Friday, 14 May 2021

Silenced by Sólveig Pálsdóttir BLOG TOUR @solveigpals @CorylusB #Silenced #Iceland T. @graskeggur

 


As a police team is called in to investigate a woman’s suicide at the Hólmsheiði prison outside Reykjavík, to detective Guðgeir Fransson it looks like a tragic but straightforward case.

It’s only afterwards that the pieces begin to fall into place and he takes a deeper interest in Kristín Kjarr’s troubled background, and why she had found herself in prison.

His search leads him to a series of brutal crimes committed twenty years before and the unexplained disappearance of the prime suspect, whose wealthy family closed ranks as every effort was made to keep skeletons securely hidden in closets – while the Reykjavík police struggle to deal with a spate of fresh attacks that bear all the hallmarks of a copycat.

Glass Key Award-nominated Icelandic author Sólveig Pálsdóttir is an exciting new voice in Nordic crime fiction.


Silenced by Sólveig Pálsdóttir was published by Corylus Books on 15 April 2021. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this Blog Tour



I am a huge fan of translated fiction, especially Nordic Noir, and especially Icelandic Fiction. Silenced is brilliantly translated by Quentin Bates. He excels in keeping that authentic Icelandic feel to the story, his expertise and own experience of living in Iceland shines through, making this novel something to really savour. 

Guðgeir Fransson has returned to Reykjavík to take charge of the Special Investigations unit. Not only is this a new chapter for him career wise, but he and his wife Inga are moving into a new apartment. Getting their new home ready is taking up all of his spare time. He's already met one of his new neighbours, Andrea Eythórsdóttir, who, when she found out that he was a police officer, began to tell him how the force had let her and her family down so badly. Her brother, Johannes Eythórsson, disappeared twenty years ago. It happened on the day that an earthquake hit Iceland, and Guðgeir vaguely remembers the case, but had no involvement in the investigation.

Guðgeir and his fellow officer Elsa Guðrún are called out to a death at the local prison. It appears that Kristín Kjarr has taken her own life, although the prison warden informs them that she had seemed in good spirits before her death. Kristín was a talented artist and had left many drawings in her cell. On closer inspection, it becomes clear that one man features heavily in the art work. That man is Daði Eythórsdóttir; the brother of Guðgeir's neighbour and the disappeared Johannes.

As the investigations proceed, it becomes clear that Johannes had many allegations against him. Kristín had accused him of rape, although the allegations were strongly denied by the wealthy and influential Eythórsdóttir family. 

When a rape is reported, and then another, and then another that is far more personal to the police team, suspicions about Daði Eythórsdóttir are roused. Could he be following in his brother's footsteps, and why is Andrea suddenly so loathe to speak out? Has someone got to her? What does she have to hide? Who is silencing her?

This is complex and very cleverly written crime story with a strong message within it. By including events from the past, and the present, the author seamlessly shows how powerful men can silence women, and it's frightening and dark and distressing at times. All of the characters are so perfectly formed, with their flaws and their foibles exposed to all. I was totally invested in this story, and had no idea where we would end up. I was so impressed by how the story twisted around, to show so many sides and uncover truths. 

Absolutely compelling reading. This author is one to watch, and the translation is so brilliantly done too. Highly recommended by me.



Sólveig Pálsdóttir trained as an actor and has a background in the theatre, television and radio.
In a second career she studied for degrees in literature and education, and has taught literature and linguistics, drama and public speaking, and has produced both radio programming and managed cultural events.Her first novel appeared in Iceland in 2012 and went straight to the country’s bestseller list. She has written five novels featuring Reykjavík detective Guðgeir Fransson and a memoir, Klettaborgin, which was a 2020 hit in Iceland.Silenced (Fjötrar) received the 2020 Drop of Blood award for the best Icelandic novel of the year and is Iceland’s nomination for the 2021 Glass key award for the best Nordic crime novel of the year. Sólveig lives in Reykjavík.

