Friday, 24 March 2017

Blog Tour: Stronger Than Skin by Stephen May Stephen_May1 #StrongerThanSkin

Stronger Than Skin was published by Sandstone Press on 16th March 2017. My thanks to them for sending me a copy and for having me on the blog tour.

Mark Chadwick is cycling home from work, eager to get back to his pregnant wife Katy and two children, when he sees the police calling at his house. He knows exactly why they are there and he knows that the world he has carefully constructed over twenty very deliberately uneventful years is about to fall apart. He could lose everything. A story of a toxic love gone wrong, with a setting that moves easily between present day London and 1990s Cambridge, Stronger Than Skin is compulsively readable, combining a gripping narrative with a keen eye for the absurdities of the way we live now.

I am delighted to be able to host the blog tour today, I have an extract for you below, do let me know if it encourages you to read the book. 

Katy has told me not to go back home tonight but I can’t stay in that room either. I have to go somewhere. I have to do something.
I have a shower. I use up an entire bottle of kelp body wash and head off out of the Castle into the night, smelling like the sea.
            I seem to cycle around most of North London, music loud, still trying hard not to think.
There’s a breeze spiteful enough to keep people off the streets, but even so London seems freakishly quiet. Whatever the weather a London night should be raucous, should be mixed martial arts meets burlesque. It should be theatre. London at night should be all pissed up street-poets bobbing restlessly through the streets like discarded plastic bottles down the Thames. But not tonight. Tonight London is pensive, aloof and grown up. Things on her mind.
I stop once at an all-night cafe and the cabbies and the call girls and the foreign students chat together in a way that seems strangely small-talky. The weather, the football, the economy – how since the internet no one wants to pay the proper rate for anything. How we’re all working harder for less, running to stand still. It reminds me of the staffroom. When did London get as banal as this?
Every half hour or so I make a stealthy return through the chill drizzle to the end of Haverstock Road but there is always that bloody police Astra outside the house.
I wonder what they think, the police. Sitting for hours in the sweaty cubicle of the car, waiting to nick a guy who hasn’t had so much as a parking ticket in twenty-odd years. Do they really believe this is a good use of police resources? They should be angry, they should be wanting to chase real criminals: muggers, burglars, rapists, terrorists. If they joined the force because of the hope of making a real difference to how things are, then they’ve been cheated.
Five times I come back, and the last time – at gone midnight – hanging back in the dark, I see our master bedroom light go off. I wait around another twenty minutes to see if the team in the panda car give up, but they seem pretty dug in. Not going anywhere. No getting past them.
I’m going to text Katy a last goodnight, only I realise I’ve left my phone back in the Castle. But at least I’m maybe tired enough now to sleep. Time to go back.
When I get back to the King George Suite I’m going to make the most of the facilities, I’m going to drink the minibar dry. I’m going to dive into the poshcorn. I’m going to warm up with a long bath. If I find myself crying, then a bath is the place to do it.
I wonder how safe it would be to email Katy from the hotel. Best not. It’s not just mobiles they monitor these days. Funny, if a postie tampers with the snail mail then he goes to prison – but the electronic postmen, they seem immune. They get rewarded, even. These days you never know who is reading your stuff. Some googlenaut in Motherfuck Nebraska, some minimum wage Amazon drone hunched over his algorithms in Idaho, some spook in Murmansk, all of them getting a bonus for each piece of intel they extract. People forget: an email is not a private letter. It is a publication. It is the magazine of you carelessly discarded in the waiting room of the world.

I am just outside the Castle about to swipe my key card when the door opens and Jake Skellow hurries out, takes me by the arm in a strong-fingered grip and hustles me into the shadows whispering urgently as he does so.
‘None of my business Mr Chadwick, but the old bill. They’re waiting for you. In your room.’
‘Yeah, they came about twenty minutes ago. I’ve been looking out for you.’
‘I wonder what that’s all about?’ I say. I’m trying to move my features into a frowning picture of professorial puzzlement. I’m cursing myself for not switching that bloody phone off, or for not throwing it away even. Jake straightens himself to his full height. This pretence has irritated him. He’s lost a bit of respect for me maybe. He’s come out from behind his desk into the cold night to give his old teacher a heads-up. I should be a little more honest. There’s a pause. What do I do now?
‘You know, Jake, I’m really not up to facing questioning by the police. Not tonight.’
Jake smiles. Another quick happy flash of those big white teeth. I have seen this before with kids at school, how they love to turn the tables, love to become the teacher themselves. The way they like to educate you about how the modern world works. About phones and computers. About pop or fashion. About how to escape from justice too it seems, because he has an idea.
‘You could go to my place. Kip the night there. If you wanted.’
Now I remember some staffroom talk about the troubled background Jake comes from. Some gossip about how his family were at war with the authorities, of the Skellows being involved in all sorts of dubious businesses – believable rumours of loan sharking, cigarette smuggling, buying and selling of knock-off goods, the breeding of banned dogs. It’s fair to assume that Jake has not been brought up to respect the forces of law and order. 

