Tempted by….Jen Med’s Book Reviews: Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir @JenMedBkReviews @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks #Trap #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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Happily settled in Florida, Sonja believes she’s finally escaped the trap set by unscrupulous drug lords. But when her son Tomas is taken, she’s back to square one…and Iceland.

Her lover, Agla, is awaiting sentencing for financial misconduct after the banking crash, and Sonja refuses to see her. And that’s not all…Agla owes money to some extremely powerful men, and they’ll stop at nothing to get it back.

Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Trap is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

So, around a year ago, I launched a series highlighting books that I have been enticed to buy by reading reviews by my fellow bloggers, after the efficacy of book bloggers in prompting book sales was called in to question.

I know that book bloggers are effective at generating sales for authors because, since I started blogging and reading more reviews by my fabulous fellow bloggers, I have been tempted to buy more and more books, to the extent that I have had to buy three new bookcases in the last year and my Kindle is over-flowing.

The series stalled earlier in the year due to health issues, but I have decided to resurrect it, as I still had a lot of inspiring bloggers on my list when it faltered, and have been tempted by even more in the interim. I apologise that some of the posts referenced are quite old, but rest assured that all the bloggers featured are still active and still writing fantastic reviews to guide us in our book buying choices, so do check out their blogs for up to date content.

The first book and blog featured in this revised series is the utterly marvellous Jen Med’s Book Reviews and this review of Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir, the second book in her Reykjavik Noir trilogy. Actually, Jen’s review now only inspired me to buy Trap, but also the first book in the series, Snare and I am looking forward to finishing off the trilogy with Lilja’s new book, Cagewhich is out next month.

I love the detail in Jen’s review, which gives you a taste of the book and all the salient points that are going to draw you in to the book, but she manages to do it without giving away any spoilers. This is a real skill for a book blogger and one that Jen displays in all of her reviews. As someone who is quite verbose in her own reviews, I love a detailed blog post and the fact that Jen is a no nonsense but enthusiastic blogger makes her reviews ones that I always take the trouble to read because I know I am going to get the truth of how good or not a book is, with no flannel or waffle.

Jen has a lot of other good stuff on her blog, especially in her weekly wrap ups, and I always get the feeling that I am getting to know a genuine person here, rather than just an anonymous person behind a keyboard. This is important when you are trying to work out if someone is going to be on your wavelength when it comes to book tastes. She is also a huge supporter of other bloggers and active member of the blogging community and I would highly recommend her blog as one that avid book lovers should be following. She has access to all the good stuff! Make sure you check out her blog here.

Trap by Lilja Sigurdardottir is available now in paperback here, along with the preceding title, Snare, which you can get by following this link. The final book in the trilogy, Cage, will be published on 17 October and you can pre-order it here.

 

Tempted by….The Orangutan Librarian: Broken Things by Lauren Oliver @orangutanreads @OliverBooks #BrokenThings #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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It’s been five years since Mia and Brynn murdered Summer Marks, their best friend, in the woods

Increasingly obsessed with a novel called The Way into Lovelorn and by their fan-fiction imagining of its sequel, the girls were drawn by an undertow of fantasy into the magical world they’d created. But eventually, their delusions turned sick, and the Shadow, Lovelorn’s central evil, began to haunt them.

Or so the story goes. The only thing is: they didn’t do it

Brynn and Mia have both found different ways to hide from their notoriety, seeking refuge from a world that hates them-a world that will never feel magical, or safe, ever again.

On the anniversary of Summer’s death, a seemingly insignificant discovery resurrects the mystery and pulls Mia and Brynn back together once again. But as past and present, fiction and reality, begin again to intertwine, Brynn and Mia must confront painful truths they tried for so long to bury-and face the long shadow of memory that has, all this time, been waiting.

Today’s Tempted by… is Broken Things by Lauren Oliver which I discovered via this review on this blooming marvellous blog, The Orangutan Librarian.

Obviously, the reviewer was extremely enthusiastic about this book which first drew me to it but then it was the detail of the plot and all the things she loved about it that made me want to buy it. The central premise for the plot sounds fascinating (teenage girls being drawn into murder by their obsession with an imaginary world, it immediately made me think of the movie, Heavenly Creaturesand the promise of not one, but possibly two, unreliable narrators was appealing. The idea of a book that is a whodunnit with lots of red herrings and twists and turns, plus a book within a book, all of the things the reviewer said she loved about it would be things that I would be attracted to in a book so I knew I had to get this one. Any book that The Orangutan gives five bananas too has to be worth a look, especially when it is described as earth-shattering.

I absolutely love The Orangutan Librarian blog. Firstly, anyone who names their blog after a character in the Discworld is a person on my wavelength from the get go and the content bears this out. The posts on the blog are an eclectic and fun mixture of book reviews, movie reviews, topical pieces and general chit chat, opinions, ranting and lists. I really love the lists. The author has a very similar sense of humour to my own, I love the often irreverent reviewing style and the fact they go off at a random tangent. Plus, they are not afraid of giving an opinion. I feel a really affinity with them and I always enjoy reading their blog posts. Make sure you go and check it out, if you enjoy my blog, I think you will like it. You can find the blog here.

