#BookReview The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone @OrendaBooks

Title: The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 20th August 2020

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Description:

Running private investigator and funeral home businesses means trouble is never far away, and the Skelf women take on their most perplexing, chilling cases yet in book two of the darkly funny, devastatingly tense and addictive new Skelfs series!

‘Compelling, compassionate … just brilliant. This series gets better with every book. I cannot get enough of the Skelfs’ Mark Billingham

‘Confirms the Skelfs as a classic crime clan. I can’t wait for the next one’ Erin Kelly

‘I LOVE the Skelfs … The only problem with The Big Chill is that you’ll devour it so fast you’ll feel as bereft as one of the Skelfs’ clients … Doug Johnstone has murdered sleep’ Val McDermid

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral that matriarch Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life. 

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

 But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves sucked into an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Following three women as they deal with the dead, help the living and find out who they are in the process, The Big Chill follows A Dark Matter, book one in the Skelfs series, which reboots the classic PI novel while asking the big existential questions, all with a big dose of pitch-black humour.

Review:

I want to thank THE Book club Reviewer group and Orenda books for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read the first book in this series, A Dark Matter, at the beginning of the year and is still one of my top reads in 2020 so far, so I was very excited for The Big Chill! I can safely say it lived up to my expectations.

I will say before I get too far into this review, that you should definitely read the first book before reading this one as events from the first have a knock on effect in this one.

This story starts off six months after the first book. The Skelf women are still struggling with what happened at the end of the last book but they’re trying to push through it and carry on as normal, or as normal as their lives are as funeral directing private investigators. 

Dorothy is pulled into an investigation after a car chase ends in tragedy in the midst of a funeral she’s conducting. Jenny is still trying to put the pieces of her life together. Hannah seems to be suffering the most, shutting out her girlfriend Indy and becoming obsessed with the suicide of one of her professors.

What I love about this series is the way there’s several different storylines/cases that are woven together expertly, so they’re easy to follow without confusion and not one overshadows the other too much. Honestly, like the first there’s never a dull moment in this book.

The story is also strengthened by the relationships between the three generations of the Skelf family, Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah. They’re complex and just so compelling, I genuinely love these characters!

The Big Chill is a fantastic piece of fiction that kept me glued to those pages. I can’t wait for more! 

About The Author:

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His tenth novel, Breakers, was published by Orenda Books in May 2019, and was shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. His previous books include The Jump, shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize, Gone Again, an Amazon bestseller, and Hit & Run, which was an Amazon #1 as well as being selected as a prestigious Fiction Uncovered winner. His work has received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, William McIlvanney, Megan Abbott and Christopher Brookmyre.

Doug has been Writer in Residence with William Purves Funeral Directors. He is also a Royal Literary Fund Consultant Fellow, and was RLF Fellow at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh 2014-2016. Doug was also Writer in Residence at the University of Strathclyde 2010-2012 and before that worked as a lecturer in creative writing there. He’s had short stories appear in various publications and anthologies, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature. He is also a manuscript assessor for The Literary Consultancy and Emergents in the Scottish Highlands. He has taught creative writing at festivals and conferences and regularly at Moniack Mhor, and he has mentored aspiring writers for New Writing North and Scottish Book Trust.

Doug is one of the co-founders of the Scotland Writers Football Club, for whom he also puts in a shift in midfield as player-manager. He is also a singer, musician and songwriter in several bands, including Northern Alliance, who have released four albums to critical acclaim, as well as recording an album as a fictional band called The Ossians. Doug has also released three solo EPs. He plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a crime writing supergroup featuring Val McDermid, Mark Billingham, Chris Brookmyre, Stuart Neville and Luca Veste.

Doug has a degree in physics, a PhD in nuclear physics and a diploma in journalism, and worked for four years designing radars. He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children.

Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver #BookReview

Title: Hinton Hollow Death Trip by Will Carver

Date Published: 12th June 2020

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Literary Thriller

Description:

Five days in the history of a small rural town, visited and infected by darkness, are recounted by Evil itself. A stunning high-concept thriller from the bestselling author of Good Samaritans and Nothing Important Happened Today.

It’s a small story. A small town with small lives that you would never have heard about if none of this had happened.

Hinton Hollow. Population 5,120.

