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Blog Tour – Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald

Published May 7, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

A delicious dark, relentless and chilling psychological thriller by the international bestselling author of The Cry

‘The harrowing plot keeps you gripped until the final, devastating revelation’ Sunday Mirror

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation officer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line.
Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.
Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.
A heart-pounding, relentless and chilling psychological thriller, rich with deliciously dark and unapologetic humour, Worst Case Scenario is also a perceptive, tragic and hugely relevant book by one of the most exciting names in crime fiction.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me on this blog tour and to Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of Worst Case Scenario in exchange for an honest review. What can I say? I wasn’t expecting this at all! I haven’t read any of the author’s previous books so had no expectations in term of style or substance and she delivered on both counts with such a unique piece of work and a different, interesting female protagonist that I was instantly hooked. It probably helped that the novel begins with such an intriguing first line that I challenge anyone not to want to read on further:

“Every time Mary tried to relax in a bath, a paedophile ruined it.”

I have no words. I just needed to read on after that!

Helen Fitzgerald, author of Worst Case Scenario.

Worst Case Scenario was a novel for me that encompassed so many different genres. It combined contemporary Scottish life with a psychological thriller and crime element but there there were wry moments of humour too which I very much appreciated. It felt much more to me like a character study of one woman, our female protagonist Mary Shields who is at a very frustrating and difficult moment in her life. She is struggling with the menopause and all the symptoms that accompany it including mood swings, hot flushes, night sweats and weight gain. Additionally, she has an incredibly stressful job as a probation officer and often has to deal with quite harrowing cases involving children and the individuals she monitors are often sex offenders, hardened criminals or drug addicts that have heart-breaking back stories of their own.

When we first meet Mary in Worst Case Scenario she is at the height of her emotional and personal struggles and is starting to get to the point where she just doesn’t care anymore. She has informed her superiors that she is planning to resign so feels a new freedom of being able to do and say whatever she wants to her clients – after all, she’s leaving, what’s the worst that could happen? Then she encounters a new client, Liam Macdowell, who has just been released from prison who causes her all kinds of new problems. The decisions that Mary ends up making now, in this uneasy and stressful part of her life have the potential to cause repercussions not only for herself but for those closest to her.

Glasgow, Scotland where Worst Case Scenario is set.

What made Worst Case Scenario such a different read for me? I think it was a combination of multiple elements. Mainly, it was our protagonist, Mary. I loved reading about an older woman going through the menopause which is often a subject you don’t see explored in fiction and should definitely be highlighted a bit more. She was grumpy, she was irrational, she made some hideously bad decisions and at some points, I just wanted to scream at the book: “No Mary, don’t!” but she was such an authentic and believable character because of these things. It was also touching to read about her vulnerabilities, her worries about her husband and her own sexuality and her caring nature towards the troubled individuals that she has to monitor. As a reader, it made you want to root for her even if at times you just wanted to cringe and cover your eyes a little bit!

Additionally, being Scottish I’m always a huge fan of a Scottish setting and Helen Fitzgerald has captured this beautifully in the novel. I felt instantly back at home and as I read this just after a short trip back to Edinburgh, it made the experience strangely comforting, despite the often dark subject matter of the story. Finally, the author has written a fantastic narrative that really makes you want to keep reading with moments that may not necessarily be conventionally “thriller-like,” but are truly gasp-worthy all the same. After this particular ending…. well, I NEED to know what happened next!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers,
including The Donor (2011) and The Cry (2013), which was longlisted for the
Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama
for BBC1. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen
years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her
husband.

