Henry VIII by Tracy Borman #bookreview

About the book…

Henry VIII is best known in history for his tempestuous marriages and the fates of his six wives. However, as acclaimed historian Tracy Borman makes clear in her illuminating new chronicle of Henry’s life, his reign and reputation were hugely influenced by the men who surrounded and interacted with him as companions and confidants, servants and ministers, and occasionally as rivals—many of whom have been underplayed in previous biographies.

These relationships offer a fresh, often surprising perspective on the legendary king, revealing the contradictions in his beliefs, behavior, and character in a nuanced light. They show him capable of fierce but seldom abiding loyalty, of raising men up only to destroy them later. He loved to be attended by boisterous young men, the likes of his intimate friend Charles Brandon, who shared his passion for sport, but could also be diverted by men of intellect, culture, and wit, as his longstanding interplay with Cardinal Wolsey and his reluctant abandonment of Thomas More attest. Eager to escape the shadow of his father, Henry VII, he was often trusting and easily led by male attendants and advisors early in his reign (his coronation was just shy of his 18th birthday in 1509); in time, though, he matured into a profoundly suspicious and paranoid king whose ruthlessness would be ever more apparent, as Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and uncle to two of Henry’s wives, discovered to his great discomfort, and as Eustace Chapuys, the ambassador of Charles V of Spain, often reported.

Recounting the great Tudor’s life and signal moments through the lens of his male relationships, Tracy Borman’s new biography reveals Henry’s personality in all its multi-faceted, contradictory glory, and sheds fresh light on his reign for anyone fascinated by the Tudor era and its legacy

Hush Hush by Mel Sherratt #bookreview

About the book…

A killer is on the loose, attacking people in places they feel most safe: their workplaces, their homes. It’s up to DS Grace Allendale to stop the murders and prove herself to her new team.

All clues lead to local crime family the Steeles, but that’s where things get complicated. Because the Steeles aren’t just any family, they’re Grace’s family. Two brothers and two sisters, connected by the violent father only Grace and her mother escaped.

To catch the killer, Grace will have to choose between her team and her blood. But who do you trust, when both sides are out to get you?

What I thought about it…

I’m a big fan of Mel Sherratt and feel somewhat guilty that it’s taken me this long to get a review of Hush Hush up here on the (though as anyone who’s been following me a while knows all my reviews have been going up way too late lately thanks to the pressures of everyday life).  Why the guilt? Because I really enjoyed the book.  It was great to be back in Stafford, a place I used to spend a lot of time in for work, even if the city is a lot more violent than in my experience.  I love the place and the people and Sherratt does a great job of bringing both to life.

She also does a great job with the central character in Hush Hush, Grace, a woman who has returned home to get over the loss of her husband and to confront a painful childhood, one where she was the daughter of a local gangster.  Her father is dead by the start of the book, but her half-brothers and sisters are still around and continuing the family business.  It’s something Grace wants to stay as far away from as possible.  Unfortunately, as a police officer, she can’t help but be dragged into their lives when the first case that falls on her desk involves one of their (legitimate) employees ending up dead in the car park of the gym they run.

I enjoyed getting to know Grace, and her family too if I’m honest, even if they were a bad lot.  It meant there was plenty going on and plenty of people to like, dislike, trust and think were up to no good…I was wrong on more than one occasion, which is always a good thing with this type of book I think.  There were plenty of twists and turns here to keep me interested and wondering just who did it (I was right, then wrong, then right again – go me!) and more than enough in Grace and her team to see how this could turn into a great series.  

And, while books of this type do have a style and follow a pattern to a degree, this still felt fresh and interesting enough to make me want to come back for the next book when it’s released. 

Emma x

Note: I received this book in return for a fair and honest review.  All thoughts, feelings and opinions are my own.

In Harm’s Way by Viveca Sten #bookreview

About the Book

The body of world-famous journalist Jeanette Thiels is discovered the day after Christmas, frozen in a snow-covered garden just steps from her hotel on Sandhamn Island. Detective Thomas Andreasson finds it highly unlikely that it was some bizarre accident. After all, the relentless war-zone correspondent was no stranger to conflict and controversy—both professional and, of late, very personal. Who would want to see her dead is another story.

Enlisting the help of attorney Nora Linde, his longtime friend on holiday, Thomas is anxious for the answers. But he and Nora don’t have to look far. The clues are leading them closer to home than they imagined. Jeanette may have made a career out of exposing corruption at the highest levels of world power, but she was also a woman with secrets of her own, and they’re coming to light on Sandhamn. For Thomas and Nora, unearthing the deeply rooted deceptions behind Jeanette’s death could now put those closest to her in harm’s way, too.

