Blog Tour~Him by Clare Empson

Hey everyone,

Today, Ellen is taking part in the blog tour for Him by Clare Empson and I’ll be sharing her review with you all a little further down.

About the book:

It all started with … HIM. Catherine has become mute. She has witnessed something so disturbing that she simply can’t speak – not to her husband, her children, or her friends. The doctors say the only way forward is to look into her past. Catherine needs to start with Him. Lucian. Catherine met the love of her life at university and was drawn into his elite circle of privileged, hedonistic friends. But one night it all falls apart and she leaves him, shattering his life forever. Still, fifteen years later, Lucian haunts every one of Catherine’s quiet moments, and when they are unexpectedly reunited, their love reignites with explosive force. But they can’t move on from what happened all those years ago. In fact, uncovering the truth will cause their lives to implode once again. This time, with disastrous consequences.

Click the link below to order your copy:

Him by Clare Empson

About the author:

Clare Empson is a journalist with a background in national newspapers and has worked as a small business editor, finance correspondent and fashion at the Mail on Sunday and the Daily Express. Clare freelances for The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, the Evening Standard and Tatler amongst others. She currently works as editor/founder of experiential lifestyle website http://www.countrycalling.co.uk. Him is her debut novel. Her second novel Mine is an exploration of the fraught relationship between a birth mother and her adopted son set against a backdrop of a passionate love affair in the 70s. Mine will be available August 2019.

Ellen’s Review:

After hearing the author speak about Him at Harrogate Crime Writers Festival I had to read the book and was not disappointed. In a way it wasn’t what I expected and I certainly didn’t bargain on the emotions it put me through or that I’d be in tears by the end!

The main character Catherine has elective mutism after witnessing…something devastating. She refuses to speak to anyone including her husband and two young children. I was puzzled from the start, what on Earth could have happened that was so bad she couldn’t speak of it to her closest family? Slowly the tale is revealed as we dip in and out of the past. Fifteen years earlier Catherine met the love of her life and the eponymous Him of the novel, Lucian, at university. They are from different sides of the track so to speak and Catherine is soon swept up into an elite circle of friends intent on having the best (and most hedonistic) times of their lives. Catherine and Lucian are so obviously made for each other and their love borders on the obsessive so we are left wondering what happened to shatter this relationship and for Catherine to end up breaking up with Lucian abruptly without explanation and later marrying Sam, a dependable admirer.

I did feel sorry for Sam (and the children) as their time together feels like a chapter, possibly even an inconvenience, in her life that Catherine has settled on while still pining for her lost love. Obviously by the end of the novel and the big reveal I had a better understanding of this but at times I’ll admit to being irritated by Catherine at first.

Him is a love story with a dark and tragic heart. It isn’t very often that I am moved by a book (I have an icy heart when reading!) but Him absolutely punched me in the guts and tore that icy heart right from my chest when I was least expecting it. I am stunned that this book is Claire Empson’s debut and I’m a little scared about what she’ll do with my emotions next time! All the stars for this stunning book.

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Blog Tour- The Island (Hulda #2) by Ragnar Jónasson

Morning all,

Today, I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Island by Ragnar Jónasson and I’ll be sharing my review with you all a little further down.

About the author:

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Ragnar Jonasson is the award winning author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series.

His debut Snowblind, first in the Dark Iceland series, went to number one in the Amazon Kindle charts shortly after publication. The book was also a no. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in Australia.

The second book in the series, Nightblind, also became a no. 1 Amazon Kindle bestseller in Australia.

Ragnar is the winner of the Mörda Dead Good Reader Award 2016 for Nightblind.

Snowblind was selected by The Independent as one of the best crime novels of 2015 in the UK and it has also been on best seller lists in France.

Rights to the Dark Iceland series have been sold to 14 countries.

TV rights to the series have been sold to production company On the Corner in the UK, producers of Academy Award winning documentary Amy.

Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he works as a writer and a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service.

Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA).

He is also the co-founder of the Reykjavik international crime writing festival Iceland Noir.

From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic.

Ragnar has also had short stories published internationally, including in the distinguished Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine in the US, the first stories by an Icelandic author in that magazine.

He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik.

About the book:

Four friends visit the island.

But only three return . . .

Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdóttir is sent to the isolated island of Elliðaey to investigate and soon finds haunting similarities with a previous case – a young woman found murdered ten years ago in the equally desolate Westfjords.

Is there a patient killer stalking these barren outposts?

As Hulda navigates a sinister game constructed of smoke and mirrors she is convinced that no one is telling the truth, including those closest to her. 

But who will crack first? And what secrets is the island hiding?

Haunting, suspenseful and as chilling as an Icelandic winter, The Island follows one woman’s journey to find the truth hidden in the darkest shadows, and shine a light on her own dark past.

