blog tour, Book reviews, Crime thriller, Family drama, humour

The Big Chill by Doug Johnstone – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Haunted by their past, the Skelf women are hoping for a quieter life. But running both a funeral directors’ and a private investigation business means trouble is never far away, and when a car crashes into the open grave at a funeral Dorothy is conducting, she can’t help looking into the dead driver’s shadowy life.

While Dorothy uncovers a dark truth at the heart of Edinburgh society, her daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah have their own struggles. Jenny’s ex-husband Craig is making plans that could shatter the Skelf women’s lives, and the increasingly obsessive Hannah has formed a friendship with an elderly professor that is fast turning deadly.

But something even more sinister emerges when a drumming student of Dorothy’s disappears, and suspicion falls on her parents. The Skelf women find themselves immersed in an unbearable darkness – but could the real threat be to themselves?

Fast-paced, darkly funny, yet touching and tender, the Skelf family series is a welcome reboot to the classic PI novel, whilst also asking deeper questions about family, society and grief.

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MY REVIEW 

#2 in the Skelf series…..it can be read as a stand-alone as events from book #1 A Dark Matter are mentioned as background to this story.

Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah are still trying to come to terms with events in A Dark Matter, as they try to carry on their lives as funeral directors and private investigators.

Dorothy is attending a funeral when a car crashes into an open grave, narrowly missing her. 

Jenny visits her ex-husband, Craig in prison and ends up on a charge of assault.

Hannah is seeing a therapist, due to the murder of her friend (by her dad) and is struggling, shutting out her partner, Indy.

But, they are still working and they try to find more about the unidentified driver killed in the car crash, there’s a missing drummer and a suspicious death to investigate.

This is the tale of the lives of the three Skelf women, their chaotic, troubled and sometimes dangerous lives. It deals with death, grief and fear, but also with love, acceptance and the importance of family. All told with a clear love of Edinburgh and a marvellous dark humour,

Full of realistic and relatable characters with all their quirks, a few mysteries and a compelling plot make this an emotion packed thriller. I was hooked from the very start and loved every minute.

Thank you to Anne Cater and Random Things Tours for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and an eARC of the book. This is my honest, unbiased review.

 

Purchase link: https://amzn.to/30BtKst

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

Doug Johnstone is the author of more than ten novels, most recently Breakers (2019), which has been shortlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and A Dark Matter (2020), which launched the Skelfs series. Several of his books have been bestsellers and award winners, and his work has been praised by the likes of Val McDermid, Irvine Welsh and Ian Rankin. He’s taught creative writing and been a writer in residence at various institutions – including a funeral home, which he drew on to write A Dark Matter – and has been an arts journalist for twenty years. Doug is a songwriter and musician with five albums and three EPs released, and he plays drums for the Fun Lovin’ Crime Writers, a band of crime writers. He’s also player-manager of the Scotland Writers Football Club. He lives in Edinburgh. 

Book reviews, humour, Science fiction

Set My Heart To Five by Simon Stephenson – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

A story of loneliness, love and loose connections, Set My Heart to Five is a hilarious, touching, dazzlingly perceptive debut novel, and a profound exploration of what it truly means to be human.

10/10 Jared does not have friends.

Because friends are a function of feelings.

Therefore friends are just one more human obligation that Jared never has to worry about.

But Jared is worrying. Which is worrying. He’s also started watching old films. And inexplicably crying in them. And even his Feelings Wheel (given to him by Dr Glundenstein, who definitely is not a friend) cannot guide him through the emotional minefield he now finds himself in.

Soon his feelings will send him fleeing across the country, pursued by a man who wants to destroy him and driven by an illogical desire to share pathogens with the woman who bamboozles him the most.

And Jared cannot!

Because feelings will ruin your life, especially if you aren’t supposed to have them…

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MY REVIEW 

Jared is a dentist, he’s also a bot. 

Set in a time where the jobs humans no longer want to do are now done by androids.

But, Jared is different, he is interested in humans and their emotions, so with help from a friend, Jared begins to experience feelings himself…..(a little reminiscent of iRobot).

Told by Jared this unique tale is part narration and part movie script….he loves movies. It shows how odd human emotions appear when viewed from the outside.

