#Blogtour The Asowa Murders by Riku Onda #RikuOnda @bitterlemonpub @annecater #RandomThingsTours

 

The Aosawa Murders Cover

The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda   Bitter Lemon Press

On a stormy summer day in the 1970s the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party in their villa on the Sea of Japan. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only family member spared death. The youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. Inspector Teru is convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident. The truth is revealed through a skillful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members,
witnesses and neighbors, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.

My Review

I read a lot of crime and am always on the look out for something a little different and The Aosawa Murders were definitely that.

It wasn’t your usual detective, police officer chasing criminals, blue lights flashing and all out action. No, it was more than that, it was slow, deep, intriguing, subtle, that required concentration from it’s reader.

It was a series of voices, all connected somehow to a mass family poisoning some twenty years ago, young blind Hisako the only survivor.

Each voice questioned her innocence, even if the supposed culprit had committed suicide. There was Makiko Saiga, a young girl at the time who wrote a book based on the murders, and the chain smoking detective who years later fought guilt at not finding the clues. The book editor who finally thought he’d solved it, the friends and Hisako herself all came at the affair with differing perspectives, small clues dotted amongst the narrative.

It was a narrative that was dense, full of hidden meaning, of the effects the crime had on them even years later. The beauty of Japan and it’s culture was wonderfully described, as the traditional and the modern clashed against each other.

I found myself swaying between potential suspects never quite convinced of their guilt, as another voice counteracted the others suspicions. It wasn’t until the latter parts of the novel that i began to have some clarity as the psychology behind the murders started to emerge.

I have to say that I still wasn’t convinced who the real culprit was, the ending ambiguous, not clear cut.

The Aosawa Murders was not a crime novel that will appeal to everyone, in fact I would say it was more in the contemporary genre. It was not what you would expect, but you had to admire Onda for her skill and ingenuity, for taking that risk to write a unique and mesmerising novel.

I would like to thank Bitter Lemon Press for a copy of The Aosawa Murders to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Riku Onda, born in 1964, is the professional name of Nanae Kumagai. She has been writing fiction since 1991 and has won the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers, the Japan Booksellers’ Award, the Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Novel for The Aosawa Murders, the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize, and the Naoki Prize. Her work has been adapted for film and television. This is her first crime novel and the first time she is translated into English.

#Blogtour Little Friends by Jane Shemilt @JaneShemilt @MichaelJBooks @sriya_v #LittleFriends

 

Little Friends

Little Friends by Jane Shemilt   Michael Joseph February 20th 2020

Their children are friends first. They hit it off immediately, as kids do. And so the parents are forced to get to know each other. Three wildly different couples. Three marriages, floundering.

There are barbecues, dinner parties, a holiday in Greece. An affair begins, resentments flare, and despite it all the three women become closer.

Unnoticed their children run wild. The couples are so busy watching each other that they forget to watch their children. Until tragedy strikes.

Because while they have been looking the other way, evil has crept into their safe little world and every parent’s biggest nightmare is about to come true…

My Review

Little Friends was one of those novels where you had to just sit down, get comfortable, turn off your phone and read.

It was fast, immersive and more than compelling. It’s themes, our all time favourite, families and what happened when three families came together, the lines blurred, the consequences devastating, the fractures deep and wide.

Eve, Grace and Melissa, the mother’s, the wives were our voices as they navigated us through their lives. Eve, the earth mother, determined her children would have the freedom she never had. Grace, married to an author with writers block, who worked all hours to support her family, frightened of the shadows that lingered around their block of flats. Melissa, wealthy, lost in a family where her daughter ignored her and her husband used her as a punch bag.

Their lives became entwined as like moths to the light they centred around Eve, her chaotic free house, the children liberated as they played their games in the gardens and woods.

