Little Siberia by Antti Tuomainen Translated by David Hackston #BookReview #BlogTour (@antti_tuomainen) @countertenorist @OrendaBooks @annecater #LittleSiberia #nordicnoir #scandinoir #finland #Orentober

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A man with dark thoughts on his mind is racing along the remote snowy roads of Hurmevaara in Finland, when there is flash in the sky and something crashes into the car. That something turns about to be a highly valuable meteorite. With euro signs lighting up the eyes of the locals, the unexpected treasure is temporarily placed in a neighbourhood museum, under the watchful eye of a priest named Joel.

But Joel has a lot more on his mind than simply protecting the riches that have apparently rained down from heaven. His wife has just revealed that she is pregnant. Unfortunately, Joel has strong reason to think the baby isn’t his.

As Joel tries to fend off repeated and bungled attempts to steal the meteorite, he must also come to terms with his own situation, and discover who the father of the baby really is.

I could not be more thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour today for Little Siberia by Antti Tuomianen. Regular readers of the blog will recall that his last book, Palm Beach Finland, was one of my Top Ten Books of 2018. (You can read my review of that book, here.) Huge thanks to Anne Cater at Random Things Tours for my coveted spot on the tour and to the author and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Sometimes when you read a book you have to marvel at the ways people’s minds work. I just know that I could never come up with this story and you can understand why people frequently ask authors that age-old question, ‘where do you get your ideas from?’ I know it is a trite and boring enquiry, but I really would like to know where this author gets his ideas from, because this one is literally out of this world.

The story in question here being, what happens when a meteorite that might be worth a million euros hurtles to earth, lands in a remote Finnish town peopled with dubious characters who all seem to need money for a variety of nefarious reasons and lies in the town museum for four days, guarded only by the town priest, who is atypical in every way? Mayhem, that’s what.

This book is another masterpiece by Antti Tuomainen, and another book that will bear repeated reading to peel backs the layers of nuance that run through it. On the surface, this could be a straight forward thriller, with a variety of baddies battling bloodily for possession of the potentially profitable inter-planetary pebble. There is a lot of slapstick mishaps as different folk try to snatch the meteorite from one another, with varying degrees of success, which has a lot of comedic value for the reader, but beyond that, their stories are revealing about life in a remote, northern backwater where there are endless days of darkness, a claustrophobic community where little changes and everyone knows everyone’s business and we learn the different motives that drive people to commit acts they might not otherwise be able to imagine themselves doing.

The choice of narrator and ‘hero’ of the book is fascinating and a genius move. We have a priest, Joel, who would by nature of his job be at the centre of village life and privy to private information that other would not know. Ideally placed to unveil the story. Beyond this, though, Joel is no ordinary priest. He is not native to the village for a start and, as anyone who has lived in a small community knows, if you weren’t born there, you will always be an ‘incomer’ and treated slightly with suspicion. He is also no ordinary priest. He is a war veteran with the wounds, physical and emotional, to show for it. He also seems to have an unusual approach to his religion, not fervently pushing it in his parishioners, but calmly accepting their questioning of it to a degree that the reader must question how strong his own belief remains. This early line from the book marked him out as different from the early stages, “I spent half an hour reading the Bible, and the rest of the night with James Ellroy.”

So, for me, one of the themes of the book that stood out for me was the question of faith, the testing of faith, whether the committing of obviously illegal acts in the pursuit of justice is morally excusable, and where the line between good and evil really falls. Or maybe I am searching for meaning where there isn’t any and this is simply a thrilling heist story? Having read Antti’s books before, I don’t think so, there are a million ways to read this book. What do you see? Does Joel renew his faith through his trials? You’ll have to read the book and draw your own conclusions.

One of the most compelling things about this author’s writing, is the fantastic sense of place he always manages to imbue his books with, and this is no exception. The dark and bleak landscape are the perfect foil for the lives of these characters, and create the understandable environment for their discontent to blossom. The oppressive nature of being trapped in a tiny town on the edge of the world with  nowhere else to go, nothing new to experience, no-one new to meet, flows from the page to infect the reader and make the character’s behaviours, if not excusable, then at least more understandable, which is quite a feat given how unpleasant some of them are.

The characters themselves are a joy to read, as always. Aside from the Joel himself, we have a drunken discontent in the shape of the local once-famous-now-failed rally driver, two Russian henchmen (one love-lorn to add extra amusement), a femme fatale, local business owners with their own small town troubles, and the ongoing mystery of who might be the father of the infertile priest’s wife’s baby. For a small town, there is certainly a lot going on under the surface and all it took was one tiny space stone to bring it all to the surface, who knew?

This book is a tad darker than Antti’s last one, but still imbued with a vein of black humour, as well as providing a thrilling heist story and additional layers of ideas to unpeel. His books never fail to provide a read that rewards the reader above and beyond expectations.

Little Siberia is out now in e-book format and will be published in paperback on 17 October and you can get a copy here.

