#Blogtour The Cheltenham Literature Festival @midaspr @CheltLitFest

I was lucky enough to be contacted by Midas Publication Relations and asked if I would like to participate in the blogtour to promote the Cheltenham Literature Festival. As a past visitor how could I say no, and to receive a surprise book by one of the authors attending the festival was an added bonus.

My book was Luster by Raven Leilani which I will be taking on my upcoming holiday. Check out the blurb and author details below. She will be appearing at the Festival on Saturday 16th October. Follow the link for all the details

https://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature

Book cover for 9781529035988
Picador January 21st 2021.

The Blurb

Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize 2021

Longlisted for the Women’s Prize For Fiction 2021

The Sunday Times Bestseller

‘A book of pure fineness, exceptional.’ Diana Evans, Guardian

‘A giddy joy, crafted with mischievous perfection.‘ Mail on Sunday

Edie is just trying to survive. She’s messing up in her dead-end admin job in her all-white office, is sleeping with all the wrong men, and has failed at the only thing that meant anything to her, painting. No one seems to care that she doesn’t really know what she’s doing with her life beyond looking for her next hook-up. And then she meets Eric, a white, middle-aged archivist with a suburban family, including a wife who has sort-of-agreed to an open marriage and an adopted black daughter who doesn’t have a single person in her life who can show her how to do her hair. As if navigating the constantly shifting landscape of sexual and racial politics as a young black woman wasn’t already hard enough, with nowhere else left to go, Edie finds herself falling head-first into Eric’s home and family.

Razor sharp, provocatively page-turning and surprisingly tender, Luster by Raven Leilani is a painfully funny debut about what it means to be young now.

A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: Guardian, New York TimesNew YorkerBoston GlobeLiterary HubVanity FairLos Angeles TimesGlamourTimeGood HousekeepingInStyle, NPR, O Magazine, BuzzfeedElectric LiteratureTown & CountryWiredNew StatesmanVoxShelf Awarenessi-D, BookPage and more.

One of Barack Obama’s Favourite Books of 2020

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award.

About the author

Raven Leilani

Raven Leilani’s work has been published in GrantaMcSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and The Cut, among other publications. Leilani received her MFA from NYU and is currently the Axinn Foundation Writer in Residence there. Luster is her first novel.

#Blogtour The Rabbit Factor by Antii Tuomainen @antti_tuomainen @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Orenda Books October 28th 2021

The Blurb

Award-winning author Antti Tuomainen launches his first series with The Rabbit Factor, an energetic black comedy, currently being adapted for the screen by Amazon/Mandeville Films with Steve Carell to star, and Antti executive producing.
What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal. Until he is faced with the incalculable, after a series of unforeseeable events.
After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from some dangerous men who are very keen to get their money back.
All improbable and complicated problems. But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses
paths with Laura, a happy-go-lucky artist with a chequered past, whose erratic lifestyle bewilders him. As the criminals go to increasingly extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets.

My Review

If Tuomainen hadn’t informed me that Henri was 42 I would have guessed he was in his 50’s. Why? His whole demeanour was that of a much older, but definitely not wiser man. Tuomainen gave him set routines, a life ruled by endless mathematical calculations as to the probability of outcomes, in other words a controlled and constrained existence.

At times it was funny, those tense nervous moments when a normal individual would just get on with it, Henri, stopped and calculated before proceeding. At other times it was frustrating, and I often found myself furious, wanting to shout at him.

Yet Tuomainen had a purpose, one that saw Henri lose his job as an actuary and to his and our amazement inherit an adventure park. The questions we now asked ourselves were just how would Henri cope, the clamouring noise and chaos of children, parents, and the staff with their myriad of idiosyncrasies. As if that wasn’t enough, Tuomainen added a few wonderful criminals, criminals who were owed money, who would stop at nothing to get it back.

You prepared yourself for a Henri on the run, the uncertainty an absolute killer. Instead here was a Henri who continually surprised, who literally mathematically calculated his way through the numerous encounters with Lizard Man, AJ and the big boss.