Little Henry Wallace was eight years old and one hundred miles from home before anyone talked to him. His mother placed him on a train with a label around his neck, asking for him to be kept safe for a week, kept away from Hinton Hollow.

Because something was coming.

Narrated by Evil itself, Hinton Hollow Death Trip recounts five days in the history of this small rural town, when darkness paid a visit and infected its residents. A visit that made them act in unnatural ways. Prodding at their insecurities. Nudging at their secrets and desires. Coaxing out the malevolence suppressed within them. Showing their true selves.

Making them cheat.

Making them steal.

Making them kill.

Detective Sergeant Pace had returned to his childhood home. To escape the things he had done in the city. To go back to something simple. But he was not alone.

Evil had a plan.

Review:

I want to thank the The Book Club Reviewer group and Orenda books for my copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So I read Nothing Important Happened Today back in March and I was absolutely blown away by Will Carver’s writing so I was very excited when I got my copy of Hinton Hollow Death Trip.

What I didn’t realise while reading the previous book and this one, it’s actually part of a series but it’s easily read as a standalone. 

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is, well, a head trip a half! I mean I can’t think of another novel that’s narrated by evil itself.

The story follows Detective Sergeant Pace as he heads back to his hometown of Hinton Hollow, a small village of just over five thousand people. The story is set over just five days and my goodness what a terrifying ride it was! 

Beware before you going into this book, much like the previous book it’s dark and could prove upsetting as there’s some sensitive subjects like suicide, child deaths and animal creulty covered.

I have to be honest I didn’t find the style of this book a little choppy at times. Plus there were a couple of more minor storylines that I found a little distracting from the main story but of course that’s just my opinion.

Hinton Hollow Death Trip is an original yet shocking read, perfect if you like your thrillers on the darker side. 

About The Author:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.

Follow Will on Twitter @will_carver

I Am Dust by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #BookReview #IAmDust #DoYouBelieveInGhosts

Title: I Am Dust by Louise Beech

Date Published: 16th April 2020

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:

When iconic musical Dust is revived twenty years after the leading actress was murdered in her dressing room, a series of eerie events haunts the new cast…

The Dean Wilson Theatre is believed to be haunted by a long-dead actress, singing her last song, waiting for her final cue, looking for her killer…

Now Dust, the iconic musical, is returning after twenty years. But who will be brave enough to take on the role of ghostly goddess Esme Black, last played by Morgan Miller, who was murdered in her dressing room?

Theatre usher Chloe Dee is caught up in the spectacle. As the new actors arrive, including an unexpected face from her past, everything changes. Are the eerie sounds and sightings backstage real or just her imagination? Is someone playing games?

Not all the drama takes place onstage. Sometimes murder, magic, obsession and the biggest of betrayals are real life. When you’re in the theatre shadows, you see everything.

And Chloe has been watching…

I Am Dust BT Poster

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this tour and Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

I read Call Me Star girl by Louise Beech last year and I enjoyed it so I jumped at the chance to read this, especially when I found out there was a ghost involved, I love me a ghost story! 

I’m very much having a hard time writing a review for I Am Dust. I really wish I was a little bit more articulate to express how emotionally captivating this book was.

I wonder if I can just say ‘wow you need to read this book, it’s fan-bloody-tastic!’

Okay fine, I’ll try to write a proper review.

I Am Dust contains two timelines, expertly woven together, the first from 2005 and the second from 2019. In one we follow a teenage Chloe, along with her friends Jess and Ryan who decide to play with a Ouija board. The second is fourteen years later and Chloe is working in the Dean Wilson theatre, when she finds out that they are going to revive the musical Dust after twenty years and the death of the lead actress Morgan Miller. An old face from Chloe’s past pops up, bringing back memories that she’d long forgotten…

I Am Dust is a fantastic spooky tale set to the backdrop of teen angst, unrequited love and magic.

What I loved about Louise Beech’s other book is her ability to create realistic yet troubled characters and really get you to care about them. Chloe was no different. I really felt for her and rooted for her throughout the story.

The atmosphere in the book was amazing, I think it helped that it was set in a theatre, adding to a bit of magic and mysticism to the whole thing. I love the theatre and don’t go often enough (I know I can’t go right now because of the whole global pandemic but you get what I mean). 

After the ending I’m still a little sad now and I think I may have the beginnings of a book hangover.

I Am Dust is an atmospheric and intriguing novel that will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions that you just don’t want to get off of.

