Category Archives: Doug Johnstone

**Christmas with Orenda Books** featuring Doug Johnstone @OrendaBooks @doug_johnstone #Giveaway #BookBundle

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Today I’m thrilled to share another Christmas with Orenda Books post, and it’s from one of my favourite authors Doug Johnstone. I will be really sad when these posts come to an end as I love reading them, I hope you do too, and don’t forget to enter the fabulous giveaway at the bottom of this post.

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

I think my favourite Christmas memories are all of watching my two kids come downstairs and open their presents from Santa. There was a wee spell for a few years where they were old enough to know what was happening, but still young enough that they were totally into the whole thing, and seeing them buzzing first thing in the morning was always really special.

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Where will you be spending Christmas?

Well, me and the family wake up and open presents at home in Edinburgh on Christmas morning. Then we head either to my parents’ house or my in-laws’, depending which year it is. This year we’re heading up to Dundee to my parents’ house, and my sister will be there, along with my brother and his family. It’s all very relaxed, we get on pretty well and never really stress. We usually share the cooking too, which helps. 

Do you have any Christmas traditions?

Not really, we’re not a family who’s big into traditions, to be honest, apart from the fact that we go and visit my family and my wife’s family on alternative years. The one thing I’ve noticed is that we very rarely have turkey for Christmas dinner, no one really seems that bothered, so we’ve had everything from steak to venison to duck to game pie. 

What was your best ever Christmas present?

Definitely my first ever drum kit, which I got when I was about nine or ten. I was drumming for years before that, and had a snare drum and cymbal, but a full drum kit absolutely blew me away. That set me on a path as a drummer for the rest of my life, and I’m still doing it now. 

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What was your worst ever Christmas present?

Not a present, but I do have one terrible Christmas memory. When I was about eight years old, our pet dog was hit by a car on Christmas morning while my dad had him out for a walk, and he died later that day. That was one miserable Christmas, let me tell you.

Favourite Christmas tipple?

I’ll drink pretty much anything at Christmas time, to be honest, that’s kind of the point, isn’t it? A cheeky bit of fizz to start, wine with the meal, beers later, throw in some gin and tonics, fortified wines, end on the whisky. If I was to pick a particular festival tipple that I really like that I don’t drink at other times, it would be port. With a nice bit of smelly cheese. 

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What are you hoping for this Christmas?

I don’t need or want anything in terms of gifts, to be honest. All I really want is for my family to be happy and relaxed, and for a little bit of peace and quiet. It’s been an incredibly busy year for me, with one thing and another, so just some time to recharge the batteries would be perfect.

Have you got a Christmas message you would like to share with readers and bloggers?

Just a massive thank you! I’m sure all writers say this, but we wouldn’t be anything without readers, and the blogging community is an absolutely amazing scene, a real godsend and source of encouragement at all times. Thank you, and I hope you all have an amazing Christmas, and get plenty of books under the tree!

About Doug Johnstone

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Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which was longlisted for the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year. 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 writer in residence at various institutions, 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.

Follow Doug on Twitter @doug_johnstone and visit his website: dougjohnstone.com.

Books published by Orenda Books

My thanks to Doug Johnstone for writing this post and taking part in this feature.

Giveaway

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The giveaway includes all the books featured in the above photo, 18 fabulous books in total. The competition is open to UK residents only. Competition will close on midnight on the 19th December and please note the prize will be sent directly from the publishers (hopefully in time for Christmas) and you must be following my blog.

To enter click on the link and good luck Orenda Books Christmas bundle 📚🎁🎄

The book review café book of the month **November 2019**

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Can you believe it’s the second day of December? As I’m growing older the years seem to be getting shorter or is it just me? As anyone who follows my blog will know I’m not a fan of winter, but I do love Christmas and the build up to it, so it’s the only month I don’t mind the darker nights, anyway is digressing here!

Today is my final book of the month for this year, later this month I will be sharing my books (not in a million years could I choose just one book) of the year post, that’s if I can compile a list without having a major meltdown, I have read so many amazing books this year, it’s going to be difficult to compile a top reads list, but I will give it my best 😂.

