#Blogtour Cherry Slice by Jennifer Stone @missjennystone @farragobooks

Cherry Slice by jennifer Stone
Farrago Books April 2nd 2020

Reality TV turns deadly in Cherry Hinton’s first case

When Kenny Thorpe, a contestant on Expose TV’s Big Blubber, the hot new celebrity weight-loss show, is murdered on live television in front of 3 million viewers, the case seems pretty watertight. After all, everyone saw Martin do it – didn’t they?

Cherry Hinton knows there’s more to this than meets the eye. As an investigative reporter, she went undercover on dating show Caravan of Love… but after getting in too deep with one of the other contestants, she was caught knickerless in front of the nation. Humiliated, fired and heartbroken, she has fled to Brentwood, where she opens a cake shop, and tries to forget all about Expose.

Until Kenny Thorpe’s sister walks into her shop with a letter that turns Cherry’s world upside down. Is Martin innocent? How is infamous gangster Leon Solent involved? Is Expose to blame, and is there a killer still on the loose?

Cherry is the only one in a position to find out.

My Review

Cherry Slice was the perfect antidote to the times we find ourselves in from its bright pink cover to the wacky, fun story within its pages.

Now I have to admit to being late to the party, to the bizarre life of Cherry Hinton, ex journalist and reality TV star. I loved that she was famous for all the wrong reasons, yet carried on with her head held high.

Her investigation into the death of an old friend took her reluctantly back into the reality TV world. You could sense her frustration as those she encountered couldn’t quite take her seriously, but she was one determined woman, who you knew would succeed.

Now any murder investigation is serious, but Stone wasn’t here to give us complete doom and gloom she was here to make us laugh, to take us into a whole other world. It was a world of superficiality, of characters whose bodies were more often than not full of plastic, Botox and an incessant need for fame and fortune.

The county of Essex wasn’t perhaps portrayed in the best light, but then that was never, I hope, Stone’s intention. It was all about exaggeration and not taking yourself too seriously which I loved.

I absolutely loved Cherry’s mum, her take on and the modern world and out of the blue one liners were brilliant. She was the perfect foil to Cherry, a woman in the know had her eyes in places Cherry would never have thought!

It wasn’t only Cherry’s mum who had the great one liners, the whole novel was littered with them and I will never forget get the idea of The Faeces Factor out of my head!

If your looking for fun and frivolity then Cherry Slice is the novel for you! I loved it!!

I would like to thank Farrago Books for a copy of Cherry Slice to read and review for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Jennifer Stone was born in Essex and spent her formative years living within its borders and enjoying the delights of the multiple night clubs and alcopop-swigging opportunities available. After a stint in North Wales acquiring a degree and a further spell in Leeds, training to be a teacher, she returned to the south of England to teach English in a variety of schools. She is currently head of English at a boarding school in Suffolk and has just completed her MA in Creative Writing (Crime) at UEA. She lives with her wife and their small son.

#Blogtour Two Lives by A Yi #AYi @flametreepress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TwoLives

Two Lives by A Yi
Flame Tree Press March 2020

Seven stories, seven whispers into the ears of life: A Yi’s unexpected twists of crime burst from the everyday, with glimpses of romance distorted by the weaknesses of human motive. A Yi employs his forensic skills to offer a series of portraits of modern life, both uniquely Chinese, and universal in their themes.

My Review

I don’t read a lot of short stories but often wished I did, so was pleased to participate in the blogtour for Two Lives.

Now usually the short stories I do read are from U.K. or American authors, hence a Chinese author was going to be something quite different.

Different wouldn’t necessarily be the words I would use to describe Yi’s stories. They were complex, a myriad of themes that challenged the reader, at times required concentration.

He explored the traditions of Chinese family life, the need to marry well, to produce a son, to be a good wife, a good daughter or son.

Yi showed that life didn’t always go to plan, that the face we showed on the outside was not necessarily what was happening on the inside or out of sight. Each of his characters hid a secret, secrets that Yi exposed through events, tragedy or more intriguingly through crime. His background as a former police officer served him well, none more so than in my favourite story Attic, the final reveal a big surprise.

Other stories saw characters search for inner peace, for something other than what they already had as Yi showcased in Bach. Ba Like’s journey was one of soul searching, of rejecting what he had for something less.