About the Author:

Stephen May’s first novel TAG was longlisted for Wales Book of The Year and won the Media Wales Reader’s Prize. His second, Life! Death! Prizes! was shortlisted for the 2012 Costa Novel Award and The Guardian Not The Booker Prize. He also collaborates on performance pieces with theatre-makers, artists, film-makers, musicians and dancers. 

You can find him on Twitter: @Stephen_May1

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour:

Monday, 20 March 2017

Blog Tour: Boundary by Andrée A. Michaud #Boundary @noexitpress

Published by No Exit Press on the 23rd March, my thanks to them and the author for the review copy and having me on the blog tour. 

Boundary is translated from French by Donald Winkler.

A chilling thriller as compulsive as Emma Cline's The Girls.
It's the Summer of 1967. The sun shines brightly over Boundary Pond, a holiday haven on the US-Canadian border. Families relax in the heat, happy and carefree. Hours tick away to the sound of radios playing 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' and 'A Whiter Shade of Pale'. Children run along the beach as the heady smell of barbecues fills the air.

Zaza Mulligan and Sissy Morgan, with their long, tanned legs and silky hair, relish their growing reputation as the red and blonde Lolitas. Life seems idyllic. 
But then Zaza disappears, and the skies begin to cloud over...
My Thoughts:

Boundary is a spectacular book and not entirely what I was expecting. It is indeed a crime novel but with none of the pace of recent thrillers. I found this book though to be equally exhilarating. 

Set against the backdrop of 1967, 'Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds' and 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' are our soundtrack. The lazy days of summer are meandering by until a girl, Zaza goes missing. Summer days and carefree attitudes are forever altered by this turn of events. 

Told cleverly from various viewpoints, the story builds over the pages much like the claustrophobic heat of the summer. A cast of individual and often troubled characters piqued my interest. Perhaps there is no such thing as a carefree summer after all, as a melancholy descends and things slowly seem to unravel. 

The author of this book clearly knows the location like the back of her hand. It is so painstakingly and vividly described, It almost felt like I was there and could smell the heat and the woods. The scenes surrounding the location for me anyway are this books greatest strength. Boundary is a character itself, it is full of charm, it is beguiling and mysterious if one could venture into the woods. 

The author writes in an unusual style that I particularly loved. Her writing is almost cinematic as the landscapes and the people were played out before me. The writing is eloquent, beautiful and poetic and belies the terrible crime that has taken place between the pages. This kind of writing excites me, and I will be certainly looking out for her previous work.

I would suggest that this book takes a small amount of investment from the reader, it is not the easiest book to get into initially but wait until you have read it. I feel enriched and rewarded as a reader from the experience.

I am thrilled that I also have a guest post on how this story came about...

Andrée A. Michaud, Boundary

How the idea of Boundary came to me

The idea of Boundary came to me on an August night, when the air, filled with the scent of rain, reminded me of the smells of Bondrée, a little lake surrounded by woods, at the border of the United States, where my father used to take me when I was just a little girl.
I was living near the St. Laurent River for the summer in the cottage of Gabrielle Roy, a famous Canadian writer, where I’d been lucky enough to have taken a writer’s residency. I was sitting on the veranda, watching the foxes and the raccoons leaving the woods in the dark, when a scent of ancient rain, back from my childhood, came through the screens, carried by the wind. This scent was so intense that all my memories of Bondrée came back in a few minutes. At that very moment, I knew I had the material for my next novel and that it would take place there, in that wonderful and mysterious wilderness, at the exact same moment that I myself had discovered it: the Sixties.
I let the images of Bondrée surround me: the rain wet my clothes, and I saw a man, poorly dressed, his hair long and dirty, who was silently following the foxes. Peter Landry was born.
The next morning, I sat at my desk – which was in fact Gabrielle Roy’s desk – and the story spread out in Landry’s wake: cottages appeared around the lake, characters appeared in the cottages, traps appeared in the woods, and a young girl named Zaza Mulligan, loudly singing her drunken dreams, entered the woods…

Boundary started like this, from the lightly salty smells of a river to those of a forest lake.

