#BlogTour | #BookReview: House of Spines by Michael J. Malone (@michaelJmalone1) @OrendaBooks

House of Spines front.jpeg“A terrifying psychological thriller cum Gothic mystery, as a young man with mental health issues inherits an isolate mansion, where all is not as it seems…

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families. Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up. Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems. As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror… the reflection of a woman…

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…”

I am delighted to welcome you to damppebbles today and to my stop on the House of Spines blog tour.  House of Spines is written by Michael J. Malone and was published by Orenda Books on 15th September 2017.  I adored (okay, adored may be a bit of an understatement!) Malone’s first Orenda release, the incredible A Suitable Lie.  It totally took my breath away and remains, nearly a year after reading it, at the very top of my favourite books of all time list!  If you missed my review the first time around or would like a quick reminder of exactly how much I loved A Suitable Lie then please click here.

So, I’m sure I don’t need to say this, but House of Spines had an awful lot to live up to. What needs to be clarified at this point is that, to me, these two books written by the same author, published by the mighty Orenda are completely different works.  I don’t think they can be compared and to be honest, I don’t want to.  House of Spines was a very different reading experience for me.

Ranald McGhie was a likeable lead.  He exudes an air of hopelessness which appealed, as well as his love of the written word (who doesn’t love books?!).  I also enjoyed the relationships he had with the women in his life; ex-wife Martie and elderly neighbour, Donna.  Ranald cannot believe his luck when he is left the imposing Newton Hall by his late Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick.  Having never met his uncle it takes Ranald time to come to terms with the idea.  Not only has he inherited a house but also two staff, a housekeeper and her husband who tends the garden.  It’s like a dream come true.  That is until strange things to start to happen…

I loved the creepiness of Malone’s writing.  He really knows how to make his reader feel uneasy which I think is a great skill.  The prose was so wonderfully poetic in places that I became entranced and totally engrossed in Ran’s story.  The one thing I will say is that I do feel that a rather large dollop of artistic licence has been used in the creation of this novel.  But that’s okay, right? After all, if you can’t bend the rules a little in fiction, then when can you?  I’m a stickler for accuracy and ‘real life’ in my crime reads but this is a psychological thriller, so…..

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  If you haven’t picked up a Michael J. Malone book before then you MUST.  If you’re after a read that is a little different to most everything else then House of Spines may be the one for you.  It’s a dark and eerie read which had me on the edge of my seat.  It has however left me with a couple of unanswered questions.  A re-read may be in order!

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of House of Spines.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

House of Spines by Michael J. Malone was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th September 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Author bio (c) orendabooks.co.uk

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In- Residence for an adult gift shop. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers. Other published work includes: Carnegie’s Call (a non-fiction work about successful modern-day Scots); A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage and The Bad Samaritan. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number one bestseller. Michael is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website http://www.crimesquad.com. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

 

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter | Website |

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#BlogTour | #BookReview: Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech (@LouiseWriter) @OrendaBooks

Maria in the Moon cover.jpg“Thirty-two-year-old Catherine Hope has a great memory. But she can’t remember everything. She can’t remember her ninth year. She can’t remember when her insomnia started. And she can’t remember why everyone stopped calling her Catherine-Maria.

With a promiscuous past, and licking her wounds after a painful breakup, Catherine wonders why she resists anything approaching real love. But when she loses her home to the devastating deluge of 2007 and volunteers at Flood Crisis, a devastating memory emerges… and changes everything.

Dark, poignant and deeply moving, Maria in the Moon is an examination of the nature of memory and truth, and the defences we build to protect ourselves, when we can no longer hide..”

I am absolutely delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Maria in the Moon blog tour which I share with the lovely Susan over at The Book Trail.  Maria in the Moon is written by Louise Beech and will be published by Orenda Books in paperback on 30th September 2017.

I’ve been wanting to read a novel written by Louise Beech for a little while now.  I have to admit to being a little put off in the past as her novels, despite being classed as psychological thrillers, they tend to have words like moving or beautiful attached to them. So, cards on the table, I’m not a reader who would usually seek a moving or beautiful novel. I want terrifying, gory, dark and gripping.  They’re my kind of words.  But the one thing I can’t do is ignore the thoughts of my fellow book bloggers and Beech’s books tend to go down an absolute storm in my little booky community.  When the opportunity to feature on the Maria in the Moon blog tour presented itself, it seemed to be the perfect opportunity.  Plus the early reviews were blisteringly good which helped sway my decision a smidge.  And I really wasn’t disappointed.