The stories were varied, diverse, some easier to grasp the concepts than others, more of a cultural difference than anything else. I have to say I enjoyed them, found Yi’s style interesting and individual, but isn’t that what literature is all about, to challenge, to question. If you don’t read them all you will not be disappointed.

I would like to thank Flame Tree Press for a copy of Two Lives and to Anne Cater for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

A Yi (author) is a celebrated Chinese writer living in Beijing. He worked as a police officer before becoming editor-in- chief of Chutzpah, an avant garde literary magazine. He is the author of several collections of short stories and has published fiction in Granta and the Guardian. In 2010 he was
shortlisted for the People’s Literature Top 20 Literary Giants of the Future. A Perfect Crime, his first book in English was published by Oneworld in 2015. He is noted for his unsentimental worldview, and challenging literary style.

#Blogtour Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso @LLaaksoWriter @LouiseWalters12 @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #FallibleJustice


Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso
Louise Walters Books

In Old London, where paranormal races co-exist with ordinary humans, criminal verdicts delivered by the all-seeing Heralds of Justice are infallible. After a man is declared guilty of murder and sentenced to death, his daughter turns to private investigator Yannia Wilde to do the impossible and prove the Heralds wrong.

Yannia has escaped a restrictive life in the Wild Folk conclave where she was raised, but her origins mark her as an outsider in the city. Those origins lend her the sensory abilities of all of nature. Yet Yannia is lonely and struggling to adapt to life in the city. The case could be the break she needs. She enlists the help of her only friend, a Bird Shaman named Karrion, and together they accept the challenge of proving a guilty man innocent.

So begins a breathless race against time and against all conceivable odds. Can Yannia and Karrion save a man who has been judged infallibly guilty?

My Review

Fallible justice was interesting, a mix of the real and the not so real, a society where magic, and nature clashed. At first you wondered if it would work, if the narrative would feel clunky, the two worlds too separate. You needn’t have worried as we were in capable hands, Laako’s narrative wonderfully descriptive, the real and the fantasy seemlessly intertwined as she wove her story.

Yannia, was an anomaly a country woman in London, conflicted, wracked by a debilitating illness, her power or magic rooted deep in the natural world. I loved her side kick Karrion, gothic, eager to please to proof his worth as her side kick.

Their task to save a man from execution, to prove his innocence, a race against time. Yet the story didn’t feel hurried, instead it was a journey of discovery deep into a world where good and bad vied for the upper hand, the need for power by one man, that launched a series of events with deadly consequences.

I loved the way I was drawn in to the complex plot, the intricate workings of a society that believed in Heralds, their final word so readily accepted. Yannia seemed the only one brave enough to challenge, to question their omnipotence. It brought her in contact with some wonderful characters, Lady Bergamon with her endless, beautiful garden, the Open Hearth, the pub she frequents which footed the novel in normality, tinged with the weird and wonderful.

I admired Laakso’s ability to remain truthful to the traditional crime novel, the twists and turns, the false leads that confused both us and Yannia. The final revelations were a surprise but made perfect sense, that little hint of danger and trepidation, that added tension and drama.

It was her ability to mix in the spells and magic, to make it feel it was meant to be there, not just added in to make the novel different that I found skilful and seamless. You felt she was laying the foundations, introducing us to her characters as she gave a tantalising glimpse into their past and present lives. You could see the beginnings or future relationships, of troubles ahead that made you year for more, to be taken once again into Yannia’s strange and wonderful world.

Infallible Justice has the potential to be a wonderful series and I am eagerly awaiting the next instalment

About the author

Laura is a Finn who has spent most of her adulthood in England. Writing and storytelling has always been an integral part of her life, but it was turning thirty that led her to pursue a career in writing seriously. When she is not writing or working in her day job as an accountant, she is training and competing with her two dogs.

Laura’s debut novel Fallible Justice was published in November 2018. It’s the first in the paranormal crime series Wilde Investigations.  The follow up, Echo Murder, was published on 6th June 2019. Laura’s third novel Roots of Corruption will be published in March 2020.

Laura tweets @LLaaksoWriter and her website is here.

#Blogtour Whats Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott @stephaniewscott @wnbooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #WhatsLeftOfMeIsYours

What's Left of Me is Yours
Whats Left Of Me Is Yours by Stephanie Scott
W&N April 21st 202
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A gripping debut set in modern-day Tokyo and inspired by a true crime, What’s Left of Me Is Yours follows a young woman’s search for the truth about her mother’s life – and her murder.

