#Blogpost Tasting Sunlight by Ewald Arenz @EwardArenz @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TastingSunlight

Orenda Books June 23rd 2022

The Blurb

Teenager Sally has just run away from a clinic where she is to be treated for anorexia. She’s furious with everything and everyone, and wants to be left in peace. Liss is in her forties, living alone on a large farm that she runs single- handedly. She has little contact with the outside world, and no need for other people.
From their first meeting, Sally realises that Liss isn’t like other adults; she
The first night lengthens into weeks as Sally starts to find pleasure in working with the bees, feeding the chickens, and harvesting potatoes. Eventually an unlikely friendship develops and these two damaged women slowly open up – connecting to each other, reconnecting with themselves, and facing the darkness in their pasts through their shared work on the land.

My Review

I always think it is a mark of a talented author particularly a male that somehow manages to understand the female psyche, to write a whole novel driven by two female protagonists.

Let’s start with Sally a young teenager on the run from a clinic fed up of being told what to do or more importantly what to feel.

She headed, unbeknown to herself to Lisa’s farm, a woman alone, ostracised by the local villagers, with an inherent sense of quiet resilience, a past mired in mystery.

Their relationship formed the brilliance of Arenz’s novel, his perception of their feelings of their emotions was to me astonishing. How could he drill down so perfectly on a young teenagers rebellion against her parents, authority, and at some points her own self. Liss, contained but never one to ask or press Sally, a quiet acknowledgment and understanding that they were the same.

I enjoyed Arenz use of the farming landscape, of the simple acts of gathering crops, of waking up to a glorious autumn sunrise, how it gave Sally peace, a full stop in the perpetual circle of fighting what others thought she should do. Yet Arenz knew their quiet existence would not and could not continue.

Sally’s need to discover Liss’s secrets pushed their quiet understanding to the limits, the encroaching encirclement of Sally’s parents and authorities forced matters to a head. I expected Arenz to bring the novel to its conclusion but no there was more

.Arenz wasn’t finished with Sally and Liss, there was more they had to say, more they had to learn about themselves and indeed each other. There was nothing dramatic about it just the slow meticulous unraveling of Liss in particular, their roles somehow swapped, Sally the strong one, the one who perhaps understood what the future may hold for Liss.

Arenz gave us a fitting ending, one where you could look back and admire this quiet, thoughtful novel with a narrative that shouted about so much but most of showcased the talent of a very gifted author.

I would like to thank Orenda for a copy of Tasting Sunlight to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the Blogtour

About the author

Ewald Arenz was born in Nurnberg in 1965, where he now teaches. He has won various national and regional awards for literature; among them the Bavarian State Prize for Literature and the great Nuremberg Prize for Literature. One of seven children, he enjoys nature, woodturning, biking, swimming, and drinking tea. He lives with his family in Germany. #TastingSunlight #JubilantJune @EwaldArenz

#Blogpost Nothing Else by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #NothingElse

Orenda Books 23rd June

The Blurb

Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts
her sister, who was taken when their parents died, aided on by her childhood
her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown
ords and a single song that continues to haunt her.
out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet.
But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again.
When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night …
coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.

My Review

There is always that sense of anticipation when a new novel by Louise Beech thuds through the letter box. Such is her ability to write in a wide range of themes and topics you are never quite sure where she would take you, I certainly did not expect a cruise ship.

Our protagonist was the very lovely Heather, divorced, alone, a woman who merely existed but did not appear to live, that certain something missing from her life. It was that missing piece of her life, her sister, that drove Beech’s narrative that plunged into the depths of a troubled childhood, of a trauma that lingered through to the present.

I loved that Beech sent Heather on a cruise ship, her social services file tucked neatly into her luggage. Is was as if she wanted to contain Heather, to concentrate her mind, days at sea nowhere to runaway to and escape what lay between the pages.

It was hard to read her stark memories, the abuse, the protective arms she wrapped around her younger sister. Beech’s descriptions of their love for the piano, of their own song, Nothing Else, tugged at heart strings, I loved how it wove its way through the whole novel, it’s tune the talisman that bound Heather and Harriet together.