Find Helen on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4341584.Helen_Fitzgerald

on Twitter at: @fitzhelen

or on her website at: http://www.helenfitzgerald.net/

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Worst Case Scenario will be published on 16th May 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Worst Case Scenario on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45014364-worst-case-scenario

Link to Worst Case Scenario on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Worst-Case-Scenario-Helen-FitzGerald-ebook/dp/B07KGNC7VF/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?crid=34XUU2B4I5FCE&keywords=worst+case+scenario+helen+fitzgerald&qid=1557146054&s=gateway&sprefix=worst+case%2Caps%2C204&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

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Call Me Star Girl – Louise Beech

Published April 22, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

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…

What did I think?:

I first came across the wonderful Louise Beech’s writing in her last novel, The Lion Tamer Who Lost which was published last year and completely captured my heart from the the first page to the very last. When I heard she was writing a new book and that it was a psychological thriller, I was thrilled to be able to get my hands on it so a huge thank you to Karen Sullivan and all at Orenda Books for sending me a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review. Having only read one other book by this author, I’m no expert on her style but personally, I felt Call Me Star Girl was quite a departure from the genre she usually commands and only confirms how beautifully versatile she is a an author. Once again, I was delighted by the gritty nature of the narrative which was only amplified by the specific plot-line of the story and the fact that it involves the unsolved murder of a young, pregnant woman.

Louise Beech, author of Call Me Star Girl. 

Louise Beech has a fantastic knack for twisting the reader round her little finger in the way she creates her characters, develops an enthralling plot and manages to keep us hooked with tantalising little surprises here and there. I was instantly intrigued by the character of Stella and how we see her life as flashes of memories from her distant past and her fractured relationship with her mother, the most recent past regarding her intense relationship with her boyfriend, Tom and her present situation during her last ever shift as a late night presenter on a local radio station. As with all brilliant psychological thrillers, I’m afraid I simply cannot tell you a thing for fear of spoiling it, but I adored how the author used her natural literary flair to portray the intricate characters and their relationships between each other which only served to drive the narrative and ensure it became something very special indeed.

Our main protagonist, Stella McKeever works at a radio station and through the novel, is participating in her final work shift.

If you’ve been following my blog for a little while, you might know that I have the greatest respect for both genre and literary fiction. Sometimes I want a novel with a fast-paced, action-filled plot with short, snappy chapters and where it doesn’t really matter what the characters have for breakfast or not (joke!). Then at other times, I live for that literary crime fiction with all the intricate character details that I’ve been craving. I love when an author creates characters that you can really see, feel and hear and that you actually feel closer to purely because you understand every aspect of their daily existence and emotional well-being. This is exactly what Louise Beech has done with Call Me Star Girl. I was fascinated with Stella, her boyfriend Tom and her mother, Elizabeth and as it is told from dual perspectives and across different time-lines, you start to KNOW these characters intimately rather than just feeling merely acquainted with them.

Even then, the author has the power to pull the rug out from under your feet and completely turn the tables on what you might have been thinking or hoping. As I’ve mentioned in countless other reviews, I admire when an author can do that so effortlessly, like Louise does. This is probably because as a regular reader of crime fiction and literary crime fiction, I can’t help but try to work out what might be going on before the official reveal. As a result, the book climbs exponentially higher for me when that element of surprise is maintained and I don’t guess what may be going on.

As a psychological thriller, the author has surpassed all of my expectations with Call Me Star Girl and even though it’s a few days since I’ve finished it now, I’m still thinking about the final outcome of this novel. Perhaps more importantly, I’m also thinking about their characters and the relationships they had, which is definitely a clearer sign that the book managed to get under my skin.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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Blog Tour – The Courier by Kjell Ola Dahl (translated by Don Bartlett)

Published March 5, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The international bestselling godfather of Nordic Noir takes on one of the most horrific periods of modern history, in a stunning standalone thriller…

‘A masterclass in plotting, atmosphere and character that finely balances shocking twists’ The Times

