Blog Tour Review: Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson

block 46 blog tour poster

Synopsis:  Evil remembers…

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.

Hampstead Heath, London. The body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s.

Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again.

Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past,as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light.

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My thoughts so far:
So unfortunately I’ve not finished reading this book and therefore am unable to write a complete review.  For various reasons the last few weeks have been tricky and time has run away from me, so much so that I also got my date on the blog tour wrong and only realised too late that it was today.   Huge apologies to everyone concerned for this.

Having said that, I have started reading the book and so far it is definitely living up to my expectations.  The translation is so good that at one point I had to double check that it was a translation at all.  Usually with books not originally written in English it is obvious that they have been translated but in this case it isn’t.

As for the story itself, I’m not a fan of anything set during either world war though I do read and watch the occasional book/film relating to them.  I don’t deny anything that happened by any means but I do find it hard at times to believe that people could be so cruel to each other as to commit the atrocities that occurred, particularly in the concentration camps as mentioned in this book.  Despite this I agreed to read and review this book was because the premise was so intriguing, none of the events seem at all connected and the character in Buchenwald, Erich, is trying to see himself as human again, something that intrigued me greatly because I wonder how anyone would manage that in those circumstances.

The story, while not action-adventure or necessarily happening at break-neck speed is quite fast moving.  Events start unfolding from page one and, for me, haven’t let up yet.  There are dates, times and locations at the top of each chapter and to start with I found them a little tricky to follow but within a few chapters as the story was starting to unfold, they became easier to follow and them being there helped the story, in my opinion.

I also really like the different perspectives of the police in Sweden, the way we can see Olofsson’s thoughts and feelings towards the other characters, particularly his police colleague Bergstrom is quite unusual and stands out quite strongly for me.

While I haven’t finished the book yet, I will definitely be finishing it and will be posting another review at that time.

 

Johana Photo

Author Bio:  Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series

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Blog Tour Guest Post: Kiss Me at Willoughby Close

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Blurb: Welcome to Willoughby Close… a charming cluster of cozy cottages, each with a story to tell and a happy ending to deliver…

After her husband unexpectedly dies, Ava moves to Willoughby Close, trying to keep her chin up and herself to herself as she’s always done—not answering questions, not making friends, and not seeing much of a future. Her marriage was far from perfect, but it offered her a much-needed security that has now been ripped away. She’s not sure what to do now that she’s thirty-five, widowed, penniless… and unexpectedly pregnant with her late husband’s child.

Jace Tucker is the over-the-top sexy caretaker of Willoughby Manor, and he can see beneath Ava’s glamor girl act to the hurt she’s been hiding for so long. She has secrets for a reason—and so does he. The last thing she needs right now is a fling with a man who hides a past as regrettable as her own.

But with a baby to think about, and neighbors determined to be her friends, Ava finds herself starting to change and even more alarmingly, beginning to hope. Can Willoughby Close work its everyday magic on a woman like her? And when the past comes calling for both her and Jace, will they have to answer for their previous mistakes?

Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34457635-kiss-me-at-willoughby-close?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=x_gr_w_bb?tag=x_gr_w_bb_uk-21&index=books&keyword=Kiss+Me+at+Willoughby+Close

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Guest Post:  What Comes Out by Kate Hewitt

My books are fiction. I can’t actually imagine writing non-fiction—I’ve talked to writers who think it’s so much easier but definitely not for me! And yet a lot of non-fiction, as it were, comes out in my books without me even realizing it, at least not at first.

What I mean is, whatever I’m going through emotionally will seep into my writing. What I’m worried about, the struggles I’m facing, the fears that keep me up at night… somehow these slip slyly into my books without me even knowing it. As Red Smith said, ‘Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.’

Writing can feel very exposing when you are putting yourself out there in the guise of your characters. In the Willoughby Close series, a lot of my feelings and fears about death and grief have come out through the character of Lady Stokeley and her battle with cancer. My father died of cancer last year and I helped to nurse him through the final weeks and days of his illness, and then held his hand as he died. It was a profound experience for me, one that held both joy and terrible sorrow, and it has definitely influenced my writing in a big way. A lot of Lady Stokeley’s emotional journey, as well as those of the characters affected by her, is shaped by the time I spent with my father.