Yet it wasn’t just Heather’s story, it was also Harriet’s, a differing, perhaps softer angle but still just as powerful. Just like Heather her life was also at a crossroads, health a consideration that forced choices and also impeccable timing.

Aspects of the novel could have seemed contrived but not in Beech’s more than capable hands. Yes, you sort of had an inkling what would happen but that was not what this was about, it was very definitely about the how and the why. It’s the reason why you read Beech, to feel the intense emotions she weaves within her narrative, the human reactions, the tears that are just waiting to greet you.

In my eyes Beech can do no wrong and Nothing Else proved once again just how good an author she is.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Nothing Else to read and review and to Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

All six of Louise Beech’s books have been digital bestsellers. Her novels have been a Guardian Readers’ Choice, shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize, and shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award. Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice. Louise lives with her husband on the outskirts of Hull. Follow her on Twitter @louisewriter
The multiple bestselling and award-winning author returns with an exquisitely moving novel about surviving devastating trauma and the unbreakable bond between sisters; a story of courage and love, and the power of music to transcend – and change – everything.
Heather Harris is a piano teacher and professional musician, whose quiet life revolves around music, whose memories centre on a single song that haunts
her sister, who was taken when their parents died, aided on by her childhood
her. A song she longs to perform again. A song she wrote as a child, to drown
ords and a single song that continues to haunt her.
out the violence in their home. A song she played with her little sister, Harriet.
But Harriet is gone … she disappeared when their parents died, and Heather never saw her again.
When Heather is offered an opportunity to play piano on a cruise ship, she leaps at the chance. She’ll read her recently released childhood care records by day – searching for clues to her sister’s disappearance – and play piano by night …
coming to terms with the truth about a past she’s done everything to forget.

#Blogtour Little Drummer by Kjell Ola Dahl @ko_dahl @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #LittleDrummer

Orenda Books 26th May 2022

The Blurb

When a woman is found dead in her car in a Norwegian parking garage, everyone suspects an overdose … until a forensics report indicates that she was murdered. Oslo Detectives Frølich and Gunnarstranda discover that the victim’s Kenyan scientist boyfriend has disappeared, and their investigations soon lead them into the shady world of international pharmaceutical deals.

While Gunnarstranda closes in on the killers in Norway, Frølich and Lise, his new journalist ally, travel to Africa, where they make a series of shocking discoveries about exploitation and corruption in the distribution of foreign aid and essential HIV medications.

When tragedy unexpectedly strikes, all three investigators face incalculable danger, spanning two continents. And not everyone will make it out alive…

Exploding the confines of the Nordic Noir genre, Little Drummer is a sophisticated, fast-paced, international thriller with a searingly relevant, shocking premise that will keep you glued to the page.

My Review

The one thing you can always guarantee from Dahl are the wonderful descriptions of his beloved Oslo, the streets, the sea and its coastline and in this one a multi storey car park. Not what you would expect but then this is a crime novel and it wouldn’t be that without a starting point and indeed a body.

There was never going to be a simple explanation as to it being there, but then Dahl has never made it easy for the reader or his two detectives, Gunnarstranda and Frolich. Gunnarstranda in particular was dogged and pedantic, his gut and instinct knew the cause of death wasn’t suicide, his innate need to ferret out the truth, to discover the culprits evident from beginning to end.

Frolich, was not entirely Gunnarstranda’s opposite but altogether more easy going, the one most likely to kick back, relax and have some fun. I reckon Dahl gave him the job as gopher, the one able to do the more practical and indeed more energetic elements of the investigation.

In Dahl’s narrative they were obviously the perfect couple and as the investigation intensified, as the leads and clues became more complex it was Frolich that was packaged off to Africa to find the dead woman’s boyfriend.

What Frolich did not expect was journalist, Lise hot on the trail and I thoroughly enjoyed the cat and mouse game Dahl played with them.

It was also where Dahl’s narrative came to life, the heat, the dust, the bustling streets, the chaotic roads, the run down buildings hiding those who did not what to be found.

