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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Death by Indulgence by A. B. Morgan #BlogTour #GuestPost (@AliMorgan2304) @Junctionpublish @BOTBSPublicity #DeathByIndulgence

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Ella Fitzwilliam’s world is about to spiral out of control.

She’s not cut out to be a private investigator. With little or no aptitude for the job, she’s been sent undercover to expose the hidden lives of two men who meet nearly every week at Buxham’s – a private members’ club where portions are large and secrets are held in strictest confidence.

One of those men is Harry Drysdale, a defence barrister.The other is Marcus Carver, an eminent surgeon with a tarnished past and much to lose.

Ella knows he has unhealthy appetites, she’s sure he’s feeding his perverted habits and putting his female patients at risk but she has to prove it.

When Harry Drysdale goes missing, Konrad Neale TV journalist tries to reveal the truth behind the lies, but some of the secrets start to reveal themselves… and they are big.

*This book was previously published as Fat Chance.

I’m delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour today for Death By Indulgence by A. B. Morgan. My thanks to Sarah Hardy at Books On The Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the author for providing this wonderful guest post for you to enjoy. So, over to Ali to tell us more about the writing of this book.

Where did the idea for this story spring from?

The initial nugget came from a friend of mine who likes to play with words and she was constantly asking me if I could make up stories from information on mundane packaging or objects. At the time she was landlady of a village pub and after a trip to see her I had a small bill to pay. When she handed me the receipt it had a table number at the top. Table No 88. There weren’t more than thirty tables in the place.

‘Bet you can’t make a story out of that,’ she challenged.

After few milliseconds I replied. ‘Bingo. Two fat ladies eighty-eight.’ Then another idea popped into my unpredictable mind. ‘…Or a story about a bariatric surgeon who has a penchant for the larger lady.’ In the end I married the two thoughts.

Why not call the book ‘Table Eighty-Eight?

That is a very good question. While I was writing the first draft, I had a working title of ‘The Enormity of Table Eighty-Eight’ but during a book launch at a local village library the well-meaning librarian told me book titles shouldn’t have the number eight or eighty-eight because these had Neo-Nazi connotations. I thought she was kidding, but when I looked it up I was amazed to find she was right (but not far right…). H is the eighth letter of the alphabet and is code for Hitler, and 88 therefore translates as Heil Hitler.

Death by Indulgence was originally published as Fat Chance, but the title and the cover didn’t seem to attract the readers, possibly not obvious enough as a crime title, more like a diet book. Therefore after a conflab with the publishers we took the plunge and re-launched. To be honest there are times when I wish I’d stuck to the original title.

In Death by Indulgence we meet Ella Fitzwilliam. She’s larger than life in more ways than one. Where did the idea for her character come from?

Ella begged to be created and because of her personality she’s a joy to have in my head when I’m writing. I see her. She’s plumptious, with thick chestnut wavy hair and always smiling. A people-pleaser and a loyal friend she wants to help out her old pal Valerie Royal and that’s when she comes unstuck. Ella lives with a bipolar disorder which in the main is well controlled, until the pressure gets too much, then the social boundaries start to crumble with disastrous but at times hilarious consequences. She doesn’t make a natural private investigator but she’s a trier!

‘Become a private investigator. One day taster course for anyone considering a career change but who doesn’t know exactly what a private detective does. Why not find out if you’ve got what it takes?’

It’s all in the book.

Why did you go down the route of exploring adipophilia? Or fat fetishism as it’s more commonly known.

Like many other people, I watch documentaries featuring the lovely Louis Theroux. Why? Because he gets to the nitty-gritty of some peculiar people and their bizarre lifestyles. Fascinating stuff.

Taking on the tricky subject of obesity was merely one way of exploring the issue of body image and acknowledging that those of us on the larger side are sexy. We’re just as vulnerable to sexploitation as the slim girls, the young girls, the wrinkly girls, the short or the tall. Male or female we all have different ideas of what is sexually attractive.

The storyline takes a twist because the antagonist, or one of them, is a bariatric surgeon and he is hiding in plain sight, tempted every day by the women he is supposedly helping. I wanted people to question why holding a preference for big beautiful women can sometimes be seen as a perversion. It’s not – it’s normal. Take it underground to private clubs and then it becomes one. Exploit and assault women because of their size and it’s a crime.

