blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Roamers – Francesco Verso, translated by Jennifer Delare

The pulldogs, a group of people at the twilight of Western civilisation, undergo an anthropological transformation caused by the dissemination of nanites (nanorobots capable of assembling molecules to create matter). This technology changes the way they eat and gives rise to a culture which, while reminiscent of an ancient nomadic society, is creative and new. Liberation from the imperative of food, combined with the ability to 3D print objects and use cloud computing, makes it possible for the pulldogs to make a choice that seems impossible and anachronistic – a new life, but is it really an Arcadia?

Francesco Verso (Bologna, 1973) is one of the most relevant voices of Italian Science Fiction and editor of Future Fiction. Over the last 12 years, he has won many SF awards (including the Best Publisher Award by the European SF Society in 2019) and for 7 years he’s the editor of the multicultural project Future Fiction. His books include: Antidoti umani, e-Doll (Urania Award 2009), Nexhuman (Odissea and Italia Award 2013), Bloodbusters (Urania Award 2015) and I camminatori (made of The Pulldogs and No/Mad/Land). His novels Nexhuman and Bloodbusters – translated in English by Sally McCorry – have been published in the US, UK, and soon in China with the translation of Zhang Fan and Shaoyan Hu for the publisher Bofeng Culture. His short stories appeared in magazines like Robot, MAMUT, International Speculative Fiction #5, Chicago Quarterly Review #20, Words Without Borders, Future Affairs Administration and international anthologies such as A Dying Earth (Flame Tree Press) and The Best of World SF (Head of Zeus).

Together with Bill Campbell he has co-edited Future Fiction: New Dimensions in International Science Fiction (Rosarium Publishing, 2018). He has also edited a SF anthology called What’s the Future Like? for Guangzhou Blue Ocean Press that has been distributed to Chinese high schools and universities in 2019. He’s a public speaker and panelist to many SF Cons across the world, including WorldCons, EuroCons, and Chinese SF Conventions. In 2020 he has organized the FutureCon an online SF convention with 67 panelists coming from more than 25 countries.

From 2014 he works as editor of Future Fiction, a multicultural project, scouting and publishing the best SF in translation from 10 languages and more than 20 countries with authors like James P. Kelly, Ian McDonald, Ken Liu, Xia Jia, Liu Cixin, Chen Qiufan, Pat Cadigan, Olivier Paquet, Vandana Singh, Lavie Tidhar, Fabio Fernandes, Ekaterina Sedia and others. He lives in Rome with his wife and daughter. He may be found online at

My thoughts: in a future version of Rome, where society has eroded, the Pulldogs, who tow rickshaws around the city, dodging in and out of the heavy traffic, have taken slightly dubiously acquired nanites that supercharge their bodies. Nico, who designs scents for his father’s business, becomes determined to use nanites to lose weight and then to become part of their off grid community.

After a standoff with the police ends in tragedy, they decide to become a nomadic society instead, and some have begun to evolve even beyond humanity.

Silvia is the Pulldog at the centre of the story – unlike some of the others, she has a link to the rest of the world – her mother, and questions the changes and increasingly antagonistic relationship between her found family and the wider world.

An interesting and at times quite complex book about community, escaping from the expected world and finding your family and home.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Thirty Days of Darkness – Jenny Lund Madsen, translated by Megan E. Turney

Winner of the Harald Mogensen Prize for Best Danish Crime Novel of 2020 Shortlisted for the Glass Key Award

A snobbish Danish literary author is challenged to write a crime novel in thirty days, travelling to a small village in Iceland for inspiration, and then the first body appears…

Copenhagen author Hannah is the darling of the literary community and her novels have achieved massive critical acclaim. But nobody actually reads them, and frustrated by writer’s block, Hannah has the feeling that she’s doing something wrong.

When she expresses her contempt for genre fiction, Hanna is publicly challenged to write a crime novel in thirty days. Scared that she will lose face, she accepts, and her editor sends her to Húsafjörður – a quiet, tight-knit village in Iceland, filled with colourful local characters – for inspiration.

But two days after her arrival, the body of a fisherman’s young son is pulled from the water … and what begins as a search for plot material quickly turns into a messy and dangerous investigation that threatens to uncover secrets that put everything at risk … including Hannah.

