#CoyoteFork by #JamesWilson

British journalist Robert Lovelace travels to California to report on the social media giant Global Village. He’s horrified by what he finds: a company—guided by the ruthless vision of its founder, Evan Bone—that seems to be making journalism itself redundant. Appalled, he decides to abandon the project and return home.

But as he leaves he has a disconcerting encounter that sends him off in a totally different direction. Soon he finds himself embarked on an increasingly fraught and dangerous mission. The aim: to uncover the murky truth about Evan Bone’s past and his pathological disregard for the human cost of the behemoth he has created.

Robert’s quest takes him from San Francisco to a small college town in the Midwest, to the site of a former hippie commune in northern California, introducing us to a range of vivid characters, and confronting us with the price we pay—online trolling; the loss of privacy; professional ruin—for living in an “interconnected” world. Finally, he makes a startling discovery—and is thrown into a completely unforeseen existential dilemma.

A timely, stylishly written, and brilliantly conceived metaphysical thriller, Coyote Fork carries us on an unforgettable journey, before bringing us face to face with the darkness at the heart of Silicon Valley itself.

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THE GLOBAL VILLAGE BUILDING in Santa Carla, California is a huge, perfect circle, studded at regular intervals with windows and solar panels.

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(Slant, 1 September 2020, 266 pages, ebook, copy from the author and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 8 November via @RandomTTours)

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I’d never heard of the author or book so didn’t know what to expect. I decided to take part in the tour because I loved the cover and the blurb made the book sound like a good thriller. I thought it was great. I’m not sure if this is the author’s debut or not but I would definitely read more of his work. This is a techno-thriller with some dystopian elements as traditional journalism collapses and tech-spies and hated start to become supreme. Added to all is the race to solve a murder. I thought this was a terrific read. 

#FallenAngels by #GunnarStaalesen

When Bergen PI Varg Veum finds himself at the funeral of a former classmate on a sleet-grey December afternoon, he’s unexpectedly reunited with his old friend Jakob – guitarist of the once-famous 1960s rock band The Harpers – and his estranged wife, Rebecca, Veum’s first love.

Their rekindled friendship is thrown into jeopardy by the discovery of a horrific murder, and Veum is forced to dig deep into his own adolescence and his darkest memories, to find a motive … and a killer.

Tense, vivid and deeply unsettling, Fallen Angels is the spellbinding, award-winning thriller that secured Gunnar Staalesen’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost crime writers.

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The funeral took place on Friday.

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(@OrendaBooks, 25 September 2020, 276 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 5 November)

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Why have I never heard of the author before? This must be rectified immediately. Fallen Angels was great. I need to read more by the author. This is not like traditional crime novels and Staalesen uses a unique approach. Varg is a PI and in a typical novel someone would hire him to investigate something. Fallen Angels does something a bit different. A lot of chapters at the start focus on Varg being reunited with his old friends at the funeral and struggling to bond with the people who were once the centre of the world. The murder doesn’t happen until a few chapters in. This was a bit unusual but works really well because by the time the crime happens, I already had a good grasp of all the characters. I loved reading about Varg’s reunion with his old friends, there were a lot of awkward moments as everyone realised how much they’d changed over the years and how little they had in common. This felt very realistic. The murder is typically brutal and while looking into it Varg uncovers horrible skeletons hidden in the closets of his oldest and dearest friends.  

#TheKidneyKiller by @milesmhudson

A kidnap, a theft, and a murderous moon-worshipping cult: Detective Sergeant Milburn has his work cut out to solve several cases that all appear at once.

Milburn’s job is trickier as both victims are friends with his girlfriend. He desperately needs to solve the cases but has to keep his personal involvement secret. With the clock ticking down on the fate of the second missing woman, the pressure ramps up. 

Penfold, the detective’s enigmatic surfer friend, is called on to help investigate. His puzzle-solving genius helps sift real clues from red herrings. The struggle for leads is constant, until it becomes clear that Penfold and Milburn are, in fact, central to all the crimes.

This is the second Penfold mystery novel, set in Durham in the north of England.