It’s full of dry humour with a wry look at the definition of being human…

Very funny, clever and certainly thought provoking.

Thank you to Amber at Midas PR for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and an eARC of Set My Heart To Five. This is my honest and unbiased review. 

Audiobook, Book reviews, humour

The Game’s Gone by Simon Barnes – Audiobook Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Not since Richard Ford’s classic novel, The Sportswriter, has a novel caught the world of sports journalism so vividly and so well.

No one would call David Rose – or ‘Rosie’ as he’s known to one and all – a star, but he’s good at his job and proud of his work as a sportswriter for a national newspaper. He’s used to seeing flashier talents come and go – both on the field, and in the competitive world of the press. Football comes first in the way he spends his working life, but he’s happy to pitch in whatever the sport – from Formula 1 to Test cricket in the West Indies, the Olympics to a heavyweight championship bout in Japan.

He’s used to the ups and downs of a journalist’s life and has learned to keep his own head safely down – until an especially venal boss pins his own misdemeanours on the entirely innocent Rose. He’s forced to work closely first with a frustrated poet, then with a moral puritan and then the final horror: a real woman. How will Rosie cope?
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MY REVIEW 

The Game’s Gone is the tale of David ‘Rosie’ Rose and his ups and downs in sports journalism.

I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable listen even though I’m not a big sports fan, but it really doesn’t matter as it’s not just about the sport, but how Rosie deals with his despicable, backstabbing boss and his ultimate revenge.

It’s full of humour and quite emotional at times, with lots of insight into the cut throat world of sports journalism.

Perfectly narrated by Colin Mace who captures the atmosphere so well. An enjoyable and compelling listen. 

Thank you to Amber at Midas PR for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a copy of the audiobook. This is my honest and unbiased review.

Exclusively available from Audible

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Simon Barnes was the Chief Sports Writer for The Times until 2014, having worked for the paper for 30 years, during which he covered seven Olympic Games and six World Cup finals. He writes about sports and wildlife and is the author of over 20 books, including the best-selling How to be a Bad Birdwatcher; Epic: In Search of the Soul of Sport and Why It Matters; and Rewild Yourself: 23 Spellbinding Ways to Make Nature More Visible.

Simon Barnes commented: “It was only after I had left the asylum that I was truly aware of the madness. So I thought I’d try and write the madness before I forgot it. But I thought I’d better tone it down a bit – to make it believable.”

 

 

The Game’s Gone will be available for 1 credit to Audible members or priced at £19.99 for non-members. It joins a wealth of compelling original fiction on Audible, including Alex Callister’s Winter Dark, Michael Wood’s The Seventh Victim, Ann Morgan’s Crossing Over, K.L. Slater’s The Apartment, and Tom Bale’s The Stone Song. 

Book reviews, Crime thriller, humour, Murder mystery

Death Of A Painter by Matthew Ross – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

IN THE BUILDING GAME TIME IS MONEY AND MONEY IS EVERYTHING. UNFORTUNATELY FOR MARK POYNTER, HE’S RUN OUT OF MONEY AND HE’S FAST RUNNING OUT OF TIME.

When Mark Poynter discovers a murder on his worksite all of his financial problems suddenly seem a lot closer to home: was this a warning his debts are overdue?

Suspected of being the killer and worried at being the intended victim, the murder only makes Mark’s money problems worse, leading him to turn to the local villain, Hamlet, who has his own unique repayment plan in mind for Mark.

When two more deaths plunge him even further into debt, Mark finds himself faced with a choice – help the police and clear his name or help the villain and clear his debt.

Set in the Medway Towns on the grey margins of criminality, where no job’s too big, no dodge’s too small …

Death Of A Painter is the first in a new series of darkly comic crime fiction novels featuring the beleaguered builder Mark Poynter, aided and hindered in equal measure by his trusted crew of slackers, idlers and gossips, and the lengths they go to just to earn a living.

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MY REVIEW

Death Of A Painter is #1 in the new Mark Poynter series.

Mark owes money, but as Chapman has robbed him and disappeared, he is unable to pay. He’s listing all his possessions to try to raise the money but falls far short.

