Nothing Important Happened Today by Will Carver #BookReview #BlogTour (@will_carver) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #NothingImportantHappenedToday #9Suicides1CultNoLeader

Nothing Important Cover

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

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

Thirty-two people on a train witness the event. Two of them will be next. By the morning, People of Choice are appearing around the globe. It becomes a movement. A social-media page that has lain dormant for four years suddenly has thousands of followers.

The police are under pressure to find a link between the cult members, to locate a leader who does not seem to exist …

So excited to be on the blog tour for this hotly-anticipated book by Will Carver, Nothing Important Happened Today. My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I’ve dreaded writing this review today because, although I finished the book on Sunday, I still haven’t figured out how to review it or exactly what I want to say. I haven’t even really figured out what I think about the book yet. But, hey, the review is due today so I’ll give it my best stab, knowing full well that it isn’t going to come anywhere near doing this book justice.

I seem to be saying this quite a lot recently, but I’ve really not read anything like this before and, now I’ve read this book, I realise that every other time I’ve said this, the sentiment has been defunct. This book is so unique, so ‘out there,’ so unlike anything else you’ll pick up that you can’t quite get your head around it while you are reading, but it absolutely impossible to put down once you start. I know that it seems odd, given the subject matter, but it’s true. This isn’t an easy book to read, the issues covered are on the darkest side of dark and may be triggering for some, the construction is so unusual that it may well twist your noodle, but you will possibly never read anything that gives you so much reward for the effort.

Because of the writing. Oh, the writing is so sublime that when I think about it, it makes me want to weep for the dark, twisted genius mind that produced it and how my own, pathetic efforts at writing something meaningful are thrown into sharp, unflattering relief by its beauty. Seriously, I have no idea how the author managed to piece this book together and still make the writing flow so perfectly. I mean, this book is written in both the first AND the third person. The narrators are a diverse bunch of voices, most of which we don’t get to know intimately, but only through the detached, dismissive opinion of someone who has given them dehumanising labels rather than names. The ‘main character’ doesn’t appear until a third of the way in. This is a book that should not work. It breaks every rule that authors are given on writing. We are told that we have to connect the reader to the main character at the beginning, snare in their empathy, make them care. This book does the exact opposite, and yet. And yet, I was caught from the first page and held until the last. How did he do it, I’m still trying to work it out.

This book really does cover some bleak subjects. Mass suicide, cults, mental health issues, psychological manipulation, and the descriptions of the violent scenes are graphic. You can hear the necks snapping, the screams, the splats. This is deliberate and necessary for the book but will not be easy reading for a lot of people. But there is a point to all of it and this book has me contemplating the issues raised ever since. Even though I have moved on to another book. As I’m washing my hair, drinking my tea, cooking the dinner. I actually had to pick up something completely mindless and superficial as a follow up, because my brain is still processing what is going on in this novel and what to make of it.

This is a book about modern society. About our craving for acceptance through social media, and the superficiality of those connections and approval. How, in reality, despite being more connected across the globe than ever, we are all really alone, isolated and insecure. How open we all are to manipulation in our quest for approval and acceptance. How people are willing to jump on any bandwagon in the search to belong, for fame and infamy, in order to FEEL. How, the more we all need to feel of consequence in a world where fame rests on the shoulders of people who have achieved nothing of relevance, the more we are becoming disillusioned for no reason. Dissatisfied by lives that are perfectly adequate, seeing problems where none really exist. Trying to find meaning in the meaningless and missing the things that really matter. Selfish, self-obssessed but totally lacking in real self-awareness.

I am aware that this review doesn’t entirely make sense, but that is because I am still processing the book and trying to sort through the labyrinth of thoughts and feelings it has aroused in me. It has turned my brain and emotions into a tangled ball of wool that it will take me hours to unravel. I know that this is a book that I will return to again soon so I can go through it in more detail, after the shock of the first read has worn off, and pick out more of the nuances. And I know that, on a second reading, I will have a different reaction, find different things to extract, and different thoughts to ponder. The book is so complex, so packed with ideas and meaning, that it will continue to reward on repeated reads.

What I have said here feels inadequate to sum up my feelings about the book. I am grasping for words to sum up thoughts and emotions for which I have no adequate vocabulary, but it’s the best I can do. This book is radical, risky, raw and utter genius. It won’t be for everyone, and for me to say I loved it seems wrong, given the topic, but I am so glad I read it, and will come back to it again and again when I want to be challenged. One of my books of the year, without a doubt.

