Blog Tour | To Cook A Bear by Mikael Niemi

Today it’s my review for the blog tour of To Cook A Bear. Big thank you to MacLehose Press for letting me to be part of the tour!

Synopsis

The legendary Læstadius becomes a kind of Sherlock Holmes in this exceptional historical crime novel.
It is 1852, and in Sweden’s far north, deep in the Arctic Circle, charismatic preacher and Revivalist Lars Levi Læstadius impassions a poverty-stricken congregation with visions of salvation. But local leaders have reason to resist a shift to temperance over alcohol.

Jussi, the young Sami boy Læstadius has rescued from destitution and abuse, becomes the preacher’s faithful disciple on long botanical treks to explore the flora and fauna. Læstadius also teaches him to read and write – and to love and fear God. 

When a milkmaid goes missing deep in the forest, the locals suspect a predatory bear is at large. A second girl is attacked, and the sheriff is quick to offer a reward for the bear’s capture. Using early forensics and daguerreotype, Læstadius and Jussi find clues that point to a far worse killer on the loose, even as they are unaware of the evil closing in around them. 

To Cook a Bear explores how communities turn inwards, how superstition can turn to violence, and how the power of language can be transformative in a richly fascinating mystery.

Review

A milkmaid is found dead. Everyone assumes she’s killed by a bear. The bear is captured, but somehow a second girl is attacked… Lars Levi Læstadius and young Sami boy Jussi, who he has taken under his wing, don’t believe a bear was responsible. Lars is determined to seek out the truth, who is the real killer?

Mikael Niemi writes brilliantly. The vivid descriptions in the book really captured my imagination, and it wasn’t difficult to imagine myself in nineteenth-century Sweden. The rich depictions really transport you to another time and place, which can be a rarity as it’s challenging task!

I enjoyed the fact that the novel has elements of real-life events, which I think added to the reality felt from the descriptions. The mixture of historical fiction, crime and religion were something I was surprised by – I didn’t expect the varied themes to work so seamlessly! As I’ve said before, it’s always interesting to learn from a novel and I knew nothing about botany or the somewhat brutal reality of the mistreatment of women during this time period.

The relationship that develops between Læstadius and Jussi is a special one. It’s lovely to read about their very pronounced journey together, one that reminds me of father-and-son, and to see Jussi grow as a character.

Overall, I think the book is really quite a special read and unlike anything I’ve really come across. If you’d like to check out the rest of the reviews for this blog tour, you can do so by searching the handles on the banner at the top of this post.

Until next time,

Blog Tour | The Night Of The Flood by Zoe Somerville

It’s my stop on the blog tour for The Night of the Flood! Huge thank you to Head of Zeus for the opportunity to be part of it.

Synopsis

An atmospheric literary thriller set in north Norfolk in the shadow of the Cold War, in which a love triangle turns murderous. 

Her heart beat hard. There was a crazed beauty to the storm. It was almost miraculous, the way it took away the mess of life, sweeping all in its path… 

No-one could have foreseen the changes the summer of 1952 would bring. Cramming for her final exams on her family’s farm on the Norfolk coast, Verity Frost feels trapped between past and present: the devotion of her childhood friend Arthur, just returned from National Service, and her strange new desire to escape.

When Verity meets Jack, a charismatic American pilot, he seems to offer the glamour and adventure she so craves, and Arthur becomes determined to uncover the dirt beneath his rival’s glossy sheen.

As summer turns to winter, a devastating storm hits the coast, flooding the land and altering everything in its path. In this new, watery landscape, Verity’s tangled web of secrets, lies and passion will bring about a crime that will change all their lives forever.

Review

Arthur returns from National Service disappointed by the experience, wanting to move to London & become a journalist or writer. He wants Verity to move with him but despite her wanting to fly the nest, she wants to travel and go to university. Jack, an American Pilot stationed at a nearby airbase emerges onto the scene. A love triangle ensues and surrounding it are secrets, lies and tragedy. How will the story end?

The Night of the flood is centred around a number of realistic characters; Verity, her brother Peter, Peter’s best friend Arthur, their childhood friend Muriel & Jack, an American Pilot. Each character is interesting in their own right and I found their interwoven relationships fascinating.

The novel begins nine months before the flood takes place – 31st January 1953 – building up to the evening in question with a countdown-style chapter format. This really helped with setting the scene and developing the characters, allowing for their personalities to develop. The ‘tangled web’ draws you in and you’re quickly emerged in to their world.

The historical element of the novel was fascinating as I knew nothing about the details of the North Sea flood. I had no prior clue about the devastation and sacrifices that were made and it was a heart-wrenching read. Norfolk holds a special place in my heart and I’ve visited many times over the years. My first holiday was to Norfolk and I especially enjoyed reading about somewhere I’m familiar with.

Somerville’s writing is full of tension and creates a gripping read. The flood mirrors the characters emotions and as the water rises, so does the tension! I did like that the pace didn’t slow as the flood ended, which was unexpected. It allowed for the devastation in the characters to be truly felt and acknowledged.

The Night of the Flood is out now so be sure to purchase a copy of my review has interested you! You can also check out what the other bloggers on the tour thought of the book, their handles can be found in the banner below.

Until next time,

Book Review | The Stolen Sisters by Louise Jensen

Thank you to NetGalley & HQ for the advance copy in return for an honest review!

Synopsis

Sisterhood binds them. Trauma defines them. Will secrets tear them apart? Leah’s perfect marriage isn’t what it seems but the biggest lie of all is that she’s learned to live with what happened all those years ago. Marie drinks a bit too much to help her forget. And Carly has never forgiven herself for not keeping them safe.

Twenty years ago The Sinclair Sisters were taken. But what came after their return was far worse. Can a family ever recover, especially when not everyone is telling the truth…?

Review

Leah and twins Carly & Marie make up the Sinclair sisters. Snatched from their family home as children and nicknamed in the press as ‘The Stolen Sisters’. The trio, as adults, are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the incident which is naturally bringing to the surface all their feelings, both old and new. Twenty years of trauma, issues and secrets are coming to a head, how will the family get past these revelations?

The novel is written in a ‘then’ and ‘now’ format, which I felt worked really well. Revealing bits and pieces as and when and building suspense in a timely manner.

It’s told from multiple perspectives; Leah, Marie & Carly plus Leah’s husband George. Gaining an insight into each characters thoughts and feelings is always nice as it makes them feel a little more three-dimensional.

As a whole, I felt the idea behind the novel had great potential but I just didn’t resonate with the execution. There were a few elements that didn’t seem to resolve themselves and bits that just felt too far fetched. I also felt that the kidnapping element itself resolved too easily.

There are lots of glowing reviews for this one and I seem to be in the minority, so please check it out if psychological thrillers are your cup of tea as I think!