Review: A Treachery of Spies

August 2, 2018 in Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Thriller

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: A Treachery of Spies A Treachery of Spies by Manda Scott
Published by Bantam Press on 9th August 2018
Genres: Historical Fiction, Crime, thriller
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
four-half-stars

An elderly woman of striking beauty is found murdered in Orleans, France. Her identity has been cleverly erased but the method of her death is very specific: she has been killed in the manner of traitors to the Resistance in World War Two.

Tracking down her murderer leads police inspector Inès Picaut back to 1940s France where the men and women of the Resistance were engaged in a desperate fight for survival against the Nazi invaders.

To find answers in the present Picaut must discover what really happened in the past, untangling a web of treachery and intrigue that stretches back to the murder victim's youth: a time when unholy alliances were forged between occupiers and occupied, deals were done and promises broken. The past has been buried for decades, but, as Picaut discovers, there are those in the present whose futures depend on it staying that way – and who will kill to keep their secrets safe...

When 92-year-old Sophie Destivelle is found murdered in an Orleans car park, it soon becomes apparent that this is no random killing. Her manner of death echoes that of traitors to the Resistance in World War Two.

This is Captain Picaut’s first case since returning from injury. It’s a case that will uncover secrets of her country’s past and provide some startling revelations – such as, who exactly was Sophie Destivelle?

A Treachery of Spies is a thoroughly absorbing read. I didn’t want to put it down, and when I did manage to extract myself from its pages, the story continued to play on my mind.

Firstly, I didn’t realise when I picked this up that it’s actually the second book featuring Captain Picaut. Don’t let that put you off though, I read it as a stand-alone and really enjoyed it. There are references to events in the previous book but I didn’t feel that I was missing out.

As for the story itself, it is clever, intricate, and evidently very well researched. The best way I can describe this novel is that it is historical fiction mixed with a thriller, mystery and police procedural – pretty much the ultimate combination in my opinion.

The investigation of Sophie’s death takes the reader across time and space – from present-day Orleans to wartime Britain and Germany-occupied France, with a focus on Resistance fighters and British Special Operatives of the Jura mountains.

Scott has meticulously researched this historical aspect, blending fact with fiction. I can’t tell you how much I learned from this novel, things which I intend to read up on further (no spoilers though so you’ll need to read A Treachery of Spies to find out what I’m talking about!).

This is a novel that taxed my fog-addled brain but in the best possible way. I had to focus to keep up with all of the characters and their timelines, to keep up with the intricacies of the story and to follow the clues and ciphers. I love a book that makes you think though – and this is a powerful novel that not only challenges in terms of the story, but it makes one thing of history and to consider the lives of those who lived during the war.

All in all, it is a fascinating, well-crafted novel that will keep you hooked until the very last page. I almost wish I could read it again!

four-half-stars

Review: The Fate of the Tearling

November 24, 2016 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Fate of the Tearling The Fate Of The Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #3
Published by Bantam Press on 1st December 2016
Genres: Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-stars

In less than a year, Kelsea Glynn has transformed from a gawky teenager into a powerful monarch.

As she has come into her own as the Queen of the Tearling, the headstrong, visionary leader has also transformed her realm. In her quest to end corruption and restore justice, she has made many enemies - including the evil Red Queen, her fiercest rival, who has set her armies against the Tear.

To protect her people from a devastating invasion, Kelsea did the unthinkable - she surrendered herself and her magical sapphires to her enemy, and named the Mace, the trusted head of her personal guards, Regent in her place. But the Mace will not rest until he and his men rescue their sovereign from her prison in Mortmesne.

Now the endgame begins and the fate of Queen Kelsea - and the Tearling itself - will finally be revealed . . .

I’ve been really looking forward to reading the final book in this trilogy. It’s one of my most anticipated books of the year and WOW it felt like a long wait!

If you haven’t yet read the first two books in this series then pop over and check out my reviews (The Queen of the Tearling review, The Invasion of the Tearling review) and stop reading this now.