About the Author:
Andrée A Michaud is a two-time winner of the Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction (Le Ravissement in 2001 and Bondrée in 2014) and the recipient of the Arthur Ellis Award and the Prix Saint-Pacôme for best crime novel forBondrée, as well as the 2006 Prix Ringuet for Mirror Lake (adapted for the big screen in 2013). As she has done since her very first novel, Michaud fashions an eminently personal work that never ceases to garner praise from critics and avid mystery readers alike. In 2010, her thriller Lazy Bird, set to the rhythms of jazz, was published by Les Éditions du Seuil in France, as part of the Point Noir Collection.
Donald Winkler is a Canadian Documentary maker and French-to-English literary translator. He won the Canada's Governor General's Award for French to English translation in 1994, 2011 and 2013.
Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour: 

Monday, 13 March 2017

Blog Tour: Deadly Game by Matt Johnson #DeadlyGame @Matt_Johnson_UK

Published by Orenda in paperback on 15th March 2017. It is available in e book now. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy and having me on the blog tour.

Reeling from the attempts on his life and that of his family, Police Inspector Robert Finlay returns to work to discover that any hope of a peaceful existence has been dashed. 

Assigned to investigate the Eastern European sex-slave industry just as a key witness is murdered, Finlay, along with his new partner Nina Brasov, finds himself facing a ruthless criminal gang, determined to keep control of the traffic of people into the UK. On the home front, Finlay’s efforts to protect his wife and child may have been in vain, as an MI5 protection officer uncovers a covert secret service operation that threatens them all … 

Aided by new allies, he must not only protect his family but save a colleague from an unseen enemy … and a shocking fate. Deadly Game is a stunning, terrifying and eye-opening thriller from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Deadly Game today, although I haven't read the first book Wicked Game I was well of the buzz it was creating on social media. I hadn't planned on reading Deadly Game yet as I have a thing about reading in order but I picked it up yesterday for a bit of background for today. I am already two thirds through and hooked in, review will follow later this week. 

For now I hand over to Matt Johnson who has written a fabulous guest post about reviews and the positives and negatives of social media for an author. Thanks so much Matt for stopping by...

As a newly published author, getting noticed amongst the huge pool of talent that exists in the social media world is an incredible challenge. If there were an easy way, we would all be doing it.
Only yesterday, I read a tweet from an independent author asking for people to do an 'exchange review' with him. What he was offering was a 'quid pro quo', 'you scratch my back...' type arrangement.  I've had a few similar requests myself, normally by DM, and I always decline. It was the first time I had seen an author being so public about courting such a favour.
I was so tempted to contact him and tell him not to get into that ball-game, but then decided that it was, really, none of my business. If he wants to, that's up to him, but it's not an avenue I would ever go down.
My personal feeling is that any means to secure reviews other than through genuine readers is fraught with danger. Sure, you may get a few lovely things said about your book, but it's not genuine feedback is it? It's not going to give you any idea as to whether your writing actually appeals to readers and, surely, that is the purpose of a review?
Some authors argue that reviews are a way of getting noticed, an aid to securing that elusive book deal or boosting sales.  I guess that the argument is that publishing editors, on seeing a large number of excellent reviews on a book will then be tempted to take a look at it. That assumes, of course, that editors don't know how the review system can be manipulated, that they don't hear that companies are selling 5* reviews and that authors do review exchanges to boost their ratings. The truth is, of course, that they do, and they look at reviews with a very sceptical eye, and so, of course, do the readers.
And what happens after the initial rush of 5* reviews? What happens when genuine reviewers start posting what they think of your work? You can be very sure that if they feel they have been conned that they will say so. So, if your bought or exchange reviews create a false impression of the standard of your work, then you'd best be prepared for the backlash.
The same applies to followers on twitter and 'likes' on facebook. I have a healthy 'followship, not outstanding, but each and every one of my followers is a genuine person… I think! I tend to followback and also follow readers to see what books they are talking about. It also enables me to talk to readers, secure feedback and see if my own work is heading in the right direction.
Like many, I have had my share of unwanted messages offering me opportunities to buy new followers. I can understand why a struggling author might be tempted, it can create an artificial appearance of status which may encourage genuine twitter users to take an interest in you. I was looking at the followship of a well-known author recently who is one of the top in my chosen genre. I saw that most of his original followers were 'bots', so he too had fallen for the offer.  Given that this same author has a name for creating fake profiles to promote his own work and attack others, I had to ask myself, is he right? Is this vanity, or is it good marketing? Not an easy question to answer. Books are a business after all.
Just yesterday I received this unsolicited email...
Hello Matt