We all know that life could never be so idyllic and Shemilt’s ideal did not last long! She drew our attention to the adults as they immersed themselves in their own troubles, their own needs, lulled them into a false sense of security and in the background danger lurked in the most unexpected place. As the reader you could see it happening, like watching a movie as the characters hurtled towards a mass collision, powerless to do anything about it.

Shemilt cleverly interspersed her narrative with snippets of the group of children being led down a dark path, the ring leaders power burrowing deep into their psyche without them realising. You wanted to scream at the adults to open their eyes, as tragedy struck, as their own failings emerged into the light.

Through Eve, Grace and Melissa, Shemilt showed us the frailties of human nature, of how we hide feelings and the truth, not only from others but also ourselves. As truths emerged you could see them push their way into the light, their priorities changed, the spotlight on them and their failings.

The husbands played their part but there were almost secondary, tools Shemilt used to show how women often conform to stereotype, feel trapped, the glue that holds the family together. It was only when the women liberated themselves from those constraints that they could see a future, could forgive each other and ultimately hold on to what was important, their friendship, a strong unit to protect themselves and their children.

A great read, perfect for these rainy, windy days!

I would like to thank Michael Joseph for a copy of Little Friends to read and review and to Sriya for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Jane Shemilt is an internationally-acclaimed, best-selling author of psychological suspense novels. Her debut novel Daughter was a Richard and Judy pick, shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish award and nominated for an Edgar award. It became the fastest selling debut of 2014. Her third novel, How Far We Fall, has been optioned for production as a TV drama by Twelve Town.

Jane’s stories are inspired by her background in psychology and medicine. She studied Psychology at London University before qualifying with honours from the Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine. She began writing while working as a GP, undertaking a diploma in Creative Writing then an M.A. also in Creative Writing, at Bath Spa University, gaining both with distinction.

Jane lives in Bristol with her husband Steve Gill – a Professor of Neurosurgery – where they brought up their five children. She is currently working on her fifth novel.

Little Friends Blog Tour

#Blogtour The Snakes by Sadie Jones @ThatSadieJones @PenguinUKBooks @annecater @PublicityBooks #RandomThingsTours #TheSnakes

 

The Snakes

The Snakes by Sadie Jones

Family secrets can be deadly…

Newly-weds Dan and Bea decide to escape London. Driving through France in their beaten-up car they anticipate a long lazy summer, worlds away from their ordinary lives.

But their idyll cannot last. Stopping off to see Bea’s brother at his crumbling hotel, the trio are joined unexpectedly by Bea’s ultra-wealthy parents. Dan has never understood Bea’s deep discomfort around them but living together in such close proximity he begins to sense something is very wrong.

Just as tensions reach breaking point, brutal tragedy strikes, exposing decades of secrets and silence that threaten to destroy them all.

My Review

A fractured family, a couple attempting to wade their way through the dynamics of that family with consequences non could foresee made for a novel that surprised.

It was a novel I wasn’t expecting, definitely not your run of the mill family drama. It all started off so innocently, so full of excitement at an adventure ahead, as husband and wife Bea and Dan set off on their extended holiday.

There were a couple of opposites, from different sides of the social and financial spectrum. Bea, a privileged background of wealth, private education, who railed against all that it stood for, of a family she wanted nothing to do with.

Dan, mixed race, the product of a single family, from the less salubrious parts of London. His knowledge of his wife’s family wealth hidden so well by Bea as they scrimped and saved, reliant on their own jobs and salaries.

Their arrival at Bea’s brothers French hotel, his manic behaviour, his obvious fragile state of mind, followed by the arrival of their parents Griff and Liv and a traumatic tragic event saw Jones skilfully dissect the psychology of their beliefs and behaviours.

Secrets long hidden emerged, Bea bitter, traumatised by childhood memories, was forced to reconsider her moral stance on wealth, on what a reluctance to take advantage of her trust fund might mean for her marriage. Dan dazzled by the money, a chance to banish the poverty he came from, the freedom and opportunity it promised.

How would this young couple navigate those moral dilemmas, would their marriage survive the as money threatened to divide and ultimately conquer?