In Japan, a covert industry has grown up around the wakaresaseya (literally “breaker-upper”), a person hired by one spouse to seduce the other in order to gain the advantage in divorce proceedings.

When Sato hires Kaitaro, a wakaresaseya agent, to have an affair with his wife, Rina, he assumes it will be an easy case. But Sato has never truly understood Rina or her desires and Kaitaro’s job is to do exactly that – until he does it too well.

While Rina remains ignorant of the circumstances that brought them together, she and Kaitaro fall in a desperate, singular love, setting in motion a series of violent acts that will forever haunt her daughter Sumiko’s life.

Told from alternating points of view and across the breathtaking landscapes of Japan, What’s Left of Me Is Yours explores the thorny psychological and moral grounds of the actions we take in the name of love, asking where we draw the line between passion and possession.

My Review

What’s Left of Me is Yours was that wonderful mix of traditional Japanese culture that clashed with a modern society, that sought to dilute its grip. What intrigued even more was its origins, based on a true story, the notions of a professional marriage breaker seeming slightly odd and maybe unhinged.

I’d never heard of such things before I read this book and it definitely made for interesting reading, as Scott unravelled the unexpected twist. Her characters told the story, Rina, wife, mother, the victim, her daughter Sumiko, left to piece together the puzzle many years later.

The husband, Sato, was truly awful, selfish in his intentions, his main objective material possessions and money.

Sumiko’s Grandfather, Yoshi, whom Scott portrayed as wise, caring, loving but with secrets that lay hidden only to be unveiled when Scott believed the time was right.

Scott made us wait, as she sent Sumiko on a quest, one that was uncomfortable, that made Sumiko look within her own self, to question her own motives and her future.

Scott took us deep inside the Japanese family, full of expectation, the need for a good marriage, to be a good daughter, husband, to work hard and uphold the good name of the family.

We saw what happened when that slowly fell apart, when love overwhelmed and pushed the boundaries. The consequences were like small ripples that gathered speed before exploding in unexpected violence.

I loved how Scott built the story, the many layers, the varied emotions and thoughts of her characters, intentions misread, and ultimately disregarded.

The truth, for Sumiko, was all consuming, shocking, the final scenes psychologically brutal. I admired the strength and tenacity Scott gave her, the consequences life changing yet you knew she would survive, be a better person.

What’s Left Of Me Is Yours was intense, it’s layers deep, it’s narrative revealing and wonderful. A superb debut novel.

About the author

STEPHANIE SCOTT is a Singaporean and British writer who was born and raised in South East Asia. She read English Literature at the Universities of York and Cambridge and holds an M.St in Creative Writing from Oxford University. Scott was awarded a British Association of Japanese Studies Toshiba Studentship for her anthropological work on What’s Left of Me Is Yours and has been made a member of the British Japanese Law Association as a result of her research; an early draft of the manuscript also won the A.M. Heath Prize, the Jerwood Arvon Prize for Prose Fiction, and runner up in the Bridport Prize Peggy Chapman-Andrews Award. What’s Left of Me Is Yours is her first novel.WHAT’S LEFT OF ME IS YOURSis her first novel.

#Blogtour Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb @crimethrillergirl @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #DeepDarkNight

 

Deep Dark Night by Steph Broadribb  Orenda Books March 5th 2020

A city in darkness. A building in lockdown. A score that can only be settled in blood…

Working off the books for FBI Special Agent Alex Monroe, Florida bounty-hunter Lori Anderson and her partner, JT, head to Chicago. Their mission: to entrap the head of the Cabressa crime family. The bait: a priceless chess set that Cabressa is determined to add to his collection.

An exclusive high-stakes poker game is arranged in the penthouse suite of one of the city’s tallest buildings, with Lori holding the cards in an agreed arrangement to hand over the pieces, one by one. But, as night falls and the game plays out, stakes rise and tempers flare.

When a power failure plunges the city into darkness, the building goes into lockdown. But this isn’t an ordinary blackout, and the men around the poker table aren’t all who they say they are. Hostages are taken, old scores resurface and the players start to die.

