The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue – An #Audiobook Review – #medicalfiction #readingirelandmonth21 – #TBT

‘…Influenza delle stelle – the influence of the stars. Medieval Italians thought the illness proved that the heavens were governing their fates.’

The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue - audiobookMy second contribution to the #begorrahthon. 

Book Blurb:

In an Ireland doubly ravaged by war and disease, Nurse Julia Power works at an understaffed hospital in the city center, where expectant mothers who have come down with the terrible new flu are quarantined together. Into Julia’s regimented world step two outsiders – Doctor Kathleen Lynn, a rumoured Rebel on the run from the police, and a young volunteer helper, Bridie Sweeney.

In the darkness and intensity of this tiny ward, over three days, these women change each other’s lives in unexpected ways. They lose patients to this baffling pandemic, but they also shepherd new life into a fearful world. With tireless tenderness and humanity, carers and mothers alike somehow do their impossible work. 

In The Pull of the Stars, Emma Donoghue once again finds the light in the darkness in this new classic of hope and survival against all odds.

My Review:

Just in time for our current pandemic state, along comes the author with her emotional tome set during 1918 Dublin. As if the world wasn’t still fighting a war, the viral fed Influenza of 1918 was killing more than those involved in the conflict.

The Pull of the Stars by Emma DonoghueNurse Julia Powers is an experienced, savvy nurse, where the maternity ward has been sectioned off and quarantined those with the flu symptoms. Desperate for help, Nurse Julia is joined by Bridie Sweeney, a local resident of the religious institution where she grew up, but having no education or experience in health services. She is also visited from the regular maternity ward by Dr. Kathleen Lynn, a Sinn Fein rebel, successfully avoiding so far being caught.

A strong parallel to the current epidemic with short supplies, escalating numbers, staffing, efforts to train and manage the population with proper sanitary procedures, but that is largely where the similarities end as there were no vaccines until the 30s when many of the home grown remedies were discarded.

No, this is a whole nother story, deeply rooted in the capacity of the nurse to love and care for her patients while her hands in a male dominated medical world are largely tied to doctors who quickly segregate care by the patient’s economic level. Waiting for even the capacity to apply fever or pain mediums, helpless to watch as her patients steadily lose ground in the interim. Amazing her quick thinking so often exhibited with her knowledge of hands on, education, and sharing.

The entire timeline covers no more than several days but packs so many disturbing details in the cringe-worthy descriptions, it has your teeth shuddering. As a woman having borne children, not difficult to remember the difference between front and back labor pain, but the practice of actually splitting the pubic bone (symphysiotomy or pubiotomy) had me terrified at the mental image.

As the stories of each in her ward are examined, it’s easy to become engaged in their welfare and root for their successful birthing experience and triumph over the flu symptoms. Nurse Julia has seen it all and her one light in the catastrophic scenario is her friendship with Bridie and the growing respect for Dr. Lynn (who in real life performed an amazing job both medically and socially in her fight for the treatment of women).

It’s a heartbreaking story, enveloping the reader in the dark and dreary times; the daily struggles of living another day in Ireland during the worst of poverty, famine, ignorance, religious, social, and sexual abuses. I was blind-sided by the short and unexpected romantic tryst near the conclusion, but the narrative is as educational as sensitive and disturbing.

Book Details:

Genre: Medical Fiction, LGBT Historical Fiction, World War I Historical Fiction
Publisher:  Hackette Audio
ASIN: B089X4V3HR
Listening Length: 9 hrs 6 mins
Narrator: Emma Lowe
Publication Date: July 21, 2020
Source: Local Library (Audiobook Selections)
Title Link: The Pull of the Stars [Amazon]

Add to Goodreads

Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4 1/2 stars

Emma Donoghue - authorThe Author: Born in Dublin in 1969, Emma Donoghue is a writer of contemporary and historical fiction whose novels include the international bestseller “Room” (her screen adaptation was nominated for four Oscars), “Frog Music”, “Slammerkin,” “The Sealed Letter,” “Landing,” “Life Mask,” “Hood,” and “Stirfry.” Her story collections are “Astray”, “The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits,” “Kissing the Witch,” and “Touchy Subjects.” She also writes literary history, and plays for stage and radio. She lives in London, Ontario, with her partner and their two children.

