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Blog Tour – Fault Lines by Doug Johnstone

Published May 29, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

In a reimagined contemporary Edinburgh, in which a tectonic fault has opened up to produce a new volcano in the Firth of Forth, and where tremors are an everyday occurrence, volcanologist Surtsey makes a shocking discovery. On a clandestine trip to The Inch – the new volcanic island – to meet Tom, her lover and her boss, she finds his lifeless body. Surtsey’s life quickly spirals into a nightmare when someone makes contact – someone who claims to know what she’s done…

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and providing me with a copy of Fault Lines in exchange for an honest review. Well, honestly, I’ve never read anything by Doug Johnstone before but after this little blinder of a novel, I will certainly be reading more. This is a relatively short read at 300 pages in paperback form but it packs so much intrigue, betrayal and secrets into the narrative that you could be forgiven for thinking it’s a much longer novel. At the same time, it doesn’t feel long at all. I sped through this in about a 24 hour period because I did find it so difficult to put down, I had to know what happened. Being set in Edinburgh (hailing from that fair city myself), was just the icing on the cake for me and the author backed up his alternative setting with intriguing characters and an exciting plot.

Doug Johnstone, author of Fault Lines.

The author chooses to set his story rather alternatively, as I’ve already alluded to, in a modern Edinburgh with a difference. There has been a fault in the tectonic plates which make up the shell of our planet and it has caused a volcanic island to erupt in the Firth Of Forth. Our female lead, Surtsey (named after a volcano in Iceland) is a scientist who makes regular trips to the island to collect and analyse soil samples, carry out research etc. When we meet her, she is travelling to meet her boss and married lover, Tom on the island for a rendez-vous but she is shocked to discover his body instead with violent evidence that he might have been murdered. From this time on, we follow Surtsey as she makes decisions about what to do next and learns to cope with what she has discovered and her own actions following the gruesome find. Then somebody texts her on Tom’s secret phone that he only used to contact her. They know what happened and they have no qualms about making her life a complete misery, even resorting to drastic measures when the threats have little effect.

The Firth Of Forth with the Forth Rail Bridge in Edinburgh.

What a great read this was! I adored the re-imagining of Edinburgh and it was strange, even though this volcanic island is obviously imaginary, Doug Johnstone describes everything so beautifully that I could almost picture it in my mind, from the boat ride over to the island itself. Coupled with this new entity in the middle of the estuary, the residents of Edinburgh also have to deal with regular tremors which funnily enough, have become part of everyday life. It was really interesting that as the tension and action gradually increased in the novel, so too did the intensity of the tremors which only made for a more powerful reading experience.

I just have to mention the characters as well, particularly Surtsey who at times, was quite unlikeable but unlike other books I’ve read recently where the character put me off the entire book, this wasn’t the case at all with Fault Lines. I think it’s because Surtsey felt really believable to me. She wasn’t an angel, she made some AWFUL decisions where as a reader, you just want to scream at her to “stop! go back! be careful!” but of course, we all make mistakes. She drinks too much, she smokes too much marijuana and of course, the ill-advised affair with her married boss but something about her still made me want to carry on reading. It might have been the relationship with her terminally ill mother and her wayward sister but I don’t know, in the end I just ended up feeling sorry for her.

The Icelandic volcano Surtsey, from where our main character takes her name.

All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by my first novel from Doug Johnstone. It was a thrilling read that had obviously been methodically planned and although I guessed the perp behind the mysterious texts to Surtsey, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the novel in the slightest. If all the author’s books are like this, I want to be reading them!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Doug Johnstone is a writer, musician and journalist based in Edinburgh. His fourth novel, Hit & Run, is published by Faber and Faber on March 15th 2012. His previous novel, Smokeheads, was published in March 2011, also by Faber. before that he published two novels with Penguin, Tombstoning (2006) and The Ossians (2008), which received praise from the likes of Irvine Welsh, Ian Rankin and Christopher Brookmyre.Doug is currently writer in residence at the University of Strathclyde. Hes had short stories appear in various publications, and since 1999 he has worked as a freelance arts journalist, primarily covering music and literature.He grew up in Arbroath and lives in Portobello, Edinburgh with his wife and two children. He loves drinking malt whisky and playing football, not necessarily at the same time.