And that’s just the beginning…

My Review

Deep Dark Night was very definitely deep and dark, in fact it was like sitting in the cinema as the action packed drama unfolded in its pages.

Lori Anderson faced her biggest challenge, to pay off her debt to selfish FBI agent Monroe and rebuild her life with her daughter and partner, JT. You knew it wasn’t going to be easy or plain sailing and that Broadribb would push her to the edge.

She lulled us into a false sense of security, a poker game, what could possibly go wrong before bam, no power, no lights. And this is where it Broadribb excelled, not just with the drama but with the characters Lori found herself stuck with.

The big mob boss, the retired boxer, a banker, ball player, all with their own secrets, all ready to implode.

Broadribb, used them all brilliantly as she brought out the worst examples of human nature, the selfishness, the greed, the need for power and control. Yet here was a woman small in stature, ready to take them all on, not with brute force but with intelligence, guile and sheer bloody determination.

Her cool, calm exterior betrayed her inner turmoil as she wrestled with obstacles thrown in front of her, as you cheered her on from the sidelines.

I loved the two strands Broadribb introduced, that doubled the heart rate, and increased the page turning rate of this reader.

As I have already said Broadribb’s narrative was very cinematic. She placed you right at the heart of the action, as they grabbled with the darkness, and most importantly with each other. The viciousness and selfishness was never more apparent and you wondered just who would be alive at the end of it.

This may be a slightly controversial view but Deep Dark Night reminded me of Die Hard, the movie minus Bruce Willis but with a far better character in Lori Anderson.

Will Lori be back for more of the same or will she head off in a new direction?? I cannot wait to find out.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Derp Dark Night to read and review and to Anne Cater for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Steph 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 crimethrillergirl.com, where she interviews authors and reviews the latest releases. She is also a member of the crime-themed girl band The Splice Girls. 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, which inspired her Lori Anderson thrillers. She lives in Buckinghamshire surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. Her debut thriller, Deep Down Dead, was shortlisted for the Dead Good Reader Awards in two categories, was a finalist in the ITW Awards, and hit number one on the UK and AU kindle charts. The sequels, Deep Blue Trouble and Deep Dirty Truth soon followed suit. My Little Eye, her first novel under her pseudonym Stephanie Marland, was published by Trapeze Books in April 2018. Follow Steph on Twitter @CrimeThrillGirl and on Facebook facebook.com/CrimeThrillerGirl or visit her website: crimerthrillergirl.com

#Review Keeper by Jessica Moor @jessicammoor @VikingBooksUk @MeadOlivia #Keeper

Keeper by Jessica Moor
Viking Books March 19th 2020

He’s been looking in the windows again. Messing with cameras. Leaving notes.
Supposed to be a refuge. But death got inside.

When Katie Straw’s body is pulled from the waters of the local suicide spot, the police decide it’s an open-and-shut case. A standard-issue female suicide.

But the residents of Widringham women’s refuge where Katie worked don’t agree. They say it’s murder.

Will you listen to them?

An addictive literary page-turner about a crime as shocking as it is commonplace, KEEPER will leave you reeling long after the final page is turned.

My Review

‘An addictive literary page turner’ said the blurb and oh how true that was, but that didn’t convey the absolute power that lay within the narrative of Moore’s novel.

It was so much more than a simple literary novel, it’s layers, it’s themes were complex and utterly thought provoking.

Katie Straw, a simple suicide victim or was she, and that was the catalyst for Moore to send her characters on a personal journey of discovery of their lives, their actions. That journey was rooted in domestic abuse but not just the usual physical abuse, Moore examined it all with sensitivity and most importantly balance.

That balance didn’t slate the men who committed the abuse, and I loved how Moore cleverly used the two policeman, at differing ends of their career to highlight the wide spectrum of attitudes. Whitworth, nearing retirement, steeped in old policing methods, bullish in his approach, his social media skills distinctly lacking. You saw his traditional feelings towards his wife, his daughter, the stereotypes he applied to the women in the refuge. Yet you could also sense a subtle shift, as he watched the actions of his younger colleague, the thought that perhaps it was time to step away.

What about the women, again Moore took us away from our preconceptions. She gave us women abused from all walks of life, the 70 year old subjected to years of violence, the wealthy Mum trapped, and then Katie.