You were never sure what the outcome would be, as suddenly Jones changed tack, crime, murder, thrown into the mix, the classic case of who did it, but with an intelligence and depth, that drew you in and mesmerised.

I loved how Jones seemed to exaggerate her characters behaviours as the stakes became higher, as the real truth emerged, Liv almost manic, Griff, calculated and cold, out to protect himself, his name and his wealth.

You felt Bea was the only one true to herself, until she too began to question what her money could do, the compromise she could achieve with Dan, the good that she could do.

Jones lulled you into a false sense of security, you believed all would be well until the killer punch, the whole novel blown apart. You almost wanted to read behind half closed hands as events spiralled, the ending shocking, surprising, brilliant.

The Snakes was clever, intelligent, multi dimensional and the best thing Sadie Jones has written. Absolutely superb.

I would like to thank Penguin Uk for a copy of The Snakes to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

 

Sadie Jones (Author) Sadie Jones is a novelist and screenwriter. Her first novel, The Outcast (‘Devastatingly good’, Daily Mail) won the Costa First Novel Award in 2008 and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize. It was also a Richard and Judy Summer Reads number one bestseller and adapted for BBC Television. Her second novel, Small Wars (‘Outstanding’, The Times; ‘One of the best books about the English at war ever’, Joel Morris), was published in 2009, and longlisted for the Orange Prize. Her third, in 2012, was The Uninvited Guests (‘A shimmering comedy of manners and disturbing commentary on class… a brilliant novel’, Ann Patchett) followed by Fallout in 2014 (‘Intoxicating and immersive’, The Sunday Times).

 

#Blogtour Recipe For A Perfect Wife by Karma Brown @KarmaKBrown @Legend_Press #RecipeForAPerfectWife

 

Recipe for a Perfect Wife_High Res.jpg

Recipe For A Perfect Wife by Karma Brown  Legend Press February 4th 2020

In this captivating dual narrative novel, a modern-day woman finds inspiration in hidden notes left by her home’s previous owner, a quintessential 1950s housewife.

As she discovers remarkable parallels between this woman’s life and her own, it causes her to question the foundation of her own relationship with her husband–and what it means to be a wife fighting for her place in a patriarchal society.

My Review

What makes the perfect wife? How has the modern day wife evolved, are the expectations the same or have we completely moved on?

A Recipe For A Perfect Wife didn’t pretend to come up with the answers but instead gave a seeringly good portrait of the 1950’s and modern day wife.

We met Alice, wife to Nate, as they embarked on a new life in the New York suburbs, a move Alice dreaded. The house, run down, full of the previous owners 1950’s furniture, flowery wallpaper that was far from the clean modern look Alice was looking for. A clutch of old Women’s Home Magazines, an old cookery book and a series of letters acted as a catalyst for a change in Alice. As she dug deeper into the previous owner, Nellie’s world, you could see Alice begin to question her own role. Did she really want babies, to stay at home to cook, clean, be the ever supportive wife. What about her own contribution to the household that brought no income, no job? How far away was she from Nellie, was she really any different?

Nellie herself, married to what she thought was the man of her dreams, the man who swept her of her feet. Richard, a successful business owner, a high standing in the community, where outward appearances were everything. Oh how I loved Nellie, so young, and naive as she found herself at the hands of a cruel vindicate, abusive man. Brown didn’t make us feel sorry or have pity for her, but instead it was the inner strength she gave Nellie to rise above the violence and psychological abuse, through her gardening, her cooking, the little victories as she closeted her own little secrets.

You could see the parallels between Alice and Nellie’s wifely roles, as both railed against the expected norm. Alice’s relationship may not have had the abuse, but she still found the need to conform, to navigate the complexities of a relationship in a modern world that still clung to stereotype, the expected norm.

