September Wrap-Up

Well, hello there! Long time, no see! Hope you’re all well.

I didn’t plan on taking almost the entire month off but the post-holiday blues are strong and the blogging mojo is low. Not helped by coming from two weeks in glorious 30+ degrees temperatures to what is that awful time of year called Autumn. Ugh.

For those who don’t know, I spent two weeks in Umbria with gorgeous views of Lake Trasimeno. It’s a good thing we had that view to gaze at without ever getting sick of it since on the first Wednesday, I pulled a muscle in my back and was unable to move for three days. I have excellent timing, don’t you know. 🙄

Of course there was also yummy food, delicious wine, a 2 litre bottle of Limoncello that was mysteriously empty three hours later with dire consequences 😳 and I even went on a boat. Twice. Some of you will know what a big deal that is. 🤣

Bookish talk. I took 8 books with me, which the other half thought was way too ambitious. I laughed in his face, despite having only managed two books during last year’s holiday, and was determined to do better this year.

So I read one. And a half. I finished the other half when I was already back home again. Oops. Technically though, they were two books from the Shardlake series. One of 715 pages and the other one 706. So that’s three books, right? 🤔

Let us now take a look at the grand total of books yours truly has read during the entire month of September.

| BOOKS I READ IN SEPTEMBER |

What’s the word I’m looking for here? Pathetic! Absolutely and utterly pathetic! Even though technically, 🤣, the three Shardlake books count as 6, that is still a measly 7 which doesn’t sound that much better, to be honest.

Let’s just quickly move on, shall we.

| BOOKS I BOUGHT IN SEPTEMBER |

Ah, well, at least the book buying mojo still works!

| BOOKPOST WHAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP THIS MONTH |

With thanks to Michael Joseph and Orenda Books.

I’m skipping the round-up of my blog posts from this month because there wasn’t all that much to see anyway.

And that may be a recurring theme from now on. I may have to seriously reconsider the weekly wrap-up posts I’ve been doing, although I love doing them and interacting with you guys. It’s not that I’m not reading. In fact, I’m about 100 pages away from finishing my first book of October. It’s that I can’t be bothered to review them. That’s bad, right?

On top of that, my determination to slow down with blog tours has really paid off. I currently have one review tour for October and two for November. Hence why I had the time to finally get caught up on the Shardlake series. I’m immensely looking forward to reading my own books and clearing my shelves because I’m running out of room and according to the other half, piling stacks of books on the floor in front of the bookshelves isn’t an option. 🙄

But I’m sure you see the problem here. If I’m not writing reviews, there will be no blog updates and thus no wrap-ups. Unless you’d all like to stare at a blank page every Sunday. I’m happy to oblige 😂

Anyway, we shall see. Right now, I’m perfectly happy about slowing down for a while and maybe catching up on my Netflix list for a change. Or maybe next week, I’ll be back to reading and reviewing like there’s no tomorrow and I’ll be left to wonder why I wrote all this stuff.

So, stay tuned, I guess. 😂

Hope everyone has a fabulous week and October is off to a great start for you all! See you next time and in the meantime I wish you all lots of happy reading! xx

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.

Invisible Blood : 17 stories of murder and mystery edited by Maxim Jakubowski | @TitanBooks @Sarah_Mather_15

Author : Various, edited by Maxim Jakubowski
Title : Invisible Blood
Pages : 400
Publisher : Titan Books
Publication date : July 23, 2019

| ABOUT THE BOOK |

Open the files on seventeen new crime stories to probe the brutal and complex hearts of criminals. Watch as a secretive group of intelligence community officers traces Jack Reacher’s steps through Heathrow airport in Lee Child’s “Smile”. In Mary Hoffman’s “Fallen Woman”, a journalist on the trail of a secretive drug lord gets caught up in the violent suicide of a young woman in Siena. And in Jeffrey Deaver’s “Connecting the Dots”, detectives follow the trail of clues in the brutal killing of a homeless man, wherever it may lead… Invisible Blood is a gripping collection of the compulsions of the criminal mind. 

| MY THOUGHTS |

I must admit that I’m not normally a fan of short stories because well, they’re short, and just when I feel I’m about to really sink my teeth into the story, they’re over and done with and we move on to the next one. But when Titan offered me Invisible Blood for review, I gladly accepted. I’m always looking for new crime authors and a short story collection like this one is the perfect way to discover some I’m not familiar with, or whose work I’ve never read.

