The Quiet Ones by Theresa Talbot #BlogTourReview

About the book

If only someone had listened.

When the supposed suicide of famous Scottish football coach Harry Nugent hits the headlines, the tabloids are filled with tributes to a charitable pillar of the community that gave so much back to sport and to those less fortunate.

But something isn’t right.  Normally celebrities are queuing up to claim to have had a very special relationship with the deceased, but investigative journalist Oonagh O’Neil is getting the distinct impression that people are trying to distance themselves from Harry.

Oonagh’s investigation leads her to uncover a heartbreakingly haunting cover-up that chills her to the core … and places her in mortal danger from those willing to protect their sadistic and dark secrets at every cost.

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My thoughts

I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that you read this book.  The premise of the novel had me hooked before I’d even read a page of the actual book.

It’s not an easy read and in fact, I’d go as far as to say some people will find it a tough read.  The subject matter is written with a great amount of sensitivity and there’s nothing gratuitous about it.  If you can get past the sensitivity of the issues featured, you’re in for a super read.

This is the third book in the Oonagh O’Neil series from Theresa Talbot.  It’s a thriller that is so full of atmosphere and the very darkest of secrets that you won’t want to put it down for a minute.

Although there are references here and there to the two previous books, I would point out that this book reads perfectly as a standalone.  Although, it may cause you to want to go purchase the other books too – you have been warned!

The character development is really excellent and if you add to that the incredibly fast pace the plot takes, you’re onto a winner with this book.

Thanks so much to Aria Fiction and Netgalley for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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Follow Theresa:
Facebook: @TheresaTalbotBooks
Twitter: @Theresa_Talbot

Buy links:
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Google Play
Follow Aria
Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot #BlogTourReview

About the book

Emily Parker is set to have the worst Christmas ever!

Her flatmate’s moved out, she’s closed her heart to love and she’s been put in charge of the school original Christmas show – with zero musical ability.

Disgraced superstar, Ray Stone is in desperate need of a quick PR turnaround. Waking up from a drunken stupor to a class of ten-year-olds snapping pics and Emily looking at him was not what he had in mind.

Ray needs Emily’s help to delete the photos, and she needs his with the show. As they learn to work together they may just open their hearts to more than a second chance…

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My thoughts

I’ve had the honour of reading a summer novel and a Christmas novel by Mandy this year.  I’ve loved them both equally.

One Christmas Star put me straight in the Christmas spirit the minute I saw the cover.

I adored all of the characters in this book but none more so than the class of kids that Emily teaches. They were an adorable addition bringing Nativity movies and (some scenes from) Love Actually to mind straightaway!

Mandy writes romance as I want it to be written – lots of love, fun and flirting.  There’s a great storyline and the two main characters have their own stuff to deal with before they can learn to live again.  It’s emotional and sensitively written but then I’ve come to expect nothing less from this author.

If you’re looking to get in the Christmas season mood, I’d highly recommend you pre-order One Christmas Star.

Thanks so much to Aria Fiction and Netgalley for my copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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Follow Mandy:
Facebook: @mandybaggotauthor
Twitter: @mandybaggot

Pre-order links:

Amazon
Kobo
Google Play
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Follow Aria:

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman #BlogTourReview

About the book 

Christmas and romance are in the air…

It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country estate either.

So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten…?

Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!

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My thoughts

Christmas love.  There’s nothing better!  Actually, hang on, there is – there’s Christmas love that runs on longer than just Christmas and that’s what Lucy Coleman has gifted us here in Magic Under the Mistletoe.

I read this book towards the end of summer but as the book isn’t over-the-top Christmassy so it didn’t feel strange to be reading it at that time of year. It felt just right.  Magic Under the Mistletoe is such a fab book with wonderful characters from all walks of life, which I loved.

I was especially excited to receive the initial email about this book as I know how much I enjoy Lucy Coleman’s writing.  It’s beautifully magical but not so much so that the story or characters become unbelievable.  She knows just how far to push it.

The contract between the two main characters probably would have knocked me for six had I not read other books with a similar set-up over the last few years but this one felt very different.  They were doing it for different reasons to some other storylines I’ve read and I really enjoyed this side of it.