I’m writing the last book in the series now, and I’ve been a little bit surprised at how emotional it has made me! Sometimes I’ve teared up as I’m writing, which is hopefully a good sign that my readers will be similarly connected to the story ☺

The series isn’t all about death and sadness though, far from it! Kiss Me at Willoughby Close has a lot of humor and banter between Jace and Ava that was super fun to write. I can’t wait to share this book with readers.

Happy Reading,

Kate

Giveaway

FineMeAtWilloughbyClose

 

1st prize: £10 Amazon giftcard

2nd prize: paperback copy of Find Me at Willoughby Close

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About Kate Hewitt

Kate is the USA Today bestselling author of over 40 books of women’s fiction and romance. She is the author of the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, set in England’s Lake District and published by Penguin. She is also, under the name Katharine Swartz, the author of the Tales from Goswell books, a series of time-slip novels set in the village of Goswell. Other series include the Emigrants Trilogy, the Amherst Island Trilogy, and the Falling For The Freemans series.

She likes to read romance, mystery, the occasional straight historical and angsty women’s fiction; she particularly enjoys reading about well-drawn characters and avoids high-concept plots.

Having lived in both New York City and a tiny village on the windswept northwest coast of England, she now resides in the English Cotswolds with her husband, five children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever. You can read about her life at http://www.acumbrianlife.blogspot.co.uk.

Links:

Website: http://www.kate-hewitt.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/katehewitt1

Blog Tour Review: Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul Hardisty

Reconciliation for the Dead Blog Tour poster

 

Synopsis:   Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore  Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier.

It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed.

 

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Review:  Although a work of fiction there are some events, groups and people in this book that are not. As someone who was alive during this time but is not old enough to remember the Cold War all of the events here were new to me. I was aware of the conflicts in South Africa and Apartheid because they continued for many years but the rest was new and, until I found out otherwise, something I thought the author had created simply for the book. This is one of the reasons books like this appeal to me, I can learn about past events in a way that make them more real than they may be in a history book. I know it’s not 100% accurate but it brings the period and events within it to life and in my opinion anything that educates people about past events, particularly the shocking ones in this book, is a good thing.

This is not a book for the faint-hearted. The story starts off at speed on the first page and does not let up until the end. Even in the scenes where the pace is a little slower there is the ever present underlying tension that is written so well by the author. Even if you pick and read a chapter at random you will feel the tension that exists throughout the book.  The descriptive details are first class too. There was enough description that I knew exactly what was happening and could easily and clearly picture every single scene (something that doesn’t always happen) but not so much description that it was overly wordy, something some authors are unable to do. 

The characterisation is also good. I spent most of the book not knowing how I felt about Straker and to be honest I’m still not sure how I feel. The little snippets from his testimony to the Commission were brilliantly done, popping them in throughout the story, rather than all at the beginning or end, gave for me greater context to what had happened and how it had affected Straker and the others involved. I’m not always a fan of a story moving from one time to another but this was handled really well and the change in typeface for the Commission scenes also helped. 

Although I would agree that it is a crime novel it’s quite different from the ones I usually read. However, having said that if you are interested in history and like crime fiction then I would definitely try it. I also think this book will appeal strongly to those who like army and war related stories even if they’re not into crime fiction and I would recommend it to them.

 

Paul Hardisty

Author bio:  Canadian Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Tour Extract: Dreaming of Venice by T.A. Williams

I adore Venice, I’ve visited more than once and each time I go I feel like I’m going home.  The city speaks to me in a way that no other city ever has but for some reason I’ve never read a book that’s been set there.  Having this one pop up in my emails changed that, it sounded light and bright and has the exploration of Venice from someone who is visiting it for the first time.  How could I possibly turn down the chance of being involved in this blog tour……clearly I didn’t so read on and get a taste of the book from the extract that I have for you.

 

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Synopsis:  Find love, friendship and prosecco – in the magical city of Venice.