In 1942, Jewish courier Ester is betrayed, narrowly avoiding arrest by the Gestapo. In a great haste, she escapes to Sweden, saving herself. Her family in Oslo, however, is deported to Auschwitz. In Stockholm, Ester meets the resistance hero, Gerhard Falkum, who has left his little daughter and fled both the Germans and allegations that he murdered his wife, Åse, who helped Ester get to Sweden. Their burgeoning relationship ends abruptly when Falkum dies in a fire.
And yet, twenty-five years later, Falkum shows up in Oslo. He wants to reconnect with his daughter. But where has he been, and what is the real reason for his return? Ester stumbles across information that forces her to look closely at her past, and to revisit her war-time training to stay alive…
Written with Dahl’s trademark characterization and elegant plotting, The Courier sees the hugely respected godfather of Nordic Noir at his best, as he takes on one of the most horrific periods of modern history, in a exceptional, shocking thriller.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and all at Orenda Books for inviting me onto this blog tour and for providing a complimentary digital copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review. I have to admit, I’m not familiar with the author’s work but I was instantly intrigued by the promise of a gritty thriller set within the period around the Second World War. It’s one of my favourite periods of history to read about and I’m always on the hunt for an author who can bring something fresh and unique to an era that we often see explored in multiple works of fiction. I’ve also found a new hunger as a reader for reading more translated novels and for me, Don Bartlett’s words felt seamless and effortless to read which is always a pleasure to experience.

Kjell Ola Dahl, author of the standalone thriller, The Courier.

I found The Courier to be quite a fascinating reading experience and it was certainly one that has left me still mulling over it a few days now after finishing. Set across multiple timelines from the early 1940’s to the 1960’s and then contemporary times we follow a number of different characters but primarily Ester, who delivered illegal newspapers during the war, making a stand against the harsh Nazi regime. However, the focus of this novel is ultimately directed towards the suspicious death of one of Ester’s friends Åse. The narrative follows Ester just prior to Åse’s death and additionally, Åse’s husband, Gerhard who becomes the primary suspect in his wife’s murder but until now, has been presumed to have died in a fire. Piece by piece and across the years, the truth about what happened is gradually revealed and the unravelling of a multitude of secrets has the potential to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Oslo, Norway 1940-1945

Image from: http://www.norvege-fr.com/norvege_photos.php?id_photo=36645642345&mots=winter+oslo&couleurs=all&sort=&page=1

In general, I have quite mixed feelings about this novel. It’s definitely what you would call a slow-burner and whilst it’s true that I usually gobble up stories that take their time to unfold, there were points where I couldn’t quite gel with the pacing. That is to say, at times I couldn’t get enough of where the author was taking the plot and then there were other times where it didn’t work as well, personally speaking. Kjell Ola Dahl has an undeniable talent and a genuine flair for the dramatic and there were moments where I was “thrilled,” on the edge of my seat and frantically turning the pages.

I honestly believe fans of espionage novels will devour this story, particularly the political relationships between the characters and the slow, considered reveals that have the reader questioning everything. Perhaps it wasn’t a stand out read for me because I’ve struggled so deeply with espionage in the past? Although this particular novel was not primarily espionage I hasten to add, it did read at points for me like an espionage thriller. In the hands of a different reader I’m certain this would be a hugely rewarding reading experience and I think the author has a clear, individual writing style all of his own that has already gained him a legion of loyal fans. I would certainly urge anyone with a love of history, intricate plotting and strong female leads to give it a try!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

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 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.

Find Kjell Ola Dahl on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/605240.Kjell_Ola_Dahl

or on his website at: http://www.salomonssonagency.se/php/author.php?lang=en&authid=17

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. The Courier will be published on 21st March 2019 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to The Courier on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42957863-the-courier

Link to The Courier on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Courier-Kjell-Ola-Dahl-ebook/dp/B07KGLHC5X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1551731622&sr=8-1&keywords=the+courier