The cover has a bit of a Hallmark Christmas movie vibe to it, and there’s nothing wrong with that – I’ve been known to watch two or three of those in a row – but the book behind the cover delivers something much more fun!

It’s a cute story that you’ll get lost in and wonder where your afternoon went!  I find Lucy’s novels very easy to disappear into for a few hours a time.  We all need that in our lives as often as possible.

Thanks so much Aria Fiction and Netgalley for my copy of this book in return for an honest review, which I’ve given.

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Follow Lucy:

Twitter: @LucyColemanAuth

Facebook: @LinnBHaltonAuthor

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Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

Buy Magic Under the Mistletoe:

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In The Absence of Miracles by Michael J Malone #BlogTourReview

About the book 

A young man discovers a family secret that turns his world upside down in this dark, emotive, shocking psychological thriller by number-one bestselling author Michael J. Malone

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.

Shocking, chilling and heartbreakingly emotive, In the Absence of Miracles is domestic noir at its most powerful, and a sensitively wrought portrait of a family whose shameful lies hide the very darkest of secrets.

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My thoughts

There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t feel incredibly lucky to be receiving the proofs and other books that come through my letterbox and inbox.  Sometimes, you get something extremely special and very exciting.  And, In the Absence of Miracles has been one of those books for me.

Michael J Malone is incredibly talented. I’m already recommending it and wondering who I can gift it to.  My review will not do justice to this incredible book, but it’s what I’m here for so here goes!

In the Absence of Miracles is a page-turner in the truest sense.  At one point I found myself having to re-read a page or two twice because my excitement about, and haste to get to, what was coming next was distracting me.

It’s a captivating story and John is a very complex character.

The author creates a permanent feeling of harrowing tension throughout the book.  Tension about what has passed, what is coming next and, most of all, what it will all mean for John.

From early on, it’s obvious that the discovery of the boxes in the attic won’t bring anything good for him and may only bring pain and suffering.

In the Absence of Miracles is a heart-breaking mystery, with a writing style so beautiful you can’t help but get caught up in it all from the very beginning.  It flows as it should, with no stumbling blocks to divert the reader from it’s emotional magnificence.

Thank you Anne Cater and Orenda Books for providing me with a digital copy of this book for review.

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One Day In Winter by Shari Low #BlogTourReview

About the book 

On a cold December’s morning…

Caro sets off to find the truth: has her relationship with her father been based on a lifetime of lies?

Cammy can’t wait to surprise the woman he loves with a proposal. All he needs is the perfect ring.

Lila can no longer hide her secret. She has to tell her lover’s wife about their affair.

After thirty years, Bernadette knows it’s time. She’s ready to leave her controlling husband… and never look back.

Over the course of twenty-four hours, four lives are about to change forever.

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My thoughts

One Day In Winter is the first book I have read by Shari Low and I found her style of writing very comfortable to read – it is witty, observant and incredibly engaging.

She presents us with well-rounded characters (some you’ll like, some you won’t!) and a storyline so well plotted out that it made for a very easy, yet addictive read.

It took me a couple of chapters to get fully immersed in the book but once I did I really enjoyed everything about it.  From page to page, I was excited to see what was coming next.

I especially love the way One Day In Winter is laid out over the course of one day and moves along at two-hourly intervals.  I really think this is part of the beauty of this book and why it is such an easy book to get caught up in.

Thanks to Aria Fiction for providing me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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Follow Shari:

Facebook: @ShariLow
Twitter: @sharilow

Available here:

Amazon
Kobo
iBooks
Google Play

Follow Aria:

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

 

The Truth by Naomi Joy #BlogTourReview

About the book

Perfect wife. Perfect life. Perfect crime.

Anthony is not the man everyone believes him to be. And Emelia is not the woman he wants her to be.

Theirs was a whirlwind romance, Anthony was the doting boyfriend, the charismatic and successful career man who swept her off her feet. But now Emelia is trapped in a marriage of dark secrets and obsession. She is no more than something Anthony wants to ‘fix’, one of his pet projects.

Emelia has no escape from the life that Anthony insists on controlling, so she shares her story through the only means she can – her blog. Yet Anthony can never find out. Forced to hide behind a false name, Emelia knows the only way that Anthony will allow her to leave him, is death.