Those that were found and the truths uncovered were deeper than the detectives could ever have imagined. Drugs that promised everything but did nothing, dodgy financial transactions, innocents caught in the cross fire.

As always Dahl got our detectives to the end, to the truth but also he also gave them something more personal. For Gunnarstranda the realisation that his lifestyle was not perhaps conducive to longevity and an acceptance that changes would have to be made. For Frolich a little romance, perhaps a way forward in his own personal issues.

It was that human touch merged with all the classic Scandi Noir hallmarks that makes Dahl’s novels so damn good.

Roll on the next instalment.

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

About the author

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published eleven novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers (Oslo Detectives series) featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

#Blogtour Quicksand of Memory by Michael J Malone @michaelJmalone1 @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #QuicksandOfMemory

Orenda Books December 9th 2021

The Blurb

Jenna is trying to rebuild her life after a series of disastrous relationships. Luke is struggling to provide a safe, loving home for his deceased partner’s young son, following a devastating tragedy. When Jenna and Luke meet and fall in love, they are certain they can achieve the stability and happiness they both desperately need. And yet, someone is watching. Someone who has been scarred by past events. Someone who will stop at nothing to get revenge…
Dark, unsettling and immensely moving, Quicksand of Memory is a chilling reminder that we are not only punished for our sins, but by them, and that
memories left to blacken and sharpen over time are the perfect breeding ground for obsession, and murder…

My Review

What a tangled web and intricate storyline Mr Malone wove within The Quicksand Of Memory, indeed memory played such a huge role as Malone explored his characters own memories as the past crashed into the future.

The prologue couldn’t help but provoke emotion for the young Jamie, foster parents who whose cold, icy, loveless care would have a lasting effect well into his adult life.

The present was Luke and stepson Nathan attempting to rebuild a future in his chosen career as a psychiatrist, an apt profession and a genius stroke from Malone. What better way to meet and indeed enter the minds of the characters Malone would bring together.

Jenna, bookseller, carer also trying to rebuild a future. Finally Amanda, Jamie’s sister, an upbringing opposite to Jamie, bitter, twisted as Malone used that mindset to pull Jamie’s strings, to exploit his vulnerability, to dish out a revenge Amanda felt was rightfully theirs.

Malone didn’t give much away as you were left wondering how they were all connected, each character given their own voice, their own story and more importantly their own memory, their version of events. Were their recollections true, clear or merely skewed by others, and even themselves. It was them to work out as they all collided, as slowly they learnt the meaning of those connections, as the Malone pushed the stakes and indeed the danger higher and higher.

I loved that we had prior knowledge of some of those secrets, we were flies on the wall as we watched the repercussions, saw them hurtling to a tumultuous ending.

It was also about seeking closure, of reconciliation of the past with the present, of forgiveness, understanding, learning to live with events, close the door and move on.

I liked that Malone didn’t give us the stereotypical ending, question marks left on the page fir the reader to ponder and imagine.

A novel with never a quiet moment, it’s characters and indeed the reader trapped in a whirlwind of revelation, of moments that felt unnerving and uncomfortable, Quicksand Of Memory was one hell of a good read.

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

About the author

Michael Malone is a prize-winning poet and author who was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country. He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Blood Tears, his bestselling debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize from the Scottish Association of Writers. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines, After He Died, In the Absence of Miracles and A
Song of Isolation soon followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber
& Faber) he has also worked as an IFA and a bookseller. Michael lives in Ayr.