The Narrator: Emma Lowe is a Watty Award winning author, who writes urban fantasy novels for both adults and young adults. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, Emma attends university where she studies a Bachelor of Art in Creative Writing.

With a strong passion for the written word, Emma has also been published in Girlfriend magazine for her novel, Newborn (Helena Series) and other upcoming projects.

Aside from writing, Emma enjoys reading fantasy and horror novels, watching “one episode” from her favourite TV series, and admits to having a “small” obsession with cats. Though she has an extremely busy schedule, Emma plans to expand on the evergrowing world that is Helena Series, including its spin off origin series. On top of that, Emma is working on C.A.T Academy along with several other secret projects.

Emma’s first published book, Newborn, follows the tale of a young woman named Helena who witnesses a supernatural murder and is sucked into an underground world full of mythical creatures, a complex love hectogon, and a mystical prophecy that entails a brewing undead war on the horizon.

©2021 V Williams

The Shortest Day by Colm Toíbín – A #BookReview – Literature & Fiction – #readingirelandmonth21 – #TuesdayBookBlog

Our first contribution to this years’ #begorrahthon

Book Blurb:

The Shortest Day by Colm ToibinIn Ireland, a man of reason is drawn to a true mystery older than the Pyramids and Stonehenge in this enthralling story about ethereal secrets by New York Times bestselling author Colm Tóibín.

During the winter solstice, on the shortest day and longest night of the year, the ancient burial chamber at Newgrange is empowered. Its mystifying source is a haunting tale told by locals.

Professor O’Kelly believes an archaeologist’s job is to make known only what can be proved. He is undeterred by ghost stories, idle speculation, and caution. Much to the chagrin of the living souls in County Meath. As well as those entombed in the sacred darkness of Newgrange itself. They’re determined to protect the secret of the light, guarded for more than five thousand years. And they know O’Kelly is coming for it.

His Review:

Can archaeologists be considered scientists or grave robbers? Colm Toibin explores this question in this book. A site in Ireland called Newgrange or Bru’ na Boinne was built 3200 years before Christ as a resting place for those who have passed on. Professor O’Kelly is exploring the site and trying to decipher the meaning on various carved rock slabs at the site.

The Shortest Day by Colm ToibinThe spirits who inhabit the site are not particularly fond of this meddling educator. The secret of the site is the inclusion of light once a year that allows a spiritual energy rebirth for the inhabitants. This happens on the winter solstice when the entire chamber is alight. The local town folk prefer that the interloper stay away but he does not take the hint. The overall feeling is to let the dead rest in peace!

I enjoyed the interplay between the spirits and Professor O’Kelly. One of the more traveled of the spirits warns the others as the Professor comes near. Clever anecdotes between the spirits add a flavor of community to the site and are humorous to read. Road blocks are thrown in the professors’ way to help keep him from discovering the overall secret of the structure.

This quick read begs the question; should graves be exhumed or desecrated for historical and/or scientific knowledge? Many great treasures have been found in graves and monuments built thousands of years ago. True, we do learn some things from these discoveries but at what cost to the original inhabitants and their intent? The argument that we can discover how they lived during that time period doesn’t seem to be strongly valid to me. Exhuming a corpse, grave, or sarcophagus for historical knowledge seems a very selfish and weak argument.

The small town near the structure has kept the secret of the design of the structure. Shouldn’t mankind show the same reverence and consideration? 4 stars – C.E. Williams

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4 stars 

Book Details:

Genre: 45-Minute Literature & Fiction Short Reads, Kindle Singles Literature & Fiction, Literary Short Stories
Publisher: Amazon Original Stories

  • ASIN : B08GBPRXQC

Print Length: 31 pages
Publication Date: November 3, 2020
Source: Local Library
Title Link: The Shortest Day [Amazon] 

Add to Goodreads

 

Colm Toibin - authorThe Author: Colm Tóibín is the author of four previous novels, The South, The Heather Blazing, The Story of the Night, and The Blackwater Lightship, which was shortlisted for the 1999 Booker Prize. He lives in Dublin.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

 

 

February Rosepoint Reviews Recap—Hello March!

February Rosepoint Reviews Recap

February was certainly a blast and a half for those of us in Northwest Indiana (NWI)—more snow than I’ve seen since we moved here, at times at least 2’ high both in front and on the deck out back as the wind blew it into great heaps, met by the icicles reaching almost 6’ from the roof line. Hard to believe in global warming with so many successive days of well below freezing temps. Even the dog wouldn’t go out.