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‘Where are we going? The pub’s there?’ Sue pointed back across the T-junction where they’d just turned left into Old Elvet.

CHAPTER ZERO, THURSDAY

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(Penfold Books, 5 November 2020, 200 pages, ebook, #ARC from the author and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 5 November via @RandomTTours)

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I haven’t read the first book in the series and wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I don’t read a lot of cosy mystery so thought this would be something a little bit different. I enjoyed it a lot, a bit lighter than the stuff I usually read. The characters, DS Millburn and Penfold are refreshing, well written and come across as very real. Penfold is my favourite, he’s a laid back Aussie surf bum who’s much smarter than I expected, and he gathers the clues for Millburn to make sense of. There’s another character, DC Meredith who just hovers around, seemingly with a grudge against Millburn. This is lighter than crime fiction I usually read but a bit darker than I expect for cosy mystery. I enjoyed this and might read the first book.

#BlindPool by @vicki_goldie

In 1923 flush with the success of their last sleuthing escapade Major Alasdair Charters, a blind WW1 veteran, and former intelligence officer and his aristocrat wife The Honourable Melissa, accept an invitation to a country house party on Somerset Levels in Winter. There they find a dysfunctional family all living in a huge old house on a hill. Overnight the storm brings with it the floodwaters and the house becomes surrounded and cut off from rescue just as a murderer begins to stalk the residents. An exciting murder mystery in the Golden Age tradition. Will our sleuths discover hidden secrets and unmask the murderer before anyone else is killed?

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The skulls grinned up at him, floating and bobbing like apples at Halloween.

PROLOGUE

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(@VictorinaPress, 31 October 2020, 312 pages, ebook, #ARC from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed, #BlogTour 2 November via @RandomTTours)

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Blind Pool was a treat. I need to read the first book in the series. The book is very reminiscent of Agatha Christie and the like. I need to confess I haven’t read much of Agatha Christie or historical detective novels in general so this was quite new territory for me, sort of Downton Abbey meets Miss Marple. First off, I was impressed by the author’s writing style, the book is well written and the characters and setting really come to life, creating a real sense of place. I felt transported back into time to 1923. Blind Pool is a proper whodunit with Charters and Melissa struggling to solve clues before the next body turns up.  Somerset Levels is cut off due to a storm so the trapped guests are all alone and easy prey. I had such fun reading this, wondering who the killer was, what their motives were and who else was going to turn up dead. This reminds me a lot of the recent film Knives Out as well. Highly recommended.

#TheMarbleBed by #GraceSchulman

Grace Schulman rises to new heights in these poems of lament and praise. In The Marble Bed, a couple dances on a shore that is at once a shining turf and a graveyard of sea toss, of cracked shells, a skull-like carapace, and emerald weed. Here things sparkle with newness: an orchid come alive when rescued from a trash bin; the new year hidden in an egret’s wing; Coltrane’s ecstatic flight; a seductive, come-hither angel; a meteor’s arc; a rainbow’s painted ribbons; a glacial rock that glowers in moonlight. Even the tomb sculptures in an Italian cemetery sparkle with vitality. Schulman, grieving for her late husband, believes passionately in the power of art to redeem human transience. Her faith in art enables her to move from mourning to joyful wonder of existence as she meditates on an injured world and concludes: “Because I cannot lose the injured world / without losing the world, / I’ll have to praise it.”

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Not raised by found,

this dancer, idling on trash

abandoned in the computer room,

fated to be smothered in a green bag

ORCHID

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(@TurtlePPress, 27 October 2020, ebook, 136 pages, #ARC from the publisher via @edelweiss_squad and voluntarily reviewed)

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This is my first time reading the poet. The Marble Bed is a fantastic piece of work so it won’t be the last. I decided to read this because I liked the title and the cover image. It turned out to be a good choice and I’ve discovered a new poet to obsess over. The poetry in The Marble Bed is vivid, beautiful and almost painful at times as Schulman explores grief and loss and the small moments in life that can bring happiness and pain. Some of the poems are stunning and Schulman touched the deepest part of me. The best poems included Fragments of a Marriage, Eve Speaks, Alive and Well: Tomb Sculptures in the Stagieno Cemetery, Still Lifes, Moon Plant, Bald Angel, Caregiver and Names.