#Blogtour The Shot by Sarah Sultoon @SultoonSarah @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheShot

Orenda Books April 28th 2022

The Blurb

Samira is an up-and-coming TV journalist, working the nightshift at a major news channel and yearning for greater things. So when she’s offered a trip to the Middle East, with Kris, the station’s brilliant but impetuous star
photographer, she leaps at the chance
In the field together, Sami and Kris feel invincible, shining a light into the
darkest of corners … except the newsroom, and the rest of the world,
doesn’t seem to care as much as they do. Until Kris takes the photograph.
With a single image of young Sudanese mother, injured in a raid on her
camp, Sami and the genocide in Darfur are catapulted into the limelight. But
everything is not as it seems, and the shots taken by Kris reveal something
deeper and much darker … something that puts not only their careers but
their lives in mortal danger.
Sarah Sultoon brings all her experience as a CNN news executive to bear on
this shocking, searingly authentic thriller, which asks immense questions
about the world we live in. You’ll never look at a news report in the same way
again…


My Review

The war reporter, glamourous, dangerous, kudos off the scale, the pinnacle of any journalists career. Its what we see on TV, read in the newspapers, online, but what about behind, the lens, the words, I could have thought of no better person than Sarah Sultoon to take us there, her background at CNN the strong credentials needed that gave us that realistic and understanding, that is so often difficult to translate into fiction.

Sultoon’s approach to have her two main characters at either end of the career spectrum was genius, highlighting the disparity in thought, reasoning but what they both shared was hunger, a hunger for the story, to tell and show the truth.

Samira, young, eager desperate for that first break, hellbent at getting it at whatever the cost, often to the detriment of friendship. She could have come across as distinctly unlikeable but Sultoon didn’t go down that route, instead she gave us her backstory, a much admired lost journalist father, a man she wished to emulate.

Indeed when her break came it was in the company of veteran war photographer Kris, rebounding from a lucky escape desperate to return to the frontline. Kabul, their first assignment together was supposed to be simple, get the story, get out but Sultoon had other ideas for the two of them, a Samir that pushed for that one shot, Kris her willing participant. The consequences were hair raising, dramatic, Sultoon’s imagery blindingly brilliant yet she didn’t stop there, she wanted to show us more, Africa the final back drop. A refugee camp, warring factions on horseback, the untold story a hairs breadth away.

Yes Kabul may have been dangerous but Sultoon made this feel even more dangerous. It wasn’t the physical danger of being killed but more a culmination of years of witnessing the horrors of war, the subtle twist of the mindset, the off kilter reasoning that forced its way to the front of the novel.

Sultoon cast aside the glamour, the kudos, stripped back the bravado and instead we saw vulnerability, trauma, a loss of the self, an imposter sat before us. It reminded me of war reporter Fergal Keene who wrote of his own trauma, and psychological damage, who recognised the need to pull away before it engulfed and drowned him.

Sadly for this character Sultoon did not spare them but left it as a lesson, a line in the African sand that should not be crossed.

The Shot left me wanting more, I wanted to know more of Samira and her future career and I would be interested to know if another novel is planned.

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

About the author

Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer, whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. She has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. As passionate about fiction as nonfiction, she recently completed a Masters of Studies in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge, adding to an undergraduate language degree in French and Spanish, and Masters of Philosophy in History, Film and Television. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or
throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if… Her debut thriller The Source is currently in production with Lime Pictures, and was a Capital Crime Book Club pick and a number one bestseller on Kindle.

Blogtour Faceless by Vanda Symon @vandasymon @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #faceless

Orenda Books March 17th 2022

The Blurb

Worn down by a job he hates, and a stressful family life, middle-aged, middle- class Bradley picks up a teenage escort and commits an unspeakable crime. Now she’s tied up in his warehouse, and he doesn’t know what to do.
Max is homeless, eating from rubbish bins, sleeping rough and barely existing – known for cadging a cigarette from anyone passing, and occasionally even the footpath. Nobody really sees Max, but he has one friend, and she’s gone missing.
In order to find her, Max is going to have to call on some people from his past,
and reopen wounds that have remained unhealed for a very long time –
and the clock is ticking…

My Review

A stand-alone novel from Vanda Symon certainly peaked my interest and it was apparent from the first page Symon would include all the hallmarks of her usual thriller content but with added extras.

I loved that she told the story using the voices of her characters, that we knew who the perpetrator was, could see their emotions, their fears.

Billy 18 years old, lived on the streets, her talent as a graffiti artist the one thing that gave her focus. Yet she was vulnerable, turned to prostitution when she needed paints for her art, skillfully dodged the pimps that wanted her for themselves. Ultimately it was her downfall, an unwilling victim to a selfish, under pressure man who wanted nothing more than to express his suppressed power over a woman.