Yes, this book is probably not my usual fare.  There’s a lot more heart to this story than I usually encounter.  However, I found it wonderfully refreshing.  Every now and again, particularly as a genre reader such as myself, it’s good to indulge yourself in something a little different  (a little different, not ‘out of your comfort zone, completely different’ – that would be daft!).  And for that, I really enjoyed this book.  I instantly liked the main character, Catherine.  I liked her spirit and attitude to life, the fact that she volunteers and likes to really listen to what others are saying.  I found I could relate to this woman but I also felt increasing sympathy for her as I knew something dark was waiting to be discovered around the corner, something which was going to change her life forever.

Parts of the story were hard going with regards to the content and I was strangely shocked by the route Catherine’s story took.  Strangely shocked because it was exactly where I expected Beech to take the story but was thrown when it actually happened!  Maybe I didn’t want the inevitable to come crashing down on this sweet and charming character. Whilst the scenes weren’t overly graphic they were necessary for telling Catherine’s story.

Having devoured Maria in the Moon I can confirm that Beech is skilled at creating real, well-rounded characters.  The novel is full of interesting people but I want to draw particular attention to Catherine’s mother.  Well, step-mother in truth but that’s not an excuse to treat Catherine the way she does, grrrr.  I also really liked fellow volunteer Christopher, and Fern, Catherine’s flighty journalist flatmate.  Both charming characters who bring a lot to the story.

Maria in the Moon is set in Hull just after the 2007 floods.  The flooding and devastation brought an interesting sub plot to the tale.  The heartbreak and the anguish suffered by those affected and the need for a  specific flood crisis helpline brought tons of emotion and heart to the story; loss of your home, loss of your property, loss of security and in Catherine’s case, partial loss of your memory.  I guess unless you’re caught up in a situation like this you’ll never really understand how devastating it can be.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  It’s an absorbing tale of loss and family, with the predominant theme being loss.  Loss of your sanctuary, loss of your identity and loss of your innocence.  I can see exactly why so many people adore Beech’s novels.

Louise Beech is an author I will definitely look out for in the future.  In fact, I’m going to purchase a copy of her debut novel, How to Be Brave as I believe it’s about Type 1 Diabetes which is a subject very close to my heart.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an eARC of Maria in the Moon.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Maria in the Moon by Louise Beech was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th September 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Louise has always been haunted by the sea, even before she knew the full story of her grandfather, the man who in part inspired novel How to be Brave. She lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – where from her bedroom window she can almost see the waters of the River Humber, an estuary that inspired book, The Mountain in my Shoe.

She remembers sitting as a child in her father’s cross-legged lap while he tried to show her his guitar’s chords. He’s a musician. Her small fingers stumbled and gave up. She was three. His music sheets fascinated her – such strange language that translated into music.

Her mother teaches languages, French and English, so her fluency with words fired Louise’s interest. She knew from being small that she wanted to write, to create, to make magic. She’s inspired by life, history, survival and love, and always has a story in her head.

She loves all forms of writing. Her short stories have won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting twice for the Bridport Prize and being published in a variety of UK magazines. Her first play, Afloat, was performed at Hull Truck Theatre in 2012. She also wrote a ten-year newspaper column for the Hull Daily Mail about being a parent, garnering love/hate criticism, and a one year column called Wholly Matrimony about modern marriage.

Her debut novel, How to be Brave, was released in 2015 and got to No 4 in the Amazon UK Kindle chart, and was a Guardian Readers’ pick for 2015. This novel came from truth – when Louise’s daughter got Type 1 Diabetes she helped her cope by sharing her grandad’s real life sea survival story.

Her second novel, The Mountain in my Shoe, was released in 2016 and was inspired by her time with children in care. It explores what family truly means, and how far we will go for those we love. It longlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker Prize.

Author Links: | Website | Twitter |

#BookReview: The Last Resort by Steph Broadribb (@crimethrillgirl) @OrendaBooks

the last resort.jpg“Done with a life of exploitation and violence, Lori Anderson is training to be a bounty hunter. Holed up in the Georgia Mountains with her reclusive mentor, JT, Lori is determined to put her new skills into practice. Behind JT’s back, she breaks his rules and grabs the chance she’s looking for. Will her gamble pay off, or will she have to learn the hard way?

