A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “Orenda Books”

Blog Tour – ‘Beast’ by Matt Wesolowski ~ @annecater @OrendaBooks @ConcreteKraken

‘Beast’, the fourth book in the Six Stories series, is being published in paperback on the 20th February 2020 by Orenda Books and is available as an eBook.

I would like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour.  I have a competition for you all to enter.

 

Book Blurb

Continuing the unique, explosive Six Stories series, based around six podcasts comes a compulsive, taut and terrifying thriller, and a bleak and distressing look at modern society’s desperation for attention. Beast will unveil a darkness from which you may never return…

In the wake of the ‘Beast from the East’ cold snap that ravaged the UK in 2018, a grisly discovery was made in a ruin on the Northumbrian coast. Twenty-four-year-old vlogger, Elizabeth Barton, had been barricaded inside what locals refer to as ‘The Vampire Tower’, where she was later found frozen to death.

Three young men, part of an alleged cult, were convicted of this terrible crime, which they described as a ‘prank gone wrong’. However, in the small town of Ergarth, questions have been raised about the nature of Elizabeth Barton’s death and whether the three convicted youths were even responsible.

Elusive online journalist Scott King speaks to six witnesses – people who knew both the victim and the three killers – to peer beneath the surface of the case. He uncovers whispers of a shocking online craze that held the young of Ergarth in its thrall and drove them to escalate a series of pranks in the name of internet fame. He hears of an abattoir on the edge of town, which held more than simple slaughter behind its walls, and the tragic and chilling legend of the Ergarth Vampire…

 

About Matt Wesolowski

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

 

Links

‘Beast’ can be purchased from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beast-Six-Stories-Matt-Wesolowski/dp/1913193136/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1581867556&sr=8-1

Twitter – https://twitter.com/ConcreteKraken

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5303620.Matt_Wesolowski

 

Competition

One lucky person has the chance to win a paperback copy of ‘Beast’.  To enter just share my post on social media and leave a comment on here.

 

Terms and Conditions

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 25th February 2020.

The winner will be chosen within 7 days of the closing date and their details passed on to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours.

This competition is open to UK residents only.

 

Blog Tour – ‘Death Deserved’ by Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger ~ @annecater @OrendaBooks @LierHorst @EngerThomas

‘Death Deserved’ is the first book in the Blix & Ramm series, written by two of the biggest names in Nordic Noir, Jørn Leir Horst and Thomas Enger.  It has been published in eBook by Orenda Books and is also available as an Audiobook.  The paperback will be released on the 20th February 2020.

I am thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour today along with another book blogger and would like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate.

I have a competition for you all to enter.  Exciting or what!

 

Book Blurb

Oslo, 2018. Former long-distance runner Sonja Nordstrøm never shows at the launch of her controversial autobiography, Always Number One. When celebrity blogger Emma Ramm visits Nordstrøm’s home later that day, she finds the door unlocked and signs of a struggle inside. A bib with the number ‘one’ has been pinned to the TV.

Police officer Alexander Blix is appointed to head up the missingpersons investigation, but he still bears the emotional scars of a hostage situation nineteen years earlier, when he killed the father of a five-year-old girl. Traces of Nordstrøm soon show up at different locations, but the appearance of the clues appear to be carefully calculated … evidence of a bigger picture that he’s just not seeing…

Blix and Ramm soon join forces, determined to find and stop a merciless killer with a flair for the dramatic, and thirst for attention.

Trouble is, he’s just got his first taste of it…

 

About Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger

Jørn Lier Horst and Thomas Enger are the internationally bestselling Norwegian authors of the William Wisting and Henning Juul series respectively. Jørn Lier Horst first rose to literary fame with his No. 1 internationally bestselling William Wisting series. A former investigator in the Norwegian police, Horst imbues all his works with an unparalleled realism and suspense. Thomas Enger is the journalist-turned-author behind the internationally acclaimed and bestselling Henning Juul series. Enger’s trademark has become a darkly gritty voice paired with key social messages and tight plotting. Besides writing fiction for both adults and young adults, Enger also works as a music composer. Death Deserved is Jørn Lier Horst & Thomas Enger’s first co-written thriller.

 

Links

‘Death Deserved’ can be purchased / pre-ordered from Amazon UK:-

https://amzn.to/2vNPFAV

Twitter:

Jørn Lier Horst – https://twitter.com/LierHorst

Thomas Enger – https://twitter.com/EngerThomas

 

Competition

One lucky person has the chance to win a paperback copy of ‘Death Deserved’.  To enter just share my post on social media and leave a comment on here.

 

Terms and Conditions

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 18th February 2020.

The winner will be chosen within 7 days of the closing date and their details passed on to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours.

This competition is open to UK residents only.

Blog Tour – ‘The Home’ by Sarah Stovell ~ @annecater @OrendaBooks @sarahlovescrime

‘The Home’ by Sarah Stovell was published in paperback on the 23rd January 2020 by Orenda Books and is also available as an eBook and Audiobook.  It is a real pleasure to be taking part in this blog tour today along with a fellow book blogger.

I would like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour and the publisher for my review copy.

You will find out what I thought about this book after the blurb.

 

Book Blurb

A dark and emotive thriller which shines a light on the troubling issue of children in care, The Home marks the return of Sarah Stovell, author of the 2017 international bestseller Exquisite.

When the body of pregnant, fifteen-year-old Hope Lacey is discovered in a churchyard on Christmas morning, the community is shocked, but unsurprised. For Hope lived in The Home, the residence of three young girls, whose violent and disturbing pasts have seen them cloistered away.

As a police investigation gets underway, the lives of Hope, Lara and Annie are examined, and the staff who work at the home are interviewed, leading to shocking and distressing revelations … and clear evidence that someone is seeking revenge.

A dark and devastating psychological thriller, The Home is also a heartbreaking and insightful portrayal of the underbelly of society, where children learn what they live … if they are allowed to live at all.

 

My Review

I really enjoyed reading ‘The Home’. I was hooked from the very start not wanting to put the book down for too long. I loved the short chapters and the way they drew me in. I was literally left with bated breath needing to know then and there what was going to happen next. Beautifully written, I found this story to be chilling, shocking and heart-breaking. I liked the author’s descriptions of the mountains, the tarn and the woodland. Very atmospheric but at the same time rather bleak sounding.

This story is split into five parts. It goes back and forth between the past and present right from when Hope is found dead to events leading up to her death. In between we learn about all three children’s childhoods and how they eventually ended up in the home. I really liked how the author keeps the reader waiting to find out exactly what happened to Hope.