The book is taking an extended tour throughout October and there are many other fabulous bloggers on board so do check out their reviews:

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About the Author

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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.

Connect with Antti:

Website: http://anttituomainen.com

Facebook: Antti Tuomainen Official

Twitter: @antti_tuomainen

Instagram: @anttituomainen

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Battle Beyond the Dolestars by Chris McCrudden #BookReview (@cmccrudden) @farragobooks @NetGalley #PublicationDay #BattlestarSuburbia #NetGalley

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Time for the Machine Republic to Kurl Up and Dye

It’s a year since the Battlestar Suburbia broke free from Earth and the human rebellion is hiding out in the asteroid belt. Their leader, Admiral Janice, is assembling a fleet she hopes can topple robot rule – except on Wednesday afternoons when she can do you a half head of highlights for 30 quid.

Janice has given Darren, now the reluctant captain of the teenage starship Polari, a critical mission, to open up a path back to Earth by bombing the Martian Gap Services. But when it goes wrong and Darren and his crew are chased deep into the solar system, Janice has only one hope left, back on Earth.

Here, sentient breadmaker Pamasonic Teffal is resisting the human–machine war the best way she knows how: by running for office. Until a distress signal from Janice persuades her to get her turbo-charged alter ego Pam Van Damme out of mothballs, that is…

Can Pam save the solar system and rescue Kelly from the clutches of her nemesis, the crazed smartphone-turned-cyborg, Sonny Erikzon?

Anyone who follows the blog will know the Battlestar Suburbia was one of my Top Ten Books of 2018 (you can read my review of the book here), so I am extra excited to be reviewing the sequel, Battle Beyond the Dolestars, on the blog today, which is its publication day. Happy publication day, Chris, and my thanks to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

There is always a risk with a sequel to a book that you have loved as much as I loved Battlestar Suburbia that it isn’t going to live up to expectations. The ‘difficult second book’ syndrome. I am delighted to report that any such fears are unfounded with this book, it was every bit as mad, funny and clever as the first one and I enjoyed every minute of revisiting the Battlestar Suburbia-iverse (NB. must think of a snappier reference.)

The first book was a such a hit with me because it blended together my love of the works of Douglas Adams, a nostalgic nod to Red Dwarf and really, really bad puns. I absolutely love a really, really bad pun. This book has all of that, plus a great interweaving of subtle, and less subtle, references to the total shambles that is our current political situation. I’m not quite sure how Chris does it, but all these things which should probably end up being a huge soupy mess actually blend together really well and flow like a well-oiled machine to make a book that it sharp, funny, clever and thought-provoking, all at the same time. Did I mention the truly terrible puns?

I really, really love the characters in these books and it was fascinating to see how they have all developed in the year since the last story ended. Janice, the reluctant leader of the resistance is finding that the demands of leadership weigh heavily on the shoulders of a hairdresser who hasn’t really had dealings with people for decades, except three ancient cyborgs formed from the bodies of cantankerous, elderly customers. She’s much rather be left alone in her salon, instead of being forced to try and out spies using ingenious hairdressing techniques.

Darren also hasn’t quite worked out how to fit comfortably into his new role as space hero, particularly the costuming part, but he’s doing his best. Pamasonic Teffal continued to be my favourite character, although she actually ends up being more than one, due to her schizophrenic approach to the resistance movement. Her escapades in the world of the social hostess particularly made me laugh. There were also some great new characters to get to grips with and the whole thing was just a joyous smorgasbord of silliness and science. Honestly, there hasn’t been anything quite like this available for a ,long time, it is such a clever blend of madness and brilliance, I really can’t sing the praises of the series enough.

I’m really hoping that this is not the last we see of the Battlestar Suburbia-iverse (damn, failed to improve on it), because I have really grown very fond of its quirkiness. Maybe Chris will do an Adams and give us a trilogy in five parts as an homage to a writer who has to have been an influence. But, even if this is the end, I really look forward to seeing what he produces next because he has a very unique way of looking at things that I am keen to see more of.

Battle Beyond the Dolestars is published today and you can buy a copy here.  The book is the sequel to Battlestar Suburbia, and you can get a copy of this first book in the series here.

About the Author

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Chris McCrudden was born in South Shields (no, he doesn’t know Cheryl) and has been, at various points in his life, a butcher’s boy, a burlesque dancer and a hand model for a giant V for Victory sign on Canary Wharf.

He now lives in London and, when not writing books, works in PR, so in many ways you could describe his life as a full-time fiction. If you like science fiction, graphs and gifs from RuPaul’s Drag Race you can follow him on Twitter for all three, sometimes at once @cmccrudden.

