Blog Tour: Our Memory Like Dust by Gavin Chait

#BlogTour #OurMemoryLikeDust #BlogTour #BookReview @RosieMargesson @GavinChait

Good morning and happy Friday! Welcome to my stop on the Our Memory Like Dust blog tour. Here goes…

About the book: 

OurMemoryLikeDust

Why do we tell stories? To hold on to what has been loved and lost, to create new myths, to explain and teach in ways that seep into memory.

Shakiso Collard leads the evacuation from Benghazi as jihadis overwhelm the refugee camp where she works. On arrival in Paris, she is betrayed by her boss, Oktar Samboa, and watches in despair as those she illegally helped escape are deported back to the warzones of Libya.

Elsewhere, Farinata Uberti – strongman CEO of Rosneft, the world’s largest energy company – arrives in London after triggering a violent insurrection in Tanzania to destroy a potential rival in the oil market. In the Sahara, an air convoy on its way to deliver billions of dollars of drugs and weapons to Ansar Dine jihadis crashes and is lost.

A year later, having spent months in hiding, Shakiso travels to West Africa. She is there to lead the relief effort that are hoping to stop the 200 million refugees fleeing war and environmental collapse heading for a fortified and fragmented Europe.

As the myths of these millions seeking new lives across the Mediterranean intrude into reality, Shakiso is drawn into the brutal clandestine fight against Rosneft’s domination of European energy supplies being conducted by the mysterious Simon Adaro. And, deep within the disorienting Harmattan storms of the desert, a group of jihadis have gone in search of the crashed convoy of planes – and a terror that could overwhelm them all.

Author: Gavin Chait
Publisher:
Doubleday
Hardback: 400 pages, 27 July 2017

My thoughts:

Following a number of characters and storylines, at first Our Memory Like Dust is a little confusing, but soon enough you start to connect the dots and the story unfolds. Throughout, Chait focuses on the fragility of memory, which ultimately is explored through the good, the bad, the powerful, the helpless and those in between. Set in Africa, in a dystopian future there are loads of cool tech ideas and concepts that Chait includes to bring the story to life.

I found that Chait tackles so many contemporary issues throughout, that sometimes I had to take a step back to get my head around what was going on. Themes of war, conflict, mythology and politics cropped up, but to name a few. However, I certainly think it worked with his style and also the woven story that he tells, which is rich and disturbing in places.

Going into Our Memory Like Dust, I had no idea what to expect. After finishing it, I’m still digesting it in my head and going over what happened. Overall, Our Memory Like Dust is a really unusual read and was not at all what I was expecting. This book is ideal if you’re looking for a slow burner and are a lover of light sci-fi or dystopian fiction.

About the author:

GavinChait

Born in Cape Town in 1974, Gavin Chait emigrated to the UK nearly ten years ago. He has degrees in Microbiology & Biochemistry, and Electrical Engineering. He is an economic development strategist and data scientist, and has travelled extensively in Africa, Latin America, Europe and Asia and is now based in Oxford. His first novel, Lament for the Fallen, was critically acclaimed (Eric Brown in the Guardian called it ‘a compulsively readable, life affirming tale’). Our Memory Like Dust is his second.

I received an advanced copy of Our Memory Like Dust in exchange for a fair, honest and unbiased review. Thanks Rosie!

 

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Author Interview: Chris Carter, The Caller

Today I’m joined by the wonderful author Chris Carter to celebrate the paperback publication of The Caller, which is the eighth book in the Robert Hunter series. Before we get into the juicy stuff, let me tell you a little bit about both Chris and the book first…

The Caller:

TheCaller.jpg

Be careful before answering your next call. It could be the beginning of your worst nightmare.

After a tough week, Tanya Kaitlin is looking forward to a relaxing night in, but as she steps out of her shower, she hears her phone ring.  The video call request comes from her best friend, Karen Ward.  Tanya takes the call and the nightmare begins.