The Last Resort is the first in the Rookie Bounty Hunter series of short stories, marking the nail-biting start to a high-octane series of thrillers featuring one of the most unforgettable and fearless female protagonists in crime fiction.”

Eeeeekkkk!!  Imagine my joy when early on Sunday morning I received a tweet telling me that a Lori Anderson short story had been published (thank you Christine!) and was mine for the taking, in exchange for 99p of course!  I was over the moon and a little giddy.  Actually, quite giddy because I ADORE Lori Anderson.  If you missed my review of Deep Down Dead earlier this year then click here.  And more recently, if you missed me shouting about my favourite Summer crime read over on Northern Crime, then click here (it’s Deep Down Dead by the way!).

I couldn’t wait to get my paws on The Last Resort and oh wow, if you want an introduction to the world of kick-ass bounty hunter Lori Anderson then this is the way to do it.  This is the first in the Rookie Bounty Hunter series of short stories and I cannot wait for the next instalment.  We meet Lori and her trainer JT as JT pummels and pounds her into the Georgia mountain soil.  With an increasing number of bruises on her butt, our girl just keeps getting up to take more of the same.  After all, training to be a bounty hunter means you’re going to get hurt.  If you haven’t met Lori before you will soon learn pretty much everything you need to know about this strong, determined, feisty young woman.

JT is out on a job leaving Lori alone in his cabin.  The phone rings and she is told about a bail skipper who needs to be caught; he’s missed his court date.  Lori decides it’s time. She’s had enough training, she can handle this on her own.  But can she…?

One of the things I love the most about the Lori Anderson books is how deliciously American they are.  Even in a short story Steph Broadribb is able to transport you effortlessly to the Georgia mountains; the heat, the dust, the isolation.  I flipping love it and despite only being a short story it was a wonderful thing to be united with one of my favourite characters in crime fiction, the magnificent Lori Anderson.

Would I recommend this book?  Absolutely!  Lori has quickly become a firm favourite and I can’t wait for more.  It’s a punchy, fast paced short story and I absolutely loved it. More please, Steph Broadribb, and soon.

Five out of five stars.

The Last Resort by Steph Broadribb was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 1st August 2017 and is available in eBook format | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

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steph broadribb.jpgSteph Broadribb was born in Birmingham and grew up in Buckinghamshire. Most of her working life has been spent between the UK and USA. As her alter ego – Crime Thriller Girl – she indulges her love of all things crime fiction by blogging at www.crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases.

Steph is an alumni of the MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) at City University London, and she trained as a bounty hunter in California. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Deep, Down, Dead is her debut novel.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Blog |

 

#BlogTour | #BookReview: The Other Twin by L.V. Hay (@LucyVHayAuthor) @OrendaBooks

The Other Twin cover.jpg“A stunning, dark and sexy debut thriller set in the winding lanes and underbelly of Brighton, centring around the social media world, where resentments and accusations are played out, identities made and remade, and there is no such thing as the truth

When India falls to her death from a bridge over a railway, her sister Poppy returns home to Brighton for the first time in years. Unconvinced by official explanations, Poppy begins her own investigation into India’s death. But the deeper she digs, the closer she comes to uncovering deeply buried secrets. Could Matthew Temple, the boyfriend she abandoned, be involved? And what of his powerful and wealthy parents, and his twin sister, Ana? Enter the mysterious and ethereal Jenny: the girl Poppy discovers after hacking into India’s laptop. What is exactly is she hiding, and what did India find out about her? Taking the reader on a breathless ride through the winding lanes of Brighton, into its vibrant party scene and inside the homes of its wellheeled families, The Other Twin is startling and up-to-the-minute thriller about the social-media world, where resentments and accusations are played out online, where identities are made and remade, and where there is no such thing as truth…”

I am thrilled to be one of two stops today for The Other Twin blog tour.  The Other Twin is the debut novel from L.V. Hay and was published by Orenda Books on 3rd July 2017.  I was privileged to have L.V. Hay feature as one of the authors on my #damppebblestakeover last year. Hay wrote a fascinating piece on the ‘star rating system’ which still, to this day, has more views than most other posts on the blog.  If you missed it the first time then please click here.

