#BlogTour The Best of Crimes by K.C.Maher @RedDoorBooks #BookReview

Delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for THE BEST OF CRIMES by K.C.MAHER – my thanks to Anna at Red Door Publishing for putting this all together and letting me be part of it!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Walter, a child prodigy who now works on Wall Street, considers himself a father figure to Amanda, his daughter’s best friend and only child of a neglectful single mother. But when he loses his job after the 2008 financial crisis and his materialistic wife leaves him, taking their daughter, his relationship with Amanda enters a precarious new stage.

Walter struggles to give her the affection and guidance she needs, without succumbing to her budding sexuality. In the year before she enters high school, these two lonely souls will transform each other as Walter breaks out of his emotional shell, and Amanda blossoms into adolescence.

In a world that has always failed to protect its most vulnerable, The Best of Crimes is a new narrative and an unconventional love story that will challenge your perception of right and wrong.

PURCHASE LINKS

HIVE.CO.UK  £7.99

AMAZON £9.18

WHSMITH  £7.19

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

K.C. Maher’s short fiction has appeared in literary journals including Ascent, Black Warrior Review, Confrontation, Cottonwood, Gargoyle, and The View From Here. Her work has reached short-list status in various contests, including the Iowa School of Letters Award and Drue Heinz Literature Prize. The is her debut novel. She is mother to two children and lives in New York City with her husband

K.C. Maher on Twitter: https://twitter.com/kcmaher3

K.C. Maher’s website: http://www.kcmaherfiction.com

MY REVIEW

The author has taken on a very difficult subject in this book and allows you to decide for yourself as to when certain behaviour is inappropriate and seeing how it can be perceived alright in some eyes, but completely wrong in others.  She approaches it sensitively and calmly without going over the top, and I’m left wondering if maybe she could have pushed the boundaries a little further to see how that would have affected the story!

It’s the story of Walter who hands himself into police at the start, admitting his guilt in kidnapping a young girl but they aren’t interested!  As we look back at how is life has gone and what has happened over the years we get the background we need to make our own judgements on his behaviour.

He seems to live life fast – started working at 18 where he was a ‘boy wonder’ for Lehman Brothers, marries young and has a daughter Olivia so they move to the suburbs. He’s a devoted father and traumatic events he goes through has him questioning his life and pushes him to enjoy it more – there’s more to life than work.

When a single mother and young girl move to the neighbour, his daughter spends time with Amanda as her mother never seems to be around and that is when Walter starts finding himself drawn to this young girl – is he trying to play the part of surrogate father? or is there something darker behind his motives to spend time with her?

Despite Amanda’s youth, she is extremely astute and knows she has Walter wrapped around her little finger – she’s getting the attention she has always craved and plays on that.  As a reader you know that the adult should be more responsible and aware of his action, but you are also left to wonder that maybe it is all innocent on his part – there’s that fine line between a harmless friendship and the intent for something more sinister. 

You can’t help feel for Walter when things go wrong for him personally and you just feel like he and Amanda are lost souls just looking out for one another, but still with that underlying feeling that he needs to stop spending so much time with her.

A really intriguing and thought provoking book that pushes you as a reader to see things from both sides!

★★★★

#BlogTour The Spectacular Vision of Oskar Dunkelblick #BookReview #YA

My thanks to Anna and the team at RedDoor for inviting me to take part in this tour and to share my thoughts on the enigma that is Oskar Dunkelblick!!

About the book

‘A delightfully twisted tale, full of sharp humour and keen observations. Oskar makes for a very memorable modern-day anti-hero’ Mirror

‘A dark, beautifully crafted and, at times hilarious, story about a young man’s spiritual transformation. Highly recommended for young adults and grown-ups alike’ Fiona Parker, former panellist on the WHSmith Childrens’ Book Awards

Lemony Snicket meets His Dark Materials in this unforgettable YA crossover novel

Oskar is the ultimate teenage loner. He’s been living on the streets since he was a kid, he hates being touched and his eyes are always itchy from chronic conjunctivitis. To perk himself up, he paints the misery of mankind. After all, there’s so much of that about . . .

One day during a not-so-routine eye test, Oskar’s bleak perspective is blown apart when he tries on a pair of very unusual lenses. The world he glimpses is filled with love, light and wonder – and he is furious. But those lenses have opened his inner eye and much against his darker nature, Oskar’s perception and behaviour begin to change in ways that he could never, ever have imagined.