Anyway a big round of applause to myself…..I kept my pledge and have only chosen one book every month this year, in previous years I’ve had two or even three top books of the month, and yes once again I have ONE book of the month, go me!

How do I choose my book  of the month?

I go for a book that I find particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

So without further ado here’s my book of the month for November and it’s a Cracker………

Nine Elms by Robert Bryndza

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I loved the Erika Forster series but Dark Elms takes the authors writing to a whole new level of amazing. Dark Elms ticks all the boxes for me it’s dark, gory (I grimaced at more than a couple of the authors descriptive crime scenes) and features a serial killer who will send shivers down your spine, if Hannibal Lecter gave you nightmares, be prepared for a few disturbed nights! you can read my full review here……..Nine Elms by @robertbryndza @LittleBrownUK @BooksSphere #NineElms #MustReads #BookHangoverAward

Highly recommended

You can read my full reviews here……A Dark matter by Doug Johnstone (Skelfs #1) #BookReview @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #TartanNoir

First Blood by Angela Marsons #BookReview @WriteAngie @Bookouture #BreakingNews #TeamKimStone #FirstBlood #Surprise

Violet by SJI Holliday #BookReview @SJIHolliday @OrendaBooks #Violet #BookHangoverAward

Books I’m hoping to read in December

I’m hoping to start making a dent in my January 2020 ARC’s, I live in hope 😂😂

And tomorrow I will be revealing my new Christmas feature, which I’m so excited about, but until tomorrow my lips are sealed 🤐, excuse the pun but it’s a cracker.

Thats it for now folks and don’t forget to check out my books of the year post later in December.

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A Dark matter by Doug Johnstone (Skelfs #1) #BookReview @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #TartanNoir

Today I am sharing my review for A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone if you are looking for a different type of thriller, one that stands out from the crowd I may just have the book for you, but first the book description……

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Three generations of women from the Skelfs family take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a taut, page-turning and darkly funny new series.

Meet the Skelfs: well-known Edinburgh family, proprietors of a long-established funeral-home business, and private investigators…

When patriarch Jim dies, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of both businesses, kicking off an unexpected series of events.

Dorothy discovers mysterious payments to another woman, suggesting that Jim wasn’t the husband she thought he was. Hannah’s best friend Mel has vanished from university, and the simple adultery case that Jenny takes on leads to something stranger and far darker than any of them could have imagined.

As the women struggle to come to terms with their grief, and the demands of the business threaten to overwhelm them, secrets from the past emerge, which change everything…

A compelling, tense and shocking thriller and a darkly funny and warm portrait of a family in turmoil, A Dark Matter introduces a cast of unforgettable characters, marking the start of an addictive new series.

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When I picked up A Dark Matter by Doug Johnstone, I felt a frisson of excitement, (Breakers one of his previous book is sitting solidly on my list of top reads of 2019) as you are never sure what road the author will take you down, but once again the author has written an impressive book, with remarkable characters. A Dark Matter is certainly different to Breakers but how I loved this book, it’s the first in a series following three generations of Skelf Woman. This is a book that doesn’t fit neatly into one genre, it’s a kind of family saga, thriller, crime thriller all rolled into one, making for an unusual but compelling read. 

When the head of the family, Jim Skelf passes away, it’s left to his wife Dorothy, daughter Jenny and granddaughter Hannah to take charge of the family businesses, a funeral-home, and private investigators.Two very different businesses, that are polar opposites, but the two blend perfectly, creating a plot that’s teeming with mystery, dark humour and tension. The story is narrated in alternating chapters by the three women, normally this can cause me issues with the flow of a story, but that’s not the case with A Dark Matter the author moves fluidly between the three POV creating a read that’s seamless.

Doug Johnstone has a knack for creating well-rounded characters, they are characters who get under your skin; you find your thoughts continually returning to them. I admire the fact the author isn’t afraid to create characters who aren’t without flaws, after all none of us are perfect! Neither are they stereotypes, they are likeable, credible, and relatable. The women face overwhelming challenges; we feel their grief, anger, turmoil, and anxiety as they become overwhelmed by hidden secrets, strange disappearances, and adultery. As the three main characters are not bound by rules or regulations, they aren’t afraid to push the boundaries, their techniques aren’t always professional, their unpredictable, rash, led by their emotions, which means you are never sure what they are going to do next, for me personally I thought this made the read even more unpredictable. 

