We Met In December by Rosie Curtis #BookReview #BlogTour (@karamin) @AvonBooksUK @Sabah_K @NetGalley #WeMetInDecember #NetGalley #Winter

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What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away?

Unlucky in love Jess is following her dream and moving to London. It’s December, and she’s taking a room in a crumbling Notting Hill house‐share with four strangers. On her first night Jess meets Alex, the guy sharing her floor. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but as far as Jess is concerned, the connection is instant. She lets herself imagine how their relationship will grow over the following year.

But when Jess returns from a Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started dating someone else – beautiful Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into (hell, sharing a bathroom with) the man of her dreams… and the woman of his.

Jess is determined to move on and survive the next twelve months… but love has a way of hampering even the best laid plans…

I am excited to be taking part in the blog tour for my first wintery book of the season, We Met In December by Rosie Curtis. My thanks to Sabah Khan at Avon Books for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my ecopy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I thought this was going to be my first Christmas book of the year, but this actually contains only passing mentions of Christmas. However, it is a lovely book to read at this time of year, as it does feel very…autumnal…. to me, something to do with the change of the season heralding new beginnings and new challenges, which is one of the themes of the book.

We meet Jess and Alex as they are both undergoing big changes in their lives. Jess has moved from Bournemouth to London to start a new job in the city she has dreamed of living in. Alex has made a drastic career change, a decision that led to seismic changes elsewhere in his life that he is still coming to terms with. They both end up with rooms in the same house share and have an instant spark of attraction, but the path of true love never did run smooth, as we know.

This is a really, sweet, gentle and heart-warning story. it is told from the dual perspectives of Alex and Jess, and gives a great insight into how two people can get in a muddle when they don’t articulate their feelings and make assumptions about how the other person is feeling. It is a totally authentic portrayal of trying to negotiate the tricky world of romance, as anyone who has been young and besotted with be able to tell you. We’ve all been there, so the story is universal and everyone will be able to relate to parts of it.

The two main characters are both easy to like and relate to, so they carry the reader through the story effortlessly. I cared what happened to both of them, and really wanted things to work out, which is the make or break hook for a romance novel. This one worked really well. The story, whilst seeming ordinary, was very touching and true. Rosie also peopled the book with a host of other attractive characters to assist the plot along, the whole thing just meshed together perfectly.

The one thing that set this book a little apart from the mainstream of romance novels was its passionate portrayal of London. The author really brings the city to life, you can feel what a love story of London, as much as Jess and Alex, this is and she pretty much captured how I feel about the city. This was a London I recognised and love when I visit, and I really enjoyed experiencing a visit to the capital via the pages of this book. It did have a very ‘Richard Curtis movie’ feel about it, which no doubt was deliberate given the mention of Jess’s love for them, so if this is something that appeals to you, as it does to me, this is a great book for you to pick up.

This book was a very easy, pleasant and satisfying read that is perfect to carry you through the cooling days of autumn and towards winter. I thoroughly enjoyed it and would highly recommend it for anyone looking for a heart-warming romance to while away a few happy hours.

We Met In December is out now and you can get your copy by following this link.

To read some alternative reviews of the book, check out the rest of the stops on the tour:

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About the Author

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Rosie Curtis was born in the Highlands of Scotland, and now lives with her family in a 150 year old house by the sea in the north west of England. She loves travel, happy ever after stories, and daydreaming. Her favourite book character is a toss up between Anne Shirley and Jo March. Rosie also writes adult and teen fiction as Rachael Lucas.

Connect with Rosie:

Website: https://rachaellucas.com

Facebook: Rachel Lucas Writer

Twitter: @karamina

Instagram: @rachellucas

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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The First Time I Saw You by Emma Cooper #BookReview (@ItsEmmaCooper) @headlinepg @NetGalley @RNATweets #NetGalley #TheFirstTimeISawYou #FictionCafeWriters

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Lost:
Six-foot-two Irish man who answers to the name Samuel McLaughlin.
Has weak shins and enjoys show tunes.
If found, please return to Sophie Williams.

Before Sophie met Samuel she saw the world in grey.
Before Samuel met Sophie, he never believed in love at first sight.

When they first meet, something tells them they are meant to be.
But fate has other ideas.

Now they have lost each other and can’t see a way back.
But they’ve already changed each other’s lives in more ways than they ever expected…

I am delighted to be sharing my review today of The First Time I Saw You, by the author of one of my Top Ten Books of 2018, Emma Cooper. My thanks to Headline for my copy of the book, received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I am probably not alone when I say that I always approach follow up books to ones I have loved with some trepidation. When you have loved a book as much as I loved Emma’s debut, The Songs of Us, you want the next one to be just as good, but there is always the fear that it will not live up to the heights the last one achieved. I fell so in love with the story of Melody and her family and the book had such a huge impact on me, I really could not see how The First Time I Saw You was going to match it.