Find Doug on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/758942.Doug_Johnstone

or on Twitter at: @doug_johnstone

Thank you 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. Fault Lines was published on the 22nd May 2018 and will be available as a paperback and e-book. In fact at the time of writing it was on Amazon UK for the bargain price of 99p! If you fancy some 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/37849000-fault-lines?from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fault-Lines-Doug-Johnstone/dp/1912374153/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1527355288&sr=8-1&keywords=fault+lines

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Blog Tour – We Were The Salt Of The Sea by Roxanne Bouchard (translated by David Warriner)

Published March 4, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

As Montrealer Catherine Day sets foot in a remote fishing village and starts asking around about her birth mother, the body of a woman dredges up in a fisherman’s nets. Not just any woman, though: Marie Garant, an elusive, nomadic sailor and unbridled beauty who once tied many a man’s heart in knots. Detective Sergeant Joaquin Morales, newly drafted to the area from the suburbs of Montreal, barely has time to unpack his suitcase before he’s thrown into the deep end of the investigation. On Quebec’s outlying Gaspé Peninsula, the truth can be slippery, especially down on the fishermen’s wharves. Interviews drift into idle chit-chat, evidence floats off with the tide and the truth lingers in murky waters. It’s enough to make DS Morales reach straight for a large whisky.

What did I think?:

A huge thank you to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and all involved with Orenda Books for sending me a review copy of We Were The Salt Of The Sea in exchange for an honest review. I’m absolutely delighted to be a supporter of the books that Orenda is publishing in the past year, the variety and strength of writing that I’ve seen in the books I’ve read and reviewed so far has been nothing short of stellar. We Were The Salt Of The Sea is another blinder, Canadian crime fiction that almost feels literary in its execution and with a quiet, gentle humour that immediately tickles the reader and makes them warm even more to both the plot and the characters.

This novel follows two main characters, the first is a woman called Catherine Day who is visiting a small village in order to get answers about her birth mother, Marie Garant, a woman who adored sailing, spent very little time on land and held the hearts of quite a few men within the village. The second character is Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès, another outsider who takes a new job within the police and is thrust immediately into an investigation involving a body who turns up one day entangled in a fisherman’s net. Joaquin must try to infiltrate the closed, secretive community to get some answers about why this person may have died and indeed, if the death is at all suspicious. For personal reasons, Catherine also becomes entrenched in the mystery and as a result, begins to discover a lot more about her mother’s history and about herself as a person.

When I first started this novel, I was expecting a novel take on the crime fiction genre and essentially, that’s exactly what I got. However, I wasn’t expecting how lyrical I found the writing to be in parts, this was almost a love song to the sea and you can really sense that the author may have a close connection of her own to the water. It might not be a novel for anyone expecting a fast pace or a thrilling plot because this story is much more methodical, slower and richer in detail than that and is almost more a character study of a community than a page-turning mystery. What kept me turning the pages? Definitely the humour, which was a very welcome surprise! Some of the characters we meet in We Were The Salt Of The Sea, for example, the enthusiasm of Renaud Boissonneau, bistro owner extraordinare was infectious and I found myself smiling uncontrollably at his interludes, particularly as he tries (a bit TOO hard) to help frustrated DS Moralès and ends up irritating him slightly!

As the novel continues, the mystery is slowly unravelled and light is shed about some of the relationships within the community giving Catherine a very clear idea of what she has to do next. There were so many characters that just bounced off the pages for me in this story, they all had their own story to tell and I adored how well rounded and authentic each one felt. This is a beautifully written tale that I think would appeal to lovers of literary fiction and I appreciated how the crime element changed a story about all the different characters of a tight-knit community to a mystery that by the end of the novel, just begs to be solved.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Roxanne Bouchard reads a lot, but she laughs even more. Her first novel, Whisky et Paraboles, garnered an array of prestigious awards in Quebec and caught the attention of British researcher, Jasmina Bolfek-Radovani, of the University of Westminster, who saw for herself how Roxanne weaves poetry and geography together to delve into her characters’ intimate worlds. This desire for intimacy permeates all of Roxanne’s novels, as well as her play, J’t’aime encore, and her published essays, which have focused on the human aspects and impacts of the military. In 2013, the publication of her private correspondence with Corporal Patrick Kègle, entitled En terrain miné, started quite the conversation.