So, 17 short crime stories in one go. I never know how to tackle these. Do I pick and choose? Do I start with an author I know? Or one who’s not known to me at all? Do I read from beginning to end? Never knew I could be this indecisive. As it is, I decided to just start from the beginning and a good choice that was too.

The first story is by Denise Mina, an author I’ve seen mentioned numerous times but I’ve never read any of her books. Lo and behold, her short story was one of my favourites and I’ll definitely be reading more by her in future. Lee Child pops up with a new Jack Reacher story and we also get one by one my favourite Orenda Books authors, Johana Gustawsson, that chilled me to the bone.

Short these stories may be. Some are a mere 20 pages long. But boy, do they pack a punch. My favourites were by Denise Mina, Lee Child, Johana Gustawsson and Jeffrey Deaver. The reader travels to Spain, where washing lines play an important part; to Italy on the trail of a drugs dealer; to America where a homeless man is found murdered and to the UK, where airport security is apparently flawed.

Murder, mystery and blood from seventeen fantastic crime writers all combined into one book makes Invisible Blood the perfect collection for any crime fiction fan. Or for someone like me, who’s on the look-out for new authors.

My thanks to Titan for the review copy!

Invisible Blood is available to buy!

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

Contributing authors : Lee Child, Jeffrey Deaver, Stella Duffy, Lavie Tidhar, R. J. Ellory, Christopher Fowler, Lauren Henderson, Jason Starr, Stella Duffy, James Grady, Johana Gustawsson, Denise Mina, Bill Beverly, Ken Bruen, Cathi Unsworth, John Harvey, and A. K. Benedict.

Edited by Maxim Jakubowski

Weekly Wrap-Up (July 21)

Slightly odd week. I was feeling rather overwhelmed with things again, having quite a few books to get through for the upcoming week. So naturally, the logical approach seemed to be …. the ostrich one. 🤔.

Instead of reading, I spent hours on YouTube watching old tennis matches. As you do. This means I of course fell behind even more and I still have two books to read for blog tours next week. Stupid girl.

And of course, I also had to keep up with social media and watch my blogger friends have an absolute blast at the Theakston Crime Festival in Harrogate this weekend. It’s not something I ever see myself attending (WAY too many people! 😂) but that doesn’t mean I don’t get a teenie-tiny jealous every single time.

Anyway, what did I manage to read this week then?

| BOOKS I READ THIS WEEK |

Oh! I just surprised myself here! That’s not too bad at all! I have no idea how I did that. Maybe I’m sleep-reading 🤔🤣

If you feel like playing the guessing game today : one of those is in my top 5 of books of the year.

| BOOKS I BOUGHT THIS WEEK |

I already owned Tall Oaks on Kindle so that doesn’t count, does it?

| BOOK POST THAT LANDED ON MY DOORSTEP THIS WEEK |

Superduper grateful and lucky blogger this week! With thanks to Headline, Atlantic / Corvus and Orenda.

| ON THE BLOG THIS PAST WEEK |

Monday : Shared my review for Stop At Nothing by Tammy Cohen

Tuesday : Hosted a stop on the blog tour for Child’s Play by Angela Marsons

Wednesday : This Week in Books

Thursday : Author Andrew Joyce visited to talk about his new book Mahoney

Friday : Joined the blog tour for The Last Stage by Louise Voss

Saturday : Took the day off because everyone and their dog was at Harrogate 😂

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

| NEXT WEEK ON NOVEL DEELIGHTS |

Monday : Blog tour | Review | What I Did by Claire McGowan
Monday : Blog tour | Review | The Girl at the Window by Rowan Coleman