When his friend and colleague, Tommy,  is murdered, Mark wonders if this was a message to him or maybe it was meant to have been him instead.

As Tommy was killed with one of Mark’s hammers the police think him a suspect.

With his money troubles, a local villain who wants Mark’s ‘help’, his life gets difficult to say the least, but can Mark find the killer ?

This is such a fun read, full of humour and banter between the characters, it also deals with loss and a murder mystery. Poynter is a complex, troubled but likeable character who really just wants to do the right thing while dealing with everything life throws at him. I found this a thoroughly entertaining read and I’m already looking forward to book 2.

Thank you to Red Dog Press for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour, for the promotional material and a ARC of the book. This is my honest and unbiased review.

The buy link to use for all formats is  mybook.to/DOAP  for amazon (it’s case sensitive) or buy direct from RedDog at http://www.reddogpress.co.uk/shop 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

 

Matthew Ross was born and raised in the Medway Towns, England. He still lives in Kent with his Kiwi wife, his children and a very old cat.

He was immersed in the building industry from a very early age helping out on his father’s sites during school holidays before launching into his own career at 17. He’s worked on projects ranging from the smallest domestic repair to £billion+ infrastructure, and probably everything in between.

A lifelong comedy nerd, he ticked off a bucket-list ambition and tried his hand at stand-up comedy. Whilst being an experience probably best forgotten (for both him and audiences alike) it ignited a love for writing, leading to various commissions including for material broadcast on BBC Radio 4 comedy shows.

Matthew moved into the longer format of novel writing after graduating from the Faber Academy in London in 2017.

‘Death Of A Painter’ is his first novel and the first in a planned series of stories featuring Mark Poynter and his associates.

Matthew enjoys reading all manner of books – especially crime and mystery; 80s music; and travelling and can’t wait for the next trip to New Zealand to spend time with family and friends.    

 

Book reviews, Dystopian fiction, humour, Science fiction

QualityLand by Marc-Uwe Kling – Book Review

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PUBLISHERS BLURB 

Everything in QualityLand is geared towards optimizing your life. QualityPartner identifies your ideal mate, earworm personal assistants get you where you need to go and android drones know you need a six pack of beer at the end of a long day even before you crave one. Humans, robots and algorithms co-exist, everything is seamlessly corporatised, stratified and monetized. Your very name reveals much of what we need to know about you and your profile discloses the rest.

Peter Jobless is a down and out metal press operator, dumped by his long term girlfriend when she is alerted to a better option on her QualityPad. But Peter has another problem – he seems to be the only one noticing that his fellow Qualityland robot citizens are experiencing an existential crisis. There is a drone who’s afraid to fly. A sex droid with erectile dysfunction. A combat robot with PTSD. Instructed to destroy these malfunctioning A.I., Peter starts to suspect the technology that rules us all has a flaw, perhaps a fatal one. Not only that, these robots might be his only friends…
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MY REVIEW

Well where do I start?

Qualityland is a country renamed to fit with its ethos. Everything is the bestest it can be (yes I know that’s not a word), it’s the greatest, the loveliest, the beautifulist….language is now in the superlative…..always.

Peoples surnames have changed too, they now reflect the occupation of your father or mother, from Peter Jobless to Monica Sex-Worker and so, so many more. 

Also every consumerist need is fulfilled automatically by TheShop, before you know you need them (or not in some cases). Technology now runs the world, Androids are real people and have rights, they can even run for president! With drones and bitter driverless cars it’s non stop mayhem..

When Peter receives an item he doesn’t need or want he tries to return it and this is where some true hilarity begins. All he wants is to return an item and get some autonomy back into his life….is that too much to ask?

This reminded me a little of the humour in Incompetence by Rob Grant(he of Red Dwarf and Courgette leather shoe fame) and the dystopia of Rob Hart’s The Warehouse, but this has its own remarkable humour and it’s totally bonkers, hilarious and utterly terrifying in its plausibility. Brilliant.

Thank you to Tracy and Compulsive Readers for the opportunity to participate in this blog tour,  for the promotional materials and a free copy of the ebook. This is my honest, unbiased review.