We are thrilled to welcome March, which of course starts Reading Ireland Month and as I posted a couple days ago, have a list lined up and working on it already. If you haven’t already signed up with Cathy over at 746 Books, now is the time to get in on her #begorrahthon.

The CE and I read a nice variety of books in February. I’ve settled rather heavily on Thursday to post my audiobook reviews, some made even more great by their narrators, one shelved as DNF this year—my first.

We had a total of thirteen book reviews for February, which included a number of amazing books, including several at five stars. As always, I’ll list my review link below the pictures.

The Spirit of Animal Healing by Dr. Marty GoldsteinDeep South by Nevada Barr Dog Days by Ericka Waller Spring Upon a Crime by ML Erdahl

 

 

 

 

Animal Instinct by David Rosenfelt

Long Range by CJ BoxAn Eye for an Eye by Carol WyerThe Wise Ass by Tom McCaffreytThe Trespasser by Tana FrenchThe Blame by Kerry WilkinsonThis Land is No Stranger by Sarah Hollister and Gil ReavillGhosts of the Past by Mark DownerMainely Money by Matt Cost

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Spirit of Animal Healing by Marty Goldstein – a CE review of non-fiction
Deep South by Nevada Barr – an Audiobook review
Spring Upon a Crime by ML Erdahl – my five star review #cozymystery
Dog Days by Erica Waller – a CE review #friendshipfiction
Animal Instinct by David Rosenfelt – my five star review #animalfiction
Long Range by C J Box – an Audiobook review #crimefiction
An Eye for an Eye by Carol Wyer – a five star review from the CE
The Wise Ass by Tom McCaffrey – my five star review—this one zoomed straight to the top of my favorites list for the year. Fantasy action-adventure. This one can also work as a Reading Ireland Month read.
The Trespasser by Tana French – an Audiobook review – British and Irish Literary Fiction—should have been included in the March lineup.
Ghosts of the Past by Mark Downer – a five star CE review – #crimeaction
The Blame by Kerry Wilkinson – #psychologicalfiction
This Land is No Stranger by Sarah Hollister – a CE review – #nordicnoir
Mainely Money by Matt Cost – #mysteries

I also posted a couple articles, one a #guestpost from Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy. Thrilled to have his post regarding Indie Book Marketing Tips. He does an amazing job of noting all the important bullet points I wish I’d known.

Most of the February reviews were from NetGalley including an author request and three were audiobooks.

Reading Challenges

Three new books for my Audiobook challenge, bringing the total to 8 for a goal of between 20-30—Binge Listener.

Ten new books for February bringing my total so far to 32 toward my Goodreads goal of 175 this year.

Historical Fiction – Only one in January—and that was read by the CE.

You can check out my challenges progress by clicking on my Reading Challenges page.

Please let me know if you’ve read one of the above listed books or put them on your TBR and I’m always open to title suggestions.

As always, welcome to my new followers—and those who continue to support the blog through your participation, likes, and comments. You help me grow and keep me going. Thank you!

©2021 V Williams

Reading Ireland Month 2021 – My March Reading List and Cathy’s Irish Celebration!

Beginning March 2nd I’m participating in the Begorrathon–#readingirelandmonth2021 this year (as I did last) and have put together a list of the books I’ll be reviewing along with their links to Amazon and hope that you’ll join us!

Reading Ireland Month 2021

The books may be about Ireland, have an Irish protagonist, or be written either by an Irish author or author with Irish roots. Most books on my list were previously released. In the States, we normally celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with parades, pub specials, and corned beef and cabbage. Last year the celebrations were cancelled due to the pandemic and has this year as well.

Cathy at 746 Books is hosting the fifth annual celebration of all things Irish, in the company of her partner, Niall of The Fluff is Raging.   

You may want to check Cathy’s website to see her theme schedule. Additionally, she will feature film reviews, poems, music, interviews, and giveaways. (I am hoping to provide a soda bread recipe and possibly another poem written by my grandfather.) She has a monster list of 100 books you can peruse and a collection of recommendations. Connect with Cathy on Facebook and be sure to use her hashtags #readingirelandmonth21 and #begorrathon21.