A woman at the start of her life, friends, a job, who met a man in a nightclub that changed her life. This was where Moore excelled, as she showed the gradual erosion of her confidence, of her individuality. It was understated, never violent just the little things that slowly added up. You wondered how Katie let it happen, was it the lack of a father in her life, a terminally ill mother that made her crave someone that would ‘look after’ her, take the decision and thought making process away. I found it fascinating and horrifying, Moore’s narrative just wonderful, as she conveyed Katie’s hopelessness, her total and utter despair, her inability to break free.

As Moore alternated her chapters between past and present, Katie’s story unfolded, the literary thriller crept into the edges. The latter parts were shocking and oh my did it take my breath away, at the unexpected surprise conclusion.

Moore had done the impossible, created a fantastic story, with a strong important message. Keeper was chilling, informative and just brilliant.

I would like to thank Viking Books for a copy of Keeper to read and review.

About the author

Jessica Moor studied English at Cambridge before completing a Creative Writing MA at Manchester University. Prior to this she spent a year working in the violence against women and girls sector and this experience inspired her first novel, Keeper.

#Blogtour Black River by Will Dean @willrdean @PtBlankBks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Tuva #BlackRiver

Black River by Will Dean
Point Blank March 12th 2020

FEAR
Tuva has been living clean in southern Sweden for four months when she receives horrifying news. Her best friend Tammy has gone missing.
SECRETS
Racing back to Gavrik at the height of Midsommar, Tuva fears for Tammy’s life. Who has taken her, and why? And who is sabotaging the small-town search efforts?
LIES
Surrounded by dark pine forest, the sinister residents of Snake River are suspicious of outsiders. Unfortunately, they also hold all the answers. On the shortest night of the year, Tuva must fight to save her friend. But who will be there to save Tuva?
It may be Midsommar in Gavrik, but this is the most chilling episode yet in the acclaimed Scandi thriller series from British writer Will Dean.

My Review

I read this whilst in self isolation and it was a brilliant distraction. Tuva was back at her brilliant best, her personal life more stable in one sense, her love life on rocky ground, and her best friend missing.

She found herself back in her old stomping ground of Gavrik, a town in the midst of Midsommar madness, eternal light, a mass of swirling biting insects and a cast of strange and suspicious characters.

And oh boy, Dean’s characters were brilliant from the guy with a serious foot fetish to the woman who bred snakes of all kinds to sell stuff and eat. What became increasingly clear and so cleverly done by Dean was that all could have had something to do with Tammy’s disappearance, all seemed to be hiding something and it was Tuva’s job to investigate.

As usual Tuva was fearless, relentless and at times foolhardy, but you couldn’t fault her dedication and determination. You felt her frustration as people assumed Tammy wasn’t Swedish, not as important as plastic doll heads, and dead animals that led her on a chase through dense forests, and isolated outbuildings.

It was her journey through Gavrik’s surrounding landscape that gave the novel an edgy, nervy feel. You felt you weren’t quite in the real world, that it was somehow post apocalyptic. The buzzing biting insects, dead snakes, abandoned dolls, dense undergrowth and Tuva’s unease at strange sounds as she slept made you feel jumpy, the tension palpable as you read.

It felt as it must have felt for Tuva, never ending as you and she encountered yet another dead end. Then came the break through, as the clues slowly and inexplicably slotted into place, the outcomes surprising but horrifying. But Dean also left us with more questions, threads left dangling as we wondered just what could be next for Tuva?

So Mr Dean, I do so hope you will not leave us dangling for long and that Tuva will be back very very soon

I would like to thank Point Blank Books for a copy of Black River to read and review and to Anne Carter of 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 had lived in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. After studying law at the LSE, and working in London, he settled in rural Sweden, where he built a house in a boggy clearing at the centre of a vast elk forest. His debut novel, Dark Pines, was selected for Zoe Ball’s Book Club, shortlisted for the Guardian Not the Booker Prize and named a Telegraph book of the year. The second book in the series, Red Snow, is now out in paperba

#Blogtour Mexico Street by Simone Buchholz @ohneKlippo @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Mexico Street

 

Mexico by Simone Buchholz   Orenda Books March 5th 2020

Hamburg state prosecutor Chastity Riley investigates a series of arson attacks on cars across the city, which leads her to a startling and life-threatening discovery involving criminal gangs and a very illicit love story…

Night after night, cars are set alight across the German city of Hamburg, with no obvious pattern, no explanation and no suspect.