I am called  Harry. I also specialise in  Facebook and Twitter management helping to generate more customers  and also give your Twitter page  the wow factor.
 Our daily newsletter consists of nearly 500,000 people whom have all completed a lifestyle survey , so we have a ideal  indication of what interests our customers . When someone submits an order through us unlike most of our competitors, We then submit your link through our newsletter and in turn people then like your page. We do not use robots or fake likes.
 Prices from :-
£50 for 2,000 Facebook Likes
£50 for 6,000 Instagram followers
£45 for 7,000 Twitter followers
£50 for 30,000 YouTube Views
If a new visitor  logs on to your Facebook page  and can see that you have 7000 likes compared to your competition with just 350 likes, they tend to side with you even without considering price differences, as they are added  with confidence. This will also increase your position  through Facebook and start to drive organic  traffic through your page and through google.
We always have special offers, currently we have buy 20,000 Facebook likes for £170 get 5,000 Free Twitter followers Samples are available for serious buyers.
Many Thanks,

Well, Harry. I'm sorry to disappoint you, but the answer is a very definite, no.
About the Author

 Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for 25 years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1993, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. His bestselling thriller, Wicked Game, which was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey Dagger, was the result. 

You can find out more:
Twitter: @Matt_Johnson_UK

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour:

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Manipulated Lives by H.A. Leuschel #ManipulatedLives @HALeuschel

This book was published independently via the Createspace Platform and is available to buy via Amazon now. My thanks to the Author for providing a review copy. 

Five stories – Five Lives. 

Have you ever felt confused or at a loss for words in front of a spouse, colleague or parent, to the extent that you have felt inadequate or, worse, a failure? Do you ever wonder why someone close to you seems to endure humiliation without resistance? 

Manipulators are everywhere. At first these devious and calculating people can be hard to spot, because that is their way. They are often masters of disguise: witty, disarming, even charming in public – tricks to snare their prey – but then they revert to their true self of being controlling and angry in private. Their main aim: to dominate and use others to satisfy their needs, with a complete lack of compassion and empathy for their victim. 

In this collection of short novellas you meet people like you and me, intent on living happy lives, yet each of them, in one way or another, is caught up and damaged by a manipulative individual. First you meet a manipulator himself, trying to make sense of his irreversible incarceration. Next, there is Tess, whose past is haunted by a wrong decision, then young, successful and well balanced Sophie, who is drawn into the life of a little boy and his troubled father. Next, there is teenage Holly, who is intent on making a better life for herself and finally Lisa, who has to face a parent’s biggest regret. All stories highlight to what extent abusive manipulation can distort lives and threaten our very feeling of self-worth.

My Thoughts: 

As the title suggests this book is about people whose lives have been manipulated by others, well in actual fact it is a series of novellas or short stories. Each story centres on a manipulator and how their individual behaviour effects themselves and those around them.

The five stories are called:

1. The Narcissist
2. Tess and Tattoos
3. The Spell
4. Runaway Girl
5. My Perfect Child

They are of varying lengths and I found them all to be a bit unsettling and something of a challenge. A challenge in that they made me think and they made me ponder what makes a person a manipulator. They are all well written and most were not what I had expected at all. 

By definition a manipulator is someone who controls or influences another in an unscrupulous manner, and a person that needs to have control. Therefore it becomes easy to see that manipulators can come from all walks of life. In this case we read about an old man on his deathbed, a lady who on the surface is lonely, a single dad trying to make ends meet whilst embarking on a new relationship, a young girl that wants to leave home and be independent, and a mother who would do anything for her son.

What became authentic and clear in this writing is that the lines are never entirely black and white. Sometimes the lines blurred between who was the 'victim' and who was the 'manipulator'. The story I found most engaging in this regard was My Perfect Child. At what age do we hold a person responsible for their behaviour and therefore this lead me to believe anyway that some behaviours must be learnt. 

This author has the capability to challenge, engage, and shock with her writing. It is almost as if she has taken a highlighter pen and signposted to me behaviour that is all around. I was somehow drawn into the stories, whilst knowing these sorts of people exist quite frequently and so the stories are not far fetched at all.

I rushed through reading some of the stories, as was my haste to reach the conclusion and sometimes these were not at all what I had anticipated. I would have liked to have found out more about some of the characters but I think this is a positive as it shows how invested I was in the writing. 

