Monday, 18 May 2015

A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Backman

Published in Paperback 7th May 2015 by Sceptre. My thanks to the publisher and Bookbridgr for sending me a copy.

At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet. He thinks himself surrounded by idiots - neighbours who can't reverse a trailer properly, joggers, shop assistants who talk in code, and the perpetrators of the vicious coup d'etat that ousted him as Chairman of the Residents' Association. He will persist in making his daily inspection rounds of the local streets.

But isn't it rare, these days, to find such old-fashioned clarity of belief and deed? Such unswerving conviction about what the world should be, and a lifelong dedication to making it just so?

In the end, you will see, there is something about Ove that is quite irresistible...

My Thoughts:

 This book was somewhat of an unexpected delight and will undoubtedly go into my favourites this year. Nothing is lacking in the translation from Swedish which has been expertly done by Henning Koch.

I was originally drawn in by the quirky premise for this story. What I hadn't appreciated was how much I would love Ove and all of his idiosyncrasies, I guess I shouldn't, after all what do I have in common with a grumpy old man.

This story is an excellent study of what it is to be human, not just grumpy but about how we all have our own ways about us.

Poignant in places as Ove looks back over his life, it is also funny and we are introduced to a wonderful cast of characters how allow Ove to maybe let go a little, maybe begrudgingly at first but in the end, I think he made some real friends.

I can't wait for this Authors second book.

About the Author

Fredrick Backman is a Swedish blogger, columnist and author. This is his debut novel. I am much anticipating his second novel, My Grandmother Sends Her Regards and Apologises.

Fredrick can be found on twitter : @Backmanland

Thursday, 7 May 2015

BLOG TOUR: Lives Lost by Britta Bolt

Published 7th May 2015 by Mulholland books. My thanks to them and Bookbridgr for sending my review copy, also to Becca for inviting me to kick off the blog tour today.

A minute can make all the difference...

Pieter Posthumus is enjoying a quiet drink in his favourite bar when the screaming starts. A minute later, the owner of the guesthouse next door rushes in: one of her tenants has been murdered. 

Marloes, the guesthouse owner, is an odd but kind soul. Posthumus cannot believe it when she is arrested - for both her tenant Zig's murder and another death years before. He knows there are questions unanswered: what is the link between the two cases? Why are people so keen to think Marloes is guilty? And why did Zig paint just one picture every year - a copy of a Dutch master, but with one peculiar twist? 

As his investigation progresses, he comes to see that a few minutes can mean all the difference in the world: between saving a life and taking one; between innocence and guilt. And that sometimes asking questions leads to a truth that's hard to bear.

My Thoughts:

This is the second in the Pieter Posthumus mysteries, The first Lonely Graves was published last year. Whilst I don't think it is essential to have read it to enjoy this one, it might have provided some more fleshing out of the characters.

This book is set in Amsterdam and the author manages to create vivid descriptions of the place and I personally found it quite interesting to read a book set in that location.

I enjoyed the characters, particularly Pieter Posthumus himself, who is a humble, kind man who works for The Lonely Funeral Team, as a civil servant. He also can't stop himself from getting involved with a bit of sleuthing from time to time.

This wasn't the fast paced thriller I was expecting but it was an excellent mystery and it all came together well in the end. It was quite unusual. Whether some of the pace was lost in translation, I don't know but I will certainly be reading more from Britta Bolt.

About the Author:
Britta Bolt started when Britta Boehler a lawyer and Rodney Bolt who writes Biographies and travel stories, joined forces.They decided to write a series based in Amsterdam.

I am delighted to welcome Britta Bolt here today, they have written an exclusive piece to share with you. 

Posthumus Blog The Lonely Funerals Team

Amsterdam really does have a ‘Lonely Funerals Team’, which gives a good send-off to those who die alone, and to anonymous corpses found within the city limits. The city council commissions a poet to write an elegy, pays for flowers (and a few cups of coffee, should anyone attend), and at least one of the team goes to the funeral. It’s a touching institution, and for us one that has something of the essence of quirky, convivial Amsterdam about it. Of course, the original raison d’ĂȘtre for the municipal department is so that workers can look for wills and insurance policies, for evidence of friends or family connections, and to see if there is enough money in bank accounts to pay for the funeral. Our hero, Pieter Posthumus, takes this a little bit further. His insatiable curiosity, and a working day spent making stories from the flotsam and jetsam of people’s lives, mean that if he spots something that doesn’t quite fit, as he’s sifting through photos, looking at bookshelves, flipping through a CD collection, he just can’t let it go. And that gets him into all sorts of trouble….

The real Lonely Funerals Team has had some odd experiences over the years, such as finding a wardrobe stuffed with tens of thousands of euros; as well as many sad ones, such as the lonely man who committed suicide, leaving his body to science, but was not discovered until it was too late even to end up as a cadaver for dissection. Some true-life stories from the real team make it into our books (look out for the headless corpse in Book Three!).

