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Emma's Anticipated Treasures Monthly Wrap Up

Monthly Wrap Up – October 2020

I can’t quite believe we’re in the start of November and in just a few weeks we’ll putting together our best books of the year! But the clocks have gone back, the weather is cold and wet and October is over. This means it’s time for another wrap-up.

October was a fantastic month for me. I read a total of 19 books and discovered some that will have a place in my favourites of 2020. I took part in twenty-one blog tours, three readalongs and managed to squeeze in some much-needed mood reading at the end of the month. The latter was so refreshing and reinforced my decision to take on less blog tours next year.

So, let’s look at what I read this month:

  1. The Meaning of Mariah Carey ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  2. A Court of Frost and Starlight ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  3. The Ex-Boyfriend ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  4. Where The Edge Is ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  5. Betrayal ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  6. Watch Her Vanish ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  7. When Life Gives You Mangoes ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  8. The Book of Two Ways (unrated)
  9. All Your Little Lies ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  10. The Princess and the Prick ⭐⭐⭐
  11. Gone Before ⭐⭐⭐💫
  12. Dangerous To Know ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  13. The Exiles ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  14. The Housewarming ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  15. Dead Perfect ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  16. The Nesting ⭐⭐⭐⭐
  17. The Illustrated Child ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
  18. The Shape of Darkness ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
  19. The Burning Girls ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Choosing a favourite has been tricky as the last three books I read in October were each outstanding enough to take the title. In addition, The Meaning of Mariah Carey was a sensational memoir that I had thought was a shoe-in for my favourite book all month. After some thought I have decided to give two books the title of BOTM: The Illustrated Child and The Burning Girls. In the end I just couldn’t choose between the two.

Did we read any of the same books this month? What was your favourite read of October?

Categories
Blog Tours book reviews

Betrayal by Lilja Sigurdardottir

Published: October 1st, 2020
Publisher: Orenda
Format: Paperback, Kindle
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Crime Fiction, Psychological Fiction, Political Fiction, Lesbian Literature, Translated Fiction

Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for this outstanding piece of Icelandic Noir. Thank you to Anne at Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part in and Orenda for the eBook ARC.

SYNOPSIS:

When aid worker Úrsula returns to Iceland for a new job, she’s drawn into the dangerous worlds of politics, corruption and misogyny … a powerful, relevant, fast-paced standalone thriller.
 
Burned out and traumatised by her horrifying experiences around the world, aid worker Úrsula has returned to Iceland. Unable to settle, she accepts a high-profile government role in which she hopes to make a difference again.
 
But on her first day in the post, Úrsula promises to help a mother seeking justice for her daughter, who had been raped by a policeman, and life in high office soon becomes much more harrowing than Úrsula could ever have imagined. A homeless man is stalking her – but is he hounding her, or warning her of some danger? And why has the death of her father in police custody so many years earlier reared its head again?
 
As Úrsula is drawn into dirty politics, facing increasingly deadly threats, the lives of her stalker, her bodyguard and even a witch-like cleaning lady intertwine. Small betrayals become large ones, and the stakes are raised ever higher…

MY REVIEW:

Oops, they did it again. With this exciting new thriller Orenda once again prove they only publish the best and most original fiction. This is why they’re one of my top publishers and I’m always eager to read an Orenda book.

Ursula, a former aid worker, has returned to her native Iceland after being traumatised and burned out by the horrors she has seen. When she starts a new job as a minister, she hopes it will finally help her to find her place at home and that she’ll be able to continue to help others without having to leave her family or experience further trauma.

On her first day she promises to help a mother who begs for her help in getting justice for her daughter, saying the fifteen-year-old was raped by a police officer the year before but the investigation has stalled. But she finds she’s met with resistance at every turn and can’t help but wonder if there is something more going on. Why does no one seem to want to investigate the accusations? And is Ursula’s sense that she’s a pawn in a game that she’s not privy to just her imagination, or really happening?

This gripping thriller was a roller-coaster ride, full of so many twists and turns I got book whiplash. I loved the short, sharply written chapters, multiple points of view and the intricate, tangled web the author wove. I was on the edge of my seat from beginning to end. But every time I thought I’d untangled the clues the story would take another turn and I’d have to try and figure it out all over again.

Though this was an easy and quick read for me, it is far from an easy plot. Complex and richly drawn, our protagonists must navigate the sexist halls of politics while trying to figure out what game they are playing, dealing with threatening messages, and being stalked by a homeless man who says he knows her and claims to be trying to warn her of some danger only he can see. It’s unclear how it all fits together, but I loved how the author slowly unveiled the truth, taking the reader on a journey that examines topics such as the dark side of politics, misogyny, police corruption, mental health and betrayal.

Like the story, the characters are all well written and readable, but it is Ursula who is the star of this story. She’s a strong, determined and fiesty who is also flawed. Over the course of the book we follow her journey to accept and come to terms with some of those flaws, including PTSD from her time doing charity work and the deep, dark trauma from her childhood: her father’s murder. She is a gutsy and fascinating character who I loved reading, even if I didn’t always agree with her actions.

Atmospheric, harrowing and very real, Betrayal is an immersive page-turner. This is Icelandic Noir at its best. I highly recommend this book to any thriller lover and can’t wait to read more by this talented author.

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✰

MEET THE AUTHOR:

Lilja Sigurðardóttir is an Icelandic crime-writer born in 1972. She is the author of novels, stage plays and screenplays.

Her novels have been published in Norwegian, Danish, Czech, Macedonian, Polish, French and English and film rights to the Reykjavík Noir Trilogy (Snare, Trap and Cage) have been sold to Palomar Pictures.

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Categories
book reviews

Review: ‘Nobody’s Wife’ by Laura Pearson ⭐⭐⭐⭐

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SYNOPSIS:

‘Of the four of them, only three remained. And there was no going back wards from there.’

Emily and Josephine have always shared everything. They’re sisters, flatmates, and best friends . It’s the two of them against the world.

When Emily has the perfect wedding, and Josephine finds the perfect man, they know things will change forever. But nothing can prepare them for what, or who, one of them is prepared to give up for love.

Four people. Three couples. Two sisters. One unforgivable betrayal.

From the best-selling author of Missing Pieces comes a heart-wrenching story about family, loyalty and obsession that will have you racing to the finish.

MY REVIEW:

A well written story that explores the bonds of sisterhood and how far we would go for love. 

I enjoyed this book but I did find it difficult to read at times because I didn’t ever get on board with the love story at its heart. I found that instead of being carried along with the passion between the two who have an affair and understanding why they risk everything, I just felt angry with them and sad for the others involved. But I think the author meant it to be that way. She doesn’t  try to circumvent the harsh, painful consequences of the characters’ decisions and I see this as more of a cautionary tale of the cost that comes from following our desires no matter the cost.

The relationship between the clandestine lovers was written with a fierce passion that borders on obsession. They just can’t help themselves and the undeniable magnetic force of the love between them was overwhelming. I understood how it started.The guilt that ate away radiated from the page but the actions they chose to continue taking made me angry. I couldn’t fathom how and why one of them in particular would be so selfish and heartless. 

I really liked the relationship between the sisters at the start and thought the author did a fantastic job of portraying how it slowly breaks down amid a haze of confusion and heartbreak. Their relationship with each other is the most important one in their lives, even more so since they became estranged from their mother, and it was painful to watch that fall apart. 

A heartbreaking story without any real winners, this was an emotional read. I would find myself angry one minute then feeling sick to my stomach the next. I loved how honest and raw this book was and am looking forward to reading more of her work. 

Out now.