#Nightbird by @ahoffmanwriter

Twig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumoured to hide a monster – and it is these rumours of a winged beast which draw in as much tourism to the town as its famous apple orchards. Two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, following the arrival of a new family in town, Twig may just have found her first true friend and an ally in vanquishing this ancient curse. It’s time to try and break the spell… but will everything change when the red moon rises? 

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YOU CAN’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU HEAR, not even in Sidwell, Massachusetts, where every person is said to tell the truth and apples are so sweet people come from as far as New York City during the apple festival.

CHAPTER 1, THE WAUY IT BEGAN

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(@simonschusterUK, 5 March 2015, 208 pages, ebook, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I thought Nightbird was delightful. I devoured it in one sitting because it’s very short, just over 200 pages. It reminds me a lot of her much longer book, Practical Magic with its magic, witches and an odd family of outsiders who are eventually welcome into the town. Though the magic aspects of Nightbird such as Twig’s brother’s wings and the ability to fly are more obvious than Practical Magic. The story is told through Twig’s eyes as she struggles to keep her increasingly rebellious brother a secret from the town and starts to rebel against her mother’s strict rules by making friends and sneaking out at night. I fell in love with everyone in the book despite the little time I spent in their company. I just wish this had been several hundred pages longer.

#ShizzleInc by @SpokeAna

Fifteen minutes of fame is all Isa Maxwell needs to solve her financial woes and win back Brad, the love of her life.

Thanks to her clumsiness, street smarts, and an unbelievable bit of luck, Isa lands her dream job, becoming the protégé of Mr. Hue, the playboy billionaire owner of Shizzle, Inc. She even gets a number of new love interests, but all is not what it seems. In fact, absolutely nothing is what it seems.

Can Isa survive the tough world of corporate intrigue and constant looming bodily harm? Or will her efforts be the end of Shizzle, Inc and possibly her life?

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Debt is always negative, no matter how positive you try to look at it.

BEATS GETTING SUED FOR SLIPPERY FLOORS

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(Independently Published, 4 September 2015, 274 pages, ebook, freebie from the author because I won a giveaway)

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I had a lot of fun reading this. I read a lot of dark fiction; crime, fantasy and horror with some historical fiction thrown in the mix. This was a breath of fresh air. I had such fun with Shizzle, Inc. The book is ridiculous nonsense at times but that’s the charm. Isa is a great character, utterly hopeless, clueless and with a very different idea of reality from the rest of us. I fell in love with her. She’s adorably naïve. Shizzle, Inc works if you suspend belief. So much happens that way OTT and ridiculous. What the hell does Shizzle, Inc do anyway? Isa is cringle-worthingly inept at her interview I have no idea how she manages to get the job and is promoted super-fast after waffling and fluffing her way through presentations and meetings with important clients. But that’s what makes this book so fun. A break from reality is good for the soul. I laughed until I cried reading this as Isa stumbles from one disastrous mess into another.

#GoodBones by @MargaretAtwood

These wise and witty writings home in on Shakespeare, tree stumps, ecological disasters, bodies (male and female), and theology, amongst other matters. We hear Gertrude’s version of what really happened in Hamlet; an ugly sister and a wicked stepmother put in a good word for themselves and a reincarnated bat explains how Bram Stoker got Dracula hopelessly wrong. Good Bones is pure distilled Atwood – deliciously strong and bittersweet.

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The red geraniums fluorescing on the terrace, the wind swaying the daisies, the baby’s milk-fed eyes focusing for the first time on a double row of beloved teeth – what is there to report?

BAD NEWS

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(@ViragoBooks, 17 May 2010, first published 1992, 160 pages, ebook, bought from @AmazonKindle)

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I’m a huge fan of the author and I have a lot of her back catalogue to read. Good Bones is a collection of her shorter fiction, stories that would fall into the category of flash fiction. The stories are all very short, no more than two or three pages and all quite different. I enjoyed them all though they were too slight and too short to really get my teeth into and form a deeper connection with. The stories all touch on the sinister side of classical myths and give voice to the bad girls of these myths such as the stepsisters from Cinderella and Gertrude from Hamlet. My favourite stories were In Love with Raymond Chandler, The Female Body, Good Bones, Making a Man and Gertrude Talks Back.