Monday, 4 May 2015

Being Someone by Adrian Harvey

My sincere thanks to Matthew at Urbane Publications for sending me a copy of this book.

James has fallen through life, plotting a course of least resistance, taking each day as it comes and waiting for that indefinable ‘something’ to turn up, to give his story meaning. His journey lacks one vital element – a fellow traveller.
Then he meets Lainey. Confident. Beautiful. Captivating. And James rewrites himself to win her heart. Lainey gives James a reason to grow, paints a bright future, promises the happy ending he has sought so keenly. But when we discover we can live the greatest story of all, are we able to share the pages with someone else?

Being Someone is an emotive tale of love, of self-discovery and adventure – a story of the eternal search for happiness in another, without ultimately losing ourselves.

My Thoughts:

This books starts us off in India a long time ago with an elephant that went by the name of Iravatha. Admittedly not the start I was expecting upon reading the synopsis. It soon becomes clear though, when in the following chapters we change time and location altogether and meet James the main protaganist of the story. 

James, James, James. I went from wanting to take him for a pint and give him a good talking to, to falling out with him. In the end all I felt for him was compassion. It took the full 255 pages to finally understand him. You can't love somebody if you don't value yourself.

I would suggest that all the characters we meet in Being Someone are flawed. They are my favourite kinds. Afterall, which one of us is perfect? 

Lainey is not really as centralised a character as I would have anticipated but I think this is intentional.

This book is a wonderful examination of human emotions and human reactions. Which one of us can 100% guarantee what we would do in a certain time and certain place. It is also about how in the blink of an eye things can change irrepairably. 

There are not that many writers who can conjure up such imagery with their words, the writing is poetic, vivid, flowing. From the streets of India to the streets of North London with a trip to New York and Scotland thrown in for good measure, it felt like I was there and living the story. Some passages were sublime and truly evocative of time and place. 

 The passages about Iravatha and Annayya were wonderful and symbolic. You would have to read the book to understand it all but in the end I think James is a lot like Iravatha, he makes his pilgrimage back to India, back to different times and back to when there was hope. Back when one mistake hadn't changed the course of events.

Being Someone is a wonderful story of love and what it really is like to make mistakes and live and learn from the consequences.

 Highly recommended.

 About the Author:

Since escaping the East Midlands to find his fortune in the big city, Adrian Harvey has combined a career in and around government with trying to see as much of the world as he can. He lives in North London, which he believes to be the finest corner of the world’s greatest city. Being Someone is his first novel.

Find out more :

Friday, 1 May 2015

Beauty, Love and Justice by Alcina Faraday - FIVE COPIES TO GIVE AWAY!!!!

Beauty, Love and Justice will be published by Urbane Publications on 18th May 2015. I think that you will agree that the cover alone is quite simply stunning. I am thrilled to be able to host the giveaway here for one of five copies of this beautiful book.

I would like to add a note about the publisher if I may, they are independent and believe in collaboration. Collaboration with authors is a given, but collaboration with readers too is something even more exciting. Sometimes it would seem that readers are almost an afterthought. Gladly I can say that this is not the case with Urbane. Do check out their website for full details of titles. I am excited about being part of the Urbane Collaboration Club and look forward to having more involvement in the future.

Onwards to the giveaway:  


Tiago’s had enough of corporate life. He’s going to be a saint.
Ruthless and rich, a seal-pup cute young Turk of the trading floor, he’s got killer plans to restore global economic justice that will get him a harp to set off his Tom Ford suit.
But lovesick Tiago can’t get started until he’s convinced urbane art dealer Raphael Davide they’d make a fantastic power couple.

Raphael’s a slave to beauty with his own designs on the undeserving rich – but his suave exterior belies a brittle heart. His bluestocking sister Clara and her husband Rob would lay down their lives to protect him. And Raphael’s reluctant ex, cracked rocket scientist Tomas Paul Gosele, may know enough about Tiago’s grubby past to blow everything sky high.
Our hero needs friends he can trust. Good job his new neighbour Amelia Postthridge seems a nice enough girl, as gene stackers go. But Amelia’s an apple-obsessed tadpole torturer who prefers trees to people – and she’ll chew up Tiago and spit out the pips to achieve her own plans.

Beauty, Love and Justice is Alcina Faraday's compelling and powerful debut tale of love, ambition, honesty and deceit.

About the Author:

Alcina Faraday is a scientist, businesswoman and stepmother who writes literary fiction about the redeeming power of love and the disturbing possibilities of modern scientific reality.
Her Spiral Wound Trilogy “Beauty, Love and Justice”, “These Modern Girls” and “The Commodity Fetish” follows a cultured rabble of unhinged, uncool, reality-averse GenX/Y outliers as they seek success and heroism, survive squalor and indignity, have a few laughs, and – mostly – emerge relatively unscathed from the moshpit of modern life in Paris, London and Lisbon.
Alcina lives in London and Devon with her engineer husband and a small colony of palmate newts.

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