Detectives Robert Hunter and Carlos Garcia are thrown into a rollercoaster of evil, chasing a predator who scouts the streets and social media networks for victims, taunting them with secret messages and feeding on their fear.

Author: Chris Carter
Published by: Simon & Schuster
Paperback: 496 pages (also available in hardback, eBook and audio book)

About Chris Carter:

ChrisCarter

Chris was born in Brasilia, Brazil where he spent his childhood and teenage years. After graduating from high school, he moved to the USA where he studied psychology, specialising in criminal behaviour. During his University years I held a variety of odd jobs, ranging from flipping burgers to being part of an all-male exotic dancing group.

He worked as a criminal psychologist for several years, during which he interviewed and worked on over one hundred cases involving serial killers, murderers and serious offenders, before moving to Los Angeles, where he swapped the suits and briefcases for ripped jeans, bandanas and an electric guitar. After a spell playing for several well-known glam rock bands, he decided to try my luck in London, where he was fortunate enough to have played for a number of famous artists. He toured the world several times as a professional musician. A few years ago he gave it all up to become a full time writer.

So, without further ado – let’s have a little chat…

HBC: How do you research crimes and murders to ensure they’re portrayed credibly in the books?
CC: Other than drawing from my past experiences with crime scenes and working with the police, I do use the Internet a lot.  There are several sites that report on crime in more detail than the regular media.  They are a great source of information.  I also have a couple of contacts in morgues for the forensics details.

HBC: I saw recently that you have insomnia – how do you decide which of your own experiences / personality traits will be present in your characters and do you get your best ideas for writing at night?
CC: The personality traits I share with Hunter (some with Garcia as well) were decided randomly.  It is easier to talk or write about what you know.  In the case of insomnia, since I have suffered from it for so many years, it was very easy for me to create a character who suffered from the same affliction because I know exactly how that feels and the kind of problems that can come from it. To be honest, get ideas all the time.  At night, in the morning, in the afternoon… sometimes even when I’m asleep.  Any little fact can give me an idea for a plot, so I am always looking around for something that can trigger a story I my brain.

HBC: How have your studies in psychology and criminal behaviour, as well as your career as a criminal psychologist, influenced your writing?
CC:
It has completely influenced my writing.  My main detective is an ex-criminal psychologist and the main reason for that is so I can use my knowledge in the subject in my novels.  A lot of the crimes and crime scenes in my novels also derive from real crime scenes and cases I was a part of during my previous career.

HBC: What made you want to leave criminal psychology and your life as a musician behind, to pursue a career in writing?
CC: The truth is that I had never planned on writing a book.  I never though about a career in writing and I never spent any time thinking up stories or developing characters in my head that I would one day want to write about.  My submersion into the world of books – writing books that is – came out of a dream I had back in 2007.  I didn’t exactly leave music to become a writer.  I had stopped being a professional musician many years before I had the dream that led me to write my first book.

HBC: Having had a number of books out in fairly quick succession, how do you keep yourself motivated when writing and how do you avoid pressure?
CC: I’m not sure I can say that I had a number of books out in quick succession.  I release one book per year, which I think is about the norm for authors nowadays. The motivation for me is easy – I absolutely love what I do.   Love every part of the writing a novel process – the research, the creation of characters, the feeling that I get when I get a good idea for a plot… everything.  When you enjoy what you do so much, motivation isn’t a problem. Now pressure I can’t avoid.  I do basically live under it all the time, but I guess it helps push everything forward.

HBC: How has your own fear inspired your writing?
CC: Not very much, I’m afraid.  What I fear the most are large insects and spiders, but is not an obsessive fear.  I have used insects in one of my novels and I must admit that that was a very innerving scene to write.

HBC: Your books are addictive – do you have a formula in mind when writing?
CC:
I wouldn’t call it a formula, but I do follow a pattern, which started with my first book. Because The Crucifix Killer did so well when it was released, to me it stood to reason to write my second book using the same style I used with the first one, with one major change – I decided to use much shorter chapters.  That book also did very well, so I used the same pattern for my third novel and so on. I did try a brand new pattern for book six, which also worked very well.