At times it was comical, cinnamon buns, wheel barrows and freezers all part of Henri’s new experiences. I never sensed any fear, just an unwavering intellect, a certainty that mathematics would always provide the answer.

Of course it wasn’t all criminals and dark moments, Tuomainen didn’t forget that lurking underneath Henri’s stern exterior was a new softer man just waiting to emerge.

What better way than for Tuomainen to access than Laura, general manager of the park, a hidden past, a talented artist. They made a brilliant working team, but on a personal level the careful tiptoeing around each other, their thoughts and feelings went unsaid. I wanted to knock their heads together, but knew it would be in vain until Tuomainen decided their fate and I had to temper my impatience. Typically the course of true love never runs smoothly and Tuomainen certainly made them and ourselves wait to discover if love conquered all.

I loved Tuomainen’s mix of the serious and the funny, of physical violence versus intelligent and strategic thought, and if a man who discovered that life could and would be so much different from what he envisaged.

It will be interesting to see who the film company will cast as Henri, what the adventure park will look like and to finally see the giant rabbit with the damaged ear materialise on the screen.

I would like to thank Orenda Books For a copy of the Rabbit Factor to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. A TV adaptation is in the works, and Jussi Vatanen (Man In Room 301) has just been announced as a leading role. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’. His latest thriller, Little Siberia, was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Awards and the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. In total, Antti Tuomainen has been short- and longlisted for 12 UK awards.

#Blogtour Lemon by Kwon Yeo-Sun @HoZ_Books #Lemon #NotJustAnyBook YouDecide

Lemon
Head Of Zeus October 7th 2021

The Blurb

In the summer of 2002, nineteen-year-old Kim Hae-on was murdered in what became known as the High School Beauty Murder. There were two suspects: Shin Jeongjun, who had a rock-solid alibi, and Han Manu, to whom no evidence could be pinned. The case went cold.

Seventeen years pass without justice, and the grief and uncertainty take a cruel toll on her younger sister, Da-on, in particular. Unable to move on with her life, Da-on tries in her own twisted way to recover some of what she’s lost, ultimately setting out to find the truth of what happened.

Told at different points in time from the perspectives of Da-on and two of Hae-on’s classmates, Lemon is a piercing psychological portrait that takes the shape of a crime novel and is a must-read novel of 2021.

My Review

If you asked me to categorise Lemon I would struggle, on the one hand a crime novel on the other contemporary fiction. But perhaps it is not for us to categorise but to merely enjoy what was a unique and singular examination of a crime and the grief and trauma it left behind.

The victim, Hae-on was, as the novel progressed, perhaps not a likeable character, self obsessed, lazy, aloof and the more I read the more I felt that she perhaps lay on a spectrum, her actions strange and out of the ordinary. I did wonder if it was the authors intention, or she was merely portraying a young woman who sought attention and perhaps this was reason for her murder. Whatever the reason it was her younger sister Da-on who drove the narrative, who Yeo-sun used so brilliantly, a young girl who took on the responsibility of looking after Hae-on until her death and then the aftermath, the grief, the unanswered questions that drove her to find the answers.

The interjection of school friends gave a differing perspective, one from the outside, of the relationship between the sisters, of the behaviour of Hae-on.

There were the possible perpetrators, armed with motive, one a mere spectator, and I continually found myself looking for the clues, attempted to guess just who it could be.

Yet I felt no frustration, no desperate need to know, just felt swept along with Yeo-sun’s wonderful narrative. The dissection of grief was profound, the consequences of questionable accusations more important than the answers we thought we wanted and needed.

The author left it for us to decide who we wanted the murderer to be and it was a refreshing and welcome change.

Am interesting, thought provoking and wonderful novel.

I would like to thank Head Of Zeus for a copy of Lemon to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Kwon Yeo-sun

Kwon Yeo-sun is an award-winning Korean writer. She has won the Sangsang Literary Award, Oh Yeongsu Literature Award, Yi Sang Literary Prize, Hankook Ilbo Literary Award, Tong-ni Literature Prize and Lee Hyo-seok Literary Award. Lemon is her first novel to be published in the English language.