All in all I felt that this was a well constructed set of stories that have left me with much to think about, the psychological bits have twisted my brain and left me wanting to read more. I would look forward to see what this writer comes up with in the future.

About the Author:

Helene Andrea Leuschel was born and raised in Belgium to German parents. She gained a Licentiate in Journalism, which led to a career in radio and television in Brussels, London and Edinburgh. Helene moved to the Algarve in 2009 with her husband and two children, working as a freelance TV producer and teaching yoga. She recently acquired a Master of Philosophy with the OU, deepening her passion for the study of the mind. Manipulated Lives is Helene’s first work of fiction.

You can find her on Twitter: @HALeuschel 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Blood Mother by Dreda Say Mitchell #BloodMother @DredaMitchell

This book was published by Hodder on 23rd February 2017. My thanks to the publisher for the review copy.

1970s London has stopped swinging, but it's not staying still.
Babs thought she had all the world ahead of her. Then she got pregnant and the father did a runner.
Salvation comes in the form of a man who'll look after her. Or so she thinks.
But Stan Miller is the devil in disguise...and over the next twenty years, Babs will have reason to regret she ever met him. Can she protect her family - or will he get the better of her?
BLOOD MOTHER is the second thrilling book in the Flesh and Blood series, capturing a world very different from today but where some things still hold true: be careful what you wish for, and watch out for who you trust...

My Thoughts:

Blood Mother is the second in the 'Flesh and Blood' trilogy. The trilogy follows one family over forty years. I was excited to read this book as I enjoyed the first, Blood Sister so much. You can read my review for that and interview with the author here. 

Dreda Say Mitchell is by now one of favourite crime writers. She writes with great enthusiam and a passion for the East End. She brings the location alive with her characters, and their unique and individual voices. I will never tire of reading these stories. 

Blood Mother takes us back to the 1970's. Babs is full of hope and ambition for the future, but she finds herself completely on her own. Pregnant and with nowhere to turn, Stanley Miller seems like the answer to all Babs prayers, from the outset he seems almost to good to be true. What follows is Babs story. 

Stanley Miller is an absolute pig and manipulative with it and some would say that Babs is naive to have got involved in the first place. I loved the way the story unravelled over twenty years. Instead of the downtrodden woman you would expect Babs to be, she is instead not a person to be crossed, a firecracker willing to go to any lengths to protect her daughters. 

It was wonderful to revisit the characters from Blood Sister but I would suggest that this book could be read as a standalone, although I personally couldn't not read all three. This is because the stories do cross over.

This book is full of the East End grit, twists and turns and pacing of story that I have come to expect and love from this author. A book where the women are ultimately strong and don't put up with any nonsense. The importance of family is prevalent and looking out for your own. Real and individual characters that just create a tapestry of the time and place. 

The ending though, you can't leave a reader hanging like that! I am waiting in urgent anticipation for the final instalment of this brilliant trilogy now. 

About the Author:

Dreda Say Mitchell grew up on a housing estate in East London. She is an award winning novelist, broadcaster, journalist and freelance education consultant. She was named one Britain's 50 Remarkable Women by Lady Geek. She is the author of five novels, with her first book having been awarded The CWA's John Creasey Dagger for the best debut crime novel. 
She has appeared on Newsnight, Daybreak and Canadian television's Sun New Live. She has presented BBC Radio 4's Open Book, and is a frequent guest of Radio 4's The Review Show, Front Row and Saturday Review. She is the founder of the creative writing programme 'Write-On', which she has run in both YOIs and prison.
She has worked in education for over twenty years, including positions as a primary school deputy head teacher and local authority consultant. Dreda has an African history degree and an MA in Education Studies. She is also a patron of The National Youth Arts Trust.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Blog Tour: The Mercury Travel Club by Helen Bridgett @Helen_Bridgett @RedDoorBooks

Published  by Red Door Publishing on 16th March 2017 in e book and paperback. My thanks to the author and the publisher for the review copy and having me on the blog tour.

Meet Angie Shepherd who, after 24 years and 11 months of marriage, finds herself divorced and driven by friends and family to move on. From hangover to makeover, Angie steps firmly away from the sensible knitwear, and launches into every adventure on offer – from baking classes and book groups, to speed dating, and even 'The Granny-Okes', a 1980s tribute act and YouTube sensation.