Click the link below to get your copy:

The Island by Ragnar Jónasson

My thoughts:

The Island is the second book in the Hulda Hermannsdottír series, and as the series is told in reverse chronological order, we are meeting a younger Hulda than we did in The Darkness. I would definitely recommend reading the first book, as it gives the reader a whole other perspective coming into The Island. If you’ve already read it, you’ll know what I mean!

Ragnar Jónasson writes with a deft hand, and with echoes of Agatha Christie’s style in his books, his books are always a pleasure to read.

The Island has two different timelines throughout the novel, so we get glimpses into how everything links up together. I think that this worked really well as it makes the reader think hard in terms of trying to link past and present.

Hulda Hermannsdottír is called to the island of Elliðaey to investigate what happened when four friends on a reunion trip end up losing one of their number. The island is extremely isolated, and with nobody else on the island, this becomes almost like a locked room mystery that Hulda has to try to figure out.

I really enjoyed The Island. To be fair, I’ve loved all of Ragnar Jónasson’s books, and this one is no different. Hulda is such a great character, and I am very much enjoying the backwards journey through her life as we read about the events that shaped her as the Hulda we met initially in The Darkness.

The Island is a tense, dark and atmospheric novel. Accentuated beautifully by the harsh landscape and haunting prose, this is Icelandic crime at its finest.

Highly recommended.

Previous Reviews:

The Darkness by Ragnar Jónasson

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A Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty

About the book:

A murder that shocks a city… 
Shots ring out on one of Savannah’s most famous streets. A beautiful law student lies dead.

A case full of secrets and lies…
Three men close to the victim are questioned. All of them claim to love her. All of them say they are innocent of her murder.

An investigation that could prove deadly…
As crime reporter Harper McClain unravels a tangled story of obsession and jealousy, the killer focuses on her. He’s already killed one woman. Will he kill another?

Click the link below to grab your copy:

A Beautiful Corpse by Christi Daugherty

My thoughts:

I am a big fan of US-based crime thrillers, and A Beautiful Corpse is another excellent addition to the genre. I would definitely recommend reading the first book in the series before this one though as you get a lot of background for the main character, crime journalist Harper McClain, in The Echo Killing and you’re kind of expected to know it going into ABC.

A Beautiful Corpse opens like many other great crime novels, with a murder. A young woman is killed on one of Savannah’s more well known thoroughfares late at night. Harper ends up at the scene, in part due to her job, but also as it transpires, she knows the victim.

What follows is a narrative fraught with jealousy and obsession. I found A Beautiful Corpse to be a really engaging and well thought out crime novel. Harper McClain is an excellent character. She’s punchy, outspoken and very determined when she gets herself set on something.

For me, this was one of those books I couldn’t put down. The descriptions of the heady Georgia heat, mixed with the dark and deadly crimes made it a very engaging thriller.

Great characters, whip smart plot and an absorbing narrative made A Beautiful Corpse a great read!

Highly recommended!

Previous reviews:

The Echo Killing by Christi Daugherty

The Binding by Bridget Collins~Mini Review

About the book:

Imagine you could erase your grief.
Imagine you could forget your pain.
Imagine you could hide a secret.
Forever.

Emmett Farmer is working in the fields when a letter arrives summoning him to begin an apprenticeship. He will work for a Bookbinder, a vocation that arouses fear, superstition and prejudice – but one neither he nor his parents can afford to refuse.

He will learn to hand-craft beautiful volumes, and within each he will capture something unique and extraordinary: a memory. If there’s something you want to forget, he can help. If there’s something you need to erase, he can assist. Your past will be stored safely in a book and you will never remember your secret, however terrible.

In a vault under his mentor’s workshop, row upon row of books – and memories – are meticulously stored and recorded.

Then one day Emmett makes an astonishing discovery: one of them has his name on it.

Click the link below to order your copy:

The Binding by Bridget Collins

My thoughts:

I had seen The Binding all over social media so I was thrilled to get a review copy from Harper Collins.

The premise of The Binding was really intriguing. You can bind your memories in a book, never to be seen/felt again. Emmett begins working as a book binder, not knowing that he is already pulled to it for reasons he can’t explain.

As he goes on his apprenticeship, Emmett stumbles upon a book with his name on it. This book has the ability to change his life as he knows it.

The Binding is a dark and emotive book, with interesting characters and a really unique premise. I was expecting it to be more of a fantasy read than it actually was, but I enjoyed it all the same.

Recommended.

Blog Tour~She Lies In Wait by Gytha Lodge ~Ellen’s Review

Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust?

Seven friends went down to the woods, but one of them never came home.

30 years later, a body is discovered. DCI Sheens already knows what’s waiting for him – Aurora Jackson, found at last.

They all claim to be innocent, but one of them must be lying.

Because she was found somewhere only they knew about.

Now everyone’s a suspect.

Click the link below to grab your copy:

She Lies In Wait by Gytha Lodge

Ellen’s Review:

If you’re looking for the perfect police procedural novel then stop right there and go grab a copy of She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge.