If Nellie and Alice were such strong characters, the house played its own part. It’s sounds, the noisy fridge, the banging doors, the creaky floorboards, the chill that resided in the rooms, the restlessness reflecting Alice’s own unease and unhappiness. As events unfolded, as questions were answered you could sense the house relax, to calm down as it let out a collective sigh of relief.

And what of Alice and Nellie, two women in different decades, did they find inner peace and answers? Brown surprised with her outcomes, with her ingenuity, her use of Nellie, as Alice’s talisman, as her reason for finding that inner resolve to find her own path. It was an abject lesson that the past still lingered, that male and female still had that inbuilt propensity to fall back on years of what had always been. It was all about taking that leap of faith, to make changes, to compromise, to find a happy medium in which husband and wife can happily co exist.

I would like to thank Legend Press for a copy of Recipe For A Perfect Wife to read and review and to Lucy Chamberlain for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Karma Brown.jpg
Karma is the bestselling author of four novels and is a National Magazine Award winning journalist. Karma lives just outside Toronto, Canada with her husband, daughter, and a labradoodle named Fred.

Twitter: @KarmaKBrown

Instagram: @KarmaKBrown

#Blogtour The RIP by Mark Brandi @mb_randi @Legend_Press #TheRip

A young woman living on the street has to keep her wits about her. Or her friends. But when the drugs kick in that can be hard.
Anton has been looking out for her. She was safe with him. But then Steve came along.
He had something over Anton. Must have. But he had a flat they could crash in. And gear in his pocket. And she can’t stop thinking about it. A good hit makes everything all right.
But the flat smells weird.
There’s a lock on Steve’s bedroom door.
And the guy is intense.

My Review

A first person narrative, a narrator with no name, but a voice that was loud and powerful, Brandi gave us a young girl, tough, drug addicted and living on the streets. Her only friend appeared to be fellow addict, Anton and her beloved dog Sunny.

Their chance meeting with Anton’s old friend Steve acted as a catalyst for events that led Brandi to write a story that was unflinching and realistic. At times you wanted to hide behind your hand as you waited with baited breath to see what would happen next.

You knew Steve was not someone they could trust, the smell in the flat, the road he appeared to be taking Antonio on all spelled danger, yet she had unwavering loyalty, despite the promise of the next drug hit.

And that was what Brandi did so well, the portrayal of the addict, the need to feed the addiction, as common sense, safety and well-being were thrown out of the window. The beginnings of withdrawal, the sheer utter bliss as the drug coursed through her veins left you in no doubt of the power it held over her. When events spiralled out of control, you wanted her to find that inner resolve to fight her way out, to be the person you knew she could be.

Brandi’s narrative was punchy, almost abrupt in places, as it perfectly mirrored the harsh and brutal nature of his narrators life. A life on the streets where danger lurked, but also where friendships were made, where the fellow homeless looked after one another. It gave the novel balance, that prevented it from slipping into the stereotypical, that showed life on the streets may be tough but for some it’s where they want to be, where they are happy.

The Rip was one of those novels that doesn’t come along very often, it’s unflinching betrayal of a life we would never want for ourselves was superb. For all it’s darkness, it had light and hopefulness, a character that liked and admired, an author that proved once again how talented they were.

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

About the author

Mark has worked extensively in the justice system, before deciding to write. Originally from Italy, Mark grew up in a rural Australian town. He now lives in Melbourne and is working on his next book. He is the winner of the CWA Debut Dagger and 2018 Indie Debut Fiction Award.

Twitter: @mb_randi

Instagram: @mb_randFollowing

markbrandi.com

#Blogtour Real Life by Adeline Dieudonne #AdelineDieudonne @WorldEdBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #RealLife

 

Real Life by Adeline Dieudonne   World Editions February 4th 2020

A fierce and poetic debut on surviving the wilderness of family life

At home there are four bedrooms: one for her, one for her little brother Sam, one for her parents, and one for the carcasses. Her father is a big-game hunter, a powerful predator, and her mother is submissive to her violent husband’s demands. The young narrator spends the days with Sam, playing in the shells of cars dumped for scrap and listening out for the melody of the ice-cream truck, until a brutal accident shatters their world. The uncompromising pen of Adeline Dieudonné wields flashes of brilliance as she brings her characters to life in a world that is both dark and sensual. This breathtaking debut is a sharp and funny coming-of-age tale in which reality and fantasy collide.