Twitter @solveigpals






Tuesday, 11 May 2021

One Ordinary Day At A Time by Sarah J Harris @sarahsky23 @HarperFiction @flisssity @fictionpubteam #OneOrdinaryDayAtATime #BookReview

 


Behind every ordinary day, behind every ordinary story, there’s an extraordinary one just waiting to happen…

The uplifting, original new novel from the award-winning author of The Colour of Bee Larkham’s Murder.

TWO PEOPLE
 
Simon Sparks is the man you know from behind the counter at the local Prince Burger (‘hold the gherkin!’), fry shovelling, shelf stacking, hiding away from the world. And Jodie Brook is the single mum you see crossing the street with her son Zak – always chasing a dream she can’t reach.
 
ONE LIFE
 
What if life could be so much more? When Simon and Jodie’s worlds collide, it upends everything they know. But in chaos comes opportunity. And for every person who’s ever doubted them, they find someone who’ll finally believe…
 
ONE ORDINARY DAY AT A TIME
 
From the award-winning author, Sarah J. Harris, comes a warm, uplifting story about ordinary people, extraordinary tomorrows, and all the ways that life can surprise us…



One Ordinary Day At A Time by Sarah J Harris is published on 10 June 2021 by Harper Collins. My thanks to the author and publisher who sent my copy for review.

Most of us will make a judgement about a person at first glance. As we get to know someone, our opinion will often change. What happens though if a person hides their true self, not only from those around them, but from themselves? How do we get to know someone when their life is based on hidden secrets, lies and a false exterior?

In One Ordinary Day At A Time, Sarah J Harris has created two such characters in Simon and Jodie. They are both prickly, and difficult to empathise with, but this is their own doing, and gradually, as we read on, we realise that both of them have created a hard shell around themselves, for protection from life.

Simon works at Prince Burger. He stands at the fryer, often burning the fries. His mind is usually filled with numbers and complex formulae as he is determined to solve the Reimann Hypothesis, and when he does, he will finally be worth something. Known as Prof, or Einstein, Simon doesn't have friends. He offends people very easily with his comments about their intelligence. Jodie wants to work at Prince Burger, a single mum who grew up in the care system and has suffered appalling abuse from a boyfriend, her one main aim in life is to get into Cambridge University to study English Literature, only then will she be finally worth something. Two very different people, but with an overwhelming need to be worth something, to anyone. 

Simon and Jodie judge each other. She thinks he's a rude, offhand nerd. He thinks she's a stupid girl with tattoos. Both of them are very wrong, and as they learn more about each other, they discover that they can help each other.

This is a wonderful story. The author deals with some dark and emotive themes, Simon's childhood has been one of constant abuse, with so many restrictions put on him. He is totally alienated from his remaining family, and lives with constant guilt and fear. Jodie's own childhood was fractured, moved from family to family, her only champion was school librarian Libby. Whilst her son Zak is the light of her life, his father is a cruel, violent man and Jodie is terrified that he will reappear soon. 

A story of a wonderful friendship between two people who have never been true to themselves, or to others. It is about missed opportunities and how events from our past have such an impact on how we live today. There are some heart-wrenching scenes of realisation and facing up to the truth, but it is filled with the joy of hope and looking forward. 

The star of the novel is young Zak who binds the friendship with his ever hopeful optimism and ability to see the good in people. There is no fooling a seven-year-old, and this is a lesson for us all about honesty and telling the truth. 

Witty, warm and uplifting, this is a novel that I will be recommending for a long time


Sarah J Harris is an author and freelance education journalist who regularly writes for national
newspapers. 
Her debut adult novel, The Colour of Bee Larkham's Murder, was a Richard and Judy Book Club choice and won the breakthrough category in the Books Are My Bag Readers Awards 2018.
Sarah lives in London with her husband and two children.


Twitter @sarahhsky23










Monday, 10 May 2021

The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain @MattCainWriter @RosieMargesson @headlinepg @HeadlineFiction #SecretLifeOfAlbertEntwistle

 


Albert Entwistle was a postman. It was one of the few things everyone knew about him. And it was one of the few things he was comfortable with people knowing.