#Blogtour Bad Apples by Will Dean @willrdean @PointBlankCrime @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BadApples #TeamTuva

Point Blank Crime October 7th 2021

The Blurb

A murder
A resident of small-town Visberg is found decapitated in the forest
A festival
An isolated hilltop community celebrates ’Pan Night’ after the apple harvest
A race against time
As Visberg closes ranks, there could not be a worse time for Tuva Moodyson to arrive as deputy editor of the local newspaper. Tuva senses the scoop of her career, unaware perhaps that she is the story…
Set in Sweden’s Halloween season, when the forests are full of elk hunters and the town of Visberg is thick with the aroma of rotting fruit, BAD APPLES is a thrilling introduction for readers new to the series, and for die-hard #TeamTuva fans, a heart-stopping rollercoaster

My Review

Hands down the best thriller I have read in a very long time and in my opinion the best Will Dean Team Tuva novel yet.

Dean did not mess about and threw us straight into the action, a decapitated body and Tuva right at the centre. What more could she want as the new deputy editor of the local newspaper than a story quite literally thrown into her lap. But it wasn’t her usual haunt, Gavrid she found herself in but the small town of Visberg.

Visberg must have come from a very dark, hidden place in Dean’s imagination, a town you would not want to live in unless your character traits were off the wall and definitely not normal.

First there was the steepness of the hill at the towns entrance, a deterrent, a natural block. The town square, overshadowed by the statue of its greatest resident Alfred Edlund, the family that ruled with their wealth. The apple trees and the pervading smell of rotten apples would be a sense that stayed with me for a long time. The atmospheric narrative, mist that swirled, the forest that pressed down from all around was nothing but brilliant. Dean’s master stroke had to be its residents, the clock shop owner, the twins Cornelia and Alice, their hideous troll creations, the gaming twins, Margaret and Emil owners of the mysterious storage units, the shelf styled Sheriff, trumped up leader of the local neighbourhood watch. Above them all, the Edlunds who literally owned the town with their wealth, arms like tentacles that spread far and wide.

Dean thrust Tuva straight in as she battled for information on the dead resident, as she attempted to infiltrate the impenetrable wall that surrounded the town. Dean didn’t make it easy for the reader, multiple suspects, multiple motives. Then Pan Night their own particular Hallowe’en a night neither Tuva or the reader would forget. Again Dean pushed our imagination, the scenes bizarre, disturbing, the ending shocking.

More leads, more dead ends, Halloween night itself the catalyst for Dean’s finale, and a warning from this reader to be afraid, for your worst nightmare to be laid bare on the page, Dean’s narrative once again brutal, but somehow mesmerising, chilling, horrifying.

Would Tuva emerge from the nightmare, would we finally know the perpetrators, the truth?

Whatever you expected, Dean twisted, turned it around, the final page jaw dropping, this reader desperate for the next instalment.

Will Dean, you have surpassed yourself, Bad Apples was superb, no superlatives adequate to describe my feelings, my thoughts.

I would like to thank Point Blank Crime for a copy of Bad Apples to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

WILL DEAN grew up in the East Midlands and lived in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. His debut novel, Dark Pines, was selected for Zoe Ball’s Book Club, shortlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker prize and named a Daily Telegraph Book of the Year. The second Tuva Moodyson thriller, Red Snow, won ‘Best Independent Voice’ at the Amazon Publishing Readers’ Awards, 2019, and was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2020. The third novel, Black River, has been longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021. Rights for the series have been sold in eight territories (France, Germany, Italy, Holland, Poland, Czech Republic, China and Turkey). Will lives in Sweden where the Tuva Moodyson novels are set.
TV Rights to Dark Pines have been optioned by Lionsgate, the producers of Mad Men, with plans for a multi-part series featuring Tuva Moodyson.

