Tag Archives: Orenda Books

The closer I get by Paul Burston #Review @PaulBurston @OrendaBooks #MustReads

Today I’m sharing my review for The Closer I Get By Paul Burston, this book has been sat patiently on my TBR shelf for far too long, but it’s one that was definitely worth the wait. Before I share my review here’s the book description…

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Tom is a successful author, but he’s struggling to finish his novel. His main distraction is an online admirer, Evie, who simply won’t leave him alone.

Evie is smart, well read and unstable; she lives with her father and her social-media friendships are not only her escape, but everything she has.

When she’s hit with a restraining order, her world is turned upside down, and Tom is free to live his life again, to concentrate on writing.

But things aren’t really adding up. For Tom is distracted but also addicted to his online relationships, and when they take a darker, more menacing turn, he feels powerless to change things. Because maybe he needs Evie more than he’s letting on.

A compulsive, disturbingly relevant, twisty and powerful psychological thriller, The Closer I Get is also a searing commentary on the fragility and insincerity of online relationships, and the danger that can lurk just one ‘like’ away…

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When I was young, many moons ago, trolls were cute plastic dolls with sticking up hair, and social media was unheard of it, fast forward a decade or three! and social media is something we’ve convinced ourselves we can’t do without. In someways I embrace social media but I have had always had reservations about the negative side of social media, the trolls, the vicious comments, it goes on and on.  After reading The Closer I get by Paul Burston I find I’m even more  paranoid about my own use of Twitter,  in fact it made me want to delete all my accounts! The author explores online relationships and how the most innocent interactions can turn into something far more disturbing. We are privy to the characters turmoil as we get pulled into a living, breathing nightmare, where fragile online friendships turn to an all consuming obsession. The Closer I get is a powerful, dark tale, brimming with raw emotion and  malice, but oh such a compelling read. 

Tom Hunter is a successful novelist, well his first book was a major hit anyway. His fame comes at a cost and he finds himself being stalked by Evie, a young woman who he met at a book signing and befriended. As the stalking escalates, Evie finds herself in court, and is given a restraining order. The Closer We Get is told in both past and present we learn how Tom and Evie’s relationship turned from innocent tweets into something far more disturbing, and the chapters told in the present explore the impact on Tom and Evie after the court case. Told from both Tom’s and Evie’s points of view the reader is given the opportunity to delve deeper into both characters psyche, which alone makes for a very disquieting read. 

There’s nothing I like I more than an unreliable narrator, but when you get two unreliable characters for the price of one, it’s difficult to know who to believe, or to distinguish the truth from the lies. For me I also felt the lines between the hunter (Evie) and the hunted (Tom) were hazy, is Tom really innocent of any wrong doings? Is Evie as much a victim? I can’t say I particularly liked either of the characters, without a doubt Tom is a victim, but  I found  him to be arrogant and pompous, where as poor Evie is clearly deranged, unstable, and unable to separate fact from fiction, but strangely enough this made the read all the more enjoyable! the author has created two unforgettable characters, which in my mind is testament to Paul Burston’s writing. 

Don’t think for one minute this is your typical ‘stalker’ Psychological thriller, it’s anything but! after all we’re talking Orenda Books here whose books are never, ever, predictable. As the story reached its hugely satisfying but unpredictable conclusion, the tension becomes unbearable as a growing sense of foreboding radiated at the turn of every page.  This is a story that Is highly relevant to today’s society, it’s shockingly credible, unsettling, and brilliantly executed. The Closer I Get has all the ingredients I enjoy in a psychological thriller, unreliable characters, an unpredictable plot, it’s one that encourages you to ponder the perils of social media, which reminds me I need to go and deactivate my accounts! Highly recommended 

  • Print Length: 276 pages
  • Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS; None edition (11 May 2019)

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧     Amazon US 🇺🇸

My thanks to Karen Sullivan for my review copy in exchange for a honest and unbiased review. 

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TURBULENT WAKE by PAUL E. HARDISTY @OrendaBooks @Hardisty_Paul #TurbulentWake #BlogTour #Extract

Today I’m thrilled to be part of the blog tour for Turbulent Wake by Paul E. Hardisty, a book that’s been described as A stark, stunning and emotive new standalone novel. Unfortunately due to my overwhelming TBR pile I haven’t had chance to read this book, but I do have a extract from the book to share with you  ……………

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A bewitching, powerful and deeply moving story of love, loss and grief. This extraordinary departure from the critically acclaimed thriller writer Paul E Hardisty explores the indelible damage we can do to those closest to us, the tragedy of history repeating itself and ultimately, the power of redemption in a time of change. Paul drew on his own experiences of travelling around the world as an engineer, from the dangerous deserts of Yemen, the oil rigs of Texas, the wild rivers of Africa, to the stunning coral cays of the Caribbean.

