Review: Block 46, by Johanna Gustawsson, translated Maxim Jakobowski

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In Falkenberg, Sweden, the mutilated body of talented young jewelry designer Linnea Blix is found in a snow-swept marina. In Hampstead Heath, London, the body of a young boy is discovered with similar wounds to Linnea’s. Buchenwald Concentration Camp, 1944. In the midst of the hell of the Holocaust, Erich Hebner will do anything to see himself as a human again. Are the two murders the work of a serial killer, and how are they connected to shocking events at Buchenwald? Emily Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police, joins up with Linnea’s friend, French true-crime writer Alexis Castells, to investigate the puzzling case. They travel between Sweden and London, and then deep into the past, as a startling and terrifying connection comes to light. 

Paperback, 300 pages
Published October 1st 2017 by Orenda Books (first published February 5th 2017)
ISBN13: 9781910633700
Emily Roy & Alexis Castells #1

My Review

Last year I reviewed Blood Song, the third book in the Emily Roy & Alexis Castells series. It was so good that I ordered the first two and I’ve just read them so I’m reviewing both, but in separate posts. Today it is book 1, Block 46. Tomorrow I will review Keeper.

This was a rather fantastic novel, linking events in Buchenwald Concentration Camp (where the author’s grandfather had been a prisoner for being a French Communist?/Resistance member) and murders in modern Falkenburg, Sweden and London, UK.

The main characters are introduced, although it is clear they have a past relationship and complex personal histories. Their backgrounds and personalities are slowly revealed. Emily Roy could be an unsympathetic character but for the pieces of vulnerability Gustawsson reveals in the narrative. I wasn’t sure about Alexis Castells, she seemed very self-involved, although that changed as I read, again her past was revealed in little bites that made her more understandable. They are both very complex, slightly damaged characters.

The plot was sufficiently twisted that I didn’t see the truth coming, even though the clues were there, looking back. I enjoyed the way the life of the criminals and the investigation intertwined throughout the novel, shifting between perspectives and giving clues to the reader while still hiding the truth. It didn’t feel contrived that a writer and a profiler would know each other or become involved in the investigation (even if I personally have reservations about the scientific validity of profiling) or that they would both end up in Sweden.

It was fascinating to learn about the Buchenwald Camp via fiction, I didn’t know that the prisoners and International Resistance had cached weapons and fought the SS as the Allied Forces got closer to them. I wonder how many SS officers escaped by pretending to be prisoners? *shudder*

Not having read the original novel, because my French is not great and Swedish non-existent, I can’t comment on the translation’s fidelity, but Karen Sullivan, who runs Orenda Books, wouldn’t allow a dodgy translation so I’m going to run with it being accurate.

I highly recommend this book, and the series actually, Also, the publisher, who is an absolute delight.

Review: ‘Bella’, by R.M. Francis


A spectre has haunted Netherton for generations.

Everyone has a theory, no one has an answer.

The woods that frame the housing estate uncover a series of heinous acts, drawing onlookers in to a space of clandestine, queer sexuality: a liminal space of abject and uncanny experience.

A question echoes in the odd borderlands of being, of fear-fascination, attraction-repulsion, of sex and death…

Who put Bella down the Wych-Elm?

Continue reading “Review: ‘Bella’, by R.M. Francis”

Cover Reveal: The Breaking, by K.S. Marsden

First up today, we have a cover reveal for a YA fantasy by K.S. Marsden, and later there will be a review of Bella, by R.M. Francis. I have to say, I think the cover I’m about to share with you is rather evocative.

The Breaking (Northern Witch #3)

Mark thought being a witch would be easy, but it has ruined everything.

Now, he has to fight for his friends and the guy that he loves.

Which would be challenging enough, without school being a living nightmare; more demons than he can handle; and witches that have strayed from the light.

Continue reading “Cover Reveal: The Breaking, by K.S. Marsden”

Review: Health At Every Size, by Linda Bacon Ph.D

Fat isn’t the problem. Dieting is the problem. A society that rejects anyone whose body shape or size doesn’t match an impossible ideal is the problem. A medical establishment that equates “thin” with “healthy” is the problem.
The solution?

Health at Every Size.

Tune in to your body’s expert guidance. Find the joy in movement. Eat what you want, when you want, choosing pleasurable foods that help you to feel good. You too can feel great in your body right now—and Health at Every Size will show you how.

Health at Every Size has been scientifically proven to boost health and self-esteem. The program was evaluated in a government-funded academic study, its data published in well-respected scientific journals.

Updated with the latest scientific research and even more powerful messages, Health at Every Size is not a diet book, and after reading it, you will be convinced the best way to win the war against fat is to give up the fight. 

Paperback, 374 pages
Published: March 23rd 2010 by BenBella Books
 (first published October 11th 2008)
Original Title
Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth about Your Weight
ISBN13: 9781935618256
Edition Language: English

My Review

I bought this book out of interest, having been a fat person for most of my life and tried diets multiple times that worked temporarily. I’d lose a couple of stone then plateau before starting to increase again. And before I knew it I’d be back to my old weight. In the last year I’ve put on 10 kg. The nurse has got grumpy with me, I’ve returned to the Wellbeing Service Health Trainer I was seeing three years ago (at least), and she’s referred me to Thrive. I have to fill in a food diary and track everything. It’s already screwing with my head. I’m trying not to restrict but I’m struggling with it. I want to get fitter, my weight will do what it will.

I read this book with interest. Linda Bacon is a good writer and she makes the science understandable. The first half of the book is about the science, which shows that restrictive dieting may actually trigger the body’s anti-starvation mechanisms, making the dieter obsessed with food and binge. She discusses the social and political pressures around body size and health.

The basic idea is that rather than restricting food and exercising as punishment for eating, people should try to listen to their body, eat when they’re hungry and move in ways that feel good. The book tries to help the reader with that. It’s very easy to read, and full of information. Many will find it challenging because it questions everything we’re told about weight and health.

The book is US-centric and doesn’t discuss disability in respect to health and food. It also assumes the reader is in a stable living situation where they can afford and cook ‘real’ food. At times it comes off as a bit preachy.

If you’re struggling with your weight, sick of feeling a failure because the diets don’t work, try reading this book.

Review: ‘Vile’, by Keith Crawford

Elianor Paine is a Magistrate of the Peace in the Kingdom of Trist and a republican secret agent. She has 6 days to subvert her investigation, supplant war-hero Lord Vile, then coerce his adult children to start a revolution, before her masters discover the truth and have her killed. Just how far is she willing to go? And can she change the world without changing herself?
Continue reading “Review: ‘Vile’, by Keith Crawford”