HBC: What books and authors inspire you?
CC: The truth is that I don’t really have a favourite writer and I was not inspired to write by anyone.  I never even thought about being a writer until I had a dream about a story, which turned out to be The Crucifix Killer, my first novel.  I do respect every single author out there, because this is a tough job, I just don’t have a favourite one. I used to love reading Frederick Forsyth.

HBC: What’s next for you?
CC: I am now just finishing my 9th novel, which will be titled “The Gallery of the Dead”.  After that I will take a break of about one month before starting book number 10.

HBC: And finally, what are your vices?
CC: Dancing, single malt Scotch whisky and listening to music.

_

A HUGE thank you to the wonderful Chris Carter for taking time out of his schedule to have a quick chat, and also to Jamie at Simon & Schuster for organising this opportunity. Keep your eyes peeled for a full review of this one next month.

Blog Tour: Dying to Live by Michael Stanley (Orenda Books)

#BlogTour #BookReview #OrendaBooks @OrendaBooks @annecater

Hello everyone! Welcome to my stop on the Dying To Live Blog Tour – thanks Anne and Orenda Books for inviting me along for the ride.

About the book:

Front Cover Dying to Live

When the body of a Bushman is discovered near the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, the death is written off as an accident. But all is not as it seems. An autopsy reveals that, although he’s clearly very old, his internal organs are puzzlingly young. What’s more, an old bullet is lodged in one of his muscles… but where is the entry wound?

When the body is stolen from the morgue and a local witch doctor is reported missing, Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu gets involved. But did the witch doctor take the body to use as part of a ritual? Or was it the American anthropologist who’d befriended the old Bushman? As Kubu and his brilliant young colleague, Detective Samantha Khama, follow the twisting trail through a confusion of rhino-horn smugglers, foreign gangsters and drugs manufacturers, the wider and more dangerous the case seems to grow.

A fresh, new slice of ‘Sunshine Noir’, Dying to Live is a classic tale of greed, corruption and ruthless thuggery, set in one of the world’s most beautiful landscapes, and featuring one of crime fiction’s most endearing and humane heroes.

Author: Michael Stanley
Published by: Orenda Books
Paperback: Published 30th July 2017 

My thoughts:

Dying to Live is the sixth book in the Detective Kubu series – slight disclaimer: I haven’t actually read any of the preceding books, but I don’t think that impacted my reading experience as this worked fantastically as a solid stand-alone crime novel. From the outset, the premise of the crime is intriguing and hooks you in, as Kubu and Samantha untangle the crime the book is filled with tension, twists and turns, all of which kept me engaged throughout.

Alongside the main plot there is a parallel storyline where we get to know more about Kubu’s family and his daughter’s fight with HIV – this made his character likeable, giving him depth and compassion.

I loved the setting of the book, the African landscape added a different dimension, making it stand out from so many British crime books, which can sometimes feel a bit samey! Tales of bushmen and witchdoctors bought the book to life with snippets of history and vivid colour. I also liked how the authors created conflicting character opinions through their beliefs of the witchdoctors – it created atmosphere, as well as a sense of uncertainly. If you’re looking for a fairly light crime novel, which is a bit different, then I’d definitely recommend giving the Kubu books a go.

About the authors:

Michael Stanley.jpg 

Michael Stanley is the writing team of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Both were born in South Africa and have worked in academia and business. On a flying trip to Botswana, they watched a pack of hyenas hunt, kill, and devour a wildebeest, eating both flesh and bones. That gave them the premise for their first mystery, A Carrion Death, which introduced Detective ‘Kubu’ Bengu of the Botswana Criminal Investigation Department. It was a finalist for five awards, including the CWA Debut Dagger. The series has been critically acclaimed, and their third book, Death of the Mantis, won the Barry Award and was a finalist for an Edgar award. Deadly Harvest was a finalist for an International Thriller Writers’ award, and book 5, A Death in the Family, was an international bestseller.