Have you found a favorite Irish podcaster yet? I still recommend the Celtfather, Marc Gunn, at the Irish and Celtic Music Podcast. I’ll add in another poem written by my grandfather, Patrick J Rose (aka Stanley McShane) who (as far as we can tell) hailed from Cork.

So here is my schedule of my books so far (subject, of course, to constant revision):

1.      The Shortest Day by Cólm Toíbin – Literary Short Stories – March 2 – a CE review

2.      The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue – Audiobook – #1 Best Seller in Medical Fiction – March 4

3.      Murder in an Irish Cottage (An Irish Village Mystery Book 7) by Carlene O’Connor – Ghost Mysteries to be reviewed on Friday, March 5

4.      Normal People by Sally Rooney – Audiobook review on March 11

5.      First Love by Steven Henry (An Erin O’Reilly K-9 Mysteries Book 10) Police Procedurals, Review on March 16

6.      Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent-Psychological Fiction, Audiobook review on Thursday, March 18

7.      Last Port of Call by Jean Grainger – Book 1 of The Queenstown Series, Review on March 19

8.      The Hearts of Invisible Furies by John Boyne – Family Sagas, Audiobook review on March 25

I’m excited about the books again this year that includes new authors (to me), as well as several I’ve previously reviewed (Carlene O’Connor, Steven Henry, Jean Grainger).

Have you read any of the above? Which ones? I’d love to hear your thoughts or recommendations!

©2021 V Williams

Mainely Money (A Goff Langdon Mainely Mystery Book 3) by Matt Cost – a #BookReview – #mysteries

Book Blurb:

Mainely Money by Matt CostMoney is power. Those who have the money wield the power. Laid back, slacker detective Goff Langdon is confronted by this fact as he investigates the blackmailing of a U.S. senator. What starts as a simple extortion case quickly becomes a race for survival as Langdon faces off against a veiled villain with big money and little morals.

My Review:

The third in the trilogy sees a number of changes in this series featuring private detective Goff Langdon. Goff is tickled to be hired for not one, but three investigations, none of which fall into his norm. Goff is still owner of the Coffee Dog Bookstore and between he and his wife Chabal and Jack (her son) share the duties. The private investigations run in fits and starts, but promise to help pay some bills.

Mainely Money by Matt CostA powerful female senator is being blackmailed for an extramarital affair, a voluptuous woman wants him to find her missing sister, and an innocent immigrant is being framed for the series of heinous murders on coeds.

It’s a toss of the coin where to begin, but he is a low-key detective who has a number of close contacts in the right places, such as his local cop buddy, Bart. He takes Coffee Dog with him when he can, though the canine is not known for his service dog training as much as a tail wagging ambassador.

What seemed on the surface to be a routine solve quickly turns dark and even deadly when Goff begins to suspect something much heavier is behind each of these. As matters become more complicated, there are Russian mobsters, dirty politics, spooks, and serial killers to sort with an escalating body count.

Rough and gritty, the narrative careens into the conclusion involving a complex plan with all his friends, family, and support characters. There has been power struggles from those who wield the most money, creating twists and tension, between light-hearted moments, bewildering incidents, and life-threatening moments.

The characters have evolved from Book 1 Mainely Power through Mainely Fear (my reviews) into this installment due to release March 10, though this might easily be read as a standalone.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the author that in no way influenced this review. These are my honest opinions.

Rosepoint Rating: Four Stars 4 stars

Add to Goodreads

Book Details:

Genre: Political Thrillers & Suspense, Political Thrillers, Private Investigator Mysteries
Publisher:

  • ASIN : B08PKMYY39

Print Length: 242 pages
Publication Date: To be released March 10, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley 

Title Link(s):

Amazon   |   Barnes & Noble

Matt Cost - authorThe Author: [Matt Cost] I write. That’s what I do.

Side note: The Maine Humanities Council just selected Mainely Power as the Read ME fiction book of the year.

2021 V Williams

5 Must-Know Indie Book Marketing Tips – Guest Post by Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy

5 must-know indie book marketing tips

January-February I start thinking about writing and publishing again, as this blog was born of the publishing of my grandfather’s manuscripts. Not having a clue what I was doing, of course, realized then I was faced with marketing. And marketing proved to be a huge hurdle, not unlike me to get things backwards.  