64-year-old Albert Entwistle has been a postie in a quiet town in Northern England for all his life, living alone since the death of his mam 18 years ago. He keeps himself to himself. He always has. But he's just learned he'll be forced to retire at his next birthday. With no friends and nothing to look forward to, the lonely future he faces terrifies him. He realises it's finally time to be honest about who he is. He must learn to ask for what he wants. And he must find the courage to look for George, the man that, many years ago, he lost - but has never forgotten . . .

Join Albert as he sets out to find the long-lost love of his life, and has an unforgettable and completely life-affirming adventure on the way . . . This is a love story the likes of which you have never read before!



The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle by Matt Cain is published on 27 May 2021 by Headline Review. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review. 


Don't you just love it when you read a book that delivers such an emotional punch that you find yourself thinking about the characters for a long time afterwards?  The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle is one of those books, it is a story of differences, and love. It's a story of community and friendship, and most of all it's a celebration of how times have changed so much over the past fifty years.

Albert Entwistle is a 64 year old postman, living in a town in Northern England. Everyone knows Albert the postman, but nobody at all knows Albert the man. He has walked his route since he was sixteen years old, seeing the same faces, watching families grow, observing the changes in the area. Albert must retire when he is sixty five, that's just a few months away, and he is devastated. He has lived alone, with just his cat for company for eighteen years, before that, he nursed his elderly and quite obnoxious mother. Albert doesn't have friends, he doesn't chat to his colleagues. He is insular and remote. Albert is afraid of rejection, he is afraid to allow anyone to know him. Albert was in love once, when he was just a teen, that love was shattered and he has never forgiven himself for the what was said during the final conversation he had with George. 

Albert's turning point is triggered by a sadness and an emerging friendship with single mum Nicole, who is dealing with her own disappointments. He gradually opens up to her, and with her knowledge about social media, fashion and her total acceptance of how he is, he decides that maybe he can come out to his colleagues and neighbours, and find George, and make amends for what happened all those years ago.

Told over two timelines; the present day, and back in the 1970s, this is a poignant and joyful story told with such empathy and compassion. The author's depiction of how homosexuality was viewed, and how gay men were persecuted is heartbreaking. The sense of anger grew in me, and yet it is not that long ago, but oh, how things have changed. 

Albert and Nicole are a wonderful pairing, helping each other to overcome their own personal hurdles. The writing flows so well, and the reader is caught up their world, willing things to go right and experiencing the highs and the lows along the way. 

A story filled with love, acceptance, humour and compassion, it's a book that has cried out to be written and should be read by everyone. It's a testament to how much society has changed over the years, and how love can overcome most things in life. Beautiful and heartfelt, I highly recommend this novel. 



A note from the Author

One of the things that inspired me to write The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle was all the joy I felt at seeing gay men like myself being embraced by British society. I think you'd be hard-pushed to find any other minority community in the UK that was as hated, feared and vilified as gay men were fifty years ago and is now as widely celebrated and loved.

Acceptance of gay men has become a touchstone of British values within less than a decade, something that even the most optimistic commentators couldn't have predicted. I wanted to write a book that would celebrate this. And I sincerely hope that The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle makes its readers feel good about themselves and the part they've played in bringing about this extraordinary social shift. 

Matt Cain





Matt Cain was born in Bury and brought up in Bolton. He was educated at state schools and then
Cambridge University.
 
Matt spent ten years making arts and entertainment programmes for ITV, including documentaries about Freddie Mercury, Mamma Mia! and The Da Vinci Code, and profiles of Ian McKellen, Darcey Bussell and Will Young for The South Bank Show.
 
Between 2010 and 2013, Matt worked in front of the camera as Channel 4 News’ first ever Culture Editor, a role in which he attracted acclaim for his coverage of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Mercury Music Prize and the Turner Prize, as well as interviews with Grayson Perry, the Spice Girls and Pedro Almodóvar.
 
Matt’s first novel, Shot Through the Heart, was published by Pan Macmillan in 2014. The second, Nothing But Trouble, followed in 2015.