What I Thought About It…

The sixth book in this series set on the beautiful but deadly island of Sandham, starts with a chilling murder (literally and figuratively) as a journalist is found dead in a snow bank.

Initially, it’s thought she lost her way in the dark, unable to find her way back to her hotel room. An autopsy, however, reveals she was poisoned, leading to a hunt for a murderer that may or may not be on Sandham.

Having read all the books in this series, there is a rhythm to them that I enjoy but which also means there is sometimes a sense of deja vu. Getting of the island, then, was a nice change, one I enjoyed.

What didn’t change was lead Detective Thomas’ friend Nora getting involved with the case, something which is getting harder for me to accept with each book I must admit. I really like Nora as a character and I have loved watching how she’s changed as a person since the first book. BUT getting her into the stories is starting to feel forced and somewhat jarring and I’m not convinced it adds to the plot.

Nora aside, the plot was interesting and outcome not one I was expecting. I really like Thomas, who is a gentle but dogged, and his team, who I’d like to see more of. And, given this is Scandinavian crime fiction, one of my favourite genres, it feeds my fascination with the country.

It all means that,while I enjoyed the book, I didn’t love it as much as I have some of the others. And, I hate to say it, but I am not sure I’ll continue onto book number seven.

Emma x

The Forbidden Place by Susanne Jansson (Book Review)

In the remote Swedish wetlands lies Mossmarken: the village on the edge of the mire where, once upon a time, people came to leave offerings to the gods.

Biologist Nathalie came in order to study the peat bogs. But she has a secret: Mossmarken was once her home, a place where terrible things happened. She has returned at last, determined to confront her childhood trauma and find out the truth.

Soon after her arrival, she finds an unconscious man out on the marsh, his pockets filled with gold – just like the ancient human sacrifices. A grave is dug in the mire, which vanishes a day after. And as the police investigate, the bodies start to surface…

Is the mire calling out for sacrifices, as the superstitious locals claim? Or is it an all-too-human evil?

My Thoughts…

I love a little bit of Scandi Noir, stories that are dark, foreboding, and just a little bit bleak, all of which can be used to describe The Forbidden Place.  It starts with Nathalie returning to her childhood home, or at least close to it, determined to face her demons and – finally – move on with her life. What those demons are isn’t exactly clear, though her story slowly gets told as the book progresses.  That it has to do with the marsh she is staying next to, however, isn’t in any doubt.

To Nathalie, it seems to take on a life of her own, filling her full of dread, never more so than when she finds the body of Johannes, a young man she recently went on a date with, unconscious and close to death in the peat bog. Perhaps she wouldn’t feel so scared if this was the first time a body had been found in the marsh. But it isn’t.  Instead, over the years, more than one person has gone missing…while others who live in the area have ended up dead.

It all makes for a great premise for a book, and just up my street, which it was – at first.  Unfortunately, about halfway through, it ran out of steam because, while I liked Nathalie, she was the only real character in the book and – interesting as she was and intriguing as her secrets were – I needed a bit more variety to keep me going.  Instead, I found myself dragging, losing interest during the final third especially.  IT’s a shame really, given how strong it started, but – in the end – this wasn’t for me.

Sorry!

Emma

Source: Netgalley
Genre: Thriller, Suspense
Publisher: Mulholland Books
Rating: 3 out of 5
Find on: Goodreads / Amazon UK / Amazon US

Rakuten Kobo UK

 

Pure Skin Care: Nourishing Recipes for Vibrant Skin & Natural Beauty by Stephanie L. Tourles

Over the last few years, I have been trying to change how I think about health and beauty, moving to a more natural way of living.  This includes starting to make my own beauty products, which has been a bit hit and miss when it comes to my successes here.  That’s why Pure Skin Care appealed to me so much, it promised plenty of natural recipes for me to try out.

The book itself is written by a licensed holistic esthetician and certified aromatherapists who has been creating natural skin care products for over two decade.  I felt that experience in Pure Skin Care, a level of knowledge that gave me confidence in the recipes I was about to try.

Pure Skin Care is broken down into sections including how to care for your skin, the tools you’ll need, how to store products and techniques for creating recipes.  Then it goes onto the recipes themselves. It covers masks, steams, scrubs, moisturisers, conditioners, feet and hands, with recommendations based on your skin type and lots of tips and ‘good to know’s’ such as why good food can equal good looks.