Trapped with a man she knows is trying to kill her, Emelia is determined that someone will hear her story and Anthony will meet his ends. That everyone will discover the truth.

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My thoughts 

What have I just read?  That’s the thought that dominated my mind for a long time after putting this book down.  To think it’s even loosely based on actual true stories is utterly terrifying.

And what a super choice of name for this book!

You can take nothing at face value and, look, that’s all I’m going to say about that! Naomi has given us all a masterclass in how to set up and deliver a flawless domestic psychological thriller and I won’t be the one to ruin it for everyone else by being too in-depth.

All is not what it seems.

Thanks so, so much to Aria Fiction for my copy of this book in return for an honest review.

It’s what I’d class as one of those books you need to take breaks from here and there just to take it all in but you absolutely can’t put it down because you want to squeeze every, single second with it into your day.  “Unputdownable” basically!!

I was absolutely enthralled by it.

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Follow Naomi :
Facebook: @naomijoyauthor
Twitter: @naomijoyauthor
Buy here:
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Kobo

iBooks

Google Play
Follow Aria :
Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
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A Question of Us by Mary Jayne Baker #BlogTourReview

About the book

Two best friends. Eight pub quizzes. One shot at love.

There are some people who seem like they have all the answers in life. Clarrie Midwinter isn’t one of them.

At the age of 26, tomboy Clarrie is still struggling to become a ‘proper’ grown-up. She’s eternally strapped for cash, she hasn’t had a date in nearly a year and her attempts to quit smoking tend to take a nosedive after the second pint. Most annoyingly of all, her ladykiller best friend Simon just won’t stop asking her out. The only thing keeping her sane is her pub quiz team, the Mighty Morphin Flower Arrangers.

But when Simon bets her a date their team will win the quiz league, Clarrie is forced to confront what she really wants out of life – and love. Is it finally time for her to grow up?

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My thoughts

Friends to lovers – that right there is my jam!  Is there anything more romantic?

I really enjoyed reading this book.  It’s a light-hearted and fun romance.  You can tell that straightaway from the cover of the book – it’s super cute and quirky – one of my favourite covers of 2019 so far.

There’s not a huge amount going on here with some crazy plot and that’s very okay with me.  It’s love, love, love, humour and a tonne of fun and sometimes (as the song reminds us) – love is all you need!  Ain’t that the truth.

This book hit hard in the humour stakes.  It’s so funny!  Add to that the love and the group of friends featured in the book and you’ve got an absolute winner for me.

Thanks so much to Aria Fiction and Netgalley for providing me with a digital copy of this book in return for an honest review.

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Follow Mary:

Facebook: @MaryJayneWrites
Twitter: @MaryJayneBaker

You can buy A Question of Us at:

Amazon
Kobo
iBooks
Google Play

Follow Aria: 

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com
Twitter: @aria_fiction
Facebook: @ariafiction
Instagram: @ariafiction

 

 

Living My Best Life by Claire Frost #BlogTourExtract

I’m really thrilled to be bringing you an extract from this book today.  It’s so current and full of stuff we can all relate to, I think.  Enjoy!

About the book

This heart-warming and funny novel is the perfect balm for the Insta-weary mind – get ready to shatter the illusion that is #LivingMyBestLife.

Bell never thought she’d be facing her 40th birthday single.  Recently dumped by her boyfriend of ten years, she’s struggling to move on with her life – and surrender the fleecy pyjamas she’s been living in since January.  Sick of being bombarded by #blessed on social media and feeling like her life doesn’t live up to everyone else’s, she decides it’s time for a change; time to find out who she really is, not who she thinks she should be.

Millie is a successful online influencer posting under the handle @mi_bestlife, but as a single mum trying to make ends meet and stay ahead of the younger generation snapping at her heels, her Instagram feed is far more #BestLie than #BestLife.  With internet trolls attempting to bring her down and an ex who cares more about playing football than seeing their son, Millie begins to wish her life was more like her filters.

It isn’t until Millie and Bell’s paths cross that the two women begin to realise what they’re missing. Will Bell finally learn to live life for herself? And will Millie see that she needs to start living for the moment and not for the likes?