 

What Goes Around by Rachel Ellyn #BookReview #BlogTour (@disfunctionaldi) @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #WhatGoesAround

What Goes Around

Alice has been playing the perfect Southern wife for over twenty-five years. So when Bob dumps her for some blonde bimbo twenty years her junior, Alice figures she’s entitled to every dollar she can bleed from him. And, once she’s got the money, she’s entitled to use it on a much-needed vacation to Nanm Paradi, a Caribbean resort that sells itself as her “soul’s paradise”.

She’s never experienced anything as luxurious as Nanm Paradi. The staff know her every desire and cater to her every need before she even knows she needs it. She figures this is how the really rich live and she’s ready to take advantage of all of it–the fabulous drinks, the beautiful views, and the handsome men. And when she discovers that voodoo magic is also on offer… well, Bob hurt her bad. She can take some time away from paradise to exact a little pain. Alice would have been happy to leave things at that. 

But when she gets hit where it hurts–her bank account–Alice’s game changes. It’s no longer about post-divorce romance. Now it’s about revenge.

Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for What Goes Around by Rachel Ellyn. My thanks to Emma Welton of Damp Pebbles Blog Tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This was a really fun, quirky little novella that was very different to my normal choice of reading material. A mixture of thriller, romance and travel with a dash of the supernatural, all overlaid with a gloss of Southern sass and you have a spicy cocktail of a read that you can’t help but enjoy.

The main character, Alice, is a feisty Southern belle who is smarting from her divorce from wealthy lawyer, Bob, who has dumped her for a younger model. She decides to take a luxurious holiday to the tropical paradise resort of Nanm Paradi to indulge in some sun, sea and maybe a bit of rebound romance. The resort exceeds all her expectations, especially when she stumbles on the secrets of some Creole voodoo. Well, what woman scorned wouldn’t be tempted to engage in a little mystical revenge on the ex who humiliated her and broke her heart? Perfectly understandable! But, as she finds out, it can be dangerous to meddle in forces which you can’t control.

I really liked Alice, she was funny and determined and completely outrageous, unlike anyone I have ever met. I loved the touch of Southern charm that ran through the book, and I think she came across very strongly. The story is quite mad, of course, but it is great escapism to suspend your disbelief for a while and just sink into the alternative universe of the story where waiters are mind readers and voodoo queens can help you live out your wild revenge fantasies. Throw in a perfect tropical paradise and an ideal rebound man, and you have yourself a story!

If I had a niggle, it was that there were a couple plot strands that weren’t quite tied up for me, and one aspect at the end that I did query as whether it followed through on the idea that had been set up in the story, but that is the pedant in me talking, and really this is not the book for pedantry. It is pure, fun escapist fiction and should be approached as such. There are much worse ways to while away and hour that with this unique, engaging story. Give it a go if you are looking for something a little different.

What Goes Around is out now and you can get a copy here.

Make sure you visit some of the other fabulous blogs taking part in the tour and read their reviews of the book:

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About the Author

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Life and loves after the career.

With degrees in Finance and Economics, Rachel found wonderful success in the business world, which took her I.T. and financial process consulting international. However, with her mind focused on business, and with the lack of training and mentoring in her personal life, marriage success eluded her.

After foraging on a path of self-awareness and exploration with a determination to avoid repeating patterns again, she found the key to relationship bliss. Now, combining her passion for writing and storytelling with her skills, knowledge, and drive that led to her business acclaim, Rachel shares her off beat take on the world, and her findings where life, love, divorce, and children are concerned.

Rachel is determined to be a publicist’s nightmare by writing in multiple genres including children’s fiction, flash fiction, romance, and suspense/thriller.

After multiple divorces, she is now happily married and lives in the Kansas City Metropolitan area enjoying the household noise of her soon-to-be empty nest.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://www.rachelellyn.com

Facebook: Rachel Ellyn

Twitter: @disfunctionaldi

Instagram: @rachelellyn

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New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle by Liz Eeles #BookReview #BlogTour (@lizeelesauthor) @bookouture #NewStartsAndCherryTartsAtTheCosyKettle #NetGalley

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After yet another failed romance, twenty-six-year-old Callie Fulbright is giving up on love. She’s determined to throw all her efforts into her very own, brand-new café: The Cosy Kettle. Serving hot tea, cherry tarts and a welcoming smile to the friendly locals proves to be the perfect distraction, and Callie feels a flush of pride at the fledgling business she’s built.

But her new-found confidence is soon put to the test when her gorgeous ex reappears in the quaint little village. She’ll never forget the heartache Noah caused her years ago, but when they bump into each other on the cobbled streets of Honeyford she can’t help but feel a flutter in her chest…

As Callie and Noah share laughter and memories, she starts to wonder if this could be her second chance at happiness. But when Callie discovers that someone is mysteriously trying to ruin the café’s reputation… she has an awful suspicion that Noah knows who’s involved.

Was she wrong to ever trust him again? And can she find out who’s behind the lies and rumours, before it’s too late for the Cosy Kettle?