This thought-provoking discussion about the need for weapons was a stepping-stone for Roxanne to undertake unprecedented research at Quebec’s largest military base. Meeting and speaking with dozens of women and men who served in Afghanistan in 2009 inspired her to write a collection of hard-hitting short stories, Cinq balles dans la tête, slated for publication in autumn 2017.

We Were the Salt of the Sea is Roxanne Bouchard’s fifth novel, and the first to be translated into English. As much a love story and a nostalgic tale as it is a crime novel, it was shortlisted for a number of crime fiction and maritime literature awards in Quebec and France. It haunts people’s memories, ties seafarers’ hearts in knots and seeps its way into every nook and cranny, but most importantly, the sea in this book is a calling for us all to set our sails to the wind. Roxanne Bouchard is currently writing an essay on literary creativity and plotting Detective Sergeant Joaquin Moralès’s next investigation.

Find Roxanne on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4120411.Roxanne_Bouchard

on Twitter at: @RBouchard72

Thank you 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. We Were The Salt Of The Sea was published on the 28th February 2018 and is available from all good bookshops now. If you want some more fantastic reviews don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers stops for some more fantastic reviews!

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35960850-we-were-the-salt-of-the-sea?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Were-Salt-Sea-Roxanne-Bouchard/dp/191237403X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520175927&sr=1-1&keywords=we+were+the+salt+of+the+sea

Blog Tour – Killed (Henning Juul #5) by Thomas Enger, translated by Kari Dickson

Published March 2, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Henning Juul sits in a boat on a dark lake. A man with a gun sits opposite him. At the man’s feet is a body that will be soon be dumped into the water. Henning knows that the same fate awaits him. And he knows that it’s his own fault. Who started the fire that killed Henning’s young son? How is his sister, Trine, involved? Most importantly, who can be trusted? Packed with tension and unexpected twists, Killed is the long-waited finale of the internationally renowned series featuring conflicted, disillusioned but always dogged crime reporter Henning Juul, and one of the most chilling, dark and moving crime thrillers you may ever read.

What did I think?:

Thank you so much to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and all at Orenda Books for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour. When Anne contacted me via email to ask if I was interested, all I needed to do was read that synopsis, notice it was Scandinavian crime fiction and I literally jumped at the chance. Then I found out it was the fifth and final book in the Henning Juul series and I have to admit, I was a little worried. I get strangely anxious about wanting to read things in order, however I’ve relaxed the reins slightly in recent times and have read a few books “out of order,” where it hasn’t mattered a jot and I was crossing my fingers that Killed would be exactly the same. Well, let me assure you there is no doubt that it can absolutely be read as a stand-alone and, better still, provided at the beginning of the novel is such a handy little character list that it was very simple to keep track of who was who in the grand scheme of things.

So our main character in the series is Henning Juul, an investigative crime journalist who has recently lost his small son, in a horrific fire at his flat. As the story begins, he is desperately trying to piece together what happened to his son and more importantly, who was involved. He finds out quite quickly into the narrative that his sister Trine was on the scene just before the accident occurred but why? Furthermore, there are hardened criminals both at home in Norway and abroad that are determined to keep their wave of crimes silent and therefore, anyone who stands in their way or gets a bit too close to the truth has to be dealt with as quickly and as quietly as possible. Henning finds himself in a very real race for his life to uncover the mastermind behind a string of suspicious deaths so that he can finally put old ghosts to rest. He just has to be careful he doesn’t become a ghost himself in the process.

I mentioned before that I enjoy Scandinavian crime fiction and Killed is up there with some of the most gripping thrillers I’ve had the pleasure to read from that beautiful area of the world. I love the darkness, the brooding characters and even Norway almost becomes a character in itself with the picture perfect surroundings and the often freezing conditions. The dark and the cold is just a fantastic setting for any crime fiction and Killed chilled my heart at times with the beauty and brutality of our setting. Of course, this is my first introduction to Henning Juul as a character but I’m already inclined to believe myself a little bit in love with him already. I love the dedication he shows to his work, the memory of his son and his sheer stubbornness in never giving up, even with a couple of bullets in his body! I can’t speak for the rest of the books in the series but I thought the ending was pretty much a perfect way to round everything up (although he did give me a little heart attack when I thought he was taking the story a whole different way!). My only concern with the Henning Juul books, and it’s a purely personal one, is that I feel I’ve missed too much of Henning’s back story and I only wish I had made time to read the previous four books before starting this one. However, that just means I’ve still got four more to enjoy now I feel I know the character so very well!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Granite Noir fest 2017. Thomas Enger.