Blog Tour – Attend by West Camel

Published December 7, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

When Sam falls in love with Deptford thug Derek, and Anne’s best friend Kathleen takes her own life, they discover they are linked not just by a world of drugs and revenge; they also share the friendship of the uncanny and enigmatic Deborah. Seamstress, sailor, storyteller and self-proclaimed centenarian immortal, Deborah slowly reveals to Anne and Sam her improbable, fantastical life, a history of hidden Deptford and ultimately the solution to their crises.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Karen Sullivan from Orenda Books for the complimentary digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I have to admit, when Anne first emailed me about this book I was immediately entranced by that simplistic yet stunning front cover. It really draws the eye (and perhaps also threads the eye?!) and is a perfect example of how beautiful cover art can entice a reader to want to know more about the story. Luckily it had a fantastic synopsis too – I mean, “self-proclaimed centenarian immortal?” I simply HAD to read this book when that line jumped out at me! Please pardon the pun but this is a beautifully woven story that I thoroughly enjoyed. It has its darker moments, which to be honest, I’m always a fan of but there were softer, more gentle periods too that I really appreciated.

West Camel, author of Attend.

This is the story primarily of three people. Anne is a former heroin addict, mother to Julie and grandmother to Tom. She has been away from her family for some time while she recovers from her addiction and is determined not to see any of them until she can ensure she won’t succumb to her demons and let them down again. As a result, she hasn’t even met her grandson and at the time the novel is set, she is slowly trying to integrate herself back into their lives whilst attempting to fight her own personal battles. Sam is a young gay man who has also had some hardships in his life and eases his loneliness by going out a lot, desperate to find someone who will finally “see” and appreciate him. Our final protagonist is Deborah, an older lady with a plethora of stories to tell, primarily how she has become immortal through working on a small piece of sewing. All three characters are drawn together by seminal events that occur in their lives and by finding each other, there is an opportunity for each one to eventually find happiness and contentment.

Deptford, South-East London, England where Attend is set.

The more I think about this novel, the more I realise what the author might have been trying to say and how moving the narrative is in general. We have three characters, all three are intriguing, have a story to tell, have had difficulties in their lives in the past and present and crucially, all of them are struggling with being seen by other people. I think my favourite part of the narrative had to be Deborah’s story, particularly when she told parts of her past that were incredibly heart-breaking. There’s a particular moment during the war when she is trapped in a shelter that was so moving and written so beautifully I couldn’t put the book down until I had finished that specific chapter. Additionally, I loved how all the characters find that inner strength they eagerly desire from each other and they emerge more resilient by the end.

Finally, I really appreciated that you can’t really categorise this novel. It’s such a heady mixture of contemporary fiction with a dashing of historical and crime elements and a sprinkling of magical realism. I feel like the more fantastical, whimsical parts of the story worked very well as a whole and it never strayed into the realms of unbelievable. From that beautiful front cover, to an equally beautiful story within the pages, Attend is an imaginative piece of work that will touch your heart and potentially make you believe in magic all over again.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

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 Books with writing and editing a wide
range of material for various arts organisations, including ghostwriting
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,
A highly anticipated debut, blending the magical realism of Angela Carter
and the gritty authenticity of Eastenders
and was longlisted for the Old Vic’s 12 playwrights project. Attend is his first novel.

Find West on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8283285.West_Camel

or on Twitter at: @west_camel

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Attend will be published on 13th December 2018 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41967084-attend

Link to book on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Attend-West-Camel/dp/1912374390/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1544092398&sr=8-1&keywords=attend+west+camel

Blog Tour – Good Samaritans by Will Carver

Published November 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

One crossed wire, three dead bodies and six bottles of bleach

Seth Beauman can’t sleep. He stays up late, calling strangers from his phonebook, hoping to make a connection, while his wife, Maeve, sleeps upstairs. A crossed wire finds a suicidal Hadley Serf on the phone to Seth, thinking she is talking to The Samaritans.
But a seemingly harmless, late-night hobby turns into something more for Seth and for Hadley, and soon their late-night talks are turning into day-time meet-ups. And then this dysfunctional love story turns into something altogether darker, when Seth brings Hadley home…
And someone is watching…
Dark, sexy, dangerous and wildly readable, Good Samaritans marks the scorching return of one of crime fiction’s most exceptional voices.