This time of year also reminds me of all the writing contests that the new year begins, and I wrote about that recently listing six popular sites—some free—some a second mortgage. If you missed that post, you can read here. On that same vein, and quite coincidentally (or maybe not), I was contacted by Savannah at Reedsy, wondering if I’d be interested in sharing an article from either she or Ricardo Fayet, CMO and one of the original founders of Reedsy, and it appeared his article following is just what I was talkin’ ‘bout! (By the way, they also have their own writing contests that you might check out.)

So I’m thrilled now to present Ricardo!

►►►►►►▼

5 Must-Know Indie Book Marketing Tips

The day you thought would never arrive is finally here: your book is complete and it’s time to start getting it into the hands of readers. Executing a successful marketing campaign can be a daunting prospect, though, especially if you don’t know which strategies work best or where to even start — a great writer does not automatically make for a great marketer, after all.

But don’t worry! I’m here to help you get that wide readership you always dreamed of. The following tips focus on getting organized, drumming up the right kind of “noise” around your book, and mastering the more technical elements of SEO marketing and advertising for an absolutely optimized launch. Let’s dive right in.

  1. Draw up a game plan

A well-considered timeline is an important part of any successful marketing campaign — but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to know which steps to take when. What’s more, you’ll need to think about both discoverability (how people find your books) and conversion (converting clicks on a page to sustained interest, and hopefully an eventual purchase) as early as possible.

This is because book marketing isn’t something that comes solely after your launch; it’s a process that should be integrated into every step of publishing a book. Drawing up a chronological game plan will help you keep track of what needs doing and when.

To give a few examples: market research on categories should ideally occur before you even write your book, so you can spot gaps in the market to try and fill. Book reviewers should be contacted months before your launch so they have time to read your book and write thoughtful reviews. In terms of plans for closer to your launch, algorithm-optimized advertising copy should be nailed down a few weeks ahead of time — and in the days before and immediately after, you should be reaching out to your own followers (more on that in a bit).

  1. Secure early book reviews

Again, getting early reviews of your book — or at least drumming up some conversation and a “buzz” around your release — is a crucial thing part of your marketing campaign. However, it’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg problem. How can you get good reviews to attract a readership, if you haven’t yet attracted a readership to leave you reviews?

That’s where book review blogs come in. You’ll want to get quality reviews of your book, so take the time to find trustworthy reviewers who a) have reviewed in your genre before (and therefore have a relevant audience) and b) are able to give a fair, comprehensive assessment of your work. Once you have a shortlist of places to contact, reach out way ahead of time (we’re talking months) with advance review copies of your book.*

Building a street team is another great way to get reviews from reliable people. Street teams consist of fans who get access to your work ahead of time, so they can read your book before publication and have reviews ready for your launch day. Just make sure they don’t identify themselves as your friends in Amazon reviews, as this is against Amazon’s guidelines!

Beyond this, you could reach out to blogs that organize reading challenges to get your book included; offer to write guest posts about your book for blogs; or consider more formal editorial pieces in newspapers and journals. All this should generate excellent fodder for cover quotes and pull quotes** for Amazon.

  1. Grow a mailing list

A mailing list is a tried-and-true way to develop a dedicated fan base for your work and keep readers in the know about your output. That said, the catch-22 at the heart of mailing lists (one not dissimilar from the book review paradox) has likely occurred to you — how can you promote your work and gain a following if you don’t already have one?

The best way to overcome this problem is reader magnets: what item(s) of value can you offer someone in exchange for their email address? Whether it’s an excerpt from an upcoming book, an exclusive webinar in which you share your most valuable skills, or exclusive illustrations to accompany a future release, an effective lead magnet can really help you build a strong mailing list from scratch. Of course, once you’ve attracted those readers (no magnet pun intended), you’ll need to keep the content coming so they stay engaged. Don’t be afraid to get creative — you will want to stand out from any other email lists to which they might be subscribed.

Finally, rather than going full-DIY with sending out these emails, find a suitable mailing list provider for your budget and timeframe. There’s MailerLite, ConvertKit, Flodesk and a whole host of other software that each have different price points, functionality, and features***. Shop around and have a look at what they offer to find the best fit for you.

  1. Hone your Amazon efforts

SEO, KDP, A9: it can be hard to cut through the jargon if you’re a marketing novice, but it’s essential to familiarize yourself with these things (search engine optimization, Kindle Direct Publishing, and the Amazon keyword algorithm) so your book can rank well in Amazon’s search results — and succeed on the marketplace overall.