My Review

I have to admit I wasn’t entirely sure about Real Life and almost decided against participating in the blogtour but I am so pleased I accepted.

First off let’s start with the cover, dark, brooding, a taste of what lay between its covers. On the inside the most wonderful character, our nameless narrator, ten years old when we first met her. Her brother Sam, four years younger, their closeness, almost like a protective force field that kept out the cruelty and violence contained within their house.

A domineering Father, the man of the house, a hunter, with a room of his stuffed kills, who ruled the house with his fists, his unerring temper. A mother, an amoeba as our narrator described her, who couldn’t show any love to her children yet lavished it on her beloved goats. It was almost as if she knew they couldn’t answer back, react violently, but relied 100% on her that made it so easy for her to love them above anything else.

It was a family that could implode on itself at anytime, the how and the when unknown. The story that Dieudonne created and built around this little girl was tender, heartbreaking, yet imbued with a steely strength, and resilience. As her brother, haunted by a tragic, almost comical event, withdrew from his sister, it was the belief she had that she could save him, could rid him of his demons that sustained you, and her, that made you believe she would survive.

The brutality of domestic violence, both physical and mental was one that Dieudonne did not shy away from. It’s impact brilliantly portrayed, the imagery of this large angry father that cast a dark shadow over the entire novel.

There were moments that were so emotional and tender, you wanted to cry whilst the authors description of another event just blew me away. She somehow managed to convey the fear of this young girl but also the strength and sheer determination of someone who wanted to defeat what lay before her.

The latter parts of the novel were heart stopping, the reader unsure until the end exactly what happened. I loved that we had an epilogue as I don’t think I could have coped without knowing the outcome for Dieudonne’s wonderful character.

I read this novel in one sitting, on a train journey and I don’t think I noticed much around me, so engrossed was I in the story. I was totally captivated by Dieudonne’s narrative, by her ability to create this young girl, to delve into her emotions and thoughts so brilliantly.

Yes, it was dark, uncompromising and not an easy read but it was a novel that literally took my breath away. Stunning.

I would like to thank New World Editions for a copy of Real Life to read and review and to Anne Cater if Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

 

Adeline Dieudonné is a Belgian author and lives in Brussels. Real Life, her debut novel, was published in France in Autumn 2018 and has since been awarded most of the major French literary prizes: the prestigious Prix du Roman FNAC, the Prix Rossel, the Prix Renaudot des Lycéens, the Prix Goncourt―Le Choix de la Belgique, the Prix des Étoiles du Parisien, the Prix Première Plume, and the Prix Filigrane, a French prize for a work of high literary quality with wide appeal. Dieudonné also performs as a stand-up comedian.

 

 

#Blogtour Death Deserved by Thomas Enger and Jorn Lier Horst @EngerThomas @LierHorst @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #DeathDeserved

 

Death Deserved by Thomas Enger and Jorn Lier Horst  February 23rd 2019

Police officer Alexander Blix and celebrity blogger Emma Ramm join forces to track down a serial killer with a thirst for attention and high-profile murders, in the first episode of a gripping new Nordic Noir series…

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.

Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missing-persons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…

Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flare for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.

Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…

My Review

I love Scandi Noir and I was more than a little excited to delve into Death Deserved, a new crime writing duo, a new crime solving duo.

From the off, you knew you it wasn’t going to be one of those novels that starts off slowly, the authors easing you in. Instead we were thrust straight into the action and introductions to the two main protagonists.

Emma Ramm was that strong feisty journalist, tenacious and determined, not one to wallow in a tragic childhood event. She had a wonderful vulnerability, an inability to have close relationships with anyone other than her sister and niece. I am sure this will be something that Thomas and Horst will explore in any future novel.