As the location for A Dark Matter is a funeral directors, there is some talk of death, and references to what happens to people after death. In the wrong hands this could have made A Dark Matter a gloomy read, but not the author he deals with the subject with a delicate hand, injecting just the correct amount of ‘dark humour’ to lighten the mood, without appearing insensitive. Doug Johnstone captures the reader’s attention from the original opening, tension mounts as each chapter ends, and with a winning combination of diverse  characters A Dark Matter is a thriller that begs to be read in one sitting. Highly recommend

  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS; None edition (23 Nov. 2019)

Buying link:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

My thanks as always to Karen Sullivan for my ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

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Breakers by Doug Johnstone #BookReview @doug_johnstone @OrendaBooks #Breakers #BookHangoverAward

Today I’m sharing a review for a book by a new author to me, Breakers by Doug Johnstone. If you are looking for a gritty, no nonsense, deeply moving crime  thriller, then I may have just found the book for you……

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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.

A pulsating, tense psychological thriller, Breakers is also a breathtakingly brutal, beautiful, and deeply moving story of a good kid in the wrong family, from one of Scotland’s finest crime writers

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This is the first book I have read by Doug Johnstone, so I wasn’t sure what to expect,  but one thing I wasn’t expecting was to have my heart shattered into a thousand pieces. Breakers could have been a depressing read considering it’s a modern tale of poverty, and deprivation, and yet it’s not, it’s a plausible and heartbreaking story, but buried amid all the ugliness is the beautiful and moving story of Seventeen-year-old Tyler who lives in one of Edinburgh’s most deprived area’s. The cards aren’t stacked in his favour, living with his junkie mum and younger sister, he lives hand to mouth stealing from people’s homes to support his family. The contrast between the affluent areas of Edinburgh and the more deprived areas are stark, but very credible. The author doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties of living in such a grim environment where violence, drugs and crime are part and parcel of everyday life for its residents. 

I really did not expect to like, let alone sympathise with Tyler’s character, after all he steals from people’s houses,  causing upset and trauma to the people from whose homes he steals. Yet once the author scratches away below the surface you realise Tyler isn’t all bad, his relationship with his little sister Bethany is heartwarming to say the least, he’s her loyal protector and desperate to shield her from the ugly and harsh realities of the life she has been born into. On the other hand, his relationship with his junkie mother is toxic, despite her shortcomings and she has many, Tyler still isn’t ready to give up on her, he sees things no child should have to witness, and it’s these scenes that are heartbreaking and harrowing, as the reader you want to wrap him in a big hug and tell him “everything is going to be alright” even though you know the realities of the world he lives in and the chance of him finding a “happy after” are slim to none. The author has the unique ability to create characters that despite their flaws, you find yourself rooting for, you feel their pain, experience their joy and cry at the injustice of the world we live in.

Doug Johnstone’s writing is superb every word, in fact every sentence has a deep impact on the reader, his characters are superbly depicted, and if this book doesn’t leave you an emotional wreck, then I’m sure you will be in the minority. Breakers is a searing and heartbreaking portrayal of modern day Britain, the author takes the reader on an emotional journey, one that at times feels uncomfortable, it packs a hell of a punch, you will find yourself questioning your own assumptions, it’s a book whose characters will remain with you long after you reach the last page. In case you haven’t already guessed I loved this book, and it will definitely be one of my top reads of 2019.  Highly recommended to those who enjoy a gritty thriller with a powerful and moving plot.

  • Print Length: 300 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS; (16 Mar. 2019)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

It will come as no surprise but I’m giving Breakers my Book hangover award, It’s given to a book I feel is particularly outstanding, a book that covers every aspect of what I look for in a read, an original  plot, great characters and a storyline that draws me in from the first page and keeps me in its grips until I reach the very last page.

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My thanks to Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for my ARC in exchange for an unbiased review.