You can catch the other blog tour posts here:

Blog tour.jpg

I received an advanced copy of Dying to Live from Orenda Books in exchange for a fair, honest and unbiased review. Thanks Karen, thanks Anne! 

Mid-Year Freak Out Tag

I’ve seen a few mid-year freak out posts, so I thought I’d jump on the bandwagon and get involved. Here goes..

1 – The best book you’ve read so far this year?

staywithme

It’s hard to pick! I did a wrap-up of my favourite reads of the year last month, but I think Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo has got to be up there as being the best of the bunch. I felt wholly invested in the story and was so sad when the book ended – Adébáyò manages to fit so much in, in less than 300 pages!

2- Your favourite sequel this year?

TheSearch

The Search by Howard Linksey is the third crime novel in a series following investigative journalists Helen Norton and Tom Carney. No Name Lane and Behind Dead Eyes precede it. My blog tour review is here.

3- A new release that you haven’t read yet but really want to?

TheDry.jpeg

The Dry by Jane Harper – I’ve heard nothing but great things and have been recommended this by a couple of people now! It was the Waterstones thriller of the month, the Simon Mayo Radio 2 book club choice and the Sunday Times crime thriller of the month, so I’m sure I’m in for a great read!

4- Most anticipated read for the second half of the year?

TinMan

Tin Man by Sarah Winman. There has been so much chatter about this on Twitter – I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. It sounds beautiful, tender and raw. I’ll get my tissues at the ready!

5- Your biggest disappointment?

Andthehippos

And the hippos were boiled in their tanks by William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. For me, this had so much promise, but in truth I found it clunky and static, with little to keep me interested. It took me months to read this, which is crazy as it is pretty short at a mere 214 pages. 

6- Biggest surprise of the year?

Witchfinders

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown. I won a copy of the book, but am not usually keen on books centred around witches, folklore, magic etc. so didn’t know what to expect. I was so, so glad I gave this one a chance as it is one of the best books I’ve read this year!

7- Favourite new to you or debut author?

NaomiAlderman

Naomi Alderman – as part of my Bailey’s Prize read-along challenge I read The Power. It absolutely blew my mind; her writing was fantastic and stylistically very different to what I normally read. I’ll definitely check-out Alderman’s other work.

8- New favourite character

I absolutely loved Lady Dona St. Columb in Du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek. She was fun, mischievous and full of wild abandon. I really, really enjoyed her sense of adventure and naughtiness.

9- A book that made you cry?

Gustav

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain. She manages to pen humanity and pain on the pages so exquisitely – so much so that her writing flawed me, with the last paragraph making me cry happy tears. I loved this book!

Ethandernest

Also, I have to give a shout-out to Ethel and Ernest – the graphic novel by Raymond Briggs. Corr, that hit me hard.

10- A book that made you happy?

Wrongknickers

The Wrong Knickers by Bryony Gordon made me howl with laughter – I raced through it one afternoon, chuckling along to myself on the sofa.

11- Your favourite book to movie adaptation you’ve seen this year?

I think the only book to movie adaptation I’ve seen this year has been My Cousin Rachel, by Daphne Du Maurier. Although, shocker, I haven’t actually read the book. It was every bit as dark and suspenseful as I’d hoped it would be.

12- Favourite blog post that you’ve published this year?

I’m not sure if it’s my favourite, but I really enjoyed reading all the shortlisted books on the Bailey’s Prize and writing mini reviews – my posts can be found here.

13- The most beautiful book you’ve bought or received this year? 

Butchershook

The cover of Janet Ellis’ The Butcher’s Hook is stunning – it’s an aqua colour with an embossed gold title and hand-drawn illustrations.

14- What books do you need to read by the end of the year?