Billy was Max’s only friend, the guardian angel who sat on his shoulder, prodded him into a modicum of life, of wanting to look after himself. It was her guardianship that thrust Max back into real life, to finally facing up to the past, to taking back control and reconnecting with family and work mates.

And what about our perpetrator Bradley? Married with a young family, a domineering wife who just wanted to fix things and a manager who piled on the work, the threat of dismissal ever present. Symon brilliantly portrayed a man who just wanted to dare himself, to prove he wasn’t just a whipping boy for his wife, evolved him into a monster, his mind and reasoning twisted to justify his actions.

As Bradley actions intensified so did those of Max as he raced to find Billy, Symon forced him to reconnect with family, with old colleagues. She slowly thrust the old Max back to the fore, his story one that showed a desperate, guilt ridden man having to confront his fears, to see a light that could lead back to a life of normality away from the streets of Auckland.

As Max desperately searched, it was Symon’s harrowing descriptions of Billy’s ordeal that grabbed your emotions, your anger as you screamed at the page for the torture to stop. As her plight became more desperate you admired her resolve, discovered her own traumatic back story before Symon hurtled you into the heart stopping final few pages.

Faceless may have been a crime novel but it also asked a question, raised a few thoughts through its title, Faceless. The faceless are those we see living on the streets, the ones that we tip toe around, see the ragged clothes, the uncleanliness, the card board boxes, the women who prostitute themselves in order to survive. Do we ever stop to think what put them there? Did we ever consider their past circumstances some much like Billy and Max? Maybe next time we should stop and think and like Symon look behind the faceless.

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

About the author

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, and the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors. The Sam Shephard series, which includes Overkill, The Ringmaster, Containment and Bound, hit number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and has also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award. Overkill was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger.

Twitter @vandasymon, Instagram @vanda-symon, Facebook, @vandasymonauthor, http://www.vandasymon.com.

#Blogtour River Clyde by Simone Buchholz @ohneKlippo @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #RiverClyde

Orenda Books March 17th 2022

The Blurb

Chastity Riley travels to Scotland to face the demons of her past, as Hamburg is hit by a major arson attack. Queen of Krimi, Simone Buchholz, returns with the emotive fifth instalment in the electric Chastity Riley series …

Mired in grief after tragic recent events, state prosecutor Chastity Riley escapes to Scotland, lured to the birthplace of her great-great-grandfather by a mysterious letter suggesting she has inherited a house.

In Glasgow, she meets Tom, the ex-lover of Chastity’s great aunt, who holds the keys to her own family secrets – painful stories of unexpected cruelty and loss that she’s never dared to confront.

In Hamburg, Stepanovic and Calabretta investigate a major arson attack, while a group of property investors kicks off an explosion of violence that threatens everyone.

As events in these two countries collide, Chastity prepares to face the inevitable, battling the ghosts of her past and the lost souls that could be her future and, perhaps, finally finding redemption for them all.

Breathtakingly emotive, River Clyde is an electrifying, poignant and powerful story of damage and hope, and one woman’s fight for survival.

My Review

I can honestly say this was Buchholz’s best novel yet, totally unexpected in its direction, a Chastity Riley the like we have not seen before.

Where was that tough woman who liked her men and, who could drink many under the table? This was a stripped back, naked Riley, vulnerable, emotional, reflective but still with glimpses of that moody, stubborn Riley we have come to love. Not for her the streets of Hamburg but a new location, the streets of Glasgow, the River Clyde winding a protective layer around the city and Riley. What brought her there?

Astoundingly a dead aunt and an inherited house, one Riley was not sure, in true typical style, she would accept. Instead Buchholz gave us introspection, a glance back to childhood to her mother and father, an unconventional and tragedy filled upbringing that perhaps explained her stubborn, strong willed nature. You felt empathy, admiration and somehow a closeness not felt in previous encounters, as if Riley had to look back in order to rebuild, reconnect and discover just what it was she wanted for her future.