Nothing Important Happened Today is out now in all formats and you can get a copy here.

This is a book that is sure to stir fierce opinions in people, so make sure you check out some of my fellow bloggers’ reactions to the book by following the tour.

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About the Author

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Will Carver is the international bestselling author of the January David series. He spent his early years in Germany, but returned to the UK at age eleven, 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, and lives in Reading with his two children. Good Samaritans was book of the year in Guardian, Daily Telegraph and Sunday Express, and hit number one on the ebook charts.

Connect with Will:

Facebook: Will Carver Author

Twitter: @will_carver

Instagram: @will_carver

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Violet by S J I Holliday #BookReview #BlogTour (@SJIHolliday) @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TrainNoir #Violet

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Carrie’s best friend has an accident and can no longer make the round-the-world trip they’d planned together, so Carrie decides to go it alone.

Violet is also travelling alone, after splitting up with her boyfriend in Thailand. She is desperate for a ticket on the Trans-Siberian Express, but there is nothing available.

When the two women meet in a Beijing Hotel, Carrie makes the impulsive decision to invite Violet to take her best friend’s place.

Thrown together in a strange country, and the cramped cabin of the train, the women soon form a bond. But as the journey continues, through Mongolia and into Russia, things start to unravel – because one of these women is not who she claims to be…

It’s always a thrill to be on a tour for a new Orenda title, so I’m delighted to be taking part in this one today for Violet by SJI Holliday. Huge thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part and to the publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Susi Holliday, although I have had The Lingeringer, lingering on my TBR since last year. After reading this book, I will definitely be bumping that one to the top of the pile. This book grabbed me by the throat, gave me a good shake and refused to put me down until I reached the very last page, and I was practically holding my breath throughout the whole experience. This is one of those books that results in book lovers being accused of being anti-social by non-readers, because it is almost impossible to pull your eyes, or your thoughts, away from the plot.

It has every element that you would want to see in a superior psychological thriller. Unreliable characters driving the plot so you don’t know who is telling the truth, who is lying or what you can believe? Check. Excrustiating tension between the main characters that almost makes you want to scream in agony? Check. Dark and twisty plot that you can’t possibly work out until the very last chapter, and even then takes you somewhere you weren’t anticipating? Check. Riveting and original premise unlike anything you’ve seen before that takes you to new and exciting places? Double check.

Every element is present and correct, but the author has taken them and shaken them up, then put them back together in a book that is unlike anything you will have read before and is really fresh and exciting for us prolific readers who may have become over-familiar and a little jaded with the genre. This is one of the best examples I have read this year of a psychological thriller, and I absolutely loved it.

The stand out joy of this book for me was the setting, a journey on the Trans-Siberian Express. Any regular readers of the blog will know that I am a travel junkie, and this journey is one of those bucket list trips that we dream of taking but probably never will. Well, this author did, and she has shared the experience vividly with the readers through the pages of this novel so you almost feel like you are having the experience alongside her (although I hope Susi’s trip took less of a noir turn than that of her characters!). I love to read literature focused around travel, and it was a particular delight to read on that takes a detour from the familiar, picture-perfect, sunny locations to a place altogether more remote, more alien and, hence, more threatening which provided the perfect backdrop for the story.

The characters in the book also fit the non-standard pattern. We have a couple of young backpackers on the seemingly typical ‘gap year’ adventure. But these are not the shiny, happy, glowing teens we are often presented with, but the much more realistic selfish, grubby, hedonistic and often unpleasant world wanderers, and their adventures are equally torrid to behold. This is much more ‘The Beach’ than ‘Love Island,’ and all the more interesting and authentic to read about because of it.

Reading this book was a bit like riding one of those really terrifying theme park rides that you make yourself go on, even though you aren’t quite sure you want to. You buckle in, still having second thoughts, but it’s too late and you are off. Your heart is in your mouth from the beginning, you aren’t quite sure what is coming or when, you can’t catch your breath, and each spin and drop is equal parts excruciating and exhilarating. It is only when you get to the end that you whoop with joy at how much you enjoyed it, and you can’t wait for another ride, even while your pulse is still racing and you are trying to come back down to earth. Everything you could wish for. But yourself a ticket, you’ll have the ride of your life.

Violet is out now in ebook format and will be released in paperback on 14 November, and you can get your copy here.

