Saturday 29 February 2020

Beast by Matt Wesolowski

 Welcome to the Blogtour for Beast by Matt Wesolowski (book 4 in the Six Stories series)

First, the blurb which will give you a good feel of what the book is all about

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

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

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

I must say I found this a quite refreshing take on the Vampire genre (I'll be honest, I'm not a big vampire fan). Adding in the online challenge and the Internet fame seekers angle helped with that I guess. The idea of using the six witness interviews gives the story different voices which, again, worked well as I didn't really connect with the main lead Scott King (but that's probably more because I'm coming into the series at book 4 so don't really 'know' him - but don't fear, I'm going right back to the beginning first chance I get so a full series review will be on the blog eventually)

The other thing that stood out for me was the sense of place. It's nice to have stories told in lesser known places.

One final note - after reading this you may well think twice about jumping in on the internet challenge craze


 Thanks as always to Anne Cater for inviting me onto this tour and please, if you can find the time, have a look at the posts from the other bloggers on the tour

Death Deserved by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger

Welcome to the blog tour for Death Deserved the first in a new Nordic Noir series.

It starts with an episode from the past of Detective Blix where a hostage situation went wrong and as the 'story proper' begins, 19 years later, he is still living with the consequences. His career has not kicked off like it should have, his former partner is now his boss and his marriage has failed.

So far, so par for the course you may think, another tortured soul detective. That's when things really kick off though and you realise this is not just any other by the numbers tale.

When  former long-distance athlete Sonja Nordstrøm fails to show at the launch of her biography celebrity blogger Emma Ramm goes to her house and finds it in total disarray and with no sign of Sonja, just her vest number, #1, on prominent display. Blix is soon put on the case and Ramm worms her way to helping try and solve the case. And what a twisty, turny, baffling case it is. The serial killer (yes, the bodies keep turning up) seems to have a real taste for the 'notorious celebrity' life they have created and the police have all on to catch him - so much so that I thought the authors would struggle to do it in the 300+ pages of this story. But a banger of an ending, which, I'll be honest, was exhausting (in a good way) did everything that was needed.

And as for the killer - well, I like to think I'm rather good with these things but I didn't have a clue.

Recommended 4/5*

I'll certainly be looking forward to more from these authors.

Thanks as always to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour and please, if you can find the time, have a look at the posts from the other bloggers on the tour.

Wednesday 26 February 2020

Hidden Wyndham by Amy Binns

Welcome to Day 8 of the Blogtour for Amy Binns' Hidden Wyndham.

Somewhere back around 1978 I picked up a version of Day of the Triffids (my mum had been to see the film) from the school library. I was only 11 so I'm guessing it was an abridged version for youngsters (though I could be wrong). The whole first scene with Bill waking up in hospital, after an eye operation, to a totally changed world fascinated me.

Skip forward a few years and a slightly older me is now at comprehensive school, in English class and the book we are given to read is The Chrysalids. Yes, they actually gave us something cool to read!! And I loved it more than Triffids. So much so that I was actively searching libraries for any Wyndham novels I could find.

Now, another skip forward, nigh on 40 years this time, and an email pops up offering me the opportunity to re iew Hidden Wyndham, the story of the man himself. Up until that point I wasn't even aware that I knew so little about one of my literary favourites. Indeed, many people didn't.

In Hidden Wyndham, Life, Love, Letters Amy Binns takes a look at the life of this most reclusive of authors. Binns studied a lot of Wyndham's letters to write this book and these are the backbone of this book. The life of a great writer was often a struggle and this is seen in his words here as he observes the coming of war and lives through it too. Even here though his prose is something above the normal everyday letters home.

Although he is now known as one of the greats of classic Sci-fi the struggle to get his career off the ground makes for rather sad reading, in such a way that I wished I could climb into the pages, put an arm around his shoulders and just say "mate, it's all gonna be good"

So, not the happiest of biographies but certainly one I enjoyed and a real insight into the life of one of the greats.

5/5* Highly Recommended

Thanks, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the Blogtour, Grace Judson Press for providing the copy and, most importantly I guess, to Amy Binns for doing all the research and writing the book I didn't even realise I needed.

Please, if you get the chance, have a read of the other review posts on the tour.

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Diary of a Somebody by Brian Bilston

At last, someone to fill the gap left by Adrian Mole.

 Brian Bilston decides that his slightly rubbish hum-drum life must change and sets out, as his New Year Resolution, to write a diary with a new poem every day. He is very much in the mold of Mole (although his poetry is marginally better) and his entries are generally a fun insight into his life.

Like Mole, Brian is one of those characters who make you switch constantly from wanting to put an arm around him and say "it's going to be alright mate" to wanting to give them a good shake at the sheer ridiculousness of their behaviour.

I must confess that when his arch nemesis Toby Salt goes missing and Brian becomes the prime suspect I did wonder if I was reading something darker than I originally thought but . . .


It all comes good in the end.

As a lifelong fan of Adrian Mole I can give this no higher accolade than "As good as Mole"

Saturday 8 February 2020

A Deadly Divide by Ausma Zehanat Khan

 Welcome to Day 6 of the Blogtour for Ausma Zehanat Khan's novel A Deadly Divide.

This is the latest in a series featuring the investigative team of Esa Khattak (who is Muslim) and Rachel Getty (Jewish). This time around they are called to a mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec. There are several dead. A Muslim man who is helping the wounded is arrested while a priest who is carrying a weapon is allowed to go free. And from this point on you can see the problems in the community. Their is a lot of hate and racism on the streets and the author really makes it a discomforting read at times - and that, in my opinion, is a good thing. All through the investigation the team are up against it with even the possibility of someone in their own team possibly a leak.

What really impressed me was the setting of Small Town Quebec - what a refreshing change from all the big city settings we usually get. It makes it a lot easier to create the tensions and threat, the feeling that you can't trust your neighbours although almost everybody IS your neighbour!

As for the perpetrator of the crime - well, it took me by surprise and I'm usually fairly good with this kind of thing.

Coming into the series part way through I didn't feel at any disadvantage (the story sits well enough on it's own) but I will be picking up the rest of the series as an author so good at bringing today's world problems to the stories she tells.

Ausma Zehanat Khan is going straight onto my list of authors I must have e wry book of.


Thank you, as always, to Anne Cater for inviting me onto the tour and No Exit Press for providing the review copy. Please also try and find time to have a look at the posts by the other bloggers.