Jenny Lund Madsen is one of Denmark’s most acclaimed scriptwriters (including the international hits Rita and Follow the Money) and is known as an advocate for better representation for sexual and ethnic minorities in Danish TV and film. She recently made her debut as a playwright with the critically acclaimed Audition (Aarhus Teater) and her debut literary thriller, Thirty Days of Darkness, first in an addictive new series, won the Harald Mogensen Prize for Best Danish Crime Novel of the year and was shortlisted for the coveted Glass Key Award. She lives in Denmark with her young family.

My thoughts: come with me to an Icelandic village in the middle of nowhere, in winter, where writer Hannah is attempting to write a crime novel in 30 days to win a bet. When there’s a murder, which she gets involved in and puts her safety at risk. She doesn’t speak the language, forcing others to have to speak English or Danish, she doesn’t know the people, but she’s pretty sure she can catch the killer. As you do.

I found Hannah a bit grating, she pushes her way into people’s lives and business with little regard for their feelings and clearly thinks very highly of herself. Her career is stalling as not many people seem that keen on her literary fiction – preferring crime writers like her nemesis Jørn. Which is why she boasts she can write a whole crime novel in a month. This tickled me, I do love it when writers poke fun at the industry and their own genre.

Especially when the book is so good, like this one. Jenny Lund Madsen has written a cracking crime thriller, with all the good ingredients – remote location, nosey outsider, secrets that have been buried for years, lots of possible suspects, a conflicted community, a lone policeman, and winter closing in. Iceland’s unique geography and the fact that the sun isn’t in evidence for much of the winter adds to the sinister atmosphere – snow bound crimes are always a bit more macabre than sunny ones. The winter darkness adds to the sense of claustrophobia and paranoia, someone here is a killer. They can’t leave, but neither can anyone else.

Full of suspense, intrigue and horror, this dark and twisted tale of murder and tragedy is absolutely perfect for a dark and stormy night’s reading. Or not, if you don’t want to stay up all night!

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Acapulco – Simone Buchholz, translated by Rachel Ward

State Prosecutor Chastity Riley faces her most challenging case yet, with a violent serial killer at large, who might just be uncatchable…

A serial killer is on the loose in Hamburg, targeting dancers from The Acapulco, a club in the city’s red-light district, taking their scalps as gruesome trophies and replacing them with plastic wigs.

Chastity Riley is the state prosecutor responsible for crimes in the district, and she’s working alongside the police as they investigate. Can she get inside the mind of the killer?

Her strength is thinking like a criminal; her weaknesses are pubs, bars and destructive relationships, but as Chastity searches for love and a flamboyant killer – battling her demons and the dark, foggy Hamburg weather – she hits dead end after dead end.

As panic sets in and the death toll rises, it becomes increasingly clear that it may already be too late. For everyone…

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 in the German Crime Fiction Prize for Blue Night, which was number one on the KrimiZEIT Best of Crime List for months. The critically acclaimed Beton Rouge, Mexico Street, Hotel Cartagena and River Clyde all followed in the Chastity Riley series, with The Acapulco out in 2023. She lives in Sankt Pauli, in the heart of Hamburg, with her husband and son.

My thoughts: Chastity Riley is back. After her travels to Scotland, she’s back at work investigating crimes in Hamburg as a prosecutor, aided by detectives from the local police. Murdered pole dancers are being found in the streets, scalped and wearing cheap wigs. They’re all young, and work in the same club – The Acapulco.

The team look into their lives and the customers at the club. Someone really wants to humiliate these women – taking their hair and scalp, replacing them with gaudy wigs that you could buy anywhere. And is there a connection to a murdered pimp?

Chastity’s relationship with her neighbour has also stepped up a notch, spending nights in each other’s beds. Then there’s the theatre director, is he connected to the killings or just after Chastity? And her best friend, possibly her only friend, is acting a bit strange. Can she solve that mystery too?

I really like Chastity, she’s a complicated person, with a weakness for drinking and staying out all night, at odds with her professional life. She doesn’t let many people in and she takes too many risks. Faller and the other detectives worry about her, but she even shrugs them off. She’s put herself in danger before and probably will again.

This was another dark, twisted, clever thriller, looking deep into the heart of the nightlife in this district of Hamburg, itself a city of many faces. I enjoyed learning more about the area and the culture, and the passion for football that a lot of the characters share. This series gets better with each book and you learn a little bit more about Chastity each time too.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: The Lazarus Solution – Kjell Ola Dahl, translated by Don Bartlett

Daniel Berkåk works as a courier for the Press and Military Office in Stockholm. On his last cross-border mission to Norway, he carries a rucksack full of coded documents and newspapers, but before he has a chance to deliver anything he is shot and killed and the contents of his rucksack are missing.