#Blogtour Cold As Hell by Lilja Sigurdardottir @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #ColdAsHell

Orenda Books October 28th 2021

The Blurb

With rights sold in 14 countries, Cold as Hell is the first in the riveting, atmospheric and beautifully plotted five-book series An Áróra Investigation, from one of Iceland’s bestselling crime writers.
Estranged sisters Áróra and Ísafold live in different countries, and are not on speaking terms. When their mother loses contact with Ísafold, Áróra reluctantly returns to Iceland to look for her. But she soon realizes that her sister isn’t avoiding her … she has disappeared, without a trace.
As she confronts Ísafold’s abusive, drug-dealing boyfriend Björn, and begins to probe her sister ’s reclusive neighbours – who have their own reasons for staying out of sight – Áróra is drawn into an ever-darker web of intrigue and manipulation.
Baffled by the conflicting details of her sister ’s life, and blinded by the shiveringly bright midnight sun of the Icelandic summer, Áróra enlists the help of police officer Daníel, to help her track her sister ’s movements, and tail Björn. But she isn’t the only one watching.

My Review

A new series, a new character to meet, a leap into the unknown but in the safe and capable hands of Sigurdardotti.

We were taken back to Iceland, a summer where darkness never truly arrived but Arora, duty bound, touched down to search for her missing sister, Isaford.

And what of Arora? Definitely feisty, confident in her looks, her obvious draw to the men around her, intelligent, and above all determined. She wasn’t without a softer side, guilt that she had abandoned her wayward sister, a duty to give their mother the answers she needed.

Police help is always invaluable and Daniel fitted that bill even if he was on holiday. I loved the electricity, the mutual attraction between Daniel and Arora Sigurdardottir injected, that perfect will they won’t they scenario that detracted from the investigation and I cannot wait to see how that will develop in the future.

The investigation itself was stacked full of potential leads, characters who could have been involved in Isafold’s disappearance. Bjorn, the boyfriend, drug dealer, abuser, definitely someone I did not like but for me not the prime suspect.

That was Isafold’s neighbour, Grimer, a man that Sigurdardottir packed full of mental health issues, a lurid past merely hinted at, and an ability to lurk amongst the shadows. I liked the deliberate way in which the author used him, gave him knowledge that no other character had, yet she shared it with the reader, but I still couldn’t decide if he was the guilty party or a mere red herring planted by Sigurdardottir.

I wasn’t sure how Sigurdardottir would chose to conclude the investigation and it was definitely not what I expected but I guess that was the point, to leave us and Arora in limbo, to have Arora decide that maybe Iceland with its potential job opportunities and new relationships could once again be home for a while.

I am hoping we will not be left in limbo for long as I cannot wait to revisit Iceland and discover in what direction and developments await Arora.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Cold As Hell to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurðardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An award-winning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, her English debut shortlisting for the CWA International Dagger and hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Trap soon followed suit, with the third in the trilogy Cage winning the Best Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year, and was a Guardian Book of the Year. Lilja’s standalone Betrayal, was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award forBest Nordic Crime Novel. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures
in California. Lilja is also an award-winning screenwriter in her native Iceland.
She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

#Blogtour The Shadowing by Rhiannon Ward @sarahrward1 @

Trapeze 16th September 2021

The Blurb

For fans of The Silent Companions and The Familiars, a propulsive gothic mystery that invites the reader to unlock the secrets of Nottinghamshire’s infamous Southwell workhouse.
When well-to-do Hester learns of her sister Mercy’s death at a Nottinghamshire workhouse, she travels to Southwell to find out how her sister ended up at such a place.Haunted by her sister’s ghost, Hester sets out to uncover the truth, when the official story reported by the workhouse master proves to be untrue. Mercy was pregnant – both her and the baby are said to be dead of cholera, but the workhouse hasn’t had an outbreak for years.Hester discovers a strange trend in the workhouse of children going missing. One woman tells her about the Pale Lady, a ghostly figure that steals babies in the night. Is this lady a myth or is something more sinister afoot at the Southwell poorhouse?As Hester investigates, she uncovers a conspiracy, one that someone is determined to keep a secret, no matter the cost…

My Review

Imagine having ghostly apparitions appear in your eyeline, apparitions that could signal something wrong, something that would affect your very being. This was the case for Hester, young, bound by Quaker traditions and a father who ruled the house with an iron fist, and a mother who bowed to her husbands every wish and command.