I’m determined to write this without spoilers, so here we go…

When we left Kelsea in The Invasion Of The Tearling she had effectively surrendered herself to the Red Queen and rendered her Queen’s Guard helpless to do anything about it. She had legally appointed the Mace as Regent and the Arvath was becoming increasingly problematic.

For me, The Invasion of the Tearling generated more questions than it answered as we suddenly found ourselves meeting the Pre-Crossing Lily. I’m pleased to say that The Fate Of The Tearling does provide answers! In fact, we learn a lot about the history of The Tearling, through Kelsea’s visions of Katie. There are also answers with regards to The Fetch, the sapphires and Row. Honestly, I really enjoyed the way Johansen weaved this story, allowing us to see the history through Katie’s eyes and the current state of the world through Kelsea’s.

I have to say that on the whole I really enjoyed this book BUT I wasn’t a fan of the ending. No spoilers, no more details, but I suppose it just wasn’t what I wanted it to be. That said, I always try to respect an author’s decisions and I can completely see why the ending is as it is, but I was just a little disappointed, flat even.

Yet the rest of the book, the history, action, characters and those long sought-after answers more than made up for the ending, which hopefully clarifies the 4 star rating.

I genuinely can’t wait to hear how other readers feel about this book. On the whole it’s a great read that rounds off the series well, full of answers, but those last pages – I might just forget they exist.

four-stars

Review: Invasion of the Tearling

July 15, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Invasion of the Tearling Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #2
Published by Bantam Press on 16th July 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Goodreads
four-half-stars

With each passing day, Kelsea Glynn is growing into her new responsibilities as Queen of the Tearling. By stopping the shipments of slaves to the neighboring kingdom of Mortmesne, she crossed the Red Queen, a brutal ruler whose power derives from dark magic, who is sending her fearsome army into the Tearling to take what is hers. And nothing can stop the invasion.

But as the Mort army draws ever closer, Kelsea develops a mysterious connection to a time before the Crossing, and she finds herself relying on a strange and possibly dangerous ally: a woman named Lily, fighting for her life in a world where being female can feel like a crime. The fate of the Tearling —and that of Kelsea’s own soul—may rest with Lily and her story, but Kelsea may not have enough time to find out. -From Goodreads.

 

The second book in The Queen of the Tearling series by Erika Johansen, Invasion of the Tearling is out tomorrow in the UK (16th July). I was very fortunate to be sent an ARC copy of this book a wee while ago by the publisher, so the day before publication seems like the perfect time to share my thoughts.

First things first, if you haven’t read The Queen of the Tearling then you can find my review for it over here. If you have read it, should you be going out to get your hands on Invasion of the Tearling? YES. 

I really enjoyed book one, loved the character of Kelsea, her journey to becoming Queen etc. However I felt it slightly predictable. Invasion of the Tearling is NOT predictable! Let me try to explain…. however, if you want to go into this book totally blind, stop reading now. Just know that I enjoyed it.

….

I was happily reading along about Kelsea, the continuation of her story in protecting the Tearling from the Red Queen, and really enjoying it. Then *BAM* I honestly thought that a chapter from another book had erroneously been inserted into my copy. Kelsea starts to feel a strong connection to a woman called Lily, starts seeing flashbacks to parts of Lily’s life.

Lily lived in the pre-crossing times, in a country that had fallen to pieces. A dystopian setting, whereby Lily lived in a compound with her abusive husband. As a female she’d lost all of her rights, become merely a possession of her husband. Tagged with a microchip, the authorities (including her husband) could trace her at any point in time. Her life was an existence, with her priority being not to become pregnant, not to have that child that her husband so wanted. That is until one day when a terrorist attack occurs nearby. A fleeing woman drops into Lily’s garden and open Lily’s eyes to a whole new world.

At first I didn’t know what on earth was going on with the switch to Lily. Like I said, I felt like I’d just jumped into another book, as though two chapters of totally different books had somehow been bound together. I soon became absorbed by this interlude though, and found myself enjoying both elements of the book – the protection against the invasion of the Tearling and the pre-crossing, dystopian world.