About The Author:

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was aLouise Beech Author pic Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. Her second book, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. 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, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

#BookReview The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith @evecsmith @OrendaBooks

Title: The Waiting Rooms by Eve Smith

Date Published: 9th April 2020

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Thriller

Description:

Decades of spiralling drug resistance have unleashed a global antibiotic crisis. Ordinary infections are untreatable: a scratch from a pet can kill. A sacrifice is required to keep the majority safe: no one over seventy is allowed new antibiotics. The elderly are sent to hospitals nicknamed ‘The Waiting Rooms.’ Hospitals where no one ever gets well.

Twenty years after the crisis takes hold, Kate begins a search for her birth mother, armed only with her name and her age. As Kate unearths disturbing facts about her mother’s past, she puts her family in danger and risks losing everything.

Because Kate is not the only secret that her birth mother is hiding. Someone else is looking for her, too.

Sweeping from an all-too-real modern world to a pre-crisis South Africa, The Waiting Rooms is epic in scope, richly populated with unforgettable characters, and a tense, haunting vision of a future that is only a few mutations away.

Review:

I want to thank Orenda Books and THE Book Club Reviewer Group for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The Waiting Rooms is a captivating, if slightly scary, read.

So I decided what better book to read during a pandemic is a book about a pandemic! As it happens this novel turned out to be so much more than that, the pandemic sort of fades into the background and it becomes more of a tale of love and loss.

Eve Smith has created a believable world not too far off from our own world, where the overuse of antibiotics had led to disease or injury, once easily treated, has become deadly. Over seventies are denied medication or treatment, they have the option to either end their lives or suffer their illness until the end. They are sent to ‘waiting rooms’ if they’re lucky they end up in a top notch nursing home, the less lucky ones end rotting away in flats.

The main story revolves around three women. Kate who’s adoptive mother has just died leading her to look for her birth mother. Lily, who is just coming up for her seventieth birthday and is afraid that someone from her past is coming back to haunt her. Then there’s Mary whose POV starts before the crisis and goes to the root of what happened.  Each character is really fleshed out and flawed, you almost think that they’re real.

The parts that were set in Africa were amazing and descriptive, I could almost picture myself there while I was reading.

If I’m going to nitpick here, certain aspects of the story were a little predictable but of course that’s just my opinion.

The Waiting room has realistic characters and an evocative story line that makes it an almost hypnotising read.

About The Author:

Eve Smith’s debut novel The Waiting Rooms was shortlisted for the Bridport Prize Firsteve c smith Novel Award. Eve 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.

Eve’s flash fiction has been shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Award and highly commended for The Brighton Prize. In this world of questionable facts, stats and news, she believes storytelling is more important than ever to engage people in real life issues.

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 racing across fields after her dog, attempting to organise herself and her family or off exploring somewhere new.

Follow Eve: @evecsmith & www.evesmithauthor.com

Instagram: evesmithauthor

#BlogTour #Review #DeathDeserved by Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger @EngerThomas @LierHorst @OrendaBooks @annecater

Title: Death Deserved by Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger

Translated by: Anne Bruce

Date Published: 6th February 2020

Publisher: Orenda Books 

Genre: Nordic Noir 

Description:

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 flair for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.

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

Death Deserved BT Poster

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this blog tour and Orenda book for providing me with a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Death Deserved is the first co-written novel between Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger and I really hope there are going to be more.

When Sonya Nordstrøm doesn’t show up for the launch of her controversial new autobiography, celebrity blogger Emma Ramm pays her a visit. At Sonya’s house there’s signs of a struggle so she calls the police. Alexander Blix is dispatched to investigate. What they both don’t realise is that this is just the beginning of a sadistic game that will come too close to home…

Death Deserved is one of those novels that keeps you on your toes throughout, you’re never quite sure what clever plot twist the authors are going to throw at you!  

It’s been a while since I’ve read any Scandi-noir and this book really reminds me why I love the genre so much. It’s tense, it’s dark, and honestly there’s never a dull moment.

I loved both Emma and Blix. It’s a little bit of an odd pairing, a blogger and a police officer but it works well for the story. Both characters have emotional baggage and a few surprising secrets. I really enjoyed watching their relationship progress through the story. 

Death Deserved is an utterly gripping read that I’d definitely recommend if you love good police procedural.

