Bad Sister by Sam Carrington – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

Stephanie is scared for her life. Her psychologist, Connie Summers, wants to help her face her fears, but Connie will never really understand her. Stephanie’s past has been wiped away for her own protection. Stephanie isn’t even her real name. But then, Dr Summers isn’t Connie’s real name either.
And that’s not all the women have in common. As Stephanie opens up about her troubled relationship with her brother, Connie is forced to confront her own dark family secrets.
When a mutilated body is dumped in plain sight, it will have devastating consequences for both women.
Who is the victim?
Who is to blame?
Who is next?

My Review

Bad Sister is the first book that I have read by Sam Carrington. That will be remedied next year in my plan to catch up on books that I have fallen behind on. I can’t work out if is a series but at least one of the characters appeared in the earlier book.

In this novel, after a very creepy prologue, there are mainly two narrators. Connie, who has recently started her own business as a psychologist after taking the rap for a bad decision in her previous employment at the prison.  Connie has changed her surname as a way of distancing herself from the past. DI Lindsay Wade, the returning character,  has also been held accountable for her decisions in the past. Both women are determined to move on and prove that they are fit to do their job. There is also a unamed narrator. These chapters are headed ‘then’ and are connected to Connie’s client Stephanie. The unnamed character is only young, frightened and increasingly bitter.

Connie is making headway with Stephanie. She is living under witness protection but feels that this has been compromised. With Connie’s identity also revealed after a local incident she wants to see another psychologist. But before this can be arranged, tragedy occurs. I hadn’t expected this at all and did find it a little upsetting. Lindsay is determined that this time the investigation won’t go wrong and enlists Connie’s help. But Connie is in danger, from events in her own past.

Even though the tragedy did upset me I enjoyed this book. Both Connie and Lindsay were shown to be normal women who were not without fault. They built up a strong friendship despite the investigation and I hope that this is sign that this will be a series. There was a bad feeling between Connie and Mack, Lindsay’s partner in the police that was explained during the novel, again this was something I would like to see fully resolved. I enjoyed reading an investigation from a different view-point to a police officer.I haven’t read many that are similar.

The ending was unusual, part of me felt warm when Connie realised who could keep her safe but there was also a moment in the epilogue that sent me cold again. A sign that there was more happening than I realised when I was reading.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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A Litany Of Good Intentions by Andrew Harris – Guest Post.

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Today it is my pleasure to welcome to my blog Andrew Harris, author of A Litany of Good Intentions. You can purchase the book here

About the Book

An end to world poverty is more than just a dream for young Chinese philanthropist Jock Lim. Through his charity connections, Jock has discovered a way to release 2.6 billion people from the imminent threat of death and disease. Unpublished work by Albert Einstein helped unlock the scientific breakthrough that will remove the constraints of Third World living conditions and create a new age of global prosperity.

But not everyone will prosper.

Dr Hannah Siekierkowski is a guest speaker at a conference in Sweden where Einstein’s legacy and a strategic alliance with Rotary will light up the world. As the clock ticks down to the announcement, Hannah is drawn into a web of corporate greed, racial prejudice and a seething hatred of the new world order.

A hatred that someone is prepared to kill for.

Confessions of an Eternal Optimist

Getting down and dirty in the slums of Mumbai taught this eternal optimist one big lesson in life

I had the privilege to visit India as part of a tour group. We witnessed the breathtaking cultural diversity of this fascinating country, seeing for ourselves the contrasting lifestyles of its multitudinous people; some living in the poorest of street conditions whilst others bathed in the splendour of their marble mansions.

No matter how bad things seemed to be for the countless thousands in the urban slums, one thing became clear very quickly. It was the overriding sense of hope and optimism, of belief that things will work out, of faith in a higher power, of gratitude just to be alive one more day.

It was a sobering lesson in life – we must keep trying to create a better world, whatever the odds stacked against us.

The happiest people we saw were also the poorest: people who didn’t have shoes for their feet or a roof over their heads. People with absolutely nothing, trying to survive by selling what would be classed as rubbish in, dare I say, more developed countries.

But still they smiled. And sang and danced. Not for our benefit, but their own. Happy to be alive, no matter what misery, disease or injustice life was throwing at them.

During the tour, I heard unhappy people complaining about their white wine not being chilled enough: or because they spotted a cockroach in the five star restaurant of their luxury hotel. Meanwhile, not more than twenty metres away from the hotel lobby, families were sleeping on the pavement under a sheet of discarded plastic. Yet still they smiled and greeted us warmly.

As I sat in the departure lounge reflecting on what I’d seen in India, I wanted to do something that would celebrate the joy of being human: help the people who needed it most: channel the power of eternal optimism into putting right the things we are doing wrong to the world and to each other.

But where to start?