Please make sure you do check out some of the reviews from the other fabulous bloggers taking part in the tour, as detailed on the poster below:

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About the Author

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S.J.I. (Susi) Holliday is a scientist, writing coach and the bestselling author of five crime novels, including the Banktoun Trilogy (Black Wood, Willow Walk and The Damselfly), the festive chiller The Deaths of December and her creepy Gothic psychological thriller The Lingering. Her short story ‘Home From Home’ was published in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and shortlisted for the CWA Margery Allingham Prize.

Encapsulating her love of travel and claustrophobic settings, her latest novel, Violet, explores toxic friendships and the perils of talking to strangers, as well as drawing on her own journey on the Trans-Siberian Express over 10 years ago. All of her novels have been UK ebook number-one bestsellers.

Susi was born and raised in Scotland and now divides her time between Edinburgh, London and as many other exciting places that she can fit in.

Connect with Susi:

Website: http://sjiholliday.com

Facebook: SJI Holliday

Twitter: @SJIHolliday

Instagram: @susijholliday

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

Little Siberia Cover

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

Antti Author Picture

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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Bloody Sheets by Andy Rausch #BookReview #BlogTour (@writerrausch1) @BlackthornTours #novella #pulpfiction #crimenoir #BloodySheets

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When a young black man is lynched in a small Alabama town, his estranged father — a crime world enforcer — sets out for revenge, embarking on a blood – soaked journey that will leave the ravaged bodies of dead Klansmen in his wake.

I am delighted to be one of the blogs rounding off the tour for Bloody Sheets by Andy Rausch, today. My thanks to Isobel Blackthorn at Blackthorn Tours for inviting me to review the book and for my digital copy, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is a no holds barred, bloody, brutal story of racism, murder and revenge that is told without pause or apology, shining a relentless light on the schisms that currently fracture society in parts of America. And, whilst this tale is set in a particular section of US society, the deep divisions it portrays are not limited to its locale and the truths it reveals should make all of us sit up and take notice.

A young black male is lynched in a backwards, backwoods town in rural Alabama, and the culprits are the local Klan. Unfortunately for the Klan, the father or the murdered boy is an ex-felon enforcer for a crime kingpin and the death of his turns his particular skills away from his boss’s enemies and towards his own. Revenge is not pretty, but it is swift and brutal.

This book is not suitable for the sensitive or squeamish, peppered as it is with the basest language of racism and the goriest of violence. Some may find it offensive, although in the context of the story it is vital and not gratuitous and should be approached as such. The book is designed to shock, and that shock is necessary to make the reader confront the grotesque nature of the attitudes portrayed in it. We should be made uncomfortable by the issues, and Rausch does a fine job of making it so. However, at the same time as blasting the reader in the face with the horror of the inequalities and bigotry displayed in the story, there is also an underlying tenderness, love and pain on display in the actions of Coke as he tries to avenge his son. Something you may not expect in quite so black a story.

This is a short novella, it took me only about an hour to read, but it is fast paced and punchy, not a word wasted, with a distinctive style that takes no prisoners. Not something I pick up every day but a story that gave me food for thought and left me unexpectedly affected.

Bloody Sheets is out now and you can get a copy here.

To explore some different views of the book, please do check out the rest of the blogs on the tour:

Blackthorn Book Tours presents (6)

About the Author

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Andy Rausch is a a freelance film journalist, author, and celebrity interviewer. He has published more than twenty books on the subject of popular culture, including The Films of Martin Scorsese and Robert De Niro, Making Movies with Orson Welles (with Gary Graver), and The Cinematic Misadventures of Ed Wood (with Charles E. Pratt, Jr.). His work has appeared in Shock Cinema, both Screem and Scream magazines, Senses of Cinema, Diabolique, Creative Screenwriting, Film Threat, Bright Lights Film Journal, and Images: A Journal of Film and Popular Culture. He has written several works of fiction including Mad World, Elvis Presley: CIA Assassin, Riding Shotgun and Other American Cruelties, and the short story collection Death Rattles. He has also worked as a screenwriter, producer, and actor on numerous straight-to-video horror films.

Connect with Andy:

Website: authorandyrausch

Twitter: @writerrausch1

Goodreads: Andy Rausch

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Countdown by Matt Phillips #BookReview (@MRPhill25) @ADRBooks @DownAndOutBooks #crimefiction #noir #california

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Welcome to California. Weed is legal. Grow it. Sell it. Smoke it. Eat it. But the money you make off it—there’s the rub. Bank it, and the Feds will ask questions. Keep it around, and you’ll get robbed. LaDon and Jessie—two hustlers who make selling primo weed a regular gig—hire a private security detail to move and hold their money. Ex-soldiers Glanson and Echo target the cash—they start a ripoff business.