But Angie needs more than a bar of galaxy and a night in with Murder She Wrote... what she dreams of is entrepreneurial success. Channelling her inner Richard Branson, the light bulb moment happens: it's time to take the plunge and invest her divorce settlement into The Mercury Travel Club, an exciting new business venture. But as the Travel Club gets going, things never go according to plan, and in this digital age a little chaos brings the fame she's been looking for.

Set in present-day Manchester, this classic mid-life journey features the 1980s soundtrack from Angie's youth, and sees her travel the world whilst coping with life after the Ex.Angie's journey is the catalyst her friends need to examine their own lives; as they start to find their true callings, will Angie find hers? Witty, entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny, this feel-good debut novel shows it's never too late for a second chance.

My Thoughts:

It is probably clear by now that a lot of the books I read are serious, crime thriller type reads. Sometimes I fancy something a bit different and this is the perfect antidote to seriousness. 

Humorous, tender and real, I was laughing throughout. I really enjoyed this book.

In her 50's, Angie is recently divorced after her husband ran off with the caterer, she knows she need to move on but not quite sure how to do that. Although if the hilarious cast of characters that are her friends and family are concerned, moping around is not an option. 

What follows is basically the story of the year Angie changed her life. It is when she puts herself first, does what makes herself feels good and pushes herself to have fun and achieves more than she thought was possible. 

Angie works in a travel agency and this is where the idea for the Travel Club forms. I love the setting of the workplace and also the anecdotes from the trips taken. Angie's mum is also hilarious. 

I found this book to be hugely entertaining, with a funny dialogue that had me chuckling on more than one occasion. There were a host of characters that on the whole were likeable. This is just one of those books that makes you feel good. I would love to read more by this author in the future. 

Not without its serious moments, I found this book to be ultimately uplifting. Angie proved that life was for the taking and there is always time for a second chance, you just have to adjust your sails. 

About the Author:

Helen Bridgett was born in the North-East and now lives in Manchester having stopped off at a few places in between. Following a career in Marketing, Helen took an MA in TV and Radio Scriptwriting and created short films before writing her first novel. She loves nothing more than a glass of wine and witty banter with friends; her love of dialogue feeds into her work and has given her the perfect excuse to eavesdrop on conversations. Helen lives with her husband and their chocolate Labrador, Angus; all three can often be found wandering the Cumbrian hills or in country pubs.
Follow Helen on Twitter @Helen_Bridgett

Please do have a look at the other stops on the blog tour

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Blog Tour: Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski #SixStories @ConcreteKraken

Published by Orenda in paperback on 15th March 2017. It is available as an e book now. My thanks to the publisher and author for the review copy and inviting me on to the blog tour.

One death. Six stories. Which one is true? 

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an outward bound centre. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 

2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivalled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. And who’s to blame … As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth. A chilling, unpredictable and startling thriller, Six Stories is also a classic murder mystery with a modern twist, and a devastating ending.

My Thoughts:

Orenda books is fast becoming my favourite publisher, I haven't read one book by them that I have disliked. Six Stories is no exception, quite frankly it is a feat of ingenuity and unlike anything I have ever read before. 

This book is told in 2017 about events that occurred in 1997 via the medium of podcasts. Six Podcast interviews, six transcripts of those interviews. This way of telling the story is original, genius and worked on every single level, I was hooked in from the very first line of the very first page, and knew that as a reader I had better get myself strapped in for one hell of a ride. 

Back in 1997 a group of friends make regular trips to an outward bound centre, liberal parenting means they pretty much have no supervision. On the fateful day one of the group, a fifteen year old boy goes missing, only to be found dead a year later. A verdict of misadventure was recorded but surely someone that was on that trip knows what really happened?

Suspense is built throughout, almost felt like real time, the reader is put in the unique position of being able to form their own opinions and theories as the interviews unfold. Whilst there are elements of crime and horror to this writing there are also parts of coming of age and rebellion. There is also a sad melancholy in places. An element that says childhood is not always as easy or as perfect as people would expect.

This book is dark and daring. I was going to say that is pushes the boundaries of genre but this would be doing it a disservice. This book defies genres, and sits in it own lane at the very forefront of current writing. I was intrigued and beguiled by the clean, crisp writing. The setting was atmospheric, cleverly again creating that sense of unease and darkness throughout.  

Everybody should read Six Stories and everybody should learn the name Matt Wesolowski, it is a name every household should know. 

This is the most original book I have read in a long, long time and I will be watching with interest as to what happens next with this writer. 

Don't take my word for it. I urge you to read this book and form your own opinions. 

About the Author:

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

You can find him on Twitter: @ConcreteKraken

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