Those poor young children. Each story was just as heartbreakingly tragic and didn’t make for very easy reading at all. No child should have to endure what Hope, Annie and Lara went through. Sadly, it’s a fact of life that these things happen. Sometimes it’s the parents and other times it’s various addictions like drugs and alcohol which as we all know can ruin lives.

Out of all the characters I really liked Helen, the manager of the children’s home. She came across as very caring. Apart from her and the children I didn’t really warm to any of the other characters.

‘The Home’ deals with a number of issues including relationships, mental health, alcohol, drugs, sex and death. If you like psychological thrillers, then I really recommend that you read this book.

I look forward to more from this author.

 

‘The Home’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Home-Sarah-Stovell/dp/1912374730/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1580152996&sr=8-1

 

About Sarah Stovell

Sarah Stovell was born in 1977 and spent most of her life in the Home Counties before a season working in a remote North Yorkshire youth hostel made her realise she was a northerner at heart. She now lives in Northumberland with her partner and two children and is a lecturer in Creative Writing at Lincoln University. Her debut psychological thriller, Exquisite, was called ‘the book of the summer’ by Sunday Times.

 

Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/sarahlovescrime

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1030004.Sarah_Stovell

 

Blog Tour – ‘A Dark Matter’ by Doug Johnstone ~ @annecater @OrendaBooks @doug_johnstone

I am absolutely thrilled to be taking part in this blog tour today.  ‘A Dark Matter’ by Doug Johnstone is the first book in the Skelfs series.  It is being published in paperback on the 23rd January 2020 by Orenda Books and is also available as an eBook.

I would like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour.  Thanks also to the publisher for my review copy of this book.

I will tell you all in a minute what I thought about ‘A Dark Matter’.

 

 

Book Blurb

After an unexpected death, three generations of women take over the family funeral-home and PI businesses in the first book of a brilliant, page-turning and darkly funny new series.

The Skelfs are a 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 women, 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… It’s a compelling and tense thriller and a darkly funny, warm portrait of a family in turmoil.

 

My Review

It has been a long while since I have read anything published by Orenda Books but this year I will be changing that for sure.

I totally loved ‘A Dark Matter’ and I am so very happy that this is the start of a new series otherwise I would probably be in mourning by now. This is the first book by Doug Johnstone I have read, and I am seriously impressed. What an ingenious storyline. The writing flowed easily, and I was able to follow the story without any problem. I also liked the way the chapters were set out.

I found this to be an extremely dark and intriguing read. The further I got into the book the more addicted I became. There were shocks and surprises aplenty throughout. There just seemed to be so much going on and it was really interesting to see how things unfolded. The author kept me guessing which was a good thing.

This story is narrated by the main characters Dorothy, Jenny and Hannah; three generations of a family. I thought this worked really well. They all came across as very strong women. Despite the grief they were understandably going through they took hold of the reins and kept both businesses going between them.

I really liked the main characters. My other favourite was Indy who was such a lovely and caring person.

You would think that reading about a funeral-home business and death would be morbid, but it actually wasn’t. It anything it was fascinating and thought-provoking if not a bit grisly at times.

I will definitely be reading more of Doug Johnstone’s books and am already really looking forward to the second book in the series. I can’t wait to find out how the Skelf family are getting on.

I highly recommend you read ‘A Dark Matter’.

‘A Dark Matter’ is available to pre-order/buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Matter-Skelfs-Doug-Johnstone-ebook/dp/B07X9X2J4X/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1578597834&sr=8-1

 

About Doug Johnstone

Doug Johnstone is the author of ten novels, most recently Breakers (2018), which has been shortlisted 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 – including a funeral home – 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.

 

Links

Website – https://dougjohnstone.com/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/doug_johnstone

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/758942.Doug_Johnstone

 

Blog Tour – ‘The Old You’ by Louise Voss

‘The Old You’ was published in paperback on the 15th May 2018 by Orenda Books.  It is also available as an eBook.  I would like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in this blog tour.  Thank you also for my review copy of this book.

You will find out exactly what I thought about ‘The Old You’ in a minute. First though, here’s what its about.

 

Book Blurb

Nail-bitingly modern domestic noir
A tense, Hitchcockian psychological thriller
Louise Voss returns with her darkest, most chilling, novel yet…

Lynn Naismith gave up the job she loved when she married Ed, the love of her life, but it was worth it for the happy years they enjoyed together. Now, ten years on, Ed has been diagnosed with early-onset dementia, and things start to happen; things more sinister than missing keys and lost words. As some memories are forgotten, others, long buried, begin to surface… and Lynn’s perfect world begins to crumble.

But is it Ed s mind playing tricks, or hers…?

 

My Review

I read and reviewed one of Louise Voss’s novels a while and knew what a good writer she was. I was delighted when I found out that Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books was going to publish her next book. That was like the best news ever.

Oh My God! ‘The Old You’ literally took me for a long ride and it was absolutely fantastic. I loved the style of writing and the way the story flashed back to Lynn’s past. I found myself lulled into a sense of security only for it to be cruelly shattered in the space of a few minutes. All that I believed to be true wasn’t. It seemed that I couldn’t trust the majority of the characters. Even at the end of the story I was fooled.

I didn’t really warm to any of the characters apart from Lynn. I felt bad for her and Ed. It seemed to me that his dementia was deteriorating quickly and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what was in store for them. But as I was about to find out, something just didn’t add up.

‘The Old You’ is a gripping story full of twists and turns. It will grab you by the neck and won’t let you go until the very end. This book should hopefully appeal to all fans of psychological thrillers.

I really can’t wait to read this author’s next book.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘The Old You’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Old-You-Louise-Voss-ebook/dp/B078GZQH56/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1526726826&sr=1-1

 

About Louise Voss

 

Louise Voss has been writing for the past eighteen years, with many twists and turns in her career. She started her publishing life with four novels for Transworld/Black Swan, the first of which, To Be Someone, was published in 2001 with its own CD soundtrack. This was followed by three more contemporary women’s fiction novels, Are You My Mother? Lifesaver, and Games People Play, until she switched to publishing thrillers with Mark Edwards.

She and Mark were the first British indie authors to reach No.1 on the Amazon charts with Catch Your Death, where they stayed for the month of June 2011, with their novel Killing Cupid also at No. 2. This led to a four-book deal with Harper Collins; then two books in the DI Lennon series, From the Cradle and The Blissfully Dead (Thomas & Mercer).

Her first solo thriller was The Venus Trap in 2015 and her second, a twisty tale of domestic noir, is out in May 2018: The Old You, published by @OrendaBooks.