Was that future back in Hamburg with police detective Stepanovic, as he made a meagre attempt at some police work, his mind clearly elsewhere. In fact Riley’s fellow colleagues and friendship group all appeared to be struggling, a throw back to the tragic events we encountered in Hotel Cartegena.

Buchholz threw in some crime but it wasn’t important, merely a tool to highlight her floundering broken and healing characters.

As Riley worked through her emotions , quite a few beers and a smattering of whiskey you sensed her liking for Glasgow, for its people. Perhaps it was a city not that far removed her own hometown of Hamburg, the same hardened inhabitants, and back streets that made her feel at home. But would it be her new home, the opportunity of new adventures, maybe a new job?

That is something only Buchholz and Riley know and an answer I await with baited breath to discover.

What I can say is that River Clyde was a brave and admirable diversion from Buchholz’s norm and one that paid off in bucket loads.

It felt like it was something Buchholz had been longing to do, biding her time until both she and Riley were ready.

Bravo Simone Buchholz, amazing, emotive and brilliant.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of River Clyde to read and review and to 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 and was runner-up in the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. The next in the Chastity Riley series, Beton Rouge, won the Radio Bremen Crime Fiction Award and Best Economic Crime Novel 2017. In 2019, Mexico Street, the next in Chastity Riley series, won the German Crime Fiction Prize. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son. Follow Simone on Twitter @ohneKlippo and visit her website http://www.simonebuchholz.com.

#Blogtour Off Target by Eve Smith @evecsmith @OrendaBooks @annecater #randomthingstours #OffTarget

Off Target by Eve Smith Feb
January 17th 2022

The Blurb

An unthinkable decision
A deadly mistake

In an all-too-possible near future, when genetic engineering has become the norm for humans, not just crops, parents are prepared to take incalculable risks to ensure that their babies are perfect … altering genes that may cause illness, and more…

Susan has been trying for a baby for years, and when an impulsive one-night stand makes her dream come true, she’ll do anything to keep her daughter and ensure her husband doesn’t find out … including the unthinkable. She believes her secret is safe. For now.

But as governments embark on a perilous genetic arms race and children around the globe start experiencing a host of distressing symptoms – even taking their own lives – something truly horrendous is unleashed. Because those children have only one thing in common, and people are starting to ask questions…

Bestselling author of The Waiting Rooms, Eve Smith returns with an authentic, startlingly thought-provoking, disturbing blockbuster of a thriller that provides a chilling glimpse of a future that’s just one modification away…

My Review

The majority of the female population wants children, for some its hard, for others it comes with the added risk of inherited familial illnesses, whilst for the majority its easy and straightforward. Advances in medical technology such as IVF has brought joy to millions of women, but what if that technology was taken to the extreme, diseases, conditions ‘edited’ out? If you want to find out then this is the book for you as Smith looked to that future, took a family and literally changed their lives forever.

You were never quite sure how far in advance Smith had taken us, and I was pleased that the norms of present day still existed with the usual technological wizardry thrown in without overwhelming the narrative.

We met Susan, her husband Steve, their marriage teetered on the brink, the longed for baby further and further away until a drunken one night stand and Susan was pregnant. This is where the book really took off as Smith showed a Susan in utter turmoil, her dream a reality, just the small issue of it being the wrong father. Enter Camilla, the person everyone needs in a crisis, ultra practical, connections in high places with the answer to Susan’s problems. Next stop a clinic in Ukraine, the genes of her fetus ‘edited’, secrets hidden for another day. This was when Smith made me question what I would do, made me think of the morals and ethics, of a scientific community that could effectively brush away the imperfections. The newspaper articles interspersed within the narrative were an inspired choice, the backlash from protest groups, religion all played a part.

Yet for all that what stood out more than anything and what Smith did so superbly was the human fallout years later, her daughter Zurel on the cusp of womanhood with mental issues a possible indicator of her gene edits, Steve still oblivious. The backlash against the supposed tinkering of human genetics gathered pace, religion used to shield terrorists, protests at clinics and finally the roosters came home to roost, Susan the evil woman who wrecked their family.