Life is tough for Penny. A dead end job in a London café, a boyfriend in Australia (what could go wrong?) and an art career going nowhere. But then Penny is approached with an extraordinary proposition.

It isn’t going to be easy but, if she can pull it off, she will turn her life around and at long last see the fulfillment of her dream – to visit Venice. And, just maybe, find true happiness with the handsome man of her dreams.

But can dreams come true?

Dreaming of Venice

 Extract: 

Penny studied the woman more closely. She was probably four or five years older than her, maybe thirty or so. She was well-groomed and looked affluent. Penny suppressed a sigh of jealousy.

‘Is there somewhere we could talk for a moment?’ The woman was looking around warily.

‘Er, yes. Are you a journalist or something?’ Penny led the woman across to a table in the far corner and ran a cloth over a seat before indicating she should sit down.

‘No, nothing like that, Penny.’ The woman, Caroline, sat down tentatively, but avoided putting her arms on the table top. Penny nodded to herself. Although she knew that Spiro kept the Apocalypse spotlessly clean, the battered appearance of the furniture could be off-putting, especially to somebody wearing an expensive light-coloured coat. Caroline waited until Penny had sat down opposite her before starting to explain. ‘No, I came to see you to ask if you might be interested in a job.’ Seeing the surprise on Penny’s face, she was quick to expand. ‘Not a full-time job. You could still carry on working here most of the time, if that’s what you want.’

Working at the Apocalypse certainly wasn’t what Penny wanted, but a job was a job, and she had grown close to the boys, Jimmy in particular, over the months she had been here. She looked across the table. ‘What sort of job?’ She saw the other woman hesitate, shooting a wary glance around the room before replying. Her voice dropped to little more than a whisper.

‘How would you feel about meeting me somewhere we can talk more freely?’

Penny began to get a bad feeling about this. Was this some sort of attempt to recruit her to the secret service? Or maybe the woman was some sort of pimp, trying to sign her up for a life of prostitution just like Jimmy and Piotr had suggested. Caroline must have seen the suspicion on her face as she was quick to reassure her.

‘It’s nothing underhand. Please don’t worry. It’s just that my employer is a very private person and I’ve been given strict instructions that what I have to say must be strictly between the two of us.’

Penny nodded. Although several tables separated them from the counter, Spiro was leaning forward nonchalantly, his good ear trained on their corner. Not a lot escaped him. She took another good look at Caroline. She looked trustworthy enough and she was very well spoken. Maybe if they were to meet in a public place there would be no harm in it. She nodded again and the other woman made a suggestion. ‘Do you know the JC coffee shop below the Metropole Hotel halfway along Piccadilly?’

Penny nodded again. She knew it from having walked past it a good few times, but she had never dared go inside. The place had expensive written all over it, from the tropical fish in the massive aquarium by the window to the liveried doorman whose only job appeared to be to open the door for patrons of the establishment and to keep riff-raff out. Riff-raff would no doubt include Penny, the way things were at the moment. She dismissed the thought and brightened up. Assuming they let her in, at least she was unlikely to be mugged, raped or kidnapped in a classy establishment like that.

 

T A Williams

Author bio: 

My name is Trevor Williams. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, “Dirty Minds” one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn’t possibly comment. Ask my wife…

My background, before taking up writing full time, was in teaching and I was principal of a big English language school for many years. This involved me in travelling all over the world and my love of foreign parts is easy to find in my books. I speak a few languages and my Italian wife and I still speak Italian together.

I’ve written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I’m enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. My most recent books are the What happens… series. What happens in Tuscany reached #1 in the Amazon.uk Romantic Comedy chart and What Happens on the Beach, the last in the series, came out in July. Chasing Shadows is still romance, but with the added spice of a liberal helping of medieval history, one of my pet hobbies. I do a lot of cycling and I rode all the way to Santiago de Compostela on a bike a few years back. This provided both the inspiration and the background research for Chasing Shadows.

I’m originally from Exeter, and I’ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away down here in south west England. I love the place.

Website: http://www.tawilliamsbooks.com/

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/TAWilliamsbooks

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/TrevorWilliamsBooks