 

Links

Twitter – https://twitter.com/LouiseVoss1

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/louisevossauthor/

 

 

Blog Tour – ‘Blue Night’ by Simone Buchholz

‘Blue Night’ is the first book in a brand new series. It was published as an eBook last December by Orenda Books and is out on the 28th February in paperback. Today it is my turn on this blog tour along with another blogger. I would like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Through My Letterbox for inviting me to take part. Thanks also to Anne and Karen Sullivan for my review copy of this book.

After convicting a superior for corruption and shooting off a gangster’s crown jewels, Chastity Riley’s career as a hard-bitten state prosecutor has taken a nose dive. She has been transferred to the tedium of witness protection to prevent her making any more trouble. However, when she is assigned to the case of an anonymous man lying under police guard in hospital, with almost every bone in his body broken and a finger cut off and refusing to speak in anything other than riddles, Chastity’s instinct for the big, exciting case kicks in.

‘Blue Night’ has been translated by Rachel Ward. Set in Hamburg this is a gritty and exciting story. It has been well written with some catchy chapter headings. I really like the author’s way with words and her descriptions. At the end of each chapter the reader gets to meet several different characters and finds what has been going on through them, leading up to current events. It certainly makes for interesting reading.

When Chastity Riley is given the case of a man who has been admitted to hospital having had his bones broken and a finger cut off, she doesn’t know exactly what she is taking on. He is giving virtually nothing away and Chastity finds that she has her work cut out, but then he does start talking a bit and gives her a clue as to what’s going on. Chastity finds herself being led her into the dark world of drugs and what she sees isn’t exactly pretty. With the help of Wieczorkowski, a narcotics officer, and her colleagues they will hopefully be able to stop something big.

I liked Chastity from the very beginning and I think we all could do with someone like her in our lives. She’s not had it easy and it’s obvious that she has suffered a lot in the past, but she’s not given up. She’s got a lot of fight in her and is one gutsy lady.