Publication Date – 8th November 2018

 Purchase Links

hive.co.uk

waterstones

amazon UK

MY REVIEW

I do love a quirky character in the books I read, and you’ll have to go a long way to find one as quirky as Oskar!  He’s described as a teenage misery merchant! He seems to revel in the misfortune of others, and uses that for inspiration for his artwork!  So you’ll find yourself having very little sympathy for him as he makes his way to the village of KeineFreude, a grim little village full of people who seem to hate themselves and each other! But to Oskar this sounds like heaven! A perfect hotbed of bitter and twisted humans for him to exploit.  His motto ‘Compassion is for losers’ has stuck with him for many years

As you read more about Oskar and how he has treated  various people over the years, you do wonder why he has so much hate in his heart, but little glimpses into childhood reveal a lot and put things a little into perspective.  Some things he does though are very difficult to forgive!

As he settles into life in the new village he finds his outlook on life begins to shift after a visit to a strange little optician shop, and soon finds he’s beginning to hate who he is becoming! He’s seeing good in the world for the first time and finds himself doing nice things for others – totally against everything he has ever known!! But what is it about those glasses that have changed him?! And just why are so many villagers so  miserable?!  Maybe there’s more to meets the eye behind some of the villagers and maybe Oskar can finally play the hero instead of the villain!

I found this to be such a fun and dark read!  There were a number of quirky characters and the message behind the story was quite perceptive and relevant to the times we live in now.  I had so many mixed emotions about Oskar and his behaviour but found myself warming to him – and his Nesquik addiction! – as the story unfolded.  This is aimed at the YA market but can also be enjoyed by readers of all ages as it does teach you about how having a different outlook can change you as a person.

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#BlogTour The Power of Dog by Andrew Marshall #BookReview

                                          ‘Wonderfully comforting’ Guardian

On the eve of the millennium, the life of therapist and best-selling self-help author Andrew Marshall was in a dark place. Despite trying three different therapists, counselling had not shifted the grief from the death of his much-loved partner, his career as journalist had reached a dead end and he was struggling with low-level depression. So Andrew sought an alternative solution in the form of Flash the puppy.

In this funny and moving memoir, he chronicles not only the ups and downs of training an excitable puppy, but how Flash helped Andrew to laugh again and finally heal old wounds.

 

Published 12th July 2018

Publisher Red Door Publishing

 

About the Author

Andrew Marshall has written seventeen self-help books – as Andrew G. Marshall – including the international best-seller I love you but I’m not in love with you. His work has been translated into twenty different languages and he still writes for the Mail on SundayDaily Mail and Daily Telegraph. This is the first time he’s written about himself.

 

MY REVIEW

As a pet owner myself, I know of the huge impact that even the smallest animal can have on your life. And in this book the author shows only too well of how they can heal a broken heart.  After the devastating death of his partner, Andrew was feeling very lost and lonely and wasn’t coping well coming home to an empty home.  As a child he’d always dreamed of owing a dog, but his parents never felt it was the ‘right time’ and after spending some time dog sitting for a friend he decided to take the plunge and get a puppy – meet Flash! He then writes a diary of his life as a pet owner!

I loved the honesty of his writing and also he writes with such affection that you feel you are going through the early days of puppy training with him! It is clear that he adores Flash and cherishes all their time together, but he also isn’t afraid of sharing the  moments when it doesn’t all go to plan – house training is a particular issue that takes a while to get right!

It also looks back on his time with his partner and how he’s dealing with the grief he still feels.  Having also read My Mourning Year, which chronicles his life with Thom, dealing with his illness and death and how he deals – or doesn’t! – with the grieving process – this follow up gives a great insight into his life and how he’s moving on.

This was such an easy book to read and so easy to relate to.  It explores that bond between owners and their pets, how it opens up new avenues and opportunities for meeting new people and even helps bring people back into your life.  He learns so much from his life as a dog owner and I think as a pet owner in general you tend to see things from a different perspective.

I had tears in my eyes by the end as it sensitively deals with the time that every pet owner dreads of doing what is right for the pet, even if you aren’t ready yourself and I found reading this book to be a very positive and rewarding experience!