I have a confession to make – I am proud to be a Rotarian. The genuine values and honest approach of this voluntary organisation suit perfectly my convictions as an eternal optimist. With over one million ordinary people doing extraordinary things for the service of others before themselves, the mission of Rotary is truly a worthwhile humanitarian cause. Rotary really does make a difference where it is needed most.

And because of Rotary, I have been fortunate to hear some inspirational speakers all over the world. Indeed, it was one such presentation by the leader of a charity called the World Toilet Organisation that gave me the idea of where to start.

Over 40% of our global population – 2.6 billion people – have no access to a toilet, even today. The vast majority cannot just turn on a tap but have to carry water from a well. They have no electricity so their world goes dark when the sun goes down. They have no medical facilities or access to the hospitals we take for granted.

In India, many such people flock to the cities in hope of finding a better way of life, only to end up in the labyrinth of urban slums. There they can become the victims of crime and human trafficking or prostitution. Kidnapping and even slavery are rife. Yet despite it all, their hopes and dreams shine through.

The Rotary Club of Mumbai Necklace has established a project to help the survivors of human trafficking and prostitution in their city and rehabilitate them before re-entry into society.

I want to help this project by raising awareness of the great voluntary work they are doing and by donating $1 for each sold copy of my new book, A Litany of Good Intentions.

It is set in India, challenges head-on the need to eradicate poverty and the despicable trade in slavery and human trafficking. Although it is a work of fiction, the main protagonists come face to face with the horrors that feed on poverty, social injustice, cruelty and fear. Unlike the strength of the Rotary wheel, this evil thrives in a never ending cycle of despair and desperation.

Our spirit, our very humanity, demands that we do something to help the people trapped in a miserable world not of their making. Wherever they are; whatever it takes.

A Litany of Good Intentions by Andrew Harris is published 12th October by Faithful Hound.

A Litany of Good Intentions blog tour

The Man Who Died by Antti Tuomainen – Blog Tour Review.

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About the Book

A successful entrepreneur in the mushroom industry, Jaakko Kaunismaa is a man in his prime. At just 37 years of age, he is shocked when his doctor tells him that he’s dying. What is more, the cause is discovered to be prolonged exposure to toxins; in other words, someone has slowly but surely been poisoning him. Determined to find out who wants him dead, Jaakko embarks on a suspenseful rollercoaster journey full of unusual characters, bizarre situations and unexpected twists. With a nod to Fargo and the best elements of the Scandinavian noir tradition, The Man Who Died is a page-turning thriller brimming with the blackest comedy surrounding life and death, and love and betrayal, marking a stunning new departure for the King of Helsinki Noir.

My Review

The Man Who Died is a dark, extremely funny novel about the murder of Jaakko. He has not yet died but he knows that his death is imminent and that somebody else is responsible for it. You might think that this book would be depressing but it’s not. Not even Jaakko is depressed, he just wants to find out who wants him dead, eat ice cream and chocolate and drink cola. Without having to worry about weight gain. There was no self-pity, at times he found his situation comical. Even the parts that should have been hurtful, embarrassing or annoying were just accepted.
There were parts of this novel where I couldn’t talk for laughing. It reminded me of a Coen Brothers movie I watched years ago when I had the same reaction. Once I had that image, I started to see this book as a film. I even picked the cast, strangely the lead actor is mentioned later in the book.
As with many reviews, it is easy to reveal too much in a review. There are only a few characters and many bizarre situations that made me think I knew who the murderer was, only to find out that I had been duped. After a while, I gave up trying to work out who had murdered Jaakko and just enjoyed every bit of it.
It is at times slapstick, but original and I could visualize everything as I was reading, unfortunately it could be a while before I eat mushroom soup again.
It will probably be a long time before I read a novel as funny as this

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.

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Beneath The Skin by Caroline England – Extract.

Today, I am delighted to share with you an extract from Caroline England’s debut novel. I have the book on my kindle and hope to read very soon.

  About the Book

Antonia, Antonia. My name is Antonia.’
It’s been her name for many years. But sometimes, like tonight, she forgets.
Antonia has a secret. A secret so dark and so deep that she can barely admit it to herself. Instead, she treats herself to Friday night sessions of self-harm while her husband David is at the pub, and her best friend Sophie is drinking too much wine a few doors down.
Nobody close to her knows the truth about what the teenage Antonia saw all those years ago. No-one, that is, except her mother. But Candy is in a care home now, her mind too addled to remember the truth. Antonia is safe. Isn’t she?
The lies start small. They always do. But when the tightly woven story you’ve told yourself begins to unravel, the truth threatens to come to the surface. And then what’s going to happen?