About The Authors

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 #Review A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks @annecater #ADarkMatter #Edinburgh #TheSkelfs

Title: A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone

Date Published: 23rd January 2020

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Description:

After an unexpected death, three generations of women take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a brilliant, page-turning and darkly funny new series.

The Skelfs are a well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators. When patriarch Jim dies, it ’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another women, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was.

Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything… It’s a compelling and tense thriller and a darkly funny, warm portrait of a family in turmoil.

A Dark Matter BT Poster

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this epic blog tour and Orenda books for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Wow, A Dark Matter was a complex, dark and utterly fantastic!

There is so much crammed into the just over three hundred pages of this novel, it’s difficult to know where to start, there’s just never a dull moment!

Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write; funeral directing private investigators are what crime fiction has been missing. Genuinely I don’t think I’ve come across this concept before, especially as all the main characters are all women, and I’ve read a lot of crime fiction over the years.

There are several mysteries run side by side through the novel, each one of them intriguing in their own right. After her husband Jim’s death, Dorothy finds that he’s been sending money every month to a mystery woman. An elderly man thinks his carer is stealing from him so he wants cameras set up to spy on her. Jenny gets involved in an adultery case that seems to be more complicated than she first thought. Jenny’s roommate Mel goes missing but it doesn’t get taken seriously by the police so she decides to investigate herself. 

The family dynamic really makes a dark matter. We follow three generations of the Skelf family, seventy year old Dorothy, forty five year old Jenny and Hannah who is in her twenties. Each one of these characters, at times are not all that likeable but they felt really and flawed.

A Dark Matter is an original, dark and gripping read, I can’t wait to see if there’s a second book. 

About The Author:

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018),

which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. 

He’s taught creative writing and been writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years.

Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. 

He lives in Edinburgh.

#Review Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver @will_carver @OrendaBooks

Title: Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 14th September 2019

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:

When strangers take part in a series of group suicides, everything suggests that a cult is to blame. How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

A shocking, mesmerisingly original and pitch-black thriller from the critically acclaimed author of Good Samaritans.

‘Thrilling and completely original, Nothing Important Happened Today deserves to become an instant classic’ Kevin Wignall, author of The Names of the Dead

Nine suicides

One Cult

No leader

Nine people arrive one night on Chelsea Bridge. They’ve never met. But at the same time, they run, and leap to their deaths. Each of them received a letter in the post that morning, a pre-written suicide note, and a page containing only four words: Nothing important happened today.

That is how they knew they had been chosen to become a part of the People Of Choice: A mysterious suicide cult whose members have no knowledge of one another.

Thirty-two people on that train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People Of Choice are appearing around the globe; it becomes a movement. A social media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers. The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader that does not seem to exist.

How do you stop a cult when nobody knows they are a member?

A shocking, mesmerisingly original and pitch-black thriller, Nothing Important Happened Today confirms Will Carver as one of the most extraordinary, exciting authors in crime fiction.

Review:

Just give me a minute, I need to pick my jaw off the floor before I write this review. 

Nothing Important Happened Today is one of the most original, shocking and compelling novels I’ve read this year!

The whole story centres around cults and how nine, seemingly normal, people would throw themselves off a bridge. The story is told from multiple perspectives, interwoven with a very angry and bitter narrator whose voice is just so authentic, it almost felt like he was talking directly to me.

I’ve heard such good things about Will Carver’s writing but I wasn’t prepared for just how mesmerising his writing is. Genuinely I started this book thinking, I have no idea what is happening right now but as the story progressed, I was like I have to know why people would commit suicide like that.

I have to give a little warning here, there are quite graphic descriptions of mass suicide, which may be triggering for some people, I know there were a few times that I felt a little uncomfortable but I just had to read on.

I won’t say too much more because I don’t want to reveal any more about the story, in case of spoilers, but if you love dark psychological thrillers you must give this a go. 

Nothing Important Happened Today is a dark and utterly riveting book, which will shock and surprise you in equal measure. I will definitely be reading more from Will Carver!

About The Author:

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age 11, when his sporting career took off. He turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television at King Alfred’s, Winchester, where he set up a successful theatre company. He currently runs his own fitness and nutrition company, while working on his next thriller. He lives in Reading with his two children.