She’s such a fabulous character, will we see Ella again?

Yes, you will! Ella is too lovely and unpredictable to leave behind just yet and she has such a great turn of phrase.

She’s very much alive and has another story to drag you into. I’m not sure when it will be published, but you won’t be surprised to hear that Ella’s clumsiness hasn’t improved, and her habit of getting into trouble continues to make her life less ordinary. 

Thank you for that fascinating peek into your writing world, Alison.

Death by Indulgence is out now and you can get a copy here.

Do make sure you visit the rest of the blogs on the tour for more reviews and content:

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About the Author

A B Morgan

Alison Morgan: A former mental health nurse, country bumpkin at heart, married to a hairy biker, fascinated by words, loves live music and she has an innate ability to make people smile and laugh.

Her crime thrillers have a strong cast of characters helping to define the style and pace of each story inspired by her life and career as a Psychiatric Nurse, and her fascination with the extremes of human behaviour.

AB Morgan is the critically acclaimed author of A Justifiable Madness, Divine Poison, The Camera Lies and Stench.

Her latest psychological suspense has again been applauded for being refreshingly different within its genre.

Connect with Alison:

Website: http://www.abmorgan.co.uk

Facebook: A B Morgan writer

Twitter: @AliMorgan2304

Friday Night Drinks with…. Noelle Holten @nholten40 @HarperCollinsUK @0neMoreChapter_ @KillerReads @Bookouture @TheCraigRussell @michaeljmalone1 #FridayNightDrinks #DeadInside

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It’s Friday Night Drinks again and, tonight, I am joined by another busy lady – author, blogger and PR for Bookouture…..Noelle Holten.

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Noelle, welcome to the blog and thank you for joining me for drinks this evening. First things first, what are you drinking?

Rhubarb gin & tonic …it might be a double 😉 Though I’ve recently tried pink grapefruit & pomello gin + tonic … *bites nails* so I think I’ll change my order to that!  

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Sounds delicious. I think your colleague, the lovely Kim Nash, recommended the same one when she were here a couple of weeks ago. Have you two been sharing a tipple of this by any chance? 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’m quite the homebody, but do like a good village pub when socialising so would probably take you to The Rose Inn, in the next village over. They have good food, a nice atmosphere and booze! We could chat books all night! 

Perfect! 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?

Famous as in celebrity or just in my eyes? Hmmm…. I think I’d invite Martina Cole as she’s a good laugh and a font of all knowledge when it comes to books and I’ve recently met Professor David Wilson and he absolutely fascinates me – he so nice and quite funny too – we’d definitely have some interesting conversations!

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?

At the moment I am nearing 70K on the third book in my series (DC Maggie Jamieson) and I expect to receive the edits for Dead Wrong in the next week or two so will be on to those as well! Book 3 is due Dec 2019 so I needed to get a draft done by at least the end of Oct, and if I continue at the rate I’m at, even with my edits, this should be doable. I’m also winding down on my blog tour commitments. I just can’t keep doing tours and writing – so I’ll still read and review books, I just can’t take part in any tours. 

I understand the pressure of blog tours, sometimes you just have to step back from reading to a timetable. I’ve had to do similar in the hope I can get my book finished! What has been your proudest moment since you started writing/blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

I feel like I have had so many proud moments and no doubt I’ll forget something but here are just a few: getting a two book deal, Dead Inside being published, amazing support from the blogger and crime community, getting a further 3 book deal before Dead Inside was published, being the supporting act via Crime in the Spotlight for Ian Rankin and Nicola Sturgeon at Bloody Scotland, appearing on my first panel at Newcastle Noir, then Bute Noir, and having a paperback launch in Glasgow. Signing MY book! Readings at Noir at the Bar. Knowing that by the end of 2020 I will have written FIVE books! There have been so many moments that I am incredibly proud of and still can’t believe. I am grateful for them all. 

You’ve had such an amazing year. 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!

Tough one, as I really am grateful for everything so far – I’d love for the series to take off and to continue writing about Maggie and the rest of the agencies she works with and I would also love to appear on a panel at Bloody Scotland with some of my writing idols! 