If, like me, her review has tempted you to want to read Broken Things for yourself, you can buy a copy here.

Tempted by….Swirl And Thread: Honeysuckle and Custard Creams by Deirdre Foley @swirlandthread #HoneysuckleAndCustardCreams #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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It’s 1978 and Sinead Reilly, a university student across the water, has mixed feelings about returning to Northern Ireland. Called home by her family, she must confront the past she thought she’d escaped. It’s a trip back in more ways than one.

We meet the ten-year-old Sinead who just wants to play with her friends and look out for her brothers and sisters, but she finds herself caught in an undercurrent of distrust and political unrest that she doesn’t understand. Her parents, Mairead and Paddy, tell their sides of the story too, as they navigate the difficulties of raising a large family in an increasingly divided society.

Set in the early years of the Troubles, Honeysuckle and Custard Creams explores the enduring nature of familial ties, and the challenges of escaping a shared history in which shame and remorse are never far from the surface.

Today’s Tempted by… is a book which hasn’t had a lot of publicity, but would appear to be a hidden gem from reading this review as featured on the blog  Swirl and Thread written by the lovely Mairead,. The book is Honeysuckle and Custard Creams by Deirdre Foley.

We follow the main character of Sinead, as she returns to her home in Northern Ireland after years spent away and hear about life for a family against the back drop of the Troubles in the early 1970’s. This is a period of history that fascinates me, and is particularly relevant given the political drama we are experiencing in Britain today, so this sounded like a book that would interest me.

In her review, Mairead describes it as a intimate and truthful portrait of a family that feels so real it could be a memoir, with an emotive and sensitive portrayal of what it felt like to live in the strained atmosphere of Belfast with tensions between factions at their highest and the pressure increased by the arrival of British troops. One of the main reasons I love to read is to try and put myself in to the shoes of people who have lived different lives to mine and learn through their experiences. If this book feels as authentic as Mairead describes, I look forward to getting a new perspective on the experience of living through the Troubles as a child.

I love to read Mairead’s reviews, which I always find very perceptive and thoughtful and clearly delivered. She obviously puts a lot of time and effort in to producing them, which is very rewarding for the reader and you will get a clear idea of whether the book she has reviewed is for you or not from her critique. She also features many interesting guest posts and author question and answer posts on the blog, so it is a great place to visit if you like to learn more about the drive and inspiration behind some great authors and novels. I really hope you will go and check her blog out, I’m sure you will be glad you did.

If you would like to get a copy of Honeysuckle and Custard Creams for yourself, you can buy it here.

About the Author

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Deirdre Foley was born in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. She studied and worked in London as a welfare officer before moving to Athens, where she lived for many years teaching English and bringing up her two daughters. Now she is a writer and a gestalt psychotherapist.

She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University, and in 2014 she was shortlisted for the Fish Short Memoir Competition.

She flits between her two homelands, Ireland and Greece, and is working on a second novel.

Tempted by….Portobello Book Blog: Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce @portybelle @ajpearcewrites @picadorbooks #DearMrsBird #RichardAndJudyBookClub #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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London, 1941. Amid the falling bombs Emmeline Lake dreams of becoming a fearless Lady War Correspondent. Unfortunately, Emmy instead finds herself employed as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird refuses to read, let alone answer, letters containing any form of Unpleasantness, and definitely not those from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted.

But the thought of these desperate women waiting for an answer at this most desperate of times becomes impossible for Emmy to ignore. She decides she simply must help and secretly starts to write back – after all, what harm could that possibly do?

Today’s Tempted by… is a book that is going to be familiar to practically everyone and I am quite ashamed to say that I haven’t read yet. It is Dear Mrs Bird by A. J. Pearce, a Sunday Times Bestseller and Richard and Judy Book Club pick, but it was this review by Joanne at Portobello Book Blog that first drew my attention to this book, almost a year ago. (My TBR is totally out of control, I cannot believe how long this book has been languishing on the pile!)

I am not a massive fan of books set in wartime in general, but I was absolutely intrigued by the approach this book is taking to the subject – the main character answering agony aunt letters that are too Unpleasant for the real agony aunt to answer – and the way Joanne describes it made it sound both light-hearted but moving at the same time, so it sounded just my kind of book. Everyone has been raving about it, and the plot sounds so original, I was really drawn in by the hints at the personality of Mrs Bird, as well as the friendship between Emmy and Bunty that it would appear to be a ‘must read.’ Anyway, who wouldn’t want to read a book where one of the main characters is called Bunty and everyone speaks with capital letters at the front of words?

Joanne’s blog is one of the very earliest that I discovered, long before I started blogging myself. In fact, hers is one of the blogs that inspired me to start my own. I was always finding reviews for new books that I hadn’t come across and sounded interesting, and the reviews were always detailed, fair and honest and enticing. She often puts little personal details in as well, and I think it is very attractive when we get a feel of the person behind the blog through their reviews. If you feel like you are making a friend through reading their book reviews, that makes a blog a big draw for me. Joanne is a very well-established and respected book blogger and you should definitely go and check out her blog here.