#AmericaCity by @chriszbeckett

America, one century on: a warmer climate is causing vast movements of people. Droughts, floods and hurricanes force entire populations to simply abandon their homes. Tensions are mounting between north and south, and some northern states are threatening to close their borders against homeless fellow-Americans from the south.

Against this backdrop, an ambitious young British-born publicist, Holly Peacock, meets a new client, the charismatic Senator Slaymaker, a politician whose sole mission is to keep America together, reconfiguring the entire country in order to meet the challenge of the new climate realities as a single, united nation. When he runs for President, Holly becomes his right hand woman, doing battle on the whisperstream, where stories are everything and truth counts for little.

But can they bring America together – or have they set the country on a new, but equally devastating, path?

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Two hundred miles south of the Azores, warm moist air is rising rapidly.

CHAPTER 1

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(@CorvusBooks, 2 November 2017, 367 pages, ebook, borrowed from @GlasgowLib via @OverDriveLibs)

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I became a fan of the author since I read his book Beneath the World, a Sea earlier this year. Since then, I’ve made it my mission to read all of his books like the obsessive stalker fan I am. This is even better than Beneath the World, a Sea. I devoured it in a couple of hours because I couldn’t stop reading it. What impressed me is that the book is supposed to be set around 100 years from now but it felt very current. It could have been set now except for references to AI and whisperstream which is sort of like an AI version of Twitter. A lot of writers would go crazy setting a book 100 years from now and have futuristic AI nonsense all over the place. I loved the fact the author doesn’t do this. It makes America City all the more accessible. This is an unusual read for me and not like anything I’ve read before, a sort of futuristic political novel. The issues plaguing the author’s version of America a century from now are the same as issues that plague the country today, immigration and divisions between North/South, rich/poor and black/white. I loved everything about this book.

#TheMourningReport by #CaitlinGarvey

Two years after her mother’s death from breast cancer, Caitlin, then 20 years old, was admitted to a psychiatric facility after a suicide attempt. In the wake of this enormous loss, Caitlin questions her religion, comes to terms with her sexuality, and searches for a way to live with severe depression and anxiety. Filled with imagery, vulnerability and depth, The Mourning Report honestly and gracefully unpacks a trifecta of trauma.

Years later, unable to come to terms with her mother’s death, Caitlin decides to embark on a “grief journey,” interviewing the people involved in her mother’s dying process: a hospice nurse, a priest, an estate planner, a hairstylist, and a funeral director. If she figures out how they can function after being so close to her mother’s death, then maybe she can learn how to navigate her own life. Each chapter of The Mourning Report is centered on each interview and the memories, anxieties, and reflections that is stimulated. It asks what it means to “move on.”

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We learned, ‘Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ when I was in pre-school, and one kid tried to do the motions so fast he made himself dizzy and threw up.

CHAPTER ONE, THE SEED COLLECTOR

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(Homebound Publications, 6 October 2020, 168 pages, ebook, copy from the publisher via #NetGalley and voluntarily reviewed)

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I thought this was an incredibly sad book, very moving at times but heart-breaking. Its clear Caitlin’s never got over her mother’s death and her grief, many years later still shapes her life. Grief affects people in different ways. Not everyone will respond the same way or take the same amount of time to move on. My Gran died almost twenty years ago and my Mum still grieves her though it has gotten easier over time. I don’t think about Gran very often. I cried a lot reading The Mourning Report because the author had allowed me the privilege of sharing her grief and mourning process. I wanted to hug her. I found the people she decided to interview an interesting choice as they were not always the most obvious person I expected her to want to speak to. The chapter where she speaks to the hospice nurse is quite upsetting as it becomes clear the patient they are discussing is not Caitlin’s mother but she chooses not to say anything. The interviews are interwoven with flashbacks of her mother’s illness and death and the life of the family before she became ill. There is a ray of hope though, at the end that Caitlin may have started to heal.

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