A promising start to a new series, I am looking forward to reading more by this author and finding out what Chastity gets involved in next.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

~~~~~

‘Blue Night’ can be purchased from Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Night-Chastity-Riley-Simone-Buchholz-ebook/dp/B075YPPHB3/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519193051&sr=1-1&keywords=blue+night+by+simone

 

About Simone Buchholz

Simone Buchholz was born in Hanau in 1972. At university, she studied Philosophy and Literature, worked as a waitress and a columnist, and trained to be a journalist at the prestigious Henri-Nannen-School in Hamburg. In 2016, Simone Buchholz was awarded the Crime Cologne Award as well as runner-up for the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

Website –  http://simonebuchholz.com/

My Top 12 Books of 2017

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve already and I really don’t understand where this year has gone.  I have had some ups and downs blogging wise and haven’t read half as much as I wanted to, but I’m pleased to say all is good with me now and I am feeling very positive.

I’ve read some fabulous books this year and it’s now time to choose my Top 12.

 

1.  ‘Deep Down Dead’ by Steph Broadribb

 

‘Deep Down Dead’ was published in paperback in January of this year by the fabulous Orenda Books.  I wasn’t too sure if this book would be for me, but I needn’t have worried as I was soon hooked.  If I remember rightly I think I was slightly late to work because of it, i.e. I couldn’t put it down.  Here is my review:

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/01/10/deep-down-dead-by-steph-broadribb/

 

2.   ‘Fade to Dead’ by Tara Moore

 

March was an incredibly busy month for my blog as it’s when I did my two week Urbane Event.  ‘Fade to Dead’ was published last year and it is the first book in the Jessica Wideacre series.  I absolutely loved it and I want to read more by this author.  Here is my review:

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/03/11/book-review-fade-to-dead-by-tara-moore/

 

3.  ‘Six Stories’ by Matt Wesolowski

 

‘Six Stories’ was published in paperback by Orenda Books in March.  I took part in the blog tour for this book and it was so different to anything I have ever read before.  I just loved it.  Here is my review:

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/blog-tour-six-stories-by-matt-wesolowski/

 

4.  ‘The Lies Within’ by Jane Isaac

 

I had the pleasure of taking part in the blog tour for ‘The Lies Within’ which was published by Legend Press.  Until then I had never read any of Jane Isaac’s books.  I was totally gripped and I loved it from start to finish.  I am really looking forward to reading more by this fabulous author.  Here is my review:

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/05/23/blog-tour-the-lies-within-by-jane-isaac/

 

5.  ‘The Wild Air’ by Rebecca Mascull

 

Rebecca Mascull has done it again with this book, published by Hodder & Stoughton.  It was absolutely incredible and I loved everything about it.  I also was lucky enough to meet Rebecca at her book launch for which I won a ticket.  You can read my review and write up on the launch here:

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/05/31/the-wild-air-by-rebecca-mascull/

 

6.  ‘Skin Deep’ by Laura Wilkinson

 

Laura Wilkinson is one of my favourite authors.  I have read and reviewed all her novels so far and was delighted to take part in the blog tour for ‘Skin Deep’ which was published by Accent Press.  This lady is so very talented and can turn her hand easily to writing about different subjects.  I could have cried with joy at being mentioned in the acknowledgements and at having my review quoted inside the book too.  Here is my review:

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/06/26/blog-tour-skin-deep-by-laura-wilkinson/

 

7.  ‘No Accident’ by Robert Crouch

 

I was given the wonderful opportunity to take part in the blog tour for this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed ‘No Accident’ and was delighted to discover yet another new author and to start reading another series.  You can read my review here:

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/08/30/blog-tour-no-accident-by-robert-crouch/

 

8.  ‘Lost in the Lake’ by A.J. Waines

 

I was delighted when A.J. Waines invited me to take part in her blog tour.  ‘Lost in the Lake’ is the second book in the Dr Samantha Willerby series.  I hadn’t read the first one but this didn’t spoil things for me.  I totally loved it and I can’t wait to read more by this author.  Here is my review:

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/09/18/blog-tour-lost-in-the-lake-by-a-j-waines/

 

9.  ‘No Way Back’ by Kelly Florentia

 

I absolutely loved ‘No Way Back’ which was published in September by Urbane Publications.  I could kick myself for not having read Kelly Florentia’s first novel.  Kelly’s writing is incredible and I really can’t wait to read her next book.  You can read my review here:

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/11/11/no-way-back-by-kelly-florentia/

 

 

10.  ‘You’re Next’ by Michael Fowler

Until recently I had never read any of Michael Fowler’s books.  But then I was invited to take part in the blog tour for ‘You’re Next’ and I’m so glad I took part.  Published by Caffiene Nights Publishing, this is the second book in the DS Scarlett Macey series and I really enjoyed it.  I will definitely be reading more of this author’s books.  Here is my review:

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/blog-tour-youre-next-by-michael-fowler/

 

11.  ‘Hell to Pay’ by Rachel Amphlett

 

I have read this series from the start and loved every single book, but I think ‘Hell to Pay’ has to be my favourite.  It was a real pleasure taking part in the blog tour.  I can’t wait to read more by Rachel Amphlett.  Here is my review:

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/11/17/blog-tour-hell-to-pay-by-rachel-amphlett/

 

12.  ‘Brighter Days Ahead’ by Mary Wood

When Mary Wood was looking for people to take part in her blog tour I was happy to help as I really liked the sound of ‘Brighter Days Ahead’, which was published in November by Pan Books.  It’s been absolutely ages since I have read a saga and I absolutely loved it.  I now want to read this author’s backlist.

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2017/12/06/blog-tour-brighter-days-ahead-by-mary-wood/

 

I hope you have all enjoyed finding out what my top 12 books of the year are.  I look forward to reading many more great books next year.

 

Blog Tour – ‘Six Stories’ by Matt Wesolowski

‘Six Stories’ is Matt Wesolowski’s first crime novel. It was released as an eBook last December by Orenda Books and was published in paperback on the 15th March 2017. I am absolutely delighted to be taking part in this blog tour and would like to say thank you for my copy of ‘Six Stories’ to review.

In 1996 during a trip to Scarclaw Fell, Tom Jeffries, a member of a group called The Rangers disappeared under mysterious circumstances. A year later his body was discovered. Was he murdered or was it an accident?

It’s now 2017, twenty years since the body was discovered. It seems someone isn’t convinced that Tom Jeffries died due to accidental death. Scott King is an elusive investigative journalist whose podcasts examine complicated cases. His concealed identity has made him something of a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death.

I so enjoyed reading ‘Six Stories’. Never before have I come across a book like this. I really liked Matt Wesolowski’s style of writing. He has a way of drawing you into the story and then just like that he delivers a shocker when you least expect it. I thought the idea of the podcasts was totally wonderful and unique.

The podcasts really came to life and it felt as if I was actually listening to them rather than reading them. I guess that’s what the author’s aim was and it certainly worked. The further in I got the more fascinated I was. The interviews were a real eye opener and I learnt a lot about the various characters. I found myself trying to work out who if anyone was responsible for Tom Jeffries death. I think the podcasts definitely opened up a can of worms and I would love to have known what if anything happened next.

‘Six Stories’ has been beautifully written. It is a thought provoking, haunting and thrilling read which will keep you guessing. This could well be one of my favourite books of the year.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

About Matt Wesolowski


Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013 and a new novella set in the forests of Sweden will be available shortly. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. He is currently working on his second crime novel Ashes, which involves black metal and Icelandic sorcery.

 

‘Six Stories’ is available to buy from:-

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Six-Stories-Matt-Wesolowski/dp/1910633623/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1490721953&sr=1-1&keywords=six+stories

 

‘Deep Down Dead’ by Steph Broadribb

deep-down-dead
‘Deep Down Dead’ was published in paperback by Orenda Books on the 5th January 2017 and is also available as an eBook. The first book in the Lori Anderson series, this is Steph Broadribb’s debut novel. I would like to say thank you to Karen Sullivan for very kindly sending me a copy to review.

Lori Anderson, a Florida bounty hunter is as tough as they come. After everything she has been through she has to be. Lori is a single mother to nine-year-old Dakota who is suffering from leukaemia. With the hospital bills starting to mount up she could do with some extra cash and fast. Dakota needs to keep getting treatment. Then Lori is offered a job which isn’t really ideal as she is being assigned to haul back no other than her former mentor, JT who taught her everything she knows, a man who knows the secrets of her past. It’s hard but it’s got to be done as the money being offered is too good to refuse. It sounds like a straightforward pick up which is just as well as she has no choice but to take her daughter along with her. But as Lori is about to find out things aren’t that simple and she soon wonders what she has let herself in for.

Wow! Where do I start? I admit that when I first read the press release I wasn’t too sure if I would like this book even though I love crime fiction. I didn’t know if it would be for me. How wrong was I! I know that the publisher has a real eye for talent so decided to give it a go. The prologue left me totally intrigued and needing to know more. The words literally jumped off the pages and I was drawn right into the story. I found it really hard to put down this book and couldn’t wait for a chance to read more. I have to say, I can’t actually believe that this is a debut novel as the author writes so confidently.

I took an instant liking to Lori. She was a feisty woman who didn’t give up no matter what was thrown at her. Put a gun to her head and she would still be planning her escape even if the chances were slim. She’s my new heroine. It’s such a pity that her little girl had to get caught up in all the drama. There were things that she just shouldn’t have seen. For a nine-year-old she was very brave though. JT was very nice too and I just wished things could have been different. There were also a number of not so nice characters who would give you nightmares for life.  Some of what went on was just pure evil.

‘Deep Down Dead’ is a truly amazing book. It’s an exciting and gripping read with non-stop action. So much is packed into three days. It’s like being on an eternal rollercoaster ride.

If you’re a fan of crime then you have to read this book. But please don’t just take my word for it. Get yourself a copy and lose yourself in it. I really can’t wait for the second book in the series.

This is definitely going to be one of my top books of 2017.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

‘Deep Down Dead’ is available to buy from Amazon UK:-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Deep-Down-Dead-Lori-Anderson/dp/1910633550/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484028691&sr=1-1&keywords=deep+down+dead+steph+broadribb

 

Blog Tour – ‘In Her Wake’ by Amanda Jennings

Blog Tour Poster

I am absolutely thrilled to be part of this blog tour.  ‘In Her Wake’ has already been on one hell of a journey this year and it’s only April.  It’s been published as an eBook, limited edition hardback of which I am the proud owner of a copy and now it’s out in paperback as well.  How amazing is that!

Imagine living your life and then one day discovering that it was all a lie and that you are not who you think you are.  Unthinkable isn’t it?  That’s exactly what happened to Bella.  When a tragic family event turns her whole world upside down, Bella makes the decision to find out the truth.  After a bit of digging around she embarks on a trip to Cornwall where past betrayals and 25-year-old mystery threaten not just her identity, but also her life.

