Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (trs by @givemeawave | @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks

Delighted to welcome you all to the final day of the blog tour for Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson. Huge thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for the fab review copy and to Anne Cater for the opportunity to join the tour.

Author : Johana Gustawsson (trs by David Warriner)
Title : Blood Song
Series : Roy &. Castells #3
Pages : 272
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : September 19, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Spain, 1938

The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Teresa witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Teresa 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 her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells, and they soon find themselves on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer, in an investigation that 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…

| MY THOUGHTS |

I am broken. Good grief.

I apologise upfront for this review but words completely fail me and I can only hope that what little I say next will convince you that this book, and the rest of the series, is an absolute must-read for any crime fiction fan who also doesn’t mind being educated somewhat.

Few crime fiction series leave me feeling like I’ve been punched in the gut numerous times, wanting to curl up into a tiny ball under my duvet, but Johana Gustawsson manages it every single time. You’d think I would have learned my lesson from her previous books but apparently I hadn’t because I wasn’t all prepared for the emotional impact Blood Song would have on me.

Blood Song is the third instalment in the Roy and Castells series and it is even stronger than its predecessors, proving this series only goes from strength to strength. In Falkenberg, Sweden, a wealthy family is found murdered in their home. The hunt for the killer leads Roy and Castells right back to the terror of Franco’s regime in Spain.

Cue some of the most harrowing chapters I’ve ever read in my life! I wasn’t at all familiar with this devastating period in Spanish history and it made me feel remarkably uncomfortable to realise that it actually wasn’t all that long ago. I don’t want to give anything away, obviously, but I will say that some events are extremely brutal, disturbing and dark and I have no doubt whatsoever that these chapters will haunt me forever.

As if that wasn’t enough, Johana Gustawsson also tackles the topic of inferitily and the measures some people will go to to obtain what Mother Nature is denying them, while also laying bare the unscrupulous side of infertility clinics.

Basically, Blood Song left me utterly reeling and feeling completely heartbroken. I don’t have the words to do this story justice at all. It is devastating and yet, there is also a tiny glimmer of hope and a sense of empowerment of women who have dealt with the worst of the worst.

Johana Gustawsson is a remarkable talent and I continue to be absolutely impressed by the way she manages to combine modern crime fiction with some of history’s most shocking eras and the atrocious things humans are capable of. I can’t recommend this powerful read and this entire series enough and I absolutely can’t wait for more! And as always, shout-out to David Warriner for the seamless translation!

Blood Song is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production.

Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.

In The Absence of Miracles by Michael Malone | @michaelJmalone1 @OrendaBooks

Delighted to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for In The Absence of Miracles by Michael Malone today! My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda for the fabulous review copy and to Anne Cater for the opportunity to join the tour.

Author : Michael Malone
Title : In The Absence of Miracles
Pages : 300
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : September 19, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

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. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

Michael Malone is an author who is not afraid to tackle the tough topics, the ones that are still somewhat of a taboo and not talked about enough, the ones that are often hard to read and make you feel uncomfortable. If you’ve read A Suitable Lie, then you know this. So, how much further could Michael Malone push that discomfort limit, you wonder? Well, quite a bit, as it turns out.

John Docherty seems like your everyday guy, dealing with everyday issues. His mother has just been moved into a nursing home and John has no option but to sell the family home to pay for the costs. But when he starts packing up the house, he stumbles upon a box which reveals a massive family secret. It looks like John had a brother. A brother who disappeared when John himself was a toddler. A brother who was never talked about again and one John can’t remember at all. What happened to this brother? John’s journey to find out reveals far more than he bargained for.

In The Absence of Miracles is one of those books that doesn’t fit neatly into just one genre. It’s part domestic noir, it’s a whole lot of suspense, it’s a bit crime thriller-ish and offers tremendous psychological insight as well. And at the centre of it all, is one of the most dysfunctional families you’ll ever meet, with characters that are put through the wringer and the reader right alongside with them. I must say I wasn’t prepared for the emotional impact this story would have on me.

As always, there is way more to this story than you’d first expect because that is something this author does extremely well. There are multiple layers that need to be unraveled, pieces of the puzzle that need to be fitted together and a mystery to solve. Throughout it all, I often vacillated from anger to sadness to frustration and back again, and ended up feeling quite drained at the end of it all and in desperate need of something fluffy.

Sometimes shocking, always haunting and immensely compelling, In The Absence of Miracles is another stroke of genius from Michael Malone. Extremely dark with a tough topic, albeit it done with the utmost sensitivity, John’s story is bound to stay with you for a long, long time. Michael Malone is one of those authors who always delivers and I can’t wait to see what’s next!