Well, Emma is a clever thing because the way she did it was to make this one feel completely different, but in a way that was still compelling and affecting. At least, that is how it felt to me. I found The Songs of Us extremely funny, whilst still being heart-breaking and plumbing real emotional depth. The First Time I Saw You is a horse of a different colour, with less of a comedy element but the same complex familial relationships, the same emotional rollercoaster and the same examination of personal relationships between two flawed people, put under strain.

It took me no time at all to fall in love with Samuel (it may have has something to do with  him being Irish, I may just have a little bit of a thing for Irish men). It took me a little longer to warm to Sophie. In fact, the situation was pretty much a reversal of the way I felt about the male and female characters in the last book, but this was very important for the story development. One of the most riveting parts of the plot for me was the development and softening of Sophie, the way she changes throughout the book and how she, and we, uncover the reasons she is the way she is, how her history has shaped her and how the events in the story shape her going forwards. Damaged characters, flawed characters, complicated characters – these are the things that gives books richness and depth and make them extraordinary.

Samuel’s plot arc, for me, was both devastating and uplifting. Because I fell in love with him from the first chapter and was totally on his side, what Emma did to him almost broke me, and seeing him go through his ordeal and claw his way back to where he wanted to be was excruciating. I lived every trial, every setback, every disappointment as if he were a real person I cared for deeply. I was willing him on, wanting him to get his happy ending, mentally begging Emma to help him. It is a rare gift for an author to be able to make characters come so alive and matter so much to readers in this way, and Emma totally has this. It is the thing I love most about her writing, what embeds it in my heart.

This book left me deeply affected, just as the last one did, but in a very different way. Despite the fact that this book turns out very differently (I am desperately trying to get my point across without spoiling either book for people who have not read them yet), in some ways it was a more difficult and melancholy read for me. That may not make any sense to people who have read them both, but it is how I felt. Some people may be disappointed that this book perhaps wasn’t as lighthearted as the previous novel. I say it shows bravery, diversity and a complexity of ability that makes Emma a talented author, who will continue to surprise and push her readers and I, for one, cannot wait to see what she does next.

The First Time I Saw You is challenging, heart-breaking and uplifting and will not disappoint anyone who recognises talent and enjoyed Emma’s previous book. New readers should grab both and indulge themselves in some excellent writing tout suite.

The First Time I Saw You is out now on Kindle and available for pre-order in audiobook and paperback and you can get a copy here.

About the Author

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Emma is a former teaching assistant, who lives in Shropshire, with her partner and four children. Her spare time consists of writing novels, drinking wine and watching box-sets with her partner of twenty-four years, who still makes her smile every day.

Emma has always wanted to be a writer – ever since her childhood, she’s been inventing characters (her favourite being her imaginary friend ‘Boot’) and is thrilled that she now gets to use this imagination to bring to life all of her creations.

The Songs of Us was inspired by Emma’s love of music and her ability to almost always embarrass herself, and her children, in the most mundane of situations. She was so fascinated by the idea of combining the two, that she began to write Melody’s story. Working full-time with a large family meant that Emma had to steal snippets of ‘spare’ time from her already chaotic and disorganised life; the majority of her novel was written during her lunchtime in a tiny school office. She never expected to fall so deeply in love with the King family and is overwhelmed that others feel the same.

She has three loves in life: reading, writing and her family…oh, and music, cheese, pizza, films – Maths is not one of her talents.

Connect with Emma:

Website: https://emmacooperauthor.wordpress.com

Facebook: Emma Cooper Author

Twitter: @ItsEmma Cooper

Instagram: @itsemmacooper

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:

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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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Deadly Prospects by Clio Gray (The Scottish Mysteries Book One) #BookReview #BlogBlitz (@ClioGray) @urbanebooks @LoveBooksGroup #LoveBooksTours #DeadlyProspects #TheScottishMysteries

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1869, Sutherland, Scotland. For years the people of this remote area of the Highlands have lived a hard life. Now a local Gold Rush has attracted the Pan-European Mining Company to the area, and Solveig McCleery is determined to re-open the Brora mines and give the population the riches they deserve.

But when work starts on re-opening the mines, the body of a prospector is discovered, and odd inscriptions found on stones near the corpse. Before the meaning of these strange marks can be deciphered another body is discovered.

Are these attacks connected to the re-opening of the mines? Will Solveig’s plan succeed in bringing peace and prosperity back to the area? Or has she put in motion something far more sinister?  

I am delighted to be taking my turn on the blog blitz for Deadly Prospects by Clio Gray, first book in the Scottish Mysteries series. My thanks to Kelly Lacey at Love Books Group for offering me a place on the tour, and to the publisher for my ecopy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I found this book very different and refreshing, combining as it did very detailed, historical issues and a gripping mystery. I’m not sure I have read a book that felt quite so like a  fascinating history lesson and an intriguing crime puzzle at the same time.

