Kin (The Helga Finnsdottir #1) by Snorri Kristjansson


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Synopsis: He can deny it all he likes, but everyone knows Viking warlord Unnthor Reginsson brought home a great chest of gold when he retired from the longboats and settled down with Hildigunnur in a remote valley. Now, in the summer of 970, adopted daughter Helga is awaiting the arrival of her unknown siblings: dark, dangerous Karl, lithe, clever Jorunn, gentle Aslak, henpecked by his shrewish wife, and the giant Bjorn, made bitter by Volund, his idiot son.
And they’re coming with darkness in their hearts.
The siblings gather, bad blood simmers and old feuds resurface as Unnthor’s heirs make their moves on the old man’s treasure – until one morning Helga is awakened by screams. Blood has been shed: kin has been slain.
No one confesses, but all the clues point to one person – who cannot possibly be the murderer, at least in Helga’s eyes. But if she’s going to save the innocent from the axe and prevent more bloodshed, she’s got to solve the mystery – fast . . .

My review: Another day another book read in less than 24 hours. This is a really fast paced Viking murder mystery that kept me turning the pages right to the very end. 

There are a lot of characters in the story and to start with I did have to keep going back and checking who was married to who but that seemed to settle down once the first murder kicked in. Having said that the author did manage to give each one their own personality certainly with the brothers and sisters in Unnthor’s brood. I hope the follow up will start to unravel who Helga is, where she came from and what happened to her family. There’s definitely a mystery there that needs solving.

I liked Helga, she was quite a well rounded character, intelligent and I liked the ways she tried to unravel the murders in the book. There’s little of my imagined Vikings here, it’s truly a crime story set in Viking times with everyone either too old now to go pillaging or engaged in farming and trading and I think that gave it a nice touch.

Overall I really enjoyed this and looking forward to the next one

Free arc from netgalley


What to Do When Jane Knows DICK About Dating: If He Wants You, You Will Know It by Laura J. Wellington


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Synopsis: I mean, really, what’s a Jane gotta do to land a man so she can, finally, kick singlehood to the curb? Dating is a nightmare for single women today. When the “rules changed” single men became more difficult to understand than ever before. The answer is, go back to the basics, to the time before the rules changed.
What to Do When Jane Knows DICK About Dating shows you how to make dating as simple as the “Dick and Jane” series once made reading. If you’re looking for the unfiltered truth about men and dating combined with wit and commonsense, this advice book is for you. It brings sense and success back to the six-letter nightmare called dating.
It’s a parody, it’s an advice book, it’s a quick-read but—most of all—it’s successful. Make your dating-life worth living again. Don’t expect to be bored, by any means, when you read advice such as when to throw a man who eats his own bait (or his mother) back into the swamp from which he slithered! Leave Dick, leave.

My review: I’m not sure where I sit with this book. On the one hand the advice is (mostly) good and contains a lot of common sense however I was less keen on the parody style of all the advice being based around the children’s books. I couldn’t work out the point of it. 

I say mostly good advice however I did find some of it strangely old fashioned. Advising women to sit back and let the man do all the chasing and not at least suggesting the sharing of the bill doesn’t seem to fit with pretty much every other dating book I’ve read. The rest of the advice I have no issues with. 

It is a quick read. I managed it whilst watching a TV film so it’s really fast. There’s nothing complicated about it. I think for me though there are better books on the subject

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Down the River Unto the Sea by Walter Mosley


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Synopsis: Joe King Oliver was one of the NYPD’s finest investigators, until, dispatched to arrest a well-heeled car thief, he is framed for assault by his enemies within the NYPD, a charge which lands him in solitary at Rikers Island.
A decade later, King is a private detective, running his agency with the help of his teenage daughter, Aja-Denise. Broken by the brutality he suffered and committed in equal measure while behind bars, his work and his daughter are the only light in his solitary life. When he receives a card in the mail from the woman who admits she was paid to frame him those years ago, King realizes that he has no choice but to take his own case: figuring out who on the force wanted him disposed of–and why.
Running in parallel with King’s own quest for justice is the case of a Black radical journalist accused of killing two on-duty police officers who had been abusing their badges to traffic in drugs and women within the city’s poorest neighborhoods.
Joined by Melquarth Frost, a brilliant sociopath, our hero must beat dirty cops and dirtier bankers, craven lawyers, and above all keep his daughter far from the underworld in which he works. All the while, two lives hang in the balance: King’s client’s, and King’s own

My review: This is an interesting but ultimately disturbing noir from the Easy Rawlins author. It’s quite a complex story and I’m still not sure I’ve understood the ending. There are two strands of story; one where King is trying to find out enough information to get a an off death row and the other strand is an investigation into the frame job that happened to himself. There’s a whole cast of characters to help him on these journeys.