Alexander Blix, was slightly more complex, divorced, a strained relationship with his daughter, content not to pursue promotion in the police force. Again you sensed a vulnerability, a need to stay within the confines of what he knew, responsibility for those big decisions left to someone else to maintain that comfort zone he had built around himself.

It was Emma and Blix’s relationship that was so interesting, the link hidden from Emma, Blix’s almost father like need to protect her, tender, yet cautious, reserved.

There was nothing tender or reserved about the crimes that faced them. An intelligent, serial killer, more than a match for their investigative skills, a true battle of wits that more than intrigued and captivated.

You had to admire the killer for his ingenuity or rather Horst and Enger’s twisted, ingenious imaginations! I loved that they crashed in on the world of celebrity, their cosseted, rich lives, often the envy of their fans, the killer definitely not a fan.

What got to me was that I never really worked out who it was as Horst and Enger dangled a myriad of potentials in front of me, Blix and Emma. They made you feel that you were part of the investigation, the discovery of important clues uncovered at the same time as Blix and Emma, something that I admired, and found refreshing.

We always go on about pace in crime novels, a bit of a cliche, but I couldn’t not mention it. It was fast, unrelenting, as Horst and Thomas flung more and more at us but they never lost their characters, never gave up their human side. We were given glimpses of their past, of their present day circumstances, the little chinks in their outward exteriors that made you want more. I can see a great future ahead for Blix and Ramm and I will be impatiently awaiting the next instalment.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Death Deserved by Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively. Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense. Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller.

#Blogtour Beast by Matt Wesolowski @ConcreteKraken @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Beast

 

Beast by Matt Wesolowski   Orenda Books February 6th 2020

Elusive online journalist Scott King examines the chilling case of a young vlogger found frozen to death in the legendary local ‘vampire tower’, in another explosive episode of Six Stories…

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old Vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged ‘cult’, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’ However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, the tragic and chilling legend of the ‘Ergarth Vampire…

Both a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention, Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…

My Review

Any novel by Wesolowski is like returning home, armed with the knowledge that you are in safe hands and guaranteed a nail biting, engrossing story.

I am always interested to see in what direction he will take us next, what more could he throw at his podcaster Scott King. What has become apparent is that Wesolowski’s imagination knows no bounds, his ability to think outside the proverbial thriller box never ceases to amaze.

Beast was no exception, it’s location the wilds of Northumberland, it’s subject rooted in the bloody legend of the Vampire, and the modern world of social media. I loved how Wesolowski seamlessly married the two together, his victim Elizabeth Barton, upcoming blogging star, left for dead in a local tower known for its connection to a vampire legend.

Who killed her was in no doubt, it was the why that Scott King questioned as his podcast interviewed six people close to the victim.

This is where the cleverness lay in Wesolowksi’s narrative, how he had honed Kings’s interviewing techniques, his questions both searching and non confrontational. I loved how he lulled his subjects into revealing more than they wanted, knowing when to ease off, when to lead.

The unravelling of Barton’s murder was slow, as King dug deeper, as he drew closer to her immediate family, her parents, her brother, all never what they seemed to the outside world, their true feelings and thoughts hidden behind steely facades that screened their insecurities and secrets. I can’t say I liked any of Elizabeth’s family, her parents bereft of love yet generous with material luxury. Jacob her brother, scarred by his upbringing and Elizabeth herself, selfish, and driven to gain fame at all costs that you began to question if she really was the victim.

The world of vlogging, of social media came under close scrutiny as Wesolowski challenged our perceptions, of the cruelty and division it could cause.

Yet, it was human nature, mental illness and the psychology behind decisions made, and the acts carried out by his characters that stood out. Wesolowski showed how a persons vulnerabilities could be manipulated, bent to another persons will, the consequences tragic and ultimately brutal.