Ward gave her a life that tottered along, the elopement of her sister, Mercy the only major disruption, yet a letter that announced Mercy’s death and a journey to Nottingham, a stay with her mothers friend Dorothy to find answers gave her the jolt she needed to open her eyes, to broaden her mind.

Ward certainly did that in more ways than one, the journey itself, a new and not altogether pleasant experience. I loved Ward’s vivid descriptions of the salubrious inns, the passengers she met along the way as she slowly left her sheltered life behind.

Ward didn’t stop there, and her arrival at The Black Griffin Inn with no Dorothy to greet her put Hester at the mercy of its owner, Matthew, a gruff man, who eyed her with suspicion. Her subsequent questions and need for directions to Southwell Union poor house appeared to set off alarm bells, and you could imagine the ripples it would have sent around the town. Yet Hester was a woman who was not be perturbed, half driven by a need for answers but also a naivety that Ward instilled within, the danger always ever present, the shadowings never far away. Did she find the answers? It appeared so, was this the end, apparently not as Ward had far much more instore

A return journey to Nottingham, a stay with Dorothy and her daughter Caroline and twice weekly visitations to Southwell Union sparked a chain of events that had a wonderful ghoulish, chilly feel to them. The shadowings became more intense, the danger more apparent, the answers altogether too much to contemplate. She threw in the most wonderful characters, the addled, addicted drug Dr Bant, the handsome Doctor Edward but most importantly the women who resided in the poorhouse. You felt sorry for their plight, for their treatment, willed Hester onwards to bring justice.

We were never quite sure who the culprits would be, I went backwards and forwards multiple times, as I attempted to pick up on Ward’s clue. Did I guess correctly? I got one right but in no way did I see the second, which made it all the more shocking, the greed, selfishness and complete disregard for others this character harboured was beyond imaginable but made sense and Ward gave them a suitably fitting ending.

What concerned most was Hester’s ending and Ward did not disappoint, in fact it left me with the higest grin and feelings of great satisfaction.

I would like to thank Trapeze for a copy of Shadowing to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour

About the author

Sarah Ward Finals 05 2021-3

Rhiannon Ward is the pseudonym for Sarah Ward, the bestselling and critically acclaimed crime author. Sarah has a masters degree in Religious History and has long been fascinated by the long tradition of spiritualism in England and is a member of the Institute of Psychical Research. Sarah is also a crime reviewer and book blogger at Crime Pieces.

#Blogtour Black Reed Bay by Rod Reynolds @Rod_WR @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BlackReedBay

Orenda Books September 2nd 2021

The Blurb

When a young woman makes a distressing middle-of-the-night call to 911, apparently running for her life in a quiet, exclusive beachside neighbourhood, miles from her home, everything suggests a domestic incident.
Except no one has seen her since, and something doesn’t sit right with the officers at Hampstead County PD. With multiple suspects and witnesses throwing up startling inconsistencies, and interference from the top threatening the integrity of the investigation, lead detective Casey Wray is thrust into an increasingly puzzling case that looks like it can have only one
ending.
And then the first body appears, and Casey’s investigation plunges her into a darkness she could never have imagined…

Black Reed Bay introduces a breathtaking, powerful and addictive new series, fronted by the fantastic Detective Casey Wray, from the CWA-nominated author of Blood Red City and The Dark Inside.

My Review

Reynold’s Casey Wray, otherwise known as Big was my kind of female cop, strong determined, full of sass yet she still retained an underlying vulnerability, the odd lack of confidence and fear. Reynolds brilliantly portrayed a woman who had fought hard to get where she was, despite the knocks, the sexism from male colleagues along the way.

If she had fought hard for her current position then Reynolds didn’t make her new investigation easy, a missing woman, a questionable unreliable set of suspects and characters and a family she took to her heart who she needed to discover the answers for.