Between 2016 and 2018 Matt worked as Editor-in-Chief of Attitude, the UK's biggest-selling magazine for gay men. Whilst in the role he negotiated world-exclusive covers with Sam Smith, Ricky Martin and James Corden, launched and hosted the popular #AttitudeHeroes podcast, and ran the Attitude Awards, hosted by Tom Daley, with winners including Prince Harry and Kylie Minogue. He also wrote exclusive reports on his personal experience of HIV prevention drug PrEP, homophobia in Russia, and life for gay people in China.


As a freelance journalist, Matt has written for all the UK’s major newspapers and appeared on Sky News, BBC Breakfast and Good Morning Britain. He was a judge for the 2013 Costa Book Awards and the Polari First Novel Prize in 2014 and continues to judge the South Bank Sky Arts Awards. He has been nominated for Stonewall's Writer of the Year award and in 2017 was voted winner of Diversity in Media's Journalist of the Year award.

 

In 2017 Matt crowdfunded his third novel The Madonna of Bolton, after receiving over 30 rejections from publishers, reportedly due to its gay protagonist and theme. The title reached its funding target in seven days, becoming Unbound's fastest-crowdfunded novel ever. Pledges came in from 28 countries and the project was backed by celebrities including David Walliams, Mark Gatiss, David Nicholls, Lisa Jewell and Gok Wan. The Madonna of Bolton was published by Unbound in 2018.

 

Matt is an ambassador for both Manchester Pride and the Albert Kennedy Trust, the UK's national youth LGBT+ homelessness charity. He's also a patron of LGBT History Month. 

 

His next novel, The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, will be published by Headline Review in May 2021.


He lives in London.


www.mattcainwriter.com


Twitter @MattCainWriter


Instagram @mattcainwriter






Saturday, 8 May 2021

#Giveaway - The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by @matson_taylor_ #Nighthawking by @thevoiceofruss #Competition #Win #Prizes


giveaway!

Happy Saturday!  It is time for another giveaway on Random Things.

Today I have two fabulous books to send to one lucky winner

The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor, published by Scribner

Nighthawking by Russ Thomas, published by Simon & Schuster





It is the summer of 1962 and sixteen-year-old Evie Epworth stands on the cusp of womanhood. But what kind of a woman will she be?
Up until now, Evie’s life has been nothing special: a patchwork of school, Guides, cows, lost mothers, lacrosse and village fetes. But, inspired by her idols (Charlotte Brontë, Shirley MacLaine, the Queen), she dreams of a world far away from rural East Yorkshire, a world of glamour lived under the bright lights of London (or Leeds). Standing in the way of these dreams, though, is Christine, Evie’s soon-to-be stepmother, a manipulative and money-grubbing schemer who is lining Evie up for a life of shampoo-and-set drudgery at the stinky local salon.
 
Luckily Evie is not alone. With the help of a few friends, and the wise counsel of the two Adam Faith posters on her bedroom wall (‘brooding Adam’ and ‘sophisticated Adam’), Evie comes up with a plan to rescue her future from Christine’s pink and over-perfumed clutches. She will need a little luck, a dash of charm and a big dollop of Yorkshire magic if she is to succeed, but in the process she may just discover who exactly it is she is meant to be.
 
Moving, inventive and achingly funny, with an all-star cast of bold-as-brass characters, The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is a perfectly pitched modern fairytale about love, friendship and following your dreams while having a lot of fun along the way.



Sheffield’s beautiful Botanical Gardens – an oasis of peace in a world filled with sorrow, confusion
and pain. And then, one morning, a body is found in the Gardens. A young woman, dead from a stab wound, buried in a quiet corner. Police quickly determine that the body’s been there for months. It would have gone undiscovered for years – but someone just sneaked into the Gardens and dug it up.
 
Who is the victim? Who killed her and hid her body? Who dug her up? And who left a macabre marker on the body?
 
In his quest to find her murderer, DS Adam Tyler will find himself drawn into the secretive world of nighthawkers: treasure-hunters who operate under cover of darkness, seeking the lost and valuable . . . and willing to kill to keep what they find.




Entry is simple. Just fill out the competition widget below.
The competition will stay open for 10 days.
UK entries only

GOOD LUCK! 