Tuesday : Blog tour | Review | The Hidden Wife by Amanda Reynolds

Wednesday : Blog tour | Review | Found by Erin Kinsley

Thursday : Blog tour | Review | The Scribe by A.A. Chaudhuri

Friday : Review | Crime Short Stories by various authors

Saturday : Taking the day off

Sunday : Weekly Wrap-Up

Accidental double booking there. 🙄 Two still to read, like I mentioned at the start, and no time to read today. Argh! Things will settle down enormously after this week though. You’ll see! No, really. Stop laughing! 😜

And that’s a wrap! We have another heatwave coming our way this week. The current forecast is predicting temperatures of 39C, possibly even 40C, and boy, do I hope they’re wrong 😅. But if they’re not wrong, I predict a lot of reading and zero sleeping so there’s that.

Hope everyone has a fantastic week! See you next time! Happy reading! xx

Some of my most anticipated books of 2019

At the end of last year, I mentioned doing a post focusing on some of my most anticipated releases for the new year. Since then, it seems everyone and their dog has done a post like that so obviously my idea wasn’t as original as I thought it was. Anyway, I decided to share this list regardless and hopefully you’ll find something that will pique your interest.

Listed by publication date for digital and hardcover copies.

| JANUARY |

Steve Cavanagh – Twisted
Matt Wesolowski – Changeling
Will Dean – Red Snow
Steph Broadribb – Deep Dirty Truth
Diane Setterfield – Once Upon A River

| FEBRUARY |

Angela Marsons – Dead Memories
Jo Spain – Dirty Little Secrets
Stacey Halls – The Familiars
Louise Beech – Call Me Star Girl
C.J. Tudor – The Taking of Annie Thorne
Alex Michaelides – The Silent Patient

| APRIL |

Gillian McAllister – The Evidence Against You

| MAY |

Stuart MacBride – All That’s Dead
Alison Weir – Anna of Kleve : Queen of Secrets
Sarah Hilary – Never Be Broken
Melanie Golding – Little Darlings

| JUNE |

Karin Slaughter – The Last Widow
Alex North – The Whisper Man

| JULY |

Riley Sager – Lock Every Door

| UNKNOWN |

Sharon Bolton – The Poisoner

This is a weird one but I’ve included it anyway. I could have sworn the original publication date was May but Amazon now lists it as December 2020, which quite frankly I refuse to believe because I WANT IT NOW!

Honourable mention to Johana Gustawsson and the third book in the Roy & Castells series.

I have a feeling it’s going to be a great bookish year once again! Which book(s) are you looking forward to the most? Do let me know and I hope you’ve found something in this list that caught your eye. Happy reading! xx

My Top 20 Favourite Series of 2018 (part one)

What an incredible year for books 2018 has been! I remember back in January already thinking compiling these end-of-year lists would be an impossible task. So just like last year, I’ve split things up. My favourite stand-alones will follow at a later date but in this post, I’m focusing on my favourite series. At least it will give me the opportunity to highlight more books.

Some of these may not have been published this year but since I read them this year, I mention them anyway alongside their most recent additions.

Because the list is so long (I had no idea I read so many series!), I’m splitting this post up into two parts.