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Please check out the other stops on the Blog Tour for more reviews, excerpts and information about this memorable book!

The Man on the Middle Floor by Elizabeth S.Moore #BlogTour #BookReview

Lionel Shriver meets Mark Haddon in this break-out debut.

Despite living in the same three-flat house in the suburbs of London, the residents are strangers to one another. The bottom floor is home to Tam, a recent ex-cop who spends his days drowning his sorrows in whisky. On the middle floor is Nick, a young man with Asperger’s who likes to stick to his schedules and routines. The top floor belongs to Karen, a doctor and researcher who has spent her life trying to understand the rising rates of autism. They have lived their lives separately, until now, when an unsolved murder and the man on the middle floor connect them all together. Told from three points of view, The Man on the Middle Floor is about disconnection in all its forms; sexual, physical, parental and emotional. It questions whether society is meeting the needs of the fast growing autistic section of society, or exacerbating it.

Thought-provoking and thrilling, The Man on the Middle Floor will leave readers talking.

Publisher Red Door Publishing

Publication Date – 1st May 2018

Buying Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support a local bookstore

Book Depository

About the Author

Elizabeth S. Moore has worked as a journalist since she won the Decanter Young Wine Writer of the Year at seventeen. She has written columns and articles on restaurants, politics, South Africa and all things foodie. She comes from a family that has given her a lot of writing material and is currently finishing her second book, having written the first after completing the Faber Write a Novel course and being approached by fourteen agents after reading an excerpt of her novel to industry professionals. Elizabeth lives in London with her South African husband and has three daughters and a son as well as two lazy Labradors.

Twitter – @LizzyMoore19

 MY REVIEW

It is never easy to review books that are a little ‘out there’ in subject matter and content, but I will give it a go!!  And I know this book won’t be for everyone with its’ quirky nature, its often blunt approach and the things discussed – but for me I found it fascinating and thoroughly enjoyed getting lost in the lives of these three fascinating and extreme characters, as their paths crossed and some rather unfortunate events follow!

It centres around a house that contains 3 flats.  In each of these flats live some complex characters – Karen lives on the top floor, Nick on the middle floor, and Tam on the ground level.  All 3 extremely different characters personality wise, but in their outlook on life they all end up being quite similar as they often feel disconnected from the world they find themselves living in.

Nick starts the story off and the book from his viewpoint is very stark. He suffers from Autism so he has his routines, things often upset him and he enjoys being alone. But he’s trying to challenge himself and break free from these chains. His first job at the local hospital morgue seems to be the perfect job for him – the solitude, the routine, the cleanliness…

Tam is a police officer – well he was! He returns after time off after being injured to find they want to move him to a desk job, as his attitudes don’t fit with the modern way of policing. He retreats to a world of drink and sex, and investigating what he sees going on around him… his police training comes in very handy as events unfold!

And Karen is a Doctor at the local hospital researching the rise of Autism amongst. She lives alone, preferring her work to her 3 children who are with their father. When she is called on to be ‘mum’ she doesn’t seem to have a maternal bone in her body, and the kids know it and cannot wait to be back with their father.  She gets Nick the job at the hospital and sees him as the perfect study for her research… at what cost?

This is an often crude book but I think these characters and the situations they find themselves in need and demand that!  They have very extreme personalities which works well in getting the points across that I think the author is trying to make, about how society judges and treats different people.  I felt a number of emotions whilst reading this book – shock, empathy, revulsion to name but a few – and I love how a book can have that impact on a reader. I never knew what was just around the corner and that kept me intrigued throughout.

I’d highly recommend this book if you are looking for something just that little bit different, that is a little challenging and doesn’t stop  making you think!  Can’t wait to see what Elizabeth Moore writes next!!

Ivon by Michael Aylwin #BlogTour #BookReview

 Brilliantly original concept. Never read a book like it   Guardian

Wonderfully dark satire about the future of sport Will Greenwood

You think sport is bonkers now… this could be the futureSunday Mirror

 

The year is 2144, and the world is powered by sport – politically and practically. Each community owes its prosperity or otherwise to the success of its teams and athletes. A person’s class is determined by their aptitude for sport. Once their useful life as an athlete has expired, they are placed in stasis at an age predetermined by that class.

But not in Wales.

Separated from the rest of the world by a huge wall, the Welsh still play games for joy. They play, they carouse, they love, they die. They have fun.