Ethan Scofield returns to the place of his birth to bury his father, with whom he had a difficult relationship. Whilst clearing out the old man’s house, he finds a strange manuscript, a collection of vignettes and stories that cover the whole of his father’s turbulent and restless life.

As his own life unravels before him, Ethan works his way through the manuscript, searching for 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 left for him, did his own father push him away?

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧    Amazon US 🇺🇸

PUBLICATION DATE: 21 MARCH 2019 | PAPERBACK ORIGINAL | £8.99 | ORENDA BOOKS

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Collapsing Infinity

He opens his eyes and looks out at the snow-covered parkway and across the steaming white rooftops, towards the dim memory of the mountains. A breakfast – cold porridge, a plastic bowl of gaily col- oured fruit salad, slightly burned toast – sits on the bed tray before him, ignored. Overnight, snow had drifted up and swallowed the cars that had been abandoned the night before. He’d lain awake and watched their owners, one after the other, stall on the hill, trying for a while to free themselves as the snow piled higher around them, and then finally giving up, trudging towards the lights of the hospital. Now, a lone plough, its orange light flashing in the pre-dawn grey, fights against the burial, its big V-blade sending twin streams of road snow curling away, like surf breaking on a West African beach long ago.

‘How are we this morning, Mister Scofield?’ It’s the nurse, the pretty one with the freckles and the face of a ten-year-old, open and innocent, the skin so smooth and supple, her bottom lip in a pout. He notices that she has applied some balm or gloss that makes her lips look wet. Something stirs deep inside of him, shivers like an echo for a moment, retreats. She reaches under him and plumps his pillow, then winds up his bed a bit, so he can look outside without straining. She knows that’s what he likes to do, does all day, every day: stares out of the window across the winter city and the foothills that he can sometimes see in the distance if the day is cold and the cloud has moved off. Never the television. They must think he is crazy, all of them, with their drapes closed against the day and screens flickering the remaining hours away in front of their faces.
‘Did you sleep well?’ she asks.

He nods, doesn’t smile. He has never been big on smiling. Perhaps it was because he’d never had his teeth fixed to make them look straight and white. They were good teeth, had outlasted other parts of the machinery – no decay, strong, did their job. It hadn’t been until later in life, after he’d married again and divorced, that he’d even realised they were an issue for others. He’d never smiled much before, anyway. He’d always wanted to be taken seriously, to be serious. Smiling wasn’t serious.
‘No breakfast again?’ says the nurse, checking his IV.
He shakes his head. ‘No, thank you.’
‘The doctor says you must eat.’
He pushes the tray away. This was not how he’d imagined it would be, not how he’d ever wanted it. How did it happen? Your life unfolded, you made decisions or didn’t, things happened and didn’t, and what you thought was an ocean stretched out before you turned out to be only a teardrop.

‘I want you to help me,’ he says to the nurse.
She smiles at him. Her teeth are even and white, lovely. For a moment he imagines that she was the girl who’d married his son, had borne his grandsons.
‘Of course, what can I do?’ she says.
He pointed to the IV line. ‘Morphine.’
She checks the line again, his chart. ‘You can dose yourself, as
you like.’
‘No,’ he says. ‘I want more.’ He is conscious of his own voice,
cracked and dry and old. ‘A lot more.’ He looks straight into her clear, pale eyes. What beautiful children she would have made. He wonders if she knows yet that nothing else matters.
She stands a moment looking down at him. ‘You know I can’t do that, Mister Scofield.’
‘Why not? I’ll never tell.’ He curls the corner of his lip.
She doesn’t flinch. ‘If you are in pain, I will speak to the doctor about changing your dosage.’
He shakes his head. ‘I like the pain.’

She doesn’t understand, he knows. How can she? She still sees time as an ocean, can’t fathom this most cruel of illusions. Maybe that’s not so bad either, he thinks. Regardless, we’re looking back at each other from different shores of this same ocean. The only differ- ence is that I can see you, but you can’t see me. Time has accelerated for me, and passes still so slowly for you. Relativity applies. My only language now is the handful of events that I can recall, that stand out among the thousands of hours and days passed undifferentiated in offices and schoolrooms and bedrooms. Necessary, perhaps, but now I regret each of those wasted days.
But these two dozen or so times of my life, he thinks, these might be worth telling, remembering. The problem is I have no one to tell them to. No one left. Perhaps that, in itself, is one of the stories: how I came to be alone. And he wonders if these few moments are not shared, not somehow transcribed, will it be as if they had never occurred at all, and would it matter? He wonders if she would want to listen to his stories, those that might provide her with some glimpse of how to navigate the collapsing infinity between them.
The nurse is standing there, looking at him while he is thinking this. ‘Do you want me to get the doctor?’ she asks.
He shakes his head slowly. ‘The doctor can’t help me,’ he says. ‘But you can.’