So, in random order, My Top 20 Favourite Series of 2018 – Part One!

| Sarah Hilary – DI Marnie Rome |

I said it last year and I’ll say it again : Sarah Hilary’s writing just keeps getting better and better and this series is one of the strongest out there! [my review]

| Helen Fields – DI Luc Callanach |

Again, a corker of a series! I’ve loved this series from the very beginning and any crime fiction fan, of the not faint-hearted variety, should most definitely be reading this! [my reviews here and here]

| David Jackson – DS Nathan Cody |

An absolutely brilliant addition to an already outstanding series that I feel more people should be talking about! [my review]

| Angela Marsons – DI Kim Stone |

Was there ever any doubt these would be on the list? Still going utterly strong after nine books and still a series I’ll happily drop everything for when a new book publishes. [my review here and here]

| J.D. Barker – 4MK |

I’ve found that I’m leaning more towards books set in England lately but I gladly make an exception for the 4MK Thriller series because it just blows my mind! I’m incredibly excited to see how J.D. Barker wraps things up in the final instalment. [my review for The Fifth to Die]

| Johanna Gustawsson – Roy and Castells |

Modern crimes combined with historical fiction? Don’t mind if I do! If you’re looking for addictive page-turners, this is it! [my review]

| Cara Hunter – DI Adam Fawley |

One of those series that just hooked me from the first page. I thought Close To Home was amazing but In The Dark was even better! I can’t wait for book three! [my review for Close to Home]

| Sarah Ward – DC Connie Childs |

I’ve been reading this series from the beginning but have never reviewed it. These books tend to be published right before I leave on holiday in September and they are the first book I pick up when I’m settling down by the pool in Tuscany. I can never find the words to them justice and so don’t review them but consider them my very own special treat. So good!

| Alison Weir – The Six Tudor Queens |

Few people do Tudor fiction the way Alison Weir does and The Six Tudor Queens brings that era to life in the most fascinating way. [my review]

| Daniel Cole – Detective William Fawkes |

Slightly misleading to call it the second book in the Detective William Fawkes series since he’s not actually in it. Personally I didn’t really miss him all that much because of another character but I know other people did. Still, another gripping and exciting book that makes you anxiously await the next instalment. [my review]

So there we have it. Part one of my favourite series of the year. Anything here you’ve read as well? Enjoyed? Didn’t like at all? I’d ask you to mention which books you’d add to the list but since there’s more to come, we’ll leave that for now. Be sure to come back tomorrow for part two! 

Keeper by Johana Gustawsson @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks @annecater #blogtour #Keeper #RandomThingsTours

It’s my turn on the blog tour for Keeper by Johana Gustawsson today and I’m so incredibly excited, I may just burst! My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda and Anne Cater for the invitation to join and the fabulous review copy!

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Author : Johana Gustawsson
Title : Keeper
Series : Roy & Castells #2
Pages : 303
Publisher : Orenda Books
Publication date : February 15, 2018 ebook | April 28, 2018 paperback

aboutthebook

Whitechapel, 1888: London is bowed under Jack the Ripper’s reign of terror.

London, 2015
: actress Julianne Bell is abducted in a case similar to the terrible Tower Hamlets murders of some ten years earlier, and harking back to the Ripper killings of a century before.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2015
: a woman’s body is found mutilated in a forest, her wounds identical to those of the Tower Hamlets victims. With the man arrested for the Tower Hamlets crimes already locked up, do the new killings mean he has a dangerous accomplice, or is a copy-cat serial killer on the loose?
Profiler Emily Roy and true-crime writer Alexis Castells again find themselves drawn into an intriguing case, with personal links that turn their world upside down.

mythoughts

In my review of the previous Roy & Castells book, Block 46, I may have uttered the words “sheer perfection”. Quite frankly, I didn’t think Johana Gustawsson could top that and I wouldn’t need to worry about coming up with an even bigger statement than the one I made at the time. I was wrong. So very, very wrong. Because somehow Johana Gustawsson raised the bar even higher and completely blew me away!

If you’ve read Block 46 (and if you haven’t, I may just have to hurt you), then you know Johana Gustawsson combined crime fiction with events set in World War II, which just happens to be one of my favourite topics to read about. In Keeper, she does it again, by seamlessly and effortlessly combining yet another firm favourite of mine, Victorian era Jack The Ripper murders with current events in Sweden and England. How are these connected, I hear you ask? Well, you’ll just have to pick up the book, won’t you?