There was definitely no preamble as Reynolds plunged us and Wray headlong into the missing Tina Gray. The vision of a young woman distressed, knocking on doors seeking safety as she weaved along a dark desolate road was a precursor to the vivid imaginary throughout the whole of the novel.

Black Reed Bay itself, felt unfriendly, inhospitable as you felt the wind whip at Wray’s face, and when the bodies started to turn up, Reynolds narrative sent a veritable shiver down your spine.

The intricacies of the investigation were complex, the layers many and the obstacles placed in Wray’s way numerous. At times you felt Wray’s frustration, the thought she was hitting a brick wall as she questioned her own boss’s motives, had to decide where her own loyalties lay. Her partner Cullen was her rock, her polar opposite and I loved the banter and deep down mutual respect Reynolds gave them. Tragedy was never far away yet Reynolds gave Wray a resilience that you admired, made you will her on to get to a successful ending.

And what an ending, a big yes to Reynolds for the hold your breath exhilaration of those final scenes, of betrayal, but ultimately justice and answers for those that so desperately needed.

What a start to what will hopefully be a new series and the return of Casey ‘Big’ Wray. I have a feeling there are more complex’s and equally intriguing investigations to follow. Am I correct Mr Rod Reynolds?

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Black Reed Bay to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Rod Reynolds is the author of four novels, including the Charlie Yates series.
His 2015 debut, The Dark Inside, was longlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger,
and was followed by Black Night Falling (2016) and Cold Desert Sky (2018);
the Guardian has called the books ‘pitch-perfect American noir ’. A lifelong
Londoner, Rod’s first novel set in his hometown, entitled Blood Red City, was
published by Orenda Books in 2020.
Rod previously worked in advertising as a media buyer, and holds an MA in
novel writing from City University London. He lives with his wife and family and spends most of his time trying to keep up with his two young daughters. Follow him on Twitter @Rod_WR

#Blogtour The Storyteller Of Casablanca by Fiona Valpy @FionaValpy @AmazonPub #TheStorytellerOfCasablanca

Amazon Publishing September 21St 2021

The Blurb

Morocco, 1941. With France having fallen to Nazi occupation, twelve-year-old Josie has fled with her family to Casablanca, where they await safe passage to America. Life here is as intense as the sun, every sight, smell and sound overwhelming to the senses in a city filled with extraordinary characters. It’s a world away from the trouble back home—and Josie loves it.

Seventy years later, another new arrival in the intoxicating port city, Zoe, is struggling—with her marriage, her baby daughter and her new life as an expat in an unfamiliar place. But when she discovers a small wooden box and a diary from the 1940s beneath the floorboards of her daughter’s bedroom, Zoe enters the inner world of young Josie, who once looked out on the same view of the Atlantic Ocean, but who knew a very different Casablanca.

It’s not long before Zoe begins to see her adopted city through Josie’s eyes. But can a new perspective help her turn tragedy into hope, and find the comfort she needs to heal her broken heart?

My Review

The cover does not do justice to the wonderful story held within Valpy’s pages. To say I adored The Storyteller of Casablanca would be an understatement, I adored it, fell in love with its characters, Zoe and Josie, did not want to leave them as I turned the final page.

It was a story of a city at war, of a city in the present day, of its myriad of streets and alley ways, of the rich colour, of it’s culture and heritage. Valpy’s descriptions were off the scale, I wanted to be there, to feel the love that Zoe and Josie felt for it, for the people they encountered and the stories they told.

Most importantly it was the story of two women, women who lived in different times,yet the correlations, the similarities in their emotions bounced off the page. Their residence in the same house, the discovery by Zoe of Josie’s journal an opening to another world.