If Joanne’s review has tempted you to pick up Dear Mrs Bird, you can get a copy here. As for me, this book will not be languishing on the TBR for much longer. I will be reading it in a couple of weeks as part of The Fiction Cafe Reading Challenge 2019, for the category of ‘an uplifting book,’ so watch out for my review coming next month.

Tempted by….Novel Deelights: The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware @noveldeelights @RuthWareWriter @HarvillSecker #TheDeathOfMrsWestaway #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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When Harriet Westaway receives an unexpected letter telling her she’s inherited a substantial bequest from her Cornish grandmother, it seems like the answer to her prayers. She owes money to a loan shark and the threats are getting increasingly aggressive: she needs to get her hands on some cash fast.

There’s just one problem – Hal’s real grandparents died more than twenty years ago. The letter has been sent to the wrong person. But Hal knows that the cold-reading techniques she’s honed as a seaside fortune teller could help her con her way to getting the money. If anyone has the skills to turn up at a stranger’s funeral and claim a bequest they’re not entitled to, it’s her.

Hal makes a choice that will change her life for ever. But once she embarks on her deception, there is no going back. She must keep going or risk losing everything, even her life…

Another Monday means it is time for one of my favourite features on the blog, Tempted by…, where I get to celebrate great books and great book bloggers at the same time. Genius, n’est-ce pas?

Today I have a book that had a lot of positive attention at the time of publication, The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware and one of my favourite reviews was published on one of my favourite blogs, Novel Delights, which is run by the fabulous Eva. It was one of Eva’s #20BooksOfSummer in 2018, which might be reason enough to add it to my TBR as we tend to have very similar opinions on the books we have both read. However, if this wasn’t the case, reading the review would definitely have made me want to pick it up. Eva is very enthusiastic from the get go about this book, and then she goes on to describe what she loves about it, including the unreliable narrator, the slow-building tension, the gripping mystery and the gothic atmosphere. It enticed me enough to pick up this copy soon afterwards on holiday in Dublin, so Eva’s sales pitch must be persuasive as books in Ireland are expensive! On the plus side….I got it in trade paperback, yay!

I haven’t met Eva personally but I have a picture of her in my mind as friendly, sweet and pretty, because this is how her blog comes across. She is a huge supporter and cheerleader for other bloggers, honest, fair and descriptive in her reviews and has a lovely Bookstagram feed to boot. If it sounds like I have a bit of a blogger crush on her, that’s because I do! Pop over to her blog and see if you agree, I’m sure you will.

If you would like to get your own copy of this fabulous-sounding book, you can buy it here. Currently out in hardback and as an ebook and in paperback from 4 April.

Tempted by….Avalinah’s Books: Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Bali Kaur Jaswal @AvalinahsBooks @HarperCollinsUK #EroticStoriesForPunjabiWidows #bookbloggers #amreading #readingrecommendations

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Every woman has a secret life…

When Nikki takes a creative writing job at her local temple, with visions of emancipating the women of the community she left behind as a self-important teenager, she’s shocked to discover a group of barely literate women who have no interest in her ideals.

Yet to her surprise, the white dupatta of the widow hides more than just their modesty – these are women who have spent their lives in the shadows of fathers, brothers and husbands; being dutiful, raising children and going to temple, but whose inner lives are as rich and fruitful as their untold stories. But as they begin to open up to each other about womanhood, sexuality, and the dark secrets within the community, Nikki realises that the illicit nature of the class may place them all in danger.

East meets west and tradition clashes with modernity in a thought-provoking cross-cultural novel that might make you look again at the women in your life…

Today’s Tempted by… is this risqué sounding book, Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Bali Kaur Jaswal, as recommended by Evelina in this post on her blog, Avalinah’s Books. Look at the cover! Take in the title! Why would you need any further incentive to buy the book than those two things? But, it was also the Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick for March 2018, so now you definitely want to read it, right?

No? Am I the only person in the room with a giant girl crush on Reese Witherspoon?

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Okay, so you need another reason to buy this book. Well read Evelina’s review, because she sells the book brilliantly. Her review is so in depth, prising out all the themes and issues and attractions of the book, without giving away any spoilers. I tell you, writing a review with this much detailed insight that is spoiler-free is a skill, nay a talent, and this is a masterclass in how to do it.

I love the sound of this book because it covers so many issues that fascinate me – what it means to be a woman, community, diversity, family relationships and finding a sense of self in a world that often makes no sense. From this review, it also sounds like it does it brilliantly, thoughtfully but with a sense of comedy. I’m sold, I don’t know about you.

If you have never stumbled across Evelina’s blog before, you absolutely must check it out. This review is a great example of the fantastic content you can expect. There is such a great mix of book reviews and topical discussion posts and her personality and passion for what she is discussing shines through in every post. I love her very individual and chatty tone of reviewing that makes her posts stand out; you know instantly who is writing them. Seriously, take a look, you’ll love her.

If you have been inspired to pick up a copy of Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows yourself, you can buy a copy here.