By the end of this book I found many questions answered. We come to have a better understanding of the crossing and why it happened. Also, an insight into the world before the crossing. I do have to warn you though that reading some of Lily’s interludes can be tough as she experiences horrendous domestic violence.

As for Kelsea, I continued to enjoy her character, her relationship with her guards and the progress of her journey into Queen. She juggles her connection to Lily with her own need to protect the Tearling from the invasion of the Red Queen. All the while she becomes more beautiful and increasingly dangerous.

This really is a very different book from The Queen of the Tearling. It’s not at all what I expected, but I liked that about it… eventually. When Lily and those flashbacks first appeared I really didn’t know what to make of them. However once I accepted that this wasn’t going to be like book one, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I’m really intrigued to see what Erika Johansen has in store for us in book three!

four-half-stars

Review: The Queen of the Tearling

May 14, 2015 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Fiction

Review: The Queen of the Tearling The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen
Series: The Queen of the Tearling #1
Published by Bantam Press Genres: Fantasy
Source: Gifted
Goodreads
four-stars

Her throne awaits . . . if she can live long enough to take it.

It was on her nineteenth birthday that the soldiers came for Kelsea Glynn. They’d come to escort her back to the place of her birth – and to ensure she survives long enough to be able to take possession of what is rightfully hers.

But like many nineteen-year-olds, Kelsea is unruly, has high principles and believes she knows better than her elders. Unlike many nineteen-year-olds, she is about to inherit a kingdom that is on its knees – corrupt, debauched and dangerous.

Kelsea will either become the most fearsome ruler the kingdom has ever known . . . or be dead within the week.

in-brief

 

5-words

SELF DISCOVERY, MAGIC, ASSASSINS, COURAGE

Things I liked

* Kelsea in general

* Kelsea’s love of books!

* the journey to the capital & associated character development

Didn't Like

* a bit predictable in places

Who Should Read It

* fans of fantasy

Rest of the series

YES

My Thoughts

When I first heard about this book (ages ago) I couldn’t wait to read it, but then reviews popped up and they were mixed. So I held off reading it for a bit, and consequently my expectations of the book diminished. I think that’s probably why I really enjoyed this book – I wasn’t caught up in the hype and subsequently just enjoyed the book for what it is.

So Kelsea is heir to the Tearling throne. She has been raised in seclusion, educated and prepared for her life as Queen. For the past 19 years her life has been in danger. Assassins have long hunted her, many sent by her Uncle the Regent who doesn’t want to give up his power.

Upon turning 19 a band of guards arrive to remove Kelsea from her home, a little cottage in the forest, everything she knows and deliver her to the capital where she will be crowned. However the assassins are hard on their tails and to compound her troubles Kelsea needs to try to distinguish friend from foe.

Being raised in seclusion by two sworn to preserve her mother’s secrets, Kelsea knows very little of the politics of her world. Her journey to the capital opens her eyes to the world. She sees her Kingdom in trouble and takes a brave first step into her reign as Queen. A step which enrages the Red Queen of neighbouring Mortmesne and surely brings war upon her people?

I found myself particularly absorbed by the journey to the capital, trying to evade capture and death, as well as learning more about the Kingdom as a whole. I felt it gave a great foundation to the book, with Kelsea and her guards slowly getting to know one another. So by the time Kelsea arrived at the capital, I felt I had a good impression of what she was about.

I like the character of Kelsea and how her character develops over the course of the book. From her first act as Queen to her determination to rescue her people, she’s a very likeable character.

If there was something I didn’t like about this book, it’s the predictability of it. Don’t get me wrong; it did surprise me in places, but I just felt some parts were rather predictable.

On the whole I think this is a great first book. It whets the reader’s appetite and builds a foundation where really anything could happen in the next two books. Honestly, I can’t wait to read on, I anticipate more magic and less predictability to the story so we shall see what happens…

four-stars