I was excited when I heard Orenda Books were going to publish Hay’s debut novel, The Other Twin.  I couldn’t wait to get my mitts on a copy of this book.  And I wasn’t the slightest bit disappointed.  I was expecting something a little different to my usual reads and flipping heck, I got it!  This is a psychological thriller.  But this is also so much MORE than your standard psychological thriller.  It was a breath of fresh air.

The Other Twin focusses partly on the LGBTQIA scene in the vibrant seaside town of Brighton. Poppy’s younger sister, India has recently committed suicide but despite a lack of contact over the years, Poppy knows India would never take her own life.  As the story unfolds we follow Poppy as she attempts to discover exactly who wanted her sister dead and the twisted reasons why.  The only evidence to hand are coded blog posts written in the lead up to India’s death.  Poppy has to work out exactly who they refer to and what part, if any, they played in India’s demise.  What I wasn’t expecting but was (unusually for me) pleasantly surprised by was the romance aspect of this novel. Returning to the place she grew up Poppy has to confront old friends as well as her ex-lover. The end of the romance was particularly unpleasant which normally dictates the reunion should be equally as unpleasant, which it is.  But the chemistry between Poppy and Matthew just won’t go away.  I loved the friction between these two characters.  There was a sense of deceit, of wrong-doing oozing from Matthew which I loved.

Would I recommend this book?  I would.  I loved the nest of lies and deceit this story was built upon.  I really enjoyed Poppy’s determination to find the truth for her sister and the muddle of secrets she has to wade through to do so.  A great, brilliantly written, confident mystery and I can’t wait to read more from L.V. Hay.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of The Other Twin.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.  My thanks to Orenda Books and Anne Cater for asking me to join the tour.

The Other Twin by L.V. Hay was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 3rd July 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Lucy V. Hay is a novelist, script editor and blogger who helps writers via her Bang2write consultancy. She is the associate producer of Brit Thrillers Deviation (2012) and Assassin(2015), both starring Danny Dyer. Lucy is also head reader for the London Screenwriters’ Festival and has written two non-fiction books, Writing & Selling Thriller Screenplays, plus its follow-up Drama ScreenplaysShe lives in Devon with her husband, three children, six cats and five African Land Snails.

Author Links: | Website | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Exquisite by Sarah Stovell (@Sarahlovescrime) @OrendaBooks @annecater

exquisite cover.jpg“Bo Luxton has it all – a loving family, a beautiful home in the Lake District, and a clutch of bestselling books to her name.

Enter Alice Dark, an aspiring writer who is drifting through life, with a series of dead-end jobs and a freeloading boyfriend.

When they meet at a writers’ retreat, the chemistry is instant, and a sinister relationship develops… Or does it?

Breathlessly pacey, taut and terrifying, Exquisite is a startlingly original and unbalancing psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page.”

 

I am thrilled to welcome you today to my stop on the Exquisite blog tour which I share with the very lovely Donna over at Chocolate’n’Waffles.  Exquisite is written by Sarah Stovell and was published by the marvellous Orenda Books on 15th June 2017.

Exquisite is exactly that, exquisite.  There has been a lot of excitement and hype over this book of late and I can tell you now; every compliment and every ounce of praise piled on this book is completely deserved.  I may have mentioned my top ten list of books of 2017 to you before.  I have a number of books that are hanging on the periphery; some that will make it to the list, others that won’t.  And then I have the dead certs.  Exquisite is a dead cert (along with two of its Orenda Books cousins).  Sublime, intense, claustrophobic and totally, totally divine.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I first picked up my copy of Exquisite.  I had heard that the story was set around two woman beginning a dangerous affair.  In all honesty, I couldn’t care less about it being two woman (or two men, or a man and a woman; you get the picture).  What made me uncomfortable was that I’m not one for sexy dealings and soggy romance in my books.  If there is any kind of love interest in the stories I read then I ‘tend’ to switch off a little.  I say ‘tend’ because it’s not always the case, just more often than not!  But this book….!  Sarah Stovell has written such a twisted, delicious and gripping story that I forgot I was reading about a love affair.

We meet Bo Luxton, writer and mother to two young daughters.  Bo is married (I can’t say happily as it’s more of a marriage of convenience) and teaches the odd writing course.  There she meets young, outgoing wannabe, Alice at a writers retreat.  A bond is formed, which blooms into a mentor and mentee arrangement, quickly followed by a wonderfully supportive friendship.  Bo and Alice email each other daily and before long, their friendship grows into something else.  Or does it…?