The Norwegian government, currently exiled in London, wants to know what happened, and the job goes to writer Jomar Kraby, whose first suspect is a Norwegian refugee living in Sweden, whose past is as horrifying as the events still to come…

Both classic crime and a stunning expose of Norwegian agents in Stockholm during the Second World War, The Lazarus Solution is a compulsive, complex, richly authentic historical thriller from one of the godfathers of Nordic Noir.

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published fourteen novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

My thoughts: oh this is clever, sending you all over Sweden and occupied Norway, looking for a killer, a conspiracy, when actually it’s something else entirely. Nobody seems to be able to explain, people are double crossing every way, and somehow writer Jomar Kraby, who’s very good at pretending to be a bit thick, must solve it to satisfy the government in exile, and more importantly himself.

Even when he’s told to stop digging, he doesn’t, even when the Germans are on his heels, he keeps going. He wants answers and he’s not satisfied with only knowing a little. He wants the whole lot.

Dragging along behind him is the man he suspects killed Daniel Berkåk, brother to another man who is linked to this whole mess. Soldier, sailor, internment camp inmate, Kai Fredly claims to want to go to the UK and join the Norwegian army, but hasn’t left Stockholm and has some interesting acquaintances. Sucked into a conspiracy, not exactly connected to the one Kraby’s chasing, he’s afraid to leave and recruited by both sides, he’s stuck.

As the plot winds it’s way through the Venice of the North, through bars and restaurants, homes for refugees, the offices of the Norwegian delegation, apartments and parks, taking in more and more people for Kraby to wonder about, it slowly reveals who the players are and the game they’re all in. Oh, and the reason it’s called The Lazarus Solution…well maybe Kraby has the answer to that too. Deliciously ingenious and thoroughly enjoyable, a spy thriller that hooks you in and definitely not just another WW2 read.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.


A Rediscovered Classic: The Forbidden Notebook – Alba De Cèspedes, translated by Ann Goldstein

Out running an errand, Valeria Cossati gives in to a sudden impulse – she buys a shiny black notebook. She starts keeping a diary in secret, recording her concerns about her daughter, fears her husband will discover her new habit and the constant churn of the domestic routine. With each entry Valeria plunges deeper into her interior life, uncovering profound dissatisfaction and restlessness. As she finds her own voice, the roles that have come to define her-as wife, as mother, as daughter-begin to break apart.

Forbidden Notebook is a rediscovered jewel of Italian literature, published here in a new translation by the celebrated Ann Goldstein and with a foreword by Jhumpa Lahiri. A captivating feminist classic, it is an intimate, haunting story of domestic discontent in postwar Rome, and of one woman’s awakening to her true thoughts and desires.

Alba de Céspedes y Bertini (11 March 1911 – 14 November 1997) was a Cuban-Italian writer.

De Céspedes worked as a journalist in the 1930s for Piccolo, Epoca, and La Stampa. In 1935, she wrote her first novel, L’Anima Degli Altri. Her fiction writing was greatly influenced by the cultural developments that lead to and resulted from World War II. In her writing, she instills her female characters with subjectivity. In her work, there is a recurring motif of women judging the rightness or wrongness of their actions. In 1935, she was jailed for her anti-fascist activities in Italy. Two of her novels were also banned (Nessuno Torna Indietro (1938) and La Fuga (1940)). In 1943, she was again imprisoned for her assistance with Radio Partigiana in Bari where she was a Resistance radio personality known as Clorinda. From June 1952 to the late 1958 she wrote an advice column, called Dalla parte di lei, in the magazine Epoca. She wrote the screenplay for the Michelangelo Antonioni 1955 film Le Amiche. Her work was also part of the literature event in the art competition at the 1936 Summer Olympics.

After the war she went to live in Paris. Although her books were bestsellers, De Céspedes has been overlooked in recent studies of Italian women writers. (Taken from Wikipedia)

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: You Shall Leave Your Land – Renato Cisneros, translated by Fionn Petch

Renato Cisneros’s great-great-grandmother Nicolasa bore seven children by her long-term secret love, who was also her priest, raising them alone in nineteenth century Peru. More than a century later, Renato, the descendent of that clandestine affair, struggles to wring information about his origins out of recalcitrant relatives, whose foibles match the adventures and dalliances of their ancestors. As buried secrets are brought into the light, the story of Nicolasa’s progeny unfolds, bound up with key moments in the development of the Republic of Peru since its independence. 