You know when you open a book, read the first page and you know straightaway that it’s for you?  Well, I can’t tell you just how much I enjoyed ‘In Her Wake’.  It’s a truly wonderful and beautifully written story which I absolutely loved.  Full of twists and turns and shocking revelations it kept me reading and dying to know what was going to happen next.

There were some interesting characters in this story.  I really wasn’t too keen on Bella’s husband David though.  He was a control freak and that together with the suffocating childhood she had did nothing to really help Bella, though at the time I guess she wouldn’t have seen it that way.  I think she was very brave to go it alone and discover the truth for herself.  It helped her grow as a person.  What Henry and Elaine did was totally wrong and not acceptable at all but as you’ll find out later there was a reason why they did what they did.

I enjoyed reading about Cornwall where the story is mostly set.  It sounds beautiful and is a place I would really like to visit one day.

I have already read a number of great books this year but ‘In Her Wake’ is definitely on my list of favourites.  This is one brilliant psychological thriller which I won’t forget in a hurry.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

About Amanda Jennings

Author Photo

Amanda Jennings made her literary début with the internationally bestselling novel Sworn Secret. Her second book, The Judas Scar, was optioned by a film and television production company shortly after release. She is fascinated by the ways people react to trauma and deal with its long-lasting effects, and also the complex relationships within a family unit. She used to work at the BBC, but now writes full-time and looks after her three daughters and a menagerie of animals. She writes a popular blog and is a regular guest on BBC Berkshire’s Book Club. She enjoys running writing workshops, is a judge for the Henley Youth Festival creative writing competition, and is involved with the Womentoring Project, which offers free mentoring by professional literary women to talented up-and-coming female writers who might otherwise not have access to such an opportunity. She is a regular speaker at festivals and book events, combining her childhood love of the stage with her love of writing. She likes to be active, preferably beside the sea or at the top of a snow-covered mountain, and when she isn’t writing she can usually be found walking her dog and enjoying the peace and solitude of the great outdoors.

 

‘In Her Wake’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Wake-Amanda-Jennings-ebook/dp/B016721USK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1460204931&sr=1-1&keywords=in+her+wake

 

 

Blog Tour – ‘Wicked Game’ by Matt Johnson

Wicked Games Blog tour

It’s my turn today on the ‘Wicked Game’ blog tour.  I have an extract for you, but first here’s what this book is about.

 

Book Blurb

2001. Age is catching up with Robert Finlay, a police officer on the Royalty Protection team based in London. He’s looking forward to returning to uniform policing and a less stressful life with his new family. But fate has other plans. Finlay’s deeply traumatic, carefully concealed past is about to return to haunt him. A policeman is killed by a bomb blast, and a second is gunned down in his own driveway. Both of the murdered men were former Army colleagues from Finlay’s own SAS regiment, and in a series of explosive events, it becomes clear that he is not the ordinary man that his colleagues, friends and new family think he is. And so begins a game of cat and mouse – a wicked game – in which Finlay is the target, forced to test his long-buried skills in a fight against a determined and unidentified enemy.

Wicked Game is a taut, action-packed, emotive thriller about a man who might be your neighbor, a man who is forced to confront his past in order to face a threat that may wipe out his future, a man who is willing to do anything to protect the people he loves. But is it too late?

 

Extract

As the glass from the broken window sprayed around me, I hit the gas.

The gearbox of the Rover kicked down, the powerful engine quickly putting space between me and the gunmen.  I must have been doing eighty.  It was too fast. The lane was narrow, high verges and thick hedges.  If I met another tractor around the next bend I wouldn’t  need to worry about my pursuers.

I searched my mind for an idea of what to do.  I was a soldier and, supposedly, a trained driver.  This should be a simple choice: run or fight.  Adrenaline was preparing my body but clouding my thoughts; I tried to order them: if I crashed the terrorists would have me cold.  So that was it, running wasn’t an option.  I eased off the speed.  There was nothing for it: I would have to meet them.  But it would be on my terms.  A plan began to take shape in my mind.  I had to have an edge over them.  What I needed was a nice blind bend.

I guess I was maybe a hundred yards in front when I found one.  There were high trees on both sides with steep banks in front of them.  If I stopped, the Cortina driver wouldn’t be able to get past me.

As I rounded the turn, I hit the brakes hard then yanked up the handbrake and swerved.  The Rover slewed across the lane with the driver’s door facing away from the oncoming Cortina.

 

 

About Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson

Matt Johnson served as a soldier and Metropolitan Police officer for twenty-five years. Blown off his feet at the London Baltic Exchange bombing in 1992, and one of the first police officers on the scene of the 1982 Regent’s Park bombing, Matt was also at the Libyan People’s Bureau shooting in 1984 where he escorted his mortally wounded friend and colleague, Yvonne Fletcher, to hospital. Hidden wounds took their toll. In 1999, Matt was discharged from the police with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. While undergoing treatment, he was encouraged by his counsellor to write about his career and his experience of murders, shootings and terrorism. One evening, Matt sat at his computer and started to weave these notes into a work of fiction that he described as having a tremendously cathartic effect on his own condition. Matt is currently working on a sequel Deadly Game.

 

‘Wicked Game’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wicked-Game-Robert-Finlay-Johnson/dp/1910633410/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1458628064&sr=1-1

 

Blog Tour – ‘Nightblind’ by Ragnar Jónasson

Blog Tour Poster

‘Nightblind’ is the second book in the Dark Iceland series.  Already out as an eBook, it is being published in paperback by Orenda Books on the 15th January 2016.  I have been so excited about this blog tour.

It’s approximately five years since Ari Thór Arason arrived in Siglufjörður.  In that time he has got back with his girlfriend and they now have a ten-month-old son.  Siglufjörður is normally a quiet village, but it is about to have its peace shattered again. A policeman is shot at point-blank range in the middle of the night in a deserted house.  With a killer on the loose it falls to Ari Thór to solve the case that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, a woman who has recently moved to the area on the run from something she won’t reveal and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik.  Ari Thór could well be in danger himself so he needs to be able to solve the case as quickly as possible.

Having recently read and loved ‘Snowblind’ I couldn’t wait to start ‘Nightblind’.  I had the feeling that this book would probably be just as good and I was proved right.  With its twists and turns I found myself totally gripped and I got through the book quickly.  Quentin Bates has once again done a great job of translating it.

In ‘Nightblind’ Ari Thór has gained a lot more experience and is now a fully-fledged policeman.  It was a real shame that he didn’t get the police inspector’s job after his superior left, but he must have got used to Siglufjörður as he obviously chose to stay on.  This case was a real puzzle for Ari Thór and a bit of a shocker.  It just goes to show that you don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.  People aren’t always what you see them as.

Ragnar Jónasson is now on my list of favourite authors.  I am so pleased to have discovered another fantastic crime writer.  I loved the author’s note at the end of the book where Ragnar included a passage from a book written by his late grandfather.

‘Nightblind’ is another brilliant read.  I recommend the Dark Iceland series to all crime fans.  I really don’t think you will be disappointed.  I am already hungry for more and can’t wait for the next book in the series, ‘Blackout’ which is due to be published later this year.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

 

About Ragnar Jónasson

Icelandic crime writer Ragnar Jónasson was born in Reykjavik in 1976, and currently works as a lawyer, while teaching copyright law at the Reykjavik University Law School. In the past, he’s worked in TV and radio, including as a news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Before embarking on a writing career, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic, and has had several short stories published in German, English and Icelandic literary magazines. Ragnar set up the first overseas chapter of the CWA (Crime Writers’ Association) in Reykjavik, and is co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir, selected by the Guardian as one of the ‘best crime-writing festivals around the world’. Ragnar Jónasson has written five novels in the Dark Iceland series, and he is currently working on his sixth. He lives in Reykjavik with his wife and two daughters. Blackout will be published by Orenda Books in 2016.

 

‘Nightblind’ is available to buy from Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nightblind-Dark-Iceland-Ragnar-Jonasson/dp/1910633119/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452453288&sr=1-1&keywords=nightblind

 

‘Snowblind’ by Ragnar Jónasson

Snowblind

‘Snowblind’ was published by Orenda Books last year.  Translated by Quentin Bates, this is the first book in the Dark Iceland series.  I was sent a copy to review.

Ari Thór Arason, a rookie policeman, gets his very first posting in Siglufjörður, far away from his girlfriend who stays behind in Reykjavik.  Siglufjörður is a small and quiet village in northern Iceland where crime rarely happens, a place so safe in fact that people tend to leave their front doors unlocked.  Everyone seems to know each other and nothing is secret for long.

Soon after Ari Thór’s arrival things start to happen.  First, the Chairman of the Dramatic Society falls to his death in the local theatre and then a few days later a woman is discovered lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious.  Naturally people are shocked and scared.  Ari Thór finds himself being dragged into the heart of a community and along the way discovers that he can’t trust anyone and that secrets and lies are a way of life.  To top it all an avalanche and endless snowstorms close the mountain pass, the constant darkness threatening to push Ari Thór over the edge.  Is there a killer on the loose or is there some other explanation?  That’s for you to find out.

I read ‘Snowblind’ last weekend and absolutely loved it.  Fast-paced, exciting and very gripping, it was a bit of a struggle to put the book down.  I think Quentin Bates has done an absolutely amazing job of translating this story.

There were a number of characters in ‘Snowblind’, most seeming to have a secret or a painful past.  I liked Ari Thór and felt bad for what he had been through.  He proved himself to be a good policeman even if he didn’t always go about things the right way.  Whilst helping to investigate both incidents he went that bit further and made some shocking discoveries along the way.  A smart cookie for sure.

Ragnar Jónasson certainly knows how to write a good thriller.  I could picture what the weather in Siglufjörður was like and could actually feel Ari Thór’s claustrophobia.  It must have felt like it would snow forever.  I don’t think I could put up with that for long.

‘Snowblind’ is brilliant!  An absolute blinder in fact.  If you don’t believe me get yourself a copy now to see for yourself.

I am so looking forward to reading ‘Nightblind’.

I give this book 5 out of 5.

 

‘Snowblind’ is available to buy on Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Snowblind-Dark-Iceland-Ragnar-Jonasson/dp/1910633038/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452024254&sr=1-1&keywords=snowblind

  

Guest Post by Karen Sullivan

orenda letterhead red

Last year Karen Sullivan decided to start her own publishing company, a very brave thing to do.  You can read the guest post which Karen wrote for my blog at the beginning of her new venture:-

https://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com/2014/12/17/orenda-books/

This lady is truly amazing and in the past year has come such a long way.  I thought it would be nice if Karen could write another post about what she has achieved and what is in store for the next year.  Prepare to be amazed.