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Canadian Paul E Hardisty has spent 25 years working all over the world as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist. He has roughnecked on oil rigs in Texas, explored for gold in the Arctic, mapped geology in Eastern Turkey (where he was befriended by PKK rebels), and rehabilitated water wells in the wilds of Africa. He was in Ethiopia in 1991 as the Mengistu regime fell, and was bumped from one of the last flights out of Addis Ababa by bureaucrats and their families fleeing the rebels.

In 1993 he survived a bomb blast in a café in Sana’a, and was one of the last Westerners of out Yemen before the outbreak of the 1994 civil war. Paul is a university professor and CEO of the Australian Institute of Marine Science AIMS). The first four novels in his Claymore Straker series, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, The Evolution of Fear, Reconciliation for the Dead and Absolution all received great critical acclaim and The Abrupt Physics of Dying was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger and was a Daily Telegraph Thriller of the Year. Paul is a sailor, a private pilot, keen outdoorsman, conservation volunteer, and lives in Western Australia.

Follow the blog tour……

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**Blog tour** Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir #GuestPost @lilja1972 @OrendaBooks

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Today I’m thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Snare by Lilja Sigurdardóttir. I don’t really worry to much about the cover of a book but I do have to mention I love the cover for this book, my favourite colour and a highly original cover to boot  

Snare is published by one of my favourite publishers Orenda Books and you don’t even have to wait to buy a copy, if you pop over to Amazon “one click” and it’s yours.

Although I haven’t got a review to share with you I do have a fabulous guest post from the author herself.

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Strange names … Strange places
Lilja Sigurðardóttir

I once had an English friend who couldn´t read a book I gave her because she thought the names of the characters in the story were too strange. The book was Nobel laureate Halldór Laxness´s Independent people and she really lost out on a good story there. But I did understand. Icelandic names are indeed strange and Halldór Laxness didn´t really use the easiest ones. Now that I have my first book translated into English, I have been terrified that readers would give up and think that the names of people and names of places are too difficult to deal with, and therefore miss out on the story. But I can see right away, by the feedback I am already getting, that there is no reason to worry and my old friend was just a wimp and not at all representative of the average reader of the English language.

To my benefit I´ll say that I don’t use so many strange names for the characters. I use more modern names, in line with how people are named in Iceland nowadays. We of course still have our patronymic system for surnames, where everybody is somebody’s son or daughter (dóttir) but the given names have simplified in the passing of time and now trend towards the international as old Nordic, heathen names give way to biblical ones. Sara is a more popular name that Thorgerður now, and Adam much more common than Hallfreður.

But the places are another matter. As my stories mostly take place in Iceland I have to name the towns and streets and mountains and restaurants and those are hard to simplify or translate. If the name of our capital Reykjavík was translated into English it would be named Smokey Bay. And that just doesn´t sound Icelandic. It sounds more like a place somewhere in North America.

Besides the strange names themselves, we also have a different way of spelling them. Our alphabet has quite a few variances from other language alphabets as all our vowels can be accentuated to give a different sound, some of them in more than one way, like o can be ó and ö. Then for fun and complications we also have some extra consonants.

My translator, Mr Quentin Bates, has been an advocate for introducing some of the Icelandic alphabet into literary translations and in Snare the decision was made to use the letter ð in the names and places it belonged, such as in Ríkharður and Davíð. The ð makes a very weak th-sound, but could as easily be spelled with d. I do hope readers will like this little quirky Icelandishness in the book.

I have stopped worrying now about readers possibly being put off by Icelandic names and places, as I have heard from quite a few early readers, and not one of them mentioned difficulties with the names. Just that they enjoyeded the story. And that´s the way it should be. Because translating literature is all about opening up the world, and giving people access to new stories. Even if the names are strange…

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Book description

After a messy divorce, attractive young mother Sonia is struggling to provide for herself and keep custody of her son. With her back to the wall, she resorts to smuggling cocaine into Iceland, and finds herself caught up in a ruthless criminal world. As she desperately looks for a way out of trouble, she must pit her wits against her nemesis, Bragi, a customs officer, whose years of experience frustrate her new and evermore daring strategies.

Things become even more complicated when Sonia embarks on a relationship with a woman, Agla. Once a high-level bank executive, Agla is currently being prosecuted in the aftermath of the Icelandic financial crash. Set in a Reykjavík still covered in the dust of the Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption, and with a dark, fast-paced and chilling plot and intriguing characters, Snare is an outstandingly original and sexy Nordic crime thriller, from one of the most exciting new names in crime fiction.

Buying links:   Amazon UK 🇬🇧      Amazon US 🇺🇸

About the author

Lilja Sigurðard.

Lilja Sigurðardóttir is an Icelandic crime-writer and playwright, born in 1972. She is the author of four crime novels, Steps (Spor), 2009, Forgiveness (Fyrirgefning), 2010, Snare (Gildran) 2015, Tangle (Netið) 2016 and Cage (Búrið) 2017.