And what of the weather, the stark brutality of the Beast From The East, the freezing arctic blast and snow that buffeted the north east and the rest of the UK. Wesolowski used it to great effect, the coldness that reflected a family bereft of love, the blanket of ice and snow that wrapped the town of Ergarth in its evil clutches, a town afraid, suspicious and uncertain.

The outcomes were not as you imagined, cloaked in jealousy, and revenge, but not regret, but a sense that justice was done, and the town could return to normality, whatever that might be.

Wesolowski’s success is undoubtedly his ability to weave a story, to stretch the bounds of human nature, explore its darkest depths, and psychology, to present them in a scintillating and intelligent form to his readers. Once again Wesolowski has delivered, the only question is where on earth will he take us next.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Beast to read and reviews and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based
anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller. Changeling, book three in the series, was published in 2019 and was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year and shortlisted for Capital Crime’s Amazon Publishing Reader Awards in two categories: Best Thriller and Best Independent Voice.

#Blogtour The 24 Hour Cafe by Libby Page @LibbyPageWrites @orionbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #CompulsiveReaders #The24HourCafe

The 24-Hour Café

The 24 Hour Cafe by Libby Page   Orion January 23rd 2020

Welcome to the café that never sleeps.

Day and night, Stella’s Café opens its doors to the lonely and the lost, the morning people and the night owls. It’s a place where everyone is always welcome, where life can wait at the door.

Meet Hannah and Mona: best friends, waitresses, dreamers. They love working at Stella’s – the different people they meet, the small kindnesses exchanged. But is it time to step outside and make their own way in life?

Come inside and spend twenty-four hours at Stella’s Café, where one day might just be enough to change your life . . .

My Review

One of my favourite pass times is to take my current read, find a nice cafe, order a latte, and immerse myself in a good book, whilst keeping an eye on my fellow customers and staff. You always wonder why they are there, are they enjoying a moment alone, catching up with friends or stopping off on the way to somewhere else? This was something Libby Page explored in her wonderful novel The 24 Hour Cafe. a Cafe that I want to visit, so brilliantly eclectic did it sound, with Ernest the stuffed bear the absolute highlight. I did wonder if Page had based her novel on a real 24 hour cafe and I shall be avidly searching the London streets near Liverpool Street when i visit in the new two weeks.

If the inside of the cafe was interesting, its characters were fascinating particularly best friends Hannah and Mona. Both thirty, waitresses, who chased their big break as they auditioned for singing and dancing jobs.

Hannah, was I felt, young for her age, perhaps closeted by an upbringing in Wales, surrounded by the love of two parents. Her life seemed to be at a crossroads as she wallowed in that post break up upset, and contemplated a newly single life. At times I found her selfish and frustrating, and often wanted to shake her, to look and see what was happening around her as she watched her life crumble.

Mona, was what I would call solid, independent, self sufficient yet missed the love that comes from a close family, both parents remarried and overseas. Her friendship with Hannah was her family and as that friendship teetered you could feel her upset and indeed grief. Mona had that resilience that you knew would serve her well, would see her make a success of whatever followed.

I loved that Page gave us their back story, the beginnings of their friendship, the shared life events and that absolute trust they-had between each other.

Page didn’t just concentrate on Hannah and Mona, she also gave us a myriad of cafe customers, whose own lives were perhaps not as perfect as they or other people thought. They were often lonely, or about to set out on a new adventure, mothers with babies, the office workers and the late night club goers.

If ever there was a lesson in ‘don’t just a book by its cover’ or don’t stereotype then Pages diverse mix of characters was it. Outward appearances never tell the full story and not until we stop, look and listen can we truly understand just how some suffer, or even just celebrate and enjoy life.

You wanted everyone to have their happy ending and I liked that Page didn’t take the tried and tested route, mixed it up, surprising us, with some of the outcomes.

The real crux of the novel lay in its examination of friendship, the question of durability to withstand everything we could throw at it. Was anything forgivable or do we just cut our losses and leave?