Zoe, the expat, there to start a new life with her husband and baby, to put the past behind them. Valpy left subtle clues of a trauma, one that didn’t reveal itself until near the end. It shocked and stunned me, but made sense, the pieces of Zoe’s jigsaw finally able to slot in place. Josie’s journal took her away from her own troubles, opened her eyes to a Casablanca far away from the tourist trail. The more she read the more Valpy took Zoe on journey to discover what happened to Josie,

Josie, the refugee, ensconced with her family in a comfortable home, as they awaited documents to flee to a new life in America. Her journal, her voice and outlet for everything that happened, for her thoughts, her emotions had me spellbound. Valpy gave her incredible insight and maturity for one so young, yet there was always the hint of vulnerability and innocence. Her friendship with Nina and Felix was wonderful, but it was her relationship with her Papa I loved most of all. Valpy gave them such a deep and touching connection, as Papa risked his life to assist with the resistance, Josie his unwitting but willing assistant who understood more than her years.

As the risks intensified for Josie Valpy simultaneously increased the self doubt and questioning for Zoe and it felt as if their individual stories would reach a conclusion at the same time. To some extent they did but Valpy don’t let it end there instead the pages that followed were full of emotion, of tenderness, of tears not only from the characters but also this reader.

It was a beautiful heart rending conclusion, full of hope, respect and the prospect of a future even if obstacles stood in the way.

The Storyteller of Casablanca was beautifully written, full of historical detail and wonderful characters, and I do hope Valpy that’s the recognition she so richly deserves for a such a stunning novel.

I would like to thank Amazon Publishing for a copy of The Storyteller of Casablanca to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Fiona spent seven years living in France, having moved there from the UK in 2007, before returning to live in Scotland. Her love for both of these countries, their people and their histories, has found its way into the books she’s written.

She draws inspiration from the stories of strong women, especially during the years of the Second Word War, and her meticulous historical research enriches her writing with an evocative sense of time and place.

An acclaimed Number 1 bestselling author, Fiona Valpy’s books have been translated into more than a dozen languages worldwide.

#Blogtout The Couple at Number 9 by Claire Douglas @Dougieclaire @MichaelJBooks #TheCoupleAtNo9

The Couple at No 9
Michael Joseph August 19th 2021

The Blurb

BODIES FOUND UNDER PATIO

When pregnant Saffron Cutler moves into 9 Skelton Place with boyfriend Tom and sets about renovations, the last thing she expects is builders uncovering a body. Two bodies, in fact.

POLICE INVESTIGATE

Forensics indicate the bodies have been buried at least thirty years, which leads the police to question the cottage’s former owner – Saffy’s grandmother, Rose.

OWNER QUESTIONED

Rose’s Alzheimer’s means her memory is increasingly confused. She can’t help the police – but it is clear she remembers something.

A KILLER AT LARGE?

As Rose’s fragmented memories resurface, and the police dig ever deeper, Saffy fears she and the cottage are being watched . . .

What happened thirty years ago?
What part did her grandmother play?
And is Saffy now in danger? . . .

My Review

Oh my word, there were more twist and turns within Douglas’s pages than the twisty of twisty rollercoasters. Just when you thought you and indeed Saffy and Lorna had worked it out, Douglas changed her mind and threw us back into confusion and questions.

There was no preamble just straight into the core of the novel as two bodies were dug up in Saffy’s garden. Who were they and how did they end up there?

That was a question Saffy and her Mum desperately wanted to know but what if it meant hurtling back into the past, to events and emotions that had long lain suppressed.

This was definitely the strength of Douglas’s novel, little interaction from the police but more of the human, emotional side of an investigation. Told in the alternate voices of Saffy, Lorna and more importantly Saffy s beloved grandmother Rose it felt all that more personal and intimate. Rose’s narrative in particular stood out, elderly, resident of a care home, dementia slowly eating away at her memory and recollections. Yet it didn’t feel frustrating to myself or indeed Lorna and Saffy. In fact it made them even more determined to discover the truth and this is where Douglas’s rollercoaster came into effect. The myriad of avenues explored led to dead ends but also to a mending of relationships, of new acquaintances and finally the answers were all wanted to know.

The answers were disturbing, shocking, the motives complex, profound and the one thing you hoped for above all else was justice for the wronged.