Where do I start? There are so many books on my to-read list. One thing I did promise myself was to read The Northern Lights trilogy, by Philip Pullman, as I never actually read them when I was younger and I’d love to be up-to-speed before The Book of Dust comes out.

I tag anyone who hasn’t yet done this post! I’d love to hear your favourite books of the year so far!

June Reads

A little bit later than usual, here is my June reading wrap-up!

Despite going on holiday in June, thinking I would have all the time in the world for reading, I actually ended up having a relatively slow month – it took me ages to get into anything and even longer to finish things. I’m amazed I managed to even read six books as the last week and a half of the month I ended up reading nothing.

If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio (Titan Books) 4/5

If we were Villains small

I was hooked on If We Were Villains from the first few chapters and then utterly engrossed until the final page. I definitely recommend this one if you’re looking for a solid literary thriller, which will leave you thinking about it for a long time after. My full review for the blog tour can be read here.

Miss You by Kate Eberlen (Pan MacMillan)  4/5

missyou

The tale of Gus and Tess is light-hearted and fun; exactly what I wanted for a pool-read on holiday. Recounting their crossed paths, it is a hybrid of One Day and Sliding Doors – will they or won’t they ever find true love? Yes, it is cheesy and predictable, but it is also funny, warm and tender.

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty (Berkley Books) 5/5

biglittlelies

Liane Moriarty is a fantastic storyteller, she weaves an impressive web of characters and storylines, which all merge into one big plot point by the end. I was absolutely gripped by Big Little Lies; it is an easy read but also one that makes you question whether you truly know someone and whether face value judgement can ever be right. I can’t wait to download and watch the TV adaptation of this as I’ve heard nothing but amazing things!

Into the Water by Paula Hawkins (Doubleday) 3/5

intothewater

I picked this up as I absolutely loved Hawkins’ first novel, Girl on the Train. Sadly, I was a little disappointed; Into the Water is still an enjoyable read, but there are just too many characters which at first is particularly confusing as the narrative switches perspectives multiple times. It took me a long time to get into the actual story and by the end I wasn’t satisfied – Into the Water certainly isn’t as gripping or fast-paced as her debut. It felt like something was missing.

Secrets of the Italian Gardener by Andrew Crofts (RedDoor) 3/5

SOTIGCover

I read this in one sitting and for such a short book it packs so much in thanks to Crofts magical storytelling ability. It encompasses everything from what it is to endure grief to understanding, and accepting, your own morality. Political, tense, philosophical and intriguing, The Secrets of the Italian Gardener is a well-developed, thought-provoking read that will make you quetion good vs. evil. My full review for the blog tour can be read here.

The Things We Thought We Knew by Mahsuda Snaith (Doubleday / Transworld) 4/5

The Things We Thought We Knew - Hardback

Mahsuda Snaith’s writing is stunning – it draws you in from the first page and envelops you in feeling and emotion. The Things We Thought We Knew is a beautifully moving coming-of-age tale that captures life on a council estate with such clarity. It is gutsy, eye-opening and emotional, showing the reader what it is to truly find ourselves in this cruel, crazy and vivid world. My full review for the blog tour can be read here.

Did you read anything good in June? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Best of 2017 | Mid-year wrap-up

As we’re already half way through the year (say what…it seemed only yesterday I was thinking about my new year’s resolution and guzzling the last of the Christmas prosecco!) I thought I’d do a quick wrap up of my favourite reads so far.

I’ve almost read 50 books, so am pretty much on track to read 100 by the end of the year. Whilst this isn’t as many as some book bloggers, I’m really chuffed with my progress this year – to put this into perspective I only read 52 books last year. I’m intrigued to see if these five will feature in my top books of the year wrap up in December, or whether I’ll continue my streak of five-star reads and these will get knocked off the top spot (so to speak).

So, without further ado here are the five books that I’ve been raving about, recommending to friends and non-stop thinking about. Needless to say, all of these books have been five star reads for me.