Thomas Enger (b. 1973) is a former journalist. He made his debut with the
crime novel Burned (Skinndød) in 2010, which became an international
sensation before publication. Burned is the first in a series of 5 books about
the journalist Henning Juul, which delves into the depths of Oslo’s underbelly,
skewering the corridors of dirty politics and nailing the fast-moving world of
24-hour news. Rights to the series have been sold to 26 countries to date. In
2013 Enger published his first book for young adults, a dark fantasy thriller
called The Evil Legacy, for which he won the U-prize (best book Young
Adult). Enger also composes music, and he lives in Oslo.

Find Thomas on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4471063.Thomas_Enger

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

on Twitter at: @EngerThomas

Thank you 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. Killed was published on the 28th February 2018 and is available from all good bookshops now. If you want some more fantastic reviews don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers stops for some more fantastic reviews!

Link to book on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35960953-killed?ac=1&from_search=true

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Killed-Henning-Novel-Thomas-Enger/dp/1910633992/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519580458&sr=8-1&keywords=killed+thomas+enger

Six Stories (Six Stories #1) – Matt Wesolowski

Published January 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

What did I think?:

I have a confession to make. This book has been sitting on my shelves for quite a long time after I read rave reviews about it from my fellow bloggers and bought it in a charity shop near to where I work last year. Then it sat on my shelves looking quite lonely until the lovely Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books invited me to be part of the blog tour for Matt’s second book in the Six Stories series, Hydra (coming your way on Tuesday!) I knew that I simply had to read this novel as soon as possible. Well, oh my goodness why on earth did I wait so long? When I first heard about this book, structured like a true crime podcast, I have to admit I was slightly cynical, I didn’t quite understand how it was all going to work. Well, it was quite simple really. We have the rambling thoughts of our interviewee combined with interjections from the podcast host to confirm certain points that are said, explaining things further or giving us extra, juicy tid-bits of information about the case in question.

Throughout the process of reading Six Stories, I felt like I was reading the transcript of a real-life and very thrilling crime podcast. The name of the novel comes from the fact that our host, Scott King hears the stories of six different people connected with the crime he is discussing. Our case follows the mysterious death of a young boy, Tom Jeffries at Scarclaw Fell, an area of natural beauty, a decade earlier in 1997. Tom was with a group of teenage friends at the time yet died all on his own in the early hours of the morning with his friends allegedly not seeing or hearing a thing. In fact, his body was not even discovered until much later by a separate group of friends out in the woods one night as they are brought gruesome discoveries by way of their dogs’ mouths.

Scott King makes no bones about the fact that he is not a police officer, he is merely an anonymous interloper attempting to have a discussion about a mystery that has more than a few holes in it. By speaking to the people involved with Tom Jeffries, including the teenagers who were with him on that fateful night, he hopes to get some answers behind his death. Well, he certainly does. Six Stories took me a while to get used to the narrative style but by about forty pages in I was fully invested and completely enamoured with the author’s voice. I didn’t mind at all that we were led quite slowly and methodically towards the perpetrator and by the fifth chapter, you could kind of guess who it was, but the beauty of this story is that there are so many more surprises and pieces of the puzzle to put into place than I ever would have expected and I was completely taken aback by what was revealed.

I also adored the eerie nature of the urban legends, for example the Beast of Belkeld and Nanna Wrack added an extra, delicious frisson to the proceedings and definitely made me re-analyse every little creak and bang within my own house whilst I was reading. This is such a unique and fascinating novel that I’m absolutely delighted I’ve finally read, I just want to urge everyone else to give it a try. Weighing in at just over 200 pages, it’s a short novel that packs an almighty punch and the author’s talent and style is simply undeniable and one of a kind.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

 

 

 

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski is the eighth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!