Smith’s decision to use Zurel’s own voice was a master stroke, her emotions in tatters, her life a lie, the future an unknown. You felt her confusion, her anger, her bewilderment, but also conflicting emotions towards Susan who did what she did out of desperation but also in a strange way, love.

Did I agree, did i even like Susan? Yes, to both and indeed it was Steve whom I disliked, my assumptions as to his own hidden secrets proved correct as the novel careered toward a turbulent ending.

Off Target definitely hit the mark, thought provoking and relevant with a cast of characters that perfectly reflected a world we appear to be hurtling towards at a rapid pace. Smith’s novel may be deemed ‘speculative’ but for me that speculation could well become a reality and one I hope we approach with care and control.

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

About the author

Eve Smith writes speculative fiction, mainly about the things that scare her. She attributes her love of all things dark and dystopian to a childhood watching Tales of the Unexpected and black-and-white Edgar Allen Poe double bills. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues.
Set twenty years after an antibiotic crisis,her debut novel The Waiting Rooms was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize First Novel Award. Her flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize.
Eve’s previous job as COO of an environmental charity took her to research projects across Asia, Africa and the Americas, and she has an ongoing passion for wild creatures, wild science and far-flung places. A Modern Languages graduate from Oxford, she returned to Oxfordshire fifteen years ago to set up home with her husband.
When she’s not writing she’s romping across fields after her dog, trying to organise herself and her family or off exploring somewhere new.
Follow Eve on Twitter: @evecsmith

#Blogtour Unhinged by Jorn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger @LierHorst @EngerThomas @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Orenda Books February 17th 2022

The Blurb

When a police investigator is killed execution-style and Blix’s own daughter is targeted by the killer, he makes a dangerous decision, which could cost him everything. Blix & Ramm are back in a breathless, emotive thriller by two of Norway’s finest crime writers…

When police investigator Sofia Kovic uncovers a startling connection between several Oslo murder cases, she attempts to contact her closest superior, Alexander Blix before involving anyone else in the department. But before Blix has time to return her call, Kovic is shot and killed in her own home – execution style. And in the apartment below, Blix’s daughter Iselin narrowly escapes becoming the killer’s next victim.

Four days later, Blix and online crime journalist Emma Ramm are locked inside an interrogation room, facing the National Criminal Investigation Service. Blix has shot and killed a man, and Ramm saw it all happen.

As Iselin’s life hangs in the balance, under-fire Blix no longer knows who he can trust … and he’s not even certain that he’s killed the right man…

Two of Nordic Noir’s most brilliant writers return with the explosive, staggeringly accomplished, emotive third instalment in the international, bestselling Blix & Ramm series … and it will take your breath away.

My Review

Was something wrong, had Blix and Ramm committed some kind of crime? This was definitely not the way by which we normally encountered this investigative duo, both in separate rooms being questioned by Blix’s police colleagues.

Blix certainly had his back to the wall, his daughter, Iselin’s life in the balance, as he tried to maintain his cool, to remain calm and reasonable. What an earth had happened to put them in such a position?

Enger and Horst seemlessly flitted between the past and the present, the starting point the execution of detective Kovic, Iselin an innocent witness, Blix’s desperate attempts to find her, to unravel who and why someone would take her.

A truly hideous tragedy left Blix and Ramm reeling, the reader wondering if that was it, the end, but no there was more. A story in two halves, the second half Blix suspended, on the outskirts of the investigation, the normal tools of discovery unavailable, Ramm cast aside.

This was a hugely emotional and vulnerable Blix perhaps one Enger and Holst had never portrayed before, a real twist in our relationship with the character, one that endeared him all the more to the reader.

Yet Enger and Holst were not going to let that stop Blix, his brilliant resourcefulness and ingenuity brought to the fore, a steely determination for truth and above all justice.

Who couldn’t enjoy the swirling twists and turns, the light bulb moment when all the pieces of the jigsaw finally slotted into place, justice a hairs breadth away. The final pages left us with more questions than answers, an ending that dangled the promise of another instalment, an unexplained future.