Delighted to be taking part today in the blog tour for New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle by Liz Eeles. My thanks to Noelle Holten at Bookouture for my place on the tour and my copy of the book via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Another day, another light, heart-warming read and another big thumbs up from me. I think I am just in the mood for lighter fare at the moment to offset the awful weather and heavy doom and gloom of current events and this book is absolutely perfect for that. The ideal book to hunker down at home and indulge in some perfect escapism.

I actually think the blurb of this book misses out one vital factor that would tempt readers in, this book features a cafe IN A BOOK SHOP! Why would you not highlight this marvellous piece of information? I love cafes, I love books … I love cafes in bookshops the most! This has all the perfect ingredients for an enticing read. It is also set in the gorgeous Cotswolds, which the author does a fabulous job of describing and making you want to up sticks and move to Gloucestershire immediately.

There is nothing startling about the plot, but it is undoubtedly charming and what really bring at to life and makes it stand out are the characters. I loved absolutely all of them. The main protagonist, Callie, is attractive (in a personality sense) and easy to side with and her story will resonate with most readers on some level, as it involves family drama and unluckiness in love. But it is Gramp who was my favourite character in the book, he is full of personality and sass and I just loved him, he made me laugh and tear up at the same time. Marvellous stuff. The love interest is suitable interesting and attractive, there is a not-too-villainous villain awaiting either his comeuppance or redemption and a cast of other interesting townsfolk to round out the story. Everything to like in a book.

This story is undemanding but entirely pleasing, it made me laugh and shed a little tear at parts. It whiled away some extremely happy hours, held my interest and left me with the warm and fuzzies at the end. The author’s writing flows well and draws you through the story and I very much enjoyed her voice. There is a hint in the end that there is more to come from Honeyford and the Cosy Kettle and I, for one, am delighted to hear it. Can’t wait for a return visit.

New Starts and Cherry Tarts at the Cosy Kettle is out now and you can buy a copy here.

Please do follow the rest of the tour and here what my marvellous fellow bloggers have to say about the book:

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About the Author

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Liz began her writing career as a journalist and press officer before deciding that she’d rather have the freedom of making things up as a novelist.

Being short-listed in the Corvus ‘Love at First Write’ competition and the Novelicious search for a new women’s fiction star gave Liz the push she needed to keep putting pen to paper …. and ‘Annie’s Holiday by the Sea’ (her first published novel) is the result.

Liz lives on the South Coast with her family and, when she’s not writing, likes to spend time walking by the sea, and trying to meditate. Her ambition is to be serene one day …. she’s still got a long way to go.

Connect with Liz:

Website: http://lizeeles.com

Facebook: Liz Eeles Author

Twitter: @lizeelesauthor

Instagram: lizeelesauthor

Friday Night Drinks with….Dave Philpott @DerekPhilpott @Unbounders #FridayNightDrinks #DearMrPopStar

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It’s that time of the week again and this week I have a change to my scheduled guest. I’m really pleased that I have been able to bump this drinking companion forward a few weeks, as I have a sneaky feeling that this might be a Friday Night Drinks to remember. So, I’m delighted to welcome to the blog this week author (or half of one at least, as he writes with his dad, and one gets the impression that the author thing kind of happened by default, jammy bugger. Not that I am at all bitter and envious, on no…but anyway, delighted to have him on of course)….Dave Philpott.

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Dave, welcome to the blog and thank you for agreeing to have drink with me at such short notice. First things first, what are you drinking?

Well it’s early, so diet cola please. I do like 70s beer though, and find it amusing that before the advent of rave music one could enter a pub and demand a ‘Worthington E’ with no fear of arrest.

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You can’t possibly be old enough to have been drinking beer in the 70s, so you obviously love a retro vibe. A bit like me when I reminisce about the Diamond White and Castaways of my misspent youth. If we weren’t here in my virtual bar tonight, but were meeting in real life, where would you be taking me for a night out?

I live in Salisbury so probably a little drive up to Stonehenge. They still haven’t finished it though, so don’t expect much. They did make a start but then said they had another little job 14 miles away in Avebury but would be back next week. That was 5,000 years ago. Typical builders. Then to Carwardine’s in Salisbury for wine or coffee. Us, not the builders..they’ve had their break.

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That looks lovely, but I have to say that diet coke and coffees are at odds with the rock ‘n’ roll mood I was expecting this evening. If you could invite two famous people, one male and one female, alive or dead, along on our night out, who would we be drinking with?

Gene Hackman and Polly Styrene. Or Paul Daniels and the lovely Alan, sorry, Debbie McGee.

Okay, that’s more like it. Well, the first two at least. Unless you know something about Paul and Debbie that the rest of us don’t? So, now we’re settled, tell me what you are up to at the moment. What have you got going on? How and why did you start it and where do you want it to go?

Alongside father, I am currently working on our third and last book of deliberately demented letters to pop stars with genuine in-on-joke replies.. This last book will be directed at 90s Brit Artists only, and will have a significant charity element.