I will tell you that what follows is a dark, disturbing and deliciously gruesome tale. From the very first page, Keeper had me in a chokehold and wouldn’t let go. Forget sleep! Seriously! Either you’ll be up all night reading, or you will be haunted by nightmares. I gasped, I felt shocked, I even may have felt a little nauseous at times, uttered the words “bloody hell” and sank a little deeper into my sofa, felt somewhat breathless and most definitely speechless. This is what I look for in my books. An insanely awesome experience, a thrill a minute that has me completely absorbed and leaves me desperately wanting more.

Keeper is intensely gripping, utterly addictive and a compelling page-turner like no other. The relatively short chapters urge you on to read just one more, and then another. Johana Gustawsson’s writing is razor sharp and the investigation will keep you on the edge of your seat, biting your nails, frantically trying to figure out the clues. Just when I thought I had it all figured out, the evil mastermind that is Johana Gustawsson (and really, she looks so sweet!) comes up with an absolutely fantastic conclusion that left me spinning as if I’d just gone on a rollercoaster about twenty times in a row.

In short, I loved it and highly recommend you pick this one up! It is of the sheerest perfection (😉) and will without a doubt be in my top 10 at the end of the year! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to find a thesaurus. Odds are I’m going to need it for the next instalment in the series.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Bookdepository | Kobo | Wordery | Goodreads

abouttheauthor

Born in 1978 in Marseille, France, and a graduate of Political Sciences, Johana Gustawsson was a journalist for television and French press. She now lives in London, England.

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My Top 20 Favourite Reads of 2017

top20

Around this time last year, I first started to get this wee itch about starting a blog as I desperately tried to get my favourites of 2016 shared via twitter and realised there had to be an easier way to talk about books. I can’t believe a whole year has passed since then and I’m here talking about my favourite books of this year. Crazy!

Last week, I shared my favourite series of the year which I thought would help me narrow down this list. Boy, was I wrong. It’s been an amazing year for books and since I nearly read 300 (there’s still time! 😂), a top 10 was never going to happen.

So I present to you, My Top 20 Favourite Reads of 2017. With apologies to the authors/books I had to drop from the list. I feel bad but I had to narrow it down somehow or I may as well just have listed every book I’ve read.

In no particular order (except for the last one), here we go!

Stuart MacBride – A Dark So Deadly [my review]
Stuart MacBride – Now We Are Dead
Karin Slaughter – The Good Daughter [my review]
Sharon Bolton – Dead Woman Walking [my review]

Louise Beech – Maria in the Moon [my review]
Lesley Allen – The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir [my review]
Michael J. Malone – House of Spines [my review]

Alice Feeney – Sometimes I Lie [my review]
Barbara Copperthwaite – Her Last Secret [my review]
Barbara Copperthwaite – The Darkest Lies [my review]
Paul Cleave – A Killer Harvest [my review]

Thomas Enger – Cursed [my review]
Matt Wesolowski – Six Stories [my review]
Will Dean – Dark Pines [my review]
Johana Gustawsson – Block 46 [my review]

Alison Weir – Anne Boleyn : A King’s Obsession [my review]
Rachel Rhys – A Dangerous Crossing [my review]
Gill Paul – Another Woman’s Husband [my review]
Eve Chase – The Vanishing of Audrey Wilde [my review]

My favourite book of 2017

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Fredrick Backman – The Scandal / Beartown [my review]

I’m sure it comes as no surprise but I knew it the minute I started reading, that this was going to be my top book of the year!

***

And there you have it. Mahoosive thank you to all the authors, publishers and Netgalley for making my reading year so phenomenal! And to you, my fellow bloggers and readers of this blog, thank you for your support, for visiting and for commenting! ❤️

I wish you all a wonderful and peaceful Christmas and Happy Holidays! xx