Brilliant as ever.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Unhinged to read and review and to 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 Fall by West Camel @west_camel @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #Fall

Orenda Books 9th December 2021

The Blurb

Twins Aaron and Clive have been estranged for forty years. Aaron still lives in the empty, crumbling tower block on the riverside in Deptford where they grew up. Clive is a successful property developer, determined to turn the tower into luxury flats.

But Aaron is blocking the plan and their petty squabble becomes something much greater when two ghosts from the past – twins Annette and Christine – appear in the tower. At once, the desolate estate becomes a stage on which the events of one scorching summer are relived – a summer that shattered their lives, and changed everything forever…

Grim, evocative and exquisitely rendered, Fall is a story of friendship and family – of perception, fear and prejudice, the events that punctuate our journeys into adulthood, and the indelible scars they leave – a triumph of a novel that will affect you long after the final page has been turned.

My Review

Fall could not have been more different from Camel’s first novel Attend, this time the heatwave of 1976, two sets of twins, one black one white, all living in a new model estate in Deptford.

Aaron and Clive uprooted from the wealthy enclave of Blackheath to live their architect mothers experiment. Intrinsically entwined in each other’s minds, their differences only evident as fateful events unfolded.

Annette and Christine, students, inhabitants of a higher floor, charismatic, magnets to Aaron and Clive and to those around them.

The present day and Aaron and Clive are estranged, little known of Annette and Christine, the future of the tower block in the hands of Clive, Aaron the stalwart tenant unwilling to accept the money and move.

Immediately Camel made you aware something had happened, and you wanted to know why. Camel effortlessly took us back to the crazy heat of 1976, of teenagers enjoying evenings of music and friends, the residents restless, perturbed.

Even Zoe, the twins mother became agitated, protective of what she had created, accused of racism as what she deemed as black outsiders congregated on her estate.

I loved the sense of proprietorship Camel created as her vision appeared to crumble, Annette and Christine the instigators, the ones held responsible. Her boys, riled against her, as Camel slowly cracked the protective layer she had built around them. Was there something else that pushed her, that made her stand firm?

Of course there was a reason but Camel wasn’t going to let us in on it until the heatwave intensified, the tensions between the parties built to the point of imminent explosion.

A party, a confrontation, secrets, truths, a tragic event, questions, racism were thrust to the fore. Camel drove a huge chasm between Aaron and Clive, Clive the dominant twin, Aaron squashed, quietened. And what of Annette and Christine? What better way for Camel to make a point, their colour the one thing that went against them, the obvious targets, the ones that raised suspicions. The decisions Camel’s characters made were perhaps indicative of the social norms of the time, the truth full of hypocrisy, selfishness, damaging.

When Camel finally flew into present day, those past decisions came back to Clive and Aaron but this time with understanding, secrets unravelled that shuck them to their core. Would amends be made, differences set aside, a new future unfurl before them?

It all remained to be see but what was clear was Camel’s growing confidence as an author, to build on Attend, to showcase his attention to societal detail, to create wonderful multidimensional characters.

It was also a vivid and imaginative portrayal of the advent of the London tower block, the vision thrust on its inhabitants, the division between black and white, a huge chasm decked with suspicion and derision. Have we written the wrongs of the past or are we still striving to get there, all questions Camel asked, the answers for us to decide.

Whatever the morals, the ethics Fall was a dammed good novel of which West Camel should be immensely proud of.

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

About the author

Born and bred in south London – and not the Somerset village with which he shares a name – West Camel worked as an editor in higher education and business before turning his attention to the arts and publishing. He has worked as a book and arts journalist, and was editor at Dalkey Archive Press, where he edited the Best European Fiction 2015 anthology, before moving to new press Orenda Books just after its launch. He currently combines his work as editor at Orenda with writing and editing a wide range of material for various arts organisations, including ghost-writing a New-Adult novel and editing The Riveter magazine for the European Literature Network. He has also written several short scripts, which have been produced in London’s fringe theatres, and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend, his first novel was shortlisted for the Polari prize.

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