Until, one night, on Mexico Street, a ghetto of high-rise blocks in the north of the city, a Fiat is torched. Only this car isn’t empty. The body of Nouri Saroukhan – prodigal son of the Bremen clan – is soon discovered, and the case becomes a homicide.

Public prosecutor Chastity Riley is handed the investigation, which takes her deep into a criminal underground that snakes beneath the whole of Germany. And as details of Nouri’s background, including an illicit relationship with the mysterious Aliza, emerge, it becomes clear that these are not random attacks, and there are more on the cards…

My Review

In these uncertain times what better tonic than picking up and reading Mexico Street, the latest offering from Simone Buchholz.

Once again, we became embroiled in the chaotic life of Chastity Riley, the hard drinking, chain smoking state prosecutor.

Oh how she frustrated me, with her ever complicated love life, and her car crash journey to what could only be inevitable self destruction at some point in the future. When that will be only Buchholz can decide, but when it does happen I am expecting it to be of epic proportions!

In Mexico Street, her investigative techniques were sorely tested, as she and her colleagues attempted to infiltrate the notorious Bremen clan and the murder of Nouri Saroukhan. And what a clan they were, brutal to those that opposed them, and unflinching in their pursuit of money and dominance.

Their treatment of women was scary and almost archaic, their attitudes much like how you would ill treat an animal. The disgust you felt was strong, and disbelieving.

The investigation took them deeper into their world, and cars burned as they came up against veritable brick walls and dead ends. Yet this is what Buchholz excels at, as she pulled her characters through a dense complex plot, their emotions and patience were tested to the max. You the reader, felt that frustration, wondered where it would all end before a chink of light emerged and slowly the truth pushed to the surface. What you didn’t expect was the blow away last moments which were somehow surreal, a real kick ass moment that sent my imagination into overdrive and had me cheering from my sofa!

Buchholz narrative was on top form, short and snappy perfectly befitting of its characters and the plot. It’s structure with the odd short chapter, it’s myriad of differing voices, filled in the background of the varying strands, gave the novel that special Buchholz feel that we have come to love and expect.

What will Chastity Riley get upto next? Only Buchholz has the answer and I for one cannot wait.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Mexico Street 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

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up in the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

#Blogtour A Key To Treehouse Living by Elliot Reed #ElliotReed @melvillehouse @NikkiTGriffiths

The Key To Treehouse Living by Elliot Reed
Melville House March 12th 2020

Follow the unusual life and wisdoms of parentless William Tyce
as he shares his poignant adventures in this fictional A-Z coming-of-age compendium.
William Tyce is a boy without parents, left under the care of an eccentric, absent uncle. To impose order on the sudden chaos of his life, he crafts a glossary-style list, through which he imparts his particular wisdom and thoughts on subjects ranging from ASPHALT PATHS, CAMPFIRE and MULLET to MORTAL BETRAYAL, NIHILISM and REVELATION.
His improbable quest ― to create a reference volume specific to his existence ― takes him on a journey down the river by raft (see MYSTICAL VISION, see NAVIGATING BIG RIVERS BY NIGHT). He seeks to discover how his mother died (see ABSENCE) and find reasons for his father’s disappearance (see UNCERTAINTY, see VANITY). But as he goes about defining his changing world, all kinds of extraordinary and wonderful things happen to him.

My Review

I’m going to be upfront from the start and say that this novel was different, it may not appeal to some as the way it was written took a little getting used to. Once you got into the swing of the narrative you were in for a surprising and sometimes emotion filled story of a young teenager.

Unlike other novels his story wasn’t all laid out for us, Reed needed his reader to do a little bit of work, to read between the lines as snippets of Williams story unravelled.

The narrative read like a dictionary, as Reed took us on an alphabetical journey of words. Words that had a meaning, a glimpse into an event, a memory or a part of Williams life. In some cases they were mere observations as William took in his surroundings, as he spent carefree days with his best friend Ned building treehouses in the local park.

What we did learn was that William’s parents were not around, his guardian an uncle who lived in a mansion, and gambled his life away. You got the feeling that William was lost, no structure, no guidelines, a life of supposed freedom when he perhaps wanted love, roots and role models.