Follow Will on Twitter @will_carver

#BlogTour #Review Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson @JoGustawsson @OrendaBooks

Title: Blood Song by Johana Gustawsson (translated by David Warriner)

Date Published: 19th September 2019

Publisher: Orenda Books

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Description:

The third book in the award-winning, critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series, featuring true-crime writer Alexis Castells and profiler Emily Roy. Previous titles in the series, Block 46 and Keeper, have won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards and sold in 19 countries. A French, Swedish and English TV series is in production, adapted by and starring award-winning French actress Alexandra Lamy.

Spain, 1938 The country is wracked by civil war, and as Valencia falls to Franco’s brutal dictatorship, Republican Teresa witnesses the murders of her family. Captured and sent to the notorious Las Ventas women’s prison, Teresa gives birth to a daughter who is forcibly taken from her.

Falkenberg, Sweden, 2016 A wealthy family is found savagely murdered in their luxurious home. Discovering that her parents have been slaughtered, Aliénor Lindbergh, a new recruit to the UK’s Scotland Yard, rushes back to Sweden and finds her hometown rocked by the massacre.

Profiler Emily Roy joins forces with Aliénor and her colleague, true-crime writer Alexis Castells, and they soon find themselves on the trail of a monstrous and prolific killer, in an investigation that takes them from the Swedish fertility clinics of the present day back to the terror of Franco’s rule, and the horrifying events that took place in Spanish orphanages under its rule…

FINAL BloodSongBT

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this tour and Orenda Books for providing me with a copy of Blood Song in exchange for an honest review.

This is the third in the Roy & Castells series but it can easily be read as a standalone.

So I really enjoyed Keeper by Jo Gustawsson, so I jumped at the chance to read Blood Song and I can say I wasn’t disappointed!

Blood Song is a dark and intense yet utterly compelling novel!

If you don’t know this series, it’s part police procedural, part historical novel, the two are expertly interwoven throughout the novel. The modern day investigation follows Emily Roy, a criminal profiler, and Alexia Castells, a true crime author, and their team, as they hunt for the brutal killer of a wealthy family in their own home.

The historical part of the novel focuses on the Franco regime in Spain. I have to confess I don’t know much about this era in Spain’s history but it was absolutely brutal and heartbreaking! They didn’t seem to distinguish between men and women, if you were seen as the enemy, you were tortured then killed no matter what. What was especially interesting was the fact this novel followed the children of these ‘traitors’ and their lives in the orphanages.

There are some really powerful themes running through the novel, like infertility and child abuse that may make it a little tough for some readers.

My only slight quibble was I felt the modern day investigation wasn’t quite as strong story wise, with a coincidence or two but that of course is just my opinion.

Blood Song is masterful piece of storytelling that will stick in my mind for a long time after I’ve read it. I can’t wait for more from Johana Gustawsson.

About The Author:

Born in Marseille, France, and with a degree in Political Science, Johana Gustawsson hasJohana Pic worked as a journalist for the French and Spanish press and television. Her critically acclaimed Roy & Castells series has won the Plume d’Argent, Balai de la découverte, Balai d’Or and Prix Marseillais du Polar awards, and is now published in nineteen countries. A TV adaptation is currently underway in a French, Swedish and UK co-production. Johana lives in London with her Swedish husband and their three sons. She drew on her own experience of fertility clinics and IVF to write Blood Song and is happy to speak and write pieces about this.

#BlogTour #Review Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech @LouiseWriter @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours

Title: Call Me Star Girl by Louise Beech

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 18th April 2019

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Description:

Tonight is the night for secrets…

Pregnant Victoria Valbon was brutally murdered in an alley three weeks ago – and her killer hasn’t been caught. Tonight is Stella McKeever’s final radio show. The theme is secrets. You tell her yours, and she’ll share some of hers.

Stella might tell you about Tom, a boyfriend who likes to play games, about the mother who abandoned her, now back after twelve years.

She might tell you about the perfume bottle with the star-shaped stopper, or about her father …

What Stella really wants to know is more about the mysterious man calling the station … who says he knows who killed Victoria, and has proof. Tonight is the night for secrets, and Stella wants to know everything…

With echoes of the chilling Play Misty for Me, Call Me Star Girl is a taut, emotive and all-consuming psychological thriller that plays on our deepest fears, providing a stark reminder that stirring up dark secrets from the past can be deadly…

Review:

I want to thank Anne Cater for inviting me on this blog tour and Orenda books for providing me with a copy of Call Me Star Girl.

