A Modern Family by Helga Flatland – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

When Liv, Ellen and Håkon, along with their partners and children, arrive in Rome to celebrate their father’s seventieth birthday, a quiet earthquake occurs: their parents have decided to divorce.

Shocked and disbelieving, the siblings try to come to terms with their parents’ decision as it echoes through the homes they have built for themselves, and forces them to reconstruct the shared narrative of their childhood and family history.

A bittersweet novel of regret, relationships and rare psychological insights, A Modern Family encourages us to look at the people closest to us a little more carefully, and ultimately reveals that it’s never too late for change…

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. A Modern Family is a book that is different to many that I read. Neither crime or historical it is instead a look at how a family dynamic changes when  parents announce that they are divorcing after being married for forty years. Most of the novel focuses on Liv and Ellen but the last chapter concerns Håkon the youngest.

All of the children are adult and all react in different ways. Liv with so much fury that it threatens to break up her own family, Ellen wrapped up in her own medical problems is practically oblivious and Håkon, the only one out of the three who actually talks to both of their parents about their own feelings.

It wasn’t a novel where I could pick a favourite character or narrative. It was one where I could see every point of view and understand what each of them was going though. Even though both Liv and Ellen did sometimes appear selfish. Especially Liv, and at times I did have a bit of sympathy for her husband Olaf. 

Many could read this book and identify with what each of the characters were feeling. At times it’s political, both American and British politics were discussed with insight given into how each could affect Norway. But it doesn’t overpower this family drama of life after divorce. It’s beautifully written and one that I would definitely choose to watch if it was ever filmed.

Wolves At The Door by Gunnar Staalesen – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

One dark January night a car drives at high speed towards PI Varg Veum, and comes very close to killing him. Veum is certain this is no accident, following so soon after the deaths of two jailed men who were convicted for their participation in a case of child pornography and sexual assault … crimes that Veum himself once stood wrongly accused of committing.

While the guilty men were apparently killed accidentally, Varg suspects that there is something more sinister at play … and that he’s on the death list of someone still at large.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. This is a book which you will appreciate more if you have read the earlier books in the series. Varg Veum is a character who you understand and like more if you are aware what has happened to him in the past.

He has struggled to move on after the charges of appalling crimes were dropped, both professionally and personally and he is shocked that two of the men he was charged with have died suddenly. He is also aware that somebody is following him and becomes more concerned when others he is close to are at risk.

He is a character who is completely different to many that I read about. He appears a lot more relaxed and slow to act than others but he isn’t one to give up when he doesn’t get answers straight away. Instead he persists, almost hovering in the wings until whoever he is questioning reveals their secrets, worries and anger.

What this author does so well is show what other characters other than Varg are going through. All of the characters who are connected to the historic crimes are affected by what happened. Not just the victims, the relatives and friends. It’s heart wrenching and real. One scene in particular, is very upsetting. Not because of graphic detail but the emotional distress that one character displays. And the complete lack of remorse shown by the one who should have prevented it. It is a scene where Varg shows his strengths, his expertise and caring nature whilst trying to help.

Turbulent Wake by Paul Hardisty – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Ethan Scofield returns to the place of his birth to bury his father. Hidden in one of the upstairs rooms of the old man’s house he finds a strange manuscript, a collection of stories that seems to cover the whole of his father’s turbulent life.

As his own life starts to unravel, Ethan works his way through the manuscript, trying to find answers to the mysteries that have plagued him since he was a child. What happened to his little brother? Why was his mother taken from him? And why, in the end, when there was no one else left, did his own father push him away?

Swinging from the coral cays of the Caribbean to the dangerous deserts of Yemen and the wild rivers of Africa, Turbulent Wake is a bewitching, powerful and deeply moving story of love and loss … of the indelible damage we do to those closest to us and, ultimately, of the power of redemption in a time of change.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. I have read Paul Hardisty’s series of books that featured Claymore Straker and enjoyed them. Turbulent Wake is completely different and I loved every bit of it. It tells the story of a family that is estranged and full of regret for the things that went wrong. It was nothing like I thought it would be. 

Ethan returns home for his father’s funeral. They have had no contact for years, no explanation, they just have separate lives. Whilst he is there he finds a manuscript that was written by his father which tells the story of his life. His mistakes, his regrets and his hopes for the future. 

Warren, or War, is described as the young engineer throughout much of the book. You see him as a child, what he wants to be when he grows up, fear and his first love. You see him becoming a teenager and married man who wants to do the right thing, who tries to help but faces setbacks along the way.