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

I’m writing Book 3 and it’s quite dark – I haven’t come up with the title suggestion yet or a proper blurb but I am loving the direction it is going in and hope that I get it in reasonable order with the edits when I finally type THE END of this draft! 

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?

I’ve not really travelled 😱 I mean I have been to various places in the US, Canada, Ireland and the UK but I would LOVE to go to an Island somewhere, total solitude, a beach, a bar, and books. I love Scotland too and hope to one day move there. 

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I really loved Cape Cod in the US when I visited so I’d also like to go back there and I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland. 

Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Ok – I took music in high-school and played the baritone for 4 years. Not sure if that is interesting/surprising or secret 😂😂 but it is true! 

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’?

I loved Craig Russell’s The Devil Aspect so would definitely recommend that, but I’ve recently read Michael J Malone’s In The Absence of Miracles, so have to sneak that one it too – both are phenomenal for very different reasons! 

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How do you find a killer when you’re surrounded by madness?

1935. As Europe prepares itself for a calamitous war, six homicidal lunatics – the so-called ‘Devil’s Six’ – are confined in a remote castle asylum in rural Czechoslovakia. Each patient has their own dark story to tell and Dr Viktor Kosárek, a young psychiatrist using revolutionary techniques, is tasked with unlocking their murderous secrets.

At the same time, a terrifying killer known as ‘Leather Apron’ is butchering victims across Prague. Successfully eluding capture, it would seem his depraved crimes are committed by the Devil himself.

Maybe they are… and what links him with the insane inmates of the Castle of the Eagles?

Only the Devil knows. And it is up to Viktor to find out.

I have a copy of Michael’s book on my TBR, I have read so many amazing reviews of it. I will add the Craig Russell one. 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?

Ha! Well I tend to drink a glass of water with 2 ibuprofen before I sleep – I have a high tolerance for gin so usually manage to avoid a bad hangover, but can feel very tired, so if that happens – it’s a duvet day with a constant flow of coffee, a good book and a few naps!  

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

 A perfect weekend for me would be either the time to sit and read on my couch as much as I can or to attend a book event/festival. I love seeing my friends but most live miles away so any excuse that sees us all together is great for me! 

Noelle, I have had a lovely evening, thank you for joining me and I can’t wait for the next book in the Maggie Jamieson series.

Noelle’s debut novel, Dead Inside, was published earlier this year and you can buy a copy here. I reviewed Noelle’s book on its paperback publication and you can find my review by following this link.

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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?

Noelle Holten is one of the PR & Social Media Managers for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and was a regular reviewer on the Two Crime Writers and a Microphone podcast. She worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of cases including those involving serious domestic abuse but left in 2017. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Her hobbies include reading, author-stalking and sharing the booklove via her blog, Crime Book Junkie. Dead Inside is her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson.

You can find out more about Noelle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Next week I will be joined for Friday Night Drinks by fellow blogger and all round delightful human, Eva from Novel Deelights.

 

Making Pearls From Grit by Isla Aitken (@IslaAitken) #GuestPost #breastcancerawarenessmonth #breastcancerawareness #breastcancer #MakingPearlsFromGrit

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is a cause that is very close to my heart, as it is only two years since my very oldest friend was taken from us at the age of only 48 as a result of a long and painful battle with the disease, leaving behind devastated family and friends, and two children the same age as my own.

In order to help raise awareness and funds to help in the battle against this disease, I am delighted to be hosting a guest post on the blog today from Isla Aitken, author, and herself a breast cancer survivor. She is going to tell us about her experiences and her book, Making Pearls From Grit. Over to you, Isla.

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Diagnosed with breast cancer while on holiday in Japan, former journalist, environmental activist and one-time politician Isla distracts herself with tourist adventures — including snorkelling in the South China Sea, learning about slipper etiquette and negotiating the three Japanese alphabets.

Back in the less exotic UK, in between chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy, Isla considers those other scenes from life – such as depression and farting during sex – and realises how people can be fully constructed by life’s obstacles.