This may seem like an impossible task when you consider just how many books there are on Amazon, but don’t lose hope! For indie authors (and honestly anyone publishing for the first time), it’s unlikely you’ll be climbing the Amazon Best Sellers or the Best New Releases list anyway. So what should you really concentrate on in terms of Amazon SEO?

Your best bet is getting your book added to specific niche sub-categories on Amazon. By avoiding the oversaturated categories, your book will have a much stronger chance of performing well. To go extra-niche, you can even reach out to the KDP support center to get added to more than the allotted two categories — and when it comes to keywords, make them as long and detailed as possible for maximum search matches from users.

  1. Evaluate your advertising platforms

Facebook icon in book graphicAmazon, Facebook, and BookBub are widely considered the “big three” of book advertising. Most indie writers will use one or multiple of these platforms to promote their books and, with any luck, boost their sales.

Of course, external ads can be costly, so you’ll need to make some calculations to assess the viability of your adverts (in terms of cost of advertising per unit you end up selling). But even if you’re strapped for cash, don’t discount such platforms without at least trying them first — for many authors, especially those without much of their own audience, major ad platforms are the best route to move copies.

Just keep in mind that you’ll eventually want to prioritize one over the others, based on whatever works best for you. Also make sure to test this separately from your other advertising efforts (e.g. don’t do Amazon ads and a big reader magnet push at the same time) so you can measure the effects as concretely as possible.

Get your plan in order, grow your audience, and master the relevant platforms — if you can manage all of this, you’re already exponentially closer to success than you were before!

***

Ricardo Fayet is one of the founders of Reedsy, and an avid SFF reader with a particular passion for high fantasy. He reads mostly indie-published fantasy series, and enjoys lighter YA themes as much as darker ones. 

Looking for a more comprehensive guide to book marketing than what’s covered here? Check out Ricardo’s new book, How to Market a Book: Overperform in a Crowded Market. It’s free to download (and always will be!), but you can also buy the paperback version on Amazon.

The Reedsy Mission Statement

“Crafting beautiful books is at the heart of everything that Reedsy does. We’re changing the way books are published by giving authors and publishers access to talented professionals, powerful tools, and free educational content.

“Reedsy was founded in the summer of 2014 by Emmanuel Nataf, Ricardo Fayet, Vincent Durand and Matt Cobb. Since then, we’re proud to have built a network of world-class publishing professionals and helped produce over 10,000 books.”

Thank you so much to Ricardo for the guest post contribution to my blog today! I appreciate it and the contact from Savannah as well. And to my readers, please check out the Reedsy website where you’ll find a wealth of information in all things editing, writing, cover designs, marketing and a great deal more!

Ricardo Fayet

CMO, Spain
Voted ‘best beard in publishing’…
Probably

Savannah Cordova

Savannah Cordova - ReedsyContent Marketing, England
Loves puns and iced coffee

 

 

*Note: And I might add that your advance review copies should be available in multiple popular formats (digitally: mobi, ebook, and pdf)
**i.e., “editorial reviews.”
***US based MailChimp

©2021 V Williams

Happy Thursday!

This Land is No Stranger: A Nordic Mystery Thriller by Sarah Hollister and Gil Reavill – A #BookReview – #nordicnoir

Book Blurb:

This Land is No Stranger by Sarah Hollister and Gil ReavillWith a career that is spiraling out of control and a nasty drug habit that has taken her to rock bottom, NYC detective Veronika Brand is looking for a way out. When a call from Sweden interrupts her personal chaos, the foreign tongue of her distant Swedish relatives pulls her across the Atlantic with the lure of adventure and escape. But what she finds is far from the idyllic picture her grandmother painted. Instead of long languid summers basking in the midnight sun, she unearths secrets long since buried in the frozen ground.

In Krister Hammar, a local Sami land rights lawyer, she thinks she has found a kindred spirit. But when they stumble upon a brutal murder scene in a manor house owned by the rivals of her family, she starts questioning his truth. She finds herself being moved like a chess piece between the desolate region of Härjedalen in the north and the steely-cold streets of Stockholm, scrambling to find the links between her family history, a trail of missing Roma girls, and a series of vicious murders. In unfamiliar territory on the wrong side of the law, Veronika has her sights set only on the beast that preys on the wicked. Will she be able to see past the lure of the northern lights to the dark secrets that threaten to destroy her?