Extract

‘How’s Antonia?’
‘Fine, she’s fine,’ David answers, glancing towards the bar, the sparkle back in his bright blue eyes. ‘At home with a DVD and guacamole. Jennifer Aniston’s my bet. Actually Mikey, I wanted to ask you. Her birthday’s coming up and I want to buy her something special, maybe something different for a change. Got any ideas? What would you buy Olivia?’
Mike scratches his chin, still smooth from its second shave of the day. He laughs. ‘You mean, what do you buy the woman who has everything?’
‘He treats her like a bloody doll,’ his wife Olivia often remarks, spot on as ever. The statement reminds him of a cardboard dolly set his sister was given one Christmas. She asked him to play, and despite his desire to try out his new bicycle in the biting Irish winter outside, he knelt beside her and joined in the game at the warm kitchen table, detaching the paper outfits from the booklet, the dresses, the hats, the scarves and the shoes, then dressing the doll in different designs for each season of the year.
‘I’m serious, Mikey.’ David interrupts his thoughts. ‘What would you buy Olivia?’
Mike takes a swig of his beer, then wipes the rim of the glass with his thumb. David’s assumption that their respective wives fall into any remotely similar category makes him smile to himself.
‘Vain and vacant. The sort of woman I can’t stand,’ Olivia said of Antonia after meeting her for the first time at one of David and Antonia’s dinner parties. ‘But as it happens, she’s nice and I like her, which is really annoying.’
So what would he buy Olivia? What had he bought her last time? Mike can’t remember, probably something she’d asked for, but then they don’t make a fuss of their own birthdays, preferring to concentrate on their two lovely girls.
And there it is: like Winston Churchill’s dog, his own black dog of despair, bounding back into the pub and sitting by him. Close, comfortable and devastating. He hears his own voice not long after it happened, trying for rationality: ‘I didn’t even know him. It could have been so much worse.’
There are times when Mike wonders if he’s spoken aloud, made his words to the dog public. For a moment he’s forgotten the question, but he’s saved from an answer; David has turned towards the door.
‘What bloody time do you call this?’ he bellows, standing up and gesticulating towards the bar. Mike looks at his watch. It’s getting on for last orders but Sami Richards grins and shrugs, holding out his palms in a dismissively apologetic gesture. Elegant and handsome, he strolls past the Friday regulars clustered at the bar, the turned-up collar of his black leather jacket matching the sheen of his skin.
‘Why does he always look as though he’s walked off the page of a fucking magazine?’ David says, a little too aggressively, as he turns back towards Mike. He knocks back his pint, ready to get in more drinks.

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Black Teeth by Zane Lovitt – Review.

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About the Book

Jason Ginaff doesn’t get out much. Partly because of the anxiety, mainly because he works at home. Researching people on the internet. Job candidates doing bucket bongs on Instagram accounts they thought they’d deleted; the prospective new head of sales stripping for a hens’ night…

He’s been searching for something on his own time, too.

Now he’s found it: the phone number of the man he believes to be his father.

Which is how he gets mixed up with Rudy Alamein. They’ve been looking for the same man.

Difference being, Rudy wants to kill him.

My Review

Black Teeth is a dark humorous novel set in Melbourne. Jason is a hacker who probes the depths of the internet looking for ‘dirt’ on prospective job candidates. He also uses it for his own needs, looking at friends and also for tracking down the father he never knew after the death of his mother. This places him in danger, when his father, an ex police officer talks him into meeting Rudy to ‘sell’ life insurance. Rudy is the son of a man who was convicted of murder, and he believes that Jason’s father tricked him into a confession. Rudy wants Beth, a friend, to benefit from the life insurance that Jason is ‘selling’.
All of these characters are a little odd. Beth isn’t as squeaky clean as Rudy thinks she is, she is very manipulative. Jason’s father was a bitter drunk who left his job as a police officer under a cloud. He knows that Rudy plans to kill him and seems eager about it, even though he has set booby traps in his home. Rudy is a loner, he lives in squalor  and it is easy to believe that he is capable of violence. Whilst he believes that Beth is his friend, it is Jason who is there for him more, despite his actions at the beginning. Jason is the most likeable of the characters. His job isn’t a pleasant one and he gets carried away at times but he does have a conscience and regrets some of the things he has done. He is loyal, even to those who don’t deserve it. There aren’t that many characters and they all felt substantial. Many people are probably unlucky enough to know somebody like the ones in this novel.
There is some violence but its comical. Most of it backfires and doesn’t go the way it should do. Some of it I had to reread to get the most out of it ( some of the Australian slang I didn’t understand but I could get the general idea). The description of Rudy’s home and its squalid conditions were convincing, at times I wanted to dive in the shower, thinking I could smell it.
It’s very entertaining, not a hysterically funny book but one that had me smiling wryly. I recognised some of the areas in Melbourne, including the area Rudy lived in which was great but you could still enjoy the book if you didn’t know it.

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received.