What did I think?:

Oh Holy Mother. What did I just READ?! Well, the obvious answer is Good Samaritans by Will Carver of course but seriously, I wasn’t expecting this. Thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour and Karen Sullivan and all at Orenda Books for sending over a digital copy of this astounding novel in exchange for an honest review. Well, I’m going to be perfectly honest – I was blown away. I’ve read the three books in Carver’s January David series, Girl 4, The Two and Dead Set and enjoyed his writing style but I’ve never been so ecstatic about an author’s comeback until I read Good Samaritans. This novel is on another level of thrilling sumptuousness (is that even a word?) and I just wanted to stay on that level and never come down. Why did it have to end again?

Will Carver, author of Good Samaritans and the January David series.

What can I say about this novel? Finding the words to describe such marvellous characterisation and a blinder of a plot-line is going to be difficult, especially if I want to keep that air of mystery that this book absolutely deserves. Let me just say it’s primarily the story of three people. We have a married couple, Maeve and Seth and a gentleman called Ant who works for the Samaritans helpline. Seth suffers from vicious insomnia and often spends his evenings with the phone book on his lap, calling random numbers hoping for someone to talk to. Many of these callers end up hanging up on Seth (after showering him with abuse of course!) but there is one lonely, desperate young woman, Hadley Serf who decides to talk to him after wires become crossed and she believes she is on the line to the Samaritans. From this moment, all our characters become embroiled in some very murky, distorted goings-on that may make you a little nervous when talking to a stranger on the other end of the phone in the future.

Good Samaritans? 

My fellow blogger Mart, (fabulous, hilarious reviewer and all round good egg) over at The Beardy Book Blogger wished me luck with reviewing this book and boy was he right! I don’t want to give ANYTHING away but how do I find the words to persuade you all that this is first of all, a book you need to be reading by the end of the year and that this is an author that is reaching the dizziest and loftiest of heights? Just trust me, please. This was a “skyscraper of New York” piece of writing that I couldn’t get enough of and broke new grounds of darkness, gritty substance and staggeringly fabulous creativity. Be prepared for graphic sexual content, deplorable acts of violence and some warped minds and ideals that will linger in your memory long after you’ve finished the final page. Yes, there is a bit of “sexy time” and although I’m not usually a fan of this kind of thing, it never felt gratuitous and strangely enough, worked with the characters and the narrative that we are given.

The characters in Good Samaritans are beautifully realised and fantastically crazy whilst also maintaining that remarkable sense of authenticity that is sometimes so difficult to pull off when writing multiple characters, both male and female. I felt like the author really thought about their mindset at each moment of the novel and wrote believable and compelling moments for each one of them. If you like your crime raw, bruised, deliciously evil and a little bit uncomfortable, this is the novel for you. If Carver carries on writing like this, I’ve found myself another favourite author!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

imagesCAF9JG4S

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January
David series (Arrow). 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.

Find Will on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4717409.Will_Carver

on his website at: http://www.willcarver.net/

on Twitter at: @will_carver

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Good Samaritans was published on 15th November 2018 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40574569-good-samaritans

Link to book on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Good-Samaritans-Will-Carver-ebook/dp/B07DFP29VY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1543164877&sr=8-1&keywords=good+samaritans

Blog Tour – Palm Beach, Finland by Antti Tuomainen (translated by David Hackston)

Published October 5, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Jan Nyman, the ace detective of the covert operations unit of the National Central Police, is sent to a sleepy seaside town to investigate a mysterious death. Nyman arrives in the town dominated by a bizarre holiday village—the “hottest beach in Finland.” The suspect: Olivia Koski, who has only recently returned to her old hometown. The mission: find out what happened, by any means necessary. With a nod to Fargo, and dark noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams, and people struggling at turning points in their lives—chasing their fantasies regardless of reason.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater for getting in touch and inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing me with a digital copy of this darkly humorous novel in exchange for an honest review. Palm Beach, Finland is my first experience with Antti Tuomainen’s writing, although I do have one of his other novels, The Man Who Died which I included as part of my post, 18 Books I’d Like To Read In 2018, which I promise to try and get round to very soon! However, now that I’ve read Palm Beach, Finland, it only makes me more determined to read something else by Tuomainen as I found his work to be a thoroughly enjoyable experience, full of atmosphere, quirky offbeat humour and a very individual writing style.