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Extract

Millie had periodically flirted with Tinder, more often than not finding it the most depressing place to be of an evening. She’d then moved on to other apps, which while not exactly full of positivity and fun, were slightly less hideous. And it was on one of these apps that she’d come across Tom. They’d matched with each other and then the ball had been in her court as to whether she messaged him or not. She’d swiped right mainly because he had the kindest-looking face of anyone she’d seen on her various dating app forays, so one lonely night when five-year-old Wolf was in bed and there was nothing on the TV, she decided she might as well contact him. Their messages had remained very much on the side of pleasant rather than passionate, but when Tom suggested they meet for a drink, she hadn’t immediately said no. Wolf’s dad Louis would be coming to pick him up on Friday night for his once-every-four-weeks weekend with his son, so Millie had two days of emptiness stretching ahead of her. With nothing better to do, she asked Tom if he was free on Saturday night. His reply came back alarmingly fast.

Sounds great! What about 8 o’clock at the Duke of York, and then we can go for a bite to eat later if we fancy it? Looking forward to it! T x

Millie knew she should probably tell someone where and when she was going on a date, in case he turned out to be a serial killer, but she didn’t really have any friends locally she wanted to tell, or in fact any friends locally at all. She certainly wasn’t going to tell Louis this nugget of information as he was bound to try to use it against her at some point; though how he thought he’d get away with it, when he spent half his life parading twenty-year-old after twenty-year-old on his arm, was anyone’s guess. She supposed she’d better let her dad know what she was doing, so she sent a quick, breezy text and promised to call him soon.

By the time Louis rang the doorbell at 5.15pm on Friday night, Wolf had worked himself up into a state of huge excitement.

‘Daddy!’ he yelled, dropping his Spider-Man figurine, running to the door and impatiently waiting for Millie to open it.

‘Wolf Cub!’ Louis grinned, scooping him up and holding the little boy aloft like he was baby Simba in The Lion King. ‘How are you, mate? Good to see ya!’

As Wolfie went into a big spiel about all the superhero toys he’d packed in his little wheeled case to show him, Millie peered round the door.

‘Hi, Louis.’

‘Millie,’ he nodded. ‘Right, little man, say goodbye to Mummy and we’ll get you in the car and then the fun can really start!’

‘Bye, Mummy. You will look after Snuffles for me and give him a goodnight kiss, won’t you?’

‘Of course, Wolfie. I promised, didn’t I? Now you be good and I’ll see you back here on Sunday afternoon, okay?’

She’d barely removed her arms from round his small body before Wolf was out the door and skipping towards Louis’ huge Range Rover. She watched them leave, waving even after the car had turned out of the road and driven off into the distance.

However nice it was to have a break from being essentially a single parent, it never got easier watching her son disappear up the motorway to Birmingham with his dad. After all, her whole life had revolved around the little boy for the last five years. She willed herself not to cry and began dropping armfuls of toys into the basket drawers by the fireplace, only pausing to pick up Snuffles, the soft toy guinea pig, and give him a quick kiss on his fluffy head.

As her date approached the following evening, Millie began to wish she’d never bothered sending Tom a message in the first place. She’d spent a pleasant day tidying the house, prepping a few Instagram posts and firing off emails to various copywriting agencies asking if they had any work for her. After luxuriating in a bath filled with the posh bubbles Louis had bought for Wolf to give her for Christmas (whatever his faults, Louis had great taste when it came to the finer things in life), she felt happy and calm. That had all dissolved when she’d started thinking about her date that evening.

Since she and Louis had broken up just under two-and- a-half years ago, there hadn’t been much space in Millie’s life for men. And it hadn’t really bothered her that she didn’t have a significant other to turn to as, frankly, she had enough on her plate making sure Wolfie was fed, clothed and as unaffected as possible by his parents’ separation. Not to mention trying to carve out some kind of career in the fashion/blogging/social media world. But now that Wolf was at school, she’d felt like she should at least try to get herself out there. The trouble was, things had changed so much in the seven or so years since she’d been that feisty girl who had been a match (in every way) for cocky footballer Louis in a Birmingham nightspot. Not only was she older, wearier and far less sure of herself, but the dating arena was a foreign country now. At thirty she felt both ancient and that she was competing with all the younger, prettier, more confident people looking to find the love of their lives – or at least someone they could shag that evening. So when she’d matched with Tom and he’d seemed happy to chat as friends, she’d gradually stopped using the other apps and contented herself with exchanging nice, no-pressure, getting-to-know- you messages every so often. But meeting him in the flesh was something else entirely.