We started doing this in 2008 – just writing insane letters to pop and rock icons about their songs, and sticking them on a website, thinking that that was funny enough. Then in 2010 we started to get replies.. We want it, like us, to go on and on and on..three demented volumes into infinity.

What has been your proudest moment since you started writing and what has been your biggest challenge?

A packed book launch at The Dublin Castle with the artists actually there, actually reading their replies out. Bonkers.

All of our replies are secured through our ’Facebook army’, a legion of dedicated roadies, gardeners at rock stars’ country houses, friends of bass players and so on, that link us straight to the artists through the backdoor of the industry so that we can bypass management and gatekeepers. The biggest challenge is doing our utmost to keep official channels out of it…99 times out of 100, they’ll put the kibosh on it.

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What is the one big thing you’d like to achieve in your chosen arena? Be as ambitious as you like, its just us talking after all!

We’ve already achieved the impossible. Two very successful books whereby we broke rules that we didn’t know were there and gently cajoled hundreds of stars into entering our mad little world.

What are you currently working on that you are really excited about?

A lovely lasagne. Should be ready by 6.

Yum, can I have some? I love to travel, and I’m currently drawing up a bucket list of things I’d like to do in the future. Where is your favourite place that you’ve been and what do you have at the top of your bucket list?

My favourite place is probably Alton Barnes, all around that way, where the crop circles used to pop up (or pop down) and still do although not as regularly. I also adore San Francisco. My favourite place to visit that I haven’t been to would probably have to be Nando’s without a queue.

How about a Nandos in San Francisco, two birds, one stone! Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

In 1962, my uncle was the first lead singer in a band alongside Pete Townshend, ​John Entwistle and Roger Daltrey. I have no idea what became of them.

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I really hope this comes up as a question in the next pub quiz I enter, then my blogging will not have entirely been a waste of time. Books are my big passion and central to my blog and I’m always looking for recommendations. What one book would you give me and recommend as a ‘must-read’?

Delete This At Your Peril by Neil Forsyth

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This is an hilarious collection of email exchanges starring the anti-hero of spam, Bob Servant, now republished with previously unreleased material. Spam is the plague of the electronic age, comprising 90% of all emails sent and conning over 0150m a year from British victims. Into this wave of corruption steps the brave figure of Bob Servant – a former window cleaner and cheeseburger magnate with a love of wine, women and song as well as a keen sense of fair play. This wickedly funny and original book features the anarchic exchanges between Bob and the hapless spam merchants. As they offer Bob lost African millions, Russian brides and get-rich-quick scams he responds by generously offering some outlandish schemes of his own. The spammers may have breached his firewall, but they have met their match as Bob Servant rises heroically to the challenge, and sows confusion in his wake.

So, we’ve been drinking all evening. What is your failsafe plan to avoid a hangover and your go-to cure if you do end up with one?

A pint of water before bed, and a tomato juice with Worcester Sauce if that doesn’t work.

Tomato juice is a big no-no. Ick. First thing in the morning? I just couldn’t, not even to cure a hangover. After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Walking an Irish Setter (as opposed to Irish Settler – no-one wants to see Ronan Keating on a lead) around Avebury, then binge-watching a fresh season of Patriot, with pistachios and a nice Party Seven.

That sounds fun. I don’t have an Irish Setter, just a cocker spaniel. Oddly, I do have an Irish Settler at home, so it would be easier for me to do the second. It’s not Ronan Keating, though, and he may baulk a little at the lead (outside of the house, anyway) but I could give it a try.

Thank you so much for joining me this evening, Dave, it has been fun, if a tiny bit surreal at times. I can’t wait to read the book now though, especially as I thought I was the only person left who remembers Jesus Jones (saw them live at Leicester Uni, 1992 – great show.)

The latest book by Dave, and his dad, Derek, Dear Mr Pop Star, is out now and you can buy a copy here.

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For more than a decade, Derek Philpott and his son, Dave, have been writing to pop stars from the 1960s to the 90s to take issue with the lyrics of some of their best-known songs.

But then, to their great surprise, the pop stars started writing back…

Dear Mr Pop Star contains 100 of Derek and Dave’s greatest hits, including correspondence with Katrina and the Waves, Tears for Fears, Squeeze, The Housemartins, Suzi Quatro, Devo, Deep Purple, Nik Kershaw, T Pau, Human League, Eurythmics, Wang Chung, EMF, Mott the Hoople, Heaven 17, Jesus Jones, Johnny Hates Jazz, Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, Chesney Hawkes and many, many more.

Derek and Dave Philpott are the nom de plumes of two ordinary members of the public, working with help from a small family and, crucially, a worldwide social networking community. Neither they, or anybody assisting with the creative aspects of this project had any connections with the music, entertainment, media or publishing industries whatsoever at the time of its commencement. Despite these humble origins, however, they now find themselves in the bizarre but enviable position whereby many pop stars and people within these circles are their friends “in real life’” (whatever that means!). Many artists consider “getting a Dereking” as a badge of honour, and, as one has participant succinctly put it.