When the family cat dies of lung cancer just as Isla is being cured, her anger at the illness’s victory is undermined by her new discovery of the Japanese philosophy of “ikigai”: reason for being.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer while on what was supposed to be an 11-week trip with my husband and two young children to the Far East. I had already had my suspicions that something might be amiss, but with the trip all booked and organised, I decided to go ahead and, prompted by my GP, see a doctor in Tokyo.

Obviously the Japanese healthcare system had not been on our tourist itinerary but, as it happens, it was… well – not enjoyable, which I was about to say and is clearly the wrong word – reassuring. Reliable. 

It took only one ultrasound and one mammogram in one appointment in the Tokyo hospital for the doctor to confirm that yes, I had breast cancer. What did I do? I went and met husband and children in an amusement park and took daughter on the log flume, while husband, according to son, screamed like a child on the rollercoaster.

What else could I do?

With a couple of weeks until the recommended biopsy, and then another couple of weeks until the biopsy result, we had plenty of time to explore Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan, as planned. And, cancer diagnosis notwithstanding, that was one of the best, most exciting periods of my life!  

We enjoyed tranquil national parks, and the renowned cherry blossom, bullet trains, earthquakes (!), home schooling, temples and shrines, tempura and other unrecognisable food stuffs, snorkelling in a warm and crystal-clear sea… 

The day after my biopsy result – delivered with detailed care and support by two Japanese doctors – we returned to Edinburgh, and my nine months of intensive treatment began. It took 16 chemotherapy sessions, three surgeries and 19 radiotherapy sessions but I was declared clear of cancer in time for Christmas.

I learned a lot in this period. I learned a lot about my own strength and resilience, and I learned even more about the importance of support networks, of being able to communicate with doctors, of having questions answered, of understanding what is going on. Most importantly, I learned so much about the kindness of people – not just friends, but mere acquaintances. There is such a depth of understanding and sympathy in most people, which leads to them wanting to help in whatever way they can – with childcare, or providing cooked meals, or donating money to cancer charities for research and cures.

That – the good will and benevolence of my community – was invaluable.

While I was being treated, I wrote a blog, to keep friends and family in the loop with regard to how I was getting on (and probably to help me process the experience). The blog was brutally honest. It was often wry, always immodest, and occasionally farcical.  And friends started suggesting I write a book, based on the blog.

Which is what I did.

But obviously I couldn’t just regurgitate the blog, as that was freely available online… So, prompted by the recognition of my own strength – realised during my illness – I started thinking about all those other obstacles, scenes and issues I, and many other women, encounter in life, and which we overcome and assimilate into our very beings.

So the book, Making Pearls From Grit, has ended up being, not just a cancer memoir but also an uplifting story of survival, fortitude, courage and kindness. I hope it can let cancer patients know that they are not alone, and that there are so many of us here willing them on; and it will allow friends and family of those with cancer to understand exactly what they’re going through, without having to ask them personal questions.

My own journey is far from over – while I am cured, the emotional impact of the illness has fairly long-term repercussions. But with the support of my friends, my amazing husband and my brave children, I know how and why to enjoy every single day. 

And we will be returning to Japan, to finish our interrupted trip.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I will be donating money from sales of Making Pearls From Grit to Macmillan Cancer Support, Maggie’s Centres, Cancer Research UK and Breast Cancer Care throughout the month. To find out more and help support the fundraising, please sign up to my newsletter via www.isla.org.uk or like and follow my Facebook page @IAitkenwriter.”

What an amazing story and an amazing initiative. if you would like to buy a copy of Isla’s book and help support breast cancer charities, you can get a copy here. Or make a donation to one of the many charities working to beat this disease such as https://www.cancerresearchuk.org and https://www.wearitpink.org/

About the Author

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Isla Aitken is a former sub editor and PR consultant, who has given up her career to write full time. She is co-founder of a local cancer support group, and has been an active environmental campaigner for many years. Having published two short stories to Amazon, Making Pearls From Grit, a memoir of her experience as a breast cancer patient, is her first full-length book.

Connect with Isla:

Website: http://www.isla.org.uk

Facebook: I Aitken Writer

Twitter: @IslaAitken

Instagram: @readwriteandrave

Kult by Stefan Malmstrom #BookReview #BlogTour (@kpstefan) @silvertailbooks @BOTBSPublicity #Kult

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THE PAST WILL NEVER LET YOU GO…

When a four-year-old girl and her father are found dead in the Swedish city of Karlskrona, the police quickly conclude it was a murder-suicide, a tragedy requiring no further investigation.