The story is told over two timelines; in the present with the discovery of Aurora Jackson’s body in the woods and thirty years earlier where Aurora, her sister and their friends are partying in the same location. Six teenagers entered the woods and only five left alive the following morning. DCI Jonah Sheen is in charge of the investigation but is holding back information of his own. As a fresh faced copper he was involved in the original investigation and he appears to know more about the group of friends than he is letting on.
This is a book where I was suspicious of everyone as they all had secrets to hide. Drugs, alcohol, sex – the six teenagers entered the woods on the promise of having a good time so what could possibly go wrong?

In the present they have just as much to lose. Having closed ranks to everyone after Aurora went missing, the group are extremely tight knit and adamant that it wasn’t one of their own that had carried out the terrible attack and murder of 14 year old Aurora. Having two teenage daughters of my own (and having attended my own parties in the woods as a teen!) this book really got under my skin. The group of friends aren’t particularly likeable and I really felt sorry for Aurora as more is revealed throughout.


I really enjoyed She Lies in Wait and look forward to reading more in the DCI Jonah Sheen series.

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The Lost Man by Jane Harper

About the book:

He had started to remove his clothes as logic had deserted him, and his skin was cracked. Whatever had been going through Cameron’s mind when he was alive, he didn’t look peaceful in death.

Two brothers meet at the remote border of their vast cattle properties under the unrelenting sun of the outback. In an isolated part of Australia, they are each other’s nearest neighbour, their homes hours apart.

They are at the stockman’s grave, a landmark so old that no one can remember who is buried there. But today, the scant shadow it casts was the last hope for their middle brother, Cameron. The Bright family’s quiet existence is thrown into grief and anguish.

Something had been troubling Cameron. Did he choose to walk to his death? Because if he didn’t, the isolation of the outback leaves few suspects…

Click the link below to get your copy:

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

About the author:

Jane Harper

Jane Harper is the author of The Dry, winner of various awards including the 2015 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, the 2017 Indie Award Book of the Year, the 2017 Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year Award and the CWA Gold Dagger Award for the best crime novel of 2017. Rights have been sold in 27 territories worldwide, and film rights optioned to Reese Witherspoon and Bruna Papandrea. Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK and lives in Melbourne.

My thoughts:

The Lost Man is a standalone novel from the author of The Dry and Force of Nature. This book is less of a crime novel, and more of a character-driven book.

Set in the Australian outback, the premise is that of brothers who are neighbours but live miles away. When one of the brothers is found dead at The Stockman’s Grave, the surviving brothers (Nathan and Bub) set about trying to find out how Cameron ended up dead.

What follows is a dark character study, punctuated by the relentless and searing Aussie outback. It is harsh and unforgiving, and that seems to be a parallel with the brothers lives.

While I enjoyed The Lost Man, it didn’t grab me as much as the Aaron Falk novels. That being said, it is a tense and dark read with family and secrets at its core.

Recommended, especially if you enjoy dark literary fiction!

The Boy in the Headlights (Munch & Krüger #3) by Samuel Bjork

About the book:

Munch and Krüger. An unexpected pairing. A brilliant team. 

Winter 1996 An old man is driving home when his headlights catch an animal on the empty road up ahead. He stamps hard on the brakes. But it is not an animal at all. It is a young boy, frightened and alone, with a set of deer antlers strapped firmly to his head. 

Fourteen years later, a body is found in a mountain lake. Within weeks, three people have died. Each time, the killer has left a clue, inviting Special Investigations Detectives Munch and Krüger to play a deadly game – a game they cannot possibly win. Against the most dangerous and terrifying kind of serial killer. One who chooses their victims completely at random. 

To find the killer they must look deep within their own dark pasts, but how can you stop a murderer when you cannot begin to predict their next move?

Out now, you can grab a copy by clicking the link below:

The Boy in the Headlights by Samuel Bjork

 

My thoughts:

Having read and loved the first two books in this series, I was delighted to get a review copy for The Boy in the Headlights, so thanks to Transworld for this one!

We’re back with Holger and Mia in The Boy in the Headlights as they recover from the events of The Owl Always Hunts at Night. They each had a lot to deal with and are doing so in their own way. 

When a body is found at a mountain lake, they are called in to investigate. But as with all good crime novels, the body count inevitably rises. As Holger and Mia work to find out who is leaving them clues at each scene, they find themselves drawn in deeper into the killer’s game at every turn. What follows is a game of murderous cat and mouse that delves into their pasts while simultaneously threatening their future.

I really like the pairing between these two detectives, it shouldn’t work, but it does. Both have their own flaws and foibles, but they know each other well enough to push past them and focus on the job at hand.

The Boy in the Headlights is another excellent addition to the series. A gripping plot, dark characters and great writing make this a highly absorbing read.

If you like your Scandi crime (as we all know, I LOVE it), this is a series you need to add to your TBR!

Highly recommended!

Previous reviews:

I’m Travelling Alone by Samuel Bjork

The Owl Always Hunts at Night by Samuel Bjork