Connect with the Philpotts on social media:

Facebook: The Philpotts

Twitter: @DerekPhilpott

Next week I am having drink with my gorgeous blogging friend, Zoe, from Zooloo’s Book Diary, Can’t wait.

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer #BlogTour #Extract (@mark_farrer) @damppebbles #Giveaway #TheGoodTheBadTheRugby #damppebblesblogtours

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“Getting to the truth. By trial… and eror error.

Cullen is on jury duty, and the sleepy Scottish town of Melrose is experiencing a rare crime wave: the famous Rugby Sevens trophy is stolen, a dead body is unearthed, there is a spate of petty arson, and someone drives a van into Gloria’s front room.
Why? And what is her husband doing every night up on Eildon hill?

In this hilarious crime romp, misguided loyalties, thwarted love, and unbelievable gullibility reach crisis point on the one day in the year when the world pays a visit to Melrose.

At the final whistle, Cullen will ensure that justice is done.
Because sometimes twelve good men just isn’t enough.”

I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for The Good, The Bad & The Rugby by Mark Farrer today, and this post is packed full of delightful things for you. I have an extract from the book, a link to a free download of the author’s previous book and a giveaway to enter. See, I’m really spoiling you today! My thanks to Emma Welton of damp pebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part and to the author for allowing me to publish this extract from his book today.

Extract

“Big Paul was sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage. He was walking his dogs out over Minch Moor and the spring sunshine was unseasonably warm. As he walked, he was unconsciously playing fetch with his dogs. Ant would retrieve the scabby old tennis ball from the undergrowth and trot back to Paul with it in his mouth; Paul would extract the slobbering article from the dog’s soiled mouth and mindlessly throw it overarm, whereupon Dec would take up the chase, find the ball and bring it back. The three participants all knew their roles and played them on auto-pilot – the only difference being that whilst the dogs were having a rare old time of it, Paul was otherwise occupied. Whilst they happily snuffled and frolicked in the heather, weeing up against the small conifers, Paul had other things on his mind.

Well, one other thing.

Shirley.

Paul and Shirley had been a thing for over a year now and whilst all was lovey and, indeed, dovey on the surface, even Paul’s atrociously underdeveloped senses were picking up signs that Shirley was dissatisfied at the moment. What the problem was, and what he could or should do about it, however, were issues which completely evaded him.

He ran his mental slide rule over the problem at hand. First off, he obviously couldn’t ask her what the problem was. Noooo. Schoolboy error. Asking a woman what the matter was merely opened you up to an accusation that you were insensitive, unfeeling or insufficiently engaged in the relationship. A man should know what the problem was – since, usually, it was the man that was the problem.

On the other hand, maybe he could resolve the situation by buying her some flowers. Didn’t even matter, then, if the problem was real or all in his imagination. Flowers would fix it, if it existed; if it didn’t, she would love them anyway. What woman doesn’t love flowers? 

That’d sort it. If he had money. 

Flowers were expensive and right now Paul had a minor cashflow problem. Again. Buying flowers was a ten pound solution to a five pound problem. He tried to recall when he’d last bought Shirley flowers. Her birthday, was it? Shit! Had he missed her birthday? No, that was September the somethingth. He made a mental note to see if he could somehow pry free the actual date from her later.

Anniversary then? How long had they been together now? He couldn’t recall buying her anything for an anniversary, or celebrating one with her. And he’d have remembered if Shirley had proudly presented him with a card and a gift one day only to discover that he had no clue what was going on. He’d not forget a real dignity-stripper event like that.

So there was still time. Cool! He didn’t know how much time, right enough, but he wasn’t too late. That in itself was a novelty he was prepared to relish while it lasted. Pleased with this mental exertion, he corralled his dogs off the moor and onto the track heading down to the car park. So, if their anniversary was coming up. And he had no money. What exactly was he going to do?

“No.” Cullen had said.

“Why not?”

“Neither a borrower or a lender be.”

“But it’s only a few quid! I’ll pay you back.”

“That is not the point.”

“Well, what is the point?”

“I’ve just told you.”

“Aw, fuck.” Paul’s huge shoulders heaved beneath his black T-shirt. “You realise this’ll ruin me and Shirl?” Cullen remained impassive while Paul rumbled around the sink and poured boiling water from the kettle. “It’s alright for you. You don’t have a partner. You don’t have to consider anyone ‘cept yourself. Me and Shirl – we’ve got a good thing going here. Don’t want to fuck it up.”

“In that case you should have thought about buying her an anniversary gift.”

“I have! That’s why I need the money.”

“Beforehand.” Cullen emphasised. “It’s called budgeting. Planning. Thinking ahead.”

“I am thinking ahead.” Paul slopped a mug down in front of Cullen. “I’m thinking of what it’s like trying to find a potential partner once you’re past forty.”