But Luke Bergmann, a reformed criminal still haunted by his violent past, believes they are wrong. The dead man, Viktor, was his best friend, and Luke knows he would never commit such a horrific crime.

When more bodies turn up, Luke is certain the same killer has struck again. Alone, he embarks on an investigation which reaches back through decades to his friend’s involvement with a sinister cult and dark secrets are exposed as Luke struggles to keep his own long-buried demons hidden away.

And when Luke finds himself in a killer’s sights, his search for the truth becomes the fight of his life.

Can Luke get justice for Viktor and his daughter and prove his best friend was not a murderer, or will the shadows of the past overwhelm him?

Happily taking my turn on the blog tour today for Kult by Stefan Malmstrom. My thanks to Sarah Hardy of Books On The Bright Side Publicity for inviting me to take part and to the author and publisher for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

This is a really fascinating, if very dark, read that stood out because it was partially based on the author’s own experiences as a young man with Scientology, which leant the story an extra level of authenticity.

I don’t think I am alone in finding cults a compelling subject. The idea that people can be influenced into believing the most extraordinary things that seem totally bizarre to the rest of us, to the extent that they are prepared to distance themselves from their family and friends, devote their lives and money to the cause and enact the most extreme forms of behaviour, including murder, is a topic I find riveting. I have read quite a lot of non-fiction on the subject of cults, and also enjoy fiction books that have this as a central subject matter. The Girls by Emma Cline was a recent novel based around a cult that was very popular, but the attraction of reading a book about possibly the world’s most famous cult, Scientology, by someone who was actually a member was too good an opportunity to miss and this book did not disappoint in any way.

The book is cleverly constructed with three story threads running through it that start off seemingly separate but are gradually drawn together as we go throughout the book until it forms a complete picture at the denouement. One of the threads follows the story of a group of young people as they are enticed into the world of Scientology in a small town in Sweden in the early 1990s. The main protagonist of the book is, Luke, a not quite whiter-than-white American now living in Sweden, who discovers the apparent murder-suicide of his best friend and his friend’s young daughter. However, Luke refuses to believe that Viktor was capable of any such thing and, despite warnings from the police investigating the matter, is determined to discover the truth for himself. The third thread…well you need to read the book for yourself to find out how that weaves in.

This book is gripping, to say the least. I read it in a day and could not put it down. The construct of the book was extremely effective in keeping the reader turning the pages and trying to work out how the pieces fitted together. The characters were cleverly portrayed to make you either love them or loathe them, as appropriate, and they felt realistic and well-rounded. I thought Luke was a great character to carry the story and would be very keen to read further books featuring him. I have to warn readers that some aspects of this book involved extremely disturbing subject matter that some readers may find distressing, but this was not done in a gratuitous manner and was relevant to the story. I found the insight into Scientology the most fascinating part of the book, though. To gain such a glimpse into the secretive world of Scientology from someone who has been there, and hear first hand the kind of damage it can do, was riveting. The author gives us a note at the end regarding how much of the book is fact and how much is fiction and it was eye-opening to say the least.

This is a dark, gripping and tense thriller with a fascinating back story and I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a bleak but enthralling read.

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

Make sure you check out the other reviews posted by my marvellous fellow bloggers on the tour:

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About the Author

stefan

Stefan Malmström is a former news journalist who has worked for Sveriges Radio and Swedish TV4. Today he works as a consultant, lecturer and author. At a young age, Stefan was manipulated into the Church of Scientology in Hässleholm, a small town in southern Sweden. KULT, his first book, is based on his experiences in the cult. Stefan lives in Karlskrona in Sweden with his family.

Connect with Stefan:
Facebook: Hjarntvattad
Twitter: @kpstefan
Instagram: @hjarntvattad.se

 

The Hive by Jane Holland #BookReview #BlogTour (@janeholland1) @RaRaResources #Giveaway #RachelsRandomResources #TheHive

The Hive

Delighted to be one of the blogs opening up the blog tour today for The Hive by Jane Holland. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and the author for my digital copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially. Make sure you check out the giveaway detailed below the review.