I really enjoyed reading it and felt I learnt something beyond the recipes, most of which seemed easy for a novice like me and – of the ones I’ve tried – have all worked pretty well so far.  My main problem is I can’t easily access all the ingredients because of where I live so there was some internet shopping needed.  There’s also the issue that, starting out, I had to buy a lot from scratch so it wasn’t always cheap.

Saying that, now I have some of the ingredients, I can make more of the products I like pretty cheaply, and I am all for things not costing the earth – figuratively or literally.  I’m also for using products that do less harm, and that is definitely the case here.  I feel better using natural ingredients and was happy to find my skin didn’t seem to mind either.  This book was well worth the read and is well worth buying.

Enjoy!

Emma

Rakuten Kobo UK

The Infinite Blacktop by Sara Gran

Infinite Blacktop Sara GranWhen she comes too, in pain and with someone’s screams ringing in her ear, Claire DeWitt can’t remember where she is or how she got there.  Opening her eyes, she sees an ambulance and knows she’s on a stretcher about to be taken to hospital.  She also knows that, if she goes, she might not make it through the day alive.  So she attacks a police officer, steals a car and heads out to figure out just who was trying to kill her and why.

It’s a journey that takes her from her base in San Francisco to Las Vegas as she tracks down a man with white hair she isn’t sure exists.  Along the way she reflects on how she ended up as a private investigator, flashing back to her teenage years where she was obsessed with the Cynthia Silverton Detective series, as were her friends, who formed an unlikely trio of investigators through to how she got her private investigators license by figuring out who was dead and who wasn’t as part of a cold case.  

In The Heat of the Moment by Viveca Sten (Sandhamn Murders, Book 5)

On the longest day of the year, the tiny island of Sandhamn is overrun by people who want to party.  They turn up on the ferry and dock their boats in the harbour and drink until they can’t drink anymore.  As the police patrol the area, their job is to contain the crowds and make sure the fun people are having doesn’t turn sinister.

Unfortunately, this time, they aren’t that successful and, in the early hours of the morning, the body of a teenager is discovered hidden on an isolated beach.  He’s been badly beaten.  More unfortunate still for the police, the island is full of potential suspects, not just the teenagers girlfriend and his best friend, both of whom were missing during the hours the murder took place and too drunk to remember what happened.

There were so many people on the island and, as they start to drift away, the police are in a race against time to get statements and try and figure out just who ended the young boys life.  Leading the case is one of the central characters, Thomas, a dogged and instinctive detective who is normally helped by his best friend Nora, though never in an official capacity.  Nora, though has problems of her own as her boyfriend’s daughter didn’t come home that night and no one knows where she is.  

Truth and Lies (DI Amy Winter #1) by Caroline Mitchell

Truth and Lies Caroline MitchellGrieving for her father, a respected Detective whose footsteps she’s followed, DI Amy Winter returns to work to a letter she could never have expected to receive.  It’s from a notorious serial killer, Lillian Grimes, who – along with her husband – was responsible for the death of numerous young girls offering to help her find the bodies of three victims whose graves are still unknown.

Normally, this is something Amy would jump at.  However, the letter contains more details than Amy can cope with, at least initially, because in it, Lillian claims to be Amy’s mother.  And that Amy isn’t Amy but Poppy.

Untouchable by Sibel Hodge

Untouchable Sibel HodgeWhen Maya gets home from work on the night of her and her boyfriend Jamie’s second anniversary, she is almost bouncing off the walls, convinced that this is the night he’ll pop the question.  Why else would he tell her he had a surprise for her before he left for work that morning? So, why hasn’t he come home?

As the hours tick by, dinner sitting ruined in the oven, Maya becomes increasingly anxious until her worst fears come true with the knock on a door by a police officer.  Jamie is dead, taking his own life.

No matter how hard she tries and how often her friends and family tell her she has to accept Jamie’s suicide, Maya just can’t bring herself to believe he would kill himself.  He had too much to live for. They were happy.  

Little Liar by Lisa Ballantyne

Little Liar Lisa BallantyneNick Dean loves his family.  He has gorgeous wife and two beautiful young children.  Life couldn’t be better – until it couldn’t get any worse.  An acting coach who specialises in working with teenagers, one of his students has accused him of abuse.  And everyone believes her, even – eventually – his wife.  Nick swears he’s innocent but it seems that, despite there being no evidence, he is considered guilty until proved innocent.

Angela, Nick’s accuser, loves her family too, they just don’t make her happy.  Her parents are divorced and she is struggling to cope with the break up.  She’s eating too much and unhappy with how she looks.  Kids at school pick on her and she reacts by striking out.  The police look at her and see a vulnerable child very much at risk of being abused.  She is believed immediately, as she should be, but then – after her first statement – refused to say more.