a key witness is found dead at the foot of one of Bologna’s famous towers, the stakes could not be higher. Daniel teams up with a glamorous TV reporter, but the deeper he goes into the disappearance of the supertaster the darker things become. Murder is once again on the menu, but this time Daniel himself stands accused. And the only way he can clear his name is by finding Ryan Lee…
Discover Bologna through the eyes of English detective Daniel Leicester as he walks the shadowy porticoes in search of the truth and, perhaps, even gets a little nearer to solving the mystery of Italy itself.
I received a copy of this book from Little Brown Books – Constable and the author in return for an honest review.
This is best described as a literary mystery with its evocative settings and lyrical writing.
Private detective Daniel Leicester is hired to find a missing truffle taster by his parents. The story details the importance of the truffle economy to this area of Italy and explores the possibilities for crime with its unregulated nature. Investigations are hampered by the terrain and the lack of information about the missing man’s plans. An unexpected death intensifies the search and put Daniel in a precarious position.
The cast of characters are well-crafted, the detective team are diverse, and there is a believable team dynamic. Told from Daniel’s viewpoint, the reader gains insight into the Italian customs and settings and astute observations on possible suspects. Cultural and historical references and sensory imagery make this an inclusive reading experience.
The mystery is well-plotted with twists and satisfying conclusion, but it’s the atmospheric quality of this story that resonates.
Tom Benjamin grew up in London and began his working life as a reporter before becoming a spokesman for Scotland Yard. He went on to work in international aid and public health, developing Britain’s first national programme against alcohol abuse and heading up drugs awareness campaign FRANK. He now lives in Bologna, Italy