“By a considerable margin.”

“Alright, Methuselah. I’m still younger than you.”

Cullen regarded the muddy liquid in the mug in front of him. “I didn’t want tea. You know I don’t drink tea.”

“Well I’ve made it now so get it down you.”

Cullen took a sip and grimaced. “What is this?”

“I’ve told you. It’s a nice hot cup of tea. Get it down you.”

“Hmm. Let’s not be so free and easy with the noun tea here, shall we?”

“Thought you said you didn’t drink tea?”

“I don’t.” Cullen put the mug down. “And I’m not going to. I think what we have here is… a cup of hot. Let’s just leave it at that, hmm?”

“Everyone’s a critic.” Paul snarked. “Look. My point is, once you get past forty, finding a potential partner… it’s like trying to find a parking space in Sainsbury’s. They’re either taken, handicapped, or w-a-a-a-a-y out there.”

“Like I said. Thinking ahead. You should try it sometime.”

“Thanks, pal. Thanks a fucking lot.”

Cullen sighed and looked at his friend thoughtfully. “You know what you should do?”

“No.” Said Paul. “What?”

“Trust the soup.”

Trust the soup was Paul’s unofficial motto. His official motto was: Ah, That’ll do.

What trust the soup boiled down to was: don’t worry, be happy, something will turn up, the universe will provide and everything will be alright, you’ll see. Paul had, it was true, come to rely upon this to the extent that he  repeatedly pushed the very fabric of the universe to its limits, in attempting to fulfil its duty to provide. But it usually came through, so Paul continued to push, while the universe continued to heave and sweat and toil and still, somehow, deliver. If Paul had been a reader of management theory (or, come to that, a reader), he would have realised that what he had managed to do – very successfully – was outsource the need to worry. To the point where the outside observer might even replace the term outsource with the verb abdicate.

He unlocked his van and slid the door open for his dogs to leap in but only Dec obliged. He sat obediently on the dirty towel, draped over a couple of bags of finishing plaster, while Paul did his best to wipe most of the mud off his legs and belly. 

“Ant, mate?” Paul looked round. “Here boy!”

When the dog didn’t materialise, Paul gave a loud whistle and looked back up the hill to see if he had absently left him stranded somewhere on the trail. He heard a series of barks behind him and turned to spot a tail stump wagging excitedly in the bushes at the edge of the hard scrabble area.

“Mate!” Paul shouted, but Ant resolutely stayed put. Paul let out a deep breath, pointed at Dec to stay, and strode over to the bushes.

Ant was scratching around in the dirt and when Paul pulled him away he saw a glint of gold shining up through the soil and brambles. He reached down and picked up a dirty sack with a torn neck and peeled back the sacking to reveal a large silver trophy on a mahogany base. It was inscribed The Ladies Cup, Melrose Rugby Club and some smaller cursive writing that Paul’s eyesight couldn’t make out. 

Ant returned his nose to the shallow hole and continued scrabbling and scooping earth back between his hind legs. 

“Mate! Come away. I think you’ve found the treasure.” He reached down and grabbed Ant by the collar, dragging him out of the bushes while the dog continued to resist. When Paul had wrestled the determined creature back into full daylight he saw more gold glinting in the dog’s mouth. He held Ant’s snout and put his fingers into the dog’s mouth to prise its teeth apart. What dropped into his grimy hand was a necklace on a gold chain. The pendant on the necklace was a gold disc with S S on one side and a centred H on the other. Paul flicked it with a finger and the small disc spun quickly round, creating the appearance of a single side bearing the initials SHS.

Well, bugger me, thought Paul. SHS. Shirley Harriet Simpson.

The soup had truly outdone itself this time.”

If this has whetted your appetite for more, you can order your copy of the book here.

And if you would like to take advantage of a free download of Mark’s previous book, Dirty Barry, you can find that link here.

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Giveaway

As if all that wasn’t enough, we have a giveaway of 2 bookmarks featuring the covers of all four of Mark Farrer’s books, all you have to do is click on the Rafflecopter link below.

Please note this a UK only giveaway.  The 14 winners will be selected at random and your postal address will be passed onto Mark Farrer.  There is no cash alternative.  The giveaway ends of midnight (GMT) on 16th November 2018.  Any personal information stored by the Rafflecopter giveway will be deleted after the winners have been drawn.

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To read some reviews of The Good, The Bad & The Rugby and other great content, check out the rest of the blog tour on the poster below:

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About the Author

Mark Farrer

Mark was born in Liverpool, studied Computer Science at Hull University, then had a successful career in IT management in London and the South-East for twenty years before moving to Edinburgh in 2001. He continued working in IT until 2015 when he decided to retire from the rat race and focus on becoming a writer. He now spends half his time writing and the other half worrying why he is not yet making money from writing.