In The Absence of Miracles is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

| ABOUT THE AUTHOR |

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotlandand Markings

Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes Carnegie’s CallA Taste for MaliceThe Guillotine ChoiceBeyond the Rage;The Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines and After He Died soon followed suit.

A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

Little Darlings by Melanie Golding | #minireview #20BooksOfSummer

Author : Melanie Golding
Title : Little Darlings
Pages : 330
Publisher : HQ
Publication date : April 30, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Lauren’s hopes and dreams of being a new mom are shattered when she encounters a mother’s worst nightmare—someone is threatening to take her children if she leaves them alone. Everyone, from her doctor to her husband, thinks she’s imagining things. From the stark loneliness of returning home after giving birth to the confines of a psychiatric unit, Lauren’s desperation increases as no one will listen to her. Is she mad, or does she know something we don’t?

| MY THOUGHTS |

Loosely inspired by folktales and the idea of changelings, Little Darlings is an immensely unsettling story. After a traumatic birth experience, Lauren finds it hard to bond with her newborn twins. Then she claims someone tried to steal her babies. Is it postpartum psychosis? Is Lauren going mad? Or is someone truly out to take her twin boys away from her? Nobody believes her but Lauren knows she must do whatever it takes to keep her babies safe.

Suffice to say, Lauren isn’t exactly a reliable narrator and as strange things start to happen, I was left to wonder if Lauren herself was responsible or someone else. With a few red herrings along the way, it was quite hard to figure out what was real and what was not.

But this story is so much more than that. Yes, it’s creepy in places but it’s also amazingly well written with regard to Lauren’s mental state. Not an easy topic to tackle at all but Melanie Golding managed it wonderfully as we follow Lauren into this frightening downward spiral.

Little Darlings is a gripping, dark and suspenseful story and even though I didn’t warm to any of the characters, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. A very impressive debut from Melanie Golding!

Little Darlings is available to buy!

Affiliate link : Bookdepository
Other retailers : Amazon US | Amazon UK | Kobo | Waterstones | Wordery

Book 20 from my 20 Books of Summer Challenge

Weekly Wrap-Up (September 1)

HOW IS IT SEPTEMBER???????

The third heatwave of the year hit our shores this past week and while I absolutely love sunshine and heat, I reached a point where I’d just had enough. I assume that’s mostly due to the immense sleep deprivation that is haunting me because the dog will still not sleep where she’s been sleeping for the past 11 years. So I’ve been grabbing an hour here and thirty minutes there on the sofa while she’s snoring and dreaming up a storm right next to me. I had hoped the cooler temperatures would change that but sadly not and we are now left to think there is something else going on and unfortunately that can never be good news. We will see tomorrow what the vet says.

The other half’s annual vacation starts today so we have officially kicked off our Italy countdown. This time next week, …. erm, well, it looks like I might be stuck indoors with a book because the weather forecast is absolutely atrocious. My current holiday TBR pile stands at 8. I hope that’ll be enough. There are some chunky ones in there, like three books in the Shardlake series I still have to read.

Reading-wise, things are going fabulously! Reviewing however, is another matter. It seems to be in holiday mode already. I have one review left to write for my 20 Books of Summer Challenge, which is of course great. But I actually could have been finished last week because I’ve read more than 20. I just couldn’t be bothered to review them 🤣

So, which books made it off the shelves this week?

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Still feeling rather accomplished about finishing a non-fiction book for the first time ever. It’s been a great reading week, for sure!

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

Oops. I think I might need to start applying reverse psychology on myself because the whole “I’m not buying anymore books” thing is obviously not working. 😳

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Joined the blog tour for Dead Inside by Noelle Holten

Tuesday : nothingnesses

Wednesday : Shared my review for The Trial of Lizzie Borden by Cara Robertson

Thursday : also nothing

Friday : nothing to see here either

Saturday : Reviewed Rewind by Catherine Ryan Howard

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

The fruits of my conscious effort to slow down are most definitely starting to pay off 😂

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Review | Little Darlings by Melanie Golding

Tuesday : Probably nothing

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Nothing

Friday : Also nothing

Saturday : Most definitely nothing

Sunday : Nada, zilch

I don’t know about you but I’m awfully excited about next week’s posts 😂

My Weekly Wrap-Up will return at the end of the month, which shall then be called the Monthly Wrap-Up. Hopefully I’ll have something to say about books because that didn’t go so well last year. I read 2 books on holiday, the lowest amount ever. Still don’t get how that happened.

And that’s a wrap! I’ll still be around until Friday but after that, I’m considering a total social media break and my blog will most likely gather dust. I may even leave the laptop at home. Oooh, controversial decision! 🤣

Wishing you all a fabulous week and lots of happy reading! Until next time! xx