Antti Tuomainen, author of Palm Beach, Finland.

On first impressions, this novel is about an undercover detective, Jan Nyman who is investigating a series of strange events near a new beach resort in Finland that began with a suspected burglary gone wrong and ended with a murder. Nyman is trying to figure out whether the death was accidental or pre-meditated, who carried out the crime and for what reason, however things become rather convoluted when he gets to the resort and meets the people who could be potentially involved. There’s a number of characters to get to grips with here, all with their own motives for murder, including the woman whose house the death occurred in, Olivia Koski, who is in a desperate situation financially and wants nothing more than to make the house she lives in habitable and safe. However, there are far more personalities on the outskirts of this small, unassuming town to discover and the reader soon realises that nothing in this novel can be assumed or predicted.

An example of one of the beaches in Finland, Yyteri near Pori.

Before I started reading Palm Beach, Finland, I gave the synopsis a quick glance but tried to go into the novel knowing as little as possible about it. I don’t normally do this as I like to have a snapshot idea in my mind about the content of a book before I dive in but for some reason, this new tactic of mine worked really well for this particular work. I was delighted to find an intriguing mystery, some fascinating characters and a sense of humour I could really get on board with. The plot was intricate with multiple twists and turns but luckily, it felt believable throughout and it did make me constantly want to turn the pages and find out what was going on.

As I alluded to in a previous paragraph, I don’t think you can predict the actions of any of our characters in this story and to be honest, that was probably one of my favourite things about it. They all felt quite whimsical and other-worldly in a way and I was constantly surprised by the way in which each individual became personally embroiled in the plot. It began as a relatively simple criminal act, blew up into something much more dangerous and then dragged each of our characters into its clutches one by one as it became increasingly messy and out of hand. I did find myself wishing that we got to know each character a lot better on a much deeper level as it seemed as if the novel relied quite heavily on the complexities of the plot combined with the humorous undertone but generally speaking, this didn’t affect my enjoyment level in the slightest.

I’m reading much more translated fiction this year and completely loving this experience. The translator for Palm Beach, Finland, David Hackston did a brilliant job of bringing this novel to an English speaking audience whilst still retaining the author’s unique idiosyncrasies and comic timing. I definitely want to be reading more from Antti Tuomainen!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary
debut in 2007 as a suspense author. The critically acclaimed My Brother’s Keeper was
published two years later. In 2011, Tuomainen’s third novel, The Healer, was awarded the
Clue Award for ‘Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2011’ and was shortlisted for the Glass Key
Award. Two years later, in 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of
Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style,
Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his
poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller,
shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards.

Find Antti on his Goodreads page at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5142432.Antti_Tuomainen

on his website at: http://anttituomainen.com/

or on Twitter at: @antti_tuomainen

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Palm Beach, Finland will be published in October 2018 and will be available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Palm Beach, Finland on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/42086762-palm-beach-finland

Link to Palm Beach, Finland on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Palm-Beach-Finland-Antti-Tuomainen-ebook/dp/B07DFQ2DVK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1538594419&sr=8-1&keywords=palm+beach+finland

 

Blog Tour – After He Died by Michael J. Malone

Published September 21, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

You need to know who your husband really was…

When Paula Gadd’s husband of almost thirty years dies, just days away from the seventh anniversary of their son, Christopher’s death, her world falls apart. Grieving and bereft, she is stunned when a young woman approaches her at the funeral service, and slips something into her pocket. A note suggesting that Paula’s husband was not all that he seemed…
When the two women eventually meet, a series of revelations challenges everything Paula thought they knew, and it becomes immediately clear that both women’s lives are in very real danger.
Both a dark, twisty slice of domestic noir and taut, explosive psychological thriller, After He Died is also a chilling reminder that the people we trust the most can harbour the deadliest secrets…