The author chose a time period and location in which to set the book that I have never come across used in a fictional mystery before, the Highlands of Scotland around the time of the Clearances. I have always been fascinated by Scottish history and the plot really intrigued me, which is why I applied for the blog tour in the first place, but I got far more than I was expecting with this book. The level of historical detail was impressive, I learnt a huge amount about emigration between Scotland and Scandanavia that I had never known before, but it was woven into the book so cleverly that it did not feel like it was detracting from the plot in any way, but only enhancing it.

The book really captured the hardship and bleakness of the period and location, remote as it was, and barren, and the struggles that the people had to try and hang on to their homes and scratch out a living in the face of adversity, both natural and man-made. The characters were well drawn and compelling and I was completely pulled in to the story and held captive while it played out. I found it sinister and disturbing, and I did not see the twists it was going to take coming at all.

The author is clearly passionate about the topic she is writing about and has taken a great deal of time and care in researching this book before writing it. The depth and breadth of the research that has gone into it can only be a labour of love and I think this shines through in the writing. The book affected me more than I expected, and was one of those happy surprises that come along rarely, an un-hyped book that exceeds expectations and takes you places you never saw coming but swept you away. I highly recommend this for lovers of great historical fiction.

Deadly Prospects is available now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

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Clio was born in Yorkshire, spent her later childhood in Devon before returning to Yorkshire to go to university. For the last twenty five years she has lived in the Scottish Highlands where she intends to remain. She eschewed the usual route of marriage, mortgage, children, and instead spent her working life in libraries, filling her home with books and sharing that home with dogs. She began writing for personal amusement in the late nineties, then began entering short story competitions, getting short listed and then winning, which led directly to a publication deal with Headline. Her book, The Anatomist’s Dream, was nominated for the Man Booker 2015 and long listed for the Bailey’s Prize in 2016.

Connect with Clio:

Website: https://www.cliogray.com

Twitter: @ClioGray

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Dead Inside by Noelle Holten #BookReview # BlogTour (@nholten40) @KillerReads @0neMoreChapter @BOTBSPublicity #DeadInside

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The killer is just getting started…

When three wife beaters are themselves found beaten to death, DC Maggie Jamieson knows she is facing her toughest case yet.

The police suspect that Probation Officer Lucy Sherwood – who is connected to all three victims – is hiding a dark secret. Then a fourth domestic abuser is brutally murdered.

And he is Lucy’s husband.

Now the police are running out of time, but can Maggie really believe her friend Lucy is a cold-blooded killer?

I am delighted to be one of the blogs rounding off the tour for Dead Inside by Noelle Holten. My thanks to Sarah Hardy of Books on the Bright Side Publicity for my place on this coveted tour, and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

I feel like I have been waiting so long to write this review! I read this book almost as soon as I received a copy as I was eager to find out what Noelle had written, knowing as I did that her personal experience as a probation officer had fed into the plot of her debut novel, and I have to say I was not disappointed.

This is the first in a projected series following DC Maggie Jamieson, and it was a great set up for this character. Noelle revealed just enough about her to whet our appetite and make her someone whose story we would want to follow through future books, but still left a lot to be developed as far as she was concerned and an interesting hook to entice the reader in to the next book. However, this story was not really Maggie’s but Lucy’s.

Lucy was a fascinating character, and the perfect one to carry the story and deal effectively with the issues that Noelle wanted to raise. She is a woman with a foot in both camps of the narrative, firstly as a probation officer having to deal on a day to day basis with the perpetrators of domestic violence, and secondly as a woman who is herself a victim. The idea that someone who so clearly sees on a daily basis the reality of these men and the harm they cause to their victims and, at the same time, be able to justify to herself in her personal life putting up with this exact same treatment herself was devastatingly effective in illustrating just how hard it can be for women to break out of these situations. I thought the premise and execution were genius, and it really made me confront the reality of the problem, as someone who has no personal experience herself but who might have thought it was something I could never put up with. It is clear, reading this, that none of us should be complacent and we should all educate ourselves and have sympathy and understanding for women who find themselves in impossible situations.

The writing in the book is affecting and immersive. Noelle has a very interesting and unique style, an individual author voice that I found refreshing. The short chapters and unflowery style were perfect for the story, maintaining the tension and bringing into relief the starkness of the situation the characters were facing and it was a read that propelled me through the pages without any wasted words or break in impetus. I found the descriptions of the symbiotic relationship between the different agencies involved in the criminal justice process fascinating, and a very different take than we often see in crime novels. The focus on probation as much as the initial investigation was really interesting to me and definitely something I would like to see more of.

This is a great debut, with a fascinating premise, compelling writing, a unique perspective and a fresh, individual author voice and we should all be excited about this interesting, new author in the genre. I would highly recommend this book for crime fans looking for something new and a little bit different to read. It is well worth consideration and I am looking forward to the next in the series.

Dead Inside is out now and you can get your copy here.

Please do go back and check of the rest of the reviews from the other excellent bloggers on the tour. You can find them listed on the poster below:

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About the Author

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Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. Noelle worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the #booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside is her debut novel with Killer Reads/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.
Connect with Noelle:
Twitter: @nholten40
Instagram: @crimebookjunkie

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