Win 2 Books : The Miseducation of Evie Epworth by Matson Taylor / Nighthawking by Russ Thomas





Matson Taylor grew up in Yorkshire (the flat part not the Brontë part). He comes from farming stock
and spent an idyllic childhood surrounded by horses, cows, bicycles, and cheap ice-cream. His father, a York City and Halifax Town footballer, has never forgiven him for getting on the school rugby team but not getting anywhere near the school football team.


Matson now lives in London, where he is a design historian and academic writing tutor at the V&A, Imperial College and the Royal College of Art. Previously, he talked his way into various jobs at universities and museums around the world; he has also worked on Camden Market, appeared in an Italian TV commercial and been a pronunciation coach for Catalan opera singers. He gets back to Yorkshire as much as possible, mainly to see family and friends but also to get a reasonably-priced haircut.

He has always loved telling stories and, after writing academically about beaded flapper dresses and World War 2 glow-in-the-dark fascinators, he decided to enrol on the Faber Academy 'Writing A Novel' course. The Miseducation of Evie Epworth is his first novel.

He is represented by Alice Lutyens at Curtis Brown.

Twitter @matson_taylor_


Russ Thomas was born in Essex, raised in Berkshire and now lives in Sheffield. 
After a few 'proper' jobs (among them: pot-washer, optician's receptionist, supermarket warehouse operative, call-centre telephonist, and storage salesman) he discovered the joys of bookselling, where he could talk to people about books all day. 
His highly-acclaimed debut novel, Firewatching, is the first in the DS Adam Tyler series and published in February 2020. 
Nighthawking, the second book in the series, will publish in April 2021.
Instagram @thevoiceofruss






Friday, 7 May 2021

The Absent Prince by Una Suseli O'Connell BLOG TOUR #TheAbsentPrince @RandomTTours #UnaSuseliOConnell #BookExtract

 


Do we inherit the psychological as well as the material legacies of our ancestors, the hidden dynamics that influence our relationship patterns, our health and our self-image? 

Una's heartfelt family memoir, based on her parents' letters and diaries, follows the arc of individual lives between the years 1933 and 1997. 

Over a four-year period Una travelled in England, Ireland, Switzerland and the United States speaking with people who knew her parents and grandparents. 

Alongside painful and shameful family secrets, she discovered stories of great emotional courage, resilience and abiding love.


The Absent Prince by Una Suseli O'Connell was published in June 2020 by The Conrad Press. As part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour I am delighted to share an extract from the book with you.


Extract from The Absent Prince by Una Suseli O'Conell

Chapter One
The Faithful and the Faithless 

I’m very fond of newspaper vending machines because they are so delightfully un-twenty-first century. They are entirely mechanical, have no moving parts and only accept coins. But their days are numbered. Before too long, the only remain- ing example will be on display at the National Museum of American History in Washington. 

When I drive long distances in America I like to pull up in small towns, park my car on Main Street, offer up my seventy-five cents for a local newspaper and settle down in an unchained coffee shop. I give myself over to understanding the lives people lead in communities such as Monroe, Wisconsin or Beaufort, North Carolina and the section of the paper that allows me to do this most fully is the obituary page. From an obituary I get a sense of what was important to a person; the tone of writing tells me how the deceased was seen by others; I learn about family and personal tragedies, the opportunities offered during a lifetime and the consequences of accepting or declining those opportunities. 

In 1978 my father, Peter O’Connell, was living in Bulgaria where he heard tell of an old woman in the mountains near Sofia who could accurately predict the day of your death. Dad told me of his intention to visit her: he thought it would be useful to know how many years he had left, so he could prioritise his interests and plan his time better. I never had the courage to ask him about his visit, but I often wondered whether he lived his life differently with an anticipated date of death forever in mind. It’s not something you can easily forget; unless you develop Alzheimer’s, which my father did, so perhaps that fact got swallowed up with so many of the others. I wonder too whether the date the oracle predicted turned out to be the correct one: September 5th, 1998. 