~~~~~

Orenda Books … one year on

Karen Sullivan, Publisher

Just about a year ago, I wrote my first blog post for Sonya Alford, explaining the reasons why I’d decided to start my own independent publishing company, and outlining my expectations (dreams, really) for the future. It has been an exceptional year, full of drama and excitement, and every one of my authors has provided magical moments and experienced wonderful successes!

From Paul Hardisty appearing on the shortlist for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger, and amassing over 150 five-star reviews online for The Abrupt Physics of Dying to Louise Beech bringing readers to tears and already appearing on countless ‘Books of the Year’ lists, just a couple of months after publication, my wonderful debut authors have created waves in a market that is flooded with books and great writing.

Another marvellous debut, David F. Ross achieved critical heaven with The Last Days of Disco, being hailed as the finest new Scottish voice, and compared to Irvine Welsh and John Niven (his heroes, and mine). And then there was the phenomenon that is Snowblind. Ragnar Jonasson’s debut crime thriller, set in the northernmost town of Iceland and lovingly translated by Quentin Bates, has been an international bestseller, prompting three reprints and an ongoing and welcome stream of excellent reviews! With the sequel, Nightblind, just out, it looks like the Dark Iceland series will continue to top the charts and wow readers with its wonderful amalgamation of the classic British mystery and some stunning Iceland noir!

It has been an honour to publish Gunnar Staalesen’s We Shall Inherit the Wind, translated by the inimitable Don Bartlett, and to see the wealth of serious and glowing review coverage it has received. Staalesen’s fame outside of the English language looks set to be repeated here, and at the beginning of at least three Varg Veum thrillers published by Orenda, and with a TV series in the making, this is astoundingly good news!

The incredible Kati Hiekkapelto has established herself as one of the foremost proponents of Nordic Noir, and The Defenceless, translated by David Hackston not only won Best Finnish Crime Novel of 2014, but it’s up for the Glass Key (previous winners include Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson and Jo Nesbo, among others) next year, with the third of the Anna Fekete series to follow in Autumn 2016.

Each of these authors has books to look forward to next year. Claymore Straker returns in The Evolution of Fear, which finds Hardisty at his most thrilling best. The Rise and Fall of the Miraculous Vespas carries on David Ross’s heartwarming, hilarious Disco Days series, and Where Roses Never Die is, by all accounts, Staalesen’s finest EVER book. We’ve got more Ragnar Jonasson and Kati Hiekkapelto, and Louise Beech’s beautiful The Mountain in My Shoe will undoubtedly secure her place in the bestseller lists.