It’s the wild, wild west. Except this time, everybody’s high.

With their guns and guts, Glanson and Echo don’t expect much trouble from a mean son-of-a-gun like LaDon Charles. But that’s exactly what they get. In this industry, no matter how much money there is for the taking—and no matter who gets it—there’s always somebody counting backwards…to zero.

Today I am delighted to be reviewing Countdown by Matt Phillips. My thanks to Henry Roi, the author and the publisher, All Due Respect, for my e-copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is my first book by Matt Phillips, although I do have a copy of Know Me From Smoke sat on my TBR which I was given as a birthday present, mainly because I love the cover!

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Now that I have read Countdown, I will be moving this up the pile, because I really enjoyed the story and the style of writing, despite the fact that it is very different from my ‘go to’ comfort books. Although I seem to be reading more and more outside my comfort zone these days, due to the opportunities book blogging has afforded me, so maybe I no longer have a comfort zone.

What I really mean is that this is not a book I would normally pluck off a shelf in a shop when I am browsing, which is a mindset I need to get out of because some of the most profound reading experiences I have had over the past couple of years have been via books that I would not have chosen for myself but that I have been offered via blogging. For me, one of the greatest joys of reading is living vicarious experiences and lives that I will never have myself outside the covers of a book, and this book is a perfect example. The story follows the trials and tribulations of running a not-quite-legal marijuana business in California, where trade in the drug has been legalised, but the banking of the money made from the trade has not.

You know from the off that the characters in this book are not people that are naturally going to be people you can sympathise with, or particularly relate to, when you are a middle-aged mother living in rural England who has always been fairly puritanical when it comes to drug use. The fact that I actually did find some of the characters, especially LaDon, sympathetic and a person you would like to succeed, even if their goals are fairly nefarious, was testament to the skill in the writing in this novel. Either that, or the fact that I started grading on a curve with the other, very repellent, characters! Either way, I became invested in the adventures of the main protagonists in this book in a way that I did not expect, given the subject matter and, in spite of the fact that I have never met a Californian drug dealer and these characters were like no one I have ever known IRL, I still felt the characters were believable, with clear and authentic drives and desires and character traits.

The story takes part over a short period of time, and in a tight location, which gave the story a very fast and natural pace which kept it bowling along and carried me with it. It felt like a fairly quick read because of this and there were no lulls or doldrums to interrupt the flow of the book. I felt like the author had done an amazing job of cutting all the flab from the book and leaving only a lean, efficient reading experience which I thoroughly enjoyed being carried along by. I just sat back and let the writing sweep me through with little effort on my part, but obviously a good deal by the author.

The setting of the book is what really set it apart from other things I have read in the genre. The gritty, mean streets of southern California are the net that holds this story together and were convincingly and brightly portrayed in the book. The author does not shy from writing about the unpleasant underside that exists in the city, rather he revels in it, describing it truthfully, but almost lovingly, so that the reader is fully immersed in its sights, sounds, scents and its constant tensions and dangers. For the author, it feels like these traits, which are things that would deter many of us from visiting such places, are what actually draw him and his characters to them, because they are alive and honest in their darkness. I certainly felt this myself during the reading, even if I would only dare revel in them from the safety of my sofa in rural Yorkshire. As I said, one of the many joys of reading.

This book was a very different read for me, but what that certainly catered to a lot of the things are look for in a satisfying book and I would highly recommend it to anyone who is not offended by violence, sex, strong language, graphic scenes or drugs. So Mary Whitehouse types probably should not pick it up, I’m sure anyone else will enjoy it.

Countdown is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Matt Phillips was born in Palm Springs, California and raised in the Coachella Valley and nearby Mojave High Desert. He lives in San Diego. He has worked as a busboy, pool attendant, waiter, bartender, halfway-decent restaurant manager, film festival administrator, newspaper reporter, and editor.

His books include Countdown, Know Me from Smoke, The Bad Kind of Lucky, Accidental Outlaws, Three Kinds of Fool, Redbone, and Bad Luck City. Short fiction has appeared in Mystery Tribune, Yellow Mama, Shotgun Honey, Flash Fiction Offensive, Tough Crime, Near to the Knuckle, Powder Burn Flash, Pulp Metal Magazine, Manslaughter Review, and Fried Chicken and Coffee.

Matt earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Connect with Matt:

Website: https://www.mattphillipswriter.com

Facebook: Matt Phillips

Twitter: @MRPhill25