Her debut stage-play Big Babies (Stóru Börnin) was staged in the winter of 2013-2014, became critically acclaimed and won the Icelandic Theatre Prize Gríman as “Best play of the year.”

Lilja´s latest book, Tangle, (Netið) was published in Iceland in October 2016 by Forlagid publishing. The rights to the novel have already been sold to France/Switzerland/Luxembourg/Canada (Éditions Métailié); World English (Orenda Books)

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**Blog Tour** House Of Spines by Michael J Malone @OrendaBooks @michaelJmalone1 #BookReview

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Today I’m thrilled to be one of the stops on the blog tour for the terrifying psychological thriller House Of Spines by the very awesome Michael J Malone. It’s published by the superb Orenda Books and the good news is you can actually by a kindle copy right this minute or you can pre-order the book which is published on the 15th September 2017, links included further down this post.

Book description

Ran McGhie’s world has been turned upside down. A young, lonely and frustrated writer, and suffering from mental-health problems, he discovers that his long-dead mother was related to one of Glasgow’s oldest merchant families.

Not only that, but Ran has inherited Newton Hall, a vast mansion that belonged to his great-uncle, who it seems has been watching from afar as his estranged great-nephew has grown up.  Entering his new-found home, it seems Great-Uncle Fitzpatrick has turned it into a temple to the written word – the perfect place for poet Ran. But everything is not as it seems.

As he explores the Hall’s endless corridors, Ran’s grasp on reality appears to be loosening. And then he comes across an ancient lift; and in that lift a mirror. And in the mirror … the reflection of a woman…

A terrifying psychological thriller with more than a hint of the Gothic, House of Spines is a love letter to the power of books, and an exploration of how lust and betrayal can be deadly…

A house with a troubled past

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Oh my I really struggled to write a review for this book why? Because I’m not sure anything I write will truly reflect what a fabulous and enthralling read House Of Spines turned out to be. Ever since I read A Suitable Lie by Michael J Malone I’ve been eagerly awaiting for his next offering. Firstly I have to mention what a versatile and gifted writer Michael J Malone is, I’m amazed that he’s gone from writing about domestic abuse to the eloquently and beautifully written House Of Spines.

One of my favourite things when I’m reading a book are an author’s description of a setting, and the author describes Newton Hall with a great deal of passion and imagination. Newton Hall is deceiving, a beautiful home full of wealth and splendour, but it also a house that feels claustrophobic, chilling and terrifying, it’s a house shrouded in mystery and secrets. The author’s descriptions give the reader an overwhelming sense of unease and trepidation, one that grows stronger as the novel progresses.

When Ran inherits Newton Hall, a vast and elegant mansion filled with books, it seems all his troubles are over, but little does he realise they are just beginning. From the moment Ran walks through the doors of his new home he senses a chilling presence, a presence that will soon consume his every waking moment, even sleep will give him no relief. What follows is a disquieting tale that has so many themes running through it, lust, betrayal, lies and greed.

I do love an unreliable narrator and Ran certainly fits the bill perfectly. As the author weaves his magic and Ran’s mental health issues begin to surface you cant help but wonder how much of what Ran is experiencing is real. Are the ghostly images he see’s part of his escalating illness? or is there something far more sinster hiding in the shadows of his lavish home? This novel oozes with tension and although the pace is slow, each page adds layer about layer of intrigue and malice. I really wasn’t sure where this story was heading, but WOW when I reached the climax I sat there open mouthed stunned by this simply mind blowing novel.

I want to say so much about this book, but in doing so I could possibly give away spoilers which is never my attention, but what I will say is the author has written a novel that is both captivating yet horrifying, it’s dark with a constant sense of malevolence bubbling away under the surface, with elements of fear, horror, death, and gloom running through this novel it has a very gothic feel to it, which only adds weight to this very creepy read. House Of Spines is an very original psychological thriller and one I would urge anyone and everyone to read just because it’s such a powerful and beautifully haunting novel.

Buying links:  Amazon UK 🇬🇧        Amazon US 🇺🇸

Print Length: 276 pages

Publisher: ORENDA BOOKS (29 Aug. 2017)

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Michael Malone was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult, maybe.

He has published over 200 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. His career as a poet has also included a (very) brief stint as the Poet-In-Residence for an adult gift shop. Don’t ask.

BLOOD TEARS, his debut novel won the Pitlochry Prize (judge:Alex Gray) from the Scottish Association of Writers and when it was published he added a “J” to his name to differentiate it from the work of his talented U.S. namesake.

He is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website www.crimesquad.com and his blog, May Contain Nuts can be found at http://mickmal1.blogspot.com/

He can be found on twitter – @michaelJmalone1

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