If you buy only one book this week, this month, this year…make it this one.  Sarah Stovell has created a magnificent and perfectly crafted piece of fiction which sucked me in, chewed me up and spat me out.  And I LOVED it.  Regular readers may be aware that I’m not the fastest reader in the blogosphere but this book, I couldn’t put down.  I started reading at 4pm on the Sunday and was finished by 9am on the Monday – I absolutely drank it in and I’m desperate for more.

Would I recommend this book?  If you still need that question answering then you must have skipped to this part of the review without reading the rest!  Yes, I would recommend this book as it’s divine.  It’s the most intoxicating read since…well, I can’t think of anything to compare it to right now.  It’s so darn good that it deserves to win award, after award, after award.  Orenda Books, you’ve done it again!

Five out of five stars (more if I could)

I chose to read and review an ARC of Exquisite.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

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sarah stovellSarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, is set in the Lake District.

Author Links: | Facebook | Twitter |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen | @OrendaBooks #VargVeum

wolves in the dark cover“PI Varg Veum fights for his reputation, his freedom and his life, when child pornography is found on his computer and he is arrested and jailed. Worse still, his memory is a blank…

Reeling from the death of his great love, Karin, Varg Veum’s life has descended into a self-destructive spiral of alcohol, lust, grief and blackouts.

When traces of child pornography are found on his computer, he’s accused of being part of a paedophile ring and thrown into a prison cell. There, he struggles to sift through his past to work out who is responsible for planting the material… and who is seeking the ultimate revenge.

When a chance to escape presents itself, Varg finds himself on the run in his hometown of Bergen. With the clock ticking and the police on his tail, Varg takes on his hardest – and most personal – case yet.

Chilling, shocking and exceptionally gripping, Wolves in the Dark reaffirms Gunnar Staalesen as one of the world’s foremost thriller writers.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Wolves in the Dark blog tour alongside the lovely Caroline over at Bits About Books.  Wolves in the Dark is the latest in this thrilling series which author, Gunnar Staalesen started writing 40 years ago this year.  I read and reviewed Wolves in the Dark‘s predecessor, Where Roses Never Die a year ago (almost to the day) and I absolutely loved it.  It was an easy five-star read for me and I am still recommending it to readers a year later.  If you missed that review click here for a recap.  So imagine how excited I was to hear Orenda Books was about to publish the latest instalment of the Varg Veum series.

And I was not disappointed.  For those new to this series Varg Veum is a fairly recently bereaved Private Investigator who has fallen prey to the temptations of alcohol and lust. He certainly hasn’t been living a clean life of late but is determined to get a hold of himself and get back on track.  Veum is shocked to discover the police knocking on his door in the early hours and even more aghast when he is arrested for sending and receiving child pornography.  All the evidence points to Varg having some incredibly dark and sickening past times but he knows he’s innocent.  Now all he had to do is prove that before he is charged with one of the most heinous crimes of all…

Varg Veum has such appeal for me.  I do like my main protagonists a little battered and bruised around the edges so he ticks the boxes.  I couldn’t, at the start of the novel, see how Veum was going to get himself out of the fix he was in.  After all, how can he prove he’s innocent when all of the evidence says otherwise and he’s locked in a cell!  I thought the author did an excellent job of working around this problem.  The plot flowed well and didn’t feel at all forced.  I enjoyed how many suspects Veum came up with, those looking for the ultimate revenge on our beleagured PI.  As the list grew I became even more intrigued by Veum than I was previously.  He’s certainly not one to tread lightly when on the hunt for a suspect!

I did, however feel a little confused at times as there are so many different threads within the investigation, and quite a few Norwegian names (as you would expect!).  So I ended up re-reading several sections to make sure I knew the characters and how they connected to one another.  Saying that, Staalesen is a master at what he does and, after reading Wolves in the Dark it reminded me exactly how much I want to read all of the other Veum novels (those which have been translated to English, of course!  My Norwegian is still….let’s say rusty, lol).

This is a very dark novel and not one for the faint-hearted.  If you’ve read the blurb you will know that there is mention of child abuse throughout the story but the author manages to steer clear of anything too graphic, most of the time.  There is one scene which I found upsetting, but I can’t see how else this would be dealt with as it’s key to the plot.  The scene in question is brief and referred to only a couple of times in passing throughout the remainder of book.