Did Hannah and Mona’s friendship survive? That is a question I won’t answer here but instead tell you to read The 24 Hour Cafe and discover for yourself.

I would like to thank Orion for a copy of The 24 Hour Cafe to read and review and to Compulsive Readers for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Libby Page wrote The Lido while working in marketing and moonlighting as a writer. The Lido has sold in over twenty territories around the world and film rights have been sold to Catalyst Global Media. Libby lives in London where she enjoys finding pockets of community within the city.

Follow Libby on twitter @libbypagewrites

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#Blogtour The Island Child by Molly Aitken @MollyAitken1 @canongatebooks

The Island Child by Molly Aitken  Cannongate January 30th 2020

Twenty years ago, Oona left the island of Inis for the very first time. A wind-blasted rock of fishing boats and turf fires, where the only book was the Bible and girls stayed in their homes until they became mothers themselves, the island was a gift for some, a prison for others. Oona was barely more than a girl, but promised herself she would leave the tall tales behind and never return. The Island Child tells two stories: of the girl who grew up watching births and betrayals, storms and secrets; and of the adult Oona, desperate to find a second chance, only to discover she can never completely escape. As the strands of Oona’s life come together, in blood and marriage and motherhood, she must accept the price we pay when we love what is never truly ours . . .

My Review

Irish writing seems to be at the forefront of publishing this year, authors old and new dazzling with their vibrant, lyrical novels.

The Island Child by Molly Aitken was another to add the list and oh how i loved it. The past and the present was brought beautifully to life by Aitken as she told the story of Oona, a child born during a storm, a mother who guarded her, cursed her, hid her love as she left her adrift unable to understand herself and her relationships with those around her.

It was hard to believe that not so long ago and, that some people still live on the small islands that surround Ireland, their lives harsh, once based on the land and fishing, now rooted in tourism.  Oona’s life path was to follow the lives of  previous island women, cooking, sewing, housework, tending the land for her family before finally marrying an islander and running her own home.

Aitken however had other ideas for her character, as she portrayed a child at odds with tradition, with her mother who kept her close, wrapped her in religion and the evil that she could become in the eyes of the Lord. You railed against that mother, wanted to cut the apron strings, for her to live in a world not dominated by a fear of God and his recriminations, of the danger that lurked in everything and everyone outside their doorstep. If Oona had been allowed freedom you wondered if she would have found later life so fraught and difficult, unsure of how to love, to open her emotions to others.

You watched as history began to repeat itself as her own daughter shunned her, as she became wrapped in grief and turmoil. Aitken dove deeper and deeper into her emotions, into the events that led her to return to the island, to face her fears, her family and you hoped an opportunity to rebuild.

If the novel was primarily about Oona, it was also a story wrapped in the mystical world of Irish folklore, of faeiries, of a sea that took a man under, before spewing them out. I loved how Aitken interlaced this mystical world into the islanders lives, it took the novel out of the ordinary, gave it an ethereal, and at times eerie feel. The weather and the rugged landscape, all played its part, Aitken’s narrative full of wonderful imagery, as the fog descended, as the waves crashed on the shore.

The Island Child was a brilliant mix of the modern, of the old, of a clash of culture, of tradition, of an ingrown fear of the unknown. It was a novel that beautifully captured your imagination and submerged you into Oona’s world. It was hard to believe this was Aitken’s debut and it will be interesting to read her next novel.

I would like to thank Canongate for a copy Of The Island Child to read and review and for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

 

 

Molly Aitken was born in Scotland in 1991 and brought up in Ireland. She studied Literature and Classics at Galway University and has an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa. She was shortlisted for Writing Magazine’s fairy tale retelling prize in 2016 and has a story in the Irish Imbas 2017 Short Story Collection. Currently, she works as an
editor and ghostwriter and lives in Sheffield. The Island Child is her debut novel.
@MollyAitken1

 

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