The Good, The Bad & The Rugby is Mark’s third comic novel featuring a morally righteous loner called Cullen. He also has a perma-free novella on Amazon, called Dirty Barry, which tells how Cullen and Big Paul first met. He is currently at work on a second novella, called Bronchial Billy.

Mark has three children, one at University, one on a gap year in Ghana, and one still at High School. He lives with his partner Claire, a photographer, near West Linton, in the Scottish Borders.

He likes: his Mini Cooper, songwriting, playing piano, vanilla panna cotta, The Beatles, woodburning stoves, wittertainment, Bill Bailey, #sadmanonatrain, fruit gums, Carl Hiaasen, The Wire, spicy food, Van Gogh, Lindsey Buckingham, oaked chardonnay, House MD, long walks, cinema, reading in bed, florentines, Only Connect, board games, Otis Lee Crenshaw, Budweiser, GBBO, India, cheese, David Armand’s mimes, bookshops, Scandi Noir, Diet Coke, The Economist, Blackadder, good sausages, Dickens, Helena Bonham-Carter (secret crush), the Times crossword, the song mmmbop, and pies.

And lists.

He dislikes: ITV, pinot grigio, tattoos, ballet, ready meals, rap, religion, clutter, artificial raspberry flavouring, marmite, jazz, under-powered showers, people who don’t look after their stuff, opera, sprouts, and waste.

And mashed potato.

He really doesn’t like mashed potato.

Connect with Mark:

Website: http://markfarrer.com

Facebook: Mark Farrer

Twitter: @mark_farrer

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Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen #BookReview #BlogTour (@antti_tuomainen) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #PalmBeachFinland

PALM BEACH PROOF COVER AW

“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 the darkest noir, Palm Beach, Finland is both a page-turning thriller and a wicked black comedy about lust for money, fleeing dreams and people struggling at turning points in their lives … from the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’.”

I’m delighted to be on the blog tour today for Palm Beach Finland by Antti Tuomainen. My huge thanks to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Orenda Books for my copy of the novel which I have reviewed honestly.

What to say about this genius book? When I found myself simultaneously gasping and laughing guilty at the the opening scenes of this book, I knew from the beginning that I was going to adore it, and everything about the rest of the book cemented this opinion.

This book is the wrong way round. You know from the very beginning who committed the crime. You might think this would spoil the tension of the book but it absolutely does not. For a start, we have no idea who is the victim is, and nor does anyone else. And despite the fact that the perpetrator is not a mystery, there are enough other twists, turns and gasp-out-loud surprises throughout the book to keep you turning the pages until the wee, small hours.

The cover of this book is perfect and would have me intrigued enough to pick up the book on its own, because the setting of this book is what makes it for me. Jorma Leivo is determined to develop the perfect beach resort on the coast of Finland for those people who don’t like it too hot (I actually know a few people to whom this idea would be appealing and I wonder why this place doesn’t actually exist), complete with Florida-style chalets painted pastel colours and named in homage to Miami Vice, cocktails, sun umbrellas, plastic flamingoes and water sports. The fact that the palm trees are plastic might give a hint at the struggle he is up against, but Jorma is nothing if not optimistic and determined – in fact, his absolute determination to bring his vision to life is part of the problem. The setting sets up limitless opportunities for humour, which is the heart of my delight in this book.

The humour is on the dark side, as this is a crime story after all, and the author does not shy away from the violence associated with this genre, but a lot of it is comical. Some of the scenes border on farce and had me laughing out loud, often into my hand as I felt like I shouldn’t really be laughing at all but I could not help myself. There are an array of fantastic characters in this book which tell the story from their own perspectives in alternating chapters and that you won’t be able to help but fall in love with, even the really terrible people. The two bumbling criminal henchmen who set the whole chain of events rolling with their ineptitude in the first place. The psychopathic brother hell bent on revenge. The undercover policeman posing as a holidaying maths teacher as he windsurfs his way to solving the crime. The array of small town dwellers with big hopes and dreams, They all bring this story to joyous life and I absolutely loved all of them by the end of the book.

I don’t read enough translated fiction but, if it was all as good as this, I would read more. I wish my Finnish was good enough to allow me to read this in the original but the translator has done a wonderful job of bringing the spirit of Antti’s story to life in English so we can enjoy it seamlessly. I think this is a book that has layers and layers of nuance to peel back over multiple readings and, consequently, the paperback is now on pre-order so that I can enjoy it again and again. I can’t recommend it highly enough – life-affirming pleasure in paperback form. Books like this are the reason I blog.

Palm Beach Finland is out now and you can buy your copy here.

This book is taking a month-long tour throughout October so there are plenty of fantastic reviews to choose from. If you would like to get an alternative perspective on the book from one of my fellow bloggers, check out the tours dates below:

First Palm Beach BT Poster

About the Author

Antti Tuomainen

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.

Connect with Antti:

Website: http://anttituomainen.com

Facebook: Antti Tuomainen Official

Twitter: @antti_tuomainen

Instagram: @anttituomainen

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