Would I recommend this book?  I would but it’s a hard read in places due to the subject matter.  Don’t let that put you off though as Veum is an addictive character and Staalesen is a master of the thriller.  And aren’t books supposed to make us all feel a little uncomfortable at times?  I, for one, am looking forward to the next instalment and meeting up with Veum once again.  And this is a perfect opportunity to wish a very happy 40th anniversary to Gunnar Staalesen and Varg Veum, long may this excellent series continue.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Wolves in the Dark.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Wolves in the Dark by Gunnar Staalesen (translated by Don Bartlett) was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th June 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway in 1947. He made his debut at the age of 22 with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over 20 titles, which have been published in 24 countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Epsen Seim. Staalesen, who has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour), lives in Bergen with his wife. When Prince Charles visited Bergen, Staalesen was appointed his official tour guide. There is a life-sized statue of Varg Veum in the centre of Bergen, and a host of Varg Veum memorabilia for sale. We Shall Inherit the Wind and Where Roses Never Die were both international bestsellers.

Author Links: | Orenda Books | Website |

#BlogTour | #BookReview: Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson (@JoGustawsson) @OrendaBooks

block 46 cover.jpg“Evil remembers…

Falkenberg, Sweden. The mutilated body of talented young jewellery designer, Linnea Blix, is found in a snow-swept marina.
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.

Plumbing the darkness and the horrific evidence of the nature of evil, Block 46 is a multi-layered, sweeping and evocative thriller that heralds a stunning new voice in French Noir.”

I am delighted to welcome you to my stop on the Block 46 blog tour today.  Block 46 is written by French author Johana Gustawsson and was published in the UK in paperback format on 15th May 2017 by Orenda Books.

This is one of those books which has been receiving a lot of attention from fellow bloggers and reviewers.  And rightly so!  Block 46 had a very different feel to many of the other crime thrillers I’ve read of late.  The  fact the novel is based on true events brings a brand new level of horror and makes the reading experience that little bit more uncomfortable.  Just as it should be when we’re talking about the atrocities committed by the Nazi’s in the Second World War.  You may have read reviews where the fairly graphic violence is highlighted.  Well, yes, it is violent.  But Gustawsson couldn’t have told this story any other way.  To have played certain scenes down would have removed the the impact of Block 46.  This is a book where graphic violence is necessary and sadly, true to the story.

I found Alexis Castells and Emily Roy a very different but fascinating investigative team. Castells is a true crime writer, originally from France but now based in London.  Roy, a profiler on loan to Scotland Yard from the Canadian Royal Mounted Police.  I really liked Emily Roy.  She’s precise, straight to the point and the investigation receives 100% of her attention.  There was one point, towards the end of the book, where I realised exactly how much I liked Emily Roy.  It was a real heartwarming moment which I hope the author expands on in the second book (there has to be a back story there, surely!).

Would I recommend this book?  I would, but prepare yourself for what is a very tough read in places.  It’s a dark, unsettling, harrowing novel that will make you stop and think. It certainly had that effect on me.  I loved the twist and would read another novel by Gustawsson in a heartbeat.

Four out of five stars.

I chose to read and review an ARC of Block 46.  The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Block 46 by Johana Gustawsson was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 15th May 2017 and is available in paperback, eBook and audio formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author2

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Author bio from orendabooks.co.uk

Born in 1978 in Marseille and with a degree in political science, Johana Gustawsson has worked as a journalist for the French press and television. She married a Swede and now lives in London. She was the co-author of a bestseller, On se retrouvera, published by Fayard Noir in France, whose television adaptation drew over 7 million viewers in June 2015. She is working on the next book in the Roy & Castells series.

Author Links: | Twitter | Facebook | Website |

 

#BlogTour: Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty (@Hardisty_Paul) @OrendaBooks

Reconciliation for the Dead cover.jpeg“Fresh from events in Yemen and Cyprus, vigilante justice-seeker Claymore Straker returns to South Africa, seeking absolution for the sins of his past. Over four days, he testifies to Desmond Tutu’s newly established Truth and Reconciliation Commission, recounting the shattering events that led to his dishonourable discharge and exile, fifteen years earlier. It was 1980. The height of the Cold War. Clay is a young paratrooper in the South African Army, fighting in Angola against the Communist insurgency that threatens to topple the White Apartheid regime. On a patrol deep inside Angola, Clay, and his best friend, Eben Barstow, find themselves enmeshed in a tangled conspiracy that threatens everything they have been taught to believe about war, and the sacrifices that they, and their brothers in arms, are expected to make. Witness and unwitting accomplice to an act of shocking brutality, Clay changes allegiance and finds himself labelled a deserter and accused of high treason, setting him on a journey into the dark, twisted heart of institutionalised hatred, from which no one will emerge unscathed. Exploring true events from one of the most hateful chapters in South African history, Reconciliation for the Dead is a shocking, explosive and gripping thriller from one finest writers in contemporary crime fiction.”