I loved that Douglas included an epilogue as so often you are left wondering what happened to the characters left behind, the victims and if they found peace and closure.

I would like to thank Michael Joseph for a copy of The Couple At No9 to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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Claire Douglas has worked as a journalist for fifteen years, writing features for women’s magazines and national newspapers, but she’s dreamed of being a novelist since the age of seven. She finally got her wish after winning the Marie Claire Debut Novel Award, with her first novel, The Sisters, which was followed by Local Girl Missing, Last Seen Alive, Do Not Disturb, Then She Vanishes and Just Like the Other Girls. She lives in Bath with her husband and two children.

#Blogtour Ghostlights by Grainne Murphy @GraMurphy @legend_times #TheGhostlights

Legend Press September 1st 2021

The Blurb

Can anyone really choose to be forgotten?

An elderly gentleman checks into a B&B in a small village in rural Ireland where he knows nobody. Four days later, his body is found in the lake.

The identity of their unknown guest raises questions for one family in particular, twin sisters Liv and Marianne, and their mother, Ethel, each of whom is searching for her own place in the world.

The Ghostlights brilliantly evokes the lives of the people in the town and explores the aftershocks of a stranger’s tragedy. What is identity? And strangerhood? What is the meaning of home, and what power do we have over whether or not we are remembered?

My Review

The last eighteen months have been difficult but one shining light has been the emergence of some very fine Irish authors, Murphy part of that clan.

A small Irish Town, and a family of strong determined women would always be a win win for me. Ethel, the matriarch, owner of their Bed and Breakfast yet doing a great job at falling apart. Any excuse to visit the local pub, drunken nights spent sleeping in nearby fields or the beach which at first seemed humorous but then sad.

Liv and Marianne, twins, stubborn, determined, their life paths so completely different which Murphy used to great effect, their clashes full of anger, and recriminations.

Liv was the one that stayed behind, ran the B&B, dealt or rather swept her mothers alcoholism under the carpet and somehow failed to understand her son Shay.

Marianne, the twin who fled after the death of their father, hellbent on a different life. Yet Murphy showed a woman who felt left out, blinkered to the real issues of her family, her love life at a crossroads.

For good measure Murphy gave us Fred the elderly guest, at first passing encounters, before a sad end in the local lake. He was, Murphy’s catalyst, the one that opened the floodgates to self examination, to home truths, and a search for a man’s family. Was what Liv, Marianne and Ethel currently had what they really wanted? What about their actions toward one another, their closeness as a family.

Murphy brilliantly unraveled it all and made it all the more gripping and interesting in her use of the characters own voices. Their assumptions of one another, their misreading of situations all keenly realised. You felt their frustration, in fact it made me quite frustrated at times when I too wanted to scream at them to just talk to each other.

When they did start to talk Murphy didn’t go down the tried and tested, let’s all be happy route. She made you realise that talking was the first step, that time would be the one thing that would bond and bring the family back together. It would never be all hearts and flowers, it would still have its issues, but there would be greater respect, not only of each other but also of events and circumstances around them.

I admired Murphy’s narrative the emotion she injected from anger to despair always driving her characters actions and thoughts. The Irish landscape, the small town mentality were seamlessly interwoven, the modern with traditional, the clash of rural versus city ideas and influences. Above all it was her characters that shone , that made The Ghostlights a most wonderful and exemplary novel.

I would like to thank Legend Press of a copy of The Ghostlights to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

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Gráinne Murphy grew up in rural west Cork, Ireland. At university she studied Applied Psychology and forensic research, then worked for a number of years in Human Resources. In 2011 she moved with her family to Brussels, where she lived for 5 years. She has now returned to West Cork, working as a self-employed language editor specialising in human rights and environmental issues.  Gráinne has received a number of award shortlistings and longlistings for her writing including the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair Award 2019, Blue Pencil Agency First Novel Award 2019, Caledonia Novel Award 2019, Virginia Prize for Fiction 2013 and the Bath Novel Award 2015.

Follow Gráinne on:

Twitter @GraMurphy
Instagram @gramurphywriter