So this is actually the first novel I’ve read by Louise Beech and her first foray into psychological thrillers.

This was such a beautifully written and at times poignant story, which surprised me how emotionally invested I got with the characters.

We follow Stella for her last broadcast, going backwards and forwards in her life and how she ended up at this point. The mystery of the death of pregnant Victoria Valbon hangs over her, a man phones the station claims he knows what happened to Victoria that night. Stella wants to know what he know but what will happen when she knows everything?

Stella is a damaged individual, abandoned by her mother when she was twelve, she never knew her father. She’s determined to not bore anyone and flits from one relationship to the other not getting close, that is until Tom. Their relationship is intense, dark and even at times a little disturbing, constantly playing games with each other.

Then her mother reappears in her life. I can’t say I much liked her, hate would probably be too strong a word. As a mother I found it hard to compute abandoning your child for whatever reason, even now when son is a moody teenager 99% of the time!

My only complaint was I felt the mystery aspect was not the strongest in the overall story, in fact I found I wanted a little bit more from it, I’m greedy I know!

Call Me Star Girl is a beautiful and at times haunting story, that will chill you to your core.

call me star girl blog poster 2019

About The Author:

Louise Beech is an exceptional literary talent, whose debut novel How To Be Brave was aLouise Beech Author Photo Guardian Readers’ Choice for 2015. The follow-up, The Mountain in My Shoe was shortlisted for Not the Booker Prize. Both of her previous books Maria in the Moon and The Lion Tamer Who Lost were widely reviewed, critically acclaimed and number-one bestsellers on Kindle. The Lion Tamer Who Lost was shortlisted for the RNA Most Popular Romantic Novel Award in 2019. 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, and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.

#BlogTour #Review #TheRingmaster by Vanda Symon @vandasymon @OrendaBooks #SamShephard #RandomThingsTours

Title: The Ringmaster by Vanda Symon

Publisher: Orenda Books

Date Published: 25th April 2019

Genre: Police procedural

Description:

Marginalised by previous antics, Sam Shephard, is on the bottom rung of detective training in Dunedin, and her boss makes sure she knows it. She gets involved in her first homicide investigation, when a university student is murdered in the Botanic Gardens, and Sam soon discovers this is not an isolated incident. There is a chilling prospect of a predator loose in Dunedin, and a very strong possibility that the deaths are linked to a visiting circus…

Determined to find out who’s running the show, and to prove herself, Sam throws herself into an investigation that can have only one ending…

Rich with atmosphere, humour and a dark, shocking plot, The Ringmaster marks the return of passionate, headstrong police officer, Sam Shephard, in the next instalment of Vanda Symon’s bestselling series.

Review:

After reading the first in this series, Overkill (you can read my review here), I jumped at the chance to read this one. Even though it is the second in the series it can quite easily be read as a stand-alone without feeling that you’ve missed too much.

The Ringmaster is a solid police procedural set in New Zealand, which like the first novel is really conveyed well, with it’s unusual plants and wildlife, I almost felt like I was there while reading this book!

The character of Sam really makes this novel. She’s so life like and likeable, with a sharp wit and plenty of sarcasm, you kind of wish that you actually knew her. She really struggles in this book, going from the small town of Mataura where she was the sole police officer to the relatively big city of Dunedin. Her boss seemed to have it out for her, making her do menial and pointless jobs when she wants to be out there solving the case.

If that wasn’t tough enough, the investigation centres around the circus, a tight community who don’t trust outsiders which Sam has to try and gain their trust and uncover their secrets.

I have to be honest, I kind of pegged who the killer was quite early on and didn’t have quite as many shocks and surprises as the first one but it was still an engaging read.

I’d recommend The Ringmaster to anyone who loves realistic characters and settings that will entertaining you from beginning to end. I’m looking forward to book three!

The Ringmaster blog poster 2019 (1)

About The Author:

Vanda Symon is a crime writer, TV presenter and radio host from Dunedin, New Zealand, andvanda_jacket_br (1) the chair of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors.

The Sam Shephard series has climbed to number one on the New Zealand bestseller list, and also been shortlisted for the Ngaio Marsh Award for best crime novel. She currently lives in Dunedin, with her husband and two sons.