And there is more! Amanda Jennings’ exquisite In Her Wake has been tipped as Book of the Year already (!), and we’ve got two wonderful Detective Kubu thrillers by the South African crime-writing duo Michael Stanley: Deadly Harvest and A Death in the Family, both of which have received critical acclaim in the USA and South Africa. Ex-Met Police officer Matt Johnson brings us the nail-biting Wicked Game, and debut novelist Michael Grothaus’s Epiphany Jones will raise eyebrows, shock, entertain and move in one of the most staggering books I’ve read in some time. An important book, a timely, intelligent thriller, Jihadi: A Love Story is published in February, and Yusuf Toropov’s debut has already been called ‘Searing’ by Publishers Weekly. Watch that space! We’ve got Norwegian bestselling author Agnes Ravatn with her melancholic, dizzyingly wonderful The Bird Tribunal, translated by Rosie Hedger, and Michael J. Malone’s timely and page-turning thriller A Suitable Lie. It’s lucky 13 for Orenda next year, with even more great authors lined up for 2017, including Norwegian supremo Thomas Enger, a beautiful retelling of the Selkie legend by Su Bristow and a few more stunners that have yet to be announced.

So what has this year been like? It’s been full of joy! We are building authors at Orenda, and every little success en route has been the most satisfying and rewarding experience ever! Seeing the pure pleasure on an author’s face when he/she holds a first or a new book in their hands is just magical. Talk about mystical energy …

It’s also been nailbiting! I’ve had to learn how to promote books with zero experience, present to sales teams around the world, pitch to festival directors and the press, run a busy website, juggle cash flow, work closely with authors to make sure their books are absolutely perfect, and arrange author tours and events!

There is at present only one member of staff at Orenda, but none of this could have been possible without the help of West Camel – my second reader and editorial support team in one! – Liz Wilkins, who has worked tirelessly to create some of the most amazing blog tours ever, my husband Max, who is usually to be found buried under a pile of invoices and contracts, Mark Swan and James Nunn, who have created simply brilliant jackets, and the most exceptional group of supportive bloggers and reviewers in the entire world! We’ve also had so much help and support from non-Orenda authors, without which most of this would have been impossible. Most importantly, though, I have to thank my absolutely amazing authors. Not once has anyone ever complained about working round the clock to meet crazy deadlines, or write another guest blog, answer a Q&A, attend another event or festival, or make yet another series of changes to their books. This year of highlights has been constructed by pure enthusiasm and determination on the part of everyone associated with Orenda Books, and we take off our hats to you all!

Many, many people warned me that starting an independent publishing company would be a mistake, and a risk not worth taking. While we are only at the initial stages of what I hope will be a long and successful journey, and despite the fact that there are many hurdles ahead, with more to emerge, I wouldn’t change my decision for anything. It’s been magic! Indescribably elating. Blooming exhausting. But, more than anything, one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. To remind you, the word Orenda can be loosely translated as ‘The mystical power that drives human accomplishment’. There’s just got to be something in that …

Guest Post by Louise Beech

Halloween Ghosts

First up, I have a guest post from the lovely Louise Beech, author of ‘How To Be Brave’.

 

Why Halloween has a special kind of magic for me…

By Louise Beech

While usually loved for the spooky dressing up and Trick or Treating, Halloween is special to me for another reason. It is the day – in 2013 – when I started my novel, How to be Brave. It wasn’t intentional that I began then, but I suppose some rather ghostly happenings had led to it all coming about.

I’d always dreamt about the grandfather I never met, Grandad Colin, the merchant seaman who in part inspired the book. He often appeared to me as a child, when I was ill or sad, at the end of my bed, spectral. When my daughter got ill and refused her life-saving injections, I told her his incredible true sea survival story, and this was what led to me writing How to be Brave.

I was nervous about writing such a huge story. I held off and held off. One day I went with my sister and brother to see a psychic, and as we were leaving she said quite urgently to me, “What is it you’re thinking of writing? Something about a child’s illness and your family ancestry? You must write it. You must.”

So I did.

Since I started it on 31st October – sitting in my dressing gown, giving out sweets to children at our door between first words – I decided to write the very first scene as taking place on Halloween night. It was perfect for the opening; it meant I could write gorgeous description of glowing candles and orange pumpkins and the smell of bonfires in the air.

It also meant that main character Natalie didn’t question the World War 2 costume of her grandfather, thinking he was merely another hospital visitor and not someone from long ago…

 

About Louise Beech

Louise Beech

Louise Beech is an East Yorkshire author who has always been haunted by the sea.  She regularly writes travel pieces for the Hull Daily Mail, where she was a columnist for ten years.  Her short fiction has won the Glass Woman Prize, the Eric Hoffer Award for Prose, and the Aesthetica Creative Works competition, as well as shortlisting for the Bridport Prize twice and being published in a variety of UK magazines.  Louise lives with her husband and children on the outskirts of Hull – the UK’s 2017 City of Culture – and loves her job as a Front of House Usher at Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play was performed in 2012.  She is also part of the Mums’ Army on Lizzie and Carl’s BBC Radio Humberside Breakfast Show.

 

‘How To Be Brave’ is available to buy from Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/How-Be-Brave-Louise-Beech-ebook/dp/B00Y15POWO/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1445366378&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+be+brave

 

Guest Post – Karen Sullivan about Orenda Books

Orenda_signature

Karen Sullivan recently left Arcadia Books and took the very big step of starting her own publishing business.  Karen has written a guest post for my blog in which she explains what led her to make this decision and what she has already achieved.

 

That mystical energy …

Karen Sullivan – Publisher and founder of Orenda Books

Sometimes the best decisions are made on the hoof, without really contemplating the logistics or the practicalities. And sometimes things fall into place so perfectly, you know that a decision was right – something that was simply meant to happen.

Eight weeks ago, I got news that Arcadia Books, where I worked as Managing Editor, would be postponing the vast majority of the 2015 publishing programme in a restructuring programme. My job would no longer exist in its original incarnation, and I would no longer be doing what I love – acting as a midwife for wonderful authors, producing fabulous, beautiful books. Within the space of 24 hours, I made a decision to go it on my own – start a little independent publishing company, which would allow me to do what I like doing best, and help to bring some extraordinary books to the marketplace.