My thoughts: families are complicated and messy and not always proud of their origins. Secrets are part of the author’s family, no one wants to admit to where they came from and what their ancestors were doing, he has to slowly tease out the stories and details from his relatives.

But what a story. Not the tragic story of a woman who as a priest’s mistress can never announce their love and give their children legitimacy, but the incredible story of a family who are so close to greatness and instrumental in the shaping of the independent Republic of Peru. From the declaration of their separation from Spain in the 1920s to the modern day, the Cisneros family descended from Nicolasa are right at the heart of everything.

Tracing his ancestors, from great-great-grandfather down, the author fills his pages with moving and heartbreaking love stories, cycles that seem doomed to repeat, of children neglected and wives betrayed, of oceans separating generations. There’s exile and intrigue, bravery and foolishness. But the family always survive.

With uncle Gustavo on hand to fill in some of the details from his own research, Renato builds an elaborate and detailed history of an incredible family, who should be proud of their name and place in Peruvian history.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Nothing Can Hurt You Now – Simone Campos, translated by Rahul Bery

Lucinda has lived her whole life in the shadow of her glamorous and outgoing high-end model sister Viviana. But when Viviana suddenly disappears on a trip to São Paulo, Lucinda drops everything to track her down.

Met with indifference from the police, Lucinda joins forces with Viviana’s girlfriend Graziane to launch her own investigation. When she discovers that her sister had a thriving career as a sex worker, the list of possible suspects widens.

Then a cryptic text suggests that Viviana is still alive but being held hostage. With the minutes ticking by, Lucinda and Graziane must track down the men from Viviana’s past to discover who might want to do her harm.

A furiously contemporary and vibrant thriller that crackles with danger.

My thoughts: the relationships between the three women at the heart of this gripping thriller are vital to the plot. Lucinda’s decision to hunt down and rescue her sister from whatever danger she’s in, even after discovering the secrets Viviana has been keeping (sex work, a girlfriend, visiting their estranged dad) and reading the book Viviana is writing, is because of the love she has for her glamorous sister, but also the complicated childhood they shared. Graziane loves Viviana, and knows her secrets already so their connection is more straightforward.

Putting their own lives in possible danger, interviewing exes, looking into Viviana’s most recent movements, and then heading out to a remote place, where she’s most likely being held, with no real idea of the risks, is incredibly brave.

Viviana’s chapters are full of unexpected violence, terror and her desperate attempts to stay alive, escape and stop an increasingly fragile situation from falling apart. Caught in a complex web between two men, Davi and Cesar, who have clearly got a lot of their own issues, she’s afraid for good reason.

The flashbacks to how Lucinda and Viviana grew up, filling in gaps to who they are now, helps the reader understand their relationship, and as Lucinda confronts the fact that she actually doesn’t really know her sister as well as she once thought, all three women are heading for a dangerous confrontation on a remote ranch.

A short but compelling story of the dangers that lurk beneath the exterior and of the relationships that most connect us. Viviana never loses hope her sister and girlfriend will help her, even as the farmhouse becomes more terrifying.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

blog tour, books, reviews

Blog Tour: Urgent Matters – Paula Rodriguez

A train crashes in the suburbs of Buenos Aires, leaving forty-three people dead. A prayer card of Saint Expeditus, the patron saint of urgent matters, flutters above the wreckage.

Hugo, a criminal on the run for murder, is on the train. He seizes his chance to sneak out of the wreckage unsuspected, abandoning his possessions – and, he hopes, his identity – among bodies mangled beyond recognition.

As the police descend on the scene, only grizzled Detective Domínguez sees a link between the crash and his murder case. Soon, he’s on Hugo’s tail. But he hasn’t banked on everything from the media to his mother-in-law getting in the way.

My thoughts:this is a short book but it packs a real punch as Hugo, suspected of murder, is involved in a terrible train accident. He escapes from hospital and goes into hiding, sort of.

His partner and daughter have no idea if he’s even survived and his mother-in-law sees an opportunity to get herself on TV. Seeking Hugo (but not for any particularly altruistic reasons) her family are suddenly all over the news, and the impact on Marta and her daughter is carefully and cleverly revealed.

This is an intriguing and complex narrative, peopled with a cast of newsreaders, sisters, assistants and stray dogs. A slice of unreal life really. Very interesting and enjoyable.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: Red as Blood – Lilja Sigurđardóttir, translated by Quentin Bates

When entrepreneur Flosi arrives home for dinner one night, he discovers that his house has been ransacked, and his wife Gudrun missing. A letter on the kitchen table confirms that she has been kidnapped. If Flosi doesn’t agree to pay an enormous ransom, Gudrun will be killed. Forbidden from contracting the police, he gets in touch with Áróra, who specialises in finding hidden assets, and she, alongside her detective friend Daniel, try to get to the bottom of the case without anyone catching on.