‘I don’t even know if I want a relationship,’ Millie sighed out loud as she smoothed product through her hair and uncovered the hairdryer that had been gathering dust in the corner of her bedroom. But the voice inside her head wasn’t going to let her off that easily.

You don’t have to have a relationship, you just need some fun.

‘Fun!’ she grunted over the whirr of the hairdryer. ‘Think I’d rather stay in with a glass of cheap wine in front of the telly.’

But that’s what you did last night. And the night before, and the one before that, the voice replied.

‘Christ, now I’m talking to myself. I really am going mad!’ She heard her phone ping as she put the hairdryer down and hoped it was Tom also having second thoughts. It wasn’t,
it was her dad.

Have an amazing time this evening, Millie, you deserve it! Me and Jean want to hear all about it tomorrow! Dad xx

She smiled and turned back to the sparse offerings in her wardrobe. Then she remembered her eBay triumph. Like at least half of the country, she’d lusted after the latest high street collaboration with this year’s hot young designer, but also knew she didn’t have a hope in hell of queueing at the crack of dawn outside her local store on the morning of its launch to get her hands on any of the pieces. So, when she’d spied an eBay seller flogging her favourite dress from the collection for just a few quid more than it had cost originally, she was both excited and wary. Ridiculously, it had all seemed to check out, and a few days after she’d clicked the Buy It Now button a package arrived in the post containing the coveted dress and a short note:

I hope you enjoy the dress more than my granddaughter, who complained I’d got her the wrong one and in the wrong size but still wanted me to give it to her so she could sell it at a vast profit and buy some festival tickets instead. I only wish I could get into it myself as it’s a lovely dress, but I’m sure it will look better on you! Audrey x

And the dress did actually look great on her, Millie was able to admit as she swished the A-line skirt in front of the mirror, before spending an inordinate amount of time taking the obligatory selfie and saving it so she could add filters later.

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How great does that extract sound!?!  Living My Best Life is available to purchase here.

We Met In December by Rosie Curtis #BlogTourReview

About the book

What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away?

Unlucky in love Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling Notting Hill house‐share with four strangers. On her first night Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but as far as Jess is concerned, the connection is instant. She lets herself imagine how their relationship will grow over the following year.

But when Jess returns from a Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else – beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams… and the woman of his.

Jess is determined to move on and survive the next twelve months… but love has a way of hampering even the best laid plans…

Set over the course of one life‐changing year, this is the most uplifting and moving love story of 2019.

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My thoughts 

Firstly, anyone who knows me knows how much I love December.  The whole month of December is Christmas as far as I’m concerned!

If you want to be lit up like Christmas lights in shop windows during the festive period, then look no further;  We Met In December is the book for you!

I felt so good while reading the story of Jess and Alex.  It’s such a sweet story with all of the housemates playing their part.  As with a lot of books, there are characters that grab your heart from the get-go and there are others you might want to shake some sense into – and this is no different.  In my opinion, that is a really good quality about a book which is full of well-rounded characters.

When I finished We Met In December I put it away smiling at the thoughts of Jess and Alex and hoping that there might be a follow up to their relationship some day in the form of another book.  I’m just going to put that out to the universe right now!

Thanks so much Avon for my copy of this book in return for an honest review.

You can find We Met In December right here.

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Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson #BlogTour

About the book 

The third book in the award-winning, critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series, featuring true-crime writer Alexis Castells and profiler Emily Roy.

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.

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My thoughts 

Blood Song is unlike any crime series book I have ever read.  It is very intelligently written and is a bold, page-turner of a thriller.

This story takes us from London to Sweden and Spain.  Over a period of decades, we are told a tale of corruption, war and abuse that left me feeling more than my usual level of intrigue from the very beginning.

It is by no means a fluffy, easy read.  It’s dark and worthy of each and every goose-bump it gave me.

My thanks go out to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for introducing me to this incredible series of books.

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