I’ve always had a passion for translated literature, so I instantly decided that half of my six titles per year would be in translation. I’d just spent a fabulous few days at Bloody Scotland festival, where my enthusiasm for crime and thrillers hit an all-time high, so that seemed the right genre on which to focus. But I also knew that I’d love the opportunity to publish books outside these genres – fiction that resonated with me, and deserved to be recognised.

Then came the issue of funding, but my extremely supportive ex-FD husband managed to secure enough to support the publishing programme for the first year or so. Domestic and international print and ebook sales and distribution were soon negotiated, and then it was time to get some ‘talent’ on board.

When I was at Arcadia, I’d stumbled across David F. Ross’s self-published The Last Days of Disco – a brilliantly authentic, funny and moving story set in 1980s Ayrshire. Contracts hadn’t been signed, and I was fortunate enough that David was keen to join my new venture. That book has been edited, partially rewritten, polished to perfection, typeset and proofread, and is now ‘queuing’ to go live on ebook on 15 December, with the print version following early in the New Year. The amazing jacket has had Twitter ablaze with comments, and some very special people provided glowing quotes! David is a tremendous writer, and I feel honoured to grab him at the beginning of what is bound to be a long and successful career.

Next up was Ragnar Jonasson, an Icelandic crime writer who I’d met at CrimeFest last May. I watched with surprise as dozens of avid fans lined up to buy his book after a successful panel – a book that didn’t actually exist! This scenario was repeated at Bloody Scotland, and I thought to myself: Someone is missing a trick! Crime author Quentin Bates had produced a sample translation for each of the five books in the Dark Iceland series, and having worked with Quentin before, he was an obvious choice to translate the lot. I marched down to DHH Literary Agency, where I had to persuade David Headley that this talented author would be in safe hands in a brand-new venture. Fortunately, he agreed, a deal was done for two titles – Snowblind and Nightblind – and I had my second, marvellous author on the team! The first title is currently being translated, and we’ll be launching at CrimeFest in May, with books available for Newcastle Noir. Watch this space! The crime community definitely swung into action when the news broke, and this is one series that is bound to soar!

On the same day, a second pitch was made to the lovely Broo Doherty, of the same agency. When I was at Arcadia, my colleague Gary Pulsifer had raved about Paul E. Hardisty’s Yemen-set eco-thriller The Abrupt Physics of Dying. I’d read enough of it to know that it would not only fit perfectly on my list, but give me a chance to ‘grow’ an incredibly talented debut author. The deal was sealed, and to my complete astonishment, its announcement brought interest from literary scouts, agents and film-makers both here, in the US and in Europe. Not just for this title, but my others as well. While I was completely confident about this signing, nothing prepared me for the utter brilliance of this author – who had produced an exquisitely written, fast-paced page-turner with a perfectly rendered setting and a protagonist who was crying out for a series. Was there a sequel? I asked Broo. There was indeed, and I purchased it – The Evolution of Fear – sight unseen. Already ebooked and about to go live on 15 December, with a print publication date in early March, The Abrupt Physics of Dying is receiving loads of early rave reviews, and the Canadian/Australian author will be flying over for publication day.

Next up was one of my all-time favourite Norwegian writers, Gunnar Staalesen, ‘the Norwegian Chandler’. He’s sold millions of books around the world and the time was clearly ripe to place him firmly on the crime-writing map in English. Only four of his 20-something Varg Veum titles have been published in English (at Arcadia), and rumour had it that his latest three, We Shall Inherit the Wind, Where Roses Never Die and No One Is So Safe in Danger, were the best yet. To my delight, Gunnar and his agent Henrik Francke at Gyldendal Agency in Norway were keen to be involved, and a three-book deal for World English rights was negotiated. Just as exciting was the fact that Don Bartlett, who has translated some of the finest Norwegian literature around, including Nesbo, Knausgaard and Pettersen, was keen to be involved, and he’s been signed up to translate all three! We Shall Inherit the Wind will be published officially in June 2015, but launched at CrimeFest alongside Ragnar Jonasson’s gorgeous Nightblind!

One of my favourite books at Arcadia, was Finnish debut author Kati Hiekkapelto’s The Hummingbird, translated by David Hackston. Not only is Kati herself the most extraordinary woman (a performance artist and punk singer, as well as an immensely talented writer), but the sequel, The Defenceless, was also up for grabs and I did not even think twice about purchasing the rights from Otava Agency in Finland. The same translator is available, and he’ll start working on this gritty, gorgeously written novel, which sees the return of police detective Anna Fekete and her partner Esko, on the trail of another murderer in a Northern Finnish town. Published in September, we’ll hopefully launch her at a rather wonderful Scottish crime festival!

Since then, submissions have been flying in and I can hardly keep up with the reading – a wealth of undiscovered talent certainly exists, and the most difficult thing is going to be sticking to a six-title limit!

In May, every one of my authors will be attending CrimeFest (including David F. Ross, who will be my honorary guest), where Orenda Books will be officially launched. It’s unlikely that I’ll get authors from Iceland, Finland, Norway, Scotland and Australia in one place at the same time, so it’s an obvious moment to celebrate a venture that has filled me with more excitement and enthusiasm than I can ever remember. I hope you can all join us!

Ragnar and Kati will also appear at Newcastle Noir earlier in May, and we’ve had a clutch of invites for the Edinburgh Book Festival too, with Bloody Scotland still to come.

Things have come together in such a way that it feels as though it was meant to happen. That’s not too say that it’s all been easy. The admin is threatening to drown me, and there are many, many fiddly, ongoing negotiations to be undertaken, problems to be ironed out. I’ve got some great editors helping out, some interns supporting the marketing and PR plans, some seasoned experts giving lots of advice and helping to fill the (sometimes seemingly vast) holes in my experience and knowledge. But every moment of it has been gratifying and positive. That split-second decision was undoubtedly the right one. And it has all come together in eight short weeks.

As for the name – this was an obvious choice. Not only is Canadian author Joseph Boyden’s The Orenda one of my all-time favourite novels, but the word itself – which loosely translates as ‘the mystical power that drives human accomplishment’ – is a nod to my Canadian heritage and a First Nations word whose provenance is a tribe that settled in a part of Ontario where I’ve spent every summer of my life. It often seems that there is a ‘mystical power’ afoot here, and an almost surreal energy pulling together events in such an extraordinary way. I’m humbled and thrilled by the support we’ve received, and in just over a week, you’ll see what we’re doing and why!

Our website www.orendabooks.co.uk will be launched just before Christmas, with a beautiful short story from every Orenda author. That’s our treat for you, and it comes with a big thank-you to everyone who has helped to get Orenda Books on the right path.

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