Meanwhile, Áróra and Daniel continue the puzzling, devastating search for Áróra’s sister Ísafold, who disappeared without trace. As fog descends, in a cold and rainy Icelandic autumn, the investigation becomes increasingly dangerous, and confusing.

Chilling, twisty and unbearably tense, Red as Blood is the second instalment in the riveting, addictive An Áróra Investigation series, and everything is at stake…

Icelandic crime-writer Lilja Sigurdardóttir was born in the town of Akranes in 1972 and raised in Mexico, Sweden, Spain and Iceland. An awardwinning playwright, Lilja has written four crime novels, with Snare, the first in a new series and Lilja’s English debut shortlisting for the CWA International Dagger and hitting bestseller lists worldwide. Trap soon followed suit, with the third in the trilogy Cage winning the Best Icelandic Crime Novel of the Year, and was a Guardian Book of the Year. Lilja’s standalone Betrayal, was shortlisted for the Glass Key Award for Best Nordic Crime Novel. In 2021, Cold as Hell, the first in the An Áróra Investigation series was published, with Red as Blood to follow in 2022. The film rights have been bought by Palomar Pictures in California. Lilja is also an award-winning screenwriter in her native Iceland. She lives in Reykjavík with her partner.

My thoughts: this was very good, much like my favourite Russian dolls, this was plot within plot. The kidnapping, Flosi’s dodgy financial arrangements, the family’s complex relationships, all neatly stacked inside one another as Daniel and Áróra dig into Flosi and Gudrun’s lives and business, more things start coming to light and it gets scary.

And then there’s Daniel and Áróra and their tangled personal relationship. He wants her but she wants him to find her sister more. Throw in an extravagant drag queen who believes in the little folk, Helena’s system and you have a complicated, messy world that this case makes more so by throwing people together in new and not entirely happy ways.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.

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Blog Tour: The Moose Paradox – Antti Tuomainen, translated by David Hackston

Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen has finally restored order both to his life and to YouMeFun, the adventure park he now owns, when a man from the past appears – and turns everything upside down again. More problems arise when the park’s equipment supplier is taken over by a shady trio, with confusing demands. Why won’t Toy of Finland Ltd sell the new Moose Chute to Henri when he needs it as the park’s main attraction? Meanwhile, Henri’s relationship with artist Laura has reached breaking point, and, in order to survive this new chaotic world, he must push every calculation to its limits, before it’s too late.

Finnish Antti Tuomainen was an award-winning copywriter when he made his literary debut in 2007 as a suspense author Iin 2013, the Finnish press crowned Tuomainen the ‘King of Helsinki Noir’ when Dark as My Heart was published. With a piercing and evocative style, Tuomainen was one of the first to challenge the Scandinavian crime genre formula, and his poignant, dark and hilarious The Man Who Died became an international bestseller, shortlisting for the Petrona and Last Laugh Awards. Palm Beach Finland was an immense success, with Marcel Berlins (The Times) calling Tuomainen ‘the funniest writer in Europe’. Little Siberia (2020), was shortlisted for the CWA International Dagger, the Amazon Publishing/Capital Crime Awards and the CrimeFest Last Laugh Award, and won the Petrona Award for Best Scandinavian Crime Novel of the Year. The Rabbit Factor (2021), the first book in Antti’s first ever series, is in production by Amazon Studios with Steve Carell starring. The Moose Paradox, book two in the series is out in 2022.

My thoughts: back to Finland’s maddest adventure park we go. Just as Henri thinks he’s solved all his problems, more appear. There’s shady businessmen/gangsters who seem to be determined to ruin the park, with inferior equipment and a hostile takeover, the staff are in revolt, and he’s not sure about whether to take the next step with the lovely Laura. Just another day’s work at YouMeFun then.

Although we never find out exactly what the Moose Shute does (and some of the other creations of Toy Finland sound downright nuts and beyond dangerous), the lengths Henri goes to to secure it are hilarious. For someone who spends their time calculating risk, he’s prepared to go to extremes for the park.

This book might actually be even more fun and ridiculous than The Rabbit Factor, as chaos lurks around every corner, not to mention the police, furious criminals, the park’s own staff (no one else would hire them) and a blast from the past that could destroy everything Henri has worked so hard for.

*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own