As we descended to the latter end of the alphabet you sensed subtle changes, a big shift in Williams life, one that was not necessarily good. It filled me with sadness, anger with his parents, his uncle, and authority that this once gentle, nature loving boy has been cast adrift forgotten.

You forgot about the structure, but admired Reed’s unique and clever structure, the use of his narrative, that somehow conveyed emotion, tenderness, that cloaked Williams struggle to survive beneath.

You had to assume a lot, almost like imagining, your own story and the direction it would take. It was for this reason that I loved this novel, for its unique and understated approach, for an author who was willing to take a risk and most of all for William, a truly wonderful character .

I would like to thank Melville House for a copy of A Key To Treehouse Living to read and review and to Nikki Griffiths for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Elliot Reed received his MFA from the University of Florida in Gainesville and is currently living in Spokane, Washington.

#Blogtour The Operator by Gretchen Berg #GretchenBerg @headlinepg @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheOperator

The Operator by Gretchen Berg
Headline March 3rd 2020

An irresistible, uplifting and warm-hearted novel about a 1950s switchboard operator who learns a shocking secret about her marriage when she eavesdrops on a scandalous phone conversation
It’s 1952. The switchboard operators in Wooster, Ohio, love nothing more than to snoop on their neighbours’ conversations, and gossip about what they learn. Vivian Dalton is no different (despite her teenage daughter’s disapproval), and always longs to hear something more outrageous than the monotonous discussions about quilting and makeup tips.
But on the night of December 15th, she wishes she hadn’t listened in on Betty Miller’s call with an unknown stranger because what Vivian hears rips the rug of her life out from under her. Vivian may be mortified, but she’s determined to find out who the unfamiliar voice belongs to, and why they are trying to ruin her life. And the thing about small towns is, one secret tends to lead to another …
THE OPERATOR vividly captures small town dynamics as it takes us down Vivian’s rocky path towards reinvention and compassion. In this moving, heart-felt and uplifting narrative, unexpected friendships, family tensions and a marriage shaped by secrets are brought brilliantly to life, in an utterly satisfying read from a dazzling new writer.

My Review

Ok, hands up I will admit I love a good old gossip and a job as a telephone operator would have been a dream job! It was Vivian’s dream until she heard what she shouldn’t have heard and this formed the crux of Berg’s wonderful story.

Vivian was your typical 1950’s housewife, with a hard working husband, the perfect daughter and a clean house. I loved her daughters disdain for her seeming lack of intelligence, the world of books a long way from Vivian’s preferred show biz and gossip magazines. You almost viewed her with the same disdain, her superficial view of the world a little annoying, that was until the fateful night and Berg began to reveal a different Vivian.

This was where the story began to get interesting, the myriad layers of secrets that festered below the surface of small town Wooster were like a volcano waiting to erupt. You wanted to how and when secrets would emerge but Berg made us wait as Vivian began her investigations, as other characters crept into the narrative all with their own parts to play.

They were not characters I didn’t warm to but added brilliant colour and a little bit of spice. I particularly loathed Betty, her queen bee status that ruled the town, her vicious vindictiveness that saw many crumble and fall out of favour. It showcased the small town mentality of Wooster, of the claustrophobic cauldron of bitchiness it harboured.

The secrets slowly tumbled out, characters fell by the wayside, others rose above and triumphed. For Vivian it was almost a blessing, an opportunity to look at who she was, what she had become, to restart her life and indeed her family. I cheered at her resourcefulness, at her inner strength and resolve and my disdain turned to admiration and respect.

What I didn’t realise until I read the notes at the back was that some of the novel was loosely based on Berg’s Grandmother’s life. It added a wonderful authenticity and appreciation for the authors ability to pen such a wonderful story. I absolutely loved it.

I would like to thank Headline for a copy of The Operator 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

Gretchen Berg grew up in the US Midwest and now lives in Oregon. She has always been curious about history and family dynamics, and has a personal family tree of over 16,000 people. Her family research started with her own grandmother’s little brown notebook full of details, and it was the story of her grandmother – herself a switchboard operator in Wooster, Ohio, in the 1950’s – that inspired this book and partly provides an authenticity to the narrative.
THE OPERATOR is her astonishingly accomplished first novel with a vibrant narrative full of brilliantly portrayed characters, surprise plot twists, and a deftly handled exploration of the issues of class and race relations in 1950’s America.

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