I was on a sailing boat in Narragansett Bay, off the coast of Rhode Island, when I heard the news that my father was dying. I was a hostage to circumstance, unable to return to land until the following day and I went below deck in search of solitude. On the wall of the cabin I read these lines from the poem Merlin and the Gleam by Alfred, Lord Tennyson: 

And so to the land’s
Last limit I came--
And can no longer,
But die rejoicing,
For thro’ the Magic
Of Him the Mighty,
Who taught me in childhood, 
There on the border 
Of boundless Ocean, 
And all but in Heaven 
Hovers The Gleam. 

I found the words soothing and oddly appropriate. My father had a profound need to believe in something beyond the limitations of time and space and he spent a lifetime seeking to make a spiritual commitment, to offer his devotion to a god who would protect him from the turbulence and uncertainty of life. 

Shortly before he died, he wrote in a letter to his aunt: I wish most heartily that I could find it possible in my heart and in my mind to accept the gospel of Christ. I have prayed often and fervently for faith but there is only silence. 



Una Suseli O'Connell was a teacher in traditional and alternative schools for twenty years before
training in Systemic Family Constellations at the Hellinger Institute of New York in 2001. 

She worked in inner city schools, supporting children with emotional and behavioural difficulties and managing issues around belonging, inclusion, family and culture. 

Una now works independently, providing workshops for educators, school therapists and social workers. 

She has two adult daughters and lives with her husband in North Hertfordshire.








Thursday, 6 May 2021

The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl BLOG TOUR @ko_dahl @OrendaBooks #TheAssistant #BlogTour #BookReview

 


Oslo, 1938. War is in the air and Europe is in turmoil. Hitler’s Germany has occupied Austria and is threatening Czechoslovakia; there’s a civil war in Spain and Mussolini reigns in Italy.

When a woman turns up at the office of police-turned-private investigator Ludvig Paaske, he and his assistant – his one-time nemesis and former drug-smuggler Jack Rivers – begin a seemingly straightforward investigation into marital infidelity.

But all is not what it seems, and when Jack is accused of murder, the trail leads back to the 1920s, to prohibition-era Norway, to the smugglers, sex workers and hoodlums of his criminal past ... and an extraordinary secret.

Both a fascinating portrait of Oslo’s interwar years, with Nazis operating secretly on Norwegian soil and militant socialists readying workers for war, The Assistant is also a stunningly sophisticated, tension-packed thriller – the darkest of hard-boiled Nordic Noir – from one of Norway’s most acclaimed crime writers.

The Assistant by Kjell Ola Dahl is published in paperback on 13 May 2021 by Orenda Books. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review, for this Blog Tour. 





I was delighted when I heard that Kjell Ola Dahl had written another historical crime story, I read and enjoyed the last one; The Courier and had high hopes for The Assistant.

I have been totally caught up in this clever and multi layered story, Dahl writes with such ease, allowing his readers to experience the country of Norway; the sights, the sounds, the tradition and the history.

The Assistant of the title is Jack Rivers, although his helping role comes later in the book. At the beginning, back in 1924 Jack Rivers and his eventual boss Ludwig Paaske are sworn enemies. Jack spends his days transporting illegal spirits in and around Kristiania. Norway is under prohibition, with strong spirits outlawed, but Jack has a steady supply.

The author then travels to Kristiana in 1938; now known as Oslo and surprisingly we find Jack and Ludwig working together as private detectives. We don't know, at first, how this unusual pairing came about, the ex police officer and the man he was desperate to capture, now working together on privately commissioned cases. They've been visited by a woman who suspects her husband of infidelity, For Ludwig, it seems like a simple case, yet Jack is convinced there is far more to it.

The Assistant is expertly structured, and as the author flits back and forth in time, the two strands of the story becoming increasingly interwoven. Jack was correct, there is far more to this case that first appears and his past is linked to the events of the present day. 

Jack Rivers is a fabulous character, I'd love to see him with his own series. He's intuitive and clever, yet passionate and caring, His loyalties are stretched to their limit by what becomes apparent during the investigations, he has time to reflect on past events and ponder the future. Paaske, on the other hand is something of an enigma to me. Colder, and not as easy to understand. However, as an investigative duo, they are such a joy to discover. 