I am thrilled to welcome you to my stop on the Reconciliation for the Dead blog tour today which I share with the lovely Jen over at Jen Med’s Book Reviews.  Reconciliation for the Dead is the third book in the Claymore Straker series and is proving to be a hit amongst bloggers and crime reviewers.  I have read the second book in this series, The Evolution of Fear and thoroughly enjoyed it.

To celebrate Reconciliation for the Dead‘s release on 30th May I have a cracking guest post from author, Paul E. Hardisty. For those new to Claymore Straker it provides a little more information about the series so far and explains why Paul Hardisty is so well equipped to write on these topics.  So without further ado, I’ll hand you over to Paul…

Corruption’s Fearful Reach
Paul E. Hardisty

My career as a hydrologist and environmental engineer has taken me all over the world, and much of my work has taken place in poor, developing countries where basic things like clean water, sanitation, and freedom from religious and political persecution are non-existent, or exist only as rumour. And all too often, the root cause of the poverty and inequity in these places is not a lack of resources, but widespread corruption, not only inside government, but within the institutions responsible for the welfare of society, such as the police, the medical services, local government, regulatory and planning bodies of all kinds, and within poorly-regulated industries. In my work and travels, I have seen first-hand what corruption does to people. It strips wealth from the poorest in society, and accumulates it unrelentingly with the powerful and rich. It drives the plunder of natural resources and destruction of the environment, and it systematically silences those who would speak up to expose it.

My first novel, the CWA John Creasy Dagger award short-listed The Abrupt Physics of Dying, is set in Yemen during the 1994 civil war, in the wake of huge oil discoveries in the east of the country. New found wealth, and the opportunity for plunder, drove widespread corruption and war. Corruption takes many forms, of course, and is certainly not restricted to the developing world. My country of Australia has been scandalised on a regular basis by revelations of corrupt practices in government and industry, each time with regular expressions of shock that ‘it could happen here.’ But wherever it is practiced, corruption always depends on one powerful weapon: fear.

My second novel, The Evolution of Fear, explores how those who seek to manipulate society for their own ends use fear, in all its many forms, to control us, silence us, and even in the extreme, to get us to vote for things that are not in our own best interest. Shakespeare famously wrote: “Our fears do make us traitors.” By using fear, the corrupt forces in society force us to abandon our principles, and betray the things we care about.  Faced with a legitimate threat of bodily harm or death over a social issue, few among us would choose to stand and fight. But often, the threats are subtler, more carefully veiled: lose your job, get passed up for that promotion or bonus, suffer public humiliation or bullying or slander. Invariably, whatever form the coercion takes, those that choose to stand up and fight, more often than not, pay the price.

My new novel, Reconciliation for the Dead, (the third novel in the Claymore Straker series), is set in apartheid-era South Africa, during the early 1980’s, a time of institutionalised racism, war, and civil insurrection. As a young soldier in the South African army, fighting the communist insurgency in Angola, Clay comes face to face with a crime so horrific that it changes him forever. Set on a course he cannot change, Clay confronts the deep-seated corruption embedded in the system, and eventually must decide whether to stay and fight, or run, and hope that the information he carries might eventually make a difference.

The Claymore Straker novels are thrillers, which puts them in the “Crime” genre. But the crimes that Clay confronts are legal crimes, and at their root is deep-seated corruption, perpetuated by fear.

Thank you for such an interesting guest post, Paul.  I can’t wait to read Reconciliation for the Dead so look out for a review on the  blog soon.

Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty was published in the UK by Orenda Books on 30th May 2017 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Waterstones | Goodreads |

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about the author2

Paul Hardisty.jpegCanadian by birth, Paul Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels. In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners out of Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and Director of Australia’s national land, water, ecosystems and climate adaptation research programmes. He is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia with his family.

Author Links:Twitter |