One of my problems is I just didn’t like most of them. I’m not entirely sure if I was meant to. King himself is a flawed individual struggling with the PTSD from his incarceration. He regularly has to decide whether to cross the line to murder in his quest for answers. I found the violence a bit too much for me. I’ve read a couple of Rawlin’s books but it was a while ago so can’t remember if there was as much in them.

The book flows well, there is a lot of action. Mosley is an excellent writer but at the end of the day I think this just wasn’t a book for me. 

Free arc from netgalley

The Darkness (Hidden Iceland #1) by Ragnar Jónasson


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Synopsis: At sixty-four, Detective Inspector Hulda Hermannsdottir of the Reykjavik Police is about to take on her last case before she retires: A young woman, an asylum seeker from Russia, found murdered on the seaweed covered rocks of the Vatnsleysuströnd in Iceland. When Hulda starts to ask questions it isn’t long before she realizes that no one can be trusted, and that no one is telling the whole truth.

My review: I was drawn to this as it has a female lead detective but also because of her age. I’ve read a lot of crime but there are many crime authors I’ve still to read so I’m not aware of too many older female detectives (Vera Stanhope is one that springs to mind) and by older I mean 55+. The age and imminent retirement gave me a little something different to read than your standard thrillers. I was intrigued as this is Book 1 by how the series would continue after Hulda’s retirement. Now having read the shock twisty ending I really, really am intrigued by what will be the next story. 

This is a very fast read. the whole book takes place over three days and the short chapters add to the speed of everything that happens. There are 3 strands to the story; one of Hulda’s as she takes on a cold case suicide and discovers a murder instead, the second the point of view of the killer and the third one is Hulda’s relationships with her mother, new boyfriend (could you call a 70 year old man a boyfriend??) and her late husband. 

I just really enjoyed it and it was great to really get into a book and read it in 24 hours. I haven’t done that in a while. I didn’t skip any pages, the action is believable and it’s jsut a really gripping thriller. 

Highly recommended

Templar Silks by Elizabeth Chadwick


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Synopsis: William Marshal has reached the end of his long and glorious life. On his deathbed at his manor in Caversham, he has one final task for his loyal servant: to fetch the silks William had woven in Jerusalem as a young man. William made a solemn promise to the Order of the Templars and he intends to leave the world as a member of that order.
As he waits to perform to his last knightly duty, William is swept back into his own past. Determined to fulfil his last vow to his beloved Prince, William set forth on a quest to Jerusalem, which led him down dark and twisting paths, and brought him great passion and great loss… In the holiest and most dangerous of cities, William Marshall became the Greatest Knight

My review: I recently read one of Chadwick’s Autumn Throne and loved it and it was recommended that I pick up the William Marshal books to read. Before I had chance to do that this latest book showed up on netgalley so in typical style I’m reading everything back to front. However with this story it doesn’t matter.

It’s quite a self contained story that flits between Marshal’s last days and memories of a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. I really enjoyed the love story embedded within this both of William and the one of his brother Ancel. I enjoyed the relationships of William and his brother. All of it just really worked for me.

There’s a lot of action; it was a turbulent time. It’s very easy to immerse yourself into the time and place and imagine everything as was back then. The present day moments broke the story up really well.

Overall this is a great book and now I really do need to go back and read the rest

Bump in the Night (A Flaxborough Mystery) by Colin Watson


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Tuesday nights have suddenly turned quite ridiculously noisy in the country town of Chalmsbury, where the good folk are outraged at having their rest disturbed.It begins with a drinking fountain being blown to smithereens – next the statue of a local worthy loses his head, and the following week a giant glass eye is exploded. Despite the soft-soled sleuthing of cub reporter Len Leaper, the crime spate grows alarming.Sheer vandalism is bad enough, but when a life is lost the amiable Inspector Purbright, called in from nearby Flaxborough to assist in enquiries, finds he must delve deep into the seamier side of this quiet town’s goings on.

My review: This was just delightful. I love classic crime; detectives solving crimes without the tricks of modern day technology and this book gave me everything I wanted. There’s a lovely sense of humour running through it. 

I was surprised these were actually written in the 60s. Watson doesn’t feel as well known as other authors of the time and that’s a shame. There’s a typical sense of Englishness about the book. It’s set a couple of decades after WW2 and hosts a lovely and somewhat unique cast of characters. 