The Assistant is much more than a crime story. It's also a history lesson and I learnt so much about pre-war Norway. Dahl's story is,  as always, impeccably plotted. It is original and absorbing and I would recommend this to all. 



Kjell Ola Dahl was born in the city Gjovik, in Norway in 1958, but grew up in Oslo. 

Dahl was a teacher and social adviser in High school when he started to write the Oslo Detectives series. 
Two times Dahl has won the Riverton-prize, the Norwegian National prize for the best novel of crime fiction (in 2000 and in 2015). 
He won the prestigious Brage-prize for the Courier, a standalone novel of crime fiction set in Norway and Sweden during World War II and in 1967. 
The first book in the series of the Oslo Detectives - Lethal investments - was published in in Norway 1993. 
Dahl lives on the farm Torgunrud in Feiring, by the lake Mjosa. Read more at kjelloladahl.no

Twitter @ko_dahl






Monday, 3 May 2021

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird BLOG TOUR @ChristinaRoseSB @BoroughPress @RandomThingsTours #EndOfMen #BookReview

 


GLASGOW, 2025.  Dr Amanda Maclean is called to treat a young man with a mild fever. Within three hours he dies. The mysterious illness sweeps through the hospital with deadly speed. This is how it begins.

The victims are all men.

Dr Maclean raises the alarm, but the sickness spreads to every corner of the globe. Threatening families. Governments. Countries.

Can they find a cure before it’s too late? Will this be the story of the end of the world – or its salvation?

Compelling, confronting and devastating, The End of Men is the novel that everyone is talking about.


The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird was published on 29 April 2021 in hardcover by The Borough Press. My thanks to the publisher who sent my copy for review as part of this #RandomThingsTours Blog Tour 



Christina Sweeney-Baird wrote and submitted The End of Men during 2018 - 2019. It was finished in June 2019. I am positive that she had no idea that her book would be published during a worldwide pandemic. There's something a little creepy about that. Reading the book is quite something as we find ourselves just beginning to come out of lockdown, being the author of something that almost became reality must be staggering. There are people who will choose not to read anything about pandemics and disease and devastation at this time, and that's fine. However, I was totally gripped by this story, reading it over two days and becoming more and more invested in the characters. 

The year is 2025, and the disease within this story is referred to as The Plague, and it only kills men. Women are carriers, but only men die. The Plague first came to light in a Glasgow hospital when a young, seemingly healthy man arrived with flu-like symptoms. Within hours his temperature soared to over 45 degrees. The clinical staff could do nothing. He died. 

This is just the beginning. Dr Amanda Maclean immediately knows that this is going to be devastating, she identifies the female carrier within the hospital, yet her warnings are dismissed by the higher authorities. She's a hysterical woman, with a history of mental health issues, why on earth would they listen?

The author tells this gripping story from the point of view of a cast of female characters. I'll admit that there were times when I had to remind myself who was who and how they fitted, but once these characters embedded themselves, I was so engaged. It's a chilling and unflinching story of world survival, as the infrastructure that keeps the world turning begins to break down, the horror increases. Not only do women have to move up and take over the running of countries, they are also mourning the loss of husbands, sons, fathers, colleagues and friends. The grief felt by the characters is overwhelming at times, yet the pure determination to ensure their survival is brilliantly portrayed.

I am not a scientist, or a biologist or a vaccine specialist. I cannot say whether these things could happen, but I can say that this author has imagined a nightmare. It is especially poignant as we look around and see the changes that COVID have made to our own lives, and believe me, The Plague is far worse. 

The End of Men is a persuasive and wonderfully written novel that creates so many questions, and highlights the ongoing inequalities of the human race. The characters are flawed, yet flawlessly created. A chillingly entertaining read that I'd recommend. 





Christina was born in 1993 and grew up between London and Glasgow. 

She studied Law at the University of Cambridge and graduated with a First in 2015. 

Christina works as a Corporate Litigation lawyer in London. 

The End of Men is her first novel.