Of all the Welsh, the greatest sportsman is an unreconstructed genius called Ivon. When the chance arises to become the first Welshman to cross the great divide into England, he cannot resist. His parents, exiled from England before he was born, know what London will do to him. They are desperate to have him back. But London will not give up an asset like Ivon so easily.

Ivon is a celebration of where sport has come from and a satire on where it is going.

Published  15th February 2018

Publisher  link    https://reddoorpublishing.com/

Author twitter  link     https://twitter.com/mdmaylwin

Book buying links;

MY REVIEW

I love sport so my intrigue was high when starting this book.  Just when you think sport is beginning to go one way in the world nowadays, then something comes along to change the direction and a whole new can of worms is opened and our perception of sports is changed again.   And this is exactly what this book is about!  It’s a whole different level of sport and quite a scary and bleak look into how our love for sport – either watching or playing – can be changed forever!

Thankfully this is written in a bitingly funny way and I loved how it matches the way we know sport now over the borders in Wales where spectators are free to make noise in the stadiums, and the players are free to make their own choices on the field, to how the world of sport has evolved in England where it is all about productivity and taking away the players’ choice of how a game is going! They must follow orders for the best of the team!  To Ivon playing sport is his life! He can think of nothing better!! So he dreams of playing in England but the moment he arrives there he soon finds out the dream isn’t quite what he imagined!  The whole of english life is so different – even sex is scheduled in to daily life to help with the productivity, along with making calls by telepathy and people being chipped so they are fully compliant!

It did take me a while to get into this book while trying to understand the concept and terminology – i am very easily confused! – but once my mind had come to terms with it all I found this to be a fascinating, funny  but dark look at a world that could soon be here!  

Many thanks to the publisher and author for the advanced copy in return for a fair and honest review.

The Spaces in Between by Collin Van Reenan #blogtour #bookreview

Hello! Welcome to my stop on The Spaces In Between Blog Tour.  Thanks to the author and the publishers, Red Door Publishing, for letting me be part of the fun!

THE BLURB

One of the most disturbing true stories you will ever read…

Paris, 1968. Nicholas finds himself broke, without papers and on the verge of being deported back to England. Seeking to stay in France, Nicholas takes a three-month contract as an English tutor to the 17-year-old Imperial Highness Natalya. It is the perfect solution; free room and board, his wages saved, and a place to hide from police raids. All that is asked of Nicholas is to obey the lifestyle of the household and not to leave the grounds.

It should have solved all his problems…

The Spaces In Between details the experience of Nicholas as he finds himself an unwitting prisoner within an aristocratic household, apparently frozen in time, and surrounded by macabre and eccentric personalities who seem determined to drag him to the point of insanity. Much deeper runs a question every reader is left to ponder – if this tale is fact and not fiction, then what motivation could have driven his tormenters?

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk – buy online and support your local bookstore

MY REVIEW

The cover drew me in to begin with! So much mystery and that follows on when you get inside the book!  It is one of those books that you never quite put your finger on as to what is happening – is it supernatural? Is it horror? Is it drama?! Well, it’s all 3!  I found it to be a really fascinating mix of mystery and intrigue and it kept me engrossed throughout.

We start with the viewpoint of the Doctor of Psychiatry who is talking about one of her patients whose case has her baffled.  She then makes him write his story out and that is what we then read and get to know Nicholas and what had been happening to him that had left him in such a state!  He was running out of money fast and had nowhere to go, when a mysterious job opportunity opened up to teach English to a young woman in an aristocratic household.  And this is where the fun/madness begins!

It isn’t your normal household!!  If you like your characters weird and disturbed then you’re in luck! The household have to live in Victorian conditions – no electricity, no tv or radio – just oil lamps, candles and coal fires – to appease the Grand Duchess.  His pupil is the Princess Nataliya who is 17 and has an illness that leaves her unable to leave the home.  There is also a very dark side to her mental condition and Nicholas soon gets to witness this first hand. 

This book does a great job of leaving you guessing as to whether you are reading fact or fiction.  Could a household live like this and all the strange goings on, did they really happen? There was always a really unsettling feeling about what was happening, and what would happen next! I did find the first half of the book much more enthralling as I found the story did run out of steam a little towards the end, but it still made for such a fascinating read