[Note: I chose this novel as my maternal grandmother was 100% Swedish having immigrated to Minnesota, one of the many “sons.” I thought I’d give some time to the Swedish side as I always seem to favor the Irish side, i.e. Reading Ireland Month—March, coming up. Hubby found the ebook first, however, and got a bit of culture shock. It is, after all, described as Nordic noir or Scanoir and does tend to run dark. As Donna Moreau (author of Waiting Wives mentioned), “it is an intriguing family saga intertwined with the …mysterious Roma people.” Aware of the impact of the Irish Travelers in Ireland, the Romani people are not  genetically related and represent a much larger population in Sweden*. A surprising revelation.]

His Review:

Revenge is a dish best served cold! Can an eighty year old crime between families continue to this day? The tale of the Hatfields and McCoys compares closely with the ongoing animosity between the Dalgren and Voss families. Veronika Brand is the granddaughter of the Dalgren family and is invited back to Sweden to attend a family reunion for her 95 year old relative.

This Land is No Stranger by Sarah Hollister and Gil ReavillIn 1940 when the Nazi’s occupied Sweden, her ancestors began printing pro-Nazi propaganda after the country is occupied. A splinter group led by the family Voss decides to stop the paper by burning down the printing establishment. They are not aware that some of the Dalgrens are asleep in the apartment over the printing shop. The death of the Dalgrens in the fire starts the feud between the Dalgrens and Voss’.

The Voss family is very wealthy, ruthless and are involved in many nefarious endeavors including prostitution and slavery. They have the power. A vengeful Dalgren family is hardly a problem. The Voss family also owns and operates the largest trucking firm in Europe. Young Romani girls are kidnapped or otherwise drawn into a world of sex slavery and poor diets. They finally die from poor nutrition and continual sexual brutality from customers who use them in total depravity.

The inter-familial war of revenge is continual and brutal. Veronika Brand is a former New York detective who becomes embroiled in the conflict. Brutal murders and lack of any social responsibility drove me to the conclusion that this may not be a future vacation destination. Cruelty and death are portrayed as an integral part of the psyche of the northern Swedish families. There seemed to be no division between the young and old regarding a more innocent mind set.

CE WilliamsThe narrative is well written although exhausting to read. Continual brutal murder and total disregard for human life with wicked visuals of red snow were excessive. The ending, however, was satisfying and surprising! I kept wondering why a well-trained New York detective would stay in such a toxic environment! The conclusion explained a lot.  4 stars-CE Williams 

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from publisher through NetGalley. These are my honest opinions.

Rosepoint Publishing: Four of Five Stars 4 stars

Book Details:

Genre: Kidnapping Thrillers, International Mystery & Crime
Publisher: LYS
Print Length: 302 pages
Publication Date: March 11, 2021
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: This Land is No Stranger [Amazon]
Also find the book at this locations:
Barnes and Noble 

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Sarah Hollister - authorThe Authors: Sarah Hollister is an American writer and playwright, living the Scandinavian reality on one of the 24,000 islands in the Swedish archipelago near Stockholm. Her plays Sisters’ Dance and Relevant Truth have been produced in New York City, and she is a member of the Dramatikerförbund (Sweden’s drama guild), which awarded her residences at the Henning Mankell House in northern Sweden. She is a founding member of the Stockholm Writers Festival.

Gil Reavill - authorA New York-based author, screenwriter and journalist, Gil Reavill often writes about crime, both in fiction, with the 13 series of thrillers (13 Hollywood Apes, 13 Stolen Girls, 13 Under the Wire) and non-fiction, with Mafia Summit and Aftermath, Inc. Reavill also co-wrote the screenplay for the corrupt-cop feature film, Dirty, starring Cuba Gooding, Jr. While growing up in Wisconsin, in the American Upper Midwest, I was surrounded with Nordic immigrant culture, Swedish, Norwegian, and Finnish communities. Later on, I discovered Henning Mankell, Karin Fossum, and, especially, Peter Hoeg’s Smilla’s Sense of Snow. I was interested in the cross-fertilization of American and Scandinavian crime fiction, the trans-Atlantic influences flowing both ways. –This text refers to the hardcover edition.

©2021 CE Williams – V Williams

*Swedish Romani info obtained from Wikipedia.