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and all at Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and providing me with a complimentary copy of this fantastic psychological thriller in exchange for an honest review. There’s been a few novelists published by Orenda that I’ve been woefully behind in getting round to their work and Michael J. Malone is another one of those that I wish I’d picked up MONTHS ago. I’ve heard glowing praise and read wonderful reviews about his other work and of course, I’ve been following my fellow bloggers reviews on this blog tour which only made me keener to find out if I too could potentially become a huge fan. Well, Orenda never let me down with the supreme quality of authors that they publish so it was no big surprise that I loved everything about this novel, meaning Malone has yet another adoring reader to add to his list, which he fully and absolutely deserves – this story was exciting, meaningful and wonderfully told.

Michael J. Malone, author of After He Died.

Set in and around Glasgow, this is primarily the story of our female lead, Paula Gadd, in her late forties and grieving for her husband, Thomas who passed away unexpectedly one evening while out for dinner. Paula wasn’t present at the time of his death and sadly, blames herself for not being there at her husband’s time of need. However, things are about to get a whole lot darker when at her husband’s funeral a young woman slips a note into her pocket with a phone number to call insinuating that Thomas wasn’t who Paula thought he was. Having been married for almost thirty years, Paula’s world implodes as she continues to struggle with both her grief, the memories of losing her teenage son Christopher some years previously and this intense, new information that she has no idea what to do with. As the story continues, Paula begins to find out some remarkable secrets about her husband that still continue to affect certain people around her, including herself, in very frightening and unpredictable ways.

Glasgow, Scotland where much of After He Died is set.

Being of Scottish descent myself, I was delighted to read a book set in my home country which brought back feelings of nostalgia, happiness, comfort and home. I particularly enjoyed the way Malone used Scottish words and phrases that occasionally slip into my own vocabulary and leaves a minority of English people I may be talking to at the time looking rather confused! Coupled with this was the marvellous characterisation, particularly of Paula and the young woman she meets at the funeral, Cara. Funnily enough, I wasn’t sure about Paula at first. I was desperately sorry for her loss and was interested in how her future would look but it wasn’t until further along in the narrative that I really warmed to her. Much like Cara, she has gumption, drive, determination, focus, incredible strength and bravery and as some of you might know by now, I can’t get enough of a resilient, gutsy female lead!

However, I think the thing I admired most about this novel was the way Michael J. Malone chose to write about poverty in Scotland in contemporary times. It’s something that’s not really written about (or if it is, I haven’t read it, happy to accept recommendations!), and of course, it’s not just in Scotland, it’s all over the world, I accept that unequivocally. Nevertheless, it’s so refreshing to read a story where a well-off upper middle class woman comes face to face with the darker side of people who go hungry, are addicted to drugs, are homeless etc and explores her reactions/actions as a result. This is why I loved Cara so much as a character too. She was a real fighter for the unheard and often unseen, despite having a difficult upbringing herself and I loved her “never give up” attitude, morals and ethics. I might have had a bit of a girl crush, to be honest!

As I mentioned before, I can’t believe this is the first Malone book I’ve experienced but I’m ever so glad I started with this one. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment and can only rub my hands in gleeful anticipation at his past novels, just waiting to be explored.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

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. Other published work includes:
Carnegie’s Call; A Taste for Malice; The Guillotine Choice; Beyond the Rage; The
Bad Samaritan and Dog Fight. His psychological thriller, A Suitable Lie, was a
number-one bestseller, and the critically acclaimed House of Spines soon
followed suit. A former Regional Sales Manager (Faber & Faber) he has also
worked as an IFA and a bookseller.

Find Michael on his Goodreads page at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6203125.Michael_J_Malone

on Twitter at: @MichaelJMalone1

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. After He Died was published on 30th July 2018 and is available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to After He Died on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40492826-after-he-died?ac=1&from_search=true

Link to After He Died on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/After-He-Died-Michael-Malone-ebook/dp/B07DFPCLNK/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1537471301&sr=8-1