Another Day in the Death of America by Gary Younge (Guardian Faber Publishing)

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Written by award-winning journalist Gary Younge, Another Day in the Death of America tells the story of the children and teens killed by gun crime in a single 24-hour period, in America. Younge randomly chooses 23 November 2013 to chronicle the deaths of these ten young men. Whilst I found it tragic in parts, it is a book I needed to read. It is so well written; insightful, intelligent and thoughtful. I find the issue of gun control and violence in the US petrifying and scary; Younge’s account further opened my eyes to the complicated issues that are faced in the States, whilst also highlighting the vulnerability of youth. Although difficult to read in places, I was engaged throughout and thoroughly recommend reading this one. This was one of the first books I read this year and since then I’ve leant it to friends to read and talked about it over and over.

The Witchfinder’s Sister by Beth Underdown (Viking)

Witchfinders

Rich in history, The Witchfinder’s Sister is a compelling story based around Matthew Hopkins, the Manningtree witchfinder, in 17th century Britain. We follow his (fictionalised) sister, Alice, as she learns of the hideous things her brother is doing to local women – she battles her moral compass as she decides whether she should intervene and along the way we find out the family secrets. This is a mesmerising tale full of darkness, terror and detail, instantly transporting you to the streets of Essex and the candlelit room where Alice resides. I absolutely loved it and was stunned to hear it was a debut novel – I had a book hangover for days. If you’re interested in historical fiction and/ or witches, I’d highly recommend this. Since reading this I’ve read a few other books based on this period and they haven’t compared.

The Gustav Sonata by Rose Tremain (Vintage)

Gustav.jpeg

This story sung to me. A tender tale about the complexities of friendship and overcoming circumstance, Gustav and Anton’s lives are at the heart of this book. Split into three parts, we journey through their friendship, their love and their lifelong commitment to one another. Set in a post WWII Switzerland, it starts in kindergarten when the two children meet, the narrative then shifts back in time to look at the relationship between Gustav’s parents. The latter part of the book is set years on, with Gustav and Anton as two grown men living their separate, but still intwined, lives. Tremain pens humanity and pain on the pages so exquisitely – so much so that her writing flawed me, with the last paragraph making me cry happy tears. This was my first foray into Tremain’s writing and I am so happy and excited that I have the rest of her books ahead of me to discover.

Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne du Maurier (Virago Modern Classics)

Frenchman's Creek

Light-hearted, high-spirited and fun – this book is very different from Du Maurier’s most famous novel, Rebecca. I raced through this in a day and was captivated by the wonderful, mischievous Lady Dona St. Columb. Full of humour and action, Du Maurier paints such a vivid, vibrant scene that I was instantly transported to Navron House and the Cornish creek. The ending managed to surprise me too, as only Du Maurier could do – she executes the twists in her stories so well. This is the best book by Daphne Du Maurier that I’ve read so far.

Stay With Me by Ayobami Adebayo (Canongate Books) 

staywithme

Set in Nigeria, Stay With Me is a mouthpiece for Yejide and Akin, a married couple whose troubles push them to the brink of separation. The themes of individual identity, heritage and societal expectations of women are explored as Yejide struggles to conceive; she cannot offer Akin the family his family have always dreamt of. The plot then thickens, set against a backdrop of Nigerian politics. Stay With Me weaves a stunning and engaging story of deception and love. Featuring many twists and turns, the narrative flows effortlessly. It swiftly switches perspectives, between Yejide and Akin, making the reader challenge their assumptions of what the female or male view of marriage should be. I felt wholly invested in this book and was sad when the book ended – Adébáyò manages to fit so much in less than 300 pages! As with others on my ‘best reads of 2017’ list I was also astounded to hear that this is her debut novel. Without a doubt, I will be keeping an eye on what Adébáyò does next as I’m sure she has a bright future ahead.

Have you read any of my favourites? What did you think of them?