The narrative features the manuscript but also Ethan’s reaction as he reads. He is more like his father than he imagined. Both have major family problems, have careers that are not what they expected and wish things could be different. As he reads he starts to see what understand what went wrong in his own life and ways of making it better. 

But it was the manuscript that I became anxious to read, wanting to know what happened in each stage of the young engineer’s life, his errors of judgement, and his attempts to make things right. It’s not all about family. It’s about the damage that humankind are causing in the world with greed and power. He describes war torn areas, communities, nature and habitat being destroyed by mankind. All of it is brutal and devastating to read. Especially toward the end when he is no longer young.

Heartbreaking, honest, wonderful. This novel needs to be read by many, so they can see what damage they cause.

Worst Case Scenario by Helen Fitzgerald – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

Mary Shields is a moody, acerbic probation offer, dealing with some of Glasgow’s worst cases, and her job is on the line. Liam Macdowall was imprisoned for murdering his wife, and he’s published a series of letters to the dead woman, in a book that makes him an unlikely hero – and a poster boy for Men’s Rights activists.

Liam is released on licence into Mary’s care, but things are far from simple. Mary develops a poisonous obsession with Liam and his world, and when her son and Liam’s daughter form a relationship, Mary will stop at nothing to impose her own brand of justice … with devastating consequences.

My Review

Mary is a social worker. She has no patience for all the red tape, the rules and the meaningless acronyms. She is also a bit of a loose cannon and many of her actions are increasingly bizarre due to going though the menopause. She has decided to leave the job that she has done for years but she has one last client and this client and his friends are causing her a lot of problems.

I don’t think she was a bad person, it became evident very early on that there were many people that she tried to do her best for. She appeared to be a good judge of character, wouldn’t suffer fools and the people who she felt deserved a bit of sympathy she would help in any way she could. It was these times when you saw the real Mary, the Mary who cared, the Mary who kept in touch with ex clients and their families years after she needed to. But she was also irrational, a loose cannon who was at the end of her tether with everything that was happening in her personal and professional life. And her life is about to get worse.

There are many believable situations. The clients who if you could, you would go out of your way to avoid. Knowing what they had done and having to put personal feelings to one side. The rules and regulations that are ruining many professions and the bosses who were unsuitable for the job. 

There were times when I was reading this book that I was crying laughing. I am one of those people who make no sense when I am trying to explain to others what I am finding so amusing. The usual response is a baffled look and silence. There will be many women who could understand everything that Mary was going through and will love every page of this novel. There will be a handful of younger ones who don’t know what they face later in life. Fully expecting, as one character says for a cure to be found.

It’s a very funny, quick novel that if you don’t mind a bit of bad language you will love.

Breakers by Doug Johnstone – Blog Tour Review.

About The Book

A toxic family … a fight for survival…

Seventeen-year-old Tyler lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived areas. Coerced into robbing rich people’s homes by his bullying older siblings, he’s also trying to care for his little sister and his drug-addict mum.

On a job, his brother Barry stabs a homeowner and leaves her for dead, but that’s just the beginning of their nightmare, because the woman is the wife of Edinburgh’s biggest crime lord, Deke Holt.

With the police and the Holts closing in, and his shattered family in devastating danger, Tyler meets posh girl Flick in another stranger’s house, and he thinks she may just be his salvation … unless he drags her down too.

My Review

With thanks to the publisher for the copy received. Every so often I read a book where I am reluctant to put it down. Where I need to know what the characters would be facing next. Breakers was one of those books. I needed to know that Tyler, aged seventeen, responsible for his younger sister, Bean, would stay safe. 

He isn’t entirely innocent, the danger he is in is because he was breaking the law. But when you start to see how how relationship with his elder siblings Barry and Kelly and the terrible situation his mother was in you know he had little choice.

Each of the siblings had an affect on me. Tyler is still at school, is trying his best to be there for Bean, clean up after his drug addict and alcoholic mother and avoid the local police officer who tries to help, of only he could see it. If it was possible to help a character in a book I would do. Kelly, out of her depth, with a misguided loyalty, probably governed by fear. Barry, a vicious bully, coke head, and capable of anything. Barry was a character who I feared more than many others I have ‘met’ in fiction. And Bean, adorable, outspoken, wise beyond her years.

But Tyler isn’t the only one whose family life is tough. Flick, wealthy, privileged, but whose family are not as perfect as you’d expect them to be. Pearce, the police officer who tried to be a friend because she knew how difficult it was. And who proved that life could be turned around.

The relationship between Tyler and Bean was something special. Warmth, love and devotion in an impossible situation. Their scenes together, even the bedtime stories were special. Even more so when you could see their relationship with Barry. 

It is a believable read. I imagine there are families like Tyler’s everywhere.