The Hive - jane holland the hive cover

Scarred by fire from infancy, with a persistent stammer, Charlotte has always been in the shadow of her glamorous theatrical parents. So it’s a shock when her mother commits suicide.

Left to care for her sick father in the dark maze of her childhood home, Charlotte begins to unravel. First, there’s the mysterious arrival of a box of dead bees. Then buzzing noises in the attic. People are watching her. Listening to her.

Everyone thinks she’s losing her mind. But an old photo suggests another, more sinister possibility …

This is the first thriller I have read by Jane Holland but it definitely won’t be the last because this one was a gripping, chilling menace of a book that I simply could not put down.

Right from the opening pages, this book has a dark, oppressive feel that creeps insidiously off the page to wind itself around the mind of the reader and pull them in to the dark world that Charlotte inhabits. She arrives home from a trip to Moscow to find a scene of devastation at the home she shares with her aloof mother and a father who is increasingly lost in a world of his own, unable to help her. Scarred by an accident when young, living in isolation with her parents in an old rambling house, taking walks in the fascinating but morbid confines of Highgate Cemetery, her only light and support comes from her Russian boyfriend, Alex. But Charlotte can’t quite bring herself to believe than even the handsome Alexei is truly there for her, as he seems to have a dark past of his own.

The author does a fantastic job of making Charlotte a sympathetic character to carry us through this story. I really felt her isolation and desperation throughout the book, her insecurity and self-doubt, and her growing fear as events throughout the story get more and more strange and terrifying. The plot is very devious and twisted and I felt myself with an unexpected sense of desperation to find out what was going and and how it was going to end. I read the book almost in one sitting and felt unfeasibly annoyed when I had to put it down to carry out the mundane but necessary tasks of the day.

This is a book which walks an interesting tightrope between thriller and horror, and not something I would particularly pick up myself as a normal read. However, I was totally gripped from beginning to end, and found this a very rewarding reading experience which I would be very happy to repeat in the near future.

The Hive is out now and you can get a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, check out the stops as detailed on the poster below:

The Hive Full Tour Banner

Giveaway

To be in with a chance of winning a paperback copy of The Hive, click on the Rafflecopter link below (UK entries only):

Rafflecopter

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box above.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

About the Author

The Hive - jane+hat+photo

Jane Holland is a Gregory Award-winning poet and novelist. Her thriller GIRL NUMBER ONE hit #1 in the UK Kindle store in 2015, and again in 2018, catapulting her into a life of crime. She’s published dozens of novels with major publishing houses under various pseudonyms, including: Beth Good, Victoria Lamb, Elizabeth Moss, Hannah Coates, and JJ Holland, and also self-publishes.

Connect with Jane:

Facebook: Jane Holland Author

Twitter: @janeholland1

Friday Night Drinks with…. Kaisha Holloway @kaishajayneh @Cecelia_Ahern #bookbloggers #bookblogging #amreading #FridayNightDrinks

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I am really excited tonight because this person is one of the reasons this blog even exists today (thank them or blame them, as you see fit!) Her blog, The Writing Garnet was one of the very first book blogs I came across, and one which inspired my own attempts at blogging. She is a reading and reviewing machine, award-winning, and one of the nicest people you could ever wish to ‘meet’ in the bookish world. So, welcome to Friday Night Drinks…..Kaisha Holloway.

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Kaisha, thank you so much for joining me for drinks this evening, I’m so thrilled you have joined me. First things first, what are you drinking?

Thanks so much for having me! I’ll have a cup of tea, two sugars and a splash of milk please!

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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?

Waterstones in Edinburgh!

Oooh, what is so special about the Edinburgh Waterstones, you will have to expand for me one day. 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?

Oh my, what a fabulous question! That’s an incredibly tough one as I admire so many people, however it would have to be Nelson Mandela and Eva Cassidy.

I don’t think we’ve had either of those as choices before. 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?