It’s a quick read. It kept my interest all the way through. There are so many twists and turns and it kept me guessing right until the end. Another writer to add to my ever growing to-read pile. Highly recommended

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The Boy on the Bridge (The Girl With All the Gifts #2) by M.R. Carey


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Synopsis: Once upon a time, in a land blighted by terror, there was a very clever boy.
The people thought the boy could save them, so they opened their gates and sent him out into the world.
To where the monsters lived.

My review. Another good book by Carey with the hungrys and dystopian future. This book though is more than the synopsis. As much as it’s about the boy, Greaves, it’s about Dr Khan and her pregnancy in a very uncertain word and the journey to try and discover a cure. 

I’ve been trying to work out a timescale against Girl with all the Gifts. In this one they haven’t yet discovered the second generation children but the basis of the plot is that here they do but do’t understand at first what is going on. Greaves is the one to realise, form a  weird bond with the leader of these children. There’s an epilogue at the end with a grown up Melanie that is only 20 years after the events in this book. It seems such a short space of time. The epilogue opens up 2 new avenues for future books (to me anyway) of how we bridge that gap between book 1 and the epilogue and also what comes next because that seems quite an interesting idea too.

Back to this book though I found it dragged a bit more than the first one. If felt a bit harder to read and there were some parts I think could have been cut out. A bit more science in here that I like but overall I really enjoyed it. It was a good prequel to the first book. 

Free arc from netgalley

The Abundance Project: 40 Days to More Wealth, Health, Love, and Happiness by Derek Rydall


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Synopsis: The Abundance Project is about having more than enough in every area of your life—more than enough money, time, love, creativity, happiness—regardless of the circumstances you’ve been through or are currently facing. This may sound like wishful thinking, but once you understand what you’re really made of, and what the source of real abundance is, you will increase your capacity and unleash your divine inheritance.
Built on universal, proven principles, The Abundance Project breaks you out of the unsustainable buying/consuming loop created by the mindset that fulfillment comes from outside ourselves. Instead, Derek Rydall—international life coach and integrative therapist—shows you that the infinite-sum reserve that’s already in you will provide all that you need.

My review: I love abundance books but this one I struggled with sometimes. I’ve not got the greatest attention span so when kindle tells you a chapter is going to take over an hour to read it’s a bit off putting. Long chapters are my personal bugbear of mine. 

The book itself is quite good and covers positive thinking, bits of philosophy, and religious themes (this bit I wasn’t so keen on). There are visualisations and exercises to help you see your true potential and bring forth the abundance you deserve.

It’s not a bad read but I think there are better, and easier to digest books on the subject.

Free arc from netgalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

101 Reasons Why it’s Great to Be Single by Karleen Dee


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Synopsis: In 101 Reasons Why it’s Great to Be Single Karleen Dee shares her personal experiences with dating, and displays why, contrary to popular belief, being single is actually more desirable than being in an unsuitable relationship with another person.

My review: It’s hard to be single when the media and indeed coupled up friends insist that you can’t be happy unless you join them by engaging in a relationship. Sometimes you’re happy being single.

This book is a fun little reminder of all the good things about being single. It’s really short, quick read. It’s funny in places. There are one or two of the 101 that I think probably could be put together but kudos for coming up with so many. I have a feeling I’ll be quoting some of these examples the next time one of my married friends insists she only wants me to be happy (and by happy she means coupled up).

I’ve already recommended to one person. I loved this little reminder that my life is great.

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The Book of Whispers by Kimberley Starr


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Synopsis: Tuscany, 1096 AD. Luca, young heir to the title of Conte de Falconi, sees demons. Since no one else can see them, Luca must keep quiet about what he sees.
Luca also has dreams—dreams that sometimes predict the future. Luca sees his father murdered in one such dream and vows to stop it coming true. Even if he has to go against his father’s wishes and follow him on the great pilgrimage to capture the Holy Lands.
When Luca is given an ancient book that holds some inscrutable power, he knows he’s been thrown into an adventure that will lead to places beyond his understanding. But with the help of Suzan, the beautiful girl he rescues from the desert, he will realise his true quest: to defeat the forces of man and demon that wish to destroy the world

My review: I couldn’t get into this one at all although the premise was really good. It’s YA but really didn’t feel it. The idea of every little thing having it’s own demon felt a little weird. It made for a very busy world.

I liked the idea of the magic and demons but for me it didn’t gel well with the crusades story. This is the second book recently I’ve read that’s tried to do this and I didn’t like that either so maybe this is just a style that isn’t for me.

This one just wasn’t my book. Free arc from netgalley