Well during the day when my witches broom is put away, I’m usually found being a mummy to mini bookworm, Eva. Also, some people may know me as being The Writing Garnet, the blog I started back in 2016. I have a very soppy reason for starting my blog to be honest! I started it because I wanted to review books/host authors etc. as my way of saying thank you to the authors for writing books which have allowed me to escape from my day to day pain of being a multi-chronically ill person. I would love if blogging opened doors for me so that I could finally work from home though. Luckily I had the opportunity to be a PA to a popular author last year, as well as becoming a published writer when my article was published on Brides Magazine website.

That’s a fantastic reason for starting a blog. What has been your proudest moment since you started blogging and what has been your biggest challenge?

Gosh, my proudest moment(s) has got to be when I won ‘Most Inspirational Blog’ at the Blogger Bash Awards in 2017, and when I won ‘Media Star of the Year’ at the RNA Industry Awards in 2018. I never expected to win awards with my blog, so I still cannot believe that that happened.

As for my biggest challenge, I think that would probably be finding the right words to do a book justice in reviews. I’m sure many other bloggers would agree with me when I say that, when we review lots of books, we end up using similar wording/phrasing for books in the same genre, and trying to find that word or phrase which describes that particular book can be incredibly hard when you just want to say something different.

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!

I would love to write my own book and get it published. I have multiple ideas for adult fiction, as well as a recent idea for a children’s fiction book. I would also love to be able to work from home in a remote position as I cannot go out to work due to my illnesses and the fact that I homeschool my daughter!

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

I’m excited about the idea I came up with for a children’s book. I would have liked to have read a book like it when I was a child, so I am hoping the confidence will come for me to be able to do something with it and make that dream come true. Who knows!

You should give it a go. After all, nothing ventured! 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?

For me, wanting to travel and actually travelling are two different things! I have been to various places in the UK that I loved, however my all-time favourite place in the UK to visit was Whitby. It was the most beautiful, sensual place I have ever been to and I would go back in a heartbeat (pardon the pun).

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As for bucket list, I have wanted to go to Australia since I was 3 years old. You would have thought the fact that I have family over there would have helped matters, but nope! A girl can dream!

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Tell me one interesting/surprising/secret fact about yourself that people might not know about you.

Haha ermmmmm, now there’s a question! I can do the voice of ‘Pingu’? Does that count?

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Oh, that’s a good one! I’d love to hear it. 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’?

I’m in shock! You don’t ask a bookworm this! Haha. I thought the previous question was hard! I’m going to answer this question based on the books I have read recently, although that doesn’t narrow it down as even they are in double figures. Anywho, it would be Postscript by Cecelia Ahern.

Postscript

The long-awaited sequel to the international bestseller PS, I Love You!

It’s been seven years since Holly Kennedy’s husband died – six since she read his final letter, urging Holly to find the courage to forge a new life.
 
She’s proud of all the ways in which she has grown and evolved. But when a group inspired by Gerry’s letters, calling themselves the PS, I Love You Club, approaches Holly asking for help, she finds herself drawn back into a world that she worked so hard to leave behind.
 
Reluctantly, Holly begins a relationship with the club, even as their friendship threatens to destroy the peace she believes she has achieved. As each of these people calls upon Holly to help them leave something meaningful behind for their loved ones, Holly will embark on a remarkable journey – one that will challenge her to ask whether embracing the future means betraying the past, and what it means to love someone forever…

I was in two minds about how I felt on hearing there was going to be a sequel, as I loved PS. I Love You so much, but hearing such great reviews of this book has persuaded me to buy a copy.

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?

Well seeing as I am on the tea, no hangover! Although when I was able to drink alcohol, I never had a hangover, even when I drank multiple beverages in one night. Soooooo, I don’t have an answer I’m afraid haha.

After our fabulous night out, what would be your ideal way to spend the rest of a perfect weekend?

Sitting with a blanket, listening to the rain lashing down outside and losing myself in all of the books I bought from our wild night out in Waterstones!

Kaisha, thank you so much for coming on the blog this evening, and for being one of  the reasons it exists!

Kaisha blogs over at The Writing Garnet, so make sure you go and check out her blog. You can also catch up with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Kaisha is looking for opportunities so, if anyone reading this knows of any remote working vacancies or people who are open to receive pitches in magazines and what not, she would love to be given the opportunity. You can get in touch with her by email at kaishajayneh@gmail.com.

Join me next week for Friday Night Drinks with blogger and author, Noelle Holten.